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A Sliver of Sunlight

Chapter Text

The last thing that Stiles expected to see after coming into his room was Peter Hale, apparently back from the dead, sitting on his desk chair and reading one of the books that had been on the corner of Stiles’ computer desk for close almost two months. “I thought you were dead?” he asked, not even attempting to be subtle. It had been a long day, and the events of the preceding days, with the entire Kanima problem, hadn’t made things much easier. 

His dad had gotten his job back, but only because close to half of the department was dead, and the massacre had happened in the absence of a Sheriff. He still wasn’t talking to Stiles, though, and was at least partially convinced that his son was somehow involved in what had happened. Not that Stiles could give him any real answers if he did start talking. Fortunately, he didn’t have enough evidence to formally interrogate - or charge - Stiles, so for the time being the Stilinski men were in the midst of a stalemate that neither was willing to break.

And on top of that, the fact that Melissa was planning on taking Scott to her parents in Las Cruces for part of the summer, hoping that the time away would fix their relationship and keep Scott out of trouble, meant that Stiles was on his own. Not that he’d seen much of Scott since an impromptu lacrosse practice just after school let out. If Stiles didn’t know any better, he’d have said Scott was deliberately avoiding him to spend time with Isaac and trying to win back Allison. Though he’d never admit it aloud, Stiles sometimes wondered if his position as best friend was being taken away and given to Isaac. 

He heaved out a sigh, shoving his thoughts to the side and focusing his attention on the former corpse in his desk chair. For some reason he wasn’t as afraid of the man as he’d been before, but then again, tossing a Molotov cocktail and watching him die probably evened things out between the two of them. Or, so he hoped. 

“With enough knowledge, anything can be reversed. Even death,” Peter said without looking up from the book. “You’ll learn your own tricks soon enough,” he added, turning a page. 

“Why? I’m not a werewolf,” Stiles said, plopping gracelessly down onto his bed. He fished his phone out of his pocket, checking for any messages, but it was silent. Glaring at it, he shoved it back into his pocket, content to ignore it for the time being.

That question elicited a small smirk from Peter, and he finally looked up at Stiles. “Perhaps not, but Deaton called you a Spark for a reason. You’re a bit green now, but after you’re trained, you will be a force to be reckoned with,” he said. 

Stiles scowled and shifted in place a bit, doing his best to ignore the pain in his ribs.

“You’re hurt.” Peter sounded surprised. His eyes narrowed on the bruises on Stiles’ face, but then he started inspecting the younger man, as though he could see under his layers of clothing to the bruised and battered torso beneath them. 

“I’m fine,” he said, forcing himself to stop from wrapping his hands around his chest. The attempt to curl in on himself would only make things worse. He’d learned that the hard way after a few incredibly realistic nightmares.

“No, you’re not. You’ve got broken bones.”

“You can smell that?”

Peter smirked. “You smell like blood and slow healing. I can tell in the way you’re holding yourself. How bad is it?” he asked. 

“Just a few ribs,” Stiles said carefully, eyeing Peter’s concerned look warily. “It’s fine. They’ll heal. It’s not the first time that I’ve had broken bones, and I know how to handle myself. Look, why do you even care?” 

Peter frowned. “I’ve told you before, Stiles, I like you. You have a great deal of potential and I’ve don’t want to see you waste any of it,” he said, setting the book back on Stiles’ desk and walking over to Stiles. “Let me see the extent of the damage,” he said.

Stiles hesitated for a long moment before relenting and lifting up his shirt enough to show some of the bruises he’d acquired courtesy of Gerard Argent and his men. He let out an embarrassing squeak when Peter pulled his shirt up further, revealing the total extent of the damage, and hummed to himself. “It really isn’t-“ He cut himself off when he glanced down and realized that his entire torso was covered in dark purple and dark blue bruises. Apparently the damage was worse than he’d first thought. “Oh,” he said faintly. He hadn’t looked more than absolutely necessary, always worried that his dad might somehow see how bad it was, and their relationship would fall apart even more. 

“This is completely unacceptable,” Peter said shortly. “And your weak attempt at a lie is only making this entire situation much worse.”

That startled Stiles enough that he choked on whatever he’d been about to say. “What? Why?” he asked.

Peter was silent for a long moment. “How much do you know about the responsibilities of an Alpha?”

Stiles shrugged. “I haven’t met any Alphas who weren’t psychotic, power tripping dickbags, so pretty much nothing,” he said.

“You have such a gift with words, don’t you?” Peter asked with a small smirk, pressing a palm flat against the least severe bruises.

Stiles gasped, staring openly as the veins in the older man’s hand turned black and the pain eased out of him. “Are you healing me?” he asked before he could convince himself to stay quiet. “How come your veins are turning black? Is it poison?”

Peter chuckled quietly. “Werewolves cannot heal the wounds of others. I am merely taking some of the pain to ease your suffering,” he said.

“Since when have you cared about my suffering?”

That elicited a frown. “You’re valuable, Stiles, and I make sure to take proper care of those I want as allies. So, if there is anything I can do to ensure your safety, I’m going to do it, whether you want me to or not,” he said. “Now, am I correct in my assumptions that these were a gift from the elder Argent?” he asked, casting a significant look at the bruises as he pulled his hand back and returned to the desk chair.

Stiles hesitated for a long moment before offering Peter a reluctant nod. “He said I was going to be a message to the resident Alpha.”

“But you didn’t go to Derek?”

Stiles shook his head. “Erica and Boyd were strung up in their basement, and I couldn’t get them out. They were tied up and being shocked, but Chris said he’d get them out.” He shrugged. “I don’t think he approves of the way Gerard operates, but I wasn’t sure enough about it then to risk them trying to pull Derek into a trap.” 

Peter hummed quietly. “Smart boy,” he said, caressing the bruises on Stiles’ face and frowning slightly when the younger man flinched at the contact. “If that’s true about Chris, he’d be the exception rather than the rule,” he said, keeping his tone gentle. “Are the two wayward Betas still in their basement, do you know?”

Stiles shook his head. “They haven’t gone back to Derek?”

“My nephew’s only got myself and Lahey in his pack right now,” he said. “Though Lahey has been spending most of his time with your Scott.”

“Scott’s not mine,” Stiles said, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. “And it’s none of my concern who he spends his time with.”

“Trouble in paradise?” he asked, looking over at Stiles. And the strange thing was, he looked genuinely interested in what Stiles would have to say to that. 

“He’s hiding something from me, and even though he’s not talking to me, he’s pretending everything’s alright again. Like my dad didn’t get his job back because half the sheriff’s department got killed, and like he doesn’t see my bruises,” Stiles said with a scowl. “When he doesn’t ask if I’m alright even when I’m bruised, or when my dad’s not talking to me, or why I’m quitting the lacrosse team, there’s more than a problem,” he said, lying back on the bed and closing his eyes. 

Peter frowned.

“Even Lydia asked if I was alright before she and Jackson left for New York or Connecticut or wherever they went,” he muttered darkly.

Peter’s frown deepened. “When did they leave?”

“A few days ago, I guess. Not too long after break started.” Stiles shrugged. “Lydia emailed me and told me that she and Jackson were gone and they weren’t coming back any time soon,” he said. “She told me that she wants to be kept out of everything unless she or Jackson are facing a direct threat, and that she’s never translating something for me or anyone here ever again. She did send a copy of some stuff that would help me learn Archaic Latin, so I should be pretty good at it in a few months,” he said.

“You’re a quick study,” Peter said quietly. He didn’t look too surprised about it, rather a bit pleased.

Another shrug. “The one good thing about me and my ADHD, I guess. I either can’t focus for shit or I fixate on something to no end, but either way, shit gets done,” he said, closing his eyes. “You aren’t here to kill me, are you?” he asked after a moment. He was relatively sure Peter wasn’t here to kill him, but there wasn’t any harm in asking. The opposite of harm in asking, really.

“Your death has never been part of my plans,” Peter said.

Stiles opened his eyes, staring at the older man, a curious yet wary expression on his face. “Really?”

Peter smirked, his teeth too sharp to be human but not quite fangs. “You fascinate me, Stiles, and I can see a great deal of potential in you.”

“So you thought you’d nurture that potential by showing up in my bedroom and trying to sway me to the dark side?” he asked with a grin.

