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Sugarcoated

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Cashier to cash-wrap. Cashier to cash-wrap.

Stiles lets the phone hit the cradle in a crackling Walmart-hang-up and winces as the peppy holiday music starts up again. Hopefully, his page for assistance held the right amount of harried desperation. Not so panicked that the customers milling the store will notice, but firm enough that his manager—and designated back-up cashier—will put down her cell phone, leave the office, and do her god-damned job.

He turns to the growing queue of book-wielding holiday shoppers snaking through the front of the store and pastes on his best customer service smile. “Next in line?”

He has to forcibly hold back a cringe at the swoopy haircut and determined stride of the woman approaching his register.

“Sorry for the wait.” He reaches for the stack of books she drops on the counter, intent on getting through the transaction before she can find a way to make his day more exhausting than it already is. It’s the fourth time he’s seen that haircut today, and it’s living up to its reputation.

He swallows down a sigh. It’s bad enough he’s racking up the retail hours over his winter break when he’d rather be wallowing on the sofa and catching up on much-needed sleep after an overloaded semester. He refuses to admit it out loud, but his dad was right when he said Stiles was packing too much into the five-week winter vacation.

“Did you find everything you were looking for?” he forces out in his most pleasant, happy-to-help voice. He knows he isn’t being fair. A haircut doesn’t determine a person’s treatment of retail employees. And yet—

“No. I definitely didn’t. You would think a store this size would try to stock all of the best-sellers. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. You’ve absolutely ruined my holiday plans.”

Stiles grinds his teeth against the retort that he, personally, didn’t make her wait to do her shopping until the Saturday before Christmas. “Was anyone helping you? Maybe we can order it to be shipped to your house?”

“It’s too late now. My husband will just have to settle for—wait—“ She reaches out and slaps one Christmas-red gel-manicured hand down on the book Stiles is about to scan. “You need to discount that one. It’s damaged.”

Stiles blinks at the book with a sinking sensation. It’s nearly pristine—just a normal bit of shelf-wear at the corner.

He glances over the woman’s shoulder at the increasingly impatient customers waiting in line and picks up the phone again. “Manager to cash-wrap please, manager to cash-wrap.”

Stiles keeps his sigh of relief internal when his manager actually appears at the top of the escalator. Thank fuck.

His stomach chooses that moment to grumble demandingly. Stiles glances at the clock. Only five minutes until his break. He can probably hold it together for five minutes.

Despite his fervent wishes, the mess at the register means he ends up twenty minutes late clocking out for his thirty and ready to murder anyone between him and the break room.

Hangry is a real thing. Skipping breakfast was not worth the ten extra minutes of sleep, no matter what past-Stiles thought. On top of that, he grabbed the wrong shoes and the soles of his feet are throbbing in time with his pulse. He’s half-convinced he’ll never walk normally again.

Ugh. He’s been doing this too long to still make these freaking rookie mistakes.

Quickly stuffing his nametag into his back pocket, he beelines for the break room. Head down, shoulders hunched, he projects “don’t talk to me” with every fiber of his being. Then he makes yet another basic error.

“Excuse me.”

Don’t stop walking, he tells himself, even as he slows and reluctantly lifts his head, an apology on his lips. He’s on his break goddamnit, and he needs to sit more than he needs air at this point.

“I need you to sell me the most horrifying, trope-filled, misogynistic, pre-teen targeted drivel you have in stock.”

Stiles’ eyes widen against his will and his forward momentum stalls. The man appears to be dead-serious. “Um—and who are you shopping for?” he can’t help but ask—a thin veneer of professionalism lingering despite everything. It’s probably the best he can hope for at this point.

Besides, Stiles is the living embodiment of “curiosity killed the cat”. With an opening line like that, he hardly has a choice. He silently mourns his lunch break.

“My sister.”

“Alright…” Stiles drags out. “And your sister likes questionable YA novels?”

“God, no. She only reads historical romance and self-help books written by happily married blondes.”

Stiles chokes on his spit. “But you said—”

“Yes. She’s going to despise it.” The man’s smirk widens into a wicked grin, revealing his perfect teeth.

Stiles gapes. Because oh, this guy’s gorgeous. Like, luxury-product model gorgeous. His over-tired brain wants rub his face against the man's short beard and lick his canines. He fights the reaction down—this really isn’t the time.

“You’re buying your sister a book she’s going to hate?”

“I’m aiming past hate. I’m hoping she throws me out of the house.”

Stiles squints at him, head tilted.

Maybe if he was less of an exhausted mess—if his shift at his evening job hadn’t gone so late, or he hadn’t spent 40 minutes helping a customer choose the perfect series for her daughter, only to find the stack of books on a table near the doors when he was cleaning, or he wasn’t so goddamn noseyStiles would have let it go.

But no. He’s had a shitty day and he’s feeling vindictive. He meets the guy’s eyes—so blue, Jesus—and grins. He suddenly has a feeling delaying his lunch break will be worth it.

“Let’s do this.”

He leads hot-guy over to the young adult section and pulls out a few possibilities, getting thoughtful hums but not much interest. Then he has an idea that makes him snicker.

“How about this one? It’s a series.” He tugs the glossy trade-paperback off the shelf. “The main guy’s got the personality of over-cooked spaghetti, the writer has a terrible habit of killing off the kick-ass girls in lieu of character development, and the queer-baiting is so blatant it’s got its own portmanteau.” Stiles rocks up on his toes in excitement. “Oh! And if that’s not enough to piss your sister off, the plot has more holes and loose threads than the skinny-jeans I’m not allowed to wear in public anymore—because indecent exposure laws aren’t just for my dad’s peace of mind.”

Hot-guy blinks. Then his eyes drag down the length of Stiles’ body in obvious appraisal. His lips twitch into a smirk.

Stiles squirms as he realizes he got a little ranty and offered a questionable mental-image to the most attractive man he’s ever seen. He chokes down a groan and sheepishly rubs at the heat creeping up the back of his neck. ”Sorry.”

Hot-guy ends his leering with a chuckle. He shifts closer to Stiles and glances at the cover of the book, taking in the shirtless dude with glowing red eyes. He cocks an eyebrow. “You sound invested for how terrible it supposedly is.”

Stiles would like to hide in the breakroom now. “It had a lot of potential. Okay?” He bites his lip in an effort to keep his mouth shut about the fabulous fanfic that’s ninety percent of the reason he read the damn thing in the first place. “Anyway, it’s well known enough for her to be horrified, and the cover looks like a paranormal romance, so you can claim you had no idea what you were buying.”

Hot-guy takes the book from him and their fingers brush, slow and deliberate, sending goosebumps racing up Stiles’ arm. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he purrs in a tone that makes Stiles eternally grateful that his work khakis are on the baggy side. “This sounds absolutely perfect.”

He gives Stiles one last up-and-down glance before turning and heading for the register.

Stiles’ eyes lock on the man’s tight, perfect ass and he swallows hard. He can’t fight a longing sigh as he tucks the vision away for later.

His break is going to be so short, but hey, if this day ever ends he'll have some hot jerk-off fodder as a trade. He’s not gonna complain about that.




Peter would like to be anywhere but here. Well, not here specifically—because he’s been told the coffee in this shop is decent—but here, as in Beacon Hills.

He’s been dreaming of a sun-and-sand filled Christmas for months, but for the first time in ten years, despite his best efforts, he wasn’t able to escape somewhere tropical.

Damn his sister for coercing him back here.

He would like to formally state that everything about this “vacation” is terrible. First, instead of a lovely downtown hotel, he’s crammed into his old bedroom at the family house. On top of that, he has to play nice with his siblings and their families for the entire week. And worst of all, thanks to his sister’s bossy meddling, he’s been forced to join the shopping masses on the last weekend before Christmas.

Peter doesn’t hate his family per se—he just prefers to keep drawn-out interactions with them to a minimum. Especially this time of year. Hell, he’s only been in town a day and a half, and he’s already been fussed at twice for not “Christmasing” correctly.

Peter eyes the slow-moving cafe line in front of him, then pulls out his phone and shoots off a text.

Why the hell did I agree to this?

He doesn’t bother returning the device to his pocket. It buzzes almost immediately.

Talia called you before coffee, while you were still in bed with the flavor of the weekend. You’re downright charitable when you’ve just had your cock sucked.

Peter gives his phone a dirty look. Now that’s just rude.

Oh, really? What was it you gave the boy who blew you at that event last month?

Peter sighs. God, I hate you. I don’t know why we’re friends. He waits almost a full minute but doesn’t get a response until he caves. They were extras. And he had a god-given gift. It deserved a reward.

It was some reward. Face it, Peter. Getting off makes you less of a bastard. You’d be a perfect sugar-daddy—if you kept them more than one night.

Peter glares at the text, then hits “call.” This requires the nuance of tone—eavesdroppers be damned.

Chris is chuckling when he picks up.

“I have ways to make you regret everything you’re thinking right now,” Peter growls, as if threatening the bastard ever works.

“Fashion Week, Peter. You gave your bathroom hook-up tickets to Fashion Week.”

“It’s one runway show and a backstage pass. I’m not flying him to Paris, and I definitely don’t have plans to see him again.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re the master of the parting gift.”

“Gifts,” Peter sneers, shifting his phone to trap it against his shoulder and pull out his wallet. He’s getting closer to the front of the line. “Can you believe money isn’t acceptable for Christmas anymore? Now I have to buy ‘things that require effort’.”

“That’s gonna backfire spectacularly.”

Peter presses his free hand to his chest. “I’m touched that you know me so well.”

“You’re ‘touched’ alright,” Chris makes a sound that Peter knows is accompanied by a long-suffering eye roll. “What did you do?”

“I’ll have you know I got Talia a lovely book.”

“Is it the Gay Kama-Sutra?”

Peter barks out a laugh, some of his annoyance unraveling for the first time since he left the house that morning. This is why he still talks to this guy, best friend, or no. “No. But now I need to make another trip to the bookstore.”

“Just don’t tell her it was my idea. I like my balls right where they are.”

It’s not a bad idea, actually. And if he’s lucky, maybe the cute twink will be working. Peter would enjoy seeing his reaction to that book request.

Even after a ten-year leave of absence, Beacon Hills is disappointingly lacking in Peter’s kind of entertainment. Bookstore-twink—Peter’s a little miffed he wasn’t wearing a nametag during their encounter—was the best thing he’s come across since he got to town. He wouldn’t mind taking that one home for a night of fun—if home didn’t currently include his siblings, their spouses, and all of his various nieces and nephews.

The house is big enough for everyone to visit comfortably, but the boy looked like a screamer. It would have ended poorly.

Peter hangs up with Chris when he finally reaches the counter—he may not have ever worked in customer service, but he knows better than to be that guy.

“Medium latte with a pump of vanilla and an extra shot, please,” he tells the wide-eyed and slightly flustered barista. She jots the details of his order down on the side of the cup and slides it to a tall, lanky young man who—with killer cheekbones and a mop of blond curls—could easily pass for a model.

Peter’s work-brain immediately starts dressing him in some of the newer styles that have come across his desk.

A drawback of working in fashion. He can’t turn it off.

The cafe is busy, the tables filled, customers milling while the two employees scramble to fill orders. Honestly, they seem a little understaffed for such a busy weekend, and Peter is starting to regret his impulsive stop. This might take a while.

He steps down to the other end of the bar to wait, taking a minute to sort through a few emails. It might be Sunday, but everything he does now is one less thing his personal assistant will put on his list later.

He’s distracted from his inbox when the door to the back of the store flies open and a slim figure bursts through, still in the process of tying an apron on. “Kira! Isaac! I’m here to rescue you!”

The girl-barista—Kira he assumes—flashes the new arrival a mega-watt smile. Model-boy—Isaac—mutters a distracted “aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?” as his hands continue to fly over the espresso machine, pulling shots and steaming milk.

Peter smirks, amused.

“Holy shit, you guys are in the weeds,” the new kid announces, unknowingly echoing Peter’s earlier thoughts as he dives into work, snagging a stack of unstarted drinks and adding syrups to them. Peter’s eyes track the flurry of movement with interest.

New-kid is a fashion disaster with a beanie pulled over his dark hair, hipster-typical, dark-rimmed glasses, and layers of very unfortunate plaid. His worn skinny jeans—that nevertheless mold beautifully to his thighs—are the only thing worth mentioning.

His voice is what snags Peter’s attention and makes him pause to look closer.

The glasses throw him off for a moment, but the mole-dotted, pale skin and the wide, laughing mouth finally let him connect the dots.

Apparently, his bookstore-twink has a second job. Peter’s lips curl up, pleased by the coincidence.

“Latte for Peter?”

His name pulls Peter away from the enticing daydream of just what might be hiding under all those horrible layers. As he steps forward for his drink, a heavyset man—in an ill-filling, off-the-rack suit from five years ago—reaches past him and grabs it.

Peter’s eyebrows shoot up, but before he can protest the man takes a sip and his face pinches in displeasure.

“This isn’t a Caramel Macchiato!” bad-suit squawks. He slams the cup back down hard enough that the lid pops off and hot coffee explodes in an arc across the counter, coming perilously close to Peter’s Berluti dress shoes.

Isaac skitters back, wide-eyed, his shoulders hunching. “Oh—I—uh—”

Peter’s bookstore-twink is suddenly there, between Isaac and the angry customer. “Oh damn! I’m so sorry, sir.” He snags the cup off the counter and tugs down the cardboard sleeve. “I’ll get your drink remade right away—Peter.” He spins away, using the rapid movement to shuffle Isaac back towards the register. “I got this, can you help Kira?”

“I’m in a rush,” bad-suit whines, fists balled up like a child. Peter glances down, wondering if he’ll stamp his foot too.

“Of course, Peter,” bookstore-twink gushes. “I’ll have your vanilla latte ready in just a minute.”

The man freezes and Peter sees the dawning realization on his face.

“Let’s see,” Peter’s new favorite barista muses, loudly enough that everyone within ten feet of the counter can hear as he reads off the side of the cup. “You wanted one pump of vanilla, an extra shot of espresso, and soy milk. Right, Peter?”

God, the snark on this boy is beautiful.

The rude customer—whose name obviously isn’t Peter—is quickly turning a blotchy red. He glances down at another cup, sitting innocuously in front of him on the counter.

Peter doesn’t bother to restrain the humor in his voice when he answers. “That’s right, sweetheart. Vanilla soy latte. And take your time, I’m happy to wait.”

The man grumbles something incomprehensible, then grabs the drink that’s actually his and slinks away to the chuckles of the observing patrons.

Bookstore-twink meets Peter’s eyes for the first time and his own go wide behind his dark-framed glasses. His mouth opens in a little “oh” of recognition.

“Hello, again.” Peter offers the boy his most charming smile.

The sweet thing ducks his head to hide his answering blush while his long-fingered hands move expertly to remake Peter’s drink.

“Hey, stranger,” he quips, gifting Peter with a coy glance from below his lashes. His tongue darts out to slide over his full lower lip as his focus returns squarely to the steaming milk.

Peter takes in the way the little tease chews at the inside of his cheek and fights a smile. His honey-brown eyes make Peter want to tug his glasses from his face so he can get a better look, and Peter isn’t sure if he’d rather strip him down to his skinny jeans and dress him in something that will show him off, or just strip him in order to find all his sensitive places.

Peter tells the Chris-toned voice in his head that’s grumbling “not again” to fuck off. There’s nothing wrong with playing with a pretty-boy as long as everyone involved is having fun—and knows that playing is nothing like a commitment.

“Well, we don’t have to be strangers, but you don’t seem to be a fan of name-tags.”

“What?” The boy slaps a hand over his heart, then flushes when he doesn’t encounter anything. “Crap.” He fishes in his apron pocket, but he can’t juggle the name-tag and the steaming milk he’s pouring. He luckily chooses the milk.

The name-tag hits the floor and when he shifts his foot to catch it, he sends it skittering under the far counter. He sags with an embarrassed groan.

Peter blinks, startled by the unexpected, dramatic flailing, then chuckles. “I guess now we’ll never know.”

His bookstore-twink makes a sound suspiciously close to a snort and squirms with embarrassment. “I’m Stiles.” He pops the lid on the finished coffee and bites his lip briefly. His pretty brown eyes flick down to the cup and back up again before he holds it out. “And you’re Peter?

“I am.” Peter takes the new drink with a smile, then reaches out and tucks a couple bills into the front pocket of Stiles’ apron as a thank you—both for the drink, and the entertainment.

“Thanks?” Stiles licks his lips nervously and stares, gaze locked with Peter’s.

If feels like it lasts longer than it probably does, then his coworker—overwhelmed by the ever-lengthening line—interrupts, shouting for assistance.

Stiles flinches back into motion, head ducked, grinning as he starts filling orders again.

Peter takes a sip of his—perfect—latte and glances around for a place to sit, but the cafe is packed, all the tables taken, and he’s not willing to awkwardly hover. He’d like to talk to Stiles more—maybe see where the interest reflected back at him will take them—but he can always come back later.




“I still say he’s trying to get in your pants.”

“Thanks so much, Isaac. It never occurred to me that he tipped me a hundred bucks for something other than my latte making skills!” Stiles rolls his eyes and tosses his rag in the bucket of cleaner a little too violently.

He sighs and grabs it again to clean up the splashes.

“Maybe he’s just feeling the holiday spirit?” Kira suggests, her sweetness strong in the face of Isaac and Stiles’ skepticism.

Stiles snorts. “Yeah, no. This is the same guy who was looking for presents his family will hate. I don’t think ‘Christmas Spirit’ is a thing he does.”

“But he didn’t give you his number or anything?” Kira asks, yet again.

Stiles shrugs. “Nope. Just the cash.”

He’s not sure what he feels about that, to be honest. Because he sure as hell needs the money—he wouldn’t be working so much if he didn’t—but it's still weird. Maybe a little skeevy. Who just gives that kind of money to a stranger with no expectations? Stiles is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

He finishes straightening up and tugs off his apron. “If you guys are good here, I’m gonna go try not to spill red wine on fancy people.”

Isaac frowns at him. “You’re at the restaurant tonight?”

Kira is wide-eyed and equally concerned. “Why didn’t you say something? We kept you here all afternoon.”

“Hey, money is money. I’ll take any shifts I can get. Besides, it’s only for another week and then I’m back at school.”

They make a few more noises about him working too hard, but he waves off the rest of their concern. Yes, of course, he’s exhausted all the time. He’s running on pure caffeine—good thing he works in a coffee shop, right? Anyway, it will all be okay in the end.

He pats Isaac on the back and kisses the top of Kira’s head, then heads out. He honestly appreciates the concern and knows some of it’s probably warranted. Isaac and Kira really are good friends. He ought to find time to hang with them outside of work, just as soon as he’s not so busy.

He regrets forgetting his coat at home this morning as he hurries down the street to his car. It’s gotten cold now that the sun is down. The holiday lights on main street sure are pretty, though. It makes the walk almost worth it.

Pulling out his phone, he checks the time, then snaps a picture for Insta. Good. If he hurries he has just long enough to swing by his dad’s. He can change clothes and shove some food in his face before his shift at the restaurant.

Stiles thinks—not for the first time—that there should be a way to make it through college with only the normal amount of debt. He knew going in that there would be loans. He planned for it. But he wasn’t expecting the debt to pile up quite so quickly. Or for so many people to be screwing him over.

Like the financial aid office that decided halfway through the fall semester that they weren’t going to cover his off-campus housing while he completed his mandatory, unpaid spring internship. Because the internship he found requires forty hours a week, and Stiles can’t schedule enough classes around it to maintain his full-time status.

Part-time status means part-time aid apparently.

And a full-time—did he mention unpaid—internship, plus classes, also means having to quit the nights-and-weekends restaurant job that covered his expenses for the last three and a half years.

Which is what led to Stiles working his ass off all of winter break, trying to scrape together enough money to pay his landlord—something that has to be done at the beginning of each semester—because “off-campus” doesn’t mean he gets treated like an actual adult.

Apparently, college kids can’t be trusted to pay their bills on time. Who woulda thunk?

Under the looming threat of homelessness, Stiles called every single one of his old high-school bosses. The bookstore and the cafe were happy to have him back during the holiday rush, and he got extra lucky when his buddy Danny needed someone to cover his restaurant shifts while he’s away visiting family.

A good night at the restaurant pays more in tips than the other two jobs combined, even if he doesn’t get the really nice shifts, like Saturday nights—those are for the servers with seniority. He did pick up Christmas Eve because even though it pays well, no one really wants to work until late when they could be home with their families.

He’s damn proud of himself, really. Over the course of the last few weeks he’s managed to make just enough to cover rent and groceries for the next three months. He’ll have to figure something else out for the spring, but that’s three months away, and he’s going to celebrate his wins while he has them.

The Beacon Inn is packed for a Sunday night. That’s mostly due to the jazz band that’s playing—holiday-themed of course, because Stiles can’t stop losing Whamageddon this year. He's assigned to all the bar two-tops. They’re running him off his feet, but he’s also too busy to notice how tired he is.

He’s just swung by with another round for the big, daddy-looking bears in the corner—they've been flirting with him non-stop since they came in, he’s apparently rocking the hipster-twink look in his old glasses—when the manager snags him.

“I just sat two in the dining room. Can you take them?”

Stiles glances around. His tables are all settled with full drinks and plenty of bar-snacks. He can handle one more. And dinner customers equal bigger tabs which means more money in his pocket.

He ducks into the main room and snags a water pitcher and bread for the table. The couple is seated near the window with a great view of the street.

“Hey,” Stiles says with an upbeat smile as he approaches the table. “Welcome to—Bea—Beacon Inn—” He fumbles and stalls, gaping.

Peter—his hot bookstore-guy—somehow he’s here. He’s in Stiles’ restaurant—well, really Danny’s restaurant, but semantics—either way, he’s on the opposite side of town from the last place Stiles saw him. And not only that, but he’s in Stiles' section—all casual—like it’s no big deal.

Stiles can’t be blamed if he stares a little and forgets how words work.

Peter arches an eyebrow, obviously questioning his mental health.

Stiles is questioning it too, to be honest. He’s also wondering where his sudden suit-kink came from—because fuck, a fancy vest over an open-collared button-down should not be this hot. His mouth works silently as he searches for words that aren’t a request to lick Peter’s thick, gorgeous neck.

It takes him way too long to notice the beautiful woman sitting across the table from the asshole that’s stolen his entire attention.

She looks just as fancied up as Peter in a blouse and skirt combo, her long dark hair loose around her shoulders. She turns and gives Stiles a polite smile, kindly ignoring the way he’s frozen like a startled deer. “Hi there.” She smooths out her skirt and folds her hands in her lap expectantly. She’s not wearing a ring.

Date night. Stiles’ rude brain supplies, something uncomfortable twisting in his gut. “I—can I—” He clears his throat and starts again. “Can I start you off with something to drink?”

They order a fancy bottle of wine like they’re celebrating something. Peter is still eyeing him with curiosity. His date, thankfully, seems oblivious to the attention as she scans the menu.

Stiles somehow manages to rattle off the night’s specials before he flees, his face burning and his heart pounding painfully.

This is stupid. He needs to get it together.

Yes, he may have entertained the idea that Peter was flirting with him. He can’t be blamed for that, the man practically purrs when he talks. Stiles is allowed to be disappointed that he was wrong. What he’s not allowed to do is fuck over a table that has a good chance of leaving him a fantastic tip.

Stiles breathes and makes a loop through the bar, clearing a few empty glasses, then heads back to take Peter and his date’s order, determined to be the best server they’ve ever encountered.

Peter continues giving him odd looks and the occasional eye roll—possibly due to how over-the-top pleasant and helpful he’s being. Well, let him. Stiles has no intention of explaining himself.

He manages to hold it together until he’s making his way over after their food is delivered. He’s too far away to hear her words, but Peter’s date has her arm stretched across the table, one hand gently cupping Peter’s face. Peter’s lips are curled up in a soft smile as he accepts the intimate touch.

