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Feels Just Like (walking on broken glass)

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Mścisław Stilinski was only a few days old the first time Soul-Ink appeared on his fair skin. His mother, Claudia, caught a glimpse of fading red color on his leg as she stripped off his sleeper to change him. She excitedly told her husband. Noah - who thought the way any good deputy should - came to the obvious conclusion: their infant son’s soulmate was older than him. Old enough to be mobile, anyway. It wasn’t much - not at all - but it was enough, in that moment, to know that their precious baby boy’s soulmate was out there in the world.

~*~*~*~

By the time Mścisław was five, he had dubbed himself Mischief, as his childish tongue struggled with the foreign syllables of his given name. It suited him, as he was a precocious child. He was forever getting into one thing or another, which exasperated his father, though Claudia delighted in everything he did. But then, Claudia had always been a free spirit as well.

As she dabbed antibacterial cream onto a scraped knee, she teased her teary child. “Ah, my little fawn. You must be giving your soulmate grey hair with all of these injuries. How they must worry!” She covered the injury with a bandage, kissing it lightly before adding. “When they meet you, they might just wrap you up in bubble wrap to keep you safe.” Then, she tickled his sides to chase away the last of his tears.

Little Mischief giggled and squirmed free, running back outside to play. Young as he was, he held a secret close to his heart. He and his soulmate were perfectly matched because - just like him - his soulmate was injured all the time, too. Mischief had never met anyone who had Soul-Ink - which showed a person their soulmate’s injuries, just for a moment or two - appear as often as he did. Mischief hadn't told his parents how often the Soul-Ink appeared, not wanting them to worry. He wasn’t worried. In truth, though he knew it meant his soulmate had been hurt, Mischief treasured the appearance of Soul-Ink. It meant that his perfect match was a real, live person, rather than an abstract concept. It meant everything.

~*~*~*~

By the time Mścisław turned nine, a lot had changed. His mother had died the year before, which had rocked his whole world. He no longer went by Mischief, instead using Stiles. And he’d stopped thinking of it as a good thing that so much Soul-Ink appeared on his skin. Death had visited the Stilinski household, and - as a result - everything was different. Every time Soul-Ink appeared, Stiles was terrified. Every injury meant his soulmate was hurt. And if his soulmate was hurt badly enough, his soulmate could die.

Red ink wasn’t too bad. Red ink meant superficial damage. Scrapes or scratches, papercuts, minor burns...that sort of thing. Blue and purple ink were more worrisome. They denoted bruising. Stiles’ soulmate had a lot of bruises, in a lot of places. He’d tried to hypothesize why. Maybe his soulmate - who he knew was older than him, though not by how much - had a dangerous job, like his dad. Maybe they did some sort of martial arts as a hobby. Or, more upsetting, maybe they were being abused. As the son of a sheriff, Stiles was far too familiar with the darker aspects of humanity. It frightened him sometimes.

But the worst - the absolute worst - was black ink.

Black ink meant serious injuries. Broken bones. The kind of cuts that required stitches. Organ damage. The sort of injuries that took a lot of time to heal from. The sort of injuries that required doctors and surgeries to fix. The sort of injuries that left scars.

Stiles was fairly certain his soulmate was going to have a lot of scars. He told himself that it didn’t matter; he would love them anyway. And the funny thing was, Stiles meant it. He had a mental list of all of the black ink injuries he could remember, and Stiles would often silently promise his soulmate that - when they finally found each other - he would kiss every scar on the other’s body.

One thing that hadn't changed since he was five? Stiles still didn’t tell anyone about how often the Soul-Ink appeared on his skin. Not his father. Not his best friend, Scott. Not the therapist he’d been seeing since his mom had started getting really sick. No one. As he ran his fingers over black marks on his forearm - there were four, side-by-side, and they looked like cuts of some sort - Stiles wished he had some way to send comfort to the person on the other end of that ink. Since he couldn't, Stiles added these cuts to his list of the injuries he knew about.

Because he was alone in his room, Stiles spoke aloud. “I’ll find you one day, and I’ll kiss every one of your scars. Just hold on for me. Please, hold on until I can find you and, when I do, I promise I’ll never let you be hurt again.”

As Stiles watched the Soul-Ink fade beneath his fingertips, he decided that there was one good thing about all of the scars his soulmate undoubtedly had. When he finally met them...he would know. There would be very little room for doubt. It was very little comfort - or consolation - but it was all he had, so Stiles clung to it.

~*~*~*~

Soul-Ink came with an accompanying sensation - like pins and needles as a limb reawoke - which came in handy when the injury occurred in a location covered by one’s clothes. It had also been known to wake Stiles from a dead sleep, so he had very rarely missed seeing any of the - admittedly numerous - injuries his soulmate had accrued in the years since he’d been old enough to understand what Soul-Ink was and what it meant. Stiles was grateful for the connection to his soulmate, but sometimes...

Sometimes Stiles wished he wasn’t always aware of when his soulmate had been hurt. He wondered if his soulmate ever felt that way. He wondered if anyone ever felt that way, or if there was something seriously wrong with him. He wondered if he was the only person in the whole world who thought - at least some of the time - that Soul-Ink was an unfair burden placed on them all.

Most days, Stiles couldn't imagine anything worse than knowing that his soulmate - the person he was destined to love best - was hurt.

~*~*~*~

Stiles was ten and sleeping soundly when it started. The tingling started on his right foot and woke him up. For a moment, he couldn't figure out what had roused him from sleep. Then, the tingling climbed up his calf and Stiles was instantly alert. He hastily threw off the covers, flicked on the lamp beside his bed, and stared down at the Soul-Ink. Black. Black ink covered his foot and, as Stiles watched, blossomed up his calf. It climbed over his knee in mere moments, the tingling sensation preceding it only briefly.

With a sick feeling in his stomach, Stiles watched as the Soul-Ink continued to spread. It climbed his thigh, disappearing under the edge of his boxers, and streaks of it spread out along his other thigh and calf. He could still feel the Soul-Ink spreading, so Stiles ran from his bed to the full-length mirror hung on his closet door. He quickly stripped off his t-shirt, watching - horrified, but unable to make himself look away - as the black continued to stain his pale skin. It spread over his belly and chest, and he could feel it as it wrapped around his back. Dark, ugly color spread over his right arm and Stiles was barely breathing as he watched the color edge up his throat and over one side of his face.

Tears blurred Stiles’ vision as the tingling finally stopped. More than half of his body - closer to seventy-five percent, really - was coated in the blackest ink Stiles had ever seen. His legs gave out under him, no longer able to bear the weight of his anguish, and he curled into a ball on the floor, sobbing. He couldn't imagine what had caused so much damage so quickly, but it didn’t really matter. The odds that his soulmate had survived whatever it was were very slim.

Stiles wept until he exhausted himself, falling into a dazed sort of not-slumber, his mind caught somewhere between waking and sleep. The sun had crept over the edge of the horizon - color and light bleeding across the sky outside his bedroom window - when the sound of his dad coming up the stairs roused him. He sat up just as Noah entered the room. He was dressed in his uniform, and he looked about as awful as Stiles felt. His eyes were haunted, his uniform and skin were filthy, and he brought with him the acrid smell of smoke.

“What happened?” He asked hoarsely, knowing it was bad.

“A fire.” Noah answered tiredly. “At the Hales’ place, out in the Preserve. We had a hell of a time making sure the whole damned forest didn’t go up.”

Stiles began to cry again, dreadful certainty settling over him. That was what had caused so much damage to his soulmate so quickly. Fire. Noah made a concerned sound, joining Stiles on the floor and pulling his son into his arms. It took long minutes for Stiles to finally calm down. When he was at last silent in Noah’s arms - excepting the occasional hiccoughing breath - there was only one thing Stiles had to know.

“Did anyone live?”

There was a pause, then Noah answered. Not because he really wanted to, but because Beacon Hills was a small town and his son would learn the truth eventually. “Derek and Laura Hale were both out of the house when the fire started. They’re at the hospital, because their uncle was pulled from the fire. The doctors don’t think he’ll make it through the next twenty-four hours. No one else survived.”

Stiles did the math and whispered. “Eight Hales died?” When his dad nodded, tears welled up again and he managed brokenly. “My soulmate...”

Noah sucked in a stunned breath, then asked. “Last night...there was Soul-Ink?”

