It all starts with a parking ticket because yes, Peter is exactly that petty.
Peter won’t lie. He’s been adrift in his career for a little while now. He’s a born predator, and law seemed like a perfect fit, right? A wolf swimming with all those sharks. And Peter has done very well for himself, but he’s bored with it now. He came, he saw, he conquered, so now what?
Talia tells him he’s having a midlife crisis, but fuck Talia. Peter’s way too young and way too pretty for a midlife crisis, thank you very much.
So, it starts with a parking ticket.
Peter is back in Beacon Hills for the weekend of Cora’s birthday, and he comes out of his favourite coffee shop to find a ticket under the wiper of his car and the asshole who wrote the ticket just slipping his pen back into his khaki shirt pocket.
“What the hell is this?” Peter demands.
The cop levels him with a stare, and Peter realises too late that it’s no lowly deputy, but the sheriff himself. And he looks decidedly unimpressed. “This is a no standing zone, sir.”
“What?” Peter squints at the sign. “Seriously? How long has that been there?”
“About three months.”
“Well, it’s bullshit! Why the hell would you suddenly turn this into a no standing zone?”
The sheriff shrugs. “You’ll need to take that up with someone at city hall, sir. I don’t write the local laws, I just enforce them.”
“Of course,” Peter says, snatching the ticket from underneath the wiper blade. “Fifty dollars?”
“Have a nice day, sir,” the sheriff says blandly, but Peter thinks he probably means Fall in an open sewer and die, sir.
“You too,” Peter says, barely holding back his snarl.
The sheriff has the audacity to whistle as he walks away.
Peter narrows his eyes at his retreating back.
Peter is not paying the parking ticket. Okay, so he was parked in a no standing zone, which is technically against the law, but what about the spirit of the law? He climbs into his car and drives straight to city hall, ready to defend himself against this egregious abuse of power, and finds himself face-to-face with a middle-aged woman called Janice, who is wearing a sparkly dolphin brooch on her bosom and a scowl on her face.
Peter tells her all the reasons that the packing ticket is unfair, unjust, and unconscionable. And then he shows her his most charming smile—the one that never fails—and asks if she can see any way at all to waive the fine…
“No,” she says, and slams the grate down at her counter.
Well, fuck Janice and fuck her sparkly dolphin.
This means war.
“Oh, Peter,” Talia says that night, handing him a paper plate with a thick piece of Cora’s birthday cake on it. “You’re not serious?”
“I am absolutely serious,” Peter tells her. “I’m going to bring them down from the inside.”
Talia sighs. “Can’t you just be normal and get a sports car and a hideously age-inappropriate girlfriend?”
“What’s going on?” Cora asks curiously, wedging herself between them to grab another piece of her cake.
“Your uncle is having a midlife crisis.”
“I am not!” Peter growls.
Cora looks to Derek, who has been shoving cake in his face for the last few minutes and looking increasingly regretful that he’s overheard any of this conversation at all.
“The sheriff gave Peter a parking ticket,” Derek mumbles through a mouthful of crumbs. “So he’s going to run for mayor.”
“Well,” Cora says approvingly, “that escalated quickly.”
It’s surprisingly easy to run a mayoral campaign. Peter winds up his last few cases in LA, tells the other partners that he’s taking a sabbatical, and sets out to hire the best campaign team he can, so that he has to do as little actual work as possible. Braeden, his personal assistant, comes with him because, as she says, at least it will be good for a laugh. Peter would love to fire her for her attitude, but she turns out to be an incredibly capable campaign manager.
The incumbent mayor, Gerald Argent, is a poisonous old toad who is absolutely blindsided by Peter’s unexpected foray into politics, but smirkingly tells the press that he has been mayor for twelve years, and he trusts that the local voters will value his experience over whatever Peter Hale is bringing to the table.
Pleasingly, the initial opinion poll that the local newspaper runs suggests that Gerard’s trust is largely misplaced. And really, Peter can see why. Taxes are on the rise, but meanwhile the streets are potholed, the local community hall needs urgent repairs, the water pipes are at least eighty percent rust, and the town’s parks and public spaces haven’t been spruced up in years.
Clearly the problems in Beacon Hills run deeper than a few ridiculous no standing zones.