Stiles turns and flees back to the bar.

God, this sucks. He’s not usually like this. He jabs at the point-of-sale computer, sending a round of drinks through for one of his other tables. This is what he gets for letting his fucking hopes spiral out of hand. Men like Peter aren’t interested in guys like Stiles.

Not that Stiles isn’t a catch. He objectively hot, and he knows he’s his own brand of awesome. He does just fine when he has time to date. And when he doesn’t there’s no shortage of hot dudes willing to swipe right for him.

This one just felt different.

“Stiles?”

Stiles bristles but keeps entering orders, trying to pretend he doesn’t recognize the voice or his name.

“Stiles.” He’s too close to ignore now.

“Can I help you, sir?” Stiles forces out sweetly, keeping his eyes locked on the screen.

Peter huffs. He’s close enough that Stiles imagines he feels the puff of air on the back of his neck. “Really? Is that how you want to play this?”

Annoyance wells up past the—probably unwarranted—hurt and Stiles turns to face him. “Fine." He scowls at the man’s stupidly perfect face. “Are you stalking me?” He plants his hands on his hips and pulls his shoulders back. “Because this isn’t funny anymore.”

“Stalking—” Peter rolls his eyes. “Do I look like the type of man that needs to stalk someone, sweetheart?”

Stiles takes a deep breath and reminds himself that he can’t go off on a customer—even a conceited asshole customer—and also, he still needs to earn his tip. “Sorry. Look, Peter.” He gestures to the room. “I’m really slammed here. Was there something you and your friend needed?” He glances past Peter’s broad—distracting—shoulder and sees his table of daddy-bears trying to flag him down.

“She’s not my—”

“Great,” Stiles cuts him off and side-steps around him, heading for the customers that actually need something. “I hope you both enjoy your meal.”

He hears Peter sigh but doesn’t let it stop him. He’s got daddy-bears to take care of, and maybe a little flirting—the actually harmless kind—will cheer him up.

Stiles spends the rest of the night moving as quickly as possible between tables and refusing eye-contact with any and everyone in the direction of the dining room—all while keeping a bright, fake grin on his face.

He drops Peter and his date's check off, gushes a little over how lovely it was to serve them, and how he hopes they have a wonderful evening. He’s not quite far away enough to miss the woman’s annoyed, “Peter, what did you do?” as he flees for the final time.

He misses the answer and he waits until long after they’re gone to collect the bill.

When he sees the two hundred dollar tip he doesn’t know whether to laugh or scream.




Talia is either going through a mid-life crisis, or she’s developed empty-nest syndrome despite two of her adult children still living at home. Peter can’t think of any other reason that she would have gone out and bought a ridiculous, designer dog.

What the hell even is a “Pomsky?”

All he knows is that it looks like someone hit a Husky with a shrinking-ray. There’s something so wrong about taking a working dog and miniaturizing it.

Peter might have a career in fashion, but he maintains the “designer” label is for clothes, and not anything that needs to be kept alive. Because in his experience, “designer” means “high-maintenance”.

Chili is no exception. Talia got caught up at work, so for some reason, Peter is the one picking the furball up from his bi-weekly grooming appointment at the animal clinic.

Peter leans on the front desk and taps his fingers against the glass countertop in bored rhythm, vaguely following along with the omnipresent holiday music as he waits for the floppy-haired vet tech to return with his temporary charge. It’s been at least ten minutes and he’s running out of patience.

The waiting room is slowly emptying out of yappy animals—it’s apparently the last day for check-ups before Dr. Deaton closes shop for the holidays. The Beacon Hills Animal Clinic staff is getting ten days of paid vacation. Peter knows all of this because the floppy-haired vet tech is very much an over-sharer—and was enthusiastically describing his vacation to the person in front of Peter in line. Scott’s apparently getting on a plane to San Diego just as soon as his last patient is picked up.

That’s five minutes of his life Peter is never getting back.

Honestly, Peter is done with this whole day. He’s been out shopping since noon and he’s exhausted. He thought gag-gifts for his family would be easy, but—unless he wants to take Chris’ suggestion and just hit up the nearest sex-shop—they are going to take some planning. Effort. Just like Talia wanted. Peter thinks he’s probably backed himself into a corner with this plan, but he’s much too invested to give up now.

Though possibly, he needs some outside input. He debates asking Cora. She would absolutely be on board for gag-gift shopping, but she’s also terrible at keeping her mouth shut. It’s a thought anyway.

He’s still frowning into space when the door to the back of the clinic swings open behind him.

“Hi, Peter. Chili’s ready for you.”

Peter’s head whips around so fast that his neck cracks. His jaw drops and he flat out stares at Stiles, who for some ungodly reason is dressed in blue scrubs, holding Talia’s purse-dog, and smiling pleasantly.

Peter has no words.

Alright, he has plenty of words, but Talia will be pissy if he gets them banned from the best—only—animal clinic in town, so Peter bites down on them.

“Would you like to schedule the next appointment now, or should we wait for Chili's mom to do it?” Stiles asks.

“Is this a joke?”

Stiles raises a judgmental eyebrow at him. “Suit yourself. But we have a limited number of slots during the holidays. It’s better to book in advance.”

Peter knows he’s being punished. He saw the way Stiles looked at Talia during dinner and he’s not an idiot. He would have happily cleared up the misunderstanding if Stiles had given him two minutes to talk, but the boy was too damn stubborn.

“Stiles—”

Stiles’ jaw ticks and his cheeks go a little pink, but he holds onto his pleasantly blank expression as he sets Chili down and holds out the leash.

Peter reaches out, but bypasses it and closes his hand over Stiles’ warm skin. He gives a little squeeze, then slips the lead from Stiles’ hold and tugs the dog to his side.

Stiles steps back, mouth held in a perfect customer service smile. The brat doesn’t so much as twitch or hint that anything strange is going on. It’s actually impressive. “Alright then. Have a nice day. Bye, Chili.” He waves to the dog.

Peter continues to stare. There’s no way all of this is a coincidence. There’s no way—even in a town as small as Beacon Hills—he could run across one perfect boy so many times in such a short period.

But if he’s going to figure this out—without running his boy off—Peter needs to make a strategic retreat. It’ll be fine. He has a feeling their paths will cross again soon.




Stiles keeps it together until he hears Peter’s car door shut—then he loses his shit, doubled over, laughing so hard he’s wheezing and tears are rolling down his face.

Scott sticks his head through the swinging door, attempting to hide his shirtlessness. “Dude. Do you need to borrow my inhaler? Also, can I get my scrubs back? It’s freezing in here.”

Stiles waves him over and tugs the scrub top over his head, tossing it to Scott. He has a t-shirt on underneath—there wasn’t enough time to change completely after he heard Peter’s voice and had his brilliant epiphany. And god, Peter’s face.

“Dude,” Stiles gasps, laughter starting up again. “Dude, did you see his face?”

“No.” Scott pouts. “I was hiding. Because you stole my shirt.” He dresses quickly, snagging a hoodie from the back of the door to throw on top.

Stiles might be cold if he ever stops laughing, but for now, he’s warm to the core. “We can cancel Christmas.” He collapses into the receptionist chair and sends it spinning around and around as he grins at the ceiling. “I’m not getting a better present than that.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Look, that asshole showed up at all three of my jobs last weekend and it was really freaking annoying. I saw an amazing opportunity and I took it.”

“That’s super creepy. Is he stalking you? Do you want me to say something to Dr. Deaton?” Scott is giving him worried-puppy-face, but Stiles waves the concern off.

“Nah, man. It’s fine. I can totally handle him.” Stiles has a plan now, and with the way things have been going, he doesn’t think he’ll have to wait long to put it into action.

Chapter Text

With his door shut and his earbuds in, Peter spends Tuesday morning holed up in his room at the house, going over layouts for the May book. It’s become natural over the years to think about summer fashion in December—it doesn’t hurt that he’s usually doing it from a beach with the soundtrack of crashing waves. There’s an odd dissonance in designing a campaign filled with the hottest swimwear trends while surrounded by the scent of pine trees and sugar cookies.

Maybe he should download an ambient noise app.

There’s a sharp bang on his bedroom door and Peter sighs. Or, he should insist on a hotel room, if only to limit the interruptions. Cora pokes her head in before he can respond to her pounding.

“Hey. Gimme a ride to the mall.”

He wrinkles his nose at the thought. It would take bribery or extortion to make him brave the mall two days before Christmas. And besides, “Don’t you have a car?”

She shifts impatiently. “Technically it’s mom’s car, and I’m not allowed to drive it in populated places between Thanksgiving and New Years.” Peter waits until she huffs in exasperation. “There may have been a slight parking-spot-rage incident last Christmas.”

He rolls his eyes but his lips twitch. That’s actually just amusing enough to make him change his plans for the afternoon. Still, Cora’s lucky she’s his favorite. Out of all his many nieces and nephews, she reminds him the most of himself—a handful of years younger than her closest sibling and with ten years on her cousins. Peter remembers what it was like to be isolated in the middle all too well.

So he doesn’t give in to her demand so much as he decides he might as well get the rest of his own shopping out of the way. He’s running out of days until Christmas. And if he’s going to the mall, it’s no trouble to give his favorite niece a ride. He can claim she owes him later.

They separate quickly once they arrive. She’s late to meet her boyfriend, and Peter needs a minute after the chaos of the parking garage—Cora’s parking lot rage was definitely justified. Peter nearly lost it himself after thirty minutes of barely missed spots. The only reason they aren’t still circling is because Cora leapt out while they were halfway down an aisle, dove between two parked cars, and stood in an empty space until Peter could drive around. A few passing drivers cussed her out, but she gleefully gave them the finger and refused to budge until Peter could park.

Peter’s feeling altruistic because of it and offers to meet back up with her when they’re finished, but she’s got dinner-and-a-movie plans—which Peter fully expects are actually Netflix and chill plans. He doesn’t particularly want to know, but he’s also not judging.

The mall is a madhouse of last-minute shoppers, and Peter would pivot and walk right back out, but after all the trouble to get here he’s committed. He at least needs to make the Battle of the Parking Lot worthwhile.

On top of the rushing masses and the oppressively cheery holiday music, it seems like the mall’s interior designer—and he’s using that term extremely loosely—decided this year’s theme was “sear the customer’s eyeballs”. The predominant colors are fuchsia and lime green. It’s like 2005 threw up everywhere, from the garlands over the entrance to the white-frosted trees surrounding the Santa display. Peter’s tempted to shield his eyes from the horror.

Instead, he heads to one of the directories, hoping he can map a route that will get him in and out as quickly as possible. Scanning the list of stores with a sinking feeling, he realizes he has no idea how to go about this. He fights down a flare of annoyance directed at his sister and her hatred of gift cards.

After some deliberation, he sets off towards the one and only toy store. He’s not cruel enough to buy gag-gifts for children, but he’s perfectly happy to get them something obnoxiously loud along with a year’s supply of batteries.

He pauses outside the store, eyeing a display of electronic puppies that both bark with a high-pitched, mechanical squeak and jump in circles when he’s startled by a voice nearly in his ear.

“Can I help you find anything?”

Peter goes still. Then he turns—very slowly—to meet Stiles’ eyes. Stiles tilts his head and blinks at him, hands clasped innocently behind his back, his polite, customer-service smile on his face.

Peter catches the twitch of lips and flicker of wicked amusement before Stiles forces his expression into smooth pleasantness again. “Howlin’ Howie is very popular this year.” He gestures to one of the obnoxious toys—which howls in agreement.

Peter takes a step in Stiles’ direction, not sure what he plans to do, but—well, something involving his palm and a very red backside probably isn’t too far off.

Stiles’ mouth pinches as he fights not to laugh.

“You—” Peter growls, advancing. “Are a menace.”

Stiles’ pupils dilate and his cheeks darken as he backs away. “I don’t know what you’re—” He cuts off with a yelp when he bumps into a display of personalized Christmas ornaments, sending them swaying and clanking.

Peter grabs his elbow to steady him before he makes things worse, then tugs him away from the potential for destruction. “Let’s try not to break anything, darling.” He maneuvers Stiles so his back is against the storefront window, then braces a hand next to his shoulder, caging him in.

For a moment Stiles seems caught between amusement and arousal, but he shakes it off and gives Peter a narrow look. “Watch it, Mr. Grabby-Hands.” He pokes Peter in the chest, then glares pointedly at the hand holding his elbow and the thumb unconsciously stroking worn-soft flannel.

Peter raises an eyebrow. Despite the complaint, Stiles isn’t trying to pull away. He’s flustered and squirming, a little disheveled—though that part isn’t anything Peter’s done—but he doesn’t resist Peter’s touch. Peter gets a thrill of satisfaction at the thought that Stiles enjoys some manhandling.

“I’m just protecting the valuable merchandise.” He gives the boy a playful smirk. “We wouldn’t want—”

“Everything okay here, Stiles?” a gruff, authoritative voice breaks in from behind Peter.

Stiles freezes then flushes red. “Hey, Jim. Um—yes—totally fine.” His eyes dart from the person interrupting them, to Peter, and back again, lip caught between his teeth. Honestly, he couldn’t look more guilty if he tried, and they aren’t even doing anything wrong.

Peter glances at the man hovering off to the side, thumbs looped into his heavy belt. He’s older, probably in his late sixties or early seventies, with close-cropped grey hair and the look of muscles gone soft with age. He’s wearing a mall-security polo. Peter leans closer to Stiles and lowers his voice to a murmur. “Your bodyguard?”

Stiles snorts, lips twitching, and nudges Peter back a step, slipping out from between him and the window. “We’re all good. Totally.”

“Alright—” The mall-cop looks skeptical. “If you say so.” He shakes his head. “Just, keep in mind this is a family-friendly place, would you, kiddo?”

Stiles nods rapidly and tugs on the hem of his shirt, trying to smooth it—not that it does much good, it’s creased to the point that Peter wonders if he might have slept in it. “Course. Thanks.”

The guard ambles off and Peter turns back to Stiles with an expectant look. “So, the mall-cop knows you by name?”

Stiles barks out a startled laugh and scrubs a hand through his hair. “Jim’s a thirty-five-year veteran of the force. Retired. He does the seasonal thing around the holidays. Extra spending-money for the grandkids.”

“And you’re generally on a first-name basis with random, retired police officers?”

“Well, yeah. Don’t you know the names of your co-workers?”

Peter’s disbelieving stare lasts for several heartbeats before Stiles cracks, mirth twisting his features. He slaps a hand over his mouth but can’t stop the giggles from slipping free.

Peter’s stare narrows. “You—you little shit—do not work at the police station.”

The giggles quickly turn to outright cackling until Stiles is struggling to stay vertical. Peter hauls him across the walkway to a bench where Stiles drops down and buries his head in his hands, gasping for breath.

Eventually, he pulls himself together—red-faced, with tears in the corners of his eyes. “No. I don’t work at the station. My dad does.”

Peter hums and settles beside him, arm stretched along the back of the bench. “You obviously didn’t fake working at the cafe. Or at the restaurant.” Stiles gives him a stubborn little frown and shifts uncomfortably at the mention of the restaurant, but Peter presses on. “Please tell me I didn’t accost a random customer in a bookstore. That’s just tacky.”

The frown morphs into a reluctant smirk. “That would be hilarious, but no. I work there too. Not at the clinic—my BFF’s got that covered—and not, you know.” He waves at their general surroundings.

Peter gives him a look of disbelief. Three jobs? “When do you sleep?”

Stiles snorts. “Not often enough. It’s just seasonal though, while I’m on winter break. I can sleep in January.”

Well, that little tidbit fills in a few holes and doesn’t satisfy even a fraction of Peter’s curiosity.

Stiles wipes his palms on his thighs and his eyes shift like he’s contemplating leaving. “Well, this has been hilarious and strange, but I should get going.”

“Why?”

“Why?” Stiles lets out a frustrated huff and angles his body away from Peter. “Look, I don’t know how things work in your world, but in mine, I don’t go after guys that are taken. No matter how good looking they are, or,” he wrinkles his nose, “how much money they throw at me.”

Interesting. Peter’s going to come back to the second part of that later. First things first. “Why on earth do you think I’m taken?”

This time Stiles goes to stand but Peter reaches out and snags a narrow wrist, holding him loosely.

Stiles stills at the contact and looks back. “You looked pretty lovey-dovey with your date at dinner. So unless you broke up in the last two days. . .” He trails off and averts his eyes again, chewing on his lower lip.

“Hmm.” Peter strokes his thumb over the fragile veins in his grip, drawing a shiver. “I don’t know if I should be more offended that you think I would cheat on my significant other, or that you think I’m straight.”

Stiles scoffs. “Bisexuality is a thing that exists.”

“Of course. But it’s also a thing I’m decidedly not. If you had asked, my sister would have laughed herself sick. She loves to reminisce about how I was going to marry George Clooney when I was four.”

“Your—”

“Sister. Dark hair, condescending grimace, coerced me into taking her to dinner the other night? Surely you remember her.”

Stiles makes a mortified sound, lifts his free arm, and tries to hide in the crook of his elbow. “Oh my god. Just kill me now,” he groans into his sleeve.

Peter has to laugh. “That’s a little dramatic.” He tugs until the ridiculous boy frees his flushed face from its hiding place. “Why don’t you make it up to me instead?”

Stiles eyes him, skeptical but with an undercurrent of something like hope. “I—think I need details before I agree to that.”

Peter gives Stiles his best leer, enjoying the squirming it causes. He really is very cute. “Help me with the rest of my Christmas shopping.”

The tempting, red-bitten mouth twitches. Stiles glances to the toy store with it’s yapping electronic dogs, then back to Peter again. “Are you still looking for things your family will hate?”

“I suppose.” Peter shrugs, unconcerned. “I’m not terrible enough to want the children to dislike their gifts. Their parents on the other hand. . .” He gives Stiles a wide grin. “Let’s just say, I’m hoping this will be the last year I’m ordered home for the holidays.”

Stiles blinks and licks his lips, his eyes lingering on Peter’s mouth. “Um.” He shakes himself a little. “I’d be up for that. If you want.”

“Excellent.” Peter only barely keeps his more inappropriate responses internal—he’s loath to scare Stiles away now that they’re finally getting somewhere. He shifts his grip to Stiles’ elbow and stands, pulling the boy with him. Stiles follows easily and Peter feels that little flare of satisfaction again. “Now, what’s the worst gift someone could give?”

Stiles doesn’t hesitate. “Surprise car.”

That makes Peter pause. “A car?”

“Yeah. Like in all the commercials.” He drops his voice to something all-American and wholesome. “Look, honey, I went and made a massive financial decision without consulting you.” He makes a sweeping gesture. “I even put a giant red bow on it to distract you from the fact that I’m a presumptuous asshole.”

Peter chuckles. It never would have occurred to him—money hasn’t ever been much of a concern for the Hale’s—but he can see Stiles’ point. “You’ve put some thought into this.”

“Well, yeah. Those commercials are dumb, and it’s a shitty standard to hold gift-giving to. You don’t have to spend a ton to get someone a nice gift. And don’t even get me started on diamonds.”

“Maybe next time.” Peter smiles at the way Stiles blushes and ducks his head. “So, cars and diamonds go on the terrible gifts list. What do you suggest for three children under the age of ten?”




Shopping with Peter is fun. They choose a cute but yappy electronic dog for Peter’s youngest nephew, then hit up the video game section for the older two. Peter insists that he didn’t really have a budget in mind, so the lucky devils get shiny-new Nintendo Switches. Apparently, their mother is the “go play outside” type, so she’s going to be livid, but the kids will be in heaven. Stiles declares Peter the Best Uncle, then laughs at the resulting preening.

The toys purchased, they head out into the mall and Stiles gets to show off his preternatural ability to stumble across the strangest shit—things no sane marketing director should have ever approved. His best find is a yard decoration featuring a little girl, a creepy snowman, and a sign that reads “Santa I’ve been a good girl please stop”. It’s horrifyingly awkward.

Peter buys it with a devilish grin and a promise that it’s the perfect addition to his sister’s festive holiday display.

As near as Stiles can tell, Peter doesn’t have a personal-space bubble—as proven by the hand that keeps touching the small of his back, steering him through the crowds or pointing him towards a new store. It’s heady and distracting, setting off sparks under Stiles’ skin and making him ache to be closer. He holds himself in check though. There’s still a small chance he’s reading this wrong, and if he is, he wants as much time with Peter as he can get before things go awkward.

The shopping bags are starting to feel heavy and Stiles’ five a.m. cafe shift is catching up with him when they pass one of the ubiquitous mall Starbucks. He inhales the sweet, sweet aroma and suppresses a sigh of longing. He’s so tired these days and despite having several cups of precious, precious coffee over the course of the morning it’s never enough.

“Did you want coffee?”

Stiles blinks, surprised Peter noticed his wandering gaze, and nibbles on his lip. “I mean, always. I’ve been awake for a million hours. But I can wait until I get home.”

Peter changes directions, getting in the shockingly short line for drinks.

Stiles tries to step off to the side but is caught and drawn back by Peter’s hand on his arm. “Peter, I’m fine, really.” Besides, Starbucks is totally overpriced and he doesn’t get an employee discount here.

“Let me buy you a drink. As a thank you for all your help.” Peter’s hand squeezes in encouragement, his lips curled up in a half-smile.

Stiles fights the urge to lean into the touch. “Honestly, I’ve had like four cups already, I should probably be cut off.”

“Really?” Peter frowns. “And you aren’t vibrating out of your skin?”

Stiles shrugs. “ADHD. It actually helps me focus, but too much will do a number on my stomach.”

Peter hums and when they reach the front of the line he orders Stiles a hot chocolate instead. Stiles huffs at him, amused and annoyed in equal measure at the high-handedness. He snags Peter’s Americano as soon as it’s set on the counter.

Peter raises an eyebrow at him.

Stiles smirks and pulls a Sharpie out of his pocket.

Peter blinks. “Why. . .” He trails off.

“Occupational hazard” is the only explanation Stiles offers. With a few quick lines, he turns the innocent pair of mittens on the side of the cup into hands gripping spread ass cheeks. Snickering, he twists the cup and holds it out to Peter.

Peter chuckles, his eyes crinkling at the corners in a way that makes Stiles’ insides go warm and squirmy. He takes the cup and eyes the ass-mittens. “Are you implying something, sweetheart?”

Stiles’ cheeks heat, because he actually wasn’t, he just wanted to make Peter laugh. “No,” he says quickly, fishing out his phone. “I just—I saw it and thought the internet needed to know.”

He points the camera at Peter who obliges by turning the cup so Stiles can photograph his art. After a few adjustments to the angle to get the perfect Instagrammable photo, Stiles turns away to wait for his own drink. He’s halfway through posting when he pauses. “Is this okay? You’re in it.”

Peter steps up behind him to look over his shoulder, so close Stiles can feel heat radiating against his back.

“Perfectly fine,” Peter murmurs, breath ghosting across Stiles’ jaw.

Stiles swallows hard and shivers. He adds a few distracted hashtags before throwing the image up on his feed. “Okay, good. Great, thanks.” He tries not to squirm.

Stiles' hot chocolate comes up—finally—and he grabs it before anyone else can. He’s learned that lesson well. Peter reaches past him and drops a couple bucks in the tip jar, getting a heartfelt “thank you” from the baristas.

As they leave, Peter’s free hand lands on the small of Stiles’ back. Stiles doesn’t stop himself from leaning into it this time.

The hand stays, heating Stiles’ skin to the point of distraction as they wander the mall, sipping their drinks and making fun of the more outrageous decorations. There’s a topiary reindeer with a freaking Christmas tree for a tail that makes Stiles snort and upload another photo to Instagram with the hashtag #hopeheusedlube.

