Peter hates Halloween. Hates it. It’s ridiculous. And the most ridiculous thing about it is seeing his nieces and nephews dress up as ghosts, and witches, and ninjas and pirates, as though those things are in any way more terrifying that what they actually are—werewolves. But his sister Talia insists on letting the kids dress up, and this year Peter gets roped in to help because Talia’s husband is away.
It’s not just Talia’s kids—Laura, Derek, Cora and Matty—it’s a bunch of little cousins as well, all of them already hyped up on sugar and anticipation. Peter growls the first time Caleb smacks little Matty in the head with his blow-up Thor hammer. The second time it happens, Peter just casually extends his claws and pops the thing, and Caleb bursts into tears.
“Peter!” Talia exclaims, outraged, then sends Cora upstairs to get the spare blow-up hammer, because of course she’d bought a spare.
Peter rolls his eyes.
Why are you such a Grinch, Peter?” Talia demands, using an eyebrow pencil to draw a piratical scar down Laura’s cheek.
“The Grinch was anti-Christmas,” Peter points out, ignoring the way Derek’s unlaced trainer, poking out from under his sheet, is currently waving in his direction. The kid is nine. If he can’t do his own shoelaces up yet, he deserves to fall flat on his face. “I’m anti-Halloween. I’m not being a Grinch. I’m being a grown-up.”
Talia glares at him from under her witch’s hat. “Just try not to burn the house down while we’re trick or treating.”
Peter throws her a mock salute, and, just to get a rise out of her, thinks about asking why Derek’s been a ghost-in-a-sheet for the past three years in a row. Either he has no imagination, or he’s developing some sort of intense anti-social psychological condition where he wants to be invisible. In the end Peter doesn’t say anything, because discretion is the better part of valor. Also, he doesn’t want Talia to rip his balls off.
Talia and the kids head out to the van, and Peter settles down to watch some TV and work on his art history paper. It’s not due for another month, but Peter is a perfectionist. It also helps that he wants to be able to lord it over every other person in his sophomore class when he gets another Distinction.
After a while he goes and helps himself to some of the candy Talia left in a bowl by the door, in case any trick or treaters get desperate enough to head this far out of town to try their luck. Then he sits back down again and gets lost in the Pre-Raphaelites, and laudanum and opium, and tragic Lizzy Siddal and her tresses of gorgeous red hair. He’s so immersed in it all that when the doorbell chimes, it takes him a moment to pull himself back into the present.
And then he remembers: fucking Halloween.
Peter gives a put-upon sigh and walks over to the front door. He wrenches it open.
There’s a kid glaring up at him. A kid who must be all of four or five years old, dressed in an approximation of a deputy’s uniform, although the ratty red Converse are a slight giveaway. He’s wearing sunglasses. At night. But so is the real actual deputy standing behind him, arms folded over his chest, so Peter decides not to comment on the fact that it’s a dick move.
The kid scowls belligerently and flashes a badge. He juts out his chin. “We are here to—to comfic—consic—”
“Confiscate,” the deputy says in an undertone.
If anything, the kid’s scowl gets deeper. “We are here to con-fis-cat all your candy!”
Peter raises his brows.
The kid shoves the badge closer. The star is plastic and says Secret Agent. Which makes no sense. Why would a secret agent carry a badge that said Secret Agent? An elaborate double bluff? Anyway Peter is fairly sure the kid is supposed to be a deputy, not a spy.
“Nice badge,” Peter says. He smirks at the kid. “But before you get the candy, I’m going to need to see your warrant.”
The kid stares up at him for a moment. His oversized sunglasses slide slowly askew, and Peter catches a glimpse of eyes the color of honey. The kid wrinkles up his button nose. “Daddy,” he says to the deputy, “do we have a warrant?”
The deputy’s mouth quirks. “No, we do not have a warrant.”
The kid glares at Peter, then fumbles for a second in the pocket of his jacket. He produces a red water pistol and points it at Peter. “This is a stick up!”
