It started slowly, as so many things do.
First it was just a sort of general hesitance in the others.
A hesitancy to fully hug Stiles as a greeting, or in celebration.
A hesitancy to sit down next to him, even when that was the only place left to sit.
A hesitancy to ask his opinion.
But over time things accumulated.
More and more situations crept up where Stiles started to realize something was causing a rift between him and the rest of the pack.
And he didn’t really know why.
Sure, Scott had been pretty occupied with his relationship with Allison, and not just lately.
Their friendship wasn’t as solid, as it used to be…
But even though the way the pack treated him had never been perfect, he had still felt accepted as a member.
Now though he started to feel more and more like he was left behind.
Like the pack avoided including him.
They asked him for help, if it was really necessary, but beyond the situations where he was useful to them he might as well just not be there.
By the time he was certain this wasn’t just a phase, things had shifted a lot.
In hindsight he was able to look back on at least the entire last year and see how the rift grew and grew.
Gone were the days of the puppy piles.
Gone the days of Scott and Kira sandwiching him while laughing over his pretend protest.
Gone even the days of Derek slamming him into walls.
And Jackson had gone back to being an asshole to him, he might actually be worse than back in high school.
One rare occasion where he and Scott were staking out a wendigo cave together Stiles actually asked if his friend had registered something that might be causing the others to avoid him.
He hadn’t expected the answer he’d get.
“You know...you’ve changed a lot...bro…”
Stiles did not miss the hesitation in Scott’s voice before he called Stiles ‘bro’.
“How have I changed then? What about me is so off-putting?”
Scott shrugged but didn’t elaborate.
Stiles was not going to leave it be like that though, he needed an explanation, something!
“Come on, there has to be something you can actually put your finger on?”
Scott seemed to contemplate what to say but what eventually surfaced was not anything Stiles could have guessed.
“It’s difficult to explain but...your aura...your scent, it’s...intimidating.”
Stiles was kind of stunned.
“I’m...what now? How is my aura...or my scent for that matter...like...what do you-” He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and tried to digest the information. “Sorry...but I just don’t understand what makes me intimidating. I’m still me...like, am I emitting some kind of scary hormone? Am I cursed? What’s going on?”
Scott was quiet for a moment. “It’s just...you smell like a witch Stiles, you know...it’s hard to get over the instinct to not trust that smell…”
WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCKING FUCK?!?!???
Stiles could only stare at Scott for almost five seconds.
He felt like his brain had to reboot.
“You trust Deaton!” he finally managed to say.
Scott looked pained. “Yeah, but I knew I could trust Deaton, before I got my werewolf senses.”
Scott seemed to realize what exactly he had implied with that statement and looked like he regretted the way he had phrased it, but Stiles didn’t need werewolf hearing to know that sentence had come from somewhere deep in his friend’s subconscious.
Anything either of them could have said next got interrupted, as they heard how something entered the cave.
The unmistakable stench of an unwashed body and rotting flesh told them it was the wendigo.
They both looked at each other with shared dread.
And even that little bit of camaraderie was tainted immediately by what Stiles had just been told.
Scott made some hand motions that seemed to say they should try to attack the wendigo from two sides and catch it.
Which was such a Scott idea.
Since the wendigo was here, in its cave, that meant the others had not been able to keep it busy any longer.
That again meant it had escaped five werewolves and two hunters.
Even knowing that, Stiles was positive he could incapacitate the wendigo magically, if he wanted to…
But apparently being a magic user meant not being trustworthy, unless your name was Alan Deaton. And in contrast to Scott Stiles knew a wendigo wasn’t the kind of creature you could save.
So, thinking about it, why would he go for Scott’s stupid fucking plan?
He shook his head and dragged his finger across his neck to tell Scott they should just kill it.
Scott vehemently shook his head back at that.
Stiles had enough.
He rolled his eyes, said “Fuck this, Apparently I’m already the bad guy anyway”, not the least bit concerned about the nightmare creature hearing him.
As the wendigo then turned its head to look directly in their direction he simply reached his hand out and murmured a few words to boil the creature’s blood.
It collapsed in a scream and with blisters bubbling up on their already terrible looking skin.
“What the fuck, Stiles?!” Scott yelled. “You didn’t have to take your anger out on him. He used to be human, he was cursed, the same way I am!”
Stiles sighed deeply and long suffering. “I didn’t do this to take out my anger, Scott. A wendigo is not like a werewolf, at all. Yes, they were human once, a long time ago. But they chose to eat human flesh, they don’t change because they are bitten - which is what you are by the way, bitten. Not cursed, Scott.
Wendigos change because an unquenchable desire for human flesh settles within them and from that point on they become less human every day.
The only way to handle them is to kill them. But I really don’t know why I am discussing this with you. It’s not like you trust me or my opinion. I’m out of here.”
That had been over a month ago.
Scott texted Stiles occasionally, asking him if he was still mad, but he never came over to talk and he also never apologized in any form.
So, as far as Stiles was concerned, there wasn’t a reason to stop being ‘mad’.
