Peter woke up and his throat felt bad.
Like he had the skin of a kernel stuck at the back.
He coughed, once, twice, a third time, but nothing happened.
He got over himself and made a gagging motion, trying to get a feel for what was causing the sensation.
Now it felt like something was seriously stuck there but he couldn’t reach it with his tongue.
He started to get really annoyed and irritated.
So did his throat.
What could that possibly be?
He cleaned his teeth meticulously, there shouldn’t be any food residue in his mouth, certainly nothing that could have gotten stuck there.
Did he really have to do something as undignified as feel for it with his fingers?
He coughed again, harder but nothing changed.
With a deep breath he got over himself, opened wide and reached inside his mouth with two fingers.
Yep, there was definitely something back there.
It was paper thin, soft and the more he pulled on it the more it felt like it got bigger than before.
He pulled a bit more forcefully and was suddenly holding a saliva coated flower petal between his fingers.
Peter knows what the petals mean.
He has never witnessed someone getting Hanahaki Disease so far, but he knows the stories.
Some are happy, but not many.
And he already knows his story won’t be particularly happy either.
His only consolation is the fact he knows how to come back in case he dies.
Of course he could also get Deaton or another doctor to cut the disease out and remove the flowers together with his feelings.
But he isn’t sure who he’d be if he stopped loving Stiles.
Not all the changes in Peter were due to Stiles’ influence, he wasn’t that pathetic, but he would be stupid to underestimate how much of his mental and emotional recovery was because Stiles had treated him like a person.
Obviously their conversations, evenings spent researching or simply studying the supernatural, and particularly Stiles’ magic abilities would never mean as much to Stiles as they did to Peter.
But he didn’t mind. Not really.
Sometimes he felt the heartache, the longing for them to be more.
But he felt almost as good as he had before the fire.
He also felt very different, so it was hard to compare.
But Stiles was a big part of what kept the quality of his life high enough to enjoy it most days.
So, removing his feelings for Stiles, and if the myths are right also his memories of Stiles wasn’t an option.
Through research he found out killing the person you love was also an option, but for obvious reasons that also wasn’t on the table.
In the romantic, happy end versions he had heard of confession and then reciprocation of the love was the solution.
But since that wasn’t going to help him he should probably start planning for a few months of being dead.
He also had to decide how to do this.
If he had the choice and the time to plan he’d prefer not to involve Lydia in this.
She was far more powerful and educated by now and might decide to rather exorcize him instead of helping him resurrect.
The easiest would probably to pay someone.
But until things got so bad he couldn’t stand it anymore he’d try to find other ways to get rid of the sickness.
And to further prepare for the case of him being dead for a while.
He needed to make sure his body would be safe and nobody would accidentally find it. He had to make sure all finances were taken care of.
He had to make sure nobody would wonder where he was and start looking for him.
He had to make sure Stiles had access to all the learning materials he might need.
And he had to make sure Stiles was safe.
He felt the starting of another bunch of petals forcing their way up his throat and he snuck out of the pack meeting to go cough them up with some privacy.
To his surprise there was already someone in the stairwell, leaning against the wall, back slightly towards Peter.
And from what Peter could see he was about to throw up.
Peter opened his mouth to ask if Stiles was okay but he felt himself choke on petals.
All he could do was stoically keep in any noise his agony might produce.
This was not what he had trained away his gag reflex for but it sure was helpful.
He was about to quickly go find another quiet spot to take care of his situation before Stiles realized he wasn’t alone anymore when the young man started to cough violently.
Peter started to have a very bad feeling.
It intensified when Stiles hand lifted from his mouth and held something pinkish-red.
“Fuck” Stiles mumbled to himself and was about to shove the petal in his pants.
Peter opened his mouth again to say something, not fully thinking the situation through.
The air he sucked in was his undoing.
The petals became too irritating for his body to bare with them anymore and so he started coughing as well.
The force and pain of his body convulsing while his lungs and throat did their best to get the airway free again brought him to his knees and made it impossible for him to keep his eyes open.
He didn’t bother to put a hand in front of his mouth, he already knew there would be too many petals for him to contain them like this.
When he was done and sucked heavy, deep breaths into his lungs he felt a familiar hand on his shoulder.
They had talked.
Stiles had already found out it was Hanahaki, but he knew little else.
Peter had further educated Stiles on the topic and also given him all the reading material he himself had been able to find on it so far.
They both were absolutely certain the person they loved would not be able to reciprocate.
Peter hadn’t thought Stiles could even before. But now he had proof.
