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Open Wounds

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Talia can already tell by the way that Peter is shifting that it’s not going to be a good day for him.

It’s well into winter, and even though the den is well-built and the entrance tunnels are crooked to keep out the drafts, the air has a frostbitten tang to it. Makes her wrinkle her own nose, as she stretches and works out the kinks in her spine, and then combs a few fingers through her hair. Her own bones are aching from it, though she knows that that will eventually ease off, so long as she gets up and gets her blood moving. The worst for her will be when she goes outside, and the cold, bone-dry air parches her scars and leaves them itchy and flaking; she’ll have to watch that she doesn’t scratch herself to bleeding again.

Peter’s scars run deeper, even years after the fire, and some days he’s so stiff that he can barely crawl. Once she caught him dislocating his knee to force the muscles to move. And when he can’t move, when he feels trapped, even though they’re safe now—he’s fangs and claws first, with a black temper that snarls and slaps at her to forget that they’re brother and sister.

She has a hard time blaming him. Once that would have been because she is his sister, whatever he does or says—nowadays it’s because his bad days aside, Peter is, shockingly, the more peaceful of the two of them. So she can’t begrudge him the odd irritable spell when he spends most of his time keeping her from acting like the dominant alpha she used to be, and getting them both killed in the process.

There’s a scuff in the tunnel and the air isn’t blowing right for her to get a scent, and Talia instinctively shifts out, crouching into the wall, her ears lying flat. Peter pauses, then rolls over, grunting in pain and annoyance. “Calm down, it’s him,” he hisses.

She huffs in acknowledgement, but stays shifted till the footsteps resolve into a familiar gait. In the meantime, after a few increasingly frustrated looks her way, Peter struggles out of the bedfurs and wrestles himself till he’s propped up on his arms. He reaches out and snaps his claws, striking a spark for the wick of a nearby lantern. The flaring light throws gruesome shadows over his scarred face, then settles into a small yellow circle that just washes him out, making him look wan and exhausted.

Just before the last bend, the newcomer barks once, both a greeting and a test. Talia replies similarly, but Peter draws a deep breath and then lets out a low whine.

He sounds much less pained than he is—she can see how the corners of his mouth tighten—and Stiles isn’t fooled either, dropping the fresh-caught pheasant as he rounds the corner and then stalking over to Peter to sniff and poke.

“You smell all twisted,” he mutters, prodding at the scars running down Peter’s back. He drops into a crouch over Peter, bending to run his hand over a spot that makes Peter growl and jerk roughly.

Peter grimaces, immediately catching himself, and Talia catches a flicker of nerves in him as he moves off his arms, lowering himself so Stiles can push and knead at his thigh. “Suppose I slept wrong,” he mutters, turning his head to track Stiles’ movements. “Not used to having so much of the bed to myself. We were wondering where you’d gotten off to.”

“Well, I told you I’d probably be out, and not to stay up.” Stiles says that in an offhand tone, pulling himself back to wipe off a smear of blood on his mouth. His eyes aren’t red at all.

He’s not even looking at Peter, but Peter winces again, his shoulders slumping slightly. And then Peter glances over, but Talia’s already taken herself over to the pheasant. She checks that over—Stiles slit the belly and ate some of the guts but otherwise hasn’t dressed it at all—and plucks off the feathers while Peter changes the subject to whatever Stiles was doing last night.

Their long-time host is a werewolf like them, but he’s a different breed, one that even Peter, with his insatiable curiosity, knew very little about when they first came to his den. They’ve been sharing quarters for years now and they haven’t added much to that; Stiles can and usually is very talkative, but he’s very good about telling them just about everything except what they’d really like to know.

So he tells Peter all about the herd movements, and a shooting star he saw, and a hellebore patch he came across and that he wants to root up later, and a badger he chased off his favorite berry bushes. He throws in a few tangents about winter omens, solstice magic, misunderstandings about hibernation, all of which tempt Peter into a few questions before Peter manages to rein himself in, but he doesn’t say a thing about why he’d abruptly left last night, or what he’d obviously been hearing before he went.

