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so low only you can hear

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Today, the 22nd of June, would be the day that Stiles learned Truth or Dare was so much more innocent when they were children. They hadn’t played in years -- he thinks maybe it was seventh grade -- and they hadn’t had this many players. It had just been him and Scott, but now there were more players who were older and more ruthless, namely Lydia and Erica. Those two girls together were an unstoppable force.

Stiles had deliberately chosen truth whenever one of them would call on him since he’d seen the things they’d made Isaac and Scott do. Even poor Allison hadn’t managed to slip beneath their radar that night. Stiles had been so focused on avoiding dares from Lydia and Erica that he hadn’t given a second thought before choosing a dare from Isaac.

In retrospect, it probably would have been much worse had Lydia known about the app, but since it was Isaac, the dare wasn’t too bad. Mostly just humiliating.

His dare was as follows: He had to download an app called Sudy, and he had to reply to every message he received for a full week. Stiles’ first protest was that the dare couldn’t last that long; that was against the rules, but the whole group had insisted he do it, and he was outnumbered.

So he downloaded the app.

“What the hell is this,” he mumbled as he signed up, brows furrowing as he read the tagline. “Wait -- What am I signing up for?” He asked, looking up at Isaac who looked way more pleased than he should have.

“Oh, this is a dating app,” Isaac spoke, smirking in a way that Stiles knew there was a catch. There was always a catch. “For sugar daddies to meet their sugar babies.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Stiles laughed nervously, holding his hands up in surrender. “Whoa. I’m not signing up to get a sugar daddy!”

“I’ll do it for you,” was all the warning he got before Lydia was grabbing his phone from his hand.

“Hey!” He squawked indignantly, diving for his phone only to be caught around the waist and pulled back down by Boyd. He struggled for a moment more, but Lydia was already picking out pictures for the profile. He eventually settled, but he didn’t look any happier than before. “I am never playing Truth or Dare with you assholes again,” he swore.

“Stiles,” Lydia rolled her eyes, looking up from his phone to make eye contact with him. “What’s the worst that could happen? You make a little bit of money?”

“At what cost? Huh? Would I have to do -- you know --” He quieted his voice, just in case his dad had come home without him hearing. “Sexual favors?”

Lydia shrugged a shoulder, then went back to typing.

“Would that really be so bad? You’re always complaining about being a virgin.”

Before he could protest, Allison was pointing out a picture and Lydia selected it. She clearly had nothing more to say to him. She was the most gloriously infuriating person Stiles knew. As they set up his account, Stiles decided that since they hadn’t specified how he was to respond to any potential sugar daddies -- or mommies (was that a thing? Sugar mommy?) -- he would bitch at every potential so they would want nothing to do with him. He only had to make it a week.

He was finally given his phone back twenty minutes later, and he immediately opened up Sudy to see what they had done to him.

“Not now! It’s your turn to give a dare,” Allison said, and Stiles huffed out a breath as he locked his phone and set it down again. The app could wait; he needed revenge.

 

----

 

When the pack finally left, Stiles stripped down to his t-shirt and boxers and climbed into bed. He made himself comfortable and then clicked on his profile to see what damage the pack had done. He didn’t know many millionaires in Beacon Hills, so maybe there would be no one familiar to open the app and tell his father what exactly he was getting up to.

‘Stiles S.

M / 18 / Beacon Hills, CA

Be the Batman to my Robin ;)

 

“Why am I always Robin? I’m so much cooler than Robin,” he grumbled to himself as he read the bio. He hated his friends sometimes. Scott had to have something to do with that since he knew how much Stiles complained whenever he was compared to Robin -- which happened more often than he thought it should.

 

I am looking for whatever excites me. My ideal first date would be anything exciting!

Bisexual, Single

5’10, Slim, Brown hair, Brown eyes, White/Caucasian

Student, High school

Living with friends, Having no children, Non-smoker, Social drinker

TAGS: Sugar Baby, Adventurous, Well-Educated, Considerate, Sexy, Flexible, Versatile, Rebellious, Energetic, Adorable, Ingenious, Independent’

He immediately closed out of the app and texted the pack’s group message.

Stiles (11:48pm): What the hell do you mean by flexible???

Isaac (11:52pm): i thought it was funny

Stiles (11:52pm): It’s not funny! I’m going to get a bunch of freaks messaging me now.

Lydia (11:54pm): Consider it karma. Go to sleep, Stiles.

Stiles (11:55pm): I hate all of you.

He huffed out a breath of frustration and went back on to the app, scrolling through the pictures Lydia and Allison had chosen for him. There was a notification reminding Stiles to get a Beauty Verification, which he closed out of without fully reading, then the page had five pictures of him lined up. The first one was one of Stiles shirtless, laughing at something off camera. He recalled that day since it hadn’t been long ago. They’d gone to the beach one weekend and Stiles hadn’t yet gone in to the water since he had to put sunscreen on. He, Lydia, and Allison -- with their pale skin -- had to put on sunscreen and wait for it to dry, but Scott had made him laugh by dunking Isaac as soon as they’d gotten in. The next picture was one that Stiles didn’t realize he’d even had; one of him looking down at the books surrounding him, a highlighter lid tucked between his lips as he concentrated on studying whatever material he’d been reading that day. The next was one of him, Scott, Lydia, and Isaac, arms wrapped around each other with grins on their lips as they squinted against the sun. This had been taken the last day of their junior year just a few weeks ago. The next picture was one of Stiles glaring at the camera as Erica wrapped an arm around his shoulders and kissed his cheek. The last was Stiles by himself, sitting with one of the dogs from the K-9 Unit from when his dad had made a big drug bust. He’d had to do a lot of begging in order to hang out with some of the dogs, and he’d loved all of them.

All in all, his friends didn’t do too bad of a job setting up his account. He would never admit that to them, of course, but he couldn’t have done better. The only complaint he had was of the bio, but that was something he had no urge to fix. What else could he say? “Kind of an asshole, but you should pay me anyway?” That wouldn’t work.

Or maybe it would do exactly what Stiles wanted it to do. Maybe it would turn any potential away from him so he could make it through this week without having to be perved on by a bunch of old men.

He didn’t change it yet, though he tucked the idea away for another time. If things got to be too much, he could always change it then. As it was, he didn’t think he’d be getting many messages anyway. Most men would probably go for the female sugar babies. The thought was a comforting one.

Stiles kept clicking through the app, figuring out how to work it. There was a section full of threads and comments from other sugar babies where they could all talk to each other. Some threads were under articles titled, “10 Ways To Find and Keep a Sugar Daddy” or “How to Tell if Your Sugar Daddy is a Fake.” There were some threads of Daddies that had proven to be nothing but creepy assholes, and after seeing some of the screenshotted messages, Stiles had to agree. The Babies had reported most of those men so much that their accounts had been terminated. This was a whole community of strong women -- and a few men -- that Stiles hadn’t ever really even known existed. Before he knew it, it was nearing two in the morning and he’d already gotten a few messages. Not so many that it was overwhelming, but enough to keep him busy.

Daniel L. 21: i’d like to see how flexible you really are ;)

Stiles S. 18: Flexible enough to kick you in the throat while standing.

He didn’t get a reply, but that was the goal, wasn’t it? He smirked proudly and clicked on another message thread.

James W. 32: Nice to see a new face on here. Welcome to Sudy.

Stiles S. 18: Thanks.

No reply again. He appreciated the thought, he supposed, but it was mostly creepy. There was one man, Austin T. 29, who sent message after message when Stiles didn’t respond in the first five minutes. It was beyond creepy, and he made a mental note to discuss some terms with his friends the next day. Some men were just too weird for him to respond to. He blocked Austin T. and moved on.

(He also made a mental note to apologize to Lydia when he saw her. Now he knew.)

After a little bit longer, it became too difficult to hold his eyes open, so he closed out of the app and rolled over to plug his phone in. Before he could lock it, it vibrated and a notification from Sudy popped up. What harm could one more message do? He yawned as he clicked on it and waited for it to load his messages screen, then he clicked on the newest one.

Peter H. 37: I wasn’t aware boys as pretty as you lived in Beacon Hills.

Stiles stared at the message for a few seconds, blinking once in surprise. Did this man, Peter H, know where Beacon Hills was? It was rare that anyone ever did. If he ever went out of town and someone asked where he was from, they would always be confused when he answered with “Beacon Hills” until he explained where in regards to cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles it was located. Then they pretended they knew what they were talking about and they moved on.

But this man seemed to know exactly what Beacon Hills was, and -- Stiles reread the message -- he called him pretty. Without meaning to, his cheeks flushed. He couldn’t think of a time someone had seriously called him pretty, and here was Peter, calling him pretty within the first message.

He clicked on his name and allowed for his profile to open.

‘Peter H.

M / 37 / Manhattan, NY

Waiting for someone to catch my interest.

I am looking for long-term relationship. My ideal first date is dependant on the person.

Gay, Single

6’0, Athletic, Brown hair, Blue eyes, White/Caucasian

Professor, Graduate school

Living alone, Having no children, Non-smoker, Social drinker

TAGS: Sugar Daddy, Adventurous, Well-Educated, Dominant, Independent, Active

Stiles hummed in appreciation as he scrolled through the few pictures there were of this man. There was a selfie as the first picture, him with sunglasses on and a smirk tugging at his lips, the city skyline over his shoulder as the sun set behind him. The second and final picture was of him and three other people -- relatives, Stiles assumed by the similarities in their faces. The entire family was ridiculously attractive. Holy shit.

It was then that he remembered why he was on this page in the first place, and he clicked back to his messages to read over Peter’s once more.

Stiles S. Most people don’t even know what Beacon Hills is.

Peter H. I lived there when I was younger. Can’t say I’ve been eager to go back.

Stiles S. Does no one here catch your attention?

Peter H. Not until now.

Stiles paused after reading that message. Judging by Peter’s bio, it didn’t seem like many people caught his attention, but somehow Stiles had.

Stiles S. Okay, well, it’s like ridiculous o’clock here and I don’t even know what time it is there, so I’m gonna go to bed and maybe you should too.

Peter H. How sweet of you to worry, but I assure you there’s no need. I’ve just gotten up to start my day.

Stiles S. I just looked it up. It’s like 5:30am there, dude. What are you doing awake? It’s Saturday.

Peter H. I’ve always been an early riser. I like to go for a run in the mornings.

Stiles S. No thanks. I prefer to sleep in past sunrise at least.

Peter H. It’s no wonder since you’re up so late. Perhaps you should get some sleep.

Stiles was suddenly reminded of how tired he was at 2:30 in the morning, and he agreed with Peter. Maybe he needed some sleep. Some small part of his mind was screaming “don’t do it stiles don’t go to sleep just because he told you to” but it was drowned out by the heavy exhaustion weighing him down.

Stiles S. I should. Goodnight, Peter. Or, good morning, I guess.

Stiles S. Still can’t believe you’re awake at 5:30am.

Peter H. [attachment: 1 image]

The picture was a beautiful one, Stiles would admit. The sunrise was beautiful, and Stiles could see in the bottom corner the edge of a table and a coffee cup. Was he on the roof? This man was the biggest cliche Stiles knew, and that was saying something considering Scott and Allison had taken the cake on that one for years.

Peter H. I wouldn’t risk missing a view this nice.

Stiles S. It is a beautiful view, but I still prefer sleep.

Peter H. Goodnight, Stiles.

He couldn’t tell if that was fond or if it was a dismissal, but he didn’t bother replying either way. He simply locked his phone and finally closed his eyes to get some sleep.

Part of him hoped Peter H. would be there again in the morning.

 

-----

 

When he woke hours later, it was nearing noon, even though he had planned to wake up a little earlier. It was Father’s Day, after all, and he’d meant to get up and maybe make some breakfast for him and his dad, but he’d stayed up later than intended, so he was the only one to blame.

He scrolled through the notifications on his phone, seeing only messages from the pack and a few other notifications from games or social media he had downloaded, but nothing from Peter. He pushed back that slight twinge of disappointment, because he knew that since it was a holiday, Peter might be busy. Maybe he’d even lied on his profile and he actually had kids. Stiles didn’t know, but he couldn’t focus on that right then.

Father’s Day was always rough for the pack. Stiles typically spent time with his dad on Father’s Day, but the others were a different story. Scott’s dad had left years ago, Isaac’s dad was an asshole, and Erica’s dad was a creep. They usually hung out with each other and tried to distract themselves by doing something ridiculous while the others were spending time with their fathers.

He sent out a quick message saying that he would be free later that night if anyone wanted to come by and watch a movie. He didn’t wait for a response before he got out of bed and headed to the bathroom to take a shower. He moved quick despite his body fighting against him, still struggling to wake up from the few hours of sleep he’d gotten. By the time he got out and dried off, he was waking up, but he still felt groggy since he hadn’t had coffee yet.

He grabbed his phone and walked downstairs, and as he waited for his coffee to brew, he checked his phone. Once again, messages from the pack, but his eyes immediately focused on the notification from Sudy. He ignored the fact that his heart nearly skipped a beat when he saw “New message from Peter H.!” on his screen and forced himself to finish making his coffee before he opened it up. He didn’t want to seem too desperate or something.

He vowed then and there that he would never mention this to Lydia.

As he sipped on his coffee, pushing through the pain of burning his tongue, he opened the app and clicked on Peter’s name and did some math. If it was noon for him, that meant it was three in the afternoon for Peter, which meant maybe he had some free time to talk.

Stiles didn’t have a lot of time, actually. His dad was due home soon so they could do their tradition of going out and getting burgers and curly fries. It was the one day Stiles had promised not to bitch about the damaging health effects said food could have on his father.

Peter H.: I hope you’re awake by now. It’s far too late to sleep in.

Stiles S.: Gee, I sure do appreciate having someone closely monitor my sleeping schedule. It’s really freeing. Great job, Pete.

Peter H.: Don’t call me Pete.

Stiles S.: Alright, alright, I got it. No more calling you Pete. Only Peter.

Peter H.: For now.

The table rattled as his hand hit it, nearly knocking his mug over as he tried to catch himself before he could fall out of his chair. Peter was incredibly forward, and it wasn't something that Stiles was used to having aimed at him. He tried not to think about the implications of that text (or the fact that his cheeks felt suspiciously warm -- was he blushing?), choosing instead to figure out a reply. Before he had time to think through what he could possibly say to that, his phone vibrated and another message came through.

Peter H.: Big plans for Father’s Day?

Stiles S.: Don’t know if I’d consider them big plans, but I’m taking my dad out for lunch later. Curly fries and burgers. It’s technically my breakfast, so you know. Breakfast of champions.

Peter H.: You’re eating a burger and fries for breakfast?

Stiles S. Well, to be fair, I did just wake up like twenty minutes ago and all I did was shower and make a cup of coffee. I don’t even know why I drank coffee since it usually just makes me sleepy instead of waking me up, but I think it’s just a force of habit by now. Coffee in the mornings. Maybe it’s some sort of placebo effect or something.

Stiles watched the three little dots at the bottom of his screen for a few seconds before he typed again.

Stiles S.: Okay, I promise I’ve taken my Adderall now. Sorry for rambling.

Peter H.: Don’t be sorry. It’s cute.

Stiles S.: People have said a lot of things about my rambling, but “cute” was never mentioned.

Stiles S.: Well, actually, one girl said, “That’s not cute, Stiles,” so I guess cute was mentioned.

Stiles S.: Just not in the right way.

Peter H.: That just won’t do, will it? I find it very cute.

Stiles S.: Right. Okay. You got any plans for today?

Peter H.: The whole family is at my sister’s house to celebrate. It’s stifling and draining.

Stiles S.: How big is your family?

Peter H.: Too big. It has its advantages, but it’s mostly just exhausting.

Stiles S.: I used to wish I had a big family, but then I ended up adopting a group of teenagers and now it’s almost too much to handle sometimes.

Peter H.: Careful what you wish for.

Peter H.: Would you be comfortable with Skyping at some point? I’d like to see you while I speak to you.

Stiles S.: I mean. Yeah, I guess. I can maybe do it later tonight if my friends don’t come over.

Peter H.: Just tell me when.

With that, Stiles closed his phone, because he could hear his dad’s car pull up in their driveway. He knew they would be leaving soon, and he didn’t want to answer any questions about who he was talking to that made him blush so heavily. He didn’t even think he could blame Lydia at this point since his dad knew they were completely platonic.

Somehow, knowing that he would likely be Skyping Peter later made the day creep by slowly. Despite the fact that he woke up halfway through the day, it dragged on and seemed to last even longer than some of his school days. It was more interesting than being stuck at school, though, he could admit. He would take spending time with his dad over sitting through Chemistry with Harris any day, especially if it meant having a double bacon cheeseburger for breakfast.

Peter didn’t seem very happy to hear about Stiles’ not-so-nutritious breakfast, but Stiles refused to think too much on that. Peter had no control over what he ate and what time he woke up, even though having the man check in on him to make sure he was taking care of himself made his stomach warm.

Or maybe that was just the burger catching up to him. There’s really no way to be sure.

By the time he got home, he was itching to pull his phone out. He’d felt it vibrate multiple times throughout the day, and he knew that it was most likely the pack trying to make plans together (they had no idea how to do it one-on-one; they relied on the group message for everything), but he couldn’t help but wonder if Peter had messaged him again. He should really delete the app, move on with his life, and forget about Peter, who very likely could be a creep that was only there for sex and might even murder him if they ever met up. He should delete it -- he knew that -- but when he thought about it, a pang of remorse flared in his chest. Perhaps it was selfish, but he wanted to see where this would go. If Peter turned out to be a bit more than he could handle, he could always tell him it wasn’t working out, block him, something. There were more options than deleting the app just because getting so close to someone so fast was intimidating.

Plus, his friends would kill him if they found out, and Lydia was far too smart to hide something from.

