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Context-Dependent Dominance Behavior in Mixed Packs

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Stiles actually learned electrical engineering for a science fair project when he was in grade school. Well, okay, and also because once his parents banned him from electroplating anything else in the house, he looked at where his starter circuitry kit was locked up on the top shelf of a very high cabinet, remembered he’d seen a lot of similar-looking bits in the garage, and thus embarked on a long and very distinguished career of raiding other people’s toolboxes (and workstations, and top-secret labs). And if you’re going to go that way, you might as well learn to rewire stuff instead of just smashing it, and anyway. It’s come in handy.

Admittedly, he never thought he’d be pulling it out for sex, but hey, details of dating werewolves.

“So, good setting?” he says, as Peter squirms and twists over the bed, trying and mostly failing to not whimper.

Peter wrenches his head around and looks blearily at Stiles, then drops it into the pillows as Stiles ticks the dial just a little. His face nearly disappears as he grinds his head down, making muffled pants, his ass pushing up till he’s nearly got all of his cock off the bed. He holds the position for a few seconds, groaning, testing the chains that are pulling his thighs apart. He’s pretty damn strong, even with this much current going through him, but his hands are manacled behind his back, throwing off his balance, and the sweat’s slicking off him with the effort.

Then he flops back down, links clattering as they go slack. His knees rub and hitch into the bed and he makes little, desperate, aching noises, ass twitching around the metal dildo firmly buried in it. When Stiles gets up onto the bed, Peter jerks his hips up and then shakily flattens himself, a long, low, begging moan coming out of him. He plumps his ass back at Stiles, insistent, scratching at the half-dried blood where he clawed himself before Stiles upped the power.

Tree guardian status doesn’t make Stiles immune to electricity, so he can’t touch the dildo. He does tap the insulated wires leading off it, provoking a ragged hiccup of a growl from Peter, and then he dips under them, reaching between Peter’s legs to fondle that nice, thick cock of his. Peter immediately shudders, whining, rocking against the chains as he tries to push further into Stiles’ hand. Then swinging back as Stiles twitches the current a little higher, just so those straining muscles in Peter’s thighs go limp.

Stiles jerked himself off before they started, and then Peter sucked him off again something like ten minutes ago, but man, watching this kind of show makes his legs go a little shaky.

Luckily, they’re both already on the bed. So Stiles gives Peter’s cock a last stroke, and then, while Peter’s whimpering and chasing a hand that’s already gone, climbs over the man’s chained leg and snakes himself under Peter.

He gets one glimpse of wild, unfocused eyes, and then Peter’s frantically trying to rub down onto him, head buried in the crook of Stiles’ shoulder. Peter’s not just trying to get off; he’s running on instinct and not a hell of a lot else at this point, and instinct says he needs to be lower, be the one under. But alpha says he needs to stop where he is—at least, Stiles is saying that, with one hand gripping the back of Peter’s neck, forcing him to be still, and Peter’s shivering uncontrollably, seesawing between the two demands.

Stiles drags up his head and kisses his panting, slack mouth, licking at it till he gets a feeble twitch out of Peter’s lips, and then lets that drop back. Curls his hand across Peter’s nape, holding it down, listening to Peter’s broken whines, and wraps his other hand back around Peter’s cock, guiding it into himself.

Peter stutters, just halfway in, a little confusion mixing into his moaning. Settles after Stiles bites the point of Peter’s jaw, then rakes his teeth back onto Peter’s throat and hangs there, closing down whenever Peter moves. And he really needs to hold still, because Stiles doesn’t want to accidentally run into the end of the dildo.

When his cock’s almost all the way in Stiles, he gets it. Stiles can almost see the pieces clicking for Peter, with the long shudder and then the abrupt way Peter goes slack on him. Not limp, Peter’s not that lost, nope, he’s definitely feeling it. He’s got a tremble all through him from trying to not resist, actively staying slack, and when Stiles sucks his throat as a reward, he breaks a little and fucks down and then keens as Stiles scratches roughly over the back of his neck.

“Come on, come on,” Stiles mumbles, still biting his throat. “Just—wait, wait, come on, Peter, you can wait, just—one—another sec—one more—” he’s in “—okay, come.”

Peter does as he’s told. Crying out into the bed, voice so rough it sounds like a snarl, except for how shattered it is. He goes from unresisting to flat-out collapse in less than a second. Not quite enough time for Stiles to get his hand back up and push up at Peter, so yeah, Stiles gets a little air squeezed out of him.

And getting off himself is sort of awkward. He’s got to brace his arm against Peter’s chest for any room, and what he gets is barely enough to hitch up and down on Peter’s cock, get just the minimum of action going to push himself over (and he’s still a teenager, whatever his sexual experience, it’s a very low minimum). He’s got to really work for it, and when he finally comes, it’s more of a relief than a real release.

Still worth it. Just the way Peter twitches and then whimpers, realizing what Stiles is doing, how his alpha’s using him. He doesn’t even need to raise his eye and shoot Stiles some lewd look; it’s all there in the shift of his softening cock and the skip in his breathing. And in how he mouths weakly at Stiles as Stiles slumps back, so fucked out and still trying to show some very fervent postcoital appreciation.

“Damn,” Stiles mumbles. He lets Peter’s nuzzling push his head over, and then sighs and worms his hand out from under the other man. Reaches over and flicks off the electricity, and then brings his arm back to curl around Peter’s head. He fists his fingers in that mop of sweat-soaked curls and pulls up till they can look at each other. “So. Still stressed out?”

Peter goes for a kiss, whining enough that Stiles thinks it’s pure reflex. When he gets it, he lips messily at Stiles, then lets his mouth slide off to Stiles’ cheek. “Mmm,” he purrs. “Hmm…no. Much—much better no—alpha?”

Stiles pauses with his hand wrapped around the wires. “Leave it in?”

“If you’re not putting your cock there,” Peter murmurs. Clearly recovering, between that and the little coy tilt of his head. “Which I think might be the case for a while, even if you’re intending otherwise.”

“I should take it out just for that,” Stiles snorts, and then he’s got a contrite (not really) werewolf making low, sorry noises and kissing softly down the side of his jaw.

So Stiles disconnects the wires, and also unchains Peter, but the dildo stays in. It’s not really shaped for that, but Stiles doesn’t really feel like moving over enough to get one of the actual plugs. And Peter’s too lazy to send for it, for all that he grovels like he was born belly-down, and so Stiles considers them and then just hooks the thigh cuffs together, so if Peter doesn’t move too much, he’ll be clenching enough to keep the dildo mostly in place.

“Just don’t break them again,” Stiles says. He tosses the wires down by the side of the bed and glances over the generator. And rucks the wet spot down by the foot of the bed while he’s at it, so when Peter snuggles up behind him, they’re both comfortable. “Almost out of power anyway, can’t hook you up again.”

“Yes, alpha,” Peter says, rubbing his cheek against Stiles’ shoulderblade. He slings an arm around Stiles’ waist and presses his face into Stiles’ hair, breathing deeply. His body shudders a little again. “Mmm. I did need that.”

Stiles was going to push up to lean against the wall, but Peter feels so relaxed that he stays where he was. Traces the rapidly-fading marks on Peter’s wrist. “Yeah?”

“Much less likely to commit homicide now,” Peter tells him. After another nuzzle at Stiles’ head, Peter kisses his way down Stiles’ neck, to just between the shoulders, and then he laughs and pulls Stiles around so they’re facing each other. “I can feel you squirming.”

“Well, sticky,” Stiles says. He pushes at Peter’s head—the other man’s dropping anyway, and just smirks back up at him—and then pulls his legs open so Peter can nose up between them. “And Derek’s moving Laura’s furniture or whatever, so it’s not like he’s here for clean-up du—oh, fuck.”

“But I’m here, alpha,” Peter says, voice ridiculously low and throaty, considering he’s also industriously licking out Stiles’ hole. “Mmmm. I taste better than I remember.”

Stiles is kind of in the middle of something, like fisting his hands in the sheets and trying to not ram himself down onto Peter’s mouth, but he’d be a terrible alpha if he let a comment like that go. He makes himself lift a hand, then swats at Peter till he hooks a couple curls. “Hey, you—you’re slipping—it’s slipping, you want it in, you—push it yourself—”

Peter snorts, which tickles like hell in the best and worst ways, and then reaches around. Nudges the dildo back in, then drops his head on Stiles’ thigh. Looking very pleased with himself, but also, really, genuinely relaxed.

“You are such a smug shit of a beta sometimes,” Stiles mumbles, dropping back into the pillows. So he almost, but doesn’t, miss the little furrow that appears between Peter’s brows. “Hey. So…I know you don’t want to spoil my winter break, but I’m back at school tomorrow anyway. Wanna tell me which alpha’s getting up your ass this time?”

“When I’ve just gotten them out?” Peter mutters. Half-teasing, half-genuinely irritated. When Stiles slips a hand into his hair, he breathes in deeply, then relaxes again. “There really are better, more deserving things I’d rather invite in.”

“I’m…not sure that metaphor’s working for me.” Stiles slouches a little further, so he can get his fingertips down to scratch along Peter’s hairline. “This isn’t about the summit, is it?”

Peter stills under his hand. Then, sighing, pulls himself up Stiles till he’s resting his head on Stiles’ stomach. He looks exasperated, but there’s more than a little bit of gratefulness; sex isn’t the only place where Peter likes a little pushing, smooth as he is.

“Your father’s got that well in hand, I really don’t think we have any concerns,” Peter says. Closes his eyes as Stiles runs fingers through his hair, winces with a grin as Stiles digs in at the end with some nail. “Not concerns, Stiles. Just personal opinions, really.”

“About some of the visiting alphas?” Stiles says. “Is this Peter-speak for I hate them with the fire of a thousand alien suns, and will eventually find a way to have my bloody, incredibly complicated revenge on them?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Stiles. If I wanted revenge on them, I’d say so.” Peter half-opens his eyes, smiling lazily, and then kisses Stiles’ stomach. Moves his head a little further up, lets his ass push up against Stiles’ leg so that shifts the dildo back into him, and then puts his head down again with a long, shivering sigh. “The whole point of revenge is so people know it’s revenge.”

Stiles grins back. And so he’s still not quite up for another round, but he snakes down the headboard, both to get a kiss and so he can get his hand down Peter’s back. He gives Peter’s buttock a good, hard squeeze, and then grabs the dildo just before it comes all the way out. Shoves it roughly in, so Peter hisses and shudders and then arches to bare throat, and then lets the end rock against his palm.

“You totally hate some of these guys,” Stiles says. “Come on.”

Peter’s a little distracted with trying to fuck himself on the dildo without breaking his thigh cuffs, but he manages a dismissive brow lift. “Hate is such a strong emotion to waste on nobodies,” he says. “It’s more like disbelief. In that I cannot understand why certain ones are still alphas when—when—”

The thigh cuffs snap apart. Stiles jerks at the sound, then rolls Peter over so he’s belly-down, with Stiles straddling him, one hand pinning his neck. And yeah, holding the dildo he’s just pulled out, which he taps against Peter’s shoulder as Peter finishes out his shudder.

“Seriously, do you ever do what I tell you?” Stiles says, getting way down by Peter’s ear to do that. He waits for Peter to shiver again, then bends a little more, so that he can puff air right into Peter’s face. “You know, just for that? I’m not gonna fuck you tonight.”

The disappointed moan Peter makes right there, that one? That alone’s responsible for the next two rounds.

* * *

Somewhere around breakfast Stiles realizes the extent of Peter’s sneaky distraction tactics, and nearly chokes himself on a spoonful of homemade Hale muesli.

“You okay there, son?” his father says, brows raised.

“No, no, I’m good,” Stiles gasps. He gulps some milk and clears his throat, and then looks up. “So, uh, what were you saying?”

