It wasn’t raining.
At least, not the way most people define rain.
There were no droplets of water picking up momentum as they fell from swollen clouds, pounding on their heads as they fought their way through the forest. No pitter-patter of irregular rhythms on leaves, no smell of settling dirt.
It wasn’t raining, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t wet.
“If we don’t get dry soon I’m going to lose my entire outer layer of skin,” Peter grumbled. “It’s just going to slough right off my body.”
“You’ll grow a new one,” Chris replied shortly. “Consider it extreme exfoliation.”
The heavy mist of water in the air around them didn’t even really seem to be falling, just existing around them with vague downward inclinations. The wetness itself wasn’t burdensome, simply pervasive, seeping through their clothes and soaking into their bodies.
What was burdensome was not knowing when or if they’d get a chance to get dry.
They’d abandoned their car in the Marymere Falls parking lot, going up the Storm King trail before stepping off of it to truly go off grid. There had been no other choice. Kate and Gerard had finally hunted them down so closely they’d seen the whites of their eyes.
Getting away had been dicey- Peter had gotten shot, and Chris had had to burn the wolfsbane out while driving on the 101.
It wasn’t an experience either of them were eager to repeat.
The go-bags were all they had in the car, and while they were better stocked than most (even for the type of people who have a reason to keep go-bags), it still wasn’t enough to survive for longer than a few days.
It had already been a few days.
“The terrain map says there should be a flat area up here, we can pitch the tent to dry off for the afternoon.” Despite his earlier tone, Christopher was concerned about Peter- between the wolfsbane and the hard travel, he hadn’t truly had time to recover from the gunshot. The difference in his hiking pace would have hardly been noticeable to anyone else, but to Chris? Who had been on the run with him for six years?
Chris noticed everything about Peter.
He hitched his pack higher up his shoulders and glanced at the flat grey sky sparsely visible through the thick trees. “Maybe the damned clouds’ll give up for a minute,” he muttered.
Peter said nothing, but the silence conveyed his skepticism just as well.
They continued hiking, forging through the brush and nettle, grim but determined.
“Oh shit,” Chris suddenly cursed, stopping. “I didn’t lock the car.”
Peter looked up incredulously from a few paces behind. “The car? I think we have a few other things we could worry about more, Chris.”
Chris’ brow furrowed. He knew that, and yet-
“I’m just really- I didn’t lock it. I need to go back and check-”
Peter finally caught up with Chris and was suddenly overcome with the the same wave of worry. Not about the locks, but about whether he’d remembered to pay the car insurance.
“Damn, I think I forgot to pay State Farm this month,” Peter said tersely.
Chris looked confused. “I thought you had auto-pay set up?”
“... I do,” Peter said slowly. “Why…” his eyes suddenly lit up with understanding. “We just stumbled across someone’s keep-away warding.”
Chris’ eyes opened wider, glancing around cautiously.
“What do you think?”
Peter lifted a shoulder, looking around for himself.
“Could be a sacred site, could be a disposal ground. Might just be the weed patch of some witch.”
“Marijuana doesn’t grow in this climate,” said a voice behind them, followed by the sound of a gun safety being clicked off.
Peter and Chris slowly turned around.
A young man, no older than 20, had a handgun pointed at them.
“Too cold, too wet,” the young man continued casually. “It needs a hothouse. There wouldn’t really be a reason to have a personal patch anyway, not when recreational is legal and pretty reasonably priced.”
The pale young man looked them over with sharp eyes, taking in everything visible on their packs and their woods-rough states.
“Setting up a grow operation in the middle of the Olympic National forest, with some of the toughest terrain to travel, and wasting energy on warding it?” He shook his head. “No, not likely. Just about as unlikely as a werewolf and his pal taking a leisure hike miles away from any trail.”
The young man cocked his head before gesturing with his gun.
“Go head and keep moving forward. You’ll cross over into my clearing soon. There’s a bench near the runner beans. Once you see it feel free to sit down so we can have a comfortable chat about why I shouldn’t shoot you.”
Peter and Chris looked at each other, and slowly turned around to do as he asked.
As they walked, the trees cleared without warning. One moment it was thick trunks and moss covered everything, the next it was a neatly tidy lawn leading up to a vibrant garden. Tucked at the top of it all was a lovely little cabin.
A second after they crossed into the clearing, Peter heard the safety of the gun being clicked back on. Without wasting a moment, he turned around with his teeth out to lunge at their captor.
He got about six inches before wild blackberry vines started choking him.
The young man tsked.
“I mean, I said ‘comfortable chat’ but if you wanna be aggressive I guess we can do it that way too.” With a single hand gesture, the thorny vines tugged Peter over to the bench and shackled him down. Chris watched the whole affair with clenched teeth and wide eyes before looking back at the boy.
He gestured to the bench with one pale hand and a raised eyebrow. Chris quickly took his seat.
A moment later, the young man was seated across from them on a the cross section of a tree trunk, legs folded.
“Now!” He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “I prefer to give visitors the benefit of the doubt,” he began, “but I also prefer not to get murdered. Considering that your first reaction to hearing me put away my gun was to attack? My doubting benefit isn’t looking too good.” He crossed his arms and waited.
Chris looked over at Peter, who was trying to hold as still as possible to keep the thorns from digging in further.
Chris started, gesturing to Peter. “Could you-”
“No. Explain. You names would be a good start.”
Chris sighed. “I’m Chris, this is Peter. We’ve been spending a little time… off the grid,” he said, trying to make it sound like they were just into a very rustic lifestyle.
The young man nodded. “So you’re on the run. I’m Stiles, by the way.”
“I didn’t say-” Chris protested.
“You didn’t have to,” Stiles cut in. “Who or what are you running from?”
Chris swallowed. Witches traditionally didn’t get along with the fae, so-
“The Seelie Court,” he said.
Stiles barked out a laugh that startled Chris so much he automatically reached for his own gun. They too were immediately bound by blackberry vines.
“Ooooh, good try! Good try, but you’re lying, and also I’m not racist,” Stiles said.
Chris furiously tugged at the vines, only digging the thorns deeper into his skin.
“Peter, your companion here seems to have a little pants-on-fire problem. Would you like to try instead?”
Peter had not been idle in his stillness. He’d been trying to prevent the prickle of the vines, but they’d loosened slightly as he stopped struggling. Not enough to escape, but enough that he was no longer being pierced by thorns.
A kindness in captivity.
As Christopher had talked, Peter paid attention to Stiles- the young man was terrified.
Peter had to give it to him; he’d never have known if he couldn’t smell it. He would wager that Stiles had been on the edge of simply knocking them both out and abandoning them in the middle of a ravine this entire time. With magic like he’d already exhibited, it wouldn’t have been hard.
So why was he bothering with talking to them?
He decided to take a leap.
“My name is Peter Hale. My husband is Christopher Argent. We’re running from his family, who would very much like to kill us, or worse.”
Stiles looked at Peter, lips pursed, and nodded for him to continue.
“Gerard and Kate Argent are responsible for the murder of my entire family,” Peter continued, a wave of old grief striking him as hard as it always did. “We’ve been on the run ever since.” Peter swallowed. “Three days ago there was a run-in, and I got shot,” a sharp note of concern mixed in with Stiles’ scent, and Peter was encouraged. “We needed to get away fast. We just need to lay low for a while, and were hoping that we could hike our way to a safer departure location.”
Stiles gave them both a long, considering look, and sighed. He snapped his fingers.
The vines peeled away from Peter and Chris, leaving them rubbing their wrists and arms.
“Come on, I have a cream for your skin.” He stood from the log and started walking toward the cabin.
After a moment of silent conversation- “Well?” “I don’t know. It’s probably dry in the cabin.” “That’s worth the possibility of murder, let’s go.”- Peter and Chris also followed.
The door to the cabin entered straight into the kitchen. There were herbs and flowers hung up to dry all over the place and dirty vegetables sitting in a colander on the counter. Stiles was standing in front of a wall of shelves, pulling jars out and checking the handwritten labels, mumbling to himself.
“No… no… shit, I need to make more of that… here it is.” Stiles pointed at the two of them and said “Sit down, it’ll heal faster if I’m the one applying it.”
Chris still looked deeply uncomfortable- and honestly, ready to run at the first loud noise.
Stiles rolled his eyes. “I’m nineteen, not a kid by any nation’s standard. If you’re worried about what’s in the cream, Peter can smell it. It’s just an arnica base with some-“ he wiggled his fingers “-in it.”
Stiles handed over the little jar, which Peter took delicately. He sniffed and looked over at Chris.
“I don’t smell any sedatives in it.”
“Oh my god, sedatives? Who the hell do you think I am?” Stiles asked incredulously. “Who the hell are you? Do sedatives even work through the skin? ”
“You pulled a gun on us just because we walked into your wards!” Peter protested grumpily, handing the jar back.
“No, I pulled a gun on you because you were a werewolf who recognized that you walked into wards and also identified that a witch was the one who set them. For all I knew you two were hunting me specifically. Now sit your fugitive asses down and let me put this on.” He pointed sternly at the kitchen table.
Stiles rubbed the cream into Chris’ wrists first, and then peered closely at Peter’s wrists and throat.
“These should have healed by now, right?” He looked troubled. Taking one of Peter’s hands in both of his, feeling the skin with his thumbs. “You’re sure you got the exact mixture of wolfsbane burned out?” he asked skeptically.
“We were in a hurry,” Chris said shortly as he watched the pinprick wounds disappear from his skin with something more akin to suspicion than wonder. “I used the mixture my family has been using for generations, but I guess there’s always the possibility they’ve changed it.” He pursed his lips in worry and looked up at Peter.
“Hm. Maybe you just need some rest,” Stiles said, though he sounded doubtful. He rubbed the cream on Peter’s skin and then put the jar away.
“Come on,” Stiles beckoned with a hand. “You guys can have a shower. In fact, I insist you have a shower,” he wrinkled his nose. He led them down the hallway and into a room with a queen size bed. “Bathroom is to the right, towels under the sink. Don’t touch the plant in the corner, he gets mad. I have to go talk to the garden for a little bit, I’ll be back in a while.” He turned to go, but stopped and looked over his shoulder. “Before you try anything rude, you should know that the blackberry vines can reach inside the house too.”
And with that he left them.
Peter and Chris looked at each other.
Peter shrugged. “It’s better than being out there,” he said. It’s better than being with your father and sister, he didn’t say.
Chris clenched his jaw and nodded shortly.
Things were always better, right up until they weren’t anymore.
Since this was originally intended for Home Town Fest, I'm thinking about throwing in reference pictures. Because I'm an instagram hoe.
Here's the Storm King trail head.
Okayyyy okayokayokay. This whole thing still feels a little wild to me, so it'll be sporadic updates until I've got a better handle on it, but I wanted to post this to let you guys know that I am, in fact, working on it lol.
Also you may want to go back and read the first chapter again, because I had to take out Nina :( It's not a huge change, I just realized that having her around wouldn't fit with the backstory I wanted Stiles to have.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They’re tired, Stiles thought to himself as he crouched in his squash patch.
They’d clearly been on a hard run recently, but their auras held a certain weariness that couldn’t be gotten from a few days in the forest. When Peter said “ever since,” Stiles was pretty sure he’d been talking about years.
Stiles looked up from his fledgling zucchini plants, glancing back at the cabin.
“Years… Jesus,” he muttered to himself. He scrubbed a hand over his face. He didn’t think they got all the wolfsbane out of Peter, either. The werewolf’s aura felt like it was rotting. Stiles would give it until tomorrow morning, but he had a feeling he was going to have to make a trip out to the aconite patch.
He looked back down at the zucchini. “You don’t need a pep talk,” he said to the plant. Squash never needed a pep talk. Stiles eyed the new, unassuming little plant sticking out of the ground. “If I had the self confidence of squash I could run a crime syndicate.”
He walked over to a few little glass cases that held tomatoes. “You guys, however… how’re you doing in there?” he tapped on the glass. “You need any more peat moss?”
After Stiles added a little more sphagnum soil to their containers and adjusted the cages a little bit, he glanced back up at the cabin again, curiosity overcoming him. He snuck up to the guest bedroom window and peeked into the corner.
The two strangers were tangled up in each other, damp heads on the pillows and fast asleep.
He huffed and walked back down to work around the garden. If they were going to be a danger to anyone, it wouldn’t be for at least ten hours.
Stiles was scrambling eggs in the morning when he heard his guests rouse.
He looked over to see Chris cautiously coming into the kitchen, hypervigilance in every step. Peter was behind him, still looking sleep ruffled and slightly exasperated with his husband’s behavior.
“I’m making eggs, and there’s bread for toast too,” he nodded over to the homemade loaf by the toaster. “The plates are in the cupboard to the left of the sink, help yourselves while I finish this up.
Peter shoved past Chris, eager to get to the homemade bread. It smelled amazing. A moment later there were two thick slices down in the toaster.
Chris got three plates out from the cupboard and took them to the table before standing next to it, looking uncomfortably out of place.
Stiles pulled the eggs off the stove and brought them over to the table before grabbing a few forks. Soon enough, the three of them were ready for breakfast.
“Well, this is cozy,” Peter said with a smirk, taking a bite of toast.
Stiles returned a crooked, bemused smile, and Chris rolled his eyes before digging in.
“Thanks for the bed,” Chris eventually said gruffly, glancing up at Stiles. Chris thought he looked even younger in the morning light. “And the shower. And the,” he gestured with his fork at the table, “food.”
Stiles shrugged shortly. “It’s not like I don’t have the space,” he said, tone light.
Stiles finished eating first, less concerned with savoring the meal than the other two, who were just off three days of protein bars. He took care of his dish before coming back to the table and getting right into Peter’s space.
Peter jerked away and stared at him as Stiles squinted at the pink marks left on his neck from yesterday’s thorns.
“Go ahead and keep eating,” Stiles said absently, sticking out a finger to gently touch one of the marks. “I just wanna look at these.”
“... I would love to, but having a stranger right next to my throat is a tad distracting,” Peter said, sarcastic but tense.
Stiles sat back and blinked. “Oh. Sorry. I just-” he squinted a little again, this time looking up and down Peter’s entire body, and then looking over at Chris as if to compare. “I’m pretty sure you still have wolfsbane in your system. Your aura is all…” he drifted off, trying to find the words. “Wrong. It seems sick.”
Chris paled as Peter pushed away his breakfast, looking ill. They’d hoped- perhaps foolishly- but they’d hoped that Peter simply needed rest.
Stiles was frowning at the marks some more. “Can I touch?” he asked this time, holding out a hand. “Just a little, I just want to get a better feel for how it’s affecting you.”
Peter and Chris exchanged a look before Peter nodded slowly. Stiles took a moment to softly palpate the pinprick scars that shouldn’t exist. There were even a few marks that were still scabbed. Eventually he leaned back and crossed his arms.
“There are two hundred and fifty varieties of aconite,” he said, looking at Chris. “What was in the blend you used to burn out the bullet wound?”
As Chris and Stiles talked about what Chris remembered of his family’s hunting technique, Peter stared at the kitchen table in silence.
He was the last Hale. The last one, damn it, and it looked like Kate and Gerard were going to get their card blacked out after all. He tried to feel anything other than tired.
The slam of a door brought his attention back to the kitchen. Stiles was gone. Chris gathered both their plates and the pan that had held the eggs.
“Apparently he has a patch of aconite varieties about a thirty minute hike from here. All the most common hunting strains are there, along with a few others that can be used medicinally for other creatures.” He paused. “With magic anyway, I suppose.”
There was silence for a few minutes as Chris washed the dishes, and then dried and put them away. Peter watched his movements, achingly in love with him.
“I don’t want to leave you alone,” he said quietly. Chris’ back tensed before he turned around to face Peter.
“You’re not going to,” he said gruffly. “The kid says he has twenty or so types. One of them’ll be right. Everything’s gonna be fine.” He walked over to his husband, leaning down until their foreheads touched.
“We’ve made it this far. We’ll be fine.”
They spent the next 2 hours or so curled up together on the one couch Stiles had. They sat quietly until they noticed the TV in the corner for the first time.