When they stroll past Santa’s village, Stiles is hit with a sweet wave of nostalgia. He remembers waiting anxiously in that line as a kid, equal parts eager to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, and nervous that Santa would know all about the glitter-glue he put in Jackson’s shoes during Kindergarten nap-time.

Turns out, well-deserved revenge didn’t put you on the naughty list. Lucky for Stiles, not so much for future elementary school bullies.

“Have you been a good boy, Stiles?” Peter’s purred question jerks him out of his thoughts and sends tingles racing down his spine; Peter can’t possibly know what that phrase does to him. “Did you want to go sit on Santa’s lap? I’m sure it would make the old man’s day,” he teases, eyes sparkling.

Stiles squeaks and sputters as his face flames. “Hell no, asshole.” He shoves at Peter, playfully, only to be caught and pulled close, tucked against Peter‘s side with a muscular arm draped over his shoulder. He can’t help but snuggle in, aiming a giddy smile at the floor as they continue to walk.

“Too bad. A cute boy like you would look good perched on a man’s knee.”

Stiles sputters some more and tries to throw the teasing back at Peter before he drowns in embarrassment. “Sorry, Daddy. That’s not my kink.” He may have a weakness for being called a “good boy” but that’s as far as the fantasy goes. Really.

Peter’s breath hitches. “Cheeky brat,” he murmurs, lips brushing Stiles’ ear.

Stiles snickers at the successful revenge, even as he shivers and presses closer.

“So you aren’t at the mall to see Santa. Am I keeping you from your Christmas shopping?” Peter asks.

Stiles shrugs, unconcerned. “Nah, it’s cool. The holidays are low-key for us. My best buddy Scott and I did our exchange last night, and Dad and I decided to skip it this year.” Stiles honestly doesn’t mind having a quiet holiday. He’s glad Scott’s getting serious with his girlfriend, and he had his dad and Melissa at Thanksgiving—it’s cute how the two of them arrange their working holidays to match up. Stiles’ gift to himself is going to be sleeping the entire day away.

Peter hums in understanding. “So you braved the mall two days before Christmas when you didn’t have to? That sounds like a form of insanity.”

Stiles snorts. Peter’s not wrong. “I was dropping off a friend and decided to take advantage of the sales.” He gestures to a big red 50% off sign in front of the store they’re passing. “I’ve got an internship this spring, so I need to stock up on ties and shit.” He shoots Peter a playful grin. “And since this random guy gave me a couple really nice tips this week, I’ve actually got cash to burn.”

Peter looks intrigued. “Really?” He loosens his hold enough to eye Stiles’ loose jeans and worn flannel. “Alright then. I can definitely help with that.”

Stiles tries to argue that he’ll take care of it later, but Peter isn’t hearing it. He has them detour through the parking garage to drop the shopping bags in Peter’s car—it’s very shiny and Stiles drools a little.

When they’re back inside Stiles takes charge and firmly leads the way to one of the department stores. With some creativity, he hopes he can manage three shirts and two ties and still keep this splurge under a hundred bucks. If he wears a t-shirt underneath, three shirts should get him through a workweek. He’ll be doing laundry every weekend but that’s not the end of the world.

He grabs two different blue ones, and a white one off a clearance table to the left of the store entrance. The sizes look right and the fabric seems nice and sturdy. The “washable” sticker is what sells it—because fuck dry-cleaning.

“Is that your size?” Peter asks.

“Yeah, sure,” Stiles responds. It’s close enough at least. He heads towards the ties, hoping to get this over with before Peter gets bored. He’s not ready for their day to be over and he’s sensing something like impatience from the man.

“What are these even made out of?” Peter asks, eyeing the colorful fabric.

“Hopefully something laundry-friendly.” Stiles narrows his eyes at the rows of ties. There are so many, it’s a little overwhelming. Holding up a red and blue striped one, he turns to Peter to get his opinion. He blinks at the pinched expression on Peter’s face, his stomach sinking.

“No.” Peter scowls. “ No, I’m sorry. I can’t do it.” He reaches out and takes the tie and pile of clothing from Stiles’ arms, tossing it carelessly on the table. “Come with me.”

“Wait—what?” Stiles finds himself helpless to argue as a large, warm hand wraps firmly around his wrist and steals all of his resistance. He grumbles under his breath about domineering assholes as Peter pulls him out of the store and through the mall, but Peter seems unconcerned.

Stiles digs in his heels when they end up in a small but very fancy boutique store.

“Peter, no. I can’t afford the socks in this place,” Stiles hisses, eyes darting. He ducks his head and pulls in his shoulders, convinced he’s going to damage something just by breathing on it wrong and he’ll be forced to sell his first-born to pay for it.

“Don’t be absurd. I brought you here. I’m paying.”

Stiles boggles at him. “Are you insane?”

“According to my sister, or my therapist?” Peter smirks at him and Stiles can’t help but laugh. “Look, sweetheart, this is fun for me. I enjoy it.”

“You enjoy spending money on strangers?” Stiles repeats, skepticism coloring his words.

“We’re not strangers.” Peter steps closer, thumb tracing circles on the inside of Stiles’ wrist.

“You’re ridiculous.” Stiles ducks his head. Fighting a blush, he speaks to Peter’s shiny leather shoes. “This isn’t normal. People don’t just do this.”

“Where’s the fun in ‘normal’?” Peter cups Stiles’ jaw with his free hand and tips it up until their gazes meet. “Humor me.”

Stiles gets a little lost in his eyes and—even though he doesn’t mean to—finds himself agreeing. “You better not make me try on anything weird.”

Peter does a poor job of hiding his triumph behind something more serious. “I’ll have you know, people pay me a lot of money to tell them what to wear.”

Stiles wrinkles his nose. “What are you, a personal shopper or something?”

“Or something,” Peter says, desert-dry as he steers them to the nearest display. “What size are you?”

“Uhh—” Stiles grabs the back of his t-shirt collar and twists around, spinning in a little circle as he tries to glimpse the letters printed there. “Maybe a large?” He can almost make it out if he squints one eye closed.

Peter’s hands land on his shoulders, stilling him, before pushing his flannel and hoodie down his arms until they catch at his wrists.

“What—ack!” Stiles squawks and flails. “Why are you stripping me?”

“I’m not,” Peter huffs in frustration. “Hold still, you ridiculous thing.” He grips the tangled fabric until Stiles stops squirming. “I can’t see with all of this in the way. Why are you wearing four layers?”

“It’s winter!” Stiles gasps when Peter’s hands close around his ribs and slide firmly down to his hips. “Oh my god,” he whines, his entire body prickling with sudden awareness.

Peter is standing so close that Stiles can pick out flecks of grey in his gorgeous blue eyes. His warm, broad hands span Stiles’ waist as he looks him up and down critically. “How can you not know what you are? And don’t tell me you do, because you’re not wearing a single thing that fits.”

It takes Stiles much too long to overcome his stunned-fish impersonation and catch on. Peter’s got his shirts pulled tight around his torso. Peter’s not feeling him up, he’s trying to gauge Stiles’ size.

“You look like a thirty-two.”

Stiles makes a noise he refuses to call a whimper. “Uh. . . Yeah—sure.” If Peter doesn’t take a step back there is going to be a situation in Stiles’ pants that will make trying on clothes extremely awkward.

Peter—the bastard—leans closer, then reaches behind Stiles and flips the waistband of his jeans inside out, grunting in disapproval. “Then why are you wearing a thirty-six?”

“A—a thirty-six?” Stiles gapes. He can’t look away from the corded muscles of Peter’s neck. He wants to taste him. What is even happening right now? “I don’t—they were on sale?”

Peter mutters disparagingly under his breath but finally releases Stiles and walks to the nearest display of t-shirts. “It’s a good thing I’m here.”

Stiles trips after him, flustered and off-balance as he struggles back into his tangled hoodie and flannel. “But I—uh—I have plenty of t-shirts. I need work stuff.”

Peter gives him an unimpressed look and holds out something that’s way too thin to survive a cafe shift. “Feel.”

Stiles stares for several heartbeats, then scrubs his fingers on his jeans before carefully reaching out. He gasps, stroking his fingers over the silky fabric. “It’s so soft.”

“It’s Pima.”

“Oh.” Stiles has no idea what the fuck that is. “I kind of love it.” He lifts the sleeve to rub the softness against his cheek. “Why do you know so much about this stuff?”

Peter tilts his head, humor dancing in his eyes. “Occupational hazard.”

Stiles laughs at having his own snark thrown back at him. “Fine, be mysterious.” Stiles will figure him out eventually.

Peter loads him down with t-shirts, dress shirts, pants, and jackets—there’s even a snazzy vest that reminds him of the one Peter wore to the restaurant—and steers him back to the fitting rooms.

Stiles finds himself alone in a curtained off enclosure, staring down a mountain of clothing with no clue where to start.

“Try on the dark-indigo skinny-cut jeans,” Peter calls through the curtain. “They’re on top.”

Right. Pants. Stiles strips down to his underwear and pulls on the requested pair of pants. Thankfully, it’s a briefs day, because no way are boxers fitting under here; there’s hardly room for his junk in these.

He tugs at the dark-wash denim and jiggles his leg, trying to arrange everything so he’s not getting pinched. He’s not convinced they fit, no matter what Peter says about thirty-two or thirty-six or whatever. Okay, yeah, they’re ridiculously comfortable once they’re on, but they cling, hugging his ass and thighs in a way that his normal skinny-jeans—which tend to sag—never do. His butt looks weirdly bubbly.

He twists around, trying to see his ass better. Stupid boujie fitting rooms with their no-mirrors. Stiles knows he’s supposed to leave the changing cubby and stand on the little raised platform so everyone can get a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view of him, but he doesn’t want to.

He pulls out his phone and is trying to angle it so he can see the back when Peter speaks from just outside the curtain. “Are you hiding in there?”

Stiles jumps, nearly dropping his improvised mirror. He gets a blurry picture of the floor instead of anything useful. “No.”

Peter starts to draw the curtain back and Stiles lunges to hold it closed, sticking his head through the gap. “I don’t think they fit. They’re too long and—and—” He stares at Peter, pleading.

Peter’s lips quirk up like Stiles is being cute. “Let me see, darling.”

Stiles backs up, reluctantly letting Peter in and resisting the absurd urge to cover his ass with his hands.

Peter steps through the curtain and lets it swish shut behind him.

Stiles belatedly wishes he’d put on a shirt. He’s probably blushing all the way down his chest as Peter’s eyes rake over him. He presses his palms against his thighs so that he doesn’t do something dumb like cross his arms and hide. He doesn’t know why he’s nervous. He might not be ripped, but he does have some definition. He’s lithe. It’s a popular niche.

Peter lifts a finger and makes a rotating motion, intense gaze on Stiles’ lower half. “Turn.”

Stiles spins in an awkward circle. “See? They’re too tight. And they make my ass look weird." He stumbles over his feet a little. “And the hems are tripping me,” he adds unnecessarily.

“Your ass looks fantastic, sweetheart, and they’re long because you have to cuff them. They fit exactly the way they’re supposed to.”

Stiles huffs. “Yeah, well what do you know?” He twists and tries to use his phone as a mirror again.

Peter makes a sound like a growl and steals it.

“Hey!” Stiles grabs for it and trips over the dumb, uncuffed hems, straight into Peter’s chest. He squeaks but Peter catches him and wraps an arm around his waist, hauling them flush together, a hand pressed to Stiles’ back to keep him steady.

Stiles bites back a moan as he’s suddenly surrounded by heat, hard muscle, and Peter’s clean, masculine scent. His brain stalls.

Peter stretches out his free arm and a second later his phone makes the camera noise. “If you don’t believe me, ask your internet friends.” He hands the phone back, the picture he took filling the screen.

Stiles straightens reluctantly and takes it. “Oh.” For a spontaneous selfie in a bland fitting room, the way Stiles is pressed to Peter’s chest—one big, tanned hand spread against his pale, mole-speckled back, fingers brushing the waistband of the jeans—is actually pretty hot. And Peter’s right. The pants make his ass look fantastic.

“I guess you might know what you’re talking about.”

Peter smirks and Stiles feels like he’s missed a joke. “Will you try on the rest of it now?”

Stiles narrows his eyes. “You’re like, some really important fashion guy, aren’t you?”

Peter chuckles. “Not the way you’re thinking.”

“Are you a model? Is this going to be one of those things where I get laughed at for not recognizing you?”

“No one will laugh. Now, I want to see the white button-down with the vest. Tuck in the shirt, but don’t do up the sleeves.”

Stiles huffs at being shut down but nods. Peter steps back out of their curtained enclosure.

Stiles has to take a few deep breaths and will his dick to behave before he can continue, because god, Peter smelled good. Felt good. Stiles is going to have spank-bank material for weeks.

When he finally steps out, Peter is waiting with a black skinny-tie. He loops it around Stiles’ neck and knots it with a few swift tugs. He tucks the ends into the vest and folds Stiles’ sleeves up to just below his elbows. Then Peter breaks Stiles’ brain by dropping down to one knee and fixing the cuffs of his pants for him.

Stiles swallows a sound that would be extremely embarrassing if it got out. Something like a desperate whimper. Because holy shit, Peter on his knees is not an image Stiles was prepared for.

His brain is still disengaged when Peter stands and leads him to the platform in front of the mirrors. Stiles blinks himself out of his stupor and takes in his reflection.

Oh. He looks good. Somewhere between effortlessly-cool and actual, business-minded adult. He smoothes a palm over the lines of the vest and eyes the way it accentuates his broad shoulders and the narrowness of his waist.

“Yes,” Peter purrs in satisfaction. “This will do nicely.”

Stiles goes hot and squirmy at the tone. “Yeah. It’s great. I look—” He licks his lips, searching for the right word.

“If you say anything less than ‘stunning’ I’m going to be offended.”

Stiles snorts out a laugh, losing some of his weird tension. “I was gonna say ‘classy’.”

Peter smirks. “I suppose we’ll have to work up to it.” He shoos Stiles back to the cubby to try the next outfit.

Stiles kind of doesn’t want to admit it, but he finds himself actually enjoying this. Especially the part where Peter stands him in front of the mirror and tucks, folds, and adjusts everything until Stiles is “presentable.” Which somehow means transforming him from looking “good” into looking like he stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. It’s magic. But as mind-boggling as the results are, Peter standing behind him, deft hands moving over Stiles’ body while that smooth voice murmurs instructions in his ear is the best part.

Stiles could get used to this. He leans back slightly into Peter’s chest and tries not to turn into a quivering puddle of goo as Peter smoothes his shirt-tails into his pants. Who knew there’s a right and a wrong way to tuck in a shirt? Peter, apparently.

Peter finishes situating things and drops his chin to Stiles’ shoulder with a hum. His hands settle on Stiles’ hips. Eyes glittering under the tiny spotlights, he looks Stiles up and down in the mirror. “This one is a ‘yes’ I believe.” He tugs the bottom of the canvas motorcycle-style jacket to straighten it.

Stiles quirks a smile at him in their reflection. “That’s what you said about the last two. You’re going to have to pick one, Peter.”

Peter pats him on the chest then steps back up. Stiles instantly misses his warmth. “It’s cute that you still think this is an either-or situation.”

Stiles is already shaking his head. “No. No way.”

“How exactly do you plan to stop me?” Peter walks to the changing cubby and begins organizing the items he labeled “yeses”.

“By—by paying you back. Eventually.” Stiles chews on the side of his thumb. This'll throw a huge wrench into that plan because, with a little time, Stiles could probably scrape together enough for one of these outfits, but the stack Peter is creating is miles out of his budget.

Peter stops, glances back, and looks him up and down, his eyes filled with something Stiles can’t decipher. “Sweetheart, believe me, the eye candy alone is more than enough payment.”

Stiles scoffs. That’s a stretch, even for Peter. The fluttering in his gut erupts into full-on, anxious butterflies, making his heart race. “I’m sorry. I can’t accept this. It’s too much.”

“Hmm.” Peter turns to face him fully. “Well, we wouldn’t want you to feel indebted.” Peter tilts his head slightly, eyes lingering on Stiles’ mouth. “Maybe we could agree on a different form of payment.”

Stiles’ mouth goes dry and his eyes drop involuntarily to the front of Peter’s well-cut pants. Did Peter want— “Like what?”

“How about a kiss?”

Stiles’ gaze flicks back up to meet smiling blue eyes, then drifts down to Peter’s mouth. A kiss? Oh shit. He licks his lips. That’s like, not even a hardship. Would it really be okay to take something he wants and pretend it’s payment? This deal sounds like all benefits for Stiles and no downsides. “A kiss? Really?”

“If you want.” Peter’s expression is warm and a little teasing.

“Um—yeah.” Stiles steps forward, hesitates, then gets his act together and reaches up to cup Peter’s face with both hands. Peter’s stubble scratches deliciously against his palms and Stiles kinda wants to rub his cheek against it.

His belly clenches when Peter’s hands settle on his hips, not directing, just resting.

Stiles takes a steadying breath and closes the distance between them.

Peter’s lips are warm and softer than he expected, so what Stiles intended to be a short press of mouths lingers, damp and clinging.

Peter’s hands don’t move from where he put them, but he does tilt his head slightly, deepening the kiss for a moment, his tongue flicking out for the barest taste.

Stiles whimpers. He can’t help it. Sparks race across his skin and his brain tries to short-circuit under the hot-wet pressure. He pushes closer, chasing more.

Peter’s the one who breaks the kiss before Stiles can get too carried away. He shifts back slowly and puts space between them. Space that Stiles really doesn’t want right now. “Sorry, sweetheart,” he murmurs. “But if we don’t stop now, I’m going to take much more than we agreed on.”

Stiles stares at him—jelly-limbed, brain melted—wrecked from a single, nearly-chaste kiss.

Shit, he’s in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

If Stiles feels like he’s been working non-stop since he left the mall, it’s probably because he has. The two-day lead-up to Christmas has been a shit-show of call-outs, and he’s picked up back-to-back shifts at all three jobs with hardly enough time between them to shower and shove food in his face.

Last night he was at the restaurant late, then spent the wee-hours waiting on a large party with no backup, an absentee bartender, and—when he checked after over an hour of waiting for food—no kitchen staff. He was desperately trying to assemble the ingredients for a daily special he couldn’t remember the name of when he jolted awake, gasping for breath, his heart trying to claw its way out of his chest.

It should be fucking illegal to have nightmares about work. Especially when you have less than eight hours between shifts. The little sleep Stiles did get was anything but restful.

That auspicious start to his Christmas Eve led straight into a five-am-to-ten cafe shift and an eleven-to-four at the bookstore. The amount of coffee he drank to compensate means he’s well on his way to straight-up-delirious when he gets to the restaurant at four-thirty.

He collapses in a booth and pulls out his phone while the GM goes over the nightly specials. He has a few notifications but nothing urgent. On autopilot, he thumbs his way over to Instagram to check on his recent posts.

The hilarious mall decorations are doing well—the reindeer has seventy likes, and the ass-mittens are up to nearly a hundred and fifty. That picture’s his favorite since it ended up also being a great shot of Peter.

Peter. Stiles sighs like a love-sick teenager—then glances around to make sure no one noticed.

They’ve been texting off and on since the mall, but Stiles hasn’t had a free minute to meet up. He’s never regretted anything as much as his decision to work so many hours over break. Not that it was a real choice. His rent isn’t going to pay itself, and he’d like to eat more than cup-noodles for the next six months.

Still, it would have been nice to say yes when Peter asked him if he was free after their shopping adventure. Saying he had work, Peter’s taste still fresh on his lips, nearly killed him—literally, assuming blue-balls were deadly.

Two days and a lot of exhaustion later, that whole afternoon feels more like a dream than serving a twenty-top without a kitchen staff did. Stiles keeps eyeing the shopping bag sitting innocuously next to his suitcase—just one bag because he threatened an honest-to-god panic attack if Peter bought everything in his “yes” pile—waiting for the clothes to vanish.

He finally got up the guts to wear some of it for his dinner shift tonight. The pants, his favorite, are the ones Peter called “deep-indigo.” He paired them with a soft green shirt that can’t decide if it’s a v-neck or a hoodie. He likes how it clings to the little bit of muscle definition he has. He’s also got the sleeves pushed up because if he learned one thing while Peter was dressing him, it’s that his forearms need to be shown off.

He’s kind of hoping that his forearms and his ass will get him some good tips tonight. Right after he thinks that he hears Scott’s voice in his head, worrying that Stiles is objectifying himself for money. Sweet summer child. Stiles hopes his bro never changes.

Stiles should send him the fitting-room picture, just to fuck with him.

In a moment of goofiness—and possibly delirium—Stiles posts it to Instagram instead, with the caption Do these make my butt look big? #outofmypricerange #shoppingwithdaddy

Then he puts his phone on “emergencies only” and starts his shift.

He can't guarantee it's the forearms—it's Christmas Eve after all and his tables are feeling generous—but he can’t discount them; either way, it ends up being his best night ever and his excitement almost overwhelms the exhaustion.

When he settles into the driver’s seat of the Jeep and checks Instagram again hours later, he grins. There’s a flood of replies and dozens of likes. Apparently, his four hundred and eighteen followers are partial to half-naked selfies. Shocker.

Among the slew of emojis responses, he picks out comments from his friends.

mini_mjolnir You look great! Is that Peter?

le_artemis_argent Looking good! Love that brand!

jax.whitte Not bad, Stilinski.

scarf_of_the_day 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

scott.mccall Um, dude. That’s not your dad??? 😮

thelydiamartin CALL ME!!!

Stiles nearly chokes on his tongue when he gets to Scott’s comment. That’s even better than he hoped. Scott’s wounded-puppy face when Stiles explains daddy-kink is going to be epic.

He’s got a handful of new followers and one of them has left a comment that lights him up with a rush of warmth.

6thavenuewolf Are you fishing for compliments, baby boy?

There’s only one person that could be. Stiles clicks over to Peter’s profile, looking for something to tease him about, and cracks up when he sees his feed. Peter totally stole his photo and tagged it #prettyboy. Stiles has to respond.

@6thavenuewolf You think I’m pretty, Daddy?

He drops his phone in the cup holder, flushed and grinning. God, he’s going to regret that comment later, but at the moment he can’t bring himself to care. And as much as he wants to spend the next hour giggling and stalking Peter’s photos, he needs to get home.

He rubs his hands over his face to wake up a little before he has to drive. It’s sharply cold in the cabin of the Jeep, but at this point, that might be the only thing keeping him awake. All he wants for Christmas is to sleep for ten hours and not have to get out of bed until his bladder demands it.

He sighs and starts the car. Instagram distracted him long enough that he’s the last one in the parking lot. Luckily, despite some reluctant sputtering, the engine catches on the second try. He should take a look at it before he heads back to school. Hopefully, it’s something a little extra duct tape can fix.

It starts to sleet as he pulls onto the dark, deserted street—because of course, it does. He curses the weather gods. Cold and wet are his least favorite things. Also, the windshield wipers screech like dueling Pterodactyls and it’s really not good for his focus.

He’s fifteen minutes down the road and less than half of the way home when one of the dashboard warning lights clicks on. He groans. That’s the last thing he needs.

It takes him a minute to determine the source; the temperature gauge needle is rapidly climbing toward “hot.” Before he can do more than swear, something starts to bang, and smoke pours from under the hood.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” He pulls to the side of the road, tires splashing through a puddle of half-melted slush. Stiles climbs out, his heart pounding with adrenaline. His shoes hit the ground with a wet splat and he has a moment of regret that he decided to wear his new clothes today.

“Please, don’t be the engine.” Popping the hood makes the smoke billow out faster and he stumbles back a step. “Fuck my life.” It’s definitely coming from the engine.

He presses the heels of his hands into his eye sockets and fights down the rising anxiety. Deep breaths. He can handle this. He leaves the hood up and climbs back into the car, out of the worsening weather.