He nodded, still crying, though they were softer and quieter tears than before. He was too tired to do more than let the tears fall. In a voice that was barely there, he explained. “Everywhere. It was everywhere, Dad, and it spread so fast, I...”

His voice broke entirely and Noah pulled Stiles fully onto his lap. He rocked his son, and shushed him softly, and wished he could fix this. But there was nothing he could do; no consolation he could offer that would mitigate having lost his other half. Noah knew that all too well. The worst part, Stiles thought, was that he had never even gotten to know his soulmate. And now he never would. This time, when the tears ran out, Stiles slipped into a fitful sleep.

Noah carefully laid his son on the bed and tucked him in. He brushed his fingers over Stiles’ short hair and took in how small his son was. He looked terribly young. His face was pale, with dark shadows under his eyes, and Noah’s heart ached for him. Knowing there was nothing he could do right then but let Stiles rest, Noah left the room. He’d call the school, because there was no way he was making Stiles go in, then he’d get some sleep as well. It was all he could do.

~*~*~*~

At sixteen, Stiles had long since accepted the truth. His soulmate was dead. The Soul-Ink that had once graced his skin with alarming frequency had been conspicuously absent for six long years. Stiles had finally learned what was worse than knowing when his soulmate was hurt...and it was knowing, with absolute certainty, that no Soul-Ink would ever appear again. He had grieved, and raged against an unjust universe, and - eventually - accepted the loss. It had taken time, and more than a few sessions with a therapist who specialized in soulmate-loss, but he had accepted it. It was just also one of those things he didn’t talk about.

He no longer had panic attacks at the sight of Soul-Ink on someone else’s skin. He no longer broke down in tears when the phantom tingling happened and no Soul-Ink followed. He understood that it was just his mind’s way of trying to cope with the loss of that connection. It was no different than a phantom itch on an amputated limb. So when the feel of tingling along his sides and up-and-down his arms and legs woke him up, Stiles didn’t freak out. He didn’t scream, or cry, or reach for the light and stare at his skin, holding his breath and hoping; praying. He hadn't reacted like that in years. Instead, Stiles closed his eyes and counted his breaths. Inhale for a four-count; hold for a four-count; exhale for a four-count. Waited for the sensation to pass, then went back to sleep.

The next night, he went looking for half of a body in the woods and the whole world changed. In the wake of that chaos - amidst werewolves and danger and magic entering his life - Stiles had precious little time to think about soulmates, dead or otherwise.

~*~*~*~

Face-to-face with Peter Hale, Stiles felt his whole body go numb. Derek was screaming at him - or roaring at Peter; he wasn’t sure which - but all Stiles could hear was the deafening sound of his rapid heartbeat thundering in his own ears. Derek got between them and Stiles couldn't take his eyes away from the scars covering one side of Peter's face. Even when they melted away, it didn’t matter; they had imprinted themselves on Stiles’ mind. He knew those marks. Could have traced a line along the edge between damaged and undamaged skin even if he’d been blindfolded. Nothing would ever make him forget the black ink that had covered three-quarters of his body the night of the Hale fire.

Peter Hale was the alpha they’d been trying to stop...but he was also Stiles’ soulmate. It left Stiles feeling numb.

Part of him wanted to run, because Peter was a confirmed killer. Part of him wanted to beg Derek not to hurt Peter, because Peter had been hurt more than enough. There was no one who knew that better than Stiles did. And some part of Stiles insisted that Peter would never hurt him. They were soulmates, after all. His soulmate was alive, and Stiles wanted to shout that fact from the rooftops; to share his joy. But staring into glowing red eyes, it didn’t really feel like a good thing.

In the end, Stiles held his tongue.

~*~*~*~

Stiles hated leaving Lydia on that field, but he went with Peter anyway. As they snarked back and forth, Stiles’ heart ached for what Kate Argent had stolen from him. The more caustic his words, the more delighted Peter seemed with him. The feel of Peter’s strong fingers on his wrist was thrilling, and he hoped the older man mistook his racing pulse for fear. The alpha tugged Stiles’ arm up, and lowered his head, and stopped with his lips almost touching Stiles’ pale skin. And Stiles wanted to say yes. With everything in him, he wanted Peter’s mouth on him, any way he could have it. The werewolf’s breath was hot and damp against the tender skin protecting the pulse fluttering wildly in his wrist, and Peter’s words - his promises - were tempting in the way all forbidden things were. That Peter was his soulmate only made them more so. The yes clung to the tip of his tongue, and Stiles longed to let it spill past his lips, but...

If Peter bit him, he would have immediate and undeniable proof that Stiles was his soulmate. And as much as Stiles wanted his soulmate, he had yet to decide if he wanted Peter. That they were, factually, one and the same was irrelevant. Peter Hale was a killer. He was clearly at least a little unstable, and that was probably a generous underestimation of the truth. He was going to kill Kate Argent; of that, Stiles had no doubt. And it wasn’t that Stiles objected to Kate’s impending demise. In all honesty, he wouldn’t have said no to the opportunity to get in a few hits of his own before the deed was done. But the fact remained that Peter was a killer, and he was going to kill again.

It put a definite damper on any romantic thoughts Stiles was having.

So Stiles forced the word no past his lips and watched with a dull ache in his chest as Peter left him behind. He told himself it was for the best that Peter didn’t know the truth, but it felt like a lie.

~*~*~*~

As Stiles watched flames lick their way up Peter’s arm, he backed away. Jackson wasn’t the most observant person in the world, but if this was anything like the last time Peter had burned, then the Soul-Ink would be glaringly obvious. He staggered off into the trees, not stopping until he could no longer smell smoke and charred flesh. As Stiles leaned against a tree for support, he felt a tingle wash across his throat in four parallel lines. Claws. The end of Peter Hale. The end of his soulmate.

Stiles suddenly thought back to when he was nine years old. He remembered promising his soulmate that, when he found them, he would make sure they were never hurt again. Then he thought about the molotov cocktail that Allison Argent had hit with an arrow, causing Peter to burn alive. Again. He thought about the way he had mixed those chemicals, according to Lydia’s recipe.

Tears blurred his vision and bile climbed his throat in a hot, sour-sweet rush.

When Scott found him a little while later, the Soul-Ink had faded and Stiles was mostly composed. Scott didn’t mention Stiles’ red-rimmed eyes, or the vomit he could certainly smell, and Stiles was grateful. As he let Scott lead him back to the jeep, Stiles silently reminded himself that the situation had been complicated. Impossibly, unfairly so. Somehow, it didn’t make him feel any better. His soulmate was dead.

It didn’t hurt any less the second time around.

~*~*~*~

Stiles felt awful about what Peter had done to Lydia; he really did. She had been driven to the brink of insanity by whatever the former-alpha had done when he’d bitten her. It was just that it was a little hard to be mad at Peter when most of him was busy being grateful. Twice, Stiles had lost his soulmate. And now, twice, he had gotten the older man back. It was still a complicated situation, and Stiles still hadn't made any decisions regarding the matter, but that was okay. Peter Hale was alive. That was all that mattered.

~*~*~*~

As much as Stiles wanted to tell Peter that they were soulmates, he didn’t. He almost did, every time he was around the beta, but the words wouldn’t come. They seemed to get tangled up in his tongue; caught at the back of his throat in a messy, painful jumble he couldn't seem to spit out so that he was eventually forced to either swallow them back down...or choke on them forever. Thankfully, he didn’t see Peter often.

The other good thing about how infrequently he saw Peter was that it made it less likely that the werewolf would spot one of the many injuries Stiles frequently had - from lacrosse; from supernatural shenanigans; from being naturally graceless - and connect it to Soul-Ink that had appeared on his own skin. Because as much as Stiles wanted Peter to know, he also didn’t. And not for any of the countless reasons someone might assume.

Stiles had finally decided that he did want Peter, even separate from the fact that they were soulmates. Peter was smart, and he was also clever. He was witty, and snarky, and - when the mood struck - he was also irresistibly charming. Peter was older than him, yes, but he was also as undeniably gorgeous as all of the Hales had been. He was sneaky, and manipulative, and morally ambiguous...but then, so was Stiles. They were, as fate had promised, perfectly matched.

And Stiles had helped kill him.

Peter had forgiven him - at least, he said he had - but then, Peter didn’t know they were soulmates. It was one thing for Peter to forgive the human teenager - who he often claimed was smarter than all of Derek’s other pack members combined - for doing what had been deemed a necessary evil. It was another matter entirely to forgive his soulmate for helping to kill him, in the very way Peter feared most.

