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Orange Skies

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He should be used to it by now. Stiles running out at any hours of the night, going out to save other people. He should be used to it, this has been how their lives have been for the last five years since Stiles decided helping people meant being a firefighter.

Peter’s all in favor of putting out fires. If I weren’t for the fact that Stiles is gone for hours – or days – and he’s putting out fires (FIRES) he’d be completely supportive. But there is still a bit of worry, no matter how good he is at it, no matter how good his team is.

This time, he’s called early in the morning about a wild fire a couple of counties over, one that started a couple of days ago. California winds picked up and with the years of drought and dead trees, coupled with one year of heavy rains creating a lot of fresh growth, it’s almost bound to happen. October winds, similar to Southern California’s Santa Anas and it’s almost inevitable. It’s the kind of thing where entire counties end up on fire, building destroyed, lives lost and inevitably the air becomes full of smoke, even where they live, miles away. Honestly, they’ve been waiting for the call, but still.

 

“I’ll call you when I can, but I don’t know…” Stiles starts, picking up his gear and getting ready to leave. It’s just a little before 4 a.m.

Peter nods and goes into the cupboard pulling out a bag of jerky along with a box of protein bars, shoving them both in an empty pocket. “Do you have time for me to make you coffee? For the road?”

Stiles shakes his head, adding bottles of water into his backpack. “I’ll get something on the way, thanks.” He stop for a minute, pulling Peter close. “I know it’s stupid to say this, but try not to worry. We know what we’re doing and we’re as safe as we can be.”

Of course the difference between ‘safe’ and ‘as safe as we can be’ is wide as the Grand Canyon, but neither mentions that. Not that Peter would ever say it; they’ve both agreed not to say it. “I know and I’ll try not worry.”

“Thank you, but that’ll last until I’m out of the driveway.” He glances at his watch and pulls Peter into a kiss, then tilts his head so the wolf can nuzzle in his throat.

“Love you. See you in a few days,” Stiles says, making sure Peter is looking at his eyes. There’s no lies, nothing but the promise from his mate, warm in his chest.

Peter nods, kissing him back, hoping the love he feels can be conveyed in the kiss. “Take care. Talk with you soon.”

 

The TV’s his constant companion, and he’s watching the twenty-four hour reports of the fire zone. There’s a lot of repetition and he recognizes the same car catching fire over and over again. Online news is only slightly better, and he can’t stop himself from checking over and over to see if the red zoned area is getting any bigger or smaller. Unfortunately it just gets bigger and more red zones are added.

 

There’s only so much news he can stand, so he goes to the local supply shelter, ready to donate some money if not his time. This is routine as well; the basement of a local mega-church readied to be the donation site for fire victims. So far there’s over a dozen homes destroyed, people able to get out with only the clothes on their backs.

He doesn’t have a lot of patience for this normally, but tries to listen to Stiles whispering in his ears about what they should do. He goes to Target and clears out the shelves of diapers, baby formula and little clothes, along with other things that people who had to flee for their lives might need. It’s hard to guess, so he also grabs handfuls of gift cards. The cashier wants him to talk to the manager about donations, so he tries to keep his fangs in and explains that his spouse is a fire fighter and what he’s looking to do. Nothing wrong with a 20% discount and he’ll let his peers know about this as well.

The church is ridiculous looking, at least to him. His religion, such as it is, is to the earth, to the forest and whatever else Stiles brings in with his spark. Not this brick and mortar building and the upstart prophet, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment.

He brings in his donations and trades words and an occasional hug with a fellow fire-fighter spouses. How he got in this depressing club he’s not sure, but here he is, ready to pack up boxes of food and toiletries next to men and women who are apparently his peers.

“Hey, Peter, thanks for coming by.” It’s Karen, the unofficial leader of spouses, the one who always organizes get togethers and fund raisers. She makes Stiles laugh and gets on Peter’s nerves, but she usually has updates so he’s willing to tolerate her.

He gives her a one armed hug, using his box of supplies as an excuse. “Hey, Kare, nice to see you,” he lies, setting down his donations in an empty space. “Any news?”

