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The Long Road Back

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"... His eyes will be as blue as the full moon he runs with.
And he will be exactly what you're looking for.
He will be the love of your life."

++++++

Mrs. Morgan hadn't told him he was getting a neighbour. And that little old fox told him everything, even things he didn't want to know. But there was the evidence -- an ajar door, propped open with boxes, to go right along with the bumps that he'd heard earlier that were different from the usual weekly once-over cleaning. It was the only other rental in the two-storey building, where he covered the entire top floor, and the ground floor had been vacant for the past four years that he'd been there.

Peter inhaled and caught the scent of books, coffee already brewing and a tinge of cinnamon and earth, like just after a deluge when the ground was still pulsing trying to soak the rain all up, and grief. He was intimately familiar with the last one, so he didn't pause any longer to see who his new neighbour was. He had a full day ahead of him.

He took one glance at the beat up blue jeep, doors thrown open with still a few boxes and bags in the back and reigned in his curiousity, getting into his car, revving the engine and peeling away. George had called him just that morning to ask for a hand in the garage and after that he was heading into the City. It was close to the full moon and his itch needed scratching before the big blue called to him to run.

++++++

The sound of the engine of the only other vehicle parked on the premises startled Stiles, almost causing him to splash himself. Taking his mug, he walked casually to the door and watched the breaklights of the slinky black sports car disappear from view. He guessed that was Mr. Hale, the other occupant Mrs. Morgan, the landlady had told him about. With a shrug of indifference, he returned to what he'd been doing, unpacking.

It took him most of the day to even make the apartment seem more homey and less sterile, from the jumble of boxes he'd hastily gathered together when he'd realised he needed to leave town. It really had become too much to stay. With a heavy heart he glanced at the framed photograph on the side table. Matthew gazed back at him with those blue eyes and one of his secret smiles. God, I miss you! The thought almost had him buckling in tears again, but he'd promised himself he wouldn't. Matthew would be so disappointed at the way he'd fallen apart after his death.

He set the picture next to the one of his mother, someone else he'd lost way too soon. He'd dreamt of her last night, dreamt of the last words she'd said to him after he'd fallen asleep in his jeep at the park he'd pulled into to rest for the night. Fell asleep gazing at the big bright blue moon as her last words echoed in his ears.

" ... He will be the love of your life."

He'd never told anyone that this was half the reason he still could not get over Matt. Those blue eyes haunted him. His mother had been wrong, and the love of his life was dead. How could he be dead and Stiles still manage to breathe air?

"His eyes will be as blue as the full moon ..."

A buzzing cut his thoughts and alerted him to an incoming call and he sighed. It would be one of two people -- his dad, or Lydia. It was the former.

"Are you all settled yet or still travelling to nowhere?" his dad's voice wasn't judgemental, but there was a hint of worry. When he'd packed and left, it had been with notes to his father and his best friend to say he was going away for a bit and would appreciate if they'd let him have this time to himself to put his life back together. His dad had been a bit more understanding than Lydia. In fact, she was the main reason his departure was so abrupt.

Well, not Lydia exactly, but her husband. Always suspicious of their friendship given that Stiles was bisexual and Lydia was not just his best friend but a former lover from their college days, Jackson had seemed to make it his mission to find Stiles a replacement. As if anyone could replace Matthew.

So 14 months and 11 days after he lost the love of his life, their circle of friends was trying to matchmake, to Stiles' annoyance and then eventual anger. The last movie evening amongst friends had turned into a blind date that left Stiles furious as he abandoned them all at the entrance to the theatre, without even an apology to the embarassed man Jackson had foisted on him. He'd known then that he couldn't take any more. He had to get away to think, to allow himself to try to move forward with his life and decide just how he was going to get that done with his fiance dead.

Mora's rental had proved to be just what he was looking for. Thank God the apartment had come fully furnished.

++++++

"So what's he like?" George asked, passing him a light under the hoisted vehicle.

When Peter raised a single brown, George sighed. "You know, your new neighbour. Betty told me she saw a guy moving in and I heard Mora rented the place out for a couple months or so."

"Well you know more than I do," Peter intoned, voice bored as he examined the source of the oil leak.

George stared at him expectedly then finally shook his head. He should have known better than to try to get anything out of Peter. The man was a closed book, not a word unless he wanted it to escape, the epitome of control and as unflappable as ever.

Peter's face gave nothing away, but his jaws were clenched, a sure sign to George that he was grinding his teeth. Something he did when he was annoyed, although no one had yet seen a single canine slide out of place or an inch of hair askew. Even the goatie seemed carefully groomed and styled.