John looked worn out by the time they got home after a long day of working and then immediately going out with his son to celebrate Father’s Day, so Stiles was relieved of the duty to break it to him that he wanted to go to bed instead of watching a movie. John was apparently so exhausted that he was the one to bring it up this time, not Stiles. After an exchange of goodnights, Stiles headed upstairs to his room while John walked down the hallway to his own. Once the door was shut snugly behind him, Stiles pulled out his phone and scrolled through the plethora of notifications he’d accumulated over the day. Scott, Erica, and Isaac had all apparently hung out today and sent a series of snapchats to the group of them at a baseball game. Stiles could have sworn that none of them actually liked baseball, but it was a good distraction, he supposed. Especially since Isaac and Erica had sweet-talked them through security upstairs to get box seats. They had made these plans in the group message, as Stiles had predicted, but no one had given him more than a vague “maybe” to his invitation earlier that day.

That shouldn’t have come as such a relief, but he thought maybe he deserved a break to talk to a hot guy who was interested in him. He’d put up with so much shit over the years, even to the point of being kidnapped. Maybe it was time for him to be a little selfish.

He hoped his pack had had fun that day, but tonight was his night. He opened Sudy and replied to a few men who had messaged him throughout the day, always the same, uninterested message, then opened Peter’s message thread.

Stiles S.: If you’re still up for Skyping, I’m free for the rest of the night! My Skype is MStilinski0401 :)

He closed out of the app but kept his phone handy just in case it vibrated and Peter gave an excuse as to why he was busy. While he was waiting, however, he kept his hopes up and pulled out his laptop. His headphones no longer fit the port to his laptop, so he double-checked that his door was shut, then made sure his computer was on a low volume. He opened Amazon and added some new headphones to his wishlist, thinking about hearing Peter’s voice in his ear while they conversed. He wondered what his voice sounded like. Peter looked like he had a smooth voice, deep and slow. The way he typed made Stiles believe that every word he said was purposeful, thought through even if he responded immediately after Stiles shut up.

It was almost intimidating, but the excitement bubbling inside of him overpowered it easily.

Before he could keep looking at other things -- maybe a new game -- a notification popped up in the top right of his computer screen, reading “PeterHale would like to be your friend!” Stiles would never admit that his heart skipped a beat as he clicked on it and accepted the request, nor that his heart continued to race as a message came through almost immediately.

PeterHale: Your name is Stiles Stilinski?

MStilinski0401: It’s technically a nickname. My real name is Polish and no one can ever pronounce it, but it does start with an M, hence my username.

PeterHale: You’ll have to teach me how to say it sometime.

PeterHale: Are you ready?

The question felt loaded, like he was asking something beyond if Stiles was ready for a Skype call, and it made Stiles hesitate with his hands hovering over the keyboard. Was he ready? His mind screamed yes, yes, yes, but he forced himself to slow down and take a deep breath. He didn’t want to embarrass himself, after all. He considered taking an Adderall before he answered, but before he could get around to it, he’d already typed out and sent an affirmative.

So this was happening.

Peter’s name and profile picture -- the same one as on Sudy -- popped up on his screen, and he clicked answer. He ran a hand through his hair as the camera turned on, then focused in on the blurry picture of what seemed to be Peter walking through his apartment.

“Hey. Just a second,” Peter said, voice coming through his speakers clearly. Stiles couldn’t formulate a response just yet and found himself grateful for the distraction so Peter might not notice. The man set his computer down on what Stiles could only assume was his desk. He could see his face clearly now -- he supposed the connection was better in that part of the house -- and he could see bits and pieces of Peter’s room. It was made up in deep shades of red and highlights of gold. It was very extravagant and made Stiles want to shift so Peter couldn’t see his room made up in blues and whites, the bed unmade, and his board hanging up on the wall with the mystery he was currently trying to solve tacked to it. “It’s not very nice to leave a man hanging, you know.”

Peter’s words suddenly snapped Stiles out of his reverie and he realized that he hadn’t yet responded to him from before.

“Sorry. Hi,” he said, then immediately cleared his throat afterward. Peter’s voice was so nice; Stiles couldn’t help but wonder if Peter was disappointed.

“Hello, Stiles,” Peter smiled. Stiles hoped that the dark room and the bright laptop would be bad enough lighting that his flushed cheeks wouldn’t be too obvious. He hoped. “You disappeared on me earlier.”

“Oh! Right, yeah, I meant to text back, but --” His phone went off with perfect timing, “-- my dad came home and we left to go get lunch. Or, breakfast, you know.” He picked up his phone to check the notification, huffing out a breath when he saw that one of the men hadn’t been able to take a hint and had texted him back despite him obviously not being interested. “Hold on just a second; I have to respond to this.” Peter stayed silent as Stiles typed away on his phone, and when the boy set his phone down, he saw that Peter had been staring at him. “Sorry, sorry, just had to reply to someone.”

“Someone interesting?” Peter asked. He sounded amused, but Stiles could have sworn maybe he was a little jealous. Was Peter the jealous type? He could see that.

“No one, really. Just some guy off of Sudy who can’t seem to take a hint.” Stiles rolled his eyes, switching off the sound on his phone so it didn’t go off and distract them again.

“Then why bother replying?” Peter questioned. He had to say that the man did ask a lot of questions, even more than Stiles sometimes, and that was saying a lot.

“Oh, funny story, actually. See, my friends dared me to get this app and part of the dare was that I had to reply to everyone for a whole week. So far, it’s been…” He looked down at his watch, “Twenty-five hours. Six days left to go.” When he looked at Peter again, he saw a brief glance of something that seemed almost like disdain, and he hoped it wasn’t directed at him. Maybe toward the man messaging him, or even his friends. Then that look was quickly brushed away into his usual amused smirk.

“I see. So this is all a dare then,” he said, not seeming all that upset by it, if Stiles had to say. In fact, he seemed unbothered, like he’d expected it.

“Well -- kinda, I guess. I like talking to you, but I would prefer not to talk to any of the other men, if I’m being honest,” he admitted, shrugging a shoulder. “They’re all creeps. And one of my friends tagged me as flexible and now people can’t stop commenting on that.”

“I saw that,” Peter hummed, nodding his head and glancing off to the corner of his screen to click something. Stiles wondered what he was doing. “Well, there’s an easy solution to this problem.”

“Which is?” Stiles asked, not taking his eyes off of Peter, even though the man was looking slightly off camera still.

“It won’t make all the men stop messaging you because men are creeps,” Stiles’ laugh stated his agreement. “But if you change your relationship status, it might help turn some away.”

“What, like lie?” Stiles laughed, assuming that Peter was joking. One glance at his face told him that it was not, indeed, a joke. “Wait, what?”

“It wouldn’t have to be a lie, Stiles. I would like to strike up a sort of… agreement with you,” Peter spoke, voice slow and steady as he voiced his wishes. “I don’t know how much you think would be appropriate a month, but I assure you I can afford whatever it is you’d like.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Stiles said, holding his hands up and breathing out a nervous laugh. “Whoa, I think we need to talk about some things first.”

“Now’s your chance. Let’s talk,” Peter permitted, sweeping a hand toward Stiles in a gesture that told him to begin.

“I’m, like… really new to this whole sugar dating thing or whatever it’s called, so I don’t know exactly what this entails, but. I’m a virgin, and I don’t know if I’d be down for any sexual relations any time soon. I get that I’m a teenage boy and everything, but -- whoa. Whoa,” Stiles rambled, trying to put his thoughts in a semi-understandable order, which turned out more chaotic than he’d planned.

“Breathe, Stiles,” Peter chuckled, but Stiles did indeed slow down and take a deep breath to try and calm himself. This hadn’t really been what he’d expected when he agreed to a Skype call. “What we do or don’t do is totally up to you. Me giving you an allowance does not necessarily mean that sex is required. I am, however, paying you for monogamy, for companionship, and for you to have whatever your heart desires.”

“So let me get this straight,” Stiles said, interrupting Peter before he could go on any further. “You want to pay me an as-of-yet undetermined sum of money every month for me to be… your boyfriend? Are you like a glorified boyfriend, or --” He gasped as a thought came to him. “Oh no, you’re a glorified dad,” he realized, hands clapping over his mouth as it gaped open. “Holy shit, that’s why you’re called a Sugar Daddy. Oh my god -- wait, do I have to call you Daddy?” He asked then, mind going at a thousand miles a second.

“You are not required to call me Daddy,” Peter answered simply, the smirk on his lips nearly curling into a smile as he tried not to laugh at Stiles’ revelations.

“But do you want me to call you Daddy?” Stiles asked, slowing down to one second at a time for now.

“I would not be opposed. This relationship is based on respect and communication. If there is something you’re not comfortable with, we don’t have to do it. I trust that you’ll let me know, and you need to trust that I’ll stop when you tell me to,” Peter spoke softly, his voice coming out of Stiles’ speakers and calming him enough for him to breathe properly again.

“Okay… I’m new to this, like I said, so I don’t know how much is appropriate for an allowance,” Stiles confessed, voice quieter than before now that he had been reassured by Peter -- his Daddy? Maybe he could try out the name some other time when things didn’t feel so overwhelming. “How much do you think?”

Peter hummed as he thought about it, then looked at Stiles again after a second.

“I think 2000 will do, don’t you?” He asked. Stiles nearly choked at the number given, his eyes impossibly wide as he looked at Peter.

“Two thousand dollars a month? That’s so much money! What the hell do I even do with that kind of money?” He asked.

“Anything your heart desires,” Peter chuckled, repeating the phrase he’d said before, Stiles remembered. “I am paying for your loyalty as well. My first request is that you end this ridiculous dare now --”

“Hold on --”

“And change your relationship status on Sudy. Delete the app if you’d like, even. It doesn’t seem like you’re enjoying it too much,” Peter continued without stopping. “Stiles, before you accept, the first thing you must understand is that I don’t share. I am a jealous person, and while I can control it fairly well, I do not take well to others fantasizing over what is mine.”

Stiles wondered if that was a red flag of some sort, but he couldn’t see it clearly since Peter had called him his. Mine, he’d said, as if it was already a done deal. If Stiles was being honest, he’d made up his mind the second Peter had assured him they wouldn’t do anything he wasn’t comfortable with.

“Okay,” he whispered, not even sure if the computer picked up his voice then.

“Okay?” Peter asked, and Stiles nodded.

“Yeah. Okay.”

He reached for his phone without looking, only tearing his eyes away from Peter when he’d unlocked it. He opened Sudy and changed his relationship status, then on second thought, he deleted the app. If his friends asked, he would simply say that people had gotten a little too freaky for his taste and he’d had to delete it. Maybe they wouldn’t ostracize him too badly for that. They would likely still tease him for not completing his dare, but Stiles wouldn’t pout much.

He had Peter.

“I did it,” he said, setting his phone back down and smiling at Peter, who smiled back at him.

“Good boy. Do you have PayPal?” Peter asked. Stiles nodded and opened up their chat so he could send him his details, and within five minutes, he’d gotten a notification from PayPal.

“You --” He looked down at the amount that had been placed into his account and almost whimpered. God, he could help his dad out so easily now. They wouldn’t be getting those fucking bills anymore after a couple months, even. They’d be okay. Stiles wasn’t going to cry, he swore, but it was getting pretty close. “You did it already? That quick?” He asked, hoping his voice didn’t sound off with how overwhelming this was getting to be.

“I wanted you to know I was being serious,” Peter said. “Why don’t you tell me what all you’ve done today?” He asked, trying to sway the conversation away from the money and hoping to raise Stiles’ spirits before they hung up for the night. As Stiles launched into a story his dad had told him earlier about a case he was trying to solve, he thought maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

Stiles was used to staying up late, but he wasn’t sure if Peter did it as often, so he made sure to watch for any signs of weariness as the night slipped past them. Peter took everything Stiles had in stride, listening to his incessant ramblings and while he tried to explain everything on his board behind him (“Stiles, what is that behind you?” Peter had asked, and Stiles had stood so he could follow along with the strings connecting each picture and article to another while he explained the different colors and what it all meant. Peter -- bless his heart -- had listened to every second and even complimented him after with a simple “clever boy.”)

Peter also managed to keep up as Stiles went off on a tangent about a movie he’d seen with Scott recently, which Stiles appreciated since no one really let him talk very long about superheroes before changing the subject. Scott used to keep up with him while he went rambled on about which comic was the best, which heroes would win in a battle (“Superman would always win in a fight between him and Batman,” Stiles had insisted. Then when Batman vs Superman came out, Scott had rubbed it in his face that Batman had clearly won in the movie. Stiles was then forced to argue his point that Superman wasn’t really dead -- “Did you see the dirt start to rise up before the movie ended? Superman isn’t dead! Nobody really won.” He could tell he didn’t really drive his point home since Scott still didn’t really believe him, but he did drop the subject after that.), and whether DC or Marvel was better. Ever since Scott had been bitten, however, he’d had other things to worry about and hadn’t paid attention to what was going on in the cinematic or comic universes. It was Stiles all by himself.

“He even thinks that Ben Affleck is a better Batman than Christian Bale!” Stiles told Peter, recounting one of the many debates he and Scott had gotten into mere weeks ago. “I mean, who says that? Christian Bale is a classic Batman. Ben Affleck is a disappointment.”

“Blasphemy,” Peter agreed solemnly, shaking his head as Stiles tipped his head to rest against the back of his chair with a huff.

“And -- And -- that’s not even the worst part,” he grumbled, looking at Peter again after a moment. “He thinks that Tobey Maguire was the best Spiderman. I almost disowned him.”

“Ah, so Scott is one of the teenagers you ‘adopted,’” Peter stated. Stiles could practically hear the quotations around adopted , but he didn’t say anything and simply nodded his head. “Poor judgment on your part, then.” Stiles glared at Peter even though he knew the man was joking. That little smirk on his face was growing all too familiar. He only hoped Peter was laughing with him, not at him, though it wouldn’t be the first time someone had laughed at him.

Holy shit, what if this whole thing was a joke? Peter had known about Beacon Hills; what if he had known Stiles when he’d lived here? Or worse, what if he knew his dad? What if Peter was gathering receipts and then would send them to his dad to show John what exactly his son had been getting up to on the internet? He’d be grounded forever. He’d never seen an electronic device again.

Then again, Peter would be giving Stiles all the power in the world to do the same thing in return. He had some messages that could be incriminating out of context, and Peter just sent him two thousand dollars. Why would he do that if this was just a joke? Shouldn’t he have asked for something first?

Either Peter was serious about this or he was a really shitty blackmailer.

He pushed the swirling questions away. He wasn’t one for dealing with insecurities or emotions since he wasn’t all that great at communicating exactly what he was thinking or feeling. He always ended up making things worse instead of fixing them. Malia had been a good example of that. They’d dated for a while, but Stiles had thought something wasn’t right, and when he went to say something about it, she’d somehow twisted it so that it seemed like he was breaking up with her, which he wasn’t, really.

Maybe he’d wanted to.

God, he was going to die a virgin all because he didn’t know how to put his thoughts into words.

“Are you saying this is my fault?” Stiles asked, jumping back into the conversation before Peter could ask what he was thinking about. He wasn’t a great liar. He’d gotten a little better since he’d had to do it so often for his pack, but he could never learn how to control his heartbeat. He was working on it. “Isn’t that victim blaming? I can’t believe you’ve sunken so low.” He shook his head in mock disappointment, but he broke into a smile when Peter rolled his eyes in what could only be described as fond exasperation.

“Where’d you go just then?” Peter changed the subject yet again, his curiosity getting the better of him. Stiles huffed out a breath since he obviously hadn’t gotten away with anything no matter how hard he’d tried.

“Just thinking. My mind runs at about a thousand miles a minute and I took too much Adderall today, so it’s not helping,” Stiles explained. It wasn’t technically a lie, so he thought maybe he could get away with it. He focused on his heartbeat, trying to pick out any irregularities as he spoke, but his senses were weaker than werewolves. It’s funny how even when he was talking to a regular person -- someone like Peter -- he still adjusted himself as if he were communicating with a werewolf. The pack had really fucked him up, now that he thought about it.

He reminded himself to stay with Peter, to focus on the conversation, because he didn’t want him to pick out his half-truth.

“Thinking about what?” Peter asked, and -- well, Stiles supposed he should have known that Peter was too curious to drop the subject completely.

“Not telling.” Stiles leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms stubbornly, looking at Peter as if daring him to argue with him. He should have known not to do such a thing because Peter’s eyes flashed gold and he --

Wait.

Stiles sat up again in his chair, leaning closer to the computer to get a better view of Peter’s eyes, even though they were back to their usual blue.

“What was that?” He asked, mind already racing to connect the dots between things that Peter had let slip at various times.

“What was what?” Peter turned the question back to Stiles.

“Your eyes, they -- they turned gold. You’re --” He took a breath to calm himself down, then without another word or another thought, he clicked the red hangup button. As soon as he did, he pushed his chair back from the desk, muttering a “shit, shit, shit,” as it slid backward. Just his luck that someone he thought was interested in him turned out to be a fucking werewolf. Now all the questions he had before were pushed to the side and replaced. Peter was obviously a Beta, if his eyes were anything to go by. It explained the large family he’d mentioned and the fact that he had been awake before sunrise on the night of the full moon. Stiles just hadn’t put the pieces together.

His computer dinged with a new message, seeming to echo through Stiles’ mind, so he reached out and slammed the laptop shut. He couldn’t deal with it right now. Peter was a Beta. It wouldn’t be the first time a werewolf would try to steal Scott’s power by killing him. It seemed like every supernatural being had heard of the McCall pack and how powerful they had grown over the years they’d been together. No being passed through Beacon Hills without their permission, and those who tried were killed. Every time. Stiles had been kidnapped before in an attempt for someone to get through to Scott, so someone paying him obviously wouldn’t be much of a loss, especially to someone with so much money in the first place. Two thousand was barely a dent in Peter’s paycheck, Stiles was sure.

He looked down at the not-yet-cleared notification saying Someone sent you $2000! from his PayPal app and suddenly felt disgusted with himself. He should have known better. He wasn’t an idiot; he always thought things through before he did them. He was the one who always had a plan, who thought three steps ahead in either direction. He was -- He was Doctor Strange, he thought vaguely, nearly laughing at the thought. He clearly missed something if Peter could so easily fool him into believing that someone actually wanted him.

That explained how Peter knew about Beacon Hills, of course, and why he was so eager to strike up an arrangement with Stiles. He knew that things had accelerated at a rate that was far too fast to be usual. Weren’t people supposed to get to know each other a little before paying them for… for whatever the hell Stiles was supposed to be doing. Turns out he shouldn’t have been worried about his dad finding out; he should have been worried about accidentally getting Scott killed.

