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the devil's in the details

Chapter Text

The demon was all dark-hair and broad shoulders poured into leather like an oil slick.

It looked surprisingly human, except Stiles knew better. After all, it was standing in the middle of a chalk drawn circle, in the pool of blood that Stiles had slit a poor rabbit’s throat for. Stiles snapped his jaw shut and squared his shoulders, chest heaving half in terror and half in excitement.

Then the demon turned his head, tipping it lazily to one side, and opened his eyes. Stiles froze, caught in its sights. Vaguely, he noted that its eyes were blue, blue, blue. (For some reason, he thought they would be red.) His heart pounded like a drumbeat in his ears, and for once in his life, he was speechless.

“Hello,” said the demon, its smile sharp enough to cut. “What do we have here?”





Stiles’s mom was sick.

“Stiles,” she said, the single vowel jarring in place of where it should have been the name she gave him when he was born.

But Stiles smiled at her anyway, and said, “Hey, Mom.”

“How was your day?” Claudia was wan but smiling, and Stiles leaned over her bed far enough to hug her. He rested his chin on her thin shoulder.

“Good,” he answered, mumbling into her hair. “I made it onto the lacrosse team!”

“Of course you did!” she laughed. “Wait until we tell your dad, he’s gonna be so proud of you.”

“I’m not first string or anything, but it’s better than nothing, right?”

“Darling, you can do anything you want to as long as you put your mind to it. You know that.”

Stiles beamed, pulling himself free and sitting on the edge of the bed. “Honestly? I’m kinda surprised I made the cut at all.”

“Mr. Two Left Feet,” his mom teased. “What about Scott?”

“Both of us got in,” Stiles said, grinning.

“Got in where?” Claudia asked, blinking. Stiles’s smile dropped like the string had been cut. “Not trouble, I hope. When did you get home from school, Stiles?”

He breathed in, and breathed out. Took a second, and then hoisted his smile back on his face. “Just now. I’ve got big news. Wanna hear it?”

She smiled at him. Stiles tried to shove his disquiet down deep inside him, the worry eating him up from the inside out. He looked it up-- everything and anything to do with her illness, and sometimes? He wished he never did. At least that way, he wouldn’t know about all the ways his mom was vulnerable. All the facts wouldn’t run around in his head like they were now.

Sure, most of the time when people got sick, they left it up to the doctors to treat them, to fix them, but Stiles was never great at leaving things alone. Especially when nothing seemed to make his mom better, and she was all but wasting away. The last cold left her sick with pneumonia and a rattle to her lungs that lasted for weeks.

There had to be some way to cure her. Before it was too late.

Rosemary for love. How to call forth light. Lavender for peace. A trick to tie tongues. Burn ash and you’ll burn sickness away, Claudia told Stiles as she gardened, Stiles clumping along after her. Magic ran in the family, and Claudia passed it down to him. Magic that wasn’t doing him any damn good because nothing he’d tried so far helped his mom at all, which is why Sunday afternoon saw Stiles up in the attic, rooting around the mess of stuff up there.

He went through a million boxes of old books, photo albums, and found his old handheld console. Huh. Surprise, surprise, it still worked. Stiles promptly got distracted for half an hour because of it, only throwing it to the side after he died for the tenth time in a row. The weak winter sunlight shone through the skylight, dust motes floating down gently through the air. He scrubbed at his face, shaking his head. Tried to get his shit together and focus.

His eyes landed on a small stack of books in the corner he hadn’t gone through yet. They looked old, but there wasn’t really anything up here that wasn’t ancient. It was worth a shot. Stiles fumbled his way over to them, and hesitated, his palm hovering over the very first book.

The book he carefully pulled out from near the bottom of the stack was thin and leather bound, the pages yellowed with age. It was freezing to the touch. It was exactly what Stiles was looking for.

One summoning circle, one dead rabbit, an assortment of fat candles, crushed herbs, and handy-dandy satanic summoning spell pulled out of the diary of one of Stiles’s crazy relatives later, he had a real, bona-fide demon in his attic.

Just as planned.





“Holy shit,” Stiles breathed. It worked. And then, because he never could keep his big mouth shut, “Nice jacket.”

“Thank you,” the demon said, still smiling. Its shoes left bloody prints across the attic floor as it prowled towards Stiles. “You have excellent taste,” it paused expectantly.