His father stares him down for a few seconds. That’s long enough for Stiles to start formulating an excuse, realize he has no idea why he needs one, go through the last day and a half and figure out that he actually hasn’t done anything that might get side-eye or worse from his dad, and get offended about it. Because lack of proof and not rushing to judgment, seasoned law enforcement professional.

“About the inter-pack summit?” his dad counters.

Stiles puts his glass down and nods, and then swipes the honey jar from his father’s outreached hand. “Diabetes, hello?” he says. “Talia puts a whole cup into the muesli already, Dad, you do not need to be sugaring the granola candy again. And yeah. The summit. Did you say something?”

His father’s eyes narrow. “Just that Alpha Laurent said he’d be late, but the Hales said they’d have somebody meet him at the airport and drive him to the office. Why?”

“Alpha Laurent?” Stiles stuffs a last mouthful of muesli in, then gets up and carries his dishes over to the sink for washing. The name’s familiar, in a way that’s pinging his internal alarms, but as far as he can remember, he and his dad haven’t run into that pack before. “Um, okay, cool. I guess Laura’s going?”

“No, Laura will be at the office with me and her mother. I think Talia said it’d be Peter if you were free, or else she’d send Francis.” His dad lifts his spoon out of his bowl and points it at Stiles. “Anything you want to tell me?”

“Dad, I’ve got no idea who he is, how should I know?” Stiles says. Then he sighs, feeling his father’s gimlet stare on the side of his head. “I mean. Yes, I read all the dossiers, I double-checked those for you, I know who he is. I just meant, I don’t know why I’d need to show up for him. I don’t need to escort Peter around, last I checked. Does he have some thing with the Service going on that we have to butter him up about? Or keep him away from?”

After another moment, his dad lowers the spoon. He digs a little mournfully at his pre-sweetened breakfast (seriously, Melissa’s taste buds have made him numb to anything short of solid sugar) and then shakes his head. “They didn’t say anything to you?”

“Nope.” And when Stiles had been updating the files from central, he’d totally checked with the Hales on inter-pack issues, related to Service stuff or not, and put them in. “Though his name kind of sounds familiar, in a non-hacked records way.”

“Well, they told us about him at Thanksgiving,” his father says, and then looks surprised when Stiles whirls on him. “What?”

Stiles…shakes the sponge at him, just out of sheer exasperation, while his father’s eyebrows rise and fall with the drip of suds to the floor. Then flails back to the sink to try and be a helpful, responsible member of the family, since nobody else is. “Dad! Lead with the critical info! God, I don’t know why you’re asking me what the Hales were saying if you already know.”

“Because I don’t, Stiles. All they said was the guy courted Talia at one point, and she wasn’t very enthusiastic about it,” his dad snorts. “Sounded like that was years and years ago, and everybody’s had kids since then, so seems like they all got over it. Right?”

Stiles turns around and looks at him.

“Yeah, I was afraid of that,” his dad sighs. He also gets up, and then fights with Stiles a little before slipping the sponge away with an underhanded wrist flick that Stiles, thank you, introduced them to, courtesy of some actually friendly interagency work with the CIA. “Well, let me know if something’s up besides gossip, and get your butt to school. I’ll finish up here.”

“On it, Dad. Don’t worry, I got us covered. I am so on the trail right now, I’m like a bloodhound on a bag of bacon bites,” Stiles says, flipping the water off his hands. “There is nothing those sneaky little wolves can keep from me.”

His dad pauses, then raises one sudsed hand. “You know, Stiles, on second thought, maybe I should just talk to Tal—”

“Sorry, gotta go, first day of the semester, good impressions and teacher brownnosing to do!” Stiles calls over his shoulder, while scooting out of there.

* * *

Even though Stiles has his own car now, he’s still not allowed to drive himself to school for some bullshit alpha status whatever he’s pretty sure the Hales are making up just because they feel like it.

And well, okay, the jeep’s geometry doesn’t allow for the kind of blackout window warding that Peter’s car does. Which is kind of necessary for making sure risky parking lot blowjobs don’t turn into publicly indecent ones, which, even with the Hales’ political pull, are a little hard to cover up.

“Stiles,” Peter says, nuzzling into Stiles’ open fly. “Are you texting my nephew about my sister’s old boyfriends?”

“What? No,” Stiles says, and hastily checks his phone for breaches in the privacy warding.

Peter snorts into his belly, and when Stiles looks down, flicks his eyes to the glass over Stiles’ head. Which, thanks to that blackout coverage, is more reflective than usual and God, devious werewolves are so irritating.

And hot, especially when they’re also looking really smug with sex hair just after sucking Stiles off. But Stiles does his best to push that away as he sits up. He sticks his phone where Peter’s grabby hand can’t get it, then pulls Peter up by the hair and tilts the man’s head for a quick bite on the throat. Two of Peter’s kinks right there, so while he’s purring happily, Stiles tries to put his clothes in order and then get out of the car.

He gets the first one done, but as he’s swinging his legs off the seat and to the floor, he’s suddenly got a lapful of werewolf. “You’re thirty minutes early,” Peter says, bracing his arms on either side of Stiles’ head. Also, pushing a neglected erection into Stiles’ belly. “I suppose you could wait on the steps with your friends for the door to open, although I don’t remember you being particularly friendly with Cora’s group—”

“—or I could take care of you and make sure you’re too busy to steal my stuff?” Stiles says, intercepting the hand Peter’s got creeping down towards his ass. And his phone.

Peter resists a little, mostly for show, and then lets Stiles pull his hand out and away. Mostly because that pushes them flush into each other, so when he talks, his lips are distractingly near Stiles’ face. “Well, I wouldn’t need to steal your stuff if you weren’t about to make a terrible, terrible mistake, alpha,” he says, half-kidding, half-very, very seriously flirting. “You do realize that asking Derek about his mother’s sex life is guaranteed to put another two points on his driver’s license? At least?”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “So I should’ve texted Laura instead?”

“God, no. It’s a three-hour drive, she’d never be able to keep it from him and knowing her, she’s likely to bring it up right before a speedtrap.” Peter makes a face. “I don’t know why neither of them are any good at sniffing out those. We’re werewolves, for God’s sake.”

“And werewolves never get caught going too fast,” Stiles says. While grabbing Peter’s other hand, which was tiptoeing its way to his fly.

Peter shrugs, but the carelessness is a little more of an afterthought than a deliberate play. “Why are you asking about Alpha Laurent?” he says. “Did something come in?”

“Dunno, you gonna tell me if it matters to you?” Stiles says.

He’s maybe a little sharp about it. Maybe. Peter’s brows tick up and his head tilts and his eyes go from simmering to scrutinizing, and just like that, the mood’s gone. Well, it’s not gone gone, but it’s definitely not sexy fun times anymore.

“I mean,” Stiles starts, trying to sound less whiny and more like a goddamn concerned alpha. “You were all, let’s fuck last night, when I asked if something was wrong.”

“Because there wasn’t anything,” Peter says. He pauses, clearly revises whatever he’d been about to say, and just sighs and touches Stiles’ cheek. “I wasn’t lying, Stiles. It wasn’t anything—any alpha in particular. It’s just stressful in general whenever we have one of these meetings. Alphas are alphas for a reason, and that reason usually doesn’t include tact and patience.”

“Well, then why’s Talia wanting to send me and you to meet Alpha Laurent and not Laura?” Stiles says. “You could’ve mentioned that, instead of letting me hear it from my dad.”

A flash of irritation goes over Peter’s face. He pushes against Stiles’ headrest, sitting up, and then flicks his eyes sideways and up as he rubs his hand over his face. “Damn it, I told her to just have Francis go,” he mutters. Then he sighs again, looking at Stiles. “We weren’t scheming behind your back, I promise you, Stiles. It’s just that Laurent’s awkward to handle and we hadn’t made up our minds yet about him. And yes, all right, there’s some past history, but it’s…well, it’s not something we want to bother people with. He’s still embarrassed that Talia rejected him, that’s all. Really, it should be his problem, so why we always end up catering to it…”

“It’s kind of bothering me when you’re making special arrangements with me involved and not telling me why,” Stiles says. He pauses as Peter’s rambling cuts off and the man looks back at him, lips tightening. He hates being a nag, but…yeah, well, he’s annoyed. “I mean, even if it’s a stupid reason, I kind of want to know. You can’t just sex me up every time you don’t want to talk about it.”

And now he sounds all whiny again, like the kid who doesn’t get told where the party is and then stumbles on it anyway. Stiles makes a face at himself, and then he’s going to rub at his eye when Peter abruptly ducks down to press their cheeks together.

He freezes. Peter breathes in deeply and slowly, then shifts his head a little lower, so he’s pressing into the side of Stiles’ throat instead. He’s really tense and stiff against Stiles, and when Stiles pats tentatively at his shoulder, Peter exhales sharply, in clear relief. Stiles flips rapidly through his mental dictionary of werewolf body language, then moves his hand up and curls it firmly over the back of Peter’s neck.

Peter shivers, then relaxes into the grip. He’s silent for another moment, and when he finally says something, it’s in a very low, slightly uncertain voice. “I apologize,” he says. “I know. I’m…I can’t really excuse myself. You should know.”

“Well, it’s just, I don’t mind if it’s really stupid. Just say so and we can bitch together about it,” Stiles says. He squeezes at Peter’s nape a couple times, then shuffles his fingers so he’s still holding onto Peter, but they’re out of the way for him to nip an affirmation bite. “And it’s not like I mind the sexing up so long as it’s not just putting me off. I’m totally into making the unfun fun, you know that.”

“Mmm, yes, I’m aware,” Peter says. His voice warms a little, and then he noses behind Stiles’ ear, chuckling softly. He puts his hands on Stiles’ waist, then slides them pointedly to Stiles’ hips as Stiles shifts a little, feeling his jeans get tight again. “I’ll certainly keep that in mind. As for right now—I’m really not trying to stall, Stiles, but you now have five minutes to get to your first class and I do think we need longer than that.”

Stiles starts, then pulls his phone out. The clock, sadly, confirms what Peter’s saying. “Damn it,” he mutters.

He shoves his phone back in his pocket, then hooks Peter over for a quick kiss. Which immediately turns into a heavy make-out, what with Peter grinding up into him and fuck, right, Peter still hasn’t gotten off. And Stiles has to—huh.

“You need to get to class,” Peter gasps, though he’s not exactly yanking Stiles’ hand back out of his pants.

“Just texted Scott and Jackson to block the teacher from getting in, that should get us another two minutes,” Stiles says, dragging Peter’s mouth back onto his. “Come on, we can totally do that.”

* * *

It’s great having a pack to do your dirty work for you. Sure, before Stiles alpha-ed up, he still had the Service’s support staff, as well as his father (when he could talk his dad around) and the McCalls (so long as Melissa didn’t find out), but with pack Stiles doesn’t even have to falsify paperwork before he asks.

Of course, the flipside of that is, Stiles has to make it up to them afterward, and he can’t just do that by saving large portions of U.S. parkland. “Yeah, Jackson, I saw your email, okay, I swear I’ll quiz Alpha Blackhorn about his up and rising lacrosse star son. Get vital stats and all that.”

“Do you even know what vital stats mean for lacrosse?” Jackson says, raking his hand back through his hair. “Don’t look at me like that, McCall, it’s a valid question when Stiles has missed a quarter of our practice sessions.”

“I know Scotty here will keep me on track,” Stiles says, grabbing his buddy’s arm and dragging them off before Jackson can list, in excruciating detail, all the recon they need in order to properly steamroll their opponents next match.

Scott lets them get to the parking lot before recovering his arm. “Um, Stiles, Allison and I were going out for lunch—”

“—and so am I! Double alibis, awesome, right?” Stiles says, holding up his hand.