"You are the most terrible deputy I’ve ever met,” Peter tells him approvingly, reaching for the bowl of candy. Because he likes this kid, against all reason. It’s the predatory streak, probably. It’s the fact that the kid knows that when you can’t get what you want by doing things the right way, then intimidation and threats of violence and are the next logical step. Insight like that deserves to be rewarded. “You win all the candy.”
The world’s worst deputy grins and grabs handfuls of candy, shoving as much as he can in his pockets. Then, because he doesn’t have any more room in his pockets for his water pistol, he solemnly presents it to Peter.
Peter is oddly touched.
“Have a good night,” the actual grown-up deputy says.
“Thanks,” Peter says. “You too.”
And he’s surprised to find he actually means it.
Later, when Talia and the kids get home, Peter ambushes them at the front door with his new red water pistol, his art history paper totally forgotten.
Peter loses the red water pistol in the fire six years later, along with everything else. The pages of his art books curl up as the flames lick at them, and then they are ash. The framed sketch of the Bridge of Sighs that Lucia drew just for him cracks in its frame and is consumed. His books, his clothes, his photographs, his everything. The entire house burns and crumbles around them. Peter is crouched in the basement with the rest of the pack. The exits are locked, and sealed with mountain ash. Both humans and wolves are trapped.
“It’s okay,” Peter says to Matty, staring over his nephew’s shoulder at Melina. Melina, who was the only girl who ever beat him in art history. The only girl he’d ever wanted in his life. The only girl he shared his secret with, and look at what it cost her.
The smoke took the humans first.
Peter wishes she looked peaceful.
“It’s okay,” Peter says, holding Matty close. “We’ll be okay.”
But his heartbeat skips.
“Why are you lying, Uncle Peter?” Matty sobs.
Peter’s whole life is going up in flames. The heat in the basement is getting unbearable, and Matty is screaming as embers start to drop through from the burning floorboards above. Embers, but they move like water. A cascade of them, and then a flood. Peter’s hair is on fire. Matty is screaming still.
“It’s okay,” Peter says, even though the words aren’t really words anymore.
Matty’s burning too.
He closes his eyes and snaps Matty’s neck.
He’s in a coma for six years. At the end of it, his wolf is clawing to get out, to break free of this scarred, burned human body, this agonizing cage, and run again. One night, under the pull of a full moon, the wolf proves stronger than the invalid holding its chains.
Peter goes a little mad, for a while.
He’s not sure if he’s actually insane or not. He’s not even sure if he’s a sociopath. He only knows he wants revenge, and there is literally nothing in the world that can stop him. Everything he loved is gone. Everything is ashes.
Peter doesn’t give a fuck if he has to kill a hundred innocents to get revenge on one guilty person. His morality was the first thing that burned.
Derek puts him in the ground.
He comes back changed.
Not better, probably.
Peter hates Halloween.
He sits on the couch in Derek’s loft and watches the moon. It’s a thin sliver of a moon, a fingernail moon, but Peter can still feel the gentle pull of it. If he concentrates on the moon, he can ignore the sound of Derek’s pathetic not-even-pack bickering like fucking children in the background because they want to go to a Halloween party even though the alpha pack is still out there, and pleeeeeease Derek, why can’t they go?
If they’re willing to risk their lives for the remote chance of rubbing up against other disgustingly hormonal teenagers, then in Peter’s opinion, Derek should let them go. The stupid are supposed to die before they can breed. It’s how survival of the fittest works, after all.
It’s no surprise that Scott McCall is foremost among the stupid. Because he wants to go to the party, because Allison might be there, and even though they’re broken up this week—Peter tries so hard not to keep track, but there’s only so much he can block out—Scott just wants to talk to her…
“It’s dangerous,” Derek says. “We don’t know what the alpha pack is planning. We shouldn’t be splitting up right now.”
“Yes,” Peter says, because he can’t resist any longer. “It’s so much safer to stick close together, like fish in a barrel.”
Derek’s narrow gaze cuts sharply toward him, and Peter smiles pleasantly. Poor Derek. He never could tell when Peter was making fun of him. Or, more to the point, he never could tell when Peter’s words were meant to make him smile, or meant to cut him to the bone. Sometimes Peter couldn’t tell either. He still can’t.