“Stiles,” Stiles said, watching it warily. The circle shouldn’t have any openings. If it did, then Stiles was royally fucked. “You?”

“Stiles,” it purred, drawing out the s in a sibilant hiss. “What an intriguing handle. You can call me Peter.”

“Cool, great, introductions all done.” Never mind that both of them used fake names, because what kind of demonic name was Peter? Definitely not the one he used to summon it.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been called,” the demon— Peter, mused. “Especially by someone as young as you are. You must be very desperate, or very foolish.”

“What, a guy can’t summon up a demon just to satisfy his own curiosity?” Stiles shot back. Peter walked the circumference of the circle, always a hair’s breadth away from the chalk. Stiles stayed carefully out of reach, his back to the door. The candles flickered when the demon finally toed the line, a crackle of magic hissing in the air.

“Well, you’ve certainly done a thorough job of it. Take a good look, never mind the saying about curiosity and cats.”

Stiles snorted. Just his luck. Of course he’d get the one demon who wanted to keep on talking and talking. “You don’t look that much different from a human.”

Apart from the shadow it casted on the wall, of something huge and hulking and not at all person shaped or sized like the man before him. Or the fact that Stiles had to kill a bunny to get this guy here. Seriously, he was going to have to donate to the SPCA in the name of them. But other than that, the demon in front of him seemed perfectly human. He was good looking in a way that screamed of bad news, and the leather jacket? Didn’t help. If Peter was a human, he’d be a sleazy car salesman, and Stiles got the feeling that bargaining with a demon was a lot like the more dangerous, evil, magical equivalent of that.

Only he didn’t want a car.

The demon arched one elegant eyebrow at him, inspecting his seriously long claws. Not nails. “Of course I don’t now. Otherwise you would be terrified out of your mind already.”

“That’s… that’s great. Thanks.” Stiles grimaced.

“So? What will it be? Is this truly an educational experiment, or is there something else you want?” Peter’s eyes glowed. “Something only a demon can give you.”

“Well,” Stiles started.

“Ah,” smiled Peter. “Here it comes.”

“What, come on, you get a lot of these, don’t you?” Stiles said, unable to hold back his questions.

“Oh, often enough. Always the usual run of the mill requests. Immortality, fame, money, power, and so on. Humans are mundane in their wants.”

“Huh. Wait, so it could be anyone famous?”

Peter scoffed. “Almost everyone.”

“What about—”

“Anyone with enough of a spark, the necessary knowledge, and a deep enough desire to make a deal with the devil,” the demon interrupted. “And you clearly have all three.” His nostrils flared, and his gaze grew hungrier. Stiles shifted his weight from one foot to another uncomfortably even as the demon’s voice cut through the air like a guillotine. “So much pure, untainted power. You smell delicious.”

Creepy. Stiles fought not to shudder, and took a deep breath. This was for his mom. He wouldn’t back out now. “Anyway, it can be anything, right?”

“Within reason.”

“Within— what the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Why don’t you say what it is you want, and we’ll go from there,” said Peter, and Stiles didn’t trust him, but. But. The demon was his best shot.

“My mom’s dying,” Stiles said bluntly, because there was no easy way to put it. The truth was written in every instance she forgot who he was, who his dad was, in the way she was shrinking in on herself, body turned against itself. “I want to save her.”

A brief flicker of surprise wrought itself over Peter’s face. “And you decided to summon a demon.”

“I,” Stiles paused. “Why, is there like, an angel summoning spell? ‘cause I wouldn’t mind trying that instead.”

Give him a choice between heaven and hell, and of course Stiles was gonna take heaven. Angels have got to be better than demons, right?

“Oh no,” Peter said. “You don’t want to deal with them. Angels— sanctimonious pricks, the lot. And if your poor mother is dying from an illness, they’ll feed you some line about it being God’s will.”

“I’m getting serious Eve and the snake vibes here,” Stiles muttered.

“You’ve got quite the mouth on you.” The demon’s eyes glittered as he leveled an altogether too predatory look at said mouth. Stiles held back a shiver. “Why don’t you come a little closer and tell me all about your problems, sweetheart?”

“Nice try,” scoffed Stiles, with the uncomfortable crawling feeling that Peter meant sweetheart in the way most people said things like oh, I just wanna eat you right up!. “You don’t get to call me delicious and expect me to get anywhere near you.”