Stiles didn’t think there was enough forgiveness in the whole world - let alone in Peter Hale - to wash that sin off his soul. So Stiles held his tongue, and told himself that just knowing his soulmate was alive and well was more than enough; he didn’t need anything else.

The lie tasted like ash, but Stiles figured that was fair. Or, if not precisely fair, it was at least the fairest thing about the whole damned mess.

~*~*~*~

Getting his ass kicked by a geriatric hunter should have been the low point of Stiles’ night. It would have been a close call against Lydia choosing Jackson Whittemore again, because the asshole wasn’t her soulmate and Stiles had always felt that, if she was going to reject him, it ought to be for her soulmate. But Stiles also had his soulmate back and, complications aside, it helped mitigate the sting of Lydia’s repeated - and numerous - rejections. Plus, his face still really fucking hurt. So yeah; Gerard Argent giving him a solid smackdown really should have been the worst part of his day.

The best part should have fallen somewhere between scoring the winning goal in the lacrosse game, his dad telling Stiles how proud he was of him, and getting to justifiably run Jackson Whittemore over with his jeep...but that was beside the point.

The actual point - as far as Stiles was concerned, anyway - was that, somehow, getting beaten up by an old man who could have doubled as a Scooby Doo villain was not, in fact, the worst thing to happen during the course of his rollercoaster of a day.

The worst thing was that, in the moment immediately following Jackson’s death - and resurrection as a proper werewolf - Stiles met Peter’s eyes across the warehouse. He saw as Peter took in the injuries on his face and - not for the first time - Stiles wished he had werewolf healing. He could see the wheels turning in Peter’s head; saw, too, the moment realization hit. Peter’s eyes widened, his lips parted in shock, then his eyes flashed from their normal crystal blue to the shocking, preternatural color Stiles had privately dubbed beta blue. As everyone’s attention was drawn from Jackson to the fact that Gerard Argent had somehow crawled away while they were all otherwise occupied, Stiles looked away from Peter for just a moment. When he looked back, Peter was gone. Stiles honestly couldn't have said if he was disappointed...or relieved.

As everyone slowly dispersed to deal with their own, separate portions of the aftermath of this latest bout of supernatural fuckery, Stiles wondered what would happen now. He politely drove Lydia and Jackson home, even though he really didn’t want to, because he would always care about Lydia...and Jackson was looking a little worn around the edges after being forced to be a pet/hitman to two different homicidal lunatics. Plus, Stiles had hit Jackson with the jeep. Making him walk home after that would only have made him feel small and petty. Easier by far to assuage some of his own guilt by just giving them the damned ride. Lydia’s soft and sincere thank you when he dropped them off - and Jackson’s own grudging utterance of gratitude - brought its own sort of satisfaction, at least.

By the time Stiles parked the jeep in his own driveway, it was creeping past midnight and Stiles was exhausted, and sore, and grateful for a number of things. Like the fact that his dad - as sheriff in a small town that was currently understaffed thanks to Matt’s crazy kanima-related killing spree - wasn’t home and wouldn’t be until morning at the earliest. It meant he could avoid being interrogated for the second time in less than twelve hours. And the fact that it was Friday night - or Saturday morning, depending on how one chose to look at it - so Stiles did not have to get up in the morning. He could sleep until he recovered. Or for the next two days, anyway.

He was also grateful for hot showers with good water pressure because, between the lacrosse game and Gerard, Stiles really was sore. So he stripped on his way to the bathroom, dropped all his clothes in the hamper, and then let the heat and the pounding spray soothe away the worst of the ache. Feeling a little better, at least, Stiles wrapped a towel around his waist and made his way towards his room.He was seriously considering some quality ‘Stiles Time’ - and tenting the towel just a bit as his body started to take an interest in the idea - as he entered his bedroom.

He froze just inside the door when he spotted Peter Hale sitting in his desk chair. Peter’s eyes flared up blue and his voice was a low, rumbling purr that seemed both arousing and threatening. “Stiles...I do believe we need to have a talk.”

~*~*~*~

At sixteen, soulmates were an abstract concept to Peter Hale. Most people had Soul-Ink appear by the time they were five years old. A small percentage of people were ten before that first appearance. A smaller number were even older than that, but fate rarely paired people with age-gaps larger than ten years. And a very tiny number of very unlucky people - less than 2% - never got any Soul-Ink at all. Most people believed the cause of the phenomena was the death of one’s soulmate before one was born, but Peter had never felt like the math added up on that. He had decided instead some years earlier that, for whatever reason, some people just didn’t have soulmates. At sixteen, Peter had already accepted that he was one of those people.

~*~*~*~

At seventeen, Peter discovered that he had been wrong.

He was sitting at dinner, with his older sister - who also happened to be his alpha - and Talia’s soulmate, and their three children, listening to his twin niece and nephew - Derek and Laura - compete to tell their family about their day. At eleven, the twins were precocious and delightful, and Peter loved them both, though Derek had always been his favorite. As he listened, Peter’s palms began to...not itch, precisely, but almost tingle. He scratched absently at one, still focused on the twins when Talia gasped loudly.

“My god, Peter...” His sister exclaimed, staring at him with wide eyes. “Is...is that Soul-Ink on your palms?”

Peter scoffed, ready to dismiss the words out of hand, but then he looked down. And, sure enough, red color was blossoming over the heel of his palms, as though his soulmate had fallen and scraped their own palms raw trying to catch themselves. Peter’s throat felt tight as he stared down at the red ink. He could hear Talia and Dominic and the twins all talking excitedly. Celebrating. Peter...Peter felt numb.

He looked up and stared at Cora, Talia’s youngest child. At one, Cora was still new to things like walking and running and Peter remembered that she’d gotten her first scraped knee not long ago. Thankfully, as a werewolf, the damage hadn't lasted any longer than a few minutes, but Talia had made a laughing comment about how Cora’s soulmate might have just gotten their first Soul-Ink, assuming they’d been born already.

Peter touched the Soul-Ink again, watching as the color slowly faded away, and realized that his own soulmate was barely entering the toddler stage of life. Feeling a little ill, Peter hastily excused himself from the table. He wasn’t in the mood to celebrate.

~*~*~*~

Peter’s memory of the fire that killed his pack was clouded with unimaginable pain, but there was one thing he remembered with clarity. Just before Peter had passed out from the pain - which had happened somewhere between when he was pulled from the fire and put in the ambulance, and whenever the ambulance had arrived at Beacon Hills’ hospital - he had had a terrifying thought. Peter himself had been twenty-six, but his soulmate had only been ten. And Peter had known that his young soulmate had likely been dragged from slumber to an overwhelming amount of Soul-Ink. Peter wondered what they would think, and - as unconsciousness set in - he wished he could reassure the unknown child that he would heal.

During his long period of catatonia, Peter had no real memories at all. Just the occasional flash of something; a scent, or a sound, or a feeling. Mostly, it was a six-year long gap in his memories.

When he finally regained some degree of logical thought - something that didn’t happen until after he had killed Laura and swallowed down her alpha spark - Peter immediately wondered about his soulmate. After six years without Soul-Ink, surely his soulmate believed he was dead. He imagined the sudden reappearance of it would be a shock for his now-teenaged soulmate, but Peter hoped it would be a happy one. As for himself, Peter could say with absolute certainty that the first time Soul-Ink appeared on his skin after he woke up, he was elated.

~*~*~*~

Peter’s first impression of Stiles Stilinski, son of Beacon Hills’ sheriff, was that the boy was almost unnaturally beautiful. He didn’t bother feeling guilty about the thought, for several reasons. The first was because Peter had always had an eye for lovely things, and noticing Stiles’ beauty was hardly a crime. The second was because Peter had spent six years unable to admire pretty things - or pretty people - and he obviously needed to make up for lost time. And the third was because Peter had been forced to wait an insanely long time for fate to even give him a soulmate, and then he’d been forced to wait not just to meet them, but for them to grow up. That being the case, Peter had decided a long time ago that his soulmate would simply have to understand why Peter hadn't remained chaste for them. And since he didn’t feel guilty about the times he’d had sex, it seemed silly to feel guilty over simply looking at Stiles.

When Derek burst in - and Christ, but his baby-faced nephew had grown up and wasn’t that a shock and a half to see - the beta put himself protectively in front of Stiles. That made Peter feel a little guilty as he briefly wondered if perhaps Stiles was Derek’s soulmate, but he dismissed the possibility along with the guilt a moment later. Stiles wasn’t old enough to be Derek’s soulmate; his nephew had been getting Soul-Ink since before the boy was born.

