Peter could smell Stiles as soon as the rumbling of his Jeep ceased outside the building. Hm, he didn’t think Derek had organised a meeting for the loft today. There was a rich aroma of coffee surrounding the boy, far stronger than the usual hints of it within his complex scent. A few minutes later, Peter heard footsteps outside the door before they stumbled to a stop - Stiles mumbling something that sounded vaguely mystical that caused the door to swing open before him. Clever little spark.
“Peter! My favourite zombiewolf, how are you today?”
The werewolf most definitely did not preen at the possessive pronoun in Stiles’ ramblings. Just like he didn’t feel pathetically grateful for the simple question, the first time he’d heard someone ask how he was in…seven years?
“All the better for seeing you, my dear,” he purred, relishing in the way his salacious tone caused Stiles to roll his eyes, despite the spicy scent of arousal wafting from him.
“…yeah, I bet. Anyway, here. For you, Big Bad.” He unceremoniously shoved a takeaway coffee cup in Peter’s fumbling hands. Their fingers brushed, and Peter forcibly swallowed the whine in his throat in response to the touch.
“Derbear, get down here, there’s one for you too. Peter, try it will you? I tried something new from this Russian spell book and I want to know if you can pick up on it or not. Don’t worry, you probably won’t die.” Eyes narrowed, Peter lifted the cup to his lips and took a sip. Instantly, the taste of hazelnut latte - his favourite - flooded his mouth, at just the right temperature for drinking.
“Temperature or flavour, Stiles? The magic? And, thank you. Little red.” He cut himself off before he could express anything else jarringly out of character, but his words left the taste of hazelnut in his mouth, and sincerity in the air. Stiles held the older man’s gaze for one heartbeat, two, before his lips quirked and he chuckled.
“Neither. And, you’re welcome. I did use a charm for the temperature, but I’ve been doing that for ages. And are you so surprised that I know how you like your coffee? Maybe I’ve been learning a little something from our resident creeper. Tell me, though, how does your wolf feel?”
Frowning slightly for a multitude of reasons, Peter closed his eyes and reached for his wolf, surprised at Stiles’ understanding of born werewolves - human and animal halves existing together. His wolf felt…content, for the first time since the fire. Though his scars had healed before he’d been temporarily out of commission, his wolf had never stopped aching, the wolfsbane-infused flames licking at his heels. Even with his return from the dead, his wolf never seemed to have properly healed, and as such, he’d never regained full strength.
Until now. Peter felt just like he did before the fire, when he was the Left Hand of the Hale Pack - when that had meant something, and he had meant something. His wolf was finally alright, and now that Stiles had drawn attention to it, Peter wondered how he hadn’t instantly noticed the absence of pain. Never mind that he felt as though he could fight again, without fear of pushing his wolf to the breaking point.
Opening his eyes, Peter looked at Stiles, breathing shakily. Perhaps sensing that Peter wasn’t feeling especially talkative, the teen launched into a long winded explanation, though it felt more forced than usual.
“…and so, I’m not sure how long it will last just yet. In theory, drinking the whole coffee should mean that the healing effects will last a week, and the strength thing - maybe four days? I’m still working on increasing the potency until hopefully, it’ll be permanent, but from everything I’ve been researching and the few mages I’ve spoken to, it seems like it’s never gonna last forever. But! We all know I’m a total badass with the power of belief or what have you, and I really want this to work. So. Sorry I didn’t tell you what it was supposed to do…I didn’t want to disappoint you in case it didn’t work. But, uh, from your expression, I’m thinking it did.”
Stiles hesitantly stepped closer to Peter, who didn’t seem to have noticed that his eyes were lit a brilliant blue still, and reached for a hand tipped with claws to lace their fingers together, his whiskey eyes still searching the older man’s for any hint of discomfort. “Why?” Peter whispered hoarsely, unable to detach himself from the spark’s gentle touch, though he knew he should.
“Because I care about you. And I don’t want you to hurt anymore, because you’ve already been hurt so much and I hate that. Ha. Ha… Ignore that, actually, it’s because I wanted to try something new and show off my mad skills with my spark. Yep. That. Oh, alpha, nice of you to finally join us. Here’s yours.”
Peter blinked rapidly at the change of topic, not quite distracted enough to forget the telltale skip in Stiles’ heartbeat when the boy mentioned showing off rather than helping the undead werewolf. His claws had long since blunted. Derek appeared beside him sniffing cautiously, eyebrows pulled together in what Peter and Stiles had decided was his puzzled scowl #4.
“Stiles.” Derek’s monosyllabic greeting trailed off into a stifled groan as he sipped his mocha (as equally laden with strength and healing magic as his undead uncle’s).
“Well, I’ll leave you two to it, I suppose! All that shared…life experience…family…yeah. Shit. Sorry.” Stiles had one hand on the door by the time he’d finished his barely coherent speech, Peter and Derek staring after him with matching expressions of fond exasperation.
“Wait. Sweetheart, come sit with us, you know Derek and I struggle with understanding our particular brands of - communication.” Peter said that last word with a deeply dubious frown on his face, an earnest expression ruined by the glint in his eyes. Slowly, as not to startle the human teen, he met Stiles in the doorway and gently linked their fingers just as Stiles had moments before.
Peter immediately wanted to drag the boy closer, scent him and touch him until the flicker of a pack bond between them strengthened into spider silk binding them together irrevocably. Pushing the desire down, he looked up from Stiles’ dextrous, pale fingers and met the boy’s eyes - trying to convey his sincerity without having to do something as horrific as actually expressing himself beyond the embarrassing hints of truth he’d already revealed.