Peter shoots Talia a couple more looks, but they’re of the leave it to me, don’t you dare variety, even though he’s dancing around the subject like he and Stiles are partnering each other at some village fair. Anyone else, he would’ve shoved his claws into their throat by now, but with Stiles he suffers patiently.

“Also, I picked up a couple wolf scents,” Stiles says suddenly. He’s in the middle of massaging out Peter’s back, and as he speaks, his hands slide in winging motions out from Peter’s spine, curling around the shoulderblades.

“What?” Peter half-snaps, half-groans. It hurts, what Stiles is doing, but even from across the den Talia can see how the muscles are releasing under Stiles’ hands. And also, he wants to know.

They both do. Talia drops the bird and has one hand to the wall, about to leap over, when Stiles tsks at her. She pauses, then sighs and wipes off the bloody, befeathered streak she’s left on the plaster. “Omegas?” she says. “It’s winter, they’ll be ranging out—”

“Yeah, I know, I’ve been here a while,” Stiles says dryly. He’s still working at Peter, pointedly kneading his hands up towards Peter’s neck as Peter tries to lift and turn his head to peer at him. The two of them get in a little battle of wills before Peter gives, flopping down with a slight shiver. “And I don’t know, maybe, but they’re kind of well-fed for omegas. Also, there’s two going around together, and I think I caught a third scent nearby.”

Talia growls before she can help it. Even if this isn’t really their territory, and anyway, they’re a broken pack, her instincts are screaming at her to get out there, investigate, defend.

“You couldn’t have been that far out,” Peter says, while giving her another warning look. His lip lifts to flash a fang as Stiles’ fingers probe an especially sore spot, but when Stiles’ hands slip down over his shoulder, he makes the tiniest motion of his head towards one, almost nuzzling it. “Shouldn’t we have heard a howl?”

“It was a couple days old, so they might’ve been there during the storm,” Stiles says. He sits back, rolling his shoulders; one of his hands runs completely off Peter but the other lingers, and Talia can see Peter half-close his eyes and hitch that shoulder, as if to push the hand onto the back of his neck. “So I’m okay with showing you as long as you don’t go—”

“I’m not about to declare a war without your permission, Stiles,” Talia sighs. She goes back to the bird, gathering together all the cast-off feathers, rubbing her hand at where the blood’s going sticky on the floor. “But I think it’d be useful if one of us went with you. If it’s someone we know…”

“It’s probably someone we don’t want to know we’re here anyway.” Peter tries a roll onto his side, hisses, and slips back onto his belly, pressing his hand against his thigh. “I can’t think of a pack who wouldn’t take advantage. Can you, sister?”

The first part of that’s to reassure Stiles, but the second part is Peter’s temper showing, albeit much more mildly than usual. Talia clicks her claws at him, just to let him know she’s onto him, and then shakes her head for Stiles. Who’s still wary, eyeing the both of them. For all that he’s much younger, he’s got the reflexes of a battle-scarred wolf twice his age—depending on how bitter Talia is feeling, she’d credit him with even more caution than she used to have.

“Okay, well, tonight,” he finally says. When Talia opens her mouth, he shakes his head decisively. “We’re not going to lose the scent, I marked it all out. But I’m not going out earlier than that. There’s a rut-mad moose bull wandering around the valley, nearly smashed me into a boulder. We’ll go out when it’s gone to sleep.”

“That sounds fine,” Talia makes herself say, even though her hands and arms and shoulders are itching in denial. She fidgets with the feathers she has, then jerks her head towards the entrance. “I did want to hunt—we’re running low on dried meat. I was only thinking about going to the water hole.”

“Oh, that’s fine, it wasn’t that close,” Stiles says, turning his shoulder to her. He’s frowning at Peter, who’s still holding his thigh. “Get one of the roe deer, what do you think?”

Talia moves the denuded pheasant to the side and then steps over it as she starts to shift. Not a full shift, she needs her hands to carry out the feathers. And since she’s thinking about that, she grabs a spare skin to wrap them in. “I could stop on the way and get some more chestnuts.”