~*~*~*~

Peter’s first impression of Stiles was the teen’s beauty, but he swiftly came to admire Stiles for a multitude of other reasons. Like his courage. His wit. His snark. Stiles was clever, and devious, and he didn’t shy away from options because of pesky things like legalities or morals. In truth, the more Peter learned about Stiles, the more attracted he was to him.

It was that attraction that had made Peter offer to turn Stiles into a werewolf. And although Peter would never have admitted it, he was a little relieved when Stiles refused. Peter’s soulmate was old enough now that he could reasonably wait for them, and entertaining even a flirtation with Stiles wasn’t fair to any of them.

~*~*~*~

When Peter came back from the dead, he was - admittedly - a little pissed off. Not over having been killed, because he’d been expecting that. It was why he’d put measures in place for his return, using the young banshee girl. No, he was pissed off because he had no doubt that his soulmate - who had hopefully been happy at the return of their Soul-Ink - would have once again been forced to face the alarming possibility that their soulmate was dead. So, determined to reassure the unknown person, the moment he was alone in his apartment, Peter used one claw to slice open his palm. It wasn’t much, but it would - if nothing else - let his soulmate know that he was alive.

~*~*~*~

Sometimes, Peter considered carving his name and cell phone number into his own flesh. He certainly wouldn’t be the first person to do something so drastic to help fate along. It was frowned upon, of course, but Peter was a werewolf. It wasn’t as though he would risk killing himself by doing it, and he certainly wasn’t going to scar. It was just that it had been drilled into Peter, pretty much since birth, that fate and the universe would decide when he and his soulmate would meet. It felt deeply wrong to fuck with that.

So, Peter waited. Not patiently, mind you...but he waited.

~*~*~*~

Peter Hale was thirty-two. He was a werewolf. He had been burned alive, spent six years catatonic, been burned alive again, died, and come back. Very little was able to unsettle him. Staring across a warehouse at Stiles Stilinski, Peter was unsettled.

Someone had done a number on Stiles’ face. A bruised cheek; a busted lip. And, though Peter couldn't see them, he knew there were bruises on Stiles’ torso as well. Peter knew, because of the Soul-Ink that had blossomed across his own torso earlier. Stiles Stilinski was Peter’s soulmate.

For the span of several heartbeats, Peter was thrilled. He wanted to howl with victory because his soulmate was perfect. A little young yet - sixteen or seventeen; Peter wasn’t quite sure when Stiles’ birthday was - but still...he was perfect. Peter had just made the decision to cross the expanse of space between them and kiss the breath right out of Stiles’ lungs - audience be damned - when he noticed the look on Stiles’ face.

It wasn’t quite fear, but it was close enough to give Peter pause; to make Peter think.

Between one heartbeat and the next, the truth hit Peter like a freight train. Stiles knew. More than that, Stiles had known for a while. It was suddenly, glaringly obvious. Peter couldn't be sure of exactly when Stiles had figured it out, but the clever teenager definitely had. Just as obvious as Stiles’ knowledge was the fact that Stiles had kept it from Peter. Stiles had discovered that he was Peter’s soulmate, and he’d kept that fact to himself.

Peter went from thrilled to furious in an instant. Hard on the heels of that anger came a crippling wave of insecurity. Because yes, he was pissed off that Stiles had kept something so important from him, but he was also wondering why. Peter had never - not for an instant - worried that his soulmate might not want him. Peter knew he was intelligent and charming. He was also quite confident about his looks. He might be twice Stiles’ age, but Peter was in no way past his prime. He had never worried about his soulmate rejecting him. They were, after all, soulmates.

This was Stiles, though. And Stiles had a way of surprising everyone around him. As his new uncertainty warred with the joy and anger already coursing through him, everyone suddenly noticed that Gerard was gone. Stiles broke eye contact and Peter took the opportunity to slip out of the warehouse. He knew Derek had seen him leave, but his nephew was nothing if not discreet, since he rarely spoke to anyone, so Peter wasn’t too worried about it.

As Peter drove across town, he tried to decide what he was going to say. He parked a few blocks away from the Stilinski house, because Peter had no intention of giving Stiles any warning that he was there and he wasn’t sure if the teenager would recognize the Ferrari as his. Once he’d walked the few blocks to the house, it only took Peter a few moments to scale the house and slip in Stiles’ window.

And really; one would think the sheriff would have better security. Peter made a mental note to mention the lax security measures at some point. Something really had to be done about that.

While Peter waited for Stiles to come home - and then shower - he sorted through the emotional detritus of the night’s revelations. By the time Stiles stepped into the bedroom, Peter had a fairly good idea of what he was going to say.

Stiles spotted him and froze, tawny eyes wide and heart racing instantly. Peter flashed his eyes at the teen and rumbled lowly. “Stiles...I do believe we need to have a talk.”

~*~*~*~

Stiles swallowed hard, then slowly closed his bedroom door. He was wary, and uncomfortably vulnerable dressed only in a towel, but Stiles refused to be afraid. Peter might never forgive him, but Stiles was equally positive that the beta would never hurt him. Not physically, anyway. Still, this wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have while naked. Especially considering he didn’t actually want to have this conversation at all. Not that Peter was asking, mind you. But if he was going to be forced to talk about it, he was at least going to put some damned boxers on first.

“Do you mind?” Stiles asked, unable to keep the snark out of his voice as he crossed to the dresser and took out some underwear. He almost grabbed a solid-colored pair, but defiance grabbed hold at the last second and Stiles instead pulled out his favorite ones; black, with the Batman logo on the crotch.

Peter kicked his feet up onto the edge of Stiles’ mattress, leaned back in the chair, and folded his hands over his flat stomach. He then raised an eyebrow and drawled. “By all means.”

Stiles flushed, fingers clenching around the dark cotton. “Is it too much to ask that you don’t stare at me while I get dressed?” Peter said nothing, and Stiles decided if that was how Peter wanted to play this out, then he could be fucking petty, too.

He threw the boxers at Peter’s face and snapped. “Get your shoes off my bed, dammit. You’re more than old enough to know better.”

Peter obligingly lowered his feet and Stiles moved to sit on the bed. He dragged his comforter over his lap, then waited. If Peter wanted to do this, then fine, but it was on the older man. Stiles had no intention of helping him out, or starting things off. So he scooted backwards on the bed, until he could sit with his back against the wall. He was facing Peter and met the beta’s intense blue eyes levely. Stiles knew Peter was trying to intimidate him into talking first, and - like most people - he was probably stupidly assuming that he could accomplish that easily with Stiles, because of how frequently he talked normally. But Stiles’ dad was a cop so, if there was one thing Stiles was really fucking good at, it was resisting interrogation techniques.

That, and breaking the rules - or the occasional law - without getting caught. You know, except that one time with the police van and Jackson, but that wasn’t the point.

And really, Stiles’ inability to focus his brain on a single thing - unless he was hyper-focused - was part of why the whole silent staring tactic didn’t work on him. His mind wandered off to other things so quickly that he barely noticed he was being stared at, and the silence that was meant to be oppressive didn’t even register.

Stiles couldn't help feeling a little smug when Peter gave in first.

“The majority of the time, you won’t shut up. Not for love or money or anything else.” Peter said dryly, a hint of irritation lacing the words. “Now, when I want you to talk, you won’t. Are you naturally obstinate, or are you deliberately trying to vex me, Stiles?”

Stiles shrugged. “You said you wanted to talk. So...talk. I’ll listen, because I don’t have much choice, but only one of us is a willing participant in this conversation. Don’t expect me to be cooperative, Peter. It won’t happen.”

Peter’s eyes flashed blue, but he nodded. “Fine. How long have you known?”

Stiles considered the question for a moment, then evaded it as neatly as he could manage. “I know a lot of things, Peter. You’re going to have to be more specific if you expect a timeline.”

Peter bared teeth that were just a little too pointy and bit out. “How long have you known, dammit?”

Stiles refused to give any ground on this. He would not be the first to speak the truth about their connection - their fate - out loud. “How long have I know what?”