Okay. He just needs to wait for things to cool down enough that he can get the car off the street. There’s a gas station a half-mile down the road that he thinks has a garage attached. He can probably limp there safely, which will be faster and easier than waiting on a tow.

Thirty minutes later he pulls into the darkened lot. It’s after ten on Christmas Eve so of course, it’s closed. He leans his forehead on the steering wheel for a moment to breathe and think.

His dad and Melissa are both at work, Scott’s in San Diego, and he can’t quite bring himself to bother his other local friends, like Kira or Isaac, this late on a holiday.

Uber it is.

He pulls up the app and calls for a ride, groaning when the nearest car shows as thirty minutes away. That’s fine. It’s fine. He can entertain himself for thirty minutes.

The tendrils of smoke curling out from under the hood and the street lights reflecting off the wet windshield would be cool looking if it wasn’t so disheartening. He takes a picture anyway and uploads it. #merrychristmastome #prayformybankaccount #waitingonuber

Then he sighs, pulls his jacket more tightly around his ribs, and curls up to scroll while he waits.

Ten minutes later his Uber cancels. The notification buzz startles him from a half-doze and he blinks under the rush of adrenaline. Crap. He pulls up the app and tries again. This time the closest car is forty-two minutes. His eyes burn with frustration as he requests the new ride. At this rate, it’s going to be midnight before he makes it home.

The second Uber cancels barely three minutes after that, and now the app says there’s no one nearby. Stiles forces himself to take deep breaths around the panicky fist in his chest. There’s a solution to this. He just needs to calm down and think.

His phone dings with a new DM. He opens it, eager for the distraction from his spiraling thoughts.

6thavenuewolf Are you somewhere safe?

Stiles’ lower lip wobbles. He bites down on it and sniffs to stop the burning behind his eyes, then taps out a reply. I’m at a gas station, but it’s closed and my fucking Ubers keep canceling.

6thavenuewolf Send me the address.




Peter will never admit it, but he’s spent half the evening sprawled across his hotel room bed, stalking Stiles’ Instagram and chuckling at his outrageous posts. It’s the most relaxing night he’s had since he arrived in Beacon Hills.

He managed to put up with his family for four days—Talia should be grateful she had them all under one roof for as long as she did—but after being woken by screaming toddlers for the third morning in a row, he decided enough was enough. He made it through dinner, promised his sister he would be home for Christmas brunch, and checked himself into the nicest hotel the town has to offer.

He’s three months back in Stiles’ feed, enjoying Stiles’ fall-break trip to Mexico, and thinking about raiding the minibar when he gets a new notification.

alwaysbebatman liked your photo.

alwaysbebatman commented on your photo.

He taps over to see it and grins. Oh, they’re going to play this game, are they? He’s composing a witty reply when he gets yet another notification.

alwaysbebatman posted a photo.

He glances at the clock. It’s late enough that Stiles is probably just getting out of work. Peter wonders if he can convince the boy to stop by for a drink on his way home. Stiles mentioned his father would be working Christmas Eve, so there’s a chance he’d like some company. Peter taps on the notification.

It takes him a moment to understand what he’s looking at, but as soon as he does he opens a direct message, a little knot of worry forming. The picture says it was posted ten minutes ago. That’s a lot of time for something to go wrong. Are you somewhere safe?

It flips to “seen” almost immediately and that, at least, is a relief. There’s a brief pause and then it shows Stiles as “typing”.

alwaysbebatman I’m at a gas station, but it’s closed and my fucking Ubers keep canceling.

Peter is already pulling on his shoes and has to draft his response one-handed. Send me the address.

Stiles turns on location sharing and Peter has a moment of feeling very old. He shakes it off in favor of being glad he won’t have to guess where Stiles is. He snags his keys and wallet and takes the elevator to the parking garage.

Thankfully, Stiles is only a few miles away and Peter makes good time despite the weather.

The old blue jeep is easy to spot, parked under a cone of light from the bright street lamp in front of the gas station. Smart boy. Peter pulls up next to him in the slushy lot—he’s glad he’s in a rental, the rear-wheel-drive on his Shelby is a disaster in the snow.

Stiles jumps down from the Jeep and locks it. Peter feels some invisible tension release as he dashes across the space between their cars. Even hunched against the miserable weather Stiles looks good, his long, lean form wrapped in the clothes Peter bought him. Though a warmer jacket wouldn’t be amiss.

Stiles opens the doors and collapses on the passenger seat in a damp sprawl of limbs. He’s talking before he even gets the door shut again. “Hey. Thank you so much for this, dude.” He fumbles with his seatbelt. He’s shivering. “For a minute there I thought I was gonna be the next Little Match Boy.”

Peter reaches out and cranks the heat. “I always preferred Terry Pratchett’s version of that one.”

Stiles flashes him a tired smile. “You would.” He holds his hands up to the blast of warm air and moans, long and low. “God, that feels good.”

Peter takes a steadying breath as he’s flooded with all the other ways he could cause that reaction. At least a dozen of them involve his hotel room and significantly less clothing—the rest are more creative. How much convincing it would take to get Stiles to join him for a drink after all? A drink with the option for more.

“Do you know where Woodbine Lane is? Or Cedar?” Stiles tucks his cold-reddened fingertips into the slats of the vent, like he can’t get close enough to the heat source.

Peter nods. “I’m familiar.” He glances at the Jeep. “Will your car be alright here?”

Stiles lifts a shoulder in a lopsided shrug. “Not like I have another option. I found the number for the garage online and left a message. I’m guessing they’re closed tomorrow though.”

Peter hums in agreement and pulls out onto the road, turning reluctantly toward the residential part of town.

Once they start to move Stiles settles back in his seat with a tired sigh. The click of the windshield wipers and the swish of tires on wet asphalt is the only thing that breaks the quiet.

Peter usually doesn’t overthink propositioning someone, particularly when he knows the interest is mutual, yet he's hesitating. He can practically feel the exhaustion rolling off of Stiles, and as much as he doesn’t want to let him go home, the boy looks like he needs sleep more than anything else.

He glances over again. Stiles is slumped in the seat, clutching his phone and scrolling through what appears to be a banking app. He’s pale in the dim light from the screen, subdued and chewing on his lower lip.

Peter frowns. A potentially large car repair bill has to be a disappointing setback for someone who’s been exhausting himself working three jobs.

The desire that was simmering shifts. It’s disconcerting to realize that he’s more interested in making the boy feel better than he is in fucking him—that he’d rather take care of Stiles than take care of him.

He snorts, amused by his train of thought. Stiles rolls his head to look at him.

“What’s so funny?” he asks, curiosity coloring his worn-out tone.

Peter pushes his unsettling thoughts away and smirks. “I was thinking about how it took a broken down car, a snowstorm, and some shitty Uber drivers, but now I’ve got you right where I want you.”

Stiles’ mouth twitches and he hums, amused. “Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.”

“Creepy depends on what I decide to do with you next.”

Stiles licks his lips and shifts in his seat. “Are you taking suggestions?” He reaches out and slowly walks his fingers down the arm Peter’s resting on the gear shift. “Cause I can think of a few things.” He traces across Peter’s knuckles.

Peter flips his hand over and catches the still-cold fingers. “I bet you can.” He lifts Stiles’ hand and kisses the back of it. “Come back to my hotel with me.”

Even in the intermittent light from the streetlamps Stiles’ blush stands out. “Yeah. Okay.” He sits up a little straighter, looking more alert.

“Excellent.” Peter makes a u-turn—carefully, the roads are a mess after all—and heads for his hotel.

He didn’t give much thought to the underground parking garage when he checked in that morning but he’s grateful for it now. He’ll probably be even more appreciative when he doesn’t have to scrape ice off his car before Christmas brunch tomorrow.

Stiles is jittery by the time they reach Peter’s spot and climb out. He runs a hand through his hair and tugs at his damp clothes, trying to straighten them. He notices Peter watching and ducks his head sheepishly. “I don’t know why I’m surprised. Did you just google the most expensive place in town?”

Peter decides to let that one go—Stiles will get used to Peter’s taste for nice things eventually. “Do you need to call anyone? Tell them where you are?” Peter walks to the back of the car and holds out his hand, beckoning.

“Already done.” Stiles steps into Peter’s space. “Did I mention my dad’s a cop?” He smirks. “He’ll foil any nefarious plans you have for me.”

“That would be unfortunate.” Peter lets his lips curl in a slow smile as he backs Stiles up against the trunk, trapping him with hands bracketing his hips. “Because I think you’re going to like my plans.”

He slides a hand into Stiles’ hair, closes the remaining distance, and proceeds to kiss him breathless, licking into his mouth until he’s clinging to Peter and making low, desperate noises. Peter takes his time, learning Stiles’ taste and the spots that make him squirm—their last kiss wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy.

This one isn’t either if he’s being honest.

Stiles pulls him closer and it takes Peter far too long to realize that despite the enthusiastic response, Stiles is shivering, still damp from the weather, and pressed against a cold, wet car in an unheated parking garage.

Peter frowns into the kiss before breaking it. “We should get you inside and warmed up.” He pulls Stiles away from the trunk and rubs his arms briskly.

Some of the kiss-drunk haze leaves Stiles’ expression and he snickers. “Oh, yeah,” he moans in a cheesy porn-star voice. “Warm me up, Daddy.”

Peter snorts. “Careful, brat, or I’ll be warming your backside with my palm.”

Stiles grins and shivers again, dramatically this time. ”Sorry, I have a ‘no spanking on the first date’ rule.”

“If we’re keeping count, I’d argue this is our second date.” He nudges Stiles in the direction of the elevator, then gives his ass a playful tap.

Stiles laughs and covers the “wounded” area with his hands, his eyes bright, color high on his cheeks. “Guess I hafta be on my best behavior then.” He scampers ahead.

Peter shakes his head with a rueful grin, hits the lock button on the car, and follows.

Stiles is right that this is one of the more upscale hotels in town and Peter’s room is proof of that. It’s not the nicest suite the place has to offer—only because that one was booked—but it does have a large, comfortable bed and a decadent bathroom.

Peter leaves Stiles in the foyer and heads to the thermostat to raise the temperature by a few degrees.

When he turns back, Stiles is eyeing a lamp like it might bite him as he tries to toe-off his high-top Chucks without unlacing them. “This place is so not Stiles proof.” He mutters, stumbling sideways a little.

Peter bites his lip to keep from laughing, walks over, and kneels down to help him. “Hands on my shoulders, sweetheart.” He waits for Stiles to lean on him before loosening the laces and sliding the shoe off his heel.

One of Stiles’ hands drifts from Peter’s shoulder to his hair and his fingers card through, tugging on the short strands. “Oh my god, you’re not allowed to keep teasing me like this.” He squirms and Peter glances up to see the outline of his cock as it thickens in his perfectly-fitted pants.

Peter grins as he gets the other shoe off as well and stands, letting his hands run up the outsides of rain-damp thighs until they stop at narrow hips. “You’re assuming,” he drops a kiss on Stiles’ lips, “that I won’t follow through.”

Stiles sucks in a breath, then uses the grip on Peter’s hair to reel him into another kiss. It’s hard, wet, and perfect. Heat pools in Peter’s gut, building the anticipation.

He doesn’t let them get too carried away. Stiles is still cold. He breaks the kiss and doesn’t let the disappointed whine sway him.

“You should grab a shower and warm up.” He presses his lips to Stiles’ chilled forehead, breathing him in. “I’d suggest a bath but with as long as your day’s been, I’m afraid you might drown.”

A shower will also have the benefit of washing away the scent of coffee and restaurant that’s clinging to his skin. It’s not bad, but Peter would prefer the clean scent of boy, especially one who’s used Peter’s bath products.

Stiles snickers, his expression turning sheepish. “That’s valid. A shower’s probably safer.” He peaks up through his lashes. “Will you join me? Make sure I don’t get into trouble?”

Peter examines the hopeful look and smirks in response. “Oh, I fully intend to. But first, I’m going to run to the shop in the lobby and pick up a few things.”

“Oh, cool.” Stiles glances around the room. “I hope those things are condoms and lube,” he says absently as he eyes the bed, tongue darting out to wet his lips.

Peter doesn’t think he meant for that to be out loud, but it’s good to know where his boy’s head is at. “Duly noted. Now,” he gives Stiles one more swift kiss, then turns and nudges him in the direction of the well-appointed bathroom. “Stay awake for me and I promise a reward when I get back.”

“Oh, you’re on,” Stiles says over his shoulder as he lets his jacket fall to the floor. His shirt follows, creating an enticing trail of clothing.

Peter pauses, keycard in hand, to admire the long, lean lines of his back and the round swell of his ass. The things he wants to do to this boy. . . He shakes himself, makes sure he’s got his wallet, and leaves the room just as the shower cuts on.

It takes less than ten minutes to visit the well-stocked shop in the lobby. His original goal is a simple find—because while he’s happy to let Stiles use his toiletries, no one wants to share a toothbrush. He also snags a pre-packaged fruit and cheese plate and a couple of bottles of juice.

He doesn’t get condoms or lube. Those he picked up earlier in the week from a place with a broader range of options. His preferred brands aren’t typically stocked outside of specialty shops. Chris calls him a snob—like the asshole doesn’t steal them from Peter when they’re out together. Stiles will probably say the same.

The mental image of a wet, naked Stiles is so enticing that Peter has to fight not to hurry the cashier along. It’s not her fault he needs to get his hands on that boy’s ass.

Back in the room, he pops the snacks in the mini-fridge, takes off his shoes and socks, and heads for the bathroom. The shower is still running, the door wide open in invitation with steam billowing around the frame.

He pauses to take in the gorgeous creature in his shower. The mental image didn’t do him justice.

Stiles is standing with his hands braced against the wall, his head bowed under the spray. Water sluices down his back, over the dips and curves of muscle and pale skin, flushed from heat.

God, if Peter thought his ass looked good in those pants, it doesn’t hold a candle to the way he looks out of them. Peter’s palms itch with the need to touch. He wants to taste the water on Stiles’ skin, to put his tongue everywhere.

“Did you still want company?” He sets Stiles’ toothbrush on the counter next to his own and moves closer—it’s not even a conscious decision.

Stiles lifts his head and rests his chin on his bicep. “I don’t know. What about my reward?” He flashes Peter a cheeky grin.

Peter returns it, slow and sharp, letting heat fill his eyes. “Don’t worry, baby. I keep my promises.” He grips the hem of his shirt and raises it, slowly baring tanned skin and the abs he works hard to keep.

Stiles’ eyes widen and his throat clicks on a dry swallow.

Just before he pulls the shirt over his head, Peter pauses, the majority of his chest on display. “Unless you’ve changed your mind.”

Stiles’ breath hitches and he shakes his head rapidly. “Fuck, no.” His tongue darts out, licking at a bead of water dangling from the perfect cupid’s bow of his lips. “Please,” he rasps.

Peter smirks—he does love a boy who’s willing to beg—and drags the shirt off, flexing his shoulders and biceps deliberately as he lets it drop to the floor.

Stiles’ greedy gaze rakes over him, his mouth open, breath quickening. When Peter pops the button on his jeans and lowers the zipper he stalls on the vee of toned muscle and neatly trimmed hair. Then he snorts. “Of course you go commando.”

Peter raises an eyebrow. “Is that a complaint?” He slides his pants down, freeing his heavy, thickening cock, and kicks them aside. He strokes himself once, teasing.

Stiles whines and makes grabby hands at him. “Oh my god, get over here, I need to touch you.”

Peter can’t stop his bemused chuckle as he closes the distance between them and steps under the hot spray of the shower.

Stiles doesn’t wait for permission. As soon as he’s in touching distance Stiles’ hands are on him, dragging up over Peter’s pecs, tracing along the ridge of his collarbone, across his shoulders, and finally closing around his biceps. “How are you even real?” He leans in and licks a stripe up Peter’s throat. “Fuck,” he groans. “I’ve wanted to do that since the bookstore.”

Peter’s eyes fall shut and he shifts to give Stiles more room to explore. “Even when you thought I was dating my sister?” He wraps his hands around narrow hips, his thumbs falling naturally into the hollows where he rubs circles on silky-smooth skin.

Stiles groans again but in embarrassment this time. “Yeah,” he mumbles, muffling the words in Peter’s neck. “But I was gonna punch you in your stupid face first.”

Peter huffs and presses a kiss to the soft spot under his ear. “You wouldn’t be the first to try.” He nips lightly, tasting heat, wet, Stiles.

Stiles shudders and arches closer. Curious hands slide from Peter’s ribs to his back and down to squeeze his ass. Stiles makes a desperate sound as he kneads the muscle. “I take it back. I wanted to do this since the bookstore.”

Peter hums and basks in the waves of pleasure. He rocks closer, pressing his quickly filling cock to the hollow of Stiles’ hip and letting Stiles rub against Peter’s thigh.

Speaking of things they’ve wanted to do. . . He has to work not to get caught up in the dirty grind. He has a plan, and it involves getting his hands all over Stiles before he takes him apart with his mouth. He made a promise after all.

While Stiles is occupied sucking what feels like a spectacular bruise into his collar bone, Peter reaches over and grabs the shower gel. Sliding soapy hands over smooth skin, he traces the dips and curves of Stiles’ back. It gets him a pleased hum and an enthusiastic nuzzle.

Maneuvering them further under the spray, he kisses his way down Stiles’ throat as he washes away the remnants of the day with firm strokes of his hands. He spends a minute kneading at the tight muscles of Stiles’ lower back, a spot he knows gets sore after being on your feet for hours on end.

Stiles groans and starts to sag against him, head falling to Peter’s shoulder. “God, that feels too good. You’re gonna put me to sleep.”

Peter wraps an arm around Stiles’ waist to trap the slumping form to his chest. “Well, we wouldn’t want that. I still have a promise to keep.” He slides a palm over the perfect curve of Stiles’ ass and squeezes.

Stiles presses into Peter’s hands. “Yes,” he moans. “Holding you to that.” His fingers slip over wet skin as he tugs, trying to pull Peter impossibly closer. When Peter’s fingers dip between his cheeks he groans low in his throat, his head falling back. His cock twitches against Peter’s hip. “Please, Peter.”

“Patience, sweetheart.” Peter’s voice is more growl than he intended but damn it, despite his best intentions Stiles is pushing all his buttons. Peter drags fingers over his tight little hole, reveling in the arch and tremble of his body, the involuntary gasp.

Peter.”

Peter spins him around so his back is to Peter’s front, hopefully stopping the temptation to press inside and open his boy up. The new position has his rigid cock nestled between firm cheeks—it’s not actually an improvement for his restraint.

He shuts his eyes for a moment, grappling for control against the surge of need. Having that lanky body squirming against him, begging to be taken, is nearly enough to do him in. But fucking Stiles isn’t on the agenda tonight. No matter how much Peter wants to spend hours taking him apart, there’s no way he’ll last that long, and Peter doesn’t find somnophilia particularly appealing.

“Hush, baby. Don’t you want to be good for me?”

Stiles lets his head fall to Peter’s shoulder with a frustrated mewl. “No. You’re killing me.”

Despite the protest, he stops squirming, going soft and pliant in Peter’s arms. He lets Peter gather more soap and massage it over his chest and down, tweaking his nipples and teasing over sensitive ribs.

When Peter reaches his hard, flushed cock, Stiles turns his face to hide in Peter’s neck with a whimper. Peter drags a kiss along his hairline and wraps a soapy hand around him.

He strokes, slow and deliberate, fondling and exploring a little too much to pass it off as “bathing” while the hot length twitches and throbs in his grip.

Stiles is trembling. “Don’t come like a teenager,” he begs under his breath, his hands finding Peter’s forearms and clinging tightly. He pushes his head back against Peter’s shoulder, swallowing hard against the desperate sounds that keep slipping free.

His lack of filter is adorable. His desperation, though, is pushing Peter to his limit.

Peter takes pity—for both of their sakes—and doesn’t tease Stiles for too long. He has other plans for his boy’s pretty cock, and they require a location that doesn’t have so much potential for injury. Stiles plus shower-sex sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

Stiles makes a wounded sound when Peter releases him and helps him straighten.

Peter drops an apologetic kiss on the back of his neck, taking a moment to taste clean, wet skin and get himself under control again. “I know, baby, but I thought you wanted my mouth.”

If it wasn’t for Peter’s hands on his hips, Stiles would probably be a puddle on the shower floor. “That. Yes. Let’s do that.” He nods emphatically, working to get his legs back under him.

Getting himself clean and getting them out of the shower is a blur. They’re still a little damp when Peter sits Stiles on the edge of the bed and arranges him to Peter’s liking.

Stiles’ chest heaves as he watches Peter with half-lidded eyes, his pale skin is flushed with both arousal and the heat of the shower. The boy is beautifully debauched, waiting obediently, his legs spread and his fingers dug into the sheets, ready for Peter to play with.

Peter drops to his knees between Stiles’ feet, hands on his thighs to press them wider. “So pretty.”

Stiles’ breath hitches. “Please,” he begs, knuckles going white as he tightens his grip. “I’m so fucking close.”

“Deep breaths, sweetheart.” Peter slides his hands over smooth skin lightly dusted with fine hair. “Stay still and let me take my time with you. Be a good boy.”

Stiles keens and shuts his eyes, sucking in deep, ragged breaths. “Oh fuck,” he whimpers under his breath.

Peter rubs soothing circles with his thumbs until Stiles’ breathing slows and his shoulders loosen. “That’s it, baby. I’m gonna find all the things you like.” He drops a kiss on Stiles’ knee, then trails his lips inwards towards his goal, mapping out soft skin and memorizing the places that make Stiles twitch and squirm.

Stiles shivers and pulls restlessly at the sheets. His cock is rock-hard and leaking against his belly. It’s as perfect as the rest of him, not too thick or excessively long, and with just the right amount of curve.

Peter doesn’t bottom often, but he does enjoy it under the right circumstances. He wonders how Stiles feels about topping—because the boy would be stunning tied spread-eagle to Peter’s bedposts and ridden until he’s sobbing with pleasure.

Glancing up, he takes in the blown pupils and open-mouthed, dazed expression. Now probably isn’t the time to ask.

Returning to his exploration, Peter presses his nose to the crease of Stiles’ hip and breathes him in. It’s much better without the distracting remains of coffee and restaurant. He tastes delicate skin with a groan, loving the way Stiles struggles to remain still, his breath hitching, every inch of him begging for more.

Peter turns and licks a stripe up the underside of his cock with a flat tongue.

Desperate hands abandon the sheets and fly forward to latch onto Peter’s shoulders as Stiles curls over him with a ragged moan.

Peter hums and does it again, enjoying the texture, the flavor. He wants to see how far Stiles will let him push, how much Peter can do before he’s overwhelmed and begging.

Stiles’ fingers clench, digging into muscle. His thighs are trembling under Peter’s hands. “Oh, god,” he whimpers. “I can’t—I—this is gonna be over so fast.”

Though perhaps more teasing will have to wait; he doesn’t want to break the poor thing after all. He drops a wet kiss on the head, wraps his fingers in a tight ring around the base, and swallows him to the root.

Stiles cries out, his hips jerking enough that Peter has to tighten his grip to hold him down as he writhes.

He takes Stiles deep, sucking hard as he moves over him and getting a burst of salty pre-come for his efforts. Peter groans at the taste, tonguing at his slit for more.

God, he loves this, loves the sensation of a cock in his mouth and the control he holds over his partner as they fall apart under him. And Stiles is taking it perfectly, clinging and desperate, but not fighting to direct him. Peter wants him closer, deeper. He pulls off and slides his hands to the back of Stiles’ knees, jerking his ass to the edge of the bed.

Stiles yelps as he loses his grip on Peter’s shoulders and goes sprawling back. His chest heaves as he sucks in air, scrabbling for something to hang onto.

Peter snags the flailing hands and directs them to his hair. “Hold tight as you want, baby.” Then he presses Stiles’ legs wide, grips his ass, and swallows him again, starting a rhythm that will send him right to the edge.

