Actions

Work Header

In Good Faith

Work Text:

 

***

 

It’s been a fucking week as he tries to hammer out a treaty with generally-hostile hunters and definitely-malicious Argents. Peter’s had a stress headache for days and is about done with the stalling tactics when the only real options are to either sign the fucking thing or to refuse and have it devolve into bloody war. It’s ugly and Peter’s sick of keeping his claws sheathed, but he’s done it to keep his remaining family safe. That said, he decides he deserves something nice, so he heads to his favourite coffee shop—it’s not new, but it’s gotten new management, and one of the baristas is both very pretty to look at and shamefully fun to flirt with.

It sounds like the perfect thing to help fortify him for the tail end of the treaty talks, so Peter texts the family groupchat to let them know where he’s going, and then sets off.

 

***

 

Stiles grins when he sees his favourite customer—because he definitely does have favourites, in this as in everything else in his life—walk into the shop on a sleepy Tuesday afternoon. But as Peter comes closer, he feels his grin slip a little, before he deliberately freezes his face.

Something is very wrong.

Because Stiles has seen Peter frazzled at 6am as he rushes to the office ungodly early, and way later than anyone should be drinking caffeine because the dude is pulling an all-nighter. Stiles has seen him fondly exasperated—but definitely happy—with a younger woman he’s pretty sure Peter’s related to, and legitimately annoyed as he rants about work or politics. Stiles has seen Peter in any number of states, but never like this—never looking a shade too pale under his golden tan, a faint furrow between his eyebrows, jaw tense and the skin around his pretty blue eyes pinched. Stiles would be tempted to brush it off if he didn’t know better, but he does know better, is the problem.

So he does what his dad always tells him not to, and decides to stick his nose in Peter’s business. Just to make sure everything’s okay, not for any nefarious purpose or personal gain. Really, with his gift, it’d be irresponsible not to, right? Right.

 

***

 

Peter smiles at his favourite self-indulgence. “Hello, Stiles.”

“Hey man.” Stiles doesn’t smile at him like usual. “You feeling okay? You look like you might be sick.” And then he reaches across the counter to lay his chilly hand on Peter’s forehead.

His eyes slip closed, because it feels much, much better than it ought to. It takes more self-control than it should not to lean into the touch. “Tired, mostly,” he mutters.

Stiles frowns a little at him, eyebrows pulling together. “If you say so. You want your usual, or?”

“Yeah, my usual.” He did come here to be soothed, after all.

Stiles is still looking at him with that soft, concerned expression. Peter likes it, wants to roll in it after the week he’s had, which is probably why he just nods at Stiles’s, “Alright—you go find a table, I’ll bring it over when it’s ready.”

And then he scares off the college kid eyeing the table in the far corner, with the big armchair and the least amount of sunlight, because he is going to enjoy his afternoon, thank you very much.

 

***

 

Stiles tries very hard not to react outwardly. He knew that Peter was—different. Other. He, somehow, did not expect his favourite customer to be a werewolf, which makes the fact that he’s sick all the more worrying, because that kind of thing doesn’t happen by accident. That’s deliberate. And that means that Stiles has a choice to make, and not a lot of time to make it in.

He came to Beacon Hills and decided to work here because he wanted to test drive a quiet life. It figured that he’d immediately attract the interest of—and be interested in turn—with the exact opposite of that. But he’s been able to coast along until now, flying under the radar and blissfully unaware of any supernatural happenings, and therefore, not being dragged smack-dab into the middle of them.

He’s liked that part. The not-ending-up-in-the-middle-of-shit part. It’d suck if that came to end.

But, then again, if Peter’s this off his game, it’s possible it doesn’t have to. He can totally just—slip under the radar, so to speak. Probably. Maybe. If he’s sneaky about it.

 

***

 

Peter’s got his eyes closed and his head tipped back against the armchair, and wonders how long he can stay here. It’s so peaceful, without any grieving werewolves to manage or hunters to placate. No traitors that he’s not allowed to gut. It even has coffee and surprisingly-good food.

He hears Stiles approach before he smells his usual sandwich, and even the quiet click of the plate being set on the table is bizarrely comforting.

He’s surprised when Stiles’s fingertips brush over the back of his hand. “Peter? You’re not asleep, are you?”

“Unfortunately no,” he replies, eyes still closed. It makes Stiles chuckle.

“Cool, cool. I, uh.” The scent of embarrassment tickles Peter’s nose, and he has to suppress the urge to sneeze. “I realized I forgot to ring you up before I sent you off, so if you could, uh—”

Peter fishes his credit card out of his wallet without opening his eyes. “Here.”

Stiles takes it. “Gee, thanks, I’ve always wanted to go on a mad shopping spree through the luxury departments.”

Peter smiles. “The watch counter at Macy’s isn’t a luxury department, sweetheart.”

Stiles makes an offended noise, but his scent is pure amusement, undercut with worry. “Well, see if I get you one now.” And then Stiles is walking quietly away, and Peter wonders what it is about this soft, pretty barista that means he doesn’t think, even for a moment, that Stiles actually would make off with his credit card.