There is one more candidate running for mayor: Natalie Martin. She’s personable, smart, well presented and, unlike Peter, has lived in Beacon Hills for the last decade. At the beginning of the campaign she’s trailing him in the polls, but Peter knows she’s the real challenge.
“You can’t run your entire campaign on photo ops and sound bites,” Braeden informs him one night as they’re eating takeout in Peter’s campaign office.
“Why not?” Peter asks.
“Because eventually people are going to want substance.”
“Do you even know how politics works?”
“Do you?” she shoots back. “Look, you’ve got a lot of support because you’re a Hale, and that apparently means something in this podunk little town, and because people really don’t like Argent. But Natalie has actual community connections here. Real ones that she built herself.”
“Firstly, podunk?” Peter asks her, but Braeden is from LA, so he supposes he can let it slide. “And secondly, since when are you on first names terms with the opposition?”
Braeden raises her eyebrows. “We go to the same yoga class.”
Peter spends a few moments pondering that lovely mental image. “Fine. What do you suggest I need?”
Braeden pokes him with her fork. “You need someone to endorse you. A public official who is trusted, and popular, and respected.”
“Someone like who?” Peter asks suspiciously.
Braeden grins. “Someone like Sheriff Stilinski.”
The annual Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Department Christmas Fundraiser is held in the community hall with the sagging roof. All of the mayoral candidates are invited, because Sheriff John Stilinski, Braeden tells Peter, doesn’t play favourites. Sheriff Stilinski has never endorsed a mayoral candidate before. It’s an odd tactic for a man who is in an elected position himself but considering that for the past two elections Gerard Argent has run unopposed, Peter thinks it’s probably quite reasonable. Because who would endorse that old fuck weasel Argent, unless they had a gun to their head?
This year, Peter thinks, will be different. He goes to the party with the express goal of winning John Stilinski over, and having him endorse his mayoral campaign. And why wouldn’t he? Peter is charming, witty, and an all round delight. Any fool can see that.
John Stilinski, it turns out, is not just any fool.
“A little bird tells me that you don’t endorse mayoral candidates,” Peter says, when he catches the sheriff by the punch bowl.
“That’s funny,” the sheriff says, stacking his paper plate high with triangular sandwiches and cocktail onions. “A little bird told me that you’re only running for mayor in the first place because your ego got bruised by that parking ticket I wrote you.”
“Oh, please don’t sell me short, Sheriff Stilinski,” Peter says. “I’m also running because I’m rich and bored.”
The sheriff snorts and walks away.
“What?” Peter asks when he catches Braeden’s disbelieving look.
“You’re a fucking idiot sometimes, Peter Hale.”
It’s lucky he’s paying her for her honesty, and not her good manners.
Still, she has a point. And Peter narrows his eyes when he sees the sheriff and Natalie Martin in what appears to be a friendly conversation a few minutes later over by the sad, drooping Christmas tree.
Peter rolls his eyes and heads back to replenish his punch, because clearly this entire evening is a waste of his time.
This time when he gets there, there’s a boy standing by the table. Well, a young man. He’s tall and lean, with tousled dark hair, eyes the colour of whiskey, and a smattering of moles on his face and throat. He looks adorably awkward in his cheap suit, like a fresh little intern on his first day in the corporate shark tank.
“Hello,” Peter says with an easy smile.
“Um, hi!” The boy gives a full-body jerk as he straightens up and waves. Then, obviously knowing just how exactly like a long-legged fawn on a frozen pond he appears—all flailing limbs and uncoordinated twitches—he flushes beautifully.
Peter leans in close. “Boring, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. A bit,” the boy says, and gulps down a mouthful of punch.
Peter looks him up and down, and isn’t at all subtle about it. The boy pinks up even further.
“Want to join me in the bathroom?” Peter asks him.
The boy’s eyes widen, and his jaw drops. “Are you serious right now?”
“Sweetheart,” Peter tells him, dropping his voice to a low, sultry tone that never fails him. “I am always serious about getting my dick sucked.”
The boy blinks at him, jaw dropping.
Peter smirks, and saunters towards the bathroom. He doesn’t even look back to see if the boy is following him. He’s Peter fucking Hale. Of course the boy is following him.