“Huh,” Peter said after turning it on. “The backwoods witch has Netflix.”
When Stiles finally burst back into the cabin (he seemed incapable of simply entering a space. Every movement was an explosion) he dropped three bags of colorful flowers on the table.
“I had to coax the blooms out, they don’t come on naturally for another three or four months,” he said, snapping latex gloves on. “They were pretty willing though. If you’ll come sit at the table, Peter, I think I have a way of matching the plant you need.”
He began sorting the flowers out with his brow set in concentration, tongue stuck between his teeth. Peter sat down across from him, with Chris standing behind his chair, hands on his shoulders. After a few minutes Stiles sat back with a small frown on his face.
“Okay. I feel like I should probably tell you- I’ve never done this before? I’ve seen it done, but I’ve never- and okay, I’ve never actually seen it done with aconite, only with other- you know what, it’ll be fine, I’m just gonna do it.”
Christopher’s face showed clear alarm, but before he could say anything, Stiles was snapping one glove off to grab Peter’s hand skin to skin, and using the covered hand to pick up pieces of wolfsbane.
There were no sparks, nothing glowed, no strange sounds- just Stiles, obviously concentrating. He picked up piece after piece, discarding most. He hesitated over one, and ended up setting it to the side. He continued, casting away all but the last, which he again hesitated over.
With his gloved hand, he picked up both and held them up to Peter’s hand, squinting. He sniffed two flowers together, and then sniffed Peter’s hand. Apparently satisfied, he released Peter’s hand and dropped the flowers back onto the table.
“Well, your family wouldn’t pass the non-GMO test,” Stiles said to Chris as he swept up the non-offending aconite. “They’ve crossed those two strains together.”
Dread pooled in Chris’ gut. Peter sat stock still.
“So you don’t have the exact strain to cure Peter,” Chris said woodenly. “He’s…”
“Yeah,” Stiles continued, oblivious to the emotional tempest in his houseguests, “Obviously he’s alright for now, but that’s not going to last long. Definitely not the three years it takes for a new plant to reach maturity-”
Peter’s gorge rose.
“-but you should be okay for the three months it’ll take me to get the splice going and then force the maturation. Like, it won’t be comfortable. You’ll probably feel pretty sick by mid-August, but I’ll do what I can for the symptoms, and hey! Better than being dead!” Stiles finished brightly, finally looking up.
Chris and Peter were both staring at him, stunned. Stiles stared back, surprised and wary of their expressions.
Eventually Peter cleared his throat. “So.” His voice was still hoarse with emotion and he cleared it again. “So you’ll help us? You can help us?”
“Yeah, of course dude,” Stiles said blankly.
Chris breathed out shakily. “Thank you,” he said.
Stiles shrugged. “No problem man. I mean, I’ll need your guys’ help and stuff. I can’t keep this place running for three people by myself. But it’s not like I’m just gonna send you out into the woods to die.” He scratched his nose. “You wouldn’t even last long enough for the wolfsbane to get you.”
“Oh?” Peter said distantly, still reeling from the realization that he was going to die and then the immediate slapback of finding out he might not.
“Nah dude. If you hadn’t fallen off a cliff, then the forest sprites would’ve started to fuck with you, and they don’t really understand the difference between a harmless prank and life threatening danger. There’s also cougars. And the sasquatch families; if you get too close to them they’ll kill you too.”
Chris and Peter both dropped their jaw and said “Sasquatch?” at the same time, Chris’ voice incredulous and Peter’s excited.
Stiles’ mouth quirked up. “Yeah, sasquatch. Bigfoot. Ape-man. The titular Harry of ‘Harry and the Hendersons.’”
“You’re fucking with us,” Chris said decisively.
Stiles laughed. “I’m really not, but whatever makes you feel better.” He stood up from the table, stretching. “Come on outside, I want to show you where the ward lines are. You’ll be safest inside them.”
After showing them where the wards lie, which was about a hundred yards out from the clearing, Stiles got to work on the new strain of wolfsbane. Peter watched avidly, but from across the kitchen so he wasn’t too close to the flowers. Chris was trying not to focus too hard on the proceedings.
He’d wandered over to the shelves Stiles had rooted through yesterday when they first arrived. Chris started turning jars and bottles around to look at the (mostly incomprehensible) labels and inspect the contents.
The work Stiles was doing made Chris feel nervous and something else a little too close to guilt. He gave his attention to organizing the shelves based on the labels that looked most similar, and then by size within that. He was about halfway through when his stomach grumbled.
He glanced back at Peter who looked up at him with a smirk.
“Hungry?” he asked. “I think we should probably dig around for lunch ourselves. He hasn’t looked up once since he started.”
Stiles indeed seemed to be in a completely different world. He had a book out next to him as he studied the two flowers, occasionally muttering under his breath and squinting at the flowers or holding a hand over them.
Chris frowned. “He should probably eat. Magic burns a lot of calories.”
He went over the fridge to investigate the contents, finding a good amount of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and a weirdly large amount of eggs in varying colors. A couple cuts of red meat were in a drawer.
The freezer held some pasta, fish fillets, and surprisingly, french bread pizza. Not homemade, but boxed, Red Baron style french bread pizza.
Before too long, the pasta had been boiled and combined with a jar of sauce Chris found on the shelves. It was ready to eat, but he was unsure of how to get Stiles’ attention if all the clanking and food smells hadn’t gotten it already. He cleared his throat loudly, but Stiles remained focused.
Chris reached out and touched his shoulder.
“One more minute, Mom,” Stiles mumbled, brow furrowed as he looked intently into the book.
Chris froze for a moment, and then looked up at Peter who stared back. After a pause, Peter got up, walked right over to Stiles, and pulled the book away.
“Hey! - Oh.” Stiles looked around, expression a little confused before brightening. “Oh, is that the ginger pesto?” He eagerly got up and went to look into the pot on the stove. “Thanks dude! Shit, I’m starving.”
He got down three plates and served one up, leaving the other two to decide their own portions. He didn’t even go back to the table before he started eating, just stood next to the stove and scooped it into his mouth from his plate.
He was halfway through his, and the other two just beginning theirs, when he talked again.
“Okay, I think I’ve got the method worked out. I’ll plant the seed today, and give it a couple days to germinate. If it hasn’t by then I’ll have to try a different method, but I’ve got a good feeling about this,” he said, taking bites in between sentences. “Once it’s actually going, I’ll be able to relax, because then my magic is just working in the background. It’s similar to what I use in my garden literally all the time, only a little more energy intensive.”
“So when you said you had to go talk to your garden, you were serious,” Peter said, staring at his pesto thoughtfully. “Is your garden… sentient?”
Chris looked up at Peter, alarmed, and then down at his pesto, even more alarmed.
“Nah. Not the way you’re thinking.” He smiled, bemused, as Chris was visibly relieved. “My connection with the land gives me a little more insight into how the plants are… feeling, I suppose. The way they feel really just comes down to whether or not their environments are exactly what they need to grow. Too wet, too dry, too warm, too loud-”
“Too loud?” Peter questioned.
Stiles nodded. “Plants can suffer from noise pollution. Not too much of a problem up here, but some are more sensitive than others.” He scraped up the last of the sauce on his plate and licked his fork clean, getting his tongue between the tines.
Chris and Peter looked at each other, and then both had to look away.
Stiles stood up to take his plate to the sink when he noticed the empty pesto jar sitting next to it. He stopped, a strange look on his face.
“Uh, guys?” he asked, voice a little higher than normal. “You don’t- um. You, uh… ahm…” He glanced up at Peter and Chris, who were staring at him. “... You know what, I made it for the brùnaidh, it’s probably not strong enough to affect humans or werewolves...”
“What isn’t strong enough to affect humans or werewolves?” Peter asked, a hint of a growl in his voice.
Stiles’ eyes darted between them. “Can either of you get pregnant?” he blurted.
Peter’s eyebrows shot up and Chris’ mouth fell open. Stiles picked up the jar and looked over at them, clearly nervous.
“The purple labels are fertility mixes,” he said.
There was a beat of silence, and then Chris burst into convulsive, gasping laughter. Eventually Peter started giggling too, and then Stiles finally joined in with an apprehensive chuckle.
Chris was still snorting himself into composure, wiping away tears when he said, “No, we don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. But maybe you could take a minute to explain your labelling system to me later today.”
“Yeah,” Stiles said, clearly relieved. “That’s probably a good idea.”
Stiles could use some work on his bedside manner tbh.
It's :) 8:18 a.m. :) And :) My :) Kids :) Have :) Already :) Shot :) Each :) Other :) In :) The :) Eye :) With :) Nerf :) Guns :) Four :) Times :)))))))))))))
Edit: I just realized I think I have a few too many "fucks" in here for it to really be rated G, don't I? Anyway, I upped it to Teen just in case.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It didn’t take long for them to realize that Stiles wasn’t the isolated mountain recluse they’d thought he was. It wasn’t just the Netflix and frozen pizza- he was part of a wide and varied community. Part of the community, yet still completely alone.
Once or twice a day, someone would stop by. A family of brùnaidh, a forest sprite, a pair of changelings. Someone would come and ask Stiles for assistance, offering something in return. Stiles would accept the barter and then help the best he could.
But they never came inside. They never asked and he never offered. None of them asked after his personal wellbeing, and neither did he beyond what was needed for whatever magical solution he was providing. When the transaction was done, he’d nod, and they would leave.
It worried Chris. When he mentioned it, Peter elbowed him lightly in the side and said “Yes, but what doesn’t worry you?”
“Come on, Peter. He’s obviously a foundational part of a community Peter, and yet he’s personally involved with no one. Why did he invite us in?”
It didn’t help that the days spent waiting for the seed to germinate were tense. Stiles ended up kicking everyone out into the garden when he couldn’t handle the atmosphere anymore.
“We’re weeding,” he said shortly. “Go get some gloves from the shed.”
The garden was damp as always, clouds slung low over the clearing. Stiles immediately crouched down and pointed out which plants should stay, which should go, and which should be cursed at profusely as their life ended.
“Dandelions can suck my dick,” Stiles said grumpily, wrenching the little flower out of the ground to reveal a 10 inch deep root. “If you leave any -any- of the root behind, it’ll sprout another, even more persistent, seed spreading, sunshine leeching-”
“We know about dandelions, Stiles,” Chris said, suppressing a grin.
“What we don’t know about are Sasquatch,” Peter inserted, leering from his little patch of teeny thistles.
The corner of Stiles’ mouth turned down. “I’ll tell you what I can, but they’re pretty private people. What do you want to know?”
“You said they travel in families?” Peter asked eagerly.
“Travel, socialize, live- like I just said, they’re people,” Stiles stressed. “They’re complex. For the most part they stay in large, extended family groups, but I’ve also seen a pair go off by themselves when they don’t get along super well with everyone. The only consistent trait I’ve seen across the entire species is their insistence on privacy.”
“Do they speak english?” Chris asked, getting drawn into the discussion.
Stiles wiggled his hand back and forth in a so-so gesture. “Kind of? When we talk it’s kind of a mis-mash of the English words they know, the Squatch words I know, and basic sign language.”
“Do you talk often? Why do they talk to you if they’re so private? Can we meet them?” Peter asked. He’d stopped weeding entirely, intent on the conversation, and yet somehow missed when Stiles’ face started to close off at the last question.
“We talk some, not a lot. I’ve helped them with a few illnesses that have run through their community, and told them where my wards are set up so they have a safe place to go in an emergency. Keep weeding.”
Peter reluctantly went back to the thistles.
“So will we see them, then?” Chris asked, curious.
Peter immediately stopped weeding again to both see and hear the answer.
“I… wouldn’t count on it,” Stiles hedged. “They’re very, very private.”
“But you could maybe encourage them to come here, right?” Peter asked, pushing.
“I’m not going to do that.”
“It’s not like we want to annoy them, we’ve just never even heard-”
“Look, they’re not going to come out,” Stiles said sharply, the bite in his words like needle teeth. “They have good reason to be wary of strangers. A year ago-” Stiles cut himself off, biting his lip and looking away.
Peter and Chris glanced at each other. Peter couldn’t find the words to prompt a continuation, wasn’t even sure he should.
It was Chris who said, “What happened,” in that flat, gruff way of his, opening the floodgates.
“Fucking hunters,” Stiles spat. “Not even hunters like your family,” he gestured at Chris agitatedly, “fucking Bigfoot hunters.”
He walked over to his carrots and crouched down, pulling up weeds angrily. “Sasquatch hunters are ninety-nine percent idiots. Morons. Dudes whose idea of a good time is to cover themselves in synthetic pee and hang a side of bacon from a tree with a camera pointed at it.” He threw another baby fireweed on the small pile next to him. “The other one percent know just enough to make themselves dangerous. To everyone.”
Stiles sat back on his heels, and Peter and Chris were startled to see that his eyes were red rimmed.
“Last May a group of them came up towards us. They’d tracked one of the Sasquatch families that lives near the ridge,” he said, looking down at his dirty hands. “My mom went out to tell the hunters they were on private property; probably planning to land a few confusion spells on them and then send them on their way.” The tears were falling now. “They’d set out a fucking jaw trap, a huge one that was hidden. My mom’s leg got caught in it and it cut her femoral artery. She was dead in minutes.”
Chris and Peter were stunned.
Stiles wiped his eyes with the back of his wrist and then looked down again, avoiding eye contact with either man. He brusquely brushed his palms off on his jeans, knocking the dirt off.
“Police got involved. Two guys were arrested for negligent homicide, the rest got a slap on the wrist for using an illegal trap.” He sniffed and looked off into the woods. “They only served three months a piece.”
He finally looked back at them, jaw set.
“Those are the kind of people Sasquatch families are hiding from. So yeah, they have good reason to be wary. Just leave it.”
Stiles abruptly turned around and headed towards the foggy woods, obviously wanting to be alone. Just before he hit the tree line, Peter yelled after him.
“Why did you let us in then?”
Stiles paused for a moment, casting a glance over his shoulder before disappearing into the trees without a word.
It was nearly dark by the time Stiles returned, well past dinner. He just nodded at the other two before getting in the shower and going straight to bed.
Not word was said until the next morning, when Stiles shot past the kitchen and into the living room while Peter cooked breakfast. Still in his pajamas, he went directly to the pot holding the wolfsbane. Three tiny green shoots stood up out of the dirt.
“They sprouted!” he yelled excitedly. “I could tell as soon as I woke up. Hello little poisonous wonder,” he cooed. “Welcome to the world. You’re going to save someone’s life.”
Peter looked intently at Stiles, wondering if he would understand the boy even after he’d lived here for three months.
Stiles adjusted the pot, made sure it was getting the best light it could from the drizzling clouds outside the window, and finally wandered back into the kitchen.
Peter was sliding pancakes onto a plate, so Stiles fetched the syrup as Chris set the table. It had gone quiet again, but the silence wasn’t as tense as it had been last night.
Stiles was about halfway through his pancake when he finally broke it, not looking up from his plate.
“My dad died when I was ten. He was a deputy, shot in the line of duty. After, my mom threw herself into her magic, and then training me. It’s pretty hard to train a witch in the middle of the suburbs without attracting attention, you know? There were a few years there where I sprouted a new blackberry vine every time I sneezed.” He took another bite, talking around his food. “Hard to explain when you’re surrounded by concrete.”
“So mom- I don’t know how she got this place, we’re literally surrounded on all sides by federal land- but she did. We moved here just after my eleventh birthday.”
He took another bite and chewed more slowly, swallowing before looking up at the other two.
“I was worried when we moved here. I thought we were going to become hermits in the woods, but my mom said no matter where you go, community will find you.” His mouth slanted up, wry. “She was right.”
“She-” his voice squeezed a little until he cleared it. “She was the one who started helping every supernatural in the forest. They all trusted her. But it wasn’t just that- she made sure we visited all the towns around us and talked to the people there too. She wanted solitude, not isolation.”
He looked down at his mostly empty plate. “She would have fucking hated how I’ve been living for the last year.” He looked back up at the two of them, eyes red. “That’s why I let you in.”
There was a moment of silence as Stiles tried to discreetly wipe his eyes, and then he forcefully cleared his throat again to add, “Well, that and your hot dad bods.”