“Creeperwolf has a point,” Stiles says. “But I agree it’s too risky to go.”
Peter raises his brows. While Stiles’s support isn’t exactly unwelcome, creeperwolf? He lets it slide. Last week it was zombiewolf, so perhaps creeperwolf is a slight improvement. It’s difficult to know.
Stiles raises his eyebrows too, and it feels like a challenge.
“Look, it’s just a party!” Scott exclaims hotly.
Beside him, Isaac nods, then flushes, then ducks his head, then takes a step away when Derek glares at the pair of them. Poor Isaac. He’ll never have the spine to stand up to his alpha.
“It’s dangerous!” Stiles snaps.
Stiles is the only one of the three boys not dressed in costume, unless that costume is teenage lumberjack. He’s wearing his usual jeans and t-shirt with an unbuttoned red plaid shirt over the top.
Scott is dressed as a knight—a black t-shirt with a silver mesh shirt over the top, and a plastic sword strapped to his belt—and isn’t that typical? Always the good guy, always the hero.
Isaac is a wizard, possibly. He’s wearing black robes and a maroon and gold Gryffindor scarf. Yes, Peter knows Gryffindor’s house colors. He was in a coma, he wasn’t dead.
Both of the boys’ costumes are sloppy, like they were thrown together at the last minute, even though Peter knows they weren’t. They’re at that age, Peter supposes, where they don’t want to appear too childish by looking like they spent weeks coming up with their costumes. Teenagers have such amusingly fragile egos.
“You’re not going,” Derek says, his tone leaving no room for argument.
Well, time for Peter to throw the puppies a bone, and really piss Derek off at the same time.
“Although…” Peter says as though the thought’s only now just occurred to him. Scott and Isaac look at him hopefully. Derek and Stiles glare. “I mean, Derek, if you’re worried about their safety, then why not go with them?”
Oh, and there’s the look. The one that says Derek wishes he could rip Peter’s throat out. Again. It’s priceless.
“That’s a great idea!” Scott exclaims.
Isaac nods eagerly.
Peter smiles smugly. It is a great idea. Just the thought of Derek standing in the middle of a bunch of drunk, stupid, horny partying teenagers is hilarious. It’s beyond hilarious, actually.
“I don’t—” Derek actually growls, and Peter knows he’s got him beaten. “I don’t have a costume!”
Peter lets his smile grow. “I’ll go and get you a sheet.”
“You are such a dick, you know?”
“Stiles,” Peter says, feigning surprise, although it’s not like he didn’t realize Stiles hadn’t left with the others. “Still here? Not going to the party? I could have cut holes in a sheet for you too, you know. You and Derek could have been a cute little ghost couple.”
That shuts him up for a second. Peter doesn’t need to see the flush rising in his throat to know that Stiles is embarrassed. It’s because Peter suggested he and Derek could be a couple. Stiles has been lusting after Derek for months now. Peter is quite amused. Not only is Derek straight, but he’s got all the emotional maturity of a piece of wet cardboard and he’s terrified of intimacy. Stiles really could not be tilting at a more impossible windmill if he tried.
“Just… just shut up,” Stiles says, and then he surprises Peter by slumping down on the couch beside him.
Stiles is all long lines and awkward angles, like he hasn’t figured out how to grow into his body yet. He picks at a loose thread in the cuff of his shirt and glares at the TV.
“You could turn it on,” Peter suggests.
Stiles makes a dismissive gesture. “No, you’re clearly being all broody in the moonlight, and I’d hate to ruin the vibe.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “So why didn’t you go to the party, Stiles?”
For a moment he thinks he isn’t going to get an answer, but then Stiles huffs and slumps lower on the couch. “I don’t like Halloween.”
Peter surprises himself by saying, “You used to.”
Stiles shoots him a narrow glare. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Oh. He doesn’t remember. And why should he? It’s been a lifetime since the world’s worst deputy con-fis-catted all the candy. Peter isn’t even sure why he remembers. But the memory has stayed, despite everything, curled up warmly in some secret place inside Peter where he keeps all the memories of his old life locked away. He’s found that it’s too painful to visit for more than a moment at a time.