Although really, he was more disappointed than angry anyway.
He knew there had been two pack meetings since that incident.
Because he was still in the group chat.
But nobody had asked if he was going to be there and nobody had asked why he hadn’t been there, if he was okay, or anything.
They had however asked him if he could “brew them a potion or something” to detect fairies.
He had denied that request.
Mostly because if there were fae folk in town he’d definitely know.
But also a little bit because fuck them.
It was the end of a busy friday and Stiles was sitting on the platform of the fire escape of the apartment building he was living in now.
Of course, he could have stayed with his dad, it had been offered, but they both had known Stiles needed a place of his own.
Turned out, that place was a one room apartment in one of the more questionable parts of town. Because he had decided to stay in Beacon Hills and help the pack, instead of taking off to MIT, Yale or maybe Quantico to do something useful with his grades.
Lydia had done it, and right now Stiles felt like that had been the smarter choice by far.
But then again, she had always been better at self-preservation than he was.
He tried to lose himself in a book for a while, distract himself.
It worked too, for a bit at least.
Then, unexpectedly, Peter Hale was climbing up the ladder and Stiles watched him reach the platform.
Even though he hadn’t expected Peter to appear in this moment Stiles wasn’t really all that surprised it was Peter who had eventually showed up.
He placed the book in his lap and looked up at the man standing next to him now. “Did Scott send you, or did you just miss me, Zombiewolf?”
Peter showed his trademark smirk, drawled out a dismissive “Please…”, as if Stiles’ words had offended him and sat down next to Stiles. “If Scott wants to tell you something he can get his idiot behind over here all on his own. I’m here, because the pack meetings are almost unbearable without you there.”
Stiles furrowed his brows at that statement. “I had no idea you valued my presence so much…”
The werewolf rolled his eyes. “I have told you before Stiles, I like you. It is so much harder to listen to those morons when you aren't there to at least offer some reasonable commentary."
Stiles wished he was able to defend the pack, tell Peter to not be condescending. But for that he'd have to believe Peter was wrong.
And really...he didn't.
That was a sad thought.
When had been the last time Scott and he had agreed on anything really?
They had agreed on ordering Pepperoni Pizza a while back…
Stiles realized he had been in thought and looked at Peter for a moment, before staring out into the night.
The werewolf cleared his throat. "Before I ask, you don't have to answer Stiles. Because I'm probably not the person you want to talk to about these things...but I need to ask regardless. What is going on?"
Stiles leaned his head against the cool brick wall and closed his eyes with an exhausted sigh. "I don't really know...I kinda feel like...I don't know...just...I…" he opened his eyes and laughed awkwardly when he realized he had been about to say the same thing yet again. He just really didn't know.
There was mostly a vague and dreadful feeling.
Peter hmmm-ed patiently and Stiles swallowed hard.
He had a thought, but saying it out loud felt very scary.
Then again, if anybody would not judge him, or maybe even understand him, it was Peter.
He just had to get around that lump in his throat and actually say it.
"I...feel…" he swallowed hard "...I feel like I'm...I'm becoming the villain in Scott's story. And I...I really don't want to. I want to be on the right side of things…it's just...his point of view...I don't see a way to agree with it anymore. More often than not I feel like his decisions are either ineffective or actively damaging to the situation we are in...and whatever I do, it's never right in his eyes. And he just outright admitted he doesn't trust me...he has also proven that he doesn't...so many times, for so long...I am starting to feel more and more like I always valued our friendship more than he did...or maybe...maybe this is normal...maybe I am imagining this being fucked up...maybe I'm just weird for being hurt...for feeling left out…it's not like anybody actively ever told me I wasn't part of the pack anymore...maybe I am ostracizing myself because I feel like they are already doing that, even though they are not...I'm just…"
His shoulders sacked and the tension that had built up in his body, while he had been speaking left him at once.
He sighed again, bone deep and sad. "I don't know…" he murmured, more to himself than anything else.
He wanted to cry but didn't know how.
It felt like there was an ocean behind his eyes and the valve was clogged up with all the bullshit he had not allowed himself to cry over.
And he hated that he wanted to cry just as much as he hated that he fucked himself up so badly that he wasn't able to anymore.
That was on him, he knew how unhealthy it was to suppress your feelings. It was bound to bite him in the ass…
He also hated the fact Peter just had to ask and all his doubts and thoughts were suddenly coming out of him like nobody's business.
To Peter of all people...did he really expect the man to not use it against him?
He liked Peter, in ways he really shouldn't, in ways that further made him feel like he probably wasn't the good guy in this story…
But liking Peter did not equal trusting him.
And yet, when Peter reached out for Stiles' hand he didn't feel concerned, he felt grateful.
"Things like heroes and villains, good and evil...they aren't real, Stiles. They are narratives, and they are inherently subjective.
Even if what you fear is true, even if you might become the villain in Scott’s story, that doesn’t mean you have to accept that narrative.
