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Dance Like Nobody's Watching

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Coming out of my cage, and I’ve been doing just fine, gotta gotta be down, because I want it all...

Stiles' eyes fly open as he wakes to the sound of The Killers blasting through the speakers he’s hooked up. It’s his alarm for today. (Yesterday it was REM’s The end of the world as we know it. The day before it was Janelle Monae’s Dance Apocalyptic. His taste in music has taken an ironic turn lately, which given the circumstances, he thinks is reasonable). He reflects for a moment that his phone’s really just a glorified ipod now, but at least the end of the world’s going to have a kickass soundtrack.

He lays there, listening to the tune as it belts along, and then pulls on the cord he’s rigged up to open the morgue drawer from the inside. It’s sheer habit that makes him turn to the left, still half expecting Melissa’s drawer to open as well, and for her to sit up and say “Really, Stiles?” in that fondly exasperated tone of hers, huffing and rolling her eyes as she climbs out. But the drawer remains stubbornly closed.

It’s just him.

He climbs out of his makeshift bed, turns the music up a little and starts to dance, hopping and twisting around the room as he sings loudly, proclaiming to the world at large that I’M MR BRIGHTSIIIIIIDE!

It’s part of his routine, the one he’s crafted to keep himself mostly sane.

He sets an alarm. He gets up, even though he has nowhere to be.

He dances. He needs to move in the mornings, he’s found. Needs to get his blood flowing, give his hands and feet something to do, remind himself that he’s still alive.

Coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine,” he lies.

Because he’s not, not really. He’s not doing just fine at all. As the song comes to an end he turns off the music, giving a final twirl with his arms held wide. “Dance like nobody’s watching,” he mutters with a dark chuckle, knowing that nobody will be watching, ever again.

He eats. “Breakfast- most important meal of the day,” he recites, just to break the silence. It’s dry cereal from the stockpile of boxes he’s stashed. Other days he chews on a protein bar.  The long-life milk ran out a while ago, and he hasn’t bothered to try and get more. It seems like too much effort. Most things do, now.

He washes. He makes his way to the bathrooms to shower, brush his teeth, and floss. Dental care is important. Stiles is damned if he’s going to end up like those pharaohs that died of an infected molar. He might die young and alone, but it won’t be from lack of flossing.

He dresses. On his good days, on most days, it’s jeans and a t shirt. But some days, he’ll pull on one of his dad’s old shirts, wrapping himself in the tan fabric and chasing the smell of his father’s aftershave, long since faded. Those are the days he usually ends up curled up in a ball in the corner, shaking and sobbing as the reality of it all comes crashing down on him. Those are the days when he battles with the realization that the werewolves are eventually going to kill him, and all he’s doing is delaying the inevitable.

Stiles is hanging on by a thread, and if you look closely, you can see where it’s dangerously frayed. He knows that he’s not quite stable, and that one day he’ll snap.

He knows, OK?

But he’s doing his best, because in the back of his mind he can hear his Dad, saying “You hide, son, and you stay alive as long as you can. Love you, kiddo.”

They were the last words Noah said before the virus took him.

 


 

 

It’s time for the big decision of the day.

Does he stay in, carry on reading his way through the stack of books he has, or does he risk going outside? Some days, fear overrides restlessness, and he curls up in a chair with a book and doesn’t set foot outside. Those are the days when his head whips up at every creak, every rattle, every stray noise, his heart beating nearly out of his chest at the thought that somehow, they’ve found him.

On days like today, when he feels like there’s electricity running under his skin and he can’t possibly stay cooped up anymore, he takes the chance, arms himself to the teeth, and leaves the safety of the hospital. With a gun strapped to one thigh, a knife to the other, and a jar of mountain ash in his pocket, he’s ready to go.

He’ll carefully exit the hospital, weapons in place, backpack on, and ride his bike through the streets, breathing in the fresh air as he pedals briskly. He doesn’t fail to see the irony of using a bike to get around when he could have his pick of any of the latest model cars, but the reality is, cars need fuel, and cars make noise. Stiles needs to stay quiet, not draw attention to himself. He doesn’t know how many wolves there still are out there, just like he doesn’t know if there are any other human survivors, but he’s not naïve enough to think that they’ll necessarily be glad to see him. He prefers to stay under the radar for now.

He usually ends up at the lake. The sight and sound of the water soothes him, makes him feel at peace, lets him pretend everything's normal. Like this is any other day, and he’s sitting here on a picnic rug, reading and eating cookies and drinking juice. If he ignores the fact that the blanket is sitting inside a circle of mountain ash, he can even pretend that somewhere out there his friends aren’t slavering monsters that want to kill him.

 


 

 

Nobody knows exactly what the virus is, or where it came from, but Stiles has a pretty good idea. When things all started to turn to shit, desperate men who worked in shady labs for nameless government departments posted videos to YouTube about how this was research gone bad, about how the disease was only meant to kill Weres. It wasn’t meant to transform them into snarling demon beasts. It wasn’t meant to affect humans at all. It certainly wasn't meant to take out 90% of the population.

Stiles had watched a few of the videos before they got pulled down, and the scientists had detailed the symptoms - for humans, death within 48 hours from a raging fever. For the Weres, insanity, increased strength, a dramatic change in their wolf form, and a feral bloodlust.  For most of the population it was a double whammy – they hadn’t known about Werewolves to begin with, and now suddenly they were being hunted by them. The videos all agreed on one thing though – there’s no cure, for either Weres or humans.  If you survived the fever, it didn’t matter, because if the wolves caught you, they’d kill you.

The first few weeks had been the toughest for Stiles.  He’d spent them holed up at home with his Dad, trying to process the fact that somehow, he’d survived his fever. Then he’d nursed his Dad for the day and a half it took for him to die, clinging to the hope that maybe it was genetic, and Noah would be fine too. When Noah breathed his last, Stiles dialled Melissa’s number in a panic, knowing she was probably dead as well but not knowing who else to call, because his dad was gone, and what the hell was he supposed to do with a body?

When she picked up the phone he’d blurted out, “My dad’s dead,” before breaking down in ugly, panicked sobs. Melissa had come over immediately and helped him bury Noah, and they’d spent the rest of the day wordlessly holding each other tight.

The next morning, Melissa had said “Stiles, we need to head for the morgue. We’ll be safe there.” He’d been confused for a moment, but then his brain caught up. The hospital had a generator. The morgue was secure. It had electronic locks. And if you were looking for someone alive, it was pretty much the last place you’d check. He’d nodded his understanding, and Melissa had squeezed his hand. “Almost everyone who gets this is dying,” she’d whispered. “We’re the only ones who have recovered, so far.”

“We’ll be fine,” he’d reassured her.  Neither of them believed it. The virus hadn’t killed them, but given half a chance, the werewolves would. Melissa had taken a shaky breath, nodded, and said, “Looks like it’s just you and me, kid.”

The hospital was deserted. Towards the end, they hadn’t bothered admitting anyone, just sending them home. As a result, the morgue was nearly empty. The two of them moved the single body from in there, scrubbed the place from top to bottom, converted the drawers to open from the inside, and set up house. They used the drawers for storage, loading up on dry goods and canned food and weapons that they took from the sheriff’s office. And for a month, it wasn’t too bad. Sure, they both got a little stir crazy, but at least they had company.

Stiles tried to scandalize Melissa one afternoon by suggesting they get to work repopulating the planet, throwing her a suggestive wink. Melissa grabbed his arm, flipped him easily, and pinned him down on the floor, straddling him. “Oh please, baby boy. Like you’d even be able to handle this.” She ground down against him while he lay there open mouthed in shock, adding “Besides, we both know you’re as queer as a three-dollar bill.”

Stiles had burst out laughing, Melissa had dragged him up off the floor, and they’d never mentioned it again. By unspoken agreement they also didn’t mention Scott. They didn’t know if he was alive or not, because once the virus took hold all the Weres looked the same, their features overtaken by their feral wolf. There was simply no way to know if Scott was one of the wolves prowling the streets, or if he’d been killed. Stiles wasn’t sure which prospect was worse.

And then Melissa went out one day, and never came back, and Stiles’ grip on things has been getting shakier ever since.

He’s not sure how much longer he can do this.

 


 

 

It’s seeing the battery-operated calendar in the window of the store that tips Stiles over the edge. He’s lost track of dates and days somewhere along the way, and it doesn’t really bother him. But today’s date catches his attention. It’s his birthday. He’s 21.

If things were normal, he’d be planning a night out with his friends, getting drunk and celebrating. But instead, he’s standing in Main Street, looking in the window of a deserted store while he scouts for supplies. There’s nothing normal about this. There never will be again. And Stiles is just….done. A sob catches in his throat, and he feels desperately, achingly alone.  He wonders why he’s even trying to hold on. What’s the point? He stares at the date for a few minutes, and then walks two stores down to the liquor store. The door locks have been smashed already, so he goes inside.

Stiles bypasses the beer. He has the feeling that’s not going to cut it. He plans to get absolutely blind drunk, pass out somewhere, and when the wolves take him, maybe he won’t feel it. He opens random bottles of spirits and takes a taste, screwing up his face as his throat burns. He finally settles on Ouzo. He likes the taste of the aniseed, and he works his way through a third of a bottle as he wanders up the street. He hasn’t eaten today, couldn’t bring himself to do it, so it hits him fast.  He starts shambling towards the high school, with the vague idea of visiting the lacrosse field. But he doesn’t get any further than the school gates before his legs give out on him.

He slumps against the pillars, and takes another swig. He closes his eyes for what he thinks is a second, but when he next opens them it’s dusk.  He looks around and can’t see anybody or anything nearby. He’s not sure if he’s relieved or disappointed that he’s still alive. He takes another drink and drifts back into a drunken sleep. He wakes to the sound of deep, guttural growling, and when he looks up, there’s a blood-spattered figure looming over him. This is it, he thinks. I’m going to die. He finds that the idea doesn’t bother him like it should.

The werewolf, though, isn’t feral. He’s shirtless, muscles glistening with streaks of gore and sweat, and there’s blood dripping off the claws of one hand. He’s dragging the remains of a deer in the other. He tilts his head to the side, leans in a little closer, and as Stiles lies on the ground blinking up at him, a familiar voice says, “Stiles. It had to be you.”