“All kids like Halloween,” Peter tells him. “It’s a rule.”
“They don’t,” Stiles replies firmly. “And it isn’t.”
“I actually thought you’d love an excuse to dress up as one of your comic book heroes and act like a child for a night,” Peter tells him. “And Halloween is the one night that it’s socially acceptable. A judgment-free idiot zone would be perfect for you.”
Stiles doesn’t bite back, which is odd. Instead, he just shrugs his shoulders. “My mom used to make my costumes. It was kind of our thing.”
Ah. Well, Peter knows all about loss, doesn’t he? He knows that long after he’s found a way to work around the gaping holes in his life, it’s the little things that trip him up. Like flicking on the TV yesterday morning, and finding himself staring at a rerun of Ben 10, and remembering suddenly, acutely, how Matty used to run around with his little green and white toy watch pretending he was all sorts of different aliens.
And then remembering suddenly, acutely, the way it felt to snap his eight-year-old nephew’s neck.
His fingers twitch against the couch, and Peter fights the sudden urge to go to the bathroom and scrub his hands clean. He knows it wouldn’t help. He jams his hands in the pockets of his jeans instead, and forces the memories away.
The pop and fizz of Stiles opening a can of soda catches his attention, and he watches as Stiles lifts the can and drinks. Watches the pale moonlight on his exposed neck, and the way his throat moves as he swallows. Then Stiles sets the can down, burps, and wipes his mouth with his sleeve.
Peter feels that he should be more annoyed than he is, but he likes Stiles. He reaches out for the remote control and turns the television on. Then he tosses the remote control into Stiles’s lap so he can find something he wants to watch.
He finds The Curse of the Werewolf. It’s terrible, but it’s as gloriously terrible as only a Hammer film can be. Peter even gets up to rummage through Derek’s kitchen to find some popcorn. When he returns to the couch he sets the bowl down between them.
They watch the movie in silence for a long while. Peter is almost enjoying himself.
“Dude, this is ridiculous,” Stiles says at last, his eyes glued to the screen.
“You picked it,” Peter reminds him.
Stiles gasps as Leon transforms into a wolf. “Oh my god, really? That’s… that feels like totally racist to werewolves!” His brows draw together. “Is that a thing?”
Peter helps himself to a handful of popcorn. “Is what a thing?”
“Werewolf racism,” Stiles says.
Peter considers that for a moment. “Well, I don’t think it’s possible for people to be prejudiced against creatures they think are mythical. I would say that when it comes to a charge of racism, belief of existence is a necessary component. Although I would encourage unicorn racism. All unicorns are assholes.”
“Are unic—oh my god, shut up!” Stiles huffs out a laugh, and elbows him in the ribs. “You’re such a dick, you know?”
“So you said earlier.” Peter takes a swig of his soda. “And I know you were just about to ask me if unicorns were real.”
He can’t actually remember the last time he had this much fun, which is obviously tragic. What the hell has his life become when watching camp horror movies with Stiles Stilinski is the high point of his month? Or his last year? Or, okay, longer than that.
“I was not going to ask if unicorns are real!” Stiles exclaims, then gives Peter the side eye. He chews his bottom lip for a moment, until he obviously can’t hold the question in any longer: “Are they?”
Peter smirks and shrugs. “I have no idea.”
“Dick,” Stiles mutters and elbows him again.
“Idiot,” Peter returns.
They clink soda cans.
Peter’s not sure why, but it feels like that tiny little gesture has suddenly changed everything.
By midnight, Stiles has fallen asleep on the couch, head back, snoring. Well, not snoring exactly. Kind of snuffling, like a small animal. Peter eases the half-empty can of soda out of his loose grasp before he ends up wearing it, and sets it on the coffee table. Then he gets up and fetches a blanket and lays it over Stiles.
He sits beside him again, and watches him sleep for a while.
Creeperwolf, a voice in his head admonishes. It sounds exactly like Stiles.