“Dad bods?!” Peter exclaimed.
Stiles grinned, relieved to have the tension broken.
After breakfast, Peter quietly approached Stiles and cautiously laid a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry about your family,” he said quietly. “But thank you for telling us.”
Stiles paused for a moment, leaning into the touch before responding. “I don’t know your whole story, but I can see how tired you are. Chris is… deservingly wary. I can see how I’d feel the same if I had to run instead of hiding in here.” Stiles shook his head. “You guys are basically trapped here for three months. You both deserve to feel as safe as you can.”
Peter squeezed his shoulder lightly, and wondered if maybe Stiles was easier to understand than he’d thought.
“We’re out of bread, but I need to hike out to the upper lake and give Bill his heart medication today,” Stiles said one morning. “Do either of you know how to make bread?”
Peter looked blank and Chris shrugged.
“Sure,” he said, thinking how hard could it be?
“Great, I’ll leave my recipe on the counter.”
Two hours later, Peter was yelling at the recipe card.
“What the hell is a jellyroll? What do you mean??”
“There’s something wrong with the yeast,” Chris stubbornly insisted. “That has to be why my dough won’t rise. It’s the yeast that does that, right?”
“Well, my dough rose,” Peter said, staring grumpily at the lump overflowing his bowl.
“Maybe the yeast is magically reactive. Maybe you have to be some kind of supernatural for it to work.”
“It’s bread. People have been making bread for thousands of years. We can make bread.”
“Apparently not,” Chris said, punching his dough aggressively. “Rise, you little-”
A snort of laughter cut them both off, and they turned around to see Stiles hiding his smile, laughing in the doorway.
“You-” a wild little giggle escaped and he cleared his throat. “I thought you said you knew how to make bread?”
Chris frowned grumpily at his small ball of dough. “I didn’t realize you had to have a fucking PhD in chemistry to use yeast.”
Still chuckling, Stiles shut the door behind him. “If Peter’s rose but yours didn’t, then the water you used for proofing probably wasn’t the right temperature. Let’s start over, dude.”
Their hard worked but ultimately useless lumps of dough went in the trash, and they began again.
Once the dough had been set out for its first rise, the three of them sat around the kitchen table, eating some strawberries Stiles had picked on his way into the house.
“Have you always made your bread?” Peter asked.
“Nah, not when we were still living in suburbia. My, mom started making her own bread when we moved up here, and like hell was she going to allow me to sit back and watch her work alone.” His smile held some pain of remembrance, but more happiness.
“My dad used to make bread,” Peter said after a moment.
Chris looked up in surprise. “I didn’t know that,” he said.
Peter shrugged. “I hadn’t really remembered until now. He didn’t do it a lot, and I think he pretty much only made peasant bread. The kind you don’t have to knead.” He looked around thoughtfully. “He wasn’t a wolf. Maybe he was actually a little bit of a witch himself.”
Stiles snorted. “I keep telling you, you don’t have to have magic to make bread.”
“I remain unconvinced.”
Chris smiled with affection. “I didn’t even learn how to cook until I left home and realized I didn’t have to live off of takeout and meal replacement bars.” He took another bite of his strawberry. “Learning how to stir-fry was a revelation for me.”
They idly chatted until the dough was ready to be divided and shaped, and then left it for its second rise. After they were placed on the counter, Stiles dusted his hands off.
“Alright. Are you guys ready to meet Philip?”
Chris looked at him warily. “Who’s Philip?”
“The plant in the corner of the bathroom.”
Peter’s mouth fell open. “I thought you said the plants weren’t sentient!” he protested.
Stiles tipped his head back and forth, considering. “He’s an exception. And he’s not sentient, exactly, just… more aware. My mom called him my teenage pregnancy.”
Chris and Peter stared at him.
“Because he was an accident,” Stiles said, as if that explained it. “I was repotting him while reading in a spell book and kinda whoopsie daisy gave him slightly more of an ability to perceive his surroundings and react accordingly. C’mon.” He gestured for them to follow.
“I don’t know what that thing is,” Chris muttered to Peter as they walked back, “but I’m pretty sure it’s not a daisy.”
Once they were all crowded in the little tiled bathroom, Stiles stepped up to the raised planter in the corner and spoke to the huge, thick petaled yellow lily.
“It’s time for your fertilizer, Philip, and I expect you to behave,” he said sternly, reaching under the sink to pull out a little bottle. They watched in amazement as the leaves shook and jittered when Stiles poured the fertilizer in, almost the way one would when drinking an unpleasant medicine.
Mesmerized, Peter stepped closer for a better look.
“How else does he communicate? How do you know whether or not he likes things?” he asked as Stiles stooped to put the bottle away.
“Oh,” Stiles said, turning around to straighten out. “He- NO!”
Stiles yanked Peter’s hand away from the lily and pulled him to the side, crashing them both into the sink right as a jet of liquid squirted from the flower and hit the wall right behind where Peter had been standing.
The wall began to sizzle, and a hole appeared.
“I told you he doesn’t like to be touched!” Stiles shouted, exasperated.
Chris stared at the wall in shock, but Peter looked utterly delighted at the turn of events.
“Philip, that was rude,” Stiles reprimanded the plant.
“Rude, but effective communication,” Peter said eagerly. “What else can he do?”
“I’ll tell you what he can’t do; he can’t spackle the fresh hole in the wall. You made the toddler throw his tantrum, you get to fix it. There’s a tub of DryDex in the shed, you can go get it.” Stiles pointed sternly at the door.
After Peter left, Stiles frowned at Philip, chastising.
“Lilies don’t normally spit acid, do they?” Chris asked, voice a little strangled.
Stiles glanced over, noticing Chris’ pale face and the way he carefully stood right next to the door.
He gave him a slanting smile. “No, most lilies don’t spew acid. In fact, Philip doesn’t usually spew acid either, only when he’s touched. We kept him in the kitchen for a while, but he was always kind of… grumpy? He curled his leaves and closed his petals most of the time. It was my mom who figured out that he bloomed bigger every time she boiled something. We moved him to the bathroom for the steam and he’s chilled out a lot since then.”
Stiles bit his lip. “I’m sorry I keep talking about her,” he blurted after a moment. “I just haven’t-” he cut himself off, looking away.
Chris felt for him. Even at his most alone, with a family who was actively hunting him, Chris’d still had Peter. He still had someone to hear him.
He cautiously moved a little further into the bathroom, keeping on eye on Philip.
“Hey. Stiles.” He waited for Stiles to look at him directly. “You talk about her as much as you want, okay? Peter and I don’t have a lot in the way of untainted family stories. Share as much as you like.”
He reached out a hand and lightly squeezed Stiles’ arm, waiting for him to nod before backing away toward the door again.
“I got it!” Peter called as he marched back into the bathroom with the spackle tub and flat spade. He opened it up and started mixing, but kept bright eyes on Stiles and Philip. “What else can he spit? Can we train him to recognize people? What about-”
Peter's gonna give Philip a picture of Gerard and be like "This man touches everything. He rubs his filthy little hands on every single flower he sees, u should probably just hit him with acid first if u ever see him. Aim for the eyes."
Yoooooo atmosphere reference:
I find these lilies in the clearance section of garden stores all the damn time, and I don't know why people don't buy them! They're big, gorgeous perennials and require basically no upkeep. It's yellow bigotry, is what it is, and I won't stand for it.
3 Fridays in a row HOES! This motherfucker is practically scheduled!! Don't, like, hold me to that though.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Stiles, it turned out, pretty much only went to the grocery store for french bread pizza and a few other equally important slow perishables.
He got his milk by trading with a group of brùnaidh (the same ones for whom the fertility pesto had been intended) and he got eggs from a dryad who was just really, really into chickens.
Peter had only had distant interaction with dryads before, and was enchanted with her ethereal beauty at first glance. She moved like willows bending in the wind, her voice rough yet soothing like the rustle of leaf heavy branches.
Then she spent an entire afternoon telling Peter and Chris about her different types of chickens and why eggs are colored the way they are. If Peter ever heard the phrases “bloody membrane” and “cloaca, which is used for both egg and waste expulsion” applied to his food again, he was going to riot.
However, as May flipped into June, Stiles finally said he was going into town to make a french bread pizza run.
“So you guys are gonna stay here?” he asked, just to be sure.
Peter glanced at Chris, who had been visibly tense since Stiles announced his plan for the day. “I think we’ll give it a few more weeks to cool down before we venture into the public,” he said.
“Alright. If I’m not back by night, please give a very moving speech in honor of my brave, heroic death,” Stiles said flippantly as he fished his keys out of a drawer.
“What if your death is neither brave, nor heroic?” Peter asked, eyebrow raised.
“Then you lie. Toodles.”
As soon as he heard Stiles’ car bumping down the road that led off the mountain, Peter went to Chris and wrapped his arms around him from behind.
“You alright?” he asked, nuzzling his nose behind Chris’ ear.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine,” Chris assured him. “It’s just… we’re hidden up here. I’m not ready to find out who’s waiting for us.”
It wasn’t only that he knew the strength of the wards Stiles had put up, or that the house wouldn’t show up on any map. There was something about being surrounded by the towering trees that felt like being cradled and protected. Far from being claustrophobic, Chris felt tucked in. Safe in a way he hadn’t felt since his father forced him into hunter training.
“That’s understandable,” Peter agreed, dragging his lips down the back of Chris’ neck. “But you’ve missed a key consequence of Stiles leaving for the day.”
Chris’ mouth curled up at the corner as he brought a hand up to reach back and run his fingers through Peter’s hair. “Oh? What’s that?”
“I can ravage you as loudly as I want without scaring him.” Peter let out a little growl as he spun Chris around and picked him up by the thighs, carrying him off to the bedroom.
Stiles loved living in the middle of the woods. He loved the peace and the freedom to be who he was and he loved his interaction with other supernatural people. But he also enjoyed going into town- or he had, before.
He always visited the same grocer- the one his mother had always gone to as well. They were a sweet couple of Alaskan transplants who snuck Reeses into the grocery bags for him when he was younger.
Upon seeing him, the owners smiled and offered him lunch from the sandwich counter in their shop. For the first time in a year, Stiles accepted. He felt terrible when they reacted with clear surprise and delight, obviously having expected him to leave without another word.
“The house next door to us is still for sale,” Mrs. Suluk said lightly as she made the sandwich. “Plenty of space, room for a dog, or a wife and kids-”
Mr. Suluk cut in, “Or a husband and kids!”
Mrs. Suluk nodded eagerly. “It’s still very quiet down here, you know. Just a little closer to civilization.”
Stiles gently rebuffed them with words he’d spoken dozens of times, and would no doubt speak hundreds more. They were only concerned for his well being. After all, he couldn’t exactly tell them about the thriving community of magical families living in the national park, could he?
After lunch, Stiles filled up his Jeep with gas, made sure the frozen french bread pizza was secure in the cooler, and started heading home. As he drove around Lake Crescent, weaving with the road, he made the off-hand decision to stop in at the Marymere Falls parking lot.
He just wanted to check and see if Peter and Chris’ car was still there. They’d said it was a silver Chrysler sedan- Stiles could look around, see if it’d been towed yet. He might even be able to bring back some more of their belongings if it was still around.
He pulled into the lot. There were two school buses and a smattering of minivans. And there- a silver Chrysler Sebring around the back of the loop.
Stiles parked nearby and went to peek into the car, wondering if he would be able to tell if it was Peter and Chris’. He was considering calling them when he looked inside the back window and saw what looked like a lighter, some blackened bandages, and a broken bullet casing.
Well, that pretty much cinched it. He glanced around and thumbed at the driver’s side handle, unlocking it with a touch. He slid into the car and looked around.
It was actually pretty well cleared out, aside from the first aid debris. Empty cup holders, empty foot well, although- there, under the seat, was an old accordian style photo sleeve. The kind people used to keep in their wallets before smartphones. Stiles bent over to pick it up, curious, and on his way back up his eyes passed over the rearview window.
Someone was approaching, jogging toward the car. As he moved, Stiles caught a glimpse of a gun holster under his jacket.
“Fuck,” Stiles whispered to himself, suddenly realizing that of course the car would be monitored. Stiles tucked the photos into his pocket and placed a finger on the edge of the window seal, where a bit of the metal body could be found.
Seconds later, the man reached the car window and tapped on it, saying “Open up!”
Stiles turned a confused face toward the man, mouthing “What?”
“Open up!” he said again, louder.
“I can’t-” Stiles waved his free hand toward his ear.
The man, apparently fed up, moved one side of his coat to reveal his piece with a stern look on his face. Stiles nodded and mouthed “That’s nice!” giving a thumbs up.
“You little-” the man violently reached for the handle and immediately found himself on the ground, having been gifted 50,000 volts via the car body that Stiles had electrified.
Swiftly, Stiles climbed over the center console and tumbled out the passenger side, taking off for his Jeep. He could already see another man, older, and a woman coming towards him, taking out handguns. Stiles moved faster, but a shot rang out over his head.
Shit shit shit, Stiles thought frantically, throwing a hand out four feet away from the car to send the door flying open so he could dive directly in just as he heard another shot ring out.
He roughly bit into his thumb, breaking the skin, and slapped the bloody finger onto the runes he’d carved into his dashboard a few years ago, feeling a surge of energy flow into it. The misdirection and protection spells activated, and he saw the old man and blonde woman skid to a stop, looking around confusedly. Stiles revved his engine and backed out of his spot, blowing by them and back out to the highway.
By the time he got all the way up back road and pulled into his drive, he was shaking. He automatically went to unload the cooler holding the groceries, cursing when he smeared blood all over the handle. Peter opened the door for him with his usual sardonic smile, only for it to turn to a shocked snarl as he took in the sight that Stiles made.
“What happened?” he asked, easily taking the cooler from Stiles and ushering him in towards Chris. “Why are you bleeding?”
“There was a thing,” Stiles said, stumbling toward the kitchen, trying to reach his first aid kit. “Magic and guns were involved-”
“Where were you shot??” Chris said frantically, running over.
Stiles waved his hands widely. “No, no I wasn’t shot, just shot at. I’m bleeding because of runes- God, I’m fucking starving, I feel like I’m going to pass out.”
A handful of walnuts was shoved in front of his face, which Stiles gratefully scooped up and dumped in his mouth.
“Sit down before you fall down,” Chris said sternly, pushing him into a kitchen chair while Peter took a french bread pizza out of the cooler and stuck it straight into the microwave. Chris got the first aid kit out and took it back to Stiles.
He opened it up, only to stare blankly when there was no neosporin or alcohol wipes or even bandaids.
Stiles, who was inspecting the still sluggishly bleeding tear, mumbled “Little pink tub, medium blue tub, gauze, and tape please.”
Chris obediently handed them over, trying not to feel useless. Stiles hissed as he applied a very small amount of jelly from the pink tub, waiting a moment before adding a cream from the blue tub. Then he awkwardly tried to wrap the whole thumb in gauze before Chris took over.
“Thank you,” he said, voice exhausted as he watched Chris carefully bandage him. He was surprised when Peter brought the pizza over, so sapped of energy that he hadn’t heard the microwave beep.
The pizza was too hot, and a little soggy on the bottom from being microwaved instead of warmed in an oven, but it was the best thing Stiles had tasted all year. He made it all the way to the last two bites before Peter’s worry overcame his patience.
“Well? What the happened? Are you hurt anywhere else?”
“Just my thumb,” Stiles said around a cheekful of food. “I made a dumb mistake and got introduced to Chris’ family, or maybe some friends of theirs.”
Chris’ expression darkened considerably. Peter reached over and took his hand.
“I was on the way home when I decided to stop by Marymere and see if your car was still there,” Stiles said.
“You’re right, that was a dumb mistake,” Peter interjected dryly.
Stiles waved his hand. “I know, I know. Now, anyway. Obviously I didn’t think about it first.” He popped the last bite into his mouth. “Your car was still there, I thought I’d check it out and bring back anything you left. Oh,” he reached in his pocket and pulled out the accordion sleeve.