Stiles was a lot of things, but he wasn’t stupid. Reckless, yeah, given that he’s got a demon in his attic and he’s chatting with it instead of getting to the point. The demon was trying to get him to break the only thing keeping him from wreaking havoc. He had to concentrate, or else.

Peter— no, the demon, because calling it by a name only fostered a sense of connection. Basic psychology 101, Stiles knew. That’s why the bunny didn’t get named— shrugged. “It was worth a shot.”

“Can you do it?” Stiles said impatiently.

“Do what?” it asked.

“Save my mom. Please.”

“And what will you give me in return?”

Stiles hesitated. He’s surprised by how steady his voice was when he answered, “Anything.”

“I want you,” Peter said promptly.

“Uh,” Stiles said. “Can you be a little more specific?”

With a put upon sigh, like it was the world’s greatest inconvenience to put into real words what kind of deal Stiles would be signing up for— asshole, this was Stiles’s eternal soul on the line here— Peter elaborated. “Don’t kids these days read? You make a deal with the devil, you sell your soul to me. It’s mine after your death.”

“I’ve read Faust,” Stiles said indignantly. Or he read the wiki page for it, anyway. Same thing. “I just thought— never mind. So you’ll make my mom better in return for my soul?”

“That’s the idea,” Peter said. “Do we have a deal?”

“Yeah, we do.” His mouth was dry, and Stiles cleared his throat. “So is this the part where we sign a contract?”

Everything's been moving at a breakneck pace, the strain of keeping up a conversation with the demon wearing on Stiles. He knew it was a distraction tactic, a test of his wits and all that other stuff. If it wasn't for the fact that this was stupidly dangerous, he might've enjoyed it more. The back and forth was almost fun, which was really, really weird. But Stiles couldn't forget that it was trying to find a weak spot. Well too bad for Peter, but he wasn't gonna give. Not when there was so much at stake and he was so close.

“Take a look at it,” the demon said, and with a wave, a piece of parchment appeared out of the air before Stiles. Stiles took his time and read through the print carefully. Nothing looked out of place. “Stiles Stilinski, in return for the continued good health of his ailing mother, will sign over his soul” etc, etc. “And while you’re at it, I’ll have your real name, if you would.”

Stiles narrowed his eyes at Peter, shrugged, and told him his name. His real name. “It was worth a shot.”

“Thank you.” The words scrawled across the page shifted in a shiver of ink, and Stiles watched, fascinated. “Your signature. In blood, please.”

He was wondering when it’d start getting creepy. Stiles cut his palm with the knife he brought earlier, smearing his finger in the blood and scrawling his signature across the floating contract in a messy swipe of scarlet. It glowed, and vanished.

“Perfect,” Peter said, all low rumble of satisfaction and gleaming eyes.

“Are we done here?” Stiles said. Holy shit. He just did it, he just signed an actual literal fucking contract with a demon. The cut on his palm stung.

“One more thing.”

“Wha— ow!”

His wrist suddenly on fire, Stiles staggered, clutching at it. When he pulled his hand away, deep, ragged, crescents on both sides of his wrist were barely visible beneath the swell of blood. “Did you just bite me without actually biting me?!”

“It’s my mark,” Peter said. “Now we’re done. Goodbye, Stiles.”

“No kidding! You left one hell of a ma—!” And he’s talking to thin air. Rude.

But Stiles exhaled in a relieved gust of air, and went to look for something to wrap his wrist up with. His hands trembled the entire time.

Later, when Stiles came back up to the empty attic, he paused as he was scrubbing chalk and blood off of the floors, shoulders shaking before he burst into laughter, half exhilarated, half terrified.

He did it.

Chapter Text

They called it nothing short of a medical miracle.

Three days. Three days after Stiles’s deal with the demon (devil, whatever, did it really matter?), and his mom was already showing signs of improvement. Stiles was there at the hospital when the doctors noted her results on a routine test. He had to be sure. Stiles hadn’t been sure what to expect, or how it would work, or— okay, a lot of the finer points on how his mom would be healed. Just that she would be.

And she was.

At first, her prognosis was a tentative “it’s looking up, but don’t get your hopes up”. The hospital was keeping her for a couple extra days of observation.