Stiles takes him at his word, fingers tangling in short strands and clinging for all he’s worth. He gasps and pleads, hips rocking to meet Peter’s mouth.

Peter groans when the head hits the back of his throat just enough to make his body clench and send tingles sparking through him. The angle’s not right to let Stiles fuck his throat, but this still feels fantastic—and the dull pressure on his scalp only makes it better.

Peter is suddenly aware of his own aching cock. He wraps a hand around himself, squeezing to take the edge off and keep his focus on his boy where it belongs.

He takes Stiles as deep as he can, swallowing around him. Stiles is babbling now, incoherent as he chases his pleasure. Peter reaches up and cups his balls, index finger rubbing the sensitive spot just behind them as he sucks hard.

Stiles thrusts up twice and comes with a broken shout, his body clenching and shaking as he pulses against Peter’s tongue.

Peter swallows his release easily, milking him until he melts into a trembling, over-sensitive puddle.

Pulling off, he presses his forehead to Stiles’ thigh, panting as he jacks himself quickly. It takes barely a dozen strokes before pleasure rushes up and shudders through him, a muffled groan escaping as he spills.

Chapter Text

Stiles’ ADHD means that sleep—even when he’s miles past exhausted—is never easy, and waking up is even harder. He’s infamous for being wide awake at three a.m., only to pass out at four and sleep like he’s in a coma until noon.

But that’s not what happened after Peter sucks his brains out through his dick. He remembers collapsing to the mattress in a blissed-out daze, Peter climbing on top of him to give him come-flavored kisses, and then blinking awake to grey-filtered morning light. He doesn’t think he so much as twitched in between.

He really, really hopes he’s missing at least a few minutes, because passing out and leaving his partner unfulfilled is a shitty thing to do. Embarrassing too.

He slowly becomes more aware of his surroundings—the cloud-soft mattress, the fluffy down comforter, and the muscular arm that’s holding him trapped to a firm chest.

It’s not entirely comfortable—he’s almost too warm, his cheek a little sweaty from being pressed to Peter’s shoulder, and the need to piss is gradually making itself known—but god, he never wants to move again. He wonders how long Peter’s got the room reserved for, because Stiles has decided he lives here now. He could really use a vacation from everything.

Of course, the next thing he thinks of is his poor broken Jeep, and just—fuck no. He’s not letting yesterday’s disaster intrude on what he’s decided is his best Christmas present ever. A present he intends to explore at length now that he’s wide awake and humming with energy.

His bladder twinges. Right, bathroom. Then exploring.

It takes some wiggling and creative squirming, but he manages to free himself from Peter’s hold and scurry to the bathroom before things get too dire.

While he’s washing his hands and contemplating his fuzzy teeth, his eyes catch on the counter next to the sink. There are two toothbrushes—one lightly used, and one new in its wrapper. Stiles vaguely recalls Peter setting it down when he came in last night. It must have been what he went to the shop for.

The idea fills Stiles with warm-fuzzies. He grins stupidly as he opens the packaging and sets about getting his teeth clean and minty-fresh.

It’s probably dumb. The man spent an obscene amount of money buying him a new wardrobe, and the thing that makes his heart flutter like a love-sick teenager—that Stiles wants to giggle over and reward Peter for—is a freaking toothbrush.

If this is some kind of sugar-daddy thing, Stiles is probably doing it wrong.

He searches out his pants, abandoned on the bathroom bench and pulls his phone from the pocket. He cringes at the glaring-red two percent in the corner next to the empty battery bar. Ignoring the slew of early-morning notifications, he fires off a “Merry Christmas! See you tonight!” to his dad, and a string of Christmas tree emojis to Scott, then shuts the phone off to save the last few minutes of life in it.

Retrieving his back-up meds from his wallet, he downs them before abandoning everything where he found it and hurrying back to the nice, warm bed. There’s a sexy man he wants to wake up in the nicest way possible.

Even in sleep, sprawled on his back with pillow creases on his cheek, his hair mussed and sticking up at odd angles, Peter continues to be unfairly hot.

Passed-out-Stiles tends to twitch and drool in an awkward tangle of limbs—not cute.

The blankets are low around Peter’s hips—artistically draped—and he’s got one broad hand spread across his defined abs. The other arm is stretched away from his body, leaving a Stiles-shaped space at his side.

Stiles takes advantage of the subconscious offer and crawls back into bed, curling into Peter’s chest and dragging the blankets up over them.

He cuddles for a little bit, enjoying the skin on skin and Peter’s warm, sleepy scent. He has to shove down the bubbly feeling in his chest. This is really happening. He’s actually here, very naked, and pressed to a guy he thought wouldn’t be more than a fun fantasy to get him through an exhausting week.

He trails his fingers across Peter’s shoulder, tracing the curve of his collar bone, the dip of his throat, and the defined line between his pecs. God, he’s attractive. Stiles shifts closer and brushes a kiss to soft skin, breathing him in.

Warm and content, but with sleep a distant memory, Stiles decides it’s time to make up for all the exploring he didn’t get to do last night—and hopefully, encourage his bed-partner awake in the process. He lets his fingers draw abstract patterns on Peter’s chest, memorizing the shape of him. Then he follows the same path with his mouth.

His lips tingle and he shivers against the building ache in his groin when his mouth grazes a nipple that tightens under his touch. Nice.

A hand curls over the back of his neck and Stiles glances up.

Peter’s eyes are open to slits, only the barest hint of blue showing. He doesn’t say anything, just scritches his fingers against the fine hairs at the base of Stiles’ skull.

Stiles hums and flicks his tongue over the nipple he’s been teasing, enjoying the quick intake of breath that earns him. Then he moves on, trailing down toward his goal.

He has to shift to his knees when he can’t reach further and the movement makes the blankets slide away, bareing Peter to his greedy gaze. “Good morning,” he murmurs to the thick semi he’s about to get his hands and mouth all over.

That draws a sleepy chuckle. “Are you talking to me or my cock?” The hand on the back of Stiles’ neck kneads. The firm touch and gravely, sleep-filled voice contrive to melt Stiles into a puddle of want, but he resists. As much as he loved—really loved—Peter getting all toppy with him last night, right now it’s Stiles’ turn to be in charge.

He smirks up at Peter, then crawls to straddle his legs, planting his naked ass on Peter’s shins. He keeps the blankets up around his shoulders, creating a cave of warmth. “I’m talking to my Christmas present.” He drops a kiss to the spot below Peter’s belly button, then sucks a mark into his skin, drawing a soft growl.

“You think this is for you, do you?” Peter threads his fingers into Stiles’ hair, maneuvering him lower with gentle pressure.

Bossy bastard. Stiles makes a chiding sound and bats at Peter’s hand until he’s released. “Nope. Hands to yourself, mister. I’m in charge here.”

“Are you?” Peter raises an eyebrow but releases him and lifts his hands in a “you win” gesture. His lips curl in a smirk. “Whatever you say, baby.” He stretches, then settles with his fingers laced behind his head, his biceps bulging.

Stiles narrows his eyes. “Good.” He ducks down and nuzzles Peter’s belly, then lower until he’s dropping hot, open-mouthed kisses along the length of Peter’s cock. It thickens more under the attention and Stiles hums, pleased. Peter made him feel so good last night, he can’t wait to return the favor.

Wrapping a hand around the base, he gives the head a little lick. Fuck yeah. He rubs his lips against soft skin, loving the texture and the slip-slide of the wetness that's increasing as he plays. It’s intoxicating. Stiles needs more.

He takes Peter into his mouth with a low groan and starts with gentle suction and little flicks of his tongue. Peter's big enough that Stiles feels nearly stuffed full; it makes his skin prickle with awareness and his eyes flutter shut in pleasure. He squirms. He could probably get off on this.

"Perfect little cocksucker," Peter purrs.

Stiles shudders. Oh shit. The dirty talk hits him in the best way and his face burns at the hot rush of arousal that follows. He's such a sucker—heh, cocksucker—for praise, which Peter has obviously figured out.

He glances up and catches Peter's smirk. God, it’s unfair for “smug” to be so hot. Then Stiles notices Peter’s tense shoulders and the slight flush to his cheeks. Stiles takes a moment to mentally gloat. Peter may be playing at composed, but Stiles is getting to him.

With a little work, Stiles thinks he can wipe “smug” right off Peter’s face.

He redoubles his efforts, taking Peter deeper and teasing what he can't reach with his hand. He lets things get a little sloppy and eager, giving free-rein to his groans and greedy slurps. He has to hide a grin at the twitch of Peter's hips and the quiet "fucking hell" that slips free.

Score one for the perfect cocksucker.

He pulls off with a pop and takes a second to catch his breath, his mouth open, wet, and probably a little swollen from his efforts. "You taste good." He keeps his eyes locked on Peter’s as he runs his lips down the side of the shaft until he can tongue at his sack.

Peter hisses. "And you're very good at that." He takes a deep breath and presses his head back against the pillow, his eyes closing to slits. "I make no promises if you keep teasing though."

Stiles hums in acknowledgment. That doesn’t mean he’s gonna stop of course. Half the fun of teasing is finding out what happens when he wins. He leaves a line of wet, sucking kisses on his way back up, savoring the speeding of Peter's breath and the tensing of his thighs.

When he takes Peter in this time, Peter thrusts up to meet him. Stiles startles, but yes. God, that's so good. He relaxes into the motion, surrendering control in favor of being thoroughly owned by Peter’s cock.

Peter’s fingers thread through his hair, encouraging him deeper. Stiles goes willingly, letting the fat head bump the back of his throat. Sparks rush down his spine and he shudders with need. He wants more.

He whines and resists the pull when Peter tightens his hold and tugs him away from his prize. No. It’s so good. He doesn’t want to stop. He meets blue eyes again, panting to catch his breath as he takes in the bright, possessive gaze. Everything in him melts in response and his protest dissolves.

Daddy’s in charge now. The thought makes him flush and snicker helplessly.

Peter’s lips twitch. “Come here, my little brat,” he murmurs, firm pressure drawing Stiles up his body.

Stiles ends up draped over Peter’s chest, clutching at broad shoulders as his mouth is devoured. He squirms, his aching cock dragging across hard abs and leaving a wet, sticky trail behind.

Peter rocks up. He’s positioned them perfectly so that his spit-slick erection slides between Stiles’ cheeks. It drags over his hole and sends pleasure racing up his spine.

Stiles gasps and arches, trying to make him do it again. “Please,” he begs, suddenly aware of how empty he is. “Peter, please—I need you in me.” His voice comes out raw, his desperation bleeding into it, but he can’t bring himself to care.

Peter growls and grips his hips, keeping Stiles in place as he repeats the motion. “Is that right? You need Daddy to stretch you open and fill up your pretty hole?”

Stiles chokes on his next breath as Peter’s words—that one in particular—ricochet through him, lighting him up like a fork in an electrical socket. Oh, fuck, he wasn’t expecting that. He buries his face in Peter’s throat as his entire body shivers and burns. His cock throbs, weeping a puddle of pre-come on Peter’s abs and he grinds down, whining helplessly.

He barely hears Peter’s thoughtful hum. A big, broad hand sweeps up his back, soothing. “Okay, baby. I’ve got you.”

Peter shifts, stretches out, and opens a drawer. Then there’s a familiar plastic click. Moments later, slick fingers dip between his cheeks.

Stiles moans and spreads his legs further. Yes. Yesyesyes. He lifts his hips and squirms in encouragement, mind blank beyond the firm touch circling his hole.

Each teasing flick makes his breath hitch, hot against Peter’s throat. His skin buzzes, hypersensitive; he doesn’t think he’s ever been this turned on. The only thing stopping him from fisting his cock is that he knows he’ll go off the second he does and he doesn’t want it to be over yet.

Finally—after Stiles starts muttering that if Peter doesn’t do something, he’s going to do it himself—Peter deems him ready and sinks one long, thick finger inside. The pleasure mixed with a hint of burn has Stiles groaning and arching to meet him.

It’s only a few seconds, a few twists of Peter’s finger, before Stiles is pleading for more. He’s ready. He needs it.

Peter doesn’t make him wait this time. He palms Stiles’ ass and spreads his cheeks so he can press a second finger in to join the first. “Good boy,” Peter purrs in his ear, his tongue flicking against the lobe. “You take it so well.”

Two fingers quickly become three. Stiles hums and rocks back, loving the stretch. He’s always liked things intense, on the edge of too much, and Peter has him balanced there perfectly.

He shifts to get the scissoring fingers to brush up against his sweet spot, but Peter denies him every time—and he accused Stiles of being a tease. Just when he thinks Peter will give him what he wants, the wonderful, perfect fingers are taken away, leaving him open and empty.

Stiles whines, his hand flying back in protest. “No, no—”

Peter catches his wrist and gives it a squeeze. “You’re okay,” he soothes. “Just be patient.”

Bastard. Stiles growls and nips at Peter’s neck, making him chuckle. He’s pretty sure “patient” left the building when Peter called himself “Daddy”. He forces himself to relax anyway, tucking his face closer to soft-warm skin and pulling in shaky breaths, trusting that Peter isn’t actually trying to make him lose his mind.

The foil of a condom wrapper crinkles and Stiles is jostled a little as Peter shifts to get himself ready. Then there’s a hand on his lower back and wet pressure against his hole before Peter starts to ease inside.

Stiles groans and arches to meet him. The head slips in smoothly and pleasure ripples out from his core. The stretch is so good. He’s spread so wide. He needs more. Deeper. Faster.

Except Peter stops, gripping him by the hips.

“Daddy,” Stiles whines in frustration, struggling against his hold. “Don’t stop.

Peter chuckles again, but it’s strained. “Sit up, baby. I want you to ride me.”

Stiles hesitates—he was enjoying his warm, hidden spot in Peter’s throat—but it doesn’t last long because the urge to please Peter is stronger than the desire to hide.

He carefully pushes himself upright with his hands splayed on Peter’s chest. The movement causes him to sink down and the new angle makes him gasp. “Oh, fuck,” he whimpers, his mouth dropping open.

Peter’s gaze is reverent as he watches Stiles bottom out. Then, when he’s fully seated, Peter starts to touch him, stroking broad hands up Stiles’ front, over his ribs and chest. A warm palm gently cups his throat while the other tweaks his nipples, making him shudder and mewl. “So perfect.”

Stiles nods in agreement because Peter feels perfect inside of him too and it’s stolen all of his words. He lifts himself a few inches, then sinks back down. The movement drags over his prostate, setting off sparks that make Stiles’ spine bow and his head fall back.

“My gorgeous boy.” Peter’s voice is rough, awed as he thumbs the exposed line of Stiles’ throat. “You were made for this.” He grips Stiles’ hips, then starts to rock them, hard and steady. Stiles matches the movement eagerly.

It builds fast, every thrust hitting just right, twisting him up tight until Stiles can’t fight it. He’s so close. He needs. He needs. “I—I—please. Daddy, please,” he sobs, hands scrabbling until they land on Peter’s forearms. He holds on for dear life, giving Peter control of the rhythm, control of everything.

The world spins as Peter rolls them suddenly. Stiles shouts when his back hits the mattress. His hips are hitched into Peter’s lap and the new angle means every inward push hammers his prostate.

Stiles’ voice breaks. His focus narrows to Peter and nothing else as the wave of pleasure rushes up. Peter’s hand reaches between them, wraps tight around his cock, and strokes him, fast and perfect.

“That’s it, baby boy,” Peter growls into his ear. “Come for Daddy.”

Stiles’ orgasm slams into him with a force that whites out his vision. He shakes through it, gasping and clenching around the hot length inside of him, clinging to Peter as ropes of come spill across his abs.

Peter shifts his grip to Stiles’ thighs and holds them back and open. His hard rhythm keeps the aftershocks going until he falters and slams in with a hoarse shout. He grinds deep as he comes, his head thrown back, teeth gritted in ecstasy.

After, once their breath and heart rates have settled, Peter presses a kiss to the inside of Stiles’ knee, slowly releases his legs, and shifts back.

He slips away to get rid of the condom—despite Stiles’ whine of protest and grabby-hands—and retrieve a wet cloth to clean them up. When that’s taken care of, he settles back in bed and tucks Stiles against his side.

Stiles presses into his warmth, feeling clingy, needy, and perfectly willing to indulge himself.

It’s quiet for a few minutes, peaceful with Peter’s hands tracing over his skin. Stiles hums and melts into the mattress. He could sleep some more, maybe. He’s headed that way when Peter speaks.

“Are you ready to talk about it?” he asks, a teasing note in his voice.

Stiles glances up, and yeah, Peter’s got a smirk playing around his mouth. Stiles isn’t proud of it, but he goes with his first instinct, which is deny, deny, deny. “Talk about what?”

Peter raises an unimpressed eyebrow and Stiles fights not to squirm. Apparently, Peter isn’t a fan of letting him pretend. “You tell me, baby boy.”

Stiles’ cheeks blaze with heat and his mouth works silently as he searches for a response. Yeah. Shit. He’s been calling Peter “Daddy” a lot.

He didn’t mean it as anything more than a tease at first—a silly, sort-of-sexy pet name. At least, he doesn’t think he meant anything by it. But then Peter called himself “Daddy” and it flipped some kind of kink-switch.

Peter huffs and reaches out, stroking a thumb over burning skin. "Sweetheart, it’s whatever you need it to be. I just don’t want to misunderstand you. Back at the mall, you said it wasn’t your kink."

Stiles groans and hides his face in Peter’s shoulder. “This is all your fault.”

“Is it?” Peter’s smug-voice is back and Stiles bites at warm, salty skin in retaliation.

“Yes,” he grumbles, muffled. “It wasn’t my kink. And then you showed up being all Daddy all the time and I can’t help it.” Stiles burrows closer, his face on fire. “It’s so fucking hot. I hate you.”

Peter laughs and gathers him up, letting Stiles continue to hide in his neck. “Oh, sweet boy. You won’t hear me complaining.” Peter drops a kiss on his temple and strokes a soothing hand up and down his back.

Stiles lets out a disgruntled “hmph” but inwardly he’s relieved. He isn’t ready to make a big deal about it—not when he doesn’t know where any of this is going—but he doesn’t want to stop either.

They cuddle until Stiles’ growling stomach pulls them apart. He’s surprised and a little suspicious when the clock claims it’s only mid-morning—after the last few weeks, he thought he’d sleep till noon.

Peter has Stiles stay put, curled up under the covers, while he goes to the mini-kitchen in the corner. Stiles watches him—okay, watches his frankly-stunning ass—while he fixes them coffee and some snacks from the fridge.

He returns with an impressive tray of fruit and cheese-cubes, juice, and two steaming mugs of coffee—one with two creamers and one doctored to Stiles’ specifications.

Stiles eye-fucks the coffee but when he reaches for it Peter draws it back with a mischievous grin.

“Give Daddy a kiss, first.”

Stiles’ breath hitches and his insides go hot and squirmy. “You bastard,” he complains, but stretches up and presses a lingering kiss to Peter’s lips anyway—it’s not like it’s a hardship. When he sits back he takes the steaming coffee with him. “Now you’re just taking advantage.”

Peter smiles—a real smile that makes the corners of his eyes crinkle—and Stiles finds himself smiling back helplessly.

“Absolutely,” Peter agrees. He sets the tray down and slides back under the covers, unfortunately hiding his glorious nakedness—though, to be fair, nudity is probably a safety concern when Stiles and hot coffee are involved.

Peter drops a kiss on Stiles’ temple and a hand to Stiles’ thigh, then snags his phone from where it’s charging on the nightstand.

While Stiles sips his coffee and munches on fruit, Peter deals with what looks like a shit-ton of notifications and emails. “Man, you’re popular. You know it’s a holiday, right?” He leans in, nuzzling a muscular shoulder.

Peter huffs, amused. “No such thing in my line of work.”

Before Stiles gets a chance to finally ask what Peter’s work is, the phone screen lights up with an incoming call. Stiles isn’t trying to read over his shoulder, but it’s hard to miss a contact name like “Asshole.” An ex maybe?

The deep voice on the other end of the line carries easily enough that it might as well be on speaker. “This is your daily reminder that you love your family and don’t actually want to murder them.”

Peter chuckles in response. “Good morning, Christopher. Merry Christmas to you too.”

There’s a brief pause. “Someone had a good night.”

Satisfaction hums through Stiles and he smirks. They had a pretty fantastic morning too, if he says so himself. “I can’t be pleased to hear from my best friend on Christmas?” Peter rolls his eyes and rubs his thumb against Stiles’ knee.

Ahh. Best friend explains the contact name. Scott’s had some creative ones in Stiles’ phone over the years too.

The man—Christopher—snorts. “Alright, which one finally got through to you? Was it the ghost of Christmas past, present, or did you need the hat-trick?”

Stiles has to bite his lip to keep from giggling. Peter gives him a wink.

“I doubt they’d have had time after dealing with you, old man. How are your daughter and her boyfriend?”

“Now you’re deflecting. With the rant you laid on me last night I figured you’d—oh. You went and hooked up with your hot little twink.” The amusement in Christopher’s voice makes Stiles flush.

“The hot little twink has a name,” he snarks, not sure if he should be flattered or offended.

Christopher laughs. “Cute and feisty. I’m liking this one more and more.”

Peter squeezes Stiles’ knee through the blankets. “I’m hanging up on you now.”

He gets another deep chuckle in response. “Merry Christmas, hotshot. Have fun at brunch and try not to—”

Peter hits “end call”, drops the phone to the mattress, and lets his head fall back against the headboard with a dramatic groan. “I’ll pay you a thousand dollars to call my sister and tell her I’ve left the country.”

Stiles shakes his head. The ridiculous part is that he doesn’t think Peter’s entirely joking. “Are they really that bad?”

Peter rolls his neck, his lips pressed into a tight line and looking as uncomfortable as Stiles has ever seen him. “The last family Christmas I attended ended with my sister expressing her extreme displeasure over my life-choices. I was on a flight back to New York before dinner was served. That was ten years ago.”

“Ouch,” Stiles winces. “So it’s just your sister who’s the problem?”

Peter chuckles dryly. “When the family matriarch has a problem, it’s everyone’s problem.”

Damn. That sounds like a shit-show. Christmas in the Stiliinski family is low drama. Most years it’s either hanging out with his dad, or something small at the McCall’s. With Scott out of town and Melissa working tonight, this year is a Stilinski-only, Mexican take-out and Die Hard holiday. Stiles chews at his lip. “Ten years is a long time, though. Things could go better?”

Peter shrugs with forced nonchalance. “After the last four days, I’m keeping my expectations low. I didn’t escape to a hotel on Christmas Eve just for the high-quality mattress.”

“Not even for a nice mattress and someone to share it with?” Stiles teases, hoping to brighten the mood.

Peter’s mouth curls up in a cat-got-the-cream smirk. “The company was definitely a bonus, and a vast improvement over another night of family drama.” He drops a kiss on Stiles’ temple. “Well worth today’s fallout from my defection.”

Stiles hides his pleased grin in the coffee mug. “Maybe Santa will distract them.”

Peter hums, blue eyes narrowed in thought. “A distraction. There’s an idea.” He grabs Stiles around the waist.

Stiles yelps and manages not to spill the last of his drink as he’s pulled into Peter’s lap and positioned straddling thick thighs. He relaxes into the offered kiss with a sigh, his free hand stroking a rock-hard bicep. He’ll happily distract Peter if it means more manhandling and kisses.

Once Stiles is a dizzy and thoroughly melted puddle, Peter breaks the kiss. “Come to brunch with me.”

Stiles blinks, trying to get his brain back online because there’s no way he heard that right. “What?”

“It’s perfect. Not only are you a lovely distraction, but my sister will be on her best behavior with company in the house.”