 


 

 

The next thing Stiles knows, the werewolf hooks his claws into the collar of his shirt, and drags him across the ground, muttering under his breath about idiot children. The wolf drops the deer and does something with his claws, and suddenly the ground’s opening and he’s dragging Stiles down the stairs into a vault, casting him exasperated looks all the while. When they reach the bottom of the stairs he drops Stiles’ drunken ass unceremoniously on the ground and turns to face him, arms folded over his chest and an unimpressed look on his face.

He’s shifted back into human form, and Stiles knows who it is. Really, if he’d been sober, he would have recognized him instantly. “Do you want to get us both killed?” Peter snarls at him. ” I thought you were smarter than this, Stiles. If you need my help to survive that’s one thing, but passing out on my doorstep? Are you trying to draw attention to the only safe place in town?”

Stiles just stares, speechless. How is Peter alive? How is he not an insane killer? He scrambles up off the floor, backing away slowly. Despite his drunken state, his instincts are screaming at him. Being in an underground vault with a werewolf is definitely not a safe place to be, and Stiles suddenly finds he doesn’t want to die quite as badly as he did before. Peter’s always been a shady bastard, and Stiles doesn’t trust him, not for a second. “Why aren’t you dead or sick?” he accuses. “What did you do?”

Peter raises a brow. “I could ask the same of you.”

“I - I got better,” Stiles stammers out, mind still fuzzy.

“I never got sick at all. I’m chalking it up to my oddly undead state,” Peter replies. Stiles supposes that makes some sort of sick sense.

“So, you’re staying in the vault?”

“Of course. It’s the most secure place there is. It has power and food and security. Where have you been hiding?” Peter asks.

“The morgue. It’s safe, and there’s power and water there.”

Peter hums, saying, “Clever.”

“It was Scott’s mom’s idea,” Stiles mutters.

Peter looks surprised, asking “Melissa’s still alive?” He sounds pleased at the prospect, and Stiles belatedly remembers that Peter’s always found her attractive.

He shakes his head. “She was, but she went out, and she never came back. There’s only me.”

Peter looks at him steadily, assessing, before asking, “So tell me why you’re drunk in the middle of the street. Some sort of death wish, I’m guessing?”

Stiles stares at the ground silently and doesn’t answer.  Peter waits patiently, and finally Stiles speaks, just to fill the silence. It’s been so long since he had anyone to talk to, even Peter will do. “I just…. didn’t see any point in carrying on, if I’m the only one left.”

He waits for Peter to call him stupid, or ungrateful, to tell him that things will get better, that there will be others and they can start again. Peter says none of those things. Instead he says softly, “There’s no worse feeling in the world than being alone, is there?” Stiles lifts his head, surprised at the understanding tone.  Peter’s looking at him intently. “What? You think you’re the only one who’s considered just giving up on the whole mess?”

Stiles shrugs. “It’s my birthday.” He doesn’t try and explain further. He doesn’t have to.

“Well that explains the drinking, then,” Peter says. “Follow me.” He walks away without looking to see if Stiles is following, and goes towards the back of the vault and through a doorway there. Stiles only hesitates for a moment before trailing after him. Hell, he’s here now. He may as well do as he’s told. When he walks through the door he’s surprised to find what’s essentially a large apartment. It’s equipped with a decent kitchen, a generous sized living area, and several doors that he assumes lead to bedrooms and bathrooms. He stands and gapes. Peter catches his look and says “What, you didn’t think a family of werewolves would have a secret den?”  Then he walks over and opens a large chest freezer, pulling out a tub of ice cream. “We should celebrate your birthday.”

Stiles stares. “You have a freezer in here?”

“Well, where else am I going to keep the bodies?” Peter says lightly.

“That’s not funny, Peter.”

Peter rolls his eyes. “Meat, Stiles. It’s where I store the meat from my hunts.”

And yeah, that makes sense. Stiles eyes the ice cream longingly. It’s been so long since he had food that’s not from a tin or a packet, the thought of eating something cold and soft and creamy makes him giddy.  Peter puts the ice cream on the table and pulls out two bowls, then scoops out two generous serves before he pushes a bowl towards Stiles.

Stiles goes over to the table and takes the spoon Peter offers him, sitting down and digging it into the dessert. He takes a mouthful and moans as the flavor floods his mouth. His hunger awakens at the taste, and he makes short work of the serving, scraping the bowl to get the last dregs. Peter watches, amusement in his gaze, as he eats his own serve elegantly. He makes a jarring picture, sitting there with his legs crossed, holding the spoon delicately, even as he’s shirtless with blood on his chest and covering his hands. Stiles tries not to stare, but he can’t seem to look away from the sight. Peter notices his gaze, because of course he does. “Enjoying the view?’ he asks.

Stiles looks away hurriedly, muttering “Shut up. You’re covered in blood, and you’re eating ice cream. It’s weird, that’s all.”

Peter looks down at himself as if he’s only just noticing the tacky crimson smears on his torso. “So I am. Well, you did catch me coming back from a hunt.” He picks up the empty dessert bowls and drops them in the sink. “Speaking of which,” he says, before disappearing up the stairs and coming back with the remaining half of the deer.

“Do I want to know where the rest of that went?” Stiles asks. Peter just raises an eyebrow, and picks something out of his teeth. Stiles shudders. “Forget I asked. What else do you have in the freezer?”.

Peter grins devilishly, and says “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

Stiles huffs, and says “Yeah, actually. I’ve been living on pre-packaged shit.”

Peter looks at Stiles as for a long moment before he answers. “I have meat, vegetables, pie, frozen desserts, bread, cream, butter, fruit. And I might even be willing to share, if the price is right.”

Stiles is immediately wary. “What price?”

Peter doesn’t answer at first, busy rinsing the dishes and putting them away. Finally, he turns and says “I’m going to have a shower. We’ll discuss it afterwards.”

 


 

 

Stiles looks around the room while Peter disappears through the closed door. He’s not quite sober, but he’s less drunk than he was. He opens the freezer and sees that Peter wasn’t lying- it’s filled with the foods that Stiles has been missing, and he decides that whatever Peter wants, he’ll probably give it to him, short of actually sleeping with the man. Some things are worth more than cherry pie.

He closes the lid with a thunk and pokes through the kitchen drawers. He’s not sure what he expects to find, but there’s nothing more exciting in there than a coffee mug with ceramic tentacles wrapped around it, so he stops looking and slumps back down on the couch. He must doze a little, because the next thing he knows there’s a hand shaking his shoulder and he opens his eyes to see Peter looming over him, wearing nothing but a pair of faded jeans. He can’t help the way his eyes rake over Peter’s body, taking in the firm muscle and tanned flesh. Peter sees him looking but doesn’t call him on it this time, and Stiles is quietly grateful. “So. Obviously living alone really isn’t working for you is it?” Peter observes. Stiles just shakes his head, too tired to even deny it. “I think we can help each other out. You could stay here with me. You’ll have fresh food, company, and protection from the feral wolves,” Peter offers.

Stiles is skeptical about that last one. “No offense Peter, but I don’t think even you can take those big bastards down.”

Pete folds his arms across his chest. “I can, and I have. They’re big and strong, but dumb and slow. It’s really not that hard.”

Stiles swallows as he thinks about the implications of what Peter is telling him. “Do you know who – “

Peter flashes his eyes Alpha red at Stiles in reply. So that’s that question answered, then. Stiles decides he was wrong. Not knowing what happened to Scott was infinitely better.

“It might not have been Scott, Stiles.”

Stiles doesn’t reply, numb with the loss of his friend. Of course it was Scott. He knows it in his gut.

“If it makes you feel better, it was quick,” Peter offers.

Stiles looks up at him disbelievingly. “How would that make me feel better?”

Peter just shrugs. Stiles shakes his head. “You really take the cake, you know that?”

“I did what I had to, to survive. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same.” Stiles drops his head into his hands because Peter’s right, and how awful is it that his morality matches up with that of a mass murdering ex-psychopath?

 


 

 

Peter lets Stiles sit in silence for a while as he goes and finds a shirt to wear, but when he comes back into the room he’s all business. “If you’ve finished throwing the world’s smallest pity party, shall we discuss what I need from you in exchange for food, shelter, and protection?”

“I can guess,” Stiles mutters darkly.

Peter arches a brow. “Try and contain your enthusiasm, Stiles.”

Stiles shrugs. “Hey, we both know I have nothing to offer you beyond the obvious. Excuse me if I’m not jumping with joy at the thought of becoming Uncle Bad Touch’s personal plaything.”

Peter sits down opposite Stiles, a confused expression on his face. “What are you talking about, Stiles? What do you think I want from you, exactly?”

“Um, I’d probably be willing to give you hand jobs, but anything else is off limits.”

Peter grimaces. “You think I want you for sex?”

It shouldn’t sting so much that Peter seems disgusted by the idea. “Hey, I know I’m no prize, but you don’t have to act so horrified,” Stiles snaps. “It’s not like you’re spoiled for choice here. And what else would you want?”

Peter shakes his head. “Stiles, I’d sleep with you in a heartbeat if I thought you wanted to. It’s more that you assume I would force you into it that repulses me. That’s not what I’m asking for, I promise.”

“Well, what are you asking for then?” Stiles asks. He’s curious now.

Peter's suddenly very interested in the back of his hands as he says, “I want to touch you.”

“See? Uncle Bad Touch!”

Peter rolls his eyes. “You’re meant to be the clever one, Stiles. Are you going to make me explain?”

“Well, yeah. You literally just said you don’t want sex, but now you want to touch me?”

Peter huffs a little, and as though it’s killing him, he grits out “I’m a pack animal without a pack, Stiles. I need someone to touch me, for the sake of my sanity.”

Oh.

“You mean touch, touch? Like hugs?”

“Exactly like hugs. Skin to skin is better, but I can manage with less. I’ll take anything you’re willing to give. And frankly, you look like you could use some physical contact as well. “

“And in return, I get to stay here, and you’ll feed me and look after me and keep me company?” Stiles clarifies. Peter nods. Stiles eyes him speculatively. “And your hands stay out of my pants, right? No funny business? No there’s only one bed Stiles, we have to share?”

Peter rolls his eyes again as he gets up and opens the door he’d disappeared through earlier, indicating for Stiles to follow him. He does, and finds what’s essentially a dormitory. There are at least half a dozen beds, as well as several sets of bunks. Stiles can see two bathrooms through other doors. “This was built for the family to live in, back when we were a bigger pack,” Peter explains. “It can house a dozen people comfortably. So no, no bed sharing. Just touch.” Stiles can’t help but notice the hint of desperation in Peter’s tone when he asks, “So do we have a deal, Stiles?”

