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Roommate Wanted: No Supernatural Creatures Allowed

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There's a lovebite on Scott's neck that Stiles tries not to feel white hot flares of envy upon seeing. He wants somebody in his life so overwhelmed with passion for him that he's nothing but a mine field of bruising hickeys. It sounds fun.

The club is too stuffy for his liking. He still has a headache from taking notes for two hours during his history lecture and needs at least three heavily alcoholic drinks before he can start appreciating the gyrating bodies and sweaty air. He’s only been here for a few minutes, but Scott’s somehow been braving the atmosphere for a good extra hour before him, and has apparently proven himself to be quite popular amongst the crowd if the tousled hair and pink lips are any indication.

Scott, bless him, reads his minds and hands him a glass a moment later with ice cubes tinkling alluringly against each other. Stiles downs it in six impressive, only slightly painful seconds as what feels like pure bleach leaves a trail of fire down his throat, and watches as the lovebite fades away on Scott’s neck. Oh, the joys of wolvihood.

“I'm in a terrible dry spell,” Stiles’ mouth decides to say the second he pulls the glass from his lips, his head already pleasantly foggier than before. He gestures to his right hand. “My most frequent lover.”

"Sorry, dude," is the extent of Scott's empathy. "You should get out more!"

“College is a bitch,” Stiles grumbles. “I don’t have the time.”

Still, he’s not saying he doesn’t want a more exciting life. He’s in a bit of a rut and would love the chance to sow his wild oats and get involved in shady frat parties and learn how to make a bong. He hasn’t even been given the opportunity to be wild and rebellious. He misses breaking into things and almost dying every night. Almost.

“Just one night, then!” Scott yells over the music. “I bet it would loosen you up!”

“I’m sure it would,” Stiles shouts back. “I’m pretty sure right now my ass could make diamonds out of coal.”

Scott cringes and brings him another drink that materializes out of thin air. Stiles accepts the miracle and downs it. This one’s sweeter, and he smacks his lips.

He stays in the bar for four hours that night hoping to get at least one good teeth mark on his collarbone, and comes away instead with what he’s pretty sure is herpes just from using the bathroom and making the mistake of touching anything.

So far, college is not the prime of his life.

--

"I think you need a roommate," Scott points out as Stiles tosses his keys onto the couch and watches how he misses and they land on the carpet as he flicks on the light. He'll get them later.

"What, no," Stiles says instantly. “I’m living the bachelor life.”

Scott kicks aside the pile of Stiles’ coats heaped up by the door. So he’s not the cleanest guy. That doesn’t mean he needs a roommate here to join in on the mess making.

“Did this place used to have a floor?” Scott asks faintly. Stiles frowns at him.

“It’s not that bad,” he insists. “The couch is here for you whenever you want, buddy.”

“What about the spare room?”

“You can use that too,” Stiles tells him.

“No, I mean,” Scott says. “You could rent it out. Get some extra money to help pay for this place. It’s not exactly as cheap as dorm living, right?”

“Obviously not, but,” Stiles points to the luxury he’s surrounded in, except for the piles of clothes and the stack of snacks sitting on the kitchen counters. “I have all the space I want. I have island counters. I even have a stove.”

Scott looks doubtful. “Do you ever use it?”

“Nah.”

“I’m just saying,” Scott presses. “It might help you out to… you know. Have more people around.”

“I’m not a fan of more people,” Stiles says. He’s fine by himself. Living with people shows their absolute worst sides, if they put up toilet seats or if blare music after ten p.m. There’s not a single person Stiles wants to see the worst of in his life. He enjoys his friends.

It’s not that Stiles hates living with others. He didn’t mind living with his dad so he could keep an eye on his salt consumption, and he certainly didn’t mind all those two-week long sleepovers with Scott where they watched Star Wars at least four times and ate everything out of the pantry. The problem is the prospect of new people. He has a few trust issues, he thinks, and he can thank high school for that. Most people graduate with a few exes and maybe a horrible gym experience under their belt. Stiles graduated with a fear for the shadows under his bed like he had regressed into being a five-year-old.

“You could live here,” Stiles offers. “Wait. Is Isaac attached? Do you two come as a package?”

“Sort of,” Scott admits, carefully shrugging off his jacket and finding a place on the couch to lay it down. “He’d kind of be homeless if I ditched him.”

“Damn,” Stiles flops onto the couch backward, legs dangling off the backrest while the room spins pleasantly around him like a carousel. The drinks are settling in his midsection like a soft fog slowly creeping up his to his eyes and he starts counting bumps in the ceiling. “Oh well.” He picks up his head and finds Scott. “Why do you think I need a roommate so badly?”

Scott squirms and Stiles narrows his eyes. He’d be much more likely to spill the truth if he was as agreeably wasted as Stiles, but that ship has sailed along with most of Scott’s human privileges.

“I dunno. I just think… maybe you’re letting yourself go a bit.”

“No,” Stiles adamantly denies, and once again for good measure. “No. I am in the fountain of youth.”

“When was the last time you got a haircut?”

“None of your beeswax,” Stiles says instantly, and then cards his fingers through his mane. All right, so maybe he’s a few weeks overdue on the grooming. “I’m okay. I swear. I’m self-reliant. Now would you please carry me to my room.”

--

I don't need a roommate, Stiles thinks petulantly as he stuffs his third hot pocket of the day into the microwave. He's totally fine on his own, living the bachelor life and wearing the same hoodie three days in a row with no one to pass judgment on his hygiene choices. In fact, he prefers it that way.

Scott has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s a capable, independent adult who likes being able to commandeer an entire apartment’s worth of space for himself and hog the bathroom himself without anybody banging on the door. He’s not even that much of a fan of other people, not when the second he starts warming up to them they usually turn out to be either dead, evil, or both. Risking that with a new roommate when the past has proven to be less than favorable for him is not a gamble he’s up for taking.

It’s not like he’s an anti-social hermit. He’s a fully functioning person with friends and family that he keeps in touch with. Who cares if he stays in his pajamas ninety percent of the time and is getting slightly addicted to Cheetos. He’s over eighteen and make his own decisions, dammit, and if that includes binging on junk food and staying home to marathon trashy TV rather than go to a massive lecture hall and fall asleep during class.

Of course it might be helpful to have someone around. Someone to help with the laundry and pay bills. He’s one of the few kids not living in a dorm room the size of a bathroom stall, and this place isn’t exactly cheap. Having someone else to pitch in on a monthly basis would loosen up Stiles’ wallet a bit and it’s not like he’s using the extra room as anything but a place to compile all the stuff he’s too sentimental about to throw out but not too attached to have it mingle with the rest of his belongings.

Not to mention that no matter how discreet he thinks he’s being, Stiles knows his father is a little worried. His weekly calls to Scott asking him to drop by and check up on Stiles don’t go unnoticed by Stiles, and frankly, he’s a little offended. He lives alone in a decent apartment, he’s not homeless and living in the basement of a crack den. Just because he doesn’t exactly change underwear as much as recommended and is probably behind on his vitamin D intake doesn’t make him someone worth spying on.

Ding, says the microwave, and Stiles feels a heavy sigh droop his entire frame. He thinks he needs a roommate.

--

He puts an ad on Craigslist, hesitantly at best, not only because he's extremely wary of the people who look for permanent residency and sell things ranging from sofas to blowjobs on a website that looks like it's firmly stuck in the eighties, but also because Stiles is still a little iffy about the idea of cohabiting. He could've handled Scott, maybe even Isaac too and whatever baggage he brought along with him, but knowing about all the weird and frankly dangerous stuff that exists in this world makes him a little apprehensive to start expanding his group of friends and acquaintances.

He puts together a simple post—looking for roommate without a sketchy criminal record to come live in a reasonably priced apartment. Must share a bathroom and not hog the shower all morning but can have their own bedroom. No loud instruments or anybody bringing in a fire hazard (including cigarettes, candles, and/or any type of pyrotechnics). Sounds good.

He rereads it a few times before snapping a few pictures of the empty free room and publishing it to the Internet. He's willing to negotiate the rent, which is more than anybody smack in the middle of campus is willing to say, and he has a winning personality, so Stiles isn't too worried about raking in the replies.

He does, and he gets his first response three hours later while Stiles is cruising through TV channels and doing a splendid job if avoiding his homework. It's lacking all sense of punctuation and is hopelessly riddled with grammatical errors, but it's the I can show you a good time if you lower the rent that has him flushing it into trash. He gets more, all reminding him of why he was so against looking for people to literally share a hospitable living space with on the Internet, and Stiles deletes them all until a few with real, honest to god finished sentences pop up in his inbox.

Looking for a place, yours seems lovely. I also happen to be a fantastic cook if that improves my chances (it should). When can I take a look at it?

It catches Stiles' eye, and not because he's been living off of popcorn and instant ramen for the past two weeks, but because he can practically already see the guy behind the proper capitalization and accurate spelling. Maybe tall, dark-haired, just cocky enough to help Stiles fill his eye rolling quota of the day and give him his fair share of entertainment, and studying at college with some pretentious yet useless degree like philosophy and a pretty girlfriend that's eons out of Stiles' league on his arm. It could work. They could stay cleanly out of each other's way and maybe even bond over video games on their free days.

Stiles writes him back, telling him he'll clear his afternoon schedule tomorrow so he can stop by and look around.

He texts Scott telling him of his adventures in roommate acquisition and discovering exactly how trustworthy the Internet is and gets a yay! whoever you choose will love you as their new roomie :) in response while he half-heatedly vacuums up cereal crumbs by the stools the next day in preparation. The place doesn't exactly look like something out of a interior design catalogue with the dazzling artificial fruit bowls and the fresh carpets of someone well-coordinated enough to never spill soda on the way to the couch, but it's nice. It's roomy and comes with a comfortably lumpy couch and a kitchen that's basically virginal when it comes to actually using the stove for real meals, and if he's lucky, Stiles might find someone who finds the place as simplistically charming as he does.

He gets an email from Craigslist Guy at one p.m. telling Stiles that he's nearly there to scope out the place, and Stiles makes sure the toilet is flushed and the floor is clean of stray pants and bits of muffins just in time for the rapping on the door. Stiles bounds up to it.

He opens the door to the back to a dark head and a sleek leather jacket, and Stiles is halfway into a jovial greeting when he twists around and Stiles catches a glimpse of his face.

Oh no. Oh no, no no, no, no, no no no. Stiles considers slamming the door shut right here and now.

"Why, Stiles," Peter is saying—Peter freaking Hale in a tight v-neck and a pleasantly surprised smile at the sight of Stiles slack-jawed at the horror of his luck in the doorway. "Long time no see."

He probably should've put no supernatural creatures on his ad as well, and Stiles feels the strong urge to thump his forehead against the wall to punish himself for overlooking that particular detail.

"Uh, no," Stiles deadpans, hand already poised on the doorknob. "Thanks, but no thanks."

"Come now," Peter murmurs, hand pushing away the door Stiles is trying valiantly to shove closed. "That's no way to treat a roommate candidate. Surely we can let bygones be bygones."

"Look, high school was fun, but I'm done with the imminent threat of death, okay?"

Peter's eyes rove up and down his clothes, from his ratty sweater to his dirty socks. Whatever, Stiles is still a capable adult with a perfectly exciting life. Sometimes he skips morning class just to watch a rerun of old school Batman. Just as exciting as old times.

"I can see that," Peter drawls, and he wrinkles his nose. "You look like a sad laundry pile."

"Oh my god, this conversation is already longer than I ever wanted it to be," Stiles groans, and when he goes to insistently shut the door again, Peter's already slipped inside, eyes scanning the kitchen cabinets and the scuffed floors.

"Hmm, it's not perfect," Peter says as he drags his fingers across the stovetop and sticks his head into Stiles' pantry like he's perfectly welcome to all of his snacks. "But it's workable."

"It really doesn't matter because you are not living here," Stiles presses, and Peter does nothing but noncommittally hum to signal that he heard Stiles at all.

"Come on, Stiles," Peter says. "Aren't you glad I'm the one who came versus some psychopathic stranger? Who knows who lurks on the Internet."

“You’re kidding me, right?” Stiles grits out. "You lurk on the Internet. I'm never using craigslist for anything again."

Peter makes absolutely no indication that he's listening, too busy inspecting the ceiling and peering into kitchen cupboards to judge depth and space. He closes them again.

"I cook nightly and know how to make Italian dishes that are better than going to Florence yourself, I would never steal another gentleman's shampoo, I don't play instruments before or after nine p.m., and I know enough about plumbing to fix whatever combusts in this place long before a landlord can so much as take your complaint," Peter says, fixing Stiles with a smooth grin as he wanders over to the window to check out the fourth floor view. At Stiles' blank stare, he continues. "You weren't asking any questions, so I saved you the trouble of having to." He furrows his eyebrows, unimpressed. "You're not very good at this interviewing business."

"Oh my god, I'm not interviewing you," Stiles groans. "I'm still trying to process the fact that no one's killed you yet."

"Boggles the mind, doesn't it?" Peter murmurs idly as he fiddles with Stiles' curtains like the fabric isn't up to his standards. "Yet here I stand. What else would you like to know?"

"Nothing, oh my god," Stiles says. He stomps over to Peter and yanks his perfectly fine—if not mildly mothy—curtains out of his fingers. "You can't live here."

"Why not?" Peter asks. "I don't smoke, I have no pets to shed on your sofa. I fit your qualifications."

"You're a werewolf," Stoles says, and he enunciates to make sure his words are sinking in. "That also once tried to kill me and my friends."

"Well, that's a little discriminatory. You should've been more specific in your ad."

Stiles watches him spin on his heel, completely unperturbed by Stiles, and open the door to the vacant bedroom. He strolls inside, leaving Stiles to wonder if it's too late to grab his laptop, some Cheetos, and a handful of clothes and never return.

He can't even fathom the idea of living with Peter, it's so ridiculous. Living with Peter Hale. It sounds like a survival show for the severely intellectually challenged. He's unpredictable, dangerous, evil, and a No Good Scoundrel, and Stiles has years of therapy bills to prove it. Leaving high school and Hale Family Drama behind was one of the best moments of his life, and here he is, watching Peter examine the closet space in Stiles' apartment like he's seriously considering moving in. Stiles isn't.

"I'm not letting you live here," Stiles says flatly from the door. Peter looks at him like his firm declaration is cute at best.

"We both know you will, so we might as well quit wasting time," Peter says as he cranks open the window and sticks his head out to sniff the fresh air floating inside.

"We do, do we?" Stiles seethes. "Do we also know that I'm really close to strangling you right here in my own home?"

Peter shrugs, latching the window closed once more. "A building like this, all this room—I know you won't be able to afford the rent forever. And the college kids around here? They're so deep in debt of their growing student loans you'd be better off renting your spare room to someone who has the necessary funds. Like me."

He throws Stiles a shark-like grin that's all teeth and no emotion, circling the room once more as Stiles lets his words sink in.

"And no matter what you say, I'm still better than a complete stranger with no background, no solid facts or criminal record. At least with me, it won't be a surprise if I murder the entire building in my sleep—"

"Are you seriously—"

"—not that I have any interest in doing so, and I know your poor damaged brain is much too paranoid to actually let a random newcomer live only two inches away from you," he flicks the wall separating the room from Stiles', leaning against the closet door with a smug edge to his body language that bothers Stiles in all the most irksome ways. "Who knows what kind of nutjob he could be?"

"Statistically, I'm better off trusting the random stranger than I am you," Stiles grumbles.

Peter ignores him, stepping closer. He grins. “I don’t snore. I have scrupulous hygiene routines. I’m happy taking care of groceries, I enjoy TV in low volumes, and I prefer the simple life.”

Yeah, okay, Stiles’ brain supplies haughtily, and then he promptly falls into a state of disbelief because despite all the blaringly bright warning signs telling him to order Peter to run for the hills, he’s actually staring to consider this. He probably has plenty of insurance money leftover from the fire’s damages, enough to never force Stiles to worry about rent ever again, and if he’s really the utter peach he’s making himself out to be and stays in the shadows like old times, Stiles might not even notice his presence.

“I would need a deposit,” Stiles says slowly.

“Fine.”

“And your word that you won’t kill, maim, or harm anybody while you live under my roof,” Stiles only feels a slightly satisfying surge of power flit through him as the words leave his mouth.

“You used to be more fun,” Peter murmurs dryly, and as Stiles stays firmly quiet waiting for his promise, he sighs and adds a half-hearted, “Scout’s honor.”

“And living together would not mean under any circumstances that we have to be friends, all right?” Stiles almost feels himself theatrically shiver at the word. Friends with Peter Hale. What on earth would Peter even do with his friends? Bring them blood sacrifices? Spare them their eyeballs? Stiles has trouble imagining the pillow forts and the mini golf or anything else usually associated with companionship.

“What a horrible sacrifice,” Peter murmurs dryly, fixing Stiles with a look like he’s starting to get bored of the useless questions. Stiles takes a deep breath and wonders if he really does want to jump down this rabbit hole.

“I can’t believe I’m considering this,” he says incredulously. He must have gone insane somewhere between high school and now, or at least lost his survival instinct. He won’t make it through the winter. He wavers on his feet for a few more seconds, watching Peter get increasingly annoyed in front of him, and makes a snap judgment. “Fine. You can move in.”

Peter’s grin rivals that of an untrustworthy politician, and then he’s holding out his hand in a gesture of peace. Stiles eyes it warily before shaking his hand and wondering if this is how all deals with devils are made.

He probably should’ve gone for the guy prostituting himself out for lower rent.

--

Stiles gives Peter the extra key to his apartment. It’s the scariest and possibly stupidest moment of his entire life, but he thinks that considering that nobody came from the future to stop him, it can’t be the worst decision he’s ever made.

--

It’s like Stiles blinks and suddenly Peter is everywhere. His things are intermingled with Stiles’ things, and the smell of his aftershave is all over the bathroom, and the kitchen cupboards are stuffed not with the occasional stale cereal box, but an array of spices and noodles and vegetables and enough ingredients to open up a quaint restaurant.

It’s a little funny, because Stiles only ever saw Peter carry in three boxes. Three small, measly cardboard boxes that apparently have magical powers of unending depth, because Stiles’ place doesn’t feel at all like his own anymore. It feels shared. Eugh.

He had made a comment when he first saw Peter bring in his handful of possessions, smirking from the sidelines with absolutely no intent on helping with the lugging and unpacking process, something along the lines of that’s all you own? Peter had said that this was the aftereffect of having lived through someone burning down everything and everybody he loved. He didn’t care much for material possessions anymore.

It had been slightly grim and depressing when Stiles first heard it, taking the wind out of his snark, but now that Stiles is staring at the way the organized chaos of his bathroom has been annihilated into accommodating Peter’s bulk of products as well, he’s no longer feeling the pity. There are too many bottles of lotion to count, an array of musky colognes, and a collection of leave-in conditioners sitting by the shaving cream that Stiles would be making fun of if he wasn’t so upset about giving up all of his counter space—or sanity, maybe that was the right word—for Peter’s army of toiletries.

It hits him then there in that tiny bathroom exactly how much has to change now that Stiles is with a roommate. No more using up all the hot water for himself. No more walking around in his underwear if it’s particularly hot. And god forbid making noise while he’s masturbating because he didn’t just get a roommate, he got a werewolf with a supernatural sense of hearing for a roommate. The good days are over.

The only good part is that they stay out of each other’s hair. Peter spends most of his time reading in the armchair he’s taken for his own in the living room, all the historical nonfiction that could put Stiles to sleep if he hasn’t taken his medication, not saying a word, not even a sassy comment, and even though it should relax Stiles, it puts him on edge. He feels like he’s waiting for that special moment that tips Peter over the edge and shows his true colors, like when a perfectly normal citizen who gets Starbucks and holds door open for little old ladies snaps and murders the entire town because somebody pushed the wrong button.

Still, as uneasy as he is, this can work. Peter turns a blind eye to where Stiles goes and what he does and Stiles offers Peter the same courtesy, almost like he’s living with a ghost that has sectioned off an eight by twelve room and pays rent but otherwise takes up no space or makes no difference in living quality except for the occasional vase that’s tipped over in a ghostly act of vandalism. Stiles only has to shovel aside all of Peter’s cookbooks to reach his Swedish Fish and pretend his shaving cream hasn’t been relocated to the bathroom drawers because the medicine cabinet is officially full of luxury hair products, and everything feels totally normal.

Naturally, that doesn’t last very long.

--

It's only two days into their living arrangement when Stiles hears it. The moaning.

It's low and deep and filthy and Stiles can hear it straight through the wall. Stiles’ first thought is that unless Peter is dying, severely maimed, or bleeding out of every orifice, he’s going to kill him for this.

He knows he should be more mature about it. After all, he is an adult, not some blushing kid who's been discovered jacking off in an unfortunately unlocked bathroom with his pants around his ankles by his mother, but it's Peter. Peter Hale having sex. Peter fucking Hale having loud sex just through one thin, tiny wall. Studying is going to be impossible. Ever looking Peter in the face again is going to be impossible.

His first reaction is to freeze and all but lunge for his radio, grabbing the first CD scattered nearby and stuffing it inside. He cranks up the volume to All Time Low blasting off his ear, and for a second, Stiles can hear himself think again as it drowns out the neighboring groans of pleasure.

Stiles closes his eyes and tries to fixedly focus on the music from where it’s thrumming through the table. It’s loud, and he feels like his eardrums are going to burst off, but if becoming deaf is what it takes to not have to listen to Peter Hale procreate in the next room, he’ll take the compromise. He stares down at his sheets of homework and tries to find where he left off.

His fix works, for about twenty seconds. It might be soothing to have his ears spared from the monstrosity occurring next door, but his mind cannot be consoled, not because he can't continue to crank up the music loud enough to have his neighbors calling the cops on his rowdiness, but because now he knows. He knows exactly what's going on behind that wall, and sitting here pretending to engross himself in the properties of logistic regression seems quite silly when there's somebody getting off none too quietly a room away.

He works fast. He can’t believe he’s being forced to evacuate his own home, but this is a survival choice he can’t refuse. He plugs one ear with his thumb and turns the radio off just in time to spring out the door.

He all but storms out into the living room when he starts wondering exactly how much detail he'd be able to pick up if he pressed his ear to the wall, muttering to himself all the while. Camping out in the hall seems like a good option. Watching a movie at full volume seems good too. So does evacuating the premises like a deadly virus is in the air and going straight to Scott's until his ears have forgotten the sound of Peter's muffled groans. Stiles knows that his brain can't handle logistic regression and that in one night.

--

Stiles comes back after three long hours in which he mooches off the wifi of the coffee shop two blocks away and scarfs down an overpriced hot chocolate trying very hard to keep his mind occupied with anything but exactly what Peter’s doing upstairs and who he’s doing it with.