There really is nothing nicer than a pretty boy with a wet mouth on his knees in a bathroom stall. Peter has often thought so and he is, of course, always right. He rests his hand in the boy’s tousled hair, and smiles down at him.
“Aren’t you just delectable?” he asks the boy, and unzips his pants.
Actually, it must be Peter who is delectable, given the way the boy dives on his cock. He’s sloppy and clearly unpractised, but that has a certain charm all of its own. And he is nothing if not enthusiastic. He licks and laps and sucks like he’s in a race to the finish, and Peter is happy to oblige him in that. Fast and dirty have always been two of Peter’s favourite things.
He curls his fingers into a fist, crisp hair gel crunching, and helps the boy into a rhythm that is more-or-less smooth. The boy, in turn, curls one hand around Peter’s thigh, and the other around the base of his cock. He grips it tightly, and Peter’s hips shudder. His balls draw up, and he’s almost disappointed at how quickly he’s going to come, except it feels so fucking good. Screw stamina. Peter can blame it on the stress of the campaign later, or the length of time it’s been since he last got laid. In the meantime, he’s going to go hell for leather and give this kid the ego boost of his short, inexperienced life.
And it’s all going so very, very well, right up until Peter hears footsteps in the bathroom, wonders if he remembered to lock the stall door, realises as it opens that he didn’t, and then Sheriff Stilinski is standing right in front of him, jaw on the floor as he stares at Peter, and the kid, then Peter again.
“Hale! What the fuck are you doing to my son?”
All in all, Peter is very lucky to escape the Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Department Christmas Party with his balls still attached to his body.
He’s probably not going to get that endorsement now, is he?
“I think,” Peter says the next morning, perching on his desk and tapping his fingers on a stack of files, “perhaps a fruit basket?”
“A fruit basket?” Braeden asks, deadpan.
Peter shrugs. “Well, I don’t know. What is the appropriate apology gift to send the man whose endorsement you desperately need to win an election but whose son you accidentally publicly violated at a civic function?”
“There is no such gift, Peter!”
“Hmm,” Peter says. “Muffins?”
Over the next few days, the Sheriff Stilinski problem does not go away. In fact, it gets worse. Not only is Peter sure that the sheriff will never endorse him, but he’s also gotten three new parking tickets in that time. Okay, so he was technically parked illegally once, and overstayed his limit at a meter twice, but Peter knows when he’s on the receiving end of a petty vendetta. He’s orchestrated enough of them in his lifetime to recognise all the signs.
Clearly this is war, and clearly Peter needs to end it.
He’s going to have to go on a charm offensive, which means somehow making things right with John Stilinski. Which means, probably, first making things right with his son.
He needs information, and he sends Braeden to get it for him.
“Stiles Stilinski,” Braeden says the next morning. She sets her coffee cup and bagel down on her desk. “His real first name is unpronounceable. He’s the only child of the sheriff. He’s nineteen, thank fuck, and despite scoring 1550 on his SAT and the offer of a partial scholarship from Stanford, he goes to the local community college. He likes comic books and curly fries, he has ADHD, and he once wrote an entire high school Economics paper on the history of male circumcision.”
“I’m impressed,” Peter says. “How did you manage to dig all that up so quickly? And why is it so oddly specific?”
“Natalie told me at yoga,” Braeden says. “She used to teach him. By the way, what happened at the Christmas fundraiser is already being whispered about around town, so you’d better make it right before Argent’s campaign team picks up on it, or you’ll just be another sad political candidate who got caught canoodling with a teenage boy in a bathroom stall.”
“Excuse you,” Peter says. “The boy in question is of age, no money was exchanged, and unlike every fucking conservative asshole politician out there, I’m actually incredibly proud of my ability to get into compromising positions with gorgeous young men. Have you even seen my Instagram?”
Braeden suppresses a shudder. “Unfortunately.”
“So, if I make things right with the boy—”
“Stiles,” Braden interjects.
“Stupid name, but yes, fine. If I make things right with Stiles, that should clear the air, and then I can apologise to the sheriff and get his endorsement.”
Braeden raises her brows. “You say that like it’s easy.”
“I’m attractive, wealthy, and white,” Peter tells her. “Everything is easy.”
Everything is not easy.