Stiles was in love with someone else. Someone who didn’t love him back.
And Stiles was adamant on not telling Peter who it was. But if Peter had to take a guess he’d say either still Lydia or possibly Derek.
Lydia, Peter would be kind of okay with.
She didn’t particularly like him and he wasn’t the biggest fan of her, but she at least was smart and sharp and he could see how she appealed to someone like Stiles.
To most people probably.
Peter would agree that Derek wouldn’t be able to return Stiles’ feelings. If it was Derek who Stiles was in love with.
But beyond that he also didn’t feel like Derek had much to offer to someone like Stiles.
Sure, he wasn’t stupid, but he didn’t challenge Stiles, didn’t really see him either, didn’t appreciate him, didn’t listen to him and was willfully ignorant of how capable and valuable Stiles was, with or without magic.
Derek, as much as Peter cared about his nephew, didn’t deserve Stiles.
Lydia didn’t really deserve him either.
Truly nobody deserved Stiles.
For obvious reasons Peter wasn’t going to tell Stiles who he was in love with either.
Another month went by.
Stiles, who had gotten sick later than Peter had started to cough up more petals than he could hold in his hand.
Peter was by now more regurgitating than coughing up entire flowers.
It was painful, humiliating and meant he didn’t have long before it was time to die.
They hadn’t been able to find another way but at least it was the end of February by now and if Peter got killed before the full moon in March they’d be able to bring him back in time to maybe find a cure for Stiles as well.
He had made his decision and felt like it was time to ask Stiles for a favor.
After all, wouldn’t it be only fitting if either way Stiles was ending his life?
Stiles looked up from the book he was reading on Japanese curses when Peter sat down next to him.
He was about to make a teasing comment when he saw the serious face the man was wearing and decided not to.
“I want you to do something for me Stiles.”
He was taken aback.
Usually Peter wasn’t this somber when asking favors.
“Okay.” he said and waited for more.
Peter placed a hand full of peonies on the coffee table in front of them.
They were slightly wet and here and there Stiles was able to see blood clinging to the petals.
He felt numb just thinking about what they meant.
“My time is running out. I didn’t mention it so far, but I have made plans. Plans that will bring me back after I die. But for it to work I need to be killed, not die due to a sickness. I also need someone capable of keeping a spirit from leaving this realm. I could ask Lydia, but I’d prefer not to involve her. And to be resurrected I need the blood of the person who killed me. Obviously the easiest way to get this done is for you to kill me, magically bind me and then resurrect me.”
Stiles felt his heart drop into his gut like it was made of Iridium.
It was hard enough to know Peter was dying because he loved someone else.
Someone who apparently would never love him back.
When Peter had fallen to his knees in the stairwell, coughing up petals like Stiles had started only a few days ago he had been so scared.
That fear hadn’t gone away, it had settled firmly in his chest and made its nest there.
Stiles could live with the fact Peter would never love him.
But Peter not being loved by the one person he seemed to have such deep feelings for was just not okay.
And having to die because of it...how was that fair in any way?
Yes, Peter was able to come back, that didn’t mean the experience wouldn’t still be traumatic.
Since the Nemeton Stiles knew how dangerous and damaging dying and coming back was.
Even if it took only a few moments and not months.
He wished they lived in another world.
In a better world where they loved each other and would be happy together.
Instead he lived in a world where the man he loved asked him to kill him because he was incurably sick because he loved someone else who didn’t love him back.
A bitter thought entered his mind.
At least this solved his own problem.
After all, killing the person you love was one of the ways to get rid of the disease.
So, him killing Peter would cure them both.
And they would be able to go back to being unhappily in love with people who didn’t love them back.
Everything was set up.
Stiles had actually magically created a new cave in the preserve.
His plan was to magically ward it and then seal it with Peter’s body inside, so nothing could get to it.
Peter had silently watched and asked himself if Stiles was even aware what an incredible feat he was accomplishing with what he was doing.
At some point he probably would have to talk to Stiles about this.
But maybe not the day he died, this was a conversation for later.
Stiles asked Peter to take off his shirt.
Before Stiles could do anything else another wave of coughing and gagging took hold of Peter. He crouched down, by now familiar to the sensation and how to best handle it.
Several full peonies forced their way out of his mouth and onto the forest floor.
spit and blood coating them.
The pain actually even forced tears into his eyes.
He felt exhausted in that moment, werewolf healing working hard to do its job but failing against the magic of the disease.
He spit out a last petal that had stuck to the inside of his cheek and then got up again.
Stiles gave him a look Peter couldn’t really read but which was somewhere between sad, concerned and maybe pity and a hint of anger?