That room used to be so clean. It was just a spare room where Scott would camp out when he came over and stayed overnight. It was perfectly innocent, and now Stiles feels like he won’t be able to walk into it again without bleaching every surface.

What baffles him the most is that somebody agreed to have sex with Peter. Some living, breathing person agreed—god, Stiles hopes they agreed—is upstairs letting Peter touch them and undress them and probably lick them. Peter is either very charming or this world is very fucked up.

Stiles focuses hard, for at least an hour, on playing Angry Birds and hoping it’ll distract him enough to not think about what’s happening in his apartment. He plays until his phone dies and his frustration has increased into an unpleasant level of simmering irritation after losing every single game, and he spends the next hour with his head in his hands composing a strongly-worded discussion concerning privacy, boundaries, and sock on the door policies. He looks miserable, apparently, miserable enough that the waitress brings him a cookie under the assumption that he’s been stood up. Stiles eats it and doesn’t bother correcting her.

When he makes it upstairs, he walks carefully, like a soldier treading the enemy’s camp. He feels ridiculous because this is his fucking apartment, but he also doesn’t want to walk in on Peter naked on the couch doing the beast with two backs with some naïve stranger. He opens the door with his eyes shut, and when nothing but silence greets his thankful ears, he peels them open.

Still in his room, then. Stiles approaches gently, carefully, like he’s dealing with a hot-tempered animal, and sidles up next to Peter’s door. He knocks and hears Peter’s answering drawl of what? sift through. Hesitantly at best, he turns the knob and peeks inside.

And there’s Peter, lounging on the sheets with a computer on his lap, thankfully fully clothed. He doesn’t even look particularly disheveled or laden with sweat, and when Stiles takes a deep whiff looking for the strong odor of female perfume in the air, his nose comes up empty.

“May I help you?” Peter drawls as Stiles carefully inhales once more. Nothing. He turns to Peter suspiciously.

“Were you having sex in here?”

Peter looks up at him and wrinkles his eyebrows together. Stiles didn’t know that two eyebrows could hold together that much patronization, and he’s a little startled. “No,” he scoffs. “I was masturbating. What were you doing?”

“Ma—masturbating,” Stiles repeats incredulously. “I could hear you through the wall! I thought I was going to throw up.”

“That’s a little dramatic,” Peter murmurs idly, focus already drawn back to his laptop. “It’s completely normal to clean the pipes. Surely you know that.”

“I can’t believe this.”

“It’s true. Do a simple Google search on biology,” Peter says with a helpful smile. “Oh, and by the way. Thank you for the random blasting of what sounded like a screaming boy band filtering through the wall. That really helped speed things along.”

“Dear god,” Stiles groans. This is the most mortifying conversation of his life, including the one where he was first sat down and was patiently explained lady parts. “If playing it is what it takes to keep you from jerking off a room away, then yeah, the All Time Low stays.”

“Good luck with that,” Peter says, his eyes trained on his monitor. “Considering I hid your CDs.”

Stiles feels something twitch in his forehead, probably a vein about to pop and spill all over the carpet. “Are you an animal?”

Peter looks at him, just a courtesy glance over his monitor. “Yes,” he deadpans. Then he narrows his eyes, like he’s no longer entertained by Stiles’ reaction. Stiles wants to throttle him. “I expected a bit more maturity out of you, Stiles. I know you masturbate too.”

“What.”

“Every morning, in the shower,” Peter promptly cites, flashing him a grin. “Usually takes you about eight minutes.”

“You’re listening?!”

“I don’t want to,” Peter says. “My ears just pick it up.”

“That’s so creepy and problematic and just—no. No more,” Stiles feels something like roaches crawl up his legs. From this point on, he’s celibate in the apartment. The only place he’s ever going to be masturbating is in the woods. He’d rather get caught for public indecency next to some bushes than know that he’s basically shooting a live porno with only one active listener. “You have issues.”

“So do you, considering it sometimes takes you less than two minutes to come,” Peter contributes idly. “It might make it hard for you to ever please anyone sexually if you’re done before the party starts.” His eyes flick up from his laptop and bore into Stiles’. “But I figure that’s your business.”

Stiles backs away and shuts the door before the health lesson can begin, and throws his hands up for good measure. He also leaves a trail of swears in his wake insulting Peter with every which choice word he knows just because he knows Peter is listening.

--

Stiles had a firm plan to stay mad about the masturbating in the middle of the day. And then he came home to the smell of fresh spaghetti and he was forced to change plans.

It’s a little strange, seeing Peter bent over the stove shaking herbs into a pot while pasta bubbles on the back burner. Stiles doesn’t think he’s ever used the stove in his entire life, and he’s slightly surprised to see it actually works. He shrugs off his coat and leans nonchalantly into the kitchen to treat his nose to another sniff. The tomatoes smell fresh, like Peter doesn’t even bother with the canned nonsense, and for a second Stiles feels like he’s eight-years-old again peering over the countertop watching his mother prepare a homemade dinner. He didn’t even know he missed those memories.

“You cook,” Stiles says faintly, leaning in to stare into the pot. The noodles are bubbling and there are bay leaves floating in the tomato sauce in a nearby pot, aromatic enough to be an orgasm in Stiles’ nose.

“You knew that,” Peter says, licking tomato sauce off the spoon. He pauses to taste before delicately shaking more salt into the pot. “It was one of the selling points of me being an excellent roommate.”

“Right,” Stiles nods, not quite listening anymore. He was going to pop a cup of ramen in the microwave and disappear in his room to study in misery, but the idea of an actual meal is tempting him. He acts on instinct, about to stick his finger into the sauce, when promptly Peter grabs him by the wrist and squeezes a warning onto his arm.

“No touching,” Peter tells him, letting him go to continue stirring. “If you want me to share, ask nicely.”

“Just ask nicely?” Stiles parrots. “Are you sure I don’t have to sign over my soul to get a bite?”

“I can do things for others without anything in return,” Peter says, and then considers it. “Not often, but it’s possible. Perhaps one day, you can return the favor and I can come home to a fully prepared tiramisu.”

“Unlikely, unless you want to come home to your place burnt to a crisp. Again,” Peter shoots him a glare and Stiles tries once again to sneak his fingertip into the sauce to steal a taste. Peter’s hand closes around his fist, guiding him away. “Too soon?”

“If you try that again, you lose the finger,” Peter tells him sweetly, and shakes in some dried herbs. Stiles shifts closer to catch another whiff, crowding in Peter’s personal space to dip his nose into the pot. It smells fresh and rich, like Italy has materialized in front of him in the form of a gourmet dish, and Stiles takes a moment to be amazed.

It’s a bit weird seeing Peter as somebody who’s actually good at things. Actually, the operative phrase is at things other than murder and manipulation. He had always viewed him as a master of deceit and a professional asshole, good at revenge and being virtually immune to remorse, and now he has to shuffle his thoughts around because he has to stick good cook in there as well. The idea of Peter being good at benign things, at having skills and learning crafts, the idea of him being an actual human, is definitely a little shocking.

“Stop drooling," Peter tells him, bodily pushing him aside to commandeer the stove. "Make yourself useful and grab plates."

Stiles tuts. "I was going to say something nice about how unexpected it is that you actually have hobbies, but you know what? Now I don't want to."

"What ever will my self-esteem do without your compliments."

Stiles grabs the plates from the cupboard and feels himself turn red in the ears because he's not used to bouncing comebacks back and forth at this speed. He's used to a pretty witless crowd, people with nonexistent humor or those too busy to bother fencing with Stiles' sharp tongue, and Peter moving in has kept him on his toes. He's not sure if he likes the challenge or resents it quite yet.

Three minutes later, Peter having ladled out the sauce and noodles into the plates sitting out on the island and Stiles awaiting the moment he can dig in and try his hardest to hide how pleased his tongue will be to keep the satisfaction from Peter, they’re eating dinner side by side on the stools like normal people. Almost like friends.

Stiles gives a theatrical shiver for good measure. Like that’s ever happening.

--

"Where are you going?" Stiles asks Peter loudly over where he's propped up on the sofa with a veritable library of textbooks surrounding him. Whoever said college was "fun" and "easy" should probably be dragged out onto a field and left to stew naked and humiliated in the grass. "Off to steal some kid's bicycle and eat his hamster?"

Peter pauses on his way slipping his arm into his leather jacket by the door, sending Stiles a judgmental look as if he could have come up with something much better than that. He's overworked and tired; his wit is being extremely tested. At least he’s still sharp enough to pick up on Peter slipping out the door and stay on guard for creepy behavior.

"Still nosy as ever, I see," he murmurs as he adjusts the collar. "I'm getting groceries. Your kitchen is set to feed a seven-year-old. For perhaps a few hours."

"Hey, it's called healthy curiosity for the whereabouts of a previously homicidal roommate," Stiles says as he stretches his arms. He mentally takes inventory of what's sitting in his fridge and decides to let the seven-year-old comment go. "Get some milk."

"Fine."

"And some Cocoa Puffs."

"Fine."

“And I probably need some frozen pizzas too. And while you're in the frozen aisle—”

"Stiles, just come along if you want to see any of these items actually make it home," Peter hisses, grabbing his keys. Stiles groans and pushes the books off his lap. As much as he welcomes the distraction, he’s still wary of the idea. Being seen with Peter in public.

"Go shopping with you?" He asks dubiously. "What happens if someone I know sees me with you and I burst into flames from the embarrassment?"

"Then you and I both will know what it feels like to be on fire," Peter says dryly, and Stiles freezes. Damn him. How on earth can anyone come up with rejoinders that fast? He needs to step up his bantering game. "Put on your fucking shoes and let's go."

"Fine, fine, fine," Stiles grumbles, slipping into his sneakers and grabbing the hoodie he left strung up by the door on his way out, Peter leading the way down the rickety stairs and to his car.

At least in public, everybody can hear him scream.

--

A drive that should take ten minutes give or take a few with traffic ends up taking half an hour because despite Stiles' knowledge of campus, Peter refuses to believe the validity of directions when it comes to shortcuts and not being quite so stringy with red lights. For someone who has literally committed felonies, Stiles isn't sure if he's unconvinced or just annoyed at Peter's insistence to not rack up points on his driver's license at Stiles' expense.

They're cruising through the cereal aisle, one of Stiles' feet up on the cart and the other pushing him along at the squeaky rate that the rusty wheels allow, when Stiles decides now is a good as time as ever to start asking personal questions. He closes the distance between them so it no longer looks like they're two shoppers who just happen to be perusing the same merchandise but otherwise have no affiliation to each other.

"So," Stiles says idly, pulling a cereal box off the shelf to drop into the cart. "Are you still a murder enthusiast?"

Peter snorts. "How long have you been waiting to ask that?" He sounds delighted that Stiles might still be frightened of his capabilities. "For the record, I was never exactly enthusiastic about murder. It was just an extremely productive hobby."

"Oh god," Stiles groans, and already regrets asking. Peter takes the opportunity to pull his choice of sugary cereal from the cart and examine it.

"You really eat this sewage?" Peter asks him like they weren't just casually chatting about his revenge sprees. "As a human, I would be extremely cautious of what sort of garbage my stomach could or could not properly digest. It’s not like you can heal from too much sugar rotting your insides.”

Stiles snatches the cereal from him and tosses it bodily into the cart. Peter chastising him makes him want to grab ten more of the same box and rip them open to eat right here in front of him, because he likes his sugary breakfast snacks and he likes his dietary choices.

“If that’s concern, I’m not buying it,” Stiles says. Peter ignores him, pulling another box off the shelf, something atrociously healthy and full of wheat, and sticks it in Stiles’ face.

“What’s wrong with some fiber in your diet?”

“Have you ever tasted your own regurgitated vomit?” Stiles asks him. “That’s what this cereal probably tastes like.”

Peter rolls his eyes and pulls a new box off the shelf, yet another variety of the healthy horse chow, and Stiles matches his eye roll with one of his own.

“God, why does it have to be organic,” he groans. “I’m about done with the concerned mother routine. Just give me the frigging Cocoa Puffs.”

“Look, mommy, gays.”

It makes both of them freeze and turn around, and there, not four feet high and pointing blatantly at where Stiles and Peter are quabbling over the breakfast cereals, is a tiny child still missing teeth tugging on its mother’s hand to alert her of the sighting he’s discovered. Stiles is mortified.

“Sweetie, don’t say that,” the mother hushes, just loudly enough that he still picks up on every word. “We don’t say that. We call them homosexuals.”

“Oh my god,” Stiles considers shoving his face into the shelf between the cereal boxes and setting up camp there. It might be better than facing the real life horror in front of him. Peter looks like he’d be happy to set their opinions straight with a few violent—but probably effective—methods.

The mother drags her child away, and Stiles watches it stumble into the next aisle while he waves goodbye.

“Well,” Peter says. “That’s new.”

“That kid thinks we’re married,” Stiles says dryly, feeling the bickering seep out of him. “Actually married and doing the frick frack every night.”

Peter says nothing, but his look does the talking for him. He looks subtly irked in ways that Stiles is only barely picking up on, like the narrowing of his eyelids and the way his fingers are tight on the cart, and watches carefully unclenches his jaw.

“Get the sugary slew that you call cereal,” he says, and sends Stiles a smile, “dear.”

“Don’t,” Stiles warns, throwing the box into the cart. “Don’t even dare.”

“Mr. Hale, then.”

“Why would I take your name?”

“I’m older, stronger, and better in every way.”

“Okay, this?” Stiles motions between them as the bickering rises again. “This is why people mistake us for an old married couple.” He grabs the grocery list from Peter’s pocket and scans the bottom half. “Okay, how about this. I’m going to toiletries. You get the rest of the food. We’ll meet at the cash register.”

He rips the list in half, shoving the second half onto Peter’s chest and taking the cart for himself. Peter doesn’t protest, not the entire time he’s pushing the squeaky cart down the aisle with the air of someone who’s main goal is to hustle away as quickly as possible, and spends the rest of the grocery trip pretending he has no idea who he’s checking out with once they convene at the register.

“Okay, you can do the grocery runs from now on,” Stiles tells him as they lug the bags to the car, and Peter doesn’t argue.

--

Stiles is still half asleep when he gets up at six a.m. to make it to his unearthly early Thursday economics lecture, and he’s in the middle of putting his head under the running faucet to wake him up when he sees something on a mirror. A note. A yellow post-it.

Buy poison, it says, and Stiles is sufficiently terrified.

He stumbles out into the living room with his toothbrush stuck in his mouth and toothpaste foaming down his lip and thrusts the post-it underneath Peter's nose where he's making coffee in the darkness of the kitchen. He looks perfectly awake, and Stiles' only plausible reasoning for anyone being willingly aware of their surroundings before sunrise is that monsters are clearly nocturnal creatures.

"I'm not being your accomplice," Stiles garbles around his toothbrush. "If you're going down, you're not taking me down too."

In the lighting of the gurgling coffee maker, Stiles sees Peter snatch the note away and roll his eyes heavenward like he's praying for the patience to handle Stiles. If there is a god, then Stiles is sure that he plugs his ears whenever Peter requests an audience.

"Ants," Peter tells him. "They've infested. I found them everywhere before I went to bed. Didn't you see them?"

Stiles shakes his head and gets the familiar sinking feeling he gets when he realizes he's probably just ingested his annual quota of bugs in his sleep, fighting down on the urge to gag around his toothbrush.

"Oh god," he moans, and there come the phantom crawls. "Oh no.”

“Relax,” Peter says, and yanks the toothbrush out of his mouth. “Spit. Rinse. Come back and we’ll talk.”

Stiles does so, but only returns to the bathroom on tiptoes. All it takes is one tip off and he’s hyperaware of his every surrounding, waiting for roaches to come crawling out of the sink or ants to start throwing picnics on the bathroom rug. He doesn’t think he ever really recovered from the bug disaster that was dealing with the Darach in high school, and he only returns to the kitchen with socks on that reach his knees and extremely wary steps.

“Do you have a plan?” Stiles asks him. “You’re good at killing things. Tell me you have a plan.”

“I already called the exterminator,” Peter tells him. “Apparently it’s the entire building, so we have to vacate for a few days.”

“Okay, well, that’ll work,” Stiles is in no way averse to vacating the bug-infested living space until he no longer has to worry about ants in his morning toast. He leans forward to snatch Peter’s coffee cup out of his grip and steal a few sips. It’s nearly black, and Stiles almost spits it back out as it hits his tongue. “I’ll call Scott. Who are you going to call?”

Peter raises an eyebrow. “No one.”

“Where are you going to stay, under a stairwell?”

“With you,” Peter declares, smiling. “And Scott, of course.”

“Ha,” Stiles barks. “Why don’t you call Derek or something? Or go live in a patch of moss in the woods?”

“I’d probably get along better with Scott than Derek.”

“I doubt it,” Stiles says, and steals another sip of coffee even though it makes his throat curdle. “Seriously, no sugar?”

“When you grow up, you’ll appreciate the taste,” Peter tells him, and Stiles checks his watch. Six sixteen a.m., and still sharp as a tack. Stiles is a little jealous of his sass game.

“I’ll ask Scott, sure,” he concedes. “But I doubt he’ll be up for it.”

--

The bizarre part is that Scott is up for it, but the even more bizarre part is that Scott and Peter get along. Like actual human beings who like each other.

For two days, Stiles watches them from a safe distance. It’s just plain weird, because there they are, sitting on the couch attempting to beat each other’s high scores in video games that Stiles always sucked at like they’re friends. Actual friends.

“This is weird,” Stiles says from the sidelines. He doesn’t even like this game and is in no mood to play it, but he still feels the need to comment on this new dynamic. Peter spares him a cursory glance of contempt.

“Honestly, Stiles,” he says airily. “Not everybody holds grudges like you do.”

“Says the man who went on a revenge spree that killed half the town because of a grudge.”

“Live in the present, Stiles,” Peter dispenses as a piece of wisdom that Stiles takes no notice of.

The worst part is when Isaac joins in. He feels like he’s watching an episode of Cheers as the three of them sit on the couch like they have no reason to sit as far apart as possible from the ex-murderer werewolf, and Stiles maintains a safe distance the entire evacuation period.

It certainly makes him question either his friends’ sanity, or his own maturity. Either he’s the only reasonable person left in Beacon Hills, or there’s something different about Peter, something nobody’s scared of anymore. Maybe everybody decided to leave the drama behind and enter into a new era, an era of peace that Stiles never got to sign the contract to, and now here he is watching the radical results.

“Scott,” Stiles pulls Scott aside on the second day. “You know that’s Peter, right? Peter freaking Hale?”

“Yeah,” Scott says. “But he’s also your roommate. And he’s not that bad anymore.”

“Really?”

“I thought you would know,” Scott says, slightly confused. “I mean. You are living with him.”

“I know, I just never bothered,” Stiles frowns, stopping himself. “He’s not that bad?”

Scott nods, and that’s that. It’s strange, the idea of having to perceive Peter as a normal person. Sure, a normal person with a shitty past and pretty shitty tendencies of not giving a crap about anybody but himself, but a normal person nonetheless. Not a disease to regard with extreme caution.

They make it back to the apartment two days later, every room free of bugs and smelling faintly of whatever lethal extermination fluids were sprayed left and right, and Stiles decides to do the impossible, and actually start giving Peter the benefit of the doubt.

--

Stiles wakes up his foot wedged between the couch cushions, his textbook sprawled over his lap, and Peter’s face peering at him over the back of the couch like he’s staring at a zoo animal that’s drooling into its fur. Stiles yelps and bolts up.

“Jesus fuck,” he groans, feeling another near miss when it comes to almost strokes as he fumbles to grab his book before it slips to the floor. “What, were you watching me sleep? That’s not the creepiest thing on the world at all.”

“Edward Cullen is creepy,” Peter corrects him, still watching him as he rubs the residue of the nap from his eyes. “All I am is observant.”

“Yeah, sure, believe whatever dictionary told you that,” Stiles mutters, still feeling slightly disoriented as he shakes the sleep from his head. He catches sight of the dark sky filtering through the window and really has to stop taking naps so late in the evening he ends up waking up feeling dazed, angry, and like he just visited a fifth dimension.

“Why aren’t you in bed?” Peter asks him. He checks his watch. “To say nothing of the fact that it’s only eight p.m.” He narrows his eyes at Stiles like he’s looking for signs of grandpa wrinkles. “Do I need to warm you up some warm milk as I tuck you in?”

“Fuck you,” Stiles grumbles, feeling under the couch to find the cap for his highlighter that must’ve rolled away while he was slipping into an unintentional three hour slumber. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I have an exam and I was studying.”

“Quite successfully,” Peter murmurs. He pauses. “Do you need tutoring?”

It sounds sarcastic and a little belittling, but Stiles is just exhausted enough to take what he can get and offer Peter a wordless shrug as an answer. Peter moves around the edge of the couch to the armchair and Stiles takes a deep breath, wondering where to start and how much scientific knowledge Peter has. He wouldn’t be surprised if he knows plenty. Peter’s one of those people who carries intellect under their skin and pulls it out at opportune moments to charm and please and inform, and Stiles is happy to take a shot and probe his brain.

"I just don't get it," he groans, and thinks that at this point ripping his hair strand by strand from his scalp would be more fun than staring at this dry as sandpaper textbook any longer. "It doesn't make any sense. And I live in a world where pretty much every character from the Monster Mash is real."

"What is it?" Peter asks, settling into the armchair angled next to the couch. Stiles eyes him warily because he's not sure Peter willingly sitting down to be his study buddy sounds neither plausible nor safe. Still, he's desperate enough to take whatever help he can get.

"Atoms," he moans, staring deep into the endless lines of text in his science book as if they're holding him hostage. "The center is full of positive protons. And the—did they teach this back in the Jurassic period when you were still in school?"

"I've been taught a lot of things," Peter tells him, sending a look his way that Stiles interprets as to not push his luck. "Like how to fling someone off a bridge without a trace back to you. Continue."

"Fine," Stiles grumbles. "The electrons surrounding the nucleus are all negatively charged."

"And?"

"And how the hell does that work?" Stiles persists. "How can you put negative and positive stuff together and expect them to team up?"

Peter sighs like the answer is obvious, scooting forward on the chair to look Stiles in the eye. "Why does a balloon stick to walls after rubbing it against hair? Why do the north poles of magnets repel north poles of other magnets?"

"Because, well," Stiles thinks about it. "Oh. Opposites attract."

“Right,” Peter says, and something unreadable quirks his smile like his mind has left the conversation topic. He stands up, brushing lint off his knees as he does so.

“Where are you going?” Stiles asks him instantly. “I still have three more chapters worth of questions to go through.”

“Relax,” Peter says. “You need coffee.”

He turns around and there’s Peter, fiddling with the coffee machine and pouring creamer into Stiles’ cup. He watches him the whole while—unnecessarily, apparently—because Peter prepares the cup exactly as Stiles wants it, with a buttload of sugar and only a spoonful of creamer to avoid any milky clumps.

