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keep holding me

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Stiles is too pale these days.  Pale and thin and too human.  It makes Peter feel queasy, but he doesn’t say as much. 

It’s on a Thursday, one of the last days before Stiles gets too sick, gets too fragile to stay out of the hospital.  Stiles is in the kitchen, cooking when he should be resting, and Peter is there to aide him.  There is music, soft blues tunes coming from Peter’s laptop, and Stiles is smiling at him as he mixes up a batter.  Scott left twenty minutes previous, and Peter is there until the Sheriff gets off of his shift. 

They all know that Stiles doesn’t have long.  They can smell it in the air, on the boy’s skin, but Stiles keeps fighting.  Somehow, he keeps fighting. 

He has his mother’s cookbook open on the counter, some recipe in a language Peter can’t read.  Stiles is humming along to the slow wailing of guitar, swaying on his feet in a stilted way that shows Peter just how much pain he’s in.  Peter wonders if Stiles’ bones ache, if his fingers prickle numb, if his heart beating leaves his chest feeling sore.  Watching Stiles move, Peter rubs a hand over his jaw, almost as tired as Stiles looks.

“What are you making?” he finally asks.

“Bunt cake,” Stiles says over his shoulder.  “Apple-cinnamon.  You’ll like it.”

Peter’s lips thin.  “Shouldn’t you be lying down?”

“Come help if you’re so worried,” Stiles replies dryly.

Stiles has become softer in his sickness.  It’s odd.  Peter remembers being in the hospital, remembers hearing so much agony.  People who get sick like Stiles don’t normally grow soft.  They sharpen, too young and too angry, but Stiles smiles as Peter rounds the kitchen counter to stand at his side. 

They work well together these days.  Stiles has this look in his eyes, like he’s grown too old to bother with being fearful.  Peter spends an inordinate amount of time in Stiles’ company.  There’s an appreciation in their interactions; Peter is the only one who hasn’t been pressuring Stiles to take the Bite.  Stiles is warm with him, vibrant, and Peter doesn’t ever want to stop looking at him.

As Peter is mixing a bowl of cut apples with sugar and spice, Stiles grunts and closes his eyes.  His hands brace against the counter top, and Peter goes still.  He watches him for a long moment, expression quiet, and then Stiles gives him a weak smile.

“Sorry,” he breathes.  “I just love this song.”

There’s no stammer to the dull thud-thud of his heart, but Peter knows.  He sets the bowl down, presses in close, and wraps an arm around Stiles’ waist.  The boy goes pliant against him, huffing, and his lips twitch in bemusement when Peter takes one of his hands.  By the time they start to sway, Stiles’ eyes have brightened, and his smile is wide, and Peter regrets not biting him in that car garage years ago. 

They move together easily.  Stiles tucks his face against Peter’s shoulder as he grips the older man’s bicep with a gentle touch, feet shuffling over the linoleum, socks sliding slightly over the surface as Peter leads him slowly.  Hold tightening, Peter pulls Stiles closer, hand steady at his lower back and pressed securely with Stiles’ palm.  He drains some of the pain from him, jaw flexing at the way it rattles his insides, and Peter hesitates before tucking his toes against Stiles’ temple.

He feels Stiles’ smile. 

“If I was Alpha, I wouldn’t give you a choice.”  Peter mutters. 

Stiles shudders, presses in closer, so calm and sure as they sway.  “I know.”

“I don’t think I want you to die.”

Stiles pulls back, just enough to meet his gaze; it feels like opportunity slipping through Peter’s fingers.  “I know.”

Jaw working, Peter rests their foreheads together.  His voice is rough when he sings, and Stiles smells like cinnamon—sweet and sad—even as he beams.

“It’s the last dance, we’ve come to the last dance

They’re dimming the lights down, they’re hoping we’ll go

It’s obvious they’re aware of us, the pair of us, alone on the floor

Still I want to hold you like this forever and more

It's the last song, they’re playing the last song

The orchestra’s yawning, they’re sleepy I know

They’re wondering just when will we leave, but till we leave, keep holding me tight

Through the last dance, each beat of the last dance

Save me the first dance in your dreams tonight.”