The Stilinskis live in a dull little house on Oak Street. Peter turns up when he knows the sheriff will be on shift, and Stiles will be home alone. He parks out the front of the house, retrieves the Christmas gift basket he bought from the trunk of the car, and makes his way across the lawn to the front door. He steps up onto the porch, plasters on a charming smile, and rings the doorbell.
Moments later, the door is pulled open, and Peter sees the boy again.
He’s not wearing a suit this time. He’s in sweatpants and one of the ugliest graphic t-shirts that Peter has ever seen, although it is old and worn enough that the ribbing around the collar sags and offers a tantalising glimpse of the boy’s collarbones. Peter has always been a sucker for collarbones.
The boy—Stiles—widens his eyes as he takes in his unexpected visitor. “What the hell do you want?”
“Hello, Stiles,” Peter says, and holds the gift basket out. “Merry Christmas.”
“Fuck you,” Stiles says, folding his arms over his chest. “If you want my dad’s endorsement so much, maybe you should have invited him to fuck around in a bathroom stall instead of me.”
“Maybe I should have,” Peter agrees, watching Stiles’s face turn an interesting shade of red. “Except that’s not what that was about at all.”
“It’s the truth,” Peter says. “I had no idea who you were, except for a pretty boy with a prettier mouth that I really wanted to stick my dick in. It’s not that deep, sweetheart.”
“Is that supposed to be an apology?”
“No,” Peter says. “That was an explanation. This hamper is the apology.”
Stiles’s expression does something complicated a second before he slams the door in Peter’s face.
Peter sighs and looks down at the gift basket. That’s a hundred and fifty bucks he’s wasted.
He helps himself to the gingerbread and leaves the rest on the doorstep when he goes.
Braeden takes one look at him when he walks back into the office, shakes her head, and announces that she’s taking a late lunch. It leaves Peter nothing to do except bask in the company of his campaign workers and volunteers. He does that for twenty seconds, then hightails it out of there to catch Braeden.
“It didn’t go well, I take it,” she says as they wait in line at the nearby coffee shop.
“He slammed the door in my face,” Peter grumbles.
“I like him already.” Braeden glances up from the screen of her phone. “What? You could do with a lot more people slamming doors in your face, Peter. It’s character building.”
“I already like the character I have.” Peter scans the board as they reach the counter. “Vanilla latte with a shot of espresso, please.”
“Make that two,” Braeden says.
They move to the side of the counter to wait for their order.
“It is an issue though, Peter,” Braeden cautions him. “Or it will be, once Argent’s team finds out. Unless you and the sheriff can play nice, this could actually sink your campaign.”
“I’m working on it,” Peter says. He digs the packet out of his coat pocket. “Gingerbread?”
Peter’s campaign office closes at five. All the staff clears out then. Braeden leaves shortly after for her yoga class, and Peter sits at his desk, leans back in his chair, and closes his eyes and wonders if this is what Talia means when she talks about karma biting him in the ass.
Karma is no match for Peter. This is just a little bump in the road to the election. Peter can absolutely make this right.
At 5.37, a bottle of Regalo Chardonay with a festive ribbon tied around the neck smashes through the front window of the office.
At 6 p.m. Peter is ringing the doorbell at the Stilinskis’ house again, and finishing off the last of the gingerbread. Nobody answers, but there’s a battered blue Jeep in the driveway, so Peter knows his quarry is home.
He rings the doorbell again, knocks for good measure, and then sighs. “Stiles?” he calls. “My campaign office does have security cameras, you know.”
Stiles wrenches the door open, glowering. “You think I’m fucking scared of you?”
“Clearly not,” Peter says, “or you wouldn’t throw bottles of wine through my windows. May I come in?”
It’s not a question so much as a statement of intent. He pushes his way inside the house before Stiles can slam the door in his face again.
Stiles rolls his eyes and stomps away down the hall.
Peter follows him, taking in the house.
It’s not much, for a man of the sheriff’s standing, although it’s more lived-in than run down. None of the furniture matches. And is that a stuffed fish mounted above the television in the living room? Peter cringes inwardly. Everything here is wrong on a visceral level. Peter’s first instinct is to call an emergency decorator. His second is to actually use his werewolf senses and parse this out.
