Peter is healing from a fight with another Alpha, and Stiles is mother-henning him, despite the fact he’s not actually that injured. It’s just a few cuts and scrapes here and there, nothing he’s never experienced before, but Stiles won’t give in—he’s stubborn to the core.
The boy wants to do everything, telling Peter to just lie back and relax as he dresses his wounds more than is necessary, tidies the apartment—even though it’s spotless—and fetches him enough water to drown a fish. Apparently, it's ‘crucial’ that Peter stays hydrated. “Doc’s orders,” Stiles repeats with a shrug after Peter grumbles about it for the millionth time. “No point arguing with me about it.”
Peter slumps back into his chair, vexed and defeated, muttering some choice curses under his breath. All this coddling is slowly driving him insane.
The final straw is at dinner when—instead of bringing Peter out his food as normal—Stiles rests his hand over his and asks, very seriously, if he’d like it cut into bite-size pieces and fed to him like a goddamn toddler. Peter doesn’t even want to entertain the thought of the boy mimicking airplane noises, but he wouldn't put it past the little fucker to try it.
For several long minutes, they bicker back and forth. Peter maintains that he’s more than capable of holding his own cutlery and feeding himself, that he’s not fragile just because he’s covered in werewolf versions of papercuts. (And, if he's honest, in the time it's taken them to form this little disagreement, he's pretty sure he's almost fully healed.)
At the opposite end of the ring, his beloved mate counters Peter’s perfectly valid argument by lowering his voice to something meeker and playing right into Peter's Alpha instincts. "Please, let me do this for you," he pleads, sweet doe eyes peering up through his lush lashes. He even pouts, and Peter isn’t sure whether to glare or applaud the boy. Any other time he’d be proud of the stellar manipulation tactic—it’s nice to know all his lessons haven’t been in vain—but right now, he has a teeny glimmer of desire to strangle the boy. "I want to take care of you for a change."
It’s on the tip of Peter’s tongue to joke that Stiles could find more inventive ways to take care of him, but he chokes it down. He doesn’t think the suggestion would be well received, especially with how sincere Stiles is in his request—theatrics aside.
The silence stretches between them, Stiles sitting there with an expression that could shame a puppy dog as Peter pretends to focus on literally anything else. Truthfully, though he loathes to admit it, part of him is intrigued by the whole thing. It’s probably the earlier blow to the head that could be to blame for his sudden interest, but something in his mate’s plea made his wolf’s tail wag—another thing he will take to the grave.
It's an innocent enough request, and what harm could it do to indulge the boy in his wants? (While simultaneously sating his own curiosity.)
After a customary bone-deep sigh of exasperation, Peter gives in. He never could say no to those bright eyes, and besides, there's no one around to witness the strain on his dignity, so he’s sure he’ll live to see another day. He nods for Stiles to carry on with the proceedings, and with a squeal of delight and a flurry of limbs, his mate runs to the kitchen, returning seconds later with a plate in one hand and a fork in the other.
Peter doesn’t miss how the steak and roast potatoes are already cut into chunks, but he doesn’t bother commenting on it. The brat knew he’d cave, and he can’t find it in himself to scold his own predictability.
Stiles urges him to get comfortable before he holds the first mouthful up to Peter’s lips, waiting patiently with a kind smile. Swallowing his pride, Peter obediently opens up and accepts the piece of meat that's offered, humming appreciatively when a buttery, garlic flavor bursts across his tongue.
Peter’s heart flutters at the beautiful grin he receives, warmth spreading through him as the honeyed scent of his mate’s happiness embraces him tightly. He gradually settles, sinking further into the couch cushions, all his reservations melting away with each steady inhale and exhale.
Peter gasps when Stiles giggles sweetly, his body jerking with alertness. He blinks, looks down, and notices the plate is almost empty. His brow furrows.
Time has passed, but he can’t remember any of it—except the calming wave of peace that took over his body and turned him almost jelly-like.
"I'm sorry, baby," Stiles says as he reaches out to gently stroke Peter’s cheek. "I just— You're purring, and it's frickin’ adorable. I didn’t mean to startle you."
It takes Peter a second to register the words. He must have fallen into some sort of trance as Stiles held small bites to his lips and mumbled soft words of praise with every chew. He hadn’t even noticed the rumbling, but now that he's no longer zoned out, he can hear the contented vibrations echoing from deep in his chest.
After several long contemplative moments and a hopeful look from his mate, Peter clears his throat and decides to put the boy out of his misery. “This isn’t as awful as I suspected it would be,” he reluctantly admits, avoiding eye contact and jutting out his chin defiantly. “It’s actually quite enjoyable.”
Thankfully, Stiles doesn’t prod him for any more explanation or tease him like Peter suspected he might, but the little shit does grin knowingly as he scoops up one of the remaining cubes of potato.
Peter ignores the grin—as well as the smug satisfaction radiating from the boy—as he parts his lips in preparation for the next spoonful. The purring gets louder almost as soon as the fork reaches his mouth, and Peter doesn’t bother trying to silence it.