“It does feel like—ah—the temperature’s dropping, a roasting fire sounds nice,” Peter chimes in, as Stiles pushes his hand out of the way and then presses into his thigh. He catches her eye a last time and he’s not exactly grateful, her brother, but he likes her idea.

Then Stiles digs at him again and he hisses, unable to hide the muscle spasm. Talia jerks towards him, then pulls back immediately. Both of them ignore her: Stiles is dropping to his hands and knees, nuzzling at Peter’s thigh, and Peter has buried his head in the bedding so she can’t see his face. But Peter’s kneading the furs, first tight and white-knuckled, and then, as Stiles starts to move his head in short strokes, working up till Talia can see the strangely broad, flat tongue laving at her brother’s scars, Peter’s hands loosen up, go almost languid in how they push into the bedding. Peter whines again, much more softly, inviting, his hips humping up as his knees hike to either side of him, and at that point Talia leaves.

She pauses again once she’s emerged from the den, both to adjust to the sudden chill and to make sure that the pair of them don’t suddenly quarrel. It’s happened before; Stiles’ saliva has a degree of healing power—one difference between them—and sometimes all he wants to do is treat Peter’s injuries, and it’s always been in Peter’s nature to push for more than he’s given.

But as Talia listens, all she hears is Peter’s increasingly breathless whining. Then Stiles’ rumble joins in and she breathes a sigh of relief, and moves on. She dumps the feathers a short distance away from the den, then finds the stream and tracks it down towards the watering hole. A quick, easy kill, and a little time to herself, she thinks. That will be a good start.

* * *

Neither she nor Peter have completely worked out what happened. They know it was the Argents who were responsible, and probably it was the daughter, Kate, who was leading it. And they know that someone in their family was also involved, but since everyone’s gone but them, they don’t know the how or why, or the who. They’re not even really sure how they survived.

Peter’s scars have slowly faded from their worst, though he’s still far from the strapping mischief-maker who used to drive her and everyone within range to distraction. He shows the effects of the fire more than she does because, contrary to the end, when they’d all gone down into the basement, he’d gone up, straight into the flames. And as it’d turned out, that choice, even though it’d resulted in him almost burning to death, had gotten him high enough so that when the house collapsed, the timbers thrown with him had broken the ash circle. He’d crawled till he was just clear—when she stumbled over him, embers were burning only a few inches from his head—and then had collapsed.

But Talia had gone down with the rest of the pack, and had watched them suffocate on the burning air, one by one, while she clawed herself bloody trying to break an opening for them. She’s heard of alphas managing to defy the mountain ash but for all her vaunted fame, when it had been her turn, she’d failed. The circle had held, and everybody she loved, everybody she was responsible for, they’d all died in front of her.

She’d survived on smoke and sparks because she was an alpha, she assumed. Had managed to live just that moment longer, until suddenly that invisible wall was no longer there and she’d fallen heavily on a pile of fire-cracked bricks, shocked, still trying to understand that her whole family was gone.

Talia remembers scrambling away through the burning pieces raining down on her, coughing up blood and charred, cooked-meat bits of her lungs, instinct forcing her to move even as her heart pleaded to just die, to lie down and stop with the rest. Peter says he didn’t call her but she remembers hearing something, realizing that she still had one, and she’d found him.

There’s a gap after that. They’d run, obviously. They know she killed at least two hunters who were following up on the fire, and Peter suspects he took a third, based on interrogations of a few they’d captured and killed after those frantic, nightmarish first weeks. Peter was barely alive, and they’d kept going to ground in whatever spots she could find, ditches and tree hollows and thickets, Talia curling up around his scabbed, fire-flayed body, in a desperate parody of the way they’d nestled together as children. She’d draw on his pain, trying to keep him with her, but then she’d have to leave him for water, for food, and she’d come back and the light would be fading from his eyes. And she’d sob and grab him and do anything, everything, to drag him back.

The last time, she remembers grabbing his hand. He remembers hearing her heart stop, and lashing out on instinct, biting her arm till he heard it again.