“Should I have brought cookies?”

That startled a laugh out of Stiles, which quickly morphed into a quiet groan. “Don’t make me laugh, dude. My ribs aren’t ready for that,” he said, sitting up and holding his side. “So, Emperor Palpatine, what do you want with me? Or are you volunteering to be the Chewie to my Han Solo?”

Chuckling quietly, Peter stood. “The activity in Beacon Hills has attracted the attention of the Alpha Pack, and they’re going to do everything they can to eliminate the problems and ensure our secret is not exposed,” he said.

“How do you know that?”

“It’s what they do,” Peter said. “They act as something of a law enforcement group in our world. Before the Argents destroyed my family, Beacon Hills was a stable area and the Alphas only came around when there were problems with rogue Omegas, or to mediate treatises between our pack and those in surrounding territories,” he said. “With the instability in the area, this visit is going to be much less pleasant than their previous visits.”

“So what do you want from me?”

“They’re going to test our new Alpha to see if they consider him worthy of his position.”

Stiles frowned, taking note of the less than subtle subject change. “And if they don’t?”

Peter was silent for a moment. “There are serious consequences for exposing our world to outsiders. A weak Alpha puts everyone at risk,” he said. “If Derek fails their tests, the Alphas will kill him, his Betas, and anyone else in town they determine to be a threat. That will include the parents of Derek’s Betas, McCall and his mother, the Argents, Deaton, and the both of us.” 

“Even if we aren’t doing anything?”

“It’s the only way to ensure the preservation of our world,” he said. “It’s not a particularly diplomatic way of handling things, but if a few people have to die to keep thousands more alive, it’s a sacrifice they’re willing to make.”

Stiles was silent for a long moment. “I guess that makes sense,” he said, frowning. “So what do we do to get them to go away and leave us all alive?”

At that, Peter smiled, his eyes glowing their unnatural blue. “Why don’t I take you out for coffee and we can talk about this somewhere where there’s no risk of someone overhearing?” he asked. Without waiting for a response, he stood and walked out of Stiles’ room.

“Dude, seriously? It’s just you and me here!” Stiles said, grabbing his red hoodie and stumbling over his backpack as he hurried to follow the older man. “Who’s here to eavesdrop?”

“Your window still holds the scent of my nephew and your wayward friend,” Peter said with an odd look at Stiles. “This conversation needs to happen in a place that we know has no surprise visitors,” he said. 

“Why?”

Peter frowned. “We’re going to be talking about sensitive information, Stiles. I’m not taking any risk of someone else getting involved and complicating things. The plans that we need to have ready are the sort that require us to operate in shades of gray, and any interference is likely to result in unnecessary deaths,” he said. “

“Right,” Stiles said slowly, pulling his hoodie on. “So, what’d you have in mind?”

“Just come with me, sweet boy. All will be revealed soon enough.”

Stiles scowled at him, taking a deliberate step away from the older man. “Stow the pedophile bullshit and I won’t consider stabbing you in the throat,” he said. “It’s not too late for me to grab a knife.”

Peter smirked. “Keep it up, love. I do so love to see your fangs,” he said, deliberately adding a purr to his voice. “Metaphorical though they may be.”

Stiles scowled at him but didn’t say anything. Not until he saw the black Jeep Patriot parked in the driveway next to his own Jeep. “Dude,” he said before he could stop himself.

“I thought you might appreciate it,” Peter said. “Though the off-road abilities tend to be more useful if the Jeep you’re driving isn’t older than you are.”

“Fuck off,” Stiles said, unable to keep the bite out of his voice. He was silent for a long moment, watching his own Jeep and shifting his weight on his feet, but not moving. “It used to be my mom’s. She bought the frame and built it up to keep herself busy while my dad was at work.”

“My apologies,” Peter said quietly, looking over at Stiles. He seemed to pick up on Stiles’ hesitation - the boy was close to drooling over the new Jeep, but he hadn’t moved toward it since stepping out of his house. In fact, it looked like he’d taken a few small steps back. “Would you prefer to drive?” he asked. 

Stiles nodded, swallowing audibly. “Yeah. Yeah, let’s take my Jeep this time.”

Peter smiled slightly, making a motion toward Stiles’ Jeep and following the younger man into it. 

Once the two of them were seated and he’d started the car, Stiles stared at his steering wheel for a long moment, doing his best not to think about the last time he and Peter had been in his Jeep together. “So,” he said after a few minutes. “Where are we going?”

“Head toward Braddock Avenue. I’ll give you further instructions once we get there.”

Stiles scowled. “That’s on the other side of town,” he said, even as he started the Jeep and pulled out of the driveway.

Peter nodded. “I take my privacy very seriously,” he said. “I assure you, it will prove beneficial not only for this conversation, but for future pack business as well.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “You say that like you and me are going to be working together a lot.”

“Only time will tell, I suppose,” Peter said before turning his head, watching out the passenger’s window for most of the ride.

Chapter Text

They drove through town entirely, passing Gina’s Diner on the outskirts of town, and took a gravel road into the Beacon Hills Preserve. When he’d been driving on the gravel road for close to twenty minutes with no sign of life, Stiles chanced a quick glance at Peter. “You’re sure there’s a house back here? I mean, you’re not going kill me and dump my corpse in the quarry, right?” he asked.

Peter smirked. “Don’t be crass, Stiles. If I’d wanted to kill you, there are much more convenient ways than having you drive through town, given that your Jeep is well known to the police, among others,” he said, looking over at the younger man and watching him with an almost speculative expression. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to grant me a small measure of trust?” he asked. “My intentions this afternoon are entirely above board.”

Stiles snorted. “I know what you look like when you’ve hunted down a teenage girl, dude. I’m not saying I know everything you’re capable of, but I know you’re too dangerous for me to trust. Or turn my back on, really,” he said.

Peter watched him for a long moment, not saying anything. He turned his head to look out the window, smiling slightly when he caught sight of something that Stiles couldn’t see. “We aren’t more than ten minutes away from the house,” he said.

Stiles did his best to look around without driving off the road. His hands tightened involuntarily on the steering wheel when he could see nothing but the forest. “Right,” he said slowly. “Because every super villain needs a good lair,” he said.

The older man laughed quietly but didn’t say anything else.

The next eight minutes were the best example of a wary silence that Stiles could think of, and when he could still see nothing but forest, his mind kept wandering back to wondering if Peter really did have plans to kill him and dump his body in the woods. 

Just when he was about to say fuck it, kick Peter out of his Jeep, drive back to his house and hide behind a circle of mountain ash, he caught sight of a house nestled between the trees. 

It was a large house - practically a mansion, built entirely of stone, and with moss and grass growing on a large part of the roof. There was what looked to be a separate apartment in front of the house, providing the corner for a fenced in courtyard. Before Stiles could see too much of the house, Peter pointed out the garage and, with an app on his phone, opened the door just as Stiles pulled up to it. “You can use the garage for now,” he said.

Stiles nodded, pulled inside, and parked his Jeep.

“You seriously bought a house?” Stiles asked, getting out of the Jeep and following Peter inside, his curiosity getting the better of him before he could wonder if the question would really be welcomed. “And how many mansions are there in the middle of the Preserve?” he asked.

“I’ve owned this since I was twenty years old,” Peter said. “I designed it myself, as an early wedding gift to my wife. I came back a few days ago to make sure that everything was still in one piece and to restore things.”

“You were married?”

Peter shook his head, a sad expression coming over his face. “Not long,” he said, leading Stiles through a modestly decorated hallway, past an exquisite kitchen, and into an open living room with two large couches. “Have a seat,” he said. “I’ll put on the coffee and we can start the discussion.”

Stiles nodded, for once doing as told without arguing. He was more than slightly interested in inspecting the shelves of books that stretched along the length of an entire wall. The promise of coffee and answers was enough to stay his curiosity, even if only temporarily.

“I don’t suppose this conversation can take place without me providing an explanation of my previous actions,” Peter said as he walked into the room and took a seat on the couch next to Stiles.

“Dude, you killed your niece, bit Scott and mauled Lydia in a psychotic rage,” Stiles blurted out before he could think better of it. “How can you explain that?”

Peter sighed heavily and set his as-of-yet untouched coffee on the side table next to the couch. “I am well aware that my actions are inexcusable, Stiles. I am not trying to absolve myself of guilt, or pass the blame in any way, but the fact remains that I was not in a stable state of mind at the time,” he said. 