Well, probably, but it’s nice to see Stiles like this. Relaxed enough in the company of a predator that he fell asleep. Or maybe he’s just exhausted. He has dark circles under his eyes that no teenager should have.
Peter wonders for a moment where his father thinks he is, or if the man spares his son more than a thought in passing. It’s a little sad that Stiles is so obviously tired, so obviously lonely, that he fell asleep on a couch next to Peter. Because Peter is the bad guy. He will always be the bad guy, he supposes. The monster. It doesn’t matter if he was out of his mind at the time (and he’s not entirely sure he was) and it doesn’t matter how sorry he is for the things he did (and he’s not entirely sure he is), he will always be the bad guy. It’s surprisingly easy to live with that.
When the movie finishes, Peter gets up and carries the empty popcorn bowl and the soda cans to the kitchen. He dumps the cans in the trashcan, and sets the bowl in the sink. Then he checks his phone just to make sure that Derek is still having a horrible time at the party, and hasn’t been disemboweled by the alpha pack. A beta should be able to feel it if his alpha is injured or killed—the sudden vacuum in the pack dynamic—but Peter doesn’t entirely trust his instincts when it comes to Derek. Derek was never supposed to be an alpha, he never wanted to be, and Peter’s not exactly the poster child for the perfect beta either.
He has three messages, all of them telling him what a terrible idea this was, and at least one promising physical harm. He smirks at his phone, and doesn’t reply. He’s sure Derek’s got his hands full at the moment with drunk teenagers and their associated overwrought emotional crises.
Heading back to the couch, Peter stops when he sees the bowl of candy sitting on a chair beside the front door.
The sight of it is arresting.
It’s just a bowl of candy.
Did Derek really think any kids would climb all the way to the top of a warehouse on the remote possibility someone was living here? Or, most likely, is the candy some sort of sad little memorial to happier times, when Halloween meant his mother and his siblings and his cousins, and safety?
Just a bowl of candy, but heat and hurt unfurl from the sudden knot in Peter’s gut, and threaten for a moment to overwhelm him. He holds his breath until the feelings subside, then picks up the bowl and takes it back to the couch. He sits with it on his lap, and goes about digging through it, picking out all the candy hearts for Stiles.
He’s not sure why.
“Dude,” Stiles says, snorting and snuffling as he comes awake. “What?” He rubs his face with his hands. “Oh, hey, candy!”
“You win all the candy,” Peter tells him with a smile, and shoves the pile of candy hearts across the coffee table toward him.
Stiles picks one up and reads it. “Text me!” He tosses it in the air and tries to catch it with his mouth. It hits his chin and goes ricocheting off into a corner somewhere. “Whoops.”
Peter plucks a yellow heart from the table and passes it to him. “Be mine.”
Stiles’s fingers twitch against Peter’s as he takes the candy, and a flush rises on his face. He laughs, loud, awkward, and shoves the heart in his mouth. He crunches it between his teeth. “So, um, what happened at the end of the movie?”
“Alfredo shot Leon.”
Stiles frowns. “Who was Alfredo?”
“The man who raised Leon and loved him as though he was his own son,” Peter says. “It was all very emotional and tragic. You would have laughed.”
Stiles wrinkles his nose.
Peter watches him as he leans forward and starts to rearrange the little pile of candy hearts into a pattern. His fingers are absurdly long, pushing the candy hearts around like they’re dominoes. Peter half-wonders what Stiles is doing, and what pattern he’s seeing in the hearts. Peter doesn’t doubt that Stiles sees things in another way than most people. He’s smarter, quirkier, his brain is wired differently. A lot of people underestimate him, but Peter has never done that. It’s why he offered him the bite.
A candy heart drops onto the floor, and Peter leans forward to pick it up.
“Soul mate,” he says, and sets it back on the table.
Stiles swallows, and wrinkles his nose. “These are dumb.”
Peter chuffs out a laugh.
Stiles stacks a few hearts on top of one another, then leans back. “They’re not about being true, they’re about playing with expectations. Like, I don’t know, maybe there’s some alternate universe where ‘text me’ would make someone go weak at the knees, but it’s all about context. It’s only laden with meaning if there’s another person there who—who has potential, you know? I mean, Scott tells me to text him every day, and it’s nothing, but if… if…” He trails off.