He didn’t know.
But with Stiles it was often a lot more guessing than with other people.
Stiles kept his feelings hidden better than most.
They were silent while Stiles carved a spirit binding sigil into Peter’s chest.
It’d keep his soul bound to his body.
It’d not be a great feeling but better than his current state.
And at the end of it he’d be as good as new.
Hopefully this time even without his powers being diminished again.
He really wished there was another way.
He watched Stiles work and quietly admired him.
So brave and strong, loyal and compassionate.
While at the same time cunning and smart, calculating and cautious.
Peter would do everything in his power to save Stiles.
Truly the worst part about needing two weeks to come back was accepting that there’d be two weeks he’d not be able to do anything to help.
That really felt worse than death.
“You are very quiet” Stiles murmured as he finished the Sigil.
“I’d have thought me asking you to take off your shirt would have prompted some sort of comment from you…” Peter gave Stiles a smirk but he knew it was weak.
“I promise I’ll flirt it up with you again when you are not about to put me in my grave.”
Stiles gave him a small smirk back “Come on Peter, dying is like riding a bike.”
Stiles motioned for him to lie down on the blanket they had put down and Peter did.
He found a spot that felt comfortable and nodded to Stiles.
The young mage knelt down and held the knife with which he had carved the sigil into Peter’s chest.
He lifted it and-
Another coughing fit, this time from Stiles, interrupted the procedure.
Peter instinctively surged up to hold Stiles, while his body was shaken and he coughed out petal after petal of poppies into Peter’s lap.
When it was over Stiles breathed heavily and wiped a tear out of the corners of his eyes.
He was about to wipe the petals away but Peter stopped him. “Leave them. It’s a funeral after all. I deserve some flowers.”
Stiles laughed dryly at that but didn’t remove the petals as Peter laid back down.
Peter closed his hand around two of the petals and let his arms fall to the sides of his body again.
He was a sentimental idiot for holding on to something that represented Stiles’ love for someone else.
But somehow he felt like he wanted to hold on to something...Stiles, while he was dead.
They looked at each other and Peter nodded again.
He closed his eyes to make it easier for Stiles.
But as the knife was suddenly buried in his chest, just like he had told Stiles, punctuating his heart, his eyes flew open in surprise again.
He felt the knife being pulled out again.
He saw Stiles face.
Stiles was crying.
That was so nice.
He really hadn’t thought Stiles would cry for him.
The hammering of his dying heart got louder and louder in his head as warmth spread over his chest and his vision got fuzzy.
He felt the soft, smooth surface of the petals between his fingers.
This was so much easier than fire…
Stiles had immediately felt himself getting better as the life had drained from Peter’s body.
It brought tears to his eyes.
This disease was horrific.
How could killing the man he loved possibly be a solution?
He sat there for a bit, processing everything and had then done what he needed to do.
He warded the cave, sealed it and for good measure made it impossible to detect with technology or anything other than magic.
He didn’t like letting Peter hang out in there on his own for two weeks but it was safest to keep his mind and body connected, instead of binding Peter to himself or somebody or something.
And when he had mentioned his concerns before Peter had pointed out he had plenty of training being by himself.
At least this time he was prepared, knew exactly how long it’d take and had chosen to do it himself.
Which was all true.
For the next two weeks he checked on the cave every day, telling the few people who asked he enjoyed hiking around at the moment.
Scott had asked once if Stiles wanted him to come with, but Stiles had told his friend he liked having some time to himself out there.
It was so easy by now to keep people in the dark.
Most of them seemed to actively try not to notice anything going on.
On the worm moon, as on any full moon, they sat around in Derek’s loft.
Soon the wolves would go and run together.
Meanwhile Stiles had other plans.
He had run with the others before and they asked him if he’d come along but he just shook his head and told them he still felt a little weak from that bad ‘whooping cough’ he had had.
They hugged him goodbye, Allison went with them, and Stiles grabbed his bag with supplies and made his way to the other end of the preserve.
They had chosen this spot because the pack never ran this far from their den, so they would not see Stiles resurrecting Peter.
Peter had been surprised how much easier it had been to hang out these two weeks.
Sure, it was still boring, but he was mentally stable, not in pain, had known what would happen…
Stiles couldn’t see or hear him but he could feel Stiles’ presence once a day and it was the best part of the day.
It meant Stiles was okay and also making sure Peter was okay, it was really sweet and also calming his concerns for Stiles getting worse.
Day fourteen then started to drag out forever.