And you can decide not to write your own story from the point of view of someone who sees you as a villain. All anyone can do is just what we think is right in the moment. And sometimes we might find out we were terribly, horribly wrong...sometimes it might turn out it was the best choice we could have made...and sometimes the situation is too complicated to give it a simple conclusion. But all of that is hindsight. It’s not about what others believe is right to do, it is about what you yourself think is the right thing to do."
Stiles rolled his eyes. “I’m not sure a serial killer, undead werewolf who admits to having psychopathic tendencies is the best person to give me a pep talk on rejecting the villain narrative..."
Peter shrugged. "I'm not wrong though, and you know that."
Stiles sighed yet again. "Yeah…"
Peter squeezed his hand reassuringly for a moment before he continued. "And regarding your doubts in your own perception of the pack dynamic, I am not going to tell you whether I think you are right or wrong.
Perception is fickle and I don't want you to think I might have manipulated you into turning your back on your best friend.
You two are basically brothers. Maybe there is just some miscommunication. I suppose that is possible...but you have always had very good instincts, especially when it comes to social dynamics and deceit. To be entirely sure though you’d have to outright aks Scott."
Stiles hated admitting it, but Peter was right.
If he actually wanted clarity, he had to face Scott and try to talk about how things were.
Even though he dreaded the idea.
He sighed and shook off a slight shiver, as the night air was starting to get colder than was comfortable.
“Thank you. I’m sure considering how much you hate Scott suggesting I make up with him can’t be easy.”
Peter furrowed his brows at that and glanced over at Stiles. “Don’t mention it. To be clear though. I don’t hate Scott, I just think he is incredibly self-righteous and incompetent, which is a very frustrating combination. And I definitely didn’t suggest you make up with him. I suggested fact checking your feeling of exclusion on their part, instead of theorizing you are making it all up. Also, if you are cold, I don’t mean to keep you out here.”
Stiles was cold, but he didn’t want Peter to leave.
It felt so much better than it should to have somebody around.
If he was honest to himself, it felt particularly nice to have Peter around.
He felt like the man understood him better than most.
Which he knew probably should be concerning, but really was mostly just very comfortable.
He made a decision. “Yeah I think going inside might not be the worst idea. Do you want some tea or coffee? Maybe hot chocolate? I would offer something stronger, but all my booze is wolfsbane free, so it wouldn’t be much use to you.”
Peter looked genuinely surprised. “Are you sure?”
Stiles half felt half like hugging and half like punching Peter.
Instead he just pushed the window open and climbed inside before looking back and asking “Are you coming or not, Creeperwolf?”
Peter got up and hesitated for a short moment before he climbed after Stiles, probably looking a lot more graceful than Stiles had.
“I do enjoy some alcohol for the taste of it, do you have anything interesting?”
Stiles grinned at the werewolf. “I got some homemade rowan berry liqueur. If you want to try that.”
Peter raised his brows in surprise. “Homemade?”
The grin on Stiles’ face got a little wider. “Yeah, I needed it for a spell, but made too much.”
The werewolf seemed intrigued. “I’d love to try it.”
So Stiles made himself some lovely smelling hibiscus tea while Peter took off his jacket and sat down on the couch.
Shortly after Stiles joined him with a mug for himself and a shot glass of rowan berry liqueur for Peter.
“What do you think?” Stiles asked curiously after Peter had taken his first sip.
Peter licked his lips and gave himself a moment. “Very herbal, sweeter than I thought it would be...it has a very lovely bite to it...I’m tempted to say it suits you.”
Stiles rolled his eyes and leaned back “Fuck off.”
Peter grinned, and took another sip while keeping the eye contact.
After a moment of silence, which was starting to fill with a kind of tension both of them weren’t really ready to address, he pointed out what time it was.
“I know you have to get to work in less than eight hours. Don’t humans need sleep?”
Stiles shrugged and took a careful sip of his still pretty hot tea. “Sure, but I haven’t slept great in a very long time…”
Peter placed the shot glass on the coffee table. “Since I bit Scott?”
The laugh that came from Stiles seemed to surprise Peter, maybe even unsettle him a little.
Even to Stiles himself it sounded incredibly hollow and sad. “Not everything is your fault Peter. I was fucked up long before your brain was grilled and you went all murder happy. I stopped having a healthy sleep schedule when my mother got bad enough to endanger me.”
That seemed to catch the man’s interest. “Endanger? I didn’t know she was dangerous. I thought she just got sick…”
There was a pause while Stiles decided how to approach this topic.
Flashes of all sorts of memories flickered through his mind and he consciously pushed them away to make sure he didn’t travel too far down that road.
He decided to give Peter the gist of it and sank deeper into the couch, trying to make himself smaller, his legs pulled up, mug held close to his chest, back slightly hunched.
He heard his own voice, soft and kind of detached when he continued.
It felt a bit like someone else was talking.
“She was sick...that’s what made her dangerous. She started to forget things, events...people...she forgot me. And she got confused a lot of the time, didn’t recognize where she was, didn’t understand what was going on...she started to be convinced I was going to kill her...and because my dad was working all the time, to make sure we were taken care of, I was alone with her. At first she was just accidentally hurting me when she tried get away from me...she threw a plate at me one time...and every time, once she was back to her normal self she’d be so sorry...and I’d tell her it was okay, because I loved her, because she was my Mama, and because I knew she didn’t mean it...but then she started to…”
Stiles was struggling to find the right words, but Peter seemed to already understand what he was trying to say.