It's the first night they spend together where they have a good time, an honest to goodness enjoyable evening, and the entire experience is so surreal by the time Stiles wakes up the next morning with his textbook on his face he can't help but wonder if the entire thing was all a vivid dream. It seems more logical than it actually having been reality.

--

Stiles is so prepared he could probably take his exam in his sleep. He's even gone out of his way to sharpen his pencil. He's ready.

He sits outside the building, breathing in the crisp air and counting the days until Thanksgiving while students race across the campus and walk in packs to conserve warmth. He knows the textbook cover to cover and could whip answers out of his ass if necessary.

So of course, given how prepared he is, the world has other plans.

His phone rings, an insistent vibration in his pocket, and Stiles fumbles for it in his jeans. It's Parrish, someone Stiles hasn't heard from since his visit home over the summer, and he picks it up with a smile that only takes four seconds to be wiped off.

"Hey, man, what's up?" Stiles asks.

"Stiles, hey," Parrish says, but there's something clipped and worried in his tone. Stiles straightens up. "I don't want to worry you, but your dad—"

"Oh god," Stiles scrambles to get to his feet, holding onto the frigid brick wall behind him for purchase and scratching his palms in the process. "Is he. Is he—"

"He's fine, but he's at the hospital," Parrish says, and he keeps talking before Stiles can start picturing hundreds of gory scenarios in which his father is bloodied to a pulp at the hands of a few goons or some stray gunshots. "He had a heart attack. You don't have to come, but I just thought you should know. You don't have to—"

"Fuck that," Stiles says right away, grabbing his backpack with a shaky hand. "I'm coming. I'll have Scott pick me up—shit, he's taking a test."

"Stiles, it's okay. You don't have to come."

"I'll find a way, just—just tell him I'll be there."

He hangs up before Parrish can protest further, already halfway across the street even if he has no idea where he's going. Scott dropped him off this morning in the hopes that they could celebrate the end of testing season and the beginning of fall break at a laser tag joint after they both finished their exams, and now here he is with no ride and no way to get to the hospital. He didn't bust his ass the summer he was sixteen to pass his driver's license test to be stuck in a parking lot years later as an honest to goodness adult.

He grabs his phone and scrolls down his contacts. Kids from high school who are halfway across the US in out of state universities, cousins and aunts he only ever sees every other July 4th, and random kids who sit behind him in lectures that he's shared a joke with here and there and happened to also exchange numbers with. None of them fit the bill for this particular situation. It looks like it'll be inevitable.

He calls Peter, his pride forgotten in favor of his priorities, and all but gnaws his fingernails down to stubs while it rings. He knows perfectly well that Peter spends his morning lazing over coffee and the paper, not busy with work and errands, so if he doesn't pick up in the next ten seconds Stiles will be forced to remove his kneecaps tonight for ignoring him during his time of need.

"Stiles," Peter greets as he picks up. "You'll be fine on the exam, and I'm afraid those are all the compliments I'm willing to spare you."

"Not the exam," Stiles says running his hands through his hair to occupy his jittery fingers. He knows that Parrish said that his dad was fine, but still, he'd never forgive himself if his father woke up in a hospital alone. "I need a ride, I need a ride now. My dad's in the hospital."

"Shhh," Peter's saying, and if it's supposed to soothe him into slowing down, Stiles is not in the mood to have his nerves hushed. "What's going on?"

"I need you to come get me," Stiles tells him, and leaves it at that.

"Pushy," Peter murmurs, and Stiles feels the taut bubble of his patience burst.

"Peter," he growls, two seconds away from bodily throwing his phone into the street out of sheer frustration.

"Relax, I'm already getting my keys," Peter says. "Just stay calm. And leave your fingernails alone."

"What?"

"You bite them when you're nervous," Peter murmurs, and adds as an afterthought, "you notice these things after living in close quarters with all of your idiosyncrasies."

"Creepy," Stiles' autopilot says in default response to most of Peter's comments. "Just hurry up already."

It feels like three ice ages and a few alien invasions have come and gone by the time Peter shows up, even if his watch tries to assure him that it’s only a few extra minutes. His car, sleek and promising to be prompt when it comes to breaking the speed limit on the way to the hospital, swerves up onto the curb and Stiles jumps into it like it's his getaway vehicle.

The drive is fast and Stiles doesn’t breathe the entire way until Peter tells him to let the air out, and even then, Stiles doesn’t listen. Peter offers him an upturned hand over the console and for a moment, Stiles can’t tell it if it’s for actual comfort or to get Stiles to break into laughter, but Stiles steadfastly ignores him either way.

They make it to the hospital and Stiles runs up to the front desk with the clumsy hyperactive skittishness that used to permeate his every move in high school, and for whatever reason, Peter follows him, probably to make sure that Stiles doesn’t pass out on the way upstairs to his father’s room. He doesn’t mind the extra assistance, if anything, it’s oddly welcome, and he wastes no time booking it to the elevator.

And then the first thing Stiles does upon seeing his dad in a patterned gown while a machine beeps methodically by his side is squeak and sputter. It’s not the most graceful moment of his life.

"Oh, no. Stiles, you're supposed to be in school."

Stiles feels his face twist up into something sad and ugly, the same face he makes right before the urge to burst into extremely manly tears wells up in his chest. He feels his heart bob in his esophagus and kneels by his father’s bed as he takes in the dreadful sight, from the IV sticking out of his arm to the exhaust evident in the creases on his forehead. Stiles feels another sputter slip free from his mouth.

“Dad, what happened?”

His father shrugs, clearly not taking this as dead seriously as Stiles is, and pats Stiles consolingly on the head.

“No idea. I was just doing paperwork and suddenly didn’t feel so hot anymore.”

Stiles pitches his forehead against the scratchy hospital linens and lets himself breathe again. “You should cut back on work,” he murmurs on the sheets. His father sighs.

“I’m fine,” he assures him. “Parrish brought me to the hospital right away and it looks like there won’t be any lasting damage.” He scrubs his hand through Stiles’ head in the same soft way his mother used to comb her fingers through his hair. “How’d you get here so fast?”

Stiles motions half-heartedly to the door. “My,” he pauses, and struggles to find the right word, “new roommate brought me.”

“You didn’t tell me you got a roommate.”

“I would’ve thought Scott would’ve tattled on me,” Stiles tells him. “I just recently learned you two have secret meetings where you worry about my diet together.”

His dad chuckles, a comforting sound. “I guess it’s in our Stilinski blood to worry about each other.”

The nurse comes in then, holding blood pressure cuffs and clipboards, and Stiles takes that as his cue to vacate. She smiles at him as he gets to his feet, however, and Stiles hopes that it’s one of those wrinkly, reassuring smiles from old ladies that know more about the world than he does letting him know that everything will be fine. He slips out the door and shuts it behind him, his eyes landing on Parrish at the end of the hall when he looks up.

“Hey,” Stiles calls out, walking up to him. “Thanks for bringing him and calling me and everything.”

“Just doing my job,” Parrish says. “Looking after your dad is just a perk of the job.”

“I know what it is,” Stiles says, gnawing at his fingernail again. “It’s all those—”

“—cheeseburgers,” Parrish finishes for him with a knowing smile. Stiles blinks and feels something run through him like a thrill at finding a kindred spirit—or maybe it’s just those amazing eyes—and cracks a laugh.

“You’re his deputy! Don’t you watch his eating habits?” Stiles asks him.

“I try to look after him,” Parrish says. “He knows I’m on to him. I actually think he’s been sneaking chicken wings into his desk drawers.”

They laugh together, a pleasant sound after nearly giving into the urge to break the window with his fist when he was in the car, and Stiles catches Peter’s eye across the hall, something tense in his expression as his eyes land on Stiles chatting with Parrish. There’s a coffee cup in his hand that he’s stirring so hard it looks like he’s giving it a harsh spanking, and Stiles turns back to Parrish, only mildly disturbed. He’s pretty sure nothing about Peter’s erratic behavior surprises him anymore.

“We should team up,” Stiles suggests. “Try and keep him in line with the healthy food and all. We could be in cahoots.”

Parrish’s face lights up with a smile, and Stiles is once again reminded of how attractive his father’s deputy is. He’s not blind, he’s been watching Parrish with eagle eyes ever since junior year, but with all the drama that came with having supernatural friends in high school and then dealing with college, he’s never had time to stop and appreciate him before.

“I’d like that,” Parrish says, and then he smiles, reaching for something in his back pocket. “Let me tell you what. Why don’t we keep in touch more often?”

It’s his ticket pad, and across the lines he writes a telltale seven digit number that has Stiles wondering if his flirting’s really improved that much since he was sixteen as he rips the paper free from the rest.

“I have to say, I’m not great at flirting my way out of tickets,” Stiles says, and wonders what deities are smiling down at him to let him be witty enough in this conversation to not fall over his own feet. Usually he’s such an easy target for laughter.

“It’s my cell number,” Parrish says, handing him the piece of paper. “I’d like it if we got to know each other more.”

“Yeah. I mean, it’s been a few years,” Stiles reasons, tucking it into his pocket. “I’m always at the station and never once have we had lunch.”

“We’ll have to remedy that,” Parrish says, and then Stiles’ response is cut off when a body sidles up next to him, Peter’s arm firm against his. Stiles turns to him and sees something unnaturally primal in his eyes, almost like being in a hospital is bringing back unpleasant memories, and Stiles hopes he isn’t viewing this as a prime opportunity to show the police force what he thinks of their crime solving skills by mauling one of their deputies.

“Hi,” Peter drawls. The smile on his face looks pleasant enough to anybody but Stiles, who knows better. He jams his elbow into Peter’s ribcage and Peter does a flawless job of ignoring him. “I’m Stiles’ roommate.”

“What the hell are you doing?” Stiles mutters under his breath, because wow, that couldn’t have sounded more blatantly gay even if he had looped their fingers together and starting babbling about how they live in a one bedroom apartment.

Parrish seems unfazed, however, smiling and extending his hand for a greeting, courteous as always. Peter shakes his hand and Stiles watches his fingers turn white on Parrish’s grip. Stiles elbows him harder.

“Nice to meet you,” Parrish says, and then turns to Stiles. “And I look forward to hearing from you, Stiles. I’ll see you later, but I should probably check in with the station.”

And then he’s turning around and ducking into the nearest corner behind a vending machine to update the station on the sheriff’s condition, and the second he’s out of sight, Stiles whips around to Peter.

I’m his roommate,” Stiles repeats, and it sounds even worse the second time around. “Do you enjoy people thinking that we’re some sort of dysfunctional homosexual couple?”

“Just introducing myself,” Peter says around a toothy grin.

“Okay, fine,” Stiles crosses his arms. “Do you enjoy making my life much harder than it already is?”

“Yes,” Peter murmurs around the lid of his coffee cup, and checks his watch while Stiles is busy muttering about how unfair life is. “Go spend time with your father. I’ll be in the lobby.”

He decides to follow his advice, but not before he watches him walk down the hallway looking like his day was just made by interrupting Stiles’ attempts to flirt with a handsome man.

Well. That’s strange.

--

Two hours, three hospital coffees and one long hug later, Stiles declares his afternoon annihilated. Scott is just getting out of his class when he texts Stiles back as Stiles climbs into Peter’s car and rests his head against the window, drained and tired enough to doze off right here on Peter’s freezing leather seats.

“Cheer up,” Peter says as he starts the car and navigates them smoothly out of the parking lot. As grateful as Stiles is that Peter actually delivered when he needed him and got him to the hospital in record time, Stiles is not averse to strangling him here and now over the console if he tests him enough. “Even your father thought you were overreacting.”

“I wasn’t overreacting,” Stiles says hotly, rolling his temple against the cool window. “He almost died.”

“He didn’t almost die,” Peter feels the need to correct. “He’s perfectly healthy. Except perhaps laying it on a bit thick on the greasy fast food—not that you and the lovely deputy haven’t already discussed that at length.”

“He could’ve, and it just,” Stiles takes a deep breath to try and keep the wetness pushing insistently at his eyes at bay. He hasn’t cried for years, not for something real and personal, and it feels like weakness as it slides down his cheek. “It reminded me of my mom.”

“You’d have gotten over it.”

“Can you just try to be a real person for just like two seconds please?” Stiles spits out, digging his palms into the dampness on his eyelashes. The last thing he needs today after the image of his father lying motionless in a hospital bed while a machine turns his heartbeat into nothing but a mechanical beeping is burned into his brain and he missed a final that will probably plunge his grade down into disastrous figures is to start crying in Peter’s car. This would be a new personal low to him, so Stiles resolutely presses his hands into his eyes to stop the tears until it feels like he’s pushing his eyeballs back into his skull.

“What are you even upset about?” Peter asks, sounding no more sensitive to Stiles’ feelings, almost like Stiles isn’t hunched over in the passenger seat trying not to weep. “He’s fine. He’ll recover just fine too.”

“Sorry if I don’t take well to the image of my father in a freaking hospital bed,” Stiles spits out, and he stares fixedly at the loose threads in his jeans to keep his emotions at bay.

“He’s fine,” Peter insists. “Look at me. I survived a coma and I turned out magnificently.”

He flashes Stiles a toothy grin that does little to ease Stiles’ distress, like death has become a joke to him along the way, and Stiles winds his shaking hands into his hair and doesn’t give him the satisfaction of replying. What was he expecting, trying to get a murder empathize with him over the idea of his father dying. He takes a rattling breath and Peter sighs, the exhale sounding in the car sounding much more annoyed than it does disappointed with Stiles’ strength.

“You do realize that the dead parents, hopelessly orphaned trait isn’t exactly a new and novel idea?” Peter says, sounding clipped and just angry enough that Stiles pays attention.

“Who are you talking about? Harry Potter?”

Me,” he seethes, unamused. “And if it’s happened to me, it’s happened to others. And if it’s happened to others, it could probably happen to you. You deal with it.”

Stiles feels something inside him simmer down at the sight of Peter’s indignant rage. All right, so he probably isn’t being the most selfless person on earth, dragging the coma victim into a hospital and letting him soak in the stench of medicinal chemicals that probably haunted his nightmares and then babbling about the pain of losing family, but being selfless won’t make it any less sad. He takes a breath in.

“Fine,” Stiles admits. “I guess I’m lucky that he’s alive. I just… can’t stand the thought of him being gone.”

“Stop thinking about him being gone when he’s right there,” Peter says. “He’s alive. Don’t waste his life worrying about his death.”

It actually makes sense and makes Stiles feel like he should probably take advantage of the present more often—no more choosing to stay home with mac’n’cheese when someone wants to hang out, that’s for sure—and the fact that he’s taking life advice from Peter is a little alarming.

"I'm not saying he'll never die," Peter says. "Because he will."

"Wow, I feel so much better."

"But he won't be gone," Stiles knits his eyebrows together, so Peter elaborates. "You'll see him everyday. All around you, even in yourself. You'll notice that you make coffee the same way or like the same music. He'll always be there. For years I saw Talia in Derek. They hold themselves the same way, with the same poise."

Stiles stares.

"Hold on a moment," he back pedals, sitting up. "Was that you being a human for a split second?"

“Don’t make a fuss,” Peter tells him instantly. “It’s been known to happen.”

He swerves off the beaten path, driving down a street that goes east of the apartment building. Stiles frowns.

“That’s not the right way.”

“I know,” Peter says, making no effort to turn around. “I’m taking you to the campus museum.”

“What,” Stiles didn’t even know they had a campus museum. Campus crack dens, campus coffee shops, campus libraries, sure. “The campus museum? Why?”

“You need a distraction,” Peter says simply. He stops at a red light and turns to him. “You’re upset, aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” Stiles says. “And you care?”

“That’s a loaded word,” Peter dismisses, running his hands over the steering wheel while waiting for the light to change. “I also happen to like the museum. It’s not like I’m doing you a favor.”

“Oh, okay,” Stiles says, but he still has trouble processing the idea of Peter deciding to offer him a distraction because he recognizes signs of distress. It’s a little hard to imagine that Peter’s brain even functions on those thoughts.

They pull up to the museum five minutes later, an impressive building of tall stature and white marble that Stiles has never seen before, and they spend the next two hours looking at abstract art, saying nothing. It’s one of the strangest afternoons of his life, not only because he’s just flunked the biggest science test of the semester not counting the final and he still has the hospital stink on his clothes, but because he actually has a good time. He usually needs Scott and a healthy dose of useless conversation and bad puns to enjoy himself, also involving but not requiring Doritos and video games, not stuffy tour groups and paintings that don’t reply to him when he chatters.

He learns that day that Peter likes art, which is unfortunate, because it’s just one more fact he has to consider into the evidence file he’s been mentally compiling that Peter Hale is actually a three-dimensional person.

--

Carefully add three eggs at a time the recipe propped up on Stiles’ phone reads to him, and Stiles considers it before dumping all eggs at once. Life is short.

“Honey, I’m home,” Peter calls from the door, shutting it behind him and shrugging off his coat. “Something smells good.”

“Dear god, don’t talk to me like that,” Stiles calls back, vigorously stirring in his dry ingredients and waiting for the lumps to disappear out of what used to be a promising batter. By this point he’s a little sweaty and a lot hungry and has abandoned all hopes of pursuing a career in the culinary arts.

“Dinner on the table yet?” Peter asks him, sidling up next to Stiles to look over his shoulder at the batter he’s butchered over the past half an hour.

“I already ate,” Stiles says. “And stop talking to me like I’m your wife.”

Peter sighs, quite theatrically. “But you’d make a good wife,” he says, right before ripping the spoon out of Stiles’ hand and taking over the preparation. “Except for your dismal skills in the kitchen. We’ll have to work on that.”

“There were so many things wrong with that sentence, I don’t even know where to start.”

“What is this supposed to be?” Peter asks him, wrinkling his nose at the clumpy mess sitting in the bowl in front of him.

Cake,” Stiles says, quite defensively, but still slides out of the way to give Peter room. If he’s good at baking as he is at cooking, Stiles will give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to salvaging his dessert.

“You didn’t follow the recipe, did you,” Peter accuses, hardly amused.

“So I didn’t put in the eggs one at a time or sift the flour. So sue me.”

Peter raises an eyebrow at the batter and then to Stiles, like Stiles should never be allowed in the kitchen again as long as he’s under the illusion that toasting bread for breakfast is a real life cooking adventure. Stiles refuses to have a conversation with his judgmental eyebrow.

“You’re horrible at obedience,” Peter sums up. “Why am I not surprised.”

It sounds like he isn’t talking about the recipe at all, and Stiles is about ready to hide his flush in the sink when Peter crowds into his personal space and slides a thumb down his chin.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

“Relax,” Peter pulls away a moment later to reveal his thumb, smudged white with flour, and Stiles unclenches. “Unless you always want to walk around looking like a dirty peasant.”

“Dirty peasant?” Stiles parrots, not amused. He smacks Peter’s hand aside as he brushes the flour away from his fingertips and snatches the bowl from him. The lumps look mostly salvaged, and Stiles takes what he can get and starts pouring it into the cake mold.

“You didn’t oil it,” Peter points out, tipping his hip against the oven. Stiles grinds his teeth together and ignores him.

“I’ll eat it out of the fucking mold. It’s cake.”

“What’s the occasion?”

Stiles shoves the cake into the oven and backs away, letting the minions in his stove do the rest of the work. As long as he keeps one eye on the oven, his cake should come out just fine.

“Parrish is coming over,” Stiles says. “We’re watching some TV shows together. He never gets the time to watch anything because he’s always working and we thought we could do it together.” He brushes the residue flour off his jeans and glances up at Peter. “You can join us if you really, really, really want to.”

“I really don’t,” Peter dismisses as Stiles goes to lick the remainder of the batter out of the bowl. He goes for it, sticking his face in to catch the leftovers with his tongue, and when he pulls back, Peter is scowling. “You’re a mess.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Stiles says, and Peter reaches out to snag another smudge on his cheek, this time a drop of batter. He sticks it into Stiles’ face and on impulse, Stiles licks it off. Something flashes in Peter’s eyes that’s gone a second later.

“Just keep it down,” Peter says, brushing his hands off on his pants and disappearing into his room. It happens in a flash—one second he’s dragging his thumb down Stiles’ chin to clean off the drops of batter, and the next, his door is shut and he’s out of sight, and Stiles has no clue what to make of his behavior. He absentmindedly wonders if Derek had to deal with these attitudes when Peter was keeping up residence in his loft, and if that’s one of the many reasons why he was never in a particularly good mood. Stiles will never know.

Parrish shows up an hour later just in time for Stiles to pull the cake free from the oven—lopsided and a little charred on the edges, but perfectly edible nonetheless—and Stiles saves Peter a piece that is eaten without thank you the next day when he comes back home from school.

--

They keep up the post-it business after the ant incident. It’s the best way for Stiles to passive-aggressively vent about Peter’s habits from that point on, sticking notes like I will put WOLFSBANE on your toothbrush if you leave it on MY SIDE of the sink again!!! on the wall and Peter responding with a that’s not very nice a few hours later.

They migrate away from the bathroom mirror, however. Peter starts leaving him reminders when his favorite TV shows will be on and sticking them to the door so he has something to look forward to on his way out to class in the morning, and sometimes Stiles leaves notes on the covers of the books Peter leaves sitting on the coffee table remarking how he made it two pages in before the sheer dullness caused him to give up reading more.

Today it’s an all capslock note taped by the sink reading SHOCKING NEWSFLASH: DISHES DON’T WASH THEMSELVES, clearly the aftermath of their night of cake baking during which Stiles dutifully ignored the plates and bowls and whisks piling up in the dish rack after the cake came out of the oven. The sarcasm is almost overwhelming, even to Stiles, and he purposefully ignores the dishes if only to annoy Peter further and provide himself the entertainment of watching the vein on Peter’s forehead pulse when he sees the dishes piled up by the sink. It’s too enjoyable to resist.

--

Living with Peter sheds light on a few questions, taking a fair share of mystery out of the monster. Like the fact that Peter is anal about the toilet seat. Or that he’s a creature of habit when it comes to doing laundry on Tuesday nights. Or that he has human things and does human routines, like have a birthday. It comes as a shock on a particular day when Peter’s rifling through the mail.

"Hmmm," Peter murmurs, eyes roving down the letter he grabs from the pile as he stirs his coffee with his spare hand.

"Anything important?"

"My insurance company," he says, and then casually stuffs the paper back into the envelope. "They wished me a happy birthday."

A happy birthday. Peter has a birthday, of course he does. Stiles doesn’t know why he completely skipped over the possibility of that, like he was born in the woods and raised by wolves and didn’t bother celebrating humanoid trivialities like birthdays. Stiles’ eyes flick down to the stack of letters and that’s it, that’s the only one for Peter, and there’s his phone on the counter, silent. Nobody except for his insurance company cares. Stiles feels something like pity form inside him as he puts down the orange juice.