He had no idea if it was already getting dark, but he certainly hoped so.
He wanted to breath, to move, to eat something.
Ironically he also really wanted to sleep.
One might think he had rested for two week straight, that should be enough, but not having a body to take care of meant he didn’t sleep at all and his mind was running, running, running 24/7.
He was just working through his memory of one of the more elaborate almanach entries about Hanahaki he had read when suddenly the cave cracked open and light started to flood the room.
Above him, framed by the moonlight was Stiles’ silhouette.
He looked like a beautiful god, like he had come to collect Peter’s soul.
Well, in some ways he was.
There was a low hiss and then he felt something being dropped into his mouth.
From his chest warmth spread through his body into every stiff and cold limb.
He tried to wiggle his fingers and didn’t even think about the smile he cracked when they moved.
“It worked” Stiles whispered above him and that really made Peter grin.
“Of course it did, your lovely sight would wake most dead men.”
Stiles snorted. “You didn’t forget your promise then.”
Peter slowly got up and moved a little closer to Stiles, taking in his soothing scent.
Yeah, he was definitely still in love with Stiles, there was no mistaking the way every fiber of his body and mind celebrated that familiar scent.
But he also could feel that his body was healthy again, no more flowers growing in his lungs and making him feel like he was choking.
“Of course I didn’t. Now, sweetheart, let's go and find a way to safe you too.”
Stiles looked surprisingly pained. “I...I took care of it.”
Surprise and a very ugly pang of jealousy flooded Peter. “So the person reciprocated after all?”
Stiles’ eyes seemed to turn darker as he gave Peter a short look before turning away and searching for something in his backpack. “No...I killed them.”
Was Peter about to get some bad news about Lydia or his nephew being dead?
He didn’t ask.
Stiles looked like the decision had been painful.
And he knew it had to have been.
He couldn’t even fathom killing Stiles.
It wasn’t an option.
Not to heal himself.
On a very selfish level though he was glad Stiles had done it.
He was glad Stiles had chosen to survive.
It must have been an impossible decision to make.
He wasn’t going to judge. “If...you ever feel like talking about it, you know I’m here for you Stiles.”
Stiles turned around and handed Peter fresh clothes. “I really don’t feel like it. But thank you Peter, I appreciate the offer.”
No talking about killing the person you love.
“So, being dead wasn’t as bad as last time. Next time I need to be killed I hope you don’t mind me employing you again.”
He would have thought that might have gotten a smile from Stiles but he just nodded and turned his back on Peter so he could change clothing, since his dead body had been lying in the jeans he was wearing for far too long.
He hoped Stiles was going to be okay.
Thing started to get back to normal.
Stiles felt almost okay again.
But the fact killing Peter actually had cured him was still weighing on him.
He had thought that was probably a hypothetical solution.
He hadn’t thought someone would have actually killed the person they loved.
Stiles wouldn’t have been able to do it if he hadn’t know Peter would come back and if Peter hadn’t actively asked him to do it.
And the act itself.
No amount of rationalizing that Peter was going to come back could change the fact he’d always have that memory of shoving a knife into Peter’s chest.
Of his eyes flying open, staring at Stiles.
The sight of blood as Stiles pulled the knife out.
He could witness the heartbeat getting weaker and stopping by how the blood welled less frequently out of the wound, until it became a sluggish trickle.
He really had killed Peter.
Now Peter was back again and Stiles just wanted to touch him, make sure he was okay, was really back, hadn’t left something behind on the other side or something.
But he also barely could look Peter in the eyes.
Peter thought Stiles had killed the person he loved for good.
Peter had to think Stiles had no heart.
And it was ridiculous to a degree, Stiles knew if someone was not going to judge him it was Peter.
But at the same time, Peter was willing to sacrifice himself for someone he loved so maybe Peter was judging him.
Telling the truth though, that’d only further complicate things.
Peter might even suspect Stiles could have somehow manipulated him into letting Stiles kill him.
Over a month had gone by.
Stiles woke up with a familiar sensation at the back of his throat.
He tried to tell himself it wasn’t what he feared it was.
He curled into a ball on his bed and tried to ignore the growing uneasy feeling in his throat.
Soon, very soon he’d feel the serious urge to cough.
As soon as he did the proof for his worries fell onto the sheets.
One clearly identifiable petal of a poppy.
Peter was worried.
Stiles had been acting different ever since Peter had come back.
Probably due to what he had to do to get rid of the Hanahaki disease.
It had been surprising to Peter that nobody in their immediate social environment had gone missing.
How had Stiles known the person he had been in love with?