So Stiles swung by to visit her after school, did his homework beside her bed as she slept. Only the quiet beep of the heart monitor kept him company, and the shuffle of the textbook’s pages as he checked his answers in the back. He’s halfway through his math problems when Claudia stirred. Stiles pulled his chewed up pen from his mouth, and said, “Mom?”

“Szczęsny?” she said, blinking at him slowly.

“Mom!” Stiles said, scrambling out of his chair and half jumping to his feet to help her sit up. “Mom- hey, hey you. How are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been in bed for way too long,” she groaned. She reached up once Stiles was close enough, and rapped his head affectionately with her knuckles. “What are you doing here, darling?”

“Ow, Mom, watch it,” Stiles complained half-heartedly, grinning and ducking his head, too happy to be anything else. “I was, uh. Hanging out with you and doing my homework?”

“For how long?” Claudia glanced out the window. “It looks like it’s late. Did you eat yet?”

Stiles winced. “I might’ve, kinda, sorta forgot.”

Szczęsny.

He couldn’t even bring himself to pretend to be ashamed, hanging his head for two seconds before bouncing to his feet, beaming. “I’m gonna run to the cafeteria and grab some of their delicious, delicious food right now. Yep. Mom, you want anything?”

Stiles held his breath. Claudia’s appetite had been waning ever since her health deteriorated.

She smiled hopefully at him. “A burger and curly fries?”

“Great! I'll be right back with food, don't go anywhere!”

Stiles practically had the route to the hospital cafeteria memorised, and for a hospital food, it wasn't bad (but maybe he was biased, because what other hospital had curly fries?). The menu too, because, well. It kind of stuck with him after a while. Some of the workers there knew him by sight now, and Stiles? Well, he wasn't sure how he felt about being a regular here, of all places, but it was the last thing on his mind today when he slid into the line like it was third base.

Maybe it was too soon to be sure, but Stiles knew his mom was getting better. Maybe she was already better. He's jittery the entire time he's waiting his turn, bouncing on the balls of his feet until he got his food.

A flare of red hot heat shot through his wrist, and Stiles stumbled, feet tangling, tray tipping precariously in his grip. He regained his balance a second later, panting. There was a table close by, and he hurried towards it, hastily setting everything down. The sleeves of his shirt hid the bandages wrapped around his wrist, the mark from the demon scabbed over.

Stiles yanked his sleeve up. That was definitely blood spotting the gauze, and he frowned at it. Maybe he caught it on something while he was grabbing the food. Or maybe this was part of the deal? A mark on him that would never heal over from the demon.

But aside from the little bit of bleeding, it looked okay, and it wasn’t hurting anymore. Stiles shook his sleeve down back over it. It was probably nothing.

He’s on his way back out of the cafeteria when a chill ran down his spine. Stiles turned to his right reflexively, freezing and sucking in a breath. There was a man exiting from the other door, broad shouldered and wearing a leather jacket, and the line of his back was so familiar that for a second, Stiles thought- maybe—

Nah. It couldn’t be, right? Right?





Stiles was looking over his shoulder.

His lungs were heaving, and he was running as fast as he could, grass tearing up underneath his feet, but he wasn’t fast enough.

“Oof!” He’s tackled to the ground, a punched out whump of air escaping him. Fuck. A little bit more, and he would’ve made it. Figured he wouldn’t get anywhere even though it was his first time off the bench all season.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, loser? Don’t mess this up for the rest of us!” Jackson huffed, shoving Stiles’s shoulder roughly as he sprinted past him.

“Bilinski! What the hell was that? You don’t turn ever, ever turn back to check who’s chasing you! Just go! Go, go, go!” Finstock yelled from the sidelines.

“Sorry, Coach!” Stiles groaned, trying to pick himself up. Scott huffed to a stop beside him, and Stiles took his hand. “Thanks, buddy.”

“No problem. C’mon, you heard Coach!” They bumped helmets briefly, and Stiles swung his lacrosse stick back over his shoulder, rolling the stiffness out of his body. His breath misted white in front of him, the cold air a relief on his face. The floodlights illuminated the field in white light, and Stiles threw a look towards the bleachers.

His mom sat there along with his dad, the two of them huddled together for warmth. Claudia’s face was vibrant, flushed and happy. She and his dad were holding a poster GO BEACON HILLS GO with 24 bracketing it on both side. Stiles remembered the warm flush of emotion that flooded him when he saw her making it on the kitchen table, paint splattering the front of her apron, and he grinned stupidly. Claudia waved at them, Melissa beaming beside her.