Allison, because she’s Allison, obligingly gives him the high-five. Then she frowns between him and Scott. “What was that for?” she asks.

“I have no idea, but I think I’m worried now,” Scott sighs.

Stiles would reassure his friend, but he and Peter have exactly six minutes to make the drive over to Fry Shack, three minutes to order their food and wait for it, four and a half to drive over to the courthouse office the Hales keep for client meetings, and seven to eat the food without choking. Which leaves them a good nineteen and a half minutes to screw over Peter’s desk before Peter has to drive Stiles back to school.

“So, Laurent,” Peter mutters, sprawling out over the desk. “You did read his file?”

“Golden boy, pack’s almost as old as yours, more conservative, kind of a stickler when it comes to rogue omega disputes,” Stiles rattles off.

He’s a little distracted, admittedly. Peter’s desk is…well, Stiles is sure it’s great for things like actually using it as a desk, and being impressively looming, and whatever, but it’s not exactly the greatest height for chilling out on. At least, not unless Stiles wants to slide out of Peter, and when he tries that, Peter clamps down on him hard enough to be slightly uncomfortable. And then makes little disappointed noises, while hitching his ass back into Stiles, and Stiles sighs and acknowledges that that’s still hotter than it is annoying, and just digs his toes into the carpet and his fingers into Peter’s shoulders, and hopes he doesn’t slip.

Sheer weight starts to make them move anyway, but then Peter flicks out his claws and plants them in the top of the desk, and okay. Problem solved. “That’s the public record,” Peter grunts. He flexes his back and arms and huffs and just like that, he’s pulled them over the desk so keeping their feet on the ground is no longer an issue. “I do remember talking to you and your father about—”

Werewolf strength is a cliché, but also, it’s awesome. Then Stiles shakes his head and drags his eyes away from Peter’s biceps, because damn it, he did ask for this and he will appreciate it. Their relationship is built on more than physical attraction and he loves what’s inside the package just as much and ugh, damn it, sometimes he just really, really is a teenage boy. “Oh, yeah, so, he was all about joining packs and Talia went nope, I want my own identity and he went, you need a protector, my fair lady, and she threw him into a car. And now he’s scared of her.”

“If only,” Peter mutters, rolling his eyes. “Everything would be so much easier if that were the case. Not that he isn’t scared of her, but he’s also never really understood why she rejected him in the first place. And he doesn’t want to know why. It’d shake his worldview too much.”

Stiles nods thoughtfully and shifts his knees to rest more comfortably on the desk, and tries not to get too involved in how Peter’s ass is sort of, just a little, squeezing at him. They really don’t have time for a second round, unless he wants to have every were in school passing him deodorant this afternoon. “So practically, what does this mean?”

Peter pushes his face against the desk. His eyes are closed and he looks a little tense, even if his breathing hasn’t changed any. He relaxes when Stiles nibbles at his nape, then smiles as Stiles works up a hand and flops it over his wrist.

“Well, in practical terms, it means he usually talks to me, and then I talk to Talia,” he mutters. “Which is not nearly as flattering as it sounds.”

“Does that mean that now he’s gotta talk to me?” Stiles says. “Since I’m your new alpha and all that?”

“Yes, although I’m still seconding Talia, and you can always delegate as well.” Peter’s fingers twitch around till they’re loosely laced into Stiles’ own. “And actually, he’ll have quite a dilemma this time. We’re being nice and not making him choose till he gets to the office, but Laura is being pulled up this year and he’ll have to figure out how to acknowledge her and you.”

“This sounds a lot like some of the fundraisers Dad and I have gotten dragged to. Like I gotta sit next to this dude and talk to that woman, in that order, or else all hell will break loose,” Stiles mutters, absently nuzzling at Peter’s neck. He feels Peter arch slowly under him, rolling that from shoulders to ass, and has to suck back a little bit of a groan as his cock gets tightened around in the best possible way. “Um. I hate to say this, but I should probably get out now.”

Peter makes that insanely, ridiculously petty little whine that he knows Stiles can’t deal with.

“Oh, come on, if I gotta head out to the airport with you tomorrow, I can’t be late today. I got Finstock next and it took enough work getting me out of practice,” Stiles says, although he’s still not actually trying to get up.

He does raise his head when Peter stiffens. Stiles frowns and Peter seems to sense it, because he hikes his head around and gives Stiles a surprised, uncertain look. “We can still send Francis,” Peter says. “Though it won’t be ideal, he’s never met Laurent before and Laurent can be a little…underhanded.”

And while Francis could piledrive a mountain without breaking a sweat, he’s not the political operator in the family, Stiles mentally translates. He shrugs at Peter, then reluctantly pulls his hands off the other man and braces them against the desk. “If you think we should go, then we’ll go,” he says. Waits till Peter starts to say something, then goes with the rip off the bandage approach to separating them. “Shit, um—I mean, if you want me to go with you. Or did you want me to do the whole delegating whatever thing? I think I can do that before he gets here, right? He’s not that old-fashioned?”

Peter exhales sharply, all the muscles in his back and shoulders and arms contracting at once, and God, is that a great view. He shivers, then relaxes. Looks both a little peeved, and a little admiring, at Stiles. “I think with that kind of timing, you’ll be much better with him than poor Francis,” he finally says.

Stiles snorts, then ducks in and kisses at the baby pout Peter’s making. Then backs off to grin, patting Peter’s hip in faux-consolation. “Awww, come on, I said I’d make this more fun for you. And you like it when I make you work for it.”

“This is true,” Peter says, his eyes closing as Stiles turns the patting into a firm grip on his buttock. He arches again at the thumb Stiles slides over the curve, dipping close to his hole, and then whines in disappointment as Stiles pulls it back. “I do work better under a firm hand.”

“Hah, very smooth, Peter,” Stiles says. He squeezes Peter’s ass with both hands, then gives Peter’s nape a last kiss as he gets up on his elbows and knees, starting to search for their clothes. “Well, how about this: you make sure I don’t screw up with Alpha Laurent, or anything else with this summit, and when it’s over, we’ll go out to the tree and camp overnight. Well, I mean, Derek and I will. You, we’re gonna tie up and leave in the tent, and we’ll just crawl back in and fuck you whenever I feel like it. Or it’s supposed to be warmer, maybe I’ll just put you outside. Leash you to the tree.”

Peter’s perfectly still for a second. Then, eyes still closed, he groans heavily into the desk. “Am I supposed to drive now?”

“I guess I could always do it,” Stiles says. “Oh, look, I see your car k—”

For all that he’s less obnoxious about it, Peter’s just as possessive about his car as Derek is about his. Stiles doesn’t even actually reach for Peter’s pants, but Peter’s off the desk and snatching them up before Stiles can even look up.

“Good beta,” Stiles says, grinning.

Peter makes a face at him, but it’s pretty half-hearted. “I do my best, alpha,” he says, starting to dress. “Now, about your unexcused absences record…”

“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles sighs, and pulls out the deodorizing wipes.

* * *

Getting out of only the second day back to school is less of a bonus than it should be, in Stiles’ opinion. True, Derek and Laura start out earlier than planned, and actually show up before Stiles and Peter need to go and get Alpha Laurent from the airport, but Derek’s barely got enough energy to snuffle his way around Stiles’ neck and get a couple welcome-home kisses before he collapses on the couch. “Just because I’m a werewolf doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use elevators,” he mumbles when Stiles pokes him.

“The one in my building broke, and it’s a fourth-floor walk-up,” Laura explains. She looks tired too, but she manages to stay upright as she scents Peter. “Also, before you say it, it does have a balcony but I don’t trust Derek’s aim above two stories, so no, we couldn’t just toss everything to each other.”

Peter sighs. “Fine, my lips are sealed. Except to say that coffee and snacks are in the kitchen. Your mother’s already left for the Service office and she wanted you to know that the Shasta alpha was early. And also, inquiring as to your relationship status.”

Laura scowls and drops away from him to flop on the couch. Which is already occupied, and after a brief tussle, Laura irritably settles for sitting on the coffee table, knock-kneed and dragging her hand through her hair. “Not exactly encouraging me to shower and pretty up, uncle.”

“Would it help if I mentioned that David shaved his head?” Peter says. When Laura blinks, he smirks at her. “Does wonders for his bone structure, I have to admit.”

“Huh,” Laura says, blinking again. Then she snorts. “Well, we’ll see if he’s less of a pompous dick. Speaking of, have fun with Alpha Laurent, and remember that you promised you’d take video if you had to accidentally lose his luggage again.”

Stiles waits till they’re in the car. “Pranks?”

“I like to think of them as my commission for putting up with him,” Peter says loftily, pulling out into the drive. “You’ll understand when you meet him.”

In fact, Stiles doesn’t for the first ten or so minutes. The guy they meet at the airport turns out to be a surprisingly doe-eyed, long-haired, sensitive-romantic-lead type, who thanks Stiles for taking the time away from the Nemeton to come in person (which is an old-fashioned greeting for a tree guardian, but Stiles gives him more points than penalties for doing the research to be species-specific) and then congratulates him on allying with the Hale pack. Stiles must look a little thrown, because Laurent then goes on at length about what a legendary pack they’ve been and how well-respected they are, and it’s all sounding very good.

Of course, then Laurent throws in that Peter “must be very happy to have finally settled with his own alpha,” and Stiles realizes a couple things. One, Laurent politely scented Peter but hasn’t said a word to Peter before this, even though Stiles threw in the whole delegation stuff. Two, Laurent has a very irritating way of smirking, now that he’s actually talking to Peter.

And three, Peter isn’t surprised by either of the first two. “Thank you,” he says, in that very dry, distant voice he uses when he’s trying not to engage, and doesn’t feel like wasting the sarcasm to just shut it down. “I do appreciate what I have.”

“About time,” Laurent says. “Not that that’s your fault, Peter. I know you were looking for ages, but it was a rather tricky situation.”

“Yes, well, I didn’t really see the need to go for anything less than the best, what with the standard I’m already accustomed to,” Peter says, flicking a look at Stiles via the rearview mirror.

The windows aren’t on blackout mode, and anyway, Stiles has both hands in his pockets, so even if they were, it’s not like reflection alone would tell Peter what Stiles has his fingers on. And also, just because Stiles happens to be fingering certain charms doesn’t mean he’s going to deploy them on the suddenly extremely snide son of a bitch he’s got to sit beside for the next, oh, thirty minutes.

But fine, Peter, point taken. Stiles takes his hands out of his pockets and tries not to slouch too obviously away from Laurent. “It’s been really helpful for me too, being able to talk to an alpha like Talia,” Stiles says. “I get to compare what I do with the tree to a werewolf alpha at the top of her game.”

“Interesting,” Laurent says slowly, his brows rising. “If you don’t mind me asking, what alphas have you met before this? You know, we rarely travel outside of our territories—well, most alphas, the Hales have always had a little wanderlust—and so it’s not common to run into true peers.”

“Oh, well, the Service has sent us around a little, so…let me see,” Stiles says. He makes a show of furrowing his brow and then lifting his hand to tick off the fingers. “So starting with the packs around where we were when I was born…Alpha Lee, Alpha Chaney, Alpha Carter, Alpha Aisling, Alpha Clay—”

“Alpha Clay?” Laurent says sharply.

“Yeah, he and my dad crossed paths when they were both in the military,” Stiles says. “Before he and his pack went off the grid and blew up a whole bunch of government conspiracies, obviously. We’re the Forest Service, we’re, you know, less big on the explosions. Usually.”

Laurent shifts a little. Like maybe he’s a tiny bit nervous, with the slight hunch of his shoulders and the twist so that he’s turned more towards Stiles. “Yes, your father. I’ve heard interesting—not bad, obviously, but he has a very, shall we say, unique reputation in the werewolf community.”