“I heard from Bart, everyone’s doing okay, just getting tired. They’ve already got in help from So-Cal and they’re expecting more help from up north in the next day or so.” It’s good that Karen’s married to one of the lieutenants, even if she annoys him. “You haven’t heard from Stiles?”

He shakes his head and shrugs. “You know how the soldiers get,” he says. There’s a quick flash of displeasure and he knows it’s petty, but he’s pleased. “So what can I do? Put me to work, please, I’m tired of watching the news.”

She excels with this type of organization and he’s soon involved with sorting supplies for the families spending their nights in churches and schools waiting to see if they’ll have a home to come back to. When he woke up with literally everything gone at least he had family money to rebuild. Some of these people won’t if the worst thing happens. Hopefully, at least, they’re safe with their families and pets and in a few months this they’ll just remember this as a scary inconvenience.

 

Day Six and the phone finally rings with Facetime notification. Peter scruffs a hand through his hair, forcing a smile on his face waiting for the connection.

“Hey, my wolf, nice to see you.” Stiles’ smile is tired but genuine, he’s still sweaty and dirty, obviously putting calling Peter top on his list.

Peter studies him for a second, unable to do anything but smile and rub his chest where their bond flares. “Good to see you too, my love. You just get in?”

“Yeah, got a few hours off. Sorry I haven’t been able to call earlier, but…”

“I know, don’t worry about it. I knew you were okay.” Their bond is pack and mate and anchors and family and more than he ever thought possible or could hope for. “How’s it going?”

Stiles shakes his head and says, “Bad, it’s bad, Peter. I don’t know what the news is saying, but this is going to be a while. It’s…” He shakes his head and sneezes, then pulls out a tissue and blows his nose. “Gross,” he says, looking at the tissue, thankfully off camera. “Wanna see?”

“No, dear, but thank you. I’m sure the air’s terrible there, it’s really smoky here. They’ve closed some schools for the next couple of days.” Even with respirators and masks, he worries about his human’s health. They’ve discussed when Stiles should retire and perhaps he’ll finally accept the bite, depending on how his lungs are. That’s for the future though. “I heard the wind is supposed to die down?”

Stiles slumps in his chair, nodding. “Yeah. And we’re getting in more backup, too. We’ve already got most of the west that can afford to come. We’ll be getting in some Canadians, eh?”

“That’s good. And everyone’s okay on your team?” Peter has to ask to be polite.

“Yeah, we’re all good, just tired. Look, I’m sorry, but I’ve only got a few hours before I’m back on and…”

“Go eat and shower and sleep. Or skip the shower and eat and sleep if that’s better,” Peter says, assuring him that he understands the priorities.

“I do want to shower, I wonder if I can eat while I’m doing it, save time. I should go grab food before it’s all gone. Grilled kielbasa with onions and peppers, some restaurant is doing it, so I need to be sure I get some.” He runs a hand through greasy hair, wrinkling his nose when he looks at his hand. “Gross, I need a shower.”

Peter just nods, knowing their time is nearly up. “Eat first then, sounds good. Glad I won’t be around for the farting later,” he says and they both smile at the lie. He’d welcome it right now, although his human’s digestion is… human.

“You’ll get my magical music soon, probably another few days.” Stiles pauses, and they’re both silent for a minute, looking at each other and Peter watches Stiles’ hand rub his chest, both feeling the bond flare. “I love you, babe, so much. And I miss you, can’t wait to wake up with you again.”

He doesn’t want to let him go, but knows he needs to. His boy needs sleep more than Peter needs to stare at him. “I miss you too, my moon. Now go and eat and get some sleep. I’ll talk with you in a few days, either when you can or when you’re home.”

Stiles nods and suddenly looks more exhausted than when they started. “Okay, I’ll call or get a message to you or something. Let my dad and the other guys know I called?”

“Of course, darling. Go eat. I love you.”

“You too. See you soon, love you,” Stiles says and disconnects.

 

Peter sits on the couch, eyes shut, just taking in the call. How Stiles looked, where he was sitting, noises in the background. Stiles called him first, not his father, and selfishly, Peter’s always pleased and surprised. He opens his texts and starts to send out a message to their call group.

‘Just heard from Stiles, he’s doing okay, but tired. Had a break to sleep and eat and…’