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The Tricks of the Trade

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Stiles wraps his hand around his wrist, but blood just keeps seeping through his fingers, pooling out around his feet. It only takes a moment before he's too weak to stand, and he slides down the wall, nearly overbalancing and falling on his face.

His vision blurs until he can barely make out Peter's expensive shoes, tapping impatiently just feet away from him. "I know you're stronger than this," Peter says.

"You son of a bitch," Stiles curses. His left arm is slit open along the vein almost from wrist to elbow. Peter had done it so fast he hadn't even felt it.

There is a reason Derek isn't allowed to sit in on his training anymore.

The first time Peter had tried something like this, Derek had nearly ripped out his throat for the second time—and Peter had only pricked him with a needle, that time.

Stiles doesn't think even he would have been able to stop Derek, if he were here to see this. He's not quite sure he would have tried.

"There were no stakes, the last time," Peter says, as though he's following along with Stiles' thoughts. "This time you really don't have a choice, do you? You'll bleed out if you don't do something quick."

"I don't know how," Stile snaps. "Christ. Oh god. Oh, you bastard. I should have just gone to that damn school."

"That place would do no good for someone like you," Peter insists. "Your magic is instinctual, Stiles. It can't be taught. You have to figure it out for yourself."

"Derek's going to kill you, I hope you know that," Stiles tells him. "He's going to cut you up into itty bitty pieces so you can't come back next time. Unless you come back like some crazed Frankenstein monster or something. That would be sort of fitting, actually. You don't want to come back as a jigsaw puzzle, right? Just saying. So you should probably, you know, get me to a hospital, preferably before I bleed to death, okay?"

"It's amazing how much you can talk, even as your body is starting to shut down," Peter says, squatting down in front of him, his expression curious but not the least bit concerned. "It does that, you know. Saving energy. Cutting its losses. Your body wants to live, all you have to do is show it how."

Stiles glances up and locks his eyes with Peter's. He should have known something was up when Peter had insisted they meet in his library for this lesson. Because Derek was unlikely to think to look for them here, and Stiles hadn't thought to tell him where they'd be.

Stiles can feel the ground begin to vibrate beneath them, just a strange, low-level buzz, like an aftershock. The books on the shelf behind him are beginning to slide off the edge, but none of them have fallen to the floor quite yet. He's had less restraint over his anger and frustration since his encounter with Amanda, and the one thing Peter didn't seem interested in teaching was control.

Stiles had thought this might be one of the simple lessons, pouring over book after book, learning what spells had already been written and then learning how to rewrite them. So he'd shown up, even though he hadn't wanted to come back here, because he knew Peter was setting some sort of a challenge.

And Stiles hasn't turned down a challenge from Peter yet.

"Concentrate," Peter whispers, and he's close enough that Stiles can feel the words ripple across his skin. "You're wasting power on all the wrong things."

"I can't fix this," Stiles insists, even as it gets harder to breathe. "You've basically just murdered me, you get that, right? Not that I expect you to care, what with you being a sociopath and all, but I could do without the commentary."

"Can you hear your heart?" Peter asks quietly, lowering his head when Stiles tries to break his gaze. "You only pump the blood out even faster by getting upset. You can yell at me for this later. You have more important things to worry about at the moment. You need to calm down."

Stiles closes his eyes so he doesn't have to look at him anymore, and then he works to level out the beats of his heart. He'd learned to do that in another one of the lessons—because the very first thing Peter had taught him was how to lie without giving himself away.

"You already know how to do it," Peter had told him. "Because all the magic you can do is based around belief, and that's the trick, Stiles. You don't have to lie to others. You only have to lie to yourself."

So Stiles tells himself he's fine, and he pretends he's somewhere else. He thinks of being with Derek, laid out on that ridiculously unhygienic mattress of his in the rail car—of the way Derek sometimes weaves the fingers of their hands together, right before Stiles falls asleep. He thinks he might have managed it, too, believing this nice lie he'd told himself…if Peter hadn't been breathing down his neck.

"You're the weak link, Stiles," Peter tells him, his tone strangely pleasant despite the words. "You're the breakable one. The one everyone has to worry about. The one that's going to get someone else killed, because they're too busy watching your back to watch their own. You can change that, though. You can heal yourself just as easily as us. You just have to believe that you can."