Fuck.

Both of Stiles’ hands tangled in his hair and pulled, the pain bringing him back down into his body from where he’d been losing himself in his mind. He could still feel that weight on his chest, making it impossible for him to breathe. He knew his father would come running if he called out for him, but then he would ask what was happening once Stiles was calmed down, and what could he say? “Yeah, sorry dad, some guy just paid me $2000 to call myself his and turns out he actually might be out to kill Scott and he wasn’t actually interested in me! Haha, no big deal!” No. So he stayed as quiet as he could as he slowly made his way over to sink down against the wall, legs curled up to his chest. He tucked his head down between his knees like he’d learned to do years before when these had first started happening, then he tried to slow his breathing down.

Inhale for four, exhale for seven. Inhale for four, exhale for seven. Over and over again until he felt like he wasn’t suffocating. Once his body had decided not to try to kill him, he stayed in that position. He didn’t know how long he stayed there, but the next thing he knew, he was opening his eyes and there was light coming through his window. He lifted his head up, wincing at the pain in his neck as he moved, then he carefully stood up. Without glancing at his laptop, he went to the bathroom so he could shower. He rolled his neck, hand massaging at the knot in the back of his neck as he got in the shower. Falling asleep like that had been a bad decision, but it definitely wasn’t the worst he’d made that week.

Not even close.

He shuddered at the thought of his mistake, at how close he’d come to getting his pack killed. After all, once Peter had killed Scott, he would have either had to kill his pack too or take them in as his own, and Stiles doubted he would want to do that. They knew from Deucalion that killing your Betas made you more powerful, and if it was power Peter was after, that would be the way to do it. Stiles had almost gotten Scott killed, but he’d also almost gotten Isaac, Erica, Lydia, Allison, Jackson, Boyd, Melissa, his dad, and himself killed. That would have been ten deaths on his head. Would Peter have left him for last so he would be able to see what he’d done?

Would he remind Stiles that it was his fault before killing him?

He wouldn’t have to. Stiles would have known, and there was no way he would have forgotten.

Pushing these lingering thoughts away, he washed himself thoroughly, trying to scrub off any of the remaining mistake. He didn’t want to feel Peter’s eyes on him anymore. He didn’t want to see that smirk on his lips every time he closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see his eyes glowing gold as if he couldn’t control it while looking at Stiles. What had he been thinking of when his eyes turned gold? Had he been thinking about how wonderful it would be to kill him?

Stiles clenched his eyes shut as he rinsed his body, then he got out of the shower. He barely managed to pull on his boxers before he fell down in his bed and fell asleep once more to a gloriously dreamless sleep.

He woke hours later to a thud and a groan of pain, and he replied with a groan of his own because he knew it had to be Scott.

“What the hell are you doing here?” He mumbled, not yet opening his eyes since he was still half-asleep. He could hear the rustling of Scott standing up where he must have stumbled, and he fought the urge to roll his eyes. “Listen, man. I love you, but you’re an idiot.” He knew Scott would understand he was joking, but when he didn’t get a response, he opened his eyes and frowned when it wasn’t Scott standing at the foot of his bed. “Isaac?” He asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes to try and force himself to wake up a little more. “What are you doing?” He repeated.

“Scott sent me,” he answered, walking over and taking a seat at Stiles’ desk so he could spin around laily in the chair. Hands crossed over his chest, he continued, “There’s some Beta here that we don’t know. He said he could feel it.”

“What?” Stiles asked, heart skipping over a beat. This wasn’t the pleasant heart-skips-a-beat that he’d felt just the night before with Peter. This was one of terror, one that knew that this Beta wasn’t here for anything good. Had Peter managed to get here so soon? Were they in danger? He had to tell Scott. Right now. “We have to go,” he said, throwing the blankets off of him and getting out of bed. He picked up the pants he’d taken off the night before and tugged them on, stopping once he’d gotten them buttoned and zipped. “Why aren’t you moving?” He asked. Isaac didn’t even look like he was about to move, still spinning around in Stiles’ chair and watching him with that stupid fucking smirk. Of all the Betas, Scott just had to send the one that Stiles could barely stand. Even Erica, who had knocked him unconscious once a couple years ago, would have been a better option.

“He told me to watch you,” Isaac answered with a shrug of his shoulder. “Here. He doesn’t want you out there.”

“You’re lying,” Stiles scoffed. Isaac sighed as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, scrolling through for a second before showing Stiles a message he’d received just minutes before.

Scott (2:17pm): I need you to go to Stiles’ house and keep him distracted.

Isaac (2:18pm): why

Scott (2:18pm): Because I need you to. There’s another Beta here and I don’t know what he wants.

Isaac (2:18pm): fine but he might kill me and that’s on you buddy

“Yeah, I’m tempted,” Stiles muttered, grabbing a clean shirt and tugging it on before he sat down on his bed with a huff. “This isn’t fair. Scott is going to get himself killed out there without me. And he’s making you babysit me. This is wrong on so many levels,” Stiles ranted, trying to hide the fact that he was so far beyond worried that he might drop dead any second. He couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

“Maybe because the last time a strange werewolf came to town, you got kidnapped and tortured,” Isaac stated. When Stiles glared at him, he held his hands up in surrender but that smirk never faded.

Stiles fucking hated this.

“Can I use your laptop?” Isaac asked, turning around to open the laptop until the login screen popped up. “Is your password still truealphastiles ?” Stiles was getting a headache with how hard he was glaring at Isaac.

“No, actually, it’s isaacisalittlebitch,” Stiles grumbled, walking over to type in his actual password, which was something neither of them had mentioned yet. Embarrassingly, it was his own name with Lydia’s birthday after it. He’d made it when he was a freshman in high school and hadn’t gotten around to changing it. Now that he thought about it, maybe he should. He walked back over to his bed, laying down and staring at the ceiling as Isaac did whatever he needed to do.

“Who’s Peter Hale?” Isaac spoke up after minutes of silence. Stiles hated awkward silences, but he had nothing to say to Isaac. How humiliating that he had to have a babysitter. Maybe he should find an Alpha to give him the bite since Scott pretty much refused.

Yeah, maybe not. He didn’t think he’d like to take that risk.

“What?” Stiles asked, head snapping over to look at Isaac. “What the fuck, dude, get out of my Skype!” He snapped.

“I’m not on your Skype, asshole. Some dude named Peter Hale keeps messaging you and it keeps interrupting my game,” Isaac defended, rolling his eyes at how easily Stiles got himself worked up. “He’s really fucking annoying. You should probably talk to him -- hey, good timing! He just sent his number.”

“He what?” Stiles asked. He felt like he’d asked that question far too much since he’d woken up, but to be fair, his mind wasn’t awake yet. He wished he was still asleep.

“Yeah, he sent his number and said, ‘We need to talk.’” Isaac deepened his voice when he read Peter’s message. “Is that what he sounds like? That’s what I’ve been imagining him like.”

“No, that’s not what he sounds like,” Stiles huffed, flinging his arm over to grab his phone off of his nightstand and hissing when he hit his elbow on the corner of it. “Fuck, that’s gotta be some kind of sign,” he said, rubbing at the sore area as he grabbed his phone. “Read me the number.” He wasn’t happy about this, but maybe he could talk some sense into Peter before he tried to, you know, kill his entire pack.

Once he had Peter’s contact added -- under the name Douchebag, because fuck him, that’s why -- he opened up his messages and started a new thread.

Stiles (3:21pm): Fine. Let’s talk.

Peter (3:23pm): Is this a friend of yours I’m messaging on Skype, then?

“You asshole, what are you doing?” He asked, looking over at Isaac who managed to look guilty as he looked over his shoulder at Stiles.

“I just wanted to tell him he’s annoying. Honestly, who is this guy?” Isaac scoffed, and Stiles glared at him until he closed out of Skype.

Stiles (3:24pm): Friend is a loose term for it.

Peter (3:24pm): He’s charming. Really.

Stiles (3:27pm): What exactly are we talking about? I have nothing to say to you.

Peter (3:28pm): This would be easier if I could call you instead of having to type everything out.

Stiles let out a long suffering sigh and looked over at Isaac. The Beta was trying to look like he wasn’t watching Stiles, but he wasn’t smooth at all.

“Get out. I need to make a phone call,” he stated. He knew Isaac could hear his phone call from across the house no matter how hard he tried to be quiet, but at least if he was alone in the room it would give him some semblance of privacy. He hated werewolves sometimes. Not even just the dickhead wannabe Alpha ones. Isaac didn’t argue -- thankfully -- and left the room. Stiles counted to ten before texting Peter back.

Stiles (3:32pm): Fine. Call me.

Maybe if he could hear something in the background, he could figure out where he was and call Scott to warn him. He needed some kind of proof to give to Scott. He needed to help. When his phone vibrated in his hand and showed Peter’s contact name, he waited until half of his ringtone had played out before finally answering with a quick “what?”

“Well, that wasn’t very nice,” Peter responded. Stiles had forgotten what a lovely voice he had. Maybe this was a bad idea.

“I’m not exactly trying to be nice right now. What do you have to talk about?” Stiles asked. He wanted to get right to the point. The sooner he could hear Peter’s side of the story, the sooner he could get off the phone and maybe escape through his window to help out his best friend so he didn’t get himself killed.

“You hung up on me last night,” Peter said simply, and Stiles rolled his eyes.

“You’re not a very good conversationalist, you know,” he pointed out.

“You didn’t seem to be complaining last night. In fact, as I remember, we talked for quite a long time last night before you so rudely hung up on me. Care to explain?” Peter asked, speaking slow as ever, like he was in no rush to finish their conversation. That kind of behavior didn’t fit a Beta that was running Scott all over town. Something wasn’t making sense and Stiles needed to figure out what.

“I know what you are,” he blurted, closing his eyes as he cursed himself mentally. He could have been a little smoother about it, he supposed. “Your eyes -- they turned gold.”

“Ah,” Peter breathed. Stiles waited for the attack. “You’re a clever boy, aren’t you?” Stiles didn’t say anything, trying to get himself back under control. He didn’t want to think about how this was the second time Peter had called him a clever boy and how much he really liked it. Right now, he really fucking hated Peter Hale. “I should have known better. You’re far too smart to keep something like this hidden for long… I have to admit, I didn’t expect it to spill so soon.”

“You don’t sound very bothered about the fact that I know what you’re doing now,” Stiles said, brows furrowing in confusion. By his calculations, Peter should have been angry and he should have gotten messy. He should have let something slip by now, but he wasn’t.

“And what is it that I’m doing?” Peter asked. Stiles could hear the smirk in his voice, and he wondered what it was with the Betas smirking at him all the fucking time. Didn’t they know he was their equal?

“You -- You’re here. In Beacon Hills,” Stiles said, though as he said it, he realized that he was wrong. The feeling that something was going to happen nearly drowned him as it came back, crashing over him unexpectedly. “Oh god, who’s here?” He breathed, hoping that Isaac was still standing guard. If it wasn’t Peter, then this Beta would likely be looking for a weak link in the pack to draw the True Alpha out.

“You tell me,” Peter said then, reminding Stiles that he was still on the phone. “I can’t say I’m in Beacon Hills. I have no desire to return to that town. However, I hear that there has been some… interesting developments recently. Such as a True Alpha rising to power.” So Peter had heard about their pack. Stiles wondered how long he’d known that it was Scott. “So tell me, Stiles. Who is in Beacon Hills?”

“I don’t know!” Stiles exclaimed, his free hand running through his hair as he paced his floor. “I thought it was you coming here to kill Scott and then kill his pack since I’d figured out your plan.”

“Maybe not as clever as I thought,” Peter hummed. “Or maybe too clever for your own good. Tell me what’s happening.” He sounded calm, but Stiles couldn’t say the same for himself. He couldn’t think straight what with the stray Beta in town out to cause some kind of harm.

“Shit -- okay -- I woke up because Scott had sent one of his Betas to… to watch me. He said there was a Beta here and he didn’t know who it was. Scott doesn’t usually freak out like this when he finds out there’s another Beta, so I can’t help but think it’s something bad. Right?” He explained, stopping to make sure Peter was still keeping up. “I assumed it was you since I figured I’d majorly pissed you off last night, but now I’m talking to you and I’m realizing that’s not right. So I don’t know who this Beta is, if they have a pack with them somewhere near by, and --”

“Stop,” Peter said, and once Stiles had quieted, he spoke again. “Think through this, Stiles. Why is Scott keeping you so in the dark?”

“I don’t know, he -- he usually tells me these things because I’m the one who has to come up with the plan. I don’t know!” Stiles said, and Peter shushed him.

“I need you to calm down. You can’t think straight when you’re stressing so much, okay?” Stiles wondered if Peter was actually getting more anxious the longer they talked or if that was just him projecting onto the older Beta. “Think. He’s cutting you out, yet he sent someone to watch you. Why would he do that?”

“I don’t --” Stiles cut himself off with a groan and ran a hand over his face. “God, I --” He suddenly stopped when something crossed his mind. Right on time, there was a crash downstairs, an earth-shattering thud, and he forced himself to slow his breathing so he wouldn’t give away his location so easily. “Oh god,” he breathed. “He’s after me.”

“Yes,” Peter said, voice so much quieter than Stiles had ever heard it before. “He’s in your house, isn’t he?”

Stiles nodded before he realized that Peter couldn’t see him and answered with a soft “yeah.”

“Okay. Hang up and call Scott. Get out of there if you can,” Peter instructed, back to being as calm as he was before this whole thing happened. The thought of hanging up on Peter made his heart rate spike, and he could hear slow, steady footsteps coming up the stairs.

“Okay,” he breathed, nodding again. “Calling Scott. God help me.” He hung up the phone on Peter and quickly dialled Scott’s number as he opened his window and looked down at the drop. He could jump out, but he might land wrong and break an ankle. Or both ankles, for that matter. He was known for being clumsy, after all, but it would be better to get a little more distance between himself and the Beta. Then again, if he did break his ankle and he was still kidnapped, he’d have no shot at getting out since he’d be injured and unable to walk on his own. “Scott!” He said as soon as the phone clicked. Before he could say anything else, Scott’s voicemail recording started talking. “Oh, you asshole. The Beta’s in my fucking house and I’m about to jump out of my window to get away from him. I swear to God you better come find me or I’ll kill you myself.” He hung up and shoved his phone in his pocket, hoping that someone might be able to track him. His father was the sheriff, and the second he realized Stiles was missing, he would jump into action.

Oh, right, he should call his dad. He went to pull his phone back out of his pocket to call John, but before he could get a good grip on it, something hard was hitting him in the back of the head. Right before everything went dark, he felt two unfamiliar arms wrap around him and pull him back through the window.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized he dropped his phone.

Chapter Text

When he woke up, the first thing he noticed was that he hurt everywhere. His head was pounding, his arms were twisted into a ridiculously uncomfortable position, and he thought maybe that was blood trickling from his nose. He coughed, then winced at the pain in his gut, and when he opened his eyes, he was somewhere far too dark and unfamiliar for him to see what was happening.

His eyes eventually started to adjust, and though he couldn’t see perfectly, he could see enough to make out vague shapes of items in the room. He twisted his wrists to try to get them out of his restraints while struggling to remain quiet. His fingers were starting to go numb, and his arms were twisted so far behind him that he could feel the dull ache in his shoulders start to turn into something sharper.

He looked down at himself and tried to check for any other bruises or cuts, but only saw what he could assume were markings from trying to get his lanky body situated properly in his restraints. The dead weight had to make it hard for anyone to get him into position, even a werewolf. He hoped Scott had gotten his message and was trying to find him, but at this point, he didn’t have high hopes. There was no window, so he had no idea what time it was or how much time had passed. He was shirtless and his pants were ripped by his bare feet, and it was suddenly brought to his attention just how cold it was in there. He could practically see his breath.

He wiggled his toes to see if he could feel them, but they were already getting tingly. He had no hope for his fingers since he’d already realized they’d gone numb. He had a while longer before hypothermia became an issue, but things were not looking good. The ropes scratched at the skin of his wrist as he twisted and writhed, hoping to get just an extra centimeter of space, enough to let him slip out. If he could get one hand free, he could manage with the rest.

He heard a click and a slow creak and stopped struggling as the door to the room opened directly in front of him.

“Who the hell are you?” He snapped, though his voice didn’t come out nearly as intimidating as he’d hoped. He was so cold and he’d just woken up from being knocked out for who knows how long, so his voice was crackly and dry.

“Well, that’s not important, is it?” The man said. Stiles could hear him better than he could see him in the darkness, and his footsteps echoed through the room as he stepped closer slowly. “Let me get one thing straight, Stiles… You’re not the one I’m after.”

“How do you know who I am?” He demanded to know. He was so thirsty it was almost painful to swallow, but he didn’t dare ask for any water. Not when he could keep this man talking. Maybe he could get him to let something slip.

“You run with wolves now. That puts a big ol’ target on your back, didn’t you know?” The man said, speaking this time almost directly into his ear. Stiles swung his head in that direction, hoping to headbutt him and injure him a little, but the Beta moved out of the way as if he’d expected it and chuckled as Stiles moaned in pain as his head pounded. He probably had a concussion, which would be hard to explain to his dad.

Oh, his dad. If he got killed, he thought he’d miss him the most. He hoped he didn’t die.

“It also means I have a pack. They’ll find me, and when they do, they’ll kill you,” he nearly growled. Maybe he’d picked up on a few neat little tricks from his pack. “Slowly and painfully. They’ll make you suffer,” he spat.

“You promise?” The man asked, chuckling a little afterward. “That’s interesting, Stiles, since a True Alpha comes to power by… not killing anyone. He gets his power by earning it. It makes me doubt what you’re saying here, but,” Stiles could barely see him shrug, “If it helps you sleep at night.” There was silence again as the Beta slowly stalked around the room, circling Stiles like a predator to his prey, which seemed like the proper analogy to make here. “I’ve also heard that killing a True Alpha gives you so much more power than killing any other Alpha,” he said, looking down at his extended claws before trailing them over Stiles’ torso. It wasn’t deep enough to leave a scratch, but it was enough to make Stiles stiffen and try to back away from them. Every instinct in him was telling him to get out, make an escape, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get out. “I wonder what I’ll have to do to draw him here… I even let you call him before I took you. Shame he didn’t answer.”