“Derek?” Peter suggests quietly.
Stiles knocks down his little candy heart tower. “Dude, whatever. Don’t even listen to me. It’s my ADHD.”
Peter smiles slightly.
“What time is it anyway?” Stiles drags his phone out of his pocket and checks it. “Wow. Okay.”
“Somewhere else to be?” Peter asks him.
Stiles grimaces. “No. I just thought they’d be back by now.”
“Maybe Derek’s actually having fun,” Peter suggests.
Stiles snorts. “Sure. And somewhere right now, Satan is strapping on his snow shoes.”
Even if he stood half a chance with Derek, Stiles is too good for him. He’s too quick witted, too funny, and too snarky. Derek would never know what to do with a sense of humor like Stiles’s. Poke it with a stick, probably. Or glare at it until it shrivels up and dies. If a thing can’t be threatened into submission, Derek’s all out of options.
Somewhere down below them on the street, a police siren wails.
There’s a sudden tension in Stiles, there and gone again, so brief that he probably doesn’t even notice it himself. Instinct and muscle memory, but Peter sees it.
“Is your dad working tonight?”
“Night shift,” Stiles says. He sets his phone down on the coffee table. “Halloween is kind of a busy night for him. So are Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and New Year’s.” He shrugs. “Any of the traditional let’s-get-drunk-and-beat-our-significant-others holidays, really.”
“Ah,” Peter says, nodding seriously. “Human traditions are so fascinating.”
Stiles snorts. “Don’t even, dude, seriously. You might be a werewolf, but it’s not like you were cloistered in some mountaintop Shaolin monastery until you were old enough to be considered a man, and the ways and customs of the outside world are strange and foreign to you. You went to Beacon Hills High!”
“Stiles,” Peter says, “I get very few chances to pretend to be a mystical outsider. Please let me have this one.”
Stiles has a beautiful smile, genuine and uninhibited. His laugh is bright, and overflows with real pleasure. “Will do, kungfuwolf.”
Peter laughs as well.
It’s better than creeperwolf.
Peter hadn’t even realized he’d dozed off until Stiles speaks. He blinks awake. “Hmm?”
Stiles is standing in front of him, hands jammed in the pockets of his jeans. He's put his hoodie on. “I’m gonna take off, okay?”
“What time is it?”
Peter draws a deep breath. “They’re still not back?”
“No.” Stiles shrugs. “Scott texted me though. They’re good.”
“Okay.” Peter rolls his shoulders, and yawns, and blinks at the candy hearts still sitting on the coffee table. “You should take the rest of the candy though.”
“Dude, I was being nice and leaving some.”
“They taste like chalk,” Peter says.
“More for me then,” Stiles says. He grins, and leans down to scoop the candy up. He shoves it into the pockets of his hoodie, and for a moment Peter expects him to pass over a red water pistol in return.
“You forgot one,” he says instead.
“Oh.” Stiles picks it up, and turns it over in his palm.
“Text me?” Peter asks, arching a brow.
Stiles flushes slightly. “Um, kiss me.”
Peter wonders if he’s supposed to laugh, although Stiles isn’t. Suddenly, the moment seems almost too serious, the air heavy. Expectations, he thinks, and potential. The silence draws out too long. It’s laden.
“Stiles,” Peter says, at exactly the same moment Stiles says, “So, I should—”
And then heat, a rush of unexpected heat, because Stiles is clambering awkwardly onto Peter’s lap and is pressing his mouth against Peter’s. It’s clumsy and inept and uncertain and new, just like Stiles.
Peter is too startled to respond.
“Oh, fuck,” Stiles breathes, horror in his tone.
Peter grips him by the wrists before he can pull away again.
“Peter, fuck, let me go!”
“Wait,” Peter says, tightening his grip on Stiles’s wrists. The boy tries to twist away, ducking his head. “Look at me, Stiles.”
His face is bright red. His amber eyes are bright with what Peter thinks must be tears of humiliation threatening to spill.