He eventually decides that it’s the free scones when he’s confessed to pulling an all-nighter.

 

***

 

Stiles rings up Peter’s usual and swipes his credit card, all on autopilot, because he really, really doesn’t want to do this. He does not want his life to be filled with blood and mayhem, posturing and territory politics, violence and sleepless nights where he wonders if this is his last hour on earth. He moved here to get away from all that, and if he intervenes, well—chances are good that’s exactly what will happen, because his chances of intervening without Peter noticing aren’t particularly high.

Of course, if he chooses not to get involved here, it’s distressingly likely that Peter croaks. And completely aside from the fact that Peter’s his favourite customer, Stiles doesn’t want Peter to be someone he didn’t save. Someone he chose not to save, because he didn’t even fucking try.

He curses silently, wishing he’d listened to his dad for once and just stayed out of it as he carefully tips a few drops from a vial into Peter’s coffee behind the cover of the espresso machine and prays that he manages to come out of this without being mauled by an angry werewolf.

 

***

 

Peter cracks his eyelids open—it’s harder than it should be—when he hears Stiles coming back over, coffee in one hand and Peter’s credit card in the other. He sets the coffee down, and hands the card back, and Peter thinks he nods absent-mindedly in thanks, but really, his focus is on the glorious beverage his pretty barista just brought him, because Stiles makes the best coffee he’s ever tasted. He’s raising the mug to his mouth, inhaling the aroma, ready to relax into it when he notices.

His hand flashes out and wraps around Stiles’s wrist, yanking him backward and almost off his feet. “What did you put in this?” Peter growls, eyes stinging with the urge to flash and fangs itching to drop like the predator he is.

Stiles stares at him for a long moment with an odd expression, heartbeat quickening and scent going static with apprehension. Finally, he whispers, “Antidote.”

Peter’s grip around his wrist tightens, nails starting to lengthen into claws. “An antidote to what?” he growls, low and quiet, even as he flicks glances around the coffee shop to see if anyone else is paying attention.

They aren’t. Not yet. But all Stiles has to do is raise his voice and that can change.

For some reason, he doesn’t do that. Instead, Stiles looks at the back, and calls, “I’m taking my fifteen!” before sitting across from Peter.

Peter’s so shocked he loses his grip on the boy, and puts his cup of betrayal down. “What,” he bites out, a hair away from snarling, “is going on?”

“I don’t know how, or when, but you were poisoned,” Stiles murmurs, and that’s.

Well. Fairly ridiculous, given what he is. It would be a shame if his pretty barista is actually a lunatic. Finding quality flirtations in small-town Beacon Hills is harder than you’d think. “Oh, really?”

Stiles, irritatingly enough, doesn’t rise to the bait. “Mistletoe. It’s a wonder you’re not dead.”

If it’s true—and Peter doesn’t know that it is, because Stiles’s rock-steady heartbeat just means he believes what he’s saying is true, not that it is, in fact, the objective truth—then Peter is in very deep shit. Which means he needs answers, fast.

 

***

 

Stiles isn’t surprised that he’s being glared at with all the intensity of a thousand burning suns, but it’s not exactly comfortable, and he’d really rather not be on the receiving end of it from his favourite customer. Assuming he even gets to keep Peter as a customer after this. Or his job. And, y’know, his face.

“How do you know?”

It’s not quite where he expected Peter to go with his questions, but Stiles’s face is still attached, so he’s calling it a win.

But, unfortunately, it also means letting the gift-shaped cat out of the bag, which has his stomach sinking down through the very comfy armchair as it takes the express elevator to hell. He sneaks a quick glance to the left, but the only customer who could see him right now looks very absorbed in her laptop, so he holds up his left hand to shield his right as he rolls his wrist and summons a witch-light the size of a firefly. He only holds it for a moment—he doesn’t want to risk exposure—and then weaves his fingers together in his lap as he looks back up into Peter’s face. “Call it intuition,” he rasps.

The look on Peter’s face turns calculating. “I see.” Stiles doesn’t know what that means, but it seems like a good sign when his favourite customer picks his cup back up. “Antidote, you said?” Stiles nods mutely. “Why should I believe you?”

Stiles tries not to feel hurt. It’s totally reasonable for the dude to want an explanation and some proof. It’s a shame his feelings don’t agree, but feelings are stupid. “Could feel it,” he finally murmurs, “when I touched you. It’s—I really don’t know how you’re still walking around, it must’ve happened days ago, you’ve gotta be feeling like hell.”

Peter’s head tips to the side, a new kind of intensity coming into his expression. It’s a little frightening, but when he not-quite-growls, “How many days? Can you tell?” Stiles realizes that the intensity is probably not directed at him.

It gives him the courage to reach across the tiny table separating them, palm up. “May I?”

 

***

 

Peter surprises himself by taking Stiles’s hand without hesitating. He should be more cautious, but really, if the situation is what Stiles says it is, then he’ll owe this man a staggering debt. There aren’t many who would risk exposure and violent backlash for purely altruistic reasons—or even less than purely altruistic ones. Even if that turns out to be the case here, Peter will still owe Stiles a great deal more than he’s strictly comfortable with.