“Oh,” he says. Peter seems to notice the way his face twists as if still trying to comprehend the fact that Peter celebrates birthdays like everybody else and promptly rolls his eyes, smacking the letter down onto the counter.

“Don’t,” he warns sharply. “I don’t want you feeling sorry for me.”

“I’m not, I just,” Stiles sorts through thirty excuses in his brain before landing on one acceptable explanation. “…I didn’t get you anything.”

Neither did anyone else, his brain reminds him. A few years ago, he probably would laughed and said something smug about karma and what comes around goes around, bitch, but now nothing seems sadder than somebody—anybody—not having cake and presents and someone to sing the birthday song at them somewhere public and horribly off-key.

Peter snorts. “Nice save,” he murmurs. “It’s fine. I’ve had several birthdays alone, this one won’t be any different. I’m used to it.”

Stiles cringes. Could this get any sadder? He feels obligated to do something, something other than his original plan of sitting at home watching TV and then meeting up with Parrish for lunch. He just hopes roommate emergency doesn’t sound like he and Peter are off fucking somewhere. He sighs and puts the juice carton back into the fridge, downing his glass in a few quick gulps.

“Okay, get dressed,” he says, snatching the letter out from underneath Peter’s grip. “We have to do something.”

“Do something?”

“Celebrate,” Stiles clarifies. He has no idea what the plan is, especially considering that he has no idea what Peter does for fun. Hunt small children? Offer them candy in crowded malls? Get a manicure to sharpen his claws? He’ll have to decide something on the way.

“I’d rather not,” Peter mutters, reaching for the newspaper, and Stiles grabs it before he can.

“I’m only asking once more and I know you want to,” Stiles grits out. “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Peter snipes, but he’s putting down his coffee and getting to his feet. “If it’s my birthday, shouldn’t you be the one doing the work?”

Fine,” Stiles mentally starts sorting through the nearest store he knows that isn’t a supermarket or a pharmacy. As far as he knows, there’s a frozen yogurt place that’s only a few blocks away, and if he’s lucky Peter might not even complain about his choice of venue. Only if he’s lucky.

Peter grumbles, but he puts on his jacket and slips on his shoes, and they make it to the yogurt shop with minimal complaints on the way. Stiles doesn’t hold the door open even if it is his birthday and feels absolutely no remorse about it.

Still, it’s a pretty nice place to spend a birthday. There’s enough sugar in the store alone to send an entire bus full of kids reeling, and the selection is impressive. Considering Peter’s spent his last few birthdays sitting at home with absolutely no company or comfort, he should be dancing in victory just because his birthday has actually been acknowledged.

"What's your poison?" Stiles asks him, sweeping his hand over the menu.

“Hmm,” Peter considers the vast array of decorative sprinkles and list of toppings, considering. He shoots Stiles a grin. “Since you’re paying, everything.”

“I should’ve known,” Stiles raps his knuckles on the counter until the kid puttering about in the kitchen notices their presence and heads for the counter, someone young with a freckled face and blond hair that Stiles has probably seen around campus. “Can we get some yogurt?”

“Sure,” the guy says, “Two cups for you guys?”

“Looks like it,” Stiles says, already calculating exactly how many bills he has on hand. If Peter ends up ladling as many toppings as he’s anticipating him doing just to peeve Stiles, he’ll probably have to pay with a fifty. And this is why, he thinks sourly, Peter has no friends.

"Have you been here before?" The cashier asks as he scoops out a few generous spoons of yogurt into Stiles' cup.

"Nope, first time in."

"I should've known," the man says, and Stiles swears he sees a subtle wink bat his eye. "I would've recognized a face like that."

Huh, that's interesting, Stiles thinks as a flattered grin breaks apart his face. It's been awhile since he's been flirted with in broad daylight while he's being treated to an extra spoon of yogurt that hardly fits in his small cup. It's still as satisfying as he remembers it feeling, and Stiles takes a moment to bask in the sensation before he takes his cup primed for toppings from the cashier.

"He's a little too busy to come in," Peter's voice breaks in, deeper than usual, and then the side of his thigh bumps into Stiles'. Innocently, he adds, "Schoolwork, and all."

Stiles looks up from where he's piling chunks of cookie dough on his yogurt just in time to see Peter shooting lasers across the counter, and when Stiles meets his eyes, Peter does nothing but send him a smile that's probably meant to be reassuring but makes him feel like he just walked into a crime scene and now knows too much to be let free.

"Oh," the cashier says, an imperceptible lilt of disappointment in his voice. He passes Peter his cup which Peter takes care to grab from him with eyes that are a threat all their own. Stiles elbows him in the ribs to keep his ravenous werewolf urges in check and Peter promptly drapes an arm around Stiles' back, three fingers curling over his hipbone. "Today's my birthday."

Stiles looks down at the hand on his hip—almost protective—and wonders if Peter knows exactly what message he's sending out. From the way their sides are pressed together like not even atoms could fit between them, Stiles is thinking that there isn't much room for interpretation. Huh. That's more flirting he's been on the receiving end of in the last hour than he's been lucky enough to encounter in the past few months.

"Oh," the cashier says again, sounding more deflated by the second. He's kind of cute when he's not frowning so much, and Stiles wonders if he should feel irked that Peter's scaring away his potential hook-ups. If he thinks he’s being paternal, Stiles isn’t a fan of the fatherly protection. He tries to wiggle out of his grip to no avail as the cashier wanders over to the register to ring them up. “Will that be all?”

“Yup, that’ll do it,” Stiles says as he rummages around in his jeans for a few crumpled bills while the cashier weighs their cups. Peter’s is stacked tremendously high, high enough that Stiles is pretty sure he’ll lose half of his toppings on the way to the table, and considers that he’ll let his frustrating antics slide for today and today only. It’s his birthday, after all.

The cashier slips him the receipt and slumps away, Peter’s hand cupping his hip and guiding him to a table in the far corner. Stiles manages to wriggle free by the time they sit down, wondering if he should glare or ask questions or just accept this as another inane werewolf trait he’ll never actually understand.

"So what was that about?" Stiles mumbles as they sit down with their yogurts in hand, digging into the layer of chocolate chips coating the top. At fifteen whopping bucks this stuff better be spiked with marijuana.

"What?" Peter says in return, the face of indifference.

"That—that thing you did with the cashier," Stiles says. He has no idea how to label it except that it was downright strange. Peter's looking at him from around his spoon like he'd be well advised to drop it.

"Come on, Stiles," he admonishes. "Don't make it weird."

"Yeah. God forbid things get weird," Stiles mutters to his chocolate chips. However, there is no such thing as mumbling things privately to himself, not when he's out lunching with a werewolf, and he watches as Peter scoffs at Stiles' comment.

"I can't imagine to what you're referring to," Peter says loftily. "I'd have thought you'd be used to having werewolves around by now."

"It's not the—never freaking mind," Stiles grinds that topic hard into the ground and shoves another blend of yogurt and sprinkles and what he can only assume is a chunk of cheesecake he ladled into his cup on impulse into his mouth, steering the conversation elsewhere the second his mouth is free again. "So. How old are you?"

“An age,” Peter murmurs around his spoonful. “Next year, I expect you to get me an actual present.”

“If you make it to seventy, sure,” Stiles shoots back without missing a beat. Sometimes they just fall right out of his sleeve. “You really think you’ll still be around next year?”

“I haven’t yet arranged funeral services, if that’s what you mean.”

“No, I mean. Living with me. Permeating my life.”

“Hmmm,” Peter licks his spoon clean, considering it. “We’ll see, won’t we?”

Stiles imagines it. Another three-hundred and sixty-five days in which they don’t mangle or murder each other and actually decide to willingly renew the lease and live together in harmony. It seems extremely unlikely, and Stiles snorts.

“Yeah,” he says, swallowing another spoonful that gives him a spectacular brain freeze. “We’ll see.”

They spend the rest of the day out of the apartment, walking around campus letting Peter scare the passerby with his flashing eyes and eating dinner somewhere nicer than the average drive through. It’s not a bad way to spend the day, and Peter doesn’t complain about being dragged out again at all.

--

It's a Tuesday when it hits Stiles exactly how nauseatingly domestic they are.

He has no idea how this happened. One night he was banging on this bedroom wall to get Peter to shut up and the next they're in the bathroom fighting over sink space.

Stiles looks up at the two of them in the mirror, and there's Peter, meticulously shaving his jaw with a razor while Stiles brushes his teeth. There's foam oozing from his mouth and his hair is sticking up in so many directions it looks like he's trying to pick up TV channels with the strands, and he doesn't even care. Peter Hale is seeing him at his most vulnerable, when he's soft with sleep and his eyelids are still drooping with the idea of returning to his pillow, and he doesn't care. He should probably be frightened for his life.

And then Peter turns to him, running the razor through the bath of water sitting in the sink to wash off the excess shaving cream, and says, "Would you mind bringing in the paper?" and Stiles feels like he's landed in an alternate dimension.

“No,” Stiles says right away. “I don’t even like you.”

Peter looks at him, eyebrows furrowed and razor in hand. “Okay?” he says. “But that sounds like your problem, not mine. Now get me the paper.”

“Oh my god, no.”

He spits and rinses his mouth like he has the president knocking on his door, and with that he’s stumbling out of the bathroom and shutting the door behind him as he goes. The entire apartment is full of their domesticity, from the way their DVDs are mingling on the TV stand to how their shoes are lined up side by side at the door. It’s creepy.

He thinks he needs a break from this madness, and that includes physically leaving the apartment behind for at least a few days. Peter’s a big boy, and Stiles is sure he’ll be jumping at the change to have the place to himself.

--

The opportunity presents itself with Thanksgiving, when Stiles’ father calls to invite him back home for the weekend.

“So I’m leaving for a few days,” Stiles says with a duffel swung over his shoulder while Peter surfs channels and props his feet up on the coffee table. “Can I trust you here alone or should I baby proof the entire apartment before I go?”

“As hard as it is to survive without you,” Peter shoots him a look. “I’m a successful grown up.”

“I’ll believe that when I see it.”

“Where are you going?” Peter asks suddenly.

“To my dad’s,” Stiles tells him.

“Who else is going?”

“Scott and me are driving together, so he’s coming. And his mom,” he says. And people say Stiles is the nosy one. “And Parrish will be there too.”

“Ah,” Peter says, and pauses. Then, “Have fun.”

Stiles offers him a thumbs up, rearranging his duffel bag and heading for the door when he stops halfway there. He turns around on his heel. “What are you going to do?”

“Nothing,” Peter says easily.

“No turkey? No pies?”

“I’m just one person. It would be a waste,” Peter doesn’t seem disturbed, but the entire conversation is disturbing Stiles. The saddest part is that he can picture it perfectly, Peter sitting home alone in the shadows doing crossword puzzles like an elderly woman while families across the country laugh in the presence of the cousins they hate while they stuff themselves to the brim with poultry. He wonders the last time the Hales had family Thanksgiving, or if they ever did, and if Peter misses it.

He wonders for a second if he should give Peter a hug, just a quick one with a few pats on the back to let him know it’s okay if he dies alone, and decides against it when Peter raises his eyebrows at him, clearly losing his patience as the seconds tick by.

“Okay, well,” Stiles shrugs, unsure of what to do with his hands now that he’s decided firmly against the hug. “I’ll be back soon.”

“No hurry,” Peter says, but he still smiles back when Stiles waves goodbye and slips out the door, feeling like the worst roommate in the world. All he needs to do now is leave a bucket of water over Peter’s door and he’ll win the contest for sure.

--

“Do you think I should’ve invited him?” Stiles asks Scott as he passes him a plate of baked potatoes the size of his entire arm. He’s full, full to the point of bursting, but the idea of stopping the flow of food into his mouth seems preposterous. There are still cranberries and pies to come and he needs to be stronger than this.

“You considered it?” Scott asks, baffled. “So you guys are getting along now?”

“Well,” Stiles doesn’t feel like either a yes or a no will do justice for the question. “I have no idea. I guess so. We’ve had a lot of nights where we actually got along. Plus he knows how I take my coffee. That’s gotta count for something, right?”

“How’s his murder count?”

“Zero, as far as I know,” Stiles says breezily. It feels good to talk this freely about murderers. “We actually went out for his birthday and had fun. Am I going crazy?”

“Stiles! Don’t hoard the stuffing. Keep it moving.”

“Sorry, dad,” Stiles sends the pan of stuffing surfing across the table into his father’s arms and catches Parrish’s eye on the way. He looks great even when he’s ladling a truckload of turkey onto his plate, and Stiles thinks that’s a special brand of attractiveness. He grins and Parrish mirrors him.

“So he’s just sitting in your apartment alone?” Scott pulls the conversation back as Melissa grabs the sheriff’s attention again, and Stiles turns to him once more. There’s turkey fat all over Scott’s mouth that Stiles does not bring to his attention. Just for a little bit.

“Yeah,” Stiles admits. “Should I feel bad?”

“I dunno,” Scott shrugs. “Text him.”

It’s a good idea, so Stiles fumbles in his pocket to pull out his phone, debating between the asshole option of sending Peter a picture of all the juicy food stacked high on his plate or the kinder choice of asking him what’s up. Stiles goes for the latter because he is a lovely Samaritan.

He ends up texting him a friendly i will not ever eat again. too much food. is the apartment still in one piece?

“So Stiles, how’s school going?”

He jerks his head up from his phone to catch the tail end of Parrish’s question, genuinely interested in Stiles’ life, and Stiles tucks his phone under the edge of his plate to give him attention. He’s three sentences into explaining how he should never have thought Geology 101 was a good idea when his phone buzzes on the tablecloth.

Multiple pieces. So much blood. So many body parts.

Stiles smirks and stops talking, sliding his phone open to type a response back. “One second,” he tells Parrish, tapping back a cheeky need help hiding the corpses?

I thought you’d never ask.

He writes back a haha because hey, it’s pretty funny to joke about massacres when for once there’s no real intent behind it, and then adds a what did you have for dinner?

Nothing yet. Any ideas?

TURKEY!!

Do you think I keep up this amazing physique by eating sixteen pound birds?

“Is he okay?” Scott asks, peering over his shoulder, and Stiles nods. His banter is at top notch, so he can’t be sulking in the dark too much.

I’ll bring you some leftovers back Stiles writes him back, and waits for the inevitable contemptuous response.

As expected, thirty seconds later, Peter’s message pops in. Since when do you think I eat leftovers?

as an animal who was literally raised in the woods i assumed you didn’t have high standards for your food.

“Everything okay?” Parrish asks as Stiles tucks his phone away again. God bless him. Caring and just beautiful enough to make Stiles thinks he’s stumbled onto a mirage. Not a bad package.

“Yeah. It’s just my roommate.”

“Bring him next time,” Parrish suggests with a smile, and Stiles wishes he would just be a little more jealous. Nothing wrong with a little envy to spice up a blossoming relationship.

Peter buzzes in then with Does your pretty boy crush still look quite so pretty when he’s bloated on carbs? and Stiles decides to ignore him for the rest of the weekend.

--

When Thanksgiving weekend ends, Stiles is actually happy to come back home to his messy, ant-infested apartment with the faulty washing machines and the horrendously thin walls.

No idea why.

--

“Listen up,” Stiles says the day mid-December rolls around without warning. “We’re gonna have about forty people here probably trying to climb the ceiling fan in a few days. So if you’re worried about your pacemaker, you should probably clear out for the night.”

“As humorous as I find your jabs directed to my age,” Peter growls, casually picking up his coffee with a clawed hand that doesn’t scare Stiles as much as it probably should. It’s hard to be threatened by a man who spends a good hour lathering up in the shower and threading leave-in conditioner into his hair. “I’m not that old.”

“I’m just saying,” Stiles says as he ladles spoonfuls of scrambled eggs into his mouth at the speed of a boy late for his morning class. Parking’s going to be such a nightmare by the time he arrives he’s considering sending a convincing email to his professor explaining in explicit detail the horrible virus he’s picked up that affects his sinuses, throat, and his bowel movements. “There won’t be any other granddads around.”

“You’re not as hilarious as you think you are,” Peter says, buttering his toast with his claws curled around his knife. It looks ridiculous.

“You look ridiculous,” Stiles deadpans. “Put those away before you hurt yourself.”

Peter’s eyes bore into his, hardly amused, as his claws retract back into blunt fingernails. The fact that this is old hat to Stiles probably says something about the state of his life. He needs more human friends. “I’m not leaving for your party,” he growls. “But you should know if somebody so much as touches my room, I’m not responsible for using their intestines as a jump rope.”

“As endearing as I find your threats at eight in the morning,” Stiles mutters, checking his watch again. He’s definitely not going to make his class in time, even if he sprints across campus and finds a hover board on the way. “This party is supposed to be fun. Scott and I hold one every year.”

“And people actually come?”

Yes,” Stiles grumbles. “And if you can control yourself, I won’t kick you out.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Peter mumbles, halfway engrossed in the paper, and Stiles takes that as a green light to deck the place out in enough garlands and booze to make even the Scroogiest guests merry.

--

People do show up to the party, a whole bunch of them, and Stiles takes personal pride in the fact that he can prove to Peter that he hasn’t quite stooped to the same level of anti-social hermit that Peter has as they file through the door giving Stiles merry high fives as they parade in.

It’s actually a nice turn out, with Christmas remixes that Isaac managed to illegally download from the Internet blaring from the speakers he and Scott set up the day before in preparation and an entire table dedicated to eggnog being the largest hit of the party.

He’s already been kissed on the cheek four times courtesy of the mistletoe, two of those times being Isaac having too many peppermint vodka shots for his own good, and Stiles is officially pumped up for Christmas. It’s not the wreaths hung up in the shopping malls, or the Christmas specials on television, or even the overwhelming amount of times Bing Crosby sings to him about snow on the radio during his morning drive to school that puts him in the mood, it’s watching a bunch of his introverted fellow peers turn into holiday partygoers that try to crowd surf after having downed a handful of heavily spiked eggnogs. ‘Tis the season.

He sees Peter in the corners all night long, dwindling his eggnog supply even though he can’t get drunk off of it anyway, and Stiles wonders if he prefers him prowling the edges or wishes he would engage a bit more like an actual human person. He can’t quite decide.

“Glad to see that you’re steering clear of the mistletoe,” Stiles tells Peter with a cheeky grin as he grazes past him. “Nobody needs that nightmare for the holidays.”

“And yet, I still have to deal with you," Peter mumbles. "How's that for nightmares?"

"I am the stuff of sugar plum fairy dreams," Stiles reassures him with a drunkenly lopsided grin. He throws his arm around Peter's shoulder and it feels surprisingly comfortable to do so. "Are you having fun, gramps?"

"Is that a poorly disguised euphemism for do I want to rip off any heads and roast them in the oven yet?"

"No, I really wanna know," Stiles says. "But out of curiosity, the oven is still head-free, yes?"

"Yes, you idiot," Peter says, and Stiles reaches out to pinch him in the nose on drunken instinct. Peter looks murderous when he pulls his hand away. "What is wrong with you? What sort of heathens raised you?"

"I handle my liquor very well," Stiles tells him somberly. It's true. There's practically a line for the toilet at this point considering the Christmas drinks are a little heavier than usual this year and Stiles is still firmly on his feet. "Answer my question."

"I might be having a good time if it wasn't for the leech attached to my arm."

For some reason, it's funny, and Stiles giggles until his cheeks feel hot. A moment later a merrily tipsy teacher assistant from Scott's Wednesday lectures who Stiles is still unsure about the name of—next year they really ought to give the festive nametag idea a shot—skips over to them, eggnog in one hand and lopsided camera in the others. Stiles tries to drum up his name from the cobwebbed depths of his mind when he angles his camera and focuses it on the two of them. Stiles still has enough of his brain cells in tact to remember to slide his palm over Peter's eyes before all of poor Larry's photos are ruined with lens flare. Nearly a fourth of the partygoers in here are dark creatures of the night, which certainly won't make for the best commemorative photographs. Larry snaps another picture.

"Cut it out, Larry," Stiles grumbles as Peter nearly breaks one of Stiles' fingers pulling his hand away from his eyesight.

"Gary."

"Okay, Gary," Stiles concedes. "Move along."

"You guys are out of eggnog, by the way," Gary tells them with a flippant wave of his hand that sends his drink flying onto a girl's sweater. He wanders away before apologizing and Stiles slips his arm off of Peter's shoulders.

“That’ll be a lovely picture, me and Ebenezer,” Stiles says, and spins around to face him. “Did you get me a present?”

“Yes. I didn’t murder you in your sleep,” he grins at him like someone’s pulling his mouth forcefully upwards. “Merry Christmas.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” Stiles says in response. “What if I had gotten you all kinds of stuff? Like a pony?”

“I don’t want a pony.”

Stiles gasps. “You would return my pony?”

“Is there nothing better for me to ride?” Peter asks him, sliding into his personal space until they’re almost nose to nose. For a second, Stiles can smell every bit of eggnog on Peter’s tongue, and then he feels the laughter bubble up as he pushes him back into a more agreeable distance.

“You’re making the naughty list.”

“I hope so,” Peter tells him, and seems to be done entertaining him. Idly, he says, “Someone’s climbing the ceiling fan.”

“Shit,” Stiles slurs, turning around, and yup, someone is actually thinking that’s a good idea. He sighs and whirls around briefly to look at Peter. “I’m glad you didn’t leave. Be merry. Have fun.” He pushes the drink still in his hands into Peter’s and leans in to give him a sloppy, slightly wet kiss on his forehead for shits and giggles. Peter looks positively homicidal when he pulls away, giggling all the while.

“That’s not how you kiss someone,” Peter tells him, something low in his tone, and Stiles is up for the challenge. He grins.

“Show me what you got, big fella.”

Peter grabs him by the waist and reels him in, close enough that this time their noses are touching and Stiles can feel himself getting cross-eyed with each passing second. He dips him, the world spinning as he does so.

“How’s this?” Peter asks him, every exhale landing directly on Stiles’ lips. He’s definitely drunk enough that this feels like good fun, and he entertains the idea of kissing Peter. It might actually be a good kiss, if Peter knows what he’s doing. He does have a few decades under his belt that clearly included using his tongue in some inventive ways, and Stiles wouldn’t mind learning a few tricks. He closes his eyes, waiting for his Christmas smooch, and instead, Peter drops him. Probably on purpose.

He hits his head, passes out, and spends the rest of the party being carried to his room to sleep off his incredible headache. He’s never trusting Peter again.

--

As much as he was there during the mess making, Peter is disturbingly nowhere to be seen when the clean up portion of the party begins a day later.

There’s a puddle of vomit in the hallway that the landlord won’t be happy about, the toilet is clogged, and Stiles has never seen so many pine needles and plastic cups strewn about in disorder in his entire life. To cap it off, he’s sporting a bulge on his side the size of an ostrich egg, and when Peter finally arrives to the scene of the crime after Stiles has already compiled most of the trash in a bag the size of Santa’s toy sack, he has little to no sympathy for his headache.