Peter flicked out one claw, then dragged it down his own cheek. A thin line of blood welled up in its wake, and Stiles flinched when the familiar tingle washed over his cheek. He knew the red ink on his face would fade in a few minutes, and Stiles had to take a moment to be amused by the fact that - as a werewolf’s soulmate - he was one of the only people in the world who had Soul-Ink that sometimes lasted longer than his soulmate’s injury. Still, his amusement didn’t last long, because that...that had been deviously clever of Peter. There was no way to refute what had just happened. And, honestly? Stiles was tired of fighting the situation.

He closed his eyes, slumping a little in defeat as he mumbled. “Oh, you mean that.”

“How long, Stiles?”

“Does it matter?” Stiles asked, a pleading whine edging into his voice. He opened his eyes, took in the look on Peter’s face, and sighed. “Yeah, okay. Since that night at the hospital. When I saw your scars.” He paused, then decided on full disclosure and added quietly. “I knew it was a Hale when I was ten. The morning after the fire, I knew that much. But until the hospital, I thought...”

“You thought I was dead.” Peter had an odd look on his face, and Stiles closed his eyes again because he just didn’t have the energy to try to decipher it. Peter’s next words were belied by the placid tone he asked them in, so they took a moment to register. “Did you mourn me?”

Rage swept over Stiles in an instant. He opened his eyes again and glared at Peter, asking coldly. “Do you mean when I thought you’d died, or when you actually died?”

Peter said nothing, and he looked away. The evasive action told Stiles more than anything Peter could have said, so he answered softly and honestly. “Yes, Peter, I grieved. I grieved both times. How can you doubt that?”

“You didn’t tell me.” Peter met Stiles’ eyes, and he could see the wariness and insecurity though he was sure the older man was trying to keep those things hidden. “Initially, I can understand, but after I came back...why?”

This time, it was Stiles who looked away. He dropped his eyes to his own hands, which were plucking at the blanket over his lap restlessly. Voice barely more than a whisper, Stiles said. “I killed you.”

There was silence for a moment, then Stiles felt the mattress shift beneath additional weight. His head snapped up and he found himself nearly nose-to-nose with Peter, who said seriously. “Derek killed me.”

Stiles shrugged one shoulder, but he didn’t look away as he argued the point. “Derek delivered the final blow, but we both know he wouldn’t have been able to take you out if you hadn't been so severely injured.” Stiles swallowed hard, shame making his throat tight as he finished hoarsely. “And that’s on me, Peter. My soulmate was dead, and it was on me. And when you came back, I was so fucking grateful, but...how could I tell you? After what I’d done...”

He trailed off, because there was nothing else to say and because his voice had broken wetly on the last few words anyway. Stiles looked down again, because guilt was a heavy burden to carry but also to hide his tears. He didn’t know what Peter would say or do next, but the feel of a kiss being pressed to the top of his head was definitely a surprise.

“My darling boy...” Peter murmured, pulling Stiles - blanket and all - onto his lap; cradling the teenager as though he were a child. “You did only what you had to, and I forgive you.”

Helpless to do anything else, Stiles tucked his face into the sheltering curve of Peter’s neck and wept, letting out all of the fear and pain and guilt he’d been carrying for far too long. Peter held him through it all.

~*~*~*~

Stiles couldn't have said how much time had passed when he finally exhausted his tears, but it had probably been longer than he would have liked to admit. One of Peter’s strong arms was around Stiles’ back, supporting a portion of the teen’s weight. Peter’s other hand was curled loosely around Stiles’ leg, just above his knee. The beta’s thumb was stroking soothingly over Stiles’ skin and Stiles wasn’t even sure if Peter knew he was doing it. He liked it, though. Liked being tucked into Peter’s body, even though he was a little taller than the older man. Liked that Peter could hold him with ease. Stiles imagined Peter could carry him without the slightest bit of difficulty, actually. It was a pleasant thought.

Peter nuzzled at Stiles’ temple, then murmured lowly. “Whatever you’re thinking about, sweetheart...I’m going to need you to stop.” He breathed deeply, then let out a rumbling growl before adding roughly. “I’ve never been good with self-control, and you’re sorely testing what little I have.”

Stiles felt himself blushing, and his heart rate sped up. He took an unsteady breath, then asked. “Is it just that it’s been a while for you, or is it the fact that we’re soulmates?” Stiles wasn’t sure why he was even asking, because the motivation behind Peter’s sudden, inexplicable desire for his scrawny, unappealing self was irrelevant; Stiles knew himself well enough to admit he was going to take advantage of it either way.

Still, he was curious and, once the question was out there, he wasn’t about to take it back.

Peter huffed out a laugh. “It hasn’t been very long, love. I’ll admit that one of the first things I did after the scarring was finally gone was end the dry spell caused by my long hospitalization.”

Stiles nodded, face still tucked into Peter’s throat, and mumbled. “So it’s the soulmate thing, then. Like a wolfy instinct to claim what’s yours.”

Peter groaned, then said. “For the sake of your virtue, Stiles...don’t refer to yourself as belonging to me.”

Stiles nodded, though it was merely an acknowledgement that he’d heard Peter, as opposed to any sort of an agreement. Then, Peter added. “And no, it’s not because you’re my soulmate. That mostly just makes my wolf want to scent you, and provide for you, and protect you. Which, to be fair, I felt before knowing we’re soulmates, so it’s all very debatable.”

“So...” Stiles pulled back to look at Peter, confusion drawing his eyebrows together. “So why did you say you were having trouble controlling yourself?”

Peter stared at him, clearly surprised by the question. He reached up and cupped Stiles’ face with one hand, his thumb brushing carefully over Stiles’ busted lip. “My sweet, innocent boy...” Peter murmured wonderingly, eyes locked on Stiles’ own. “Do you really not know how maddeningly beautiful you are? You have tempted me since we met. Learning you’re my soulmate...I couldn't have been happier, darling.”

And the funny thing was, Stiles believed him. He knew Peter had flirted with him before, but he’d sort of assumed the older man was just trying to creep him out. And because Stiles had treasured those interactions, he’d never really tried to make Peter stop, or even questioned them much. Now, knowing that Peter had been sincere...it sent heat creeping through Stiles’ veins; pooling low in his belly. He heard Peter growl again, and squirmed a little restlessly on the beta’s lap.

Peter’s hands quickly forced Stiles to stop, but not before he’d felt the undeniable proof that Peter was attracted to him. Voice strained, Peter said. “Be still, Stiles, for your own sake. Just...just give me a moment to settle myself and I swear I’ll leave.” As he said the words, Peter’s hands tightened a little, as though resisting the idea of letting Stiles go. Peter took a ragged breath and continued. “I should have known better than to get this close, but you were upset and needed comfort. I’ll go in a minute, though. I know you’re young, and I won’t pressure you for anything. I can wait for you, Stiles. I promise.”

Something wicked and devious came over Stiles; the part of his nature that had made Mischief such an apt moniker for him surged to the forefront. Stiles rested his head on Peter’s shoulder to hide the smirk on his lips and made his voice small and uncertain. “Peter, I...I’ve never...”

He felt Peter go tense, then the older man shushed him. “Hush, love. It’s alright. We can go slowly. I won’t rush you.” With a self-deprecating little laugh that lacked amusement, he added. “I’m not a patient man by nature, Stiles, but for you...for you, I’ll learn.”

That warmed Stiles’ heart and he almost felt bad for teasing Peter. But the end result would no doubt please the werewolf, and Peter had never expressed a desire to change Stiles, so he shrugged off the stirrings of guilt and spoke again in that same, hesitant tone. “Could we...that is, could you maybe...kiss me?”

For a moment, Peter said nothing - Stiles didn’t even think he was breathing, actually - then, in a voice full of apology, he said. “Stiles, I don’t think-”

“Forget it.” Stiles cut him off, laughing in a way that sounded strained and miserable. “It was a stupid idea. I don’t...it’s fine. Nevermind.” He cleared his throat and shifted off of Peter’s lap, though it took a few heartbeats for the beta to release him, then stared down at his hands and mumbled. “You can go.”

Peter didn’t move, and Stiles didn’t look up, and the room was uncomfortably still and silent for the span of several, tension-filled moments. Finally, Peter said under his breath. “God help me.”

Stiles glanced up as Peter shifted closer. He slid one hand around the back of Stiles’ neck and used it to gently reposition the teenager’s head. “Just...be still.” Peter whispered, sounding hoarse. “For the love of everything, Stiles...be still and just...just...let me...”