“Stiles,” Peter says. The boy’s heart is thumping rapidly. He smells of arousal and bitter shame. “Wait.”
Peter drops his right wrist, and slides his hand to his waist. Then he moves Stiles’s left hand to his shoulder, and, when he releases it, Stiles keeps it there. His knees are digging into the couch on either side of Peter’s hips. Peter lifts his right hand and curls his fingers gently around Stiles’s throat. He can feel his frantic pulse hammering in his jugular. Peter lifts his chin, and brings their mouths close together. Stiles's breath is hot against his lips.
Peter presses their mouths together gently, then uses his tongue to coax the seam of Stiles’s lips open. Stiles tastes like candy. Peter chases the sugar-sweet taste with his tongue, slipping it over Stiles's teeth, and against the roof of his mouth before he withdraws and sucks for a moment on Stiles’s lower lip.
Stiles makes a small, surprised noise, and digs his fingers into Peter’s shoulder. His other hand finds Peter’s head, and he slides his trembling fingers through his hair.
Peter deepens the kiss again, this time darting his tongue against Stiles’s, and then pulling back to coax Stiles’s tongue to follow.
Stiles moans and shivers, and the air turns sharp with the scent of his arousal.
Peter sucks at his lower lip again for a moment and then, regretfully, pulls away.
Stiles’s eyes are wide, his pupils blown. His wet mouth hangs open.
Peter smiles at him, and leans up to press his lips briefly against the mole on his left cheek that’s closest to the corner of his mouth. A chaste peck. “Do you want me to drive you home, Stiles?”
“Um.” Stiles blinks down at him. “Wh-what the hell just happened?”
“It’s the candy,” Peter says solemnly. “You have to do what the candy tells you.”
Stiles makes no move to get off his lap. “I don’t think that’s true.”
“It’s what I was taught by my venerable masters at the Shaolin monastery,” Peter tells him.
Stiles ducks his head and grins. “You are such a dick.”
Stiles climbs off him awkwardly, and Peter pretends not to notice when he readjusts the bulge in his jeans. “So, um, just so we’re on the same page, do we like pretend this never happened?”
“Is that what you want?” Peter asks him.
“Is it what you want?” Stiles fires back, chewing his lip.
Right. Peter’s the adult here. Which is something he’ll raise with his conscience later on. For now, being the adult means he’s the emotionally mature one who gets to lay it out, because he’s not a nervous adolescent too afraid to say what he feels, and he’s been around the block too many times to play ridiculous games.
“I like you, Stiles,” he says, holding Stiles’s gaze. “If this is something you want to do again, or take further, then I would like that too. But if you don’t, I’ll respect your decision.”
“Okay,” Stiles says, his voice a little shaky. “I think that—I think that I need to think about it for a bit, if that’s okay.”
Peter stands up from the couch. “That’s perfectly okay, Stiles.” He smiles as he notices the candy heart that bounced off Stiles’s chin earlier. He takes a few steps toward the TV and bends down to retrieve it. He brushes a dust bunny off it, and then holds it out to Stiles. “It doesn’t pass the ten second rule, but…” He shrugs.
“Text me,” Stiles says, taking the heart. He grins crookedly. “That’s good candy advice.”
“And you have to do what the candy tells you,” Peter reminds him.
“It’s the Shaolin way,” Stiles agrees solemnly.
Stiles’s heartbeat has evened out again by the time he leaves the loft. Peter sees him down to his Jeep, and then climbs the steps again.
It’s going to be hard to hate Halloween after this.
He wonders when Stiles will text.
He wonders what he’ll decide.
He turns the TV off and thinks about hiding the remote control somewhere random just to piss Derek off. Surely that would be in the spirit of the holiday? It’s certainly in the spirit of Peter Hale.
It’s only when he’s in the kitchen that he sees a pink candy heart that never made the bowl. It’s half wedged under the spice rack on the countertop. Also, Derek has a spice rack? Peter pulls it out, and smiles as he reads it:
Well, maybe so.
Time will tell.
There’s nothing certain in the world, but, for now, it’s enough. It's more than enough. Peter’s happy.