Stiles snorted. “You’re claiming insanity?”

“In a way, I suppose,” he said. “My explanation is not given to earn your forgiveness, and I don’t expect you to forget what’s happened, no matter the extenuating circumstances.”

“Right,” Stiles said slowly, not entirely convinced but still willing to listen. Worst case scenario, Peter gave him the ammunition to pull the trigger. Again.

Peter watched him briefly, as though knowing what he was thinking. Finally, after a few minutes of heavy silence, he sighed, looked at the far wall, and started talking. “The reason the casualties of the fire were so high is because my entire pack had gathered together. We were celebrating a number of things. My wife and I were expecting our firstborn, and one of my younger nephews had successfully gone through his first full shift,” he said.

Stiles opened his mouth to ask a question, but Peter sent him a sharp look.

“Please do not interrupt me with this,” he said. “I’ll attempt to answer your questions once I’ve finished.”

He nodded, pulling his legs on the couch and wrapping his arms around his knees, watching the older man as he fell back into memories.

“Talia must have heard something first, because she had Nicholas move the pups and our parents into the basement. There were a number of safeguards in place in the basement, making it the safest place in Beacon Hills for werewolves,” he said. “The only two not in the basement were Derek and Laura. Nicholas had sent them out for ice a good ten minutes before Talia heard anything.”

He picked up his coffee again, taking a light sip. “The hunters figured out that we’d send the weaker pack members to the basement in possible emergencies, because they waited just long enough for everyone to get to the basement before starting the fire. The first flames came from a molotov cocktail thrown into the attic, and then they repeated that with the second floor. After that, the rest of the house went up quickly.”

Stiles’ phone started buzzing, but he turned it off without looking at who was calling. He looked over at Peter, offering an apologetic shrug and hoping that the accidental interruption wouldn’t stop Peter from talking.

He was silent for a long moment, his eyes distant as the memories no doubt came back. “Once the upper levels of the house were on fire, the hunters started splashing buckets of gasoline in through the basement windows. They aimed for the pups, and I remember one of them laughing when my youngest niece caught fire. She was four years old, and Nicholas had to snap her neck and take her out of the basement to try and keep the others calm,” he said. 

“After that, Talia and Nicholas went to the upper levels, doing their best to find a way out of the house even though they were suffering severe burns and healing at the same time. I went to the main level to do the same, and my wife stayed with the pups and my parents.”

He looked over at the fireplace on the far side of the wall, staring unseeingly at it. “The fire eventually got to be too much. A supporting beam from the attic knocked Nicholas out and he choked on the smoke. He died in the nursery. Talia tried to force her way past the mountain ash barrier, earning a broken neck for the attempt,” he said.

“My parents did their best to distract the hunters, and they were both killed with molotov cocktails. My wife came to me in the kitchen and begged for me to kill her. She’d started to miscarry and didn’t want to have to live through the fire if the pup in her womb wasn’t going to make it either,” he said. “I ripped her throat out, laid her on the couch, and watched her until I fell unconscious.”

He sighed, finishing his coffee and setting the empty cup back on the side table. “I don’t know how long I was out, but when I came to, I was in the hospital, in a coma,” he said. “My body was healing slowly, but I couldn’t move. Once I was awake, I was able to feel every cell healing. It was agonizing, and what was worse was that I was trapped inside my mind.” He closed his eyes, absently rubbing at his temples. “For six years, I relived the night of the fire, watching everyone in my pack die, slowly and painfully.”

Stiles frowned slightly. “But what about Derek and Laura?” he asked.

Peter scowled at him, irritated at the interruption, but didn’t say anything for a moment. “They were gone. The pack bonds that had tied us together were severed, and there was no way for me to reach out to them,” he said. “Looking back, I understand the instinct to run from the hunters. They needed to save their own lives, and there was nothing left of their pack. But while I was in the coma, the only thing that I knew was that my pack, pack connected by blood, had abandoned me to rot in a human hospital without so much as one word of farewell,” he said. “My recovery was slow, made even slower by the madness that I allowed consume me,” he added. 

“When I was healed enough to respond to the call of the moon, I started becoming more aware. My nurse, Jennifer, was strange. She wasn’t afraid of me, and she didn’t seek out any sort of outside help. Instead, on the nights of the full moon, she took me down a hall without any cameras and let me run. I always came back at dawn, not ready to break out on my own, and she questioned me about what I was,” he said. “She expected that I would turn her once fully healed, and that we would rebuild together.” 

He smiled cruelly at the fireplace, the expression sending Stiles flashing back to that night on the lacrosse field, when Peter had been kneeling over Lydia’s bloody, unconscious form. “She thought herself able to replace my wife, and she had plans to impregnate herself with one of my pups,” he said. “I killed her before she violated me like that, though. I took a great deal of pleasure in showing her why she would never be able to replace Irina,” he added, almost accidentally. 

Peter looked over at Stiles, his expression mellowing out a bit when he noticed the younger man’s tense posture. “On my third full moon, I came across Laura. She didn’t recognize me, nor I her. We fought, and even though she had Alpha on her side, I had close to a decade of experience on her, and I won. I didn’t recognize her until I was standing over her dead body,” he said. “The Alpha power, once I received it, was all-consuming. It added onto my madness, and the urge to expand my pack was impossible to resist. I bit the first person I came across and that, along with my focus on revenge, was enough to calm it, at least temporarily,” he said.

Stiles looked away from Peter, thinking back to the night when Scott was first bitten. He still blamed himself for that, but there was no way he was going to talk about it. With anyone. Even Peter. Especially Peter.

“I believe you’re relatively familiar with the rest of the story,” Peter said gently. “The Argents still exist, so my revenge is still unsatisfied, but the deaths of most of those responsible for the fire and my own death was enough to calm the madness. I am well aware that I am not entirely mentally stable, but since my return, I’m more like the man I was before the fire than the beast that wreaked havoc after I woke up,” he said, falling silent for a long moment. When he looked over at Stiles again, his eyes were guarded and his expression was inscrutable. “I’m not asking for any sort of redemption, and I will not be able to feel entirely comfortable while there are Argents still breathing and thriving on this earth. I cannot guarantee I will not kill again, but I have a tighter control on myself, and I know better than to attract more unfriendly attention our way,” he said.

“So what are you getting at?” Stiles asked. “And what do you need me for?”

“Right now, I’m throwing whatever support I can offer behind my nephew and his strays,” he said. “Though I will be more inclined to help you than the pups who would run away because they saw the darker parts of this world.”

“Why?”

Peter smiled slightly. “You and I are more alike than you’d like to admit, I think,” he said. At the disbelieving look on Stiles’ face, he shook his head. “We both do what’s necessary to protect our pack, and unlike my nephew and your McCall, we are willing to cross any lines that would attempt to hold us back, as long as the end result is what we want,” he said. 

Stiles scowled, not wanting to admit any similarities to the werewolf.

Peter obviously noticed Stiles’ scowl. “Tell me, Stiles,” he said, inspecting his nails. “What would you do if someone went out of their way to kill your father in a very deliberate, painful way, and they were able to walk away without suffering any consequences for their actions?” he asked.

Stiles’ eyes narrowed, his fists clenching of their own accord, and glared at Peter. He didn’t say anything, but the older man seemed to take that as answer enough.

“You would do everything in your power to make sure that whoever was responsible had suffered as much as possible,” he said with a cold smile. “There is no line you wouldn’t cross, no law you wouldn’t break, nothing you wouldn’t do to make sure you’d done whatever was possible to make sure whoever was responsible had paid appropriately,” he said. “And if you and I work together, there is absolutely nothing that would dare threaten our pack.”

“If I do join you on this, I don’t really want to end up a murderer,” Stiles said after a long moment. 

Peter nodded. “I’m not suggesting indiscriminate murder,” he said. “Our world is bloody, and I can’t promise that this can be done without any deaths. It will be messy at first, but it shouldn’t take too long for the territory to settle and for word to spread that the Hale Pack is re-established and will not tolerate interlopers or threats,” he said. 

Stiles was silent for a long moment, thinking over the possibilities. Finally, after his mind had run through a series of increasingly unlikely scenarios, he looked over at Peter, not surprised to find the man watching him. “What did you have in mind, exactly?” he asked.

