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The Missing Piece.

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The thing is, right from the time Peter offered him the bite, Stiles has been hopelessly in lust. He’s regretted his refusal more than once. It’s just Peter’s…. everything. His perfect features, his dazzlingly blue eyes, his sharp wit, his neck and chest – he ticks all of Stiles’ boxes, twice and in black ink.

And he’d kept it quiet, for a long time. But then Peter had come in one day wearing leather fucking pants and Stiles’ mouth had betrayed him. “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, where do I sign up for some of that?” he’d blurted out without thinking.

Derek had groaned, Lydia had wrinkled her nose on a tiny moue of distaste, and Scott had looked at him incredulously, saying,” You’re kidding, right?” And Peter? Peter had fixed his attention on Stiles like the predator that he is, waiting to see what he’d say next. Stiles had felt trapped under his intense gaze, like a bug under glass, and he’d panicked. If Peter found out Stiles was attracted to him, he’d mock him mercilessly, and Stiles had no desire to be on the receiving end of Peter’s cutting jibes.

“Of course, I’m kidding,” he’d snorted out. He’d seen a look of hurt flit across Peter’s face and felt bad, so he’d softened the blow a little by saying, ”But you never know, zombiewolf, you’re pretty hot. I might change my mind one day.”

“Be still, my beating heart. I’ll await your offer of courtship eagerly, Stiles,” Peter had replied dryly, and that was that, or so Stiles thought.

But later, Derek had cornered him and given him a knowing look. “You’re genuinely attracted to Peter, aren’t you?” he’d asked quietly.

“Is it that obvious? “ Stiles had thought he was doing a pretty good job keeping a lid on it, apart from that one slip up.

“Only a born wolf could smell it,” Derek had said. “And we’re taught right from a pup that it’s not something you discuss – that would be rude.”

“Does Peter know?”

Derek had considered it for a moment. “I don’t think so. If you can keep yourself under control, he won’t find out.”

Stiles breathed a sigh of relief, but then Derek had added, “You know, you could just tell him.”

Stiles had shaken his head vigorously. “Don’t tell him, please! He’ll never let me live it down, and it’s not like the feeling will ever be mutual. I’ll just stay away from him until I get over it.” Derek had rolled his eyes, but agreed that he wouldn’t clue Peter in.

So Stiles makes sure to avoid Peter as much as he can, always sitting as far from him as possible, trying not to be left alone with him, because he’ll die of embarrassment if Peter catches a whiff of his arousal and calls him out on it. He watches from afar, and settles for fantasizing about how good those hands would feel on his hips. Peter might be a dick, but he’s an attractive dick, okay?

Today, Peter’s reached a new high. Or low – Stiles isn’t even sure which. The point is, Peter’s wearing a fucking  cardigan, buttoned up with nothing under it, and the dip in his cleavage is obscene. “Ugh. Your uncle is trying to kill me, I swear. Can he not cover up at least a little, instead of tormenting me?” Stiles grumbles to Derek. “I mean, I’m going to die of lust. Lust and frustration, caused by a semi naked, super-hot wolf.”  He glances over at where Peter’s standing, trading thinly veiled insults with Scott, and he takes a second look at the way his cardigan’s done up. That’s not even how cardigans are worn, and yet Peter somehow makes it hot like burning, dammit. It’s unfair.

“Firstly, please don’t remind me that you think my uncle is hot,” starts Derek. Stiles just shrugs and waves at him as if to say and? “And secondly, actually, it’s a new thing, dressing like that.”

Stiles eyes brows raise, and he waits to hear more. ”Peter was always well put together, but I don’t remember him ever showing his chest and neck so much. He was more of a suit and tie guy. Maybe he’s doing it to get your attention?” Derek suggests.

“Really?” Stiles eyes light up.

“No, idiot. It’s just Peter being Peter.”

Stiles sighs quietly, because Peter being Peter will be the death of him.

 


 

 

A few days later, Stiles talks to Derek again, because something about Peter changing the way he dresses so drastically is tugging at his brain. “So, Peter started dressing like he does after the fire?” he asks quietly. It’s still a sensitive point for Derek, the fire and its aftermath, and Stiles doesn’t like to poke that particular bear, so he treads gently.

