Hold my hand in yours,
and we will not fear
what hands like ours can do.
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of. He's learned to keep himself from screaming, most days. But he's only fourteen. Fourteen-year-olds shouldn't be having visions of murders and rapes and brutal beatings.
And when the images fade into the corners of his eyes, ever-present in his periphery, he gasps, trying to catch his breath. Because Stiles has his first-ever vision of his soulmate, which is huge. Most people don't discover their destined other half until eighteen, when their soulmate tattoo appears. But Stiles is special—he's always been special. At least that's what his mother used to tell him before she went bat-shit crazy and left him with the gift passed down through generations of her family.
Stiles' soulmate is a bit older—by maybe fifteen years or so. And he's handsome. And smart. And witty. Stiles has never been so happy.
And that feeling lasts for nearly two minutes.
Because Stiles' next vision is of his own death.
It isn't far down the road, when he's old and gray. He's young. And scared. And his soulmate cradles him against his chest and cries and cries and cries in agony.
And Stiles knows he can't do that to him. His soulmate has already lost so much. The teen can't help the tears he sheds as his chest aches.
The best thing for his soulmate is to never know him.
But the anger that festers in the soul destined to twine with Stiles' own is distressing. And the young Seer can't have that either.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles takes a breath and wipes his sweaty palms on his jeans, shifting on his feet outside the hospital room where his soulmate sits, catatonic. The teen can feel the misery rolling out of the room in waves, and it turns his stomach. He has to do this.
He has to do this.
There's no other way for this man to find happiness.
His soulmate is sitting in a chair facing the window. His eyes are blank but beautiful, and Stiles smiles as he sits in a chair opposite. The man's face is burnt, scarred. But Stiles can only see the face from his vision, the face of the man he's already lived a lifetime with in his head.
“Hello, Peter,” he breathes, and the vice on his chest falls away. The world is already brighter and more beautiful, and Stiles has barely laid eyes on the man.
Peter doesn't move. Stiles doesn't expect him to.
“My name is Stiles,” the teen says quietly, looking to his wringing hands, “or at least that's what I like to be called.” He breathes and waits for the words to come to him. “I'm your soulmate.” He looks up and smiles gently at the unresponsive man. “I know I'm young.” He swallows and breathes, swallows and breathes. “I'm a Seer,” he admits, something that up until now only his father and his best friend, Scott, knew. “My mother was one.” He resists the urge to look down again, knows Peter deserves better than averted attention.
“I didn't get my abilities until she...” He doesn't finish—knows he doesn't have to. “She was very sick. Her visions, at the end, they all bled together. She couldn't make sense of them. I think that's why...” He shifts in his seat. “That's why she couldn't warn us about the fire. About what happened to your family.”
Tears fill his eyes and fall and fall and fall. He sniffles, wipes his face. “I'm so sorry, Peter. It never should have happened this way.” He chokes and breathes. And breathes. And breathes. “I only came here to say goodbye.” A shudder runs through him, a chill that isn't in the air. “I know that's cruel and that you'll be angry with me.” He smiles sadly and meets Peter's gaze with watery eyes. “You're already angry about a lot of things. But...you can't be anymore.” Stiles slips from the chair to his knees in front of the other man, hands shaking a mere inch above Peter's own.
“Please, Peter. Please don't be angry anymore. I know—” He shakes his head and closes his eyes. “I know I'm just a kid and a stranger. And I have no right to ask you anything, especially since I won't see you again.” His eyes open slowly, and he gasps at how beautifully blue the eyes are that stare back at him—into him. “So I'm begging. Don't let this consume you. Don't let anger guide you.”
His hands settle over Peter's, and the contact raises the hairs on his arms. “I know the man you can be—the man you will be. I've seen it. You're...” He ducks his head and bites his lips to keep from sobbing. When he brings his head back up, he sucks in air like he's been drowning. “You're amazing, Peter Hale. And I—” His throat closes on the words, and he stands, releasing the man and mourning the loss of contact.
He breathes. And breathes.
Leaning down, he presses a soft kiss to Peter's temple.
“I love you,” he whispers.
And then he's gone.
0 o 0 o 0
Five Years Later:
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of. The world is full of the dark and the dreadful, and somehow it all manages to find him. Sometimes he can't breathe. The suffering of the world suffocates him. His only release, his only sanctuary, is thoughts of Peter.
Peter reuniting with his niece and nephew.
Peter accepting the Alpha-ship from Laura and expanding his pack, rebuilding it with lonely souls that need somewhere to belong.
Peter searching, praying, begging—wanting so badly for Stiles to be found, to come home.
The Alpha has come close several times. Stiles has caught glances of him as he manages to slip away. Peter looks good, healthy. Sad. His scars are gone, and his eyes are still so, so blue. And the relief that Stiles feels in those moments almost makes him wait, almost lets Peter find him.
And then Stiles remembers the pain he can cause this man, will cause this man. He convinces himself that his avoidance is a kindness and that Peter will give up eventually. He'll see that Stiles isn't worth it. Maybe then he'll finally get some sleep.
Stiles breathes, presses his fingertips to the name written on his wrist, the name that had appeared on his skin the day of his eighteenth birthday in a simple but beautiful script. He'd smiled so wide and then cried for hours. No doubt Peter had felt the connection once his mark had finally appeared. The pull to the older man grew hard to resist. Stiles had never wanted to go home so badly, to find Peter and never leave his arms.
Stiles groans and sits up in his bed—a mattress on the floor of a shitty studio apartment he can only afford because the landlord gives him a discount in exchange for the names of winners at the horse track. Stiles doesn't condone cheating. But he's also gotta have a place to live.
Images of people and places flicker in the edges of his vision like ghosts. In the confusion of waking, it always takes him a few moments to filter the ones that are relevant from the ones that are just...there.
Doris is opening the cafe across the street that has the best chocolate croissants Stiles has ever tasted—relevant.
A dog is sniffing a fire hydrant while her owner shivers in the morning chill and begs her to just pee already—irrelevant.
Construction on the street Stiles usually takes to work is going to delay him nearly twenty minutes and make him late—relevant.
A woman across town sneezes into her hand and wipes snot onto the subway seat beside her—gross, but irrelevant.
A man is entering the building that Stiles lives in, asking the landlord if anyone fitting the teen's description lives here, taking the stairs two at a time because the elevator is always out....
Stiles should be alarmed. He should be scrambling to find his go-bag and leaping out onto the fire escape. He should be running—like he always does.
But the man who will soon be exiting the stairwell and searching Stiles' floor for the apartment number that the landlord gave him is not Peter Hale. And Stiles knows now why he's here. He can't run—not today.
So he breathes and sighs and scrubs at his face, forcing himself to get out of bed and shuffle to the kitchen. He puts on a pot of coffee.
The man will be here soon.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles opens the door before the person on the other side has a chance to knock, handing them a mug of coffee—black—and tiredly motioning them into his apartment. The stranger hesitates, having nearly dropped the mug as it was handed to him, but cautiously enters and stands in the center of the room.
“It's Chris, right?” Stiles asks conversationally, picking up his half-empty cereal bowl and shoveling a large spoonful of Cheerios in his mouth. “Chris Argent?”
The man's face only betrays him for a second, showing the barest hint of surprise before he takes a breath. “Yes.” He looks like he wants to say more, but he stays quiet.
“You can sit, if you want.” Stiles motions towards a chair in the sitting area, though he knows it isn't necessary. Just like the coffee. This man is here for only one thing.
Chris looks at the chair, then his gaze sweeps over the small apartment. There's nothing impressive about it, Stiles knows. It isn't meant to be a home. Just another place to rest for a bit.
“Stiles,” the young man interrupts, finishing off his cereal and rinsing out the bowl.
Chris sighs in frustration, frowning down at the coffee in his hand. “Stiles,” he says, and the name sounds like a bad taste in his mouth. “I'm here because—”
“Peter sent you,” Stiles says nonchalantly, stepping forward and taking the mug from the man. He swallows a few mouthfuls before rinsing the cup as well.
“Yes.” Chris is tense. Stiles knows he doesn't like that he used Peter's name. Stiles knows that Chris is only here because Peter begged him. Stiles knows a lot of things about this stranger.
More than anything, Stiles knows that Chris hates him.
“I'm going to take a shower,” the young man announces, hooking his thumb over his shoulder to indicate the bathroom. “When I'm done, we can leave.” He grabs a semi-clean pair of clothing from the unmade bed, smirking as he catches Chris discretely trying to scope out the bathroom. “Don't worry—no windows in there to slip out of. Make yourself comfortable.”
The bathroom door closes with a quiet click.
0 o 0 o 0
Peter's phone rings, and his heart skips a beat. He answers quickly. “Did you find him?”
A sigh crackles down the line. “Yes, I found him.”
Peter's stomach plummets. He'd been so sure this time. “He ran.”
A pause. “No. I'm in his apartment now. We'll be leaving shortly.”
The werewolf's breath stutters. “You've met him.” It isn't a question, but Chris confirms the statement anyway. “How is he?”
“Not what I expected.” The answer is vague, and Peter holds his breath. “He's extraordinary, Peter. Just like you said he would be.” Chris huffs in exasperation. “He's also an infuriating smart ass. I'm sure you'll both get along splendidly.”
The werewolf laughs, but the sound is humorless. He waits. Because he senses there's more.
“He's tired,” Chris says finally. “Lonely. I can see it. His apartment, it's like the others. There's nothing here. He could pick up and leave any time he wants.”
Peter swallows and breathes. He closes his eyes. “What do you think made him stay this time?”
“I don't know,” Chris admits.
“Bring him home, Christopher.”
Another sigh crackles down the line. “Yes, Alpha.”
0 o 0 o 0
The car ride isn't awkward, but it's quiet.
Chris doesn't like the radio, so Stiles preoccupies himself with writing. His Seer journal is almost full. He'll need a new one soon.
“What are you writing?” Chris finally asks after half an hour has crawled by.
“Things I've seen,” Stiles answers truthfully. There's no reason to lie. The hunter would be able to tell, anyway. “Things that might happen.”
Stiles shrugs. “Seers have a sort of margin of error. We see events that are most likely to happen. But small changes are sometimes even beyond our ability to predict.”
Chris absorbs the information. “How often are you wrong?”
Stiles' pen stops scratching against the page. “I haven't been. Yet.” He continues writing. “And it's fine, by the way.”
“That you hate me.”
Chris scrambles for words. “You can't know—”
“I said it's fine,” Stiles says. “I'd hate me. I'm an arrogant, infuriating asshole.” He pauses, swallows. “And I left him.”
Chris' hands tighten on the steering wheel. “I don't hate you.” He sorts through the anger in his mind, finds Peter's words and snatches at them like a life preserver. “Peter told me what you did for him. He remembers that day in the hospital.” He watches Stiles fidget in the passenger seat out of the corner of his eye. “He says you saved his life, kept him from making mistakes that would have torn the rest of his family apart. Laura and Derek came home after getting an anonymous message that Peter needed them.” He waits. And Stiles says nothing. “You're his fucking savior, and you barely sat with him for five minutes.”
Bitter anger floods the car. Stiles can taste it on the back of his tongue, and it almost makes him gag. He closes his eyes and breathes. “You've been with him since then,” he says quietly. “You helped take care of him, kept him safe from your family—paid amends for what your sister did.”
Chris exhales sharply. “And tell me, Seer.” He sneers the word. “What else do you know?”
Stiles leans his fevered head against the chill of the window, opens his eyes to watch the passing scenery. He breathes, and the glass dulls with fog. “I know you love him.” The older man stays quiet. “I know he loves you, too. He's afraid to admit it, consumed by the idea of me. Of a happily ever after.” Stiles laughs, humorless and broken. “But he can't have that with me.”
Chris swallows and watches the road. “Why?”
Stiles turns his head towards the older man and wishes Chris would just be angry with him instead of trying to understand.
“Because I'm misery incarnate. And Peter doesn't deserve that.” He turns back to the window, breathes more fog into the glass. “It won't matter soon anyway. Seers don't last long in this world. They're either sought out and killed, or they lose themselves to insanity.”
Chris is quiet.
Stiles is grateful.
0 o 0 o 0
Beacon Hills has changed very little since Stiles last saw it. They pass by a few shops that he doesn't recognize, but other than that he can name every building, every owner.
“How long has it been since you've been home?” Chris asks. The question sounds loud after the silence of the last few hours.
“A year,” Stiles admits. “I used to sneak back into town every few months to see my dad while I was...”
“On the run,” Chris suggests.
Stiles rolls his eyes. “You make me sound like a fugitive.”
The older man sighs. “How did you hide your scent from Peter? He never mentioned smelling you in town.”
“Scent-blocking runes,” the teen explains.
“You're a druid?” Chris asks, stopping at an intersection and shooting him a wary look.
“No. Seers are categorized as a specific type of psychic. So we're more receptive to magical abilities. I can't stop bullets or levitate a car, but I can cast protective spells, make a few health tinctures. Keep myself hidden.”
“Why didn't you?” Chris asks, flicking on the car's blinker and turning. “Stay hidden, I mean.”
Stiles swallows, curls his fingers into his palms. “Because of what's coming.”
They drive for a few more minutes in silence, and then Chris pulls into a well-lit lot outside of a recently renovated building.
Stiles stares at it through the windshield as he unbuckles his seat belt. “This is the building Peter owns.” It's a statement, not a question.
Chris parks and shuts the car off. “He lives here with Laura and Derek. They had the Hale house rebuilt out on the preserve, but...”
The teen swallows and nods. “I know.”
“You say that a lot,” Chris points out.
Stiles tries for a wry smile, but it comes off as more of a grimace. “Sorry. Habit. It's not meant to be pretentious.”
“I know,” Chris says with a smirk, getting out of the car. The teen huffs a morbid laugh and follows.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles walks the corridors of the loft like he's been there a hundred times. He presses the right floor button in the elevator before Chris has a chance and walks them to the exact door they need. It's quiet inside the loft. The group inside probably heard Chris' car from down the street.
“Ready?” Chris murmurs, and the teen knows it's unnecessary. Ready or not, he's here.
He nods, and Chris grabs the door handle, sliding it open.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles barely takes a step into the loft before there is someone in his arms. He breathes in the familiar scent and hugs the figure back immediately.
“Hey, Scotty,” he says, words muffled against his best friend's shoulder as he fists the fabric of his hoodie. “Missed you, dude.”
Scott squeezes him tight once, leaning back but not letting go. His smile is crooked and genuine, and the shine in his eyes has tears prickling at the backs of Stiles' eyes as well.
“Welcome home, Stiles,” Scott says, voice rough with emotion.
Stiles takes the time to look at the other boy. It's one thing to see people in visions—like watching high-def on a big screen tv. But nothing compares to face-to-face, holding a breathing being and feeling their heart beat under his hands. Scott looks healthier and happier than the last time he saw him.
Peter did that. And Stiles is so fucking grateful.
“The wolf looks good on you,” Stiles says, squeezing his shoulder and discretely glancing around the room. He recognizes each person, though he hasn't met a few of them.
“Peter isn't here,” Scott says, more for Chris' benefit, though Stiles nods all the same.
“Where did he go?” the older man asks, and Scott takes a breath to answer.
Stiles, of course, beats him to it. “He's speaking with Deaton. He thinks the town barrier protections they have in place won't be enough.” He gives Chris a cursory glance and a barely-there smirk. “He's right.”
“Enough for what, know-it-all?” Scott jests, and Stiles stiffens, turns back to his friend with an easy smile.
“You gonna introduce me to your pack, Scotty?” he asks instead of answering.
Scott rolls his eyes and pulls him into the loft. Chris steps in as well, closing the door with what Stiles feels is a resigned finality.
“This is Stiles,” Scott says to the few who don't know him, and the group looks both intrigued and uncomfortable. “He already knows your names because he's a dick. But feel free to tell him anyway.”
Lydia is the first to approach, wrapping Stiles in a warm but loose hug.
“Lyds,” Stiles greets her. “Still the best-dressed banshee around, I see.”
“Still the best-dressed anything you'll ever see, Stiles,” she corrects curtly, and Stiles remembers why he loved her so much in grade school.
He glances over her shoulder and gives Jackson a wide smile. “Didn't recognize you without the scales, buddy. Still rocking the tail?”
Jackson scowls and crosses his arms, flashing the Seer his golden wolf eyes. Stiles remembers seeing a vision of those eyes glowing a murderous blue. He's glad Scott and the others were able to save him from that trauma.
