Peter taps his foot impatiently, checking his phone for the third time in as many minutes. 10:07 a.m. The florist should have opened seven minutes ago. Every review on Yelp and Google had said this shop is the best in the area. Most had agreed that the owner, while 'eccentric' (to quote Yelp user G-Sizzle), is a genius and charges fairly. Cost doesn't particularly bother Peter, but quality does, and this shop has a five star rating after almost a thousand reviews.
That will all mean nothing if the shop doesn't actually open soon. Peter checks the hours listed on the door, but yes, just like every other time he's checked, it still says they open at 10:00 a.m. It's a busy morning, and Marcus Floral is the old downtown neighborhood, a popular area. There are people walking by him on the sidewalk, not paying him an ounce of attention as he glares at the darkened storefront.
Peter looks up at the second floor contemplatively. It's similar to the building Peter works out of, a live-work unit that most likely has an apartment for the owner upstairs, though he rents out the apartment above his shop to two of his artists, Boyd and Erica. In his sheer irritation, he's considering throwing something at the second story window to get the owner's attention, but then the shop lights flicker on.
It's hard to see through the tall, bright flower displays in the windows, but he's pretty sure he sees movement in the back of the store as more lights turn on. It takes another minute and twenty-two seconds before someone approaches the front, turns on the open sign in the window, and unlocks the front door.
Peter yanks the door open, startling the man on the other side. He's beautiful, Peter can admit that, with wide, warm brown eyes, messy brown hair, and very kissable skin. In another situation, Peter would be turning on the charm, trying to get a date, or at least a night, with the man in front of him. But as it is, he's on a bit of a time crunch.
"You're late," Peter says.
"I - what?" the man says.
"It says you open at 10:00. It's almost ten after," Peter says.
"Dude, it's a florist shop, not a bank. I'm not super worried about being opened at 10:00 on the dot," the man says. He seems mildly amused at Peter's rudeness instead of being chastised.
"You literally live upstairs. There's no excuse for being late," Peter says.
"It's the perfect excuse. I don't have a commute, which means I can sleep longer, and therefore when I oversleep, the consequences aren't disastrous," the florist says.
"That makes no sense," Peter says, completely thrown. People don't actually argue back with him most of the time.
"Sure it does," the florist says. "Now, are you here to argue with me, or can I do something for you?"
"Yes, you can," Peter says, trying to regain his footing. "My sister informed me this morning that I'm supposed to bring flowers for my niece's baby shower this afternoon."
Laura, spoiled as she is, has a very specific list of demands for her shower. Demands that Peter is more than happy to completely ignore.
"Okay. Like a centerpiece for her table, or just a big bouquet? Something in between?" the florist asks.
"The big arrangement for her table is necessary, but if you can do small centerpieces for the five guest tables, that would be wonderful," Peter says, trying to salvage what's left of his charm. He needs this guy to do a good job, and berating him probably isn't the best way to do that.
"And what time would you need them ready by?"
"1:00 at the latest," Peter says.
"Hmm," the florist hums, tapping his lip like he's thinking. "Doable. Do you have a color scheme or flower preference? If not, I have a book up at the counter with some examples."
"She wants blue, because she's having a boy, but it needs to be purple," Peter says.
The florist raises his eyebrows. "Not a fan of expressing a bullshit gender binary through arbitrarily assigned colors?" he asks.
"That, and she's a terrible person. So this is a very polite 'fuck you' to her," Peter says.
The florist snorts and turns, beckoning Peter to follow him. "Come on, I'll show you what I have in mind."
Peter trails after the florist, glancing around the shop. Now that he's in, his irritation is ebbing and he can appreciate the beauty. It's a bit cluttered, like a self-contained colorful explosion. There's a display with the popular little cactuses and succulents in brightly colored containers near the center of the shop. Vases and vibrant bouquets sit on every other surface and now that Peter's paying attention, the smell is amazing. His wolf wants to roll around and coat himself in the sweet, fresh scent, but Peter has more important things to do. It's like picking his way through a few colorful, fragrant jungle to reach the counter near the back.
"So, you're going to ruin your niece's baby shower?" the florist asks when they reach the counter. He pulls out a binder and starts flipping through it.
"Not ruin. Mildly inconvenience," Peter says.
"Right, messing with a hormonal pregnant woman seems like a great plan."
"To be fair, her fiance and the father of her baby is my ex-boyfriend," Peter says. "And we weren't broken up when they started 'dating'."
The florist looks up at him in surprise. "And you're still getting her flowers?" he asks.
"It's under duress, I assure you," Peter says. He absolutely wouldn't be here if his alpha hadn't ordered it.
"Well, shit, yeah, let's get you some purple revenge flowers," the florist says. He turns the binder to face Peter, pointing to a purple and white arrangement. "I'm thinking something small like this with the purple anemones for the five centerpieces, then I can do something bigger and add some roses and foliage that will match for the main table." He flips a page over and points to another arrangement. Peter can't identify any of the flowers besides the roses (those he's intimately familiar with, tattooing at least one a week), but it's beautiful.
"That's perfect," Peter says.
"Any allergies or restrictions?" the florist asks.
"Well, it's a werewolf shower, so no wolfsbane," Peter says.
"Gotcha," the florist says, making a note. "I don't use wolfsbane in arrangements unless it's specially requested anyway, but I'll make sure nothing comes in contact with any."
"I appreciate it," Peter says.
"Great. It's a slow day, so that should be done by 12:30, 12:45 at the latest," the florist says, writing down the details of Peter's order before punching the total into the beat up cash register. "You're lucky I'm in a good mood and you're pretty, otherwise you'd be getting the asshole customer upcharge instead of just the rush order pricing."
"Oh, you think I'm pretty?" Peter asks with a grin.
The florist rolls his eyes. "Of course that's what you'd get out of that," he says.
Peter honestly doesn't know if the total is high or not, he's just happy it's getting done. He hands over his card and signs the receipt when it's given to him. He's out the door and down the block before he realizes he didn't even get the florist's name. Maybe the shop is named after him, though he hadn't seemed like a Marcus. It's not really important, Peter supposes. He has other errands to run before he has to be back at the florist later. Thankfully, none of them are connected to his home wrecking niece and unfaithful ex's baby shower.
Peter stops by the tattoo shop and is greeted by a chorus of 'fuck you!' from his wonderful employees. The shop is closed for the day so they can do an inventory, an inventory Peter is conveniently absent for. Being the boss has perks that Peter has absolutely no qualms about abusing. It shouldn't take long anyway, they're just being whiners about it.
"So I take it you don't want the doughnuts?" Peter asks.
Erica's head pops up from behind the front desk. She's looking at him suspiciously, which is fair, he doesn't bring food often unless he's bribing them, but he's in a much better mood after the florist. She sees the box in his hands and grins.
"He's not even lying!" she calls.
There are multiple footsteps before Cora skids out from her piercing room and Ennis quickly rounds the corner from the stock room. Boyd appears a few moments later, arms full of boxes of gloves.
"We're set on gloves for the next year and a half. Thank god you had us check," he says dryly.
"I can throw the doughnuts away," Peter says.
"No!" Cora says. She snatches the box from his hands and sets it on the counter where it's immediately swarmed by the other three. He thinks he sees a claw or two in there. God help anyone who gets between Erica and a bearclaw.
"Thank you, Peter. That's very kind of you, Peter," Peter says.
"Thanf k'oo," Ennis says through a mouthful of an old fashioned doughnut.
"You're animals," Peter says. "Cora, your mother would like me to remind you to not wear black today."
"I'm going to conveniently forget that reminder until we arrive," Cora says.
"Good girl," Peter says. "This is why you're my favorite niece."
Cora was his favorite niece even before the Laura and Patrick incident, a status she'd cemented when she'd shouted at Laura for a full twenty minutes after finding out what she'd done with Peter's ex. At the end of the day though, she's still Laura's sister and packmate and Peter doesn't want her to miss out on that. He can be a rat bastard, according to Talia, but he understands the value of family. Just because Laura is on Peter's shit list doesn't mean he needs her to be on Cora's.
Patrick, though...Peter's fine with her hating Patrick.
Erica had offered, with a fanged, almost manic grin, to come to the baby shower with them. Peter suspects part of it is she wants to get out of finishing inventory, but he also knows she's fiercely protective of those she considers hers, and Peter was one of her first friends when she moved to Beacon Hills. He's well aware that she would be more than happy to rip Patrick and Laura a new one (she already has, but her thirst for vengeance never seems to abate. Peter can admire that in a person.), but he'd politely declined.
"I've got a list going of what we're low on," Ennis says, having swallowed his mouthful of doughnut. "I'll email it you when we're done."
"Perfect," Peter says. "I'm off to see Deucalion. Cora, I'll be back at 1:00 to pick you up for the shower."
Cora salutes him, still chewing on her maple bar.
Deucalion is Peter's accountant. While Peter could deal with the quarterly taxes, he has absolutely no desire to, and what's the point of running a successful business if he can't pay people to do the shitty work for him? After Deucalion, he runs to the bank, then home to grab a change of clothes for the shower. When Peter makes it back to Marcus Floral at 12:30, there's a young blond at the counter attempting to tie a thick, red ribbon into a bow, tongue sticking out in concentration. He perks up when the bell over the door rings and smiles.
"Welcome to Marcus Floral!" he chirps. "How can I help you?"
"I have an order to pick up," Peter says. The kid (Liam, the name tag says) bobs his head.
"Oh, rude baby shower guy," he says. Peter sighs. He supposes that's fair. "Yeah, I'll go check on that. One sec."
Liam disappears through the back door, leaving Peter alone to stare at the display of orchids. He'd wanted one when he was younger, but his mother always told him they were notoriously hard to keep alive and said maybe when he was older. Eventually he stopped asking. He's delicately running his fingers over the yellow petals when the back door swings open, revealing the florist from earlier. He's carrying a large cardboard box, Liam following with a second, smaller box.
"Just in time," he says, setting his box on the counter. "Finished about five minutes ago. Take a look."
Peter looks into the boxes, eyebrows raising. The arrangements are beautiful, even better than the pictures had shown. The centerpieces have an elegant simplicity, while the main arrangement for Laura's table is pure beauty. And best of all, there's no blue anywhere. Purples, some green and white, but no blue.
"It's perfect," Peter says. "Worth every penny."
The florist grins, looking proud but also blushing a bit. Adorable.
"Liam, finish on the Finstock order, I'm going to help Peter carry these to his car," the florist says.
Liam nods and picks up the ribbon again, struggling to create a bow. The florist rolls his eyes and picks up one of the boxes, motioning for Peter to grab the other. They're a little awkward sized for getting out of the front door, but they manage, walking around the corner to where Peter is parked.
"So, are you the Marcus in Marcus Floral?" Peter asks
"What? Oh, no, I'm Stiles. Marcus was the old owner. I bought it from him last year when he retired and moved down to Florida, and just haven't gotten around to changing the name yet," Stiles says.
"A little young for a business owner," Peter says. Stiles fits him much better than Marcus.
Stiles shrugs. "I worked here part-time while I was still going to college. But I fell in love with it and quit school to do this full-time," Stiles says. "Plants are much less depressing than psychology."
"I can believe that," Peter says. "I withdrew for law school myself. The corporate world was too much for me."
"Yeah, you don't really look like a desk jockey," Stiles says, looking Peter up and down as he sets down the box of flowers. He knows what Stiles is seeing: jeans, biker boots, and arms covered with tattoos. Yeah, he doesn't exactly scream lawyer, but that's the way he likes it.
"It didn't agree with me," Peter says.
"And here I thought your holier-than-thou attitude would work well cutting people down to size in the courtroom," Stiles says, smirking slightly.
Before Peter can say anything, Liam rounds the corner, looking frantic.
"Stiles! Finstock is here and he's talking about wanting carnationthemums! I asked if he meant carnations or chrysanthemums and he said no and oh my god, I have no idea how to deal with him," Liam says.
"Duty calls," Stiles says. "Have fun at the Jerry Springer-esque baby shower."
"Enjoy your delusional customer," Peter says.
Stiles winks and walks back toward the shop, shaking his head at Liam's panic.
"He's harmless, dude," Peter hears Stiles say. "You don't need to be afraid of him, he's just weird."
Peter is right on time to pick up Cora, who is wearing a short black dress and hair her hair pulled back in a bun, showing off her many piercings and the tattoo on her back that curls up the side of her neck. Normally she leaves her hair down unless she's working, but she enjoys the way her mom and sister's jaws clench when they see her body art. Peter had considered wearing his biker boots and leather jacket, but settled on a nice blue sweater and black dress shoes. See? He can be reasonable. He's keeping the jeans, though.
Laura's having the baby shower at the pack house in the preserve, which is a royal pain for everyone to get to since it's about a half hour out of town, but there's plenty of space in the backyard and Talia is nothing but not meticulous in her landscaping, so at least it'll look nice. Laura had invited most of the pack and a lot of of her friends, so he's sure plenty of people will ooh and aah.
Derek comes out to help them carry stuff in when they park in the driveway, far enough from other cars that they won't be blocked in and can make a quick getaway if they need to. Derek takes the gelato Cora brought (Laura insisted on this specific brand that is only sold at the fancy organic market near Cora's college), leaving Cora and Peter to bring in the flowers. Derek raises his eyebrows at the purple, but doesn't say anything. He's smart enough not to get between his uncle and his sister.
Talia is in the living room directing people when they walk in. She's already dressed in a pink floral dress, hair done just so. She sends Derek to the kitchen with the gelato before her eyes land on Peter and Cora. She grimaces, taking in Cora's dress.
"Cora, I said no black," Talia says.
"Forgot," Cora says with a shrug, not bothering to try to lie better.
Talia sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Fine. The tables are outside, put the flowers there," she says.
"Yes, ma'am, right away," Cora says.
Talia doesn't look in the boxes as they walk by, which really is her own fault. The backyard does look wonderful, though Peter hates to admit it. There are five tables with crisp, white tablecloths on the large patio, strings of lights draped from the pergola overhead. There's a table already piled high with gifts, even though guests won't start arriving for another half hour at least. Another long table is surrounded by people from the catering company setting up. It's Talia's first grandchild, so her tendency to go overboard is flung into high gear.
Thankfully, the linens are white and not blue, so the purple of the flowers look lovely on the table. Cora and Peter adjust them until they're dead center and perfect. Laura and Patrick won't be making their grand entrance until the guests arrive (Peter isn't the only one in his family with a flare for the dramatics), so they won't see the flowers until then.
Talia steps out of the back door a few minutes later, rattling off instructions to the caterer at her side. She makes the poor woman repeat everything back to her twice before she'll let her go finish her tasks. As the caterer walks away, Talia's gaze fall to Peter and Cora lounging at one of the tables. Her eyes narrow when she sees the flowers and she stalks over, high heels loud on the patio.
"These aren't blue," Talia says.
"Aren't they?" Peter asks.
"These are purple, Peter!" Talia says.