“Maybe. How about I sober up properly before I agree to anything, but I give you one hug in the meantime, so you’ll stop staring at me like the last steak on the grill?”

Peter moves with supernatural speed, and Stiles finds himself with arms wrapped tightly around him before he has time to blink. Peter buries his face in the crook of Stiles’s neck and holds on in a death grip. Stiles can feel him quivering.  “Woah, needy much there?”

Peter’s voice is muffled, but Stiles can still understand him when he says, “Stop talking now.” Stiles stands there, unsure what to do. Peter seems content to just cling to him like he’s some sort of stuffed toy, and Stiles is left with his arms hanging by his sides. When Peter shows no sign of letting go any time soon, Stiles hesitantly lifts his arms and wraps them around the wolf’s shoulders. As soon as he does Peter burrows into his neck further, and lets out a deep sigh. Stiles can feel Peter sag a little as his body relaxes.

Stiles isn’t sure how long they stand like that, hugging awkwardly like a pair of grandads, but he has to admit, it’s not as terrible as he thought it might be. Peter makes no move to do anything other than hold him. He thinks that if being Peter’s cuddle buddy’s going to get him fresh food and a protector, he can live with it. He reflects briefly on the irony of Peter being the safe option in all of this.

When Peter finally peels himself way from Stiles, some of the tension has left his face, and he looks more like his normal asshole self.  “Do we need to go and collect your things from the morgue?” he asks.

Stiles shakes his head. “Not tonight. I don’t go out after dark. I’ll go tomorrow.”

“Is there anything that you really need? We could just get you new stuff, go into town,” Peter suggests, as if he’s arranging a shopping trip, and not a raid on deserted homes and businesses.

Stiles thinks of his Dad’s shirts, his sheriff’s badge. “There’s some things I want to get.”

Peter nods at that. He looks Stiles up and down, saying “You look dead on your feet. Go have a shower, but make it a quick one, hot water’s limited. Then get a decent night’s sleep. Pick any bed.”

Stiles goes into the bedroom. He picks the bed furthest from Peter’s. After a moment’s hesitation, he spreads a line of mountain ash around it. Better safe than sorry, and he still doesn’t really trust Peter. The alcohol’s worn off, and he just feels tired and sad. He has the world’s fastest shower and curls up under the blankets.

Happy fucking birthday.

 


 

 

He doesn’t wake until the next morning, when something soft hits him in the face. He flails at the contact, and discovers it’s a pillow that’s hit him. Peter’s standing near the bed, hands on his hips like a disappointed kindergarten teacher. “Really, Stiles? You’d use mountain ash against me in my own home?  If I had feelings, they’d be hurt right now.”

Stiles sits up in bed, head thumping and stomach sour. “Yeah well, you found it, so you must have been trying something.”

“I was only trying to wake you. And frankly, I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Stiles peers through sleep crusted eyelids at Peter. “Did you just…Star Wars me?”

“I may have finally watched the films,” Peter admits grudgingly.  He takes a step closer before hesitating. “If you could take that away, I’d really appreciate it.” He indicates the circle of ash.

Stiles throws his legs over the side of the bed and stands, stretching as he does so. He knows Peter wants the ash gone, but he likes this feeling of being in charge. It’s been a while since he was in control of anything in his life. He steps over the line of ash, bringing him closer to Peter, but makes no move to break the line or disturb it at all. “I dunno, I think it can stay for now. Helps me sleep at night.”

Peter’s scowl is nothing short of terrifying, but Stiles pretends it’s not affecting him.  Instead he just asks, “Got coffee?”

“I do. In fact, I have extremely good coffee, but I’m not sharing it with you while that is in my home. This isn’t negotiable, Stiles. If you stay, the ash goes.”

Stiles thinks about it. He can’t deny, this is a far better place to be than alone in a morgue drawer. And he doesn’t really trust Peter, but he can defend himself if he needs to - he just needs to make sure Peter’s aware of that fact. It’s with that in mind that he says “Yeah, OK.  I’ll get rid of it, but it comes back out at night. “

He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and concentrates. Then he extends his hand, palm open, and the grains of ash start to slowly move. They raise up off the floor and begin to spiral lazily towards his hand, a steady stream of dust, until there’s a ball of mountain ash spinning slowly around, an inch above his palm. After a few seconds the ball stops spinning and drops into his hand, a solid mass, and Stiles places it on the bedside table.

Peter’s staring, something like admiration in his eyes. “When did you learn to do that?”

Stiles shrugs, as if it’s no big thing, as if he didn’t spend hours and hours feverishly practicing til he could manipulate the ash easily. “My mom had a little something in her bloodlines. I inherited a few quirks,” is all he says.

And then he snaps his fingers. The ball becomes dust again, flies through the air, and settles itself around him in a perfect circle. Peter’s eyes widen. “That’s more than a quirk, Stiles. That’s old magic. What are you, exactly?”

Stiles shrugs. “I really don’t know.” He doesn’t tell Peter that the trick with the ash is all he can do, despite hours spent with Deaton trying and failing to manifest his magic further. Let the other man think he has vast and mysterious powers – it might make him behave.

Peter hums. “I’d say some sort of Fae or sprite heritage,” he says finally. “Your mother always did have that air of otherness about her.” Stiles doesn’t reply, instead closing his eyes and gathering the ash into his palm again. When he opens them, Peter’s taken a few steps closer, and he’s barely two feet away. Stiles knows what he wants, can sense the barely controlled tremors running under Peter’s skin. Stiles sets the ball of ash down and moves forward, closing the gap between them. “Go on, then.” 

Peter doesn’t hesitate, burying his face in Stiles’ neck and pulling him close, much like he did last night. Stiles can’t deny that it unsettles him somewhat, seeing Peter like this. He’s used to Peter being in control, having all the answers. If Peter’s coming unglued, what chance does Stiles have? He tells himself it’s for his own peace of mind that he leans into the hug, actively participating this time instead of letting Peter just hang off him. Peter notices of course and responds by holding him tighter. His body’s warm where’s he pressed against Stiles, and he smells good, so Stiles lets the hug carry on longer than he probably should, given that he hasn’t technically agreed to this yet.

Eventually though, he’s forced to press against Peter’s shoulders to get him to move. Peter makes a discontented sound, but Stiles is insistent. “Let go dude, I gotta pee,” Stiles finally says, because the situation’s getting a little desperate.

Peter lets him go at that, and Stiles dashes for the bathroom. He washes his face while he’s in there, and brushes his teeth with one of the spare toothbrushes he finds under the sink. Unsurprisingly, the cabinet’s equipped with large amounts of everything, so he’s able to find a deodorant as well. His eyes flick over the stack of condoms and the row of lube bottles, and he can’t help but think they really did prepare for everything when they set this place up.

When he emerges from the bathroom, Peter’s there holding a coffee out. Stiles takes a sip and grimaces – it combines horribly with the taste of toothpaste. He keeps drinking though, because Peter was right – it is good coffee, not the powdered crap Stiles has been making do with, and it even has milk.

Once he’s finished the cup, Peter takes it from him and says “So, our deal?”

Stiles rolls his eyes, and says “Jesus, I already gave you two free hugs. Let me think about it, okay?”

To his credit, Peter nods, and leaves the room. “I’ll make us breakfast,” Stiles sits back down on the bed. He has to admit, it’s a hell of a lot comfier than his morgue drawer. He thinks about what Peter’s asking, turning it over in his mind and looking for the catch, but he’s damned if he can see a down side. Food, shelter, and physical touch? With the added bonus of protection from feral wolves? He’d be a fool to turn it down, even if he doesn’t trust Peter completely. Better the devil you know, as they say.

The deal’s sealed when the smell of bacon comes wafting through the air. He walks out to find Peter piling a plate with crispy rashers and adding a side of toast. “No eggs, I’m afraid,” he says as he adds more bacon to the pan.

“Forget the eggs, where the hell did you get fresh bread?”

Peter looks at Stiles like he’s a simpleton. “I baked it, obviously.”

“Bullshit,” Stiles states, but when he looks at the loaf he can see that it’s clearly been hand shaped.

Peter shrugs. “It’s basically flour, water, salt and yeast. It’s not difficult.” He hands a slice to Stiles, saying, “Here, try it.”

Stiles takes a bite. He’s impressed despite himself, and finishes the bread in seconds.  As he swallows and brushes crumbs off himself, he says “I’m in. But the ash stays around the bed at night.”

Relief washes over Peter’s face for a moment before he gains control of his features. “Excellent. We’ll eat, then go and collect your stuff. And after that, I want your body for at least an hour, skin to skin.”

Stiles would object to Peter’s bossy tone, but he’s too busy eating.

 


 

 

They collect Stiles’ belongings from the morgue, as well as loading up on antibiotics, painkillers, bandages, and as much medical equipment as they can reasonably carry,because, as Peter comments drily," I know you, Stiles. I'm sure injury is imminent."  Stiles can’t even disagree.  He also can't say he’s sorry to see the back of the place.

After that, they venture into town. Stiles immediately discovers another advantage of Peter’s presence. There are buildings that he hasn’t been game to venture into, because there’s no way to tell if anyone or anything is inside, but Peter just cocks his head for a moment, listening, before confirming “No heartbeats. It’s safe.” It means Stiles is able to take his time gathering supplies, knowing nothing is going to leap out at him. Peter waits patiently as Stiles loads up a shopping cart with canned food, and then they head back.

Once they’re inside and everything’s unpacked, Peter looks at Stiles expectantly. “Shall we lie down on my bed?” he asks.

“You’re such a fucking creeperwolf,” Stiles mutters, but he shucks off his shirt and shoes before laying down.

“I said skin to skin,” Peter says, indicating Stiles’ jeans.

“And I said no hands in pants action, so you can just cope,” Stiles retorts. “I’m bare chested, that should be enough.”

Peter huffs a little, but in the end he removes his own shirt and shoes and lays next to Stiles. He extends his arms and draws Stiles towards him, cradling him so that his head’s against Peter’s chest. Stiles can hear the thump thump thump of Peter’s heartbeat, and it shouldn’t be as calming as it is, but Stiles finds himself relaxing into it anyway. Maybe it’s just knowing that someone else is alive, he decides, before closing his eyes.

He doesn’t mean to sleep, certainly doesn’t mean to let his guard down around Peter, but he’s tired, and the bed is nice, and Peter’s warmth is reassuring against him. He wakes up hours later, and even then, it’s only because his stomach’s growling. Peter moves beneath him, and Stiles rolls over so he’s facing away. “Good sleep?” Peter asks, and Stiles can hear the smug note in his voice.