They’d both woken up, but Talia’s eyes weren’t red anymore, and Peter wasn’t dying. Crippled, still dangerously weak, but he was firmly among the living.

He says that he tried to reason with her afterward. He probably did; she wasn’t totally healed herself and losing the alpha strength slowed that even more, and on top of that she knew they were still being hunted. She wasn’t much more than an animal, driving them on and on, trying to shake the threats on their trail. She wasn’t following any direction except her fear, and Peter wasn’t in any condition to do anything but come with her.

So they’d wandered out of their old territory, farther north to lands still unclaimed by any pack. Or they’d thought, until one bad storm had sent them tumbling down a hillside and straight through a snowdrift, into a buried tunnel. Which had turned out to be one of the exits for Stiles’ den and he’d tripped over them, huddled together, fully shifted and still nearly frozen.

He’d taken them in, and they’d lived with him ever since.

* * *

Stiles seems to be in an affectionate mood, his thumbs dipping to stroke along Peter’s inner thighs as he licks the ache out of Peter’s muscles, but Peter still keeps an ear for his sister’s departure. Talia’s run back to intervene before.

He doesn’t exactly wish she wouldn’t stop and check on him. Peter once had resented his sister to the point that he believed he’d rejoice at her passing. He doesn’t necessarily think he was wrong then. But they’ve both changed, and now the thought of her dying leaves him even stiffer and colder than his near-useless, pain-wracked body.

That said, part of those changes are that he’s gained considerable awareness, and even a little grudging acceptance, of his limitations. He knows very well that if he pushes his mate too much, he won’t earn anything but loneliness and hurt, and he’s learned that these days, he does prefer to compromise rather than to add to his already extremely generous share of misery. And he knows better than Talia that he might consider Stiles his mate, but the other werewolf doesn’t reciprocate. He appreciates her concern but he’s not stupid.

“How’s that?” Stiles asks. He gives Peter’s hip a last swipe of the tongue, then leans back.

Peter twists half-over, fighting down a grimace as tremors of pain shoot down his spine and burst in his shoulder and elbow and knee. “Better,” he says, honestly, because it is compared to when he’d first woken.

“Oh, good,” Stiles says, grinning. He absently drags his hand across his mouth, then rubs it back over the side of his head, making a face at it. “Ugh, I still smell like that moose. I should’ve stopped by the stream and washed off.”

He does, but Peter can put up with a lot more than herbivore stink. “I don’t mind,” he says, raising his hand when Stiles moves. He pauses, and then shifts the rest of the way onto his back, lifting his chin in a slight invitation. “And I could help with that. Return the favor, if you’d like.”

“You’re just trying to get out of having to go outside,” Stiles laughs, nudging Peter’s knee with his foot. Still, he’s bending over, shifting onto his elbows, and his eyes are warmer than the lantern flickering its light over them.

Peter lifts his chin higher, purring, and Stiles snorts but he slides closer, his arm brushing along Peter’s side. Then he leans across and his chin just skates Peter’s chest before he dips his head, nuzzling at the edge of Peter’s jaw. He pauses to sniff at a small trickle of sweat running from Peter’s hairline, then laps at it, a soft, rolling noise coming from his chest.

He’s built much leaner and longer-limbed than either Peter or Talia—Peter sometimes wonders if that’s characteristic of his kind—but his purr is deeper than theirs. Sometimes it goes so low that it feels like it’s coming up from the center of the earth, rather than the slim youth who’s nosing into Peter’s throat, nipping along the tendon to draw breathless moans from Peter.

Stiles nips a little hard, and Peter likes it, he wants it like that, wants at least marks of what they do, if he can’t have the vow, but the shudder it provokes goes on too long and Peter can’t keep back the pained hiss. Of course, Stiles immediately rises and Peter shoves aside his frayed, ever-traitorous nerves, pushing himself after the other man, whining before he can help it.