Derek shrugs. “I guess. Maybe when he had to get a whole new wardrobe he took a chance and branched out. Decided aging rock god was his new look.”

The wheels in Stiles’ head start to turn, because Peter changing his entire wardrobe is a puzzle, and if there’s one thing Stiles can’t resist, it’s a mystery.

 


 

 

Stiles goes home and thinks about Peter’s wardrobe. But instead of thinking about it like he usually does, that is to say, sighing over Peter’s exposed flesh, he thinks about it clinically, logically. He analyses what Peter wears and how he wears it. There are the v necks, of course, but there are also the henleys that always have the buttons undone. There are shirts done two thirds of the way up, jackets that are always open. And then today there was that cardigan. If Stiles didn’t know better he’d think that Peter had bought it done up and just pulled it over his head.

A suspicion starts to form in his mind, but it’s so ridiculous that at first, he dismisses it. But the idea won’t go away. Stiles resolves to watch Peter a little more closely, see if he’s right.

The more time he spends watching, the more he’s convinced his theory’s correct. The only time Peter does a jacket up is if it has a zip. Everything he wears is buttoned up exactly the way they do for sale or display, almost as if Peter’s bought it and left it like that. He notes the distinct lack of shoes with laces.

And there are the little things that Peter does, or rather, doesn’t do. Stiles sees him quietly change out his chopsticks for a fork after staring at the two long pieces of wood as though they’ve personally offended him. Peter catches Stiles watching and gives him a look that dares him to say something. Stiles doesn’t, though. He knows what it’s like to be publicly embarrassed, and he won’t do that to someone else.

Of course, it’s inevitable that in order to observe Peter, Stiles has to get closer to him, so he invites Peter to help him with his chess game. He pretends not to notice the first time they go to set the board up and Peter looks at the pieces, and the board, and back at the pieces, before setting them down and saying,” I’ll be right back, set the board up, will you?” and going to fetch a drink.

Regardless of what’s going on with him, Peter can still kick Stiles’ ass. He cackles like a Disney villain the first evening they play and he beats Stiles four times running. Stiles is so pissed at losing he actually flips the chessboard, much to Peter’s amusement. Stiles completely forgets to lust after Peter, instead demanding to know exactly how he did that.

The next night, Peter shows him how he beat him, and then proceeds to beat him three different ways. He’s wearing a haphazardly fastened shirt, and Stiles notes that one of the cuffs is undone, the dangling fabric coming dangerously close to toppling the chess pieces. Stiles stills Peter’s hand with his own for a second, before expertly folding the cuff up so it’s snug around Peter’s corded forearm. “Honestly Peter, it’s halfway up the arm that’s on trend now, not undone. Keep up with the times,” he scolds nonchalantly.

Peter looks at him for a moment, before saying “How silly of me. Of course it is. Care to fix the other one?” and holding out his arm.

Stiles gives him a small smile, and fixes that sleeve to match the other. He glances admiringly at the semi-exposed arms. “Damn, that’s a good look on you.”

Peter just laughs, and says, “When you look like me, most things are.” Stiles rolls his eyes, and goes back to getting his ass handed to him at chess. But he tucks away the encounter to add to his growing store of evidence.

 


 

Stiles finds that it’s actually easier to keep his lust for Peter under control when he spends time with him, because the man’s just so damned aggravating, and Stiles is too busy trying to beat Peter in an argument to really care what his cock wants. It takes three hours of solid debate one Sunday afternoon for Peter to retract his statement that Batman is just a spoiled rich boy with lots of expensive toys and nobody to keep him in check.

Stiles is completely exasperated by the end of it. Peter’s arguments wind in and out and up and down, twisting and turning, keeping Stiles on his toes. He can’t remember the last time someone challenged him like that, made him use his brain so much. He also can’t remember the last time he got to argue like this, for fun. Peter obviously enjoyed it too, because he leans forward in his chair and says, “Tell me, Stiles, what shall we debate next? That the Winter Soldier’s really a war criminal?”

“No.” Stiles snaps out. That’s a subject that he still finds hits a little too close, after the Nogitsune.

Peter seems surprised, but after one look at Stiles’ expression he simply nods. “Fair enough. We all have our battle scars.”