It was a home game, and the stand was packed with onlookers. Stiles's eyes ran over the crowd; he recognised some of them vaguely: parents of the lacrosse team members, the gossipy old lady who liked to trade recipes with his mom, a dark haired man in leather that he couldn't quite place. Someone’s dad, probably.

Cheers erupted. A goal for Beacon Hills. Stiles grinned and tore his eyes away, ducking back into the game, shaking off the soreness radiating all over his body from getting tackled earlier.

His good mood lasted all the way throughout their win, and he was humming by the time he scrambled out of his jeep and into the house, lacrosse things in tow. The locker room showers have been out of commission for a couple of days now, and everyone had to head back home to get clean.

“Dirty gear goes in the laundry basket, not on your floor, Stiles!” Claudia called from behind him, climbing out of the cruiser.

Stiles waved his arm in response. The shower was calling him, and he raced up the stairs, taking them two at a time. It’s a quick one, Stiles hitting his knee on the edge of the tub on the way out. He swore under his breath, clutching his leg and hopping over to the sink.

The steam from the shower fogged the mirror over, Stiles’s reflection blurry when he caught a glimpse of it. Downstairs, he could hear his mom and dad talking, laughing. He ran his towel roughly over his hair. Perks of having it cut so short— it dried in no time at all. He was wrestling his shirt over his head when a flash of blue caught his eye.

Stiles whipped his head up. In the mirror, his reflection stared back at him. He blinked. It blinked in perfect sync. He squinted. It squinted.

And then it winked at him. Stiles didn’t know how to wink.

Flinging himself backwards and out of the bathroom, he pelted towards the landing.

“Not to alarm anyone, but I think we’ve got some kind of ghosty… thing… haunting us!” he called out. Sometimes it happened, especially with his mom and him around— they’re attracted to their energy, their magic, Claudia always said. “Mom, you wanna get this one, or I can—”

His foot missed a step. When he flung his right arm out for the banister, it recoiled. Try as he might, Stiles couldn’t stop himself from tumbling, tumbling, tumbling down.

Stiles never even had the breath to scream.

Chapter Text

Everything hurt.

The ceiling swam before his eyes, and Stiles ached all over. This wasn’t his bed. This wasn’t his ceiling either. There should’ve been a crack in the plaster where he and Scott had accidentally tossed— something. What was it again? Where was he?

“Teenagers these days. So resilient,” Someone said to his right, and Stiles jerked his head towards the voice.

There was something wrong with his eyes. His vision was all messed up, and whoever was sitting next to his bed was a smear of black and white and blue. But through it all, Stiles could hear the steady beep of a heart monitor. He blinked a couple of times, trying to clear his eyes.

“But you, Szczęsny. You’re a special case, aren’t you? A fall like that should’ve killed anyone else. You were lucky to get off as lightly as you have. Extremely fortunate, one might even say.”

“What,” Stiles said. Hospital. Falling. His head hurt. Did he have a concussion? Who was this guy?

The man leaned forward. Stiles’s eyes widened, and his jaw dropped. Dark hair, leather jacket, blue eyes— “It’s a pun. A play on your namesake, obviously.”

A sudden, renewed throb of pain shot up his arm, and Stiles jerked his it inadvertently. Bad move. Every nerve in his body lit up, and he grimaced. “You!”

“Me,” the demon smiled.

Peter. The devil, demon, whatever, same thing. The summoning circle in the attic, the uncomfortable feeling of being pinned beneath Peter’s eyes as he tested the boundaries of the chalk. Making a deal for his mom. How did he forget all of that? There was absolutely no way he would’ve forgotten, no way he could’ve, unless.

“What did you do to me?!” Stiles demanded, jabbing his finger at the demon. The bite mark on his wrist burned.

“Now, Szczęsny—”

Stiles.

“Stiles,” the demon amended, smiling widely. “There's no need to point fingers. It's rude.”

“Answer the question.”

“Most people prefer not to live with the crushing knowledge that they’ve sold their soul and made a deal with the devil,” Peter mused. “I was doing you a favour.”

By erasing my memories and trying to kill me?” Stiles hissed.

With a languid shrug, the demon crossed his legs and leaned back in his seat. Stiles wanted to lunge out of the hospital bed and punch him right across the face, except his limbs were mush and jello. Pretty sure he was about as strong as a marshmallow right now too.