Peter’s eyes widened, and he carefully took it from Stiles. He unfolded it, laying it out on the table. Stiles leaned over, seeing a younger Peter standing with a big group of similar looking people. A couple of teenagers and a little girl, a woman with an arm hooked around his neck laying a sisterly kiss on his cheek, an older couple sitting in lawn chairs next to each other.
“Oh,” Stiles said again, surprised. He looked up at Peter, whose eyes may have been slightly wetter than normal.
“Thanks,” Peter said, voice on the rough side. “You’re still an idiot- I have all these photos stored on my google drive- but… thanks.” He cleared his throat a bit. “How’d you get away?”
“Turned your car into a taser and electrocuted one, ran the fuck away from the old man and the blonde woman before they could shoot me,” Stiles said.
Chris looked even more grim. “It sounds like you had the pleasure of meeting my father and baby sister.” He rubbed a hand over his face before his bright blue eyes looked back at Stiles. “Why didn’t they follow?”
Stiles gestured to his bandaged thumb. “Misdirection runes. They couldn’t have followed me out of the parking lot, much less all the way back here.”
Chris eyed the thumb and glanced back up at Stiles’ face, clearly doubting. “You’re sure-”
“Listen,” Stiles said tiredly. “I’m good at magic.” His tone was blunt. “The people here don’t come to me because I’m the only witch they know, they come because I’m the best witch they know.” He rubbed an eye with his unbandaged hand. God, runes took so much energy to activate.
“I don’t have to toot my own horn because my magic is already an entire damn brass section backing me up. Trust me, they’re going to be very, very confused for at least another,” he glanced at a clock, “eleven hours.”
Chris set his jaw, but nodded.
A bit later, they settled Stiles between them on the couch as they watched TV. Peter continually touched Stiles, checking the wrapped wound every few minutes. He smoothed a hand over Stiles’ hair and got him blankets, not to mention the three glasses of water he practically forced on him.
Chris rolled his eyes at Peter’s wolfy instincts, and then checked Stiles’ thumb again for infection.
Stiles eventually ended up slumped with his head on Peter’s shoulder and one leg slung over Chris’ lap.
“You guys had my badass eulogy ready, right?” he said as his eyes started slipping closed.
Peter glanced down at him, amused.
“Mm-hm,” Peter responded soothingly, rubbing a hand down Stiles’ arm before tangling his hand with Chris’ over his hip. “I was going to talk about how you died in an incredible sword fight, taking down ten opponents before succumbing to grevious wounds.”
“Damn right,” Stiles mumbled before going quiet.
Peter glanced over at Chris, taking in the tense line of his jaw.
“He’s fine,” Peter whispered. “And they still have no idea where we are.” He brought their joined hands up to Chris’ face, brushing along his cheekbone.
“They know we’re still in the area, and they know that Stiles is connected to us now,” Chris countered, leaning into the touch. “We’re responsible for that, Peter. We put them on his tail.”
“They already suspected we were still around, otherwise they wouldn’t have been close enough to catch Stiles at the car,” Peter reasoned. “And just because they know Stiles is connected to us doesn’t mean they know how to find Stiles. We’re all still safe here, for the time being.”
Chris was quiet for a moment.
“What are we going to do the next time he needs to go into town?” he whispered back eventually. “He’s going to need to go down again eventually.”
“If he needs to go down on-”
“I’m serious, Peter.”
Peter was quiet for a moment. “We could go with him.”
“And provide a bigger target?”
“Or we could trust him to protect himself, as he’s clearly proven capable of doing.”
Christopher chewed his lip. “What if-”
“Oh my god,” Stiles slurred out between them. “I just won’t go back to Port Angeles for a while, guys. It’s not like there’s a huge travel difference between there or Sequim or Forks from here. They can’t watch the entire goddamn peninsula.” He yawned and snuggled down further into Peter’s shoulder. “Shut up and let me sleep.”
Peter did his best to keep his chuckles from shaking Stiles while Chris glared at him.
“If we end up in Forks, I’m not stopping him from making a single Twilight joke,” Chris threatened.
Peter giggled harder.
What time is it? It's image reference time!
This is the view Stiles would have as he drove to around Lake Crescent aka the stretch of 101 between Marymere and Port Angeles.
U guys. The water color is ridiculous u guys. It looks like gatorade when it's sunny. But like, not in a toxic chemical spill way, just really pretty.
Okay, this very very poorly framed photo that I took from my car window kind of demonstrates what Chris (aka me whole ass projecting) means by "being cradled" by the trees. Even with a swath of open sky like this, you're still surrounded by giants and the children of giants.
June settled a week in with relentless rainfall. It was the supremely annoying kind; just hard enough to make being outside an inconvenience, but not so hard that it gave a cozy, settle-in-with-a-blanket feel.
It was just wet. And chilly. But mostly wet.
Stiles, however, happily used the days to restock some magic poultices. The first day, Peter and Chris quickly learned that “restock some magic poultices” was code for “turn the kitchen into a chaotic God damned nightmare.”
They watched in amazement as Stiles hauled out an actual facts cauldron to use alongside his Le Creuset and Pyrex. Jars and tubs covered nearly every surface and a good section of the floor, and a drawer that was usually kept empty had been pulled half out and was currently full of merrily dancing flames.
The countertop held ingredients ranging from garlic and orange slices, to a wiggling octopus tentacle that had been previously frozen, to a bowl full of luminescent something that Stiles had described as “not worth explaining if you can’t see auras.”
Stiles kicked them out of the kitchen early on, partly as a safety measure but mostly because he had his solo system down to an art form. Peter and Chris however, were enthralled by what looked like a disaster, but was actually completely controlled by the man in the middle.
They both parked themselves in chairs right outside the kitchen, peering in and commenting like sportscasters.
“Oh look, he’s gone for the fire drawer again,” Peter said excitedly. “How isn’t he burning himself?”
“I’m still trying to figure out why he hasn’t chopped off a finger yet, did you see how fast that knife was moving?” Chris wondered out loud. “The pot’s gonna boil over!”
“Oh-! Good save,” Peter called into the kitchen as Stiles swept it off the stove and started pouring the ingredients into jars he had sitting in the sink.
The manic pace lasted all morning and into the afternoon. Around lunchtime Stiles tossed a bag of nuts and dried cherries to his houseguests, and then a few minutes later a block of cheese came flying at them. Stiles himself had been snacking here and there all day, keeping up his energy as he carefully stirred bits of magic into his work.
When late afternoon rolled around, they could tell that things were starting to slow down. The flames had been put out, the Le Creuset washed, and all remaining octopus parts popped back into the freezer. The last batch of jars had come out of the boiling water and were sitting on the countertop to cool.
When the seals finally popped, Stiles moaned in relief. “Oooooh, finally. God it feels so good to hear that sound and know that it’s all done.” He hummed happily as he tapped on the lids.
Peter’s attention caught at the sound of his moan, in an entirely unsavory way. He glanced over at his husband to see his mouth hanging open slightly, the most mild of flushes across his cheeks.
He leaned over with a grin to whisper something that would have certainly turned the mild flush into a much darker pink, but started coughing halfway through and couldn’t stop. He coughed so long that Stiles came over, bringing a glass of water and a towel.
When the coughing fit ended, he pulled his hand away from his mouth to see it speckled with black spots.
Chris was looking pale and grim, and Stiles looked sympathetic as he handed him a towel.
“Wonderful,” Peter said dryly as he wiped his hand clean. “I get to live out my dreams of being a fourteen year old with consumption in 1892.”
Stiles handed him the water. “I told you you were gonna feel pretty shitty by August,” he said, not unkindly. “This is just a sign that it’s time for me to step in and start managing your symptoms. Drink that whole glass. I’m gonna get something else to eat and then do- well- it’s basically a whole body diagnostic on your aura.”
A few minutes later, Peter was sitting on the kitchen table that held the wondrous magic show just a short time before. Stiles stood in front of him, holding his face in his hands and looking intently, though obviously not at anything Peter or Chris could see. Eventually his hands and distant stare moved down toward Peter’s chest, brow furrowing. Stiles poked at his sternum a couple of times, and then laid a full palm down. Peter felt a moment of burning, and then Stiles removed his hand and the sensation was gone.
“Man, Chris. Don’t take this the wrong way, but your family should be jailed for war crimes,” Stiles said as he stepped back, disturbed. “Nothing’s changed, Peter’s still gonna be fine, but dude- if I weren’t around to feel this out? It would be a slow-ass, painful as fuck death.”
“My family should be executed by their own methods,” Chris said viciously, belying the gentleness with which he approached his husband. Peter rested his head on Chris’ shoulder and Chris carded his fingers through the back of his hair.
Stiles stood aside, suddenly feeling awkward around the two of them for the first time in a while. There was just so much history he didn’t know about. How did the son of a bigoted hunter family wind up married to a werewolf anyway? Especially a werewolf whose entire family had been murdered by that same bigotry?
Eventually, Stiles bustled over to a grouping of jars sitting on the floor next to the sink; one of the many products of today’s work. He popped it up onto the table and tapped it.
“You need to start taking half a teaspoon of this tincture every morning. It tastes like absolute shit, and by August you’ll probably be drinking three ounces every day, but luckily you can mix it with whatever you want to dilute the taste. And I’m not joking even a little bit when I say it tastes like shit.”
Peter pulled his face away from Chris’ shoulder to frown at Stiles, and then frown harder at the jar.
“You can’t make it taste better?” he groused.
“‘Oh, thank you Stiles!’” Chris cut in, in his most affected Peter-esque voice. “‘Thank you for the help managing my symptoms and saving my life! I’m so indebted! I would never be so ungrateful that I would complain about the taste of literal life saving medici-’ oof!” Chris let out a dramatic gust of air as Peter lightly elbowed him in the stomach.
Stiles felt a warmth growing in his chest as he watched the two of them bicker, and sent a silent thank you to his mother for teaching him to let others in.
Peter started taking the tincture the next morning, and immediately felt better. He realized, to his disquiet, that he hadn’t known just how much his energy was waning. After the tincture, which he’d decided to drink straight down and chase with coffee rather than drag it out by mixing it, he felt like he could run for miles under the moon.
The moon wasn't out, though. And neither was the sun, because the rain was still happily saturating everything around them.
“Just go for a run anyway,” Chris said exasperatedly after an hour of Peter pacing around the house. “Take your phone, stay within the wards, and go run in circles until it’s out of your system.” He and Stiles were seated at the kitchen table, methodically labelling all the jars.
“What if I run into sprites, or God forbid, the chicken dryad?” Peter shuddered as he continued to stalk around the house.
“Claire,” Stiles emphasized her name, “isn’t going to hurt you. She might hand you a hen and tell you it’s entire life story, but she’s not going to hurt you. If you run into anyone else, just tell them you’re staying with me.”
“Will they believe me, though?” Peter asked skeptically.
“Yeah, you’re pretty much dripping with my magic,” Stiles said absently.
Peter paused, looking over. “Stiles, have you been marking us?” he asked with delight.
Stiles looked up, eyes wide and a dusting of pink across his cheeks. “No! Well- kind of? It’s- you’re living with me! Some of it’s bound to-”
Chris chuckled. “He fucking with you, kid. He’s all but licked you to stake a claim.”
Peter frowned petulantly and went over to the table, standing behind Chris and laying his chin on top of his head. “Stop ruining my fun.”
Stiles was staring at the two of them. “... Claim?”
Peter shrugged. “We’re living together, you’re taking care of my health and providing shelter for my husband. My wolf sees that as a type of… familial, or friendship claim, and I’m inclined to agree.” He looked at Stiles’ mouth hanging open. “There’s no obligation, Stiles,” he said gently. “I’m not going to make more demands of you. It’s just a natural consequence of our situation and your kindness.”
Stiles nodded silently.
Chris tilted his head back and Peter pressed a kiss to his mouth before grabbing his shoes and heading out into the rain with a huge smile.
Quiet fell on them after he was gone, the gentle patter of rain on the eaves mingling with the quiet clink of jars and scratch of permanent markers on labels.
It was a comfortable quiet. Chris’ presence carried a certain amount of weight, no matter where they were or what they were doing. It wasn’t a heavy, uncomfortable weight. More like the soothing weight of a familiar blanket, or the way the sun weighs your skin down on a warm day.
“How did you and Peter meet?” Stiles asked eventually, so soft that it barely cut the quiet.
Chris smiled down at the jar he was labelling. “In a Dairy Queen drive thru.”
Stiles stopped what he was doing to look up incredulously.
Chris raised an eyebrow. “What were you expecting?”
“I don’t know! A nest of chupacabras maybe? Or even just a gay bar? Dairy Queen never even- Dairy Queen? Really?”
Christopher chuckled. “He rear ended me. Just barely, hardly even a tap, but we pulled out of the drive thru to exchange insurance information anyway. We ended up going inside and eating together, and a few questionable choices later I was leaving his apartment in the morning. We started seeing each other after that.” The smile on his face took on a wry quality. “I didn’t realize he was a werewolf and he didn’t realize I was a hunter until three weeks later. We were already well past infatuation, even though it hadn’t been long.”
“Did you ever think about breaking up with him?” Stiles asked hesitantly.
Chris was silent for a moment. “Not really. I knew my family wouldn’t approve, but I’d been a disappointment to them since I refused the arranged marriage they set up. Peter… he very quickly became the most important person in my life. So much more important than the bullshit bigotry my family treated like a bible.” He set aside a jar and grabbed another.
“Which left us in a pretty shitty situation,” he said as he started scratching away with his marker. “Because Peter wasn’t sure he could tell his family either. Talia, his sister and Alpha, wasn’t against hunters in principle, but she would’ve had a problem with him being heavily involved with someone she hadn’t pre-approved. She was... protective like that. And if she’d dug into my family’s past, there was very little chance that she would have allowed Peter to continue seeing me.”
“That… fucking sucks,” Stiles said, unable to think of a more eloquent way of putting it. Chris offered a crooked grin.
“We got married four years ago, about two years after- after the fire,” he said, stumbling slightly over the words. “Technically ‘Peter Hale’ and ‘Christopher Argent’ aren’t the ones who got married. ‘Alex Doyestov’ and ‘John Hill’ are the names on the certificate, but it was the closest we could get without making it easier for my family to track us.”
“When,” Stiles hesitated before deciding to plow ahead. “When did your family find out? Before or after the fire?”
Chris’ jaw clenched, and he breathed out long and slow. Stiles told them about his mother. He could tell Stiles about this.
“During the fire.”
Stiles’ eyes grew huge.
Chris focused on the jar, and continued labelling. “Peter and I were together when he felt his pack bonds begin to snap, one by one. You can’t-” his voice broke for a moment. “You can’t imagine what his face looked like. We got to the house as fast as we could, but- it was completely consumed. The fire was everywhere. Peter could barely stand by that point, numb and more empty than he’d even been in his life, but he was still the first one to notice Kate.” He spat the name like it didn’t deserve space in his mouth.
“Kate and my father were there, watching them burn. They thanked me for bringing them the missing Hale.” Chris’ blue eyes had never looked colder or harder, and Stiles shivered. “I shot them.”
Stiles had almost stopped breathing.
“I shot them,” Chris continued, “but I fucking missed. Not entirely- enough to slow them down, not enough to kill. I grabbed Peter and put him in the car, and started driving.” He breathed out. “We’ve been going ever since.”
Stiles watched as Chris methodically picked up another jar and labelled it, processing everything he’d just heard. After a minute, it all clicked down to one urge.
He got up, went around to stand behind Chris’ chair, and wrapped his arms around Chris’ shoulders in a backwards hug. Chris’ hands were trembling as he put down his marker and reached up to grasp Stiles’ wrist, holding on. Stiles bent over, forehead on his shoulder, and clutched him tightly.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
Chris nodded, throat tight. It was the first time he’d told the story. He and Peter, although they’d talked about it, obviously already knew what happened. But the act of telling the story, from beginning to end, seemed to loosen something in his chest, and Chris was grateful to Stiles for taking it on.
He was starting to think they’d never be able to repay him for everything he’d given them.
Chris deliberately changed the subject after the hug ended, and they spent the rest of the morning talking about the ingredients involved in curing dryad eczema.