"Maybe I've gone colorblind."
"You're a werewolf!" Talia hisses.
"Lots of canine species are colorblind," Peter says.
"One thing. You were asked to do one thing," Talia says.
"And it's done. Behold, beautiful, expensive flowers," Peter says.
"They aren't blue!" Talia says.
"Aren't they?" Peter asks.
Talia, sensing that this conversation is getting her nowhere, rounds on Cora. "Why didn't you stop him?" he asks.
"Why didn't I stop Uncle Peter from doing something he wants to do?" Cora asks incredulously. "Did you really ask that?"
"Mom. They're flowers, it's fine," Cora says.
"Mom!" Derek calls from the kitchen window. "Aunt Carol is on the phone, something about a problem with the cake!"
"Oh for the love of god," Talia says. She turns on her heel and marches back to the house.
"Colorblind?" Cora says when Talia is out of earshot. "One of your specialties is your color work."
"Hmm, so it is," Peter says. Cora snorts.
They don't enjoy their reprieve for long. Soon, various Hale relatives pour into the back yard. Laura's friends arrive in little groups, all very giggly and excited. Peter supposes he can't blame them, a baby is a joyous occasion, but he can't muster their cheery spirit. Patrick's sister and mom arrive together, which is just as awkward as it sounds. When they see Peter they wave a little, like they're unsure if they're supposed to. Peter doesn't hold them ill will; it's not their fault Patrick is an ass, but he doesn't particularly want to deal with them either, so he retreats into the house to get a drink.
Derek finds him in the family room ten minutes later, sipping his wolfsbane-laced whiskey and flipping through the photo albums Talia keeps on the coffee table. There's one of Peter taking Laura, Derek, and Cora fishing when the three of them were teenagers. Laura has a big trout in her hands, grinning widely. A second after the picture had been taken, she's slapped Derek in the face with the fish. He misses that Laura.
Derek doesn't say anything when he sees what he's looking at, just clasps his shoulder firmly in away he probably means to be reassuring.
Peter understands Derek desire not to get in the middle of it. Laura is his sister and they've always been close, but he idolized Peter growing up. He's not interested in listening to Peter bad-mouth Laura, but he also shuts her down when she tries to talk badly about Peter. So that's something at least.
"We're about to start," Derek says.
Peter nods and swallows the rest of his drink. It's going to be a long day.
The backyard is full when Peter and Derek rejoin the party. Most people have a drink or a little plate of food. He takes up a position near the back, close enough that he'll get a good view of Laura and Patrick when they emerge, but far enough away that he's not in conversation range. It's dramatic and ridiculous, people clapping as Laura and Patrick walk out the door, his hand resting Laura's round belly.
Something in Peter's gut twists, ugly and hurt. He doesn't love Patrick, not anymore, but seeing him, seeing the evidence of his betrayal, still hurts. Cora sidles up next to him, bumping his shoulder with hers, and hands him a drink. He squeezes the nape of her neck in thanks.
Peter can pinpoint the exact moment Laura's eyes fall on the flowers, beautiful and glorious and purple. Her eyes narrow, muscle in her jaw twitching, and her eyes fly to Peter. Peter just raises his eyebrows under her glare and salutes her with his drink. She holds eye contact for a few moments, probably marinating in her rage, before she turning back to the crowd, smiling pleasantly. It's only a few seconds, but satisfaction ripples through Peter. He'll take his petty revenges where he can.
Peter's able to avoid Laura for most of the baby shower. He and Cora are very popular with the younger ones, the kids loving to come up and trace the pretty pictures on their skin. Most of the parents are thrilled to have a break and are fine with foisting off the responsibility of watching their kids onto Peter and Cora. Peter's fine with it, the kids are less judgmental than the adults, and don't look at him with pity or irritation.
Peter eats his weight in deviled eggs and ribs, smirking whenever his hearing picks up someone complimenting Laura on the flowers. It's hard not to roll his eyes watching her and Patrick open their gifts. Everything on her registry had been needlessly expensive or designer, and it's so very difficult to keep his derision to himself.
While Laura's cooing over a set of onesies, Cora elbows him in the ribs and nods toward the door. He's so on board. They've been here for a few hours, made their appearance, and it's time to leave. He and Cora edge around the back of the crowd, ignoring Talia's eyes on them. If they don't make eye contact, they can pretend they didn't know she was motioning for them to stay, right? Right.
Peter does swipe one of the centerpieces from a nearby table on his way out. After all, he paid for them, and the flowers really are too lovely to go to waste.
Peter and Cora end up meeting Erica, Boyd, and Ennis at the Silver, a bar close to the tattoo shop they tend to frequent. Chris, the owner, is behind the bar and starts pouring their usuals before they even make it to the counter. Peter's bourbon and Cora's black opal are waiting for them and they nod in thanks before making their way to where Ennis, Erica, and Boyd are playing pool. None of them offer him pitying looks, just ask if he wants next game. Just the way he prefers it.
The purple flowers stay on the front desk of Peter's shop for the next week, until they start wilting. Peter doesn't know how long they usually last, but he's impressed. He doesn't think about Stiles the cute florist again until he's at the front desk checking his schedule for the next day and sees Stiles' name.
"Erica!" he calls
"Yeah?" she shouts back. The only other person there is in Cora's piercing room, otherwise they wouldn't yell across the shop floor.
"Did you schedule my 3:00 tomorrow?" he calls.
"Boyd did! Deets should be in your email!"
Peter hums and pulls up his email and sure enough, there's the forwarded conversation from the shop's general email account. He's looking for a snapdragon tattoo, as realistic as possible, and Boyd had scheduled him with Peter. The reference pictures are wonderfully detailed, and he's leaving the specific art up to Peter. That's his favorite kind of client. He smirks, wondering if Stiles has any idea that the Peter Boyd scheduled him with is in fact him.
Peter spends the rest of the day sketching out snapdragons. Realism is his wheelhouse, and he always puts in a lot of effort in his work, but somehow it being Stiles makes Peter want it to be fantastic. He creates and discards a half dozen sketches until he finds one he likes. He hopes Stiles likes it, too.
The next day, Peter has plenty of time before his appointment with Stiles (his client earlier was a no show), so he sits at the front desk, feet up, playing around on the shop's Instagram. It ticks to 3:02 with still not sign of Stiles, and Peter is worried he'll have two no shows in one day, a first for him. But then the front door opens and Stiles stumbles in, tripping over the welcome mat. When he looks up and sees Peter's smirking face, his eyes widen.
"Oh god, rude baby shower guy!" he says.
"Chronically late florist," Peter says.
"Oh come on, I'm like two minutes late," Stiles says.
"Late is late," Peter says.
"You're such an ass," Stiles says, but he's grinning. "So, you my artist?"
"I am," Peter says, dropping his feet from his desk. "Follow me."
Instead of an open floor plan where everyone could see and hear everything that's going on, Peter has individual rooms for each artist. He's not a fan of loud distractions, especially given werewolves' sensitive hearing, and plenty of customers like a more private experience. That's something Peter is fine providing.
Stiles sits up on the table, swinging his legs as Peter sits on the stool, rolling toward Stiles with his tablet in hand. He pulls up the reference image and sketches before handing the tablet over to Stiles.
"Outside of your forearm, right?" Peter asks.
"Yep," Stiles says, scrolling through the pictures. "Dude, these are great."
"Thank you," Peter says, trying not to preen. He gets complimented on his art a lot, he's mostly used to it (a perk of being talented, and he's not ashamed to admit he's proud of that), but he still wants to impress Stiles. That Stiles enjoys his work does something for him, he can't deny that.
"I was thinking stem near my wrist, then the flowers growing upward toward my elbow?" Stiles says.
"That's what I was thinking as well. And the pinks and reds are still what you want?" Peter asks.
"Yep," Stiles says.
"Perfect. I'll get the stencil and we can get started," Peter says.
It takes two tries for Peter to get the stencil exactly the way he wants and for Stiles to sign off on the placement. He's a perfectionist, and if his work isn't going to be done to the best of his abilities, what's the point?
"Have you been tattooed before?" Peter asks as he double checks his machine. Stiles is reclining in the chair, arm on the armrest and tilted slightly awkwardly for Peter to have to best angle.
"Yeah," Stiles says. "On my ribs and calf."
"Okay, so then you know what the expect in regards to pain. Let me know if you're feeling faint or if you need a break, but this should be relatively quick," Peter says.
"Aye, aye, captain," Stiles says.
For all his flailing and clumsiness, Peter is vaguely expecting Stiles to twitch or ju at the first touch of the needle and is prepared to pull the machine away if necessary, but he keeps completely still, only grimacing a bit at first.
"You okay?" Peter asks, tracing the outline.
"Yeah," Stiles says. "It just takes a second to get used to, you know?"
"I do," Peter says. "I'm kind of covered in tattoos, you see."
"Oh, shut up," Stiles says. "How was the baby shower?"
"Appropriately awkward," Peter says. "Laura and Patrick weren't thrilled that the fact that they wanted blue flowers somehow slipped my mind, though they did think the arrangements were lovely."
"Why didn't you just go to the cheap, shitty florist on Eighth Street if you wanted flowers she wouldn't like?" Stiles asks. "They'd be half-dead and any color other than the one you wanted."
"That's not how sabotage works," Peter says. Stiles' hand clenches when Peter traces a flower petal near his elbow. That can be a tricky area for nerves. "The flowers had to be impeccable, just not the color she wanted. They needed to be beautiful enough that for her to complain about one little thing would make her seem rude, immature, and ungrateful. She could throw a justified and very public fit about wilting, dead flowers, but she couldn't fly off the handle at a perfectly done arrangement with just a slightly different color than she wanted. And she knows it."
"I...have never heard of such subtle flower warfare," Stiles says. "I like it."
"That's how it tends to go in packs," Peter says. He tilts Stiles' arm down a bit, outlining the tricky, smaller buds of the flower. "Even if you wanted to, it's hard, if not impossible, to disobey a direct order from the alpha. Pettiness and subtle aggression are sometimes the only paths you have."
"That sounds...exhausting," Stiles says.
Peter shrugs. "I'm good at it. And I'm not the forgiving sort," Peter says. "Laura is my niece and I love her, but right now I don't like her very much. Sleeping with my long-term partner and getting pregnant while he and I were living together doesn't make for fun family moments."
"Oh god, you were living together? What a bitch," Stiles says. "Sorry, I know she's family and all, but wow, that's some Jerry Springer shit."
Peter snorts. "That's what Cora said. That we could be booked for the werewolf version of Maury," Peter says. He hadn't laughed at the time, the wound having been a bit too fresh, but he can admit now that yeah, it's amusing. "Okay, done with the outline. Moving to colors now. Do you need a break?"
"Nah, I'm good," Stiles says.
They chat a bit while Peter fills in the stem with greens, though Peter stops talking when he gets to the complicated petals. He tells Stiles he's free to talk, especially since it seems to help him ignore the pain, but he only grunts or nods in answer. Stiles doesn't seem offended, just rattles off information about the rare flowers he's trying to grow in the greenhouse behind his shop, about how a customer tried to order wolfsbane in bulk, which Stiles felt super sketchy about, until he showed his credentials and proved he was working on a universal treatment for wolfsbane poisoning.
It turns out Stiles' best friend is a werewolf, bitten their college freshman year. He lives a few hours away with his wife, an Olympic-level archery instructor. He runs a veterinary practice, and Peter finds that hilarious, wondering how long it takes him to convince dogs he isn't a threat. His father is Beacon Hills' sheriff, a man who arrested Peter when he was younger (what are the odds?), and is constantly fighting him on his cholesterol.
"You know, most adults are capable of making their own dietary decisions," Peter chimes in, taking a break to stretch his hand.
"Nope, he's gonna live to be an old man whether he likes it or not," Stiles says. He winces when Peter wipes off the excess ink and a bit of blood from his arm. "Sorry."
"Don't apologize, you're sitting very well," Peter says.
"Do you get a lot of twitchers?" Stiles asks.
"Some. Plenty of people who brag about their high pain tolerance, then turn white as a ghost as soon as we start," Peter says. "Or people who ignore aftercare instructions and end up with infected tattoos, and somehow it's our fault."
"Sounds about right," Stiles says. "People will come and complain their flowers are dead after a day, but if they forget to put them in water or let their cats eat them, not my fault."
"Speaking of, I stole one of the centerpieces from Laura's shower," Peter says. The snapdragon is almost done, the colors coming together beautifully. "It was on the front desk for over a week before it started wilting."
Stiles perks up at that and grins. "Are you a plant person? Do you have flowers in your windows and planters out front?" Stiles asks.
"Sorry to disappoint, but no, I don't," Peter says.
"You will," Stiles says confidently.
"You know, I don't see that happening," Peter says.
"Nah, you're friends with a florist now," Stiles says. "You don't get a choice."
"Oh?" Peter says, filling in the last part of the snapdragon and turning off his machine. "Does that mean you'll never escape tattoos since I'm an artist?"
"I guess so," Stiles has happily. "My body is your canvas." Stiles blushes when his words catch up with him and he sees Peter's smirk, but he doesn't take them back.
"And a lovely canvas it is, too," Peter says, cleaning the tattoo. "So tell me, why a snapdragon?"
"It's my favorite flower," Stiles says. "I don't buy into the belief that every tattoo has to have some deep, symbolic meaning. I love snapdragons and they're pretty, so I wanted one."
"That's a good reason," Peter says. He bandages and wraps Stiles' arm carefully, fingers brushing soft skin. "I have a stegosaurus on my thigh that I got when Cora was a child because it made her laugh. Not everything has to symbolize a great journey."
"Agreed," Stiles says. "Sometimes people will want to do that with flowers. Which flower means beauty, which means romance, yadda yadda. Which is fine, I don't mind. That can be fun sometimes. But dude, flowers are gorgeous. Pick ones you think are pretty, or ones that smell nice. Pick ones that remind you of the person you're buying them for. Pick flowers that would look nice on your kitchen table. Don't pick flowers you don't like just because someone a long time ago decided they mean happiness."
Peter kind of wants to kiss Stiles senseless. He loves that kind of passion in a person, loves that Stiles gets worked up about people's flower selection process. He has to remind himself that he's a professional, and professionals don't kiss clients in the middle of their tattoo shop. The urge is overwhelming and out of nowhere, and Peter's fights to rein himself in.
"I know nothing about flowers," Peter says, "but I have to agree with you there. I don't know what the flowers I bought from you mean, but they were lovely." Stiles beams and Peter feels a traitorous little flutter in his gut. "Okay, aftercare."
Stiles nods along as Peter tells him how to care for his tattoo, to avoid sun and submerging it in water until it's healed, how to clean it.
"If you get dirt in it, I'm personally coming to beat you," Peter says.
"I would never," Stiles says, crossing his heart. "Scott's honor."
"Isn't that scout's honor?" Peter asks.
"Nah, Scott's more of a reliable thing to swear on. Honor, doing the right thing, all that garbage," Stiles says.