Peter exhaled. Sometimes he forgot what a small town it was. Unhooking the light from where he'd placed it, he held it up again inspecting the undercarriage. Just as George suspected, they'd have to remove the engine to see where the leak was really coming from. These small vehicles were really a pain in the ass.

The two set to work. Peter was there mostly for his extraordinary strength and eyesight as George was getting on in age and while he was as capable as ever, his eyes weren't what they used to be even five years ago.

It was after 2 p.m. when Hank from the diner walked in. "Hey George, Peter..."

"Hank," George replied, even as Peter only grunted and continued with ensuring the engine was once again in its correct place, leak all taken care of.

"Peter, we were wondering if you were going to be around later. It seems that Darla and her high school friends wanted to have a bonfire out in the woods behind your place and we just wanted to make sure it would be ok, so close to the full moon an all," Hank stated, shifting in his boots a bit.

"I'm heading into the City later. I probably won't be back til morning," he told Hank, and the older man nodded and shuffled back toward the diner.

It still surprised Peter some that the residents looked out for each other this way. It felt so much like pack that it was one of the reasons Peter had stopped worrying about his omega status after just two months here. It wasn't that they feared him so much as respected his right to be able to run free during the week of the full moon when it called to him. Usually they would stay out of the woods then, or notify him if anyone was going to be there beyond nightfall and where, so he could avoid that particular area. He'd even had one or two instances of people having left little care packages for him to find during his runs.

He still recalled his utter shock, when after three weeks, Mrs. Morgan, cleaning his apartment one day while he lounged around with papers spread out on a table before him, had looked up at him and said, "The nights are getting chilly, aren't they dear?"

"Ummm, I guess," he'd responded with a distracted frown, mind far away from the little old lady.

"So aren't you chilled going out so late into the woods and coming back in the foggy mornings?"

Peter had frozen, glancing up sharply to meet a keen but calm gaze. "It's ok, dear. We don't mean you any harm, but can you tell me, you're not quite all human, are you?"

He'd swallowed stretching his senses to see if there was perhaps a mob nearby waiting to ambush him. "It's not that I'm trying to pry you see. It's just that we want to know so we can tell others to stay out of your way on your runs. Less misunderstanding, less temptation, and all that."

"How could you tell?" he'd asked, almost in a whisper.

"Well dear, my husband is the human descendent of a fox tribe. And if you left this apartment for more than just the supermarket in the dead of night, you would have noticed we also have a banshee, a witch, as well as a family of vampires at the other edge of town. We don't judge, we just like to know so we can accommodate the needs of our residents. I'm sure you understand. So if there's anything you need or if you're ever feeling the need to 'let loose', as they say, just let me know so I can notify the others to stay out of your way.

"Oh, and there might be a leak in the bathroom. I'll have Hank come by and patch that right up as soon as he finishes with the Shepherd's property today, if that's ok with you of course?"

He'd only been able to nod, before he found his tongue to add, "Wolf. I'm a werewolf."

"Oh, that's nice dear. We've never had one of those before."

And that had been that. His were-heritage was never brought up again but gradually more people stopped by to ask for his "help", lifting something that only a supernatural could, or helping to find something that only someone with his ears or nose could detect. Gradually, much to his disgust and eventual capitulation, he became an upstanding citizen that people greeted on the street and engaged in conversation. And his worries about going feral receded because in these people he'd found the surrogate pack he'd never expected.

+++++++

He was once again sipping coffee when the rumble of the car pulled into the second parking space. Stiles glanced at the clock to see it had just gone 6 a.m., but then he'd become an early riser, thanks to Matthew's crazy hours and now found he could not break himself of the habit.

His neighbour had returned briefly last night, seemingly to shower and leave again and he had not heard the purr of the engine at all before he fell into a restless slumber just after 1 a.m. He would later ask himself why, but it seemed his feet were moving before he even realise it and the door was thrown open before he could stop himself. And his breath caught in his lungs as he looked at the face of his building mate for the first time. Jesus, the man was gorgeous, his very alert brain processed.

"Hi!" the word came out in a rush of air, with very little sound, but the man paused in midstep and glanced at him, seeming for a brief moment at a loss as to how to respond.

Rather, he nodded in acknowledgement and made a sign as if to move pass to the stairs at the side of the building that was the main access to the top loft. He looked a bit weary, and cautious.