The rest of the introductions are brief and somewhat awkward. Stiles sort of remembers Isaac, Boyd, and Erica from school—mostly he just remembers recommending them to Scott as possible pack members to bring to Peter. Chris' daughter, Allison, is kind, but the suspicion in her eyes matches her father's, and her anger over her mother's death still boils under her skin, though it happened several years ago. Kira seems the most excited to meet him, and her aura spikes when Scott smiles dopily at her. They met in their senior year of high school, discovering they were soulmates a few months before graduation. Stiles smiles as flashes of their wedding flit in the edges of his vision.
Laura and Derek stand apart from everyone—not to separate themselves. Stiles knows they accept their new pack. They maybe don't think of them as family yet, but the bonds are strong and growing as time passes.
Peter has done an amazing job keeping his family together and providing for his pack. They trust him. They love him.
Laura is the only one who extends her hand to Stiles, and before Scott can explain that the Seer doesn't like skin-to-skin contact—it makes the visions a little more intense—Stiles slides his fingers across her palm and takes her hand firmly. He knows wolves are tactile creatures, that refusing contact with them is essentially an insult. And if he's going to be working with this pack to save Beacon Hills, then he'd better earn as much favor from them as possible.
The visions he gets from her are pretty standard—marriage, children, happily ever after. He feels her devastation at losing her family, her guilt for dragging Derek away with her and leaving Peter behind, her relief at handing the Alpha-ship over to her uncle. She's still raw, but she's healing.
Derek doesn't extend a hand like his sister, but he nods, and Stiles gives him a small smile. The guy is nervous as shit, though he doesn't show it. Stiles knows why, and he does his best to silently convey that he doesn't blame him like he blames himself.
It doesn't really work.
“So,” Stiles says casually, running a hand through his hair, “is that Beacon Hills?” He gestures to a large map that's spread over the kitchen table, hanging over the edges.
“Stiles, you don't have to—” Scott starts, ready to offer him food, something to drink, a place to rest.
“No time for that,” Stiles murmurs, rounding the table and studying the map. It's of all Beacon County, actually, and Stiles raises an eyebrow at all the markings and notes haphazardly written here and there.
“Deaton's wards have been going off all over the county,” Laura explains, standing beside him but not touching this time. “Whatever is coming, it's skirting around Beacon Hills, keeping its distance.”
“Trying to get your uncle's attention,” Stiles says with a frown as his gaze skims over the map.
“Peter's attention?” Chris is the one to ask.
Instead of answering, Stiles reaches out over the map, letting his hand hover as it moves slowly over neighboring towns. His hand begins to shake, and he knows he's close to an answer. He slows his breathing, tilts his head, and concentrates on the blood pounding in his ears.
“Stiles?” he vaguely hears Scott ask worriedly.
“S'okay, Scotty,” he says absently, hand stopping over a particular point where the shaking in his hand is so violent that it runs up his arm and makes pins and needles stab his fingers. “Just catch me if I fall.”
He doesn't wait to give any further instructions before he presses his hand, palm flat and fingers spread wide, against the map.
Stiles knows what he looks like when he has a vision—he had Scott record him one time. The less-intense visions don't really register outwardly; mostly he just looks like he's spacing off (which isn't too far from his normal state, so it's not as noticeable). But when he's concentrating, when it's something big...Well, Scott was definitely shaken the first time he saw it.
So Stiles knows that as he presses his hand down that his body goes rigid, his muscles so tense that they ache and tremble. He knows that his blood pressure drops and that his heart slows so suddenly that it almost seems like it stops. He knows his body temperature plummets like he's been dunked in a tub of ice water and he starts to breathe a fine mist into the air. He knows a filmy shadow clouds his eyes, shutting out the world so that he can concentrate on his visions.
And he knows it will hurt like hell.
His temples throb as the visions begin—just a few at first, but then they start to come faster and faster. He reminds himself to breathe. He reminds himself to concentrate. He reminds himself to be quick. And he hopes that Scott remembers to pull him back if he can't break the trance himself in a few minutes.
Hospitals really aren't on his list of favorite places.
The visions are many, and he finds very few that are helpful to them at first. There are whispers around him, the pack asking Scott if he's okay, if this is how it always is. And Scott, loyal Scott, assuring them as best he can that this is normal, even though his voice wavers uncertainly.
Something flashes in front of Stiles' eyes, and he feels his free hand move, palm facing up. Without any further prompt, a pen is placed in his hand, and he grasps it like a lifeline, pressing it to the map and scribbling blindly. He swallows and breathes as he tries to keep up, half-formed thoughts etched into the paper before he has to move onto the next for fear of forgetting it.
The visions are too fast now. He's not writing anymore so much as his hand is just shaking and making spirals.
Stiles drops the pen, breathing harshly through his nose as the urge to vomit bubbles in his stomach. Scott calls his name, but it's faint and falls away quickly as more visions pile up in front of him.
“Stiles!” someone shouts, and it's the loudest thing the teen has ever heard. The visions don't just leave, they flee. Scatter. Air rushes into his lungs like he's never felt before, clear and sweet and warm.
His legs collapse, and strong arms wrap around him, circle him in safety, hold him against a broad chest. The heart beneath it beats sure and steady, gives him something to concentrate on, brings him back to the world. His vision swims, but he can see blue.
Beautiful, beautiful blue.
“Stiles?” Peter asks, voice filled with worry but calming and gentle.
Stiles swallows and breathes and says the only name he can think to say once his throat unclenches enough to let him speak.
Confusion fills the silence in the room before there is an eruption of questions that make Stiles' head spin. Peter supports him like he's a rag doll, slender fingers sliding into the sensitive hairs at the nape of his neck and holding his head against his shoulder. Stiles can smell the warmth of the werewolf's skin, and he closes his eyes, bringing his hands up and curling his fingers into the older man's shirt.
“Shh,” Peter says, both to quiet the questions and calm Stiles' nerves. “Let's get him to the couch.” The Alpha takes only a step, and Stiles goes boneless. Peter catches him, hefts him into his arms like he weighs nothing, and starts towards the living room. “Scott, get some water.”
Peter sits him on the couch, taking a seat on the coffee table right in front of him. His hands knead at the muscles in the Seer's arms, and it takes every part of Stiles' willpower not to close his eyes and fall asleep. Scott crouches beside them, handing a bottle of water to Peter and pressing a glass with a fingers-worth of whiskey into Stiles' hand.
“What—” Peter asks in confusion, making to take the glass out of his hand.
“Trust me,” Scott placates him, helping Stiles bring the glass up to his lips and down it in one go. “It's like a stimulant. It'll snap him out of it quicker.”
Just as Scott finishes explaining, Stiles pitches forward and starts coughing violently. Spit flies from his mouth and scatters over the carpet. His tongue and the back of his throat burn.
“Shit, Scotty,” he says hoarsely, using Peter's knee as leverage to sit himself up and giving his friend a faux-suffering look.
Scott smiles sheepishly, taking the empty glass from his friend. “Sorry, dude. You were really out of it this time.”
Stiles sags against the cushions and closes his eyes. “Yeah. Sorry.”
“Why are you sorry, sweetheart?”
Stiles' eyes snap open, and Peter is leaning forward, offering the bottle of water as a fond concern settles over his face. The Seer reaches forward with a shaking hand, a shaking that stops instantly once his fingers graze Peter's. Images float in the outer corners of his vision, but they're soft, less intrusive.
“Deaton figured out what's coming,” he says in lieu of answering Peter's question.
There's no surprise on Peter's face. Admiration and awe, yes. And just a hint of wantneedmine. “An Alpha pack,” he says calmly, though Stiles knows his mind is racing. He gently nudges the water bottle in Stiles' direction, the look on his face warranting no argument. The teen drinks half of it in one go, and the Alpha looks pleased. Stiles wants to see that look over and over and over...
“You said a name,” Laura interrupts, and Stiles is jostled out of his thoughts. He looks over Peter's shoulder, and the Hale siblings are standing, tense and anxious, in the center of the room. “Do you remember?”
“Laura,” Peter warns, but the young woman steps forward in haste.
“You heard him, Uncle Peter,” she argues. “If she's alive—”
“She is,” Stiles says, and the attention turns back to him. “Cora is alive. The Alpha pack has her.”
“Why?” Peter asks, voice quiet, soothing.
Stiles breathes, and it's so easy he almost wants to cry. How could he have left this? Why has he been living in misery when only a few minutes with Peter has already made him forget the pain of being without him? He doesn't feel awkward or uncomfortable. It's like he's been by Peter's side for years.
“Stiles?” Peter asks, and the Seer shakes himself, tries to remember what the question was. “We don't have to do this now.”
“Peter!” Laura and Derek say desperately at the same time.
Peter starts to turn towards them, his eyes flashing Alpha red and a growl rumbling in his throat. But Stiles reaches forward, fingers gliding up Peter's wrist and wrapping around the thick muscle of his forearm. The growl dies and the older man turns back to him, eyes fading to gorgeous blue.
“It's okay,” Stiles says, licking his lips. Peter's eyes follow the gesture. “I'm fine.” He looks at Laura and Derek. “They want her as leverage. They want...” His gaze centers back on Peter. “You.”
“That doesn't make sense,” Chris says as he sits on the couch beside Stiles. “To join their pack, Peter would have to kill all of us. Including Cora.”
Stiles closes his eyes and breathes. “Their decisions are mixed. I can't follow their actions, their motivations.” His fingers tighten around Peter's arm, and the older man places a hand over his. He opens his eyes and gives Peter a helpless look. “I'm sorry. That's...That's all I can see.”
The hand resting over his own lifts to Stiles' face, and Peter runs the backs of his fingers lightly over the young man's cheekbone. It feels like he's done it a thousand times. It feels right.
“It's okay,” Peter says, soft and sure. “You've done so much already.”
Stiles nods, feeling Chris tense beside him. He turns his head, not meeting the man's eyes but giving him an answer to the question he wants to ask. “There's a bank, abandoned. That's where they're staying. And where they're keeping her.” Chris nods and starts to stand, but Stiles' hand shoots out and grasps his wrist with a surprising amount of strength. “Recon only. Do not go into that bank, Chris.” The older man nods, but Stiles still holds fast. “Please,” he says, like the world is crumbling. “Be careful.”
Chris stares at him with wide eyes for a moment before nodding and hesitantly placing his hand over the white-knuckled fingers clutching his wrist. “I will.”
Stiles swallows and breathes, finally releasing Chris' wrist. Exhaustion hits him, sudden and hard.
“You should sleep,” Peter suggests.
“I need to go home,” Stiles says, like the thought just occurred to him. “I haven't seen my dad yet.”
“He's working the graveyard shift,” Scott says, and Stiles feels a pang of guilt that his best friend knows the sheriff's schedule better than he does. “I can drop you at the station.”
The thought of a reunion in such a public place, even if it is just in front of a few overnight officers, spikes his exhaustion further. “No,” he decides. “I can see him tomorrow. I just wanna go home.”
“I'll take you,” Peter offers, and the Seer doesn't argue. Not that it would change anything, but he doesn't want to argue. So Peter stands, calling out for Chris' car keys and catching them when the hunter throws them from the dining area, where he, Allison, Derek, and Laura murmur thoughts and plans over the Beacon County map. There is still a faint impression of Stiles' hand print over the town where the Alphas have taken refuge, so it's a start.
Stiles stands, wobbling only slightly but able to hold his own. He gives Scott another tight hug with a promise to text him when he wakes up, a squeeze to Kira's shoulder as he tells her to keep Scott out of trouble, and a wave to the rest of the room.
He and Peter are in the elevator when he checks his phone and huffs in amusement. “I haven't even been in town for an hour. I forgot how fast things move here.”
“Beacon Hills is a whirlwind of activity,” Peter agrees, following Stiles off the elevator as the door opens. “I have to say, you certainly know how to make an entrance.”
“Always leave them wanting more,” Stiles says, looking over his shoulder at the building as they make their way across the lot. “Though I'm not sure how much your pack will tolerate me. They don't seem keen on theatrics.”
Peter huffs in laughter. “It's only theatrics if you aren't helpful, darling.” He unlocks Chris' car and opens the front passenger door, waiting for Stiles to settle into the seat before closing it and sliding into the drivers side. “And so far you've been more helpful than Deaton has in the years that I've known him.”
Stiles buckles himself in. “Well, if he'd stop with all the cryptic druid bullshit, maybe he'd be more useful.”
Peter laughs loudly at that, and Stiles rejoices at the sound.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles doesn't need to give Peter directions—practically everyone knows where the sheriff lives—so he dozes in and out of consciousness during the drive. There are things he wants to say, explain. But in his sleep-deprived state, he's almost certain that everything would come out jumbled and out of context.
So he stays quiet and lets the radio and Peter's soft humming lull him to sleep.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of. He sits and breathes and lets them filter through his mind until he can take control enough to push them aside. With a groan, he closes his eyes and presses his fingertips into his eyelids until little specks appear. He thought that maybe being closer to Peter might lessen the intensity of the visions. But they're still strong, still draining.
He cracks an eyelid and groans again. Sunlight. A lot of sunlight. His bedroom faces West, so it must be afternoon already. He picks up his phone. It's attached to its charger—did he do that?
Early afternoon. That's not bad. At least he didn't sleep all day. He's done that before, when the visions get too intense, violent to the point of migraines so strong he passes out on the bathroom floor after throwing his guts up over and over.
Stiles rubs at his face, pushing the thoughts from his mind, and his stomach gurgles. Inhaling deeply, he understands why. Something smells amazing.
It's been a while since he had anything home-cooked. Between running from Peter, the visions knocking him on his ass, and working whatever shitty part-time job he could find that didn't require references, he never had much time to cook while on his own. If it wasn't take-out or something he could toss in a bowl and pour day-old milk over, it wasn't high on his list of necessities.
With the motivation of food on his mind, he pushes himself out of bed, wondering only half-heartedly how he—and his go-bag—made it here in the first place. He remembers falling asleep in Chris' car with Peter at the wheel, so it isn't really that difficult to figure out.
He glances around his bedroom with a nostalgic smile. Everything is where he left it, maybe just a little dustier because his dad doesn't know much about cleaning a teenager's room—a teenager who's been gone for a year. The thought sobers him, and he sighs, grabbing his bag from the floor and rooting through it for something passable as clean. He has access to a washer and dryer now, so he'll have to do laundry before he leaves town again.
The thought knocks the breath out of him, and he has to grab the edge of his mattress to stay steady. He's never had that kind of reaction to leaving before. But his heart literally jolts in pain when he thinks it again.
Don't leave. Don't leave.
Stiles breathes, and the ache dulls somewhat. It doesn't disappear entirely, but it settles below the surface.
Dammit. Coming back may have been a mistake.
He sighs and gives up on the bag, searching his closet through clothes he hasn't worn since high school. He opts for jeans that are just this side of too snug, a t-shirt sporting the logo of a band he honestly doesn't remember listening to, and a red flannel button-up. It'll do until he can get some of his more current clothes clean.
The indicator light on his phone blinks, and he frowns. He doesn't remember seeing a text on his phone when he checked the time. But there is one. From ten in the morning. And the contact name is Peter.
Stiles opens it quickly, hoping he hasn't missed something important, that no one is hurt—especially a certain hunter who may not have heeded his advice...
Message from Peter
Good morning, darling.
I hope you don't mind, but I put my contact
information in your phone. Please don't
hesitate to let me know if you need anything.
I hope you slept well.
Stiles' heart beats and beats and beats. The endearment definitely ties his stomach in all sorts of knots, and he finds himself blushing and smiling like a kid with a crush.
Well, technically he is a kid with a crush...but that's beside the point.
He taps on the message box and lets his thumbs hover over the keyboard before typing out a reply.
Message to Peter
Hey. I don't mind. Thanks for getting me home
last night. I can be a handful, so I appreciate it.
He pauses and quirks one side of his mouth before adding
And I slept very well, thank you.
He hits the send button before he can convince himself not to and heads out into the hallway and down the stairs.
His father is in the kitchen, facing the stove when Stiles walks in. There's bread, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes on the counter.
“That better be turkey bacon,” he says, smiling wide as his father turns and laughs. The sheriff sets the skillet aside and wipes his hands on the small kitchen towel slung over his shoulder.
“You tell me, son.”
They hug for a long time, and if there are tears, they are promptly wiped away—but not ignored; men have feelings, too.
Stiles toasts the bread and listens to his father talk about work as he finishes cooking the bacon, which in no way, shape, or form has any sort of turkey in it. As they set the table, Stiles talks about some of the cities he's stayed in, the people he's met, the jobs he's had.
He doesn't mention the state of the apartments he's had to live in or how little the jobs he's taken have paid him or how shitty people can be.
They eat in companionable silence with Stiles jotting things down in his Seer journal between bites of the best BLT he's had since ever. And when his father wipes his mouth with a napkin and sits back in his chair with a sigh, Stiles knows the pleasantries are over. And the real conversation is about to start.