Peter trailed off right as his mouth caught Stiles’ own in a tender kiss. It was soft, and achingly sweet, and Stiles felt tears pricking the back of his eyes because it was the epitome of everything a first kiss should be and Stiles had never imagined Peter giving that to him. When Peter drew back, Stiles made a soft sound of protest, not wanting it to end. All thoughts of teasing his soulmate had fled; he simply wanted Peter to kiss him again. And he suddenly, desperately didn’t want Peter to leave.

“Stay.” He whispered, hands reaching for Peter; fisting in his white t-shirt and clinging as the older man started to move away. “Please, Peter...d-don’t go...”

“I have to, darling. You know that.” Peter tried to gently detach Stiles’ hands from his shirt, but the teen was tenacious. Torn between exasperation and amusement, Peter chided. “Stiles, stop it. Let go.”

But Stiles was having none of that. He finally had his soulmate close enough to touch, and the hell if he was letting Peter go now. And Stiles wasn’t above playing dirty to get his way. So he tightened his grip and whined miserably, then gathered every bit of courage and bravado he had stored up. Peter’s gasp was loud in the otherwise-silent room when Stiles scrambled forward, onto his lap.

“Please don’t leave me.” Stiles pleaded, words slightly muffled as he tucked his head back into the curve of Peter’s throat. “Not again, Peter. I...I can’t l-lose you. Not again. I just...I need you to stay. Stay with me, just for a little while. Please?”

Stiles kept his face hidden, holding his breath as he waited for Peter’s response. It also served to hide his blush, because his desperate lunge at Peter had cost him dearly. A single corner of the banket preserved Stiles’ modesty, the rest of it laying in a tangled heap on the bed. The towel was lost somewhere amidst the covers. And as much as Stiles was panicking a little at being so completely exposed to someone, he was also hoping Peter would be pleased. He liked looking at Peter, after all; wouldn’t have turned down the chance to see more of the beta. He couldn't help wanting Peter to feel the same way about him.

Stiles let out the breath he’d been holding on a trembling exhale when Peter’s hands settled on his waist. He shivered as they lightly stroked up and down his sides, and Peter said hoarsely. “I should have let you get dressed, dammit. God, but you’re tempting, love.”

“P-peter...” Stiles managed around a gasp, as Peter’s hands drifted low enough to briefly caress the firm curve of his ass. The beta slid them higher again an instant later, and Stiles lifted his head, meeting bright blue eyes and asking in a whisper. “Kiss me again?”

“That would probably be a very bad idea, Stiles.” He slid his hands down again, ghosting them over Stiles’ ass once more, then skimmed them back up to Stiles’ waist. Peter left them there and rasped. “I have no desire to hurt you, sweetheart. Not in any way. But if I kiss you again, I don’t know that I’d be able to stop myself from claiming you, even if you asked me to.”

“You would stop.” Stiles said softly, conviction giving the words a harder edge. “If I ever said stop, you would. I trust you.” He paused, then added breathily. “Kiss me, Peter.”

Peter’s eyes flashed and a low, snarling growl passed his lips an instant before they caught Stiles’ own. This kiss was neither soft nor sweet. Instead, Peter crushed Stiles’ lips beneath his own; made the kiss hard and demanding. It made his busted lip ache, but Stiles yielded immediately. He wound his arms around Peter’s neck and parted his lips, inviting Peter in. The older man swiftly licked past Stiles’ teeth, his tongue learning every bit of Stiles’ sweet mouth. Peter traced the line of his teeth, tasted the inside of his cheeks, and stroked a sinfully stimulating line up the center of his palate. Stiles whined in the back of his throat, goosebumps erupting across his skin as he squirmed closer to the strength and heat of Peter.

Peter broke the kiss and Stiles gulped down air. He hadn't even realized his lungs were starved for it until that moment. Peter’s teeth lightly caught Stiles’ lower lip and he tugged teasingly for a moment, the coppery taste of blood lingering between their mouths as the split portion reopened. Peter flicked his tongue across the break soothingly, then said softly. “Breathe through your nose, love, and steal tiny bits of air any time our mouths separate.”

“Okay.” Stiles said, nodding rapidly. His hands slid up into Peter’s thick hair, which was every bit as touchably soft as it looked, and tugged impatiently; he wanted Peter’s mouth back on his.

Peter tsked softly, his lips barely touching Stiles’ as he murmured. “So impatient. There’s no need to rush. Pleasure is only heightened by anticipation, darling.”

Stiles huffed out a laugh and snarked. “I’ve been waiting for this for a while, Peter. Pretty sure any more anticipation is going to kill me.”

He felt it as Peter smiled against his lips. “Patience, Stiles.” He brushed his mouth over Stiles’, then flicked his tongue over the full curve of Stiles’ lower lip.

Stiles parted his lips, hoping Peter would deepen the kiss, but the beta simply used the tip of his tongue to tease the teenager. He used the smallest licks - teasing little flickers of his tongue against Stiles’ - to drive Stiles insane with need. He finally couldn't take it anymore, and boldly chased Peter’s retreating tongue back into the older man’s mouth. Peter let him, using those same little licks to coax Stiles into exploring his mouth. Stiles eagerly accepted the invitation and did his best to replicate everything Peter had done to him. From the way Peter’s fingers were pressing bruises into his hips, Stiles figured he was doing a pretty good job of it, too.

Then, right after Stiles stroked his tongue along the center of Peter’s palate, the werewolf suddenly sucked. Stiles gasped as the suction tugged on his tongue, the sensation traveling down so he felt it low in his belly, his cock throbbing sympathetically. Peter did it again and Stiles moaned, rocking his hips forward in a desperate, mindless attempt to gain friction. The movement dislodged the blanket and Stiles broke the kiss, mortified as the leaking tip of his erection smeared sticky wetness over Peter’s t-shirt. Peter looked down, making Stiles squeak with embarrassment and throw himself forward, hiding his nudity by plastering himself to Peter.

Peter groaned, then said lowly. “No need to hide, love, or be embarrassed. You’re perfect.” When Stiles drew back enough to meet Peter’s eyes, the werewolf added. “I mean that, Stiles. Fate chose you for me for a reason. I was forced to wait a very long time for you, but you in no way disappoint. And, physically, you are the perfect embodiment of my type.”

Stiles licked his lips nervously, then carefully slid backward, off of Peter’s lap. He let himself fall back, shifting so he was lying across the rumpled bed in front of Peter. He could feel his face burning with his blush, but Peter’s eyes were moving avariciously over his exposed body so he thought it was worth it. Stiles waited for the span of several heartbeats, barely breathing. He had no idea what Peter was going to do, because there was a very real possibility that - despite all temptation - the older man would decide to leave, rather than take the risk of touching Stiles despite his age.

Breaking physical contact with Peter had been a risk, and he was desperately hoping it would pay off, but Stiles knew it might backfire.

After a long, tense minute, Peter took a shaky breath and something about the look on his face told Stiles he was thinking. More than that, that he was planning. Stiles could only hope the plan was of the sexy variety, rather than some sort of exit strategy, because he really didn’t want Peter to leave. He was pretty sure that, if Peter left, he was going to call Scott and cry and demand his best friend bring him ice cream and cookies and other junk food so he could eat his feelings and be miserable and maybe watch chick flicks while crying. A lot. Which would be absolutely mortifying, and was something Stiles was kind of hoping to avoid. So.

He was a little relieved when Peter rumbled. “Turn onto your side.” Stiles started to turn so he was facing Peter, but the werewolf shook his head. “No, not like that. With your back to me, darling.”

Stiles swallowed hard, but did as he was told. He’d do anything Peter asked, right about now. Once he was settled, he felt the bed shift as Peter moved around behind him. There was a soft rustling for a minute or two, and Stiles found himself straining his ears, trying to figure out what, exactly, Peter was doing. He would have looked, except he didn’t want to do anything that might make Peter change his mind; that might make Peter leave. And then, suddenly, he was being dragged backwards.

One strong arm curled around his waist and pulled, until he was settled snugly against Peter’s body. And he couldn't bite back the whimper that spilled from his lips, because he could feel Peter’s skin pressed against him. Peter’s body hair was tickling his skin, all along his back...and the hot, heavy press of Peter’s cock against his ass was delicious, if unexpected. Because apparently Peter had stripped before curling around him, and Stiles was not complaining, obviously, he was just...

...surprised.

Peter growled in his ear, voice deep and low and rumbling. “I need something slick, darling boy...and I’m willing to bet you’ve got something. I’d prefer lube, but whatever you have will simply have to do.”