Stiles can’t say it isn’t tempting, because he’s a gigantic troll and loves shit like this—or maybe he just wants to spend more time with Peter. Still, he hesitates. Crashing Peter’s family Christmas has the potential to be very, very awkward and the last thing Stiles wants to do is make things worse.

Peter can obviously see the gears turning. “The food will be fantastic and you’ll get to see everyone open the gifts you helped with.” He steals Stiles’ nearly empty coffee mug and sets it on the nightstand, ignoring his outraged huff. “And after, if you’re good,” he moves suddenly and tumbles Stiles down to the mattress, then rolls on top of him, “Daddy will bring you back here, pin you down, and rim you until you forget how words work.”

Stiles’ insides turn electric at the dirty growl right in his ear and he lets out a desperate “hnngh.” He may have already forgotten how words work. “Wha—how—I—” He shakes his head, trying to dislodge something that isn’t a combination of “daddy” and “please.” “Oh my god, you cheater.”

Peter sucks on his earlobe and Stiles’ bites back a whimper.

“I—I don’t have anything to wear.” It’s a weak objection—and extremely half-hearted—but it’s the only one he can come up with.

Peter drops a biting kiss on his jaw and slides out of bed, much to the dismay of Stiles’ rallying cock. “I’m sure we can find something that will work, Cinderella.”

It’s said with such perfect nonchalance that Stiles narrows his eyes. For a guy that was so concerned with things “fitting correctly” the other day at the mall, that’s a suspicious statement.

Then Peter retrieves a familiar shopping bag from the closet.

“Seriously?” Stiles asks as he struggles to a seated position, sheets pooling in his lap. He should be upset, he thinks, but all he can muster is bemused exasperation. Because that bag is definitely from the same fancy boutique Peter dropped a small fortune at the other day. “Peter, I told you that was too much.”

Peter raises an eyebrow, a smirk curling his lips—Stiles really needs to stop finding that so hot. “That was because I wanted to. This is a gift.” He crosses the room and sets the bag next to Stiles, then leans down and catches his lips in a breath-stealing kiss. “Merry Christmas, baby.”

Stiles melts. Manipulative bastard. He can’t even complain. He’s much too warm and fluttery to come up with anything coherent.

 


 

Despite Stiles’ very convincing arguments, they decide he shouldn’t pretend to be an escort Peter hired as his date—it wouldn’t make sense, Peter’s already been in town for nearly a week. Stiles pouts at the poor planning—he’s always wanted to fake-date someone—but gives in when Peter points out that his sister will probably recognise Stiles as their waiter from the other night.

Apparently, he isn’t Clark Kent, and his glasses only make him look fuckable, not like a different person. Reality is so inconvenient sometimes.

Peter parks the car in the last open spot in the driveway, between an SUV and a Camaro, and hands Stiles two bags of gifts from the trunk. Having something to do with his hands settles some of his nerves as they walk toward the massive house. Apparently, Peter isn’t the only one in the family with deep pockets.

There’s a string of high-pitched yaps and the cute Pomsky from the vet’s office comes flying across the yard, barking it’s fuzzy little head off.

Stiles starts to rethink the “cute” label as it snarls and weaves between their feet, biting and pulling at their pant-legs. It’s obviously trying to murder them.

“Chili, come!” calls a woman from the front porch. The dog gives a final yip-and-snarl, then flees back towards the house shooting doggie death-glares over his shoulder.

“Someone needs to give that thing a Xanax,” Peter mutters, eyeing his damp pant leg in dismay. Stiles nods in agreement. That was intense.

They reach the porch and Peter’s sister leans in to give him a peck on the cheek and wish him Merry Christmas. She’s dressed as impeccably as she was the other night in a festive red dress and low heels. Her hair is styled neatly and she’s wearing makeup—which Stiles only notices because of the way the lipstick makes her tight, unsmiling mouth look like a red slash across her face.

He’s suddenly grateful that he let Peter dress him—it’s really nice to not look like he’s out of place for once. Even if he’s feeling miles outside his comfort zone.

He climbs the steps, ready to offer his own greeting, and realizes for the first time that he doesn’t know what Peter’s sister’s name is. Talk about awkward.

“This is a nice surprise,” she says, forcing a smile, holding her wriggling dog under one arm. Stiles would almost buy it if it wasn’t for the annoyance that’s practically seeping from her pores.

He transfers the bags to one hand and offers her a bright grin and a handshake. “I have a rule about never turning down free food.”

He can hear the laughter in Peter’s voice when he does introductions. “Talia, you remember Stiles, don’t you? We slept in, so I invited him to brunch. I knew you wouldn’t mind, what with the crowd you already have here today.”

From the twitch of Talia’s eye she definitely does mind. “Of course I remember. So nice to have you, Stiles.” She turns to Peter. “Everyone’s in the living room. Waiting.”

Oof. That was definitely a dig at their sort-of-lateness. Stiles presses his lips together and refrains from apologizing. It took a while to get dressed—again—once he thanked Peter for his new clothes. Saying they’re late because they had to clean-up after Daddy ruined his underwear would probably start the day off on the wrong foot.

He’s also not sorry. It was so worth it—even if he did end up commando.

Peter steers him through the front door and it’s like stepping into a freaking Hallmark movie. Tasteful garlands and soft-gold ribbon spiral down the staircase and across the tops of the doorways. A giant white poinsettia fills the hall table. The drool-worthy scent of bacon and other breakfasty things makes Stiles’ mouth water and his stomach snarl—hopefully too quietly to be heard over the holiday music jingling from hidden speakers.

It’s toasty-warm inside, so he lets Peter take the gift bags and hang up his coat—a fancy new leather one that fits like a glove.

He takes in the entryway and tries not to act like a guy with milk crates for end tables. Fuck. It’s seriously like something from a holiday Fixer Upper episode—which Stiles definitely only knows because of Isaac’s man-crush on Chip Gaines. A crush Isaac denies and Isaac’s girlfriend loves to tease him for.

Peter draws Stiles’ scattered attention with a hand at the small of his back and leads him towards the talking and laughter he’s been studiously ignoring.

Alright. Gonna meet the family. Game-face time.

As they step into the spacious living room, Stiles notices three things all at once. One, there are more people here than he was expecting. Two, Peter’s relatives are all devastatingly attractive. And three, the fake dating thing never stood a chance. Because off to the side, Isaac’s girlfriend, Cora, is lounging in a wing-back chair, eyeballing him, and asking approximately two dozen questions with her eyebrows.

Stiles’ jaw drops and a rush of adrenaline narrows all his thoughts down to—

“What the fuck?”

Cora snorts, lips twisting up in a—suddenly very familiar—smirk. “Well, this oughta be good.”

“Uhh... Um. Hey, Cora…” Stiles scrubs suddenly damp palms against his thighs. “Merry Christmas?”

Peter steps up behind him. His hands land on Stiles’ hips and squeeze—Stiles isn’t sure if it’s in support or warning. “Good morning, niece.”

Niece. Cora is Peter’s niece. Fuck, that explains a few things—the smirk, for one.

“You know each other?” Peter steps closer. The heat of him radiates against Stiles’ back and suddenly the hands gripping his hips feel wonderfully possessive. It makes some of the squirmy tension melt away. Cora’s smirk widens. “Stiles is my ex.”

Of course she’s going there. Stiles groans and rubs a hand over his face to muffle it. “Oh my god. You have to stop calling me that. We dated for a week in seventh grade!”

“I also made him gay.”

Stiles squawks. “That’s a filthy lie!”

“Sorry, Cor,” Derek says as he steps into the room, trailed by—fucking hell—Isaac and Kira. The three of them are loaded down with plates of food. “I have it on good authority that I’m the one who made him gay.”

“Fuck my life.” Stiles digs his fingers into his hair and whines, “I hate you all. I need new friends.” And he thought meeting Peter’s family was going to be the most awkward part of his day. This is worse. This is meeting the family and realizing they’ve got a highlight reel of all your awkward stages.

“How exactly did my nephew make you gay?” Peter murmurs, lips brushing his ear and sending shivers down his spine.

“By being really hot when I was young and impressionable?” Stiles grumbles. He takes a fortifying breath, drops his hands, and gives Derek his best glare. “Repeating things I said when I was gin-drunk is not cool, asshole.”

Derek, the troll, gives an unconcerned shrug. Stiles is absolutely going to get him back for that.

“So.” Peter turns him around with gentle pressure. “You know my niece and nephew.”

“Yeah.” Stiles winces, suddenly worried that Peter’s going to assume this is all some big setup. “Peter Hale, huh?”

Peter’s lips curl up in a smirk. “We might’ve gotten the introductions a little out of order.”

Stiles bites his lip briefly to hold back a laugh. “Stiles Stilinski, also known as the sheriff’s kid.” He sticks out his hand for Peter to shake.

Recognition sparks in Peter’s eyes as he lifts Stiles’ hand to drop a kiss on his knuckles. “Stilinski, hmm? I hear you’re something of a hellion.”

Stiles giggle-snorts. This situation couldn’t get more ridiculous. “And I hear you, Mr. Hale, are some fancy, workaholic, magazine editor.” Which is putting it mildly. Derek and Cora’s uncle is editor-in-chief of one of the top fashion magazines in the country. Stiles pushes that realization firmly aside—though he knows he’ll be panicking about it later—and steps closer, lowering his voice. “Did you really send an uppity model a gift certificate for dog training lessons?”

“That’s a nasty rumor.” Peter’s grin turns wicked and his hand slides to the small of Stiles’ back, tugging him in. “It was an actor who thought he could make inappropriate demands of my PA.” Peter dips down to brush a chaste kiss to Stiles’ mouth, setting off a thousand butterflies in his belly.

What the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Chapter Text

Stiles pushes eagerly into the kiss to deepen it and the enthusiastic reaction melts through some of Peter’s surprise. It’s going to take him a minute to wrap his head around the fact that his sweet bookstore-twink is Stilinski, Cora’s walking-disaster of a friend from highschool—the boy who reportedly once broke his cell phone and a flatscreen TV simultaneously with his dramatic flailing.

When he heard that story, years ago, Peter assumed there was some exaggeration. Now that he’s met Stiles, it doesn’t seem so outrageous.

Peter being Cora’s uncle is probably a revelation for Stiles as well, but he seems to be rolling with it if the way he hums into the kiss is any indication. Peter tightens his hold.

“Oh my god,” Cora groans like the unapologetic brat she is. “There’s gotta be rules against your ex macking on your uncle. Bro-code or something.”

Peter doesn’t have to wonder whether Stiles is up for a little revenge for that commentary. The wicked glint in brown eyes as they break apart says all he needs to know.

“I don’t know. Would that be incest, Daddy?” Stiles bats his lashes at Peter while Cora fake-gags and Derek sputters on an ill-timed sip of juice.

God, his boy is such a perfect little shit. Peter chuckles and presses a kiss to Stiles’ temple in reward. “Only if that’s your kink, baby.”

Stiles’ friend Isaac snorts at their banter. “I totally called it.”

Stiles blinks at him. “Called what?”

Isaac smirks and Peter has an inkling that he’s as much of a little shit as Stiles is. “I’ve been dating Cora for two years. You think I wouldn’t recognize her uncle?”

“You didn’t though,” Kira pipes up. “Not at first.”

He makes a face at her. “Can you let me have my moment?”

Kira, perched on the arm of Derek’s chair, giggles. “I’m only saying, you didn’t figure out who he was until Cora asked if he came into the cafe.”

Stiles’ gaze flicks back and forth between his friends, his shoulders tense. “Wait, so you knew?”

Isaac snags a muffin from the plate balanced on his knees and starts peeling the wrapper off. “I almost told you when you wouldn’t stop bitching about him. But you were determined you were gonna ‘handle it’. Then he dropped Cora off at the mall and it was more fun to aim you in his direction and watch the fireworks.”

Cora smacks his arm. “You didn’t tell me?”

With a smug look and an unconcerned shrug, Isaac stuffs half the muffin in his mouth, thereby avoiding any more questions.

Peter raises an eyebrow. Just how many of his meetings with Stiles were truly coincidental?

Stiles seems to be having the same thought and turns his glare on Derek. “The vet’s office. Did you plan—” he starts, breaking off when Derek—who, if Peter remembers correctly, used to have a part time job there—raises his hands in a ‘don’t look at me’ gesture. Cora is equally innocent—though she’s disgruntled about it.

When Peter thinks it through, there’s really very little chance this group could have set them up. Peter never mentioned he was going to the bookstore where he and Stiles met. And though Cora recommended Isaac and Kira’s coffee shop as being halfway decent, Peter’s visit was spur of the moment. The restaurant and the trip to the vet’s office were both Talia’s doing, and Peter knows his sister. She would be gloating if she had a hand in this.

Isaac spotting him at the mall seems to be the only real intervention. Peter makes a mental note to send him a few of the Alexander McQueen scarves he has left from the fall cover shoot. They’ll probably be well received.

Peter touches Stiles’ jaw to break his glaring contest with Derek and Cora. “I don’t think we need to worry about conspiracies, sweetheart. Unless your friends have supernatural powers I’m not aware of.” He reaches down and threads their fingers together. “Now, come with me, I’m hungry and I need to introduce you to Laura’s famous bacon and cheddar scones.”

Peter blatantly ignores the questioning glances from his remaining siblings and their families as he tugs Stiles in the direction of the kitchen. Their judgmental eyebrows can wait until he’s had at least two more cups of coffee.

In the large, high-end kitchen, his oldest niece, Laura and her fiancee are in the midst of assembling the traditional family brunch. Though he has to say, in the past, tradition never looked like an upscale patisserie moved in overnight. But that’s to be expected. Laura and Adam are both chefs. They co-own two of the hottest spots in downtown LA. Peter happens to be a silent partner.

When he promised Stiles the food would be outstanding, he wasn’t exaggerating.

Stiles stops and gawks over the spread on the counter, pretty mouth gaping and tossing Peter’s mind right in the gutter. It takes him a second to drag it back out when Stiles turns to him with a pout. “I want a picture, but my phone died.” His puppy eyes are frankly devastating and Peter finds himself unlocking his own phone and holding it out without much thought.

“Use mine. You can text them to yourself,” He chuckles when Stiles lights up like Talia’s ten-foot Christmas tree and makes excited grabby-hands at him.

He leaves Stiles to his photoshoot and steps around the island to greet his oldest niece with a kiss on her flushed cheek, then reaches out to clap her tall, bearded fiance on the shoulder. “Merry Christmas, you two.” The couple arrived late the evening before, long after Peter escaped to his hotel. Talia had been in a snit over it for days, but really, what was she expecting? Neither Laura nor Adam would think of abandoning their staff during the holiday dinner rush.

Laura beams at him. “Uncle Peter! Merry Christmas.” She turns away from whatever she’s got bubbling on the stove to drag him into a hug. When she steps back, she aims a playful glance around Peter’s shoulder. “And you must be Stiles. I’m so glad you could join us.”

Peter squeezes her arm at the honest welcome, not sure how she got word so fast, but grateful for the immediate acceptance. It probably helps that she’s been through their family’s quick judgements herself. Adam is fifteen years her senior.

“And you’re Laura,” Stiles says with a grin and a little wave. “Congrats on the engagement. And the Michelin Star.”

Peter pauses at that, but of course Stiles would know about Laura. It’s the kind of thing that’s bound to come up among friends.

Laura makes an “aww” face—Stiles is lucky he’s out of cheek squishing range. “Aren’t you the sweetest.” She gestures to Peter. “Are you sure you wanna be stuck with this asshole?”

Peter rolls his eyes and sighs, over-dramatic and long-suffering.

The last of the tension leaves Stiles and he laughs. “I’m really not that sweet. I promise.”

Laura and Adam move around the kitchen like a well-oiled machine and Peter quickly gets out of their way. Hotel coffee wasn’t nearly enough and Talia’s espresso machine is calling his name. When he’s done he returns to Stiles’ side and sets the second coffee—two sugars and too much cream—on the counter for him.

Stiles hums his thanks and leans in for a cheek kiss, then continues to studiously assemble a plate of different tarts and pastries. He lifts a mini quiche, eyeing it curiously.

“Oh, Stiles,” Laura pipes up. “You have to tell me what you think about that one. We want to add it to our spring brunch menu.”

Stiles eagerly bites into it, and lets out a startled groan that’s a little too pornographic for public consumption. It makes Peter want to do things to him, dirty things that shouldn’t happen in his sister’s kitchen. “Oh my fucking god,” Stiles mumbles around the mouthfull, his eyes wide.

Peter eases into his space. “Good?” he asks, letting hunger seep into his voice.

Stiles nods and swallows, his gaze locked on Peter’s.

Peter catches Stiles’ wrist in a gentle hold and lifts his hand. “Give me a bite, baby,” he murmurs but doesn’t wait for an answer—Stiles looks incapable of words anyway.

Stiles' breath hitches, then shudders out when Peter’s lips brush his fingers. The caramelized onion is perfectly balanced with the goat cheese and the crust is rich and buttery. He gives Stiles’ fingertips a teasing lick, barely picking out the low whimper as Stiles squirms, his breath speeding.

The oven timer going off breaks the moment and Peter eases back reluctantly.

“Well,” Cora says from the doorway. “I was gonna ask if you guys were trolling mom, but Stilinski isn’t that good an actor.”

Stiles’ cheeks flush pink and Peter shoots Cora a smirk; they really are related, aren’t they? “We debated it, but the real thing is just so much more satisfying.” Peter drops a kiss on the tip of Stiles’ cute, upturned nose. “Right, baby?”

“Oh, yeah,” Stiles purrs with an over-the-top leer. “I’m very satisfied. For now.”

“Eww,” Cora complains. “You’re perfect for each other. I might vomit.”

That makes Stiles crack up, his eyes sparkling as he leans into Peter’s chest and laces their fingers together. Peter wraps an arm around his waist and squeezes him close.

Cora’s humorous gagging is cut off when Talia bustles into the room, her little dog trotting after her like a small, angry shadow.

“Laura, have you seen—Oh, Peter, there you are. Where did you put your gifts? And please tell me you’ve at least wrapped them?”

Peter’s jaw ticks but he takes a slow breath and pushes down his instinctive, passive-aggressive response. It’s Christmas. He’s going to play nice for as long as possible. “They’re already under the tree with the others.”

“And they’re wrapped? With bows?” Talia doesn’t wait for an answer as she steps around the two of them to straighten a stack of napkins and adjust the handles of the cut-glass juice pitchers into a perfect line.

Over Talia’s shoulder he catches Cora rolling her eyes, hard.

“I wasn’t aware bows were a requirement,” Peter drawls, his patience slipping.

“Peter,” Talia sighs, her holiday-red lips pursed in annoyance. Peter refrains from telling her the shade is too orange for her skin tone. See? He can be gracious when it’s called for.

Stiles shifts like he’s going to comment, but he doesn’t get the chance.

“I swear to god, mom,” Laura interrupts, her voice sharp with exasperation. “If you don’t tone down the control-issues I’m uninviting you from the wedding.”

Peter stares. Wow. He didn’t see that one coming. At all. Neither did Talia, who pauses, then visibly dismisses the comment.

“For heaven sakes, Laura,” she chides. “Don’t be dramatic.” She collects a platter of tiny fruit tarts from the counter and sweeps out. “Now, finish up, the little ones are getting impatient,” she calls back to them.

Chili gives a little snarl that’s probably meant to be threatening before he spins and follows her out.

Peter eyes his niece, impressed. He knows it’s been years but the last time he checked, Cora was the rebel. Laura used to be a people pleaser.

Laura arches a brow at Peter’s incredulous expression. “I’ve worked in kitchens for almost a decade, Uncle Peter. I’ve become immune to drama.”

Stiles—who’s obviously familiar with working in food-service—laughs and raises a hand in her direction. Laura returns the high-five with a grin.

Adam, who’s been quietly, expertly finishing up the last of the food, steps up behind her and drops a kiss on her neck. “I’m so proud.” He smirks at Laura’s sudden blush as she playfully swats him away.

“But seriously, guys.” Cora slumps against the island next to Peter and Stiles. “Holiday-mom is the worst. Can we just lock her in her office until New Years?”

Laura snorts in agreement. “If only kidnapping wasn’t a felony.”

“Actually, that’s false imprisonment, so it’s just a misdemeanor.” Stiles shrugs when all eyes turn to him. “Still a crime if we’re being technical.”

Adam’s brow furrows. “Do I want to ask why you know that off the top of your head?”

“My dad’s the sheriff. When you spend a lot of time around cops, you pick these things up.”

Cora immediately starts a fake coughing fit that sounds suspiciously like Jackson Whittemore.

Stiles squirms, but Peter just tugs him closer. “Okay, there may have been a slight incident in high school. But it was totally a misunderstanding. No charges were pressed.”

Peter shakes his head with an amused huff. Life with this ridiculous boy around won’t ever be boring, will it?

He stops, startled by the thought and the rush of possessive warmth that follows it. He wants to keep Stiles. Fuck. Chris is going to laugh himself sick when he finds out. Which is…probably deserved if Peter’s being honest.

But he’s gotten ahead of himself. They’ve known each other less than a week, not nearly long enough to be thinking about something as crazy as— He won't go there. Still, the hesitation he expected is absent. Everything in him is saying grab onto Stiles and don’t ever let him go.

He looks up and happens to meet Laura’s eyes, catching her knowing smirk. She’s standing with her back pressed to her fiance’s chest, his arms tight around her waist—a mirror of how Peter is holding Stiles.

Shut up, he mouths. He rolls his eyes and gets a smug smirk in return.

Adorable, she mouths back gleefully. Peter scowls. God, how did he forget what an obnoxious brat she is?

Cora’s loud groan draws Peter back to the conversation. “Really, is it just me, or is the holiday-mom bullshit this year turned up to eleven?” Apparently he didn’t miss anything.

Derek, who wandered in at some point, reaches across the counter to snag the pitcher of juice and a bottle of prosecco. “It’s because she thinks it’s her last chance for a perfect family Christmas.”

Peter eyes his nephew. “Well, that’s about to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The drink Derek’s assembling is more prosecco with a splash of juice for color than a mimosa, but Peter can’t fault him. A liquid buffer from the chaos is sounding better and better the longer this morning goes on. And his poor nephew has never been a fan of drama—unfortunate, considering who he’s related to.

“Some champagne with your juice there, Der?” Stiles teases, noticing the same thing.

Derek furrows his eyebrows at Stiles, takes a sip of his drink, then shrugs. “Either way, Mom’s not wrong. Even if they wanted to, Laura and Adam can barely get away from the restaurant anymore. Knowing Cora, once she and Isaac leave for their ‘epic road-trip’ we’ll get a postcard twice a year that says ‘still alive’.”

“If you’re lucky,” Cora mutters.

Derek chooses to ignore the interruption. “And Uncle Peter, you didn’t want to be here to begin with,” he glances at Stiles again, “though I guess it worked out in your favor.” He shakes his head, bemused. “I’m the only one who’s staying local, and that’s just until grad school is done. Then who knows?”

Laura huffs. “Even so, that doesn’t excuse the way she’s been micromanaging us. She sent me a brunch menu with her preferred recipes attached. I’m a professional chef for god’s sake.“

“You know mom, she deals with uncertainty by trying to control it,” Derek says.

He doesn’t like it, but the perspective is something Peter probably needs. He isn’t sure if it makes him feel better that she’s like this with everyone, or disappointed that her children have been affected by the same nonsense that drives him to stay away.

“Kids? What on earth is taking so long?” Talia calls from the other side of the house, impatience clear despite the false cheer in her voice.

Cora and Derek heave matching, long-suffering sighs while Laura rolls her eyes.

Peter feels a muscle in his jaw twitch at being lumped in with the “kids”. He’s thirty-something, damn it.

“Alright.” Laura dries her hands and tosses the towel on the counter. “I suppose it’s time to face the beast.”

