Noah didn’t expect a visit from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. But there’s two agents in his office, Dave Rossi and Spencer Reid. He’s heard of Rossi, of course. He’s read most of his books and all of them are in the house, studied by Stiles.
He looks at the two men sitting in front of his desk and scratches his head. “You’re on vacation? Why are you here then? I mean, glad to have help, if there were something for you to help with, but…”
“We’ve been traveling the coast and Spence read about some deaths you’ve had recently. They’re a bit outside the norm,” Dave answers, trying not to look too official. This is a small town, and although the guy looks competent, he is the county Sheriff.
Spencer speaks for them both, saying, “I read a few articles online and it does seem there’s way too many deaths from wild animals. Mountain lions account for seven deaths annually across the country. This seems a bit off, doesn’t it?”
In the car on the way over, Dave said, “We’re on vacation, Spencer. And we haven’t been asked to assist. And it’s reported as animal deaths and that’s not a BAU case at all.” Dave sighs, picturing how long Spencer may want to stay and losing their dinner reservation at Rich Table in LA. He made it a month ago. It’s at the end of their trip, but he knows how Spencer can be when something gets into his head.
Spencer flips through the file he created, full of reports of deaths and attacks in this little California town. Printed pages because everyone on vacation travels with a printer, right? “David. It’s a couple of hours and who wouldn’t want to talk with best-selling author David Rossi?”
“Lots of people, especially people who know me. You sure we need to do this? I’m in if you need to, but…”
Spencer shuts the file and tugs on his seat belt so he can turn towards Dave. “You remember what we learned about werewolves? This is werewolves, David, I’m certain of it.”
Spencer has never played fair. So they invite themselves and it does seem the sheriff (“Noah, please.”) is reluctant to talk with them, pointing out that they’ve got things handled and thanks. “Aren’t you on vacation? I hate to think of you wasting your time here, I know how much of a challenge it is getting time off. My son, Stiles, is a big fan, Agent Rossi. I know he has several of your books and you’re one of the reasons he applied – and has been accepted to the FBI.”
“Oh, that’s great, congratulations, you must be so proud, Noah,” Dave says, pulling a file towards Spencer. Not that Noah doesn’t notice because he’s not blind and Dave is as subtle as a brick to the head.
“Yeah, it’s good that he’s actually got a legitimate plan.” Noah pulls out his phone and sends a quick text, not trying to hide it. Dave isn’t subtle, so Noah won’t be either.
It’s just a few minutes before Stiles shows up. “Wow, Agent Rossi. Big fan, I hope you don’t mind that I brought your latest book with me and could you…” He stops and his jaw drops, looking at Spencer. “Dr. Reid! You’re Spencer Reid, right? Oh my god, Dad, this is Dr. Spencer Reid, he’s like so famous.” He stops and glances at Dave. “Sorry, but… Anyway, why are you guys here? I mean, why here in the Sheriff’s station, so boring. You’re on vacation, right? I know you’re a couple, I read about your wedding and… It’s not like I’m a stalker or anything, I’m just…” He looks at his father, a bit of panic in his eyes.
Noah chuckles and continues, “As I said, he’s a fan. But he’s right, you should be on vacation, not here. There’s really nothing going on, we’re a small town basically surrounded by forest.”
“Yes, unfortunately, there are animal attacks,” Peter says, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ waist. “Especially with the drought years, animals come out of the woods closer and closer to civilization. Or maybe we’ve built in their lands and it’s sad, but these things happen.”
Stiles flails a bit before settling with his arm around Peter’s shoulder. “Uh huh. You shouldn’t be here, there’s like so much good stuff to see that’s not here. There’s like an ocean and Peter likes wineries and hey, Disneyland if you’re going to the south!”
Pretty good profiling there, Dave thinks. He’s anxious to go, but wants to stay for Spencer’s curiosity. Plus, if they’re so anxious to get the FBI out, call him ornery, it does make Dave want to stay.