Stiles keened, his whole body jerking as the very idea of whatever Peter was going to do to him nearly sent him spiralling into orgasm, but he stretched upward enough to scramble at the bookshelf built into his headboard. A few things clattered as he sent them crashing into each other - or to the floor under the top of the bed - but Stiles couldn't be worried about that just then. He made a triumphant little sound when his fingers closed over the bottle he’d stashed behind some books, then he hastily shoved it over his own shoulder, nearly smacking Peter in the face with it.

“Here.” He managed, voice tight with need and an edgy sort of desperation that he prayed wouldn’t send Peter running the other way. He just...couldn't help it. “P-peter, I-”

“Shhh...” Peter cut him off softly, the hand that had been around his waist withdrawing so he could take the bottle and study it. After a moment, he said. “Well, well. This is actually a decent product, Stiles. I must admit that I’m impressed.”

“I’m friends with drag queens.” Stiles admitted, a little breathlessly. “They were...helpful, when I said my soulmate was a guy. Gave me a safe-sex talk, and bought me the right kind of lube, and made sure I understood how to take care of myself so I wouldn’t get hurt if my partner was inexperienced with other guys.”

Peter growled again, softly, then said. “I’ll have to thank them.”

The quick snick of the cap opening had Stiles holding his breath, anticipation making his heart race. There was an odd sound from behind him - slick and obscene - and then Peter’s arm was once again draped over his waist. Only this time, his hand didn’t rest on Stiles’ stomach. No, this time it dropped lower, curling around Stiles’ cock. And Stiles’ hips stuttered forward, into the - tighthotslick - clutch of Peter’s fist. It was wet, and snug around Stiles’ cock, and Peter seemed to know just how Stiles’ liked it; how tight and how fast. It was perfect; it was everything. It was his soulmate, touching him, and Stiles writhed and arched against Peter like a cat in heat and begged.

“Plee-ease...god, Peter, I...fuck, I w-want...please, Peter...”

And then, all of a sudden, Peter’s cock was sliding along the crease of Stiles’ ass. And it was slick and hot and Stiles was not ready for it to be pushed forward the way it was; nudging itself against him in a way that almost felt like a threat. “Peter...” He gasped, squirming a little as panic dragged him back from the edge of orgasm. “P-peter, I don’t think...I mean, I’m not s-stretched, or...what are you...”

“Hush, little one.” Peter chided against his throat, where he was pressing damp, sucking kisses as he rocked his hips forward against Stiles. “Open your legs for me, darling, just a bit. And trust me.”

Stiles swallowed hard, but Peter’s hand was still stroking his cock just right, and the beta’s mouth was hot and wet and doing positively sinful things to his neck and shoulder, and he did trust Peter. It was strange, but he did, so he slowly shifted his top leg, making a little space between his trembling thighs. And then Peter’s cock was there, pressed between them, hot and hard and wet with lube.

“Good boy...” Peter gasped, thrusting forward again and adding. “Close your legs again, Stiles. Give me someplace tight to fuck into, that’s it...” And Stiles obeyed, making Peter groan. “Yes, just like that. Perfect, darling.”

It was odd, for a moment or two; the weight and heat of Peter’s cock caught between his thighs, with the head nudging his balls from the back with every thrust of Peter’s hips. But fuck, it was good, too. Better than good, really, if he was being honest. Peter’s hand kept stroking over his cock, and his hips kept thrusting, and there was friction all over and the fact that Peter’s cock was not quite but almost inside of him. So close to where Stiles had been imagining it for weeks now, and it was nearly maddening to have Peter at last but not at the same time, because this wasn’t sex, not exactly.

It was...well, Stiles didn’t know what it was. All he knew was that it felt amazing. And Peter’s teeth were tugging on his ear as he murmured huskily. “Next time, darling...next time, I’ll fuck you for real. Slick you up and stretch you open so you can take my cock...I’ll fuck you so hard you can’t walk after, pet...and you’ll let me. You’ll open for me, so sweetly...you’ll give me everything, won’t you, darling?”

“Yeh-eeesss.” Stiles gasped, head thrown back against Peter’s shoulder as his hips stuttered forward, fucking himself into Peter’s fist almost mindlessly. Peter’s hips chased his own, and Stiles kept his legs clamped tight together around Peter’s cock; was determined to give Peter just as much pleasure as the older man was giving him. “Yes, Peter, I...whatever y-you want, you can...f-fuck, yes, I ju-uh-ngggh...”

Stiles’ pleading, agreeable words choked themselves off as he went rigid in Peter’s arms. He spilled himself over Peter’s still-stroking fist, one hand clawing at the pillow near his head while the other clutched at Peter’s arm, nails biting viciously into flesh. Peter groaned, then released Stiles’ cock to lock his arm securely around Stiles’ waist instead. Stiles was panting and trembling with pleasurable aftershocks as Peter thrust harder and faster for a few heartbeats, then he went still behind Stiles with a muffled roar as he buried his face in Stiles’ shoulder and bit down, teeth - fangs - tearing into pale skin.

Stiles cried out even as the space between his thighs was flooded with sticky-wet heat. A throbbing sort of heat took up residence in his shoulder and Stiles wondered how bad it was; how deeply Peter had bitten. Found himself an odd mix of disappointed and relieved that Peter was no longer an alpha, so he wouldn’t turn. Also wondered muzzily if he’d need to go to the hospital for stitches, because he could feel the blood coating his skin and that wasn’t a good thing, as a general rule.

“Tha’ hurt.” He mumbled, though his body was still pretty pliant; muscles loose and relaxed after his orgasm, and the words came out slurred. “An’ now ‘m’bleedin’...”

“Sorry.” Peter said, though he didn’t actually sound apologetic. Then, his tongue was roughly dragging over the skin of Stiles’ shoulder and sharp little pains were shooting through Stiles, rousing him a bit.

“H-hey, what are you...owww!” Stiles tried to squirm out of Peter’s grip, but the beta held him firmly so Stiles cried out miserably, kicking at Peter’s legs in anger and annoyance. “Dammit, Peter...owww, fuck...stop it...what the hell, your mouth is all germy and it fucking hurts!”

Peter continued licking, despite Stiles’ protests, for another minute or so. Then, finally, he stopped and explained softly. “I’m sorry, love, but it was necessary. I had to stop the bleeding.” He paused, then added lowly. “I’d apologize for the scar, but I wouldn’t mean it.”

He pressed his lips to Stiles’ shoulder, right where he’d bitten, and it was tingly now - almost numb - but it sparked with pleasurable heat when Peter’s mouth touched the spot. “W-what did you do?”

“Marked you.” Peter rumbled in his ear, nuzzling into Stiles’ sweat-dampened hair. “It’s a Mating bite. I hadn't meant to give you it so quickly, but...”

Stiles could almost hear the shrug in Peter’s voice, but he wasn’t even mad. Instead, he murmured. “Doesn’t feel like this was quick. You waited for this - for me - for a long time.” Peter hummed an agreement and Stiles sighed, letting go of the remaining anger and snuggling back against the werewolf, though he made a face when his thighs rubbed together, slick and sticky and kind of gross now that everything was cooling down. “Ugh; I’m a mess but I’m way too tired to shower again. This sucks.”

Peter huffed out a laugh against his skin, then promised. “Go to sleep, darling boy. I’ll clean you up in a few minutes, once my scent has sunk into your skin a little more.”

Stiles’ eyes were already closing, his temporary anger having drained what little energy he’d had left after his and Peter’s talk and mutual orgasms. So he mumbled something along the lines of an agreement and let sleep pull him under.

~*~*~*~

As Peter dragged the warm, damp washcloth over Stiles’ creamy thighs, he couldn't help wondering how he’d gotten so lucky. Because fate had made him wait an impossibly long time for Stiles but damn, the boy was more than worth it. When he’d cleaned Stiles up and curled up with him on the bed once more, Peter couldn't resist pressing a kiss to the raised, silvery scar now marring the pale flesh of Stiles’ shoulder. And he would have felt bad about having jumped the gun on putting it there, except he had waited for Stiles for years. And, more than that, Stiles had tempted him since he’d met the teenager and it had only been the fact that Peter had desperately wanted his soulmate - now that the unknown person was finally old enough - that had kept him from pursuing Stiles. So of course he’d claimed Stiles as soon as he could.