"How blandly moral," Peter says.
"Yep," Stiles says. "So, what do I owe you?"
Peter knocks $50 off the price, because he likes Stiles, and gets it almost all back as a tip anyway. When Stiles leaves with a grin and a wave, something like regret settles in him. This could easily be the last time he sees Stiles, and, well, Peter isn't okay with that. Goddamn it, he doesn't want to just kiss Stiles, he wants to woo the fuck out of him. He wants late night dinners and candlelit dates and walking around the annual Beacon Hills Spring Fair together, sharing cotton candy. Fuck.
"I went to school with him, you know," Cora says from the front desk.
Peter raises an eyebrow. "And?"
"And he's super smart, bounces off the wall with too much energy, and a total asshole," Cora says.
"And?" Peter repeats. "You're telling me this because..?"
"Because you're staring after him like he took your puppy with him," Cora says. "It's gross, get it together. Moping isn't a good look on you."
"Everything's a good look on me," Peter says. He doesn't bother lying to Cora. He's the one who taught her how to catch lies in the first place, something he does regret occasionally. "And don't worry. I don't plan on being idle."
He's used to having to do fate's handiwork himself.
Peter supposes waiting a week would be a nice, respectable amount of time. Peter's not a nice and respectable man, though. Two days later, he's walking into Marcus Floral, his messenger bag with a sketch pad and pencils over his shoulder. Liam is at the counter, talking to a man who is looking for two dozen red roses and, from the sound of it, is looking to win his wife back after cheating on her. Peter tsks and shakes his head, turning to the right and meandering through the rows of flowers.
The comforting floral aroma washes over Peter, helping him drown out the customer and Liam. He can hear Stiles thumping around in the back of the shop, singing Led Zeppelin under his breath, and it makes him grin. He clears off a stool that's being used to display a vase of daisies, setting the flowers gently on the shelf next to him, and drags the stool to a display of brightly colored lilies. The tag on front says Lily of the Incas.
Peter hums and sits on the stool, studying the flowers in front of him. They're different than the ones a shelf away, the Asiatic lily, that he's used to seeing, but no less beautiful. He pulls out his sketchpad and pencil from his bag and settles in, determined to capture the complexities of the lilies. Liam and the customer fade to a vague buzzing in his ear, Stiles' singing a helpful background noise. He immerses himself in drawing the lilies, trying to capture the texture of the petals, the intricacies of the shading.
Peter's been drawing for probably half hour where he hears Stiles come out from the back of the shop. Liam murmurs something to him, but Peter isn't paying attention. He's messed up one of the flower buds twice already and he's trying to get it just perfect. He keeps his focus on the plant even when he hears Stiles approach, can feel him standing behind him, peering over his shoulder at his work.
"That's pretty good. You could almost do something artistic for a living," Stiles teases.
"You're hysterical," Peter says, not bothering to look up.
"I know, it's a gift," Stiles says. "So you're just gonna park in my shop and sketch flowers all day?"
"That's the plan," Peter says. He glances up then and can't help but smirk. Stiles' hair is in disarray, his face smudged with dirt. "Hard day?" he asks.
"Ugh," Stiles says, running a hand through his hair. "This lady said she wanted a dozen roses for her anniversary dinner, but she meant a dozen bouquets and is throwing a temper tantrum to get them."
"Then why are you doing it?" Peter asks. "It's generally frowned upon to reward bad behavior."
"Anyone else and I'd tell them to fuck off, but it's the mayor's daughter, and the mayor could make life especially hard for my dad if she decided to," Stiles says.
"Hmm," Peter says, scratching his chin.
"No, I know that look," Stiles says. "No slashing tires."
"Why Stiles, you wound me. I would never," Peter says innocently. It's true, that's much too obvious. He'd go for rocks in the carburetor and filling their gas tank with water first.
"Uh huh," Stiles says. "Don't knock anything over."
"Between the two of us, who is more likely to do that?" Peter says.
Stiles flips him off, but he's grinning as he disappears in the row of flowers, back to the back room. A few moments later, he's singing Black Dog under his breath and Peter goes back to sketching, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. His stays for two more hours, ignoring Liam's confused looks, until he has to leave to get back for his next appointment. He rips out of the best sketch, the one he'd detailed with his watercolor pencils, and folds it in half, scribbling Stiles' name on the back. He sets it on the front counter when Liam isn't looking and weaves his way out of the shop.
Peter comes back two days later, this time pulling up a display stool to a display of dahlias. He's always loved the look of these, would bring some to his nieces and nephews when they were younger. The boys would complain at first that flowers are for girls, but eventually gave in and admitted they loved them when they realized no one would laugh at them.
Peter's sketching for only a few minutes this time before Stiles shows up, peaking over Peter's shoulder (something he usually hates, but finds tolerable from Stiles). Stiles whistles, apparently impressed with the way he's capturing the cross sections of the petals.
"I feel like telling you I'm impressed is just going to feed your ego," Stiles says.
"Most likely," Peter says. "But it won't make it any less true."
"Such a dick," Stiles says.
"Busy day today?" Peter asks.
"Yeah, kinda," Stiles says. "Liam's off and I have some shit to do."
He sounds apologetic, like he really would rather just sit with Peter and watch him draw. Peter waves away his concerns.
"Go, run your business," Peter says.
"You're really just gonna sit here and draw?" Stiles asks.
"I am," Peter says, going back to staring at the dahlias.
"Oookay," Stiles says before heading to the front counter.
Stiles is singing ZZ Ward under his breath this time as he works on the arrangements in front of him. Peter can't see him from where he's sitting, but judging by the occasional thump and curse, he can imagine Stiles dropping things.
"So," Stiles calls after about fifteen minutes. "Business is really slow so you're over here?"
"Business is booming, actually," Peter answers. "I'm taking a long lunch."
"To visit my plant babies? How kind," Stiles says. Peter can practically hear him rolling his eyes, but he doesn't sound annoyed.
"I guess visiting the florist is a perk," Peter says. "He's kind of loud, but he's all right."
"If we weren't surrounded by flowers, I'd throw something at you," Stiles says.
They're cut off by a woman who comes in looking for a bouquet for her daughter's birthday, and after her comes a steady string of customers. Peter doesn't have a chance to talk to Stiles again before he has to go. He rips out the sketch, folds it in half, and sets it on the vase of dahlias. He slips out without saying goodbye.
Stiles is cranky on the third day Peter shows up. He's already dealing with an irritated customer so Peter just nods his hello and weaves his way through the displays, eventually stopping in front of chrysanthemums and leucadendrons.
"I need a dozen red, lavender, and peach roses, because they mean commitment and purity," the man at the counter says.
"They really don't," Stiles says. His tone says he's already repeated this multiple times. "And trust me, dude. Those would not look good together."
"But they're her favorite!" the customer says.
"I'll make you the bouquet if that's what you really want, but it's going to look stupid, then you're going to be pissy at me, and I'm not giving you a refund based on your bad decisions," Stiles says.
There's quiet for a moment, then, "You obviously don't know what you're doing, but fine, you're the only shop close enough."
"Fine," Stiles snaps. "Give me an hour."
"An hour? That seems a little long."
"Do you want the flowers or not?" Stiles asks.
"Fine," the customer grumbles. "An hour, whatever."
Stiles waits until the man is out of the store before violently flipping him off, and slamming his head down on the counter.
"I'm guessing he warrants the asshole customer upcharge?" Peter asks, walking over and leaning on the counter.
"Yes," Stiles says, voice muffled into the wood. "He's getting charged double."
Peter pats Stiles' hair, pleased at the happy sigh it earns him. He lingers, scritching his fingernails across his scalp for a few more seconds than strictly necessary.
"We can only hope his girlfriend dumps him," Peter says.
"Truth," Stiles says. He sighs and lifts his head from the counter. "He was arguing for like ten minutes before you got here."
"Sounds like a real winner," Peter says.
"He's not a regular, thank god," Stiles says. "Okay, do your thing, I've got the world's ugliest bouquet to make."
Peter watches as he retreats to the back room before going back to his chrysanthemums and leucadendrons. He likes these well enough, but he prefers the lilies and dahlias. And he has a certain fondness for snapdragons now. The sketch is technically correct, but it doesn't have the flair he usually imbues in his work. He flips the page in disgust and starts again.
Stiles appears from the back a few times, whenever the bell over the door rings, signalling someone coming in, but he spends most of the next hour working in the back. Peter knows it won't take him the full hour to finish the bouquet, and that he probably has other work to do, too. It's fine, he still enjoys being near him. If his sister could only see what a sap he's turning in to.
When the cranky customer comes back, he takes one look at the bouquet and his lip curls up in a sneer. He probably remembers Stiles' words though, and is smart enough not to fight him on it. He just takes the flowers and goes, grumbling under his breath the whole time. Peter casually flicks out his claws when he walks by and the man's eyes widen. He hurries out, wisely keeping his mouth shut.
Peter has to leave soon anyway, his next client coming soon. He slips the half-finished chrysanthemum between the vase and the wall, slipping out of the shop while Stiles is busy with another customer.
It's a week before Peter can come back, and he feels every day of it. His schedule is packed full, and there's a pack visiting from out of town, so Talia has summoned him most nights for meetings and treaty talks. It's draining, especially when she ignores most of his advice anyway, but he loves his pack and it's his job to be involved, so he goes. Ever since Kate took advantage of Derek and nearly burned them all to the ground, Peter's vowed to always be involved and always have his eyes open, even though that means spending lots of time with her overbearing sister.
He misses the shop. The sweet aroma of flowers around him, the mini oasis and calm it provides. It's more than he just misses Stiles, though he definitely does. There's a sort of tranquility the florist shop provides that Peter misses in his own shop, which is always full of activity and noise and people.
Peter saunters in a week later, the shop thankfully empty. Stiles is behind the front desk, humming to himself (BB King this time) and arranging arum-lilies. He looks up at the bell and his lips curl into a grin.
"I wondered if you were coming back," Stiles says.
"Pack business is dull, but occasionally sucks up more of my time than I'd like," Peter says. He browses through the rows of flowers, raising his eyebrows at a bizarre potted purple flower that looks somewhat like a miniature fur tree. "Cock's comb?" he asks, reading the tag.
"For the name, dude, I had to," Stiles says. Peter snorts and decides yes, he's drawing Cock's comb today. He pulls out his sketch pad as Stiles watches, leaning over the counter. "You know there are pictures of flowers online. I don't know if you know what the internet is, but Google is a nifty invention."
"I'm not eighty, Stiles. I know what the internet is," Peter says. "It's much better to study them in person. A picture isn't as useful as a three dimensional object. There are textures and angles and nuances you can't get from a picture online."
"You could always, you know, buy the flowers. And study them in the comfort of your own home," Stiles says.
"You would miss my sparkling personality," Peter says. "So would the flowers."
"Doubtful. They don't like you breathing on them."
Stiles throws a wink at him and walks away. Peter just snorts and settles in, ready to sketch the damn Cock's comb. Stiles comes back a few minutes later, walking around the store with a mister and a watering can. He waters plants here and there, checks on the flowers in vases, adds water to vases that are low. He softly singing Alanis Morissette this time, and it flings Peter back to when he and Talia were younger and she'd lock herself in her room, blasting Ironic for hours on end when she was mad at their parents.
Peter doesn't look up when the bell over the door rings, but he does when he smells food. Stiles is paying the delivery guy, then dragging his rolling chair out from behind the desk. He rolls next to Peter and hands him one of the wrapped sandwiches from the bag.
"Frankie's Deli is delicious, dude. If you haven't had their gyro, you're missing out," Stiles says when Peter stares for just a second too long.
"Thank you," Peter says, taking the sandwich and setting down the sketchpad. He actually has been to Frankie's Deli, it's one of Erica's favorites, and he has to agree. "Why Stiles, buying me food? If you wanted a date, all you had to do was ask."
"I mean, same to you, dude," Stiles says, blushing brightly. "Instead of invading my shop everyday."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Peter says loftily, taking a bite of the sandwich. It really is delicious.
"Mmhmm, I suppose you don't know anything about the sketches that are randomly appearing either?" Stiles asks.
"Nope," Peter says. "On a completely unrelated note, what are you doing Friday night?"
"That entirely depends on why you're asking," Stiles says.
"How about we go to the pumpkin patch, I take you out for tacos, and we carve Jack-o-lanterns?" Peter asks.
He says it nonchalantly, like he hadn't obsessed over what would be the perfect date. As if he hadn't logged into Cora's Facebook page to stalk Stiles' and see what his favorite food is. As if he hadn't gone through his Instagram and saw Stiles' excitement last year over the pumpkin patch in town around Halloween.
It's worth it to see the grin that lights up Stiles' face.
"In that case, I'm free as a bird," Stiles says. "Pick me up at 5:00?"
Peter grins. "It'll be my pleasure."
Peter doesn't end up leaving a sketch that day, but only because he spends the next two hours before he needs to be back at his shop talking with Stiles. When he leaves, he has Stiles' number in his phone and a pink dahlia poking out of the pocket of his leather jacket. It gets a little wind whipped on the motorcycle ride back to Wolf's Blood Ink, but he sticks it in a little cup of water at his station anyway.
Peter only has time to visit Marcus Floral (Stiles really needs to change that name) once more before their date Friday. This time he leaves a sketch of the arum-lilies hidden halfway behind the plant. He knows Stiles knows it's there, but it's still a little game to him, and he's always liked games.
As much as Peter would love to get Stiles on the back of his Triumph, picking pumpkins requires someplace to actually put said pumpkins, which is something his motorcycle doesn't have. So he takes his BMW to pick up Stiles, gratified at the way his eyes slide appreciatively over the car.
"Not gonna lie, this is a lot swankier than what I drive," Stiles says as he slides in the front seat. "My Jeep permanently looks like it should be up on blocks."
"You don't feel like upgrading?" Peter asks.
"Nope, I will ride that Jeep 'til it dies," Stiles says. "Even if I wanted to, owning a flower shop doesn't exactly give me a whole lot of money for new cars. We'll just take your car from now on."
"Oh, there's a 'from now on'?" Peter teases, glancing away from the red light to look at Stiles.
"Isn't there?" Stiles asks.
"We'll see how your pumpkin carving skills are," Peter says.
"Oh, get fucked," Stiles says, grinning. "I'm wiping the floor with your pretentious ass."
"Hmm, we'll see," Peter says. "I'm an artist for a living, you know."
"And I carve about thirty pumpkins every year to decorate the shop," Stiles says. "We'll see."
Peter's a competitive person, he knows that about himself. His grades in school were always excellent, because he needed to be better than his peers (and Talia). His tattoo work is impeccable, because he needed to surpass the others in Beacon Hills (and further, if he's being honest). Peter's always needed to be the best at everything, and that's something previous partners have had a problem with.
But he doesn't feel the need to surpass Stiles, and that surprises him. Friendly competition gets his blood flowing, but he doesn't feel the need to show him up. He thinks he likes it.