Hideous style aside, the sheriff’s house smells of something stale and a little acrid. And then Peter realises that no, it’s not the house, but the boy. Here in his own environment, Stiles’s scent is strong, and it smells like… like loneliness. There’s a slight chemical scent of medication as well. ADHD, he remembers Braeden telling him. But mostly it’s loneliness.
Peter wonders if that has anything to do with the fact that it’s less than a week until Christmas, and there’s not a single decoration in the house. Not a single acknowledgement to the season. Not a single twirl of tinsel or ugly glittery bauble anywhere.
Peter enters the kitchen to discover Stiles drinking milk from the carton.
Stiles shoves the milk back in the refrigerator and glares at Peter. “Are you going to tell my dad?”
“No,” Peter says, and is surprised to find it’s the truth. He drove over here gleefully delighted that Stiles had given him the ideal leverage in this whole situation. Peter wouldn’t press charges if Stiles agreed to get his father to endorse him. Really, it was perfect. Except now, in his house without a single festive decoration and a boy that smells of Adderall and unhappiness, Peter isn’t gleeful at all. He’s intrigued. “But I’d like to know why a clever young man like yourself just did something so monumentally stupid.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “You don’t care.”
“No, but I’m curious,” Peter says, and leans against the counter. “And who would you rather explain it to? Me, or your father?”
The question hangs in the air for a moment, and Peter isn’t sure if Stiles is going to answer it.
And then Stiles closes his eyes briefly and sighs, seeming to let all of his anger out with that long breath. “You pissed me off, okay?” He opens his eyes again. “I don’t like being used.”
“I already told you, Stiles,” Peter says softly, “I didn’t know whose son you were that night. That’s the truth. I mean, I did want to use you, but politics had nothing to do with it.”
Stiles’s mouth quirks in what appears to be an attempt to fight an unwilling smile. “Asshole.”
“Absolutely. Ask anyone.”
“Most of my life I’ve been the sheriff’s kid,” Stiles says. “I love my dad, and I’m proud of what he does, but I hate being the sheriff’s kid. Do you know how many parties you don’t get invited to in high school because everyone thinks you’re a narc?” He snorts. “To say I was unpopular is a gross understatement.”
Peter feels a rush of unaccustomed sympathy for the boy who has clearly struggled with feelings of inadequacy for years, followed immediately by a rush of warm pride for the boy whose first instinct when he thought he was being lied to was petty revenge and property damage.
Stiles shrugs. “So I finally put high school behind me, then some hot guy picks me up, and it turns out he was only using me to get to my dad. Because I’m the sheriff’s kid. And then he turns up on my doorstep and lies about it, and tries to bribe me with a dumb fucking Christmas hamper!” His face flushes. “Well, that’s what I thought.”
“Excuse you, it was a very nice hamper,” Peter counters.
“You took the gingerbread! That’s the best part!”
“Yes,” Peter says. “That’s why I took it.”
Stiles huffs, but his scent is sweeter than before. “So you really weren’t lying to me then? About not knowing who I was?”
“I really wasn’t lying,” Peter says. “I didn’t know you were the sheriff’s kid. I was just having a really boring night, and you looked like a wonderful distraction.”
“Asshole,” Stiles mutters.
“Yes,” Peter reminds him with a smirk. “We’ve established that.”
There was another bottle of wine in the hamper, fortunately, and this one is still intact when Peter digs it out. Stiles produces two tumblers from the kitchen cabinet, and they sit at the small breakfast table and dig through the rest of the hamper.
“Is this cheese?” Stiles asks, squinting at the packaging.
“The label clearly says fromage,” Peter says.
“What’s that stuff all over it?”
“That’s the wax.” Peter wrestles the cheese back off him. “God, what a philistine you are. Do you even have a cheeseboard?”
“No, I don’t have a fucking cheeseboard!”
“A chopping board then,” Peter says. “And a knife, while you’re up.”
“I’m not up.”
“Stiles,” Peter says. “Be up, or I’m not sharing the chocolates with you afterwards.”
Stiles groans, but leaves the table long enough to find a knife and a chopping board. “This cheese had better be nice.” And then, when Peter cuts it: “Gross. What’s all that weird stuff in it?”
“It’s blue cheese,” Peter tells him. “Shut up and try it.”
Stiles is not a fan. And, as he leans over the sink and gargles tap water, he tells Peter repeatedly and with increasing profanities.