Stiles only relaxed a little when those claws went away because he didn’t know when they’d be coming back or if they’d break skin next time.

“I wonder if I’ll have to cut you open… maybe he could smell your blood then,” the Beta breathed. Stiles hated that he sounded like he was actually considering it, like he didn’t have a plan in place. “If he doesn’t find you soon, I imagine he’ll be finding your body anyway. Your fingers and toes have grown numb, haven’t they,” he stated more than asked. “I do hope your Alpha finds you before you freeze to death. What a terrible way to go.” A pause, and then Stiles felt the Beta’s nose against his jugular and he tensed once more. He felt and heard as the Beta inhaled deeply, and he tried to back away, then in a moment of hysteric clarity, he remembered reading about Hannibal Lecter so long ago and an idea popped into his mind. God, he hoped this worked.

He leaned forward and latched his teeth in the Beta’s cheek, digging them in deep and then -- When the Beta pulled back, he did so with a scream, clutching at his now bleeding cheek. Stiles spit out the chunk he’d managed to pull off and smirked victoriously, even as the Beta stood up and grabbed Stiles’ hair to pull his head back.

“You’ll regret that,” he hissed out, and Stiles could see the skin on his cheek struggling to heal.

“You can torture me. You can kill me. But I’ll never regret making you look like the monster you are,” Stiles breathed, maintaining eye contact the best he could. There was blood on his face, drying uncomfortably on his skin, but he didn’t want to wipe it off. He wanted it there as a reminder to this Beta that he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Not this time.

 

The next few hours were spent in and out of consciousness since Stiles had used his last bit of energy fighting off the Beta. During the brief moments Stiles was awake, he struggled to remain lucid enough to try to come up with a way out. The door was locked, he knew, but there was something not right about the way the room echoed, how there were no windows, how it felt unnaturally cold despite it being summer outside. If Stiles wasn’t mistaken, he would say he was being held underground somewhere. Somewhere with ridiculously powerful air conditioning.

By now, his hands were numb, and as he struggled to wake up, he heard something that sounded suspiciously like a fight. There were loud crashes as things were broken, thuds as people -- werewolves, he hoped, specifically a Beta currently missing a chunk out of his cheek -- were thrown against walls, and growls and snarls that told Stiles that he was finally getting the fuck out of here.

He heard the door open again moments after things had gone silent, but he no longer had the energy to look up to see who had come in. He trusted that it would be someone from his pack, and he slowly allowed himself to drift back off. Before he passed out again, he heard an eerily familiar voice murmur, “What have you gotten yourself into, sweet boy?”

That was when he knew he had gotten so bad that he had started hallucinating, because there was no way that was Peter’s voice. Not Peter, who had told him to hang up and call Scott, who lived all the way across the country, who Stiles had royally pissed off last time they’d actually talked. Not Peter. It was all in Stiles’ head. He gave in to the darkness and allowed himself to be carried off.

 

The first thing Stiles noticed was that he was laying down somewhere much softer than the basement had been last time he’d woken. The next thing Stiles noticed was that his whole body still hurt, but it was noticeably less than he remembered. He could hear the beeping of the monitors near his bed, and when he cracked his eyes open, he saw that he was alone. His heart monitor beeped quickly for just a second, then he inhaled deeply and calmed himself down. He hated hospitals, and he hated them even more when he was alone. He squirmed uncomfortably, eyes slipped closed again as they watered. He wasn’t going to cry -- he wouldn’t cry -- but he wished he had someone there with him.

Before he could think on anything else, the door to his room opened and in walked a nurse. She looked familiar, likely because he’d been spending far too much time in the hospital recently than he would have liked, but not familiar enough the he knew her name. That is, until he saw the board in his room that said “Stiles Stilinski. Nurse’s name: Natalia Davis.” His first name was written in completely different handwriting, so he assumed one of his friends had erased his legal name and written in his nickname instead. He hoped it was his dad, or even Scott, since they already knew his legal name.

“Hello, Mr. Stilinski,” Nurse Davis smiled as she shut the door behind her and walked over to him to change his IV. “How are you feeling?”

“Like shit,” he mumbled, a sigh following after. “Where’s my dad?” He asked, his eyes opened just enough to see her, but not enough to start burning again. Why did everything hurt like this?

“Nurse McCall managed to get him down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. He’s been here all weekend,” Davis explained, and Stiles’ eyes watered again until he squeezed them closed. Thankfully, she didn’t say anything about it if she noticed. “Do you remember what happened, Stiles?” She asked softly. He nodded. “You were very close to losing your fingers, but your friend found you just in time.”

“Friend?” He asked, voice cracking despite him trying to hold back the emotion filling his chest. “Which friend?”

“I believe he said his name was Peter. I’m not sure where he took off to…” She trailed off as she glanced out of the window in his room that exposed him to the nurses’ station and the bustle of people going by. It was strange, how life went on even when it felt like it’d come to a standstill.

“Peter,” he breathed. This time, he let out a little sniffle and didn’t even try to hide it. The nurse finished up her job and then looked down at him again.

“Would you like me to get your father for you?” She asked kindly. Stiles didn’t think he could have said anything right then, so he nodded his head. She left after a moment more, leaving him alone again.

While he was alone, Stiles took the time to take in his surroundings and calm himself down. He counted his breaths like he did for his panic attacks: inhale for four, exhale for seven, focus on that. The counting itself should calm him down a little since it gave him something else to focus on besides the fact that he was in the hospital. It was one thing to be there visiting someone, because he could leave if things got to be too much. Being a patient meant he was stuck there for however long the doctors wanted him. He knew he had a concussion -- there was no way he didn’t -- and they probably wanted to keep an eye on him for a couple days. He hoped he would have someone with him. He couldn’t imagine going through this alone.

He saw his laptop and a book on the bedside table and he nearly cried in relief. At least he wouldn’t be stuck here with nothing to do. He also saw a note written with his name on the envelope and assumed it was a get well card, but the handwriting didn’t look familiar. He promised himself he’d read it later since the door opened then and his father walked in.

“Dad,” he sighed in relief as John walked over to sit in the chair beside his bed. As soon as he was settled, he reached for Stiles’ hand and gripped it with both of his. Stiles managed not to wince, though his fingertips still tingled.

“Jesus, Stiles, how do you get yourself into these situations?” John asked. If Stiles wasn’t mistaken, those were tears in his dad’s eyes, and that wasn’t okay. If John started crying, Stiles would definitely start crying, and that would just be a mess.

“Victim blaming,” he pointed out to his dad, trying to lighten the mood a little bit so they wouldn’t turn into blubbering messes. They weren’t really the type to cry in front of people, but he supposed being kidnapped could change people. Stiles was all too familiar with that. “Besides, it wasn’t really my fault. I even tried to take my phone so you could track me, and Scott’s got that -- superhuman sense of smell. I knew you guys would find me.” He looked down at their hands, then at his blanket. “I wasn’t scared. Not once.”

“You’re brave. Stupidly brave,” John chuckled, shaking his head and looking down. He pulled his hands away from Stiles’ and leaned back in his seat. “Can you just… try to stay out of things for a while?” He asked. It seemed like every time Stiles got hurt in some way, his dad was always begging him to take a break. Stiles would always agree, and it would last for a day or two before some creature came to town and the pack needed his help before they were killed.

“Sometimes I wish I could,” he admitted. “But you and I both know I can’t.” John nodded with a sigh, taking in the fact that his son was alive, breathing, and mostly okay.

“Yeah. I know,” John said. He wished life was safer for Stiles, but he couldn’t honestly imagine things being any different than they were. Maybe fewer hospital visits, but it’s just like Stiles to get tangled up in everything he possibly could, even the supernatural. Even things that could get him killed. “You remind me a lot of her, you know,” he pointed out, smiling sadly.

Stiles gaped for a moment, trying to wrap his mind around what was happening. His dad, while sitting here in the same hospital that his mother had died in, was talking about Claudia for the first time in far too long. For one sick moment, Stiles wondered if he was in the same room she’d stayed in. The room she’d died in. That would be poetic in the most brutal of ways. What could he even say to that? He remembered such amazing things about his mom. She was always smiling and happy, a ray of sunshine in Beacon Hills. Stiles didn’t think anyone had ever disliked her.

“I’m tired,” he said instead of voicing that his heart was warmed at the compliment. He just didn’t think he could make his feelings known right then. It had been years since she’d died, but talking about her still stung.

“Get some rest,” John nearly whispered, reaching out to pat Stiles’ knee. “I’ll be here.”

“No, no, no,” Stiles argued, even though his eyes were already closed and he could feel himself drifting. He blamed it on the pain meds they had him on. “You need a shower. You reek.” His lips curled up in a smile to show that he was joking, and he knew by John’s soft chuckle that he had understood.

“I’ll go shower, then I’ll be back. The nurses will call if you need me, okay?” Stiles nodded his head. He didn’t hear John leave the room before he fell back asleep. He hoped he actually did go home because he knew he needed a break from this hospital. It was never any easier for him than it was for Stiles.

 

Waking up again felt easier the next time it happened. His mind still felt fuzzy, like things weren’t quite in focus. He couldn’t make himself think straight, but he appreciated the break from his racing mind. He vaguely wondered where Scott was and if he was okay as he pressed the button to lean his bed up a little more. He would feel better, like he wasn’t so helpless, if he wasn’t lying down. Once he was up, he reached for his laptop, hoping he could message Scott somehow.

Except when he reached for it, he saw the letter again and he hesitated. The handwriting was unfamiliar, but it had to be someone he knew if it was here in his hospital room. After a moment of slow thinking, he grabbed the letter instead of his laptop.

Stiles,

I hope you’re feeling okay. I’m in town for a bit longer. When you wake up, if you’d like to see me, then you have my number.

If not, that’s okay. I still hope you’re feeling better.

P.H.

He read the letter once, then twice, then he set it down in his lap. He didn’t even have his phone; how could he call Peter? It would be awkward if he asked his dad to bring his phone so he could contact his maybe-Sugar-Daddy, and he didn’t even want to think about them meeting. That was something he couldn’t handle just yet.

Another thought crossed his mind then. The letter was here, but how had it gotten here? Had Peter delivered it himself? Had he gotten someone else to do it? If Peter had been here while Stiles was so vulnerable, so helpless, then Stiles had every right to feel exposed.

He folded the letter again, catching a glimpse of what seemed to be writing on the back, so he flipped it over and saw that Peter’s letter continued there.

  1. My number is (917)-934-2123.

He couldn’t help but wonder if Peter had written down his number because he knew that Stiles didn’t have his phone on him. Speaking of which, why had his father brought his laptop but not his phone? He hoped it wasn’t broken. There was no way he could afford a replacement phone, not when they now had hospital bills to worry about.

Before he could fall down the rabbit hole of worrying about all the things he had to pay for, he reached for the hospital phone beside his bed and dialled 9, then the number Peter had left for him. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea in the world to have the werewolf there with him, but he didn’t want to be alone, and his father had been here the entire time Stiles had been out. He couldn’t ask him to come back when he was finally getting some much-needed rest.

“Stiles,” Peter greeted as soon as he picked up the phone. “How are you?”

“Just peachy,” Stiles responded sarcastically with a roll of his eyes, but he found it wasn’t quite as exasperated as it could have been. “Got your note.”

“I see,” Peter hummed. Stiles wondered where he was, what he was doing, and he was tempted to ask, but that might be a bit embarrassing. Perhaps he shouldn’t. Peter, ever the conversationalist, didn’t say anything else. Stiles should have just called Scott, but he had to admit that he wasn’t very happy with him at the moment. Maybe another time.

“I’d like to see you,” Stiles prompted. He really needed to talk to Peter about actually speaking to him instead of forcing Stiles to fill in the gaps. It wasn’t a terrible thing, but he would feel a little more comfortable if the conversation wasn’t so one-sided.

“I’ll be there soon. Would you like me to bring anything?” Peter asked, speaking more than Stiles had heard him speak at a time in a while.

“Having my phone would be nice, but -- please don’t go in my house,” he said. If Peter had travelled the country to rescue Stiles from the shitty hostage situation he’d ended up in, the Beta likely wouldn’t have had any issue with sneaking into Stiles’ house. He couldn’t risk that if his dad was there. Plus, there was no telling what kind of embarrassing things were left lying around. It’s not like he had any time to straighten up before he was so rudely kidnapped.

“I won’t go in your house,” Peter promised, but Stiles didn’t find it as reassuring as he should have. He didn’t know what Peter was capable of. More than anything, he wished he remembered what exactly had happened when Peter had arrived where Stiles was being held. He had been so out of it that all he heard were a series of loud thuds and crashes, then he thought maybe Peter had come in there and cut him loose. Things were so muddy, all mixed up and confused, and he didn’t even know if Peter came alone or if he brought his pack.

Stiles should really warn Scott that there’s another Beta in town, but this one might not actually want to hurt them. This one might just want to protect Stiles.

Peter hung up after that, just in time for a different nurse to come in and check his vitals, ask about his pain, and bring him breakfast. Hospital breakfasts were bland at best, tasting of soggy cardboard and having a texture much the same. But he ate it anyway because he was starving. He knew they’d likely been feeding him the nutrients he needed to make up for through an IV, but actually eating and feeling full was the best feeling he’d had in a while.

Before he knew it, Peter was walking through the door, Stiles’ phone in hand. Once Stiles saw that he had his phone, he glared at the Beta.

“I told you not to go to my house!” He said, but Peter didn’t seem guilty in the slightest as he walked over and had a seat in the chair John had been sitting in the night before. He laid Stiles’ phone down on the bed beside his hip and Stiles didn’t even have time to mourn his shattered phone before Peter snatched his jello cup. “Hey!” Stiles snapped, reaching for the jello cup but then wincing as his sore shoulders were moved suddenly. He was left there glaring at Peter, regretting asking him to come already.

“You asked for your phone,” Peter shrugged, opening the jello cup and picking up Stiles’ spoon to take a bite of it. “I didn’t even have to go in your house. It was sitting outside your window.” So maybe that was why John hadn’t brought his phone when he’d brought Stiles’ laptop. He couldn’t find it.

“You stole my jello,” Stiles protested, pushing his tray away so that the nurse could come back by and take it later.

“I’m sure they’ll bring more at lunch time,” Peter said, taking another bite and leaning back in the chair. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I could run a marathon,” Stiles dead-panned, then huffed out a breath. “Not great. My head hurts, my shoulders are still sore, and I just got kidnapped. Things aren’t going so good for me right now.”

“Ah, but you got rescued. So really, things could be worse,” Peter argued, that all-too-familiar smirk on his lips to show that he was teasing.

“Yeah, I could also be dead or missing an arm and a leg,” Stiles rolled his eyes. He really needed to stop that, because it made his head throb each time. He just couldn’t help it; Peter deserved it.

“See? Could be worse,” Peter agreed, setting the now-empty jello cup on Stiles’ tray before he held a hand out for him. “Give me your hand.”

“What, are you gonna rip it off to show me that it could be worse? I got it, I’m grateful, now leave me alone,” Stiles crossed his arms over his chest to keep them from Peter.

“No, Stiles, just give me your hand. I want to show you something,” Peter urged, still holding his hand out expectantly. Stiles hesitated for another moment before he held his hand out for Peter, muttering as he did so. He watched as Peter closed his eyes, then looked down at their hands and saw that the veins in Peter’s arm were now black and Stiles felt significantly less pain than before. He whimpered in relief and laid his head back down against his bed, eyes closing as he relished in the feeling of having no pain.

“What’re you doing?” He murmured, cracking his eyes open just enough to see Peter again. “Jeez. Keep doing it.” He sighed contentedly and lied there enjoying the feeling for another moment before another thought crossed his mind. “Does it hurt? Taking my pain like that, I mean.”

“Not much,” Peter said, his voice softer than before. He held Stiles’ hand for another couple of seconds before he gently moved to set it down on the bed. Stiles felt him moving away, but he wasn’t quite ready to lose Peter’s grip. Not yet. He reached for Peter’s hand and tugged it back down to rest with his on the bed.

Thankfully, Peter seemed to understand what Stiles was trying to convey. He didn’t have to keep taking the pain since it didn’t seem to be coming back yet, but he wanted to have that touch, no matter how simple. His eyes were closed, but it was still a way for him to know he wasn’t alone.

“‘M tired now,” he mumbled, and he felt Peter squeeze his hand gently. He changed his mind; asking Peter to come by was definitely a good idea. He didn’t treat Stiles any differently -- though he did steal his jello, which was a dick move -- and he didn’t look at him like he was scared Stiles might break down any second. He was just there, and he helped however he could.

“That happens sometimes. You should try to sleep,” Peter said. Stiles nodded slightly and turned his head the other way.

“I have… questions,” he said so quietly that he wasn’t sure Peter could hear him.

“We’ll talk when you wake up,” Peter promised. This time, Stiles believed him. Maybe he shouldn’t have, and maybe that whole pain-sucking thing did something to his head, but he believed him.

“You’ll be here?” Stiles asked, squeezing Peter’s hand once.

“I’ll be here.”

He fell asleep again, thinking in the back of his mind that it would probably fuck up his sleeping schedule even more than it was already. Before, he would stay up until the early hours of the morning and then sleep as long as he could. This worked better in the summer, but he’d learned over the years that supernatural assholes tended to attack at night instead of during the day. Lately, he’d been sleeping so much at odd hours of the day that there was no way his schedule was still the same.

 

Stiles didn’t even have time to say anything when he woke up again some time later, his coughs scratching against his dry throat uncomfortably. Peter was right there with his cup of water, pressing the straw to his lips so Stiles could sip at it. On one hand, he hated feeling so helpless, but it was nice to not have to do things for himself for a while. When he was finished, he rested his head back down against the bed and watched as Peter sat back down beside his bed.

“What time ‘s it?” He mumbled. Peter glanced at the watch on his wrist, and that’s when Stiles noticed that he was no longer holding his hand. His brows furrowed and his fingers tangled into the sheets on his bed for just a moment before relaxing again.