The pumpkin patch is toward the edge of town on Miss Jenny's property. Miss Jenny's husband had died ten years ago and while everyone expected her to wallow around their big, expensive house, she'd said fuck it, bought a small farm on the edge of town, and filled it with vegetable plants and chickens. She'd said she wants to spend her twilight years with her animals and selling vegetables at the local farmers market. Peter adores Miss Jenny.
The makeshift parking lot is nearly full by the time they get there, plenty of parents and their kids already there. It's not quite dark yet, and most parents want their kids to get their pumpkins before the rowdy teenagers show up for the corn maze (they at least know not to try to drink in it anymore, because Miss Jenny has no qualms chasing them out with a sharp rake). Peter parks in the muddy field, glad he wore his beat up boots, and helps Stiles out of the car. He hadn't been as prepared and is in Converse, and is desperately trying to avoid ending up standing ankle-deep in mud.
"This...is not my finest moment," Stiles says. He's perched on a small patch of grass, trying to gauge how far he has to jump to the next patch and avoid falling in the mud.
"You've never looked more graceful, darling," Peter drawls. Stiles snorts and flips him off. A thought hits Peter, making him grin.
"I do not trust that smirk," Stiles says, pointing at him.
"Smart of you as a general rule, but in this instance you're safe," Peter says. "What's your feeling on piggyback rides?"
"Ecstatically in favor of," Stiles says, grinning. He holds out his arms. "Come here, yes, yes, yes."
"You say 'mush' and I'm dropping you in the mud," Peter warns.
"I wouldn't dream of it."
"Dirty liar," Peter says. Stiles shrugs shamelessly.
Peter squats down in front of Stiles, getting only a brief warning before Stiles is leaping onto his back, knees tight against his sides. Stiles wraps his arms around Peter's collarbones, polite enough not to cut off his air supply and keep his hands away from a wolf's throat.
Stiles rests his chin on Peter's shoulder, their cheeks inches from brushing, and says, "Lead on, noble steed."
"Thin ice," Peter says, pretending to drop Stiles before hoisting him higher. The shriek in his ear doesn't feel good, but the satisfaction of making Stiles squirm makes up for it.
Peter's sure they make quite a sight, a grown make covered in tattoos and wearing a leather jacket, with another grown man wearing flannel and a floppy beanie clinging to his back. They absolutely look like the angry biker and hipster twink stereotypes, and Peter doesn't give a fuck. Stiles waves at a kid who calls him 'Flower Guy!' ignoring the mom's dirty look their way. Peter doesn't know if it's homophobia or the whole biker thing, but he doesn't particularly care. He's enjoying himself and she can fuck off.
The mud gives away to more packed dirt when they get into the actual patch and as much as Peter doesn't want to, he supposes he should put Stiles down, especially since they need to grab one of the red wagons for their pumpkins. Stiles slides down his back, landing a little clumsily, but he manages to stay on his feet. He slips his hand into Peter's, tangling their fingers together. His palm is a little cool from the October air against Peter's supernaturally warm skin, but he doesn't mind at all, squeezing his hand.
They bypass the first fifty feet of the patch, crowded with families and kids, and roll their wagon farther down the rows of pumpkins. It's early enough in the season that everything isn't picked over yet, so they're able to be picky with their selections. Stiles beats Peter to a gorgeous, perfectly round pumpkin that he can barely lift, then grabs a truly hideous, misshapen and bumpy pumpkin that's part green.
"What the hell is that?" Peter asks as Stiles sets it into the wagon.
"That is Geoffrey," Stiles says. "He is our baby, so you have to behave."
"Of course, far be it from me to be a bad pumpkin dad," Peter says.
"As long as we're clear," Stiles says. He slips his hand back into Peter's, rubbing his thumb over the back of his hand as he tugs him forward.
Peter finds a pumpkin nearly as round and about the same size as Stiles'. If this is going to be a competition, Peter's going to make the odds as even as possible. Stiles also picks a bunch of small, baby pumpkins for him to stick on shelves in his shop. Peter picks up small pumpkins for Erica, Boyd, Ennis, and Cora, and hopes they appreciate his Stiles-inspired generosity.
Miss Jenny is working the register at the front booth when they go to pay, grinning widely when she sees their hands twined together.
"Stiles, thank you for the advice, love. My begonias are doing much better," Miss Jenny says.
"Sure thing, Miss Jenny," Stiles says. "Lovely flowers for a lovely lady."
"You tease," she says, laughing. "And Peter, the tattoo healed wonderfully, thank you."
Stiles' eyes nearly bug out of his head and Peter knows he's desperate to ask what tattoo seventy-three-year-old Miss Jenny got.
"It's my pleasure," Peter says.
"I didn't realize the two of you knew each other," she says, looking pointedly at them. Stiles is so adorable when he blushes.
"It's new," Peter says simply.
"He came into my shop like a rude tornado and hasn't left since," Stiles says.
"If either of us gets the descriptor of tornado, I'm reasonably sure it should be you," Peter says.
"Blah blah," Stiles says and turns back to Miss Jenny, who looks completely delighted. "What do we owe you?"
Peter ends up paying for the pumpkins (heavily discounted from Miss Jenny), which Stiles allows on the condition that he can buy dinner. Peter agrees, but only because he already has a roast in the oven at home. They load up the trunk of Peter's car with their pumpkins and drive back to Peter's place where his dining room table is set up for carving.
Peter lives in a beautiful old Victorian house on the edge of the preserve. Talia always tells him it's much too big of a house for someone without a spouse and kids, but that's just because she's always wanted a Victorian and her jealousy is shining through. Stiles whistles as they park, eyes trailing over the detailed woodwork on the wraparound porch.
"Your porch is devoid of plant life and that's sacrilegious," Stiles says.
"Is it now?" Peter says, shifting the car into park and turning it off.
"Uh, yes," Stiles says. They pop the trunk, gathering their big pumpkins for carving. "You have a gorgeous porch swing, and that's it? Total waste of space."
"I don't want it to look like the overgrown witch's house in Big Fish," Peter says.
"You are one of the most overdramatic people I have ever met," Stiles says. "You're getting plants. This isn't negotiable."
"We'll see," Peter says, just to be a pain.
"Damn right, you will," Stiles says.
Peter opens the front door to the smell of roast, smirking at the way Stiles moans.
"Dude, that smells so good I'm not even mad at you for swindling me about our dinner deal," Stiles says.
"That was the plan," Peter says.
The dining room table has a thick table cloth covering it and pumpkin carving knives already out. Stiles sets up on the opposite side as Peter, refusing to let Peter see his progress ("You'll cheat!" "I would never." "You absolutely fucking would."). That's fine, Peter knows exactly what he's going to do. He's been carving werewolf pumpkins since he was a child. It might be a little cliche, but he's perfected the snarling werewolf over the years.
"I hope you know that the only reason I'm not slinging pumpkin guts at you is I don't want to fuck up your nice, original floors," Stiles says, scooping a clump out of the pumpkin and plopping it into the big bowl Peter put in the center of the table.
"Much appreciated," Peter says. "I'm not an animal, I do own a mop, but please don't take that as permission."
"Spoilsport," Stiles says.
About thirty minutes in, Peter has to get up and add potatoes to the oven to roast. He can hear Stiles scramble out of his seat the second he leaves the room, probably peeking at his pumpkin. Peter smiles to himself as he slides the tray of potatoes into the oven. When he makes it back to the dining room, Stiles is sitting innocently back in his chair, paying a lot of attention to his pumpkin.
"You're absolutely not subtle," Peter says, sitting back down. Stiles just grins and goes back to carving, the tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth. Peter tries, and fails, to not find it endearing.
There are about ten minutes left on the timer for the roast when Stiles sets his carving knife aside.
"Done," Stiles says.
"Let's see it then," Peter says.
"Nope, not until you're finished," Stiles says.
Peter rolls his eyes. It's not like he'd be able to make drastic changes at this stage anyway. He spends the next five minutes putting the finishing touches on his pumpkin before setting his carving knives down as well.
"Ready?" Peter says.
"On three," Stiles says. "One, two, three."
They both turn their pumpkins around and Peter's eyes widen. Stiles has carved an entire bouquet of roses onto his pumpkin, just thinning the surface enough that with a candle inside, it'll shine through the detailed flowers. It's impressive, far better than he'd expected, though he feels like at this point he should stop underestimating Stiles.
"Nice werewolf. A little on the nose, but ya know," Stiles says, grinning.
"All right, I suppose you win this round," Peter says.
"Yeah, what's my prize?" Stiles asks.
"Oh, I'm sure we can think of something," Peter says, eyes on Stiles' mouth.
Stiles blushes, but smells pleased.
"We'll just have to see, won't we?"
They're interrupted by the oven timer going off, which is probably for the best because it's taking a large sum of Peter's control not to just toss Stiles down and ravage him here. Stiles shoves the pumpkin carving stuff to the side of the table so Peter can set down the roast and potatoes, and they have a place to eat. Stiles raises his eyebrows in surprise seeing the bottle of wine Peter pours.
"That's an expensive brand," Stiles blurts on. "Wasting it on peasants like me?"
"What, you expected boxed Franzia?" Peter asks.
"Hey, don't knock cheap wine, it's what some of us get by on," Stiles says. "I dunno, I figured beer was more up your alley."
"My profession doesn't preclude me from enjoying the finer things in life," Peter says. "Beer is fine, but a roast pairs nicely with wine."
"So I have a renaissance man on my hands," Stiles says. "Fine dining, artist, biker, the whole nine yards."
"I'm a man of many talents," Peter concedes. "As it seems are you."
Stiles shrugs, but looks pleased, like he isn't used to being complimented sincerely. Peter is more than happy to remedy that.
Stiles moans at the first bite of the roast, and Peter can't help but preen a little. It's one of those pesky werewolf instincts that pops up every once in a while. He can't help but want to provide for a partner, to feed them and bring them into his home and keep them safe. It's an instinct he usually succeeds at repressing, his one-night stands not really tripping it when he knows it's not going anywhere, but it's out in full force with Stiles.
"This is amazing," Stiles says. "I hope you know you're cooking from now on. If I do, it's going to be all French toast and eggs."
"I'll stick to dinner. You can make breakfast," Peter says.
"Presumptuous, are we?" Stiles teases with a wink.
"That's not what I meant," Peter says, rolling his eyes. "But I'm definitely not opposed, darling."
There's that lovely blush again. Peter would love to see just how far down his body it goes.
It's easy, being here and talking to Stiles. Conversations with past dates have tended to be like pulling teeth. Either there's not much for them to say, or the other person just spends the entire time talking about themselves, contributing nothing of substance to the conversation. And those are just the ones Peter's bothered to try with. There have been plenty that come for a simple fuck before leaving again, no conversation needed. (There are the ones that also thinking fucking him will get them a free tattoo. They learn quickly that that's not the case.)
When they're done with dinner, Stiles stands next to him at the kitchen sink as Peter washes dishes, handing them to Stiles to dry when he's done. It's comfortable in a way he's not used to. His wolf is relaxed, not on high alert like usual when strangers are in his home. Stiles is trusted. This thing with Stiles has potential.
It's simple as breathing to step into his space when Stiles sets down the last dried dish. Peter cages him in against the counter, hands resting on his hips. Stiles grins, wrapping his arms around the back of Peter's neck and widening his stance, giving Peter room to slot a thigh between his legs. His wolf gives a pleased rumble when Peter brushes his nose against Stiles', smirking at the way it makes his pulse quicken. Peter presses his lips to Stiles', kissing him softly, and the thrill of it is like his first kiss all over again.
Kissing Stiles is a revelation. Desire courses through him, powerful and unrelenting, as Stiles kisses him back, holding him tightly and parting his lips for Peter. Peter takes the invitation for what it is, licking hungrily into Stiles' mouth. Any other time he'd be embarrassed about how his heart is racing, about how his cock is already hardening just from kissing Stiles, but right now that's the furthest thing from his mind. All he wants to focus on his the softness of Stiles' lips on his; the smoothness of his skin where Peter is trailing his fingers up his side, up under his shirt; the way he whines into Peter's mouth when he rocks his hips forward against Peter's thigh, the hard line of his cock pressing against Peter's leg.
"Come to bed with me?" Peter asks, pulling back just far enough that he can look at Stiles. He looks gorgeous, face flushed and pupils dilated with arousal. He doubts Stiles will say no, but he still needs to ask.
"Fuck yes," Stiles says.
Peter's wolf howls, triumphant.
They stumble down the hall toward Peter's room, hands tugging at clothes, kissing each other hungrily. They bump into walls more than once, Peter keeping his hands tight on Stiles to make sure he doesn't fall, until they're in Peter's bedroom. Peter pauses only to turn the lights on, wanting to see Stiles for this, before pushing Stiles down onto his bed.
Stiles grins, sliding up until he's in the middle of the mattress, giving Peter room to crawl up the bed, hovering over him. It's a mess of hands and mouths as they tug each other out of their clothes. Peter runs reverent hands over every inch of skin revealed, nipping and sucking spots into Stiles' throat, his collarbones, the jut of his hips. He trails his fingers over the lovely hummingbird tattooed on his calf, over the bright yellow and orange jellyfish inked into Stiles' ribs.
"Peter," Stiles says, wrapping his hand in Peter's hair. Peter's between his legs, sucking a dark mark into his inner thigh. He glances up to let Stiles know he's listening, but doesn't move his mouth. "Come on, I've been dreaming about you fucking me for months."
Peter grins, giving Stiles' skin one last suck before saying, "Have you now?" He reaches for his nightstand, pulling a bottle of Sliquid lube from the second drawer. He wets his fingers, arching his brows at Stiles. "Tell me."
"Yeah, you - ah!" Stiles gasps as Peter rubs his slick fingers over his opening. "I guess I have a thing for hot, arrogant assholes."
"Mmm, and who can blame you? I am fantastic," Peter says. Before Stiles can snark back, Peter presses his hand forward, sinking his finger deep into him. Stiles arches his back and begs for another, and Peter is all too happy to oblige him. "You were saying?" Peter asks.
"You're the worst," Stiles groans, tilting his hips, encouraging Peter to speed his fingers up. "Don't stop."
Peter wouldn't dream of it, not with the breathy, soft noises Stiles makes as Peter stretches him open. His eyes flutter closed when Peter brushes is prostate, a little whimper escaping him. Peter does it again and again, until Stiles is a whining mess, clenching around Peter's fingers, begging him to stop teasing and just fuck him. And well, Peter doesn't think he's ever going to be very good at saying no to Stiles.
Stiles spreads his legs wide when Peter withdraws his fingers, giving him plenty of room to position himself between his thighs. The mark Peter'd sucked earlier stands out vividly against his pale skin, and he can't help but run his hand over it. Stiles whines and tilts his hips up, presenting his wet hole. Peter groans, gripping Stiles' thighs tightly. His cock has been completely hard since getting Stiles out of his clothes, and he desperately wants this to be good, and not to come the second he slides into him. He wants to make sure that Stiles comes back to his bed.