Sometimes that’s the worst thing he can do, but today it brings Stiles back. Pushing his forehead against Peter’s cheek, rumbling again, his hand running soothingly down Peter’s chest as he climbs more onto Peter. “Okay, okay,” he mutters, as their mouths finally slip together. He resists, half-heartedly, shifting so Peter can’t quite seal their lips. “Just—okay, if you’re gonna—if we’re gonna—”

“I can take it, I’ll manage, just, please,” Peter pleads, doing his best to kiss the man back down. His damned body keeps betraying him, muscles in his shoulders and arms knotting up so that he can’t pull Stiles to him, but that’s just as well; Stiles hates being caged as much as Peter does.

“Yeah, fine, just, okay, just, back, lie down, I’ll do it.” A little edge leaks into Stiles’ voice, not angry, just firm. His hands push Peter into place, and then linger, tracing the lines of Peter’s belly so the flesh there spasms in an entirely pleasant way.

Peter purrs to encourage him, and persuades one arm to rise enough so that he can just hook his hand over Stiles’ upper arm. He can’t do much more than that, with the way his nerves are protesting, but at least he’s touching his mate, showing he wants it. And Stiles senses that, a lower, rougher note entering his voice as he sucks at Peter’s lower lip, dropping his hands between Peter’s legs.

“You’re wet already,” he says. Lifts his head, sniffs, then laughs affectionately as Peter licks the underside of his chin. He cups his hand under Peter’s thigh, lifting it so he can press a fingertip against Peter’s hole, dabbling in the slick just beading on its rim. “I guess you weren’t having that bad a night, with those kinds of dreams.”

“Dreamed about you,” Peter half-groans, struggling to get his knees up. Stiles pushes his legs down to the side and he fights a little, then subsides with a shiver that’s only part-pained when Stiles bites his neck again. “About you coming in, warming up, oh, please, yes, Stiles—”

Who’s mounding up the furs under Peter’s knees, getting them some support so he can sprawl between them, still playing one finger on the edge of Peter’s hole. He laves along Peter’s throat, urging Peter to tilt back his head. “Perve. Smells pervy, too, this your heat coming? You’re all sweet all of a sudden.”

Peter tenses, but Stiles doesn’t stop touching him. The man’s just musing aloud, as he does. And then his finger finally slips into Peter and Peter shudders himself out of his nerves, shudders hard enough that it even burns away the ache of his body for a few brilliant seconds. “No, doubt it, you know I—I haven’t—just—just the season probably—”

“Yeah, well,” Stiles says, his voice odd.

But before Peter can check on him, Stiles snakes down and pushes his head between Peter’s legs, and it’s his tongue curling up next to that finger, stroking Peter from inside out, and all Peter can do is clutch at the bedding and whine. Such an odd tongue, even when the man’s unshifted, broad and flat and thin enough to easily double up on itself, flexible in ways that even a finger isn’t. It works into Peter and blankets that spot that can override everything else, pain and sense and even hate, and then it ripples, hot and wet and toying at Peter’s nerves in a way that leaves him helplessly trembling and he loves it, loves that, wishes it would never stop.

Stiles laps at him as he whimpers and hitches, the little that his crippled body allows. When his weaker thigh starts to slide, Stiles puts up a hand to catch it and then rubs his fingers along it, teasing pleasure even out of that sense-dulled, rough scar tissue. He’s never so much as blinked at Peter’s disfigurement, never even seemed to register it. If he wasn’t such a reader Peter might wonder whether the man was blind.

Sometimes Peter still wonders whether Stiles was raised away from other people, if he just hasn’t seen anything better. It’s an ugly thought, fitting the one who came up with it, but Peter shoves that away before he can spoil this.

Because this is beautiful. Stiles pushing back up, mouth and chin sheened over with Peter’s juices, eyes hot with desire, fangs dropped and peeking from behind his lips as he bends hungrily over Peter. His hands pressed against Peter’s body, petting and caressing, plucking a nipple to a hard peak before he suddenly grins, takes a playful swipe at it with his tongue while Peter rocks and moans. Running up to cup Peter’s twisted cheek, thumb soft against the hard ridges of the scars. Kissing Peter like he wants nothing else, while his cock slowly, achingly, fills Peter up.