And that is something Stiles didn’t even think of. Which is totally on him, he is proud as hell of his dad and doesn’t take him for granted for a second, and he is slipping on his game for forgetting about using him to scare people. “Oh, really?” Stiles says. “What’ve you heard? I love seeing what other people know, I mean, I love him but he’s my dad, you know, I see him at breakfast every morning. It’s always really cool to hear about the people who ran into him when he was busting up a sex pollen-smuggling ring or an illegal wolfsbane farming operation.”

“Oh, well, I…haven’t had any kind of experience with that sort of thing,” Laurent says, stammering a little. “Smuggling and drugs, that’s not—my pack doesn’t—”

“I thought you were signed onto the Pacific Northwest patrolling agreement?” Stiles says innocently. “Peter told me a lot about that, you know, seeing as Talia pushed really hard for it. I thought you guys were founding members too, actually.”

“Yes, yes, of course, we are.” Laurent blinks rapidly, while little red streaks go through his eyes and those are totally defensive glowy eyes, not enraged in the least. “We—yes, I do remember that. Talia was—yes. She was very—vocal.”

The only reason Stiles doesn’t break down into evil sniggers right then and there, watching the poor guy dissolve into flustered little coughs, is that he’s pretty sure Peter is already doing it. There’s no good reason why Peter needs to be driving with his hand pressed over his mouth, while cheerfully humming along with Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’ on the radio. Which, even though it’s the radio, and therefore should just be an awesome coincidence, Stiles is tempted to chalk up to Hale mockery.

So this shouldn’t be too bad after all, Stiles thinks, as he happily quizzes Alpha Laurent on the early days of said agreement. They haven’t even gotten to the office yet, but if it’s all like this, then he’s got it in the bag.

* * *

Once they do get to the Service office (where Laurent nearly trips himself scrambling out of Peter’s car, and has to be called back to get his luggage), Stiles’ father takes over things with his usual no-nonsense attitude. And, again as usual, completely throws the alphas who’ve not met him before.

“Derek and Cora and I have bets on who’s the first alpha to ask him what his pack background is,” Laura mutters, coming up behind Stiles. “Still not too late to cut you in.”

“Hah, thanks, but no. Peter warned me about your sibling betting pools. I’m okay with cash or even patrol shifts on the line, but I do not put myself in a position where I gotta find out what other people keep under their beds,” Stiles says.

Now that introductions are over, Talia’s taking the lead on purely pack stuff so Stiles doesn’t have to come in again till his presentation on the Nemeton’s status and what this means for pack management. So he feels justified in melting into the back and grabbing a seat on some crates near the conference room. Even without the comedy of his dad eyeing confused alphas and then flicking off their posturing with a raised brow, watching Talia, with Peter next to her, work the room is a show worthy of popcorn.

Laura probably should be out there, too, but her mother’s not calling her over and she seems to have some odd semi-stalking routine going on with the Shasta guy, who does work that bald head but who also seems sort of introverted for an alpha. She slides back to Stiles and offers him half her KitKat. “Really? You of all people don’t want a legit reason to be in somebody else’s bedroom?”

“I want to find out where you all keep your fun stuff, I can do that without also having to find and clean up the dead mouse you hid when you were five and then forgot about,” Stiles mutters. He nibbles at the KitKat very slowly, till he gets Peter to look over, and then gives the melted chocolate over his fingers a nice, long lick.

Peter stares unashamedly, because that’s how Peter rolls, even at important diplomatic events, and then smiles and turns to say something to the woman to his right—Alpha Ramirez, who is rocking a pretty sweet silver streak in her long ponytail. Stiles turns to note it to Laura and finds her already admiring.

“Girl crush?” he says, pulling out his charm string.

Laura snorts. “General awesomeness crush,” she says, giving him a thank-you nod for the privacy ward. “If we weren’t arguing with them over water rights, I’d be over there getting her autograph. And tips on how she took out that necromancer all on her own back in the seventies. Speaking of, so what’d you do to Alpha Laurent? He’s even jumpier than usual.”

Said alpha is, at the moment, trying to talk to Stiles’ father, and judging by the number of wrinkles on Stiles’ dad’s brow, is being the least annoying about it. Probably because he’s spending half the time trying to keep from having his back to Peter, Stiles, or Talia.

“I didn’t do anything. I just asked about what he and his pack did, way back when,” Stiles shrugs. “Super educational car ride, learned a lot, great history download.”

Laura looks at him, and then pulls out another KitKat. “So Peter’s so chill because you freaked the guy out so much he can’t even think about badmouthing Mom to Peter?”

“Do I look like my dad?” Stiles says, scoffing at her offering hand. “Also, if you guys are the source of those peppermint patty wrappers I keep finding in his wastebasket—”

“—Stiles, c’mon, Mom doesn’t do store-bought desserts. I gotta sneak these—” Laura holds up the KitKat “—as much as your dad’s gotta with all that pie.”

And then she leans over, and somehow stuffs the KitKat in her mouth while also coughing McCall into her fist. When she comes back up, she’s sans wrapper, and doesn’t have a smudge of chocolate anywhere.

“If you say werewolf whatever, I’m gonna cut you,” Stiles mutters. Because hey, okay, he is committed to a healthy diet but sometimes he needs to sneak a little (well within nutritional guidelines!) food due to timing (Harris has to be that kind of asshole, even if actual chemistry shows blood sugar naturally dips at that time of day). And he never gets away that clean.

Laura smirks at him. And then she’s going to follow up with a comment, except first Stiles’ father clears his throat.

“All right, everyone, I think we can start moving into the room and get started,” he says. “Everybody’s here except Alpha Blackhorn—”

“Surprise, surprise,” mutters Alpha LaSalle. “That pack’s been a mess for most of that decade. If I were their neighbor, I’d just put them out of their misery already.”

That’s to Alpha Laurent, who raises his brows and then draws himself up, and with just that much, shakes off the nerves and looks like the kind of guy who might have a sword cane, but because he can use it just as much as for the ironic old-timey feel. “I’m sorry, Robert, but I thought we’d all outgrown massacres for the sake of territory.”

“Yes, yes. I’m just saying it’d be a lot more stable if somebody did something, and I think it’s pretty clear we’ll be waiting a while if we wait for that somebody to come up internally,” Alpha LaSalle says, rolling his shoulder.

“Gentlemen,” Talia sighs, clicking over. She’s tall anyway, but in her heels she’s taller than half of them, and that’s topped off by a very wide happy-to-eat-you smile. “We’ve got a full enough agenda. Let’s not add to it and waste Agent Stilinski’s time.”

Alpha Laurent stiffens—though his eyes also kind of check out Talia’s neckline—and then he gives her a tight, silent nod. And a little elegant handwave for her to go ahead of him. Talia is less than thrilled about the gesture, but she’s about to step into the room when Alpha LaSalle downright cackles.

“You two still aren’t going on, are you?” he says. “Speaking of messes, honestly. The woman doesn’t want a bodyguard, Tom. Learn to take a no.”

“And while we appreciate the support, Alpha LaSalle, I don’t think our personal history is on the agenda either,” Peter says.

Next to Stiles, Laura lets out a low groan, and also, shifts her stance so she has a clearer line of sight on LaSalle. Stiles glances from her to Peter, who’s got that really mild smile that means huge buckets of bad blood, and then to Talia, who looks more ruffled about Peter’s comment than LaSalle’s. Although when LaSalle snorts, it’s Peter that Talia moves toward.

“I heard he got a new alpha, but he’s still as mouthy as ever, isn’t he?” LaSalle says to her. “Talia, I know you’re close, but it doesn’t reflect well on you if your betas keep stepping out. No wonder Tom here keeps thinking you might take a hand from him.”

“No wonder you can’t keep your pack out of court, if you’re their role model,” Laurent snaps.

Stiles slides off the crates, but something catches his arm. He looks down and sees Laura’s hand, and then, when he looks up at her, she shakes her head without taking her eyes off the people across the room.

“Let Mom,” she mutters, just as Talia takes a deep breath.

“While I appreciate all the diverse voices, because truly, it’s so rare that we werewolves are willing to speak up at all, I don’t think this particular issue requires unsolicited input,” Talia says, in a very cool, very calm tone. “Especially as you are guests here. Now, I’m sorry, John, I know we’re getting off your schedule.”

“Just a couple minutes,” Stiles’ dad says dryly. He picks up a folder from behind himself, then snaps it against his hand; more than one alpha twitches, and then frowns as Stiles’ dad just looks more exasperated. “But those minutes do add up. Now, if we could just sit down and I’ll pass out the materials…”

Laura lets go of Stiles’ wrist at that point. She immediately goes to her mother, while Stiles dodges some kinda-pale baby rangers—he makes a note to remind his dad they need to step up the angry-alpha desensitization drills—and swipes some coffee from them while he’s at it. Then he comes up next to Peter. He shoves both cups into Peter’s hands, then slings his arm over Peter’s shoulders as they walk into the room.

Peter still looks calm but he’s got that slightly glassy sheen to his eyes that means he’d really like to kill something right now. And when he turns his head and presses their cheeks together, Stiles can feel more than a little bit of a snarl in his voice. “Yes, alpha, I do remember, no bloodshed till the coffee break,” he murmurs.

Across the table, Alpha LaSalle flicks his eyes up, then snorts dismissively and turns away to get his handouts from a ranger. Stiles keeps watching the asshole as he gives Peter’s temple a brief nuzzle. “I know, it’s annoying, but the tree likes its blood nice and fresh,” Stiles says. He grins and gives LaSalle a friendly wave when he looks up again, then lets go of Peter to get his coffee. “And you’re such a good beta when it comes to delivering that.”

The side of Peter’s mouth curls up as he ducks his head into his cup. Which moves him so that suddenly Stiles is looking at Talia, sitting on his other side, and she’s smiling at him too. And it’s not intimidating, or weirdly over-friendly, or anything like that. She just seems very happy with him and it’s…it’s nice. Weirdly intimidating in its own way, but nice.

Of course, then Stiles’ dad clears his throat and outsiders never get this, but the man has about as many meaningful throat-clears as werewolves have body language signals for dominance/submission, and this one makes Stiles start and almost flail up with his hands and blurt out something about doing it when he gets home. The only reason Stiles stays semi-non-embarrassing is because Peter slaps a hand onto his knee under the table, holding him down.

Stiles’ father gives him a little eye, as if he’s responsible for all the alpha dumbassery that’s happened in the past few minutes, and then looks over the rest of the table with a polite smile pasted to his face. “All right, then. Thank you again for coming, everyone,” he says. “I don’t want to drag things out, so let’s just get started. First page in your folders is the agenda, and we’ll run down the items really quick to just make sure nobody’s—”

In the hall there’s a scuffle, a couple surprised voices, and then an incredibly long, screeching noise that resolves into Alpha Blackhorn skidding just a little past the doorway, because he’s barefoot. And using his claws as some kind of makeshift braking mechanism. And thus leaving huge rips in the flooring.

“Hi, sorry I’m late,” he pants. “Um, Agent Stilinski?”

For a second Stiles’ dad looks like he might just do something, and not just Alpha Blackhorn, but also the two alphas closest to him who aren’t Hales, all go a little defensive. Then Stiles’ dad sighs and gets up, and crooks his head for scenting. “Yeah, that’s me. Glad you could make it, we’re just getting going.”

Stiles’ phone vibrates. While his father’s getting Alpha Blackhorn settled, he sneaks that out of his pocket, and finds a text from Peter: first alpha to make your father invade their personal space as an intimidation tactic. you in?

you are a terrible, terrible person, trying to make me bet on my own family’s suffering, Stiles texts back, without looking down, because obviously he mastered that art a long time ago. so cash or favors? but no chores, okay?