Peter drinks his wine and smirks.
Stiles is an utter disaster of a human being but really, this is the most fun Peter has had in ages. And he suspects that it’s the most fun Stiles has had in ages too.
Peter apologises for the cheese by opening the sugared almonds, and he and Stiles work their way through half the packet before the conversation turns to the actual season and Peter mentions the lack of decorations in the house.
“Meh.” Stiles shrugs. “It’s sort of pointless, you know? Back when my mom was alive we’d put up the tree and everything, but Dad works most Christmases, so it’s kind of pointless if it’s just going to be me for most of the day. I’ll bet you have a tree and everything, don’t you? Like some fancy weird-ass bullshit minimalist thing that cost more than my Jeep.”
“Stiles, trees from the Dollar Store cost more than that Jeep,” Peter says, and laughs at Stiles’s outrage. “I don’t have a tree, actually. I go to my sister’s house. She has a tree. It’s an eight foot tall Fraser Fir, although it’s so full of decorations you can hardly see the branches.”
“Sounds very extravagant.” Stiles scoffs, but Peter can hear the underlying wistfulness in his tone.
“It’s ridiculous,” he agrees. “Ludicrous. And not at all environmentally sound.”
“No,” Stiles agrees, his smile dimming a little. For a second he seems a little adrift, his fingers twitching restlessly on the table top, and then he brightens and attacks the hamper again. “Is this fig paste going to taste as gross as that cheese?”
“Let’s try it and see,” Peter tells him, passing him a cracker.
“Braeden?” Peter asks the next day, spinning in his office chair and regarding the plyboard that someone has tacked up over the window until the repairman arrives.
“What?” she asks, glancing up from her computer.
“If one wanted to woo a nineteen-year-old boy with no discernable taste at all, how would one go about it?”
Braeden pinches the bridge of her nose. “Seriously, Peter? This is how you’re going to get the sheriff on side?”
“Oh! Do you think it would work?”
She gives him a death stare. “I’m going for coffee. And no, I’m not getting you one.”
“Hello,” Peter says that afternoon when Stiles opens the door suspiciously. “I’ve brought you a Dollar Store Christmas tree and a gingerbread house kit.”
Stiles lets him in.
“You know what’s fucked up?” Stiles asks with a scowl.
“Is it this gingerbread house?” Peter asks, unsuccessfully trying to hold a wall in place and get the frosting to take at the same time. It’s a mess, and everything keeps collapsing.
“Apart from that,” Stiles says, accidentally snapping a gingerbread door. “Whoops. Anyway, my dad is working again tonight, even though he already worked a morning shift.”
“Well, it’s Christmas,” Peter says. “The silly season, right? Lots of people doing lots of stupid things.”
Stiles deflates. “I know that. I just… tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, you know? Ugh.”
There’s a sort of a quiet desperation to his voice that makes Peter wonder exactly how many times he’s been disappointed to be alone, however much he tries to pretend he’s not.
“I know,” Peter says, and makes a note to have Braeden find out exactly how understaffed the Sheriff’s Department is.
“This isn’t working,” Stiles says, staring down at the gingerbread house. “You know what we should do?”
“Give up and eat it now?” Peter asks hopefully.
“No. Wait here.”
Stiles thumps upstairs and returns moments later with a couple of plastic dinosaurs. He positions them in the remains of the gingerbread house. “There! Dinosaur carnage.”
“Perfect,” Peter says, and snaps off part of a wall to make it look more authentic.
“You’re smiling,” Braeden says suspiciously the next day as they share takeout in the campaign office. It’s closed for Christmas Eve, but both Peter and Braeden are used to long hours after the law firm in LA, and they tend to gravitate towards afternoons like these: just the two of them, in an empty office, plotting and planning.
“I often do,” he says, shoving aside a bunch of budgetary spreadsheets so he can reach the spring rolls.
“Not like this,” she tells him. “It’s not your usual evil smile. It’s like you’re actually happy.”
“Do you know, I think I am happy?”
“Stop it,” Braeden says, and digs her chopsticks into her noodle box. “It’s weirding me out.”
Peter’s smile grows.