"I can't," he whispers, leaning forward until his forehead rests against the stone tiles of the floor. He pushes his torn wrist up against his chest, trying to stop the bleeding, but he knows it's not doing him much good.

"How long do you think you have left?" Peter asks. "Minutes? An hour? I only did the one wrist. You'd be dead already, if I'd done them both. I'm trying to go easy on you here, Stiles. But you've got to work with me."

"If Derek doesn't kill you, I will," Stiles snaps, and there's a crash as the books begin to topple from the shelves behind him. "Even if I have to go all Patrick Swayze on your ass to do it."

"I'd be more concerned about that if you were able to manage a simple healing spell," Peter tells him. "As it is, you're hardly a threat. I could kill you much easier than you could kill me."

"Oh, but I like a challenge," Stiles says.

"Then take the one I've issued," Peter says, and for the first time he sounds frustrated. "Save yourself."

Stiles lets in a shaky breath. He'd been pretty sure Peter wouldn't let him die at first, if only because he wouldn't want to face Derek after the fact. The trouble is Peter is right, and he doesn't have much longer left. He can feel consciousness slipping away from him already, and the further from it he gets, the harder it's going to be to accomplish something he hasn't been able to manage at full strength for the last three weeks.

He might actually die here, in a stupid training session. How lame is that?

As though Peter senses that he's lost Stiles' attention, he reaches out and grabs his chin, forcing his head up to meet his gaze.

"Maybe I'm going about this all wrong," he says thoughtfully. "This is the one area of magic you can't seem to grasp. You've taken to everything else almost instantly, learning it all so remarkably fast. But the one area that has to do with self-preservation—well, maybe the trouble is you just don't care about yourself enough. Maybe I should be slitting open one of your father's veins, instead, to see if you'd be willing to put in the effort to save him."

The effect is almost instantaneous. Stiles feels the world go white around him, bleaching itself out until he almost can't even make out Peter's shape. He twists Peter's hand away from his face, and then he pushes his own forward.

Peter goes flying across the room, crashing into the opposite wall. Stiles pushes himself to his feet, and he can feel the ground shaking beneath them. He tries to reign himself in, but by the time he gets himself under control all the shelves have crashed to the ground, and the hallway outside the room has entirely caved in.

Their only way out is blocked with large pieces of stone from the outside ceiling and walls. Stiles sucks in a frustrated breath and stumbles back a few steps, running his hands through his hair.

"Crap," he says tiredly.

"Well, that was a bit more explosive than the reaction I was expecting," Peter says, and he just sits where he's fallen and laughs. "Still, it did the trick."

Stiles frowns and looks down at his wrist when Peter nods towards it. Blood is sticking to his skin in thin tendrils, thicker around the center, but the cut is gone. There isn't even a scar.

"You were bluffing," Stiles realizes, and he doesn't know if that makes it better or worse.

"You seem to work at your best when those you love are being threatened," Peter says, and gives a little half shrug. He's got blood running down his forehead, but the gash it had leaked out of has already closed. "Nothing else was working."

Stiles sighs heavily, before looking back at the blocked doorway. "I don't suppose there's another way out of here? A secret stairway? A hidden door? You seem the type."

"Afraid not," Peter says dryly. "Looks like we're stuck together for the duration."

Stiles crosses his arms and glares at the wall. He still hasn't worked out where the line is. He can move the earth with nothing but his own emotion, but he can't magically move objects from one side of the room to the other. He can create barriers from ash, can travel in his mind to the other side of town, but he can't think of a single spell to move a few debris out of his way.

Stiles' phone rings and he drags it out of his pocket, wincing when he sees who it is. "Uh, hey, dad," he says.

"Stiles," his father says, in a tone that means he's in trouble. "Where are you?"

"With Derek," Stiles says, and Peter grins at him when his heart doesn't even stutter at the lie. Stiles winces again, because Peter's approval is always a double-edged sword. "Why, what's up?"

"Do you remember how we talked about lying?" he asks. "And how you weren't going to do it anymore?"

Stiles hangs his head. "Derek is there with you, isn't he?" he asks.

"You know you're supposed to tell us when you're meeting with Peter," his father snaps. "We have to at least know where you are. Luckily Derek had the forethought to put Isaac on Peter-watch, and we have just been informed that there's been what appears to be an earthquake at the Hale estate."