“Peter was here when I came home last night,” he says without any sort of forced reaction, and the pen in Stiles' hand stops moving, “which, oddly enough, is somewhat of a regular occurrence.”
Stiles' brows furrow. “He's over here a lot.” A statement, not a question.
The sheriff nods anyway. “Since he became Alpha, yes. Most of the time, it's just business. He keeps me updated on supernatural happenings and when a new member joins his pack.” He pauses and takes a slow breath. “And sometimes it's just about you.”
Stiles feels his face heat. He knows that after Peter was released from the hospital, the werewolf came to the sheriff for information about him. Who wouldn't? His soulmate had revealed himself and then seemed to disappear off the face of the earth.
The sheriff, to his credit, had kept his mouth shut and had, as politely as possible, told Peter to leave his son the fuck alone. Until, during one of his secret visits, Stiles let slip that they are, in fact, soulmates, and Peter wasn't just some creeper wolf with an underage teen fetish. That changed the older Stilinski man's perspective a bit. He started inviting Peter and his pack over for dinner. He talked about Stiles as a boy, how hard his mother's death had been on him (especially with the inheritance of her power).
And, of course, when Peter asked about Stiles' whereabouts, the sheriff's only answer was, “If Stiles wanted to be found, you'd have found him by now. Just give him time. He'll make his way home eventually.”
His father has never been wrong.
“It's been worse the last few months,” the sheriff says, frowning down at his plate. “I find him sleeping on our couch at least once a week. He...broke down a couple times. Begged me to tell him where you were.” He looks at Stiles guiltily. “And I did. But only because I knew you'd see him coming.”
Stiles nods, feeling no resentment towards the man. It explains some of the close calls he's had, though. “It's okay. I...I didn't know I was hurting him like that.” He swallows. Breathes. “And I couldn't avoid it this time.”
His father makes an affirming noise in his throat. “He told me about the Alpha pack, that you were able to pinpoint their location.”
Stiles shudders. “They're dangerous.” He levels the older man with a serious stare. “I don't want you getting mixed up in this. Let Peter and his pack handle it.”
The sheriff snorts. “Pretty sure that's what I'm supposed to be saying to you, son.”
Stiles rolls his eyes. “I'm serious.”
“So am I.”
Stiles' phone pings with a text message, and his father sighs.
“Go ahead,” he says, standing and taking their plates to the sink.
Stiles picks up the phone and unlocks it with his fingerprint, unable to help the smile that lights up his face when he sees it's from Peter.
Message from Peter
No trouble at all, Stiles. Like I said, anything
you need. Glad to hear you slept well.
As he's reading, another message pops up.
Message from Peter
Are you free for dinner?
Stiles' breath hitches.
Message to Peter
For a pack thing?
Message from Peter
No, just you and me.
Stiles bites his bottom lip and worries it between his teeth.
Message to Peter
So a date, then?
Message from Peter
Only if you want it to be, sweetheart.
Yeah, no pressure. It's only dinner with his soulmate, who's been waiting five years to meet him properly. No big deal, no possible way any of this could go badly or blow up in his face.
Message to Peter
And what should I wear?
Fuck, he feels like he's in grade school, falling all over himself for someone else. Except this time it isn't a little girl with red pigtails who wants absolutely nothing to do with him. This time it's an extremely attractive guy whose sole (and soul) purpose is to have an interest in him.
Message from Peter
I'll pick you up at 7.
Casual setting. Wear whatever makes you feel
Stiles rolls his eyes.
Message to Peter
I'm most comfortable in a hoodie and my
underwear, but I don't think that's polite
Message from Peter
You won't get any complaints from me. ;)
Stiles laughs and shakes his head.
Message to Peter
See you at 7, Peter.
Message from Peter
See you then, gorgeous.
Stiles bites the inside of his cheek to keep his face from flushing. It doesn't work.
He stands to find the kitchen empty and the dishes washed and drying on the rack beside the sink.
“Dad?” he calls, hearing an affirmative answer from the living room as the television switches on. He looks down at his clothes and sighs. “What do you wear on a first date?”
0 o 0 o 0
The doorbell rings at 7 o'clock sharp, and Stiles answers the door eagerly. Peter is wearing jeans and a blue v-neck that makes the color of his eyes stand out more than they already do. It makes the younger man a little more confident in his choice of dark skinny jeans, a black Henley, and his favorite pair of Chuck Taylors.
Stiles looks the man up and down with a smirk, crossing his arms and clearing his throat. “I thought you said it was my decision whether this is a date or not.”
Peter smiles, making no subtleties about checking the young man out. “It is, darling.”
Stiles' heart beats just a bit faster, and Peter's smile grows wider. “Only dates come to the door,” the teen points out.
Peter quirks an eyebrow and takes a step back. “I could go wait in the car.”
“Don't,” Stiles says, all humor gone from his tone as his breath hitches.
Peter suddenly looks concerned, stepping quickly into the house and rubbing the young man's arms soothingly. “Stiles, what's wrong?”
The contact helps. Stiles instantly feels relieved, which is just as instantly replaced with embarrassment. “Sorry,” he says, trying to smile and knowing it looks forced. “I'm not sure.” He looks at the porch where Peter had stood, and the smile falls away. “I saw you leaving, and I...” He looks at Peter, who stares back at him not with pity or impatience or disgust, but concern and kindness and understanding. “I don't want that.”
Peter smiles, and Stiles' stomach does somersaults. “I don't want that either.”
Stiles breathes. “You smell really good,” he says, cursing his brain-to-mouth filter (or lack thereof).
Peter looks delighted, though, so the slip is worth it. “Thank you. You look...” He takes his time to glance the young man up and down again. “Simply stunning.”
The teen rolls his eyes as he grabs his jacket from a hook beside the door. “I used to wear this when I bar-tended.” He smirks as Peter follows him out the door. “Got me a lot of good tips.” He turns around, intent on closing the door behind them and locking up the house but comes face-to-face with Peter's red eyes instead. He swallows. Not because he's scared. The sudden-ness of the change is just a little startling. “Peter?”
Peter breathes. And his red eyes fade into a cool blue. “I'm sorry, Stiles,” he says quietly. “I don't like the thought of you being leered at when you're dressed like this.”
Stiles smiles gently, reaching around the werewolf to close the door. Their arms brush, and goosebumps dance across his skin. “I don't really like the thought of it, either. But a boy's gotta eat.”
Peter frowns, a thousand more questions in his eyes as he steps aside to let the younger man lock the front door.
“You don't like that, either,” Stiles points out, tilting his head and watching the Alpha carefully.
Peter sighs softly. “And how do you know that, my little Seer?”
Stiles breathes and waits for the visions to slink away to the corners of his eyes. “Because you look sad,” he says simply. “I made you sad.”
The older man stares back at him with an unreadable look—well, unreadable for some. Not for Stiles. Which is why Peter's next words don't warrant a vision or surprise him in the least. “Can I hug you, Stiles?”
The younger man nods without hesitation, nods before the question is barely past the older man's lips, and steps into Peter's space, wrapping his arms around the other's shoulders. Peter's arms circle him around his waist, tugging him flush up against his warm, broad chest. It should feel awkward—they've only been this close once before, and Stiles was a little vision-drunk so he hardly remembers.
But it isn't.
It's safe. And comfortable.
Stiles presses his face into Peter's shoulder and lets the man scent him, squeezes him closer like the contact just isn't enough. Because it isn't enough. The teen sees so much, so many visions that feel like memories even though they haven't happened yet.
In his head, he and Peter are unbelievably happy.
After this date, the Alpha will ask him out again. They'll walk through the preserve. Peter will have strung faerie lights through the trees around a small clearing, where a picnic waits for them on a soft blanket. He'll give Stiles his jacket when he shivers.
He'll ask Stiles out again and again, and the Seer will be so in love, it hurts. They'll have sex for the first time on their fourth date, and it will be amazing. It will leave Stiles shaking and breathless and wanting more and more and more.
Peter will beg him to stay, to stop running. Stiles is so, so tired of running. And the thought of leaving makes him ache down to his bones.
Peter pulls away from the embrace and smiles at him. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
Stiles swallows and nods. His head feels like a firecracker. Visions fizzle behind his eyes, and something sharp crackles in his chest. He doesn't know if the feeling is soulmate related, but he really hopes so. He could spend his whole life experiencing what he is in this moment and never tire of it. “We, um, have a date,” he says, closing his eyes and shaking his head at how stupidly blunt the words sound.
Peter smiles like he's just professed his undying love. “Yes. We do.” He moves towards the stairs of the porch, tentatively running his fingers across the younger man's palm. Stiles tightens his fingers, holding the man's hand as he guides them to the car.
Peter walks him to the passenger side, opening his door for him. Stiles blushes because this is the kind of shit in movies, not real life...right? Honestly, he doesn't know. He's never been on a date before. Sure, there have been plenty of offers. But Stiles has never even remotely been interested.
Peter has always been in the foreground of his thoughts.
When the Alpha settles into the drivers seat, he reaches behind Stiles' seat and brings forward a simple bouquet with three red carnations.
Stiles smiles so wide that his cheeks hurt. They're his favorite flower. And his favorite color. “What would you have done with these if this wasn't a date?”
Peter shrugs and starts the car. “I would have given them to you anyway.”
The teen laughs, fingers ghosting over the ruffled petals. “You would have bought me flowers even if we weren't dating?”
The older man turns to him, reaching a hand forward and gently running the back of one finger across Stiles' cheek. The touch tingles and a shiver runs up Stiles' spine. Peter's eyes shimmer between blue and red as he breathes in his scent. “Stiles, I would give you the moon just for affording me the pleasure of hearing your heart beat.”
Stiles' breath catches, and it takes a moment for his thoughts to settle enough to respond. “I bet you say that to all your soulmates.”
Peter smiles wolfishly and backs out of the driveway.
0 o 0 o 0
They go to Stiles' favorite diner, and it immediately puts him at ease. Their waitress has known him since he was a kid and gives him a hug before seating them. She winks when she asks if he wants his usual—a Reuben sandwich, curly fries, and a chocolate shake. He almost declines it, wanting to seem a little more mature in front of his date, but the familiarity of the comfort food wins out, and Peter's pleased look at his happiness makes his heart stutter.
Stiles talks. About everything. He can't seem to stop the words pouring out of his mouth, and Peter doesn't try to quiet him. Not once. He doesn't look exasperated when the young man gets worked up enough to gesture wildly with his hands. He doesn't look disgusted when Stiles talks around bites of food. And all his questions follow up with what the teen talks about—he pays attention instead of tuning him out and nodding along.
Peter makes him feel more cared about than he has in a long time—and all he's doing is listening. Stiles sits back in his chair as he finishes his shake, a little breathless from speaking so much. Peter watches him, and the younger man knows the next words from either of them are going to be difficult. He sets his shake down and lets his fingers run through the condensation on the glass.
“You want to know why I left,” he says matter-of-factly, tackling the biggest issue sitting like stagnant air between them.
Peter sits back in his chair as well, the comfortable look never leaving his face. “Only if you want to talk about it, Stiles. I don't want to ruin our first date.”
Stiles breathes. “You deserve to know.” He looks around the near-empty diner. It's Tuesday, so not overly busy. But still not the place for what they need to discuss.
“Where do you want to go?” Peter asks automatically.
Stiles sees in his mind the place where Peter wants to take him. “You're thinking of somewhere already.” He nods as Peter raises an eyebrow. “Let's go there.”
0 o 0 o 0
The Hale house looms eerily in the dark of the preserve. The headlights from Peter's car splay bright yellow over the porch and make shadows dance in the trees. Stiles steps out of the car when it comes to a stop, staring up at the house in quiet awe. He never saw the house before the fire, and, thankfully, wasn't a Seer when it went up in flames. He's seen pictures of the aftermath, though. He's glad to see it standing again, even if the Hales can't bring themselves to inhabit it yet.
They will, one day.
Peter holds his hand out as he rounds the car. Stiles takes it and holds fast, holds like Peter is a raft on an endless ocean, keeping him from drifting and drowning.
The inside of the house is warm and smells clean. It's still taken care of, despite its lack of occupants—waiting for the day when its rooms will fill with the sound of pack, of family.
“It's beautiful, Peter,” Stiles murmurs as he's led to the living room. A large, plush couch sits to one side of a wooden coffee table, and they make themselves comfortable, facing each other and still holding hands.
Peter rubs at Stiles' shoulder with his free hand, lets his fingers work into the sensitive spot where his shoulder and neck meet, ghost up the mole-speckled skin on his throat. He cups the younger man's face, caresses his cheekbone with his thumb. “Whatever you say, Stiles, whatever you tell me,” Peter says quietly, voice thick, “I won't think any differently, any less of you.”
Stiles closes his eyes and takes the hand on his cheek, turning his head and pressing his lips to the man's palm. “I'm not worried about that.”
Peter watches him intently. “Then what are you worried about, darling?”
The teen opens his eyes and looks out over the living room, not really seeing it as images cloud his vision. “Losing you.”
Peter gently turns Stiles' head until their gazes meet. “That's not going to happen.”
Stiles inhales shakily. “The day I came to see you at the hospital,” he starts, the memory clear in his mind, “was the day I had my first vision of you.” He smiles, though he knows it doesn't reach his eyes. “I knew you were mine. You were so beautiful, Peter. I could barely breathe because I was so happy.” He reaches up with both hands, mapping out Peter's face with his fingertips. “And then I died.”
Peter tenses, reaching out instinctively to protect. “What?”
Stiles shakes his head. “I saw myself. Dead...in your arms.”
“Oh, Stiles,” Peter says softly, sadly, fingers running through the younger man's hair. “I'm so sorry.”
“It's not your fault,” Stiles placates. “I've never blamed you, Peter. You have to know that.”
Peter doesn't look like he believes him—or at least looks like he blames himself. “You don't have to be afraid,” the older man assures him, pulling Stiles towards him and holding him tight. “I won't let anything happen to you.”
Stiles sighs and relaxes into the warm embrace. “I'm not afraid of dying,” he admits, clutching at Peter's shirt. “I'm afraid of leaving you. Peter...” He pulls back and stares at the man with wide, wet eyes. “Every time I see my death, you're in so much pain. I can't...I can't do that to you.”
“Being apart—it's hurt so much. And I kept telling myself that it was for the best. Because being apart is better than being only half a person, half a soul.” He doesn't know why the tears start, but once they do, he can't stop them. Everything that he's been holding back for years comes rushing to the surface and bubbles over. “I thought you'd be okay with your pack and...Chris.”
Peter stiffens, guilt blooming on his face.
Stiles is quick to shake his head, a tremulous smile spreading on his face. “It's okay. Peter, I don't mind. Really. I'm grateful. I'm so grateful to him for being here when I wasn't. I know you love him.”
Peter swallows hard, opening his mouth to deny it. But he can't. “I love him,” he confirms, and Stiles gives him a sweet, genuine smile. “And I love you.” He sucks in a tight breath. “Stiles, I love you more than anything.”
The younger man nods. “I know.” His fingers trace Peter's jawline. “It's all right. Whatever you decide, I only want you to be happy.”
Peter leans forward, their lips brushing. “You make me happy.”
Stiles surges forward, and they meet in a hungry kiss.
The teen has kissed before—he isn't completely inexperienced. But everything with Peter feels so new, so raw. He whimpers as Peter guides him onto his back, presses himself between his legs.
The Alpha pulls back with a lingering kiss, panting into the younger man's mouth. “Will you be able to tell me if you need me to stop?”
“I won't want you to,” Stiles promises, pushing his hips up and gasping at the friction.
Peter places a hand on his hip to stop the motion. “Stiles...have you been with anyone before?”
Stiles groans and lets his head fall back to thump against the couch. “Peter!”
The older man lifts himself up slightly to break the contact between them, and Stiles mourns the loss of warmth. “Sweetheart, I'm not trying to embarrass you. But if you haven't been with someone before, how do you know the visions don't affect your ability to give consent?”
Stiles lifts his head. “You have consent, Peter. All the consent. I'm giving it right now.”
Peter sighs and brushes Stiles' hair away from his forehead with his fingers. “That's not how it works. You know better.” Stiles makes a disgruntled noise. “If you aren't able to tell me 'no' or 'stop' when you don't like something, then we can't go any further than this, Stiles.”
“I know,” Stiles sighs, cracking one eye and looking up at Peter with a wry smile. “We can still make out though, right?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Peter agrees. “And we'll figure this out, darling. Learn as we go.”
Stiles nods quickly, ignoring the scenes of death in his head and the taste of copper on his tongue as their mouths meet again.