But there are a lot of ifs to resolve before they get there, which is why Peter rests his hand in Stiles’s, and waits. The touch feels good, warm and inviting, and Peter wonders if there’s more magic at play than mere diagnostics. This could easily be an enchantment—it certainly feels good enough to sink into and never surface from. But while Peter’s rarely been on the receiving end of healing magic—the whitest there is—he’s heard enough to know that it’s meant to feel something like this.

It’s over much too quickly. Stiles looks up at him and flicks his tongue over his distressingly kissable lips. “Four days, I think? Give or take a day.”

A three to five day window isn’t as precise as he’d hoped for. “You’re not sure?”

Stiles turns his head, eyes drifting to the floor. “Feels closer to five,” he mutters. “But I’m not sure how that’s possible, given that you’re, y’know.” He gestures with one hand.

“Stiles.” When those pretty doe eyes return to his face, Peter flashes his own, hoping it was brief enough that no one caught it.

Stiles swallows at the revelation of his Alpha status. “Ah. Yeah, uh, that’d do it.”

Peter smirks a little, slouching back in his chair and lifting the coffee cup to his lips. The first sip is different—the coffee is delicious, but there’s an herbal aftertaste that rides the edge of bitter, ruining the otherwise perfect cup.

Of course, the headache that’s been plaguing him for days starts to ease after the first sip, so he’ll put up with it.

“D’you, um. Know?” Peter looks at him, one eyebrow raised, and Stiles elaborates. “Who might’ve, y’know. Slipped you that.”

And, well. There’s really only one answer to that, given who he has and hasn’t been in contact with over the last week. “Argents,” he mutters.

Given that Stiles’s cream complexion pales, tingeing grey, he knows exactly who they are and what that means. “Fuck. How—what are they even doing here?”

Peter slugs back the last of his adulterated coffee and shudders at the bitterness blooming across his tongue. “Negotiations. Clearly they weren’t happening in good faith.” If Peter was a gambling man, he’d put money on them poisoning him and then deliberately dragging out negotiations hoping he’d croak before anything was signed, giving them the ability to wipe out the rest of the Hales with technical impunity from their so-called Council.

Luckily, Peter’s a born contrarian who lives to disappoint.

“What happens now?” Stiles asks quietly, and Peter doesn’t think he’s just asking about the Argents.

It is, once he pauses to really think it through, a complex question. “I think some of that depends on you, sweetheart,” he replies, softly, and a soft ache blooms behind his breastbone at the wide-eyed, hopeful look Stiles gives him. “You’re trying to live under the radar, yes?”

Stiles swallows again, his jaw clenching as he nods, eyes fixed on the floor.

Peter’s not sure what, precisely, Stiles is thinking, but he can guess. “Then first of all, I should thank you for stepping forward. Not everyone would do what you did.”

A small smile curls that pretty, plush mouth. “Couldn’t let anything happen to my favourite customer.”

He should not feel proud, knowing he’s Stiles’s favourite. And yet. “Favourite, you say? Well, clearly you have good taste.” Stiles ducks his head, laughing as his cheeks flush a very fetching pink, and Peter decides that he’s not done giving himself good things today. “Since you are clearly a man who appreciates quality, how would you feel about a date with me?”

 

***

 

Stiles can’t believe his ears—or his luck. He’s pretty sure it takes him an embarrassingly long time to reboot his brain before he can answer. “I—I’d like that,” he says, hope and anxiety and excitement duking it out in his mid-region.

Peter tilts his head. “I hear a ‘but’ in there.”

It’s gently said, without judgement, but Stiles feels compelled to answer anyway. He sighs. “But I’m worried,” he says slowly, trying to choose his words carefully for a lot of reasons, chief among them that they are in public, and also his place of employment, “because I don’t want to get caught in the middle of—”bloodshed and mayhem and pants-pissing terror, he doesn’t say. He hopes that Peter hears it anyway. “I’m not cut out for cutthroat politics.”

To his surprise, Peter flashes him a smile. “I understand,” he murmurs. “You can leave the corporate ugliness to me—I’ve always liked the idea of having a trophy husband.”

Stiles can’t help the ugly snort-laugh that bubbles up at that. He gets what Peter’s really saying, but—“Oh yeah? You like the thought of a pretty young househusband to come home to?”

Peter smirks. “Well, you do make excellent sandwiches.”

Stiles chuckles, trying to hide the way his breath hitches as he understands that he’s going to say yes, despite all the excellent reasons he should probably say no. “I’ve always wanted to be a kept man, so I s’pose I should say yes, huh?”

Peter’s eyes track over him, slow and hungry. “Only if you’d like to be very well kept.”

The promise in it sends a shiver of anticipation up his spine. “Well, we should go on a date first, before making it official. When are you free?”

Peter hums. “Tell you what—you give me your number, and we’ll set something up once I’ve dealt with the attempted hostile takeover at work. Sound good?”

It really, really does.