“I must have been more tired than I thought,” he says. He surreptitiously checks to make sure that his pants are still done up, because Peter, but everything’s as he left it. Peter catches him looking, of course.

“Stiles, I thought I told you. I’m not interested in anything you’re not comfortable with,” he sighs, and Stiles could swear he actually looks hurt.

“Sorry,” he mutters, and even feels slightly bad. Maybe he should give Peter the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’s changed, and everything out of his mouth isn’t a lie or a ruse. Maybe only ninety percent is, now.

They get out of bed, and then Peter takes Stiles on a proper tour of the shelter. He shows him where everything’s stored, where the solar panels that power the place are located, how to get out through the hidden entrance in the school.  Stiles has a moment of slight panic when it occurs to him that he doesn’t have claws and so won’t be able to enter the vault unless Peter’s with him. Peter simply extends his claws, and then, gritting his teeth, snaps them off at the base, one by one. Stiles pales at the sight, but Peter reassures him. “It doesn’t hurt much. It’s like cutting your toenails a little close, and they’ll grow back. Use these to get in and out.” He puts the discarded nails into a small box and cautions Stiles, “Don’t lose it, okay?”  

Stiles tries them, slotting them carefully into place, and finds it works just fine, although it’s a fiddly process. He’s kinda touched by the gesture – Peter’s literally trusting Stiles with his life.  That said, it’s fucking creepy having to carry round a box of old nail clippings, and he resolves to make sure Peter’s with him if possible.

Peter cooks a venison roast that night, and Stiles eats so much that he gives himself stomach cramps, his body unused to such large quantities of fresh meat. He doesn’t care. He lays spreadeagled on his bed, hand resting on his belly and groaning, as Peter mocks him gently. Stiles just flips him the bird before dozing off, halfway into a food coma. When he wakes a little later, Peter’s standing there watching him. He sits upright suddenly, flailing a little as he remembers that he never laid the mountain ash out. “What the fuck, man? Are you watching me sleep?”

Peter doesn’t deny it. “Actually, I was listening to your heartbeat. It calms me, hearing the sound of another life.”  Stiles is a little taken aback by that, because he thought the same thing earlier.

“I guess,” he concedes. He looks at Peter for a moment before shuffling over and making room on the bed. “You want your cuddle fix, yeah?” Peter doesn’t hesitate to strip down to his boxers and climb onto the bed, tugging at Stiles’ shirt to expose some skin. “Were you always this touchy feely before?’ Stiles asks, partly amused, partly curious.

Peter settles against his side before answering. “Back before the fire, when we were a proper pack, physical touch was a big part of our lives. Not sexually,” he clarifies, ”just casually. I can’t tell you how many evenings I spent with Derek and Cora in my lap, scenting each other, building the bonds. Then, afterwards, when it was just Derek and I, it was more just a pat on the shoulder, a touch on the arm, that sort of thing. You may have noticed my nephew has trouble with emotions,” he says drily, and Stiles snorts in agreement. “So yes, normally werewolves are very tactile. It’s just I haven’t had anyone to be tactile with for a long time now, and I crave it.”

He sounds a little wistful, and Stiles feels bad for him. Peter’s lost everyone twice over, he remembers. He pulls the Were a little closer without realising he’s doing it. “So, this is like, filling up the touch tanks then?” he asks, indicating where their bodies are pressed together.

“Partly,” Peter agrees. “I mean, it’s not the only reason, but it’s a big one. My wolf needs this if I’m going to stay in control.”

Stiles knows he’s going to regret asking, but he does anyway. “You said that’s part of it. What’s the other reason?”

“Oh, it’s simply because you’re frankly quite fuckable, and I’m hoping that if I keep climbing into bed with you, the temptation will be too much for you to resist.” He tilts his head back and smirks up at Stiles.

Stiles meeps and pushes Peter away, but he’s laughing as he does so. “Dude! You can’t say that! I’m so not sleeping with you!”

“Because you’re straight, or because you don’t find me attractive? And remember Stiles, I’ll know if you’re lying.”

Dammit. There’s no way to answer that question without giving away the fact he thinks Peter’s hot as hell. Stiles settles for, “I’m not straight, but I’m not desperate either.”

Peter resettles himself against Stiles’ side, saying “You’re sure? Ah, well. If you ever change your mind, just let me know. It’s an open offer.”

Stiles doesn’t think he’ll change his mind any time soon, but he can’t deny he’s flattered that Peter might want him.

Not that he’s going to sleep with Peter, he tells himself. But it’s nice to know that he could if he wanted to. Maybe he won’t die a virgin after all.

 


 

 

They settle into a routine. It’s a little dull, honestly, and Stiles finds himself reflecting that he thought the end of the world would be more exciting, somehow. But it beats his old routine of alternating between freaking out and crying in a corner into a cocked hat, so he’s not too concerned. They spend a couple of hours every morning and every afternoon holding each other. Peter invariably complains about Stiles’ refusal to get naked below the waist. Stiles invariably tells him to get bent.

They start playing board games. Peter cheats. So does Stiles. (By mutual agreement, Monopoly is banned forever.) They go outside regularly and scout through the town for supplies. Once or twice Stiles thinks he sees someone out the corner of his eye, but they’re always gone when he looks again. Peter hunts, and brings home fresh game. Stiles learns to make bread. He goes to the library and finds out how to make a sourdough starter, then preens endlessly when it works and he’s able to produce excellent loaves of tangy, chewy bread. Peter’s grudgingly impressed, and being the competitive asshole that he is, promptly uses a huge chunk of his butter supply as he sets to work learning to make croissants. It takes him a week to get them right, and he’s absolutely insufferable when he does.

It’s happily domestic, if you ignore the desperate howling they hear in the night sometimes.  On those nights, Stiles almost caves and gets into Peter’s bed just for the company. Almost. But he holds himself back, stays in his own bed, safely inside his circle of ash, and pretends to sleep. 

He slowly comes to trust Peter more as the weeks pass, but not quite enough to sleep with him at night. He steadfastly ignores the fact that he spends most of their cuddlebuddy time, as he calls it, fast asleep in Peter’s arms, just as he ignores his growing attraction to the man, although he’s finding that more and more difficult.  

Peter’s smart, and he’s funny, and he knows exactly how to make Stiles blush. He teases him and flirts with him shamelessly, making no secret of the fact that he’d be happy to be his first lover. Stiles doesn’t tell him to stop. Now that Stiles is safe, fed, comfortable, and not in fear for his life, his libido has decided to come back with a roar. The lack of privacy’s becoming an issue, because like hell is he going to jerk off with a werewolf in the room, and he’s starting to get a little jumpy. The fact that Peter continues to proposition him just fans the flame.

Just this morning over breakfast, Peter had commented lightly “You seem a little stressed, Stiles. You know what would help with that?”

Stiles had ignored him, but that hadn’t deterred Peter at all, who had continued, “An orgasm. It’s a wonderful way to relax.”

“I don’t need an orgasm, Peter.”

“Are you sure? I’d be quite happy to give you one,” Peter had smirked. Stiles hadn’t replied, mainly because he’d had a horrible suspicion that if he opened his mouth, the word yes might pop out.  And judging by the smug look Peter was giving him, he knew it too. So yeah, Stiles has a strong suspicion that he’s definitely going to end up in Peter’s bed, and he can’t even be mad about it, because damn, the man’s hot.

In all honesty, staying with Peter’s been good for him. Stiles thinks that he actually trusts him now, that they might almost be friends. And he doesn’t want to jeopardize that by starting something between them that might all turn to shit, so he continues to hold out. For now.

 


 

 

The weather’s turning cooler, and Stiles says, “I’d really like to go to the lake for a swim, while we still can. You in, or are werewolves like dogs, and scared of water?”

“That’s cats, you philistine.”

“Whatever. Did you want to come with?” Stiles asks. He’s been antsy the last few days, and needs to get outside. He wants some fresh air and to sit in the sun for a few hours.

Peter considers it. “I must admit, it does sound good. I’ll pack the food, you get the towels.”

Stiles grins, and goes to get ready. It’ll be nice to have company. He briefly wonders whether he should bring his mountain ash, but he figures he’ll be fine with Peter there, and besides, they haven’t heard much from their resident monsters. Peter thinks that they don’t so much seek out prey as take advantage of anything that gets in their path, and Stiles is inclined to agree. He leaves the ash at home.

The ride their bikes the short distance to the lake, Peter racing ahead and Stiles not even trying to keep up. He knows he never could, and it’s too nice a day to get all sweaty for no reason. By the time he gets there, Peter’s spread a blanket for them and is stripping his clothes off.

All of his clothes.

“Peter! What the hell?” Stiles squawks, because that is more of Peter Hale on display than he ever needed to see, and he is not ready for that shit. 

Peter puts on his most innocent face as he says, “I thought you said we were swimming?”

“Well yeah, but not naked!”

Peter puts his hands on his hips and turns towards Stiles, giving him a clear view of all he has to offer. He has a lot, it turns out.  Stiles tries to look anywhere else as he digs a towel out of his bag and throws it at Peter. “Put something on, before someone…”  his words trail off as he realizes that no, nobody will see. Because there’s nobody to see. He’s not sure whether to laugh or cry at that.

“Stiles, if I can’t go skinny dipping at the end of civilization, when can I?” Peter demands, and it hits Stiles with all the force of a shovel to the face that really, he has a point. At the sight of Peter standing naked, the knowledge suddenly sweeps over Stiles that all those old rules? They don’t apply.

Get good grades, get a job, drive the speed limit, don’t sleep around, save for your future? All bullshit.  There’s no point in following the rules, because it really doesn’t make a difference any more.

There are new rules, now. Don’t die of the werewolf flu. Don’t get eaten. Really, that’s it.

And Stiles isn’t sure what it is that he feels rushing through him at the realization, whether it’s freedom or adrenaline or culture shock, and he doesn’t much care. All he knows is that he feels like he’s finally taking a breath after spending too long underwater, and it’s glorious.

Fuck the rules.

He grins at Peter, strips out of his own clothes, and runs past him, jumping into the lake with a whoop. Peter follows him, landing in the water just as Stiles surfaces, sputtering from the cold. He hasn’t been for a swim since before the epidemic, never brave enough when he came here on his own, and the chill of the water’s bracing, but he enjoys it anyway. It makes him feel alive. “Fuck, that’s cold,” he gasps out.