“Did she try to kill you, Stiles?”
Stiles could only stare at Peter, his throat feeling like it was being squeezed by ghostly fingers, like he couldn’t breath, couldn’t speak, couldn’t scream...his heart felt raw and open, vulnerable, waiting to be either sewn together again oder picked apart by scavengers.
He forced himself to look down at his mug, to escape the feeling.
And tried to explain, Peter needed to understand, he needed to...know.
It hadn’t been her fault.
It had never really been her…
“She thought she had to...I don’t blame her. She didn’t remember she had a child, she didn’t remember who I was, she thought I was a demon, send to kill her, of course she tried to kill me first...it makes sense. I understand why she did what she did.”
Stiles stopped, not sure what else to say, how to explain the conflicting feelings he carried around everywhere.
Peter though seemed to know what he wanted to say, because he spoke to Stiles, his voice gentle, yet firm.
“But adult-you understanding why something happened doesn’t mean child-you wasn’t still traumatized by what happened. And understanding the cause of your trauma is not the same as overcoming it.”
Stiles nodded, he knew Peter was right.
Understanding why something happened did not make the pain stop somehow.
He didn’t feel like having Peter be his therapist though.
How had they gotten into this topic anyway?
Oh right, sleeping.
“You are right. And I don’t pretend I’m over it or something like that...I mean, I’ve learned to live with it, I’m doing okay, but falling asleep can be very difficult. And stuff like the Nemeton and the Nogitsune did not help either...I usually sleep best if I stay up long enough to basically just black out…”
Peter of course already knew Stiles wasn’t the epitome of mental health, but getting some details still seemed to surprise him somewhat.
At least if Stiles was reading the man’s expressions right.
Peter wasn’t the easiest person to read.
But at least right now he didn’t seem to be actively trying to hide his sympathy.
“Is there anything that can help?” Peter asked next and Stiles shrugged.
“Pack helped...for a bit. The physical contact helped me calm my mind and having other people around, people I felt safe with helped with the sleeping...before things got really bad, whenever I had a nightmare, Mama would stroke my back and tell me about anything I wanted to know…”
Peter’s hand twitched and Stiles imagined the man might be tempted to offer to stroke his back.
He’d have liked that.
Not just because he was desperate for physical comfort, but because it was Peter.
But Peter didn’t offer and Stiles certainly wasn’t going to ask.
He didn't want to make Peter feel pressured into comforting him.
When Peter spoke again his goal seemed to be a change of topic. "Sounds like a very difficult combination of memories to have.”
He then pointed at the coffee table “I meant to ask you earlier. What are you reading? The title looks germanic."
Stiles looked at the table, where the book was lying now.
He had almost forgotten which one he had been reading earlier.
Peter’s question was definitely an attempt at stirring the conversation to a safer topic.
Stiles was somewhat grateful for it.
"You are correct. It's german. A collection of poems. The guy who write them is called Till Lindemann. He’s the front man of a german rock and metal band, but also a very talented german poet. His style of poetry suits my current mood I suppose."
Peter was intrigued. "Ist dein Deutsch gut?" (Is your German good?)
Stiles gave Peter a soft smile "Gut genug um deutsche Poesie zu lesen und wert zu schätze." (Good enough to read and appreciate german poetry.)
Peter chuckled at the response. "Magst du mir was vorlesen?” (Would you like to read me something?)
Stiles unfolded his body enough to reached for the book and opened it where he had left off.
He settled more comfortably, his legs tucked to the side and looked for a particular passage he liked.
When he found it he cleared his throat:
“Ich hacke meine Brust aus Spaß
es regnet und mein Herz wird nass
öffne meine dicken Venen
und schenk dir Sträuße roter Tränen”
(“I hack into my chest for fun
it’s raining and my heart gets wet
open up my thickened veins
and gift you a bouquet of red tears”)
Peter listened carefully.
He seemed to understand the foreign language perfectly fine. "Fascinating. Such profound sadness, anger and yet a form of devotion and desire...I see why you would identify with Mr. Lindemann's writing."
Stiles nodded slowly, adding German to the languages he knew Peter spoke. "I really like the way he paints pictures of feelings. Reading it, for me, is sort if like looking at a surrealist painting. Even though the actual picture he presents is absurd at first glance, what he transports with it is very real."
He felt the heaviness of his current mood come back with full force.
So much for safer topics.
Peter’s company had helped him for a bit, but now his mind was back at it again.
And having Peter sit next to him only highlighted how everyone had started avoiding him.
For a while things had been almost good.
Sure, there had been those nagging feelings about how he and Scott were drifting apart, how Scott was becoming a person Stiles found harder and harder to like, or even justify the actions of.
But all in all they had found a routine with which to defend their territory and when Stiles had found out how strong his affinity for magic was he had hoped they’d even stop leaving him out every time a situation got ‘dangerous’.