Peter presses the tip of his cock to Stiles' entrance, watching raptly as his hole opens around him, eager and hungry. Peter's wolf is ecstatic, thrilled to be claiming Stiles like this. Peter tries to rein it in, knowing that Stiles isn't his, not yet, but it's hard to think as he sinks into Stiles' hot, clutching hole.
"Fuck," Stiles groans, gripping Peter's wrists. "Of course you have a huge dick."
"And you're taking it so well," Peter says, rocking forward slowly, giving Stiles a chance to adjust. "You're doing wonderfully, sweetheart."
"Come on," Stiles says, rolling his hips, taking more of Peter's cock. "Fuck me like I know you want to."
Peter rumbles deep in his throat, hands tightening on Stiles' thighs. He thrusts in harder, making Stiles shout. Peter's not worried he's hurt him; the spicy scent of his arousal doesn't fade at all. Stiles meets Peter thrust for thrust, gasping and moaning as Peter plunges into him again and again. Stiles' cock is hard and leaking between them, but Peter ignores it for now, wanting to see how close he can get him to the edge just by fucking him.
Stiles' nails dig into the skin of Peter's biceps as he grips him tightly, head thrown back in pleasure. The long line of his throat is exposed, pale and beautiful, and Peter can't help but lean forward, latching his teeth into the soft skin. Stiles mewls at the change in angle, at Peter's teeth worrying a mark into his skin. He starts to tighten around Peter, his cocking jerking between their bellies.
"That's it, sweetheart," Peter growls into Stiles' neck. Stiles shudders, drawing a pleased rumble from Peter. "Come for me. Cover us both in your scent. I want to feel you."
Stiles whines, bucks up into Peter's thrusts, before coming with a shout of Peter's name. His sweet hole spasms around Peter as Stiles shakes apart, the smell of his release filling the air. Peter fucks into him harder, chasing his pleasure, needing to add his scent to Stiles, to mark him as thoroughly as possible.
It's only a few more minutes of thrusting into Stiles' sweet, pliant body before Peter's coming with a roar, eyes flashing blue as the pleasure rocks through him. His cock jerks as he spills deep inside Stiles, making him moan as he's filled. Peter presses his nose into the crook of Stiles' neck, breathing harshly, recovering slowly. Stiles drags clumsy fingers through Peter's sweaty hair, humming happily under his breath.
"It's totally unfair," Stiles says, and Peter's very gratified at how breathy his voice is still.
"Hm?" Peter says.
"How is it that you're better than the fantasy I had built up? That's bullshit and unfair," Stiles says.
Peter pulls away enough to look down at him with a grin. "And you're complaining why?"
"...Fuck if I know," Stiles says. He tugs Peter down for a kiss, groaning when the movement makes Peter's softening cock slip from his body.
Peter rolls to the side, tugging at Stiles until he's tucked into his side, head resting under Peter's chin. Peter brushes his cheek against Stiles' hair, as if he isn't saturated with his scent already, his wolf pleased and content with how their scents mingle.
"How opposed are you to me sleeping here?" Stiles asks, tracing fingers over Peter's chest. "My legs are absolutely not working yet and I don't feel like moving. Possibly ever again." Peter snorts and tightens his arm around Stiles.
"You're more than welcome to stay," Peter says. "And don't forget, I expect French toast tomorrow."
Stiles kicks Peter in the shins, but he's laughing the whole time. When they fall asleep, it's tangled together, their combined scent filling Peter's senses, Stiles' heartbeat study in his ears.
Stiles does end up making French toast, and it is delicious. They eat breakfast together, then Peter blows Stiles before he has to leave for work. It's a beautiful way to start the morning, and completely worth the disgusted look Cora gives him and the teasing he has to deal with from Erica and Ennis later. Boyd, bless his minding-my-own-business heart, just claps him on the shoulder before telling him his noon appointment canceled. God, Peter likes Boyd.
Cosmopolitan, or any magazine really, would probably say not to call too soon, that seeming overeager is a turnoff or some garbage like that. Peter's more than happy to ignore that as bad advice, because he wants Stiles to know he's interested in him. He's perfectly fine with him knowing he wants more from him than friendship. He's never understood the concept of leaving people twisting in the wind, trying to make them guess your intentions. At least not with people he cares about. Head games aren't for people he wants more than one night with.
Stiles looks up from the counter and grins when Peter walks in, the bell over the door tinging merrily to signal his arrival. Peter holds up the bag of Thai food he'd picked up and Stiles groans in happiness.
"If Liam weren't in the backroom, I'd blow you just for that," Stiles says.
"Hmm, I'll keep that in mind for his next day off. Though a little exhibitionism never hurt anyone," Peter says with a wink.
"Cute, but I'm not scarring my one employee for life," Stiles says.
"Such a responsible business owner," Peter says with a sigh. "What even do I see in you?"
"Devastating good looks and bitchin' flower power," Stiles says, making grabby hands at the food.
They chat while they eat behind the counter, Stiles occasionally hollering to Liam in the backroom to come out and help whatever customer had wandered in.
"What's the point of having an employee if you can't delegate?" Stiles asks through a mouthful of fried rice.
"You won't hear me disagree," Peter says. "Why do you think I make Erica, Boyd, Ennis, and Cora do inventory?"
"Because you're a cruel, cruel man," Stiles says, grinning. "So, uh, would it be awkward if I came by after I closed up shop some day? I don't know if you don't want me meeting them yet or anything, or if it'd be weird or they'd give you shit or something."
"They'll give me shit regardless," Peter says, cutting of Stiles' nervous babbling. "It wouldn't be awkward at all. I don't have a problem with you meeting them."
Even if he did, he'd be powerless in the face of the bright grin that earns him.
When Peter gets back to the shop and tells his crew Stiles is coming later, Erica squeals loud enough that it actually hurts Peter's ears. He promises to fire them all if they do anything to make Stiles uncomfortable, but he's pretty sure none of them believe him. He wonders when he went from the feared Peter Hale to the boss they feel they can push over. He'll have to work on that soon.
Peter doesn't have time to stress over it, because his 2:00 appointment is a mess and a half, the man trying to change his mind about what he wants an hour into his tattoo. Peter very seriously considers stabbing him in the throat, he's holding a needle, after all, but settles for charging him extra for the time Peter wasted outlining the skull then somehow managing to turn it into a rhinoceros. Stiles would be proud of him for not resorting to murder.
When he's done and rhinoceros guy has left, he makes a note in their Google calendar that he refuses to work on him if he ever comes in again. The bell over the shop door dings and when he looks up, Stiles is walking in, a potted orchid in his arms. He grins when he sees Peter and sets it on the counter in front of him. Peter leans over the desk, not caring who sees him kissing Stiles in the middle of his shop. When he pulls back, Stiles looks a bit dazed, but he's smiling.
"What's this?" Peter asks, brushing his fingers over the yellow and purple petals.
"It sure looks like an orchid to me," Stiles says. "Though you can call it Bernard if you want."
"Bernard," Peter says flatly.
"Yep. It looks like a Bernard to me," Stiles says. "Anyway, you said you kept the bouquet from Laura's shower up for a while, so I figured you could use something bright that won't need to be tossed in a week. I emailed you care instructions already."
Peter smiles slightly, looking from Stiles to the cheery orchid. It looks a bit odd sitting next to the diamond-encrusted skull Erica had bought as a business card holder (she shoved them in the skull's mouth and called it good), but Peter doesn't care at all. It's beautiful.
"Thank you," he says.
"You're welcome," Stiles says. "Don't kill Bernard."
"I'll do my best," Peter says.
"Who's Bernard?" Cora asks, coming out of the piercing room. She sees the orchid on the desk and lights up. "Oh my god, that is so pretty."
"Thanks," Stiles says, grinning. "That's Bernard. It's Peter's new baby and he must keep it alive. No sabotage."
"I won't sabotage, it's not Laura's," Cora says.
Stiles snorts. "Nice to see you, Cora," he says. "I don't think we've talked since chemistry senior year?"
"Sounds about right," she says. "You accidentally spilled acid all over Jackson's Prada bag."
"Oh it was absolutely not accidental," Stiles says. "He had broken Scott's inhaler on purpose and was bragging about it."
"What kind of acid?" Peter asks while Cora laughs.
"Nothing serious. Just burned a few holes, it's fine," Stiles says. At Peter's raised eyebrows, Stiles says, "I learned early how to deal with bullies. There's a reason people stopped picking on me in high school."
"We're going to the Silver for drinks," Cora says. "Come with us. You can regale Peter with stories of your reign of terror."
"I think that's overstating things a bit," Stiles says. "The Silver? The biker bar on Main?"
"Not quite how Chris advertises it, but yes," Peter says. "Don't worry, with your tattoos, you'll fit right in."
"Yeah, my tattoo of a flower," Stiles says.
"He's kidding," Cora says. "Chris is very good about making his place inclusive. Peter's just an ass."
"Not news at all," Stiles says.
"Good, then we'll meet you there," Cora says. She heads out with a wave and a grin.
"You sure you're okay with this? I don't want to overstep," Stiles says.
"You're not," Peter says. He walks around the desk, resting his hands on Stiles' hips and tugging him forward. He cocks his head to the side and says, "I don't know what your shitty ex did to make you doubt yourself, but I promise if I didn't want you around, you would know it."
Stiles' scrunches his nose at the mention of Theo, the college boyfriend who'd scoffed when Stiles dropped out to buy the florist. Sure, Peter could have probably said that in a more gentle way, but he knows Stiles appreciates bluntness. Though from what he's been told, Theo better pray they never cross paths.
"I know," Stiles says, settling comfortably in Peter's arms. "It's an anxiety thing. I just like to check rather than assume."
Peter kisses Stiles' temple, hugging his tightly before pulling back, a grin on his face.
"How do you feel about motorcycles?" Peter asks.
"Uh, that you'd look hot on one," Stiles says. "Why?"
Peter doesn't answer, just leads Stiles out the back door to the parking lot where his Triumph Bonneville is parked. It's black and mean-looking, with straight pipes that make it ungodly loud. He gets a considerable amount of savage, petty glee when he comes home at three in morning, destroying the eardrums and sleep patterns of his judgmental, snooty neighbors. Stiles whistles under his breath, taking in the bike.
"Okay, you absolutely would look hot on that," Stiles says. When he looks back, he sees Peter's grin and frowns suspiciously. "What?"
Ten minutes later, Stiles has Peter's spare helmet and leather jacket on and is on the back of the motorcycle, his arms tightly wrapped around Peter's waist. Stiles is surprisingly broad in the shoulders, so the jacket fits okay even if the rest of it is a little big. Seeing Stiles in his clothes and on his bike makes desire stir low in his belly, enough that he almost wants to yank Stiles back inside the shop and ravish him, but he manages to keep himself in check.
It's usually a ten minute ride from his shop to the bar, but Peter takes Palace Drive, a winding road on the side of a large hill that looks down into the preserve, showing a beautiful view of the river that curves around Beacon Hills. It's dusk, so it's not as beautiful as it would be in the daylight, but it's still a gorgeous drive. It takes fifteen extra minutes to get to the Silver, but extra time with Stiles' arms wrapped around him, pressed tight against his back, the smell of excitement rolling off of him? That's not exactly a hardship.
Boyd, Erica, and Cora are already seated in their usual booth when Peter and Stiles arrive. Glancing around, Peter can see Ennis walking toward the table from the bar, a pitcher of beer in one hand and a stack of glasses in the other. Peter steers Stiles to the bar first, figuring getting a drink before the wolves descend won't hurt. To his surprise, Chris' eyes light up in recognition when they fall on Stiles.
"Mr. Argent?" Stiles asks, surprised.
"Stiles," Chris says. "I didn't realize the guy Peter's seeing is you."
"Uh, yeah, it's new," Stiles says. "Peter, Mr. Argent is Scott's father-in-law."
"I told you two years ago, you can call me Chris," Chris says.
"Scott still calls you Mr. Argent," Stiles says.
Chris shrugs. "I've told him he doesn't have to. He's just too awkward to stop," he says.
Stiles snorts. "Yeah, that sounds about right," he says.
Chris smirks, and Peter has the distinct impression that he enjoys tormenting Scott a little bit.
"What are you drinking?" Chris asks.
"Bourbon for me," Peter says.
"Black opal, please," Stiles says.
"Sure thing, we'll have it over in a second," Chris says.
The booth they usually sit at is one of the longer ones that sits three to a side, and Stiles ends up sitting in the middle between Peter and Boyd, opposite Ennis, Erica, and Cora. Realistically, there's really no way for Boyd and Ennis, and those broad ass shoulders, to sit on the same side without squishing anyone.
"So, Stiles," Erica says, leaning forward with a grin. Peter knows not to trust that look and Stiles seems to as well, judging by his wary expression. "So you're the reason Peter came to work smelling like spunk and satisfaction."
"Excuse you, I showered," Peter says.
"Fine, like satisfaction," Erica says. "But we knew the root cause."
"I don't know why you think sexually satisfying Peter is going to embarrass me, because I can assure you, I will wear that like a badge of honor," Stiles says, making Erica laugh. "I'll get bumper stickers made."
Peter sighs, pinching the bridge of his knows. "He's going to be insufferably cocky now," Peter says.
"Well that's the pot calling the kettle black," Stiles says.
"Can we talk about anything other than my uncle's sex life? Please?" Cora says, looking pained.
"Sure," Erica says. "So Boyd and I tried this new thing last night..."
"I was thinking more of a change," Cora says.
"I like the orchid you brought to the shop," Ennis says.
"Thanks," Stiles says, beaming. "They can be a pain in the ass, but I love them anyway. His name is Bernard and if Peter calls him anything else, I'm withholding sex."
"That seems like a punishment that'll affect you just as much as me, sweetheart," Peter purrs into Stiles' ear, taking great delight in the way his breath hitches.
"I will throw this drink at you," Cora threatens.
Before she can, Chris comes with Stiles and Peter's drinks and they change the subject to how the bar's doing. They chat for a bit, Chris talking about how he had to call the cops earlier because some frat boy from the local college tried to pick a fight with one of the biker regulars and that one of his waitresses no-call, no-showed and finding a replacement is a pain in the ass. He mentions he needs to see Peter soon to work on his back piece, but business starts picking up and he has to go back behind the bar.
"This is just blowing my mind," Stiles says, looking after Chris. "One of you best friends is Chris Argent. He almost made Scott piss his pants in fear when he first started dating Allison."
"He's mellowed a bit since then. But yes, he was ridiculously overprotective of Allison when his wife died," Peter says. "If Allison and Scott ever have children, I can guarantee you that he'll melt into a puddle of goo."
"I will pay to see that," Stiles says.