There are some snickers, but the group reluctantly gives up the peace of the kitchen and heads towards the chaos of the great room. Stiles is oddly quiet as he trails next to Peter, chewing on his lip, his eyebrows drawn together in thought. Peter can practically feel the discomfort drifting off of him. Concern makes Peter tug him to a stop and wave the rest of the group on, saying they’ll catch up. As soon as they’re out of sight he leads Stiles into the privacy of the hall bathroom.

Stiles laughs awkwardly as Peter shuts the door behind them. “I’m usually all for a bathroom quickie, Daddy,” he jokes. “But your sister might roast us over an open fire if we take any longer.” He runs his fingers through his hair, eyes darting as Peter locks the door, then crowds him back against the countertop to cage him in with hands on either side of his hips.

For once, Peter doesn’t take up the banter. “Talk to me, baby.”

Stiles’ cheeks flood with color as he stares down Talia’s holiday themed hand-towels—apparently, the embroidered holly leaves are riveting. “About what? There’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine. You’re fine. Everything’s fine.”

Peter raises a silent eyebrow at the nervous babble and waits for Stiles to look up.

Stiles deflates a little when he does. “It just—it hit me that you don’t live here. I mean, I don’t live here either but I’m back all the time cause of my dad. But you—”

“I live on the other side of the country, and I’ve made it very clear I’m not a fan of Beacon Hills.” Peter sighs. He was hoping this conversation could wait, but obviously the issue is causing his boy distress. The realization puts a knot in Peter’s chest.

“Yeah.” Stiles chews on his lip again, then releases it with a pop. “It’s just—I know it’s stupid to be thinking about—you probably don’t even—I mean, why would you—”

“Baby,” Peter interrupts him. “What I don’t want is for you to worry about it right now.” Stiles snorts and tries to duck his head but Peter stops him with fingers under his chin. Then he leans in and presses a soft kiss to those tempting, red-bitten lips. “We’ll work it out.” Peter isn’t sure how yet, but he knows he’s not going to give his boy up because of something as minor as proximity. “Trust me,” he says firmly.

“Ugh. Daddy-voice.” Stiles shivers, a reluctant smile twitching at the corner of his mouth. “No fair.” He tucks his grin into Peter’s throat, breathes him in, then relaxes with a shuddery sigh.

Peter chuckles and runs his fingers through Stiles’ hair, straightening it. “If I haven’t made it clear enough—I like you, Stiles. I want to see where this goes. But I also don’t think we need to rush things. You have your internship coming up, and my work is going to be impossibly busy for the next few months. Let’s take our time and see what happens. Hell, next week you might decide I’m an obnoxious, bossy asshole and you never want to see me again.”

Stiles’, “I like when you’re bossy,” is muffled in Peter’s shirt, but it makes him grin anyway.

“Good to know.”

A sharp knock at the door makes Stiles jump and Peter tighten his hold.

“Hey. Horndogs.”

Of course it’s Cora.

“Better zip ‘em up, everyone’s waiting for you.” She sounds much too amused, which Peter will absolutely get back at her for later. “I can hold them off for another two minutes, tops, but that’s pushing things.”

“We’ll be right there, asshole,” Stiles calls through the door.

There’s a cackle and then footsteps moving away.

Stiles looks back at Peter and takes a steadying breath, eyes hopeful. “We’ll talk more after? Figure it out?”

Peter kisses him again, revelling in the way Stiles leans into it. “I promise.”

After a brief check that their clothes aren’t rumpled, they exit the bathroom and finally join the others. All the seats are taken by his overly large extended family, but Kira gives up her chair to squeeze in next to Derek. Peter flashes her a grin, then sits and tugs a flustered Stiles into his lap. He attempts to keep a straight face as Stiles squirms. Despite the fact that they weren’t actually doing anything risque, Stiles is acting like he got caught with his pants down.

He presses his lips to the soft spot below Stiles’ ear and murmurs, “You’re acting awfully suspicious, baby. Do you want them to think Daddy was taking care of you in the—”

Stiles whips around and slaps a hand over Peter’s mouth, his cheeks rapidly darkening in the blush Peter is coming to adore. “Oh my god,” he groans. “You’re a menace.”

Peter winces at the negative consequences of the abrupt movement and grips Stiles’ waist to adjust him to a more comfortable spot. He probably deserved that—Stiles’ narrowed eyes say he agrees. Peter presses a kiss to his palm in apology.

Stiles huffs. “You’re lucky you’re cute.” He drops his hand and smacks a kiss on Peter’s cheek.

They’re interrupted by a small hand shoving a lumpy, poorly wrapped package between them. “Mewwy Chwismas, Uncle Petey,” his brother’s youngest chirps with a massive, gap-toothed grin. Rory is four and hasn’t quite gotten his R’s figured out yet. The lack of teeth don’t help. Peter agreed to respond to Petey under duress and prays the nickname doesn’t last past this visit.

He unwraps the gift under the boy’s watchful gaze and reveals a garishly colored object woven from strips of fabric. It’s obviously handmade and the shape could loosely be called a square. Peter has no clue what the fuck it is. His nephew is watching him expectantly. “Thank you, Rory. What a nice…” he pauses, stumped.

“Pot holder,” Stiles murmurs in his ear.

Peter lets out a breath and squeezes Stiles’ knee in gratitude. “—Pot holder. I really needed a new one.”

The munchkin beams and Peter directs him to the box under the tree that contains Howlin’ Howie, the yapping, bouncing toy that Stiles picked out at the mall. Peter can’t contain his glee when his brother groans and shoots him a stink eye.

“Thanks for that, Uncle Petey,” Aaron calls from the far side of the room.

Peter lifts two fingers in acknowledgement, smirking at his brother’s put-upon sigh.

His sister works her way around the room, trying to manage the typical Christmas morning chaos by convincing the children to open their gifts one at a time. Peter keeps his derisive snort internal. Good luck with that nonsense. It may have been ten years, but he knows better than to get between the children and Santa.

Stiles is a comfortable weight on his lap, chatting happily with his friends while he plays with the fingers Peter’s got resting on his thigh. Peter drops an absent kiss on his neck, admiring the smattering of goosebumps the touch causes. His boy is so beautifully responsive. Once Peter gets him alone again, he’s going to take his time learning all of Stiles’ sensitive places. Twice.

Honestly, this morning can’t be over soon enough.

After the chaos of the little ones ripping into their gifts dies down, the room looks like a wrapping paper factory exploded. Peter rolls his eyes at Talia’s efforts to corral Rory’s older siblings into collecting all of the elaborate bows before they get stepped on, and he almost snorts when she has to wrestle Chili away from one that’s bigger than the little dog’s head.

Finally, the younger children wander off and the unwrapping is down to his siblings and his older nieces and nephew. The “grown-ups” as Rory calls them—and isn’t that a mind-fuck? Peter would swear he’s not old enough for Cora to be an actual adult.

There’s a great deal of oohing and ahhing over the stereotypical clothing, jewelry, and books. The set of pots and pans Adam gives Laura, Derek’s new laptop, and Cora’s new cell phone, unlocked for international calling, are all highlights.

The kids got together to gift Talia with dog-training lessons from a top local trainer. She accepts the gift gracefully and with minimal eye-twitching. Peter suppresses his smugness. Not only did the lessons come in an envelope—something his sister expressly forbade him from doing—but Talia has to wonder if there’s a double meaning involved. The story of Peter and the entitled actor he sent to obedience school is popular in their family. He feels Stiles’ stifled laughter and knows he picked up on the inside joke.

“My turn,” Laura announces, grabbing her present from Peter.

Stiles tenses a little and grips his fingers. Peter squeezes back in response, hoping to convey that everything is going to be fine. Laura will get a kick out of her gift, and Talia wouldn’t dare cause a scene and ruin her “perfect family Christmas.” If anything, she’ll take Peter aside and scold him later—but he’s planned for that already.

Laura tears into paper, then pauses for a moment, stunned, before lifting Wedding Princess Barbie from the packaging.

Peter,” Talia hisses through her teeth, scandalized.

Before she gets any further, Laura bursts into delighted laughter. “Holy shit, it’s perfect.” She turns to her fiance. “You think I can find a dress to match, babe?”

Peter knows for a fact that Laura’s dress is sleek, modern, and looks nothing like the doll’s massive ball gown.

Adam chuckles and leans in to wrap an arm around her waist, kissing her temple. “You’ll be stunning. Like a gigantic cupcake.”

Talia is grinding her teeth and shooting death from her eyes but Peter casually pretends not to notice. “I saw it and I couldn’t help myself. I know it’s just what you’ve always wanted.”

Laura cackles again and sets about extracting it from the plastic packaging. “Derek, you’re next. I’ve gotta know what he got you.”

Derek eyes the box resting on his knees like it’s full of snakes, silently chugs the rest of his drink—ignoring the warning sound his mother makes—and peels back the wrapping paper. He’s a touch glassy-eyed, but so are Issac and Kira. The three of them seem to have given up on sobriety for the morning. Peter’s a little envious.

Derek snorts when he reveals the collection of bath-bombs, essential oils, and lavender scented candles. “I always wanted to smell like an English garden,” he deadpans.

"If anyone needs aromatherapy…" Stiles whispers in Peter’s ear, ending the sentence with a teasing nip that makes Peter’s pants feel tight. In retaliation, Peter gives his thigh a squeeze that’s a little too close to his pert ass to be innocent.

Stiles stills, eyes wide but still bright with humor. Not breaking eye contact for a second, he slowly runs the tip of his tongue along his plush lower lip.

“Be good,” Peter murmurs, low and firm, which earns him a wicked grin. He raises an eyebrow in reply, daring the brat to keep pushing. Peter loves a challenge.

“Ohh,” Kira coos, lifting one of the candles from the box. “These bigger ones are supposed to be great for stress relief.”

“That’s what she said,” Cora snarks and waggles her eyebrows.

“Cora!” Kira flails out an arm to smack her before she loses it, giggling helplessly. Stiles joins in and Isaac leans over to offer a high-five. Even Derek's lips are twitching in amusement.

Peter meets his sister’s frustrated gaze and dares her to say something. Everyone is having fun. You aren't going to ruin it, right? She huffs and moves the dog off her lap so she can open her own gift. The frustration turns to a pinched look of confusion at the stack of books.

“I splurged and got you the whole series,” Peter explains, his tone just a little too sugar-sweet to be believable. “They came highly recommended.”

Stiles is nearly twitching with mirth. “I’ve heard of those,” he exclaims, bouncing in Peter’s lap and “accidentally” wiggling his ass right where it will have the most effect. “It’s supposed to be scorching hot. Lindsay Ellis did an awesome review of it on YouTube.” He shoots Talia a cheesy smile and a double thumbs-up, then turns and smacks a kiss on Peter’s cheek. “Nice choice, babe.”

Peter wraps strong arms around him and subtly pins him in place. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he says for their audience. Then leans in to purr in his ear. “Keep teasing and see what happens.” The red flush that spills down Stiles’ neck is extremely gratifying.

“Lovely. I can’t wait.” Talia visibly bites her tongue and gives them a smile that’s more of a grimace—there’s nothing else she can say. Peter followed her instructions to the letter—personalized gifts that needed to be wrapped and required effort. These check all the boxes.

Cora is next and she cackles gleefully over the Dora the Explorer backpack with the D crossed out and replaced with a C. Peter’s other siblings and their spouses get a selection of humorous parenting books. By the time Adam opens his Easy-Bake Oven everyone has gotten caught up in the joke and exclaims over what an excellent gift-giver Peter is. Talia is taking slow breaths through her nose while the group throws out suggestions for new dishes Adam should try at the restaurant.

“Peter, I need your help in the other room.” Talia bites out as she jerks to her feet.

Peter suppresses the hot rush of satisfaction. He couldn’t have scripted this more perfectly. “Can it not wait until we’re done here?” he asks, voice filled with mock innocence.

She frowns and glances towards the empty space under the tree. When she turns back, Peter is already urging Stiles off his lap. “Grab the other bags for me, will you, sweetheart?” It’s finally time to give his sister the reality check she’s in desperate need of.

 


 

Having been let in on the plan on the drive over, Stiles gives Peter a Chesshire-cat grin and heads out to the hall closet where the other bags are hidden. He has to admit he’s a little awed by the commitment to petty revenge. If it was Stiles, he would have gone for something much more straightforward—like coal in Talia’s stocking. But Peter wanted to put on a show. Stiles is kind of gleeful that he gets to witness it.

For one thing, he’s never gonna let Cora live down that backpack. He’s calling her Cora the Explorer for the next five years, at least.

He tries to contain his amusement when everyone exchanges looks of confusion as the remaining gifts, all professionally wrapped—with gorgeous bows—are passed out.

Laura tears into hers first, announcing loudly that she doesn’t know what it is, but nothing can top Wedding Barbie.

There’s tension around Peter’s eyes and jaw as he watches his niece, which—huh. Peter might actually be nervous about this. Stiles chooses to sit on the arm of the chair instead of reclaiming his original spot, but he’s still close enough to lean in and whisper in his ear. “I didn’t know Barbie was a Domme.”

Peter blinks, then presses his lips together as he fights to keep his expression neutral. “Have you seen Ken?” He murmurs back. “Pretty sure his balls are in Barbie’s handbag.”

Stiles has to hide his bark of laughter with a coughing fit. Kira tries to give him her drink but he waves her off.

Laura finishes removing the paper and hefts the medium-sized box. “It feels pretty light.” She says, her eyes dancing. “Don’t tell me you wrapped an empty box, Uncle Peter.”

That sets off a round of laughter and guesses over what it could be. Everything from hot air to a taped down gift card is suggested.

When Laura finally gives in and opens the box, she’s stunned into momentary silence. “Oh my god,” she breathes, seemingly unable to tear her eyes away. “Uncle Peter, how did you—?” She stalls, then finally looks up with a smile wide enough that it has to ache. Tears fill her eyes and she laughs, lifting a shaky hand to wipe them away.

“I heard you were having trouble finding what you wanted, so I called a friend.” He winks at Adam. “Your fiance may have snuck me a few inspiration photos.”

Stiles wonders if he’s the only one who sees the relief in the loosening of Peter’s jaw as Laura lifts the delicate tiara from the velvet padding and holds it so the tiny crystals catch in the light. “It’s perfect,” she says, her face radiating joy. “I can’t believe you two—”

“Not me,” Adam insists, hands raised in mock defence. “This was all Peter.”

Laura turns her beaming, slightly watery smile back on her uncle. “Thank you.”

Peter nods. “Of course, princess. Only the best for your wedding day.” He gives her a warm smile.

With a laugh, she sets the tiara carefully back in the box, and passes it off to Adam so she can cross the room. Stiles stands and shifts out of the way of their hug.

“I’m so happy for you, Laura,” Peter murmurs into her hair. Stiles smiles. For all his snark and sarcasm, Peter can apparently be a big softy when it matters.

Laura sniffles and smacks his shoulder as she pulls back. “Alright, you win. You topped Barbie.” She turns back to her seat, missing the triumphant raised eyebrow Peter shoots Stiles.

Stiles returns it with a mock-betrayed look as he resettles himself on the chair arm.

Peter’s still chuckling when Adam opens his gift— a bottle of wine. He gives Peter a heart-felt thank you. “This is one of my favorites. I’ve had the worst time finding it lately.”

“I know,” Peter says. “There’s a case of it waiting for you at home. Laura’s wasn’t the only gift I got a little assistance with.”

Adam laughs and shakes his head. “Sneaky bastard.”

Peter winks.

Derek is next. His eyebrows furrow when he pulls two plane tickets from the long, flat box Peter wrapped them in. He looks over in question.

“I thought you and Kira might enjoy a spring break trip. Cora and Isaac should be in Belize around then. The villa has plenty of space.”

That’s pretty brilliant, Stiles decides. Derek has never really been a lover of stuff. A vacation though? That’s something the guy definitely needs.

Derek glances at Kira, who’s bouncing excitedly—actually, she might be a little drunk, the lightweight—and finally cracks a smile. “That sounds fantastic.” He reaches over to clap Peter on the shoulder in a half-hug. “We can’t wait. Thank you.”

Peter shrugs. “I remember what the last semester of grad school was like. I figured a chance to relax would be welcome.”

Peter’s other siblings and their spouses—Stiles isn’t super clear on their names—are equally thrilled with the Alaskan cruise he’s booked them on in the summer.

Cora’s gift is tiny, the size of a jewelry box. She opens it with a frown and Stiles instantly recognizes the Matchbox car he and Peter got at the toy store. Cora’s got question marks written all over her face as she turns it over in her hand. Peter waits.

“Is this…” She shakes her head slowly.

“I have it on good authority that a surprise car is a terrible gift.” He glances at Stiles. “But I know you’ve been saving up. I thought you might use that money for your trip, and you and I could go car shopping before I head back to New York.”

The squeal she lets out is deafening and she flings herself across the room, nearly knocking Stiles off the arm of the chair in the process. “Holy fucking shit-balls!” she shouts, hugging Peter so hard Stiles is convinced he hears ribs creak.

Stiles laughs, flailing a little as he tries not to fall on his ass.

Peter reaches out and effortlessly hauls Stiles back into his lap as soon as Cora lets him go.

Once he’s settled again and Isaac has passed him a new drink—which has more kick than the coffee he was drinking earlier—Stiles gives Talia a surreptitious glance. There wasn’t a second gift for her, so Peter’s definitely got something else planned. She looks more frustrated than angry, but he’s not sure he can judge—they’ve only just met. She purses her lips and waits until the excitement in the room dies down.

“You said you didn’t bring gifts.” It’s a statement, not a question.

Peter rolls his eyes, his hand tight on Stiles’ hip. “No, you assumed I didn’t bring gifts. So I made a crack—a painfully obvious one—about getting everyone department store gift cards.”

Talia bristles. “Well, how was I supposed to know that? I specifically asked you to bring real presents this year.”

“Um, have you met him?” Stiles asks. “I think breathing the air in Macy’s gave him hives.”

Cora snorts. “Peter was in a Macy’s? Someone alert the media.”

“Could you please be serious, Cora?” Talia skillfully turns her annoyance on her daughter, as if she didn’t hear Stiles.

“‘Fraid not,” Cora snarks. “I’m way too immature for that.” There are layers of bitterness behind her words; Stiles has heard her complain often enough to recognize it. Cora hates the way her mom still treats her like the baby of the family. It’s part of the reason for the big road trip she and Isaac are planning.

“I see I’m not the only one who’s still being treated like an incompetant child,” Peter drawls lazily. Despite his relaxed body language, the increasing pressure of his fingers on Stiles’ hips betrays his frustration. There’s a lifetime's worth of family history in Peter’s mocking tone.

Talia is seething now and Stiles subtly leans into Peter’s chest in support. “Considering I can’t remember the last time you put any effort into a family event? I wasn’t going to let you ruin things this year as well,” she snaps, her nostrils flaring.

Shit. This is bad. Stiles mentally flails for a way to interrupt the spiralling sibling drama as Peter’s tension surges.

The sharp bang and slosh of a glass slamming down on a hard surface makes Stiles flinch and cuts off Peter’s reply.

“That’s enough, mom,” Derek growls. All of the eyes in the room swivel to him, shocked. Derek usually avoids confrontation like he’s allergic, so the hard edge to his voice is unheard of. Even Chili jumps offer the couch and slinks to the floor, head down and tail tucked. Kira rubs a soothing hand down his arm, but doesn’t look inclined to stop him.

“You’ve been irrational about this for weeks and nothing I’ve said is sinking in. You keep telling me you don’t want this to be the last Christmas we’re all together, but with the way you’re treating everyone, I don’t see how it can be anything else.”

Talia sucks in a breath. “Derek, you, out of everyone, know how hard I’ve worked to make today perfect. And not just for me, it’s for all of you.”

Derek scrubs a hand over his face. “God, mom. No one wants perfect. We only wanted to enjoy ourselves. How can you not see that?”

“Der’s right,” Laura says, leaning forward to lay a hand on her mother’s knee. “We get that you’re trying, but your ‘perfect’ holiday hasn’t exactly been pleasant for the rest of us.”

Talia’s spine is rigid, but her voice has a tremor to it. “I only wanted to prevent the issues we’ve had in the past—”

“You thought micromanaging the fuck out of us would help?” Cora folds her arms across her chest defensively.

Stiles tries not to squirm at the hostility in the room but, shit, it’s awkward. His first instinct is to break it with a lame joke, but he holds back, his eyes darting between the other Hales. Despite Cora’s harsh phrasing, all he sees is agreement. Peter’s jaw is ticking. Derek looks like he would be on his feet if the room wasn’t so crowded. Shit, even Peter’s other siblings seem to be in agreement.

Talia dips her head, her mouth pressed into a thin line.

“Talia,” Peter says, his voice firm but surprisingly calm. A one-eighty from a moment ago. “You need to let go. Stop trying to force us in line. We’re adults, most of us with lives and obligations outside of Beacon Hills. We aren’t the children we were ten years ago—hell, some of us weren’t even children then. If you continue down this path you’re only going to push us further away, which I know isn’t what you want.”

Talia reaches down to pet Chili, who leans into her legs in furry support. “That’s the opposite of what I want,” she says softly.

“We know, mom,” Laura says kindly. “But Uncle Peter’s right. You’ve got to start treating us like adults. You need to trust us.”

“I’m sorry,” Talia’s voice wavers as she lifts a hand to swipe away a stray tear. “I’m so sorry. Of course I trust you.” She meets Peter’s gaze, eyes moist with apology. After a moment she looks around the room and huffs a painful sounding laugh at all the somber faces. “God, I really fucked this up, didn’t I?”

The unexpected cussing breaks the tension, causing tentative smiles and stilted chuckles. Laura pulls Talia into a hug and winks at Peter over her shoulder. Stiles’ anxiety flows away as Peter relaxes and the corners of his eyes crinkle in a smile. “It’s still salvageable, I think.”

“Well that’s a relief,” Talia attempts a teasing tone as she gives Laura a final squeeze and let’s her go. “Let me just—I’ll get everyone new drinks.” She stands and Chili hops to his feet next to her.

Peter stops her with a raised hand. “Just one thing first.” He looks to Adam who gives him a nod and ducks out into the hallway. When he comes back, he’s carrying a garment bag. He holds it up while Talia looks to Peter with surprise.

“Sorry it's not wrapped. I couldn’t exactly fold it up in a box, or carry it on the plane.” Peter smirks. “The courier dropped it off in LA. Laura and Adam brought it last night.”

Peter walks over and unzips the bag, folding it back to reveal a floor length gown. It’s a light gold color that Stiles thinks might be called champagne, and it’s made of delicate looking, flowy layers. It looks super fancy and expensive. Stiles can only assume it’s meant for something important like Laura’s wedding.

Talia’s gasp and her sudden tears tell him he’s right. She presses her fingers to her lips to hold back a sob. “Peter…”

“After it’s fitted it’ll be delivered to the venue along with Laura’s dress and the bridesmaid dresses.”

Talia stands and walks toward what must be her mother of the bride dress—see, Stiles isn’t totally oblivious when it comes to these things. Her eyes are bright as she runs careful fingers over the fabric. “But, how? It was sold out everywhere.”

Peter looks like he’s trying very hard not to roll his eyes, though his smile doesn’t fade. “I do have some pull in the industry, you know. It’s the designer's sample.”

Talia steps forward and hugs him tightly. “Thank you, little brother,” she says into his shoulder, voice thick with gratitude.

“You’re very welcome,” he murmurs back. He looks up and catches Stiles creeping on them, throwing him a wink that makes Stiles’ cheeks warm for no reason. Goddamn attractive bastard.

“You’re amazing, Uncle Peter.” Laura is grinning from ear to ear as she joins in the hug. “Mom, you’ll have to be on your best behavior now, because that dress is stunning and you won’t have anywhere to wear it if you get uninvited from the wedding.”