He wasn’t sure if he would have worked so hard on becoming a stronger magic user for the pack, if he had known he’d trade being actually part of said pack for it.
Maybe he still would have though.
He liked doing magic, it felt good, it actually felt right.
It felt like it was what he was supposed to do.
And by almost all accounts it had helped him settle into himself.
His mind was less chaotic, less frantic - most of the times.
He was still just as prone to hyper fixating and going overboard with new interests, as he had been before, but it felt easier to channel these things, since his overflow of energy had an actual outlet.
Maybe this was actually just what happened…
Lots of people drifted apart from their high school friends after graduating.
Life went on and it pulled people into different directions.
Maybe he really should start looking for an university abroad somewhere, leave Beacon Hills, try to find other magic users to be friends with...people who wouldn’t be put off by his smell…
It felt so weird to think that was the reason they had distanced themselves from him…
And what was Deaton doing differently?
Was it just a front for something else?
Why didn’t Peter seem to be appalled in the same way the others were?
Peter bumped Stiles’ shoulder with his and Stiles hated how much his heart bled for that one little gesture.
Peter looked slightly concerned, an expression Stiles wasn’t used to seeing on the man’s face. “I can see your lovely mind working Stiles. What are you thinking about?”
Should he tell the truth?
He pulled his knees back up to his chin and looked down on the couch cushions, he could see Peter’s left hand and part of his thigh.
It was easier than looking at Peter’s face, at those glacial blue eyes that saw way too much.
He wasn’t sure how to even start that conversation without sounding desperate.
Maybe he should find out what Peter knew first.
“Has Scott said anything about me?”
That probably still sounded at least a little bit desperate.
He saw Peter hesitate for a moment and then shake his head.
Stiles wanted to crawl into himself, stop being this mess.
Scott not saying anything likely also meant nobody had asked anything.
He felt so alone.
Peter’s question was forgotten.
Instead he was getting caught up in his own thoughts and doubts once more.
He saw Peter’s hand twitch again, shift a little.
When he did look up at Peter the man’s face looked conflicted.
There was some kind of longing there, and restraint, concern, and something like...contempt?
He might be wrong, he didn’t know.
The longer they looked at each other the smaller the space between them seemed to get.
Stiles was about to open his mouth to say something, to just break this strange tension, when Peter moved, pulled his phone out and said “I should go” after looking at it.
Stiles nodded like he was in trance and moved to get up.
Peter got up himself and motioned for Stiles to stay. “I can see myself out.”
His gaze on Stiles softened in a way Stiles couldn’t fully read.
There was that moment of silent tension again.
It made Stiles want to crawl into Peter instead.
Into his head, his chest, make his home there.
The moment stretched out insufferably, until suddenly and abruptly Peter made a jerky head motion, said a quick “Goodnight Stiles” and headed out of the kitchen window.
Stiles stared a little bit longer at the spot where Peter had been and then took a deep breath.
He went through the motions of cleaning up his mug and Peter’s shot glass.
He cleaned up his kitchen a little, but there wasn’t really anything to clean.
So he was faced with his own restlessness and loneliness again.
He closed the window but didn’t lock it.
He knew his wards would keep anybody that meant him harm out, so there wasn’t any real danger to doing so.
And it wasn’t like anybody was going to come by anyway.
He turned back to his couch arrangement and his eyes landed on the jacket Peter had left hanging over the back of the couch.
Stiles had already felt like Peter had pretty suddenly rushed out, but seeing the forgotten jacket kind of confirmed his feeling.
Not really knowing what drove him to it Stiles stepped closer and reached for the jacket.
It had sharp lines, yet felt softer than he had thought, it seemed sleek and expensive but not impractical.
Stiles smiled at the thought of how those words applied to the item as well as its owner.
He couldn’t fully abandon the sadness that had latched onto his soul, not even while thinking of ways to poetically describe Peter Hale.
It was all too tangled in those small moments of push and pull, of longing and evading, of unreadable stares and snark that was never quite a blade or a flirtation yet somehow both.
He lifted the jacket to his face without thinking about it.
Peter didn’t wear cologne, Stiles already knew that, most werewolves didn’t.
At the same time a lot of them were adamant about hygiene.
Stiles did like the often musky but not funky smell of werewolves in general, but Peter’s in particular was making something in his head sing with delight.
Usually it was only a faint sensation when they were spending time together, but right now, in the solitude of his own home the temptation to just bury his face in the fabric was very strong.
He could imagine Peter was hugging him…
The bone deep sadness of that thought almost floored him.
He sat down on the couch, the jacket still in his hands and stared at the wall for a bit.
Tears were announcing themselves but not falling, he could feel the way his throat was closing up with the sensation, how the depression he had been fighting settled into his chest.
He allowed himself to feel it and where he had felt somewhat numb before, hollowed out, he started to let the realisation sink in.
He was alone.
All he had were things that were left behind, just as he was.
Non-essential, easily forgotten, an afterthought.