Peter hadn't expected things to go badly, but he's still pleasantly surprised with how well Stiles gets along with everyone. After talking for a bit, Stiles gets adorably tipsy and accepts Erica and Ennis' offer to play pool. He's appallingly bad, which is probably for the best because Ennis pouts when he loses. Cora wanders off for a bit when she sees a girl from one of her classes (Peter isn't at all surprised to see them kissing in a corner, Cora with the cute blonde pressed up against the wall), leaving Peter and Boyd alone at the table.
"I like him," Boyd says. Peter looks over, surprised.
"You do?" he asks. "He strikes me as the kind that would irritate you."
"He's less...loud than he was in high school," Boyd says. "We were never friends, but he was nice to me. He was the only one that didn't ogle or ask rude questions when Alicia disappeared. He just said he was sorry and said to tell him if I needed anything."
Boyd rarely talks about his younger sister, and Peter's not entirely sure what to do about the wave of sadness that washes over them. Emotional comforting has never been his forte, and he rarely regrets that, but moments like this make him wish he knew what to do and say. Boyd knows Peter, though, and just smiles slightly when Peter clasps his shoulder in silent support.
"Anyway," he says, "you could do a lot worse."
Boyd wanders over to the pool table when Stiles loses spectacularly and takes on Ennis, and Stiles makes his way back to the both, sliding in next to Peter. Peter wraps his arm around him and Stiles leans in to him, smiling.
"This is fun," Stiles says. "Lydia lives on the east coast, earning her third doctorate. Scott and Allison are a few hours away. It's nice to hang out with people that aren't just Liam."
Peter feels a pang of sympathy for Stiles. As much as Peter avoids some of his pack at times, they're always there if he needs them. He sees Boyd, Erica, Ennis, and Cora almost everyday, which is almost like a mini-pack on its own. Stiles just has his dad in town, and a part-time college student employee. It sounds unbearably lonely to Peter.
"You're welcome with us any time," Peter says, pressing a kiss to Stiles' temple.
Stiles grins and kisses him back, then settles his head on Peter's shoulder, watching Boyd crush Ennis and Erica. Erica takes it gracefully, whispering all the wicked things she's going to do to him later, but Ennis grumbles and stalks off the bar for another beer. Ridiculous, all of them.
Cora comes back toward the end of the night with kiss-swollen lips and the blonde's phone number, a shit-eating grin on her face. Erica and Boyd take off soon after, and just from what they're talking about, Peter knows that whenever they move out of the apartment above his shop, he's going to have to drench the place in bleach. Chris calls Ennis a cab and confiscates his keys, which Ennis just shrugs at (Peter is so grateful he grew out of his belligerent drunk phase).
Cora stays and chats with Stiles and Peter for a bit, but eventually she starts yawning and has to leave, not wanting to be too exhausted for her morning class. She hugs them both at the bar door, surprising Stiles, before walking to her car. Stiles' buzz has worn off, so Peter isn't afraid on taking him home on the bike.
"Are you staying with me tonight?" Peter asks as he hands Stiles his helmet.
Stiles grins. "If you want me to," he says.
"Of course I want you to," Peter says.
The happy tinge to Stiles' scent is perfect to Peter's senses.
Peter takes a shorter route back to his house because as much as he loves Stiles having his arms around him, he loves him more in his bed. He means that in the literal sense, because they're both too tired to do much beyond washing up and collapsing into bed, Stiles curled against Peter's side. Peter's arm is around him, hand playing with his soft hair.
"Boyd told me something tonight," Peter says.
"Hm?" Stiles hums, rubbing his cheek against Peter's bare shoulder.
"He said you were the only one who offered support when his sister disappeared," Peter says. "That most of the other kids were basically gawkers."
"Yeah," Stiles says sadly. "I tried to look into my dad's case files, but he wasn't the sheriff at the time and only had limited information on it."
"You were what, ten?" Peter asks. Stiles nods. "I think it's a little unreasonable for you to be carrying around guilt for not being able to do more."
"Yeah, I know. Though I was breaking into my dad's files since I could read," Stiles says. "I'd leave him post-it notes on things that I thought he should take another look at when he's sober."
Peter...has no idea what to say to that, and he's pretty sure Stiles wouldn't take kindly to him trash talking his dad. He just kisses his temple and holds him closer, and wonders what he did to deserve someone as good as Stiles.
After that, Stiles starts spending more time at Peter's shop. Peter still comes over most days for lunch, schedule permitting, and Stiles often comes over after he closes the florist. Peter has appointments a lot of the time, so Stiles sits and chats with Cora or whoever is free. A lot of the time he brings food, though Peter tells him he doesn't have to bribe the others into liking him. Stiles shrugs and still brings cupcakes the next day.
When Peter doesn't have clients, he and Stiles spend their time disgustingly engrossed in each other. Ennis banishes them to the back room ("This is my shop, you can't banish me anywhere.") the second time they fail to notice customers coming in because their tongues are in each others' mouths. Peter doesn't mind; there's a couch back there and he's able to do plenty of things to and with Stiles that aren't appropriate for most workplaces.
Peter feels like a teenager again, the fun and excitement of getting close to someone new. It reminds him of when he was sixteen and the principal called his parents because he kept getting caught around school in compromising positions with Gwen Cinelli. It's like that, but with emotions.
They're on the couch in the back of Peter's shop a few weeks later, Stiles' legs in Peter's lap as he reads. Peter runs hands over his calves, tracing his jeans over where the tattooed hummingbird sits.
"Why a hummingbird?" Peter asks.
"Hmm?" Stiles hums, not looking up from his book.
Peter taps his calf and asks, "Your tattoo, why a hummingbird?"
"Oh," Stiles says, setting the book aside. "They were my mom's favorites. She had like a dozen hummingbird feeders in the backyard and would just sit on there for hours watching them fly around."
"It sounds peaceful," Peter says.
"I ruined it a lot," Stiles says wryly. "Shockingly, I was a loud kid."
"You? No," Peter drawls. Stiles digs the heel of his foot into Peter's thigh. Peter just snorts and straightens out Stiles' legs, massing the aches from them.
"Ass," Stiles says. "I was thinking about getting a garden scene or something around the hummingbird. It's looking a little bare."
Peter tugs up the leg of Stiles' jeans (hard to do, he wears the damn things tight and knows exactly how much Peter loves his ass in them) and looks at the hummingbird. It's on the side of Stiles' calf, beautifully done so the green feathers and pink on its neck look almost iridescent. It takes up a good bit of room, but there's plenty of blank space to work with.
"I can draw something up if you'd like," Peter says, trailing his fingers over the tattoo. "I wouldn't mind getting my mark on you again."
Stiles grins and sits up, pulling his legs from Peter's lap. "That'd be great," he says. "Now kiss me, it's been almost two hours and that's just unacceptable."
Peter rolls his eyes but does as he's asked, cupping Stiles' jaw as he kisses him softly. He never thinks he'll get enough of this.
Every time Stiles is over at Peter's house, he sighs dramatically at the lack of plants on the porch, so Peter really shouldn't be surprised when he comes home from a two-day trip to meet with a neighboring pack to find his porch covered in flowers. Stiles is sitting criss-cross in the middle, arranging a few large pots with bright pink and blue flowers in them. He's singing Jennifer Lopez's Jenny From the Block under his breath as he waters the plants
Peter can name the lupines and snapdragons, and he's pretty sure he sees succulents nestled in some of the pots, but that's it. Plenty of the bright flowers look familiar, though he couldn't tell you what they're called, and okay, Stiles is right, it makes his porch like significantly better. Stiles is still singing under his breath, apparently not having heard Peter's car pull up. Peter clears his throat loudly, making Stiles jump, spilling water down his pants.
"Jesus Chris! You need a fucking bell!" Stiles says, hand over his racing heart. "I thought you weren't going to be back until later tonight."
"I decided to come back early. There's this ridiculous boyfriend I have that I wanted to see," Peter says.
Stiles grins and gets up, wiping the dirt from his palms onto his already dirty jeans. Normally Peter would push him away and insist he washes up first, but he's missed him, and he went out of his way to do something nice for Peter, so he reels him in by the front of his shirt, kissing him harshly. Stiles makes a surprised noise, but wraps his arms around Peter's back, fingers digging in to his shirt.
Stiles is breathing harshly when they part, eyes a little glazed. He grins up at Peter and Peter reaches out, brushes his thumb over there smudge of dirt on his cheek.
"This is just the best hello I've ever gotten," Stiles says.
Peter loves him. He realizes it out of the blue, standing on his porch surrounded by potted plants that Stiles dragged here to make his home happier and brighter. He loves the annoying way he taps a pencil against his desk when he's thinking. He loves the way he will eat a pint of pistachio ice cream but calls vanilla gross. He loves waking up with him in the morning and knowing his day is better just for Stiles being in it. He loves him, and it's terrifying.
"You really like them?" Stiles asks, looking around at the flowers. "I kinda went overboard, but you have a big porch and it's just begging for decoration."
"They look wonderful, thank you," Peter says, kissing him again. "Go shower the dirt off, I'll start dinner."
Stiles grins and smacks Peter's ass as he walks by, tripping a bit on edge of the carpet. Peter just shakes his head.
He hadn't lied, he does like the plants. He likes that Stiles cares enough about him to do this, but it also makes something close to panic rise in his chest. He stomps it down, because this isn't the time. He can worry about it later, but he isn't going to put Stiles through his worries, and he isn't going to say those three words yet. He's going to make dinner, and focus on something else.
It works as well as it can. He makes steaks and grilled vegetables for dinner, which Stiles happily tears into. They trade lazy handjobs and soft kisses before bed, Stiles wrapped in Peter's arms.
"You know you'll have to come over more now," Peter murmurs into Stiles' hair. "Have to make sure the plants are still alive."
"Oh no, how terrible," Stiles says, deadpan. "Having to see my boyfriend, the horror."
"Brat," Peter says, tickling his side.
Stiles squirms and whines, before settling back against Peter. It takes Peter longer than Stiles to fall asleep, but eventually he manages, his worry pushed to the back of his mind.
Peter calls Chris the next morning after Stiles leaves. He isn't thrilled at being woken up at 9:00 a.m. when he closed the bar the night before, but Peter promises to pay for lunch if he goes on a ride with him. Chris grumbles, but the lure of motorcycles and diner food is apparently too great, and he agrees to meet Peter in a half hour.
Peter takes a quick shower before dressing in his leathers and getting his Triumph out of the garage. He's sure to tear out of the driveway as loudly as possible just to earn the glare his snobby neighbor sends him from her front porch. He meets Chris a few miles away, leaning against his Royal Enfield at the side of the road, right before the entrance to the preserve. There's a winding road they like to take that weaves its way through the trees and around the mountain to Phantom Lake.
"All the way?" Chris asks when Peter pulls up next to him.
"Yeah," Peter says. It's an hour and a half ride, but Chris just shrugs.
Peter revs his bike and shoots off, followed a few moments later by Chris. They ride side by side for a few miles, whipping along the winding road through the trees, until it narrows enough that Peter has to pull in front of Chris. It's a bright day, beautiful and sunny shining through the green foliage. He can smell the rabbits and birds off into the trees, can hear the deer running a few miles away. It's easy to ignore his nerves this way, though anxiety is still eating away at his gut.
It takes fifteen minutes less than it should to reach the ridge overlooking Phantom Lake, thanks to both of them not having a healthy respect for speed laws. They park their bikes and walk over to the wooden railings that mark the lookout area. Peter leans against the rail, looking down at the shimmering lake beneath them.
When they were younger, before the owner sold to a tourist trap summer camp, Peter and his family would spend almost every day of the summer at the lake, swimming and running through the trees. He glares down at the speedboats zooming around, even though it's winter, like he could zap them out of existence.
"What is it?" Chris asks when they've been standing in silence for a few minutes.
Peter doesn't say anything at first, just looks out over the ravine and down at the river. Chris is patient though, and is perfectly content waiting him out. Peter sighs and says, "I think I love Stiles."
"Okay," Chris says slowly. "And this is a bad thing why?"
"The last man I loved cheated on me with my niece and got her pregnant," Peter snaps. "I think being wary is understandable."
"Patrick isn't exactly a good example of a loving relationship," Chris says, which, while painful to hear, isn't a lie. Chris had never liked Patrick in the first place, but had been good enough to let Peter make his own choices. "And Stiles hasn't done anything to break your trust, has he?"
"No," Peter says, and he can't imagine that he would. But he hadn't thought Patrick could either.
"Then it's not really fair for you to project your Patrick issues onto him, is it?" Chris asks. Peter just glares, making Chris sigh. "Okay, weren't you the one who told me that there's no use walling myself away when Victoria left? That all relationships won't be like that?"
Peter glares harder, but Chris knows him and is more than content to just sit here during his pouting.
"You're supposed to take my words to heart, not parrot them back at me," Peter finally says. Chris snorts.
"Look. Loving Stiles isn't a horrible thing. You're doing him, and yourself, a disservice by acting like it is," Chris says.
"I'm not," Peter says, because that's not what he meant. He never wanted to make it seem like anything about Stiles is horrible. He's head over fucking heels, and would rip anyone apart that implied that Stiles was anything less than amazing. He glares at Chris, because the fucker does know him and knows that to say to get him to see when he's being an idiot. "I hate you."
"I'm your best friend, no you don't," Chris says, then yawns. "This is seriously what you dragged me out of bed for? A love crisis?"
And...yeah, it sound stupid when Chris says it that way.
"You're by far my least favorite person," Peter says.
"And you owe me beer with lunch to make up for this bullshit," Chris says, standing and putting his helmet back on. "From Rudy's, none of that IHOP junk."
Peter rolls his eyes but puts his helmet on, following Chris to their bikes. He starts his up and lets Chris take the lead this time, leading them back the way they came, towards Rudy's Diner. It's off Phantom Lake Road, and is a bit of a dive, which is most of the charm. They chat a bit over lunch, but Peter's mind is on other things, and Chris can tell.
They part ways at the restaurant, Chris hauling ass back home to nap, and Peter going to his house to pick up his car. There's a gardening shop a town over that should have what he needs. His errands take a couple of hours, so by the time he gets home, he only has an hour and a half until Stiles usually comes over.
Google is extremely helpful with what he needs, and soon enough the new hummingbird feeders hanging from his porch and sticking out of some of the pots are filled with the sugar water he'd boiled. It says it can take some time for hummingbirds to be drawn in, but Peter has seen a few around, so he's optimistic.
It takes a little longer to string the outdoor Edison lights under the underside of the porch roof. When it's dark, it'll give off a soft ambiance that Stiles has said he likes. It's ridiculously corny and he's almost embarrassed for himself, but if it makes Stiles happy, well, that's the whole point. A little embarrassment is worth it.
Peter's not sure if Stiles will even notice them when he gets out of his car later that night, but he should have known better. Peter's reading in the porch swing, Michael Kiwanuka playing from the speakers next to him, when the Jeep rumbles up the driveway. Peter looks up, smiling slightly as Stiles, graceful as ever, stumbles out of the front door and bounds up the steps. His eyes travel over the plants before he notices the hummingbird feeders. His eyes widen and he almost trips again on the top step before regaining his balance.