"Which is exactly why it isn't safe for anyone else to be at my training lessons! I mean if Peter dies in a cave in, who cares, right?" Stiles asks, ignoring Peter's sound of indignation. "But if you got hurt—"

"Stiles, just tell me that you're alright," his father interrupts sharply.

"Yes, I'm fine," Stiles says. "Kind of trapped though. With Peter. So, you know. Not the best day ever."

"We're on our way," his father says briskly, and then he hangs up.

"I think Derek's starting to rub off on my father's speech pattern," Stiles says, looking down at his phone in confusion. "And what are they even doing together? Are they seriously hanging out? Like, hanging out together?"

"God help us all," Peter says wryly. "I could hear my dear nephew growling in the background, as well. He seems quite upset with you."

"Yeah, what else is new?" Stiles asks, rubbing a hand irritably through his hair. "But this is your fault! And I plan to tell him that. I have no issues with throwing you under the bus. I'd probably actually be okay with literally throwing you under a bus, so you know, the metaphorical one? No problem at all."

"If you tell him what I did, he'll try to kill me," Peter says easily.

"You say that like you don't think he'd succeed," Stiles says. "This is one of those rare circumstances in which we already know the outcome. He's killed you before."

"He had help," Peter says.

"Yeah, from me," Stiles says. "And I'd be more than happy to help him again."

Peter raises an eyebrow and grins. "Either way, it would cause unnecessary tension within the pack, don't you think? Derek doesn't understand the stakes like we do. You know I could have taught you no other way."

"And if I'd died?" Stiles asks.

"I was never going to let you die," Peter says dismissively. "If you hadn't been able to do it for yourself, I could have healed you."

"Werewolves can take pain, but I've never seen them heal anyone but themselves," Stiles says.

"Ah, but I'm not just a werewolf, am I?" Peter asks. "You're far too valuable to risk, Stiles. I simply had to let you believe I was willing to gamble with your life, I would never have actually done it."

"You seriously expect me to keep this just between us?" Stiles asks incredulously.

Peter grins as he gets to his feet, and fastidiously dusts himself off. "There's a reason the first lesson I taught you was how to lie," he says.

"And why should I lie for you?" Stiles demands. "Derek and I have enough issues as it is."

"Derek is never going to find any risks you take as acceptable," Peter says, circling around the table. "You're going to have to fight him on it every single time. He'd lock you away somewhere if he could, somewhere you'd be safe from all of this. But I understand you, Stiles, better than he ever will. I know just what you're capable of."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that," Stiles says.

"We're not so very different, you know," Peter says. He looks down at his fallen bookshelves with a frown, before glancing back at Stiles. "How would you like a history lesson?"

"That's a bit vague," Stiles says. "What kind of history are we talking?"

"My history," Peter says.

"Right," Stiles says. "In that case I'm gonna have to go with 'not at all.'"

Peter, as is his custom, completely ignores Stiles' dismissal. "I have always had power, but I was taught to fear it," he says. "Even as born wolves my family feared what I could do. What I could become. They feared the Lancres more than the Argents, so when I was a child my magic was bound. My mother had bracelets woven of belladonna vines and twine and knotted them around my wrists like shackles."

Stiles frowns, getting sucked into the story despite himself. He hops up to sit on the table and glances over at Peter sideways. "I thought belladonna did nothing to werewolves."

"Oh, it doesn't," Peter says. "It was just called for as part of the spell. The bracelets had to be enchanted in order to hold my power back. You see, Stiles, there is hypocrisy everywhere."

"Is that the moral of this story then? Hypocrisy is everywhere, trust no one? Etcetera, etcetera?" Stiles asks. "Because I've already learned all that from Danny Boyle's early films."

Peter comes to a stop in front of him, somehow still looking well put together, despite the drying blood painting his forehead. "There is no moral here, just the story, for you to do with what you want," he says. "It's something I've told no one else."

Stiles nods slightly, granting his permission. He knows Peter's words are dangerous, that it's almost part of Peter's magic, the way he can rewrite history with a few sentences. But Stiles is always trying to learn more, to stay a step ahead, so he can't turn down the offered intel. Not even if it might do more harm than good.

"In order to obtain the bracelets," Peter continues, "my mother made a bargain with your Ms. Morrell's coven."

"Was she even alive back then?" Stiles asks.

Peter grins slightly. "She was young then, but yes, she was alive," he says. "She's older than she looks, and they were a very powerful coven. My family had an alliance with them, but wanted nothing to do with them. They took the bracelets and kept their distance."