"I have coffee," Stiles rushed on, suddenly for some reason craving a little company but cursing himself almost immediately. If the man had been out all night, maybe he just wanted his bed and no interruptions. Shit. He was just about to apologise for being forward when he saw the man inhale before turning in his direction, and whatever the man saw on his face seemed to make him pause again before nodding. Stiles briefly wondered if he was mute. Mora never mentioned if he was in any way challenged. "I'm Stiles, by the way."

"Peter."

"How do you take it, Peter?"

"Black, no sugar. Thank you." Peter tried not to stare, but there was something about the pale pale skin dotted by moles and the way the cinnamon and earth scent mixed with the richness of the coffee beans that drew him forward like his body had a mind of its own. If he didn't know better he would think he was bewitched, but he could detect nothing supernatural in Stiles' scent. There were still boxes packed up in various spots, even though it was clear Stiles had begun to make himself at home.

"Mora told me you'd been here a while?"

Peter paused in his perusal. "Ummm, a couple years..." he trailed off vaguely.

"It's so peaceful here. Where're you from?"

"Here and there," Peter responded. It was now his automated response to that question. The last thing he wanted was anyone in the know associating him with the Hale pack when he mentioned Beacon Hills. The story of the family's demise in the fire that had taken most of them and almost half the forest was too well known. It led to all sorts of uncomfortable and tiring questions that he neither had the desire nor patience to answer. Frankly it was no one's damn business.

Seeming to take the hint, Stiles changed the subject. "What's there to do around here anyway? I mean, I came for the quiet and the solitude, I just wasn't expecting it to be quite so quiet."

"Well you are at the edge of town. There's a lot more ... life, if that's what you're looking for, in town. There's the tavern, the theatre, the concert hall, which is really the school hall where they put on musical productions ever so often. They say the acoustics for music is better there than the theatre. There's also the boardwalk, but that's about it. It's no Boston," he finished, realising he had said more to this stranger in that brief moment than he usually did to his neighbours over the course of a day. Peter liked his solitude too.

"How ... how'd you know I was from Boston?" He knew the Morgans would not discuss him freely with anyone.

Peter canted his chin in the direction of the nightscape hanging on the wall, where ordinarily a large flatscreen would probably be. It was hung above a photograph of a group of people posing in various freaky and hilarous silhouettes in the very same view of Boston. In fact, Stiles had no tv in there. Maybe it just wasn't unpacked yet, or maybe he was one of those who liked to watch from bed, reclining to watch a late night show or in other more delicious positi... Peter immediately shook himself and scrambled to his feet when he realised he was thinking about Stiles in the most inappropriate and surprising manner.

"I really should go." He felt like his skin was starting to itch again.

"I'm sorry." It was out before he could call it back. Peter's raised eyebrows told him he was confused at the apology. "I didn't mean to pry or to make you uncomfortable. I was just ... I don't know ... I needed ..."

"You were lonely," Peter whispered, and Stiles' head, which had dropped almost to his chest a moment ago, flew up as their gazes locked. Peter felt the impact of those eyes like a punch to the stomach. It knocked the wind clear from his lungs, those liquid amber eyes, hot like whiskey. He swallowed and the air lit up with a teasing scent of arousal before Stiles' shock turned into mortification.

Before he could apologise again, Peter beat him to it. "Good bye Stiles. Thank you for the coffee, and don't forget to lock your doors at night." Peter set the half-empty mug on the nearest surface and quietly exited the apartment. Stiles stood shocked right where he was as Peter and his blue eyes disappeared up the stairs.

Less than five damn minutes. He'd been in town less than a day, in the man's presence for less than five minutes and he was turned on. Certainly every pair of blue eyes could not do this to him? He hadn't felt a shred of desire for anyone since Matt and he was ashamed of how swift it had crept up on him. Added to which, he'd probably just embarrassed the hell out of his neighbour. He'd be surprised if the man ever spoke to him again.

Damn his once celibate, now very excited dick.

++++++

Peter didn't know what to make of him. This new neighbour. He'd gone off to the garage the next day, returned and barely caught sight of the man. It seemed he was determined to keep to himself. Solitude, he supposed. But twice, he'd come home to find a box by his front door with a note.

Stiles was a baker. A writer and a baker, by the constant clacking of keys on the computer keyboard and the delicious smells teasing his nostrils constantly from downstairs. It seemed when Stiles could not sleep or was suffering writer's block, he baked and Peter's senses were being tantalised and overwhelmed by the nightly routine of baked goods. He was being seduced by sweet treats.