“I’ve got some suggestions,” Peter says, and somehow Dave suddenly finds himself in the small office lunchroom while Spencer is in the Sheriff’s office with Stiles and Noah. Peter seems social, as calm as Stiles is frantic.
“So you’re traveling by car, just taking in the sights?”
“Yeah, we’ve only been out this way for cases, and that doesn’t leave much time for exploring.” Dave peers through the door to check the office and Stiles and Spencer are back in their seats in front of the Sheriff’s desk, looking at files. “Spencer went to college at Cal Tech – well one of his colleges, so we’re eventually heading down there. He didn’t do a lot of touring either since he was just a kid.”
“I’m not sure if you’re a wine drinker, but if you’re going south, you’ll run into several good areas. Not just Napa and Sonoma.”
“I hope to. I have a few stops planned out. Spence wants to see Hearst Castle and yup, we’re going to Disneyland.”
Both men chuckle and glance towards the office when they hear laughter coming through the door. “I guess it’s not as traumatic as originally thought,” Peter ventures.
Dave sighs, as he often does talking about his marriage. “We do have things planned, Spencer likes plans. He’s not exactly a ‘wing it’ guy. But he won’t be able to relax unless he gets this out of his system. I don’t know, maybe you understand how it is having a spouse like that?”
“No, I understand,” Peter agrees. “Once Stiles is on a roll, there’s no stopping him until he’s satisfied that he knows everything. And maybe I’m misreading this, but perhaps Spencer becomes even more… fixated than Stiles would be?”
“Could be.” Dave looks around, watching one of the other deputies come into the lunch room, pouring a cup of coffee and nodding at Peter. “You seem pretty comfortable in the Sheriff’s station. Everyone’s familiar with you?”
“Yes, and I’ll say that’s something I never expected. Noah is Stiles’ father, so I’m here quite a bit. I’m sure they got together and ran a full criminal search on me, but so far, I seem to be acceptable.”
Dave nods and they both look as voices get louder in the Sheriff’s office. Voices and an increasing amount of laughter. “Spencer’s mother didn’t like me very much at the beginning. Now she tolerates me since it’s obvious I’m not going away.”
“Sure, I understand. Noah didn’t love me at first, and he probably still doesn’t. When Stiles and I started dating he was in college, so I understand his concern.”
“Spencer was 12 when he was in college so at least I avoided that hazard.” He takes a sip of coffee and asks, “Is the age thing is a bigger concern to the sheriff than the werewolf thing?”
Peter stops and looks at him eyebrow up. “Werewolf? I’m sorry I don’t understand.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Rossi, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Perhaps you’d like to sit for a minute, I can get you a glass of water.”
“Call me Dave. And don’t try to bullshit a bullshitter, Mr. Hale. I’m not blind.”
“Perhaps delusional is more accurate. Does Dr. Reid share your fantasies?”
“Yes, but that’s not really relevant right now.” He shifts in his chair and sips the bad police station coffee without wrinkling his nose. He’s obviously used to the death brew in a way that Peter isn’t. “We had some cases – too many – of people who thought they were vampires and we finally got one of a guy who thought he was a werewolf and decided it gave him license to kill people. Of course he was just mentally ill, but it got Spencer thinking about where this came from. Of course, he decided his next PhD had to be in mythological studies, because you know, that’s what you do when you’re curious about something, you get a PhD.” He stops and pulls out his phone, tapping for a second while he continues talking. “It did give us a good vacation through Europe so he could study and we were able to talk with several people and learned quite a bit. Interesting finding out not everything you’ve believed is a legend really is a legend. But you know that, of course.”
“I think some people may have been putting you on a bit. I’m sure that’s the only possible answer isn’t it? Vampires and werewolves?” Peter asks, and Dave can hear the condescension in his voice.
“I’m willing to admit, although I’m not a fool, I’ve been fooled once or twice in my life. I don’t think I was this time, but I understand if you don’t want to discuss this with a stranger. We were told it’s very much an insular community.” He shrugs and glances over his shoulder at the Sheriff’s office, able to see Spencer and Stiles with multiple files open in front of them.