He didn’t know everything about what Stiles did, he didn’t stalk him, much...but he still knew a lot, simply because the entire pack was very intertwined.
And he felt like somebody would have known if there was another really important person in Stiles’ life beyond the pack and his father.
It was a mystery Peter had yet to crack.
And now, for the last almost ten days Stiles had not showed up to any meetings, had not visited Peter to borrow any books and while he had answered Peter’s messages there had been something off about the responses.
He just couldn’t say what it was, but he felt like something wasn’t how it should be.
So on day ten Peter decided to go visit Stiles at his apartment.
He knocked and waited, listening inside.
There was a faint coughing sound that Peter thought had to come from the bedroom if he wasn’t mistaken.
Did Stiles catch a cold?
Maybe the Hanahaki Disease had left him vulnerable to more common sicknesses.
He heard steps towards the door and then it was opened.
Stiles’ face did something strange when he saw Peter, but it had disappeared before Peter had been able to fully register it.
“Are you missing me that much creeperwolf?”
Peter made and effort to show his intentionally slightly creepy smile. “Maybe I did. I wanted to make sure you are alright. May I come in?”
Stiles’ eyes flickered back, as if he’d be able to assess something that was inside. “It’s really chaotic right now.”
Peter raised an eyebrow at Stiles. “You are usually a better liar.”
Stiles looked down at the floor for a moment.
Too long a moment to be natural.
“Stiles, I know something is going on.”
“No-” Stiles started and Peter shook his head.
They looked at each other silently for a few moments.
Then Stiles seemed to realize something, or remember something.
Whatever it was is motivated him to try to quickly wrap their conversation up. “Yeah, I’m sick, that’s going on. Thanks for your concern.”
Peter only got more determined to find out what was wrong. “Stiles...why are you lying to me?”
Stiles started to look angry. “Because it’s none of your business Peter.”
Stiles tried to close the door in Peter’s face but Peter had already preemptively placed his foot in the door.
He heard Stiles curse under his breath as the door bounced back from Peter’s foot.
Then Stiles’ head made a jerky motion and Peter was worried for a moment Stiles might throw up.
But then a painful sounding coughing started and it dawned on Peter.
Soon Stiles’ hands were filled with poppy petals and a dreadful feeling settled in Peter’s chest.
“You...got sick again? How? Did you fall in love with someone else this quickly? I mean, no judgement…”
“No, asshole!” Stiles said with fury “Apparently killing the person you love to get rid of the disease only works if the person actually stays dead.”
Peter stared at Stiles, processing the words, moving them this way and that way like a puzzle but they didn’t fit together.
“The person came back?”
Stiles actually smacked himself in the head at Peter’s question.
“Yes Peter.” he said slowly, like Peter was a stupid child. “You came back.”
That didn’t make any more sense. “How am I involved in this?”
Stiles blinked at Peter in disbelieve. “Are you making fun of me Peter? You are such an asshole. You really want me to spell it out for you? I sometimes really don’t understand how I could fall in love with you of all people. You’re such a dick.
I am in love with you and because you came back apparently so did the disease. Happy now? Can I go back to dying in peace or do you feel like mocking me some more?”
He felt numb and a little sick.
Was this a prank?
Was Stiles serious?
Thoughts over thoughts were running through his brain.
His world felt flipped upside down.
Stiles loved him?
A hand was waved in front of his face.
“Peter...you okay? Did I break you? Did you really not get that?”
Peter focused on Stiles and tried to control his emotional turmoil.
“Are you sure?” He had said it before his mind had fully decided if he should.
Stiles closed his eyes for a moment and shook his head like he had to collect himself. “Yeah...considering the coughing stopped the moment your heart stopped beating I am pretty sure. And before you ask, I don’t feel like talking about this. Just...don’t try to say anything nice or whatever and just lea-”
Stiles crouched forward as another wave of coughs announced itself and Peter didn’t have to think about what to do.
He had no desire to let Stiles suffer any longer and on a more selfish note he also needed proof.
“I love you too.” he said, quickly.
Stiles stilled in his crouched position but no cough came.
In disbelief he touched his lips and throat, slowly getting up again.
“It’s gone…” he whispered while their eyes locked.
Stiles was lying on his couch, head in Peter’s lap.
Peter played with Stiles’ hair.
“I can’t believe how dumb we were” he murmured and Peter nodded.
“I don’t really know how to approach this…” Stiles continued saying what he was thinking out loud.
Peter smiled softly down at him. “Together.”
Together...Stiles liked the sound of that. “Yeah...together.”