That answer seemed to satisfy Peter, as he smiled slightly and stood up, taking his empty coffee cup into the kitchen.

Stiles trailed after him, downing what was left of his coffee and handing his mug to Peter when the older man motioned for it.

“Right now there’s not much we can do but gather information,” Peter said as he loaded up his dishwasher. “I can call in a few favors from neighboring packs, and start the process of re-establishing old pack alliances,” he said. 

“So what am I supposed to do?” 

“You’re the son of the Sheriff, so I know you’ve got sources of your own,” Peter said quietly.

Stiles shrugged, not admitting to anything. His father may not be speaking to him at the moment, and there may have been a sharp decline in the number of cops he could milk for information, but he had his ways, and there was no way he was sharing them with Peter. 

“Good,” Peter said, accepting the non admission with a knowing smirk. “See what you can find out. I doubt it will be much, if anything, but even one slip-up on the part of the Alpha Pack could work in our favor,” he said.

“And if I find anything?”

“I’ll be leaving for a few days to visit some of the neighboring packs,” he said. “When I get back in town, I’ll find you and we can work on our next move then. Unless you’d rather do something else?” he asked.

Stiles shook his head. “Just don’t show up when my dad’s home,” he said.

Peter nodded. “Of course,” he said. “I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone about our collaboration. Better to wait until the two of us have something to show for our efforts before we bring Derek into the fold,” he said. “And it should go without saying that unless McCall decides to join my nephew’s pack, he needs to be treated as an outsider,” he added.

Stiles scowled, not liking Peter’s request but understanding it all the same. “Alright,” he said quietly. “Is there anything else?” he asked.

Peter shook his head. “Not for now,” he said.

“Do you need a ride back to my house for your Jeep?” Stiles asked, fishing his keys out of his pocket and checking his phone to see why it was buzzing earlier. It was a text from one of the older deputies, asking about the strange Jeep in Stiles’ driveway. He sent a quick text back, telling him it was a friend’s car. Not exactly the truth, but it was enough that the man wouldn’t see a need to tell his father.

“I’ll pick it up in about an hour, unless you need me to move it now?” Peter asked.

Stiles shook his head. “One of my dad’s deputies was asking about it. If it stays too long, they’ll probably tell Dad and he might put an alert out and you might get pulled over more often than usual,” he said with a shrug. 

Peter nodded. “It will be gone within the hour, then,” he said.

Stiles nodded his thanks and followed Peter through the house, into the garage. Before he got into his Jeep, he found himself staring at the older man. “You really are invested in Derek’s pack making it, aren’t you?”

Peter smiled slightly. “Being part of a stable pack is one of the best feelings in the world, and I never felt safer than when the Hales were established and in charge of the territory. I’m helping restore the pack largely because I want to feel that reassurance again,” he said. “I’ve no intentions of undercutting Derek or sabotaging the pack. He’s done a much better job as Alpha than I would have been,” he added.

Stiles hesitated for a moment, briefly wondering if, had he taken the Bite when Peter first asked him, he’d be able to tell if the older man was telling the truth or not. Either way, he seemed sincere, and he supposed only time would tell if Peter was planning on some kind of coups. “Your favors are going to pan out, right?” he asked.

“They have no reason not to,” Peter said, leaning against the doorframe and watching as Stiles fiddled with his keys. “Most of the people I’ll be speaking with I’ve known since childhood, and we were all on good terms before the fire,” he said.

“Good, I guess,” Stiles said.

“You’d best get home,” Peter said suddenly. “It wouldn’t surprise me if my nephew’s started including your home on those he checks on his runs,” he said.

Stiles nodded, taking the dismissal for what it was, and headed for his Jeep. He drove out of the garage and headed home, thinking not just about what Peter had told him but about which of his sources would have the best information available the quickest.

Chapter Text

On Friday, Stiles expected to sleep through half the day, catch up on his queue of comic books, and spend the rest of his daylight hours playing video games and dutifully ignoring the small mountain of summer assignments he’d been given before school went on break. He was able to get most of that done until the doorbell rang just past ten thirty, about an hour into what he’d planned to make a six-hour Skyrim marathon.

Scowling and grumbling under his breath, he got up and headed to the door. He’d answer the door in his worn sweatpants and an old BHPD shirt that was one strong breeze from falling apart, hoping his appearance and the general odor of Mountain Dew, Doritos and unwashed boy would be enough for whoever it was to leave.

What he was not expecting was Peter Hale, dressed in dark jeans and a lightweight green sweater that looked like cashmere, and watching him expectantly.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he blurted out before he could stop himself.

“Would you have preferred I crawl in through the window?” Peter asked with a smirk. He stepped around Stiles and walked inside, looking around. “I see you’ve been putting your spare time to good use.”

“Ha ha,” Stiles muttered, closing the door and looking over at the older man. “But seriously, what are you doing here? You’ve been gone for like a week and a half, and I don’t have any news for you. My wells are dry.”

Peter didn’t answer, choosing instead to walk upstairs to Stiles’ room, apparently expecting Stiles to follow. Which he did. Grudgingly. “Do you have any plans tonight?” he asked, taking a seat in the chair and wrinkling his nose at the rumpled bed.

“Skyrim, Star Wars and a pizza before the place closes,” Stiles said, dropping down onto his bed and watching Peter. 

He chuckled. “You’ve got a change in those plans,” he said. 

“Really?” he asked, flopping back to lay down on the bed and wincing when he jostled his ribs painfully. “What makes you say that?”

“Other than the fact that I’m offering you a chance to get out of this house for a night that will result in no felonies being committed?” Peter asked lightly.

Stiles frowned. “You’re the one that started my alleged crime spree, dude.”

Peter chuckled again. “That wasn’t a no.”

Stiles shrugged as best he could without moving too much. “It wasn’t a yes either,” he said. After a moment, he sighed quietly. “Where is this misdemeanor taking place?”

“Jungle,” Peter said simply.

“The gay club?” Stiles asked.

“Unless you know of another Jungle?” Peter asked. “I’ve been reasonably informed that you’ve been there before, so I’m not dropping you into the deep end and expecting you to swim.”

“So we’d be going together?”

Peter nodded. “The Alpha in charge of the Alpha Pack is going to be at the club this evening, and you and I are going to see what we can learn about his motives, if anything,” he said. He cast a disapproving look over Stiles’ clothing, frowning slightly. “You are going to need to shower and change into something that makes you look significantly less homeless before we leave, though.”

“Wait a minute, dude. Let me get this straight," Stiles said, still not quite processing the suggestion. "You, the former coma patient and current creepy uncle character, want to take me, the underage son of the Sheriff, to the only gay club within thirty miles to spy on the leader of the Alpha Pack," he said, the statement accompanied by an appropriate level of flailing. And a grimace as he jostled his ribs yet again. It was going to take far too long for him to heal, given his natural clumsiness.

"You say it like I've suggested something sordid. I'm merely suggesting some in person research," Peter said, standing up. "And your disbelief would be much more believable if you said no." 

Stiles shrugged and sat up, smirking around a grimace as he slowly stood up. His ribs were painful after his few hours of sedentary gaming. There was a bag of half-frozen peas in the bathroom sink that he’d been using earlier. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too defrosted and he could get another hour or so out of the improvised ice pack. "I never said I was saying no. I'm just making sure you know how this is going to look if my dad or one of his cops sees us there,” he said. 

Peter laughed quietly and took a few steps toward Stiles, backing the younger man against the wall by his door. He slipped a hand under Stiles’ shirt and pressed a hand against Stiles’ bruised ribs, immediately leeching away the pain. When he saw the younger man visibly relax, he leaned forward and ran his nose along Stiles' jaw, nuzzling him, and offering a genuine smile when Stiles leaned into the embrace a bit. "Then we'd best be discreet until we get into the club. After that, I'll buy the drinks, you'll look appealing, and we'll see what we can dig up on this new Alpha," he said, nipping at Stiles' jaw before pulling back.

"We can't take my Jeep. It's too noticeable," Stiles said, watching Peter with an almost contemplative look on his face.

"I'll drive, then. I trust you don't have a curfew over break?" he asked.