He blinks away the water to find Peter surfacing right next to him, a mischievous expression on his face. “Too cold?” he asks. “Let me help you out.”  The next thing Stiles knows, strong hands are around his waist and Peter’s hoisting him up and out of the water and throwing him in the air. He gets a good distance up before splashing down into the water, shrieking as he lands. Peter’s paddling lazily away, smiling broadly, and Stiles thinks better of trying to get his own back. He knows he can’t hold his own against wolf strength. 

Instead he says, “See if I take my shirt off for you during cuddle time now, asshole.” Peter just laughs loudly, and swims further away.

They spend what feels like hours drifting in the water, splashing each other, drifting lazily on their backs, and Stiles can feel his earlier restlessness leaving him as the water laps at his body, calming him deep inside the way water always has. It’s only when he realises that he’s shaking and can’t feel his hands that he starts heading for shore. He signals at Peter where he’s swimming, and points to where their towels are. Peter looks at him, worry etched on his features, and starts to follow. Once he’s out, Stiles towels himself dry hastily. He really is freezing, and he pulls his clothes back on, curling up on the blanket in the sunlight. He can’t seem to stop shaking. He’s closed his eyes to focus on the warmth, so he’s totally unprepared for the weight of Peter’s body when it drops onto the blanket next to him.

When he opens his eyes, Peter’s face shows nothing but concern. He pushes Stiles onto his back and brackets him with his body, saying “Your lips are blue, Stiles. You’re freezing. Let me warm you up.” His chest is pressed against Stiles, a solid wall of warmth, and Stiles notes dimly that it feels good. It takes Stiles another minute to notice that Peter’s still naked, but when he goes to protest, he can’t form the words, because his teeth are chattering madly. Maybe he’s a little colder than he thought.

Peter somehow manages to roll the blanket around them so they’re one big burrito, and after a few minutes Stiles stops shivering quite so hard. Peter holds him in place for a while longer though, despite Stiles protesting that he’s fine. “Consider this our cuddle time, if it makes you feel better,” Peter tells him firmly. Stiles grizzles a little more, and in the end, Peter gives an exasperated sigh and rolls off. He gets up and pulls his clothes on, and neither of them mentions his obvious erection.

Stiles sits up. He’s stopped shaking now, and he can feel his body parts, so he guesses he’s all good. “Thanks,” he offers. “I didn’t realize how cold I’d gotten.”

Peter waves his thanks off. “Trust me, the pleasure was all mine. I was starting to think that if you didn’t defrost soon, I was going to have to kiss the color back into your lips.”

Stiles rolls his eyes, and goes to brush Peter’s flirting off like he normally does, but suddenly he pulls up short.

The old rules don’t apply.

There’s no reason on earth that he shouldn’t let Peter kiss him, hold him, and take him to bed. He’s been holding himself up to standards that don’t exist, an outdated notion of true love and moral high ground, and none of that stuff matters anymore. He gets that heady feeling again, the rush of freedom and adrenaline, and he decides to do something with it.

He walks over to Peter and kisses him, just a quick little thing, but the look of shock on his face when Stiles pulls away is something to behold. Stiles takes in his stunned expression, and says, “If I can’t make out with a hot werewolf at the end of civilization, when can I?”

Peter leans in towards him, lips parted, and Stiles can’t resist. He kisses Peter again, and this time it’s better, more than just a hurried press of lips. Peter opens his mouth, Stiles tilts his head, and together they find a soft rhythm that suits them. Stiles can feel Peter’s erection pressing against his hip, and he rocks into it. Stiles is, in fact, so absorbed in the kiss that he fails to notice the feral wolf at first, but then he hears a deep growl coming from behind him, and freezes. “Peter!” he hisses.

Peter’s already seen. “Stiles, duck,” he warns. Then he runs forward, shifting as he does so, and launches himself towards whatever the hell it is behind Stiles. His claws and fangs are out, his eyes are flashing, and a deafening roar comes from his mouth. Stiles drops to his knees and curls forwards, arms over his head and eyes squeezed tightly closed as he listens to the sounds of flesh being torn apart. There’s a wet thud next to him, and he hears Peter grunt.

He’s too afraid to look, but then he hears Peter panting harshly, and saying “Told you. Strong, but slow.” Stiles turns slowly, and is greeted by the sight of Peter, still wolfed out, covered in blood and gore, but apparently unharmed. The body of the feral wolf is laying on the ground, and Stiles can see where its (his?her?) throat has been ripped out.  He feels a pang of sympathy for whoever the wolf was, before the virus took them.

He notices absently that his hands are shaking, that his whole body’s shaking, and then he doesn’t notice anything, because he passes out at the sight of all that blood.

 


 

 

Stiles isn’t out for long. He comes around when Peter shakes him urgently, saying “Stiles? We need to go, right now.” Stiles can hear howling close by, and before he can even get up Peter’s lifting him to his feet and asking, “Can you ride, or is it quicker if I carry you?”

“Um,” Stiles staggers a little, and Peter takes that as his answer. He crouches in front of Stiles and says “Hop on. We don’t have much time.”

Stiles scrambles up onto Peter’s back, feeling like a little kid, and Peter starts to run. Stiles tightens his grip, because Peter’s going hell for leather, and he’s genuinely worried he’ll fall off.  He turns his head sideways and hunches in close, holding on for dear life as Peter picks up even more speed. Stiles knew wolves were fast, but he didn’t think they were this fast. Peter sets a relentless pace, never pausing, never looking back, and Stiles doesn’t like to think about why he’s in such a hurry.

It seems like no time at all before Peter’s sliding his claws into the lock, opening the vault, and hurrying down the stairs, Stiles still clinging to his back. As soon as they’re inside he closes the door behind them and lowers Stiles to the ground, barely out of breath. Stiles clings to him just a little while he finds his feet. Peter doesn’t seem to mind. They stand there in silence, until Stiles looks at Peter, really looks, and sees what he’s missed before, three long tears up the front of his shirt that look like they were made by claws. “Are you hurt?” he demands.

Peter shrugs. “It’s healed. He barely nicked me.” He tugs at the remains of the shirt, dragging it over his head. Stiles sees that Peter wasn’t lying, there’s no sign of any injury, but still.

“Are you really all right?”  Stiles asks. 

Peter draws a deep breath and exhales slowly. “That was a little close for my liking,” he admits. He looks shaken, and Stiles steps closer, bloodstains be damned.

“Peter? What do you need?” Stiles asks quietly.

Peter closes his eyes for a moment. “I need a shower, and then I really need to hold you. My wolf needs to know you’re safe,” he admits. Stiles blinks, surprised. It’s not often Peter shows weakness, and Stiles didn’t think he really cared about him, other than as a convenient source of physical contact. He doesn’t question it, though. Peter just saved his life –  anything he needs, he can have.

 


 

 

When Peter emerges from his shower, Stiles is waiting under the blankets in his bed. “Get in here, Creeperwolf,” he orders. Peter doesn’t even argue at the nickname, which more than anything else tells Stiles how shaken he is. He just climbs into bed wearing his boxers and drags Stiles close, scenting him.

As soon as his hands start to move though, he pulls back and looks at Stiles. “You’re not wearing your jeans,” he says, one eyebrow raised.

Stiles shrugs. “Peter, I nearly died today, twice. And you saved me, twice. Maybe you’re not the only one who’s a little shaken and needs to be held.” He knows that Peter can hear that he’s telling the truth. The close shave has left him jittery with nerves, and with a need for contact.  He snuggles in next to Peter and doesn’t even object when Peter shuffles them around so Stiles is the little spoon. He just lays there, enjoying the warmth of the body wrapped around his.

It’s not long before he feels Peter pressing his lips to the base of his neck, and he doesn’t pull away. Peter kisses all the way up to his hairline. “Stiles?” he asks quietly. “Is this all right?”

“End of civilization. No better time, right?” Stiles replies, just as quietly. He rolls over so he’s facing Peter and leans in, eyes closed, lips parted, hoping Peter gets the hint.  He’s not disappointed – he feels Peters’ lips brush against his, hesitantly at first, and then Peter’s kissing him hot and hard, fisting his hands in Stiles’ hair, and something in Stiles breaks loose. Call it adrenaline, call it survival mode, but suddenly he wants.  He doesn’t want to flirt any more, doesn’t want to tease, he just wants to feel something that will remind him that he’s alive.

Peter must sense it, because suddenly he’s rolling Stiles over onto his back and covering him with his body, just like he did back at the lake. This time though, Stiles isn’t shaking with cold. This time, it’s need. He feels Peter’s erection brushing against his own through their boxers as Peter continues to kiss him, rolling his hips and grinding against him. When Peter finally pulls away, he’s panting, and his pupils are blown and dark. He stares down at Stiles for a moment, seemingly lost for words. Finally, he asks “What do you want, Stiles?“ His voice is rough with want.

Stiles slides his hands down Peter’s back until he’s gripping his ass, holding him close, his voice sounding just as desperate to his own ears when he replies “You. I want you.”

 


 

 

Stiles thought that when Peter finally got him to bed he would, for want of a better word, ravage him, fuck him fast and rough. So the tenderness Peter shows as he strips off Stiles’ boxers and wraps his broad palm around Stiles’ length is unexpected. He strokes him firmly, sliding up and down a few times before withdrawing his hand. Stiles whines without meaning to, but Peter just shushes him, saying “I’ll be right back.” He slips out of bed and comes back carrying lube. He strips off his own underwear before getting back into bed, and positions his body above Stiles so that they’re lined up against each other. Peter slicks up his palm and wraps it around both their cocks this time and oh, the lube makes all the difference.

Stiles closes his eyes and savours the sensation of somebody’s hand other than his own touching him. Peter runs hotter than normal, his touch is sure and practiced, and soon Stiles is bucking and whining as the heat and the wetness overwhelm him. Peter makes an approving noise, and starts moving his hand a little faster, adding a twist at the top of each stroke, and that’s it, Stiles is done. He comes over Peter’s fist, panting.  Peter grunts and comes only moments later, adding to the mess. Stiles can feel his heartbeat thundering in his ears as he melts against the mattress. “Holy shit,” he mutters, and Peter laughs softly.

“I told you it would relax you,” Peter murmurs in his ear. Stiles just gives an amused snort, too wrung out for anything more. He lays with his eyes closed, breathing slowly returning to normal. Peter takes the opportunity to go and wash his hands, and by the time he returns Stiles has opened his eyes.