0 o 0 o 0
Peter takes him home once their lips are swollen and sensitive. He kisses Stiles one more time while they stand on his porch, slow and sweet. The teen gets ready for bed in a daze, blushing as a silly smile spreads across his face when his phone pings with a text message.
Message from Peter
When can I see you again, beautiful?
Message to Peter
As soon as possible.
Message from Peter
I'm turning the car around now.
Stiles laughs, and he feels ridiculous. Euphoric.
Message to Peter
And I want to take you somewhere after.
Stiles bites his bottom lip. He hopes he isn't over-stepping by planning their next date himself. He knows Peter planned the picnic for tomorrow night, but perhaps an extra date won't hurt.
Message from Peter
I look forward to it.
I'll pick you up at 11:45.
Message to Peter
Perfect. I'll see you then.
Message from Peter
Pleasant dreams, my little Seer.
Stiles drifts to sleep with thoughts of Peter's lips against his own and images of those blue, blue eyes in his head.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of. A bright light blinds him, and the sound of screeching tires fills his ears. His head throbs as a car door opens and slams shut. There are footsteps on the road—Road? What is he doing on the road?—and a call of his name.
But it's all white noise.
Because he remembers what he saw before he woke. He remembers—
“Stiles!” Someone grabs his arm and spins him, knocks the visions right out of him and replaces them with new ones.
He breathes hard, his gaze swiveling as he tries to focus. It's hard to put up his shields, to keep the onslaught of images from overwhelming him.
“Stiles, can you hear me? It's Chris.” The older man's face swims in and out of view. His visions start to suffocate him. He's choking on air. “Hey. Kid, you have to breathe. Come on, focus on me. Deep breath—there you go. Now out. Do it again.”
Stiles follows the instructions as best he can, and when Chris' face becomes sharper and his words become clearer, a shiver runs up his spine. “Chris?” he asks in confusion, and the older man's shoulders slump.
“Jesus, Stiles. You're freezing. What the hell are you doing out here? You could have gotten yourself killed.” Chris tugs the young man to him, rubbing warmth into his trembling form.
Stiles glances down at himself, dressed in his pajamas, feet bare. He exhales sharply and reluctantly pulls from Chris' grasp to look around. He recognizes the street. It's only a few blocks from his father's house. “This isn't how I die,” he says absently, another violent shiver erupting up his back and making him go rigid.
Chris' warm fingers on his jaw feel amazing, and he lets the man turn his head until they're eye to eye. No doubt he's checking the teen for shock. “Stiles. What are you doing out here?”
Stiles blinks slowly. “I...I don't know.” The images clouding his eyes taper off to the corners of his vision. “I fell asleep in my bed.”
Chris frowns. “Do you usually sleepwalk?” Stiles shakes his head, and the older man sighs. “Okay. Get in the car before you get hypothermia. We'll call your dad.”
Stiles shakes his head, refusing to move when Chris tries to guide him to the car. “Peter. Call Peter.”
“Fine,” Chris concedes, exasperation coloring his tone. “We'll call Peter. Just get in the car.”
Chris helps him to the passenger door, making sure he avoids big chunks of gravel in the road. He blasts the heat when he gets into the drivers side and gives Stiles a cursory glance before slipping out of his jacket and throwing it over the young man. Using the call menu on the car's navigation system, he dials Peter's number and listens to the shrill sound of the ring coming through the speakers.
Peter answers on the second ring. “Chris?”
“Peter, I'm with Stiles,” the man explains curtly. “I found him in the middle of the road. He seemed confused, didn't know how he got there.”
“Is he all right?” The panic in Peter's voice stirs something in Stiles, and he perks up a little.
“I'm okay, Peter,” he says, and his voice sounds pathetic even in his own ears.
There's the sound of shuffling fabric on Peter's end. “Where are you?”
“We're on fourteenth and Harrison.” Chris looks at the shivering young man beside him. “Stiles, do you want me to take you to Peter?”
The question is barely out before Stiles is nodding. “Yes,” he whispers.
“Okay.” Chris puts the car in Drive and begins to turn around. “Peter, we'll see you in a few minutes.”
“All right,” the Alpha says breathlessly, clearly desperate to see the young man. “Stiles, sweetheart, just breathe. I'll see you very soon.”
“Okay, Peter,” Stiles says, though the words sound mechanical. “See you soon.”
0 o 0 o 0
Chris tries to keep him talking during the short ride, keep him from slipping further into his mind. But Stiles' replies are curt and distant.
Peter is pacing in the lot when they arrive, pulling the young man's door open before the car is even completely stopped. He cups Stiles' cheek and frowns. “He's ice cold.”
Chris reaches under the jacket slung over the teen's front and brushes his fingers down his forearm. Stiles is much, much colder than he was when Chris found him in the street. “I've had the heat on the whole time.”
Peter picks Stiles up and heads towards the building, Chris following once he parks. He finds Peter curled around the young man on the couch as he enters the loft. The Alpha looks more distressed than Chris has ever seen him.
“Can you make some tea?” he asks distractedly, rubbing Stiles' arms and back.
Chris goes to the kitchen, fills a kettle, and puts it on the stove.
“What exactly did he say when you found him?” Peter calls, and Chris turns, leaning against the counter.
“Nothing at first. I had to ask him what he was doing out on the street twice before he even answered.” He sighs and crosses his arms. “All he said was he didn't know how he'd gotten there. He just remembered falling asleep in his bed.”
The Alpha frowns. “Was he sleep walking?”
“I asked him that, too. He said no.” Chris breathes and shakes his head. “He looked like he was having a vision.”
Peter sighs and presses a kiss into Stiles' hair. “Did you call the sheriff?”
“Stiles told me to call you,” Chris admits. He watches Peter hold the young man tighter. “Is it helping?”
Stiles' lips are turning blue. The kettle whistles, and Chris takes it off the stove, readying a cup with a tea bag and pouring hot water into it. He sets it on the coffee table and sits beside the two, feeling a chill coming from Stiles without even making contact.
“What happens if he needs to go to the hospital?”
Peter purses his lips then huffs in agitation. “They wouldn't know what to do with him.”
“We don't know what to do with him,” the hunter points out, giving in to the urge to touch the young man and lettings his fingers snake through Stiles' hair.
Peter watches the action carefully. “Call Deaton,” he says.
Chris grabs his phone.
0 o 0 o 0
Deaton doesn't know shit.
And Stiles is still unresponsive and unbelievably cold. His heart rate has slowed to a level that is making Peter whine, and Chris has finally convinced the Alpha to call Stiles' father and ask for help.
The sheriff is calm over the phone—he sounds tired. And when he walks into the loft, he shows no surprise at finding his son sandwiched between the two older men on the couch.
“How long has he been like this?” he asks, brushing a hand through his son's hair and frowning when he receives no reaction.
“An hour at most,” Chris replies.
Noah nods. “Okay.” He stands from his crouched position and blows a stream of air past his lips. “I'm gonna tell you what to do. And you're not gonna like it, but you have to do it or he'll stay like this for days.”
“Anything,” Peter promises. “Please.”
The sheriff sighs. “Nothing.”
Chris and Peter breathe. They share a confused and startled look before Chris speaks.
Noah nods tiredly. “Wrap in him a blanket and leave him be. He'll come out of it in a few hours.” He rubs at the back of his head self-consciously. “His mother used to have episodes like this. I'd find her out in the woods or halfway across town, like she'd sleep-walked. Scared the shit out of me. I'd take her home and just hold her until my skin burned from the cold.” He stares at Stiles fondly. “Learned the hard way that contact makes it worse—especially for Seers.”
Peter looks torn between wanting to hold the young man tighter and releasing him like he's on fire. Chris pulls away first, though it's harder to do than he'd like to admit.
“Come on,” Noah says, gesturing towards the kitchen. “I'll tell you about Claudia over some coffee. Maybe it'll help you two learn what to expect from my kid.”
Chris wants to decline. Stiles is Peter's soulmate. The hunter already feels intrusive, and being part of such an intimate conversation will almost certainly make him feel like a third wheel. But the pleading look that Peter gives him kills the protest on his tongue, and he helps wrap Stiles in a blanket, following the other two into the kitchen and starting a pot of coffee.
Peter has a very expensive espresso machine. Chris refuses to touch it. Too many buttons. And the sheriff doesn't seem like the espresso type, anyway.
“Claudia got her Seer ability from her mother,” Noah starts, looking every bit of his fifty years. “She was nine when her mother died and it was passed on to her.”
0 o 0 o 0
Noah tells them about the first time he and Claudia met—at a town fair that neither of them had been to before. She was wearing a blue dress that showed off her pale, mole-freckled legs. He tells them that she had been so happy the day Stiles was born—Seers very rarely have children. Once they do, there is an enormous burden to prepare the child for. And the clock starts ticking as the Seer's ability begins to prepare itself for its new host.
“The ability morphs to adapt to the person it will inhabit?” Peter asks in earnest. He's studied Seers for the last few years, gotten his hands on as many texts as possible, few as there are. No book has ever mentioned how the ability is transferred.
The sheriff nods. “She explained it like a...gene marker. I don't pretend to understand the specifics, but once the ability is aware of an heir, it shifts to accommodate the new Seer.” He looks sad, pained. “It's why most Seers don't last more than a decade after they've had a child. It drives them insane.” He glances over at Stiles. “She held out for eleven years. That's when Stiles inherited her ability.”
“That must have been hard for you,” Peter says sympathetically. “Losing your wife and having to help Stiles through that while grieving.”
Noah swallows hard. “He'd wake up screaming. I had to tell the neighbors they were night terrors.” A look of shame darkens his face. “I didn't handle it very well.” He looks to the other two men, forces himself to make eye contact. “Stiles did a lot of growing up on his own. And he's seen so much. So many terrible things.” He wipes a hand down his face. “How do you tell an eleven-year-old that the images he sees in his mind are murders and rapes and...”
“He's a hell of a kid, sheriff,” Chris says quietly, surprising himself with the words.
The older of the Stilinski men smiles wanly. “He is, isn't he?”
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain, and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of. He remembers being in the road, getting into Chris' car, wrapping himself in Chris' jacket—he liked Chris' jacket, the smell of cologne clinging to the worn fabric. He remembers Peter's face, Peter's voice, Peter's warmth...
“Peter?” he calls as the images settle into the corners of his eyes, and warm fingers slide into his hand.
“I'm here, darling,” Peter says beside him, voice thick with emotion.
Stiles' gaze swivels until he finds blue blue blue, and his breath stutters. He shivers. “It's cold.”
“Sit up,” Peter tells him, slipping in behind him when he complies and wrapping warm arms around the younger man as he settles back against him. “Better?”
“Yeah,” Stiles sighs in relief, closing his eyes as the pounding in his head fades. An image pushes itself forward in his mind, and he gasps in panic.
“What is it?” Peter asks when the young man's heart rate sky-rockets.
Stiles grabs hold of Peter's arms, eyes flying open. “Where's Chris?”
There is a moment of quiet before the hunter speaks. “I'm here.” He sits on the coffee table across from the two, putting himself in Stiles' eye line. “I'm here, Stiles.”
The teen's hand bolts outward, snatching Chris' wrist much like the day before. Stiles looks just as frightened and concerned as he did the first time, eyes unfocused as visions cloud his gaze. “Sorry,” the young man says breathlessly. “I just...needed to know you're okay.”
Chris tentatively covers Stiles' hand with his own. His fingers tingle from the cold. And possibly something else. “Why wouldn't I be okay?” he asks gently.
Stiles shivers and leans back into Peter again. His grip on Chris doesn't loosen, and the hunter has to lean forward, forearms resting on his thighs. “I remember what I saw,” the teen says, and his eyes go wide as he stares at his white-knuckled fingers curled around Chris' wrist. “I remember why I was out on the road.” His gaze snaps to Chris' face, and the look he gives the man is haunted.
The hunter feels the gaze like worms under his skin. It's the same feeling he gets when Lydia screams.
“I was looking for you,” Stiles murmurs in a voice not quite his own.
“Why were you looking for Chris, sweetheart?” Peter asks softly, lips pressed to the shell of the young man's ear.
Stiles breathes and relaxes, but his cold grip on Chris never wavers. “Because someone else is looking for him, too.” The teen's eyes cloud. “Dead eyes...He calls himself the Demon Wolf.”
Peter looks at Chris with morose understanding. “Deucalion.” His grip on Stiles tightens. “Why does he want Chris?”
The frown that takes Stiles' face looks wrong, Chris thinks. Those lips were meant for smiling and speaking. For...other things. The hunter glances at Peter, who stares back at him like he can read his thoughts. The Alpha's eyes are possessive.
“Chris is important,” Stiles says, his words breaking the trance between the two men.
Chris swallows, clears his throat. “Important how?” he asks like he doesn't believe the words. And why should he? Who is he important to, besides his daughter? Even that relationship is one raindrop away from a mudslide. Chris knows that Allison blames him for her mother's death, blames him for not protecting her like he should have.
They weren't soulmates, Chris and Victoria. They married for advantage and lineage and because neither of them had received their soul marks at eighteen. It wasn't common, but no one knew exactly why or how some marks appeared (or didn't).
The only explanation that Chris has ever come up with is that fate is cruel and his destiny is to be alone for the rest of his life.
He deserves it.
“Important to us,” Stiles says, and Chris startles at the words, tries to pull back. The teen's grip tightens, his fingernails digging into the sensitive skin on his wrist. “Did you ever wonder why your soul mark never appeared?”
Chris swallows, shakes his head. “I don't have a soulmate.”
Stiles swings his legs over the side of the couch, sits on the edge of the cushion as both hands come up to frame Chris' face. “No,” he contradicts, but the word is gentle. “You didn't want one—didn't think you deserved one.” Stiles' breath is cold as he breathes just inches from Chris' lips. “Human will is a powerful thing.” He sounds so much older than his nineteen years—how does he do that? “One thought, one idea, can set your life on a whole different track.”
“Stiles,” Peter says breathlessly. “What are you saying?”
“I didn't see you before,” Stiles whispers instead of answering the question. He looks so sad, and Chris has the overwhelming feeling to make it better. He'll do anything to make it better. “But I see you now.”
Chris gasps. There's a burning in his wrists, a sharp sting, and then the feeling is gone. He pants, wide-eyed and hands shaking as he looks down. Palms up-turned, he stares at his wrists, where two names have suddenly appeared, one on each.
Chris swallows hard, shakes his head as tears burn his eyes. “It's a trick. It's not possible.”
“It's possible,” Stiles counters simply, showing the hunter his left wrist, where Chris' name in Chris' handwriting stands out boldly against his pale skin. “And it's not a trick.” The teen reaches behind him, takes a stunned Peter's hand and pulls it around himself to show that Chris' name has also appeared on his wrist. “You can feel it. Trust yourself, Chris.”
The tears welling in Chris' eyes fall, and he tries to remember how to breathe. “How long have you known?”
Stiles sighs, looking guilty. “Since I handed you that cup of coffee at my apartment.”
Chris blinks. His stomach churns as thoughts of their conversation in the car flood his mind. “You thought I hated you.” He closes his eyes. “Oh my God, I told you...I said terrible things. Stiles, I'm so sorry.”
Stiles smiles like he's already forgotten, like the hatred that Chris harbored for him for years was nothing, a figment. “It's okay,” he says, wiping tears from the man's stubbled cheeks. “You've been angry for so long. I don't blame you. I never have.” He swallows. “But you have to do something for me. It won't be easy.”
“Anything,” Chris says without hesitation, the word barely a breath. He looks up at Peter, who's still a little stunned but who meets his gaze with acceptance and relief. “I'll do anything.”
Stiles nods, bringing the man's attention back to him. “You have to let us take care of you,” he says, words so sincere they almost break Chris' heart. “You deserve this. And we want to show you that.”
Chris has so many reservations. How do three soul mates work? Stiles is so young—Ally's age, for Christ's sake. How does Peter feel about this? How does Stiles' ability affect him when they're being intimate? How in the hell do three people be intimate?
But the relief that washes over him from finally knowing that he doesn't have to be alone anymore makes him nod. Tension leeches from his shoulders as Peter reaches forward, runs his fingers through Chris' hair, pulls him in for a kiss that makes every nerve ending in his body spark to life. He's kissed Peter before, but not like this. Before, there was restraint, resistance. Now it's like a dam has loosed every need and want and desire that used to be taboo. He kisses the Alpha like Peter belongs to him—like he belongs to Peter.
They break the kiss slowly, and Chris finds Stiles watching them contently. The hunter searches his brown eyes, letting the silent question sit between them. Stiles takes it as permission to climb into Chris' lap and press their lips together. The kiss isn't as demanding as Peter's. It's soft and sweet, and Stiles' body is lithe and light as Chris wraps his arms around him.