Stiles shook his head. "It doesn't matter, really. Dad's pulling a bunch of extra shifts until the department restaffs from Matt," he said. "And we aren't exactly talking right now, so as long as I don't show up at another crime scene he's not going to really care," he muttered under his breath. 

Peter hummed quietly, choosing not to comment on the statement. It wasn't like the near complete absence of the Sheriff in his own home had escaped his notice, but it had worked in his favor thus far. He'd bring it up later, maybe. But for now, "Do you have anything appropriate for a night out?" he asked.

"When are we going?"

"Tonight."

"What, why?" Stiles asked, gobsmacked. "Why tonight? Dude, stop looking through my dresser!”

"Because I know for a fact he's going to be there tonight, and I will not run the risk of your casual attire delaying us," Peter said. "I'm assuming from your avoidance that you don't have anything suitable for our date."

Stiles scowled up at him. "What makes you think this is a date?" he asked.

"We're getting dressed up and going out together, darling. I'm feeding you dinner and  buying you drinks. If you'd like to put out to cover all aspects of a date, I won't complain," he said before turning and walking to Stiles' closet. He started looking through his clothes, occasionally making approving or disapproving noises. Knowing better than to interrupt lest he be forced to do more than watch, Stiles scowled and dropped back onto his bed, waiting for the older man to make up his mind. He regretted his silence when, close to ten minutes later, Peter tossed him a pair of charcoal grey skinny jeans from his boy band phase in freshman year and a red v-neck t-shirt that he'd bought a few weeks ago and hadn’t worn yet. "Really?" he asked, not even ashamed of the whine in his voice. 

"Is there a problem with my choices?" 

"Other than the fact that I'm gonna look like an idiot?"

Peter scoffed. "You're not going to get us anywhere hiding under your layers of plaid and hoodies, and i have no intention to make you look like an idiot tonight,” he said, a smirk once again forming on his face. “Besides, had you learned how to dress properly before now, you might not have had to resort to flat screen televisions and bribery to win the attention of the lovely Miss Martin," he said, motioning at the gifts that Stiles had yet to return to Macys. 

Stiles growled at the man, an almost kittenish sound that only seemed to amuse the older man further. 

“Go take a shower and change. I’ll wait here,” he said, motioning toward the bathroom. “Try not to take too long.”

“Can I suddenly come down with pneumonia?” Stiles asked, thinking it over.

“Why would you ever want to do something like that?” Peter asked. “You, with your insatiable curiosity, are willing to give up the chance to research an Alpha werewolf that you’ve never met before?”

“When it could end with my neck snapped or my throat ripped out in an alley behind a gay club? My curiosity will be perfectly sated by doing quests for the Companions in Skyrim,” he said, tossing the clothes onto the bed next to him.

Peter smirked. “Rest assured, I have no intention of letting you get hurt tonight, pet.”

Stiles scowled, batting a hand at Peter when the older man stepped closer, an intentionally smarmy leer accompanying the pet name. “But what about other nights?” 

“You’ll have to earn my protection, just as I have to earn your trust,” he said with a slight smile. “Now go take a shower before I decide to help you strip and clean yourself,” he said, his smile turning into a smirk as he took a step toward Stiles.

The younger man scowled and deliberately stepped around Peter, doing his best to stay out of his reach as he left the room. He was only gone for a few seconds before darting back into the room, grabbing a pair of gray boxer briefs and the clothes Peter had picked out for him, shooting a wary glare at Peter before heading out into the hall and disappearing into the bathroom.

Chapter Text

Half an hour later, after Stiles had showered and changed into the clothes that Peter chose, Peter had cornered Stiles against the wall and done the pain-leech thing until Stiles was almost high. Once that was done, he’d practically forced Stiles into his overcoat and made his way through the house, intent on getting to his car before they were waylaid by anything else.

"You do know I have a fake ID, right?" Stiles asked as he traipsed after Peter, watching the older man almost curiously. "I could buy my own booze. I have, actually.”

“I’m so proud of you,” Peter said without looking back at Stiles. ”Your fake ID says you're 24 years old and you barely pass for 16 on a good day."

Stiles scowled at him. "I'm 18 in April, asshole," he groused.

Peter chuckled. "Would you like to risk your father finding out you've used a fake ID at a gay club, or would you rather just accept the two drinks that I'll buy you with a modicum of dignity," he said.

"Only two?" Stiles asked.

"I don't want to deal with a sloppy drunk tonight,” Peter said, opening the passenger's door of his black Jeep.

Stiles hesitated a moment. 

Peter watched him almost curiously, waiting for the younger man to ask his question.

"What about you?" he asked, looking down at his clothes and the leather overcoat that Peter had practically dressed him in before they left the house. "If you've decided I'm going to dress as a twink, why do you get to pull off the college professor look and not, I don't know, an executive transvestite?" he asked. 

That had Peter laughing quietly. "I'm taking you back to my house so I can shower, change and fix us something to eat," he said. “But I won’t be wearing any sort of dress, kimono or otherwise.”

Stiles frowned as he got into the Jeep and shut the door. "I'm going to look through your books while you're in the shower, and I’m taking at least two of them home with me tonight,” he said.

"You're more than welcome to do so," Peter said as he got into the driver's seat and started driving into town. "A number of them are in Russian, so I don't know how useful you'll find them," he added. 

Stiles slumped a bit in his seat, fidgeting with the sleeves of Peter's coat. When they were getting close to the downtown district in town, he sighed. "My mom taught me Russian and Norwegian when I was a kid," he said quietly, his voice barely audible. "My Nan didn't speak English, and she came to live with us for a few years when I was a kid, so I had to learn Norwegian to talk to her."

"And the Russian?"

"Mom learned it when she was a kid and she used to say it was really good to have a strong foundation with languages," he said. “And it was her and Nan’s favorite language, even though they were from Lillehammer, in Norway.”

Peter made an interested noise in the back of his throat. "Have you kept up with them?"

"Yeah. Not as much with the Norwegian, but I could speak Russian almost before I spoke English," Stiles said. "And you?"

"I spent a few years in Moscow after college," he said lightly. "My younger sister met a werewolf who was part of a small pack in Russia, and I stayed as her chaperone through the courting rituals, the official ceremony, and I left after she gave birth to her first cub," he said. 

"Oh," Stiles said quietly, not entirely sure what to say. He frowned. “Are they-“

“They’re alive and well, with three more cubs and another on the way,” Peter said, smiling faintly. “Natasha has even told me that she and her mate are considering a visit once the territory settles enough for it to be safe for her children,” he said.

“That’s good,” Stiles said faintly. 

Peter nodded. “I’d like to see her again soon.”

Stiles frowned, not entirely sure what to say to that.

An almost calm silence settled between them, lasting for most of the ride back to Peter’s house.

When they turned onto the service road at an almost alarmingly fast pace, Stiles shifted in his seat. “You said you were going to fix us something to eat,” he said. “You know how to cook?”

Peter nodded, clearly grateful for the change in topic. “Between the two of us, Irina was the better cook, but I can hold my own in the kitchen. Is there something specific you’d like?” he asked.

“French toast and pancakes, maybe.”

“Would you like any specific kind of pancakes?” he asked. “I can do chocolate chip, blueberry, and blackberry.”

Stiles shifted. “I’ve never had blackberry pancakes before,” he said. 

Peter nodded, a slight smile on his face. “I’ll fix those, then.”

“Cool,” Stiles said, relaxing a bit. He waited until Peter had parked in the garage before talking again. “Are we going to be there long?”

“That depends entirely on how long it takes me to pin down his scent, and then it comes down to the Alpha himself,” he said. “If he’s willing to see us and speak with us even though neither of us is an Alpha ourselves,” he said.

Stiles frowned. “Why would that matter?” he asked, following Peter through the house and into the older man’s bedroom, not bothering to carry any shame. Peter had been in his bedroom at least twice, so to his way of thinking, turnabout was fair play.

The bedroom was decorated with an earthy tone, painted in shades of warm brown and a dark green. There was a large window stretching almost the length of one of the far walls, showing an incredible view of the Preserve. The bed was enormous, a king-sized fabric bed with dark red silk sheets and a dark brown comforter.

“Dude,” he said, looking around as Peter headed straight for a walk-in closet. “This place is awesome,” he said.