He smiles softly at Peter, holding his arms out. “Come back here, you,” he demands, and Peter does. Stiles pulls him in close and settles his head against Peter’s chest, waiting for whatever’s going to happen next. But apparently there is no next. Peter’s breathing evens out and becomes steady, and before long he’s deeply asleep.  Stiles is surprised by that, but after his day of freezing, being attacked, and having to run for his life, it doesn’t take long before his body pulls rank on him and he finds himself drifting off as well, without meaning to.

 


 

 

It’s sometime in the small hours of the morning that Stiles finally wakes, and then it’s only because Peter’s moving around in his sleep. Stiles realizes that it’s the longest stretch he’s slept in months.  He tells himself it’s because of the sex and the stress of the day, but on a deeper level he knows that it’s because he felt truly safe, for the first time since everything turned to shit.

Now he’s awake, his brain helpfully decides to throw all sorts of fun questions at him – why didn’t Peter want more than a hand job? Did he want more? Will he want more later? Is Stiles still a virgin?  Round and round the questions go, until finally he sits up with a sigh, resigned to the fact that sleep, for him, has fled. That’s when he hears Peter’s voice, sleep-rough and slurred. “Stop thinking so hard.”

“Sorry,” Stiles says quietly. “Didn’t mean to wake you.” He goes to get off the bed but there’s a hand around his wrist, and Peter’s sitting up.

“It’s fine.”  Peter flicks on the bedside lamp, and Stiles takes in his mussed hair and half opened eyes, feeling slightly guilty. Just because he can’t get his brain to shut up doesn’t mean Peter should suffer. But then Peter says, “Tell me what’s going on in that head of yours,” and Stiles could swear there’s fondness in his tone.

Stiles sighs, and asks “Is it- was it – I mean, I’ve never done that with someone before, that’s all. I’m not sure what I was expecting.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

Stiles frowns at the question. “Well yeah, obviously. I just thought we’d do more, that’s all. Do you not want me now, after all your flirting and teasing?” He wishes he didn’t sound so needy. 

Peter’s silent for a moment before he sighs. “Stiles, we’d had a gruelling day, and we were both shaken. I didn’t want to ask you to do something you might regret later, that’s all.” He wraps himself around Stiles’ back and whispers in his ear, “But I want anything you’re willing to give me.”

Stiles leans back into Peter with a sigh. “What if I want to give you more, but not yet?”

“How about we just let this happen naturally?” Peter suggests, his hands warm as they slide across Stiles’ belly. “I’m in no rush.”

Stiles doesn’t know why that affects him so much, but he feels a sudden bloom of warmth at Peter’s care and consideration for him. He trusts Peter. Nothing’s going to happen that he doesn’t want. “Yeah,” he agrees. “We could just…go with the flow.”

“Exactly. Now can we please go back to sleep? This is the first night I’ve managed to get you to sleep with me, and I’d like to enjoy it.” Peter pulls him down onto the bed again and wraps his arms around Stiles firmly, pinning him in place. Stiles goes willingly, the embrace feeling not so much like a restraint as a security blanket. He wonders why he held out against sharing a bed for so long, before falling asleep again.

 


 

Things are different between him and Peter now there’s sex involved. Oh, Peter still snaps at him about conserving water if he showers for more than two minutes. Stiles still cheats at board games. Peter still cringes when Stiles cooks their steaks medium, and calls him an uncultured swine.

But now, they share a bed every night. And sometimes, Stiles strips down completely when he gets in. On those nights, Peter gets a devilish smirk on his face as he asks, “What would you like?”  Whatever Stiles suggests, Peter’s on board with it. Other nights, they lie there quietly, and talk about their families, the people they’ve lost. Somehow, those nights feel even more intimate.

Stiles takes it slow when it comes to sex. For a long time, he’s happy with just hand jobs. It takes him more than a month to get up the nerve to take Peter’s dick in his mouth, but he fast becomes a fan of giving head, especially when Peter returns the favor and proves himself to be an expert at deepthroating. He offers to teach Stiles that particular trick, and Stiles takes him up on his offer. Turns out he’s a natural.

When the full moon approaches, Stiles is understandably nervous, and Peter’s certainly a little twitchy and snappish for a day or so, but on the night of the full moon, all that happens is that as dusk falls, he tells Stiles, “I’ll be back tomorrow – I need to run. Make sure you stay inside.”  So Stiles stays inside, and waits for Peter’s return. In the morning, Peter comes home sweaty, filthy and grinning. He doesn’t even bother with a shower, just sleeps the day away. Stiles watches him sleep, and feels a sense of security. Peter won’t harm him, he’s sure of that now.

It takes Stiles another month after that to overcome his nerves enough to lay in wait for Peter in their bed one night, half scared, half excited. Peter won’t do anything Stiles hasn’t asked for, he’s made that clear, so Stiles knows it’s up to him to ask for this.  When Peter approaches the bed, he sees Stiles waiting there, naked and hard. “Something you’d like, sweetheart?” he asks.

Stiles shyly hands Peter the lube. “I thought we could play round a little, y’know, with my ass.” He’s blushing scarlet, but he’s determined. He wants to try this.

Peter takes the bottle. ”If you’re sure?”

Stiles nods. “I’m sure. I mean, I might hate it, but how will I know if I don’t try?”

Peter leans in and kisses him. “Oh, I think you’ll like it. I think you’ll like it a lot.”

“I trust you,” Stiles says. Peter seems surprised at that, but then his expression shifts, and he looks quietly pleased. He takes his time, fingering Stiles open slowly, giving him time to adjust. Stiles never knew he was so sensitive, and it doesn’t take long before he’s fisting the sheets and gasping at the slow stretch. When he can take three fingers easily and is panting as they slide in and out of him, Peter reaches down and jerks him off in quick strokes. Stiles comes with a bitten off curse and Peter pulls his fingers out, looking decidedly smug. He doesn’t ask Stiles if he liked it. He doesn’t have to. Stiles lays there in a daze, before finally saying “Yeah. Yeah, we can do that again.”

He asks Peter to fuck him two weeks later. Peter’s careful to prepare him, gentles him through it when he winces and hisses at the first stretch, and sets a slow, steady pace, making sure it’s good. Stiles isn’t sure why he cries, the tears rolling unbidden down his face even as he rocks back against Peter, whispering “Yeah, like that.” Maybe it’s the look of tenderness on Peter’s face, the realization that Peter cares for him, and that maybe Stiles cares for Peter as well, more than he thought.

Peter holds him tightly afterwards, kissing him softly, almost apologetically, and Stiles isn’t sure which of them was more affected by the experience. He assures Peter that it was good, that Peter made it good, and he feels the tension leave the wolf’s body when he whispers, “Thank you.”

Stiles wonders why he hesitated, and wonders exactly when he started having these feelings.

 


 

 

They’re low on supplies, which means a trip to town. “A trip to town”, that’s what Peter always calls it, like it’s a pleasant outing, like they don’t go armed to the teeth, like town isn’t a desolate shell of a place. If it wasn’t for Peter’s love of hunting and his large freezers (because he had two more in the back, as well as a cool room) Stiles knows they’d be reduced to canned proteins by now, and he just can’t bring himself to eat those whole chickens in a can. Power’s out over most of the city, their solar panels and Peter’s ability to keep them working the only thing saving them from the same fate.

They’re mainly stocking up on dry goods and warm clothing, since the cooler weather’s setting in. Peter doesn’t feel the cold, but Stiles does, and just that morning when they’d climbed out of bed Peter had huffed in an annoyed manner and declared, “You’re getting socks for in bed today. Your feet are freezing.”

Stiles had wisely not mentioned that he’d been pressing them against Peter’s calves deliberately, and let the other man think it was just an accident when their legs ended up tangled together. To be fair, a lot of the time their legs are tangled it is an accident – Stiles is an enthusiastic lover, but a clumsy one.

He walks into the deserted department store, and stocks up on socks, underwear (Peter can get a little carried away with his claws, if Stiles asks nicely), thick plaid shirts, and just because they catch his eye, some criminally low-cut v necks for Peter.

He stuffs everything into his backpack, keeping an eye out for movement. Since the incident at the lake they’ve only seen a few wolves in the distance, but by mutual agreement they practice avoidance rather than attack. Peter’s confessed that it gives him nightmares, not knowing who it is he’s killing, and he’d rather avoid it if he can.

Stiles swears he sees movement, so he freezes, pressed against the wall. He expects to stay there for a few minutes and then move off. What he doesn’t expect is to hear a familiar voice screaming out at him.

“BILINSKI!!

Stiles turns and gapes at the sigh of Coach striding towards him, clutching a shotgun in one hand and pointing with the other. “BILINKSI! WHY AREN'T YOU DEAD?? ”

Stiles steps slowly out of the store, hands raised over his head for some inexplicable reason. It’s his default reaction to an authority figure coming at him with a gun, he guesses. Finstock waves his arms around excitedly. “Bilinski, get over here! I know that’s you!”

 Stiles is still processing the fact that Coach is alive, and he just stares as the man comes closer, still talking. “I knew there was someone else around! Put your damn hands down and come with me. I’m taking you back to the bunker.”

“You – you have a bunker?” Stiles manages.

“Of course, I have a bunker, who doesn’t have a bunker?” Finstock looks at him like he’s deranged. “I have fifteen people in my bunker. Sixteen, now,” he adds.

Stiles’ curiosity gets the better of him. “How do you have room for sixteen people?” He lowers his hands, and Finstock immediately pulls him into a rough hug. “Kid, I have room for forty. A town that’s a supernatural shit show like this one? I always knew there’d be a day the humans needed to hide. Now normally you wouldn’t make the cut for an invitation, but since numbers are a little light, there’s room for you. You have to pull your weight, though.” He starts to walk then, keeping one hand on Stiles’ shoulder and guiding him along. Stiles resists, and Finstock pauses, looking at him in confusion. “Didn’t you hear me? I told you, I have room for you. You don’t have to stay out here alone.”

“I’m not alone. I'm with Peter,” Stiles says, wondering exactly where his wolf is. Peter never strays far, too protective by half.

“Peter?”

“Peter Hale. We have a place together. We take care of each other,” Stiles clarifies, unwilling to reveal too much more about where they’re staying. OK, maybe Peter’s not the only one who’s protective.

“Hale? He’s still alive?” Coach demands.

Peter’s voice comes to them from where he’s been standing in the shadows, watching. “I’m immune, apparently. Good to see you, Bobby.” Finstock whirls, and sees Peter leaning against the wall, arms folded across his chest. “Trying to take my boy away, Coach?” Peter asks mildly, but Stiles can sense the tension running beneath the surface.