“You’re such an asshole,” Stiles grumbles, throwing an empty eggnog cup directly at his head. “How did this even happen? I think I have a concussion. Or amnesia. Who am I?”

“You wanted to kiss me,” Peter tells him with a cheeky grin as he dodges the cup tossed at his head. “I decided you probably couldn’t handle it and dropped you.” He stops to remember, a fond smile flitting over his mouth. “It was… amusing.”

“Asshole,” Stiles emphasizes. “You’re grounded.”

“Here,” Peter says, ignoring him and throwing him a bottle that rattles once it lands in Stiles’ palm. It’s a new bottle of aspirin, still sealed up, Stiles tears into it to swallow a few. The throbbing in his temples could not have wanted more.

“What’s this?”

“Your Christmas present.”

“It’s the best thing you’ve ever given me,” Stiles says solemnly, tossing him the bottle after he swallows two pills and they tumble down his throat. “Including the concussion.”

“If you ever want to try kissing me, just ask,” Peter throws loftily over his shoulder as he disappears in his room, not at all interested in helping in the sweeping, mopping, or picking up, and Stiles thinks the next time he gets the chance, he’s drugging Peter’s food.

--

Stiles reemerges from the apartment after his Christmas party hangover fades away, and he steers clear of the bright sunlight in favor of a tiny café that serves free refills when it comes to anything with caffeine in it. The cherry on the sundae is that Parrish has agreed to come see him now that the craze of the holidays are over, meaning Stiles had to get there at least half an hour earlier just to have the time to consume enough caffeine to make him look like a real human again before Parrish shows up.

“Sorry I couldn’t make it to your party,” he tells Stiles as he stirs sugar into his first cup and Stiles drums his fingernails on the table after his fourth. He shows up to the coffee house in his uniform, which does unmentionable things to Stiles’ unmentionable places to see his gun holster out in the open. “The station gets crazy around Christmastime.”

Stiles zeroes in on his green eyes and feels his pulse skyrocket—whether it’s the caffeine affecting his heartbeat or the startlingly bright green of Parrish’s eyes, he’ll never know—and grins.

“It’s fine,” he says. “You missed a fun time, though.”

“I’ll make it up to you,” he promises. “You have anything coming up?”

“Um,” Stiles rakes through his mental calendar to either find an event or make one up in under ten seconds. “Me and some friends are going to a bar next Friday. It’d be great if you could come.”

“Sounds like a nice place to unwind,” Parrish says, and there come those blinding teeth—only to be interrupted by a vibration in Stiles’ pocket.

It’s his phone, and he really shouldn’t be surprised when he pulls it out and he sees a text from Peter flashing on the screen. You could do better says the text, and Stiles takes a moment to chortle before tucking it away. Parrish takes notice.

“Who’s that?”

“Just my roommate,” Stiles says. “My old enough to be my father, totally platonic roommate who makes no impact on my life.”

He holds back on the cringe that threatens to spill out into the open. Smooth, very smooth. Even his high school self would probably laugh at his flirting if time traveling was possible, and his high school game was pitiful.

“He seems nice,” Parrish says, and bless him for breezing over any awkward bumps that Stiles continuously feels the need to throw out as road blocks. “How long have you two known each other?”

“Too long,” Stiles tells him, and swerves the subject elsewhere. “So what’s the craziest call you got at the station this season?”

The conversation forgets about Peter, but his phone doesn’t get the memo, and when Stiles checks it two hours later after the coffee shop fills up with too many lunching students, it blinks with three different unread messages, all from Peter.

They read you really could, dinner will be on the table at six and don’t be late.

--

Friday night’s plans are destroyed in only a few shorts seconds as Parrish sends him a text telling him he got caught up at the station but might try and pop by the bar later with a few friends, and that takes the wind out of Stiles’ sails as he slips into his sneakers ready to party up the start of the weekend.

“So when are we expecting the deputy to escort you to the ball?” Peter says dryly from where he’s preparing a soufflé in the kitchen. Stiles can only guess it’s soufflé. He can’t help but assume that anything that isn’t instant jell-o is probably soufflé.

“He’s not,” Stiles grumbles. He doesn’t get why Peter has a grudge against Parrish except for his perhaps envy for his successful career or lingering resentment for the police force, but now is not the time to worry about it. The day he walks in on Parrish and Stiles necking on the couch, then he’ll concern himself with addressing it. “Late night at the station. Might drop by later.”

“Is that so,” Peter murmurs as he whisks milk into whatever concoction he’s whipping up. “So you’re dateless tonight?”

“Stop being smug about it,” Stiles says.

“I would never,” Peter tells him none too earnestly. “I’ll go with you.”

“So you can terrorize my friends and lurk in the corners? No thanks.”

Peter stares him down. “Do you want to go alone and stumble home while you’re drunk and lonely and up sleeping in a bush?”

He presents a good point, Stiles realizes. He doesn’t really want to avoid drinking tonight when he’s been looking forward to doing enough shots to forget everything he learned about math to ace his last test, and Peter might be helpful enough to guide him home without leading him to a crack den for shits and giggles. Peter can be nice when he wants to be. Only when he wants to be.

“…will you behave?” he asks him critically.

“What do you think?”

It’s enough of an acceptable answer for Stiles, who the longer he thinks about it, the less he wants to wake up tomorrow morning on a stoop of a barber shop with twigs in his hair and his friends nowhere to be found. He sighs and takes the deal.

“Okay. Grab your jacket.”

--

“You’re getting out a lot more lately!” Scott comments one hour later deep in the depths of the bar, clapping Stiles on the shoulder as he grabs the attention of the bartender to order another round of shots. He wants to reunited with tequila as quickly as possible, and the atmosphere is making that extremely possible.

“I know,” Stiles sends a raunchy wink in Scott’s direction that’s a product of the tipsiness. “I think I’m getting lucky tonight.”

“Really?”

Yeah,” Stiles nods. As long as Parrish shows up, all Stiles needs is to throw on the charm that comes with being eclipsed in the flattering shadows of a bar and the two of them will be making out in the sweaty bathroom. Stiles is actually looking forward to it. “This is a vast improvement since the last time you and I were out like this, huh, Scottie?”

Scott nods, clapping Stiles on the shoulder again while the bartender slides a glass of something exotically green across the counter and Stiles downs it in one breathless gulp. It burns down his throat in pure liquid courage, and the insane urge to pull off his shirt and fling it into the crowd trickles into his veins.

“Have you seen Peter?” he asks instead, scanning the thickening crowd.

“No,” Scott tells him. “Is he here?”

“We came together,” Stiles says. “He promised to make sure I didn’t end up in a ditch somewhere at the end of the night. He better not ditch.” He looks down and his glass is full again, magically so, and Stiles doesn’t question the miracle. “Never mind. I’m sure he’s just preying on unsuspecting children. He’ll turn up.”

He downs his next glass and Scott laughs at him as he sways to put it back onto the table. He beckons the bartender over once more.

“It’s a Screaming Orgasm,” Stiles tells Scott with a wide grin. Scott laughs. Stiles is endlessly appreciative that he and his friend share the same genre of perverse humor.

“How many of those have you had?”

“The drink or the orgasms?” He shrugs. “No orgasms yet. About six shots. A few beers. What a night to be alive.”

“Need me to lead you to the bathrooms anytime soon?”

“Not yet,” Stiles says proudly. “My alcohol tolerance has gone up marginally since high school. Whereas, my grades…”

A new song pumps over the radio, something upbeat enough to match his eager heartbeat, and Stiles slings his arm around Scott’s shoulder to pull him close and scrub his hand over Stiles’ soft head. The only thing that could make this night better is—

“Scott, my dick is calling me,” he whispers into Scott’s ear, slipping his arm away from him as his eyes land on something visible through the crowd. He sticks out his tongue and lets the next drink waterfall into his mouth, slamming the glass down and giving Scott a cheeky thumbs up as he goes to slip into the crowd. “My favorite deputy ended up making it after all.”

He sees Parrish, and he's ready to bound his way over in his direction and sidle up next to him, but someone beats him to the punch.

It's a woman, a gorgeous woman, the kind of woman so out of Stiles' league that he gapes, with long shiny hair and a tiny waist, and she jumps right up to Parrish and leans in to a truly intimate proximity. And then she kisses him, her arms winding around his neck, and that's when Stiles sees the shiny engagement ring hanging off her left hand.

The puzzle pieces falling into place hit him like a punch, alongside a slew of embarrassment and incredulity and unbelievable levels of self-hatred. He feels like smacking his head against an iron wall for a solid hour until he can face the world again, because of course this would happen to him. Of course he would think that the totally engaged heterosexual deputy was genuinely interested in him. Of course he would be glaringly wrong. He feels sick to his stomach as he watches them wrap around each other, close and intimate.

He twists around, all the air vacuumed from his lungs, and suddenly there's Peter, hands fastened around Stiles' arms. He feels like the only thing keeping him from tripping over thirty sets of feet on the dance floor and vomiting right here and now, Peter's grip strong like an anchor in a storm like he never thought anybody but Scott's reassuring hands on his back could be.

"Oh god," Stiles mumbles, starting to feel ill. Suddenly those six shots don't feel like such a good idea as they start spiraling their way up his throat, his stomach twisting in in itself. He feels like he's been spinning in circles for hours and now can't slow down, his eyes finding Peter's bright blue ones and willing himself to focus in on them. "God, I am so stupid."

Peter's eyes wander over Stiles' shoulders and zero in on where Parrish is standing with his girlfriend, something low and dangerous sounding from his mouth. His arm snakes around Stiles' waist and it feels like the only thing keeping him up on his feet, too much alcohol and what feels like a wave drowning him in a turbulent ocean blending together into something wet in his eyes. Thank god for Peter. Thank god he's holding him up right now so he doesn't hurl over his shoes.

"I can sink my teeth into his neck if you want me to," Peter says, low and angry by his ear. It's the first time in a long time Stiles has heard what sounds like a serious threat leave his mouth, not just an off-handed remark about him clawing Stiles to shreds if he doesn't stop using his shampoo, and oddly enough, it's calming. Stiles digs his hand into Peter's shirt and shakes his head.

"No," he says, and there comes the wave throwing him off balance again as Stiles looks over his shoulder and sees them laughing. He should've known from the beginning that anybody that interested in what he has to say is probably painfully heterosexual. "Take me home."

Peter seems to hesitate, his gaze still locked across Stiles' shoulder where Parrish is standing. Stiles squeezes his arms, desperate to get out where his senses aren't overloaded with the smell of liquor and bodies dancing so hard they bump into each other, and worse of all, his own naïveté.

"Peter," he pleads, and Peter finally listens, drawing him close as he herds him out the door past the bodies in the way.

"I'm such an idiot," Stiles mumbles as Peter pushes the door open and cool, brisk air washes over his face. It should pull some of the drunkenness off of him, but all it does is make him shiver in his t-shirt. "I thought he really—fuck."

"He was leading you on," Peter growls, the arm around Stiles' waist sturdy and strong as he tucks his face into Peter's collar to avoid the sharp wind slapping his face.

"Or I was just delusional," Stiles says to the sidewalk. He feels the world sway underneath him. "Peter, I'm going to throw up."

"Breathe," Peter says, tipping up his chin so he can let air slide into his mouth. "We'll be there soon."

"Where? Please say home," Stiles whines, and Peter's hand squeezes his hip to reassure him, keep him grounded. He feels something push up insistently at his throat and grabs Peter by the fabric of his shirt. "I can't believe I thought he liked me. I'm—I'm the worst."

"That title already belongs to me," Peter says, smoothly navigating them across the street. It's crisp and quiet, free of honking cars or bright headlights, letting him know that it's well past midnight. He closes his eyes as Peter guides him and immediately cringes as nothing but Parrish with his arm around his fiancé flits through his brain. Peter seems to notice. "I should've ripped his organs out of his chest."

"No, no, no," Stiles slurs. "You're like—five years sober of murder. Right? Don't want to—to get back into bad habits."

"At least you still have a sense of humor," Peter says dryly. He focuses on his voice, on the smooth, grounding lilt to his words that Stiles has been hearing as part of his routine for months now. Through the wall, over breakfast, on the phone, every single day.

And he can't believe that this is what college life comes down to for him. Goosebumps on his arms and wetness in his eyes as he threatens to fall apart on a street corner while his roommate marshals him home. He's a stereotype, the same dramatic college kid that falls prey to every wink across campus, and now here he is wishing he'd have devoted his life to celibacy when he was in high school to avoid all the theatrics and agony.

He stops to steady himself on his knees a few time, breathing in and out like he would with a panic attack. It helps him breathe and it keeps the hysterical sobbing at bay, and Stiles is never drinking again if this is monster inside himself it unleashes. He grabs blindly for Peter and always finds him there, just a chunk of the wool of his top or a warm wrist to encircle, and he lets him wind Stiles' arm around his neck as they cross quiet streets.

The streetlights feel too bright and the streets feel too wet as he pillows his head on Peter’s chest and lets him be guided, and all he really remembers is shivering from the cold and watching the lights shimmer on the puddles in the potholes while Peter draws him close to his chest, keeping him steady, and then Peter’s fumbling with door knob of their apartment complex. Stiles sags in relief, because this means his bed is nearby, and his bed always makes things better. They slip inside where the wind doesn’t touch him anymore and Stiles eyes the stairs like they’re Mount Everest. Peter tries to pull him forward.

"Aren't you going to pick me up?" Stiles mumbles, and Peter rolls his eyes like he's very much considering slinging him over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes.

"I thought you didn't like me treating you like my wife."

"I don't," Stiles insists adamantly. "I can't even fold laundry."

"Just pick up your feet—there you go," Peter says as they come to a stop at the first step. Stiles feels unsteady at best with the tears swimming in his vision and the alcohol turning the world into a rocking boat abandoned at sea, but he manages to slip one foot over the step without beheading himself. "It's like teaching Bambi. Dear lord."

Peter lugs him from step to step like Stiles is nothing but a feather's weight on his shoulder, his eyes clear from any burdens of intoxication and his steps firm on the creaky stairs. Stiles stumbles with each passing movement upwards and clings onto Peter's shoulder like it's the only anchor he has to scramble for and hold onto, and he forces himself to focus on the fresh smell of his aftershave rather than the waves of nausea climbing up his stomach. Peter smells good, Peter always smells good, but he supposes that happens when you spend half your inheritance on cologne and body sprays. Stiles snorts to himself.

"You're so lucky," he murmurs as they reach the third flight landing. One more to go and Peter isn't even panting as he lugs a one hundred and fifty pound boy up the stairs with him. "Never have to deal with getting drunk. Or hangovers. I wanna be a werewolf."

"That offer's long been expired," Peter says, and then they reach the door. For a second Stiles doesn't even remember the trip back. Did they walk? Did they catch a ride? Pockets of time have flown silently from his mind courtesy of the tequila, and yet, the image of Parrish with his lady friend stays etched in his mind like it was branded in with hot spears.

Peter holds him up with one arm—just one easy arm, man, being a werewolf has its perks—and fiddles with the keys before pushing open the door and bringing them inside. They cross the threshold as one unit, Stiles melded onto Peter's side as he tries to find his footing and fails.

"Did you see them?" Stiles asks him, just in case he hasn't already. "Kissing. Like happy couples. I'm gonna die alone with a lot of gerbils and nobody warned me."

"Hush," Peter whispers, leading him to the sofa and flicking on the living room lamp. "Don't think about it."

“God, I feel sick,” Stiles mumbles, and lets his feet drag. Peter has him, like a lifeguard keeping him afloat, and he lets himself be guided by his arms as the light assaults his eyes.

“That’s the alcohol,” Peter says. He goes to settle him on the couch and Stiles shakes his head frantically in protest, hands tight on Peter's shirt.

"No, no, no," he whines. "Bathroom. Toilet."

Peter steers him in that direction and Stiles stumbles gracelessly alongside him, head lolling onto Peter's shoulder. He feels his stomach churn and his eyes burn as they land on the bright white tiles of the bathroom, and then Peter's settling on the floor and taking a seat next to him while Stiles hangs his head into the toilet bowl and his knees dig into the hard tiles underneath. They really need a rug.

"Why are you here," Stiles mumbles into the bowl, hearing it echo through as he speaks. Peter snorts.

"You're upset, aren't you?" Peter says, like that explains it all. Stiles nods despondently, feeling his fingers get clammy on the toilet rim as his stomach heaves and the tears gather in the corners of his eyes. He keeps wanting to point out that he's not usually like this, that he normally keeps it together and hides behind an effective wall of sarcasm whenever he's upset, that alcohol usually turns him into a bumbling cheerful fool, not the blubbering mess he is now. His mouth can't find the coherent words to explain himself.

"I'm sad," he says to the toilet, leaning his forehead against the rim. He feels something in his gut lurch and reaches out to grab something—the carpet, the cupboard, anything sufficiently solid—and his palm lands on Peter's knee. Never in his life would he have been prepared for the fact that he'd one day be dry heaving into a toilet with his roommate Peter Hale keeping watch over him, and yet here he is, strangely glad that he isn't alone even if the company isn't his preferred number one choice. He wonders if Scott's still at the bar and if he's having a better time than Stiles. He sure hopes so.

"Breathe," Peter tells him in a soft, low voice that sounds like eating soup on a cold day. It's relaxing, except that even as he takes a rattling breath that refreshes his lungs, his stomach doesn't get the memo and promptly regurgitates upward and out his mouth.

God, he's such an idiot. He's an idiot to think things could work out for him, or even more fancifully, that he could be the object of someone's serious affections, not just the passing wink of someone temporarily interested in flirting up Stiles' interests. Now everything feels like it's a bad idea, from the pursuing straight men to the drinking the bar dry. He spits, desperate to clean out a mouth that now feels like a garbage disposal sitting on his tongue, and lets out an anguished sob into the depths of the toilet.

"Shhh," Peter's saying, and it takes Stiles a second to register the fingers smoothing back the damp hair on his forehead.

"I'm not—I can hold my liquor better than this," Stiles feels the need to tell him, resting his cheek on the toilet seat.

"I know. I was at the Christmas party," Peter tells him dryly. "Feel better?"

"No," Stiles says woodenly in return. He had felt like diced and smashed shit before, but now his mouth is in on the message as well. He feels like something's rotting on his tongue and feels his stomach roll in on itself again. "I feel like that little hard thing at the end of shoelaces. Tiny and totally useless. I feel terrible."

"People won't always behave the way you want them to," Peter tells him, his hand a cool pressure on Stiles' overheated forehead. He feels safe here on his floor with Peter even as he's a vulnerable sack of vomit, which makes zero sense in a world where Peter terrorized him and his friends a few years ago. Maybe it's the time heals all wounds bullshit. Maybe it's the roommate thing. "It's one of the many tragedies in life. Not being able to exercise mind control."

Stiles snorts and feels his mouth crack into a dry grin against the toilet rim. "You would say something fucked up like that," he murmurs. "You're not helping."

"Who said I was trying?"

"Ugh," Stiles groans, and there comes the wave of humiliating self-loathing again. He swallows and holds back the tears that the alcohol is luring forth. "Get out."

"No," Peter dismisses, getting to his feet and brushing the lint off his knees as he turns on the faucet. "Who would stop you from falling asleep on the toilet?"

"Like you care," Stiles spits out. "You have a wooden heart." He stops to consider and takes another swallow around the lump in his throat threatening to spill tears and clog his sinuses. "I want one too."

"Half price if you find a good dealer," Peter tells him, and then he's kneeling by him again and tipping up his chin and guiding a glass of tap water collected from the sink to his lips. "Rinse."

"You mellowed out a lot," Stiles murmurs after swallowing back a few sips of overwhelmingly cool and refreshing water that makes him feel like he's washing sand from his mouth. "Does old age do that to people?" He stops and wrinkles his face together. “Oh god, what will old age do to me?”

"Relax,” Peter murmurs, tapping on the glass and urging him to drink more. “You will find a lovely woman and have many hyperactive children and live a disgustingly happy life."

"Promise?"

"Well, no. Obviously I can't promise you anything," he pauses, Stiles busy wondering who in his life is most apt to fill the role of making him happy enough he gives the people watching him cavities just from looking in his direction. He can't think of anybody. "Now that's about all the flattery I have left to share today. Are you better or do we still have a few rounds of stomach upheaval to get through?"

Stiles looks up at him and shakes his head, gingerly feeling his stomach for any unexpected erupting or bubbling northward. He downs the rest of the glass of tap water deposited in his hand before he gropes for the counter to pull himself up, Peter deftly reaching around him to flush away his regurgitated dinner.

"Bed," Stiles murmurs, feeling along the walls until Peter eases his arm underneath Stiles' shoulder to steady him. He flicks off the bathroom light as they slip out, the pleasant darkness of the dim living room and his even shadier bedroom soothing his pounding head. He already knows all the painkillers in the world will do little to solve the throbbing of his temples tomorrow, not a particularly bright outlook for the upcoming morning.

Peter guides him into his bed, his touches almost paternal as he pulls the sheets up over his body and tugs the shoes off his feet. He's surprisingly gentle, almost as if he knows how to be without being paid, and the idea startles Stiles. If only he could get his foggy brain to remember to look into it tomorrow.

Peter goes to stand up, the mattress creaking as the dip of his weight disappears. Stiles grabs him by the wrist and pulls him back because even here and now, with his rancid mouth and liquor addled-thoughts, he still knows he needs to say things.

"No, stop," he murmurs, feeling Peter tense as his clammy hands pull him back into the mattress. "Tonight—after everything—thanks."

Peter doesn’t relax in his grip after he thanks him. If anything, his muscles go taut and rigid like he isn’t sure how to take gratitude aimed in his direction. Stiles pulls at his arm until he stops resisting and takes a seat next to him, the darkness thick and heavy around them. Stiles doesn’t know how long they were out at the club for, or how long it took to get back home, or even how long he spent with his head pitched over the toilet like a classic drunkard, but he knows from the sleepy tugs of his eyelids that slumber would be a good idea right now.

“Could I get that engraved onto a plaque?” Peter murmurs from somewhere in the shadows, but he’s close, still close enough for Stiles to feel the warmth of his wrist in his grip.

“I’m okay, right?” Stiles asks him, and his words are tumbling over his mouth a bit by now. “I’m not hideously unlovable?”

“Shouldn’t you have had this self-esteem crisis in high school?” Peter asks him. “Possibly junior high?”

“I’m serious,” Stiles pushes, sitting up and resolutely ignoring the nauseating swaying of the world. Despite the chunks flushed down the toilet and the way his mouth reeks of sick, he clearly still hasn’t cleared out his system from the truly stupid amounts of alcohol he thought was smart to drink tonight. “It’s not me, right?”