“I’ll have to show you around the rest of the house when we’re not dealing with something this important. Make yourself at home,” Peter said before disappearing into the closet. He came out a few minutes later carrying a pair of dark jeans and a lightweight sweater. “I won’t be more than twenty minutes,” he said.

Stiles nodded. He stood in the bedroom, looking around for another few minutes, noting vaguely interesting little factoids about the older man - like the fact that he didn’t make his bed, or that he was about halfway through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It didn’t take too long for him to feel awkward about being alone in the man’s room, and he made a quick escape back to the living room, where his attention was quickly captured by the shelves full of Russian books.

He looked at the books, wondering which one to read first. Instead of choosing one of the many books focusing on mythical creatures, he picked up a well-worn copy of a book on military strategies. He flipped through it, his interest piquing when he noticed a number of notes written in the margins. 

“Yeah, you’re totally not up to anything weird,” he muttered, shooting a suspicious glance toward the bedroom. “Not when you’re writing love letters to Sun Tzu and Genghis Khan,” he said, walking over to the couch and stretching out, reading an excerpt from The Art of War before he was even seated.

He was so absorbed in the book - and Peter’s notes, which turned out to be less conspiratorial and coups-based and more about how they could be adapted for a small, set territory and incorporated with other strategies - that he didn’t hear Peter come out of his shower, fully dressed, and head into the kitchen. He didn’t realize that the older man had started cooking, or had made him a plate full of his requested foods, until Peter plucked the book from his hands.

“Dude,” he said after flailing off the couch in his surprise. “Not cool.”

Peter just smirked and motioned for Stiles to follow him back into the kitchen. 

As he did so, Stiles couldn’t help but take note of the fact that Peter’s clothes fit him well. He felt himself flushing red, desperately hoping that the werewolf hadn’t somehow managed to gained the ability to read minds. He took a seat at the kitchen counter, immediately setting in on his plate of food and avoiding looking at Peter. It was a pleasant surprise that the pancakes were really good, and he was only barely able to stop his quiet moan from escaping.

“You should be more aware of your surroundings,” Peter said. His expression taking on a vaguely lecherous nature was the only sign that he had an idea what Stiles had been thinking. “You’re far too easy to sneak up on as it is,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I don’t have superpowered werewolf hearing, so I’m limited,” Stiles muttered, shifting uncomfortably in the almost heavy silence that followed that statement. He finally looked up at Peter, wondering how the werewolf was going to respond to the statement. That was a mistake. The man’s sweater had the deepest v-neck that Stiles had ever seen on a man’s shirt. He choked on his large bite of pancake, his face going bright red again.

Peter quirked an eyebrow at him, no doubt amused at Stiles’ behavior, and took a bite of his own piece of French toast. “Did you suddenly forget how to swallow properly?” he asked.

“How much cleavage do you need to show, dude?” Stiles asked, deliberately ignoring the innuendo-disguised-as-a-question.

“Do you have a problem with my attire?”

Stiles sputtered, not sure what to say to that. “Are you sure you were shopping on the right side of the GAP?” he asked, pushing his plate aside. Best not to tempt fate with more late-night breakfast foods.

Peter chuckled. “This is Armani, actually,” he said. “Is there something wrong with the food?” he asked.

Stiles shook his head. “No, it's really good. It's, uh, I’m not that hungry right now,” he said, feeling the flush come back. “Can we just go and get this over with?” he asked.

“Of course,” Peter said, a knowing look in his eyes. “I’d hate to keep you away from your video games longer than absolutely necessary,” he said. 

“There’s other stuff I have to do too,” Stiles said, though he could hear how weak the protest was as he made it. He’d do better in the club, when there was more than an arm’s length between himself, Peter, and Peter’s annoyingly impressive man-cleavage. He huffed quietly as he followed the older man out to the garage. And here he’d thought he’d resolved his sexual identity crisis.

Chapter Text

Almost as soon as they walked into the club, Stiles saw a familiar face watching him. He grinned and waved, only for her to start heading his way.

Peter took note of this almost immediately, his eyes narrowing on the extravagantly dressed drag queen stalking over to them. "A friend of yours?" he asked lowly, standing closer to Stiles than was strictly necessary. The woman was close to a foot taller than him, even without her red and disconcertingly sharp shoes, and she was wearing a short, sequined dress.

“Anita Hardon, yeah. She helped me out when Scott and I came here looking for Reptar," Stiles said under his breath, seconds before he was pulled into a tight hug. "Hey Anita," he said, his voice muffled a bit by her clothes.

“You look positively delicious when you’re not dressing like a street urchin, foxy,” she said, running a hand over Stiles’ buzzed head and slowly letting him go. “I didn't think you were the type with daddy issues, though,” she added, giving Peter an impressive stink eye as she looked him over. As she did so, she pushed Stiles to the side, less than subtly putting herself between Stiles and Peter. “He’s a good looking one, at the very least.”

"He's trying to win me over," Stiles said, shooting a cheeky grin at Peter. “Thinks he’s going to be able to make me swoon like some kind of fair maiden.” 

The older man smirked back at him, knowing Stiles had no real clue how close to the truth he was. Not quite with the swooning, but then, Peter was looking at the bigger picture with Stiles. 

"He's treating you right?" Anita asked.

Stiles shrugged. "For the most part, yeah," he said. When he noticed that his bruises had caught her attention, he shook his head. "This wasn't him. Just some fuckheads from a visiting lacrosse team who didn't take well to losing," he said.

"And you're sure?"

Stiles nodded. "I'm sure."

Anita frowned a bit but nodded. "You've got my number, baby, and I will put the fear of God into anyone who lays a hand on you," she said. 

“I know, Anita, and you’re amazing for that,” he said. “Hey, have you seen Danny tonight?” He was the one person who could really mess this up for Stiles, even though they didn’t talk all that much. 

“Danny?”

Stiles nodded. “About six feet tall, Hawaiian, with the dimples of an angel,” he said, glancing around to see if he could catch a glimpse of the young man in question. No luck - the lights and music weren’t helping that much.

Anita nodded, grinning, and pointed toward the far end of the dance floor, where Danny was dancing with a bulky dark-skinned man. “He’s been here for close to an hour, and he’s been toying with our lovely new bartender the whole time,” she said. "It's a damn shame I'm not his type, otherwise I'd be all over him."

Stiles grinned, knowing how nice Danny could be even when turning someone down. There was a reason everyone liked him, after all. “Sweet. Thank you, Anita,” he said.

Peter moved a bit closer to Stiles, his eyes locked on Danny’s form as he moved. He hadn’t missed the way Stiles had tensed upon catching sight of the other boy.

Anita caught the movement and laughed, a knowing grin on her face. "I'll leave you with your date, foxy, as long as you promise to play hard to get."

Stiles nodded, smirking. "Yeah, I got it."

She released her hold on Stiles and walked over to Peter, placing a hand on his shoulder and leaning close. She dug the tips of her acrylic nails into the meat of his shoulder, her grip hard enough to bruise were he a human. “That boy is one of the few that I don’t want to see ruined by this place. Hurt him and I will rend you limb from limb. And I’ll do it slowly, too,” she said, the threat completely sincere.

Peter looked up at her, a small, genuine smile on his face. She wouldn't be able to harm him as much as she might like, but the protectiveness she felt toward Stiles was something he could appreciate. He wouldn't admit as much, but he harbored a similar urge to protect the teenager. "Of course," he said. “I only wish the best for him.”

She nodded, clapping him on the shoulder before disappearing into the crowd as easily as she'd appeared.

"You are just full of surprises, aren't you?" Peter murmured as he walked back up to Stiles, nipping almost playfully at Stiles' ear as he spoke. "Would you like a drink?"

"Sure," Stiles said, flushing slightly at the contact. "Just nothing with whiskey."

Peter hummed, frowning slightly, but nodded. "I'll be right back," he said. "Don't stray too far."

"Right, cause I bet you suck at chase," Stiles said with a grin. His grin only grew more satisfied when he noticed Peter's pupils dilate as his eyes flashed blue. He didn't so much as blink before he found the older man standing almost chest to chest with him. "What?" he asked warily.

"You're playing a dangerous game with me, darling," Peter crooned, smirking with slightly elongated fangs. “And I do so hate to lose,” he added, taking another step forward.