Stiles parts his lips right away, letting Chris explore his mouth with his tongue. The teen grinds down on his lap, and they both groan before Stiles is quickly lifted off of him and deposited back on the couch by Peter.
“Now, now,” the Alpha chides as Stiles pants heavily and gives him a dirty look. “Remember what we discussed, darling.”
Chris, still kiss-drunk, licks his lips and glances between the two. “What did I miss?”
Peter gives the man a smirk, but his eyes hold a serious note. “We don't know how Stiles' ability affects him during sex.”
Chris raises an eyebrow, concern written on his face as his attention turns back to Stiles. “You don't know?” A hundred scenarios cross his mind, each ending with the teen being taken advantage of by some stranger and each one making him angrier and angrier. He'll kill anyone and everyone who has dared touch his soulmate.
Stiles' chilly fingers glide over his palm reassuringly, and Chris is pulled from his thoughts. “Stop thinking like that,” the teen admonishes lightly. “Nothing's happened, I promise.” His cheeks heat, and his shoulders hunch self-consciously. “You've got a full-fledged virgin on your hands, here.”
Chris calms almost instantly at the information, smiling reassuringly and bringing Stiles' hand up to press a kiss into his palm. Not that he would mind if Stiles wasn't a virgin. As long as the sex was consensual, Stiles could have fucked the whole county.
But the thought of Peter and Chris being his firsts—his onlys—does make something in the hunter's stomach stir.
He reaches forward, strokes the backs of his fingers down Stiles' pale cheek. “We'll figure it out,” he says, unknowingly mirroring Peter's words from several hours before. “There's no rush.”
The Polish name on his wrist catches his eye, and he brings his hand back, fingers tracing the script lightly. “I'm not even sure I know how to say this,” he says with a chuckle.
Stiles covers the name with his own hand. “I'll teach you,” he promises, a shiver running up his spine. “But first I need a hot shower.” He stands, legs wobbling but holding strong. Both Peter and Chris hold out their hands to catch him if he falls.
“Do you need any help?” Peter asks sincerely, starting to stand.
Stiles places a hand on the Alpha's shoulder to keep him where he is, shaking his head and saying, “You two stay. Talk.”
Peter and Chris watch the teen disappear into the bathroom, the sound of the shower starting a moment later. Peter moves into Stiles' spot on the couch, settling right across from the hunter and studying him carefully.
“Are you all right, Christopher?” he asks, voice rough.
Chris stares back at him and breathes deeply. “I don't know. It's new. I didn't know it was like this.” He looks down at his hands, fingers restlessly wringing. “I did hate him.” He closes his eyes and shakes his head in shame. “I hated him for having your love for no other reason than being your soulmate.” He looks up, expecting to see anger and disappointment but finding the Alpha watching him expectantly, no judgment in his features. “I wanted to know why you didn't give up on him, why you persisted despite his rejection.” The air Chris expels from his lungs leaves him feeling lighter—free. “But now I know. I feel it.” He presses his fingertips to his chest. “Before this, I would have done anything for you, Peter. And now...” Chris' gaze shifts to the bathroom door. “Now I'll do anything for him.”
Peter gathers Chris in his arms, holds him until the hunter stops shaking, shushes him until he stops apologizing over and over. The Alpha pulls back until he can look into Chris' eyes and smiles. “Come to bed.”
Chris nods and lets himself be led to the bedroom. Peter removes the man's boots, socks, and jeans, doing the same to himself before guiding Chris onto the bed and wrapping them both in a large down comforter. The hunter's exhaustion hits him immediately and drags him into sleep before he can say anything other than, “Thank you.”
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles breathes hard as water cascades through his hair and down his face. The water is hot on his sensitive skin, steam licking at the back of his neck and making the hairs there stand up as a shiver runs down his spine. He squeezes his eyes shut, bracing himself on the wall as he wavers. He hopes he doesn't pass out in here—that would be just what he needs, Peter and Chris bursting in on him unconscious and naked.
He brings his left hand up, smiling at the new name etched into his wrist.
It feels like the first time Peter's name appeared. He'd already known it would, but the relief of seeing it on his skin, knowing that they belong to each other, was enough to almost make him want to come back to Beacon Hills.
Chris' name stirs the same emotions...and leaves him biting his hand to keep the sobs at bay when he realizes the hunter is yet another person he'll be leaving behind in agony. It's not only Peter he sees now hunched over his bloodied body. Chris is there, too, face stricken with grief as his shaking hands cup Stiles' cold, slack face.
Don't, the hunter begs, and his voice is so small, so broken. Please, baby, don't go.
Stiles can't help the noise that bubbles up his throat. It's wrecked and raw. He swallows the next one, hoping Peter can't hear him. He can't fall apart now, not when they need him to be strong. He has to stay strong until they don't need him anymore.
The teen turns off the water and shivers again as coldness surrounds him—he's always cold. He finds a towel in a cabinet beside the sink and wraps himself in the softness of it, toweling off and rubbing it roughly through his hair. Slipping his t-shirt and boxers back on, he makes his way out of the bathroom, padding to the doorway of Peter's bedroom.
Stiles finds them curled around one another and can't help the smile that quirks at the corners of his lips. Finally, they understand that they should be together—that they'll have each other when Stiles is...
The Seer swallows thickly, his attention caught by Peter's bright eyes watching him from the bed. The Alpha motions him into the room, and Stiles complies, wriggling beneath the covers and carefully pressing himself along Chris' back so that the hunter is sandwiched between them. Chris stirs but doesn't wake.
“And what are you thinking about, my little Seer?” Peter asks, his voice a quiet rumble.
Stiles sighs, one arm snaking around Chris and holding tight. “I should have said something sooner. I should have been here. I could have spared us all so much pain.”
Peter's fingers run through the teen's damp hair, trail down skin that feels much warmer than it did before. “You're here now. And you've given me more than I could have hoped for.” He waits until Stiles is looking at him. “I don't know how to thank you.”
“Just...take care of him.” When I'm gone. His heart seizes around the unspoken words.
“Sweetheart, I'll take care of both of you,” Peter promises.
Stiles closes his eyes and breathes and breathes and breathes. The visions that lull him to sleep say that Peter is a liar.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of.
“Chris!” he calls, reaching out blindly, desperately, as the visions cloud his eyes. Normally, the visions are random, a few here and there that pertain to Stiles and the people he cares about. But these ones—Fuck, they're all about Chris. His pale face, his blood-spattered lips, his mangled chest and throat.
Someone grasps Stiles' shoulders, squeezing tightly. “Stiles? Stiles! It's Chris, can you hear me?”
Stiles gasps for air, the onslaught of visions making him dizzy and nauseous. “I'm gonna be sick,” he says, groping for the side of the bed. “I'm gonna throw up. Get me to the bathroom.”
“Okay, okay, I've got you.” A strong pair of arms helps him stand, guides him as he stumbles across hardwood flooring. The floor shifts to tile, and he lets himself be guided to his knees, hands pressed to cool porcelain so he knows where to aim.
And not a moment too soon. The burn of vomit bubbles up his throat just as he leans forward. Distantly, he hears someone else rush into the bathroom, voice echoing off the walls and making his head throb as they ask what happened. Stiles' stomach lurches, and he heaves again, listening to the deep rumble of Chris' tone but not catching the words he says. All he's aware of are the images still assaulting him relentlessly. They're usually gone by now.
He coughs and breathes as the heaving finally stops, the pressure in his head growing past painful and edging into agonizing. He presses the heels of his palms into his eyelids and makes a pitiful sound, silently begging his head to stop or just let him pass out already.
“Stiles?” Chris asks from his left, the hands on the Seer's shoulders moving to cup his face. The pain that erupts behind his eyes makes him scream. He scrambles away until his back hits something firm. As soon as the hands on him fall away, the visions start to fade, the pounding in his head dulls. His breathing slows from erratic to panicked to barely hyperventilating.
The teen risks pulling his shaking hands away from his face, squinting as the visions taper off into the corners of his eyes and the harsh light of the bathroom glares down at him. His gaze swivels until it lands on two concerned, frightened faces.
Chris and Peter look terrified—of him or for him, Stiles isn't sure yet.
“Sorry,” he breathes, swallowing the taste of vomit and bile. “Sorry, sorry.”
“Stiles, you don't need to—” Chris reaches out but stops short when the Seer cringes and flinches away from his touch. “I should apologize. I didn't know...”
Stiles sighs in an agitated huff—agitated at himself for not expecting this. “My visions are a little more extreme when I first wake up. But I haven't...I've never woken up with someone before. I didn't know, either.”
Peter fills a cup at the sink and sets it on the floor by Stiles' foot, not daring to hand it to the teen and cause him more pain. “So the visions aren't normally that intense?” he asks hopefully, watching Stiles down the water much faster than he should.
Stiles wipes at his mouth, eyes going distant as he contemplates letting the two men believe that. But Peter will be able to hear any lie he tells in his heart beat. And Stiles doesn't really want to lie to the men, anyway. “They can be,” he admits, watching the looks on his soulmates' faces shift into sympathy. He purses his lips—he doesn't want that. “But I've handled them just fine.”
“Alone,” Chris says, not put-off by Stiles' dismissive tone. “You've had to do all of this alone.”
Stiles breathes, nods. “I chose to.”
“Not anymore,” Peter says determinedly, looking pained from having to resist touching the young man.
Stiles sets the glass aside and shakily reaches for both men with a reassuring look. “I'm okay now,” he says when they hesitate. “Promise.”
Chris and Peter surge forward like a tidal wave, engulfing him in warmth and safety. The visions he gets from them are softer, less grotesque.
His stomach grumbles. “I smell pancakes,” he murmurs, and the older men chuckle in relief.
“Good to see your appetite isn't ruined,” Peter says lightly, pressing a kiss into the teen's hair. “There's a stack with your name on it, whenever you're ready.”
Stiles nods into his shoulder. “Just need a few minutes.”
“Take your time,” Chris says as he and Peter help Stiles to his feet and leave him alone with one last comforting look.
The smile on Stiles' face falls as they leave, and he braces himself on the bathroom counter. The images of Chris' corpse still drift in the corners of his eyes. Tremors wrack his body so forcefully he can feel his bones shift against each other. He covers his mouth to keep the whimpers inside himself. Peter is surely listening for any further signs of distress, and Stiles doesn't want to concern either of his soul mates any more than he has already.
He turns on the sink faucet and watches the water swirl into the drain before cupping his hand beneath the cold, steady flow and bringing it to his mouth. He swishes the water in his mouth a bit before spitting it out, wrinkling his nose as small pieces from whatever he vomited disappear down the drain. He repeats the action a couple more times until his mouth feels relatively clean then shuts the water off and sighs.
Stiles studies himself in the mirror, pale and tired and sickly-looking. No wonder Peter and Chris have seemed so worried. Stiles doesn't look well.
But it won't matter soon.
The young man takes a few deep breaths, centers himself, then covers his exhaustion as best he can and heads out to force himself to eat pancakes.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles finishes his last bite with a happy sound. Eating the pancakes had started out as forced but had quickly morphed into actual hunger once the first bite had touched his tongue. Four pancakes later, Stiles is blessedly full and content. He grabs his and Chris' empty plates from the breakfast bar, patiently waiting for Peter to finish his own pancakes before snagging his plate as well and beginning to wash them in the sink.
Peter comes up behind him, hooking a chin over his shoulder and watching maple syrup swirl down the drain. “You don't have to do that.”
Stiles smirks and turns his head towards the man. “I like doing dishes, though I usually only have one plate to clean.”
Peter reaches down and stops Stiles' hands from cleaning, pulling them out of the sink and turning the young man until they're facing one another. “Darling, you know you don't have to go back to that. Ever.” He brushes Stiles' hair back. “We want you to stay here.”
Chris stands and rounds the breakfast bar, bracketing Stiles from the other side. “Aren't you tired of running, Stiles?”
The Seer closes his eyes, breathing in sharply at the feeling of the men pressed against him. “Uh-huh,” he says absently, mouth hanging open when Chris' lips latch onto the junction between his right shoulder and his neck and Peter begins to suck at the sensitive spot on the left side of his jaw. Stiles' left hand comes up to clutch at Peter's bicep, his right hand reaching back to string his fingers into the hair at the nape of Chris' neck.
He stands there in Peter's kitchen, arousal rolling over him. Peter licks at the spot he's been sucking on and pulls back, Stiles huffing in annoyance. The Alpha studies his eyes carefully.
“You still with us, beautiful?” he asks with a smirk, and Stiles gives him a goofy smile.
“Yeah,” he says, though he can feel the visions crowding into the corners of his eyes, the threat of losing himself so close.
Peter suddenly lifts the teen up, hands squeezing Stiles' ass as he turns and sets him on the counter before settling between his thighs. “Good boy,” he breathes against Stiles' mouth, and the teen shudders.
Chris chuckles, pressing himself to Peter's back and nuzzling at the Alpha's ear. “I think he liked that, Peter.”
Peter's eyes flash, and his mouth splits into a wolfish grin—fang and all. “Is Christopher right, sweetheart? Did you like that?”
Stiles opens his mouth but can't seem to find the right response. The visions are starting to swirl behind his eyes, dulling his brain-to-mouth filter. He suddenly understands Peter's reluctance to initiate anything beyond sucking face. The Alpha has barely been on him for more than a minute, and the teen can't even think of his own name.
Oh, right. That's it.
“Stiles, baby, come back to us,” Peter says gently, and the Seer forces his way through the fog of his mind back to the two men watching him fondly.
“Shit,” he sighs, leaning back and wincing when he smacks his head against a cabinet. “Ow.” Peter immediately reaches up and leeches the sting from his throbbing skull. Stiles hums in relief. “Thanks.” He shifts on the counter and gives both men a weary smile. “Sorry.”
Chris reaches forward and runs his fingers through Stiles' hair, nestling in comfortably beside Peter's—and fuck the young man loves that. “You need to stop apologizing for things you can't control.”
Stiles centers an amused look on the man. “I know.”
Chris chuckles and leans forward, pressing a kiss to the corner of Stiles' mouth. “Know-it-all.”
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles insists that the lunch date he'd planned stand—with the addition of Chris, of course—waving off Peter's attempts at rescheduling in favor of resting.
“As much as I'd love to lounge with you both all day, my ADHD is already making me restless,” Stiles explains. “Now take me home so I can change. Then we can—” Peter's phone is shrill in the comfort of the loft, and Stiles' stomach falls. “It's Deaton,” he says before the Alpha even has his phone out of his pocket.
Peter purses his lips and sighs heavily. “Is it important?” he asks the young man, thumb hovering over the accept call button. Stiles frowns but nods, and Peter answers the call, slipping out onto the balcony.
Chris and Stiles are alone. The Seer can feel the awkwardness clouding the room, watches as the hunter shifts on his feet almost uncomfortably. The dynamic between the three of them is nearly seamless, even after only several hours of learning that their pair is now a trio. And Stiles is almost certain that Chris has no reservations about being alone with Peter.
“It's about the town borders again,” Stiles offers quietly, smiling when Chris looks at him. “He thinks he's found the weak spot where the Alpha pack has tried crossing into the Hale territory.”
Chris nods clinically, like he's absorbing information he'll need for a hunt. “Has he?”
The Seer pauses, filtering through some of the more useless visions and letting the answer come to him. “Yes,” he says simply. “He'll need Peter there to keep watch while he fixes it. It'll take a few hours.”
There is a moment of quiet between them. “I'm guessing the lunch date is canceled, then,” Chris says finally, trying and failing to hide the emotion from his tone. “I can take you home.”
Stiles' smile only grows wider. Because that is not going to happen.
The door to the balcony opens and closes. Peter glancing between them like he's heard every word so far. He has, Stiles knows.
“I have to meet Deaton at the edge of town in twenty minutes,” he says unnecessarily. He opens his mouth and falters, wanting to suggest that the two go without him but aware of the hesitation rolling off Chris in waves.
Stiles' eyes shine as he chuckles, startling the distress out of both men. “I guess Chris and I get our first date all to ourselves then, don't we?”
The tension visibly falls from the hunter's shoulders, and he smiles like the weight of the world has just sloughed from every limb. Peter smiles too, looking pleased and relieved as he makes his way to Chris and gives him a quick, hard kiss.
“You two enjoy yourselves,” he says, giving Stiles the same kiss before heading towards the door. “Stiles, put on some shoes. I have a pair you can borrow in the closet, here.” He points to a door near the front of the loft and then turns and gives him a smirk. “Unless you want Christopher to carry you to and from the car.”
Stiles shares a look with Chris. “Don't tempt me.”