“Peter! Good to see you. Why haven’t you been killed yet?”

“You sound almost disappointed, Finstock. In answer to your question, I haven’t been killed yet because I can hold my own against the ferals.” Peter’s eyes flash red and he flicks his claws out.

Finstock nods and mutters to himself, "Werewolf. I knew it." Then he looks between the pair of them, before asking, ”So what, you’re a couple?”

Peter looks at Stiles, head tilted to one side as if to say, well?  Stiles doesn’t hesitate. “Yeah. Yeah, we are. That a problem? Because if it is, I’ll pass, thanks.” Stiles sees something like surprise pass over Peter’s face, but he can’t be any more surprised than Stiles is at the fact that he’s just chosen Peter over, well, everyone. He holds out a hand, and Peter steps forward and takes it.

Finstock barks out a harsh laugh. “Are you kidding? I’ve got more guys than girls right now. The last thing I need is more male bodies in the dating pool. You two being together makes it a hell of a lot easier. So, you coming?”

“Um, I…Peter? Are we?” Stiles asks helplessly.

“We’ll come and see what your setup’s like. If it’s better than ours, we’ll be happy to join you,” Peter decides.

“Excellent. Follow me. It’s a couple of miles from here,” Finstock says, and sets off at a brisk pace. Peter looks at Stiles, who shrugs, and they follow the coach obediently. It’s not a difficult walk, and it takes them half an hour to get there, Finstock babbling the whole way, filling them in on who’s living in his bunker.  Stiles recognises a couple of the names, nurses who worked at the hospital, and one of the deputies, but the rest are strangers. Mind you, he only half listens, too busy keeping watch as they move into unfamiliar territory, making sure he knows where they are. He keeps Peter’s hand in his and they walk shoulder to shoulder. Peter murmurs to him, too low for Finstock to hear, “We don’t have to stay if you don’t like it, Stiles.”

Stiles answers just as quietly,” We’ll see what it’s like. I mean, other people might be nice, right?”  He can’t deny, as much as he’d choose what he has with Peter in a heartbeat, the thought of someone else to talk to is tempting. He wonders briefly what the sleeping arrangements are like. He doesn’t have to wonder for long, because Finstock announces, “We’re here.”

He’s standing in front of a nondescript door, recessed into the side of a hill. There’s a combination dial to the left, and Finstock expertly turns it left, then right, then left again, before twisting the handle below it and swinging the door open. He ushers Stiles and Peter inside, through what would probably be a hallway if it was in any other building, and the he opens a second door, yelling “Honey, I’m home!”

Stiles takes two steps inside and stops short, because whatever he was expecting, this…wasn’t it.  The living area is massive. It’s well furnished, and nicely decorated. A woman comes walking towards them and kisses Finstock on the cheek, saying “Hey, sweetheart. You found some more survivors?”

Stiles gapes, openmouthed. He thought Coach was being dramatic – he didn’t expect there to actually be a Honey. She looks to be of an age with Coach, possibly younger by a whisper. She’s…. well, Stiles would hate to be thought of as one of those guys who judges someone by their looks, but even with her dark hair plaited down her back and wearing ratty jeans and a t shirt, Stiles can see that she’s gorgeous, no two ways about it. She’s tall and tanned, with a luscious figure that Stiles would totally be into, if girls did anything for him at all.

But it’s not how she looks that surprises him.  It’s how she looks at Finstock. She wraps an arm around him and leans in, resting her head casually on Finstock’s shoulder.  “Welcome,” she says to them. “Any friend of Bobby’s is a friend of mine.” 

Stiles is still speechless. Peter though, takes it in his stride. “Mrs Finstock, I presume? I’m Peter Hale,” he says, offering a hand. The woman shakes it and smiles warmly at him. “This is my partner, Stiles Stilinski,” Peter continues. Stiles basks a little in the warm glow that description gives him.

“Dammit - Stilinski! I was so close!” Finstock exclaims.  His wife pats the back of his hand soothingly. “Bobby bear, when you’ve taught as many teenagers as you have, you’re bound to forget a name or two. I’m sure Stiles doesn’t mind.” She flashes another dazzling smile at Stiles, who nods dumbly before gathering himself enough to say “Uh, yeah. It’s fine, really. He called me Bilinksi for two years straight, so I’m used to it.”

Mrs Finstock leans in conspiratorially. “He called me Natasha for our first four dates. I didn’t have the heart to correct him. Mind you, I was halfway in love with him already, so I really didn’t mind.”

Finstock turns to her and kisses the top of her head. “You’ll never let me live that down, will you Natalie?” he murmurs fondly.

“Never, Bobby bear. You’re terrible with names, and I don’t care. I’m just happy I still have you.” 

“I don’t know how we both survived, Sugar, and I don’t care,” Finstock replies, pulling her close.

Stiles can’t quite get his head around the picture of domestic bliss in front of him. Bobby bear?  Sugar? But Peter nudges him gently, getting his attention.  “So, Bobby. Mind if Stiles and I have a look around?”  Peter asks.

Finstock waves a hand towards the back of the living area. “Go ahead. Just make sure you knock before you go into the bedrooms. Some of our residents have paired off, don’t wanna disturb ‘em when they’re getting cozy,” he says, a twinkle in his eye.

Peter takes Stiles by the hand and leads him towards in the direction Finstock indicated. They take their time exploring the place, and find  that it’s actually a maze of shipping containers, refitted as living spaces.  It’s massive, and Stiles sees that Coach wasn’t exaggerating when he said he had room for forty. The containers have been turned into self-contained set ups, with a bed and a desk and a chest of drawers – they’re basically motel rooms, without the bathrooms.  Those are interspersed between the rooms, each one holding two hand basins, a tiny shower stall, and a large sign saying 90 SECOND LIMIT FOR SHOWERS.  Peter gives Stiles a pointed look, as if to say See? it’s not just me.

The supply room is a mixture of absolute textbook prepping, with barrels of sealed dry goods and shelf after shelf of preserves, and a weird assortment of items that Stiles can only assume Finstock bought because they were cheap. Dried shrimp. Crystal Pepsi. Super Mario Bros Soda (Stiles has to look twice at that one.) Shelves stacked with unidentifiable Asian candies, some of them involving fish.

And then there’s the canned food. There are two shelves dedicated to canned bacon – no wonder he and Peter hadn’t been able to find any more, thinks Stiles when he sees row upon row of cans. The awful whole chickens in tins. Corn, beans, peas, any vegetable he can name and quite a few he can’t.  “Of course, once we get the garden growing it’ll be better,” says Finstock as he walks in, grinning madly. “And the chickens. I know where there are chickens. We’re going to set up a henhouse, up top.”  He points suddenly at Peter. “Your family are wolves.”  Peter nods in confirmation. “Ha!” Finstock crows. “I always knew the Hales were too good looking to be human!” Peter smirks, and Stiles gives him a fond look. “Anyway, that’s not the point,” Coach says, gathering his thoughts a little. “The point is, you can hunt.”

Peter’s just opening his mouth to reply when someone else walks in behind him and a familiar voice says, “Hey Coach, I managed to get more batteries – Stiles??”  Suddenly a pair of strong arms is picking Stiles up and swinging him around and he’s looking into the laughing face of Danny Māhealani. “Stiles! How the hell are you alive?” Danny shouts, still holding him.

Stiles wraps his arms around Danny’s neck and hugs hm back. “What are you doing here? Coach never said! Coach, why didn’t you say?” Stiles demands, beaming from ear to ear.

Finstock frowns. “I distinctly said Daniel Maloney was here. Were you not listening, Bilinski?”

Stiles and Danny look at each other, and they both burst out laughing. Peter watches them with a smile, saying “So does this mean we stay, Stiles?” It takes Stiles a minute to stop snickering enough to say, “I guess we could try.”

“Excellent. Maloney, take Bilinski and his boyfriend to one of the spare rooms.” Finstock pauses for a moment, thinking.  “Make it one of the far rooms. Hale looks like a screamer.”

 


 

 

Stiles has to admit, he feels better for being around other people, even if it does mean giving up some of their privacy. He gets to show off his baking skills, and Mrs Finstock actually kisses him when he presents her with her own sourdough starter. It’s just a peck on the cheek, but it makes him grin like a fool. Peter notices, and even though he pretends he’s not jealous, Stiles knows better, can read the tightness in Peter’s expression. He doesn’t complain when Peter covers his neck with love bites later that same afternoon, staking his claim.

Finstock, it turns out, has been preparing for something like this for years. He has rainwater tanks, an underground bore, a water purifier, generators and the fuel to power them, vast amounts of seed for fast growing vegetables, and enough food for another year at least. In the six months since the release of the virus, he’s been scouting for survivors, but he admits that he thinks Peter and Stiles are the last of them. 

They’ve been there three weeks when Finstock declares that they need fresh meat. “We normally send a group, but Hale can take down a deer on his own, right Peter?”

“Easily, and with pleasure,” Peter tells him. Stiles has noticed Peter’s been a little antsy over the last week, and he suspects it’s overwhelming living with so many other people when they’re all basically confined.  A run will do him good – Peter always comes back loose limbed and relaxed after he hunts. Not to mention, he’s always eager to take Stiles to bed.  A hunt means fresh meat, in more ways than one.

Stiles is smiling to himself at his own joke when Peter leans into his space, whispering in his ear “I know what you’re thinking. And yes, I will have plans for you when I get back.” Stiles kisses him in reply. The light’s starting to fade outside, so Peter goes and changes into a shirt that he won’t mind ruining and his oldest, rattiest jeans. Stiles sighs happily at the sight– dirty, dressed down Peter does things to him, he doesn’t even deny it. He sees Danny watching Peter as well, lips slightly parted as his eyes track Peter’s movements when he bends over and pulls his boots on. Stiles can’t say he blames him. It’s a hell of a view.

Peter kisses him at the door, and tells him “I’ll be back soon, sweetheart.”

“I’ll be waiting,” Stiles promises. “Stay safe.”

And then Peter’s gone.

 


 

 

Stiles waits in their bed, but he falls asleep before Peter comes home. When he stirs the next morning, there’s still no sign of his partner, and he feels the first stirrings of unease in his belly. He gets out of bed and pulls on his discarded clothing from yesterday before going in search of Peter. Maybe got back late, he thinks. Maybe he’s still showering. But a search of the two closest bathrooms turns up nothing. Stiles walks out to the common area, only to find Finstock loading himself and two other men up with weapons. “Remember, you shoot to kill,” he’s telling them.