"Peter," Stiles says softly. He looks around, seeing the four hanging from the porch and the three sticking out of pots. Probably overkill, but Peter's never been one to do things halfway.
Peter sets his book aside and stands, walking to where Stiles is frozen in the middle of the porch, illuminated under the soft lights. He's blinking very quickly, and Peter would be horrified if it weren't for the fact that he can smell that the tears aren't from sorrow. He rests his hands on Stiles' hips, nudging their noses together.
"Is this all right?" Peter asks quietly.
Stiles nods rapidly, looking at him with wide eyes.
"Yeah, it's great," Stiles says. "You're so ridiculous, oh my god. Big, scary werewolf Peter Hale, a total softie inside."
"For you only," Peter says. "Can't let word get out and make people think I'm nice."
"Perish the thought," Stiles says, grinning. He bites his lip, seemingly debating with himself before he speaks. "I love you," Stiles says quickly. Peter's eyes widen. "I know it's quick, we've only been together a few months and all, but I know one hundred percent that this is how I feel.
"I love you, too," Peter says, cutting Stiles off before he can go off on a tangent. He doesn't need Stiles to justify it to him. He believes him. "Who else would I deface my porch for?"
Stiles' smile is brilliant and he throws himself at Peter, kissing him hard enough that if his neighbors saw, they'd probably be screaming at them for public indecency. Peter doesn't care at all. He holds Stiles tightly in his arms, kissing him hungrily because this is his. Stiles is his, and Patrick's unwanted memory isn't going to ruin this for him.
Stiles pulls away first, gasping for breath, and rests his forehead against Peter's. He smells of bright happiness and contentment, and Peter preens knowing he's the reason why.
"As much as I would love for you to fuck my brains out, can we stay out here for a while?" Stiles asks.
"Of course," Peter says, kissing his forehead.
Peter goes back to reading on the porch swing, but now he has Stiles' head in his lap, one hand playing with his hair. Stiles plays on his phone a bit, but mostly looks around at the flowers and lights, content to just relax and unwind.
Peter does fuck him later that night, softly and gently until Stiles is whining and crying with need. Peter fills him up, bites at his throat until he's covered in his marks, then holds him after as they sleep, absolutely reeking of each other.
There's a tattoo convention in San Francisco every year, and Peter's gone for the last ten years in a row. It's not his favorite thing, not always a fan of the crowds of sweaty people and having to rub elbows with other tattoo artists, some of whom have egos that even rival his. But it's good for business, and Erica and Ennis always enjoy it, so every year, Peter goes. He's anticipating it being better this year, because Stiles is coming with them. Scott and Allison live nearby and are planning on stopping by Peter's booth. Not the way he had anticipated meeting his boyfriend's best friend, but he'll make the best of it.
Peter refuses to stay in a Best Western, so they end up at a ritzy hotel close to the convention center. Stiles whistles when they get to their room, not used to the more opulent things in life.
"You do realize we're literally only going to be in the room to sleep, right?" Stiles asks, running a hand over the soft sheets. "And maybe boning, depending on how tired we are?"
"I do," Peter says. "And I refuse to do either of those things on a bed bug-infested mattress."
As much as they would love to lounge in the hotel room, ordering room service and making out like teenagers on prom night, they need to go to the convention center and set up for tomorrow. Stiles knows next to nothing about the machines and supplies Peter and his artists use, so he sets up the front of the booth, displaying their art and pictures of tattoos they've completed, trying to entice in clients. Peter's almost completely booked for the weekend, so is Erica, but Boyd and Ennis both have some space available.
By the time the booth is set up to Peter's exact specifications and they've all had dinner, Peter and Stiles are too exhausted to do anything but brush their teeth and collapse into bed. Traveling takes a lot out of you on its own, but add in how much they finished, neither of them even wants to try for a halfhearted hand job.
The next morning is hectic as hell. Ennis oversleeps, Erica's bra strap snaps in half and she has to run to the closest store to find a replacement, and Stiles can't find his shoes. Boyd and Peter are the only ones ready to roll, sighing at their partners and Ennis.
"You're my rock in all this," Peter says deadpan, clapping Boyd on the shoulder. Boyd rolls his eyes, but doesn't push Peter away.
They all manage to get to the convention center more or less on time. At least before their first appointment arrives. Stiles wanders off when the young woman Peter is tattooing a memorial for arrives and comes back a half hour later with coffee for all of them. Erica groans, making grabby hands.
"I could marry you, oh god," she moans.
"No poaching the boyfriend," Peter scolds. He almost says that if anyone marries Stiles, it'll be him, but he manages to hold that back.
"Not 'til you're done with that butterfly," Stiles says, nodding to the girl at Erica's station, holding the coffee out of her reach.
"Never mind, he's evil," Erica says with a pout. "He's all yours, Peter."
Peter's so lost in his work that he forgets about Scott and Allison stopping by until 4:00 that afternoon. He's just finished a dragon on a local college student when he hears someone shriek Stiles' name. He looks up to see Chris Argent's daughter nearly tackle Stiles with the strength of her hug. Stiles laughs and hugs her back, only pulling away when a man who must be Scott clears his throat loudly. Stiles snorts but tugs Scott in for a hug, too, clapping him on the back. Peter lets them catch up, not wanting to intrude, until Stiles comes over and drags him out of the booth.
"Peter, this is my brother from another mother Scott. I think you've met Allison through Chris," Stiles says. "Scott, this is my super hot, loving, asshole boyfriend, Peter."
"Nice to meet you," Peter says, reaching out to shake Scott's hand. Scott takes it tentatively, glancing at Stiles. Peter braces himself for what he knows is coming. He's too old, he's too rough, a dangerous werewolf, etc. He's heard it all before.
"Yeah, you too," Scott says. Peter doesn't listen for a lie in his heartbeat, not wanting to know.
"Hey, Peter," Allison says, smiling. She steps forward, elbowing Scott out of the way, and tugs Peter in for a hug.
Peter's always liked Allison. In his opinion, she got the best traits for both of her parents. She has Chris' level-headed nature, and Victoria's willingness to utterly destroy anyone that stands in her way. He hasn't seen her in a few years, not since she got married, but she looks lovely as ever, smiling brightly at him.
"How's it going? Keeping Dad from rotting away in that bar?" she asks.
"As if I'd be able to change that stubborn old man's mind about anything," Peter says.
"Careful, he's just a few years older than you," Stiles says.
"Traitor," Peter says. Stiles just smiles, cheeky.
Peter has a free hour, so they wander to the food court area of the convention center to get lunch. Scott relaxes a bit after a while. Peter's pretty sure it has nothing to do with him, but more how Allison and Stiles interact with him. They seem easy and happy to talk to him, so Scott lets down his guard a bit. Good. Peter would never ask Stiles to choose between him and his best friend, knowing that ultimatums like that never go well, but he doesn't know if Scott thinks the same way.
Peter has to excuse himself before the rest of them are done eating, not wanting to be late for his client. Stiles stands with him, tugging Peter close. He kisses him deeply, staking a claim for everyone to see. Peter hums, large hand framing Stiles' delicate jaw as he kisses him back.
"I'll be back in a bit," Stiles says.
"Take your time, love," Peter says. Stiles grins. It's a pet name Peter's incorporated since telling Stiles he loves him. It's worth it to see the way Stiles' face lights up every time he uses it.
Peter leaves Stiles with his friends and makes his way back to his booth. Boyd is just starting a piece and Ennis is taking his lunch. Erica is in the middle of a tattoo so luckily none of them can bug him about how meeting the best friend went. It wasn't awful, but it definitely could have gone better. At the end of the day, Peter knows that Stiles loves him and that even if Scott doesn't like it, Stiles has never been one to take people's complaints about his life seriously.
Stiles wanders back an hour or so later, perching near Peter to watch him work. He doesn't smell distressed or distracted, and that makes Peter relax. No argument with Scott then. At least not one Stiles particularly cares about. It makes the rest of the day easy.
Peter fucks Stiles hard that night when they get back to their hotel. He's tired, but oddly energized, both of them needing the touch and taste of the other. Stiles' breathy sighs and moans of pleasure echo through the room, the most beautiful symphony Peter's ever heard. He sucks dark marks into Stiles' throat and makes him come until he's crying. It's a beautiful night.
The rest of the convention passes quickly and without major incident. One of the men Boyd tattoos turns out to be a fainter, but if that's the extent of their troubles, Peter's not worried.
A few weeks after the tattoo convention, Peter's at Talia's house for a pack get together. He's avoided the last three, and he's running out of excuses that he knows Talia doesn't believe anyway. He figures if he makes an appearance, he can disappear from anywhere near Laura and Patrick for the next few weeks. Hopefully, 'til the wedding next month. Of course, thanks to his stellar luck, Laura sees him and makes a beeline toward him as soon as he sits down on the patio.
Peter sighs, watching her walk over, baby Carmen on her hip. He has to admit, Carmen is adorable. She has Patrick's bright green eyes and even at two months old, already has Laura's thick, dark hair. He doesn't hate her, probably couldn't if he tried. He'd sent the appropriate amount of gifts when she was born, but he still has no desire to be around her parents.
"Peter," Laura says in greeting when she's close enough to sit in the chair next to him. She doesn't wait for him to say anything before continuing. "Who was the florist who did the arrangement for my baby shower?"
"Why?" Peter asks. He hasn't told Laura about Stiles. He hasn't told anyone in the pack about Stiles, really. Cora knows because she works with him, but Ennis, Erica, and Boyd aren't in the Hale pack and haven't spilled to any of them.
"I'm not a fan of who we were going to go with from wedding flowers and wanted to talk to your florist," Laura says, bouncing Carmen on her knee. "Yeah, the baby shower flowers weren't the right color, but the arrangement was gorgeous."
"Hmm," Peter says. He wasn't thrilled when he first arrived, but any good will he'd had is gone. "I'll think about it."
"What? Why?" Laura asks.
"Because you're marrying my ex, who knocked you up while he and I were still living together," Peter says. "Excuse me for not thinking you deserve nice flowers."
Laura has the gall to look offended, which is really too much for Peter. He stands and walks away, making tracks to where Cora and Derek are chatting near the fire pit. They don't say anything when they see his face, just make room for him. The only useful ones in this damn family, Peter thinks.
The thing is, Stiles' business is slow lately. He's not in dire financial straits, but a wedding, especially a large, Hale wedding, would really help him right now. So as much as Peter would love to be selfish and simply not tell Stiles about Laura's request, he can't do that in good conscience. Peter's a bastard, he'll readily admit to that any day, but not at the expense of Stiles. Love makes him stupid, it seems.
Peter holds out for a few hours until Talia has seen him sufficiently mingling before he takes off. He waits until she's distracted with baby Carmen to sneak out, motorcycle loud as he peels out. He could go home, but what he really wants right now is to be around Stiles. Especially since he has to tell him about Laura wanting him for the wedding. Better now than to put it off, he supposes.
When he arrives at the shop, Liam is just shutting everything down. He greets Peter cheerily and steers him toward the back, where Stiles' work area is. Despite them being together for months, Peter hasn't been back here too often. The smell of flowers back here can be overwhelming to his sensitive nose and he doesn't particularly feel like sneezing all over Stiles.
Stiles seems to be in as bad a mood as Peter though, cutting the stems of the roses he has a little more viciously than necessary in Peter's opinion. He's mumbling under his breath, too low for Peter to make out, but enough to tell that he's arguing with himself, a habit he gets into when he tries to talk away his anxieties. Peter frowns and knocks lightly on the door frame to announce his arrival.
"Jesus!" Stiles says, jumping as he whirls around. He slumps when he sees it's Peter. "God, I'm glad you're not a murderer."
"A murderer kind enough to announce his presence with a knock?" Peter asks.
"You don't have to be rude to kill someone," Stiles says, making Peter snort.
Peter walks deeper into the room, ignoring the tickling at his nose. He kisses Stiles in hello, then steps back enough to see his face when he asks, "What's bothering you, love?"
He expects Stiles to deny anything's wrong, but he bites his lip for a second before blurting out, "Are you ashamed of me?
Peter blinks in confusion, because what?
"What?" Peter asks.
"I mean, you've met my closest people, Scott and my dad. I've met no one in your family but Cora," Stiles says, words coming fast. "Do you not want them to meet me? Is it embarrassing because I'm not a werewolf?"
"Stiles, I love you, werewolf or no," Peter says.
"Yeah, I love you, too," Stiles says a bit dismissively, if you ask Peter. "But dude, it feels like you're trying to hide me from your family."
"The last time I loved someone and let them meet the family, he ended up engaged to my niece and got her pregnant," Peter says. He immediately knows it was the wrong thing to say because Stiles' eyes narrow dangerously.
"I'm not Patrick," he says coldly. "And if it's all the same to you, I'd like to not be punished for his fuck ups, thanks."
Stiles turns his back on Peter, going back to mangling the stems of the roses. They're all but a lost cause at this point, and Peter's pretty sure Stiles is doing it just for something to do.
"That's not what I meant," Peter says. "I know you wouldn't do that."
Peter sighs, running a hand over his face. He's tired, his mood is shit, and the last thing he wants to do is deal with this right now. He considers just leaving and letting Stiles stew in this alone (he would have done that to almost anyone else), but he can't. Not to Stiles.
"Stiles," Peter says quietly. Stiles doesn't look up, but Peter can tells by the tilt of his head that he's listening. "My family is...complicated. There are a lot of hurt feelings all around, and lots of opinions on how I should have handled the Laura and Patrick situation. I didn't want you to be around that because I don't know if you'd be treated badly because of me."
"That's stupid," Stiles says, whirling around to face him. For a second, he thinks Stiles is going to start yelling at him again, before Stiles keeps talking. "That's bullshit that they have opinions on how you should react. Laura and Patrick are the ones that fucked up, not you. They should be the ones treated like goddamn pariahs."
Peter huffs and looks down with a smile. Stiles, this beautiful, fiery boy of his, ready to go from zero to one hundred in one second, ready to change courses in an instant if someone he cares about is being treated unfairly.
Stiles is still talking, ranting about how pathetically unfair Peter's family is, but Peter's eyes are focused over Stiles' shoulder. There, tacked onto the bulletin board on the wall, are every single sketch Peter's left in Stiles' shop since he first invaded with his sketchbook. The detailed snapdragons and Asiatic lilies are front and center, but they're all there, even ones Peter thought he'd thrown away.
Peter strides forward, catching Stiles off-guard mid-rant, and pulls him close by the belt loops. Stiles looks surprised, then Peter's kissing him senseless because fuck, Peter loves him. He loves him more than he can stand. He loves him enough that it's slightly terrifying, letting someone have that much power over him, but he's in far too deep to want anything else.
"I'm sorry I made you feel that way," Peter murmurs against Stiles' lips. "It wasn't my intention."