Peter's laugh echoes in the loft as he slides the door open and closed.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles hums happily in the passenger seat of Chris' car, tapping the sides of the boots he'd pilfered from Peter's closet together. They wear the same size shoes, which delights the Seer to no end. He sees himself borrowing as many pairs of the Alpha's shoes in his relatively short future as he possibly can.
They're on their way to one of Stiles' favorite cafes. After a quick stop at the Stilinski home, Stiles finds himself dressed in the same skinny jeans he'd worn on his date with Peter—which Chris unabashedly stares at when he reappears from upstairs—and a soft, heather gray t-shirt under an only-slightly-wrinkled black plaid shirt.
They pull up to the cafe, finding it comfortably clustered with the edge of the morning rush, friendly employees quickly preparing for the lunch crowd. Stiles orders a cherry Italian soda and their famous turkey club sandwich (extra cucumber, no mayo). Chris orders the same, minus the soda. He asks for black coffee instead, and Stiles bites the inside of his cheek to stop himself from scolding the man. Chris isn't his father—he can't control his eating or drinking habits.
They take their drinks and find a table outside while they wait for their food. Chris watches him carefully as he sips at his coffee, and Stiles knows he hasn't hidden his disapproval very well.
“You've been giving me some dirty looks since we ordered,” the hunter says with a raised eyebrow. His tone doesn't betray his unease, but the wrinkles around his mouth show Stiles his worry. “Is something wrong?”
Stiles smiles reassuringly. “Not you. Just your coffee.” Chris' gaze shifts to the cup he'd set on the table, and the teen can see the scenarios of poison and slow death flickering in the hunter's eyes. “You drink too much caffeine. It's bad for you.”
Chris' gaze snaps back to the Seer, and Stiles hides his smile by wrapping his lips around the straw in his drink, completely aware of the hunter's full attention.
“Says the one sucking down a glass full of sugar,” Chris counters.
Stiles raises an eyebrow to mirror the other man, hollowing his cheeks just slightly and watching with satisfaction as Chris' lips part and his breath hitches. The Seer darts his tongue out to lick the sweetness from his lips as he releases the straw. “I'm nineteen. Pretty sure my metabolism burns it off as soon as it enters my system.”
Chris smirks. “You're very health-conscious for a teenager.”
Stiles sets his drink down, fingers sliding through the condensation on the side of the glass. “Only with people I care about.” He swallows and takes a breath before he can see the look on Chris' face. “Besides, in a month, I won't be a teenager anymore.” Not that Stiles will see his next birthday. But the subject change is something he needs before Chris starts asking the questions he really wants to ask.
Their food comes soon enough, and their conversation switches to something comfortably reminiscent of the one Stiles had on his date with Peter. Chris lets him ramble, smiles and laughs when the Seer gets worked up over the silliest things, offers his own input when Stiles mentions applying to colleges—a moot fantasy, but one that the teen has listlessly thought about when the world isn't plaguing him with his impending death.
“Did you graduate high school or get your GED?” Chris asks, sipping at the water he'd requested when their food arrived.
“Graduated early,” Stiles says, taking a bite and resisting the urge to moan into the sandwich. He does loose a small noise he can't quite help, watching as Chris' throat works to keep from choking. “I took a bunch of online classes, too. All my pre-reqs are done. Just kind of floating between which schools to apply to—what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Chris sits back in his chair, watching him carefully, and Stiles knows the hard questions have re-surfaced in his mind. They're one of two couples sitting outside in the early afternoon—the sun just warm enough to fight the chill of the air. The lunch rush has come and gone, the two of them taking their time to enjoy each others' company.
And Stiles has enjoyed his time with Chris, even if the hunter has been using it as an opportunity to study him, learn his ticks and quirks. It's only fair—Stiles knows a hell of a lot more about Chris than he probably should.
“Got something on my face?” Stiles asks, stalling the inevitable and grabbing a napkin.
Chris heaves a weighted breath. “I noticed something when you talk about the future,” he observes quietly, cautious of the people sitting only a few tables away. “You speak like you don't believe the words.”
Stiles balls the napkin in his fist and lets it roll onto his empty plate. “I want to,” he admits for the first time. “It'd be nice to live my life like I didn't know death is looming everywhere.”
Chris swallows, breathes. “You said something in the car—on the way back to Beacon Hills.” Stiles is quiet, waiting for the thoughts in Chris' head to settle into place. “You said that Peter doesn't deserve you, your misery.”
The Seer forces himself to keep eye contact, though he wants to look away so badly. “He doesn't,” he confirms. “Neither of you do.”
“From what I understand,” Chris says after a beat, “soulmates share each others' burdens. They carry the weight equally so that no one is left to suffer by themselves.” Stiles breathes, waits. “Peter and I have already told you that you're not alone, Stiles.”
The teen nods, biting the inside of his cheek before saying, “You have.”
“Then why,” the hunter starts, fingers stretching like he's resisting the urge to curl them into fists, “has everything you've done so far felt like a goodbye?” Stiles lets the admission settle, watches Chris fight to stand by his words and not take them back. “At first I thought it was because you planned on leaving Beacon Hills again. But the longer you stay, the more I realize that you have no reason to go, especially now that you aren't running from Peter.”
It stings, but Stiles can't fault Chris for his honesty. He takes a breath, tells the hunter about his first vision of Peter, his first happy moment since before his mom died. And then he tells him how he's going to die, how in all his time as a Seer, the vision of his death has only changed once—recently.
Chris' stony face softens as Stiles speaks, his hand inching across the table and clutching at the young man's as he shivers. His reaction is much like Peter's, with promises to keep him safe and assurances that he doesn't need to be afraid.
“I'm not afraid,” Stiles says lightly, smiling at the skeptical look on Chris' face. “I was at first. I mean, I was fourteen and seeing myself dead in the arms of a man I didn't know but already loved more than life itself. That alone should warrant years of therapy.” He looks down at their twined fingers. “But seeing death every day has a way of putting things into perspective.” He looks up again, Chris' eyes wide and full of worry. “I'm just one person. Shit happens all the time—really bad shit. And to compare my own life, my own death, to the ache of the world is selfish. And being scared of the inevitable robs me of what little life I have left.”
Stiles breathes, squeezes Chris' fingers. “I don't want to ruin what I have with you and Peter. I want to remember how perfect you both are, how happy I am.”
Chris leans forward, his free hand cupping Stiles' cheek. “Oh, baby,” he breathes, and the Seer loves loves loves this man. “You're not just one person, not to me. And not to Peter.” The hunter swallows hard, his throat clicking.
Stiles' breath hitches, and he revels in the warm touch. “I know,” he says huskily, an attempted smirk on his face. It wavers under his trembling lips, and Chris smooths a thumb across them soothingly.
“Knowing and believing are two very different things,” the hunter points out, and Stiles does his best to muffle the choked sound that builds in his throat.
“I know that, too,” he says, ducking out of Chris' hold and leaning back in his chair, though every bone in his body tells him that leaning away from the other man feels wrong wrong wrong.
Chris sits back, too, after a moment, looking displeased but not pressing the issue. “I didn't mean to upset you, Stiles.”
The Seer quickly shakes his head. “You didn't,” he says unconvincingly. “I guess I've just never talked to anyone about it before.” He gives the man a wry smile. “Outside of my own head.”
Chris sighs and tries his best to return the smile. “You've been alone for a long time. I didn't...” He pauses, looks down at the table with a frown. “I never thought of it that way. I always assumed you were on your own because you wanted to be. Not because you thought you had to be.” He looks up again, guilt and anguish etched into his features. Stiles hates that he feels that way—because of him. “And I'm angry.” The hunter's hands curl into fists. Stiles doesn't react, knows even if the feeling were directed towards him, he deserves it several times over. “I'm angry at myself for not realizing any of this until...”
Chris turns his arm so that the Polish name is just barely visible under his jacket sleeve. He breathes and waits until he's able to unclench his fists, looking at Stiles determinedly. “We're going to fix this. Peter and I will find a way, Stiles. Don't give up just yet.”
Stiles' expression doesn't change as he reaches forward and brings his soda towards himself, finishing it off.
The words sound nice, even if he doesn't believe them.
0 o 0 o 0
Chris is pleasantly surprised when instead of heading back to the car, Stiles slips cool fingers into the hunter's calloused hand, tugging gently and gesturing down the street.
“Date's not over yet, good-lookin',” the teen says with a wink and a small flush in his cheeks.
Chris laughs and lets the younger man pull him a few steps more before Stiles settles comfortably at his side, his free hand wrapping around the hunter's arm as well. “So where to now?”
“You'll see,” Stiles says with an easy smile, squeezing the man's hand. “I want to show you something.”
They fall into a comfortable quiet, Stiles humming gently under his breath as Chris' thoughts wander. It baffles him, the range of emotions he's felt since meeting Stiles face-to-face. Anger is still freshest and strongest in his mind, but guilt and awe and love have steadily been eating away at it.
Love. Chris can't say that he fully trusts that particular feeling just yet. But the fact that he feels it at all has to mean something. Peter has been a fairly consistent presence in his life for some time now, so the love he has for the Alpha is hesitant but genuine. The love he has for Stiles—not even a day old yet—is so fresh that the hunter is almost certain it still has him in shock.
He's spent so long resenting soulmates that the sudden presence of not one but two has him dizzy to the point of euphoria.
“I didn't think it was possible, but I'm pretty sure your thoughts are even louder than mine,” Stiles says, his words soft but easily breaking Chris' concentration. “You okay in there?”
The hunter huffs a forced a laugh. “Do you read minds now, too?”
“No,” Stiles says absently. “You just seem far away, that's all.”
Chris swallows and nods, taking a breath to voice his insecurities when the young man, suddenly, stops and turns to face a store front that the hunter recognizes but has never entered before. “This is it.”
Chris glances back at Stiles skeptically. “Are you sure this isn't a place you'd rather take Peter?” He's certainly not as knowledgeable as Peter and Stiles are, in a literary sense, but he does enjoy the occasional book. “It was supposed to be your date with him, I mean.”
“It was,” Stiles agrees readily, not put off in the least. “And I'll bring him here sometime.” He tugs the hunter towards the shop with a smile. “But we're not here for the books today.”
Chris says nothing until they're at the door, which has a large 'Out to Lunch' sign hanging from it. According to the little clock with moveable hands, they won't return for another half hour. Before the older man can suggest that they come back later, Stiles reaches forward and knocks once on the glass, loud and sharp.
There's movement from inside, and Chris watches as an elderly man carefully makes his way to the door. He peers out at them, smiling and waving at Stiles before unlocking the door and backing away to hold it open for them.
“Told you I'd be back, Charlie,” Stiles says with a broad smile, patting the man on the shoulder as he passes him.
Charlie nods and hums. “Never doubted it, young man. You youngsters know better than I do.” He closes the front door and locks it again, reaching into his pocket and extracting a single, ordinary key, which he presses into Stiles' hand as he walks by them on his way back to the front counter. “You know the rules.”
“No touching what isn't mine,” the teen recites easily, pulling Chris towards the back of the store. He weaves through bookcases that seem to go on much more than the hunter thinks the small shop should have room for.
Stiles squeezes his hand. “Don't let go,” he says quietly, amusement lacing his tone, “unless you want to find yourself in Narnia.”
Chris smirks, squeezing back. “Whatever you say, Mr. Tumnus.”
The reference startles a laugh out of the teen, and he glances back at the man with bright eyes. They come to a plain door that, despite its ordinary-ness, doesn't quite look like it belongs there. Stiles slides the key into the lock, pausing and looking over his shoulder with both hesitation and assurance warring on his face.
“Remember the rule—no touching.”
Chris swallows and breathes and nods. Something stirs in his gut, and suddenly he's on full-alert as Stiles unlocks the door and leads the older man into the room. The hunter isn't sure what to prepare himself for, but when they enter and a motion sensor causes a row of fluorescent lights to stutter to life, he's somewhat confused to find that it looks exactly like the rest of the bookstore they'd wound their way through.
Shelves upon shelves stand neatly from floor to ceiling, stretching from one end of the room to the other. Unmarked books line each and every one, organized by color and size. Besides the stale tidiness of the room, nothing seems overly odd about it.
Stiles turns and closes the door behind them, bouncing on the balls of his feet and giving Chris an anxious smile. “Okay,” he breathes, shoulders falling like he's telling himself to relax. “I know it doesn't look like much, but this place is...special.” He starts to slowly walk backwards down the rows, careful to keep himself compact in the limited space.
Chris follows, looking around curiously. “What are these?”
“Notebooks,” Stiles explains, reaching behind himself and pulling a similar notebook from his back pocket and shaking it. “Seer notebooks, more specifically.”
They stop, and the hunter raises an eyebrow at the small journal that Stiles returns to his pocket. “What makes them Seer notebooks?”
Stiles starts down an aisle with a small “M” marking the shelf, and Chris suddenly notices that they're labeled alphabetically. “I guess it would make more sense to call them 'Seer-friendly,'” the teen explains. “They're just regular notebooks. But Charlie makes them, so he's the only one that's touched them.”
Chris looks around again with renewed surprise. “All of them?” There must be thousands crammed onto the packed shelves, no empty spots in sight.
“He's been making them for years. Had a shelf set up for me before I even knew I was a Seer.” Stiles stops walking and glances up, pointing to a shelf about three feet above their heads. It's not marked in any way, and the notebooks are distinguishable only because they match the one Stiles has with him.
The teen reaches off to his left, grabbing a sliding ladder that is attached to the shelf and gliding it into place beside the section he'd indicated. He gives Chris a wry smile and says, “Catch me if I fall?”
Chris steps up to him and wraps his hands around the young man's hips. “Always.”
Stiles' gaze goes a little distant as the promise makes his heart stutter, and he blinks once before laughing and turning to climb the ladder. Chris' hands don't leave his hips.
“So Charlie is the only one that touches these?” he asks conversationally as the young man takes his time looking over what seem to be very similar notebooks—though with the view Chris is getting, he certainly isn't offering any complaints.
“Yeah,” Stiles confirms, sounding like he already knows what Chris is going to ask next but waiting patiently for the question anyway. He shifts a little so that the older man's fingers breach the hem of his shirt, warmth trailing across his pale, mole-pocked skin.
“Don't you get visions from touching it, then?”
Stiles uses one long, skilled finger to tip a single notebook out of the row, sliding it out and assessing it carefully. “A few,” he admits, glancing down at the other man and smiling at the sight of Chris holding him so steadily, looking up at him like he's everything. “But Charlie's a pretty chill guy. The whole bookstore-owner life is kind of calming.”
Stiles takes the few steps down the ladder, smirking when Chris doesn't step back but instead presses himself to the young man's front as he turns around to face him.
“And what's so important about these notebooks?” the hunter asks like his mouth isn't brushing along Stiles' jaw, like he isn't practically humping Stiles into the shelves—that would be a hard one to explain to Charlie.
The Seer sucks in a tight breath and wraps an arm around Chris' neck to keep his balance. “It's like an outlet,” he says distractedly, still mindful of their location. “Writing things down helps me clear my head, keeps things from getting too confusing.”
Chris pulls back slightly, leveling Stiles with a look that's half lust and half seriousness. “Like last night?”
Stiles sighs, disappointed that the moment is gone and annoyed at the reminder that, yes, it was just last night that he was a comatose popsicle on Peter's couch. “Sometimes like that, yeah,” he admits, taking Chris' hand and leading him back out of the aisle and towards the door. “But not if I write things down.”
“What do you do with them once they're full?” The hunter feels like he's asking a lot of questions, but Stiles doesn't seem bothered by them. They leave the room, and the teen locks up after them.
“If they don't have anything relevant, I usually just burn them.” Stiles shrugs. “No use holding onto them. And they could be big trouble in the wrong hands.”
They get to the front, and Stiles taps the notebook on the counter, sliding the small, ordinary key across to the old man. “Thanks, Charlie. Sorry for interrupting your lunch.”
Charlie waves the comment off as he stands, chewing and swallowing a bite of what appears to be an egg salad sandwich. He unlocks the front door and sees them off with an absent smile.
“He doesn't charge you for them?” Chris asks after Stiles shoves the notebook away with his other one and resumes his place at the hunter's side.
“He's a man of few words and a heart of gold,” the teen says softly. “His wife was a Seer. He started making notebooks for her, and then word sort of got around. He doesn't charge for them, but he takes anonymous donations.” At Chris' curious look, Stiles elaborates. “Doesn't leave a trail.”
Chris nods. “Did she die young, his wife?”
The younger man's eyebrows raise in momentary surprise, like he wasn't expecting the question. Good to know the Seer can still be perplexed. “No, actually. She died just a few years ago.”
A short pause hangs between them before the hunter says, “So Seers can live to old age.”