“Nearly two,” Peter answered. Stiles sighed and ran a hand over his face, wishing he could take a shower. He didn’t even want to think about how bad he smelled, but he needed to have this conversation with Peter before someone else showed up or he lost his confidence.

“We need to talk,” he whispered after the silence dragged on for too long.

“Alright, then let’s talk,” Peter decided, deceptively calm as Stiles struggled to stop fidgeting. How long had he been in here? When was the last time he’d had an Adderall? “I know you have questions. I have some of my own,” Peter explained, and Stiles frowned. “Quid pro quo, Stiles -- I tell you things, you tell me things.” Stiles nodded once as an agreement and then silence fell again.

“When did you get here?” He finally settled on asking first. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure where he should start, but that seemed like as good a place as any.

“Here as in Beacon Hills or here as in the hospital?” Peter asked. Stiles didn’t have the energy to glare at him, so he gave him his unamused look and tried not to pay any attention to the dull thud of pain coming back in his head.

“Beacon Hills,” he responded anyway.

“I came right after you hung up the phone,” Peter explained. Stiles kept his eyes closed and listened to him, the bright white of the room not helping his headache. “There was a flight that took off from Philadelphia about an hour after the phone call, so I ran and made it just in time. The flight was about five hours, and I tracked you down as soon as I got here.” This raised dozens of other questions that Stiles needed answers to, but he wasn’t sure Peter had all the answers. He needed to hear from Scott to see what the hell he was doing while Stiles was being held hostage in some dank basement. He needed to know if his father even knew what had really happened or if Peter had come in here and dropped him off without much of an explanation. Which led him to his next question:

“What do they know?”

But Peter simply smiled slightly and shook his head.

“Ah-ah-ah, Stiles… It’s my turn to ask a question. Quid pro quo, remember?” Peter asked. Stiles was tempted to roll his eyes again, but this was something he’d agreed to, so he supposed he could humor Peter. “Tell me what you did to him.” Stiles was quiet, so Peter elaborated. “I could smell that he was still healing, and you were covered in his blood when I found you. What did you do?”

Stiles thought back to when he was tied up, unable to move anything but his head. He remembered the exact moment the idea came to mind, and he could still taste the blood on his tongue like it had just happened. He laid there in silence long enough that he wondered if Peter thought he wasn’t going to answer.

“You saw how he had me,” he whispered, not yet opening his eyes. If anything, he closed them tighter and shook his head slowly. “He was stronger than me, but he was an idiot. He kept making mistakes, little slip-ups, and I knew I couldn’t fight him off to escape. But I could outlast him. I just knew I could, but he was getting impatient. He wanted to cut me open to make it easier for Scott to smell me, and I knew I had to do something.” He paused and inhaled slowly. His heart monitor stayed steady, no upticks or abnormalities. Just a steady beep that slowed his racing mind. “His mistake,” Stiles laughed humorlessly -- almost darkly -- “was that he got too close. He leaned in to whisper to me, and I -- I did the only thing I thought of. I bit him.” He licked his lips without really thinking about it, still feeling the warmth of the blood on his lips. “I bit him as hard as I could. Tore a chunk out of his cheek.”

Stiles opened his eyes when he felt Peter’s thumb brush against his lower lip, and he saw the drop of blood on his finger from where he’d touched him. Stiles wasn’t sure when his lip had started bleeding. He hadn’t even realized he’d been biting it. He watched as Peter licked it off of his thumb, the two of them never looking away from the other. It should have been off-putting, but instead, it almost seemed sensual the way he maintained eye contact with Stiles while licking the blood off of his finger.

“You did one hell of a job,” Peter complimented. Stiles let his eyes close again. He wasn’t nearly as repulsed with himself as he should have been, and he didn’t have to say it out loud for Peter to know.

“What did you do to him?” Stiles asked, shifting on his bed to get more comfortable. He wondered if he could go for a walk later since he could feel his legs stiffening from lack of exercise. Maybe he could even talk his dad into bringing some curly fries. Good food sounded amazing right about then.

He felt Peter come close to him again, and he focused his attention on trying to figure out where he was. He didn’t have to think too long, because he felt lips brush against his ear and he barely held back a shiver. This was so similar to the situation he’d just described to Peter, but instead of feeling scared, he felt liberated. It was freeing in a way that Stiles didn’t understand.

“I ripped his throat out for ever daring to touch you,” the man breathed, lingering there for a moment more before he pressed one kiss behind Stiles’ ear and leaned back again. The pleased smile on Stiles’ face, however small, was undeniable. He had injured the Beta, had fought back valiantly, but Peter had killed for him.

Not for the first time, he wondered just what Peter was capable of, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he should be wondering what he wasn’t capable of.

“How did you find me?” Stiles asked, slowly sitting up in his bed so he could look over at Peter properly. His body wasn’t as sore after Peter had helped him and he had napped, but his head still hurt. It was bearable now, though.

“Darling boy,” Peter started, that smirk growing on his lips again. “I’ll always find you.”

 

Peter managed to sweet talk the nurses into letting him take Stiles for a walk, so they walked leisurely through the halls of the hospital. They moved slowly since Stiles refused to use a walker or a cane -- he didn’t need them, he swore it; his legs hadn’t been injured. He did hold on to Peter’s arm, though, just to maintain balance. He trusted the Beta to catch him if he started to fall, which was likely since he could barely keep himself on his feet when he was completely fine.

“I believe it’s my turn to ask, isn’t it?” Peter spoke up as they walked past the nurse’s station. Stiles, though he thought the conversation to be over, nodded his head in agreement. “Where was your Alpha?”

“Scott?” Stiles asked, his heart stuttering in his chest at the thought of his best friend, his Alpha, not picking up the phone when he called and was in need of help. He wondered if Scott had even listened to the voicemail yet or if he was still with Allison. “I called him right after I hung up with you, but he didn’t pick up. Almost never does,” he shrugged a shoulder to mask the disappointment in his brother.

“Doesn’t seem to be a very good Alpha,” Peter frowned, looking over at Stiles even though the boy didn’t look at him. “If I were your Alpha, I’d come whenever you called. You wouldn’t even have to call; I’d hear you.”

“But you’re not my Alpha. You’re a Beta,” Stiles argued, rolling his eyes at Peter’s challenging growl. “Oh, shut up. You know it’s true. You’re a Beta.” He paused again and sighed. “But you’re somehow a better Alpha than Scott.”

“The bar isn’t very high,” Peter answered, seeming to be back to normal after Stiles had challenged him and then brought him back down to Earth. Stiles barked out a surprised laugh, and Peter couldn’t help but smile.

“No, I don’t suppose it is,” he shook his head, still grinning. He didn’t know if it was normal for someone to be able to pull him back from overthinking so easily, but it wasn’t something he wanted to question. “What did you tell them? The nurses, my dad… everyone?” He asked after they’d fallen into a companionable silence.

“I told your father the truth, only because he threatened to put a wolfsbane bullet through my head if I didn’t tell him what the hell happened. I don’t think he was bluffing.” Peter was smart, that was obvious, because John wasn’t bluffing and Stiles knew it. It was probably best that Peter told him the truth. “As far as the nurses are aware, I don’t know what happened. I found you passed out and bleeding and brought you straight here,” Peter explained. “The story is yours to weave and tell as you please, but know that I have hidden the body to where no one will ever find it.” Stiles did feel a little better knowing that Peter wouldn’t be going away for murder any time soon. Even though the prison never would have held him, especially on a full moon, it was just easier for everyone if he didn’t get locked away in the first place. Then Peter wouldn’t be a wanted fugitive and Stiles wouldn’t be at risk for getting caught harboring him.

So it was easier.

They walked back to Stiles’ room and saw there was already a nurse there changing his sheets. He asked if he could take a shower, and when she said yes, Peter looked over at Stiles.

“I’ll wait out in the hall. Do you want anything?” He asked. Stiles wondered why he was taking such good care of him when he’d had been such a little shit to Peter.

“Some curly fries would be nice,” Stiles not-so-subtly hinted. Peter laughed, and Stiles couldn’t hold back his smile. He liked the sound of that and he wouldn’t mind hearing it more sometime.

“I don’t think the nurses would approve,” Peter said, glancing over Stiles’ shoulder at the nurse who was smiling but still shook her head. “I’ll buy you some curly fries when you get out of here.”

Stiles still wasn’t very happy, but it was better than nothing.

 

He was in the hospital for a total of four days, he found out, just so the nurses could keep an eye on his concussion. It had been a bad one, so he had been told, and he could feel it. The first couple of days were worst. He was in and out of sleep and his head hurt something terrible. When Peter was there, he tried to help, and they kept the lights dimmed as much as they could. He gradually got better. Though he’d talked about having Peter drive him home -- so he could make good on that offer of curly fries -- his dad had managed to get off of work to take care of Stiles that first day.

Stiles wished he had his phone to text Peter because he’d gotten so used to having the man near him over the past few days that it felt weird to be there without him. He didn’t mind spending the time with John -- that’s not what made him feel off -- he just wished that Peter could be there too. They got home and the first thing Stiles noticed was that his window was closed when he was sure he’d left it open. He remembered so clearly that he had even considered jumping out of it to get some distance between himself and the Beta, but he’d been pulled back before he could do it.

He wondered who he should expect to see in his bedroom when he got up there. Scott, probably, and if Scott was there, then Allison probably was too. Isaac might be there just because he liked to be around the Alpha as much as possible. Stiles had asked him about it once and he’d brushed it off as instinct, but something just didn’t sit right. If Isaac had that instinct, then shouldn’t the others as well? None of the other Betas followed Scott around like that, so that led Stiles to believe that it was because Isaac had lost his entire family and wanted to cling to the family he’d found for himself.

Scott was waiting for him at the door. Stiles hadn’t even set foot in the house before the questions began, and a headache threatened to come back behind his eyes.

“Dude, what the hell happened? Are you okay?” Scott asked as Stiles kicked off his shoes beside the door. His dad followed him in with his bag in hand, looking at Scott like he’d prefer for him not to be there right now, and Stiles had to agree. He loved Scott, really, but he wanted to be alone right then.

He loved Scott, but he was angry.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Stiles mumbled, scooting forward so John could slip past him to set his bag down on the couch before heading to the kitchen. “Let’s just -- Let’s go up to my room, okay?” He asked, wanting to see who all was there and have this conversation where his father wouldn’t overhear.

“Yeah,” Scott nodded, then let Stiles lead the way upstairs. He lingered behind him so closely that it was becoming increasingly obvious to Stiles that he was making sure his friend didn’t fall while trying to walk. He understood -- he did -- but it still made him feel more frustrated than anything. How could Scott so easily hide under the pretense of protecting him when he hadn’t even looked for him while he was tied up in some dark basement?

When they got to his room, he was surprised to see that they were the only two in there. He took a deep breath and turned to face Scott, who was still looking at him with those big brown eyes that typically got him anything he wanted. He looked sad, guilty, but Stiles couldn’t pity him. Not right then.

“What happened?” Scott asked, and Stiles felt the anger bubbling right beneath the surface. He could feel it building, wanting to come out, but he shoved it down deep. He could be civil and have this conversation with Scott.

“Maybe if you’d answered your phone, you’d know,” Stiles muttered, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms protectively over his chest. He wondered if Scott could smell the anger he’d tried so hard to repress or if his senses weren’t honed in enough. Sometimes Scott missed things because he let his own feelings blur out everyone else’s.

“Look -- Stiles, I know I missed the call, and by the time I listened to your message, you were already in the hospital --” Scott tried to explain himself.

“Why didn’t you answer?” Stiles asked, glaring at Scott as he blatantly interrupted him. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?” He repeated when he didn’t get an answer. Scott had simply stared at him, stunned, and Stiles didn’t have the patience for it. Not today.

“I was with Allison,” he finally said, his voice quieter than before. “We turned our phones off so we wouldn’t have any distractions.”

Stiles scoffed.

“You don’t get to do that anymore.” Stiles was so sick of every one of Scott’s excuses being about Allison. She didn’t deserve to be used as an excuse, and he didn’t deserve to keep getting fucking kidnapped because his best friend had been turned into a werewolf. It’s not like he asked for his life to turn out this way. He didn’t want a constant target on his back. “You’re an Alpha. You have a pack, and you have a job to do here. You don’t get to just turn your phone off whenever you want and spend the day with Allison. You lost that right the day you were bitten, and I hate it for you.”

“I’m just trying to be a normal teenager! It’s what you said I should do,” Scott argued. Stiles was shaking his head before he’d even finished speaking.

“We’re not normal teenagers,” Stiles snapped, the anger finally reaching a point where it had no choice but to bubble over. “You turn into a fucking animal once a month, Lydia senses people dying, nobody knows what the hell Parrish is, and I get kidnapped and tortured so often that it’s a miracle I’m still alive. You’re the Alpha. You’re supposed to protect us. That means picking up the goddamn phone when we call, and actually looking for us when we go missing.” Once he’d gotten all of that out, he exhaled heavily. He felt so much lighter now that he’d gotten it all off of his chest. Scott didn’t say anything yet, seeming to sense that Stiles wasn’t done. “A Beta all the way from New York found me before you’d even realized I was missing.” He was calmer when he spoke this time, but it wasn’t a good calm. He was resigned, and he sounded almost sad. He didn’t want to fight; he just wanted his best friend back. He was so tired of always being second to Allison.

He couldn’t even be mad at her, either. He wanted to be as angry at Allison as he was at Scott, but she hadn’t asked for this either. She’d been thrown in head first, and though she got the better end of the deal, she was still in the same boat as Stiles. Though he couldn’t hate her, he could be jealous of her. She was someone’s first choice. No one chose him first anymore, except maybe his dad, but if John found out all the shit Stiles had been hiding from him, he probably wouldn’t choose him first either.

“Stiles --” Scott started, but Stiles knew that he was preparing another excuse, maybe even an apology. He wasn’t ready to hear it.

“Stop,” Stiles interrupted, shaking his head. “Get out.”

“What?” Scott asked. He was clearly taken by surprise by this development, and the sadness in his eyes was almost enough to make Stiles take it back and finally hear him out.

Almost.

“Get out,” he repeated, nodding toward the door behind him. Scott looked like he still wanted to argue, and maybe a part of Stiles wanted him to, but he watched him leave anyway.

The finality of it nearly knocked Stiles off of his feet. They had been best friends since kindergarten. They’d made it through all of life’s challenges, but he supposed every relationship had a breaking point. Theirs had been strained for far too long. Stiles was tired of feeling like a damsel in distress, and he was sick of always being there for everyone else when no one was ever fucking there for him.

More than anything, he wanted to not be alone, but he didn’t know who in the pack he could call. He knew they’d have questions, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to answer them just yet. Standing there in the middle of the room, he realized that he’d been alone before, but he’d never really felt lonely.

He’d always had Scott.

“Stiles?” John asked as he paused in front of Stiles’ room. The door was still open, which Stiles should have noticed, but his mind had been elsewhere. “Where’d Scott go?”

The questions were inevitable, he knew, but it didn’t make it any easier to answer. He shook his head.

“Went home,” he responded simply, then slowly moved to sit on his bed. Once he was seated, John hesitated at his door before walking in and sitting down beside him.

“Listen, kiddo,” he began. Stiles didn’t know if his heart could handle two of these conversations today. He was so exhausted from talking with Scott, and now he would have to talk about things with his dad. “I know you’re keeping something from me. Maybe even a lot of somethings. But I’m not gonna push you to tell me anything,” he assured, and Stiles relaxed a little. “I wish you would, but… you’re going off to college this fall. I guess I should expect you not to tell me everything like you used to.” Stiles didn’t mention that he hadn’t been telling his dad everything for the past few years, because he was sure John was already aware of that. Even after he’d told him about the werewolves, there were just some things he couldn’t tell him. He liked to keep his dad out of it as much as possible to keep him safe. Like the Beta had told him, if you run with wolves, you have a target on your back. He couldn’t lose his dad. “If you’re ever in trouble, you know, you can always tell me. I’ll always help you.”

Stiles knew that, and that’s why he couldn’t tell John about all the things he was mixed in. Stiles couldn’t live with it if John died or got injured; he’d blame himself for the rest of his life.

“I know, Dad,” he whispered, his lips curling up into a small smile as John wrapped his arm around Stiles’ shoulder and tugged him into a side hug. They didn’t sit down and talk about things all that often anymore, so he understood where he was coming from. His dad kissed the top of his head and then let him go, and Stiles was suddenly hit with how much he’d missed him. It sounded ridiculous, because he lived with him, so how could he miss him? It just felt like they’d been so disconnected since Scott had been bitten.

John left the room, and Stiles was left by himself again. He missed the pack, he missed his Dad, and -- most surprisingly -- he missed Peter. He wished he had his phone so he could call him, but it was busted, and looking at the screen of his laptop gave him a headache. Contacting him right then was out of his reach, so he would have to wait.

He couldn’t help but wonder how long Peter would be in town and how they would manage when he went back to New York. He had read on Peter’s profile that he was a professor, but he hadn’t said where. He wondered if it was a school like New York University, or maybe Syracuse, somewhere big with thousands upon thousands of students, where classes had 500 people in them and no one really knew each other. He wondered how that must feel to not know any of your classmates, to be just another face in the crowd, to be gloriously anonymous, then he wondered how many of them had to worry about being killed like he did.

He couldn’t imagine anyone else dealing with this, but he knew rationally that if there had to be other towns like Beacon Hills where supernatural beings ran rampant. It seemed like there were more werewolves than humans some days, but that might just be because Stiles spends most of his days with them. Especially in a state with a population like New York, there had to be more supernatural creatures, maybe even some they hadn’t run into yet. Then again, New York didn’t really bring an image to mind of woods and nature; he mostly just thought of crowded cities, skyscrapers, and tourists. It didn’t seem like the ideal place for werewolves, who liked to run and be free during the full moons. He knew Scott got antsy if he was constrained to one place without shifting for too long. He wondered how Peter and his family managed.

Maybe there were parts of New York that were less crowded and more rural than the cities that came to mind. Then again, Peter’s profile had said he was from Manhattan. He recalled an article he’d read for school one time that described Manhattan as the most densely populated city in New York. That brought him back to his original question: Why were werewolves hiding themselves in crowded cities instead of places like Beacon Hills, which had a smaller population and more woods to run around in?