“Watch it, White Fang,” Stiles said sharply, his eyes narrowing and putting his hand on Peter’s chest. It wouldn’t be able to hold him back, they both knew it, but it seemed to be enough to interrupt their conversation. “You were playing fetch the underage boy some booze, not publicly grope the underage boy.”

Peter watched him for a moment, an odd look on his face.

“What?” Stiles asked. 

He received a small, pleased smile in response. “You really are far too entertaining for your own good,” he said. “Would you like a White Russian, Gin and Tonic, or Cuba Libre?” he asked.

Stiles smirked. “One of each.”

“Nice try,” Peter said with a smirk. “I’ll avoid the coffee liqueur for you, just in case,” he said. 

As he disappeared into the crowd, Stiles could only scowl after him. 

Chapter Text

After two Cuba Libres and an unsettlingly pleasant dance with Peter, Stiles found himself calming down, feeling more relaxed than he had been in months. He leaned against Peter’s side, watching the drag queens start gathering together to start their show. “Have you spotted him yet?” he asked, resting his head on Peter’s shoulder and looking up at the older man. The warmth he was putting off was incredibly comfortable, even in the club, and he found himself reluctant to step away from him.

“Yes,” he said, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ shoulders. He was silent for a moment before looking down at Stiles. “I’ve got an idea, but it puts you in a direct line of danger,” he said.

He was being sent in as bait, then. Always fun. He sighed heavily. “Will you be able to intervene before he slits my throat?” he asked.

Peter nodded, though the grim look on his face did little to reassure Stiles. “I may not have the power of an Alpha anymore, but I have always been fast,” he said, his tone quiet but sure. “And I don’t really care to see you bleed if I can prevent it,” he added.

“That was almost sweet, Peter,” Stiles said with a shaky laugh. 

“Stow it, brat,” Peter said, his smirk returning. “Focus on the job at hand.”

Stiles stood up fully, rubbing a hand over his shorn head before cracking his neck. “Alright. Channel my inner Bambi. Look like prey. I can do this,” he said, bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet. “Which way do I go?”

“On the other side of the bar, toward the cafe area,” Peter said. He paused for a moment, frowning slightly before reaching out to cup Stiles’ face. He ran his thumb over Stiles’ cheekbone, trailing his fingers down Stiles’ neck, over his jugular vein, and settling on his left collarbone.

“What’s with the scent marking?” Stiles asked curiously, though he wasn’t bringing up any objections at the moment.

Peter smiled, no doubt pleased that Stiles knew what he was doing without needing to ask. “Just a preventative measure. I’m not sure it’s going to work, but the significance shouldn’t be overlooked by another wolf. Even an Alpha,” he said. 

Stiles nodded slightly, looking down at Peter’s hand. “If this works, I think I owe you coffee or something,” he said.

“Join me on a proper date after this is all over and I’ll consider us even,” Peter replied without missing a beat. “Get going. We’ve got to talk to him tonight, before he moves on.”

“Fine,” Stiles said. He took a step back, watching Peter for another few seconds before nodding once, his mind made up. “If this does go wrong and I do end up dead, don’t let my dad find my body here.”

Peter nodded and motioned for Stiles to start walking. 

Rolling his eyes, Stiles did as told and started walking toward the tables on the other side of the bar. He wasn’t sure how far he was supposed to go, or who he was supposed to be looking for. He glanced around the room, not surprised to see that Peter was watching him intently. What did come as a surprise was Danny, who, while dancing with a shirtless blond, was shooting inquisitive looks his way. As was a vaguely familiar man at the bar, but Stiles couldn’t quite place where he’d seen him before. And the way he was watching Stiles was less curious and more suspicious. 

He wondered how far he was going to need to go when the hairs on the back of his neck stood up suddenly, and goosebumps rippled up his arms. He stopped walking, looking around for the reason his body had sent a premature rush of adrenaline into his system.  

"Well this is certainly something new," a man said, his accent catching Stiles' attention. "I've never had a messenger approach in as appealing a package as you make," he said, walking up to Stiles and wrapping a hand around his forearm. He pulled Stiles almost flush against him, his nostrils flaring as he took a not-quite-discreet whiff. He smirked. "And you reek of the affection of another wolf."

Stiles froze in the stranger’s hold, not sure what to say. Or how to react or pull away without any bloodshed. 

The man was slightly shorter than Stiles, with short brown hair and a pair of sunglasses. He was wearing a tan, hooded henley and dark jeans. He didn’t seem too irritated with Stiles. More amused than anything, really. “Did your wolf really let you come to a place like this without a chaperone?” he asked. 

"He's mine," Peter said coolly, appearing just behind Stiles and slipping two fingers over the waistband of Stiles' jeans. “And he’s only rarely the sort to require a constant chaperone.”

"Dude," Stiles muttered, catching the slight that Peter had managed to slip into his statement. He shot a glare at Peter, only for the older man to tighten his hold on Stiles' jeans and pull him a bit closer to him.

The possessive gesture didn't go unnoticed, but Deucalion didn't let go of Stiles. "He's not claimed, though," he said quietly, his eyes going red. Hopefully anyone who saw them would chalk it up to either a trick of the light or a surprisingly well constructed pair of specialty contact lenses. "Such potential in this one, and you're willing to risk losing him to someone else by letting him waltz around unclaimed?” he asked, claws coming out to press warningly at Stiles' skin.

"He's not legal yet," Peter said. "And his father is the Sheriff. I know better than to make a target of myself like that." He pressed his cheek against the side of Stiles' face, absently running his nose against Stiles’ temple, and smirked at Deucalion, who was watching them with still-red eyes. He had to force himself not to let his own eyes flash when he felt Stiles press against him as well, the human apparently taking comfort in his presence. "Besides, the wildfire inside this boy will do great things for his mate, when he makes his choice. I have no intention of missing out on that potential by coercing a dishonest courtship out of him," he said. "Let go of his arm."

The man waited for a long moment before doing as asked, inspecting Stiles before turning his gaze onto Peter. "I assume you've got something worth discussing to interrupt my night of pleasure for business?” he asked.

"We do," Peter said. "Though it's best not discussed in such an open area," he added, almost as an afterthought.

"Pack business rarely is," he said with a nod. “Before we start talking about any of this, I’d like to know your names.”

“I am Peter, and my human is Stiles,” Peter said, once again tugging Stiles closer to him. “You are Deucalion, yes?” he asked. 

The man nodded again. "We can take our conversation to one of the private rooms upstairs, if that would be suitable,” he said. 

Peter started to nod, but Stiles made an odd, protesting noise in the back of his throat, catching the attention of both werewolves. "If you guys go upstairs, I have to leave," he said.

"Why?"

"Surely this doesn't offend your sensibilities. You reek of lust and alcohol,” Deucalion said curiously, cocking his head to the side as the red finally faded from his eyes.

"No," Stiles said, looking over his shoulder toward the dance floor. "But Danny saw me come here with a dude almost old enough to be my dad and he's probably going to corner me and ask about that. If he sees me go into one of the rooms upstairs with both of you, I can almost guarantee that he's gonna follow me out to my car and not let me leave until he has answers," he said. "And I think I saw one of my dad's new cops here too,” he added, recognition finally clicking into place. 

Peter frowned, glancing through the throngs of people. He immediately found Danny, who, in between grinding on the blond he was dancing with, was casting glances in Stiles' direction. He also caught sight of an ex-military type at the bar, eyes locked on Stiles and Peter, and bit back a growl when the man looked at him, eyes narrowed and suspicious. "You have a point," he admitted, if not a little bit grudging.

"Did you have someplace else in mind?" Deucalion asked.

"Not right now,” Stiles said. "But give me like a few hours and I can find one.”

Deucalion was silent for a moment. “I suppose I can offer some lenience, as it’s not often I’m approached without having to draw blood first. I'll give you until eight tomorrow night,” he said.

"How are we supposed to find you?" Stiles asked. "Without tracking you to a club or howling at the moon or whatever?"

He smirked. "You are quite amusing, aren't you? I'm starting to see why you're so attached to this particular human," he said, turning his head toward Peter. "Why don't you walk me to me out so we can discuss that?"

Peter nodded, putting his hand on the small of Stiles' back and turning them toward the exit.

A hand landed on Stiles' shoulder and he jumped, looking over at Deucalion. "Dude," he said before he could stop himself. 