Visions of Charlie's wife losing herself, succumbing to the onslaught of her gift as her mental walls weakened with age, unable to care for herself or even remember her husband, filter through Stiles' mind. “I wouldn't really call it living,” he murmurs somberly,
Chris stops short, and Stiles nearly trips, but the hunter's hands grab hold of his arms. He's gently guided until the two are facing each other, Chris looking at him with an unreadable expression. Stiles almost expects the we're-going-to-fix-this speech again, can practically see the words on Chris' tongue as he takes a breath.
But the words the older man says catch him by surprise yet again.
“Thank you.” Chris rubs his thumbs back and forth on Stiles' arms comfortingly, offering a small but genuine smile. “I know that can't have been easy, sharing something so private.”
Stiles nods, gaze flickering to the man's mouth as Chris licks his lips. “I've never brought anyone there before,” he admits, the truth of the words hitting him square in the gut.
Chris' smile widens slightly. “Peter will be jealous that I was the first.”
Stiles laughs almost nervously. “Well, he got the first kiss. And the first date. So he can deal.”
The hunter raises an eyebrow. “Is that permission to catch up?”
Stiles' breath stutters as Chris leans in. “Couldn't hurt to try.”
It blindsides him with visions, but the kiss is sweet sweet sweet.
0 o 0 o 0
Peter's shoulders sag as he enters his loft and toes off his shoes. He hadn't thought being Deaton's look-out would be so strenuous, but keeping himself on high-alert for such a long period of time has his whole body aching.
The sight that greets him, however, sets him completely at ease.
Chris and Stiles sit on opposite ends of the couch, bare feet meeting in the center cushion. They both look relaxed, the hunter with one of Peter's favorite books and the teen writing in a small, pocket-sized notebook. The Alpha almost wants to take a picture...and with a smirk and some quick maneuvering, he manages to snap one on his phone before making his way into the room.
Chris looks up from the book in his lap and smiles, craning his neck back as Peter leans down and kisses him deep and slow.
“How was your date?” the Alpha asks quietly, glancing at Stiles, who hasn't looked up or stopped scribbling.
“I enjoyed it,” Chris says genuinely. “We went to lunch, and then Stiles took me to a bookstore.”
“A bookstore?” Peter asks with interest as he gently nudges Stiles forward and slips behind him. “Which one?”
“I've been there. Dozens of times.”
Chris nods. “I've never been inside—never really had a need to. Stiles...” The hunter studies the preoccupied teen with a fond smile. “He made it a very interesting experience.”
Peter wraps his arms around Stiles and nuzzles behind the young man's ear. “You'll have to take me sometime, sweet boy.”
Stiles' only reaction is a soft hum and a hitch in his breath.
“And I hope you two didn't tire yourselves out today. I have a surprise planned for tonight.”
Chris watches one corner of Stiles' mouth twitch and huffs in amusement. “A surprise for one of us, at least.”
Peter chuckles low in his throat and glides his fingers through the mess of hair on the teen's head. “Is that true, darling?”
Stiles sighs and leans into the touch, starved for it. “I've seen our next five dates,” he admits, smirking and turning his head slightly so he can see Peter out of the corner of his eye. “I particularly like date number four.”
A comfortable quiet engulfs them, Stiles' writing a gentle white noise, before Chris asks, “How are the border wards?”
The Alpha sighs and leans back, his hold on Stiles loosening slightly. “Weak. Deaton was able to re-ward the spot he found, but he couldn't guarantee that no one had slipped past it before he found it. And more keep appearing. We won't be able to fix them fast enough.”
Chris nods. “We'll set up patrols along the town lines. We have the advantage of number. The Alpha pack won't enter Beacon Hills without us noticing.”
“The Northern border along the preserve is weakest,” Stiles says abruptly, his writing never faltering. “The Alpha pack has been doing their own patrols. They already know about it. If there's going to be a breach, it'll be soon before we can strengthen the wards. They'll be more difficult to track there.”
Chris and Peter exchange a calculating look, and the hunter sets his book aside. “I'll make some calls.” Standing, he pulls out his cellphone and thumbs through his contacts.
Peter presses his chest to Stiles' back again and wraps his arms around the teen's middle. “How did you get so smart, my beautiful boy?” he murmurs.
“My mother died and abandoned me with an unresponsive drunk of a father and horrific visions that leave me catatonic on the best of days...” Stiles trails off and sucks in a tight breath, pen scratching a long line across the page as he startles. Fucking brain-to-mouth filter. “Shit. I, um...”
Chris ends his call mid-ring, face blank and lips drawn together tight as he watches the teen with careful concern. Peter turns Stiles in his lap so that he can clearly make eye contact.
“I didn't mean to say that,” the Seer says in a rushed breath, drawing in air like he can't get enough. “I kind of just blurt things when when I'm concentrating...I'm sorry. I'm—”
“Stiles,” Chris says firmly, and the teen stops. Swallows. Breathes. The hunter leans down in front of him, taking the hand that isn't in Peter's. “You never need to apologize to us—not for who you are.”
Peter threads his fingers through Stiles' hair and kisses his forehead. “No apologies, sweetheart. I shouldn't have interrupted you.” He levels the teen with a serious look. “But if you do ever need to talk about anything, Chris and I are always here.”
“Always, baby,” the hunter promises softly.
Stiles blinks the sting in his eyes away. There's no way he deserves this, no way these men need his particular brand of crazy in their lives. But they're looking at him like he's everything.
It's going to hurt so, so much...
“I know,” he manages past the thickness in his throat, shaking his head as he realizes what he's said. “I mean, thank you. Both of you.”
Peter leans forward and kisses Stiles' right temple while Chris presses his lips to the left side of the teen's jaw. And then things go somewhat back to normal. The Alpha turns Stiles back to his original position and leans back against the arm of the couch, dozing as he rubs circles into the teen's back.
The hunter gives Stiles' hand one last squeeze before he stands and begins his calls again, speaking in a sharp, hushed tone as he steps out onto the balcony.
And the Seer writes and sees.
...so, so much.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles should have known better.
Peter takes him and Chris to the preserve, takes his time as he leisurely walks them to a small, secluded clearing.
It's much more beautiful than Stiles saw in his vision, and his breath hitches. Faerie lights line the trees, the forest floor accented with LED candles that flicker like real flames. And in the center of the clearing is a blanket piled with pillows and containers of food.
The teen releases both Peter and Chris' hands and walks ahead of them into the clearing, head tilted back as he takes in the yawning sky that stretches above the treeline. He can see the stars here—twinkling little teeth embedded in a massive black canvas—something he was never able to do in the city. He's missed this place, his home, so much. “Wow.”
“And here I thought I couldn't surprise you, darling,” Peter says with amusement.
Stiles hums and turns slowly, gaze never leaving the sky. “You're always surprising me, Peter.” He smiles and looks back at the two men, his soulmates. “You both are such an amazing surprise.”
And for a very short moment, he can't imagine leaving them. He can't imagine their lives without him. It seems almost selfish, but he knows it isn't. He knows without a doubt that they're happy with him.
So when a chill runs up his spine and the smile on his face falls and his eyes cloud over and a thin mist ghosts past his lips with only one word...
...Stiles should have known better than to think he could be this lucky.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles wakes, and it's to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he can't make sense of.
He's cold, and his head hurts more than the visions usually illicit. He remembers...everything: Chris grabbing his hand and pulling him back through the woods in the direction of the car, Peter's pained howling as he fought off the three Alphas that had come for them.
As soon as the Seer had come back into town, the Alpha pack's focus had been centered on him. The visions of Chris' death were a misdirection, something to keep him from seeing what their end-goal really was. He should have known, should have seen.
Now Chris and Peter could be lying in the woods somewhere, hurt and dying. And Stiles can't do anything about it.
He grunts and presses his palm against cool tile, pushing himself up into a sitting position. He's out of breath by the time he leans back on what he thinks is a pillar, running shaking fingers through his hair. Hissing as he touches a tender spot—a spot he remembers exploding with pain before everything went dark—he feels something slick and sticky coat his hand.
Great. He's bleeding.
With a hesitant squint, he glances around. The room is dark, but he knows almost immediately where he is. He's seen it before. It's the vault of the bank where the Alphas have been hiding. The vault where they're keeping—
“Cora?” he asks, wincing as the hoarseness of his own voice makes his head pound. He breathes harshly into the quiet before a defensive tone answers him.
“Do I know you?”
Stiles huffs in relief and closes his eyes. He's so tired. “No,” he admits, whimpering as he tries to shift into a more comfortable position. “But I know your family—Laura and Derek. And Peter.”
There's a desperate scuffling, and then Cora's voice is much closer. “They're alive?”
Stiles smiles despite the pain, knowing the werewolf will be able to see it. “Yeah,” he says softly. “They know you're here. And they're coming for you. I promise.”
The sound of a long inhale echoes in the empty expanse of the vault, and then there is a warm body plastered to his left side. “You smell like Uncle Peter.”
Stiles shivers and leans into the warmth greedily. “I'm his soulmate.”
Cora shifts and then her arm is around the Seer's shoulders. “Then he'll be coming for you, too.”
Stiles knows. And he tries not to shake too hard at the vision of Peter clutching his lifeless body to his own.
0 o 0 o 0
Laura finds Peter and Chris in the woods, beaten and bleeding. Peter is healing sluggishly, the wounds from the Alphas brutal and almost too much. Chris was lucky enough to escape with only a head wound, but he's still unconscious, and half his face is dripping in blood. Laura calls Derek, and between the two of them, they're able to get the injured men back to the loft.
“You need a hospital,” Allison grouses as she stitches the clotted wound on her father's head. Chris grunts but barely flinches as she finishes tying off the last of the medical thread and cleans the swollen area before placing a bandage over it.
“Later,” he says, inspecting her work with his fingers and standing from the kitchen table.
Peter lies on the living room couch, breathing ragged as both Laura and Derek sit close by, taking what pain they can from him.
Chris crouches beside his soulmate, taking his hand and squeezing. “How bad is it?”
Laura sighs, eyebrows furrowed in full Hale fashion. “He's in a lot of pain. It'll be another day before he's healed enough to get back on his feet.”
“I'm...fine,” Peter says, tone trembling and a sheen of sweat on his face. Chris huffs as the Alpha attempts to sit up, placing a hand on his uninjured shoulder—the other one was only recently popped back into place—and gently pressing him back onto the couch.
“You're not,” the hunter counters. “You need to rest.”
“So do you,” Allison pipes up from the kitchen.
Chris ignores her. “Stay put.”
“Stiles,” Peter says desperately, and the hunter feels his chest tighten.
Stiles had told them to run, but the Alphas were already there, waiting to attack...
Peter grabs Stiles' unresponsive form just as one of the Alphas—the woman known as Kali—snatches at him. He shoves the Seer into Chris' arms. “Get to the car. I'll hold them back.”
The hunter pushes Stiles behind him and begins to back away, the gun he'd hidden in his jacket out and pointed at the approaching intruders.
“Get. Stiles. Out of here,” Peter demands, eyes flashing red.
Chris doesn't hesitate, turning and dragging Stiles through the trees. He grinds his teeth as Peter's howls of pain echo around them, but he pushes on. Stiles stumbles, and the hunter jerks the teen's arm to keep him on his feet.
“Keep moving!” he shouts, glancing behind them and firing on the Alpha he can see weaving through the trees. Stiles' surprised shout is all the warning he gets before he turns his attention forward again and his head is grabbed and slammed into the nearest tree.
Chris sighs as guilt fills him. “I know. I was supposed to protect him.”
“You gave me an order,” the hunter interrupts, jaw tightening as his anger rises. “I failed you.”
Clammy, trembling fingers ghost along his cheek, and he closes his eyes.
“Chris,” Peter wheezes, grimacing as he swallows a mouthful of blood, “don't do this. You did everything you could.”
Chris covers his soulmate's hand with his own. “So did you.” They share a moment of quiet before the hunter takes in a sharp breath. “We'll get him back.”
He hopes he sounds more confident than he feels.
0 o 0 o 0
The air in the vault is stale and cold—it hurts his throat. He coughs, grimacing when his head gives a sharp pain. Cora tightens her grip on him and sucks in a sharp breath.
“Someone's coming,” she murmurs.
Stiles shivers. “I know.”
The vault door screeches as it opens, and two of the Alphas—the twins—enter, their boots heavy on the smooth floor. Stiles knows why they're here—knows everything, always—so he's not surprised when they push Cora out of the way and grab him by each arm.
Cora growls weakly and claws at their legs. Stiles appreciates the sentiment, useless as it is, and winces when one of the twins kicks her aside.
“Laura's going to kill you for that,” the teen slurs, squinting as the lights outside the vault burn his eyes.
“We'll see,” a deep voice echoes in the abandoned bank.
Stiles is thrown to the ground on his knees, the twins flanking him and keeping a hand on each of his shoulders. Like he has the strength to go anywhere...
“I already have,” Stiles says matter-of-factly, swallowing hard when bile crawls up his throat, “Deucalion.”
The Alphas surrounding them shift nervously, and Stiles has a short-lived sense of satisfaction.
“You know me?” Deucalion asks uneasily.
Stiles breathes hard as he looks up at the man, smirking to hide a grimace. The dizziness of moving so suddenly is catching up to him. “You don't look like a Demon Wolf.”
The silence that follows is broken by a high, lilting laugh, and suddenly there is a hooded figure crouched in front of him. Stiles gasps and tries to recoil, but the hands on his shoulders keep him in place.
Stiles hasn't felt that for a very long time. What is there to be afraid of when he can see everything that's coming?
“You know what I am, Little Seer?” the woman in the hood whispers, and the power behind her words makes Stiles' lungs seize as her frighteningly shriveled hands come up to cradle his face.
The visions that hit him make him gasp, choke on air. Horrifying and dark and miserable images flash behind his eyes.
He understands now why the Alpha pack's decisions have been so sporadic, why he couldn't lock onto a stable vision of their plans. She's been manipulating them from behind the scenes, making all the calls but excluding herself from the execution of them.
Stiles screams and claws at the hands on his face, ripping away from the twins' grips and curling in on himself. The image of her scarred skin is stuck in his head, and he beats his fists against his temples to try and knock it loose.
The figure chuckles and leans over him, ignoring his whimpers and running a hand through his hair. “Magnificent. So much power.”
“Stop,” Stiles begs, wishing his body would give out and fall into unconsciousness. He shakes and cries and breathes and breathes and breathes.
“The eclipse is tomorrow,” Deucalion says. “Will you be ready for the ritual?”
“Yes,” the Darach—Jennifer, Stiles knows—sighs with contentment, fingers tightening against the teen's scalp. “It will be quick. They'll come for him then.” She leans down and presses a kiss into the young man's hair. “There will be so much pain, Stiles.”
The Seer is relieved when unconsciousness reaches up and drags him into dark, dreamless depths.
0 o 0 o 0
Peter limps as he paces, the ankle that had been broken the night before no more than a mild sprain. Chris watches him from the couch, wincing as he sits forward on bruised ribs. The adrenalin from the past day has kept him relatively pain-free. But he feels it—all of it—now.
“Don't,” the Alpha demands, eyes flashing red as he growls. The young wolves sitting and standing around the loft wince, giving the man his space as he seethes.
The hunter, however, huffs in annoyance and stands slowly. “The eclipse isn't going to get here any faster just because you're impatient. You're putting everyone on edge. Now come sit down and rest.”
“I am rested,” Peter says unconvincingly, continuing to prowl the loft's living room. Chris sighs and steps in front of him as he makes another pass, opening his mouth to, again, convince him to sit. But Peter's next desperate words make him falter. “He's been warning us since he came back into town.” The Alpha's breath hitches, and Chris sees just how close to losing it Peter really is. “He knew this would happen, but he stayed because I asked him to. Because I couldn't let him be. I dragged him into this, and he...”
Peter swallows thickly, fighting the prickling at the backs of his eyes. “He thinks he's going to die. It's my fault he's here, and he thinks he's going to die. Chris...”
The hunter gathers Peter in his arms, squeezing as hard as his battered body will allow. “He's not going to die. We made him a promise, and we're going to keep it.” Chris loosens his hold but doesn't release Peter as he turns to the others. “The eclipse is tonight. The Alpha pack will be at their weakest.” He and Peter share a solemn look. “But so will we. We're going to need to rely on strategy rather than strength. So...”
Peter nods and breathes.
“Let's get started.”
0 o 0 o 0
“Stay awake.” Cora prods Stiles' shoulder, and he inhales sharply through his nose and raises his head.
“I am,” he says tiredly, chin lowering back towards his chest.
“ 'M just resting my eyes.”
“You have a head injury.”
“You don't say?”
Cora snorts, her eyeroll auditory. “I can see why you're Peter's soulmate.”
Stiles does raise his head at that, remorse making his chest tighten.