He let himself tilt to the side and curled up on his couch, his hands with the jacket now held to his chest, the scent of Peter, warm, musky and familiar still a comfort in some way.
Even though it didn’t stop him from thinking about how everyone eventually seemed to reject him and then leave.
Beginning with his mother.
Maybe she was right.
Maybe she had been magic as well and had seen what he was going to become…
Maybe she had seen the monster everyone else seemed to shy away from now.
Stiles’ eyes flew open -he didn’t even remember closing them- his heartbeat skyrocketed and his body was singing like a pulled-taut steel wire, ready to snap any moment.
He had no trouble recognizing that voice as Peter’s, but that did not mean he wasn’t in danger.
His thoughts were running a mile a moment, looking for the correct reaction.
In his peripheral vision he could see Peter crouching down and reaching out to touch Stiles’ face.
And all Stiles could think was:
Not like this!
Before they made contact he had teleported himself to the other side of the room, his back to the wall, lying on the ground, staring up at Peter, still holding his jacket.
The werewolf looked quite surprised and confused, standing up and tilting his head at Stiles while Stiles got up himself.
They stared at each other and Stiles’ panic turned to rage.
Cold, icy rage filling up his guts and making him hate himself for being so stupidly needy.
He hated that it had tempted him to be discovered in such a compromising situation.
He wanted to tear that stupid jacket to shreds but couldn’t even drop it to the ground.
Peter came closer again, reaching out his hand, this time to touch Stiles’ arm.
Stiles backed away and hit the wall, Peter had stopped in his movement, he seemed to see something, realize something.
Instead of coming closer he pointed at the jacket. “Can I have that back?”
Stiles nodded, it wasn’t his to keep.
He held out the piece of clothing, trying to ignore the shaking of his hand.
Peter reached out to take it but didn’t pull. “You haven’t been afraid of me ever since you killed me Stiles...what is this?”
Stiles tried to respond and realized his jaw was clenched.
With effort he managed to spit out three words. “Just leave me.”
Stiles was taken aback by that answer.
He didn’t know what to say, he didn’t even know what to think.
Peter looked weird, Stiles didn’t know where to place that expression, it was very soft though.
In an attempt to find something to say he looked Peter over and once again his eyes ended up on Peter’s hands, Peter was clenching and unclenching his hand, rubbing his thumbs against the pads of his fingers, like if he was chasing away an unpleasant sensation.
Surely that meant Peter wasn’t comfortable being here.
Before Stiles could send him away again though Peter spoke.
“What happened between our conversation earlier and our situation now Stiles? I know-” Peter’s voice stumbled over that word in a quite uncharacteristic way, but he swallowed once and cleared his throat to continue. “I know you were looking for comfort earlier. Now you literally jumped through space to avoid me touching you. What happened?”
Stiles was exhausted, everything was just too much feelings, he felt like tonight had chafed away his protective layer of skin like sandpaper, he was emotionally sore and aching all over.
He just wanted to be alone, to not be perceived.
But all he knew to say was the truth, he had no energy to lie or deflect. “You left.”
“I-” Peter started and then closed his mouth.
He looked at the floor for a moment and then almost at Stiles, but actually at the wall next to Stiles’ head, like he couldn’t quite bring himself to look at Stiles. “I’m not the right person to comfort you Stiles.”
Why did Peter’s voice sound so weird, almost choked…
“Okay.” Stiles said, because what else was there to say?
Nobody was the right person to comfort him, everyone had more important things to do, more important people in their lives.
“I don’t want to take advantage of you” Peter added.
Stiles furrowed his brows in confusion.
The nonsensicalness of the statement actually startled him a little bit out of his own depressing thoughts.
“What the fuck does that mean?”
What the fuck did Peter mean?
Peter looked pained. “I always tell you I like you Stiles. I did it earlier today. I always did. And it’s only grown from general appreciation to genuine adoration and attraction. It’d be so easy to reach out and be the comfort you want, be the hand that soothes you, but I know if you weren’t hurting the way you are it’d never be me. I wouldn’t be the right person for that for you and I’d be using your vulnerable state if I offered it now.
All I wanted to do earlier was to reach out and pull you in and never let go again.
But I know I’d take advantage of your suffering”
Stiles crossed his arms over his chest.
The anger was back and this time he absolutely felt like letting it out.
When he spoke his voice was ice cold and sharp, ready to carve Peter up. “Well, fuck you for assuming I wouldn’t be able to defend myself against unwanted advances just because I’m hurt. And double fuck you for not saying anything at some earlier point. That could have saved us a lot of time.
Yes, I feel like shit, yes I want comfort, but I don’t need pity.
I don’t want to be the guy you give a hug, because you know he needs it.
I want you to hold me, because you want to hold me.
I’m not hungry for the comfort any stranger would give me.
Because getting that from you would hurt, it’d reinforce the fucking divide I feel between me and everyone in the pack.
What I want is the comfort of someone to actually want to comfort me.
Not anybody who needs it, me.
If you don’t want to hug me, when I’m not in immediate need of it, then I don’t want you to hug me when I am.