When Peter came back in though, soaked to the bone and grinning like an idiot, Stiles went straight over to him and gave him a hug, rubbing their cheeks together.
Peter’s arms automatically went around him, but he looked over at Chris in surprise. Taking in the tired lines on Chris’ face, and the small hitch in Stiles’ breath, he stiffened when he realized what they’d talked about. He felt a burning in his own chest, and hugged Stiles a little tighter.
“You can claim me, alright? Just like I’ve claimed you,” Stiles said, pulling back just enough to look in his face.
Peter nodded, throat tight, and leaned in to scent mark him again.
Chris and Peter lay in bed together later that night, Peter’s head pillowed on Chris’ shoulder.
“I thought he deserved to know,” Chris said lowly as they both stared at the ceiling.
“He does,” Peter agreed. “He’s essentially harboring us, creating a new plant and magically forcing it through three hibernation cycles in order to save my life, and also treating me for symptoms of wolfsbane poisoning while we wait. He deserves everything.”
“We’re never going to be able to repay him,” Chris said after a moment.
“I know,” Peter said simply. “That’s why I’m planning on doing everything I can to convince him to join our pack.”
Chris sat up abruptly, dumping Peter’s head off his shoulder. “You’re what?” he said in an exaggeratedly loud whisper.
Peter looked up at his husband’s furious face, confused. “Pack,” he repeated slowly. “He clearly wants family. Pack. More than that, I think he needs it.”
“Pack,” Chris said again disbelievingly.
“Yes. You’re the one who pointed out that we’ve all but licked him. What did you think I meant by ‘familial claim?’ Besides, you like it here, don’t deny it.” He poked at Chris’ stomach only for his hand to be swatted away. “It appeals to your inner lumberjack-Brawny Man.”
“That’s beside the point! We’ve been running for six years, Peter, and you want to bring all of that down on a nineteen year old boy who’s done nothing but good for us?” Chris asked.
“Well, there was the gun initially-”
“Shut up, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You want to bring my fucking- you want to bring that kind of danger to him?” Chris said, outraged.
Peter finally sat up too, disgruntled at the way he was being interpreted. “If he hasn’t kicked us out yet, after knowing what your family did and actually being shot at by them, I would assume he’s decided we’re worth it.”
“Because your life is dependent on it!” Chris yelled. “He’s got fucking morals! Are we going to reward him for that by bringing hunters to his door?”
“You’re completely missing it!” Peter yelled back. “What about his-”
Knock knock knock
“Uh, guys?” came Stiles’ voice through the door. “I, um. I can’t understand what you’re saying, but I can definitely tell you’re yelling.”
Chris and Peter glared at each other. “I apologize, Stiles,” Chris called out. “We were just having a disagreement.”
“Okay, yeah. Um, I’m gonna go ahead and put a soundproofing charm on the door?” his voice tilted up as if it were a question instead of a statement. “Because I probably should have done that from the beginning, since, you know, you’re married, and probably- you. Married stuff. Or not married stuff, it’s not like I go in for the whole waiting for marriage- you know what, I’m gonna go. Give me two seconds to put up the charm and then you can go back to yelling and then having makeup sex or whatever.”
A moment later, Peter heard him shuffle back to bed and close his own door.
He rubbed his eye tiredly. “Can we talk about this in the morning?”
Chris sighed. “You know what your mom said about going to bed angry.”
“That going to bed angry is the key to a successful marriage, because sometimes you’re just tired as fuck and need to reset in order to communicate and compromise,” Peter said, talking through a yawn halfway through.
“Yeah, that,” Chris agreed, laying down and reaching out for Peter. “I love you.”
Peter snuggled up and kissed him lightly. “Love you too.”
lmao when I went through to edit this I found a note from myself on the part where the lids start popping that just said "binch I guess he's using magic to cool them seals huh" and like yes, past me, what is the point of having magic if you can't use it to pop jar lids in 15 minutes.
Also "never go to bed angry" is such shitty advice?? Awful. Absolutely wretched. Fucking go to bed angry, and 9 out of 10 times you'll wake up and the argument won't even matter anymore. At the very least it gives everyone a chance to cool off and think through their position more thoroughly, which is exactly what Peter and Chris both need here.
Anyway, I don't actually have any applicable photos to put here, so I'm just going to throw down some pictures I took in June once like two years ago. IRRELEVANT BUT PRETTY OKAY.
Heyyyyy fyi I'm going to try to keep up the Friday schedule for this, but August is crazy busy for me and posting is definitely not a huge priority. You know what is a priority? Sending every single bug back to hell where they belong.
Also if you're reading this SUPER FRESH right after I posted it, you should know that I'm trying out linked footnotes for the first time, so something might be fucky while I work it out. (EDIT: it was entirely made up of fucky. I just took it out.)
Also also, this is kind of an emotional chapter. Literally what is happening in this fic?? It was just supposed to be a goodtimes self indulgent excuse to post pretty pictures of the Pac NW?? I haven't even hit the burn part of slow burn yet???? Someone please come to my house and Stop Me™
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
In the morning, Stiles cautiously poked his head out of his door, testing the atmosphere before leaving his room.
It didn’t feel too tense… he tiptoed into the kitchen to see Peter dosing out his morning tincture with a disgusted look on his face while Chris handed him a mug of coffee and a kiss on the forehead.
“So…” he ventured tentatively. “You guys… resolved your disagreement?”
“No,” Chris said as Peter downed the medicine and then quickly gulped coffee to chase away the taste. “Peter is still a short sighted, albeit well intentioned idiot.”
Peter placed his mug down with a shudder and wiped his mouth. “Chris is the short sighted one, but he’s too adorable to argue with for long.”
Chris rolled his eyes.
Stiles continued to creep a little further into the kitchen, ready to dash out if the argument started again.
“So you’ve just… set it aside for now?”
“Yes,” confirmed Chris. “It’s not the type of argument that needs to be settled right away. It’ll be good for both of us to think for a while.” He looked more closely at Stiles, quirking a smile. “Don’t worry Stiles. We’re not going to make you pick sides in the divorce.”
“You can’t divorce me. We didn’t get a prenup, I’d take all your assets.”
Chris turned to look at Peter, eyebrow raised.
“What assets? My worn in hiking boots? The ones that are a size and half bigger than your feet?”
“It’s not about the shoes, Chris,” Peter explained patiently. “It’s about taking all your things and leaving you destitute and alone; making you know I’ve won the divorce. It’s about presenting the idea that I’m constantly dressed in fabulous evening wear on a yacht, surrounded by male models while you’re eating Dinty Moore straight from the can.”
Peter was grinning by the end of his nonsense, watching Chris laugh over the counter with love in his eyes.
Stiles breathed a little sigh of relief with his chuckle, steadfastly ignoring a subtle pang in his chest at the affection between Peter and Chris.
The absolute worst place to be is wherever a long term couple is also having a fight.
Of course, the second worst place to be is wherever two people are celebrating a love to which you are uninvited.
He finally moved to get himself some cereal, a cheeky grin hitched to his face.
“If adorab-ility counts during an argument, then I should win every fight.”
Peter snorted, but pointedly didn’t disagree, and went to refill his coffee mug. “What are your plans for the day? The rain is still-” he gestured vaguely out the window where the rain was, indeed, still raining.
Stiles shrugged.”I’d usually use this as an opportunity to work on spells or something.” His eyes brightened. “Oh! You know what you are?” he asked excitedly.
“Handsome as the devil,” Peter answered promptly.
“Besides that,” Stiles said with pink tinged cheeks.
“Insufferable,” Chris suggested dryly from behind Peter.
“Nope,” Stiles said with a grin. “Test subjects.”
Stiles frowned at his calculations again.
“According to this, you should have married a large man with a mustache four months ago,” he said with a furrow in his brow. “What the fuck am I missing?”
Peter sat back idly. “I don’t know, but if you’re getting predictions for four months ago, I don’t think the future divination is working.”
Stiles erased all the number sixes on the page, tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth.
Chris’ eyes tracked the pink tongue, mouth slightly open. Peter glanced at him sideways and smirked, jabbing him with an elbow. Chris startled and looked away, scowling at Peter before looking back at his own magical experiment.
Frowning, he petulantly asked, “Why does he get to have his future read but I have to sit here with my hand in jello?”
“I told you it’s not jello,” Stiles said absently. “It’s molded essence of-”
“You used gelatin to firm it up right?”
Stiles looked up and reluctantly nodded.
“Then it’s jello,” Chris said staunchly.
Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Fine, it’s jello. But it’s jello that, if it works right, will make all the joints of your hand feel like they’re sixteen again.”
Chris looked speculatively at the jello.
“And it if doesn’t work right?”
“Then your skin will be silky smooth from soaking in gelatin for an hour. Now let me focus on my numerology.” Stiles stuck the pencil between his teeth and flipped back a few pages, brow furrowed.
Chris stared at his mouth again for a moment before looking back at Peter, who was now smiling smugly at him.
“Oh shut up. You left me for Big Mustache Man four months ago apparently,” Chris whispered crossly.
“I didn’t say a word,” Peter said lazily. “Any implication of how Stiles might fit into our relationship is all you, baby.”
Chris glanced nervously over at Stiles, but he was completely zoned into his work.
“Shush,” he said frantically, and Peter held up his palms in acquiescence before folding his arms.
The next morning, the sun finally peeked her head back out of the clouds, and Stiles kicked a galvanized metal tub at both Peter and Chris.
“We’re getting foxglove. A lot of it. Bill needs a dose increase in his heart medication.”
“Who is Bill again?” Peter asked, looking at the size of the tub.
“He’s the one who lives in the upper lake. A relative of Nessie and Champy, but small. Relatively speaking. Like, smaller than Champy but still probably weighs just under a ton? Could definitely eat anyone he wants to.”
Chris frowned at the tubs too.
“You don’t grow foxglove,” he said, confused.
“Why would I bother to cultivate it when it grows everywhere by it’s damn self,” Stiles scoffed. “There are at least four wild patches of it within the wards. We’ll just go around to those until I have enough.”
They walked out, some sandwiches tossed into one of the tubs for later, and tromped through the woods together.
“Just how dangerous is foxglove, anyway?” Chris asked once they arrived at the first patch.
Stiles pulled on his gardening gloves and dismissively said, “It can’t be absorbed through the skin, so as long as you’re not putting it in your salad then you’re fine.”
They picked whole stems and laid them in the tubs, little poisonous purple bells bouncing on their way down. Stiles looked pleased at how healthy the flowers were, which made Chris and Peter pleased too. They were mostly quiet as they worked, which is why it was such a surprise when Stiles yelled.
Chris startled, looking back with wide eyes.
“There’s a spider on the stem you’re about to pick!” Stiles said, hurrying over. Chris and Peter peered closely at it, and sure enough there was an orb spider sitting on its web. Chris pulled back and looked around, finally noticing spiderweb after spiderweb, woven through the shady end of the foxglove patch that they were reaching. Orb spiders dotted the webs here and there, like baubles on a Christmas garland.
Chris shot up and stepped back, putting himself between Stiles and the spiders.
Peter looked up incredulously at Stiles.
“I’ve seen you kill a spider before,” he said disbelievingly. “What’s the difference here??”
“That was in my house!” Stiles said indignantly. “This is their house. I don’t want to be an intruder. I’m not Christopher Columbus, I don’t just walk into a stranger’s house and cause trouble. Come on, we can move to the next patch.”
Peter shrugged and picked up his tub, following Stiles.
Chris’ heart ached as he watched Stiles go, taking a moment before following himself.
They stopped for lunch and then continued working, but Chris remained quiet for the rest of the afternoon.
When they finally finished, the sky swirled with color on their way back to the little house. The sunset brought out the pink clouds first, and as it sunk deeper more clouds gathered on the opposite side of the sky, adding deep purples to mix with the pinks, oranges, and blues.
It was beautiful, and Christopher noticed none of it.
I don’t just walk into a stranger’s house and cause trouble.
He didn’t want to cause trouble. He wanted to take care of Stiles. Did Stiles even count as a stranger anymore? They’d only known him for about a month, barely enough to really know anything about a person.
But Stiles didn’t feel like a stranger. He felt like-
Chris didn’t feel like he was a stranger.
He didn’t want to bring trouble into Stiles’ home, but what else did he ever bring?
Less than a week later, mid-June, Peter and Chris woke up one morning to find Stiles in the living room still in his pajamas sitting in front of the wolfsbane plant. The plant was brown around the edges, and Stiles looked like he hadn’t slept.
“What’s going on?” Chris asked, alarmed. “Is the plant okay? Are you?” He crouched down next to Stiles and tipped his face to look at the circles under his eyes more closely.
Stiles allowed the action for a moment before slowly batting his hand away. “The plant is fine. I’m fine.” He yawned. “It’s starting it’s first hibernation cycle, and it’s making me a little more tired than usual.” He shrugged. “There’s a lot of my magic tied up in the plant- more than the regular garden. I’ll probably be tired today and maybe tomorrow before it settles out.”
“Do you need to eat?” Peter asked, concerned. Stiles shrugged listlessly.
“Alright. Back to bed,” Chris announced, sticking a hand out to help Stiles up. “Peter will make you something with a good protein and bring it to you in your room.”
Stiles took his hand to stand up, but frowned grumpily. “I’m not sick. ”
“That doesn’t mean you couldn’t use the extra care,” Chris said shortly as he walked Stiles back to his bed, catching him when he stumbled.
He’d never actually been in Stiles’ room before, he realized as he walked in. Herbs were strung up here and there, drying upside down just as they did in the kitchen. There were also live plants, candles, and a few crystals scattered around an unmade bed. A candle burned under a glass dome on a shelf by the foot of the bed, but no wax dripped from it. Books were stacked everywhere. On the nightstand, on the bedposts, on the floor in the corners- everywhere but the bookshelf. That held more potted plants.
He saw Stiles start to tip over out of the corner of his eye.
Chris did his best to guide Stiles’ headlong plant into his bed but ended up nearly crashing too, leaning over him with his own head near the windows. There were runes carved into the sill. He reached out curiously to thumb at it, but Stiles’ gripped his wrist, holding it back.
Still face first in the bed, Stiles’ muffled voice said “Don’t touch. Runes have to be really, really fucking precise and if any of it gets smoothed over or something brushed into it, they won’t work.” He turned his face to the side to yawn again.
Chris pulled himself upright and tried to pull the covers out so that Stiles could snuggle up under them. He was getting nowhere fighting with Stiles’ octopus legs (Stiles was no help) when Peter brought eggs and toast in. Stiles had to sit up to eat, and Chris triumphantly pulled the blankets out to straighten them.
As he ate, Peter asked “Is there anything that you need us to do in the garden? Is anyone coming by?”
Stiles shook his head, hesitated, and then nodded.
His mouth was still full, but he spoke out of the corner of his mouth to say “Move the wolfsbane to the other corner table. It’ll be good for it to have a little less light.”
Chris unthinkingly brushed a hand over Stiles’ head, running fingers through his hair and then down his cheek as he stood up to go take care of it.
Stiles froze, one cheek full of toast, and watched Chris walk out of the room before looking back at Peter with both eyebrows raised in question.
Peter shrugged with a wry smile.
“Chris doesn’t always recognize when he’s being affected by… supernatural forces. He’s not a supernatural being, but that doesn’t mean he won’t respond to a bond that’s being naturally built. He’s just doesn’t realize it.” He looked back at the door with a tense look on his face before sighing. He turned to Stiles again with a bright smile on his face. “I, however, am perfectly aware. Scoot over.”
Stiles held the last crust of his toast between his lips confusedly as Peter sat on the bed next to him. By the time he was done chewing, Chris had re-entered the room and swept the plate away, returning a minute later and climbing to the other side of the queen sized bed to sandwich Stiles between them. It was a tight squeeze on a queen sized bed, but they fit.
“What is happening?” Stiles asked, his sleepiness making the confused words slow.
Peter reached up and yanked him down. “Cuddles. You’ll feel better if we sleep together.”
Stiles closed his eyes and mumbled “Yeah man, I’d probably feel great if we slept together,” and then he was out.