“I didn’t do anything to you,” said Peter. “Well, other than nudge gently.”

“Why? What the hell, dude? You’re already gonna get what you want.”

“I thought I’d speed things up a little.”

Stiles groaned, putting his face in his hands. Peter was watching him indulgently when he peeked at him through the slats of his fingers. Didn’t being a demon mean he had pretty much all the time in the world? Why the hell was he in such a rush?

“Look, can’t you just leave me alone?”

“I could,” Peter said, smiling, “but I don’t think I will. Why don’t we make a deal, Stiles?”

“Oh no, no, nope. I think I’m pretty much done with the whole deal with the devil thing.”

“Alternatively, I could just kill you right now.”

Stiles opened his mouth. Closed it. Said, “Fine, what’s the deal?”






The deal was a game that Stiles sure as hell (hah) didn’t want to play, but he didn’t have a choice. This was what he got for playing with fire. He could practically hear his mom’s disapproving voice in the back of his head, but that was fine. Him doing this meant his mom’s voice wouldn’t be just a memory, but a constant.

For that, he’d do anything.

Even play with the devil himself.

At least the rules were simple: Peter was going to try and kill him. All Stiles had to do was make sure he didn’t die, and Peter would back off. Leave him alone until Stiles died a nice, natural death, preferably when he was ninety years old and in his sleep. He tried to get Peter to cancel the whole claiming his soul thing if he won, but that was a no go. It was worth a shot.

The thing was, Stiles never planned to spend an eternity in hell anyway, letting Peter-the-weird-demon do whatever he wanted with his soul. Stiles had a fuzzy idea that he’d get himself out of it somehow somewhere down the road. He was still hammering out the details, okay?

A day later, he was released from the hospital with a bright blue cast on his arm and a warning to take it easy. The only signature on the cast wasn’t even a signature. It said may the best man win which didn’t even make sense because Peter wasn’t human. Whatever.

Stiles walked carefully and slowly up to his room, clutching the bannister. His mom was right behind him, lips pressed together.

“I cleansed the whole house after you fell down,” she said, “so it should be fine now. I don’t know how that slipped by me.”

Stiles did. But he didn’t say anything. “It wasn’t that bad.”

“It could have been. Anyway, I’m going to freshen up the wards tomorrow. If you feel up to it, why don’t you give your mom a hand? It’ll be good practice.”

“Sure. Good thing I broke my left arm, not my right,” Stiles said, grinning. Claudia frowned at him, and swatted him on the shoulder. Stiles played it up, clutching at his shoulder like he’d been shot. “Kidding, kidding!”

“Get some rest, honey,” she said, ushering him into his room.

Stiles slept soundly that night.






In retrospect, it was probably his fault that Peter managed to get past the wards his mom had lay down in the first place. Stiles called him into their house, and that must have left enough of a gap in the wards for him to slip back in after the fact.

It wouldn’t happen again. The magic crackled between the two Stilinskis as they renewed the protections on their house. Scott dropped by an hour after they were done. He took one look at Stiles’s cast and said, “Dude. Sucks. What about lacrosse?”

“How am I supposed to play with one arm, Scotty? Not that I play when my arm isn’t broken anyway.”

Scott crinkled his nose. “You did last game.”

Stiles shrugged. “It’ll heal.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Scott grabbed a Sharpie off Stiles’s desk, and waited for Stiles to hand his arm over before scrawling his name on the cast. “But you can still play a couple rounds of Mario Kart with me, right?”

“Buddy, I can kick your ass at it even one-handed.”

“You’re on.”

The evening devolved from there. Stiles didn’t mind the return to normalcy. It was like the calm before the storm, except like anyone who got advance warning of a storm headed their way, he was going to be prepared.

Six weeks down the road, his cast was off. School was rote. Every day was the same. Not a peep from Peter, and Stiles was on edge because of it. Forget a sense of complacency— that was totally what the demon wanted, and Stiles wasn’t going to fall for it.

He wasn’t really supposed to be driving yet, but Claudia was out with her knitting group and his dad was at work. His baby was sitting in the driveway, neglected and unused, and Stiles was antsy. He drove out to the preserve, parking then stomping out into the undergrowth of dead leaves and branches.