"No invitation to Hogwarts for you, huh?" Stiles asks.

"Oh, they wanted me," Peter says. "But my family had no intention of letting me go, so I had to satisfy myself with studies of the theoretical. Then their coven came into some trouble, and asked us for help."

"Did you help them?" Stiles asks.

"No," Peter says. "The Alpha at the time, my brother, cared about as much for witches as hunters. Some witches were known to take us on as familiars, to take us apart to use in their spells. They had been harboring one from such a coven, so my brother considered our alliance void."

"Amanda," Stiles guesses.

"Yes, though I did not know her name at the time," Peter agrees. "So the coven cut ties with Amanda and fled. I think this is the first time they have returned to Beacon Hills since. They must really have wanted you to come back here."

"So that's why you hate Ms. Morrell so much?" Stiles asks.

"I don't trust her, but I don't hate her," Peter says. "Her coven, like Derek, simply trusted the wrong person."

"Don't go there," Stiles warns, his eyes latching onto Peter's. Peter doesn't hold his gaze, instead turning away with a sigh. "What is the point of this? Really?"

"I need you to understand," Peter says. "Because you're the only one that can."

"They're going to be here soon," Stiles reminds him.

"Then perhaps you should stop interrupting me," Peter says dryly. "I never used my powers before the fire. I was not allowed to take the bracelets off, but it was always with me, beneath the surface. Then the fire—it started to consume me. It burned the bracelets around my wrists, licked at them until they blackened and turned to ash. That's when I felt all that power rising up at once. It's the only reason I even survived. I put the fire out, if too late to save anyone but myself."

Peter sounds almost sad for the first time since Stiles has known him. He knows that Peter wasn't always this. Derek has told him stories that have sounded like fairytales of this man, his Uncle Peter, who could so easily put to good use his sleight of hand, and was cleverer than anyone else they knew, and who brought them presents every time he went away.

When Stiles thought of his mother, she seemed like a fairytale too. Too impossibly perfect to be real—but he got to hold to his illusions. How much harder must it be, to be haunted by the memory of yourself?

"I don't know what happened after that. I just shut down. I was in that hospital for so long, and then I woke up," he says. "My powers came back to me all at once. Flooding my system, tainting my memories. Whatever tenuous bouts of lucidness I seemed to have were merely an illusion—I was completely out of my mind."

"Oh," Stiles says, and the word catches in his throat, because he gets it now. He knows what Peter's trying to explain, because Stiles has felt it too. He remembers his first brush with that sort of power. He remembers the way his sense of self had slipped away until he wasn't even sure who he was anymore.

That's what had happened to Peter, on top of him already having lost everyone that he might have been able to hold onto. Peter had no one in that hospital, except for a nurse that was every bit as twisted as him. His only family left alive had run to the other side of the continent, understandably so, but it still meant they were just as far out of his reach as those that had died.

It's no wonder he'd gone mad.

"Killing Laura seemed like such a simple thing at the time," he continues. "She had power I needed. That's all that mattered to me. She was not my brother's child, then. She was not the little girl whose hair I used to braid. She was power in a bottle, and there was only one way to get it out."

"I don't know what you want from me," Stiles says softly. "But I don't think I can give it to you."

"I want you to remember how you felt, when Amanda threatened Derek," Peter says. "I want you to imagine she had succeeded, and not just with Derek. But with your father. With your friends, every last one. Imagine you had to watch them all burn."

Stiles stares down at the floor, tracing the pattern of the bloodstain across the stone. He doesn't even feel dizzy from blood loss anymore. A little light-headed maybe, but nothing serious. He's somehow mended himself with nothing but his thoughts. He tries to focus on that, but Peter's not letting him.

Peter moves in front of him, grabbing onto the table on either side of where he sits, caging him in. "I think we both know you would have pulled this world apart at its very foundations, whether you meant to or not. Because your power is a force of nature," he says. "My power has always been something more…insidious. I chose to destroy those that had harmed me from the inside out."

Stiles still has nightmares about being trapped in this bunker with Derek and Amanda, in which he lets her do what she wants. He watches as she destroys Derek and he does nothing. He stands by powerless, unable to stop her, to help him, until he wakes up screaming Derek's name and can finally breathe again.

Peter is like the living embodiment of the other choice he could have made, a walking model of how not to be. It occurs to him then that maybe Peter really is the best teacher he could have.