On Christmas morning, Peter turns up at Talia’s house with Braeden and a shitload of presents. He stays long enough to enjoy a few breakfast pastries, unwrap his gifts underneath the Fraser Fir, smirk at Derek’s obvious crush on Braeden, and then announces that he has other plans.
“You have other plans?” Talia asks him. “On Christmas Day?”
Peter swings his car keys around on his finger. “Yes.”
Talia looks to Braeden for an explanation.
“I think he was visited by a bunch of ghosts,” she says thoughtfully, “and we’re in the middle of his redemption arc.”
“Actually,” Peter lies, “I’m hoping to get laid.”
“On Christmas Day?” Talia exclaims.
“You’re right,” Peter says. “I’ll probably settle for a festive blow job.”
And he hightails it out of there before Talia can throw something at him.
“What the hell are you doing here?” John Stilinski asks when he opens the door. He’s already in uniform.
“I invited him, Dad!” Stiles yells from somewhere inside the house. “Let him in!”
“You invited Peter Hale for Christmas?” the sheriff asks suspiciously.
Stiles breezes out from the kitchen. “No, I invited him to come over for a Lord of the Rings marathon. I have chips and salsa.”
“Sounds perfect,” Peter says, and it actually really does.
The sheriff narrows his eyes at him.
“But John,” Peter says, “if you have a moment, I would like to talk to you about your department’s budget.”
“I’m running late,” the sheriff says. “What about it?”
“Well, bearing in mind that the town’s water pipes really are the priority, I think I can still see a way to getting you enough funds to afford to hire two new deputies after the election,” Peter says. “And that’s without sacrificing your overtime budget.”
The sheriff regards him silently for a moment, and then nods. “Well, if you’re still here when I get back, I can take a look at the figures.”
“Smooth,” Stiles says with a snort when the sheriff has left. “Natalie Martin could only promise him one.”
For a moment Peter is taken aback, and then he realises it’s because he spent the entire night running the figures Braeden gave him and it never once occurred to him to do it to win the sheriff’s endorsement. Instead, he’d done it because the department was understaffed. He’d done it because it was the right thing to do.
Who is he right now?
He’s not really having a Christmas Carol redemption arc, isn’t he?
Because if he is, he really has no idea what to do with that.
Peter has never watched the Lord of the Rings movies, and watching them with Stiles is a delight. Stiles must have seen them hundreds of times, but he still grips his cushion excitedly when the hobbits are fleeing from the Nazgûl, gasps when Gandalf falls to his apparent death in the Mines of Moria, and cheers when the Riders of Rohan appear. Peter has, of course, read the books, and finds himself engrossed in the movies.
He finds himself more engrossed in the boy sitting next to him though.
A boy who is wasted in a town like Beacon Hills.
“Why are you at the community college?” he asks curiously. “I’ll bet you got better grades than that.”
He knows he got better grades than that.
Stiles reaches out to scoop some salsa onto a chip. “I wanted to stay here, I guess.”
Peter thinks there must be more to it than that. “What are you studying?”
“Sociology,” Stiles says. “And when I finish that, I’m doing the six month POST diploma.” He catches Peter’s look. “Police officer standards training.”
And there it is, Peter thinks. He glances around the room and sees a framed photograph of a dark-haired woman smiling out at him.
“How old were you when your mother passed away?”
“Ten,” Stiles says, his scent souring. “It was pretty rough, you know? Me and Dad both kind of fell apart for a while there, but we look after each other now.”
Not, he looks after me. No. There must have been a shift in their dynamic when Stiles’s mother died. Peter imagines a small boy trying to hard to fill the spaces that his mother’s death left. A child, trying to be a cornerstone. An anchor.
And he’s still trying, even if he doesn’t realise it. Trying to be there for his father, both at home and, in the future, at work. It’s love that compelled him to stay in Beacon Hills.
How strange that this nineteen-year-old boy is as fiercely protective of his father as any wolf.
How strange, and how wonderful.
Stiles has so many facets, each of them shining a different light. But at his core he is a better person that Peter will ever be.
Well, not like that’s much of a challenge, Peter supposes. There are microscopic life forms that live in the darkest parts of the ocean that are better people than Peter Hale. But still. It’s a compliment.
“More chips?” Peter asks, noting that the bowl is empty.