I thought you had come looking for me because of that, because you care.
I wanted you to touch me, to hold me, so bad!
But you left.
You left like everybody does, you’re no different.”
Peter didn’t look angry when Stiles was finished, he looked surprised and maybe even sorry?
“You’re wrong. I am different. I’m worse.
Because you are right that I shouldn’t have made that decision for you. It would have saved us time to confess my feelings towards you earlier and take the rejection. I’m selfish, I wanted to at least keep that...let’s call it friendship, that we had...but-”
“Shut up you fucking idiot!” Stiles snapped, his arms still crossed over his chest. “I never rejected you. What I said was, it would have saved time. Because I could have told you, that I like you too. You are damn right I am angry, we both know how important open and honest communication is, we should know better.
But I guess nobody is perfect.
Now can you please fucking hug me you stupid ass prick?”
Peter needed another moment and then nodded slowly before stepping closer.
Stiles, realizing Peter was actually going to hug him, their conversation was leaving the hypothetical, uncrossed his arms and tried to find the right way to brace himself.
He had no idea how his body or soul would react to this, he was a little scared of it.
Peter reached out once more and Stiles felt the urge to move closer and flee at the same time, which froze him to the spot.
Peter’s fingers made contact with Stiles’ shoulder and it was soft, hesitant, he saw Peter swallow, Stiles’ eyes fixated on Peter’s neck for a moment.
He wanted to bury his face there.
It was only a moment’s distance, the tension of their first contact hanging in the air for a second, and then both made that last half of a step towards each other and their chests connected.
They wrapped up tightly, desperately and Stiles’ eyes were closed, nose to the slightly stubbly skin of Peter’s neck, breathing Peter in.
Peter pulled him even closer, Stiles felt and heard his back crack and it felt so good.
Suddenly he had tears in his eyes again and was shaking uncontrollably.
But Peter was holding him and not showing any sign of letting go.
Stiles tried to breath in to stop himself from crying, but that only caused him to make some very undignified crying noises and he felt so stupid.
But Peter moved one hand to lie in Stiles neck and made reassuring noises and that was enough for Stiles to fully break.
He was crying like he hadn’t cried since before his mother had gotten worse.
He was crying ugly, blubbering, breathing in and out with sobbing noises and he soaked Peter’s stupid v-neck in tears and probably also snot and saliva, but Peter held him through it, made reassuring, calming noises at him, stroked his back, neck and head and was there.
Eventually the shaking died down, Stiles sniveled a little, trying to find some kind of composure, but being too comfortable in Peter’s embrace to really make an effort.
He knew pretty much half his weight was held up by the werewolf, but he also knew Peter could easily have carried him, so he wasn’t concerned with being too heavy.
His head was resting on Peter’s shoulder, face against the slowly drying skin of Peter’s neck, breathing calmly, feeling like something within him had been cleansed, something awfully clogged up had been flushed out.
“You can let go if you want Peter…” Stiles murmured, trying to tell Peter he’d be okay standing by himself again.
Peter shook his head and matter of factly said: “I can’t.”
Stiles didn’t move, just furrowed his brows a little. “What do you mean?”
Stiles felt Peter take a deep breath and letting it out again. “I wanted this for so long Stiles...having you close like this...this is what I was afraid of...I don’t think I can let go of you ever again unless you actively tell me you want me to leave you alone. Which you should probably do…”
Stiles still didn’t move his head, he actually liked the idea of Peter never leaving him.
He smiled, when he spoke “As long as you let me go to the toilet on my own I’m okay with this. I mean...dressing and undressing might get a little difficult like this...or cooking...I might have trouble explaining the middle aged man wrapped around my body when I’m in public, or at work...but I don’t see an actual reason to tell you to leave me alone.”
Peter hummed, as if he was contemplating. “I suppose, since holding you all the time isn’t practical, it has to be enough to know that I can hold you any time. And if you ever don’t feel like it you tell me. Would that work?”
Stiles nodded. “Yes. Does that mean you’ll come to bed with me and cuddle me until I have to go to work?”
Peter nodded “Absolutely. Although I’d prefer if you also slept a little…”
Stiles huffed but smiled “I’ll try.”
It was ten days later.
Peter was cooking them dinner when his mobile phone rang. “Can you get that for me, Sweetheart?”
Stiles hummed affirmative and moved one hand from where it was wrapped around Peter from behind to fish the phone out of Peter’s pants.
The caller was Scott.
Stiles hesitated for a moment but then answered the call. “Yello?”
“Stiles?” Scott sounded hilariously confused.
“That’s my name.”
“I uh...I think I dialed the wrong number.”
Stiles heard Peter chuckle and he couldn’t help but grin as well. “How awkward. Well cheerio.”
He hung up.
Peter chuckled again “I love you, you know that?”
Stiles leaned his head over Peter’s shoulder and gave the man’s neck a short peck. “Yes, you keep telling me. I love you too.”
The phone rang again and Stiles let it ring a few times before answering it again. “Yes, hello?”
There was a short pause. “Stiles?”
Peter giggled and almost made Stiles lose his cool.