“What's wrong?” Cora asks, and the Seer hears her inhale. “You smell sad.”
Stiles sighs. “I wish Peter and Chris were here.”
The young woman squeezes his arm. “They're coming, Stiles. Just hold on a bit longer.”
But the Seer knows he doesn't have a bit longer. “Cora...I want to do something for you.”
“You need to save your strength.”
“I don't have time for that.” Stiles grunts when he shifts forward, arms shaking as he turns himself to face the other teen. “They'll be here in a few minutes to take me. Just...let me do something for you and your family.”
Cora leans forward, wrapping her arms around him and rubbing her cheek into his jaw. “Our family.”
Stiles laughs to keep himself from crying. “Yeah. Our family.” And another person that he'll leave behind when he's gone. “C'mere. And stay still.”
Cora releases him and sits back, shivering when he presses shaking fingers to her temples.
Stiles breathes and watches a faint glow emanate from his fingertips.
And then the vault door swings open.
0 o 0 o 0
Deucalion's neck snaps under Peter's fingers with a satisfying echo in the abandoned bank, and the Demon Wolf is no more. Peter feels a rush of power ignite in his bones, feels the temptation to keep it for himself. But a single thought of Stiles quickly extinguishes the idea, and he disperses the flood of power throughout his pack.
“Stiles isn't here,” he says breathlessly, gaze locking with Chris'. The hunter stands over the bodies of the Alphas known as Ennis and Kali.
“There's a heart beat,” Laura says, her and Derek's faces streaked with the blood of the twins.
“Cora,” Derek growls behind sharp teeth. The eclipse is nearly over, their strength beginning to return.
“Wait!” Peter calls, getting to his nephew just as the young beta begins to turn the lock on the vault door. “What's this?” The Alpha's fingers hover over a pair of shimmering words. They aren't etched into the metal, and it's no kind of ink that Peter has ever seen.
Moon sickness, it says. Magic surrounds it, and the handwriting is clearly Stiles'.
Peter studies the vault, and suddenly he knows what the message means. “Stand back,” he warns, gently guiding Derek behind him before bracing himself and unlocking the door. It swings open with a deafening, rusty screech, and the heart beat within the vault quickens.
No one appears for a long moment, and when a small scuffling sounds, Peter takes a sharp breath and holds it. A young woman, unmistakeably the missing Hale, steps into the newly-appeared moonlight.
“Cora?” the Alpha asks carefully, and surprisingly aware eyes center on him, filling with tears.
Cora is calm, albeit a little shaky, and when she croaks out, “Uncle Peter?” the last of the Hale pack swarms her. Laura and Derek whine low in their throats, scenting their sister as much as possible.
Peter releases her first, wiping her tears and cradling her face. “Cora, how...” He looks into the vault, studies the walls and the ceiling. “This vault disperses moonlight. You haven't been able to shift.”
“The message on the door,” Chris says quietly, not wanting to interrupt the moment. “How are you not sick?”
Cora swallows hard. “Stiles,” she says simply. “He said he would leave a message in case it didn't work, but...it did. He healed me.” Her eyes shine desperately, and her tone wavers in distress. “Uncle Peter, you and Chris need to find him. He doesn't have the strength to fight her and survive.”
“Who?” Chris asks, goosebumps rising on his arms as the room around them goes cold.
Cora concentrates. She's so, so tired. “He said she's a...Darach.”
Peter exhales like the air has been punched out of him. “Where? Cora, where did she take him?”
The young woman breathes, and the sound is like sandpaper on cement. “The Nemeton.”
0 o 0 o 0
The stars are pretty, Stiles thinks. And they distract him from the fading pain in his limbs. He lies stretched in the center of the Nemeton, five metal stakes pinning him to the large stump—one in each wrist, one in each shin, and one piercing his right side. He'd screamed when Jennifer had driven them in one at a time, cried when she laughed at his agony, prayed for Peter and Chris to find him..Save him.
“Save me,” he whispers to the moon, and She answers in the most glorious way.
A howl, low and angry, echoes through the trees surrounding the clearing, and a trembling smile stretches the Seer's cracked lips. His wolf is coming for him.
0 o 0 o 0
Peter sprints into the clearing and bares his teeth. He smelled blood—Stiles' blood—about a mile back and wasn't able to stop himself from leaving Chris behind at the SUV they'd driven to the outskirts of the town. The hunter will find them, the Alpha has no doubts about that.
But what Peter finds is what he has dreaded since their soulmate was taken from them.
The Darach—or what's left of her—lies in a steaming heap beside the massive tree stump; Stiles' doing, Peter assumes. Or maybe the Nemeton's. Power rolls off of it in waves, twisting something in the werewolf's stomach.
“No.” Peter chokes on the word, stumbling forward as he wills his legs to move.
Don't fall. Don't fall.
He jumps onto the stump and leans over the teen's shivering form.
Still alive. Still alive.
“Peter,” Stiles says on a shallow breath. His lips are stained red, his teeth slick with blood as he smiles up at the older man. “I knew you'd find me.”
“Oh, sweet boy,” Peter whispers, tone wavering and tears stinging his eyes as his hands flutter inches above the Seer's body, too afraid to touch.
Stiles' gaze swivels sluggishly. “Chris?” he asks, though the name is more of a gurgle. His eyelids droop, and he arches against the stakes pinning him.
“Shh, darling. He's coming. He's almost here, just hold on.” Peter listens for Chris' approach—he's still more than a minute away.
The Seer's head lolls to the side, and he stares blankly at the stake in his left wrist, stretching his fingers experimentally. “Take them out,” he murmurs, and Peter expels a broken noise.
“Please.” The teen's eyes are wide now, his cheeks wet and raw from tears. He tugs against the stakes, and Peter grabs his arm to stop him, wincing in sympathy. After a quiet moment, the Alpha makes a frustrated noise and shakes his head.
“I can't...Stiles, I can't take your pain.”
Stiles breathes and swallows copper from the back of his throat and smiles so serenely. “I don't feel any, Peter.”
Peter ducks his head to the teen's chest and shakes and sobs. Because he knows what that means. His fingers wrap deftly around the stake in the teen's left wrist, and he cries out when he can't find the strength to pull it.
Warm fingers wrap around his own, and his fist tightens. “Together,” Chris whispers in his ear, and Peter lifts his head, meeting Stiles' eyes before the first stake comes out.
Stiles gasps but shows no signs of pain, so Peter and Chris make quick work of the three pinning his limbs. And then the Alpha's hand carefully wraps around the one in Stiles' side.
“Let me give you the bite,” he begs. “You'll turn. You'll heal.”
Stiles lifts a heavy arm, bloody fingers gliding over Peter's cheek. “You can't turn supernatural beings. It won't—”
“You're still human. It might.”
The Seer sighs and looks over the Alpha's face like he's trying to memorize it. “Oh, Peter...I wish I hadn't done this to you.” His gaze goes distant, but he manages to find Chris' beautiful, tear-filled eyes. “Either of you.”
“Don't,” Chris pleads, voice breaking as the tears he's held back fall. “Don't go, baby. Please.”
Stiles' trembling fingers wrap around Peter's, and he gives a jerky nod, his mouth falling open but no sound escaping as the Alpha tugs the last stake from his body. The spot where the stake had been feels warm. And then suddenly the teen is very, very—
“Cold,” he whispers, and Peter gathers the young man to him, pressing his face into the crook of Stiles' neck as Chris wraps his arms around the both of them. They shiver and shake together until a final breath curls from Stiles' lips into the air and disappears.
0 o 0 o 0
The stars are pretty, Stiles thinks.
And darkness pulls him under.
0 o 0 o 0
Stiles wakes to fever and pain and a thousand noises he can't make sense of. It hurts to breathe.
He opens his eyes to a dull light that burns but stings less the more he looks around. Hospital, his sluggish mind suggests, and suddenly the noises make more sense. Beeping and hissing and drip-drip-dripping. He hasn't been in a hospital since visiting Peter, but he remembers these sounds very well.
“Hey, Kiddo.” The whispered words are a God-send, and he lets his head loll to the right, lets the image of his father smiling wide and worried and relieved fill him with calm.
“Hey,” he whispers back, and his throat aches with rawness. He swallows a few times but the dryness sticks like sand, and his dad lifts a paper cup with a straw to his lips. It's liquid fire going down his throat, but he closes his eyes against the ease of it and sighs.
“Had us all worried,” Noah says, and Stiles feels warm, calloused fingers run through his hair. He wants to cry because it feels so good, but he knows the visions are coming, that he's too tired and weak to block the images.
So he waits.
And he waits.
And the visions don't come.
His eyes snap open, and he centers in on his father desperately, snatching his wrist like a lifeline.
“Stiles?” Noah asks, gently placing his free hand over the teen's own. “Son, what—”
“I can't see.” Stiles stares at his own white-knuckled fingers like he hasn't seen them before. The lack of visions doesn't frighten him like he thinks it should. In fact, it's so relieving that tears sting the corners of his eyes. The weight of knowing, everything always, is suddenly just...gone. “I can't see. I can't see.”
There's a stirring across the room, and Stiles turns wide eyes on Peter and Chris, curled uncomfortably in hospital chairs and blinking sleep from dazed eyes. Nothing makes them more alert than seeing Stiles awake and worried.
“Stiles?” Peter asks, reaching him first. “What's wrong?”
“Did he say he can't see?” Chris asks Noah, and the sheriff stands.
“I'll get the nurse,” he says quietly, but the look on his face isn't one of concern.
Peter takes Stiles' face in both hands and makes a point to keep direct eye contact. “Darling, look at me. Let me see.”
Stiles' breath looses in a stuttered rush, and he wraps trembling fingers around Peter's warm hands. The blue of his eyes is so much more stunning, so much more spectacular.
“Stiles,” Chris says firmly, and the teen's gaze snaps to the hunter.
Is this what it's like to see without the haze of visions always in his periphery? He thought the world was vivid before, but now that he can see...
Now that he can see...
“I can see you,” he whispers, and he chokes on a half-laugh half-sob as he reaches for Chris and pulls him closer. “I can see you.”
They hold Stiles tight as he laughs and cries, exchanging confused glances until Melissa McCall enters the room like a force of nature. She ushers the men aside and checks Stiles' vitals with quick precision and a gentle smile. Her hands are wonderfully warm, and the teen shivers.
Melissa falters, pursing her lips. “How bad are the visions?”
Stiles releases an incredulous huff. How can they not know? Not understand? He feels like he's said it a hundred times, and the happiness he feels because of it is the best thing he can remember feeling since finding his soulmates.
His soulmates who are beautiful and amazing. He can't stop staring at them.
“He's having trouble focusing,” Melissa states clinically, sucking in one of her cheeks and biting on it as she thinks. “Noah, have the visions elicited this sort of reaction before?”
Noah steps up to the bed and places a hand on the teen's shoulder, bringing Stiles' attention back to him. “Son...are you having any visions?”
And of course his dad would know, would be the one to figure it out. The smile on the teen's face stretches the rawness of his cheeks, and his chest loosens and expands as he shakes his head, as he breaths out the word, “No.”
And then Noah's hugging him, and it feels so good. He hasn't been held like this since before his mother died, since the visions started, since every touch and brush of skin made images explode behind his eyes.
He can hear himself think.
He can feel pain everywhere but his head, and that, to him, is wonderful.
To the others in the room, however...
He sits back with a wince and a grunt, watching Peter round the bed and take his hand. Black tendrils snake up his arm, and Stiles frowns.
“Does that hurt?”
Peter smiles and shakes his head, running warm fingers through the teen's hair. “Not at all, sweetheart.”
Chris steps up beside Peter, placing his hand over the Alpha's, and Stiles drifts to sleep with the images of his soulmates smiling down at him...and nothing else.
0 o 0 o 0
As usual, Deaton doesn't know shit. But he has a theory.
It's three weeks before Stiles is sitting in the veterinarian's office—three long weeks of being told not to move unless absolutely necessary, of being denied his favorite greasy foods because they don't mix well with his medication, of being scolded over and over for disregarding both such limitations. It's not like he can help the fact that his ADHD prevents him from sitting still for too long, or that Erica loves him enough to sneak him curly fries when Peter and Chris aren't home.
Three weeks full of pain and crying and anger, and suddenly Deaton is telling him—
Stiles blinks. “No shit,” the former seer says bluntly, and Peter huffs in amusement from the corner of the room, his attention split between the conversation and the tattered texts lining the veterinarian's bookshelf. “That sucked.”
“What I mean, Mr. Stilinski—”
“I'm human. I get it.”
Deaton tilts his head in that way that Stiles has come to know as his I'm-about-to-lay-down-some-cryptic-bullshit-and-make-you-guess-what-I-mean look. “More human than you were, yes.”
Stiles rolls his eyes because, yeah, he called it. “Come on, Deaton. Ain't nobody got time for this.”
Deaton's lips curl into an almost-smile. “Do you know what a Spark is, Stiles?”
The teen's breath hitches, and Peter's attention suddenly snaps back to them. “Yes,” Stiles says quietly, “but that's not possible. There are only, like...five in the whole world.”
“A bit of an under-exaggeration,” Deaton says smoothly, “but, like Seers, their numbers are dwindling. It will be difficult to find one with enough experience to train you.”
Train him. Train him? He's just getting over the fact that he's no longer a magical being that people hunt down and kill, and suddenly he's being told he has to train to be a magical being that people hunt down and kill? He can't just enjoy being non-magical for a fucking second?
Anger bubbles beneath his skin and makes his gut twist nauseatingly. “Like there was someone to train me to be a Seer?” he asks flatly
Deaton sighs, lips thinning as he presses them together. “Stiles—”
“I don't want to be a Spark. I don't want to be anything. Is it too much to ask for some goddamn normalcy for once?” Stiles stands—though it isn't as quickly as he'd like—and heads out of the office, Peter close on his heels.
It isn't until they're in the car and halfway to the loft that Peter speaks. “Deaton has connections that might help us find some answers a little more quickly.”
Stiles sighs. “I know. I'm just...angry. I'll talk to him again tomorrow.”
Peter nods approvingly. “And you know you don't have to do this on your own.”
The former-Seer-now-possible-Spark smiles and strings his fingers through the Alpha's own. “I know that, too.”
Peter brings Stiles' hand up and kisses his fingers. “What else is on your mind, my love?”
Stiles swallows and breathes. “Human,” he says quietly, and Peter turns to look at him, no fear of veering off the road in his eyes—only curiosity. “Do you think I can be turned now?”
Peter is quiet for a moment, searching the young man's face intently. “Do you want to be turned, Stiles?”
“Would you?” Stiles asks, gaze focused on Peter's lips as the Alpha presses them to his wrist. “If I said yes?”
“If I believed it,” Peter concedes, the fingers of his other hand tightening on the steering wheel. “I could never deny you.”
Stiles closes his eyes, feels Peter's warm breath on his skin. “Someday,” he says finally, opening his eyes and smiling at his soulmate. “I want to be human for a little while.”
Peter returns the smile, pressing a kiss to the young man's wrist and lowering his hand. “I want that for you, too.” Stiles sighs and sags back against the passenger seat, relief rolling off him in waves. “Your birthday is on Saturday. Did you have anything special in mind?”
The teen huffs and shakes his head. “I hadn't planned on living this long. Everything is...different.”
“Definitely good different.”
“Shall we go home and see if Christopher will plan something with us?”
Stiles smiles so, so wide. “Home.” The word settles on his tongue like it belongs there.
0 o 0 o 0
And that's all.
He can hardly believe there was a time when he woke to fever and pain and the images of a thousand things he couldn't make sense of. Because waking between the two men he loves more than anything in the world makes him forget there was ever a time before them.
He stretches and hums happily when both Peter and Chris tighten their holds on him.
“You wake up far too early, baby,” Chris grumbles into his ear from behind.
“Can't help it,” Stiles sighs. “All this youthful energy.”
Peter raises his head. “Did he just call us old, Christopher?”
The hunter yawns and buries his nose into the back of Stiles' neck. “We are old, Peter.”
“Speak for yourself.” Peter's chest rumbles as he ducks his head, nipping and licking along Stiles' collarbone. The teen laughs happily, wrapping his arms around the Alpha's shoulders and rubbing his cheek against the man's mussed hair.
“How about I make us some breakfast?” Peter murmurs against Stiles' neck, and the younger man makes a displeased noise in the back of his throat, his grip on Peter tightening.
“A few more minutes,” he begs, burrowing backwards against Chris.
The hunter grunts. “Keep wiggling like that, and we'll need more than a few minutes.”
Peter chuckles and strings his fingers through Stiles' hair. “What would you like for breakfast, birthday boy?”
Stiles hums and breathes.