Peter sighs, a steady exhale of annoyance like Stiles is pushing his buttons. Finally, he says, “No, Stiles. You may be an irritating little shit, but you’re not that bad.”

Stiles snorts. Trust Peter to turn what was meant to be a reassuring compliment into something subtly backhanded. “I’m irritating, huh?”

“Well,” Peter hums. “How hard is it to wash the dishes?”

Stiles chuckles, and the sound is relieving to his ears. He’s still in the miserable state where he wants to swim in his own tears and wallow in his pity, so being able to laugh without too much prodding is a pleasant surprise. He knows all it’ll take is a few hours of sleep and a nasty hangover and he’ll back to normal, making sarcastic comments about Parrish’s questionable heterosexuality, but tonight, he’s letting himself be full of woe like a tragic Shakespearean protagonist.

“Sorry,” he says, voice low and scratchy from all the shots. He reaches a wobbly hand out into the shadows and lands on Peter’s firm shoulder, right at the smooth curve of his neck into his collarbone. “So I’m still pretty cute, right?”

“Who said you were cute?” Peter says smoothly, and Stiles laughs again, the sound echoing through his mouth as he reels Peter in to tip his forehead against his shoulder. His head feels so heavy, much too heavy to keep up all by himself, and Peter’s shoulder is soft and warm, the perfect pillow. He drags his nose up the curve of his neck, breathing in the lingering scent of whiskey and whatever else Peter divulged in tonight.

“You can’t get drunk,” Stiles mumbles on his t-shirt. “Why were you drinking?”

“Did you expect me to order warm milk?”

Stiles rolls his eyes, regretting it a moment later as the dizziness sets in. He pushes his nose into the crook of Peter’s neck and inhales again, feeling Peter stiffen underneath him like the soft touches are unnerving and foreign to him. He moves his lips against Peter’s skin in something that might have been a kiss, his mouth sliding against the strong curve of his neck and tipping upwards. Peter’s rigid under his sloppy, barely there movements, each pucker and slide of his mouth soft and sleepy as he reaches his chin and presses their cheeks together. Peter’s jaw is rough from too much stubble, scratching at Stiles’ face as he leans into his cheek.

“Someone else,” Stiles murmurs, his eyes drooping in protest as his speech gets groggy from exhaustion. His head is spinning and he’s pretty sure someone’s been whistling in his ear ever since he threw up in the bathroom, but right now sleep seems like a faraway thought, like he’s a child convincing his parents how fitfully awake he is even as the snores practically interrupt his sentences. “Someone else will come along, right? I don’t want—it scares me thinking of being alone. I mean, I know I’ll have Scott and—and I guess you, right? How weird is that.”

“You’re scared of being alone?” Peter asks him curiously, and Stiles picks his head up from where it’s tilting against Peter’s cheek to nod, sighing. “So are six billion other people.”

“And you?” Stiles asks. It seems like an important question.

In the gloom of the night’s shade, Stiles thinks he makes out a twist of Peter’s mouth into something scornful, his eyes rolled like the very idea of him being anything but alone is preposterous. His hand finds Stiles’ wrist and squeezes, and if he’s warning him or keeping him steady, Stiles doesn’t know. “I am alone.”

“Nuh uh,” Stiles says. “There’s me.”

Peter says nothing, and Stiles takes that as his cue to lean in and brush their lips together. Their mouths bump, Stiles’ inebriated coordination getting in the way of his plans, nothing but Peter’s lower lip sweeping between his mouth. It feels like a ghost’s touch, too soft, too little, too drunken, but the phantom touches make him shudder for more. He tries to lean it but Peter's completely unresponsive under his mouth even as Stiles slides his hand down Peter's cheek to draw him closer.

He tastes alcohol everywhere, under his nose and on his tongue, and he wants to kiss all the hurt away until his mouth is numb, and who better to do that than Peter? He makes a soft noise, something quiet pushing from his mouth onto Peter's stationary one, urging the kiss to go from brushing lips to bruising tongues, but then Peter’s hands are pushing at his shoulders down onto the mattress and pulling the sheets back up to his chest, and nothing but the tingles on Stiles’ mouth gives him any indication that their lips touched at all.

"Go to sleep, Stiles," Peter's saying, pulling himself fully away from touching distance, and something in his voice sounds clipped and frayed like stretched restraint.

The mattress groans again, this time signaling Peter’s departure, and Stiles considers saying something to his retreating silhouette, but his brain is too waterlogged with the temptation of sleep to pull the words together.

He falls asleep despite his valiant attempts to stay awake, stay aware, the soft light of the living room lamps filtering through underneath the crack of his bedroom door and lulling him to sleep in moments. He thinks about how he should probably remember this night as he tips his head onto the cool pillow, how it felt to have Peter's mouth on his own, how this is the sort of moment he should be evaluating tomorrow in the light of day, but he’s asleep before he can work on writing himself mental reminders.

When he wakes up the next morning, it’s after noon. His head pounds and everything hurts with the power of a thousand anvils smashed onto his body, and memories of seeing Parrish at the club wash over him like an unsettling tidal wave. He rubs at his eyes and when he looks to his right at the clock set up on his nightstand, he finds it obscured with two aspirin and a glass of water reminding him just how dry his mouth feels. He knows instantly who left it, and with it comes a swarm of other memories from just a few hours ago deep in the night.

Peter’s arm around his waist, holding him up. Carrying him up the stairs, smoothing back strands of his sweaty hair in the bathroom. Stiles arching forward to kiss him, just barely.

He stares at the aspirin as his stomach plummets so far south it might as well be in Mexico, and he has absolutely no drive to go retrieve it. The realization hits him like a freight train crashing unrelentingly into his gut, because it hits him hard and suddenly that he has feelings completely other than fright, concern, or simmering irritation for his roommate. He’s fucking in love.

--

Stiles was wrong, he thinks as he stands by his toaster the next morning waiting for the bread to crisp. Peter is not an anchor keeping him afloat. Peter is the fucking ocean pulling him in.

He's pretty sure that the feeling suffocating his chest right now—maybe like, maybe more, Stiles is unwilling to label it as anything definite—is like drowning. Like Peter's pulled him in where the water is too deep, too rapid, and suddenly he's much too far under where the water is murky and his lungs feel like they're about to explode. This must have been what the people on the Titanic felt like as it sunk, Stiles muses. That's totally what he feels like right now. Like being in love with Peter Hale will leave no survivors.

He stares at the toaster, waiting, ankle tapping against the floor. He feels like if not his chest, something will definitely burst soon, like his brain or his stomach or his heart. The toaster is taking forever and it feels like a pitiful metaphor for his life, like no matter what he does or how long he waits the bread will always be too pale and then, too burnt.

Society tells him that he's only allowed to scream into his pillow in the middle of the night when his woe is masked in the shadows, but Stiles feels like screaming right here and right now. Loudly and obnoxiously and for at least six years, or however long it takes for Peter to grow tired of the yelling and move out. That might fix most of his problems.

He tries narrowing down exactly when it happened, and comes up empty. Maybe somewhere between all the long nights where Peter would study with him, or when he would come home he would catch a whiff of homemade dinner and feel taken care of, or maybe when they started sharing meaningless post-its as part of their daily routine. Maybe it was when they became friends without meaning to—actually, when Stiles made him promise they wouldn’t—or when Stiles started trusting him enough to let him guide him home in the dead of night when he was drunk and vulnerable. It doesn’t matter when. It matters that it definitely shouldn’t be happening.

What hurts the most is realizing that Parrish was a poor substitute for what Peter already was. He wanted someone he was attracted to that he could joke with, laugh with, depend on and fondle all in the same day, and it hits him like an unforgiving lightning bolt to the chest that he already has all that in his roommate. He totally broke his promise to never care about Peter, to never befriend him and never bother thinking about him, and he wonders who he hates more for getting him into his mess, Peter or himself.

Probably himself.

--

Stiles lasts a whopping, truly impressive five hours before he seeks refuge at Scott's place, and nestled in the couch with a beer in his lap to cure his hangover with a classic dose of hair of the dog, it only takes Scott an additional eleven minutes to realize something is wrong.

"So," Scott pushes in a knowing tone like he's already read the summary, the intro, and the ending to Stiles' life. "What happened last night?"

Stiles doesn't want to share, and stays petulantly quiet for a good six minutes. Isaac is there too, which isn't making confessing any easier with the way he and Scott are staring him down like all-knowing parents, but the real reason he's reluctant to share is his own fear of even saying the words aloud. Then his ears would have to hear it, and then his brain would definitely have to process it.

"Well," Stiles mumbles, trying to find a place to start. "Parrish and I didn't hook up, that's for sure."

"Obviously, Parrish is engaged," Isaac feels the need to announce. He knits his eyebrows together, confused. "Why would you try to get with Parrish?"

"Because he's hot?" Stiles says dryly. "And nice? And human, which is more than I can say for most of the people I know."

He attempts to turn back to the TV playing a Friends rerun, swallowing another sip of chilled beer and trying his hardest to ignore the hard stares drilling into his head. He looks over and there's both of them, surveying him unblinkingly. His friends are creepy. He came over here to escape from the stifling atmosphere of his own apartment with his feelings ramming into him at his left and Peter working out in obscenely tight exercise clothes on his right, but the Bobsey twins sitting next to him are making it difficult to relax.

"What does Peter have to say about this?" Scott asks.

"Uh, nothing?" Stiles replies, turning away from the screen and tapping the remote against the couch in impatience. This conversation is getting weirder and weirder and he feels like he's missing out on the key details. "Why would he have anything to say about it?"

"Because you two are—oh," Isaac trails off, sharing a dark look with Scott before something red and uncomfortable creeps up his cheeks. "Never mind."

"We're what," Stiles feels all the color drain from his face. "Go on."

"Isaac meant—we just thought—maybe you two were together."

"Together together?" Stiles pushes, and then lets out a loud bark of laughter that perfectly illustrates how he feels about discussing this. It has the opposite effect of what was intended, Isaac and Scott sharing another conspiratorial look that Stiles wants to pull off their faces. "The guy's a freaking psychopathic maniac."

“Is he still? I mean, we thought that he seems different now," Scott ventures carefully. "We're not saying you should totally trust him, but—”

"We totally thought you were fucking."

"—he might have changed."

It only takes Stiles another thirty seconds to realize how deadly serious they're being, and starts sweating on the inside of his skin. How fucking obvious is he to read? Was it that goddamn Christmas party? Scott and Isaac are both staring him down waiting for detailed responses, and Stiles doesn't know which nutcase to give priority to sorting out. He looks at both of them and decides to start with Isaac's infuriatingly all-knowing smirk first.

"We're not fucking," Stiles says hotly.

"You guys act like you are," Isaac says. "You wish you are?"

"Where the hell are you getting this from?"

Scott interrupts before Isaac can start listing all the suspiciously besotted ways Stiles has been foaming at the mouth every time Peter walks around without a shirt.

"Relax, Stiles," he says. "Do you like him?"

Stiles feels the pressure heat up as four eyes turn impatiently on him once more. There is no easy answer to this question. Stiles loves him and hates him simultaneously, paradoxes he's long grown to accept unthinkingly at this point in his life. He's frustrating and legitimately insane and can literally add killer to his resume without stretching the truth, and then there's the human side of him that rests underneath. Stiles has no clue how dominant that part of him is, or if it's taken years to uncover, but all he can say for certain is that he's drawn to whatever balance the two sides of him create. Someone dangerous and thoughtful all at once, someone who'd happily bite off Stiles' appendages but still leaves him aspirin on his bedside table. The kind of person who challenges and scares Stiles all at once, who has all of his flaws on his sleeve for the world to see and will never be subject to Stiles' disillusioned worshipping. Of course he likes him.

"I don't know," is what he ends up saying, and he can practically hear his heartbeat skipping blips as the words come out of his mouth. "He's annoying and weird and sometimes takes up all the hot water—oh, I don't know why I'm even bothering. Isaac's right and yes, Scott, I like him, and I totally hate myself."

It feels kind of like relief vomiting from his mouth once the words finally leave his mouth. At least now he isn't carrying around his feelings like some sort of morbid secret, even if he can feels Isaac's eyebrows judging him from across the couch.

"Oh," Isaac says, and then slowly for recap, "so you are fucking him?"

"No! The other one, dipshit, I just wish I was."

"What about Peter?" Scott presses. "Does he like you too?"

"That's likely," Stiles snorts. "The awkward puny human who once helped set him on fire—a match made in heaven!"

"It's not like he isn't fucked up beyond repair and you still see something in him," Isaac points out, and it sounds more back handedly snide than it does helpful. Stiles turns pointedly to Scott.

"Can we get rid of him, please?" He grits out, gesturing to Isaac. "Or how about this, we talk about something else entirely than me loving the unlovable, how's that?"

“Yeah, okay,” Scott agrees, understanding of his best friend’s needs as always, and Stiles manages to send him one grateful smile before shaking the subject off his shoulders. Time to drown himself in trashy reality TV and fixedly ignore Isaac’s probing looks from across the sofa.

The silence settles and Stiles lets himself breathe again now that the anvil's weight of confession is off his chest, and he goes to grab the remote off the table and sees a stack of Polaroids scattered nearby, all of them in disarray and poorly lit with the shadowy backdrop and everybody's skin nearly white with the flash's effect in focus. He slips one off the table and sees Isaac dancing with garlands wrapped around his neck on top of what appears to be Stiles' refrigerator. Another one features Scott flanked with two girls, both pressing smooches onto his cheek while the mistletoe hangs above.

"Are these from the Christmas party?" Stiles asks. Scott nods.

"Yeah. Gary gave me the ones with people in it that I knew."

Stiles leafs through them with his thumb, and then he finds the one he feared would be there. The one he had almost forgotten about, the one that Gary had accidentally taken of him and Peter.

His arm is around Peter’s shoulder just as he remembers, and his other hand is shielding Peter’s eyes from the flash, and there’s a shit-eating grin on his face that can only be the alcohol talking, and he looks happier than Stiles ever remembers himself being when he glances up in the mirror. There’s something relaxed about his body language, completely laidback in Peter’s presence, and Stiles is torn between the insane urge to burn the photo right here and now and pocket it to keep under his pillow. The affection is practically seeping from the Stiles in the photo, the unabashedly happy Stiles who isn’t bothering to hide the crush in his eyes with his hands plastered all over Peter, and he wonders if that’s how the real three-dimensional Stiles looks every time he and Peter laugh. Is he always that obvious?

“Did you see this?” Stiles asks, waving the Polaroid over his shoulder at Scott. Scott nods. “Never, ever, ever let anyone see this. Ever. Including me.”

He stuffs it into Scott’s hand and forgets about it as hard as he can while he starts aggressively channel surfing, even though it stays persistently in his mind like the spider you lose and forget to kill or the bad food rotting in the fridge. And that’s how he feels about Peter in a nutshell.

--

Stiles responds to his mental breakdown like a poised adult and does the only thing that can cure the situation. Have some meaningless sex.

He’s pent up anyway. It’s been weeks, months of a dry spell, and he needs to feel somebody’s tongue in his mouth. A good distraction is what he needs to pull himself away from Peter. Anybody could feel what he’s feeling. It’s the side effect of being in close quarters with another person, watching them stroll around in towels and prepare delicious food. It’s totally rational, and all he needs is a little space.

He leaves Peter a post-it like always, just a scribbled going out. consider this the proverbial sock on the door.

For all his drunken whining about being unlovable, Stiles knows he's pretty cute. All he needs is a tight pair of jeans and a fitted t-shirt and he rakes in the lingering glances at clubs.

He goes to the nearest place that’s hot and sweaty and has music pounding loudly enough to thrum through the pavement outside, and slips inside after flashing his ID to the bouncer. It still feels endlessly satisfying to not have to sneak in the back because his fake ID card is too low quality to fool a ten-year-old, and he struts inside with the walk of a man looking for sex. It works.

"Hi," a sweaty body sidles up next to him, breathing in his ear. "What's your name?"

"Does it matter?" Stiles says in response with a crooked smile, taking in his unbuttoned shirt and a drool worthy body. He's perfect for tonight's agenda of getting off as quickly and wetly as possible, and Stiles arches his body in his direction and parts his lips in a way that he knows is particularly obscene.

"Guess not," Hot Guy says, returning his grin and drinking in the way Stiles checks himself out. "You want a drink?" His eyes flick down to Stiles' lips. Works every time. "Or would you rather occupy your mouth otherwise?"

Stiles swallows. "Otherwise," he says with a few jerky nods.

He's pulled in against a hard chest a moment later, a mouth fused on his and hands roaming up and down the small of his back. Stiles angles their bodies together and slips his leg between the knees of his brand new friend, who gasps and pulls back after dragging his tongue away from Stiles' mouth. His kiss is demanding and wet, nothing like the almost brush of the lips he shared with Peter. Stiles is glad he never got the chance to kiss him harder, if only to avoid suffering through constant comparisons.

"There's an alley out back," he murmurs against Stiles' slack lips. "Usually empty. If you know what I mean."

"Romantic," Stiles says, weighing his choices. A greasy bathroom where crude dicks are drawn on the stalls, upstairs where his every moan and groan can be heard and catalogued by his roommate, or on his knees in a slightly sleazy alleyway. Alleyway it is. "Done."

He's pulled out near the back entrance by the wrist, a sweaty hand clamped around his forearm as he drags Stiles to the door. He's glad Hot Guy is taking the lead. As active as he might tend to be in bed, Stiles is perfectly content with the idea of laying back and letting someone else completely blow his mind into smithereens tonight.

They push through the door and end up in a shadowy corner, streetlights hardly poking in to illuminate dark bricks and a stack of dumpsters lined up by the wall.

"Great ambience," Stiles comments as he takes in the view. "Who needs candles and four-course dinners when you have a handjob to share in a seedy back street."

He laughs and maneuvers them into the shadow by the wall, grabbing Stiles by his top and mashing their chuckling mouths together.

The guy has absolutely no idea how to kiss properly, Stiles thinks hopelessly as he’s pressed up against the alley wall and a clumsy hand gropes him through his jeans. Things are very, very wet around his mouth, but Stiles figures that an overactive tongue might just be a blessing to his dick. He pulls away from the kiss, curling his fingers into the man’s hair to nudge him downward.

“Sure,” the guy says, planting another wet kiss on Stiles’ lips before obligingly slithering down his legs. Stiles pats his head as a thanks, tipping himself backward against the scratchy bricks and waiting for his pants to slide down his ankles.

“Clear out, fellas,” a gruff voice rumbles from nearby, and Stiles’ eyes jerk open to land on a burly bar employee with his hands full of trash bags. His eyes roves down Stiles’ unbuttoned pants to the man kneeling between his legs, and pointedly cocks his head out of the alley. “You’re two seconds away from being arrested for indecency.”

“Yeah, thanks, okay,” Stiles waves in his direction as he lugs the trash into the dumpster and lumbers back inside. He sighs, catching the eye of the guy sitting underneath him, and buttons up his pants. “I have an apartment.”

“You wanna go?”

“Yeah. I have a roommate, but he won’t be a problem,” Stiles stops and corrects himself. “He isn’t a problem.”

"Yeah, sure," the guy says, straightening out his hair and flashing a shiny smile in Stiles' direction while Stiles mentally curses the bartender for not coming out ten, even seven minutes later. He even could’ve dealt with a measly four minute blowjob.

"C'mon," Stiles mumbles, cocking his head out of the alley and leading the way down the street.

Hot Guy doesn't try and clog up the brisk walk back to his apartment with chit chat and small talk, which Stiles is grateful for. He's all about swapping horror stories from high school and names of beloved childhood pets when he's trying to make friends, not so much when he's trying to get meaninglessly laid. He's no longer the babbling sexual beginner he was in high school, back when he was praying mostly on Google for help with questions about condoms and erections and how to properly kiss a girl.

It only takes a slightly awkward dash up the creaky stairs for Stiles' friend to start curiously squeezing Stiles' ass through his jeans while he struggles to find the right key, and when he triumphantly finds the correct one, he's nearly reeling with the need to have a quick, dirty fuck on his sheets in the dark. The distraction sounds heavenly.

He nearly pumps his fist into the air when the door unlocks and he welcomes his guest inside, promptly falling back into sloppy kisses the moment the door latches shut behind them.

"Don't mind me," a voice wanders over from the couch, and Stiles jerks away from the tongue thrust in his mouth like his father’s walked in on him watching explicit porn.

There's Peter, sitting in the armchair completely eclipsed in darkness—once a creeper, always a creeper, Stiles guesses, if he recalls back to the days Peter would slink down the spiral staircase of Derek's loft or emerge silently from the shadows after eavesdropping enough to satisfy him—a book casually propped open in his lap and something smug twisting his lips. He waves over at them.

"Didn't you see my message," Stiles grits out, and then mumbles "you big voyeur," under his breath to make himself feel better. He sees Peter tilt his head like he's carefully listening to every word. Freaking werewolves.

"I did, but," Peter smiles, the sort of toothy quirk to his lips reserved for guests and strangers and prey, "I wanted to say hello."

"All right then," Stiles says, and then turns back to the uneasy face of his partner. "Ignore him, he's a friggin' psycho." He purposefully ignores Peter's indignant huff across the apartment. "I'm just gonna—I'll do the whole nose powdering routine and be right back."

He feels a little perturbed leaving his new unsuspecting buddy in the hands of what may as we'll be a hungry shark, but he figures two minutes is too little to injure, maim, and subsequently hide a body, so he still has a one hundred and twenty second window if nothing else.

He takes a breath once the bathroom door is securely closed behind him, twisting around to face the mirror and smooth down his flyaway hair that got disheveled during his sloppy make out behind the bar. He looks himself straight in the eye, because this is good. Sex with other people is good. Occupying himself with naked bodies is all very, very good. Anything but thinking about sex with Peter is good.

He grins at himself in the mirror, something sexy and breezy that he’s perfected over the years, and brushes the wrinkles out of his t-shirt. He inspects his teeth too for good measure, and with that, he’s bursting out of the bathroom ready to adjourn to his room with his new friend.

Who isn’t there.

“What,” Stiles mumbles, eyes scanning the apartment. It’s just Peter, sitting harmlessly on the couch with a book in his hands. He looks over his shoulder when he notices Stiles’ presence, sending him an innocent smile. Stiles isn’t fooled. “Where’s—”

He falters, remembering a moment later that he has no idea what the name of his compatriot is. He gesticulates the rest with his hands.

“Your friend?” Peter fills in the blanks, turning back to his book. He casually turns a page. “He had to leave.”

“What,” Stiles says again, stepping closer. There’s not a trace of the guy, not a scribbled number left on the counter or a goodbye to seal the deal that Stiles isn’t getting laid tonight, and Stiles frowns hard. “Why?”

“Something came up,” Peter tells him easily, grinning. Stiles doesn’t trust that grin. He crosses his arms together.