It’s beautiful, and Peter has it for now, and he’s not going to let it go any sooner than he has to. He puts his hands on Stiles’ arms, and then, as Stiles humps up, straightening his arms so they’re out of reach, he moves them to grip at Stiles’ thighs. Weak, but still, he’s doing something. And when Stiles looks down at him, panting, seated as deeply in Peter as possible, Peter mewls and arches his neck and gives up everything he has for it.

Stiles keeps his word, does the work, holding Peter by the hips as he fucks into Peter with short, careful movements. It’s so good it’s brutal, turning Peter dizzy with the waves of heat building in him, but he thinks it can’t be so good for Stiles, not that slow, that restrained. He tries to fix it, bucks his hips, but his back spasms and then Stiles snarls at him, eyes bleeding red.

Peter whines, dropping back, and Stiles drops forward, following it up with a kiss that steals whatever breath is left in Peter’s lungs. Stiles’ hand wraps around his cock, sticky with his own slick, and pumps twice and then lets go to pin Peter by the shoulder, keeping him from whipping hard enough to tear some of those lock-prone muscles when he comes.

He whines again as he falls slack, apologetic, wishing he could do more for his mate. Thinking that that isn’t the way to keep one, that’s a paltry showing, and Stiles twists his cock inside Peter so Peter cuts off, then shudders into a moan instead. Stiles keeps going, still careful, but he stretches over Peter, rubbing his whole body so he smears Peter’s come between them and the scent of it spices the air, mixing with the salt sting of their sweat and it’s so heavenly that Peter opens his mouth to take it in.

And Stiles is purring, too, not the usual werewolf purr, but that deep, low one, sending shakes through both of them, that Peter’s only ever heard from Stiles. He ducks his head under Peter’s chin, nose-tip just grazing an arc over the length of Peter’s throat, and as Peter’s still shivering from that, Stiles follows the same back with his fang tips. Peter’s soft, so soft it aches and nothing short of a bolt of lightning could get him back up in time, but he feels that sharp, starving want, that craving for release. For a bite.

Peter rides up into Stiles’ mouth, almost hoping for blood, and Stiles doesn’t give him that but Stiles does close his lips over Peter’s skin. Sucks it up against his teeth, hard enough that he can feel the blood drawing close to the surface, even if it doesn’t spill out—and then Stiles’ hips stutter twice against him and the fingers of one hand sink into the meat of Peter’s shoulder, and inside Peter can feel the man’s come painting him.

Stiles rests on him a few seconds, panting, and then he pulls out and the smell of them mixed together crests and Peter moans longingly, already anticipating the fade. The other man looks at him, a little reserved, and Peter starts to tense, but then Stiles shakes himself, dabs his fingertips in the sweat pooling on Peter’s belly. His eyes have lost their red.

“Come on, you’re going to get all stiff again,” he says. He grunts and moves further back, and then rubs at some of the come on his stomach. “Get stuck to the bed, too, and we’ll have to peel it off you.”

“It could be worth it,” Peter offers.

Stiles glances at him, and then at the outside of his thigh, which is pinked—if already paling—with fur rash. Then shakes his head again, climbing off the bed. “Trying too hard, Peter. You can do better than that.”

“Well, I’ve only just woken,” Peter mutters, pride a little pricked. Though then he rolls onto his side, meaning to follow Stiles, and all his aches seem to rush back in at once. He doesn’t roll back but he does concentrate on his breathing for a second, making it steady and regular. “So these other werewolves.”

The other man’s disappeared into one of the tunnels, probably in a storeroom. They spend the most time in the main den, but the burrow is actually quite extensive, clearly the product of much time and work. And, Peter and Talia think, meant for more than one, although nowhere near enough to fit an average pack of their kind. Still, Stiles can hear him from wherever the man is, because a sigh filters back into the den.