"And now…Derek is all the family I have left," Peter says quietly. "I'm only trying to make things right."

"Derek is never going to forgive you," Stiles tells him, and his tone is hesitant, but he knows Derek. He knows Derek can't, and maybe Peter should spend the rest of his life trying anyway, but Stiles figures he should know.

"I wouldn't ask him to, it wouldn't be fair of me. Because I will certainly never forgive him," Peter says, letting go of the table to stand up straight in front of him. "So I'm not asking for his forgiveness, I'm asking for yours."

Stiles watches him carefully. Peter seems sincere, but that tells him nothing. Peter can seem like anything he wants.

"And what would you do with my forgiveness?" Stiles asks quietly. "If you had it?"

Peter smirks. "You ask that like you think I would trade it in for something else," he says.

Stiles flinches as there is a large crash at the other side of the room, and Peter deftly puts a respectable distance between them. Derek pushes through the rubble a little like the Hulk might, and Stiles' eyes widen as Derek turns to glare behind him like the bits of stone have personally offended him.

"My hero," Stiles says brightly, hopping off the table.

Derek spins around then, still sort of frown-ish and intense, and makes a beeline straight for him. Stiles gets crowded back up against the table as Derek checks him over, his eyes flashing red. "You've lost blood," he snarls, his eyes turning to look at the puddle on the ground, sitting there like a big huge neon sign of what happened here.

Not that Stiles had really been planning to lie for Peter anyway, but Peter could have at least made an effort to get rid of some of the evidence. He'd been much better at this sort of thing when he'd been nuts.

"Stiles," Derek growls.

"What? Oh, yeah, sort of, but hey, I fixed myself!" Stiles says, and breaks out into a grin. "It was totally cool. I think I did it even faster than a werewolf, as long as you don't count the unknown period of time in which I may have freaked out a bit and thought I was going to die. So watch out, buddy. I'm catching up. I don't have super speed or super strength or anything, but I guess I've got to keep you around for something."

Derek is pretty much vibrating with anger, but Stiles is pretty sure it's not directed at him. He's actually fairly certain that Derek hasn't heard a single word he's said, because he's busy glaring over at Peter like he's trying to see if he'll catch on fire for a third time.

"Brilliant, Stiles," Peter says dryly. "It's like you want him to kill me."

"It's almost exactly like that," Stiles agrees.

Derek grabs at his wrist, swiping a thumb across the flaking, dried blood to see the unmarked skin beneath. He lets out a slight, vibrating growl when he notices Stiles' shirt is soaked in blood half across the middle. Derek's eyes flash red as they seek out Peter's again. "What did you do to him?" he demands.

"Nothing that hasn't been put right," Peter explains quickly.

Derek takes a step towards him and Stiles slips between them, placing a hand against Derek's chest to hold him back. "Not that it wouldn't be like, super entertaining, to watch you tear Peter apart after the day I've had," Stiles says, "but no lasting harm was done, so why don't we just—"

Derek turns his glare on Stiles. "Do you even realize how much blood you lost?" he demands. "What did he do?"

"I did what I had to," Peter says. "That is why this task fell to me, if you'll recall. You cannot coddle him, and expect him to survive in this world."

"And you were worried about what I was going to say?" Stiles hisses behind him, before turning back to Derek. "Derek, look, I hate to say it, but he has a point. He's got a mad-scientist, super-villain sort of flair, but it's getting the job done."

"No," Derek says. "These lessons are done. We'll go back to Deaton. I don't want you alone with him again."

"Deaton can't teach me what I need to know," Stiles says. "He'd try, but he's not like us. Not really. It's different for Peter and I, it's—"

"You are nothing like him," Derek snarls, pulling Stiles off to the side before starting towards Peter.

"Hey, hey, wait," Stiles shouts, moving quickly back between them. "I told you this because I trust you. I'm trusting you to believe I know what I'm doing, and that I would tell you if I thought I was in danger. You know, further danger. Current danger. At the moment danger."

"Because you're so good at recognizing that," Derek snaps.

"I'm trying," Stiles insists. "But you have to try too."

Derek stops his advance, though he doesn't look at Stiles. He glares back at Peter. "Get out," he says, so calm it's unnerving. "If you want to live, then you'll stay away until I can stand the sight of you again."