* * *

The first half of the summit goes pretty smoothly. Which is probably because it’s frontloaded with all of the really dry, nitpicky, bureaucratic stuff, because Stiles’ father has a deep understanding of people’s limited attention spans and believes in not getting called on the carpet for somebody else’s procrastination. Even alphas have a hard time finding ways to pick fights over drainage maintenance and firewood permitting.

Coffee break number one, Stiles’ father slides Stiles into a corner. “So, anything I need to know?” he says.

“Well, they kind of hung it all out there already, didn’t they?” Stiles says. And then rolls his eyes at his dad’s look. “Nothing that’s not going to come off like we’re gossiping about alpha sex lives. I think they’re all just kind of assholes about Talia and Peter being awesome without following the rules, honestly.”

Stiles’ dad makes a face. “Great. Think it’d be easier if there was some old murder to deal with, actually,” he mutters, walking off.

Coffee break number two, Stiles keeps his promise to Jackson and chats up Alpha Blackhorn about his son and relevant lacrosse skills. For all the shade that the other alphas are throwing—and it’s at least a little deserved, considering how many mediations Peter’s been called into with that pack—Alpha Blackhorn in person is actually kind of a nice guy. Once he realizes Stiles really does want to make small talk, he drops the dominance posturing and happily pulls out his phone’s photo gallery.

“So you’re all on the lacrosse team?” he says, swiping through a series of photos showing his kid running drills with teammates. “I should check the schedule and see when you’re in town. We’d be happy to—er. Well. I mean, I would love to welcome you and your—”

“Oh, it’s high school athletics, Greg,” Peter says, popping up behind them. He drapes himself over Stiles’ back, nuzzling down under Stiles’ chin so his head’s properly lower than either of theirs. “We don’t stand on ceremony for that sort of thing.”

Blackhorn seems much more wary about Peter than any of the other alphas, but then, he’s the one with the most recent hands-on experience of Peter’s mediation skills. “Right. Good to know. You…come along to the away meets too, I guess?”

“Whenever possible. Must support the alpha,” Peter says blandly.

“Yep, nice, I get my very own cheer section,” Stiles says. While snaking Peter’s hands away from his ass, because one, his dad, and two, Alpha LaSalle’s giving them side-eye.

He excuses them from Blackhorn, who doesn’t have a chance to look forlorn before Talia walks up to him (whereupon he looks terrified), and then maneuvers Peter behind the coffee machine.

“So what’s the deal with LaSalle?” he hisses once the privacy ward’s up. “I thought he was the one alpha you guys don’t have a problem with.”

Peter rolls his eyes. “He is. In that we as a pack have no problems with him. Sadly, you can’t dispute with a fellow alpha simply because his personality is unbearable.”

Stiles makes a face. “Got it. Well, at least there’s just my session and then we’re at lunch?”

“Moon give me strength,” Peter mutters, just as LaSalle corners Laura and the Shasta alpha. “Excuse me, I need to go stop my niece from ruining your father’s floor. Well. From ruining it more.”

The Nemeton presentation goes awesomely, if Stiles can say so. True, he’s biased and all, but he thinks the lack of stupid questions about when the tree is going to explode out of the ground like some kind of vegetal Cthulhu and crawl across the earth looking for victims is a good sign. And nobody nodded off during the part about hibernation cycles, so put one up for GIF win.

Of course, then they head out into the preserve to actually see the tree for themselves. Stiles goes up ahead of the rest so he can make sure the tree’s awake enough for the demonstration—and also not too cranky, though they just fed it—and so he misses the start of it. “But trust me, there wasn’t anything they aren’t saying right now,” Laura mutters under her breath, as she circles up to stand next to Stiles.

“You need to get your pack under control!” LaSalle is snapping at Blackhorn. “They’re a disgrace to our kind!”

“Don’t lecture me, you—” Blackhorn’s eyes flare red and it sounds like he drops into some other language for a second “—you, you have no idea what we’ve been dealing with! Go ahead, sit on your high horse and preach when you haven’t had a decent challenge in the last ten years! And you deserve one, from what I’ve heard.”

They both snarl at each other. Talia, standing between them, doesn’t even drop fangs, but she looks deeply frustrated as she asks them repeatedly to stop yelling and calm down.

The other alphas are hanging back in a loose, silent semi-circle, intently watching but obviously not about to intervene. Which would be a relief if it wasn’t, honestly, seriously creepy. Stiles catches his father’s hand sneaking past the taser clipped to his belt and going for the gun, but his dad catches himself before Stiles has to do anything. Shakes his head, then sighs and wades in there with Talia, reminding them all that they signed temporary non-aggression agreements for this meeting.

“Oh, like anybody’s gonna care about a piece of paper right now,” Laura says.

“Could you not sound so excited when my dad’s in the middle of that?” Stiles hisses back at her. He takes a step towards the tree, so he can get his hand on the trunk, and then feels a little better as it perks up in interest.

Stiles tells the tree to chill for now, and then he’s trying to spot Peter, who he thought had been trailing in the back. Not because he’s a beta, but because you always want to have the exit covered if shit’s gonna go down.

But Peter’s right up by Alpha Blackhorn’s shoulder, telling him in a very low, tense voice to just stop giving LaSalle what he wants. He grabs Blackhorn’s elbow and Laura stretches up, balancing on the balls of her feet. Alpha Laurent steps out of the semi-circle, looking concerned.

Blackhorn jerks his head around and shows Peter red eyes, but he doesn’t actually look all that mad about being grabbed. Sure, he looks annoyed, and he pulls his arm free as he snaps back a reply, but he’s not getting all in Peter’s face about it.

And then, of course, LaSalle’s got to throw in his couple of cents. “Yes, listen to him, would you?” he says. “You’re closer to where he is than where the rest of us are.”

“Goddamn it,” Laura sighs, just as Blackhorn twists back around. She starts taking off her coat.

“We all decided to leave, it wasn’t like I made anybody come with me,” Blackhorn snarls. And then he stops and blinks, and proves that an alpha can look genuinely confused while fanged and red-eyed and just generally one step short of a full shift.

Talia’s stepped in front of him. “Excuse me?” she says to LaSalle. “Listen, we’ve done our best to respect you for the duration of this meeting, but if you’re going to be insulting my family—”

“Oh, Talia, I’m not insulting you,” LaSalle says, rolling his eyes. “You’re going to bring your brother along to these things, you can take what’s coming to you. Really, I don’t know why you even bothered giving him another alpha. We can all just take a look and see he’s a kid, it’s not like we don’t know exactly what’s going on.”

“You’re out of order, Robert,” Laurent snaps.

“And you’re still a romantic idiot,” LaSalle says. “You should’ve just let your brother kill Peter, and then maybe you would’ve gotten her. I have never understood why you try and be friendly with him when he’s the main reason Talia never liked you.”

Laurent looks horrified, and then furious. He backs up, but only so he’s got the space to push out his arms and drop into a crouch, preparing for full shift.

Talia’s and Peter’s faces go blank, a second before they both snarl, fangs out, eyes glowing. At this angle Stiles can’t get a perfect read on their expressions but Alpha Blackhorn backpeddles the hell out of there. And as for Laura, she’s already fully shifted, and is angrily pawing the ground as LaSalle looks slowly around at them, nose wrinkled like he’s seen better at a Halloween haunted house.

“Fine,” LaSalle says, shrugging, and then cracks his knuckles to show off his claws.

“Okay, no,” Stiles’ dad says. He’s keeping his hands in tight at his sides, but he doesn’t hesitate to step in between Laurent and LaSalle. “First of all, you’re all violating your non-aggression agreements—”

LaSalle makes an incredulous noise, then glances at the other alphas. “Agent Stilinski,” he says, almost laughing as he turns back. “Listen. I admire your dedication to your job, but—”

“Second,” Stiles’ dad says, holding up a finger for each point. “Even if this was a designated dispute center, you haven’t even attempted to file the necessary paperwork. Third, it’s been a while but I don’t think this falls into any of the exceptions for culture-specific rituals. Fourth—”

“You’re determined to get hurt, aren’t you?” LaSalle says.

Stiles’ dad sighs. “Fourth, you are standing right under the Nemeton.”

“Yeah,” Stiles says, and lets the roots he’s been snaking up through the ground whip out and snare everybody’s ankles. Not including him and his dad, yes including the Hales, because much as he loves them—honestly, because he loves them, he absolutely thinks they’ll have a go at trapped alphas. “And my first of all? Fuck you for not listening at all to my presentation, which I spent a whole week of my winter break on—”

His dad swivels, silently asks Stiles if this is necessary, and then answers his own question by dropping his face into his hand and massaging it.

“—second, well, I listened to my briefing, and correct me if I’m wrong, somebody, but of all the bullshit that came out of your mouth just now, I think I get precedent. ‘cause you called everybody else names, but I’m the only one who you just said isn’t a real alpha. Right?” Stiles says.

“Correct,” Alpha Ramirez immediately says. Stiles lets go of her ankles and she takes a dainty step back, with a nod towards him. “You’re already in the shit, Robert. Don’t try to rewrite the laws in front of us while you’re at it.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Ana,” LaSalle says tightly. He’d looked a lot less pissy once he figured out werewolf strength wasn’t going to kick off the roots, but he pulls back some of that now, looking over at Stiles. “Well, all right, then. Are you challenging?”

“I kind of thought you were?” Stiles says.

Alpha Blackhorn’s grinning. “Yep.”

“Stiles?” his father says, just as the rest of the roots uncurl from people’s legs.

He still looks a little irritated, and Stiles spots the worried glint in his eyes, too, so Stiles is totally expecting a reminder that the rules aren’t going to get bent for him, either, and for everybody to just shut up and stop being stupid. But instead his dad just walks out of the way, going up to stand by Alpha Blackhorn and…he might actually be finding this funny, come to think of it. His lips are twitching, even as he shoots Stiles another warning glance.

“Just remember, defending the tree still comes under the proportional response standard,” he says, and holy shit, but his dad not only finds this funny, he’s enabling.

“Oh. Yeah. And so, for those of you who were ignoring my briefing, you do something I think’s gonna damage my baby, like, I don’t know, alpha throwdown right on top of it, I’m allowed to fight back. No paperwork needed,” Stiles says. He smiles at LaSalle and LaSalle shifts from attacking to defensive stance. “So sure, you can challenge, and I can push back, but I gotta keep it to the same level. You know, be fair. But I’m a kid so my control is…well, kind of a work in progress…”

The Nemeton is happy to rip up a big stump a couple yards off and then fling it over the group, so it crashes to splinters against a rock outcropping. If Stiles is going to do this regular wake-ups during hibernation, he should let it get some proper exercise.

Stiles sends some sympathetic waves towards the tree, because he gets it and he wishes they could get around certain Service regulations too. “So much as I’d like to be hands-on, I think I better exercise my right to delegate, so we can keep this all proper and legal,” he says, while patting the trunk. “This is nonlethal under werewolf rules too, anyway. Right?”

“Right,” Laura says. She’s shifted back human and is leaning against the tree next to Stiles, snickering under her breath. “Wow, poor Derek, he’s gonna be so…anyway, Stiles, so who’s the lucky Hale? Oh, sorry, John, didn’t mean to—”

“I gotta step out anyway, I think there’s something with the lunch delivery,” Stiles’ dad says, poking at his phone. He walks towards the tree, pauses to squeeze Stiles’ shoulder, and then wanders off behind it.

“Well, okay, then,” Laura says. “Who’s it gonna be?”

Talia and Peter have both shifted human again, and are standing back from LaSalle, arms folded over their chests, identical looks of bloody-minded amusement on their faces. “For the record, we’re all available,” Talia says, with a warm look at Stiles. “Although Laura and I understand if you’d like to remain faithful to your own pack.”