“Talia’s thinking it over for now, but she’s going to be worried,” Peter goes on. He takes a deeper breath, bracing himself, and then pulls himself to the edge of the bed with his arms. He can’t quite make it to a sitting position, but he gets up enough so that he can wipe himself off—though honestly, he wouldn’t mind smelling like this a little longer. “And I think she’s right to be. Three together…are you sure about that?”

Stiles comes back after a few minutes, with a bucket of water from the spring—the burrow’s even big enough for its own water source—and cleaning cloths. He tidies himself briskly, then sits down by Peter to help him. “Yeah, and I didn’t want to say in front of her, but it wasn’t just scents.”

Peter looks sharply at him, and finds that Stiles is studying him just as closely, if with less obvious nerves. Stiles might bed him and not his sister, but the man’s made it clear, repeatedly, that he’s not interested in siding with one of them over the other. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t use Peter to handle Talia, and vice versa.

Still, he’s never done that but to just keep things calm, and he certainly doesn’t play the pack politics that they’re used to. It’s been one of the hardest things to adjust to. “What else?” Peter asks carefully. “You…you didn’t see them…”

“No, but they left scratches on some of the trees.” Stiles hesitates, watching Peter’s face, and then makes a pinching gesture with his fingers. “Some bits of fur, too. I think there might’ve been a fight, actually.”

Peter sucks in his breath. He’s always concerned when they come across signs of other werewolves—even omegas are tricky, with him crippled and Talia a beta and Stiles…complicated—but if there was a fight, then a pack has to be involved. Omegas don’t fight each other, short of starvation or madness; they’ve got nothing to fight over.

“Two on one, I’m thinking,” Stiles adds. He rubs a cloth over Peter’s leg, leaning his shoulder into Peter’s arm as Peter sways, and then drops it into the bucket to soak. “So the tracks were going away from here, but I didn’t follow them too far out. I…I kind of…I don’t know, I kind of don’t think you should be in here by yourself when Talia and me are checking them out, but it’s over a couple ridges. It’s going to be bad even if we take turns carrying you.”

“We’re in the mountains, it’s always bad,” Peter mutters. Though he’s surprised that Stiles would even bring up him going, let alone offer. They’ve left him before to run off other werewolves, and even hunters. “Did you think they had a magic worker?”

Stiles shakes his head, and from the way he looks, he hadn’t even thought of going in that direction. “Oh, nah, nothing like—sorry, didn’t mean to worry you. It’s not that I think they can get in here, it’s more like…like if it’s a pack, we might be out a while, right? She’s gonna want to find them.”

“Well, yes, and much as we don’t want to see them, we would need to know who we’re dealing with to do that properly,” Peter says after a moment. “No, you’re right, I should go. Talia’s…her memory isn’t as good as mine, you know that. I might recognize them when she won’t.”

“I was thinking that,” Stiles says, but he’s a little reluctant. “So…she going to—”

“I’ll tell her,” Peter immediately says. He pauses, then makes a face. “Better coming from me, I can put it in—I don’t think you’ll have the…the context to give her. It’ll be fine, she’ll fuss but it’s the reasonable thing to do.”

Stiles still looks a little uncomfortable, but he just nods. Then he starts to reach for the bucket, but stops when Peter turns into him. They’re still pressing shoulders together, and Peter uses Stiles’ as a brief lever to get his chin up, and then to press a kiss to the other man’s mouth.

“Thank you.” When Stiles arches a brow, Peter kisses him again, and then rubs his forehead against Stiles’ cheek. “For asking me.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to just tell you two you should come,” Stiles says, blinking. He tips towards Peter, so they’re sharing breaths, and then pushes away, grabbing the bucket. “You guys are so weird.”

Without his support, Peter slowly slides back to lie along the edge of the bed, but Stiles runs his hand through Peter’s hair and then across the back of Peter’s neck and Peter doesn’t mind at all. “We try to keep you interested,” he says to Stiles’ back.

“Weird,” Stiles says, flapping one hand at him. “Let me know when she’s back, okay? I’m going to check our stocks, now that Talia’s mentioned it.”

“All right, Stiles,” Peter says, and he’s smiling, even though the situation far from warrants it.