Peter lifted his head just high enough to grin at Chris, who rolled his eyes. “He’s half out of his mind with magical exhaustion, don’t take it too seriously.”
Peter pouted and laid back down, and all three of them were asleep before too long.
Peter and Chris slept for another hour and a half before waking up for good. They continued to hang around in Stiles’ room while he slept, reading and quietly talking. Around lunchtime, Stiles woke up too, and managed to trudge out to the kitchen to eat.
They spent the afternoon idly arguing about manipulative documentary makers and whether it’s just a ethical failing or if it should be punishable. Eventually they gave up on documentaries about social issues and switched to nature documentaries. Stiles squirmed and flopped haphazardly over the other two as they all relaxed on the couch in a tangled mess.
He ended up with his head on Peter’s chest, who was half slumped on the couch, and one foot tucked under Chris’ thigh with the other resting on top of Chris’ ankle on the floor. He was sleeping again.
Sea turtles were swimming by on the screen with the volume turned low when Peter whispered, “Are you really telling me you don’t want this for as long as we can have it?”
Chris turned to look at his husband. “Of course I want it,” he whispered back. “But it’s not about want, it’s about doing what’s best for him.”
“You don’t think we could be best for him?”
“I think we’re attached to danger,” Chris said tiredly. “And as much as I wish we could stay and try to be best for him, eventually we’re going to bring that danger down on him.”
“You can’t know that,” Peter whispered back. “Not only can you not know that, but there is evidence to support that this is one of the few places where Kate and Gerard might never find us.”
Chris was silent for another moment.
“Are you willing to bet his life on that?” Chris finally said, nodding at the man sleeping between them. “Because that’s what we’d be doing. Gambling with his life.”
This time Peter fell silent.
A cuttlefish crossed the screen, and they watched, lost in their own thoughts.
The sun woke them up in the morning, still tangled together on the couch. Chris had a wretched crick in his neck, Peter’s back was aching, and Stiles felt marvelous.
He sat up and stretched as the other two groaned.
“Man, I feel great,” he said happily. “I think you’re right about that bond, Peter. I definitely feel like I’ve gotten a little boost from spending more time in contact with you. Like, pack-style.”
Chris froze before whipping around to look at Peter and Stiles, accidentally cracking his neck and relieving the crick. He winced and reached up to massage at it, but kept his eyes on the other two.
“Exactly what pack-style bond are you talking about?” he asked, deliberately keeping his voice calm.
Peter glanced nervously between the other two.
“Okay, I think perhaps there might be some, ah, explanations-”
“You’ve been rubbing your hands on my head,” Stiles said bluntly. “Like, down my cheeks, scenting. And actually, now that I think about it, you were totally trying to protect me from the spiders, dude. Between my magic and Peter’s wolfyness, I think the three of us are getting drawn into a pack-style bond.” He ended his pronouncement with a shrug.
Chris slowly pierced Peter with a razor sharp gaze.
“It’s not something we can entirely control, Chris,” Peter said quietly. “This is different from…” he glanced at Stiles, “from what we talked about. More tenuous and less stable, but also not really preventable.”
Chris could feel his anxiety building.
Stiles looked curiously between the two of them.
“What were you guys talking about?” His eyes suddenly widened. “Oh shit, is this about your fight? Wait, was I involved in your fight?” he asked incredulously.
“Peter and I were arguing about your safety,” Chris answered slowly.
“Specifically whether it would be safer for you to be fully part of our pack,” Peter cut in. “But that’s not what this,” he gestured between the three of them, “is. Whatever tie is between us right now is just a consequence of,” he paused, “meshing with each other, I suppose. Magic thinks we go together well, and it’s eager to encourage that.”
“And being a full-on part of your pack would be different because…” Stiles asked slowly.
Peter glanced back at Chris, who was tightly gripping the couch, but answered.
“Because it would be a conscious choice, and permanent. You don’t leave or change packs for small reasons. We would feel more of a bond to each other. We would stay here with you, or you would come with us when we leave. Like family, but more.”
Stiles turned to look at Chris, face blank.
“And you don’t want that,” he guessed.
This is exactly what Chris had wanted to avoid.
“Stiles, I would take you into our pack in a heartbeat,” he said vehemently. “You’re an amazing witch and a wonderful person. But my family-”
“-isn’t a part of your pack,” Stiles argued, cheeks colored with high emotion.
“There’s still an attachment,” Chris explained desperately. “Until they’re dead, they’ll always be dangerous to us and anyone involved with us. Stiles, this is not about whether or not I want you because I do. I really, really do. It’s about whether I-” he choked on his words for a moment. “It’s about whether I can handle feeling responsible for putting you in the crosshairs of murderers.”
Stiles’ face was blank again. There was a beat of silence, and then he stood.
“I need-” he ran a hand through his hair. “I need a few minutes.”
Chris and Peter watched him go, and listened to the click of his door. When Peter sighed, Chris looked back over at him.
Holding up a quelling hand, Peter said, “I wasn’t sure. I guessed, and when Stiles wondered why you were touching him I told him what I thought the reason might be. I wasn’t hiding anything from you, Chris.”
Chris looked away, running a hand through his own hair.
“I wasn’t ready for this,” he said quietly, unsteadily. “God, we’ve only been here a month, Peter. What-” he rubbed a hand down his face. “What’s happening?”
Peter slowly moved over and carefully brought a hand up to his husband’s back.
“I think,” Peter said slowly, “we’ve been running for a very long time. I think this is the first rest we’ve had that’s long enough to breathe. And I think that if the moon carries any favor at all for any of her creatures, then she’s the one who directed us straight into Stiles’ wards.”
Chris leaned into Peter’s touch, and they sat together for a few minutes, taking comfort from each other.
An hour later, Stiles emerged from a shower and came to find them in the kitchen eating breakfast. He sat himself down with a bowl of cereal and started eating.
Eventually, between bites he said, “I’m sorry this all fell out the way it did. Obviously you weren’t ready yet, Chris.”
Chris and Peter both looked up at him, intent on his words.
“So,” Stiles continued, “I don’t want to force you into anything. You guys have been together for a long time-”
“That’s not-” Chris cut in, but Stiles quieted him with a look.
“I’m not going to join a pack when only half of the pack is sure that it’s a good idea,” he said firmly. “Regardless of the reason. So,” he hesitated for a moment, “so, I’m just letting you know that I would say yes. I would join your pack, but only if everyone is one hundred percent on board with it.”
Chris could feel his eyes burning. He wanted to say yes. He wanted to say Please, let’s do this right now, I never want to go another day without hearing you and Peter get into a stupid argument, I never want to go another day without feeling surrounded by your magic, please join our pack.
But when the words sat on his tongue, a vision of this little house burning to the ground sat in his mind. A vision of Stiles, riddled with gunshots. A vision of Peter, utterly destroyed by broken pack bonds again.
“Take your time, Chris,” Stiles murmured.
Chris nodded. There was nothing else he could say.
^The colors in that picture aren't enhanced btw. They were JUST THAT RIDICULOUS. I haven't seen them so stupidly saturated since, but holy shit that was a show of a sunset.
fyi I think we're closing in on the end of this story soon, probably two more chapters.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Stiles talked a lot, but he listened more.
He listened to the plant life that surrounded him. He listened to the magic that flowed through everything. He listened to the memory of his mother’s guidance and his father’s advice.
They all told him that Peter and Chris held a permanent place in his life now.
The idea of pack had crept up on him quickly, slipping its arms around him in an embrace that felt so natural he’d barely noticed.
It’s why finding out that Chris wasn’t sure Stiles belonged with them hurt so much.
Logically, Stiles understood. Christopher’s biggest fear was constantly hunting him. Hell, his biggest fear had already taken a literal shot at Stiles. The only reason that would be a problem is if Chris cared deeply about Stiles in the first place.
It didn’t make the rejection sting any less, though.
Stiles felt it like a lance every time Chris reached for him, only to realize what he was doing and pull back.
It didn’t hush the whispers of Intruder. Intruder. They have each other, why would they want you? Why would anyone want you, rather than just the service you provide?
Stiles tried to refocus himself. Finishing another check of Peter’s steadily blackening aura, Stiles told him to double his morning dose and drink more water.
“Why is that always the first thing doctors tell you to do?” Peter complained. “‘Drink more water,’ like I’m purposely dehydrating myself.”
“I’m not a doctor, I’m a nineteen year old witch,” Stiles reminded him, “and I’m telling you to drink more water because if you do get dehydrated, then you’re going to start peeing that black goo. Aside from how psychologically scarring that sounds, it’s also going to burn like hell.”
Peter got more and more pale the longer Stiles spoke.
“Listen to the witch doctor, dear,” Chris said, filling up a glass and handing it over to Peter while conspiratorially rolling his eyes at Stiles.
Stiles sent back the best smile he could, but he knew it was flimsy at best. He glanced away when Chris’ expression flickered and fell.
Peter watched the two of them, wishing he could blame the twisting of his gut on the wolfsbane poisoning. They all needed a distraction.
“I want- no, I need crab legs,” he suddenly declared. “At least sixteen crab legs. With garlic butter.”
Stiles’ eyes brightened, and even Chris looked interested.
“Yeah,” Stiles said, hands on his hips. “Yeah, man, that sounds really good. We’re going to La Push,” he said decisively. “Hop in the car Jacob, try not to fall in love with any babies.”
Peter’s self-congratulatory thoughts screeched to a halt as he screwed up his face in disgust.
“I’m not going if you’re going to make Twilight jokes the whole way there,” Peter said staunchly as Chris laughed.
“Oh, come on,” Stiles wheedled. “Give me five Twilight jokes!”
“One Twilight joke.”
“Two is as low as I can go. If I don’t get two, then no one gets crab legs,” Stiles said stubbornly, arms crossed.
Peter sighed. “Fine. Two Twilight jokes. Use them wisely.”
Chris tried to be quiet about his preparation for a day of hypervigilance, knowing it was unlikely that they’d run into his family but…
Stiles didn’t say a word as he handed Chris another cord to secure an extra gun under the seat.
Once they got to 101, it was only about a 40 minute drive. The winding forest roads suddenly gave way to a spectacular view of the ocean and the island just off the beach. Stiles slowed down to residential speed as they made their way past First Beach.
“Is that the school?” Chris asked, surprised when he saw the salt worn building.
“It’s so close to the water. That must be great for the kids, I would have loved that.”
“They actually pretty desperately need to move it. They need to move a lot of buildings,” Stiles responded as they turned and headed down toward the boats. “Do you see how close it is to the water? One little tsunami, and it’s going to be gone. Climate change hits coastal communities the hardest.”
“And it’s super fucked up,” Stiles continued, getting more agitated. “Because the tribal land is surrounded by National Park on three sides and then the ocean on the fourth, so they had to petition congress to even get permission to adjust the one square mile that was tribal land so that it could include higher elevations. It took fifty years of fighting for the legislation before Obama finally signed to get the land they need to make themselves safe.”
Stiles took a deep breath. “There’s not a whole lot of word around about it. It’s not like they have the resources for a huge marketing campaign.” He shrugged. “It’s just another one of those shitty situations that white people caused, and are doing the absolute bare minimum to help correct.”
“ ‘These white men are dangerous,’ ” Peter muttered from the backseat.
Stiles returned a rueful twist of his mouth. “ ‘Savages, savages,’ ” he quoted back.
They stopped at the marina, and Peter and Chris hung back as Stiles talked with a fisherman he was obviously familiar with. He brought his cooler back full of sluggishly moving Dungeness crab.
Once the cooler was tucked away, Stiles drove them back to First Beach, stopping by the office to buy a day pass.
“The tide is out, you guys need to see the tree,” he said.
Chris looked around at the woods by which they were surrounded.
“Yes, it would certainly be a shame for us to miss out on the experience of seeing a tree,” he said, deadpan.
Stiles just laughed and parked them by a creek before dragging them across a teetering pile of driftwood logs to get to the beach. As they clattered across rocks, Peter wrinkled his nose.
“This isn’t a real beach. It’s cloudy and cold. Where’s the sparkling sand?” he asked, disgruntled.
“They don’t need sparkling sand, they have vampires!” Stiles said with a grin. Peter whipped his head around to glare at him so quickly that he almost tripped over a drying strip of kelp.
“I can’t believe you just wasted one of your jokes on that,” Peter groused as he regained his balance. “That was low hanging fruit, Stiles.”
Stiles laughed. “You’re just mad that you set me up for it. Come on!”
Stiles took off at a run down the beach, closer to the water with firmer sand. Peter and Chris chased after him, wondering where he was headed. There were driftwood trees all over the beach, but-
Stiles reached it before them, giving a startling reference for the size. About 25 feet high and just as wide, the roots of the tree lay facing south while the trunk extended opposite and gently sloped down.
By the time they reached it Stiles had climbed inside and was sitting cross legged, looking down at them.
“The tree,” he said dramatically.
“It sure fucking is,” Chris agreed dumbly.
As they looked around it, and eventually strolled up the wide trunk to climb in the roots, Chris couldn’t help think of how a simple change in point of view could make something so much clearer.
He knew that there were huge trees all over the world. The one they were perched on wasn’t even one of the biggest. But seeing it laid out horizontally in the bare space of a beach made it much more evident just how huge those ancient behemoths can be.
How small and short lived we are in comparison. How much damage we’re still capable of despite our momentary presence.
What had this tree seen in its lifetime? How many times was this tree struck by lightning, or snapped by the wind? And still continued to grow to fairytale proportions.
Chris looked at Stiles, who was now laying down along the trunk, hands behind his head, eyes closed. Peter was crouched a little further down, seeking out tiny pebbles to toss them at Stiles. He grinned every time he got Stiles to scrunch up his face and swat away the projectiles, never opening his eyes.
Storm battered, fire tested. They continued to grow. To do anything else would be to admit defeat.
Chris wouldn’t admit defeat.
Suddenly, all the tiny pebbles surrounding Stiles rose in the air and flung themselves at Peter, who scrambled back- and right off the tree.
“Fuck!” they both heard him yell from the sand below.
“‘What are we? Werewolves, not swear wolves!’” Stiles called back with a grin.
“That counts as your second joke!”
“What!! That’s not Twilight, it’s What We Do in the Shadows!”
Peter and Stiles argued all the way back to the car, not stopping until Chris wormed between them to wrap an arm around both their waists, pulling them in.
Stiles’ mouth snapped shut as he stared at the side of Chris’ head with wide eyes. Chris leaned in to rub their cheeks together, plucking the keys out of his pocket as he did so.
“I’ll drive. We don’t need you to send us off a cliff because you’re too busy arguing about whether vampire movie jokes are interchangeable.”
Stiles nodded dumbly, and climbed in the front seat when they got to the Jeep.
That night after their feast of crab legs, Peter went for another run. Chris and Stiles talked.
“Would your answer still be yes?” Chris asked, unable to look directly at Stiles as he waited for the answer.
Chris breathed out a sigh, both of relief and final acceptance. He looked up into those amber eyes.
“I want you to join our pack.”
Stiles looked so cautious, and it killed Chris that he was the reason.
“You’re sure? This- this doesn’t really seem like something you can take back-“
“I’m sure, Stiles. And you’re right, it’s not really something you can take back. Are you sure?”
Stiles nodded vigorously.
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“… am I part of your pack now?”
Chris chuckled and reached out to touch his arm, sending delighted shockwaves through Stiles at the contact.
“I think Peter will have some input on exactly what’s supposed to happen there, but as far as I’m concerned, yes.”
Stiles gave a small smile but bit his lip, caution still obvious on his face.
“Are you doing this because of Peter?” he finally blurted out.
Chris stiffened like someone had stuck him with a cattle prod.
He flashed through twenty emotions, half of them guilt, before getting hold of himself and firmly saying, “No. I want you, Stiles.”
Stiles’ mouth hung open.
Chris said it with such conviction that it actually rippled through his aura- the type of change that signaled a permanent shift in the core of a person. Stiles could hardly believe it. He’d seen a change like that maybe three times in his life- in his mother after his father’s death, and twice at a wedding.
Stiles tried to cover up his shock by weakly teasing, “You can’t say things like that, Chris, I could get the wrong idea.”