“Thanks,” Stiles says. Peter catches his eye, trying to signal something, but LaSalle’s shifting around too and Stiles wants to get this over with before he really does have to bring the tree into it. “But seeing as I’m defending my tree…it just has to be proportional. I know it’s not the same for you guys, but I don’t have to stick with one on one.”

“Unorthodox but there’s precedent when nonweres are involved,” Alpha Ramirez immediately says, before LaSalle’s mouth is half-open. “From your pack, Robert.”

“So I choose all of you. In fact, maybe I’ll just group text the rest of the pack, see who’s around and can make it,” Stiles says, and holds up his phone so they can all see it. “Though okay, Peter’s my beta, I think he deserves to get first go, if he wants it.”

Peter looks over and he’s smiling. It’s just a smile, just that, but the way Peter looks at him makes Stiles’ face heat up, even after months of really kinky, sometimes public sex with the guy. It’s just—it’s adoring, no other word for it. And so open about it, and so not giving a shit about who sees, and just, wow, okay, because Stiles does still get surprised about how into him the other man is.

“I’m honored, alpha,” he says. His eyes linger on Stiles, and then he has to visibly shake himself as he turns to Talia. “But if it’s all right with you, I’d like to give my turn to Talia.”

Talia’s brows arch. She’s genuinely surprised—and genuinely gleeful, for a second, before she remembers herself and looks at Stiles.

“It’s his, he can do what he wants with it,” Stiles says.

“You never get to match up with other alphas these days,” Peter murmurs.

Talia grins at him. “I know. And I do appreciate the sacrifice, brother.”

“Oh, I’ll have another shot, I’m sure,” Peter says, and then steps out of the way. “That’s why you keep me around.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, you know I keep you for your sense of humor,” Talia says. She doesn’t crack bones, but she does pull back her hair into a loose knot as she steps forward. Bumps shoulders with Peter too, so their heads briefly tip towards each other. “All right, Robert. I’ll try and leave something for Peter, but I warn you, I am a little out of practice.”

LaSalle didn’t seem so phased when he was facing the Hales plus Laurent and Blackhorn, but then, Talia hadn’t fully shifted. He’s pretty calm, just the muscle in his jaw ticking, until she shakes out her full wolf form and, incidentally, gives them all a good view of how insanely built it is, and then his hands start shaking as they circle each other. Stiles is pretty sure he’s shifted as far as he can, so…not a full-shift were, him.

“So, I don’t think Dad’s coming back till I text him the all-clear,” Stiles says, as Peter comes up and joins him and Laura. “This gonna take long?”

“Stiles, really,” Peter scoffs, leaning against him. “My sister talks a generous game, but believe me, when she does get in there, she forgets all about that. Laura and I aren’t going to get a whiff of this fight.”

Laura checks her phone. “I’d tell him to come back in five,” she says, and then she tilts the phone slightly. When they look at her, she shrugs. “Streaming it to Cora. She’s never gotten to see Mom fight.”

Peter stretches over, then pinches his fingers on Laura’s screen to zoom in as leaves and dirt and fur start flying. Then, on the way to settling back against Stiles, he lets his nose and mouth drift down the side of Stiles’ face. Stiles figures it’s just the usual scenting and puts up the hand that’s not texting his dad, and then realizes that Peter’s trembling a little.

He starts to turn his head and Peter just pushes his face into Stiles’ neck, so Stiles stops where he is. Then, very carefully, watching the other alphas—they appear to be admiring Talia’s moves—he curls his hand over Peter’s throat.

“I’ll tell you about Laurent’s brother later,” Peter murmurs. He shivers again, then rubs against Stiles’ cheek. “I’m sorry, it just…it does not come up. Even Robert’s not that ugly, usually.”

In all honesty—Stiles wasn’t even thinking about bugging Peter about it. Sure, he probably would’ve later, but he doesn’t think he would’ve been mad about it then, either. He gets frustrated with them for not telling him stuff on purpose, and with the fact that even when they aren’t doing it on purpose, there’s just so much he still has to learn about them. But he gets that even he can’t pick up everything at once, so obviously, they can’t tell him everything right away.

“Okay,” is what he finally says. He gives Peter’s neck another pat, and then sends off the text to his father. And looks up, and he’s seen some gory stuff but damn, Talia. “Is that legal?”

“He’ll heal,” Laura says. Then she tilts her head and her phone. “Though I guess we should probably get a doctor or something, if we don’t want him bleeding all over the office.”

“Already on their way,” Stiles’ dad says, walking back up. When Stiles yelps, he rolls his eyes. “You already censor my desserts, son, you don’t need to censor my soon-to-be incident reports. Though it’s good to know we won’t be late to lunch.”

Laura blinks at him. “You’re still gonna be hungry?”

“With the paperwork I’ve got after this, a good meal is about all I’ve got to look forward to,” Stiles’ dad snorts. He watches Talia check that LaSalle’s given up, and then scratches his nose as she shifts human. “Besides. Half of it’s from your mother’s kitchen.”

“True,” Laura says. “Well, gotta go tell him we’re still good hosts and are providing medical care and all. After you, John.”

She and Stiles’ dad head on down. Stiles stays where he is for the moment, since there’s no reason for them to all get bloody.

“So I did okay, right?” he says under his breath. “Because honestly, I kinda didn’t plan any of that. And basically winged the hell out of it.”

Peter pauses, a little incredulous, and then breaks into an affectionate grin as he kisses Stiles’ throat. “You were perfect,” he says. “Perfect, alpha. Just perfect.”

* * *

The afternoon sessions are kind of an anticlimax, for obvious reasons. LaSalle gets shipped off to a private clinic to heal up, but he at least isn’t such an asshole that he won’t authorize one of his betas to proceed in his absence. Said beta, upon being told about what happened, spends the whole time sounding very glad that he gets to attend by phone. He doesn’t have the authority for final sign-off, but he’s enough for them to actually get some substantive negotiating done, and that means that Stiles’ dad finishes up the day in a fairly good mood.

“No, go on home,” he says, pushing Stiles out of his office. “I’ll bring the files with me and we can go over it later, but you’ve done enough. Get going before some other alpha picks a fight with you.”

Chris is just coming around the corner with a bag dangling from his hand, which he tries to swing around so Stiles’ can’t see it’s got the diner logo on it. “You serious?” he says. “The gossip’s right?”

“Are you seriously sneaking my dad coconut cream pie?” Stiles says. “And don’t look at me like that, they post their daily slice to Instagram.”

“Stiles, after today I deserve pie,” Stiles’ father says.

And, judging by how he hustles Chris into his office, other stuff that makes Stiles a little more eager to get home. Where he is totally taking all the honey and maple syrup and other sweeteners, and locking them up in the garage until he can get a blood sugar level check on his father.

“You don’t think that that’s a little extreme?” Peter says mildly, watching from his seat in the doorway.

Talia and Peter disappeared for a few minutes right after the summit ended, while everybody was saying farewell (for people leaving immediately, which includes a very mumbly and standoffish Laurent) or making evening plans (for people heading out in the morning), and when they came back, Talia was a little smug and Peter a little bemused. And the upshot’s that Peter’s been relieved of his usual pack ambassador duties, and Laura’s been pushed up to take those over. Which means that Derek, newly-woken from his nap and annoyed he missed a fight, got bounced out to play driver for Laura. So Stiles and Peter have the whole house to themselves. Which Stiles fully intends to take advantage of, as soon as he gets a few chores out of the way.

“Look, I can make exceptions for the holidays, and overlook the occasional stress-induced lapse, okay, because if we replaced all the office vending machines with granola dispensers morale would go through the cellar, I’m not that stupid,” Stiles says, plastering another ward over the lock. “But Dad picks up Melissa every couple of days already, and it’s not like I don’t know why it takes them an hour, minimum, for a ten-minute drive from the hospital to her house.”

“Mmm, yes, late-night sugar calls,” Peter drawls. “We all know where they go on those.”

Stiles pauses, then gives up on the lock and turns around to make a face at the other man. “Do you gotta say it like that? I mean, usually I’m all for the double entendres, but food metaphors I really never wanted around my dad.”

Peter raises his brows and pulls the innocent eyes and generally looks like he’d really, really like some attention now, like the underhanded beta he is. “I don’t know what you mean, Stiles. This is my voice.”

“Hah,” Stiles says, walking back across the garage. When he gets to the door, he grabs both sides of the frame so that he can keep his head at the same level as he goes up the steps, scrunching himself till he’s planted himself on Peter’s lap. “So you were born sounding like somebody stirred up porn with a pinch of snide, and slathered it all with horrifically bad for you insinuation icing.”

So Stiles is maybe playing on the whole looking-down thing, and Peter’s pupils are maybe dilating a little at it. Peter still manages to smirk like it was all his idea, as he shifts his hands back to the floor behind him, lifting his chin to show throat. “Now who’s introducing food where it shouldn’t go?”

His voice goes all low and breathy, coming out of slightly parted lips, and…cue Stiles’ stomach, ruining the mood with an offensively loud growl.

“On second thought, we should’ve grabbed something on the way home,” Stiles mutters, climbing off Peter. “Because man, but dumbass alpha challenges make me hungry, and I don’t know if you’re still gonna want to after watching me inhale whatever’s in the freezer.”

“Such lack of faith in your beta,” Peter teases, clucking his tongue and getting up to follow Stiles into the kitchen. “I think I’ve seen you in worse states, and we’ve still managed.”

Although about five minutes later, after Stiles has worked through most of their current stock of Hale kitchen leftovers, a frozen dinner and a half, and a bowl of guacamole, Peter looks like he might want to revise his opinion.

He also looks a little concerned. “Is it the tree?” he says. “Did we throw off its feeding schedule?”

“Oh, no, um.” Stiles swallows, wipes off his mouth on a napkin, and tries to reset his face from ‘human vacuum.’ “No, it’s just that it’s on a hibernation schedule, but we poked it and got it kind of excited, actually. But it didn’t get to mess with anybody after all, so it went back to sleep but I got stuck with the, um, I guess you can call them hibernation munchies. It’s good, I just…I’m gonna feel really bloated in the morning, ugh.”

“You have a note to get you out of practice, right?” Peter says, eyeing the empty containers scattered across the counter. He starts picking them up and sorting them between the sink and the trashcan. “Damn it. I really—I don’t know what the hell Robert was on today. Of all the things Talia and I thought could go wrong…”

When he says that, he’s got his back to Stiles, rinsing Tupperware off in the sink, but Stiles gets enough from the way Peter’s holding his shoulders, and the edge to his voice. “Hey, you know…you know I’m not mad, right? That I didn’t know? Because I can tell the difference between deliberately dodging me, and having a whole life going on before I showed up.”

Peter stills. Then he chuckles under his breath. He turns off the tap and turns around, shaking the water off his hands, and then comes over to stand in front of Stiles, dipping his head to nuzzle at Stiles’ cheek and jaw. “Yes, and believe me, Stiles, we all appreciate your good sense and intelligence. I’m just—I suppose I’m sorry that we can’t offer you less of a minefield when it comes to our family history.”

“You remember Thanksgiving, right?” Stiles says. And a little twitch goes through him, because he still gets a little freaked out, thinking about what his grandmother tried to pull. “’s not like I can throw stones.”

Firm, warm hands wrap around his wrists, their thumbs rubbing soothingly up the undersides of his arms. He takes a deep breath and he’s going to raise his head, say he’s good when Peter sneaks in to whuff against his throat. Which is a classic move for asking for comfort, but Stiles kind of doubts that Peter’s asking for himself here.

But whatever. It’s not Derek’s little breathe-with-me move, but it’s just as effective, just the weight of Peter’s head on his shoulder, grounding him, and Stiles more than just appreciates how off-base his pack is. And fuck anybody who thinks they can judge it. They’ve got no idea.