Peter closed his eyes, soaking up the mingled scent of himself, and Stiles, and sex. He wasn’t planning on falling asleep. He didn’t know when, exactly, the good Sheriff would be home, but Peter knew he had to leave before that happened. He would see Stiles again soon. He was going to leave; really. Staying would be impossibly foolish. He just wanted a few more minutes. Just wanted to savor the weight of Stiles in his arms; the feel of his soulmate against him. Wanted to bask in the knowledge that Stiles was his.

He would leave, though. Any...

...minute...

...now...

~*~*~*~

The soft click that woke Peter up was a sound he was too familiar with for his own liking, and one he really could have done without at such an early hour. He opened one eye, confirming that, yes, that was the barrel of a handgun being pointed at him. And yes, the hammer was drawn back, cocking the weapon.

‘Lovely.’ Peter thought, opening his other eye and gently nudging Stiles, because the hell if he was dealing with this on his own.

“Mmmm...” Stiles hummed sleepily, turning and burrowing in closer to Peter’s warmth, grumbling softly. “S’early, Peter. Go back t’sleep.”

Peter kept his eyes on the gun as he replied dryly. “That seems unwise, considering your father is here.”

“What?!” Stiles gasped, sitting bolt-upright even as he whipped around, Peter’s quick reflexes being the only thing that prevented him from falling out of the bed. Peter was just grateful that the covers were still protecting both of their modesties, though he was fairly certain that Noah was aware of their nudity.

Hence the gun.

There was a tense pause, wherein Stiles stared at his dad, then suddenly he was placing himself directly in front of Peter - who had sat up as well - as though bodily protecting him from the implied threat that was the gun in the sheriff’s hand. “Stop pointing that at him, Dad, geez! Overreaction much?”

“To finding a grown man naked in bed with my underage son? I don’t think so.” Noah’s voice was low and threatening, and Peter really couldn't blame him. “Get out of the way, Stiles. Mr. Hale, I’m going to ask you to stand up, turn around, and place your hands on your head, nice and slow, so I can cuff you. Understand?”

Stiles, apparently, was having none of that. “What are you going to do, Dad? Arrest my soulmate? Or worse, shoot him? Stop it. Please. I can’t...I can’t...”

Stiles’ voice cut out on a choked sort of sob and Peter didn’t hesitate. Gun or not, he reached out and hauled Stiles onto his lap, shushing him soothingly. “It’s alright, darling. It’s fine. I’m right here. I’m not leaving you. Never again, I promise. Shhh...”

Stiles clung to him and Peter watched over his head as Noah slowly lowered his gun, looking like someone had sucker punched him. “Y-your soulmate? But I thought...”

“That I was dead?” Peter said softly, shrugging as much as he could while still cradling Stiles, who was slowly calming in his arms. “Yes, well. Stiles, of course, believed the same thing. Given that fact, you can understand why he’s so terrified of losing me now.”

There was a tense pause, then Noah asked. “Why aren’t you scarred? I read all of the reports about the fire, and I know you were severely burned. Hell, you were hospitalized for years.”

“Would you believe he had a lot of cosmetic surgery?” Stiles asked, and there was a plaintive note to his voice that told Peter that he wasn’t asking Noah to actually believe that; he was asking his father if he would pretend to believe that.

But the sheriff shook his head. “The truth, if you don’t mind, Stiles.”

“It’s fine.” Peter told Stiles softly when the teen tensed up, his face tucked into the curve of Peter’s throat so he wouldn’t have to look at his dad. Then, Peter looked at Noah and let his eyes burn blue, baring fangs a moment later because, in most cases, show was much more efficient than tell.

The sheriff immediately swore and brought his gun back up. “Goddammit...what the hell are you?”

The reaction only served to make Peter roll his eyes, even as he let the shift melt away. “You can shoot me, if you like, but it won’t do much except sting and piss me off. You haven’t got the right sort of bullets to take out a werewolf. We heal a bit better than you humans do.”

For a moment there was silence, then Noah lowered the gun again and sank into Stiles’ computer chair, looking shaken. “I’m guessing from Stiles’ silence that he already knew about this?” Peter nodded while Stiles continued to hide his face in Peter’s throat, and the sheriff huffed out a breath. “I’m also betting there’s a lot more to this, isn’t there?”

“A fair bit.” Peter agreed. “And I can tell you all of it, at a later date.”

“Dad...” Stiles peeked over at Noah at last, pleading softly. “Just...trust me, okay? Peter’s my soulmate and I’ve already lost him twice. I can’t lose him again. I can’t. Please...please don’t try to keep us apart.”

Noah sighed heavily, looking weary. “I don’t think I even want to know what you mean by twice. Not right now, anyway. But I remember the morning after the fire...and the months that followed, Stiles. I remember the way you grieved for someone you’d never gotten to meet. And I would never put you through that again.”

He shot Peter a cool look and added. “But if anything happens to my son, you better believe I’ll find a way to put you down, werewolf or not. Understand?”

“Perfectly.”

“Great.” Noah stood up, shaking his head and holstering his gun at last. “I’m going to bed. When I wake up, I expect Mr. Hale to be gone.” He gave his son a stern look, adding. “I also expect him to come over for dinner some time this week, so we can meet properly.”

“Okay.” Stiles agreed meekly, and Peter had to bite back a grin. That hadn't gone anywhere near as badly as he’d thought it would. When Noah left the room, Stiles slumped against Peter and mumbled. “Well, that could’ve gone better.”

“Could have gone worse, too.” Peter pointed out, pressing a kiss to Stiles’ temple. “At least he didn’t shoot me. It really is an annoyance when it happens.”

Stiles snorted, leaning back to give Peter an exasperated look. “You know, most people haven’t been shot enough to find it an annoyance, Peter.”

Peter huffed in amusement. “Most people aren’t werewolves, darling.” He paused, then added. “I should go. I’d meant to go before your father got home, actually. Probably shouldn’t risk him finding me still here if he checks back in at some point.”

Stiles pouted, but nodded. “Yeah, okay. But you’ll come over for dinner soon? Like, tomorrow? And you’ll text me, right? Cause I’m probably going to text you a lot.”

“That’s fine, Stiles.” Peter kissed him, soft and sweet, then murmured. “Get some more sleep, darling. I’ll talk to you later.”

Stiles slipped off of Peter’s lap and Peter rose from the bed, ignoring Stiles appreciative noise as he pulled on his clothes from the night before. When he was dressed, he took a moment to kiss Stiles again, then headed for the window. As he prepared to slip out of it, he glanced over his shoulder. Stiles was sitting in the middle of his bed, the sheet draped over his lap, looking wide-eyed and innocent and delightfully disheveled. It took every ounce of control Peter had not to rejoin him.

Instead, he said. “I’ll see you soon, Stiles. Very soon.”

Stiles’ blushing grin was enough to let him know that the teen understood what he meant by that, and an instant later Peter was out the window and down the side of the house.

As he strolled casually up the street towards his Ferrari, he wondered if any of the neighbors had noted his exit. He imagined it would make for an interesting call to the Sheriff, if they had.

~*~*~*~

The day after Stiles graduated from Beacon Hills High School, he moved in with Peter. A week after that, they were married, though Noah had long since accepted that they were already what Stiles called werewolf married, a fact he was reminded of any time he caught a glimpse of the scar on his son’s shoulder. And while Peter Hale wasn’t who Noah would have chosen for his son, if he’d been given a say in the matter, he couldn't deny that fate had apparently known what it was doing.

Because Peter doted on Stiles, and spoiled him, and protected him with a fierceness that meant Noah couldn't really find a reason to object to them being together. And Stiles...well, Stiles was radiantly happy with Peter, which anyone with eyes could see.

As Noah thought about the way Stiles had looked the morning after the Hale fire - when he’d tearfully informed Noah that his soulmate was dead - he was immensely grateful that fate had given his son a werewolf for a soulmate. Because Peter Hale was nearly indestructible, which meant that it was very unlikely his son would lose his other half before they were both old and grey. His heart aching as he thought about Claudia, Noah silently prayed Stiles would never again know that pain.

Watching Stiles and Peter share their first dance as a married couple, Noah decided there was nothing to worry about. Knowing his son as he did, Noah imagined that if anyone - or anything - tried to take Peter from him, Stiles would move heaven and earth to get the werewolf back.

And if Stiles had been privy to his dad’s thoughts, he’d have absolutely agreed. Peter Hale was - for better or for worse - his, and he was damned sure going to keep him.

No matter what.

~ The End ~