Stiles slumps in his hold, wrapping his arms around Peter's waist. He nuzzles at Peter's throat, and Peter lets him.
"I know," Stiles says. "It's just been a weird day."
"Weird how?" Peter asks.
"I had like three people cancel orders, my ex tried to add me on Facebook, and I realized I was out of anxiety meds which really explains a lot," Stiles says.
"Let's get some dinner, hm? I'm sure you haven't eaten today," Peter says.
"Liam made me eat at lunch," Stiles says, but he puts the roses away and follows Peter to the back corner, to the stairs that lead up to his apartment. "I don't know what you said to put the fear of god in him, but he's always militant that I eat lunch when you're not here."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Peter says.
"You're a lying liar who lies," Stiles says, but he winds his fingers through Peter's.
Normally, Peter enjoys cooking for Stiles. It's a form of care he and his wolf both deeply enjoy, but tonight they order out. He'd much rather spend the night on the couch with Stiles' head in his lap, stroking fingers through his hair, while they watch reruns and wait for Chinese food to arrive.
Stiles, as always, is a balm to his rude soul. He softens around him in a way he doesn't with anyone else. He'd loved Patrick, but he doesn't think he was this open with him ever. Part of him can understand, he supposes, looking for affection elsewhere if Peter hadn't been completely open with him. Peter hadn't, couldn't, share all he was with Patrick. He hadn't really wanted to try either. He can admit that much, that he was at fault in that he didn't open himself up to Patrick as much as he should have for someone he loved, but he doesn't excuse the cheating, especially with his niece.
"Okay, we got to what was on my mind," Stiles says, sitting up and playing with Peter's fingers. The empty Chinese containers are littered across Stiles' messy coffee table. "Now what's on yours?"
Peter doesn't bother asking how Stiles knows. The man can read him like a damn book.
"The pack barbeque was earlier," Peter says.
"Okay," Stiles says. "Did they treat you badly? Do I need to slash some tires?"
Peter snorts. "No, you hooligan, calm down," Peter says. "Laura asked me for your information. She's not happy with the florist doing her wedding and wanted to talk to you."
Peter half expects Stiles to be excited. Hale weddings are large and expensive, and he could probably charge whatever he wanted, asshole customer pricing included, for something so last minute. But Stiles rolls his eyes.
"Well yeah, she's not gonna be happy hiring Steve. The dipshit wouldn't know a wedding-appropriate arrangement if it bit him in the ass," Stiles says. Peter has met Steve Weiss, and is inclined to agree. "What'd you tell her?"
"I told her I'd think about it," Peter says. "I didn't want to tell her anything until I talked to you."
"Why?" Stiles asks. "You don't need my permission to tell her to fuck off."
"If you wanted to accept the job..." Peter says, but stops when he sees how Stiles scrunches up his face.
"Why would I want to do her wedding?" Stiles asks incredulously. "She deserves dandelions with a crabgrass foliage. And unless I'm making that happen, I want nothing to do with it."
"I know business has been slow lately - "
"I can recommend someone, but I'm not going to take a job from someone who hurt you," Stiles says firmly. "Prom season is in a few weeks, I'll be fine until then."
"I will keep interrupting you all night if I have to, and we both know how much you love that," Stiles says, smirking.
Peter shakes his head, but can't stop the smile from curling at the edge of his lips.
"Fine. On a related note, the wedding is in a month. I RSVPed with a plus one. I'd intended on bringing an escort, just to see how much I could push everyone's blood pressure, but I think your company would be infinitely better," Peter says. "Come with me?"
"You really have to go to this wedding?" Stiles asks, eyes wide. "Of your ex and your niece?"
"Yes," Peter says with a sigh. "Pack politics deem it necessary, unfortunately."
"Hell yes, I'll go. A. You're not going through that alone. B. I can mock her shitty flowers. C. Dude, we can fuck with her so much," Stiles says, eyes glinting. "How do you feel about defiling me in the coat closet?"
"Always favorably," Peter says. "I can defile you on this couch if you'd like a preview."
Stiles grins wickedly.
"I'll never say no to that."
"We could dip dye her wedding dress. I hear a nice pink ombre is in this season," Stiles suggests.
"No," Peter says, though he can't help but smile. They're at Peter's, getting dressed for Laura's ceremony. Stiles looks delectable in his suit, and Peter is half-tempted to rip it off him again.
"Fake roaches in the food?"
"Real roaches in the food?"
"No. The Mediterranean catered this. It's the one part of the wedding I'm actually looking forward to," Peter says. He straightens his tie, giving himself a critical look over. He knows he won't upstage the bride, that Laura will look ethereal and lovely, but he wants to look good. He wants to rub it, and Stiles, in their faces. He wants them to know that he's happy despite them.
"You could always fake propose. Give a nice speech about how seeing them all happy makes you want it, too. Steal the fuck out of their thunder," Stiles says.
"Mm, tempting," Peter says. He turns and cradles Stiles' face in his hand, brushing his thumb over his cheekbone. "But if I propose to you, I can promise you it will never be fake."
Peter can hear the way Stiles' breath catches, see his lips part in surprise. It's not something they've discussed yet, not even close. They've said they love each other, and they're both on the same page that this isn't a short-term fling, but that's a subject neither of them have broached. Stiles just smiles at him and straightens his tie.
"How do I look? Dashing? Devastatingly handsome? I should have had you draw on a fake neck tattoo, really scandalize your family," Stiles says.
"You're lovely," Peter says. "Neck tattoo or not."
They take Peter's BMW to the wedding, because it would be a travesty to wrinkle their suits. The wedding is being held at Beacon Hills Country Club, which makes Peter want to vomit a little. Bright side, he always enjoys scandalizing the fancy and rich. There's non-optional valet parking, and Peter's eye twitches as the kid who barely looks old enough to drive speeds off in his car.
Stiles takes Peter's hand in his and squeezes before they walk up the stone steps. As soon as they walk into the hall, they see a sea of hyacinths everywhere. They look half dead, all in clashing colors, and Stiles doesn't bother to hide his grimace.
"Does this kill you a bit inside?" Peter asks.
"Yes," Stiles says. "I hope she cries over her shitty bouquet."
Peter snorts and kisses Stiles' cheek. "Come on. We can hit the bar before the ceremony starts."
"Did I ever tell you what I did for my best man's speech at Scott's wedding?" Stiles asks as they walk.
"No," Peter says.
"The entire president's speech from Independence Day," Stiles says.
Peter stares. "What?"
"Yeah, our lacrosse coach used to say it before games. And I knew it would make Scott crack up. Plus, it'd piss Victoria off who was hell bent on making Allison have a fairytale wedding, even though she didn't want it," Stiles says.
Peter chuckles, shaking his head. He can imagine her rage at that, and he seriously wishes there were pictures. He vaguely remembers Chris talking about a best man ticking off Victoria now that Stiles mentions it. He would pay money to have seen that. Maybe he'll see if it's on the video Chris has.
"I'm just saying," Stiles says, "there are options to irritate Laura other than straight up calling her and her shitty husband out."
"I'll keep it in mind," Peter says, kissing Stiles' temple. "I love you."
The bar is empty save for the bartender, who looks relieved when he sees it's them and not, presumably, Laura. He wonders just how much champagne she's had today. Peter and Stiles make it through a few drinks before Hurricane Talia sweeps through.
"The guests are almost all seated, what are you doing?" she screeches. She yanks Peter up by the arm, missing the way Stiles' eyes narrow. "You need to get seated, now."
"Yes, it's nice to meet you, too," Stiles drawls, voice icy.
Talia looks at him, a little startled like she hadn't really noticed his presence before now.
"You're Peter's plus one?" she asks.
"Boyfriend, actually," Peter says, using Talia's distraction to twist his arm out of her grip. He wraps it around Stiles' waist, tugging him to his side. Stiles' smile is sickly sweet, fake as the day is long. He knows it, Talia knows it, but she knows she can't call him out on it without being rude.
"Stiles Stilinski. Pleasure to meet you," Stiles says. His heartbeat trips over the lie.
"You as well," Talia says, and Peter knows exactly what she's thinking; an in with the local sheriff would be wonderful for the pack. She's barking up the wrong tree. "The ceremony is about to start. Please take your seats."
They follow Talia out of the bar and to the hall. There are more hyacinths here, looking as sad at the ones out front. The hall is draped in twinkling lights and white, and Peter even has to grudgingly admit that it looks good. There's a large arch at the front where Patrick and the officiant are already standing. Stiles and Peter slip into seats in the back, not wanting to deal with sitting up front where the rest of the family is.
"He looks like a frog," Stiles says. Peter barks out a laugh, earning a few disgruntled looks. He doesn't care, no one has walked down the aisle yet and the music hasn't started. "I'm serious. A frog. You traded up."
One of Patrick's sisters sends Stiles a nasty look, but he just waves cheerfully back at her until she turns around in her seat.
"Of course I did," Peter says, taking Stiles' hands in his.
The harpist Laura hired is wonderful, setting the mood beautifully, and Peter hates it. Baby Carmen is adorable, carried down the aisle by Cora (who'd been heavily bribed by Talia). There are ten bridesmaids, which Peter feels is a bit excessive, all dressed in lavender. It clashes horribly with the flowers, which Stiles is happy to point out.
Peter kind of hates how beautiful Laura looks, a vision in white walking down the aisle on the arm of her father. She smiling beautifully, Patrick looking starstruck, and if Peter were a better man, he could push aside the betrayal and be happy for them. Peter's not a better man. Peter is petty and irritable and bitter that he's forced to be here.
"A lily bouquet with hyacinth arrangements everywhere else?" Stiles whispers, scoffing. He's well aware that werewolves will be able to hear them, and he doesn't give a damn. Peter loves him.
Peter tunes out most of the officiant's speech about love and commitment, and snorts loudly when during the vows, Patrick swears to love her and be faithful until his dying day. Stiles rolls his eyes at that, and completely tunes out, making faces at the baby in front of him staring over her dad's shoulder. She lets out a loud laugh, making everyone turn. Stiles doesn't look sorry in the least.
The ceremony drags on, because Patrick loves a spectacle. Stiles' stomach rumbles and he pulls out a bad of M&Ms, snacking as he watches, disinterested. Peter raises his eyebrows, but Stiles just shrugs and offers him an M&M and well, Peter will never say no to that.
The reception is in a banquet hall a few rooms down, and Stiles and Peter make sure to get a table far from the front, where the bride and groom will be. The wedding party is taking pictures before the reception, which Peter thinks is a stupid idea, leaving the rest of the guests milling about the reception hall, waiting for food and cake. Drinks are still aplenty though, and Peter and Stiles each have another two before the happy couple makes an appearance.
People cheer and clap, they coo when they have their first dance, laugh when Laura shoves Patrick's face into their slice of cake. It's all rather obnoxious, but Peter's surprised to find that's his only emotion on it. It's obnoxious and dumb, but he isn't nursing that sting of hatred. It doesn't hurt like it used to when he looks at them. It's not forgiveness, because that's not the kind of man Peter is, and he will never forget what they did, but there's not an ache in his chest when he thinks about it anymore.
"I'm glad this happened," Peter says out of nowhere. Stiles looks up in confusion, pausing from where he's been flicking peas and carrots for one of Peter's nieces to catch in her mouth. "And stop that, she's not a dog."
"You're glad what happened?" Stiles asks. "And duh she's not a dog, she asked me to."
Peter shoos Elizabeth away, who goes with a pout, before turning his attention back to Stiles. Stiles, perceptive as ever, can tell Peter's serious and turns to him, facing him completely.
"If Patrick hadn't cheated, I never would have come to your shop to get baby shower flowers. I never would have met you," Peter says. "I'm glad it happened. I'm much happier with you than I was before."
Stiles looks at him softly, smiling slightly. It had always chafed when partners looked at him like that in the past. He didn't want to be seen as soft, didn't appreciate the look. He loves it from Stiles.
"I love you," Stiles says. "I'm not happy it was due to pain, but I'm glad you came in that day."
Peter tugs Stiles closer, kissing him deeply, forgetting everyone around them. That is, until Cora drops her plate onto the table next to them with a clatter, startling them apart.
"Gross," she says blandly, collapsing into the chair next to Peter and kicking off her heels. "Why do people still insist on wearing high heels? It's horrible for your feet and ankles, doctors know this. This is dumb."
"Laura wouldn't budge on you wearing flats?" Stiles asks.
"No, she said it would ruin the aesthetic with the other bridesmaids. I told her the other bridesmaids are already a half a foot taller than me, so what does it matter? That just made her put me in four-inch heels instead of three," Cora says grumpily, stabbing at the steak on her plate. Stiles just snorts. "How are you doing?" she asks Peter. She's smart enough not to say it with pity, just bland curiosity.
"Good," Peter says. "Feeling like I dodged a major bullet, actually."
"You're not wrong," Cora says, glancing over at Laura and Patrick, wrinkling her nose. "Wanna take bets on how long it takes before Mom and Patrick's aunt get into a political debate? My money is on less than an hour."
"That's not a bet I'm willing to take," Peter says.
Peter figures they should stay another hour before they can leave without Talia pitching a fit over them being rude. They munch on cake (delicious) and chat with Cora, occasionally tossing food at Elizabeth when she comes back, clapping her hands and saying she needs to be fed like a seal. Peter's starting to think they could make a clean getaway, when Laura starts making her rounds to the guests. And of course, she heads straight to their table.
"Hello, Uncle Peter," Laura greets, giving him a very light and very brief hug, ignoring the way he tenses. She turns to Stiles, smiling brightly. "And you must be the boyfriend."
"Stiles," Stiles says, reaching out to shake her hand. His face is politely disinterested. He doesn't offer her congratulations on the marriage. "Awesome food. The salmon is to die for."
"Thank you," Laura says. "The decor and flowers didn't turn out quite the way I wanted, but that's life, I suppose. I couldn't get the florist I wanted." She shoots Peter a look at that.
"Yeah, I'd say sorry, but that's just not something I could do in good conscience," Stiles says pleasantly.
"Wait, you're the florist?" Laura asks, then turns to Peter. "Your boyfriend is the florist? That's why you wouldn't let him do my wedding?"
"Oh no, he told me about it," Stiles says. "I told him I didn't want to."
Laura looks like she wants to ask why, but seems to realize that no matter what answer she'll get, it'll get ugly. Peter's sure she'll confront them again when she's back from her honeymoon, but she's smart enough to not ruin her wedding day fighting with her uncle and his boyfriend. Instead she smiles tightly and moves on to talking to Cora, who looks like she's having trouble containing her amusement.
Peter and Stiles duck out soon after, leaving their gift (a $10 gift certificate to McDonald's) before they go. Peter's tempted to take Stiles up on his offer of coatroom sex, especially with how good he looks with his shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows, his snapdragon tattoo on full display. In the end though, he really just wants to get him home so he can fuck his boyfriend long and hard in his own bed. Because really, the best time spent is spent with Stiles anyway.