“If there were such a thing as werewolves, I’m sure they’d be very private. Probably misunderstood by most humans and so very protective of their lives and secrecy. But of course, that’s just speculation about mythical creatures.” Peter stops and checks his own phone, flipping through a couple of texts. “How long do you have for this trip, Mr. Rossi? Dave.”
“Five weeks total, four left. Started in Vancouver and driving down. Sticking mainly to the coast, with just a few side trips inland.”
Peter puts his phone away, checking his watch. “Beacon Hills is a bit away from the coast. You must have been pretty interested in our animal attacks to make a trip here.”
“I could have passed on it, but Spencer was interested. He really thinks we might be able to help,” Dave says, shrugging. “He’s into helping.”
“And yet you’re out here and he’s…”
“In the office with your… boyfriend?” Dave leans forward, checking the platinum ring on Peter’s left hand. “Husband. He is kind of young, isn’t he?”
Peter grins at Dave and there may be a bit more teeth showing than strictly necessary. “He’s out of college and perfectly legal. I have to say there may be a smaller age difference than between you and…” he quickly checks Dave’s hand and says, “your husband.”
Dave looks at his ring adjusting it on his hand so the band of diamonds is on the top. “That might be true. But he’s an old soul and I like to think I’m young at heart. Or as he says, dignified with moments of immaturity.”
“Hmm. Stiles tells me I’m pretentious and arrogant. And occasionally petulant.”
“Spencer doesn’t understand why I made reservations at The French Laundry a couple of months ago.”
“Oh,” Peter sighs, faraway look on his face. “If you came out this far, you should absolutely eat there. We went there for my birthday last year. It was amazing.”
“Not for his birthday? Where was that?” Dave grins, waiting for the answer.
Peter rolls his eyes and crosses his legs. “We went to some hole in the wall diner he likes so he could get a root beer milk shake and chili cheese fries. And then of course, he farted all night. It was magic.”
Dave chuckles and says, “Spencer is lactose intolerant and loves ice cream, so I feel for you. And for his last birthday, I got him a case – a case – of Duke’s Mayonnaise. He tried it when we were traveling and now it’s apparently the best thing ever. He eats it with everything. Scrambled eggs.” He shakes his head.
“Stiles tends to make rude sexual innuendos about mayonnaise.”
“Thankfully, Spencer doesn’t do that. He will, however, outline the entire history of mayonnaise, its origin, the name, how it’s used in different countries.” Dave’s smile is full of affection as he shakes his head. “Part of it of course is to justify everything he eats it with.”
“Oh god, I’m familiar with that sort of thing. I know more about circumcision than anyone needs to know.” Peter sighs and fondly says, “I think it’s foreskin envy.”
Dave chuckles, rubbing his mustache. “I didn’t know that was a thing.”
“I didn’t either until we started dating.” They’re both quiet for a moment until Peter says, “I wish Stiles enjoyed wineries more. He’ll drink a Muscato or flavored schnapps. Although not peppermint, not since Christmas 2014. And recently he’s drinking ciders.”
“Spencer isn’t a drinker, although he’ll sometimes humor me and take an hour to drink a glass of hard cider.” Dave grins and says, “He gets cute when he’s tipsy. On one.” He turns in his chair and locks eyes with Peter. “So, okay, tell the skinny. The attacks. What the hell is going on here?”
“Oh, are we back to that?” Peter asks and sighs, crossing his arms over his chest. “The first attack, the hiker who was injured. That was a mountain lion. The second one, who was killed? Sprites.”
Leaning forward, Dave asks, “Sprite? Which is… what?”
“Fairies, kind of. Small, they can fly. Super sharp teeth and they like to eat humans.” Peter scratches his eye and shrugs. “So they got numbers two and three and then they were taken care of. Number four was a real mountain lion; they really do come out of the hills, I wasn’t lying. He was hunted down and I believe re-located.”
“That’s it? Mountain lions and killer fairies?” Dave leans back in his chair and finishes his cold coffee, looking into the bottom of the plain, white mug. “This place is kinda crazy, you know?”