Peter had told him that he ran to Philadelphia to catch a flight since it left sooner than any flight out of New York. Maybe he and his family ran to smaller towns to escape for the night of the full moon, or maybe they made a weekend out of it. They’d go to a place in Maine or New Hampshire, somewhere smaller but with plenty of nature to be at peace with, then they’d run all night until they no longer could. They’d return to their lakehouse and rest for the next day, then return home. When it got cold, they’d go somewhere farther South, maybe West Virginia, and find some wilderness to run in where it wasn’t as brutally cold as it was up north.

Before he’d realized what he was doing, he’d put together a whole story for the Hale family. The only person he knew was Peter, but it felt like he knew them inside and out as he lay there intricately weaving stories.

He had never met a born werewolf before Peter, and he’d still yet to meet an Alpha that had years of experience behind them. He wondered what control a born Alpha must hold, and how powerful they must be to run a pack so gracefully. Scott struggled even now, years after he’d been bitten, but Stiles suspected that someone born into lycanthropy must be so used to it that it’s a second nature. Even though Stiles ran with wolves, he’d never understood the instincts that Scott suddenly developed overnight after he was bitten. Those instincts were only multiplied when he had a pack of his own to lead, and Stiles kept up, but it never quite clicked since no one had ever stopped to explain everything. He was left to his own research and conclusions.

He reached for his nightstand and took two of the painkillers the doctor had prescribed to him, swallowing them dry and laying back down on his bed as his mind continued to race. He wished it would slow down and let him rest, but he was never so lucky. Somewhere between pondering the differences of pack dynamics between bitten wolves and born wolves and wondering if he should ask Peter to bring him a milkshake, he managed to fall asleep again.



Blinds closed and lights turned off, Stiles braced himself for the inevitable headache he’d get from opening his laptop for the first time since the hospital. His dad had left for work a couple of hours before and Stiles had showered, eaten breakfast, and then lied in bed for nearly half an hour until he’d sworn he was going mad with boredom.

After a bit of debating with himself, he finally decided to message Peter and see if he could talk him into coming by for a while. The company would be nice and would keep him from driving himself crazy. He opened his laptop and quickly turned the brightness down as low as he could while still being able to see the screen, then opened Skype. He briefly wondered if Peter had brought his laptop or if he had the app downloaded on his phone, because if he didn’t, then how would he get these messages?

All he could do was hope for the best as he sent off a message.

MStilinski0401: I know our deal was curly fries, but I think I’d like a milkshake more than anything.

PeterHale: Is this you telling me you’d like me to bring you a milkshake?

MStilinski0401: :)

MStilinski0401: Chocolate, please :)

PeterHale: Be there soon.

MStilinski0401: Door’s open.

Just to make sure, Stiles left his room and went downstairs to check that the door was unlocked. Now that there was no apparent threat in Beacon Hills, he wasn’t too worried about someone unexpected coming in. Besides, if they came through the front door instead of breaking a window or sneaking in through the back, they couldn’t have been a very smart criminal anyway. Stiles could probably manage.

He made his way to the living room and sat on the couch to wait for Peter, tipping his head back against the back of the couch and closing his eyes. It was surprising to him that Peter had agreed so easily to bring him whatever he wanted, but he supposed it should have been expected. After all, the man had offered to be his Sugar Daddy, and they’re all about buying Babies whatever they want, right? Plus, Peter was only back in Beacon Hills for Stiles, so he probably wanted to actually see the kid he came to town for.

As much as he would miss his family and his pack, he was ready to get out of Beacon Hills to go to college. Berkeley was calling his name.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying there, but he soon realized that something felt off. He couldn’t explain it, and he didn’t know why, but the air had changed and the hair on the back of his neck had stood up. The feeling was familiar, but he wasn’t sure why he was feeling it.

He was being watched.

Sitting up so quickly that his head spun, he turned around to face the door just to make sure no one was inside the house, and he jumped up when he saw someone standing there. He only relaxed with a huff and a hand clutched to his chest when he realized who it was.

“Peter,” he sighed in relief, sitting back down on the couch slowly and feeling his heart slow back down to its normal pace. “Jesus. How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough,” Peter answered, walking over to sit beside Stiles. It was then that he realized that Peter had both hands full, one holding the chocolate milkshake Stiles had wanted and the other holding a bag that smelled like the curly fries Stiles loved so much. There was also a box tucked beneath Peter’s arm, and he reminded himself to ask about it later as he grabbed the milkshake and sipped on it.

“Long enough for what, exactly?” Stiles asked, brows furrowing as he tried to drink the thick milkshake. It hadn’t melted enough to make it easy to drink yet, but he would make it work.

“To know that you should really lock your door.” Stiles rolled his eyes and grabbed a curly fry out of the bag as Peter set it down on the coffee table in front of them.

“I was waiting on you,” he grumbled, then he nodded his head toward the box that was now in Peter’s lap. “What’s that?”

“Yes, but anyone could have walked right in here, and then I would have been hunting you down again. I would hate to have to kill someone again,” Peter explained, and Stiles glared at him.

“No, you wouldn’t,” he corrected. Peter’s answering grin and the shake of his head reminded Stiles of just how much he enjoyed killing people. It should have scared him, but it didn’t. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“I was getting to it,” Peter assured with a soft chuckle. Stiles blushed, but gestured for him to continue. “It’s for you. Open it,” he said in lieu of an answer, handing the box over to Stiles. He looked at it warily, taking the box from Peter’s hands and giving it a quick shake out of curiosity.

He hooked a finger beneath the wrapping paper (honestly, when had Peter found the time to wrap this?), and pulled one good time only to expose the side of the box where the words iPhone 7+ were written. He paused, then slowly opened it the rest of the way. Once he had the box in his hand completely uncovered, he stared down at it, then passed it to Peter.

“I can’t take that,” he said, shaking his head just enough to be noticeable. The sentence was so short, so simple, but it felt heavy on his tongue.

“Why not?” Peter asked, and Stiles hated that he actually seemed like he didn’t understand. The man had given him two thousand dollars, flown across the country, and killed a man all for Stiles, but somehow the phone felt like it was too much. It didn’t even make much sense to him, but having the phone in his hand made everything feel so much more real.

“I just can’t,” he repeated, pressing it closer to Peter and waiting for the werewolf to take it. He needed it out of his own hands before he did something stupid like drop it or worse, accept it.

“That’s not an answer,” Peter said, not taking the phone, but gently pressing Stiles’ hands back down into his lap. “I, however, have an answer for why you should take it.” When Stiles didn’t say anything, just stared at the phone in his lap, Peter took it as a cue to continue. “You seem to make a habit of getting yourself in trouble. I’d like you to have the means to call me whenever you need something. Hell, call Scott if you think it’ll help. The point is you’ll have a way to call someone if you need something.” There was still nothing but silence from Stiles. “If you don’t take it for yourself, then take it for me. For my peace of mind. When I go back home, I would like to know you’re okay.”

Stiles looked up then, and Peter assumed he’d gotten through to him.

“Why are you doing this?” He asked, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. He wasn’t sure why Peter was still being so nice to him when Stiles wasn’t even giving him anything in return. He was a shit Baby, but Peter was being nothing but good to him despite that, and despite Stiles accusing him of wanting to kill him and everyone he loved. He didn’t understand.

“Because I want to,” Peter stated. Stiles hadn’t tried to hand the phone back again, though he was tempted to. He was at least hearing him out now, and that was all Peter could ask for. “We made an agreement that I would give you anything your heart desires, and I know you miss your phone. It’s been driving you crazy being stuck here alone with no contact with anyone else, hasn’t it? That’s why you messaged me.” Stiles didn’t disagree, but he still hated that Peter was picking him apart so easily. “So take the phone.”

Stiles took a drink of his milkshake, and Peter gave him the time to think because it seemed like he needed that. The milkshake was only a distraction, something to buy him some time while he took in everything that was happening.

“Fine,” he all but whispered, nodding once. “I’ll take the phone.” He leaned over to set the box on the coffee table. “But I’m not setting it up now. Not today. Maybe not even tomorrow. I’ll think on it some.” Peter nodded his acceptance, then Stiles -- desperate to lighten the mood -- glanced at the television. “Do you watch Game of Thrones?”

 

Turns out, Peter didn’t watch Game of Thrones, which blew Stiles’ mind. A show so intricately weaved with so much violence seemed like it would be just what Peter would like, so they started it from the very beginning, even though Stiles was almost done with season seven. It was almost impossible for Stiles to not spoil anything, and he’d caught himself before he would coo over any of the characters that had died seasons before that he’d found himself missing. (Hodor was one of the most important characters, Stiles would argue, and so was Khal Drogo, for that matter. Eddard could have ruled the seven kingdoms fairly and gracefully, with Catelyn as the Queen who would be so much better than Cersei in every way.)

Every time Little Finger came on screen, Stiles pointed at him and grinned wickedly.

“Look, Peter, it’s you,” he said each time, and without fail, Peter would roll his eyes then point to another character and say, “That’s you.”

The first time he did it, Peter had pointed at Daenerys, so Stiles had to explain to him that she was a mother of dragons. He would love to be like Daenerys if it meant he could ride in on dragons to burn down the cities of corrupt villains. That was the dream.

The second time he did it, he pointed at Arya, and Stiles had almost laughed.

“Arya is easily the most badass character in this entire fucking show,” he said, smirking pridefully. Peter kept picking great characters for him to be; he almost felt bad for comparing him to Little Finger, but it just made too much sense. It was only coincidence that the character was named Petyr. “I mean, she starts out small and everyone underestimates her even though she has so much potential, and then she just -- blossoms into this little badass. At the beginning of season seven, she kills like seventy people at once. There are a lot of deaths in this show, but that was the best one. And she’s almost been killed like ten times, but she always comes back. I’m beginning to think she’s immortal.” As he rambled, the smirk on Peter’s face never faded and he began to wonder if he somehow knew just how badass Arya turned out to be in later seasons. Maybe Peter had purposely chosen the most badass characters, the ones that were underestimated but had the most potential, to compare Stiles to.

“Spoiler alert,” he said instead of confessing to anything, which startled a laugh out of Stiles.

“Yeah, whatever. You’ll never finish the show anyway.” He rolled his eyes, then they went back to watching the show. The next time, he compared Peter to Jaime Lannister, but he refused to say his reasonings aloud. They were spoilers, after all, so Peter would just have to finish the show to find out.

 

Later that night, after Peter had left, Stiles had gone up to his room and tucked the new, unopened phone in his nightstand before he curled up in bed. John came home at around ten that night and poked his head in to Stiles’ room.

“Hey, kiddo. How you feelin’?” He asked. There was a pause as Stiles considered his answer, then a small smile made its way onto his face.

“Surprisingly okay,” he answered, and this time, it didn’t feel like a lie.

Chapter Text

It was two days later when Erica came by.

Stiles hadn’t expected her, because even though he’d turned on the phone Peter had bought him, he was still working on transferring his contacts and he hadn’t yet given his new number to anyone except Peter and his dad. He had to admit it was very peaceful without the pack texting, but it was also very boring. He missed them already.

Surprisingly enough, Erica came through the front door instead of through Stiles’ window, which he appreciated. One of these days, he would line his window with mountain ash, but first he had to convince Deaton to give him some. It seemed the veterinarian wasn’t very fond of sharing, which didn’t seem fair since it was always Stiles who was being attacked, not him.

Stiles let her in when she knocked, but didn’t get to greet her since she was already speaking.

“You and Scott need to get over whatever petty fight you’re having,” she said, making it about halfway into the living room before turning to look at him with her arms crossed over her chest. “Because he’s fucking miserable and the rest of us can’t put up with it anymore. It’s been three days now, Stiles -- three days. If I have to feel him moping one more minute, I’m going to kill him and then myself.”

Stiles blinked at her once, then twice.

“Well, it’s nice to see you too, Erica. I’m healing great, thanks for asking,” he answered the unspoken questions he’d expected instead of the berating he’d been getting. “Oh, yeah, I haven’t been replying to your texts because I broke my phone, not that anyone’s come to check on me or anything. Thanks for that, too.”

“Hey,” Erica interrupted, glaring at him in a way that almost made him want to back down. Almost. “We haven’t been here because Scott told us not to be. He said you needed some time to heal, but now I’m starting to think he just didn’t want to see you hang out with us but not with him.” It made sense to Stiles, but it still didn’t make it sting any less. He’d been released from the hospital mere days ago and the only one of his pack that had come to visit him was Scott, who was the one Stiles didn’t really want to see. Other than that, he’d been spending his time binge watching Game of Thrones with Peter or creating small talk with his dad.

It had been a lonely few days, which was why Stiles had actually set up the phone. It allowed him some semblance of communication to the outside world, even if he didn’t have anyone to text besides Peter. He swore he was going to get his contacts transferred so that he could talk to the pack again; he just hadn’t gotten around to it.

“I’ll talk to him,” he surrendered with a sigh, running a hand through his messy hair. Erica looked pleased with herself, but her nose was still scrunched up as she looked at him.

“Good, but before you do, take a shower. You smell like a wet dog,” she said. Stiles was tempted to make a comment about how she wasn’t too far off mark.

“Says you,” he retaliated instead.

-----

“I mean,” he said to Peter that night once he’d returned to Stiles’ home. It seemed he spent more time there than in his hotel room, which Stiles was sure was much nicer than a teenage boy’s room. “It’s not like I hate him or anything. I’m just so tired of being pushed to the side. I’m always there for Scott; it just feels like maybe our relationship is getting to be a bit one-sided.”

“Join my pack then,” Peter answered, looking over at Stiles from where he was laying on the bed. Stiles was in his computer chair, spinning around slowly as he’d been speaking, but now he was stopped. “We’d take care of you.”

“I wish,” Stiles scoffed. He meant it as a joke, but when the words slipped past his lips, he couldn’t help but wonder if he meant it or not. Sure, being in a pack with Peter pretty much guaranteed his safety, and he’d probably get kidnapped less often, but he couldn’t just leave his pack. They were his friends, his family , and he’d miss them far too much if he moved to New York just because of one little argument. That wasn’t like Stiles.

Peter seemed to understand that Stiles was joking -- he maybe even understood that he was conflicted -- because he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he simply said, “My home is always open if you ever need to get away, or even if you’d just like to visit.”

The offer was taken to heart, and Stiles promised both Peter and himself that he would think about it. It only seemed right since Peter had flown all the way here to see him. Besides, he didn’t think he’d mind visiting New York for a while. Maybe he could visit a few schools up there.

 

----------

 

The next day, Stiles found himself sitting in his Jeep outside Scott’s house. He knew Scott would forgive him, but he hadn’t expected to have to be back here in this position. He shouldn’t have even been the one asking for forgiveness since Scott wasn’t the one who was kidnapped and almost killed. If he had been, then Stiles would have been looking for him. He would have at least been aware that Scott had been missing.

He huffed out a breath and shoved the thoughts away. If he was going to make up with Scott, he couldn’t get himself all worked up before going in. He shook his hands, hoping to get rid of some of the tension in his body before going up there. He considered calling Peter since the man always managed to calm him down, but he knew that Peter wouldn’t approve of him asking for forgiveness from someone who didn’t deserve it. He knew Peter would be able to talk him out of it in a heartbeat, so he didn’t call. He would explain later.

Getting out of the Jeep was the easy part. Ringing the doorbell and waiting for Scott to answer was the hard part, it seemed. He focused on keeping his breathing slow, his hands curled up into fists in the pockets of his hoodie to keep them from trembling with how nervous he was. He bounced on the balls of his feet, only stopping when he heard the door unlock. It opened to show Scott standing there, and then they were face-to-face and neither of them was speaking.

“Hey,” Stiles finally managed to choke out, raising one hand in a wave. This seemed to shock Scott out of his thoughts because the Alpha stepped back and allowed Stiles inside.

“Hey, dude. Come in,” he invited. Things felt tense and awkward, and Stiles wished things could just go back to normal without them having to talk about their feelings again. He’d royally fucked things up with all the things he’d said, and he didn’t know how to go about fixing that.

He walked in and stood awkwardly in the living room, fiddling with his own fingers until Scott gestured for him to sit down. They were on opposite ends of the couch instead of right beside each other like they usually would be, especially since Scott had gotten bitten and finally become more in tune with the instincts he’d gained since then. They sat in silence while Stiles tried to gather his thoughts, and thankfully, Scott didn’t rush him. He wasn’t sure how many minutes it was until he finally spoke up.

“I’m sorry, man,” Stiles sighed, looking over at Scott with a furrow in his brow that only went away when Scott gave him those puppy dog eyes and smiled just a little. “I was just upset. You know I didn’t mean all that stuff. We’re brothers no matter what.”

“I totally deserved it,” Scott said, nodding his head. “I was being a shit Alpha, and an even shittier friend. I swear, next time you call, I’ll pick up the phone. Every time you call. I’m gonna do better now,” he promised. Stiles briefly wondered if that was true, but he didn’t question it. He wanted things to be better, so he would trust that Scott was trying.

“So,” Stiles trailed off. “We’re good now?”

“So good,” Scott agreed. “Wanna play Halo?” With that, the two of them picked up right where they’d left off before all of this happened. They got their controllers, and when they sat back down, Stiles was on the couch with his legs criss-crossed and Scott was on the floor in front of him, head leaning back against Stiles’ leg. Things were good.

Stiles took a deep breath.

His hands stopped shaking.



Their bond was still tentative, and Scott still seemed like he was walking on eggshells around Stiles sometimes, but they were speaking and working together again. A week had passed since their fight started and Peter was still in town, which surprised Stiles more than it should have. He didn’t know why he’d expected Peter to leave so soon, but he had stayed, and he wasn’t about to complain. He liked having him around.

Stiles had even introduced him to the pack, which went about as well as he’d expected. Of course Erica and Lydia took all the credit for it, but Isaac argued that it was all his fault Stiles had even downloaded the app in the first place. Peter watched this all unfold in amusement, but Stiles was just glad to have them all back. Even if they were sometimes obnoxious and embarrassing. Scott, it seemed, had already met Peter and seemed a bit sheepish, if Stiles had to say. He asked how they’d met before, but Scott had shaken his head and Peter had just smirked, so Stiles determined that neither of them were very good at answering questions.