“So you don’t actually have to explain to me right this second, if you don’t want to,” Stiles says, after about a minute or so, when he thinks he’s worked through his issues. If he still sounds tight, it’s because he’s irritated at himself for being that guy who can’t help throwing in his problems when the focus should be on other people. He needs to be better than that; Derek and Peter and everybody else deserve better. “Or you can tell me now, but I just…it doesn’t seem like a need-to-know-immediately thing. I mean, you and Alpha Laurent seem to have—you seem sort of cool about it, now.”

“It’s more like we mutually agree none of us want to revisit it,” Peter mutters. He straightens up, a wry half-smile on his face. “I understand what you’re saying, but we might as well. And—it might help me, to be honest. I don’t know why LaSalle had to bring it up—I thought everybody had happily forgotten about it.”

And Peter hates it when somebody’s surprised him like that. His shoulders jerk and then he steps to the side so he can press his hands to the edge of the counter, obviously fighting to compose himself. Stiles makes a noise so Peter knows he’s listening, but just waits for the man.

“Tom had an older half-brother. Dead now.” Peter’s brows rise. “Yes, it’s related and I’ll get to that. His brother was much older—Ennis was an alpha, too, and had led the pack at one point, but they’d thrown him out and he was a rogue in all but name. But he was very strong, and Tom was like Talia, inheriting the pack very young, and so I think Tom was trying to mend bridges to keep off a potential challenge.”

Ennis Laurent had been in the Laurent pack records, listed as going rogue after multiple reports of domestic abuse had been filed against him by various pack members. Stiles had reread those, trying to figure out the deal with Alpha Laurent and Talia, but he doesn’t remember Ennis as being around at the time; he’d been pushed out a good three years earlier.

“Tom kept it under wraps,” Peter says, guessing Stiles’ train of thought. “He’s an irritating man, but he’s not an idiot, and if we have to kill our own, we prefer to not have to report it. But Ennis was near enough to hear about Talia rejecting his brother.”

“So why’d he go after you and Talia, if he’s thinking he can take over his old pack again?” Stiles says. “Shouldn’t he just go straight for his brother?”

“Well, that depends on who you ask.” Peter smiles, looking past Stiles at people who aren’t present. And, going by how he’s smiling, at people he doesn’t like very much. “Old-timers like LaSalle tend to think that Ennis was trying to ingratiate himself with his brother, by attacking a pack that’d publicly humiliated him. Not really how we do that these days, but it’s how we used to do it, after all.”

He shrugs, then pushes against the counter and straightens up. His claws come out and he frowns absently, hearing their clicks. Then he looks down, sees whose claws are doing that and makes a face as he sheathes them.

“I wasn’t supposed to be where I was—I ran off sometimes. Talia and I weren’t fighting, I just liked to go out. Our grandmother kept us so close at home, it could be suffocating,” Peter says abruptly. “I ran into Ennis. I might’ve had a reputation within the family, but he was a full-grown alpha with a number of death challenges under his belt, and I was a teenage beta. I got away from him, but where we were, I couldn’t—I wasn’t able to get to a phone right away, and I knew he was after me. I went to ground in a junkyard to heal up. There were cars dripping oil and things like that, that I knew would throw off my scent. They didn’t find me for about two days.”

“That’s not in your file at all,” Stiles finally says.

Peter shrugs again. “It was summer, so we didn’t have to tell the school. And Talia called in a private doctor, I think—I honestly don’t remember very much. It was summer but there was a cold snap, and they said I had hypothermia—”

Stiles can’t help making a stunned noise. He feels bad about it, and worse when Peter starts up, looking over like he thinks Stiles might be leaving, but it’s a lot harder for a were to get hypothermia than it is for a human. That’s a lot of blood loss, at least, if Peter’s healing was that degraded.

“Anyway,” Peter continues after a tense second. He works his jaw and then moves his head slightly up and down, pushing himself to get it out. “Talia’s never told me all of it either. But Tom apparently called her up, and he and she went out and tracked me down, and then Tom took Ennis on somewhere. He sent Talia one of Ennis’ claws a couple weeks later. So you can see why everyone still thinks he’s in love with her.”

“And thinks he killed his brother when Ennis was just trying to help him out,” Stiles says. “I’m guessing you don’t believe that.”

“Well, admittedly, I didn’t meet him for very long, but Ennis didn’t strike me as the brotherly type,” Peter says dryly. He seems a little less edgy now. “Personally, I think he did it because he was trying to draw Tom out. Talia would go after me, then Tom would go after her, and Ennis could catch him off-guard.”

Stiles snorts. “I guess that makes sense. Play on that knight complex of Tom’s.”

Oddly enough, Peter pauses, and then shakes his head. “It’s not that. Tom has problems with female alphas but it’s not that he doesn’t realize they’re just as strong, physically. In fact, I’m positive he challenged Ennis because he knew if Talia got to him first, she wouldn’t make it quick. That’s part of his problem, he still thinks she should be grateful he saved her from that.”

“Okay. So for him it’s more like, female alphas are unbalanced and hysterical, so they gotta have a strong male hand to keep them from going over the edge,” Stiles says.

“Which, to be honest, is a reputation my sister doesn’t always reject,” Peter says. “It tickles Talia’s sense of humor when people think I’m the reasonable one around here.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re into it, too.” Stiles twists around on the stool, then lets his knees drop open. “I think I’m getting it. You guys take turns pretending to hold the other’s leash, and see who’s stupid enough to fall for which. And that’s gonna tell you a lot about them.”

Peter smiles, and obviously, takes up that invite to step back up against Stiles. He lowers his head and crooks his neck to the side, inhaling deeply near Stiles’ hair as Stiles sets his hands on Peter’s waist. “Well, and it’s nice to have a break once in a while,” he says. Very low, with a very pretty arch of his back as Stiles tugs up his shirt and then slides fingertips just under the hem. “It can be very tiring, always being the calm one, the one telling everyone to think twice. But I think you know that already.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I have an idea.” Stiles holds his head straight and still, letting Peter work around it, sniffing and flashing throat and trying to get a reaction, and then, right as Peter’s about to go for a kiss, he yanks them flush together. Plants flat palms against Peter’s back, under his shirt, and then pushes his head in so he can press his teeth against Peter’s neck when he talks. “And you want somebody else to hold your leash tonight, Peter?”

Peter inhales sharply, his whole body shuddering against Stiles. His hands drop to wrap around either side of the stool, their sides bumping into Stiles’ hips as he kneads the wood into groaning. And then Stiles bites him.

His head drops to Stiles’ shoulder. He whines softly, shivering again, and then gives Stiles a short, but definitely eager nod. “Yes, alpha.”

Whatever the hell it says about Stiles, he really, really doesn’t think he’s ever going to get tired of that. Or the hot flush that goes through him when Peter does that, gives up so easy and so quick, just because he asks.

“Good, because I gotta say, the tree’s not the only one who’s feeling a little disappointed they didn’t get any action,” he says, running one hand up Peter’s back. When he gets to Peter’s nape, he squeezes it, digging his fingers and thumb in just behind Peter’s jaw, and then he uses the grip to pull Peter back till he can see the man’s eyes.

Peter’s glazing over a little, but not too much. He’s still with it enough to smirk. Which Stiles appreciates, but still, he’s not planning on a long leash tonight. So he gives Peter another squeeze, making him gasp, and then he pushes down till Peter sinks onto his knees. Doing that thing where he lets his gaze drag up Stiles’ body, but Stiles doesn’t nail him for that.

Yet. “Strip,” Stiles says, hopping off the stool.

As Peter’s shirt goes up over his head, Stiles slides around him and then hurries up to his room. Also, texts his dad to double-check that there won’t be awkward father-son moments for at least a couple hours.

His dad doesn’t text back. The on-duty ranger does, and says that both his dad’s and Chris’ cars are still there, so Stiles figures he’s good. He grabs some supplies and then goes back downstairs.

Peter’s naked, with his clothes in a neatly-folded stack on the stool. On his knees, his back to Stiles, head down and hands clasped behind him. He’s got just a little drip of sweat running off his hairline and down his spine and for a second Stiles kind of forgets about the stuff in his hands and just really, really wants to lick that up.

But he manages to control himself. Even walks over at a measured pace, till he can bend down and lightly stroke his fingers up the back of Peter’s neck. Peter breathes in deeply, twisting his head to follow the touch, and ends with his face pressed against Stiles’ thigh. “Alpha,” he says softly. “Alpha, please.”

“Oh, you’re going to be good,” Stiles says, buckling on the leather collar. He holds onto the buckle for a second, pulling it extra-tight against Peter’s neck, and then lets go. Drops a kiss onto Peter’s neck right over it as he squats down behind Peter, who’s already starting to moan. “You were already really, really good, you know. Didn’t claw anybody’s face off today, did you?”

Peter laughs, even as he’s twitching from the clamp of the manacles around his wrists. “No. Unusually peaceful meeting, actually.”

“Don’t be smug now, Peter, you were doing so well.” Stiles got out the leather-padded ones and he takes his time about making sure that the electrodes buried in the padding can still reach Peter’s skin. When he’s sure they’re good, he snaps on the lock, and then twists up the trailing wires around his fingers, tugging them so Peter starts shifting from his knees to his feet. “Up, we’re gonna go chill on the porch.”

“The por—” Peter starts, turning his head as he gets up.

Stiles grabs him under the jaw. Hard, making sure he stops talking first, and then Stiles presses him back against the counter for a good, long kiss.

Peter opens up immediately for it, whimpering, spreading his knees, arching his belly. He’s whimpering even more when Stiles pulls away, but he manages to not say anything till they’re outside.

It’s a really nice night now, still warm enough so that Stiles doesn’t think he needs to get blankets out. Of course, he’s dressed and Peter isn’t, even if he’s a good, strong, healthy were now. By the time Peter gets back on his knees by the porch swing, his nipples are peaked and he’s got goosebumps on his arms and neck. But he’s still dripping sweat, and when Stiles runs a hand through his hair, the fingers come away damp.

Stiles digs out the portable generator from its box (because there are totally legit, non-sexual reasons why they’d want one out on the porch) and hooks up Peter’s manacles, but keeps the current low for now. Enough for Peter to feel it if he tries to shift, but not so much that it’d actually get in his way.

Which Peter knows, and his moan sounds a little impatient. “You can handle yourself for a couple more minutes,” Stiles scolds. Gives Peter a slap on the ass, even if he’s barely got his hand off before the imprint’s faded. “You break anything, it’s off, Peter. Got it?”

“Yes, alpha,” Peter pants. He makes a visible effort to hold still, his hands balling up into fists as Stiles probes a lubed finger between his buttocks.

Peter can handle himself, but he can’t do it quietly. He makes little whines and mewls, shifting on his knees, flexing his thighs, as Stiles works him open. Stiles isn’t even dragging that out—hard to when Peter’s sounding like that, like he’s so shaky and desperate and raw. He just gets Peter stretched enough for the plug, pops that in, and then reaches around and quickly straps the vibrator to the base of Peter’s cock.

And then, as Peter’s trying to take in everything, he gets up and goes around the other man, snapping the leash onto Peter’s collar. Sits down on the bench and spreads out his legs; Stiles has the leash wound short enough so that Peter has to shuffle up between them to keep from choking, not that Peter really needs that encouragement. He lets himself relax, just feeling Peter nuzzle at his fly for a few seconds, and then looks down.

At the generator, despite Peter’s distracting whimper. Stiles checks that the wires look untwisted, and then leans down to scoop up the power unit and control for the vibrator, also checking that that wire isn’t tangled up in anything. He sets the control on the bench by him, then twists over. Gives Peter’s head a pat, ignoring the attempt to suck at his fingers, and finally turns up the power.