Rolling his eyes, Stiles groaned theatrically but squeezed Peter’s fingers in reassurance. “If you insist, creeper wolf. Wouldn’t want any more of your killing sprees on my conscience, after all.” Derek’s eyebrows softened into his ‘ridiculously pleased but struggling to express this’ expression. “Good.” He contributed eloquently.
The three of them headed over to what Erica had dubbed the ‘puppy piles’ part of their Alpha’s loft - complete with a huge couch, overstuffed armchairs and a huge TV for movie nights and pack bonding (all purchased thanks to Stiles’ relentless nagging, this and more earning him the moniker of ‘pack mom’ from his puppies: Boyd, Isaac, Erica and a reluctant Jackson).
The teen led the two Hales over to the couch, hesitating slightly before sitting down in the middle and directing them to either side. Peter still hadn’t let go of his hand.
“Stiles, I…thanks. For the coffee.” Finishing his stilted sentence, Derek angled his head, exposing his neck in a subtle gesture of submission. Stiles smiled, holding eye contact for just long enough to establish that the alpha was talking about more than just the coffee, before ducking his head.
“Of course, sourwolf. Don’t worry ‘bout it.” The human made a finger gun with the hand Peter wasn’t clinging to, winking. Then - hand only shaking slightly - he reached towards Derek, fingers barely brushing the ‘were’s. “Are you feeling better now?”
There was perfect silence in the loft as the alpha grasped Stiles’ hand, bringing it up to press gently against his throat, scentmarking him. “Yes.” He said simply.
“Good.” Stiles met Derek’s eyes again, then turned to Peter who had now progressed to rubbing circles against the smooth skin of the human’s hand. “And I already know you’re doing better, huh creeper wolf? But, and I say this as a squishy human who could be killed ridiculously easy by someone as morally ambiguous and wolf-y as yourself, I’m feeling like maybe you’re the tiniest bit touch-starved?” The undead beta, who’d been staring in wonder at where his and Stiles’ hands were joined, looked up at him pleadingly.
Derek glanced at Peter sharply, a barely detectable hint of concern in his eyes. The two made eye contact for several moments before the older ‘were dropped his gaze and bared his neck for his alpha.
“It’s nothing, Derek. I know you’ve already got far too many emotionally unstable betas you’re obligated to deal with, and I’m under no illusions regarding you barely tolerating me. Stiles…Stiles has been bridging the gap between me and the pack for some time now, given that my bond to my Alpha is…faded.” His tone was acidic referencing Derek’s past failures as an alpha, though it had dropped to a barely audible whisper by the word ‘faded’.
“Peter, play nice,” Stiles admonished, waiting warily for Derek’s response. Said alpha was breathing heavily, eyebrows moving into ‘worried and incapable of speech’. “Derek, take your time pup, but we’re gonna need you to use your words for us, okay?” It was an indication of just how shocked Derek was that he didn’t respond to being called ‘pup’ by the human.
The alpha swallowed loudly in the otherwise silent room, the tension between him and his uncle almost tangible in the air. “Uncle Peter, I… I had no idea. I know I’ve been a terrible Alpha and. I just. Was scared to. I didn’t know how to.” Stiles squeezed his hand, nodding encouragingly as Derek squared his shoulders.
“I didn’t want to leave you. After the fire. I never knew how to tell you and by the time I got the chance you had killed Laura and I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I still don’t, but I never wanted to leave you behind. I’m sorry I did.”
The alpha shrugged self-deprecatingly, Peter detecting hints of bitter sorrow and regret in his nephew’s scent.
“I’m…I’m sorry too, for what it's worth. I don’t regret killing Laura - I felt that it was necessary at the time for revenge, and you’re right that her leaving made healing all alone that much slower and more painful for me. But...I’m sorry I took your sister away from you. You’ve already lost too much, and I hated adding to that.”
Sitting between the two of them on the couch, Stiles had finally stopped looking between the two of them as though he was attending a particularly fast-paced tennis match and was now staring straight ahead blankly, jaw dropped and blinking slowly. Wow, he mouthed to himself. Impressive. The human shook his head, recalibrating against the shift in his world view.
“Oh my god, you guys! I’m so proud of you! Look at what you’re doing here, communicating, apologising, airing all those past grievances. To continue our current trend of uncomfortable honesty, it brings a tear to my eye.” And though he was speaking with his usual brand of sarcasm, both ‘weres could smell his sincerity and the slightest hint of salty tears in the air.
“I think I need to go kill something,” Peter murmured, smirking slightly. “Too much uncomfortable honesty for me.” He met Derek’s eyes and the smirk softened into a real smile, small, but there. The alpha hesitantly smiled back.
Stiles snorted indelicately, “yeah, yeah, we get it, you’re the big bad wolf. As long as it’s something that deserves it, mkay?” Stiles detangled his fingers from Peter’s to boop him gently on the nose, but there was a hint of knowing in his eyes, and Peter, not for the first time, marvelled at how well this young human seemed to understand him. The older man reached Stiles’ hand from where it was cupping his cheek and re-laced their fingers.
“What he said.” Derek waved the hand still linked with Stiles’ at Peter too, as if to remind him that revenge was no longer the older ‘were’s top priority.
“Oh, boys, I think this could be the start of something beautiful.” Both wolves rolled their eyes at Stiles’ melodramatic remark, reeking of fond exasperation. Neither let go of his hand.
It had been two years since that fateful conversation in Derek’s once-barren loft. Now, Peter looked at his other two thirds as they slept, curled around him in their bedroom. The rebuilt walls of the old Hale house surrounded them, a proper home for the new Hale pack co-led by Stiles and Derek.
Smiling against the sudden wave of love that rose within him at thoughts of his mates, the older ‘were exhaled, happy. Stiles had been right, as he so often was. What they’d built, the three of them? It was something beautiful.