The air was wet and chilly. Clouds were gathered overhead, heavy and grey. Stiles didn’t bring an umbrella, but it wasn’t raining yet. He circled through the trees aimlessly for a while, taking his time getting where he wanted to go.

Hours later, a fine drizzle had started up, and Stiles broke through the treeline with mud clinging to his shoes. By the time he clambered into his Jeep, it was raining in earnest.

There were no other cars on the road back to town. Stiles had his radio cranked up. The wipers swiped across his windshield to the beat of the music. He drove slow, his brights on. His arm was aching, but it was a straight shot from here to home.

That’s when he saw the car by the side of the road, its emergency lights flashing. Someone was standing by it, waving at Stiles. Stiles slowed down. Hard to see through the rain. His spine crawled. Normally he would stop and see if he could help, but something felt off. He couldn’t get a good glimpse of the guy’s face, which, okay. It was dark and raining.

He hesitated, and fell back on his good ol’ rule of thumb: if it seemed like it’d get you killed in a horror movie, don’t do it.

The Jeep sped by the stranded vehicle in a slick flurry of water. Stiles watched the car fade in his rearview mirror, guilt prickling at him.

“Well, that was rude of you,” Peter said from beside him.

Stiles shrieked, hands jerking on the wheel. For a terrifying moment, the Jeep skidded and rocked on the wet road before it straightened out. There went five years of his life, no thanks to somebody.

“Get out of my car,” he said, trying not to let his voice shake. He failed miserably.

“I’m just saying,” Peter said mildly, craning his head around to look behind them, “what if they were in actual, dire need of help?”

If, if they were,” Stiles said. “Which “they” don’t, because that was totally you back there, wasn’t it? What were you gonna do, huh?”

Peter laughed. It was loud in the enclosed space of the Jeep, with the rain coming down around them. “Oh, you know. I thought I’d get the jump on you in our little game. Lure you in by playing helpless and then bash your skull against the side of the car. Some of your serial killers were fond of playing a similar trick. I thought I’d take a page out of their book.”

“I knew it,” Stiles muttered under his breath. He signaled and pulled over to the side of the road. The last thing he wanted to do was crash his car and end up in the hospital again, assuming he didn’t end up dead first. With the demon riding shotgun, Stiles wouldn’t put it past him to try something.

Peter watched him idle the car and set the parking brake. “But I would have been disappointed if it worked. How did you know?”

“Gut instinct,” Stiles said. “Can you get out of my car now, or are you going to try and kill me again? Because if you are, let’s get this over with. I need to get home.”

He’s nervous. He wasn’t ready to face off with Peter yet, but hey. Bluffing was part of the game. Peter clicked his tongue, drumming his hands on his thigh. When he leaned over across the center console, every part of Stiles tensed up, humming in anticipation. Fight or flight, only there was nowhere for him to go.

Peter’s breath was cool against his neck. He inhaled deeply, and Stiles shrinked against the door without meaning to. “Dude. Are you sniffing me?”

“You were in the preserve,” Peter said.

“I was hiking.”

Peter looked him up and down, and raised an eyebrow. “Hiking.”

“Yeah, fresh air’s supposed to be good for you and all that jazz. Look, no offense, but it’s totally creepy how into me you are. What do you want from me really?”

“Is it? Don’t sell yourself short, Stiles. You’re worth more than you think you are.”

“Did you steal that out of a Hallmark card?” Stiles asked.

“Funny.”

Stiles nearly jumped out of his seat when Peter clasped his wrist, thumb right over the bite mark scar. He tried and failed to yank himself free. Peter was implacable, his eyes burning blue.

“Are you scared, Stiles?” he asked.

“Kinda freaked out, yeah,” Stiles said. “You haven’t answered my question.”

Peter tilted his head and smiled at him. He was tapping Stiles’s wrist, Stiles realised, to the rhythm of Stiles’s racing heart.

“I like that about you. You don’t let things go. You’re reckless, and you poke your nose where it doesn’t belong. Oh, don’t get me wrong. These aren’t bad things in my book. They’re what led you right to me, after all.” Peter smiled wide, showing all of his perfect, shiny teeth.

Stiles said nothing. He waited. The rain crashed down around them, drumming on the roof of the Jeep.

“I think it should be obvious by now that what I want, Stiles,” Peter said, dropping Stiles’s wrist and pressing his palm flat over his sternum instead, “is your heart.”