Peter takes the bowl into the kitchen, refills the chips, and returns to the living room couch. When he sits down, Stiles leans into him, his head coming to rest on Peter’s shoulder.
“We should eat the gingerbread house too,” Stiles says.
“Mmm,” Peter agrees. “Before the dinosaurs do.”
Stiles laughs, and tilts his head to look up at him. His eyes are sparkling.
Peter dips his head down.
Their mouths brush.
The kiss is soft and chaste, and tastes like corn chips.
Peter has never been happier.
Stiles is snoring on the couch when John Stilinski arrives home from work. Peter is in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher.
“You’re still here,” the sheriff says, in a tone that says he’s reserving judgement, but he’s doing it in a very pointed way.
“I’m still here,” Peter agrees. “How was your shift?”
The sheriff rolls his shoulders. “Not too bad.”
“I made you some sandwiches,” Peter says, going to the refrigerator to get them out. “Stiles says you like turkey and mayo?”
The sheriff takes the plate warily, and peels the plastic wrap off it. “You made these?”
“Yes,” Peter says. “Stiles made me put salad on them too, so I apologise for that in advance.”
The sheriff snorts. “Sounds like him.”
Peter turns back to the dishwasher.
“Listen,” the sheriff says. “I don’t much like you, Peter, but my son clearly does, and I’m glad you gave him someone to spend Christmas with. So thank you for that.”
“It was my pleasure,” Peter says, turning back again. It’s not just a platitude, and Peter thinks, by the look in the sheriff’s eyes, that the man knows it too. “I know you don’t like me, John, because I’m an asshole. It’s a feature, not a bug.”
The sheriff looks dubious.
“But I do make excellent sandwiches,” Peter says. “And I will make an excellent mayor. I’m an asshole, but I’m an incredibly capable one. Running local government is going to be child’s play for someone like me. I’ve been a top criminal attorney for the past fifteen years. I made partner in six, and I have never lost a case.”
“Huh.” The sheriff shoves another sandwich in his mouth. “You couldn’t get out of that parking ticket down at city hall through, could you?”
“That’s fair, but have you met Janice? That woman is a brick wall!”
“She’s on my bowling team,” the sheriff says. He sets the plate down on the table. “Now, how about we discuss that budget of yours?”
And Peter is happy to oblige.
By the time Gerard Argent’s campaign team tries to scuttle Peter’s election campaign with a sex scandal, it’s too late.
The sheriff bristles indignantly at the low-key press conference when the reporter from the local paper suggests he has a personal reason for making the announcement. “No, I’m endorsing Peter Hale because of his support for the Beacon Hills Sheriff’s Department, and for his commitment to upgrading the town’s infrastructure and services. Next question.”
The reporter persists. “So the fact that Peter Hale and your son are in a relationship has nothing to do with it?”
Peter leans in towards the microphone, glancing at Braeden. “I’ll take this question, Sheriff.”
Don’t fuck it up, he can hear Braeden willing him. Don’t fuck it up.
“Gerard Argent has been mayor of Beacon Hills for three terms,” Peter says. “And during that time your taxes have gone up while the town’s infrastructure literally crumbles around you. But by all means let’s focus on who I’m dating, and not on the fact that Mayor Argent has grossly mismanaged your tax dollars for over a decade, shall we? God knows I love a juicy story as much as the next person—you can follow me on Instagram—but my boyfriend and I are both consenting adults. Now, are you sure you’ve set the bar for political journalism low enough with this bullshit, or do you want me to grab a shovel and start digging?”
He smiles for the cameras.
The reporter gapes, Braeden facepalms, and the sheriff snorts, but Peter thinks he’s made his point.
And so, happily, do the voters.
Peter Hale is sworn in as mayor of Beacon Hills on a chilly January morning.
He invites Natalie Martin to be his deputy.
By February, the no parking signs are removed from outside Peter’s favourite coffee shop, and the work on replacing the town’s water pipes has begun.
In Peter’s new office, which is filled with the sort of expensive and minimalist furnishings that Stiles hates, hangs a framed parking ticket. It’s the first thing people see when they enter the office. Peter enjoys telling people it’s a reminder that not even the mayor is above the law, when really it’s a reminder of how being a petty and spiteful asshole has gotten him everything he ever wanted.
Stiles laughs at it gleefully every time he drops by to visit.