Peter, because he's lots of things, but easily cowed isn't one of them, just smirks. "I'll leave, but be prepared to miss me," he says. "Because I have a feeling that'll be a long, long time."

Derek growls and steps forward, but Peter just sidesteps him and heads for the door. "If you know what's good for you, you'll find another way out," Derek says gruffly. "You head out up the main stairs and the Sheriff will probably shoot you."

"Noted," Peter says amenably, and then disappears out the doors.

Stiles has one blissful moment of relief that his night is going to end without more bloodshed, and then he realizes that without Peter here, Derek's full attention has been shifted to him.

And he still looks sort of pissed.

"Don't give me that look," Stiles says. "This isn't my fault! We agreed you wouldn't supervise the training anymore, because you kept wanting to kill Peter."

"We agreed," Derek snaps, "that you would still tell me when you were training."

"Right," Stiles says. "So you could stalk us there and basically we would be back at square one? You weren't being subtle, Derek. I totally figured out that 'I just need to know where you are' was code for 'I'm going to be there too even though I said I was totally okay with not being there, because I am a big fat liar.' Not that you're fat. Obviously. Just your lies are."

Derek raises an eyebrow. "Don't try to throw me off track with your nonsense," he says.

"That wasn't nonsense! That was totally coherent," Stiles says. "I've learned your secret language. It's like how when you say 'no,' you really mean, 'I can't approve this, but you should do it anyway and just not tell me about it.'"

"I’m starting to get why we have so many misunderstandings," Derek says dryly. "There is no secret language, Stiles. No means no."

"You sound like some sort of PSA," Stiles says. "It's not like I'm pressuring you into sex or something."

"Actually," Derek starts.

"Okay, so what, maybe I am!" Stiles shouts. "We've been together for months and I haven't even gotten to third base, it's weird. If television is to believed most people stick to the three date rule, but that milestone just flew us right by."

"I'm not doing this with you now," Derek says.

"You're not doing it with me at all," Stiles protests. "That's the problem."

"You're underage, Stiles," Derek says. "And your father has threatened to kill me."

"But he wouldn't, because he likes you," Stiles says. "It's actually kind of weird how much he likes you. He keeps asking about you, like, all the time. How's Derek doing? You seeing Derek today? Say hi for me. It's so middle school it's hilarious."

Derek places his hands at Stiles' hips and spins him around, pressing him back up against the table again. His eyes flash red briefly. "You're rambling again, trying to distract me," he says. "It's not going to work. You're still in trouble."

"I don't think I should be in trouble. I didn't know this was going to happen," Stiles says. "One minute I'm just standing there, and the next I'm bleeding out on the floor."

"Stiles," Derek growls, his fingers tightening around his hips for a moment before relaxing again.

"Not helping," Stiles winces. "Got it."

"We need to let your father know you're alright," Derek says. "We can talk about this later."

"How mad is he?" Stiles asks reluctantly. "Like on a scale of 1 to 10?"

"He was about a 45, but most of that was directed towards Peter. I only got him to stay up there because I convinced him I could get to you quicker on my own," Derek tells him. "Really I was just afraid he'd kill Peter." Derek turns and throws a glare back towards the doorway. "I'm kind of wishing he'd come."

"I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to let Peter teach me," Stiles tells him, lifting his hands to frame Derek's face and pull his gaze back towards him. "We both did. But he's the best we've got. I know you're angry with me, it seems like I just keep screwing up, but I'm doing my best."

"I'm not—I'm not angry, Stiles, I just…" Derek breaks off, taking a deep breath. He moves closer, until they're almost flush against each other. "I promised I wouldn't let Peter hurt you."

"And he hasn't," Stiles says. "Or at least, he wasn't trying to, not really. Look, I can show you."

Stiles slips out of Derek's grasp and moves to one of the fallen cabinets. He can feel Derek's eyes on him as he reaches down to pick up a shard of broken glass. He doesn't get the chance to so much as rest it against his skin before Derek is on him, slamming him into the wall, and pinning the hand holding the shard of glass unmovable in his own.

"What," Derek growls dangerously, "do you think you're doing?"

"I can show you," Stiles says again, and he's a little breathless with surprise. He can't believe how quickly Derek had pinned him. Derek doesn't often use his powers against him, and sometimes he forgets just how amazing they are. "Just trust me."

Trust is a word that has all kinds of history when it comes to them, and Stiles doesn't exactly expect it to work. Only thing is, it does—Derek releases his grip warily, taking a single step away, though his eyes are boring into Stiles hot enough to burn.