“Still my name.”
“Is...is this Peter’s phone?”
Stiles pressed his lips together to stop himself from laughing, he wanted to see how far he’d be able to play this game.
“It’s the phone that was in his pocket.”
Scott now seemed to get more concerned than confused. “Why do you have it?”
“I took it out of his pocket, obviously.”
“He didn’t stop you?”
Stiles allowed his mean grin to be audible for his next words. “Well you see Scott, Peter wasn’t really in any state to stop me.”
Now Scott started to sound terrified. “Did you kill Peter?”
Stiles hummed and placed a peck on the back of Peter’s neck. “You could say that I had a part in it. Anyway, I’m busy, I wanted to take a look at some of his books, his private collection is very impressive. Ta-ta!”
He hung up again and both of them started cracking up.
“You know he’ll probably barge in here in like 20 minutes.”
Stiles grinned. “Yeah, it’ll be fun. And after all, you told me to confront him about my suspicions. Since he isn’t going to apologize soon, or invite me to one of the pack meetings this is probably the easiest way to have him come to me. Because I really don’t feel like seeking him out right now.”
They left the apartment door slightly ajar so Scott wouldn’t feel compelled to break it down - also for some added suspense.
When Scott, Allison and Derek came into the apartment, looking prepared to find Stiles bathing in Peter’s blood or something, they were sitting on Peter’s very comfortable couch, Stiles with his legs over Peter’s lap, both of them eating the pesto Peter had made, chatting and laughing.
“He looks fine to me” was what Derek said and Stiles looked up like he had just noticed them.
“Oh hi guys. What’s up?”
Scott seemed speechless but Allison made half a step forward. “Scott said you killed Peter.”
Stiles shrugged. “I said I had a part in it. So did the three of you. We all killed Peter.”
Scott huffed “But-” he pointed at them sitting there. “How-...why would you- you said you took the phone from him.”
Stiles nodded “He was very busy cooking us dinner, so I answered the call.”
Stiles’ eyes narrowed. “But you think I’m evil. You think I’m off the rails, you think having me in the pack is dangerous and you are just waiting for me to snap so you can fully convince your betas, which are dependant on you as their alpha and already instinctively follow your lead to ostracize me, to eliminate me as a threat. What was your plan Scott? Eichen House? Maybe you felt like you’d actually have to kill me…”
“THAT’S NOT TRUE!” Scott exclaimed and Stiles tilted his head.
Derek’s face was already telling Stiles what he needed to know, but he asked Peter anyway.
“Peter, is it true?”
Peter took a fork full of pasta and chewed in an undisturbed manner before swallowing and saying “Yes, and considering his heartbeat he definitely thought about killing you as an option.”
Stiles smiled grimly. “Would you second that, Derek?”
Derek nodded slowly and Stiles turned his smile back to Scott.
“You were never good at lying Scottyboy. But don’t worry, I’ll be out of your hair soon enough. Peter and I will be moving to New Haven soon.”
“What?” Scott clearly had difficulty processing any of this.
“I’m going to start my next semester there, I should have done that from the start, but I guess I needed a little more time to cut the cord.”
Something changed in Scott’s eyes, there was something vindictive. “Does your dad know? Does he know about Peter creeping around you?”
So now Peter was the villain again.
Stiles shrugged. “Why? Are you about to run to him and tell him about the dangerous, evil, homicidal, maniac werewolf his dangerous, evil, homicidal, maniac son is dating?”
Derek’s eyebrows went through a bunch of emotions at that sentence, but he stayed silent.
Scott turned pale. “Stiles I didn’t-”
“You didn’t what Scott? Intend to make that sound like a threat? Don’t pretend you’re concerned for me. You just don’t like being called out and losing the high ground or the control over a situation.”
Scott opened his mouth to say something more.
Stiles made a motion with his hand, like he was closing something and Scott’s mouth snapped shut.
“Tell my dad what you want to tell him, see for yourself if he knows or not. I don’t want to hear you again for quite some time though. Leave.”
He motioned again and Scott’s body was lifted up and pushed out of the apartment, into the staircase.
“I’ll let you two walk out if you do so without saying anything else.”
Allison and Derek seemed to want to respond in some way but then just turned and walked towards the door.
“Would you be so kind as to close the door behind you.”
He heard the door being shut and took a deep breath.
Peter rubbed Stiles’ ankles. “Are you okay?”
Stiles breathed out and laughed a little. “No. But I have you, I have my dad - even though he needed a bit to understand, my therapist has referred me to someone in New Haven who seems to be pretty competent and alright, we have a pack there that’s excited for us to join them, even someone smelling like a witch” -he rolled his eyes as he said it- “and for the first time in a while I see an actual future for myself. It might take some time, but I will be okay eventually.”
Peter placed his empty plate on the coffee table. “I’m very glad you feel that way Sweetheart.”
He held his arms out expectantly and Stiles smiled, placing his own plate on the table and moving to fully sit in Peter’s lap and let the man wrap his arms around him and hold him close.
Yeah, he’d be okay.