Stiles can’t help the way his eyes flick to Peter’s cuffs, neatly rolled now, as he says “Yeah, we do.”

 


 

He gives his theory one final test, one day about six weeks later. He throws Peter a Rubik’s cube from across the room, saying, ”I’m stuck. Help me out with this?” offhandedly.  

But he watches carefully, and sees the way Peter clutches the cube with a puzzled expression, sees the tiny frown that mars Peter’s perfect features, before they smooth out and he throws it back, saying, “Please, Stiles. At least give me a real challenge, not a child’s toy.” It’s deflection at its finest, and Stiles should know - he’s an expert at it. It confirms what Stiles has suspected, and the last piece of the puzzle slides into place. Somewhere along the line, between being set on fire either the first or the second time, or in the coma, Peter’s fine motor skills have taken a hit. He can’t operate chopsticks. He can’t tie shoelaces. He’s forgotten how to set chess pieces, though he still plays like a demon.

And the reason he’s always half-dressed is because he can’t do buttons.

Stiles thought he’d be pleased when he solved the mystery, but instead, he just feels sad. Partly because it’s depressing to think of that happening to anyone, but more because Peters been struggling all this time, and nobody’s noticed. In all fairness, Peter’s gone out of his way to hide it, because he’s too damned proud to admit to any weakness, but still, you’d think someone would have cared enough to catch on that something isn’t right.

Stiles goes home and thinks about Peter coming out of his coma and discovering that he’s lost tiny, vital skills, and the mere idea of it is so damned depressing that he stays away from the pack for a full week because if he looks at Peter and sees him with a half-buttoned shirt again, he may cry.

Because somehow, somewhere, in the process of watching Peter and paying attention to him, he’s grown to like him. Not just physically like before, no. Fuck his life, Stiles has gone ahead and developed a full blown crush, of Lydia Martin proportions. At least now he’s a little older and wiser, and can keep it to himself, but he wonders what it says about himself that he always seems to aim for the unattainable.

After a week though, and a string of increasingly worried messages from Scott asking where he is, Stiles figures he’d better put on his big boy pants and go over, or he’ll have them all on his doorstep, asking questions, and how does he explain that he spent a week feeling sorry for a man who barely knows he exists?  

The rest of the pack must be able to sense that something’s changed, because they all give him concerned looks. Stiles guesses his scent must have changed from horny to miserable, because Scott pulls him into a hug, brow furrowed. “Dude, you all right?” he asks.

Stiles shrugs. “Sure. Just having an off day.” Scott looks like he’s about to argue with him, but Peter interrupts them.

“Stiles. Good to see you. Don’t stay away again,” he says, almost like it’s an order, and what?

“I didn’t think you’d notice I was gone,” Stiles says, surprised.

“Of course I noticed. Nobody else here is half as entertaining to argue with,” he says lightly, but his face says something different. His expression very clearly says ‘welcome back’. Stiles feels quietly pleased at that.

“Yeah well, I got busy, but I couldn’t stay away from your acid wit and smoking hot body,” he quips.

Peter raises a brow at that. “Do you know, you’ve just described my very best assets?”

“You’ve got a great asset,” Stiles agrees, and there’s something about the way Peter smirks to himself, like he’s discovered something. But then he just goes and pulls out the chessboard, leaving it for Stiles to set up while he goes to make himself a coffee.

 


 

 

It frustrates Stiles that Peter has to deal with this on his own, but he’s hesitant to say anything at first, to indicate that he knows. Peter’s nothing if not proud, and Stiles suspects him offering any kind of help will go down like a lead balloon. So he keeps quiet, and instead lets himself enjoy Peter’s company.  He’s managing to keep his boner under control nowadays, and he wonders briefly if it’s because the desire he felt before has been transformed into  friendship.

Okay, maybe friendship and pining. With the tiniest side of lust. Whatever.

Derek’s started giving him and Peter fond looks as they sit there playing chess and squabbling, and Stiles doesn’t know what that’s about, and he doesn’t like to ask. But Derek pulls him aside one day and says ,”Stiles, you should tell him.”