"Right," Stiles says shakily, and he turns up his left hand. He runs the glass across the tip of one finger and blood pearls up on the surface of his skin. Derek gives a low, frustrated growl, and Stiles drops the glass to appease him.

Then he closes his eyes, and believes that the wound is nothing. He takes in a deep breath and believes it's gone, and when he opens his eyes again it doesn't sting anymore. Stiles rubs his fingers together to remove the blood, and there's no trace of the cut.

"You nearly tore Amanda in two, and she healed herself even when her powers were being suppressed," Stiles says. "And I think, I mean, I'm pretty sure that I'm stronger than her. I don't know, exactly, how far this goes, but you don't have to worry so much about me being hurt if I can heal, right?"

"Do you worry less about me?" Derek asks quietly, staring down at Stiles' hand. He carefully caresses the tip of his finger, looking weirdly mournful considering it's been completely healed.

Still, he gets Derek's point.

"No," he admits. "But I mean, maybe? About some things? At least I don't have to worry every time you cross the street."

"You never asked why I didn't give you the bite," Derek says solemnly, leaning forward until he's only inches away.

"Why didn't you?" Stiles asks, taking his cue.

"It would have kept you safer from a few things," Derek says, "and it would have put you in danger from a dozen more. If I learned anything the last time we were down here, it's that there's no way I'll ever be able to keep you safe from everything."

"Derek—" Stiles starts.

"But you have to let me try, anyway, because I don't know what else to do," Derek says, resting his forehead against Stiles'.

Stiles nods against him, not quite sure what he can say. He kisses Derek instead, dragging him closer. Derek presses up against him in response, one hand tightening around Stiles' thigh, dragging his leg up as he lifts him to balance him against the wall. "Third base here I come," Stiles says, his tone somewhere between breathless and gleeful.

Then there's the sound of a clearing throat, and Stiles is being unceremoniously dropped. Derek at least looks sheepish, where he's backed up half across the room, but Stiles only spares him a glance before looking up at his father.

"Hi, dad," Stiles says.

His father just looks at him disapprovingly. "So while I've been up there, going out of my mind with worry, you two have been down here making eyes at each other?" he asks, before turning a glare on Derek. "Derek, I expect more from you."

"Hey!" Stiles protests, as he pushes himself to his feet. "Why don't you expect more from me?"

"Because I know better than to expect anything when it comes to you," his dad says, all false long-suffering, and then Stiles is getting dragged into one of his famous Stilinski hugs. "You have to stop doing this to me, kiddo."

"It totally wasn't my fault this time!" Stiles protests at once.

"Nice try," his father snorts. "You're still grounded."

"How long?" Stiles asks warily.

"Well, that depends on whether or not you were talking about baseball when I walked in," his father says.

"Baseball!" Stiles says at once. "It was totally baseball."

His father's eyes narrow and Stiles sighs deeply. Peter had taught him how to lie well enough to fool a werewolf, but lying to his father was another matter entirely.

"Okay, it wasn't baseball. But honest, I don't even really know what the bases are," Stiles says. "Third base is hand-holding, right?"

His father just rolls his eyes and turns towards the door. "We're leaving. Now," he says. "You'll see Derek when he comes for dinner tomorrow."

"Dinner?" Derek asks, still looking a bit shaken. Stiles will laugh and laugh and laugh at him for this later, because what are his freaky werewolf senses even for if he lets his father sneak up on them?

"I have no illusions I'll be able to keep you two apart," he says. "I'd rather be there to supervise."

Stiles waits until his father slips back out the doorway before pulling Derek in for another kiss. "See?" he says, grinning. "This was the perfect opportunity for my father to shoot you, and he didn't. You practically have his blessing. Also, you owe me for my dropping me on my ass."

"I didn't drop you," Derek says sullenly. "You must have lost your balance."

"Stiles, now!" his father shouts, and Stiles reluctantly lets Derek go with a quick kiss goodbye.

The drive home is an incredibly awkward affair, in which they discuss safe sex and have a lengthy debate on whether or not werewolf STDs are a thing and can Stiles manage to magic them away if they are? Basically if Stiles had a list of things he never wanted to talk to his father about, they would have discussed every single one.

But he does manage to talk his grounding down to a week after he promises never to be alone with Peter again.