The pack was all back together and healing itself internally when things went downhill the way they always did. Nothing ever went well for an extended period of time, but this time, it seemed like things were going to get even worse than usual. There was an Alpha in town, and they knew this because Scott could sense him and they were catching his scent all over the place, but never strong enough for them to track.

It was infuriating and no one knew what to do. That is, until Stiles had gone out to get some grocery shopping done. The fridge at home was beginning to look rather sad with how empty it was, so if he wanted to eat without going out, he needed to go to the store. He considered asking Peter to come with him since grocery shopping was terribly boring on his own, but something about shopping with Peter seemed far too domestic for his taste. He couldn’t see Peter doing something so wonderfully bland, even after all the time they’d spent together in the past two weeks.

The trip was uneventful. He made it there and bought the things he needed to make himself and his father a few healthy meals, sneaking in just a few little treats like a pack of Oreos and some cookie dough ice cream, because it looked good and it was only a pint. He could eat it before his dad found it, he was positive.

He carried the few bags he’d ended up with out to his Jeep, keys stuck between his teeth so he could grab them easier than if they were shoved inside his pocket beneath his wallet. He froze when he was closer to his Jeep and saw that there was something markedly different about it now. His jaw dropped and the keys clattered on the ground, but all he could focus on was the fact that there were jagged claw marks cut along the driver’s side of his Jeep.

“What the hell,” he breathed, setting the bags down on the ground before he was running his fingers over the marks. The thought crossed his mind that whatever did this -- the Alpha, no doubt -- could possibly still be nearby, so he looked over one shoulder, then the other, then scanned the parking lot around him in search of anything out of place. There were a few other cars in the parking lot and even fewer people, and none of them looked conspicuous at all. Whoever did this to his Jeep was long gone.

He glanced inside the Jeep to make sure everything he’d left was still there, but the doors were still locked, so he took that as a good sign. Looking down, he realized that he had a flat tire as well, and the slash marks on that told him all he needed to know about who did it. Since driving home wasn’t an option anymore, he muttered under his breath and pulled his phone out of his pocket. John was at work, and Scott was likely patrolling with the Betas to see if they could catch up to the Alpha, so Peter was the one he called.

“Hey,” he said as soon as he heard the click of Peter answering the phone, not giving him a chance to greet him himself. “Uh… You busy?”

“Not at the moment,” Peter responded, though Stiles could hear some faint shuffling in the background. There was no doubt in his mind that Peter had been working on something, and he felt a short pang of guilt in his chest. He should have called Scott; maybe his phone was close enough to him that he could hear it. “What’s going on?”

“Well, you see…” He trailed off with a nervous little laugh. “You remember that Alpha that’s in town? The one no one can seem to find?” He asked. Stiles wasn’t sure the best way to go about this, but he definitely should have started with saying he was okay judging by how Peter growled at the mention of the strange Alpha. It wasn’t even Peter’s territory that was being invaded, but he still seemed fiercely protective. It struck Stiles that Peter wasn’t acting this way because of the territory itself, but because of Stiles being in danger. Maybe that’s why he had stayed longer than expected. “I’m okay!” Stiles blurted in hopes of calming Peter down a little. “He just… may have found me. He slashed my tires, and there’s a scratch on my Jeep. That fucker,” he sneered, nose scrunching up as he looked at the scratch mark again.

“Where are you?” Peter asked as soon as Stiles had finished speaking. There was a quiet jingle of keys and Stiles knew that he wouldn’t be waiting here long. He was grateful for this since the sun was beginning to go down and he would rather not be stuck outside alone when there was an Alpha who apparently had something against Stiles. Why were people always going after him?

“Standing outside the supermarket. All I wanted was some food, man,” he almost whined. Nothing seemed to be going his way lately, and he was getting sick of it.

“Get inside the car and stay put. I’ll be there in a few minutes,” Peter ordered. Stiles nodded his head before remembering that this was just a phone call and Peter couldn’t see him. He ran his free hand over his face and sighed.

“Yeah. I’ll be here,” he said, even though he didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. He could walk home, he supposed, but there was no way he was going to do that when he still had groceries to take home. “Thanks, Peter,” he nearly whispered. He wasn’t sure if he’d thanked Peter for everything he’d done for Stiles since they’d met, but he thought maybe he needed to do it more often, especially if he was to keep coming to his rescue.

“No problem, sweetheart,” Peter said. They lingered on the line for a few more moments, then there was another click and Stiles was left alone again. He huffed out a breath and shoved his phone in his pocket, then bent down to pick up his keys from the asphalt so he could unlock the Jeep and load the groceries into the backseat. This all just got way too complicated, in his opinion. He’d prefer to just go home and sleep off the blossoming headache by his temples, but instead, he was stuck in the driver’s seat of his Jeep that he couldn’t even drive. His hands rested on the steering wheel, then his head fell down on to his hands. Eyes closed, he waited for Peter to arrive.

He could hear cars driving slowly through the parking lot around him, some blasting music and others nearly silent as they searched for parking spaces or left the supermarket. He didn’t dare look up to see how many people were still there because, quite frankly, he didn’t care. He wasn’t too worried about being kidnapped or anything mostly because Peter was on his way and he would be safe then. He felt safer just knowing that he was coming.

One day, he swore, no one would have to come to his rescue. He’d be able to take care of things on his own, and he wouldn’t feel like a damsel in distress.

Before he could dream about that day any longer, there was a knock on his window and he quickly looked up only to see that it was Peter standing there. He was looking around as if expecting to see the Alpha jump out of hiding, but then he looked at Stiles and tilted his head in a gesture for him to get out of the car. Stiles did, albeit rather clumsily. Once he was out, Peter’s hand was on his hip and his other hand was shutting the door so it was out of the way.

“Are you alright?” Peter asked, the hand that had shut the door now coming up to Stiles’ cheek. Stiles sighed and closed his eyes, tilting his head into Peter’s hand and nodding once.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I wasn’t even out here when he did this,” he murmured, opening his eyes just enough to see Peter standing in front of him. Though he knew Peter would be able to smell any residual pain from Stiles, he was still looking at him as if he was checking to see if he was injured. It was a nice enough feeling, filling his stomach with warmth as someone worried over him. Besides his dad, no one really had the time for that anymore.

Peter let out a relieved breath and leaned forward so their foreheads were pressed against each other. With that, Stiles let his eyes close again and so did Peter. One of Stiles’ hands came up to wrap around Peter’s wrist and it was then that they realized it was shaking. Trembling just so, like Stiles’ anxiety might have been getting the better of him.

“You’re shaking,” Peter said, shifting his hand so that he could take Stiles’ and raise his knuckles up to his lips, lingering there for just a moment before he was pulling back. He kept their hands joined together between them, but pulled their foreheads apart.

“I’m okay,” he promised softly. He could already feel himself calming down, but having Peter so close and paying so much attention to him made him feel exposed in a way he’d felt only a handful of times before. He pulled away so he could look down at the damage to his Jeep and frowned. “I guess I’ll be taking her to the shop soon.” There was no way he was going to be able to afford that. Even with the money he’d saved up and the money Peter had given him before, a new paint job and a new tire along with the repairs the mechanic would inevitably point out would add up to be too much for him to afford.

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of it,” Peter assured. Before Stiles could protest, he’d continued. “I assume you have some groceries? Let’s get them in my car. I’ll give you a ride home.” Stiles knew better than to argue with that. Besides, Peter had so graciously come to pick him up from the supermarket. If Stiles was being honest, he didn’t know what he was going to do when Peter flew back to New York.

They loaded the groceries into the trunk of Peter’s sleek black car, then once they were inside, Stiles turned his phone over and over in his hands. Peter looked over at him, waiting for him to speak up, but Stiles said nothing.

“Need to call someone?” Peter asked, not yet driving off. They could take a moment and just sit there, let everything get calmed down and relish in the air conditioner cooling them off from the setting California sun.

“I think I should call Scott,” Stiles said quietly. He hadn’t yet gotten the chance to call Scott, and there was still the chance that he wouldn’t answer if he was out on patrol. He had promised to answer next time, though, and Stiles wanted to test to see if he was being honest.

“You should. He’s your Alpha,” Peter agreed. “Even if he’s sometimes not a good one, he needs to know.” Stiles knew that Peter had a point, but his finger hesitated over the call button for another second. He breathed in through his nose, then as he clicked ‘call’ and held the phone up to his ear, he exhaled slowly through his mouth and waited for Scott to answer.

It rang for long enough that he almost hung up, but right before he could, there was a click that signified that Scott finally answered.

“Hey, dude,” Scott greeted, slightly out of breath. He quickly regained it, then continued. “What’s up?”

“Have you had any luck finding that Alpha?” Stiles asked, feigning a sort of casualness that had Peter cutting his eyes to him, unamused.

“No, no luck today,” Scott answered. Stiles hadn’t realized that his heart was beating so fast until Peter grabbed his free hand over the center console and slotted their fingers together, his thumb brushing over Stiles’ comfortingly. Stiles felt himself calming down a little, and he squeezed Peter’s hand gratefully.

“Well, he was at the supermarket about an hour ago,” Stiles said, glancing up at the entrance to the supermarket, then over at Peter, who nodded encouragingly. “He kind of… scratched up Roscoe.”

“Jesus, Stiles, are you alright?” Scott asked, immediately slipping into his mother hen mode that made Stiles roll his eyes fondly. It was this side of him that made him such a good veterinarian’s assistant. He cared so deeply about everyone and everything.

“I’m fine, Scotty,” he brushed off the concern. “Peter’s giving me a ride home. I just thought you should know that this guy is getting to be a little too confident --”

“And messy,” Peter interrupted. Both of his hands were on Stiles’ now, and he wasn’t trying to hide the fact that he was listening to both sides of the conversation. Stiles put his phone down in his lap and put it on speaker so they could all talk without werewolf hearing having to be involved. “I could smell him from a mile away.”

“He’s been hiding his scent for days. Why would he stop now?” Scott asked after hearing Peter. Though the two didn’t like each other too much, they could work together just fine as long as Stiles was there to keep Peter from getting too snarky and Scott from trying to regain control.

“He wants us to find him,” Stiles said as the realization dawned on him. “It’s probably a trap of some sort. He’s spent the past few days getting us worked up and getting used to the new territory, and this is his way of telling us he’s ready to fight.” He looked over at Peter and knew they both shared the same look of determination. If Stiles had the chance to find this Alpha and get rid of him, he would.

“Stiles, I know what you’re thinking,” Scott said using the same tone he used when trying to break apart an argument between the Betas. “You’re really smart, man. Don’t try to go after this Alpha. I know you think you can handle it, but even with Peter, you’ll need help. Let’s all meet up and talk things through, okay?” Stiles had his doubts about how Scott would handle this, but he nodded once anyway, clenching his jaw.

“Yeah. I’ll drop by later tonight,” he said, and when Scott voiced his agreement, he hung up the phone and looked over at Peter. “He’s going to let the Alpha go,” he informed, “and he’ll leave for a while, then come back. Something about this guy tells me he’s not going to heed Scott’s warning.”

“I know,” Peter agreed, nodding solemnly. Neither of them were happy knowing what Scott’s decision would be. “We’ll get it all worked out. Let’s go drop the groceries off, then I’ll take you to Scott’s.” Stiles acquiesced, even though Peter didn’t have to give him a ride to Scott’s. They lived close enough that Stiles could easily walk, but he had a feeling they’d both feel better about it if he had a ride.

The whole way to Stiles’ house, their hands were joined over the center console.

“You can come too, you know,” Stiles told Peter once they were parked outside of Scott’s house. The car was idling, and Stiles thought he could convince Peter to stay with him during the meeting. After how Peter had cared for him earlier, he wasn’t sure he wanted to leave him yet.

“I shouldn’t. This is your pack meeting; I’m not pack,” Peter explained. Rationally, Stiles knew he had a point, but none of the pack would turn Peter away since Stiles had invited him. He didn’t bother arguing, because he knew Peter could be stubborn if he wanted to be, and with something like this, he had a feeling he was fighting a losing battle.

“Fine. I’ll call you later or something,” Stiles said, then unbuckled himself and opened the car door. He hesitated for just a second, then leaned back over and pressed a kiss to Peter’s cheek. After that, he got out of the car and shut the door before Peter could comment on it. There was a blush on his cheeks and a small smile on his lips as he walked up to the door. He knocked thrice, then pushed the door open since everyone was expecting him anyway.

He walked into the living room and saw that everyone was already there, so he made himself at home on the floor beside Lydia’s feet beside where Isaac was sitting on the other side of Jackson’s feet. Boyd and Erica were on the loveseat, and Allison was curled up in the chair since Scott was standing. He had told Stiles he thought it was only right that he stand since he was in charge, but Stiles had called it bullshit and blamed it on Scott’s newfound instincts needing him to prove his dominance whenever he could.

“You’re late,” Lydia said, but she tangled her fingers in Stiles’ hair and allowed him to rest his head on her knee, so he knew she wasn’t too mad at him.

“Yeah, well, some asshole decided to hurt Roscoe,” he muttered. He wasn’t happy about how the Alpha had treated his Jeep, and he would really like if Peter didn’t want to pay for the repairs so badly. But he was technically still the sugar baby, so if Peter wanted to pay, then Stiles had to admit they had an agreement. It was only fair to stick with it.

“So I heard,” Lydia hummed, lips pursed in thought as her fingers brushed through the tangles in Stiles’ hair. “What are you going to do about it?”

“That’s Scott’s decision, you know that,” he huffed. He knew that Scott, with his big heart and sweet soul, would not want to hurt the Alpha if there was any other option. It rubbed him the wrong way to know that the Alpha would get away with no repercussions.

“Then let me rephrase: What would you do?” She asked. The others could hear them easily, but there were other conversations going at the time, mumbled little discussions between two or three pack members at a time, so he hoped that was cover enough for them to talk.

“Anything I had to,” Stiles answered. That was as far as their conversation could go before Scott clapped his hands together and everyone stared up at him expectantly.

“Stiles, what exactly happened at the store today?” Scott asked, jumping right in without any greeting or introduction. “Did you see anything weird?”

“See anything? No. I just got my groceries and when I went out to the Jeep, it was scratched up and the tires were slashed,” he responded, recounting the story the best he could. Things had moved so quickly when it all happened that he wasn’t sure if he missed something, but Peter caught on to so much more anyway. “From what I could see, there was no one strange standing around, and I don’t have your weird senses, so I couldn’t smell anything. Peter said the Alpha’s scent was all around, though, so I assume he’s done hiding where he is.” Stiles shrugged a shoulder once he’d finished.

“The car alarm didn’t go off?” Isaac asked, looking over at Stiles, who shook his head.

“No, it only does that if someone tries to open the door. Everything was right where I left it… He just wanted us to know that he’s ready to meet,” Stiles explained. He could feel in his gut that whatever the meeting was, it was going to be a trap. Scott, as sweet as he was, was a bit naive and all too trusting when it came to things like this. “I don’t think we should meet.”

“Well, we’re going to have to eventually,” Scott argued. “We can’t just let him run around Beacon Hills forever. One of these days, we’re going to have to set up a meeting and get him to talk to us. We need to know why he’s here.”

“I get that, Scott, but we could use the time. He’s kept hidden for this long, so maybe he’ll hide for a little longer. That’ll give us enough time to come up with a game plan so we don’t walk into this completely blind,” Stiles defended his point. He knew that at least Lydia would have to agree with him, and maybe even Allison. They were the two more logical ones, and Boyd sometimes managed to pipe up and agree every once in a while.

“Your last plan nearly got us killed, Stiles, so I don’t think having one this time would do us any good,” Scott snapped. Stiles didn’t argue back no matter how much he wanted to, because in a way, Scott was right. Stiles had had what he thought was a foolproof plan when a wendigo had come through town, but something had gone wrong -- a mistake in timing -- and they had nearly lost multiple Betas before there had been a distraction and they’d managed to kill the wendigo. That was months ago, though, and Stiles could feel the hurt blossoming in his chest as his friend held that against him.

He didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the meeting, and Lydia’s hand fell from his hair to rest on his shoulder instead as Scott explained what his plan was to set up a meeting. Stiles was half-listening while formulating his own plan to get what he wanted out of this situation. He knew he’d have Allison and Lydia on his side, but he needed someone more supernatural than a Banshee. He needed strong werewolves, and if Jackson was still a kanima, that would be nice to have too. Anything he could get since all he had himself was a bat that tended not to work so well sometimes.

Pure determination led Stiles to the conclusion that the only logical solution was to hunt this Alpha down with Peter’s help. Scott would only have hindered their investigation, then likely would have simply let the Alpha go with a warning. Stiles himself was sick of being hunted, of being made to live in fear, so he would take this one into his own hands -- and Peter’s paws, of course. Those would come in handy. After the meeting, he went back home and packed a duffel bag with his laptop case, his charger, his bat, the map from his board, a first aid kit, and a change of clothes just in case things got messy. He then headed out to the hotel Peter was staying at -- the nicest one in town, of course, which still wasn’t saying much since this was Beacon Hills, not Los Angeles.

He checked the room number Peter had texted him, then knocked on the door lightly. Before he could knock more than twice, the door was opening and he was face to face with Peter, dressed more casually than he’d ever been in the time he’d known him. His sock-clad feet poked out from beneath his worn jeans, and his white t-shirt had a stain on the bottom. Stiles hadn’t even known Peter could dress down so much; he just assumed he lived in henleys and leather jackets, or button-up shirts and nice slacks.

“Hey,” Stiles greeted as he stepped inside, dropping his bag down by the door and setting his laptop up on Peter’s bed, quickly logging himself in so he could show him what he had gathered. Noise complaints from areas that were typically quiet, reports of wild animals running out of the woods in unusual places, and any odd occurrences he could find in the short period of time he’d been able to sneak back into the file room at the sheriff’s station.

“Care to explain what it is you’re doing?” Peter asked, watching as Stiles’ brows furrowed in concentration as he found the right files to open. Stiles didn’t answer, simply patting the bed beside him for Peter to come sit. Once the Beta was able to see what Stiles had pulled up, he finally spoke.