On the way down to the garage next morning, he paused to knock on the closed door of the downstairs apartment. He had empty containers in his hands. The door cracked open and Stiles, Stiles was wearing a pair of pajama pants and nothing else. There was a wide expanse of chest one would not expect, a tapered waist with defined abs, and the moles. Shit. The moles dotted his skin in the sexiest way and Peter's just discovered a kink he never knew he had. Wiping sleep out of his eyes, Stiles was the most adorable he'd ever seen him as he looked up at Peter in askance. "Peter?"

"Ah, I brought these back." He brandished three empty containers, and the slow, sweet smile on Stiles' face went straight to Peter's groin. He was turned on by his sleepy, smiling, mole-covered, half-naked neighbour.

"You liked them?" Stiles was still smiling at him, but then the smile wavered. "Or did you take them and pawn them off on someone else. It's ok, you don't have to..."

"I loved them,"Peter interrupted before the ridiculous man could work himself into a frenzy. "Especially the coconut," and for the first time he was smiling back and Stiles' eyes went wide, like he was suddenly aware how early it was and the fact that he was standing in front of Peter, half-naked and the man was smiling at him, full on grin with full teeth on display between that sexy-ass goatie. Jesus, it was too much. It sent his heart into a skid. He didn't understand this, any of this. His reaction to a single gaze or a grin from the man was bordering on incredible.

"I should go. Don't wanna be late." Peter stretched out the containers toward Stiles, who took them hesitantly. He smiled one last time, and as he started his car and drove away he already strangely lighter, almost euphoric -- a description he would never have used to describe himself.

Stiles stared after the car. What the hell just happened? He wasn't sure, but something had.

++++++

Peter returned that night to find a note stuck to his door. It was an invitation, a dinner invitation. He glanced at his watch and then at the grease stain on his shirt. He had about 20 minutes. He rushed to shower and change.

When he knocked on Stiles' door, 21 minutes later, his hair was still damp and curling at his nape. It's the first thing Stiles noted when he opened the door and a shy smile made its way across his face. "Hi."

"Hi."

"I see you got my note. I wasn't sure if ...," he took a deep breath and seemed to shake himself. "Please, come in." Stiles stepped back, and as Peter passed, he held out a bottle of white wine, lightly chilled by the feel of it.

"You brought wine. White wine," Stiles said baffled. "How did you know?"

"Good guess?" Peter could smell the pork and apples cooking from upstairs, and as a man who appreciated his wines, he'd had a bottle already chilling for himself. It was no hardship to bring it downstairs for dinner with his most tempting neighbour.

Stiles ducked his head, staring at the bottle as a light sheen of sweat dotted the surface from the change in temperature. His gaze, when he looked up was soft and puzzled. Peter didn't know what it was about this man, but he was drawn to him. Drawn against all usual caution and common sense. He stepped forward almost subconsciously, and before he could stop himself, his hand was curling behind Stiles' neck and he was tilting his face up.

Their lips when they met were soft, hesitant. Then Stiles uttered a breathy moan and the gentleness disappeared and Peter was devouring him like his last meal. Stiles' arms came up to encircle his neck and he opened his mouth to accept Peter's tongue. His heart was tripping over itself and damn it was good. It was so damn good that a rumble started in Peter's chest and burbled to the surface. Stiles startled and Peter's eyes flash blue, a cerulean blue that was as captivating as it was surprising, prophetic and slightly scary.

"Werewolf," Stiles breathed on his next exhale.

Peter stumbled back a few steps, fear etched on his face, claws fighting to make themselves known, sensing danger, uncertainty and going immediately into protective mode. Stiles reached back to place the bottle on the side table, hands up in the universal sign of surrender, caution, tilting his neck slightly in submission. "It's ok. It's fine. You're safe here."

"How?"

"We, our family ... my mother's family is descended from a line of seers. She was ... she had the sight; could see the future sometimes. My great great grandfather was an oracle," his words were almost tripping over each other. "It was ... It was how he first met the Morgan family, Mora's husband ... Our families have known each other for generations ... I've heard of werewolves, but I've, I've never met one ... never before you."

Peter relaxed. Despite the racing heartbeat, there were no lies in it. Of course Mora would book downstairs to the descendant of an oracle and not tell him anything. That woman. They'd be having a few words come morning. Right now, this man, whatever he might be or not be, was calling to his wolf like a siren, in a way he's never felt before and he couldn't help the few steps forward into Stiles' space. Leaning forward slightly, he put his face into the crook of that pale neck and inhaled. It smelled right, smelled like home, smelled like mate.

It's then that Stiles' dying mother's words come back to him. "When you meet him you'll know it, my son. His eyes will be as blue as the full moon he runs with. And he will be exactly what you're looking for. He will be the love of your life."