Of course he breaks the promise five minutes later through no fault of his own, when he walks into his bedroom and finds Peter Hale lying across his bed.

He's reading New Moon, which Stiles had thought he'd hidden relatively well, so that no one would ever know that he owned it. He'd put the paper book cover from his Statistics book over it, since seriously, who cared about Statistics except maybe Lydia, and that was only because she could insult people better when supported by facts and graph charts.

"You know, it's sort of cute when Derek does this," Stiles says. "But it's just plain creepy when it's you."

"You hid Derek here when your father was looking for him, didn't you?" Peter asks, flipping to the next page. "I thought you might want to hide me here from Derek."

"Derek just told you to stay away from me," Stiles says. "Like an hour ago."

"He told me to stay out of his sight, not yours," Peter says. "In any case, the Stiles I knew wouldn't let others dictate to him."

"You've never known me," Stiles says. "But I can dictate this all on my own if it'll help: Get out."

"You could probably make me," Peter says. "I thought I was breaking you of your habit of asking nicely."

"I don't have to ask anything at all, because Derek will do it for me when he finds you here. He practically lives here, you know," Stiles says. "Like, I even gave him a drawer. He hasn't put anything in it yet but I keep my Skittles there, and I don't trust just anyone with my Skittles. So. I think I've made my point."

Peter smirks. "Relax," he says. "I only dropped by because we never got to finish our conversation."

"Right," Stiles says dryly. "You want my absolution. Well, I'm not qualified."

"I think you are," Peter says, setting the book aside as he gracefully moves to his feet. "You know better than anyone what power I had taking over my mind, because you've been there yourself. Admittedly, you were stronger than me, but if anyone can forgive me, it'll be you."

"No," Stiles says.

"Stiles—" Peter says, all false charm as he steps closer.

Stiles steps back, shaking his head. "You leave out all the parts you don't want to remind me about, like you think I won't notice," he says. "You only tell half the story, but you seem to have forgotten I was there for the rest of it. You killed that nurse, and sure she was nuts, but you made her that way, and you bit Scott, you tried to get him to kill for you, to kill my friends, kill me. So maybe it was your powers corrupting you, but you let them. You could have fought against them, but you never even tried. And that's something…that's something I just don't think I can forgive."

Peter stares back blankly, before reaching down to absently button his coat. "I see," he says.

"I don't trust you," Stiles says. "I can't afford to, and I don't know how you would do it, but I know you would use it against me if I let myself—I know you would. You'd use it to hurt me and Derek."

Peter's eyes flash amber angrily. "You and Derek are the only people I still care about at all," he snarls.

"Even if that’s true," Stile says softly. "It doesn't mean you won't hurt us."

Peter's anger seems to dissipate, dissolving into a wide, sly grin. "Of course you're right," he agrees. "I've taught you well, it seems." He turns and starts for the window.

Stiles swallows hard and then steps after him, just as he's about to crawl through. "I can't give you forgiveness, but I can give you my understanding," he says. "It may not be worth as much, but I have a feeling it's costing me a hell of a lot more."

"Well, at least there's one thing I've gotten right in my life," Peter says. "I was right about you. Sometimes I think my nephew doesn't deserve you, but I'm glad he got you anyway."

Peter swings one leg over the window and Stiles darts forward, grabbing onto his wrist before he can disappear. "You're leaving, aren't you?" he asks. "That's what this has all been about. The story of your past, pushing me to learn to heal, this is all your way of saying goodbye."

"I've taught you all I can," Peter says simply.

"But Derek needs you," Stiles protests. "He'll never admit it, but you're all the family he has left."

"Oh, I think he'll be fine," Peter says. "I'm leaving him in good hands."

"And what if I need you?" Stiles asks, even though he knows it's ridiculous, that Peter is dangerous, and he should probably be celebrating. But there's no one else. If Peter leaves, he'll be alone with this power—alone, with no safety net.

"You? I've never worried about you," Peter says, and leans forward to kiss Stiles on the forehead. Stiles would make a comment about creepers except this doesn't feel like his Peter, this feels like Derek and Laura's uncle, like he really means it. "You're going to reshape the world."

"Exactly what shape are you expecting me to leave it in?" Stiles asks quietly.

"Well now," Peter says slyly. "That is the question."

Stiles leans out the window as Peter disappears through it. He feels Peter's slippery, resilient power brush against his own for just a moment.

And then it's gone.