“What’s going on?” Stiles demands, although a horrible suspicion is forming.

Finstock turns to him, face sombre. “Peter didn’t come home. We’re going looking for him, to see if we can find the body.”

No. This can’t be happening. Stiles can feel the blood draining from his face. “No, no you can’t. Not without me. Give me a minute, I’ll come too.”

Finstock puts a hand on his shoulder and shakes his head. “Stiles, if we find him we’ll bring him back, I swear. But the last thing we need is you losing your shit out there. You stay behind.”

Stiles feels sick at the words we’ll bring back the body. He’s not sure whether he wants to cry or throw up. Finstock is looking at him, pity in his gaze, and that just makes it worse, somehow. Stiles wants to argue, wants to beg to be allowed to go, but he can’t form the words. Instead he finds himself holding Coach tight, reciting nononono under his breath.

Just then, there’s the sound of the lock being turned. The door swings open and Peter stands there, a body slung over his shoulder. All the breath leaves Stiles’ body at the sight of Peter, alive and safe. Peter’s eyes are wild, he’s grinning manically, and he’s swaying on his feet a little. He advances into the room, and dumps the body he’s carrying onto the nearest couch.  As it lands with a soft whump, Stiles realises that it’s a naked man, and he’s alive.

“Hale! What the hell is this?” Finstock demands loudly. At the sound of his voice, the man moans, and Stiles steps closer, because under the filth covering him, there’s something vaguely familiar. Suddenly his eyes snap open, and Stiles lets out a gasp, because eyes that color can only belong to one person.

Derek stares at him, before asking, “Stiles? What..what….?” His voice is rough with disuse, and his face is covered with dirt and a beard that birds could nest in. Stiles thinks he’s never seen anything better.

Stiles spins around to look at Peter. “How?” is all he says.

Peter slumps into a chair, dragging Stiles roughly into his lap and scenting him desperately. Stiles lets him, knowing he won’t get anything out of Peter until he’s settled his wolf.  Finally, after long minutes, he lifts his head. “I was hunting,” he says. He pauses, shakes his head, starts again, eyes wet, voice trembling.

“I was hunting, when a wolf came up behind me. I heard it coming, so I hid until it was in view, and I went to rip its throat out.” Stiles nods, encouraging Peter to continue. “Only, it turned and saw me before I could get to it, so I lost my element of surprise. I had to fight it the old-fashioned way, tooth and claw. I ended up biting him.” He grins ferally as he says it.

Stiles is trying to make sense of what Peter’s telling him, and failing. Peter turns bright eyes on him, eyes that flare red. “Tooth and claw, Stiles. That’s what did it. I bit it – him – Derek, and he collapsed, howling. I was going in for the kill, when I saw…”  Peter stops and takes a shaky breath.

“He saw me,” Derek chimes in. “I don’t remember much, the first clear memory I have is of Peter crouched over my body, calling my name.”

Peter nods. “He changed back. He changed into his normal Were form, and I recognised him, of course. Even under that filthy beard,” he adds. “My bite changed him back, somehow.”

Stiles’ eyes grow wide as it all falls into place for him. Peter’s immunity has made him a walking, talking, cure for the virus. “Peter, you’re the opposite of Typhoid Mary.”

Peter looks at him, and after a moment a grin starts to spread over his face. “Aren’t you the clever one?” he murmurs.

Derek’s nodding as well. Finstock makes a frustrated noise, and finally says “Anybody care to explain why I have two werewolves in my bunker now?”

Natalie comes into the room with an armful of clothes for Derek, saying “You know this, Bobby. Typhoid Mary? She never got sick herself, but she passed the disease on to others. I think what Stiles is trying to say is that because Peter never got sick, somehow his bite acts as a cure for the wolves that did. A sort of a …natural vaccine. Is that right, Stiles?”

It’s Peter who answers. “I think that’s it exactly.”  He looks tired, but there’s something like triumph in his eyes when he says “Do you realize what this means? We can save them, Stiles. I can track them down and bite them, and bring them back.”

He turns to Finstock and asks, “How many ferals living in the area, Bobby?”

Finstock thinks for a moment. “Four, maybe five?”

Peter’s grin widens. “And if I bite them and cure them, do you know what that will make them?”

Derek lets out a long breath. “Pack,” he whispers.

“My pack,” Peter agrees.

Stiles puts a hand under Peter’s chin and lifts it. “Don’t you mean our pack?” he asks quietly. He hesitates before adding “I thought I’d lost you, Peter. And that’s when I realized I love you.”

Peter beams at him. “Love you too, sweetheart,” he admits quietly. Stiles wraps his arms around Peter’s neck and kisses him, soft and sweet, and when Peter stands and carries him to their bedroom, nobody dreams of stopping them.

 


 

 

Over the next three weeks, Peter and Stiles track the local wolves down, one by one. Peter bites them, and they transform back. There are four of them. Three of the faces they don’t recognize, wolves who have wandered into the area while in the grip of the disease.

One, they do. It’s Scott.

Stiles cries unashamedly, while Peter talks Scott through what happened. The wolves who were infected have only fuzzy recollections of what they did while they were ill. It’s for the best, really.

Peter does go through a phase where he’s almost insufferable over his ability to cure the sick wolves, crowing about it to anyone who will listen.  “Really, I don’t know why I was surprised. If death couldn’t stop me, I don’t know what else could,” Peter states.

Stiles looks across at where Derek’s scowling. He catches Derek’s eye and winks at him, putting his finger to his lips as he opens the jar of mountain ash. He closes his eyes and concentrates, only opening them when he hears Peter bellow out, “Stiles!”

Peter’s trapped inside a perfect circle of ash, expression thunderous.  Stiles smiles sweetly at him, and says “Oh I’m sorry, is that going to be a problem for you? I thought you said you were unstoppable?” Peter glares at him, but Stiles ignores it. “You can come out when you pull your head out of your ass and stop spouting about how you’re Werewolf Jesus.”

Peter sulks inside the circle for a good ten minutes, sporadically pushing against it as he mutters dark threats, before he caves and admits that he supposes it was probably mostly luck that he bit Derek in the first place.

Derek leans over to Stiles and deadpans,“He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy,” just as Stiles clicks his fingers and makes the ash fly back into the jar.  Stiles laughs so hard he forgets to concentrate, and the ash lands in a messy pile in his lap. 

Natalie appears then, and looks Stile up and down consideringly. “You have a spark.” It’s not a question, but Stiles nods anyway. “What else can you do?” she asks.

“This is kinda it. Deaton tried to teach me, but I couldn’t do anything else,” he admits.

She smiles widely at him, and says “Oh, I think I can help with that. You just need another spark to teach you, that’s all.”  She extends a hand, and the scattered ash swirls up smoothly and into the jar. Then she flicks her wrist and the lid rises gently into the air and screws itself on.  She reaches out and takes Stiles’ hand, and he can feel power thrumming under the skin. It makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, but in a good way. "Some sort of water creature, I'd say. Possibly a sprite. I'm guessing you've always felt calmer around water?"

Stiles thinks about the lake, the long showers, that time he was able to hold Derek up in the pool for hours, and nods. Now that she points it out, it's obvious. “You could really teach me?” He looks at her hopefully.

“Well, you have talent, and you definitely have the magic in your blood, so yes. I suspect the magic is what kept you and I alive, to be honest.”

Stiles hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense. “So how come Coach is alive, then? Is he magic too?” he asks. The thought of Finstock with that kind of power is frankly terrifying.

Natalie throws her head back and laughs. “Lord no, he’s just too damn stubborn to die. Now go find your man, he’s gone off in a huff.”

He looks over and sees that yes, Peter’s left. Stiles goes in search of him, and finds him in their room, pouting. Stiles makes up for his prank by pushing Peter back on the bed and riding him long and slow, because Stiles knows that’s what he likes best. Peter graciously forgives him after that, but he also confiscates the jar of ash.

 


 

They discover that whoever Peter cures has the ability to cure others, which makes everything a hell of a lot easier.  Scott volunteers to go on the road, looking for other survivors. He explains that he’ll be able to build his own pack that way. There’s nothing for him in Beacon Hills, now his Mom isn’t here.

“Won’t you miss us?’ Stiles asks.

Scott looks at the ground and shuffles his feet shyly. “I was thinking of asking Jade to come with me.”

Jade. It takes Stiles a moment to place her. One of the werewolves who’d wandered into Beacon Hills while in the grip of madness.  She’s a little older than Scott, with dark hair, pale skin, and a sunshine smile. She’s exactly Scott’s type, and Stiles hasn’t missed the way they’ve been joined at the hip. He smiles to himself, before replying “I’m pretty sure she’ll say yes, judging by the sappy looks she’s been giving you.”

Scott sputters a little, laughing. “We’re no worse than you and Peter! He can’t look at you without smiling. You guys are totally gone on each other.” He’s teasing, but Stiles swings around, looking for his wolf, and sure enough, Peter’s watching from across the room, a small smile on his face.  Stiles feels his mouth turn up in response.  Scott’s not wrong. He can’t imagine his life without Peter in it, now.

 


 

 

Eventually, they move back above ground. Derek and Danny have managed to restore power to part of the town, and with the monsters gone, there’s no need to hide. Peter and Stiles move into Stiles’ family home. It’s bittersweet for Stiles when they set up in his dad’s bedroom, but he likes to think his father would be proud of him.  He survived, and somehow, against all odds, he found someone who makes him happy.

As he unpacks the last of the boxes, he’s struck by how quiet it is. He pulls his phone out and hits shuffle, wanting something he can move to. He grins when the music starts, because the song that blasts through the speakers is perfect. He dances wildly around the room as he sings along. This time, when he sings Coming out of my cage and I’m doing just fine, it isn’t a lie.

His heart nearly jumps out of his chest when Peter slips into the room and grabs him in a bear hug. “You do realize you’re a terrible dancer, Stiles.”

“I don’t care, I’m having fun. Now put me down, you weirdo,” Stiles laughs, batting at Peter’s hand fruitlessly.

“Never. You’re mine now, love,” Peter purrs in his ear as he holds on tight. And yeah, Stiles can get behind that.

“Yours,” he agrees. Peter’s smile is like the sunrise, and he swings Stiles around in his arms, singing along.

But it’s just the price I pay, destiny is calling me, open up my eager eyes,

'Cause I'm Mr. Briiiiiightsiiiiiiiide

They belt out the chorus together at the top of their lungs, and they dance like nobody’s watching.