“I don’t think it would be the wrong idea at all,” Chris said, continuing to look at Stiles steadily, “but that’s probably a conversation for when Peter is here.”
Still fixated on Christopher’s aura, Stiles reeled again when he realized that Chris was being completely truthful. His mouth was still hanging open when Peter came back inside, holding the hem of his shirt like a basket.
“I ran into Claire again, I swear she specifically seeks me out. She gave me a ton of blue eggs, and then wouldn’t stop going on about the size of rocks that her hens-“
Peter’s voice ground to a halt as he took in the atmosphere of the room.
“… Are we okay in here?”
“Stiles is going to join our pack,” Chris said easily.
Peter nearly dropped the hem of his shirt in excitement before remembering that it was full of eggs.
“Ah, shit,” he muttered, heading to the countertop basket to put the eggs in for cleaning. He was well aware that this was mostly between Chris and Stiles, despite him being the Alpha of the pack. He’d already made his position clear, after all.
“You two… talked?” he asked once his shirt was empty.
“Yeah,” Stiles said, voice and eyes a little distant before focusing in on Peter. “But-“ Stiles glanced back at Chris one more time, “I think you need to talk too?” He sounded lost, and unfortunately Peter wasn’t in a place to find him. He looked curiously at Chris.
Chris shifted a little uncomfortably.
“There was, possibly, an insinuation, or ah, implied-“
“‘Implied?’ Oh for fuck’s sake,” Peter said, exasperated. “you thought now would be the time to ask if he wants to date us?”
“I didn’t bring it up, exactly-“ Chris protested.
“Oh my god, you both want to sleep with me??” Stiles yelled, mouth hanging open.
“Let’s be clear about one thing,” Peter said firmly. “We don’t just want to sleep with you. We want you in our lives, Stiles, in whatever way you want to be there. If that’s as a pack member, wonderful. If you’re interested in trying out a romantic-”
“Yes,” Stiles blurted. “Oh my God, yes. Yes. Wait. Will this change anything about me joining your pack?”
“No,” Peter said, shaking his head. “If you want to join our pack then you have a place, regardless of how anything else shakes out.”
“Okay.” Stiles let out a deep breath. “Alright. Can we- what needs to happen for me to be an official pack member?”
“A bite. I need to break the skin, but it won’t change anything about you, and it should heal quickly.”
Chris saw Stiles blanch at the word “bite,” and reached out to take his hand and stroke his wrist.
“It really is fast. It hurts for a moment, but mine was completely healed in fifteen minutes.” He held up his own wrist, showing the unblemished skin in proof.
“Let’s-” Stiles’ voice cracked as Chris ran another finger down the skin over his veins. He cleared his throat, deliberately not looking at the smug look on either Chris or Peter’s face. “Let’s do this right here, at the table in case I bleed everywhere.”
With barely a word of communication, Chris and Peter somehow managed to get Stiles situated on Chris’ lap, holding him tightly around the waist. One of Stiles’ hands held a towel, while Peter held the other, bringing it close to inhale deeply.
“He’s not a bottle of wine, Peter,” Chris said dryly.
“Mm, no,” Peter agreed. “He smells so much better.”
Stiles wiggled impatiently in Chris’ lap, and Chris gripped him tightly in response.
“You need to hold still, sweetheart,” he whispered in Stiles’ ear.
“Can we just do it?” he demanded. “I don’t handle anticipation very well.” His voice carried an obvious note of duh.
“Some of the best things in life only come after waiting,” Peter said, the look on his face leaving no doubt as to what he was talking about. Stiles stared at him in disbelief.
“There will no coming OR going unless you bite me first!”
Peter smirked, but opened his mouth, and bit.
Move to Higher Ground is something you should consider donating to. In the event of a tsunami, the warning siren can still only give the school about 5-6 minutes of time to get to safety. The entire lower village is completely fucked if that happens, but if the school gets taken out then basically an entire generation of the Quileute people will be killed.
I was standing in the water when I took this picture. The blue roof is the school. That's how close it is. It wouldn't even need to be a big tsunami, a small one would be enough to destroy the building and hurt the kids.
THE TREE. I somehow don't have a single picture with a size reference but trust me, it's HUGE.
Jetty off of First Beach toward James Island.
There's so much driftwood, people build little forts all the time. It's free real estate.
It was sunny once!
But it's like this most of the time. Atmospheric as fuck tbh.
Between the magic inherent to the pack bite and Stiles’ own magic, it actually only took about ten minutes for Stiles’ wrist to heal, but it was still exhausting.
“Can we-” Stiles was interrupted by a yawn. “Can we sleep together again? Not like together-together, at least not yet, but like, sleep together-sleep together?”
Peter and Chris glanced at each other, amused at his sleepy word repetition.
“Absolutely, sweetheart,” Peter replied as he easily picked him up from Chris’ lap.
“Aw, fuck yeah, princess carry,” Stiles said, leaning his head on Peter’s shoulder. “This pack business is good shit.”
Chris walked ahead of them and into his and Peter’s room, since their bed was larger than Stiles’. He pulled back the covers and Peter set him down. Stiles immediately curled up, only to make a face and squirm on to his back.
“No pants,” he mumbled.
He undid his button and then wiggled and pushed at his jeans until they were far enough down to be kicked away. It honestly looked like to took more energy than it would have just to get up and take them off.
Peter and Chris, silently laughing at their newest pack member, were quick to sandwich him between them again, just as they had before. They fell asleep curled into each other, their warm bond soothing them to into pleasant dreams.
The next week was reserved for Stiles experimenting with how the pack bond affected his magic.
He made a small batch of Sasquatch cold medicine for the upcoming fall, and found it had a potency he’d never managed before.
His garden was flourishing and he had so many ripe tomatoes on the vine that he was able to make a huge pot of marinara, and several jars of salsa.
Even the wolfsbane was doing better, having reached it’s second hibernation cycle a little early, just at the end of the first week of July. It tired Stiles out just as much, though.
“The last one will be the worst, but we should be able to use it as soon as the first leaves appear after that,” he said as he lay between the other two on their bed, hazily flipping through a book on numerology.
And it was their bed now. Stiles had somehow never made it back to his own room since the night of the bite.
No one was complaining though, and the close proximity had the added benefit of helping him through the two day hibernation. Stiles woke up bright and early on the third day to see a tiny new shoot of the plant poking out.
He happily crooned to Philip in the shower, taking a moment as he dried himself off to wonder how a lily could manage to look so sardonic. It was only then that he noticed the picture of Chris’ father taped to the wall behind Philip, with a big red X drawn over it.
Out in the kitchen, Peter and Chris heard Stiles yell, “I’m not shitting next to Gerard’s face, Peter!! If you want to train Philip find a different method!”
When Stiles made his way to the kitchen too, he found the other two filling a picnic basket.
“We’re going to woo you,” Peter said, voice determined.
“Woo you,” Chris confirmed.
“Can I woo you back?” Stiles asked, a crooked grin on his face.
“I am extremely high maintenance and would be horribly offended if you didn’t,” Peter replied.
“I don’t need to be wooed, but I wouldn’t turn it down,” Chris shrugged.
“Well then the only way to make this fair is if you two woo each other too,” Stiles reasoned.
“Christopher is constantly in the process of being wooed by me, simply through my astonishingly good looks,” Peter said breezily.
Chris rolled his eyes and said, “I initially wooed Peter with dollar menu burgers and exchanging insurance information, I think I can handle picnic wooing.”
They made their way to one of the many creeks and spread the blanket the bank, putting the picnic basket on the blanket. It was only a moment before Stiles’ shoes were off and his feet were in the water, searching for the flattest rocks.
“I'm gonna build the the best cairn you've ever seen," Stiles announced. "You're going to be so damn impressed with my rock stacking, you won't know what hit you. Help me find rocks!"
He looked back at Peter and Chris, clearly reluctant to dip their toes in the freezing cold water with him. Stiles raised an eyebrow.
"Whoever finds me the flattest rock gets to kiss me first."
Shoes and socks went flying, and Chris' pants barely cuffed above his ankles before everyone was in the water.
Stiles smirked and continued his search. He found a few excellent base rocks, large and smooth. Finding a good place to stack, he started his work.
Peter and Chris brought him rock after rock, eagerly comparing and scoffing at the other’s offering. Peter tried to sabotage Chris with a few well placed kicks, but Chris neatly dodged him and managed to get his best rock to Stiles first.
Between the three of them, eventually Stiles had a respectably sized cairn, sturdy and stable, with a murmured spell for happiness woven in between the layers. Stiles smiled, satisfied, and returned to the blanket.
"Chris wins, but only by default because you got caught cheating," Stiles announced, hands on his hips as Peter and Chris sat on the blanket to dry off their feet.
"Cheaters never prosper," Chris singsonged in his most annoying voice.
"Bad cheaters never prosper," Stiles corrected. "If he hadn't gotten caught, he probably would have won. Cheating is just strategy that no one else likes."
Peter grinned and childishly stuck his tongue out at Chris, but Chris just groaned.
"I can't believe I'm in a relationship with two reprobates," he said, shaking his head.
"I can," Stiles said. "You’re a rebel at heart, don’t deny it."
"You caught me,” Chris answered dryly. “I’m a true anarchist. I hear it’s very sexy these days. Do I get to collect my winnings now?" he segued with a crooked grin.
"Yes!" Peter said. "Because the sooner he gets the first kiss, the sooner I get the second."
Chris looked expectantly at Stiles from where he sat on the blanket. Stiles grinned and dropped himself down into Christopher's lap, knees on either side of his hips.
Chris' breath immediately sped up, and he swooped forward to capture Stiles' mouth with his own, pressing softly but completely. His hands found Stiles' waist while Stiles' rested on Chris' shoulders. It was only a moment before his lips were moving, parting to encourage Chris to deepen the kiss.
Chris eagerly complied, rolling Stiles' bottom lip between his own and then brushing his tongue over it. Stiles let out a breathy little sigh and moved one hand up the back of Chris' neck, winding his fingers through the hair at the base of his scalp.
It was a slow moving kiss. An introduction, a get-to-know-you, that swiftly moved in the direction of deeper conversation. When Chris’ teeth scraped over Stiles’ tongue, Stiles’ hand reflexively tightened in Chris’ hair, pulling a little moan out of the man. Stiles grinned into the kiss and fisted his hand again.
Chris ended the kiss and pulled back, breath heavy.
“If you want this to stay a first kiss and not a first something else, maybe don’t do that.”
Stiles smiled mischievously, and glanced to the side to see Peter watching them, pupils blown. He leaned over but stayed on Chris’ lap, and Peter met him halfway.
Peter’s kiss was an entirely different beast. Harder and sharper, hotter and more biting. This wasn’t an introduction. This kiss wasn’t even a conversation. This kiss was like being grabbed by the hand a swept away in a chase, darting from adventure to adventure.
Slick tongues and too sharp canines one moment, consuming lips the next. Peter’s hands roamed Stiles’ head and shoulders, tipping him to the exact angle of preference until Stiles found something he liked better.
When Stiles finally pulled back to breathe, Peter gave a rare soft smile. The kind that spoke of mushy insides and vulnerable happiness all the better for being exposed. Stiles wanted to lean forward and kiss it own happiness into it, but suddenly Peter’s smile turned into a grimace, and he hunched over.
“Peter?” Chris said, alarmed.
“It’s fine, it’s fine, it’ll go away in a second,” Peter ground out, hands clutching his abdomen.
Stiles’ eyes sparked with grim suspicion.
“Been getting cramps like this a lot, have you?” he asked, climbing off Christopher’s lap and crouching in front of Peter.
Too busy hurting to be upset at getting caught, Peter just waved a hand dismissively as he tried to breathe through the pain.
“Damn it, Peter,” Stiles cursed softly. He placed both hands on either side of his face smoothing his thumbs over Peter’s cheekbones. Peter immediately sighed with relief, the cramp fading away.
Stiles stayed where he was for another moment, eyes closed, and then pulled his hands away, flexing and shaking them out.
“You’re supposed to tell me when your symptoms are getting worse,” Stiles reminded him, exasperated. “I can’t help you if you don’t!”
“It’s not like I was hiding it,” Peter defended. “We’ve had a lot going on, adjusting to the new pack bonds.”
“The pack bonds are still going to be there even if I take a minute to evaluate the literal poison that is trying to kill you!”
“Well excuse me-”
“Children,” Chris interrupted, voice tense. “Maybe we should continue this argument back at the house after Peter’s been treated?”
Peter and Stiles both scowled at Chris for the nickname, but got up and started packing up the picnic.
Of course, now that they were aware of it, Stiles and Chris noticed how much more slowly Peter was moving. He even stumbled over a tree root once on the way home.
As soon as they were in the house, Stiles pointed at Peter and then the couch.
“You. Sit. I’m putting on my witch doctor pants.”
“I didn’t know you had witch doctor pants; are they comfortable?” Peter snarked.
“They’re metaphorical,” Stiles said as he rummaged through his shelves.
“What a tailor you must have, to make pants out of metaphors.”
Peter sighed dramatically but went to sit on the couch anyway. He watched from the living room as Stiles worked.
"I'm sorry I ruined our date," he said quietly after a few moments.
Stiles looked up at him, brow furrowed.
"You didn't ruin our date. We had a great date." He frowned as he checked labels against a reference, and then looked back up with a sigh. "You know I'm not mad at you, right? I'm upset that I didn't notice your symptoms worsening, and I'm upset that you didn't tell me you were feeling worse, but I'm not mad at you."
Peter nodded from the couch, although he did look a little relieved.
"... I really wasn't hiding it from you," he eventually added. "I just didn't think it was bad enough to bring up yet."
Stiles, closing his reference book, caught Peter's eyes, his gaze bright.
"Any amount of bad is more than you deserve, Peter."
Chris busied himself putting away the picnic things, and by the time he made it back to the living room, Stiles was standing in front of Peter, pouring something from a tiny vial into a glass of milk. He chanted something in a language Chris didn’t recognize, and the glass frosted briefly before returning to normal.
Then he shoved it into Peter’s face, saying, “This will taste slightly better than your usual stuff, but it’s also going to lower your inhibitions for a while. Like three glasses of wine, basically.”
Peter took the glass and sniffed it while Chris raised an eyebrow at Stiles.
“Like three glasses of wine, huh?”
Peter looked back up to Stiles’ face, grinning.
“Stiles Stilinski, nineteen year old US citizen, are you telling us you have experience with alcohol consumption?" he fake-chided. "Naughty naughty!”
Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, you two better hope I’m naughty naughty,” he said with a cheeky smile. “Drink your medicine, nerd.”
Peter grimaced and swallowed down the milk/symptom suppressant, and handed the glass back to Stiles. The side effect kicked in almost immediately, and soon Peter was pawing at Chris and Stiles to get closer.
Stiles took a step in, amused.
“He doesn’t drink often. It’s not easy to get the exact strain wolfsbane, and then the six months you have to let it sit- well, it just doesn’t happen often,” Chris explained. “But every time he does-”
“Get closer,” Peter demanded, pulling them both forward.
“-he turns into a snuggly son of a bitch,” Chris finished dryly.
“I’m sick,” Peter announced. “I need pack contact to get better! I need-” he eyed Stiles, who was still standing, and yanked him down to the couch to sit next to him. He looked him very seriously. “I have to be cuddled or I’ll die,” he finished dramatically.
Peter rubbed his face thoroughly against Stiles’, until his cheek was pink with stubble burn, and then did the same to Chris. Then he draped himself across both of their laps, one leg stuck under Chris’ and a hand wrapped around Stiles’ ankle. He closed his eyes and sighed happily once he had them securely underneath his mass, and growled every time one of them squirmed.
Stiles slowly combed his fingers through Peter’s hair and Chris rubbed his calves, causing a deep rumble from Peter’s chest as they sat in the quiet room.
Eventually, Chris asked, “Is this going to be a regular new medication?”
Stiles shook his head.
“This is just a little stopgap until tomorrow morning, when he can start an increased dose of the other stuff.”
“Too bad,” Peter mumbled from their laps.
The corner of Stiles’ mouth lifted.