They both turn when there’s a loud laugh behind them and the door to Noah’s office opens.
“Oh my god, that’s even bigger than Peter’s kitchen!” Stiles laughs, handing a phone back to Spencer. “Peter! You met Dave Rossi. And this is Dr. Spencer Reid, but you can call him Spencer. He was saying when I’m back east for FBI training, they can show me around the campus and stuff. I’m going to be the envy of everyone in class!”
Spencer nudges Dave with his shoulder. “I figured it wouldn’t hurt if kind of helped him, right, Dave? It’ll be nice to mentor someone.” He looks between the two men and raises an eyebrow. “You two getting along? We were thinking you might.”
“You’re both moving to DC?”
Peter shakes his head and says, “Probably live in Virginia. I like having a bit of land. For running, you know.”
“He’s such an athlete, is what he means,” Stiles says, shooting Peter a harsh look. “So anyway, yeah, we’re going out in a couple of weeks to look for a house.” He looks at Peter, silent conversation with eyebrows like a true Hale.
“I believe I have a bottle of Caymus cab at home – a 2014 or maybe 2013. Maybe both, unless that’s what we drank with your father when he was over. What do you think?”
Stiles jumps in, shaking his head. “You have a few hundred bottles of wine, so don’t blame my dad if one’s gone. I’m sure you have more than one that you can drink.”
“I think that sounds like it would be good with a steak,” Dave answer, looking at Spencer’s smile.
Peter nods. “Absolutely, and Noah is a master on the grill, does a perfect medium rare.”
“Medium,” Stiles says at the same time Spencer says, “Medium well.”
Stiles nods to Peter, and looks to the two FBI men. “We can do a quick grocery run. I can get beer or cider or whatever if you don’t want to drink their sour grape juice.”
“Cider would be nice, if it’s not too much trouble.” Spencer takes Dave’s hand, giving it a quick squeeze before he lets go.
Peter inhales their combined scent of contentment, affection and a bit of nervous anticipation from Spencer. The kind of social anxiety he gets from Derek sometimes. “All I ask is no work talk, or limited work talk, please.”
“Spencer and I will talk about whatever we want to and you and Dave can discuss – what, your ostentatious cars?”
“Rude, Darling. We’ll let Noah know he’s manning the grill and he’ll give you two the address. How about seven and we’ll have time for drinks and something before steaks?”
“Anything we can bring?” Spencer asks, scent turning a bit worried.
Stiles shakes his head, not able to scent Spencer the way Peter can, but he recognizes nerves. “Not a thing, just your appetite. Oh, one more thing, very important. DC or Marvel?”
He thinks for a minute and then smiles brightly. “DC for print, but Marvel for films. Except for…”
“Infinity Wars,” they both say at the same time.
“Yeah, that was… I’m pretending it didn’t happen.” Stiles shakes his head and when he sees his father leave his office he calls out, “Dad! You’ll be home tonight to grill steaks, right?”
“Um, if you’re giving me red meat, I’ll be there.” He looks at the group gathered in his lobby, and asks, “For everyone?”
“Yup. We’re going to go and grab stuff for dinner,” Stiles says, grabbing Peter’s hand and dragging him to the door. “Dad, give ‘em the address, see you later!”
They’re parking at the meat market for Peter’s favorite steaks and Stiles grabs his hand before they can leave the car. “Peter, it’s so cool. I need to remember to, like, be cool and not be an ass, and then I could have a really important mentor! Two of them!”
Peter kisses his mate’s knuckles, reaching over to cup his cheek. “Or, Darling, you could be yourself and become friends.”
“No biting, no maiming and no killing, right?”
“Only for you, love. Let’s go get a few pounds of meat. I think I may like Dave.”
“Knew it,” Stiles says, with a smug smile, slipping down his seat, still holding Peter’s hand. “Meat and sides and cider and maybe ice cream for dessert?”
“Sounds pleasant. You’re good with plans, darling,” Peter says, pulling into the parking lot. Maybe it’ll be a late night. Serves Dave right.