Talia laughs, wetly. “Duly noted.” She pulls back from them and wipes her eyes again. “Let me just hang this up somewhere safe.” She helps zip the dress back up, then takes it from Adam and ducks out of the room. Chili trots after her. Stiles has a feeling she needs a few minutes alone.

There’s a brief reshuffling as the parents duck out to check on their kids and the younger crowd refills their plates and glasses. Someone changes the holiday music to something upbeat. With more room available, they gravitate toward the sitting area near the fireplace and the massive Christmas tree.

Stiles ends up curled up in the corner of the L-shaped sectional. Next to him, Peter settles with one arm stretched along the sofa back towards Stiles, his feet up on the coffee table, and his ankles crossed. His fingers slide through the short hairs at the base of Stiles’ skull, scritching gently. He’s an evil manipulator, Stiles decides, melting into the cushions with a low hum. No one would stand a chance against him—and why would they want to?

The rest of the group drops down around them, Derek and Kira cozy up on one end of the sofa while Laura and Adam take the other. Cora finds a spot across from them in a cushy chair with Isaac on the floor, leaning back next to her legs.

The conversation flows easily—so do the drinks. Stiles doesn’t bother to hide his grin or the warm feeling that fills him when his legs are suddenly lifted into Peter’s lap. A large hand wraps around his ankle, thumb tracing the bone. Stiles snags the other because he really just needs to touch—and also because Peter's hand in his hair felt a little too good for public consumption. He's starting to wish they were alone, because Peter’s long, elegant fingers give him so many dirty thoughts.

Remembering he still has Peter’s phone, he fishes it from his pocket and holds it out to be unlocked, then snaps a photo of their entwined fingers. It’s super cheesy and he absolutely doesn’t care.

“Okay, I can’t take it anymore. How did this happen?”

Stiles looks at Cora, who’s sprawled sideways in her chair, legs flung over the armrest as she gestures between him and Peter with her overfull drink, nearly spilling it.

“I mean, not gonna lie, you’re a match made in some really snarky layer of hell. But Stilinski has like, eight jobs, and Peter’s been here a week. When did you find the time?”

Stiles glances at Peter who offers him a little smirk and a raised eyebrow. He huffs and looks away, squirming. “First of all, I don’t have eight jobs.”

Peter chuckles and squeezes his ankle. “Only five, at last count. Six if we include the sheriff’s station.”

Stiles cackles. “I thought you were gonna murder me when I said I worked there.”

Peter leans in and Stiles misses whatever Cora says next, fully distracted by the lips against his ear. “Never,” Peter murmurs. “But don’t think I wasn’t tempted to put you over my knee and turn your bratty ass red.”

Stiles’ breath hitches around a full-body shiver. “Oh my god, Peter,” he squeaks.

Derek groans and slaps a hand over his eyes. “I do not want to know what he just said to you.”

“I do!” Kira wiggles, grinning at them.

“No fucking way.” Stiles has to laugh, even as his face flames, they’ve both gone way past tipsy and it’s adorable. He shifts subtly because Peter’s teasing is making his pants uncomfortably tight. He rolls his eyes at the knowing look that earns him.

“Is it alright if I join you?”

Of-freaking-course that’s when Talia comes back. She’s changed from her party dress into a pair of lounge pants and a sweatshirt, her hair is piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and a tall mimosa is clutched in her hands. Her little dog hovers next to her.

There’s a general round of agreement and welcome. Cora jokes that she better be on her best behavior, but gives Talia’s hand a squeeze that's quickly returned when she moves past. Laura and Adam make room on the sofa and Talia settles with her knees tucked under her. Chili flops on the ground nearby, then rolls onto his back, paws in the air as he gives Isaac some very impressive puppy-eyes.

“So,” she glances around before her eyes settle on Stiles. “Did I just hear you’ve been working a lot over your break?”

He nods and makes a sound of agreement, not sure what else to say. Peter winks at him, which is honestly no help at all. Save me, dammit, he mentally begs.

“I’m glad you were able to get the holidays off at least...” Talia smiles carefully, waiting.

It suddenly clicks—Stiles is gonna blame the alcohol for his slow uptake. This is her trying to make up for their tense introduction. He slumps a little, relieved. “Me too. I’m having a really nice time,” he offers in return and is pleased to see her smile turn a little more real.

“Did you actually decide to take time off, or did my uncle kidnap you?” Cora snarks from the other side of the coffee table. “Blink once for yes, cause I'm pretty sure you forgot what vacation means.”

Stiles scoffs and gives Cora a cross-eyed, single-finger salute—then flinches and shoves his hands under his thighs when he remembers her mother is in the room. “Oh, shit.” His wide-eyed gaze darts to Talia and he bites his lip.

Shockingly, Talia snorts and flops back against the sofa. “Don’t panic, hun. The fun-police is on vacation until after the new year.”

Stiles lets out a startled laugh that the others join in on. Oh. Talia is funny. He’d been wondering how someone so uptight managed to raise kids like Derek, Cora, and Laura. But now he can kind of see it.

“Can you try to tone it down, babe?” Isaac drawls at Cora, his head tipped back so he can see her. “You know he’s splurging-on-the-good-ramen broke thanks to that shitty internship.” Stiles cringes. Isaac’s lost some volume control over the last few drinks and he’s louder than he probably intended.

The gratitude for Isaac standing up to his girlfriend mixes in with the embarrassment of the money situation Stiles has found himself in. “It’s fine.” He tries to wave off the suddenly curious eyes that land on him. “I decided not to take it.”

Kira looks up in surprise. “The internship? I thought it was mandatory. Don’t you need it to graduate?” she asks, a worried crease forming between her eyebrows.

"Stiles…" Derek says with a matching concerned frown.

“Yeah, well,” Stiles runs his tongue along the inside of his bottom lip, stalling. "I need a working car and a place to live, too.” He shrugs. “I’m gonna have to delay graduation for a little bit.”

Silence fills the room and he swallows hard. Even saying it out loud digs a knife into his gut. The thought’s been banging around in the back of his mind for a while, but with the Jeep DOA he’ll have to go with the nuclear plan. His car needs more work than he wants to think about, his rent is due in a week, and he’s functionally unemployed after the new year.

The only option left is to drop the unpaid internship and get his old restaurant job back. Then he can at least feed himself and start saving up again between his classes. Graduation might not happen on time, but he’ll get there eventually. He sucks in a steadying breath. “Don’t worry. I’ve got it all worked out.” No worries. It’s totally fine. Maybe if he believes his words hard enough, the others will too. He grits his teeth and ignores the concerned looks, flashing his friends a tight smile that hopefully ends the discussion.

His friends know him well, thank god, and don’t try to argue—though he’s sure there'll be plenty of questions later. The conversation slowly picks back up on a different topic, led by a tipsy Kira and Isaac, and a slightly more sober Laura. Stiles lets some of his tension go when they start an animated rant on terrible customers—a perfect distraction that nearly the whole group can get in on.

Peter however, doesn’t look like he’s going to play along. He wraps an arm around Stiles and manhandles him until they’re pressed together from shoulder to knee. “You didn’t mention your internship was unpaid.”

Stiles groans softly and ducks his head. There goes his hope of dropping the subject. He lowers his voice so they won’t be overheard. “Yeah. It’s a bunch of bullshit. It’s considered a required ‘class’ for graduation. Four credits, so technically I’m paying them to work there. But because it’s so many hours, I also can’t take a full course load, which means my financial aid got cut.” He scrubs a hand through his hair. “Plus, I had to quit my restaurant job, I still have to pay rent, and now my car is fucked…” he trails off, mortification burning through him at dumping all of that on Peter, who only asked a simple question. “Sorry. It’s been stressful.”

“Don’t apologize.” Peter says in that firm tone that always seems to make Stiles’ insides turn hot and needy. “I’m familiar with the disgusting tactics these companies use to get free labor, as well as how greedy universities are.”

Stiles drops his head to Peter’s shoulder, suddenly exhausted. “It fucking sucks,” he agrees.

“You’re majoring in communications?”

Stiles nods, pleased Peter remembers from the quick text-mention a few nights ago. “With a focus on digital marketing and brand management.”

Peter hums, thoughtful. “Let me make a few phone calls.”

Stiles’ head snaps up. “What? No. You don’t have to do that.” The last thing he wants is to take advantage—

Peter silently raises an eyebrow and Stiles feels his face heat. Okay, so that was a knee-jerk reaction. Because if Peter wants to help him find a better internship he’s not actually going to say no. He’s not an idiot. His eyes slide away, checking to see if there are any witnesses to his dumb-ass instincts.

“Baby,” Peter murmurs soothingly, drawing his attention back. A warm hand comes up to cup his neck, thumb stroking along his pulse. “I know a lot of people, and I’d really like to help.” The dirty cheater leans in and gives Stiles a series of slow, encouraging kisses that make the rest of the room disappear.

Stiles can’t hold back a soft whimper and doesn’t try, not sure if it’s the “baby” or the sweetness of Peter’s touch that gets to him more. Either way, melts under the attention and wants to agree to anything and everything Peter suggests. “Oh my god," he breathes against Peter’s lips. "You’re gonna spoil me so bad, Daddy."

Peter kisses him again with a throaty chuckle that sends delicious shivers down Stiles’ spine. “I certainly hope so.”

Chapter Text

You love your job, Peter reminds himself.

Again.

It doesn’t seem to be working. They’re in the home stretch for the spring printing deadline, which means most of his day is spent putting out fires instead of on creative direction. A frustration, but a predictable one. In a few weeks he’ll shift focus to the new trends he wants to include in the summer volume and fall in love with his work all over again. For now, he stares, unfocused, at the projection screen as the head of his advertising department prattles on about sales deadlines and ad revenue—things Peter needs to pay attention to but can’t find the concentration for today.

The ad director clicks to the next slide—more graphs—and Peter bites the inside of his cheek to hold back a sigh. He might usually love his job but he hasn’t laid eyes on his boy in six weeks. All he wants right now is to set his email to the out-of-office auto-reply, go home, and distract himself until it’s time to leave for the airport. Stiles’ plane is already en route and the closer he gets, the less important professionalism seems.

The ad director clicks to yet another slide and Peter is done. He’s going to lose the last of his composure if he has to sit in this meeting a minute longer. He stands abruptly, his movement interrupting the presentation. “Apologies,” he says, catching his editorial assistant’s eye. “I have another meeting to get to. Lydia will finish up here and fill me in.”

The red-head nods and prompts the man to continue as Peter ducks out of the room. Her ability to roll with change is one of the traits Peter appreciates most about her. Her sharp wit and willingness to call others on their bullshit is another. She’s already tried to send him home twice today for being distracted. She won’t mind that he’s finally going to take her up on it.

But first, he has one more meeting to attend to. There was a snafu with the cover that requires retakes. He called in a favor and has a replacement coming, but Peter wants to be sure the new man is up to standards before the photoshoot this afternoon.

He pulls out his phone and checks the status of Stiles’ flight as he strides towards his office—still on-time, thank god. If it gets delayed, Peter might just go feral.

He never expected he could be so enamored with one beautiful brat that it would drive him to distraction, but here they are. To be fair, no one really expects Stiles. Peter’s nearly pining for a glimpse of warm, brown eyes, pale, mole-speckled skin, and sweet, full lips. He doubts they’ll make it all the way to his condo before Peter needs to have him. Fortunately, Peter thought ahead and hired a car for the airport. The windows are tinted.

Despite his current impatience, the distance between them hasn’t been the issue Stiles feared. His boy’s just as busy with school and his new internship as Peter is with work. Even if they were in the same town, getting together would be a challenge. Luckily, Peter’s a night owl and they talk nearly every evening when Stiles gets home. The topics range from Stiles’ latest research binge to Peter’s more humorous work drama. Their conversations also—on the nights when they aren’t too tired—tend to have a “happy ending”. Peter’s been pleased to discover quite a few new kinks that he can’t wait to explore the next time he has his sweet boy under him.

The phone calls and short visits are enough for now, but that doesn’t stop him from counting the days until graduation. From what Stiles has hinted, it won’t take much to entice his boy into a cross-country move. Not with the offer of frequent flights home attached.

Speaking of flights, Peter mentally applauds himself for ignoring Stiles’ reluctance and booking him on a direct one. The silly thing only protested the cost a little—he gave up when Peter threatened to charter a jet instead. Stiles is learning that when it comes to expenses like this, Daddy always gets his way. And besides, the argument was much less formidable than the one after New Years. Stiles wasn’t pleased when he found out Peter had his Jeep rebuilt from almost the ground up. Peter’s reasoning that “at least it’s not a surprise car” shockingly didn’t win him any points. In the end, Stiles wrested an agreement of “no major purchases without explicit permission” out of him, but so far that stipulation hasn’t been a problem. Peter’s very persuasive.

When he stops outside his office to collect messages from his PA he learns his appointment arrived early, which means he’ll be able to leave the office even sooner than planned. This cover reshoot is the last fire he has to put out before the hard-earned long weekend with his boy.

He steps into his office, a greeting ready, and stalls. Stunned.

Stiles is leaning back against Peter’s desk, his long legs—encased in artfully-distressed, grey denim—crossed at the ankle, a half-buttoned olive-green henley molded to the sleek planes of his chest. He’s got the sleeves pushed up the way Peter likes and the leather jacket Peter gave him for Christmas draped on the desk next to his hip. Peter would be salivating over how good Stiles looks if his entire brain wasn’t currently taken up by the fact that his boy is here, in his office.

“Hey, Daddy.” Stiles gives him a coy smile.

Peter has a dozen questions, but they’ll need to wait. He shuts the door behind him, strides forward, and hauls Stiles into his arms for an all-consuming kiss. Stiles’ laugh turns into a moan as he opens for Peter’s insistent tongue. He grabs Peter’s biceps in an unnecessary effort to keep him close—as if Peter has any intention of letting him go.

Close isn’t close enough, so Peter lifts him to sit on the edge of the desk, then crowds between his spread knees to deepen the kiss. Stiles responds enthusiastically. He tastes like coffee and smells like air travel and Peter couldn’t care less. His boy is here.

Stiles’ long legs hook behind Peter’s thighs and his arms wrap around Peter’s neck, clinging like a monkey. Little, needy sounds spill from his mouth as his tongue chases after Peter’s, desperate, like crawling inside Peter’s skin wouldn’t be enough. Eventually, they’re forced to break apart as air becomes an issue, but Peter presses their foreheads together, revelling in Stiles' warm, panting breaths washing over his skin.

Stiles is flushed and more dishevelled than he was a few minutes ago, his hair mussed and his pupils blown wide with want. Peter runs broad hands down his back and grips his pert ass to drag him closer, then rocks to grind his cock against the hard length trapped in Stiles’ jeans. God, it’s been too long and his usual restraint is nonexistent.

Stiles groans and squirms against him, fingers tightening on the back of his neck. “Peter, no. I’m too close and I’m not gonna come in these pants, they’re Amiri.” Despite the protest, he doesn’t pull away.

Peter grins wolfishly. Look at his baby, all grown up and talking designer. Peter’s going to devour him.

He pushes against Stiles’ chest until he has no choice but to sprawl back across the desk, then makes quick work of his pants, dragging them down so they’re tangled around his ankles—Peter’s not in the mood to deal with shoes. His boy’s pretty cock is rock-hard and leaking against the defined line of his abs, perilously close to his shirt hem. Peter’s always believed himself a considerate lover, so he shoves the henley up under Stiles’ armpits and out of the way as well. The action has nothing to do with the stunning picture his boy makes—all pale, mole-dotted skin and long, lean lines—spread debauched and mostly naked across Peter’s big executive desk.

Stiles shivers in the cool office air and his nipples tighten to tempting peaks that Peter just has to torment. He leans down and drags his tongue over one, then sucks it into his mouth. Stiles moans and his fingers sink into Peter’s hair, clinging. “Daddy, please,” he begs, already sounding wonderfully needy. “I want you so bad.”

Peter grins into his flesh and kisses across to give the other nipple the same treatment. “Don’t worry, my sweet boy,” he murmurs against warm skin. “Daddy’s got you.” He reaches down and deftly releases his own shaft from his pants, years of runway work making the action almost unconscious. Then he shifts up to claim his boy’s mouth in a filthy kiss. While Stiles is licking into it, Peter lines up their naked cocks, wraps his hand around both of them, and drags it from root to tip.

Stiles shouts and arches. Peter has to move quickly to deepen their kiss and swallow the noise—his PA’s desk isn’t that far from his office and he doesn’t want to be rude, after all.

He strokes them together, slow but firm, building the pleasure but not rushing things. Stiles is too important to rush with. Despite that, after so many weeks apart it doesn’t take long to bring them both to the edge. And fuck, the sounds coming out of Stiles—his beautiful, perfect boy—are ratcheting Peter’s need through the roof.

Stiles fingers bite into Peter’s back and his hips twist for more. “Oh god. Just like that,” he whines. His head falls against the desk and his back arches as his cock twitches in Peter’s hold.

Peter pins him firmly and speeds his strokes. It’s only seconds before wet heat spills over his fist as Stiles shakes and sobs out his pleasure. The sound and feel of his boy going over sends Peter right after him. He braces above Stiles as electricity crawls up his spine and jerks himself faster, letting it flood through him as he adds to the mess on his boy’s skin. In the aftermath, Peter collapses down to his elbows and presses his forehead to Stiles’ sternum, enjoying the fading flickers of pleasure and the way Stiles is still trembling with aftershocks. God. Who knew a simple hand job could be so good?

“Wow,” Stiles says with a breathless laugh that’s just the right amount of giddy and stunned. “I guess you missed me too?”

Peter hums his agreement and presses a kiss to flushed skin. “More than I thought possible,” he says, then smirks at the resulting hitch in Stiles breathing. The desk isn’t the most comfortable place to recover, so he tucks himself away, searches out the tissues, and cleans Stiles up enough that his clothes won't be ruined. Then Peter gathers his boy up and carries him around the desk to drop down in the chair, positioning Stiles in his lap where he has easy access.

Stiles melts against his chest with a content purr, cuddly and pliable in his cum-drunk daze. Peter spends the next few minutes stroking his back and sides, kissing what skin he can reach, and relearning the way Stiles tastes and feels in his arms. He can already tell it’ll be difficult to let him go again on Monday. The six weeks until Laura’s wedding will be interminable. But no use dwelling on that now. They have three full days to enjoy each other, just as soon as Peter is done with his last meeting.

“We need to finish cleaning up,” he murmurs against Stiles’ lips, pausing to suck on the lower one briefly, tasting him again. “I have an appointment any minute.”

Stiles tenses a little and pulls back, cheeks pink. “Um…”

Peter hums soothingly and tugs him back for one more kiss. “Don’t panic. I locked the door.”

“It’s not that.” He shifts awkwardly until Peter raises a prompting eyebrow. “I’m your appointment,” Stiles rushes out in one breath.

Peter blinks and tilts his head in confusion. “My appointment is with the model for our spring cover shoot.”

Stiles nods silently.

“You’re not supposed to be a model, baby. You’re a communications intern.” Peter can’t help the disbelief in his voice. He glances around for his phone. “I need to have a word with your boss.”

Stiles clings, not letting Peter up. “Here’s the thing...” He licks his lips. “Chris had me do some test shots and—they’re good, okay? Really good. I’m—apparently, I’m a natural?”

Peter rubs a hand over his face, trying to haul his brain out of post-orgasm euphoria and process. Of course Stiles is a natural, just look at him. But his boy wants to be a model? How did Peter not know this?

“Are you pissed?” Stiles asks, the worried edge in his voice cutting into Peter’s whirling thoughts.

Peter drags his hand down so he can take in Stiles’ big eyes and the way he’s anxiously gnawing on his lower lip. Shit. Peter’s being an asshole, isn’t he? Because In all honesty, no, he’s not angry. He’s actually rather enamored with the thought of dressing Stiles in designer and couture and getting him in front of the camera. But he is a bit miffed that it wasn’t his idea.

He sits back and lets his eyes rake up and down the lines of his boy’s body, imagining the look he wants for the cover. “I’m not angry, sweetheart,” he admits, his gaze lingering on the beautiful fan of Stiles’ dark lashes, and the smattering of moles along his jaw. “You’ll be absolutely perfect. But I’m still going to have words with my asshole of a best friend for sending you without so much as ‘heads up’.”

The tightness around Stiles’ eyes loosens and his lips twitch at Peter’s put-upon tone. “To be fair, I asked Chris not to say anything. For once, I wanted to surprise you at work.” He reaches up and slides his thumb along Peter’s lower lip. “Are you surprised, Daddy?”

Peter huffs out a startled laugh and kisses it. After all the times Peter accidentally accosted Stiles at his many jobs, his boy has earned some revenge. “You definitely got me,” he shakes his head, bemused. “Mark me down as ‘very surprised’.”

A triumphant smirk spreads across Stiles’ face and Peter has to pull the brat in for another kiss, just to wipe it away. Stiles laughs into it, not resisting in the least.

He’s a little dazed when Peter finally lets him go and sits him upright. “I didn’t know you had any interest in modeling.”

“That’s cause I didn’t. At first. But when the third agency reached out I started thinking.”

“Really.” Peter’s eyebrows go up, somehow both surprised and not. His boy is gorgeous, but multiple modeling offers? Those don’t just grow on trees.

Stiles shrugs. “Remember the photo of us in the dressing room that I put on Instagram? Well, it kind of went viral?” He says it like a question, then shrugs again like it’s no big deal. “I tagged the designer in a comment and they shared it to their page. Things snowballed after that.”

Peter hums, his eyes narrowing. “So Christopher saw it, and decided to add you to his stable of pretty boys?”

“I’m gonna tell him you called his elite modeling agency a stable of pretty boys,” Stiles laughs—as if Christopher doesn’t already know. “But basically? Yeah. I mean, I wasn’t sure, but then he showed me what type of money we were talking about. Besides,” he grins. “It’s kinda fun.”

Peter frowns. “Are you still worried about money? Because you know I would be happy to—”

Stiles cuts him off with a hard, fast kiss. “I know you would. But I’m gonna carry my own weight like an actual grown-up, and you’re gonna humor me. Okay?” He levels Peter with a serious look and Peter finds himself agreeing. Apparently his boy isn’t the only one unable to say no.

Peter sighs but accepts that he’s now dating a model—one he’s sure will be extremely successful for as long as the career holds his interest. “Alright. I suppose you passed your interview.”

Stiles squalks indignantly. “Interview??” He gives Peter a dirty glare and Peter can’t hold the straight face, cracking into a smile.

“Baby, if I’d known ahead of time, I wouldn’t have even scheduled this meeting. You're perfect.”

Stiles visibly melts and gives him a shy smile in return. “You think?”

Peter reaches up and cups his face, thumbs tracing his cheekbones. “You’re going to be beating the agents off with a stick.”

“Good thing I’m already taken,” he laughs and tilts his face into Peter’s palm, proving he means that in more ways than one. “By the way, when were you gonna mention that your friend Christopher, the owner of SilverArrow Modeling Agency and my boss, is actually Chris Argent?”

Peter gives him a questioning look as he drinks his fill of Stiles’ warm smile. “You’ve heard of him?” He wouldn’t have expected it, but that seems to be the theme of the day. And he supposes it’s possible. Chris had a successful career as a photographer before he started his company.

“You could say that. His daughter, Allison, is engaged to my best friend.”

Peter chokes on a shocked laugh. “Scott is the little shit that Christopher’s always moaning about?” He vaguely remembers the floppy-haired vet tech that was so excited to go visit his girlfriend, but he never would have put it together.

“One and the same,” Stiles agrees, his eyes dancing.

Peter shakes his head, completely bemused. After all the coincidences that brought them together, what’s one more? “Have they set a date? Because the father of the bride happens to be my best friend, and I’ve heard the best man is exactly my type.”

Stiles throws back his head and laughs. “I’ve got a feeling you’re his type too, Daddy.”