“We can start a bottle of wolfsbane whiskey for you, after you’re better. I promise you don’t want to keep using this stuff. ‘Severe constipation’ wouldn’t even begin to describe the side effects.”
Peter frowned more deeply, eyes still closed, and grumbled wordlessly. His breathing eventually evened out, tiny snores escaping his nose as he slept.
“He’s never believed me when I tell him he snores,” Chris said quietly. “I’m glad I have another witness now.”
Stiles silently laughed, trying not to disturb Peter, but the smile on his face slowly slid off as he looked down at him.
“It’s only going to get worse from here,” he said, looking back up at Chris with serious eyes.
Chris raised a hand up to Stiles shoulder, bringing him in so they could lean more heavily on each other. He laid a kiss on his head.
“We’ll be okay, Stiles. We always have been. And now that we have you, we’re even better.”
Cairns are everywhere my dudes.
One of the ten thousand creeks that makes flood insurance fuckin Cheech and Chong high around here.
Well holy FUCK did this little vanity project turn into more than I thought it was gonna be, but here we are. If you've stuck with it this far, hopefully the last chapter doesn't ruin it for you lmao.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Stiles felt the third and final hibernation cycle coming on, he was enormously relieved.
Peter had dark circles under his eyes, and was constantly running a low grade fever. It was also getting harder and harder for him to hold down food, making him lose weight slowly but steadily.
When he became so miserable that he stopped playing up his discomfort to get spoiled, Stiles and Chris shared a grim look, and drew up a schedule to make sure one of them was always within reach of Peter.
So, the creeping weariness and earthward pull that would have otherwise irritated Stiles, instead brought a lot of relief.
“It’ll be about three days this time,” Stiles whispered to Chris in the dark, tucking an extra blanket around Peter as he shivered in his sleep. “I’ll mostly sleep, just like the last two times. Peter will still need more of your attention. I’m sorry I won’t be able to help much.”
Stiles brushed a hand over Peter’s forehead, doing a quick read of his aura. The blackness spread to his limbs, darkening to a deeper void toward the center. It made Stiles want to retch.
He startled when he felt Chris’ hand reach across Peter to pull Stiles forward.
“Don’t worry about me," Chris soothed, pressing a kiss to Stiles’ forehead. “And don’t worry about helping. You’re already doing everything by growing the wolfsbane, sweetheart.”
Stiles lifted his head to bring his mouth to Chris’, pushing forward into a lingering kiss. Their breath mingled for a moment before Stiles finally lay down on the other side of Peter, reaching across to join their hands and snuggle Peter between them. He was out like a light a moment later.
Chris lay awake a little longer, wondering what the next few days would hold.
Sleep, mostly. That’s what the days held. For Stiles, and to a slightly lesser extent, Peter.
“You’re sure he’s not in a coma?” Peter croaked from next to Stiles, poking him slightly.
“Stop that,” Chris scolded, swatting Peter’s hand away. “He needs sleep. He said it’ll take three days this time, so he’ll probably mostly sleep for today, tomorrow, and Thursday. Then after that he’ll snip it and use it on you.”
“He just looks so… still. Was he this pale the last two times?”
Chris pursed his lips, looking worriedly at Stiles.
“He said this time would be the worst…”
Stiles continued slumbering on, unaware of his packmates’ worries.
Peter himself fell back asleep not long after that. Chris fretted around the house a little, afraid to go too far but also too anxious to sit still. He ended up in the bathroom, running the shower to give Philip a little extra steam while cleaning his plant stand.
When he was done, he looked at the plant consideringly.
“... you’d recognize Gerard, wouldn’t you?”
Philip didn’t answer.
Chris shook his head at himself and turned off the shower, letting the steam out of the room before it cold turn to mold.
Both of his convalescents woke briefly for dinner (soup), and then conked back out for the night immediately afterwards.
The next day started the same, until about ten in the morning when Claire knocked on the door.
Chris stepped outside instead of inviting Claire in, pressing a finger to his lips and then continuing to talk in a low voice, trying to be mindful of Peter’s hearing.
“They’re both sick today, Claire, I’m afraid a visit will have to wait,” he said, an apology in his tired tone.
“Oh no!” Claire said, dismayed. “You know, egg drop soup is a fantastic remedy. I’m sure Stiles has green onion in his garden-”
“Yes,” Chris agreed, already eager to get back to his boys. “I’ll be sure to make some up.”
He was trying to edge back toward the door, while Claire tried to say something else (probably about the nutritional benefits of eggs during illness) when Chris heard a wild yell from inside the house.
Startled and immediately concerned, he ran into the house, leaving the front door open behind him.
He dashed into their bedroom to see Stiles sitting up, rod-straight. Peter was scrambling up next to him.
“My wards,” Stiles said, words sleep-slurred. “Someone crossed the northern wards. Three people, some magic but not-” He swayed a little just as Peter managed to sit up. “The magic isn’t in them, just with them.”
Chris heard a gasp and whirled around. Claire stood in the doorway, hand over her mouth, looking shocked.
Just as Chris was about to bark at her to get out, Stiles addressed her in a stumbling mumble.
“Claire, tell everyone. These- whoever it is feels-” but he couldn’t seem to say what he was feeling. “It’s like the time before. Tell everyone it’s like the time before.”
Claire was out of the house in the next blink of an eye, and by the time Chris turned back to the bed Peter and Stiles were already struggling out of it.
“No!” Chris exclaimed. “Neither one of you should be up right now!”
“I gotta go check the wards,” Stiles said, voice getting a little stronger the longer he was up.
“You need to rest,” Chris emphasized. “And you,” he pointed an accusing finger at Peter, who hadn’t even managed to stand up yet, “you are literally on death’s doorstep. Get back in bed.”
Peter gave a crunchy sounding growl that turned into a cough, which eventually became forceful enough to knock himself flat to the bed.
“I’m just tired, Chris,” Stiles said. “I’m not sick. I need-,” he wavered where he stood, trying to get pants on, and Chris had to support him.
“Stiles, you can barely stand,” Chris said, exasperated. “I can go check.”
“No. No no no, you can’t go.”
Stiles looked frantic, desperate to keep Chris from leaving. Chris scrunched his brow in confusion, but before he could ask, Stiles said again, “It’s like before. When they killed my mom, Chris. They feel-” Stiles stopped, mouth open, eyes seeing something no one else could.
“They feel-” he finally repeated, face white and voice distant. His eyes snapped back into focus. “I think it’s your family.”
Chris was out of the house with his gun 30 seconds later.
Peter was frantic, but unable to get more than a few steps away from the bed without help, which Stiles didn’t have the energy to provide.
“Fuck,” Peter hissed fervently as Stiles continued to stumble his way through getting dressed.
Before he made his way to the door, he looked back at Peter and said, “There are runes on the underside of the windowsill. If Chris and I aren’t back in fifteen minutes, cut your finger and press the blood to the rune.”
“Will that work?” Peter asked dubiously.
“We’re pack,” Stiles said, managing to lean over without falling to press a kiss to Peter’s lips. “I fucking hope so.”
As soon as Peter heard the front door close, he looked out the window to watch Stiles wobble across the clearing in the same direction as Chris.
He sat up a little further, hoping his adrenaline was enough to keep him awake for fifteen minutes.
Stiles found Chris just inside the tree line on the northern side. Still as a statue, crouched and waiting. He held up a hand without turning around and Stiles stalled, wondering what he could sense.
A moment later he heard it too. Quiet, brush crackling steps. Chris stood and pointed his handgun in the direction of the sound.
A man in a red hat was the first to become visible, Gerard and Kate quickly following, although they saw Chris first and stopped moving well before the man in the lead did.
A wave of rage swept through Stiles.
The last time he’d seen the man in the red hat, Stiles had been testifying that his trap had killed his mother.
Stiles silently called out to the blackberry vines.
They whipped through the brush, the ones with viciously long thorns in the lead, rearing up to capture the monsters in front of them.
They grabbed the man in the red hat first, binding his hands and feet, and wrapping around his throat so tightly that it cut off his cry.
They reached Kate and Gerard next, but as soon as they touched their skin, the vines blackened and withered, dying before their eyes. Stiles watched in shock as the death spread down the vine, through the forest. When the death reached the root, killing the plant entirely, Stiles felt it like the breath had been knocked from his body.
A flash of gold caught his eye.
They wore pendants- pendants made by another magic user.
Chris still held his gun, trained on his father, but before he could say a word, Gerard spoke, tipping his head at Stiles.
“Oh, thanks for that.” He looked over to the man in the red hat. “And thanks for your help, Cal, but I think we’ll be fine from here. Kate?”
Kate had a gun up in a flash, and Cal had a bullet in his head a second later.
Stiles stood there, still reeling in shock.
Chris immediately retrained his gun on Kate.
“Put the gun down, Kate.”
“Or what?” She snorted. “Your history of aim under pressure isn’t so good, Chrissy. I don’t think you can rely on your little magic boy there either. He looks like a breeze might blow him over, doesn’t he?”
Kate shot again, aiming inches away from Stiles’ head, making him flinch and stumble.
This time Chris immediately shot back, but the bullet went up in flames before it could reach her.
“It’s amazing what some of you aberrant abominations can produce when the right pressure is applied.”
Stiles nearly vomited, thinking of the nearby magic users and what the Argents might have done to them.
“Well,” Gerard clapped his hands together. “Now that we’ve established that your guns and kept boy are useless, why don’t we take this to a more hospitable environment?”
Stiles and Chris glanced at each other for a moment before one of Stiles’ knees gave out. Chris rushed over to catch him, helping him back on to his feet and keeping an arm around his waist. Without looking back, they began walking toward the clearing.
Stiles hoped Claire had spread his warning.
They walked through the woods silently, death at their back. Stiles’ mind raced, weighing risk against reward, and as soon as they left the trees Stiles yelled toward the house, “ACTIVATE THE RUNES! PETER! THE RUNES!!”
There was half a beat of stillness, and then the little house seemed to hum with magic, buzzing in a way that could be sensed but not seen.
Stiles immediately collapsed as the magic drained from him, funneling into the protection of the house. Chris grabbed hold of him as they both fell to their knees.
“He’s safe,” he slurred out to Chris. “The wards will let you through. You have to get inside the house, Chris.”
Chris gripped him tightly, refusing to let go.
Gerard looked up at the house interestedly.
“Oh, that’s a fun trick. Is your mutt still alive?” he asked. “Good, I’d hoped we weren’t too late. I need something from him, you see.”
He sauntered closer, bending a little towards the two.
“My health has been failing me. I need the bite.”
Chris looked at him in disbelief.
“What?” Gerard said. “No words of support for your father in his time of need? It’s terminal, you know. My cancer. The bite is my last option.”
“No,” Chris bit out. “It’s not. Peter won’t bite you.”
Gerard pulled out a little tube of powder.
“He will if I give him the means to save his life. Or the means to save your lives,” he nodded toward Kate and her gun.
Stiles glanced at Chris, at the hatred and disbelief evident on his face. Behind him, movement in the woods caught Stiles’ eye, and his stomach dropped.
The woods weren’t evacuated.
“Your dumbfuck code says you have to kill yourself if you get the bite anyway!” Chris shouted.
“Don’t take that tone with me,” Gerard said sharply. “The rules are for hunters who need rules. Hunters with no self control. Do you really think I would become a mindless beast? Me?”
The movement in the woods was getting closer, and Stiles was starting to panic. Who was it? They were so close to the edge of the trees, if Gerard and Kate saw them-
“You-” Chris began, but Gerard cut him off with a dismissive scoff.
“I don’t waste my time arguing with idiots.” He pulled out his own gun and pointed it at Stiles. “Let us into the house. You have until the count of three to get up before I shoot you. One, two-”
A terrible roar shook the trees around them, startling Kate, Gerard, and Chris. Stiles, however, finally realized who was in the trees. He smiled.
Four creatures stormed out from the woods, between 8 and 10 feet tall, covered in hair and fury. Kate and Gerard immediately began shooting, but they were moving too fast.
The far left creature reached Kate first, and grasped her head with two hands, neatly twisting and pulling it off. Her life was over before she had a chance to shriek.
The tallest one reached Gerard next, picking him up by the arm and snapping it in half, allowing him to dangle from the broken limb. He screamed, but the sound was nothing compared to the roar of the Sasquatch, who grabbed Gerard’s gun and tossed it away before looking at Stiles.
“Dead?” her strange, rough voice rumbled out.
Stiles lifted one flat hand to his chest and rubbed it in a circular clockwise motion. The ‘squatch nodded, and tore off his head too before letting the body fall to the ground.
“Hun’er,” spat out the one who’d killed Kate, gesturing back into the woods where they’d left Cal’s body.
“Hunter,” Stiles agreed, still on his knees next to Chris.
The same Sasquatch held up his arm across his chest, and moved his straight pointer finger from the middle of the forearm to the elbow.
The four Sasquatch picked up the pieces of the bodies between them, and disappeared into the woods again with a nod toward Stiles.
Stiles and Chris stayed on the ground, staring at the bloody grass for a few minutes, processing their shock, until Chris suddenly said, “Peter.” He looked at Stiles, taking in his ashen, exhausted face. “Your options are monkey back or princess carry.”
“Princess,” he answered, finally tearing his eyes away from the blood and wiping a hand over his face. “How is that even a question.”
As soon as they passed through the doors, they could hear Peter croaking out, “What the hell! What the hell!”
He was propped up against the window, sweating and shivering and staring at them with huge eyes. Chris set Stiles down gently, and Stiles used the last of his energy to roll over to the underside of the windowsill and scratch through the rune, cancelling the protection spells.
He then promptly passed out.
“Is he okay?” Peter asked anxiously, bringing a shaking hand up to his forehead to push the hair back.
Chris blew out a breath.
Peter looked closely at his husband.
“Are you okay?”
Chris looked out the window, back at the spot where the Sasquatch had disappeared into the woods. Where they’d killed his family.
He could only feel grateful relief.
“I’m okay. Go to sleep, Peter. We still have a while before the wolfsbane is ready.”
Two days later, they gathered around the toilet in the bathroom, and Stiles handed a vial of tincture to a shaking, unsteady Peter.
“Down it in one,” Stiles instructed. “And then brace yourself. You’re gonna barf, like, so much.”
Peter opened his mouth and threw it back.
Stiles was right.
The three of them were out in the garden, pulling weeds together.
Peter enthusiastically yanked up dandelions and threw them on to the compost pile, reveling in his ability to move without pain and exhaustion.
Stiles was happily jabbering about the new numerology book he’d found on ebay, and how he thought he might be able to finally do predictions now.
Chris worked next to them, listening to Stiles and watching Peter move around the garden with ease. He felt safe.
Stiles suddenly stopped talking, looking off into the trees. He stood up and brushed off his knees.
“Hey!” he called as he waved. Out of the trees came two Sasquatch, footsteps deceptively quiet for such huge creatures.
They rapidly entered into a conversation with a hodge podge mix of signs and words, only some of which were English. They stayed for a few minutes before leaving, raising a hand to Chris and Peter before they left.
Peter stared after them.
“... Their feet honestly aren’t that big.”
Stiles slanted a grin at him.
“Nah, their feet are proportional to their size. It’s just that the rest of them is so big.” The smile slid off his face as he looked at Chris, a nervous lip bite taking its place. “They came to tell me where they threw Kate and Gerard’s bodies. I, uh. I’m sorry. I probably should have asked you before telling them to toss ‘em out like trash.”
Chris took a moment before answering, to be sure that his words were true.
“That’s exactly what they were, though. Trash.” He shrugged. “I don’t need to know where they ended up.”
Stiles looked completely relieved, and Chris tugged him into a hug.
“Hey!” Peter prostested. “I am feeling very left out here.”
Stiles and Chris both reached out a hand to drag him into the hug as well.
“That’s better,” he said smugly, worming between them for maximum snuggle.
“Come on. Let’s finish weeding the garden.”
Aaaaaand here's a dump of pictures I'm faving right now, since it's my last opportunity. I actually took all of these in the last couple of weeks. From mountaintop to sea, baby. The Olympic Peninsula is the best thing that's ever happened to me.