“Did you say something to him?”

“Nothing untoward,” he says, sliding his book away once he realizes that the conversation might be longer than anticipated. “I know perfectly well how to be a hospitable host.”

“Oh really,” Stiles deadpans.

“Yes,” says Peter. “But I must say. He looked a little… scruffy. For your type, anyway.”

“I don’t have a type,” Stiles defends. He’s a little on edge. His dick is still under the illusion that it’ll be treated tonight, something he hasn’t been able to offer his libido in a while, and the idea of having to storm off to his bedroom with nothing but his own hand to satisfy him and Peter’s face to pop up in his brain as he does so makes him feel itchy all over.

Peter gets up with a heavy sigh, almost like he’s already extended this conversation past the desired point, and takes a moment to look Stiles straight in the eye. It makes Stiles uncomfortable if only because Peter’s eyes are very blue, really blue, and have they always been that blue? He seesaws from foot to foot and waits for Peter to say something.

He doesn’t, which only makes Stiles more unnerved. There’s something in his gaze like he knows all of Stiles’ secrets, like he broke into his diary or found a way to infiltrate his thoughts. Stiles’ brain starts going at three hundred miles an hour, wondering what’s the worst thing Peter could possibly know about him. Or maybe he’s just using his senses and smelling Stiles’ desperation. Maybe he’s smelling Stiles’ hopeless disgusting crush. Stiles feels sick to his stomach.

“Well?” Peter asks, sounding horribly impatient.

“Well what?”

He keeps staring. It’s done with incredible focus, the sort of man who isn’t afraid of boring deep into someone’s eyes, and Stiles couldn’t feel more like he’s being subjected to an invasive x-ray than right here and now. He’s the first to look away, too unnerved by the sensation of a thousand ants crawling up his legs when he’s staring straight back into Peter’s hard gaze, and it seems to break whatever concentration Peter’s working with.

“Hmmm,” is all Peter says. He sounds like he’s figured everything out, like Stiles has completely underestimated his intelligence, but then all he does he smile and slip past Stiles, enigmatic as ever.

God, does that get annoying. On a rational day, on a day where Stiles’ one night stand hasn't just been chased out the door, on a day when he isn't plagued with illogical feelings for his homicidal roommate, Stiles would roll his eyes and grab a fruit roll up and walk away. Not tonight. He grabs Peter by the arm and roughly pulls him back and looks him straight in the eye, angry and sorry and more than hideously one hundred percent in love and hating every second of it.

“What the hell is your problem?” Stiles yells, the lid off the boiling pot of his frustration. He’s so damn frustrated and it takes everything in his power to look directly into Peter’s eyes rather than his mouth as he shouts, and it only makes him angrier. Fuck Peter. Fuck himself for being affected by Peter. “Why the hell are you looking at me like that?”

It’s infuriating, because then Peter does it again. The way he narrows his eyes and stares Stiles down, the cogs turning behind his eyes obvious to anybody standing near, and Stiles doesn’t want to be analyzed or figured out.

“Looking at you?” Peter repeats, eyes flicking down to the fingers digging into his wrist before returning them to Stiles’ face. “You have a problem with me looking at you?”

“You know what my problem is?” Stiles asks. He digs his fingernails into Peter’s arm with the intent to hurt, no matter how fast he heals the second he lets go. “Chasing away the guys I bring home? Those guys aren’t your business!”

Peter watches him for a moment, and for a second, Stiles expects him to do absolutely nothing, just pry Stiles’ fingers off his arm and not bother taking Stiles’ bait. After a lifetime of stirring up pots of trouble, Peter should know when to pick his battles, but apparently he’s quite interested in this one. He faces Stiles, something equally angry in the way he sets his jaw.

“It is my business,” he grits out. “In case you haven’t noticed, I pay rent. It’s my home as well.”

“As if you even fucking know what a home is,” Stiles spits back. He watches something flash in Peter’s eyes and doesn’t heed the warning. “You’re just as burned on the inside as you are on the outside, just like your house.”

He can tell from the way Peter’s face twists that he’s digging deep into a hole he can’t fill back up, but fighting like this feels good. It’s nothing like the bickering they did when Peter first moved in, but rather backed up with heat and passion and unrestrained feeling. Stiles feels all of it pour from his fingertips, from his mouth, from all his body language, and doesn’t want to back down. He wants to fight. He wants to fight until Peter punches any affection, any want he has for the man in front of him right out of his body.

Peter grabs him by the shirt, fingers fisting the fabric of his tee and drawing him close, and Stiles waits for the blow. He stares Peter right in the eyes and challenges him, waits for him to do it, waits for him to clock him in the jaw or right in the nose. It would probably feel like the best rejection he’s ever had.

“Do it,” Stiles hisses, because nothing’s coming. Peter tilts his head, just an inch to the left.

“Do what?”

Hit me,” Stiles says, and then again. “Just hit me!”

He feels the frustration seep back into his body like water oozing into his shoes, because he knows Peter hasn’t changed. He’s still the same psychopath from high school, always on the lookout for wreaking havoc, always in the mood to go maim a body for his own personal gain. Stiles is making himself an easy target, someone who’ll take a good punch to the stomach and not bother getting up from the blow, and Peter’s still staring at him like he’s a puzzle he’s slowly clicking into place.

“What else do I have to say to rile you up, huh?” Stiles says, and he’s taunting now. “That I never wanted you to move in, that you’re a fucking psycho? That I wish you’d never come here to rent a room because then I’d still have my sanity? How about that it would’ve been better if you’d just stayed in the fucking coma and done everyone a favor?”

Stiles thinks that’ll do it for sure, especially with the way Peter’s eyes react to every word spat from his mouth. He’s close, close enough to see every response on Peter’s face, the way his lips twitch and his eyes flare, but then Peter’s face relaxes once more and something knowing spreads over his mouth.

For a second Stiles thinks that this is clearly the moment. The tension is thick and there's electrical strung taut between them, and all it would take is one surge forward and they'd be kissing. Angry, aggressive, muttering into each other's mouths while teeth compete to make the deepest marks. He could make this situation worse, or he could make it unbelievably filthy. Stiles considers it, and for a second he feels like it's the only possible next move, but then he remembers why he's fighting so hard in the first place. To avoid all this terribleness. To forget his feelings and the way his chest tightens every time Peter steps close enough for Stiles to breathe in the subtle hints of his cologne. The worst part is that they have something really good here, something bizarre and paradoxical because it should by all means collapse in on itself, but they live together in harmony and enjoy all the movements when there isn't any, and Stiles ruined it all by growing feelings. He's angry, so angry, but he realizes then that he's angriest at himself.

“Honestly, Stiles,” he says. “Do you honestly think that’s the first time I’ve heard any of that?”

Stiles deflates, and that’s all it takes for the fight to leave him. He feels sick to his stomach because they’ve all done something wrong at this point, they’ve all spilled innocent blood and kept the weight of guilt and grudges on their shoulders, and throwing Peter’s grievances back in his face after years of forgiving and forgetting and starting over feels like an egg is being cracked on Stiles’ head and the yolk is oozing down his face for his insensitivity. He imagines Scott reminding him of his own past, the things he’s done, the things he’s been forced to live with, and feels like an apology wouldn’t even be enough at this point.

But then Peter’s hand unfurls from around his shirt and he takes a resolute step back, not bothering to wait for whatever Stiles has left to say to him.

He watches him retreat into his room, something slower about his step, and wonders if kicking the fridge will do anything to make him feel better. It doesn’t, but he tries anyway.

--

When Stiles gets up the next morning, Peter's not there. The apartment is quiet and vacant, no scent of bacon or sound of clinking pots pulling Stiles from his sleep.

He looks everywhere for a sign or a clue of when Peter left or where he is, if his jacket is still on the hook or if there's a note hanging on the door or taped on the kitchen counter. There isn't.

It hits Stiles then as his eyes fall on the silent apartment just how hollow it feels inside these four walls without the sound of Peter's low chuckling or the habitual comfort of their witty bickering. It's ironic, he supposes, considering how against sharing his space he was when Scott first suggested he find a roommate. He wanted his own room to breathe, the relaxation of solitude and being able to make noise in the middle of the night should he so please. No squabbling over the bathroom, no worrying about wearing the same hoodie three days in a row, and certainly no issues concerning remote ownership. It was perfect, and yet here he is itching to see Peter walk through the door and throw an off-handed term of endearment in his direction.

Peter doesn't come back all day, not even all night, and to force himself to not think about what trouble he's willingly walked into, Stiles goes to bed startlingly early. He doesn't remember until that night when the winter winds start whipping at the windows how much noise this apartment makes at night. Creaks there, creepy howling winds there. He hadn't paid them attention before, especially not with Peter just a room away as a perfect intruder control system what with his claws and teeth and tendency to slash first and ask questions later, and now he feels the uneasiness that creeps over the rooms since he's alone. He peers into Peter's dark room when the sun sets and considers sleeping in his bed just to send a message when Peter eventually comes home, but then he realizes that he has no idea what message that would even convey, and he ends up curled up in his own sheets wishing he was more emotionally stable.

--

He pulls himself out of bed the next morning well after what is considered acceptable breakfast time, and realizes with a heavy stomach that there's only one solution to what he's done. Apologizing. So he does the completely acceptable thing and writes him a note, something small and succinct like I'm sorry, please don't kill me that doesn't really encapsulate all he's feeling and decides to leave it on his door where he'll inevitably find out, assuming he's coming back. Then again, he left all of his fancy shampoos, so Stiles can hardly imagine that he won't be back to collect them if nothing else.

He goes to stick the note on the door when he hears something from the inside—rustling and footsteps and the sound of life. Stiles opens the door and doesn’t bother knocking, and what he sees just about makes his heart plummet into his ankles.

Boxes upon boxes stacked on top of each other while Peter rifles through his belongings to pack up everything he owns are littered throughout the room, in each corner and piled on the bed. Stiles takes them all in, especially what they symbolize, and feels the air rush from his lungs. Peter looks up at him from where he’s standing speechlessly in the doorway.

“Oh no, don't tell me you're—” Stiles stops himself because the boxes speak for themselves. He feels the bottom drop out from underneath him. “Are you—are you moving out? When were you going to tell me?”

“You'd notice sooner or later,” Peter says with a shrug like the idea of him moving out and permanently walking out of Stiles' life is nothing of import. The shrug hits Stiles like a slap in the face.

“You're kidding me, right? You're not being serious.”

"I am, actually," Peter says, and he grabs a handful of shirts from his closet—all v-necks, nothing but stupid v-necks, and Stiles feels a surge of inexplicable fondness surge through him. “Why would I stick around when my roommate wants to see me get out?”

"Because you're Peter freaking Hale! You shouldn't care what people think!" Stiles throws his hands in the hair and steps forward to grab the shirts from Peter's grip before he starts packing them away. "Besides, I didn't mean that stuff. I was being an idiot. A really mean idiot."

"Continue," Peter murmurs, his hands pausing on their way to pull his pants from the closet.

"I didn't mean what I said. Hey, you should know what that's like! It's not like you've never done stupid stuff you regretted," Stiles fumbles to find the right words. "Like that whole killing your niece thing, I bet you regret that."

"You're comparing these situations?"

"Sort of," Stiles cringes because he's not all that great at apologizing straight to Peter's face. He looks at the myriad of boxes piled up on the floor and the bed and thinks that it's now or never. "I'm sorry. I want you to stay. Okay?"

"You told me I should've quote stayed in the coma unquote."

"I know and that was bad. But c'mon, you of all people can't be lecturing me about doing bad things!"

"Is this supposed to encourage me to stay?" Peter says dryly, and reaches for his pants again. Stiles squabbles for words and reaches for his shoulder to pull him back before he can start folding jeans over his arm.

"I like having you around," Stiles says. "I'm really, really sorry—and I can tell just from the way you're looking at me that you wish you could put all of this on YouTube just so you can always rewatch me apologizing to you. But you're... important in my life."

Peter carefully crosses his arms. "Why," he asks. It sounds like Stiles has ten seconds or less to come up with the best compliment on earth. He inhales.

"I mean, who would leave me post-its on the door or make sure I eat food that isn't microwaveable at least once a week?" Stiles says, and he squeezes the strong shoulder under his grip. “Who would drive me up the wall and help me study because god knows I can’t concentrate on textbook drivel without getting distracted?”

The words leaving his mouth turn every inch of his skin pink in humiliation, but now that the sentences are flowing freely from his tongue he lets them come if only to get the truth off his chest. And if anything, the truth seems to be working, and a small smile quirks up on Peter’s lips. He steps forward, just close enough to crowd into Stiles’ space.

“So how are you going to make it up to me?” he asks him, and a million sexual favors burst into Stiles’ brain that he hastily stomps the hell out of. “Because if you don’t have an idea, I do.”

“You do?” Stiles asks carefully. He’s both terrified and inexplicably thrilled to hear the answer, and the urge to both plug his ears and make sure he’s as alert as ever thrums through him.

“You could tell me what’s made you act like this,” Peter says.

“This? Act like what?”

“Like the most aggravating, self-involved, temperamental nightmare of a roommate since I was living with Derek.”

He raises his eyebrows in impatience, waiting for a proper explanation. And Stiles knows what the explanation is. He’s a fucked up little boy who can’t come to terms with his feelings and is stuck between the plans of smothering his affection with finding a flavor of the week to lead to his bed and confessing until the anvil on his chest goes away. He could think of a million different awkward ways to come clean if only his mouth would form the words. Maybe you are the absolute worst and I hate loving you, but for whatever reason, I do anyway. Or we could be really terrible and disappoint each other together.

He feels like he’s sixteen and lying to his father again, scrambling to avoid his eyes and come up with excuses, and Stiles tries hard to believe that he’s not that same person anymore. He’s grown. He’s braver. He takes a breath.

"It's just that... lately, I've been having feelings for," he can do this. He can do this. It's not like Peter will laugh at him. Oh god, of course he will. This will be the worst rejection in the world. He can so not do this. "...chicken."

Peter's eyebrows wrinkle together. "What?"

"I just. Um. Really. Really want chicken lately," Stiles veers off path somewhere stupid and muddy where he can no longer backpedal to where the truth lays. "And, well. It'd be great to eat chicken... With you there too."

Peter's staring at him like he's the doofus he so hopelessly is. Just as Stiles wonders if he's as transparent as he feels, Peter heaves a heavy sigh and says, "Fine. You convinced me."

Stiles hops once on the balls of his feet, a smile splitting apart his cheeks. "Really?" Peter nods, rolling his eyes as he does. "Great! Great, good! Then enough of this moving out stuff.” He briefly wonders if a hug would be appropriate and decides that’s a negative. “Let's get you unpacked again.”

He reaches for a box by the door, tugging it onto the sheets to fold it open, and finds it empty. He grabs the next one, and that's empty as well. Stiles throws a look over his shoulder where Peter's watching him uncover box about vacant box.

"Peter," he mutters, and hopes this isn't going where he thinks it is. "These are all empty."

"I know," Peter tells him breezily, sliding his t-shirts back onto hangers. "But I quite enjoyed that speech."

“Oh god,” Stiles feels something like a slimy monster scream in his stomach as the regret settles in. He grabs the nearest pillow off of Peter's bed and hurls it at his head. “You weren't going to move out, you asshole?!”

“You can't blame me for wanting a little ego boost when the last conversation we had wasn't exactly a pat on the head.”

Stiles feels a scream bubble up his throat and very nearly gives into the desire to shout, as loudly as possible, until his vocal chords shrivel up and he can no longer let words that will ultimately be his own humiliating downfall fall from his lips. Feelings for chicken. He’s such a fucking moron.

“You’re such a horrible person,” Stiles says, holding his head in his hands and hearing his own desperate words pleading with Peter to stay circle through his brain in an endless loop. “Why do I put up with you.”

“Because,” Peter clears his throat and slides another handful of shirts back into their designated spot in the closet. “Who else would drive you up the wall? And leave you post-its? And keep you from becoming a hopelessly unattractive hermit?”

“Oh god, fuck you,” Stiles mumbles into his palm. He starts shuffling backward out Peter’s room and pauses. “I never said that last one.”

Suddenly Peter’s in front of him, pulling his hands free from his face even as Stiles tries to resist and view him purely through the Vs of his spread fingers. There’s something like a silent thank you in his eyes, like even though he’d never ask, even Peter needs to hear something kind and gentle now and again. He tips Stiles’ chin up with a knuckle, and then the hint of gratitude in his eyes is replaced with a wicked smirk.

“So,” he says. “Do you want to get that chicken now or later?”

--

“So you didn’t tell him,” Scott sums up, and Stiles resolutely shakes his head.

“Fuck no,” Stiles says, handing him a beer from the fridge and settling into the kitchen stool next to his. “And as a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever will, so that leaves my options with a, move to Mexico and forget ever knowing him or b, continuing to wallow in my misery of unrequited love for a complete nutjob.”

“How do you know it’s unrequited?” Scott asks him gently.

“Because I just know,” Stiles says in response with a dark look. “My luck? Pretty rotten. Good things don’t happen to Stiles. There was a curse placed on me before I was born.”

“What’s the worst that could happen if you tell him?”

“Are you seriously asking me that?” Stiles asks. He thinks that living with Peter has made him too acidly sarcastic for his own good. “What’s the best?”

“You guys get together.”

“Yeah, okay, that’ll happen.”

“I don’t see why you and Peter couldn’t just—”

Peter’s key rustles in the lock and Stiles’ eyes widen, his hand flattening over Scott’s mouth like somebody’s mother is about to storm in here and admonish them for swearing. “Shut up,” he hisses as the door creaks open, and Scott gets with the program and promptly changes the subject in time for Peter slipping inside.

“I’m home, sweetums,” Peter calls out as he carries four bags of groceries in with him. Scott gives Stiles a look that Stiles has no trouble interpreting at the sound of the sing-song term of endearment and smacks him over the head.

“Welcome back,” Stiles says as nonchalantly as possible, sliding off the stool to pull one of the bags Peter’s deftly balancing in the crook of his elbow into his hands and setting it onto the kitchen counter.

“You guys don’t get the groceries together?”

“The last time that happened, some kid thought we were a bickering gay couple,” Stiles says, burying his face in the bag to pull out the boxes of snacks.

“Not to mention that I’m the only cook in the house,” Peter says, throwing just enough shade that Stiles hip checks him until he catches Scott’s raised eyebrow. “So I made the culinary decisions around here.”

They fall instantly into their nauseating routine as Peter puts the bags down, Stiles rifling through the ones on the counter to file away the boxes of pasta and slide the milk into the freezer. Scott watches them in awe, like watching them neatly skirt around each other and seamlessly work together cleaning up groceries is like watching aliens land in his backyard.

Stiles unpacks a bag and is two packets of cheese away when he notices the extra large package of spicy chips nestled in the bottom. He grins and yanks them out.

"Dude!" Stiles says. "You got me barbecue chips? I didn't even put them on the list."

"I know, but they're your favorite," Peter murmurs as he sorts away the vegetables, and Stiles feels a pang of something hot and wonderful like affection hit him in the chest.

And then Stiles' mouth decides to say, "Holy shit, I love you."

Oh, shit.

The next two minutes—possibly two years, Stiles might have turned to stone and lost track of time—are the worst of his life. The silence is deafening and scary and awkward and he feels all his organs suspend in limbo as the magnitude of what just left his mortified mouth settles uncertainly in the air, and he shuts his eyes in the hope that when he opens them, the floor will have swallowed him away from reality. Oh no, no, no. Holy god, no.

"Um," Scott is the first to speak up. "I think I'll, um. Let you guys—you know. Yeah." He slides awkwardly off his stool, everything about his movements clipped as his eyes zip back and forth between Stiles and Peter like there's a thrilling tennis game bouncing back and forth between them.

"No, Scott, no," Stiles tries to hang onto the residual smidgens of his dignity and fails miserably as he all but launches him over the counter to keep Scott in place. "No, you can stay! Stay!" He goes for casual and comes out squeaky and nauseated.

"No, I think it's time Scott takes his leave," Peter says, and his voice is level, leaving Stiles with nothing to infer how Peter is taking this. Stiles refuses to look him in the eye but can drum up a few visuals: perhaps the gleam of murder, or maybe a tinkling of concentration as he thinks up a rejection that will sting like needles is visible in his eyes. Stiles seeks out Scott's gaze desperately.

"If you don't hear from me in three hours I'm a dead man," he whispers to him urgently. "Avenge me."

Scott squeezes his arm as he senses his all too blatant panic and catches Peter's eye over Stiles' shoulder. Whatever he sees in his gaze is enough to convince him to slip out of Stiles' grip, grab his jacket, and all but fly out the door, and Stiles feels his stomach sink.

The silence falls again. It settles harder this time, like it takes twenty degrees of warm air away from the entire apartment as it does, and Stiles takes a careful breath as he turns around.

Peter's standing there, right next to the unpacked groceries nonchalant as ever. It hits Stiles then how gorgeous he is in nothing but a worn navy t-shirt and snug jeans, and how good he is to Stiles because he thinks about him in the supermarket when he sees snacks that remind him of Stiles' taste for spicy chips, and how much more there is to him under the surface of the smirks and the sass and the residue left by the monster, and he knows that denial isn't an option for him here. It's probably obvious all over his face, his body language, the way his eyes train on Peter's body like he wants to take time to memorize all of his details.

So he goes for awkward and lame and incredibly graceless instead.

He taps his fingers against the counter, his brain rapidly leafing through all of Peter's possible reactions. He might be without a roommate tomorrow, and the idea fastens something icy around his ribcage. He doesn't know what went wrong with his life for him to make sure he didn't lose Peter Hale from living across a wall from him, but it's too late to do anything but roll with the punches by now.

He twines a hand carefully into his hair and sends Peter a nonchalant grin. His face is unreadable. “So... yeahhhh,” he says. “That happened.”

Peter's eyebrows raise in something that feels like an unspoken question. Stiles hates himself for knowing exactly what it is.

"Yeah, I meant it," he says, all with the same casual grin painted on his face that makes him feel like he wants to die right here and now. "So... I'm just going to give you time to digest. Or... you know. Move out and ignore my existence when we run into each other at the mall. I'm gonna go."

He swivels around on his heel, the words idiot idiot idiot crunching underfoot with every step he takes to the door, and he's nearly to his jacket ready to holler for Scott to take him to the nearest arcade to dance dance revolution his horrible life and this unspoken rejection out of his brain when a hand seizes him by the arm and wheels him back around. There's Peter, close enough Stiles' eyes cross focusing in on his nose, and then he's crowding him against the wall. Stiles feels something thump against his neck—probably his dangerously rocketing heartbeat—and looks Peter in the eyes. They look brighter than usual.