Stiles shakes his head. “Nope. Not gonna happen. We’ve got a good thing going, and I don’t want to spoil it.”  Derek opens his mouth as if he’s about to say something more, but closes it with a snap when Peter approaches, looking for Stiles.

Peter watches Derek as he walks away. Since when do you have private tete -a – tetes with my dear nephew?” he asks.

Stiles shrugs. “Since never. He just wanted to ask me something.”

“Oh?” Peter asks, one eyebrow quirked. “He wasn’t asking you out, by any chance?” He sounds distinctly unimpressed.

It takes Stiles a moment to answer, because the question comes from so far out of left field. “Dude. Firstly, pretty sure Derek’s straight. And secondly, he's not my type.”

“Actually Stiles, by nature werewolves are highly flexible when it comes to their sexuality. I thought you’d have known that,” Peter says.

Stiles didn’t know that. Though to be fair, it’s never occurred to him to research the sexuality of werewolves. “So, you’re all bi?” he asks, fascinated.

Peter nods. “Bi, pan, call it what you will. I prefer to think of it as tasting from all the tables in the buffet of life.”

Stiles can’t help what comes out of his mouth next. “I bet you’re the type who goes back for seconds.”

Peter laughs. “I am. But I always make sure I have room for dessert. What’s dinner without a little cream to finish it off?”

Stiles chokes on air, and Peter walks away looking pleased with himself.

 


 

 Stiles knows three things, now.

Peter can’t do buttons.

Peter’s into guys.

Stiles wants him.

He thinks again about Derek’s advice to just tell him, and wonders if Derek knows something he doesn’t. It’s possible, he thinks.

But he puts that aside for a moment, and gets back to the more important matter at hand, which is Peter’s inability to dress himself. He wants to help, so he does what he does best, and hits the internet. It takes him less than ten minutes to find what he needs, and no time at all to order it. He doesn’t know if Peter will be upset with him, but he figures he’ll take the chance.

It takes two days for the parcel to arrive, and when it does Stiles texts Peter. Meet me after work for coffee?  He doesn’t think they need the whole pack listening in on this conversation.

Peter sends back Asking me on a date, Stiles? Finally changed your mind?

Stiles feels a flare of hope spark in his chest.

 I have a present for you he sends back.

They arrange a time, and Stiles arrives ten minutes early, clutching the small package in his pocket tightly. He hopes Peter isn’t too pissed, because Stiles knows that above all, Peter hates showing any sign of weakness, and the fact that Stiles has figured out his Achilles heel, so to speak, could lead to a very uncomfortable conversation.

Peter’s already there when he arrives, and damn, he looks good. He’s wearing the green long sleeved shirt with the hood, the one made of a soft fabric that molds itself nicely to his pecs. It’s one of Stiles’ favorites. Stiles takes a seat and Peter nods at a coffee mug on the table. “I ordered that revolting sugary mess that you call coffee for you.”

Stiles blinks for a moment. “How do you know what I drink?”

Peter rolls his eyes. “Please. I’ve seen you clutching one of those monstrosities often enough to remember what your order is.”

For some reason Stiles is unreasonably happy about the fact that Peter’s paid enough attention to know that. “Thanks,“ he says, and picks up the cup and drinks, just to give himself a minute.

“So, are we going to be one of those couples who sit in silence, or are you going to tell me why we’re here?” Peter prompts.

“We’re not a couple,” Stiles answers, and he could swear Peter looks a little disappointed, but he chalks it up to wishful thinking. He gets lost in his thoughts for a moment, imagining what it would be like if this was a date.

“You mentioned a gift?” Peter prompts, when it becomes obvious that Stiles is daydreaming.

“Oh! Oh, right. So, this is kinda awkward, and don’t get mad at me for mentioning it, okay?” Stiles starts nervously. “I kind of figured something out about you.” Peter just leans back, unfairly muscled arms folded over his chest, and waits. Stiles tries to think of a sensitive way to put this, but then he remembers that he’s talking to Peter, not Scott, and decides to just forge on ahead. Peter’s a big boy, he can take it. “Your motor skills are screwed, man. You can’t button a shirt to save your life. So I got you this.” He pushes the small box across the table.

The look Peter gives him is indecipherable as he picks up the box and opens it silently. He slides out the item, a handle with a wire loop on it, and turns it over in his hands.