“We’re finding the Alpha,” he answered, finally getting all of the files opened up, stacked on top and beside each other messily. He saw Peter looking at him out of the corner of his eye, but he didn’t have time to look over and ask him why. They had an Alpha to catch, after all. “My guess is that he’s somewhere around…” He trailed off, patting the pockets of his jeans then his red hoodie before pulling out a folded up map of Beacon Hills, also snatched from the station. He unfolded it and laid it across their laps, then pointed to the mark he’d drawn circling a radius of about a mile just outside the preserve. “Here. There’s the old bank, the abandoned railroad station, a few other places where they’re doing construction, then nothing but woods.”

“Plenty of space for him to hide,” Peter nodded.

“Exactly. So my thinking is that if we can narrow it down just a little bit more, then if you still have his scent, we could go out there looking for him,” Stiles explained, looking from the map to the files pulled up on his computer screen. “There are a few of these cases I think I can take out of this stack. I haven’t read through all of them yet, but some are just typical noise complaints. Nothing to do with any rogue, feral Alphas,” Stiles thought out loud, already closing out of a couple files after skimming through the details.

“I don’t think he’d hide out anywhere near the construction zones,” Peter pointed out, still looking down at the map. He reached over for the pen on the nightstand and adjusted the marking to exclude any areas where construction was taking place. “Too risky.”

“Right. Having people running around would mean he could be caught,” Stiles agreed, nodding once and glancing again at the map as Peter changed the markings on the map. “So that leaves us with the preserve.”

Stiles glanced over at Peter, who was already looking at him. Before he could ask why he was staring, Peter said, “If I can get his scent, I can find him.”

“Are you sure? I mean, that’s a lot of area for one werewolf to cover,” Stiles reminded him, looking at his laptop again just to see there was a pop-up reminding him that the battery was getting dangerously low. “Shit, can you grab the charger out of that bag?” He asked.

“I think I can handle it, Stiles. His scent was all over your Jeep, so I think I can get a lock on it,” Peter said as he set the map on the bed and stood up to walk over to Stiles’ duffle bag. Stiles was so preoccupied with searching for something -- anything -- to narrow down the area further that he’d completely forgotten what he’d packed until he saw strange movement out of the corner of his eye and looked over to see Peter holding his bat. Once the Beta saw Stiles looking, he raised a brow and held the bat up.

“You brought a bat?” He asked, sounding more amused than concerned, if Stiles was hearing correctly.

“Hey, that bat’s gotten me through a lot of shit, you know,” He defended, glaring at Peter until the bat was put down and he was grabbing the charger instead. As he brought it over and plugged it into the wall, Stiles continued, “You have claws; I have a bat. It’s my only defense. Well, that and my sarcasm, but it’s hard to hurt supernatural creatures with biting wit.”

“While I do admire your sense of humor, I do admit you have a point. I don’t think that would stop anyone,” Peter agreed, sitting down beside Stiles and handing him the end of the cord so he could plug his laptop in just moments before it would die. “You don’t need the bat, though. I’m going with you.” Stiles looked over at Peter, unamused.

“What good will that do me?” He asked. “If you’re distracted by fighting some Alpha, you can’t be over there protecting me from whatever else is roaming around in the woods. I mean, there’s some crazy shit here basically all the time.”

“Darling,” Peter drawled, smirking lazily. “Have I not proven that I would kill for you in a heartbeat?” The way he said it so casually yet so earnestly struck Stiles. It should have had him running for the hills, but it was far too late for that. Peter had proven his loyalty by killing someone for Stiles, then he stuck around to make sure he was okay afterward. If Stiles wasn’t okay with it, he wouldn’t have come to Peter to hunt down this Alpha with him. There was some part of him that seemed to crave the more primal instincts that Peter had, and that part of him both scared Stiles and invigorated him.

“I can protect myself,” Stiles said instead of voicing any of these thoughts. The way Peter was still smirking told him that he may have already known all of this anyway. Somehow, that didn’t surprise Stiles. Peter had a way of knowing what he was thinking and feeling before he even did.

Peter didn’t respond to that, and part of Stiles was grateful for that. He didn’t know how much truth was hidden behind the statement. Sure, he had always been the one with a plan. He’d always been able to find a way to keep everyone safe, but that was only in theory. In practice, he’d always fallen short. It seemed that everyone was always coming to his rescue even if he was the one who planned it all. Part of this was because Stiles had a sick streak of giving himself up in place of his friends. He spent so much time prioritizing everyone else’s safety that sometimes his own fell on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Peter seemed to care about nothing more than Stiles’ safety. It wasn’t scary; it was just new. He was getting used to it, and it was nice. He had always made a habit of letting safety fall too low on his list of worries. Even the night Scott had been bitten by the Alpha -- the night they’d stumbled upon the nemeton for the first time -- he’d been the one to drag them out looking for a dead body even though he knew that killers had a sick habit of coming back to the murder site. Scott had gotten the bite, and Stiles had gotten grounded, not that it stopped him from doing much. His dad spent so much time at the station that he’d been more than able to sneak out whenever he needed to. As long as he made sure to pay attention to where the deputies were at any given time, he could pretty much do as he pleased. Of course, this meant that the bruises he’d gotten during their fight with the Alpha that had bitten Scott -- Deucalion, his name was, and Stiles still hated him even though he was dead -- were rather hard to explain.

The next day, Scott had come over and they had explained everything to his dad because they realized that there was just no way for them to keep it hidden. The sheriff needed to know since they had a feeling there would be cases that would go unsolved if he didn’t know, and then they explained it to Melissa because she needed to know as well, and it would be nice to have someone in the hospital to explain anything before it was written off as a medical miracle and it made its way into the news.

Things were moderately easier once they knew. It at least made it easier for them to explain why they were out at odd hours of the night and why they sometimes came home injured, but the creatures kept coming and their pack kept getting bigger and bigger because Scott had a big heart that was incapable of turning people away, and things got out of hand. They all avoided the nemeton like the plague because none of them had particularly good memories there, but they had a good thing going. It was almost second nature by then.

“Wait,” Stiles said, pausing where he was typing out a search through his files for anything he may have missed.

“What?” Peter asked, sliding the map over to Stiles when he gestured for it. Stiles leaned closer to the map, looking right in the center of the mark and breathing out a soft, “shit.”

“I’m such an idiot,” he muttered, running a hand over his face as he leaned back against the headboard. “I think I know where he is.”

“Where is he?” Peter asked, watching as Stiles’ hand moved so he could point out the spot he could have found with his eyes closed and hands tied behind his back. He could have found his way there with no help at all, but he’d pushed the idea so far away that it hadn’t even crossed his mind until then.

“The nemeton,” he nearly breathed, looking over at Peter. “We kind of… hit the restart button on it a few years ago, and now Beacon Hills is literally a beacon to all things supernatural. To the point where I’m surprised Sam and Dean haven’t shown up to hunt us yet. And it’s right in the middle of where everything is happening. He’d be drawn to it the second he stepped foot in Beacon Hills.” Peter was still looking at the map where Stiles’ hand slid off of it, then he looked over at Stiles. He hummed once as if thinking, but Stiles didn’t get the chance to ask what he was thinking about before Peter was standing from the bed.

“We should go then,” he said, already grabbing the keys to his rental car. “Before he realizes we’ve managed to track him down.” Stiles closed his laptop and stood up, glancing down to make sure his shoes were tied -- that was a mistake he wouldn’t be making again any time soon -- then grabbing his bat from where Peter had set it up against the wall. Neither of them said another word as they left the hotel, both mentally preparing for the battle awaiting for them. They were halfway there when Peter looked over at Stiles in the passenger seat and saw him typing quickly as if his mind was moving faster than his fingers could ever dream of. “What are you doing?” He asked.

“Texting my dad,” Stiles replied, erasing a few words and choosing instead to rephrase what he’d been trying to say. “Just… letting him know I’ll be home late.”

Stiles: Be home in the morning. Don’t forget to take your meds before bed. I love you.

It was a short message, and Stiles knew it wasn’t even a dent in what he wanted to say -- what he needed to say -- before walking into a fight like the one they were heading for. Yes, Peter was ruthless and strong, but he was still a Beta. Alphas could inflict more pain upon a Beta than the other way around, and something about tonight felt like things would never be the same. He knew something was going to happen, and if that something was to be his death, then he wanted John to know that he loved him.

He didn’t know it, but Peter made the promise then to keep Stiles alive no matter what it took. He would be going home to his father regardless of what it cost the werewolf.

If there was one thing to know about Peter, it was that he kept his promises.

They parked the car on the outskirts of the forest and walked the rest of the way since Peter said they could be quieter that way. Then they would have the element of surprise on their side. While the Alpha was sure to hear them coming, it would be quieter than if they were in the car and approached any closer than they’d gotten with it. They would have some semblance of an advantage this way.

The mud slicked the way and Stiles slid more than once, but always managed to find his footing either by planting the bat down on the ground for balance or by grabbing Peter by his shirtsleeve until his feet stopped sliding in the mud. He cursed California for the week of rain they’d had, but he supposed it could have been worse. It could have still been raining, which would hinder any chances of them winning since it would affect Stiles’ vision and make it difficult for Peter to fight.

“Stop,” Stiles said once the space around him began to look familiar. The only light was the gibbous moon shining above them through the trees, and thankfully his eyes had adjusted to where that was almost enough. Though he’d stayed close to Peter throughout the walk, he left his side now to slowly step toward the large trunk, careful of where he stepped since he knew the land was bound to cave in at any moment. He stopped once his toes nudged against the trunk, then looked over his shoulder at Peter. “This is it.” Peter’s eyes scanned through the trees, and Stiles wondered if he could see anything, but he didn’t speak up since he didn’t want to distract the Beta. Peter needed to be able to focus on listening for any signs of the enemy approaching. Eventually, however, the suspense got to be too much. “Anything?” Stiles asked.

“No,” Peter said, though he didn’t sound as sure as he usually did. Stiles wondered what that meant, and if the Alpha really was there. Was there a way to hide a scent and a heartbeat from someone? Of all the magic he’d seen, surely that was possible. God, he hoped the Alpha didn’t know how to do that. Stiles opened his mouth to voice these concerns, but Peter held up a hand and tilted his head as if he was listening. “He’s here,” he stated no more than a few seconds before an Alpha stepped out from the cover of the trees.

He came out on the other side of the nemeton, closer to Stiles than he was to Peter. Though he was more than a little afraid, Stiles tilted his chin up defiantly and gripped his bat a little tighter in his hand.

“So you’re the dickhead that scratched up my Jeep,” he said once he realized that neither of the werewolves was going to start off the conversation. He briefly wondered if that was some sort of dominance thing since the two of them were staring each other down so intensely. Stiles didn’t have time for that bullshit. “Wasn’t very nice of you.”

“I wasn’t going for nice,” the Alpha responded.

“Who are you?” was Stiles’ next question. It seemed like a valid one since this Alpha had tracked him down, scratched his Jeep, then came in here acting like an asshole. He really fucking hated Alphas.

“Enoch Bassow,” he responded, his chin held up with pride as if the name was supposed to mean something to Stiles.

“Okay, Enoch, are you from the 1800s or something? I mean, I know my name is a mouthful, but -- Enoch?” Stiles laughed, looking over his shoulder at Peter to see the Beta smirking in amusement. He briefly wondered why Peter was being so quiet, but he didn’t have time to ponder for very long because the Alpha let out a threatening growl so Stiles turned to face him again. “Oh, sorry, is that a sensitive subject? My bad,” he said, raising a hand in surrender even as his smile stayed on his face. “Why are you here?”

“I’m here for my Beta,” Enoch answered then, seeming even angrier than before, if that was possible.

“We don’t have him,” Peter finally spoke up. Stiles jabbed his thumb over his shoulder as a silent agreement to Peter’s statement, not taking his eyes off of the Alpha in front of him. His eyes were glowing dangerously red, but the adrenaline kept Stiles from feeling scared. Instead, he was more exhilarated. He couldn’t believe he was staring down an Alpha in the middle of the woods just a couple of nights before a full moon with nothing but a bat as defense. Well, the bat and Peter.

“He came to Beacon Hills two weeks ago to track down the True Alpha,” Enoch explained, not even looking at Stiles anymore. “He was due to return home last week and we haven’t seen him.”

“Oh, now wait a second,” Stiles laughed, tapping his fingers on the bat until Enoch was looking at him again. “This Beta -- about six foot, dark hair, really fucking dramatic?” Enoch rolled his eyes but nodded, then Stiles looked back at Peter for just a second before his gaze returned to the Alpha in front of him. “Yeah, I know him.”

“Then where is he?” Enoch growled. Stiles knew he was growing impatient, but he was rather enjoying this, maybe a bit more than he should have been.

“Hm? Oh, right,” he said, not bothering to hide the smirk on his lips. “See, my friend here killed him.” The growl that came from the Alpha was nearly deafening, but Stiles pointedly did not flinch. He refused to show that sort of weakness. “Your Beta threatened to cut me open so that my Alpha would come find me. He wanted to be an Alpha himself, but -- well, that clearly didn’t work out well for him.” Stiles gripped his bat a little tighter, his knuckles going white as the Alpha took another step closer to him. From the corner of his eye, he saw Peter move up to stand beside him, claws out and eyes glowing dangerously. “Didn’t expect that, did you? What do you think of your little Beta now?”

“I think,” Enoch started, voice deeper than it was just moments before. Stiles could see as he began to shift into his wolf, and he prepared himself for battle. He would have to fight; he just knew it. “He should have killed you when he had the chance.” The Alpha moved to come closer, but faltered when Stiles laughed.

“You shouldn’t have said that,” he said, shaking his head.

“Oh? Why not?” Enoch asked. “You’re no threat to me.”

“No,” Stiles agreed. That much was true. He didn’t stand a chance against this Alpha, but Peter -- his murderous almost-boyfriend, mostly Sugar Daddy Peter -- did. Even if that chance was a slim one, he wasn’t scared. “But he is. And he doesn’t take well to threats. Actually, Peter,” he said, turning now to face Peter and seeing him in his Beta shift for the first time. “I think you killed the last person that threatened me, didn’t you?” Peter looked over at him with a knowing glint in his eye and a lethal smirk on his lips and nodded once. “Tore his throat out for even thinking about touching me.” The Beta looked away from Stiles and to Enoch, who looked just slightly less intimidating than he did before, almost as if he was doubting himself.

That look was quickly changed into one of pure fury and determination, then the Alpha was throwing himself over the nemeton after Peter. Stiles stepped out of the way so he wouldn’t be dragged to the ground as well as Peter rolled with him, quickly tearing himself out of Enoch’s grasp and landing knelt on the ground as Enoch got up again. He launched himself at Peter again, but the Beta dodged it easily and found an opening to wrap a hand around Enoch’s throat, claws digging in momentarily before he was throwing him against a nearby tree.

The Alpha may have been bigger, but he had no strategy to his fighting. That much even Stiles could tell from a distance. Every move Peter made was calculated, while Enoch seemed to be running himself ragged trying to find an opening to attack. Each time, Peter waited for Enoch to strike and simply played defense, getting him to wear himself down. Stiles knew that Peter couldn’t play offense while Enoch was still at full strength, and all they had to do was be patient. He kept a tight grip in his bat just in case he needed to swing it anytime soon. Peter kept the fight as far away from Stiles as he could, and Stiles stayed pressed close to the nemeton as he watched.

Enoch was gradually becoming more covered in blood as Peter threw him into trees or managed to get his claws into some portion of his skin. The gashes healed as quickly as Peter could deliver them, though Stiles had to look away at one point when claws dug into Enoch’s side and tore deep enough that Stiles definitely saw things he wasn’t supposed to see. He could have lived his whole life without seeing someone’s insides, but he supposed that was something that came with the territory of instigating a fight between two werewolves.

The howl that tore from Enoch’s throat echoed through the forest after that injury, but he healed after a moment and quickly grabbed Peter by the throat, pinning him down to the ground and bashing his head down once, twice, then before he could do it again, Stiles jumped into action. He shouldn’t -- he knew that -- because he was only a human and could get hurt so much more than Peter or Enoch could. But Enoch had the upper hand and Peter had no way of getting out unless Stiles did something, so he ran up behind him and raised his titanium bat to swing it, hitting it against Enoch’s head hard enough that he rolled off of Peter’s body.

Peter quickly stood up and nodded once at Stiles, but when they turned back to Enoch, the Alpha was already standing. This time, instead of glaring at Peter, he was glaring at Stiles. This was another reason Stiles should have stayed out of it. Before, Peter had Enoch so distracted that he’d stayed away from Stiles, but now, he was the primary target. Fortunately for them, Peter had managed to regain some of his strength despite the blood still dripping down his forehead. Stiles raised his bat, poised to swing at Enoch again as the Alpha quickly approached, but before Stiles could swing, Peter had swept in from the side and gotten Enoch away from him once again. They rolled, but then Peter was on top of him. From this view, all Stiles could see was Peter’s back and bits and pieces of Enoch’s body. There was a struggle, then a mutter that Stiles couldn’t understand, then Peter’s arm raised above his head, claws extended. With a quick swipe of his arm, there was a splatter of blood, and then the struggle was over.

The forest grew eerily quiet after that, and somewhere in the back of his mind, Stiles thought that the blood looked black in the moonlight. Peter didn’t move besides the rise and fall of his shoulders as he panted, so Stiles approached slowly.

“Peter?” He asked tentatively, taking the last steps he needed before he was resting a hand on Peter’s shoulder. The werewolf jerked away from the touch, and Stiles was quick to remove his hand after that. “Peter…” He trailed off. He knew that Enoch was dead, so all he could hope was that Peter was okay. His injuries would likely bother him for a few hours, but he would heal, wouldn’t he? He didn’t get the chance to ask before Peter finally looked over his shoulder at Stiles.

His eyes flashed, causing Stiles to stumble backward in shock. He barely caught himself before falling, but his eyes never strayed from Peter. Of course, he should have known that this would happen. He thought maybe a part of him did, but the larger part was so caught up in eliminating the threat that he hadn’t even considered this as a possibility.

Instead of their usual gold, his eyes glowed a brilliant red.

He was an Alpha.