“If you kill me, don't think I won't haunt your sorry ass,” Stiles says. They aren’t the smoothest last words he could’ve chosen to go with, but he’s a bit crunched for time. His heart skips another frantic beat. "”You'll never have a warm shower again, you better belie—“

"God, do you ever shut up?" Peter interrupts, sounding horribly unamused with Stiles antics. He sighs, endlessly annoyed, and pushes Stiles firmly against the wall with the flat of his palm. He kisses him.

Is this really happening, is Stiles' first thought, and he keeps his eyes open just to make sure it actually is. It only takes one look at Peter's blurry face and one good try to get their lips to angle together just right and Stiles is convinced. This is reality.

He gets with the program after that, even if contributing or even just keeping up with Peter's unrelenting pace is dizzying just to think about, and then Peter's tongue slips into his mouth and he decides to give up thinking at all. He winds his arms around Peter's shoulders and holds him close enough to feel every dip and curve of his body through his clothes, and that's all it takes alongside a few lazy sweeps of Peter's tongue over his lips for Stiles to feel dizzy and slightly winded. Peter pulls back slowly, leaving deliberate, teasing kisses in his wake, and Stiles absolutely does not whimper. He doesn't.

"Finally," Peter mutters, and Stiles' eyes shoot open.

"Finally what?" Stiles asks, and Peter's still close enough to map out every bump on his cheeks and feel all the heat from his body melt into his when he opens his eyes. It's making him light-headed like one of those spinning roller coasters that simultaneously makes him want to hurl and ride it over and over again. "I finally shut up?"

"No," Peter scoffs. "You finally told me you loved me."

"I—what?" Stiles all but yells. "You knew? You knew this whole time?"

Peter clucks softly and slides his nose up Stiles' neck to start leaving open-mouthed kisses up his collarbone—a distraction tactic Stiles isn't letting himself fall for—and murmurs on the expanse of his neck, tongue brushing his pulse point as he talks.

“I could smell it on you for months,” Peter says, the words vibrating on Stiles' neck. He kisses him under his jaw, slowly, like he's planning on taking his time with this one. “How you wanted me... how desperately you pretended not to... the arousal was, well… delicious.”

“Why didn't you say anything?” Stiles groans, and his legs are starting to squirm under the ministrations of the talented tongue sliding up his jaw. He won’t be able to stand on solid feet much longer if this keeps up. Peter hums noncommittally by his ear.

“I knew it would be extremely satisfying to hear you admit it,” Peter says.

“But that night—I even kissed you,” Stiles sputters helplessly even as he tilts his neck aside to offer Peter more access. “You were just teasing me? All this time?"

"It was quite fun," Peter mumbles, his hands sliding up Stiles' waist and pulling his shirt along talks he goes. "Even though I do admit you tested my patience a few times..."

Stiles feels his cock start hardening in his pants as Peter slowly rocks their hips together while he sucks a mark under Stiles' ear. That was an erogenous zone he didn't even know he had and he moans at the sensation.

"Ohhh, that's nice," he says, and Peter chuckles by his ear before doing it again.

"Mmm," Peter hums against his slick skin. "If you had just grown a pair... Do you realize how long we could've been doing this for?"

"Wait," Stiles says, jerking out of the haze. He always knew Peter would have sex in two ways—either hard, fast and primordially animalistic, or tortuously slow and teasing until begging is in order. It seems the latter is true if the way he's keeping Stiles' hips in place as he grinds against him and drags his teeth up his neck. "So you—you too?"

Peter pulls back from his neck to survey him. His lips are shiny from where he's been licking up Stiles' collarbone and it sends a whole new thrill of electricity through his system that shoots through all his appendages and straight to his dick. "You really don't know?"

"Just tell me, you dick," Stiles gasps out.

"Yes, Stiles," Peter says with a roll of his eyes, and trust him to make this seem like an exasperating chore. "I love you. I love you so much I want to absolutely ruin you."

"Hey, me too," Stiles says with a happy laugh, something carefree and totally ecstatic, because he finally gets to have sex and it gets to be with Peter, and Stiles has long since accepted not knowing why or how or even when that happened that that's what he wants.

They kiss again, and it just gets better and better every time. All Stiles keeps thinking is thank god they didn't do this five years ago when Stiles would have had no idea what he was doing and Peter wouldn't love him, and how much better it is now. It certainly isn't perfect—if anything, it's superbly fucked up—but it works and Stiles wants it. He's wanted it for ages.

"So we're really doing this?" Stiles breathes out as Peter pulls away and tugs on his bottom lip with his teeth as he goes. "For real?"

Peter raises an eyebrow and gesticulates between them with his fingers. "This?" he asks, and then reaches down to cup Stiles' crotch. "Or this?"

"Aaaah, both?"

"Then yes, we are," Peter says with a smirk, and then his hands slip around Stiles' back to roughly squeeze his ass through his jeans and angle their mouths together.

Stiles arches into it and makes a soft noise, something excited and heady, and fights for the upper hand while their tongues brush. Neither of them yield, and neither of them fall back, but it still works. If anything, it becomes hotter still as Peter's teeth sink into his lip, and Stiles feels a fingertip trace the crack of his ass through his pants. Stiles gasps into Peter's mouth and pushes his hips forward, and it seems to break a wall in Peter's reserve.

"Enough," he growls on Stiles' lips, and a very real fang brushes his mouth. His hands dig into Stiles' ass. "Clothes off or I'll tear them off myself."

It should be cheesy, but it makes Stiles shudder because Peter probably would. He would break out the claws just to rip Stiles free of whatever was in the way of him touching Stiles when he's bare and vulnerable. But Stiles likes this hoodie, so he shrugs it off and lets it drop to the floor. More important things at hand here, like getting his hands on Peter as quickly as possible.

"Couch?" Stiles offers, his eyes zipping over the apartment to find acceptable surfaces for nudity.

"Floor," Peter counters. Stiles shakes his head.

"Kitchen counter," he says, leaning in to nibble on the lobe of Peter's ear. It awakens something primal in Peter's body as he all but rips Stiles' zipper away from his jeans. "Shower?"

"All of them," Peter growls. "But here now. On the floor.”

Peter kisses him before he can protest, a real kiss with aggression and tongue and feeling. Peter's kisses are nothing like the sloppy, sticky facsimiles of kisses that exist in high school, but rather demanding and strong and still leaving Stiles begging for more every time he pulls back a hair's breath. He kisses with purpose and poise, with the experience and smoothness of a man who knows how to please, and even though it should clash with Stiles' frantic nature and urgent hands, it works, just like everything else including the two of them that probably shouldn't. Like living together, or laughing together, or sharing their lives together, and Stiles supposes those are just more proven myths that scientists are going to have to scramble to explain. Their lips drag together, slick and easy, and Stiles wonders exactly how much of this was planned. Knowing Peter, he probably anticipated all of it, from how hot and bothered Stiles got in his presence to how he became a blubbering fool when he couldn't get his feelings out properly, but Stiles can't bring himself to be mad about wasted time when he's much more occupied with yanking Peter's shirt over his head.

Then he’s being manhandled against the wall, shoved against it and held captive by Peter’s left hand as his right hand starts pulling at his jeans zipper, something very feral taking over his movements. Stiles slips his hand over Peter’s chin and brushes his thumb over his lower lip, feeling a fang under his fingertip, and man, he shouldn’t find that as attractive as he does.

“C’mon,” Stiles encourages, pushing into his hand and waiting for this show to get on the road.

“Impatient,” Peter murmurs with a wicked grin, his grip tight on Stiles’ shoulder as he keeps him in place and nearly rips his pants off his legs. Stiles kicks them off before he loses his favorite jeans, and then loses his t-shirt next, and starts whining when Peter keeps him captive by his wrists when he tries to pull Peter’s shirt free as well, keeping deliberate eye contact. “Good things come to those who wait.”

“You’re enjoying this too much,” Stiles grumbles, because he knows that Peter knows how much he’s itching to touch and explore, but then Peter slips a knee between Stiles’ clad legs, his thigh rubbing against his tented boxers, and Stiles shuts up without being asked.

“Get on the floor,” Peter rumbles in his ear, fingers tight on his wrists, and Stiles surveys the carpet over his shoulder. “There are many things I can’t do to you while you’re standing.”

It’s a good argument that gets Stiles convinced in under two seconds, and he drops to his knees and pulls Peter with him. He always wants to be touching him, constantly rubbing and brushing and keeping the electrical heat between their skin alive with the friction of skin contact, and Peter seems to agree, pushing Stiles onto the floor so he nearly falls off his knees and loses balance. He yelps and then he’s on the ground, staring at the ceiling and arching his hips up into where he hopes Peter’s hips, legs, torso is, the pressure building up in his body.

Peter finally loses his shirt, and his pants go next, and Stiles is nearly panting by the time Peter’s slipping his boxers off his hipbones and descending back onto Stiles’ body, his teeth and lips working fastidiously on Stiles’ chest to leave marks that will be there for days. Maybe even weeks if he draws blood.

“This is fucking real,” Stiles feels the need to observe. It hits him the second Peter’s teeth sink into neck with the intent of leaving marks and his back arches up into Peter’s chest, finally free of obstructive clothing.

“How’d you know?” Peter says, hands skirting down his torso to pinch his nipple on the way southward before tucking his fingers into the waistband of Stiles’ underwear. He feels his heart race, picking up from an excited two hundred miles per hour to an unearthly five hundred, and Peter’s ears pick up on every hitch in his breathing and skip of his heartbeat. “Suck.”

He pushes his fingers into Stiles’ mouth and Stiles reacts instantly, wrapping his tongue around the digits, and Peter growls. It’s always in the subtle ways that Stiles remembers how much of an animal Peter is, like something dangerous caged up in confinement, and Stiles just think he broke the padlock.

“You’re killing me,” Stiles groans around his knuckles, because he can feel every bit of Peter. He feels his cock nestled into his thigh, he feels the weight of his fingers on his tongue, the stinging pain of his bite marks settling on his skin.

“Good,” Peter says, watching every movement of his tongue carefully, meticulously. “Are you thirsty for my cock in your mouth or in your ass?”

Stiles moans and hitches a leg over Peter’s leg, feeling yet more blood rush downward. There’s none left to fuel his brain, he’s sure of it.

“Hnnn,” is his answer, and Peter chuckles, pulling his fingers free of Stiles’ mouth.

“Actually, I have a better idea.”

“What?” Stiles asks him, and already feels the tingles at what could possible leave his mouth. Peter grins and swipes his tongue over Stiles’ unsuspecting lips.

“You,” Peter says. “Only you. Watching you beg. Watching you squirm.”

“Oh god,” Stiles is already dead, he’s sure of it, and then Peter slithers down his torso and yanks his underwear free, and he hopes he comes out of this with all of his brain cells.

His mouth fastens around Stiles’ dick in one solid swallow and Stiles sees stars explode, or maybe fireworks, or maybe even bombs, and he forces himself to watch just so the sight is etched into his brain for masturbatory aid and so his mind knows for sure that none of this is a very elaborate dream. Peter pushes his hips down hard, his fingers leaving purple bruises in their roughness.

“Hey, careful with the human—oh, fuck,” he doesn’t get it all out, not when he feels himself hit the back of Peter’s throat and feels Peter’s hum vibrate through his cock. Peter keeps doing incredible things with his tongue, things he’s been keeping secret from Stiles for months, and that in of itself should be a crime.

Peter pulls off of him with a hard suck that leaves tremors behind in Stiles’ body, one hand wrapping around Stiles’ newly slick cock and the other reaching up to push into Stiles’ slack mouth. “Stay with me,” Peter demands of him, and Stiles nods, no clue if he’s referring to here and now just to keep himself conscious or if he means always, here in this dingy apartment with ant infestations. Either way, Stiles is up for it.

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles groans, urging Peter back onto his dick with a few lifts of his hips, and Peter chuckles and gets the message. His mouth descends onto Stiles’ erection once more, tongue first this time, and Stiles pushes up into the wet heat of his lips impatiently. “I’ve wanted—too long—jesus fuck. Please.”

“Please what?” Peter murmurs, tongue flicking over the crown of Stiles’ dick over and over, slowly and wetly.

“Please more.”

Peter grins, satisfied, and he grabs him by the hips and pulls him back into his mouth, his teeth grazing over all the sensitive spots until Stiles is nearly sobbing. He feels his cock push into Peter’s throat and thinks that if this is his life for the next few weeks, he can definitely handle some homework.

They’re going to need a new promise, he thinks, now that they’ve broken the no friends rule. They’ve also broken several unspoken rules that were set up when Peter moved in, regulations like no sex between roommates, and no affection between roommates, and no caring about the roommate. Stiles is terrible at keeping promises, and he feels like maybe he should apologize, but then Peter’s tongue tickles the underside of his dick as he slowly pulls off of him, and the words die in this throat. He wanted to see Stiles squirm, and he’s definitely getting his wish.

“Your body,” Peter is murmuring, his hands running up and down Stiles’ legs reverently. “You have no idea how much you’re tempting me.”

“Do it,” Stiles blurts out instantly. “Whatever you’re thinking of in that dirty little mind, do it.”

“What a gracious offer,” Peter says with a grin between Stiles’ legs, and then pushes them up by the underside of his knees and flattens his tongue against Stiles’ hole.

It feels amazing, so amazing Stiles thinks he’s seeing images of his dead relatives flash behind his eyes, and he fists desperately at the carpet, Peter’s hair, his own head just to keep it together while Peter pushes his legs up and laps over his hole. It’s intimate and wet and even hurts a little bit as Stiles’ back ruts against the rough carpet, sure to leave a bruise later, but Stiles wouldn’t entertain moving for even a second right now.

He picks up rhythm, his lips dragging over Stiles’ hole in slow, teasing strokes that has Stiles believing in every holy being in the world for a good few seconds. He’s working Stiles open with his tongue, probably foreshadowing for what’s to come later, and he doesn’t disappoint in effort. His mouth and lips and even teeth all work together to dissolve Stiles into a puddle, like he’s proving a point or marking territory, like with every flick of his tongue he’s saying you’re mine.

Peter pushes him into the floor, demanding and hard and sure in all of his movements, and Stiles revels in every feeling that overloads him like a server on overdrive. There are too many sensations, too many things to focus on at once, but he focuses in on the way Peter’s tongue slips over and into his entrance, circling him and teasing him until he’s writhing for more.

“No, no,” Stiles still has the coherency to say, and he reaches for something solid to tug on, landing on Peter’s hair. He pulls. “Come here.”

Peter obliges, but only after delivering a few more kitten licks to Stiles’ exposed hole, and when he’s back at eye level, Stiles takes in his slick lips and ruffled hair and cants his hips up to push their cocks together.

“Like this,” Stiles murmurs, hooking his arms around Peter’s neck.

Peter nods and thrusts down, harder than before, their movements going from unhurried and slick to fast and commanding. The heat builds up quickly between them, just like always, and Stiles tips his neck aside so Peter can fall back into the groove of his collarbone and lick over the sore marks he leaves in his wake. Their bodies move totally in sync, a stark contrast from the way they’ve been living in complete dichotomy, his teeth frantic on Stiles’ neck to leave the evidence that his mouth was there, that his teeth marks are making a claim. Stiles would be laughing if he wasn’t so caught up in the haze of sex and right theres and that’s goods. Stiles cards his fingers over and over through Peter’s hair, lips parted to let the moans free, and each sound seems to spur Peter on further, his thrusts rabid as their dicks grind.

It’s sloppy and uncoordinated, just like their relationship, every passing moment a struggle of flailing limbs and uncertainty, and for the first time since Peter’s moved in, Stiles is okay with that dynamic. His entire life has always been full of what ifs and plans that never work out, so why should he bother trying to push aside what he has now, whether it be feelings or affection or a warm body on top of him begging him to come, just because he never saw this coming years ago. He has to roll with the punches.

“Yes, yes,” Peter is saying, breathless and awed as they rut together. He’s looking at Stiles like he wants nothing more than to commit his face, suspended in unadulterated pleasure, to permanent memory, and Stiles surges up and kisses him as he feels himself get closer and closer to the edge.

It hits Peter first, letting Stiles watch and revel in the fact that it only took a few thrusts of their cocks and sucking Stiles off for him to come, and Stiles follows him, his fingernails digging crescent marks into Peter’s arms that fade away the second he loosens his hold. He opens his eyes even though he doesn’t remember closing them and there’s Peter, and he looks spent and sated and oddly happy all at once, and Stiles reaches forward to trace his finger through the sweat dotting his forehead. Peter actually leans into it like a lazy cat, and Stiles realizes then that this—this thing between them, whatever it is—will be easy.

The rug burn is a real thing, he realizes after the waves of pleasure subside. He thinks his back is going to be rubbed raw thanks to Peter’s ferocity, and honestly, what was wrong with the bed? Or even a sticky leather couch? He groans and Peter chuckles, sated and amused by Stiles’ pain. Just like old times.

“Stop laughing,” Stiles says, reaching blindly for Peter’s shoulders, his arms, maybe even his cock just to stroke his laughter away. He lands on his wrists, tugging him up to blanket Peter over him. He goes willingly and tucks his nose into Stiles’ neck to drag his teeth up and down his collarbone, and as predatory as it is, Stiles has never felt safer, calmer. “What’s so funny?”

“You,” Peter murmurs on his neck, tongue flicking out over his pulse point.

“I don’t want to be funny.”

“Fine,” Peter says. “You’re insatiable and infuriating and alluring as well. Happy?”

“Very,” Stiles mumbles, and he feels his eyes start to droop right up until Peter digs his claws into his thighs and pokes him back into awareness. Peter’s staring at him, eyebrow raised like even the notion of sleep is ridiculous, and Stiles has to say, his reboot time is impressive considering he’s twice Stiles’ age.

“Do you honestly think I’d let you go to sleep already?” Peter says, and slides back to his feet. He’s totally naked, from head to toe, and Stiles lets himself drink in the sight. He feels something thrum through him and wonders if it’s luck, happiness, or just another shot of horniness. Probably all three combined.

Peter holds out his hand and Stiles takes it, letting himself be dragged back into a standing position. He feels a bit like one of those half-cooked noodles, just barely steady enough to stay upright, and he has just enough coordination to sling his pants over his shoulder before he lets Peter drag him into the bedroom.

Well, at least the second time will include soft sheets.

--

Stiles isn't entirely sure he's alive anymore by the time two a.m. rolls around.

He's draped halfway over the bed, the other half dangling gracefully over the mattress while Peter drags kisses up his bruised neck. God, he has so many bruises. People in campus are going to think he's the victim of domestic abuse. That, or he's got a very aggressive pet tiger. He idly pushes Peter's head southward to his chest so he can feel for his pulse with his fingers while Peter moves his attentions to Stiles' nipple.

Thump, thump, his heart beats sluggishly through his skin, and Stiles isn't entirely sure if he should believe it just yet. He's definitely numb in the toes by now, and he's not sure if that's from all the sex or the happiness. Human bodies probably aren't built to contain this much happiness. Stiles smiles lazily.

"Well, this is a nice way to go out," Stiles says to the room at large. Peter hums and goes to work deepening one of the pink marks on his throat into a dark red.

"You're still alive," Peter says, pausing to kiss his heartbeat. "I haven't fucked you dead. Yet."

"Wow," Stiles mumbles. "Did that sound more romantic than it did ominous or is it just the haze of sex?"

Peter chuckles, the sound vibrating through his chest, and drags him back to the center of the bed to tangle their naked, so naked, legs together. Stiles will never look at anything in his apartment the same way ever again after having sex on every surface. He's a little concerned that he'll start getting hard each time he sees a refrigerator. Peter kisses him again on his swollen lips and rolls on top of him to grind their cocks together. For a man well past his hormonal prime Stiles is more than impressed by the sexual stamina.

"Hey," he murmurs, stilling Peter's hips with his hand. "Is this the point when I trick you into staying with me, or. I mean. This is the real thing, right?"

"The real thing?" Peter echoes back to him, and then his stubble scratches against his neck as he kisses up his jaw and Stiles momentarily forgets his train of thought.

"Yeah, you know. Don't make me say it, you asshole."

"Playing with your heart would be pretty risky, don't you think?" he asks. "Especially since you know where I live."

God, how can someone still be so sassy after sex. How can someone have the brain cells to form actual wit. Stiles feels a surge of affection pulse through him as he reaches for Peter's shoulders to reel him in for another kiss. "Love you," he murmurs on his mouth, and Peter bites him in the bottom lip.

"Don't wear it out," he chides, and Stiles pinches him in the hip. This still feels surreal, rolling around in the sheets in the middle of the night with Peter and with nothing to hide, like he'll wake up in his own bed mourning the sexiest dream he ever had. He pinches himself next, right in the stomach where it hurts, and when he opens his eyes Peter's still right there, draped over his side and raking his fingernails up and down his hips while he watches aroused goosebumps rise in their wake.

"You better not fuck this up," Stiles murmurs sleepily, arching into Peter's touches. It's starting to settle in his mind that this is actual reality, and that this was genuine sex they had, and that they're about to embark upon a grown-up relationship together. Peter huffs beside him and he's close enough that the air lands on Stiles' collarbone.

"Why do you assume it'll be me?" He asks indignantly.

"Fine," Stiles concedes. "We better not fuck this up. Past the point of how fucked up it already is. You'd end up moving out and I really don't want to do the whole roommate search again."

"The amount of romance here is stifling."

Stiles reaches out to pinch him again and Peter snags him by the wrist before he can, pulling his fingers to his mouth to wrap his tongue around his fingertips. Stiles' mouth dries up along with his attempt to smack the sarcasm out of Peter's body. He'd like to enjoy the pleasant afterglow for at least ten more minutes before either sleep or their tendency of bickering kicks in.

He wonders where they go from here—but he supposes he already knows. They continue on just like always, with Peter monopolizing all the cooking equipment and Stiles hiding the remote so he can take control of the late night television, give or take a few make outs against the stove and falling asleep in the same bed versus hearing each other through the wall. Sometimes he’ll come home and Peter will be there, nearly naked and cooking them a casserole by the oven, and sometimes Peter will come home when Stiles is waiting for him with nothing but a dust ruffle and some R&B playing low and smooth on the stereo. Everything will stay the same plus a lot more swollen lips. It'll probably be everything he wanted out of a roommate, if he can handle that kind of luck.

"So," Peter says, trailing his fingertips down Stiles' hipbone and circling his thigh. "Does this mean I get a cut on the rent?"

It might be funny, but Stiles still kicks him off the mattress.

--

Stiles sends Scott a thank you e-card the next day while he’s dicking around on his laptop in class, and leaves it at that.

Three minutes later, his phone buzzes in his pocket asking for details, and ten minutes later, he gets a nearly identical message from Isaac congratulating him on fucking the zombie werewolf of his dreams. He takes what he can get.

--

As expected, things remain exactly the same. Except from now on, Peter signs all of his passive aggressive post-its with a small I love you that Stiles notices every time.