Peter goes stiff, whimper receding into a slight growl as the electricity surges through him. Stiles tips up his jaw with one hand, watching the glow in his eyes spark and then fade, and when it’s just disappeared, Stiles sets the power for that level. Then leans back again, still holding Peter’s jaw.

“You want something?” he says. He picks the leash back up with his other hand, slowly winding it around his fingers where Peter can watch. Then uses that one hand to poke on the vibrator.

On low, so Peter’s raspy but still capable of words as he squirms, rubbing his chin into Stiles’ palm. “Please, alpha,” he says. “Please, I want—please, can I have your cock?”

Stiles bites his lip, watching Peter twist, hot-eyed and panting, and yeah, so he has to swallow before he answers. So he’s a fucking person with a fucking working libido. “Okay,” he says, and unzips himself.

He has to yank on the leash as Peter goes for him before the zipper’s all the way down. Peter makes a jerked, groaning noise when the collar catches him up, and then he strains against the leather, flicking his tongue out over his lips and looking hungrily at Stiles’ cock. He whines for it, tugging as Stiles lets out the leash a little at a time, fighting for more slack.

They both jerk when Peter’s lips finally graze the head of Stiles’ cock. Stiles accidentally pulls Peter away from it and Peter makes such a fevered, urgently disappointed noise that Stiles holds him there for a couple seconds, just to see him twist on the leash.

But even with electricity dampening Peter’s strength, the leather’s not going to stand up a ton. So Stiles pays it out again, lets Peter wrap that mouth around his cock, and then just—relaxes into it. Because he might not be looking to lose control, but he definitely could use some mindless, mindblowing pleasure. And Peter’s pretty much always good for that.

Peter is not being subtle tonight, not at all. He doesn’t play around, just gets straight to long, hard, deep sucks. He takes down Stiles’ whole cock, and even then he’s somehow managing to nose into Stiles’ groin as he works it, moaning and mewing around it like he thinks maybe, if he tries hard enough, Stiles will find another inch to stuff into his mouth. When Stiles can’t help it and grabs his hair, he whines so low, his throat vibrating around Stiles’ cock head, that it’s like he’s apologizing for that taking so long.

So Stiles comes pretty fast. And good, wow, he’s just slumped on the swing for a good couple minutes, staring at the preserve’s treeline and vaguely feeling Peter still nursing at his cock. He absently scrunches Peter’s hair, till the sucking gets his cock re-interested a little too fast—at least if one of them is going to be walking off this porch—and then he pulls both on Peter’s hair and on his leash to get Peter off.

Peter starts to pant even before all of Stiles’ cock is out of his mouth, so that his sagging tongue fillips the underside and Stiles hisses a little. But Peter doesn’t laugh, doesn’t smirk, doesn’t look pleased with himself in the least. What he looks like is, he looks like he’s begging Stiles with every inch of himself, from hazy eyes to wet lips to trembling shoulders, as he rubs his cheek against the inside of Stiles’ thigh.

“Alpha, alpha, please, please,” he says. “Please let me come. Please.”

Stiles grins, because he’s gonna be pleased if Peter isn’t. And then he leans down. He rests the hand with the leash on his knee, with the vibrator control tucked into it, too, and then takes up Peter’s jaw with his other hand. “You can come whenever you want, Peter,” he says. He strokes his thumb across Peter’s cheek as Peter stares disbelievingly at him, then kisses the man hard. Turning up the vibrator too, so when he pulls back, his mouth pops a ragged cry out of Peter’s mouth. “Like now, come now, Peter.”

Peter arches roughly, pushing forward so that he falls against Stiles’ leg. He buries his face in Stiles’ thigh, then goes limp, little whimpering gasps coming out of his mouth. Stiles turns down the vibrator, listening to them, and when they seem to slow, he turns it slowly back up. Then tugs at the leash till Peter heaves up his head and looks at Stiles again.

“As many times as you want,” Stiles tells him. While grabbing the side of his throat, pressing along the collar so Peter moans. “So long as you ask first. You gotta ask, Peter, or else—” Stiles abruptly shuts off the vibrator, then catches Peter by his hair as Peter groans in protest “—I don’t know if you need to. I’m not gonna look at your cock, you have to tell me. So you’re gonna ask, okay? You got it?”

He slides his hand down over the top of Peter’s head till he gets to the collar. Slips his finger through the ring and gives it a pull, rocking Peter’s head back, and then drags his hand around to the front, where he starts playing with a nipple. Peter tries to answer him a couple times, but the jerk at the collar makes Peter hiss, the nipple makes him whimper. And the light scratches Stiles leaves down his belly as Stiles teases towards his cock, well, that just makes Peter bend his head back and present his throat, just perfect, just so Stiles can press his lips to it, right over the collar.

“Ask, Peter,” Stiles says, cupping the man’s balls, nipping at his neck. “Can you ask me?”

“Alpha,” Peter finally groans, ragged, deep in his gut. He sways against the leash, then shivers as it catches him. “God, alpha, Stiles. Please. Please. Please, again?”

“So good,” Stiles grins, and pulls Peter around for a kiss. “So good, Peter. You’re gonna get it so good today.”

Peter moans into his mouth, and grabs a second kiss before Stiles can stop him. And then rests his forehead against Stiles’ jaw, so quiet for a second, quiet and trusting, and Stiles would let it go. Except then Peter goes and opens his mouth again. “Alpha,” he says. “Thank you.”

And no, Stiles isn’t letting that one go. Hell no. But he’s pretty sure Peter won’t mind.

* * *

“Your dad’s downstairs,” Derek says from the foot of the bed.

Stiles grunts into Peter’s back.

Derek sighs. “He’s kind of confused about why there’s a sign on the porch door saying closed for renovations.”

Peter shifts under Stiles, then stops as Stiles’ cock moves in him. Stiles absently pets his side and he shifts again, then lets out a low groan into the pillow. He’d been asleep, Stiles thinks, but he wakes up enough to start kneading at the bed, his ass periodically tightening around Stiles.

“Stop that, I said sleeping now,” Stiles mutters. Then turns his head because he can feel Derek staring at them. “It was the only pre-made sign I could find. I was tired. Tell ‘m nobody died and there’s no blood or anything, it’s just ‘m not gonna redo the wards now. Do them in the morning.”

“You have school in the morning,” Derek grumps, but he walks out of the room.

There are yelling voices but they aren’t angry voices, so Stiles doesn’t get up. He does smack Peter on the shoulder, because Peter’s still trying to get him hard again. “I’m gonna pull out if you can’t stop,” he says.

“He wants to know what you did to the old wards,” Derek says, walking back in.

Stiles pushes his head into Peter’s back, then sighs. “He does not.” Lifts his head and turns it. “Dad! You don’t want to know! Just let me fix it tomorrow!”

“You had sex there, right?” Derek says. “You had so much sex you wore out the runes?”

Peter makes an annoyed noise. “Derek, where do you think his cock is right now?”

Derek’s quiet for a second. Just this hulking, glowy-eyed silhouette at the end of the bed, emitting mixed vibes of irritation and arousal. Then he stalks out of the room. He yells something at Stiles’ father, which apparently settles it, because when he comes back this time, he closes the door and then starts to take off his clothes.

“I am never helping Laura move again,” Derek mutters as he crawls into bed. “Or helping her period. I did not need to listen to her flirting with that Shasta guy while I was driving them to his hotel.”

“Did they both get out?” Peter asks.

Derek hits Peter’s shoulder. Which moves Peter, including where he’s wrapped around Stiles’ cock, and so Stiles hits Derek. Who looks bitchy about it, and then gratefully ducks under the arm Stiles lifts to snuggle his head between that and Peter.

No,” Derek says. He makes little adjustments till he’s tucked comfortably into them, then slowly relaxes. His breathing slows and Stiles thinks maybe he’ll just fall asleep, and then he does a full-body nudge at Peter, pulling his head up. “But she got his number. And when Mom got home, she and Francis locked themselves in the library, so Laura’s probably calling the guy up right now.”

Peter laughs, then turns his head so he’s looking at Derek. “Please tell me you didn’t just abandon Cora there. We’ll never hear the end of it.”

“Cora didn’t even bother to go home, she’s crashing with some friends,” Derek snorts. “Laura streamed her that fight and she got the hell out.”

Against his better judgment, Stiles can’t help but ask. “So this thing where you want post-fight sex, is it a general werewolf thing, or just a Hale thing? ‘cause this does not come up with Scott, so far as I know.”

“Well, I’m not getting any, am I?” Derek says, over Peter’s chortling. He sulks a little, even after Stiles heaves up an arm and starts petting his hair, and then stuffs his face back into Peter’s shoulder. “So we’re okay, right?”

Stiles isn’t sure who he’s asking, what with the using Peter as a full-face mask and all, but Peter immediately twists his head over and gives Derek a nuzzle, even though he’s damn near breaking his neck at that angle. Derek looks up, then crawls over so Peter doesn’t have to do all the work, and for a couple seconds they’re just pressing cheeks together, breathing in each other’s air.

It’s…very intimate, and for a moment Stiles wonders if he should leave, or at least look away. But then Derek twists over, turning enough onto his back so that he can look up at Stiles without breaking contact with Peter, and he’s tilting up his chin. That’s about as clear a signal as Stiles can get and he happily bends down for a nuzzle.

“Your mother’s fine, if she’s in the library with Francis, obviously thinks things can wait till the morning,” Peter murmurs. Then, with a little surprise, as Derek stretches over Stiles’ head for a second round of scenting, he smiles and grabs Derek for a short kiss. “And I’m very fine, thank you.”

Derek looks relieved for a split second. And then he’s annoyed again, looking down Peter’s back. “You’re gonna hog it all night?”

“Excuse me, ‘it’ is attached to me, and damn it, Peter, I told you,” Stiles says, pulling out just as Peter tries to clamp on him again. He…okay, yeah, he likes the way Peter whimpers and plumps his ass up, looking very sorry. But he’s not falling for that one. “And alpha is done for the night. Alpha has to get up early and re-ward the stupid porch as well as help his dad with whatever the hell paperwork we gotta file for legally kicking fellow alpha ass, so stuff it. Greedy betas.”

Peter whimpers again, flattening out in the blankets, all big, pleading eyes, and next to him Derek’s biting his lip and stretching his throat out and also making apologetic noises. And they are so playing him.

They’re really cute, he’s got to give them that. Stiles sighs and lets them pull him back down, and snuggle in around him. “But no sexing,” he mutters. “Seriously.”

“Fine,” Derek grunts. He rubs his cheek over Stiles’ shoulder a last time, then sits up. Then rolls his eyes when Stiles looks at him. “What? You said you’re too tired.”

“Are you grabbing a bunch of toys and going to the bathroom?” Stiles says. “When my dad’s already going to be giving me side-eye over breakfast tomorrow?”

Derek gives him side-eye, right then and there, even though Stiles is attempting to save Derek from his father’s heavy-duty disapproval. “Well, the porch is out now.”

“Oh, my God,” Stiles mutters. He checks the time, and then decides he might as well just miss the whole school day at this point. Maybe if he does all the paperwork, his dad won’t roll his eyes. Maybe. “Fine. Stay here and do it. But I’m not getting involved!”

“Sure,” Derek says, totally not believing him. Also, totally smirking as he gets over to the side of the bed and starts digging into the drawers.

Stiles stuffs his face into whatever’s nearest. Which is Peter, who is, annoyingly, looking hopeful, even as he sympathetically rubs Stiles’ shoulder. “Would you like me to make sure he keeps it down?” Peter says.

“Arrgh,” Stiles says, pushing off him and burrowing into the bed. Because no. No. Not getting involved. Not listening, not even looking.

Peter moves away, in the direction of Derek and the toys. And Stiles holds out for a few more minutes, then sighs and lifts his head. Because let’s be real, he can’t actually stay away from that.

He just really hopes he can get that doctor’s note for tomorrow.