“It’s a button hook,” Stiles explains. “You slide the wire through and pull the buttons back. It’s meant for people with mobility problems, but I figured it might help you.” He bites down on his lip to stop himself from babbling.

Peter looks at the item, and places it on the table between them. He stares at it, and the corners of his mouth twitch up into a sad smile. “Thank you. It’s nice to know you cared enough to notice. And it’s incredibly thoughtful of you. But it’s completely useless.”

Stiles frowns at that. “Really? Because it’s pretty simple to use, I could show you –“

“I’ve tried it, Stiles. But from one day to the next, I can’t seem to keep the knowledge. I lost it in the resurrection process, along with a few other skills. But I appreciate you taking the time to notice.”

“You’re not mad that I found out your secret?”

Peter shrugs. “It’s no secret. It’s just not something I discuss. Everything comes at a price Stiles, you know that. And the price for me being alive is that I can’t remember how to set up a chess board, or tie my shoelaces, or do up a damned button. “

Stiles gives in to the urge to place his hand over Peter’s. Peter tenses for a second, but doesn’t pull his hand away. “That really sucks for you, I’m sorry,” Stiles says quietly.

Peter shakes his head. “Please, spare me your pity. I’m here, after all. As I said, we all have our battle scars.”

"Well, it must still suck for you." Stiles gives Peter's hand a squeeze.

Peter looks at Stiles for a moment, before asking, “Have you ever built anything from Ikea, Stiles?”

Stiles shakes his head. “Nope, but I’ve heard it’s a nightmare. A million parts, and instructions all in Swedish.”

“Exactly. And at the end there are always a few pieces that nobody knows what to do with, so you put them in the trash and hope they weren’t important.” Stiles nods, encouraging Peter to go on. ”Rebuilding  myself was much the same. Not all the pieces fitted together quite the way they did before.”

Stiles’ heart breaks a little for Peter. He wants to drag him into a hug and whisper that it’ll be all right, but Peter doesn’t want his pity. So instead he picks up the buttonhook, to give himself something to do, turning it this way and that. Finally, he says, “So, you ended up with some parts missing, that’s all. If you were a stool, you’d wobble a little.”

“Excuse me, I’d never be something as common as a stool. I’d be a hall stand, at the very least.” Peter smiles as he says it, and Stiles breathes a small sigh of relief. He has to let go of Peter’s hand so he can drink his coffee, and he feels a small pang of loss.

As he picks up his mug, Peter clears his throat, catching his attention. “You know Stiles, I knew you’d been watching me, but I didn’t know why. I thought you’d finally figured out my secret.”

Stiles cocks his head. “I did, didn’t I?”

Peter laughs softly. “Not that secret. The other one.” He extends a hand and draws it gently down the side of Stiles’ face. “The one where I was hoping you’d changed your mind about me, because I’d like to take you out, sometime.”  Stiles freezes, half expecting Peter to change his mind or say it’s a joke, but he’s looking at Stiles expectantly, one hand still cupping his cheek. “I’ll even wear the leather pants, if you like,” Peter offers.

Stiles can feel the smile spreading across his face, and he knows he probably looks like a love-struck puppy, but he doesn’t really care as he says, “Yes, please.”

 He’s still smiling when they leave, and he only stops because you can’t smile and kiss someone properly at the same time.

 


 

Stiles doesn’t normally sleep with people on the first date, he tells Peter.

Since he’s lying in Peter’s bed at the time, naked and well fucked, he guesses he can’t fault Peter for looking skeptical. “I blame the leather pants," he sighs happily. "And you’re a special case anyhow. I’ve been lusting after you forever, and we spend enough time together that we were practically dating anyhow. We are dating now, right?” he asks, a little belatedly.

“Yes, sweetheart, we’re dating,” Peter says with a soft laugh. “Now roll over, and let me get my hands on that ass of yours.”

Stiles didn’t think he had a second orgasm in him, but Peter proves him wrong, making him come with just his fingers. He looks far too smug about it, grinning like a Cheshire cat, and Stiles doesn’t really blame him. “Good to see you kept some skills,” he mumbles.

Peter’s grin grows wider and he practically purrs as he says, “The important ones, yes."