"Forgive a blind man his eccentricities," Deucalion said, tilting his head to the side so the light shone through his sunglasses, revealing milky blue eyes.

"I thought you guys had a healing factor," Stiles said before he could stop himself.

Deucalion was silent for a moment before sliding his hand to press it against Stiles' still-broken ribs. "We live dangerous lives, don't we?" he asked, pushing more firmly against Stiles' ribs and ignoring the younger man's flinch and poorly hidden whimper. "And hunters are far too willing to destroy the lives of those of us who haven't harmed anyone," he said.

"Right," Stiles said. "Sorry," he added.

"I am well aware that curiosity is common in your kind," Deucalion said before returning his hand to Stiles' shoulder. It wasn't quite forgiveness for asking, but he seemed willing to accept Stiles' curiosity without getting angry. For the time being, at least. 

Peter watched the two of them for a moment. "Do you have a way to get to where you're staying?"

"I do, yes," he said, gently squeezing Stiles' shoulder.

Stiles took that as his cue and started walking out of the club, doing his best to avoid the thicker groups of people. He didn’t know what would happen if someone knocked into the older man - or, god forbid, tried to pull him into a dance - and he was planning very much on not finding out any time soon.

With that, the three of them headed out of the club, stopping beside Peter's Jeep. 

"So how do we find you again?" Stiles asked.

"I trust a young man like you has a cellphone?" Deucalion asked, holding out his hand expectantly.

Stiles nodded and fished it out of his pocket. He looked over at Peter, who took the phone before he had a chance to ask anything. At a quiet noise from Peter, Deucalion spoke, too lowly for Stiles to hear, and Peter entered the new contact into Stiles' phone. Once that was done, Peter handed Stiles' phone back to him. "Now what?" Stiles asked, watching the two werewolves for some clue.

"He's very new to this, isn't he?" Deucalion asked, his smile returning. 

"He's smart. He'll pick it up quickly," Peter assured.

"Good," Deucalion said, turning his head to face Stiles. "Your wolf will teach you the proper etiquette before our meeting, and I will allow for minor mistakes, but I expect you to be competent."

Stiles nodded.

"Call that number once you’ve found a suitable place to meet, and I’ll tell you when the meeting will take place,” Deucalion said. "I expect the two of you to be present for the duration."

Peter frowned. "What guarantees can you give me that my human will not be harmed?” he asked, his hand straying back to Stiles' hip. "These meetings don't have a history of being entirely safe for humans, particularly unclaimed humans.”

Deucalion frowned, a hesitant expression coming over his face. "I will make it clear to those accompanying me that he is not to be touched," he said. "He'll be left alone unless he approaches one of my wolves himself. Anything more than that I won't promise," he said.

"I wouldn't ask it of you," Peter said, motioning for Stiles to get into his Jeep.

The younger man hesitated briefly before doing as told. Peter and Deucalion spoke for just a minute longer before parting ways - Peter to the driver's side of his Jeep and Deucalion to a Cadillac at the other end of the parking lot. "Did this just get complicated?" Stiles asked as soon as Peter was in the car and driving away from the club.

Peter chuckled. "Whatever gave you the idea that this was going to be a simple endeavor, darling?" he asked. "You and I are setting out to prove to the Alpha Pack that my nephew and his strays are a stable enough pack to warrant being left alive. My nephew, who decided the best choices for new Betas would be wayward teenagers without any modicum of reasonable support. Two of whom decided that the best way to stay safe would be to abandon their Pack, and their Alpha, and one of whom has wavering pack loyalties." He looked over at Stiles. "You and I are pinning our lives on an Alpha who was never meant to be an Alpha and a trio of ungrateful pups.”

Stiles frowned. "What about Scott?"

"He is on his way to Omega. Without the little Argent," he said, spitting out the name like a curse. "And without you, he has no real pack bonds. As the one who created McCall, I have a minor claim on him, and if they accept that, I can buy him some time."

"How much?"

"I don't know," he said. “And I can’t promise it’s going to work. He needs to choose a pack soon, be it with Derek or some other Alpha.” He frowned. “He’s too volatile to be left alone, especially since he still doesn’t have the level of control he should.”

Stiles scowled, sinking down into his seat and glaring at the dashboard.

A relatively comfortable silence settled for most of the ride back. Stiles was well aware that Peter was occasionally casting curious glances at him, but he didn’t say anything, choosing instead to sort through everything that needed to be done in the next few hours, on top of trying to get some sleep.

When they were only about five minutes from Peter’s house, Peter shifted in his seat and looked over at Stiles. “I’m guessing that you’ve got someplace already in mind?” he asked. He watched as Stiles fidgeted in his seat, toying with the hem of his t-shirt. "You looked like you had an idea on our way back."

Stiles nodded. "There's a safe house that the Sheriff's Department used to use before the budget cuts a few years ago. My dad's got the keys locked up in a safe in his office at home, but I'm pretty sure it's another felony," he said. "And if my dad ever finds out that I'm planning on stealing a safe house for, what, some kind of territory negotiations? Especially when there are bodies that can be traced back to the people I'm doing that for," he said. He trailed off, not wanting to think about it anymore.

"How secure is the house?"

"It's near the west end of the Preserve. It's like an old ranch house, a main floor and a basement with a panic room, and it's fully fenced it," he said. "There are cameras all over the place, and there's a surveillance room in the basement, across from the panic room, and it's got direct contact to the Sheriff's Department and the FBI office out in San Francisco." He hesitated for a moment. "There's two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and an open living room. It looks like a piece of shit, but it's fitted up with mirrored, bulletproof windows, reinforced doors and walls." 

Peter frowned. "How often are the cameras on?"

"They used to be streaming all the time, just to make sure that no one was poking around the house. But they've all been disconnected since the budget cuts," Stiles said. "Can you hear them?"

"Cameras?"

Stiles shook his head. "Electronics emit, like, high pitched frequencies, right? Can you hear them?"

Peter nodded. “I can hear some high frequencies, yes,” he said as he pulled into his driveway. “Do you need to go home right away, or would you like to stay for something to drink?” he asked. 

“I could go for soda or something. Not coffee, otherwise I’ll be too wired to sleep,” Stiles said almost hesitantly as he followed Peter out of the Jeep and into his house. 

“How long can you stay?” he asked.

Stiles shrugged. “My dad’s working a double, and tomorrow he’s spending the day interviewing new cops for the department,” he said. “He’ll probably sack out on one of the beds there, so as long as I lay low, I can stay till tomorrow night.”

“I’ve got a spare bedroom you can use for now,” Peter said.

“Right,” Stiles said, dropping down onto a stool at the kitchen island. “How much do we have to do before this meeting? Apart from making sure the house is still intact and the cameras aren’t filming, and making sure I know how not to accidentally fuck up and get my throat slit at this party?” he asked, slumping against the counter and watching Peter.

The older man was silent as he pulled two cans of root beer out of his fridge, absently opening them. When he turned to face Stiles, he had an odd look on his face. “I’ll get to that, but first we need to bring the Alpha up to speed,” he said. “Call Derek. I’ll fix us something to eat until he gets here. Unless you’d rather order in?”

“Chinese sounds good, I guess,” Stiles said.

“Wonderful,” he said, pulling a takeout menu out of one of the kitchen drawers. “Figure out what you want and make yourself comfortable.”

Chapter Text

When he first walked into the house and saw Peter and Stiles sitting next to each other on one of the couches in the living room, Derek didn’t say anything. Instead, he settled for making himself comfortable on the opposite couch, picking up a plate of dumplings and watching the two of them with a contemplative look on his face as he ate. 

The three of them ate in a bizarrely comfortable silence for close to ten minutes, finishing most of the food, before someone talked. 

“So, how ‘bout the weather?” Stiles asked with patently false enthusiasm. “I hear storms are coming.”

“You two reek,” Derek said. As usual, he was going to forgo the small talk in favor of getting down to business. He pinned a glare on Peter. “I can smell another wolf on both of you, and you’ve been scent marking Stiles,” he said, the accusation in his tone surprisingly mild. He set his plate aside and leaned forward on the counter, red slowly bleeding into his eyes. “What the hell did you do, and what the hell made you think it was a good idea?” he asked.

Peter, to his credit, seemed unaffected by the Alpha glare. Instead, he just looked bored, though he didn’t break eye contact with Derek. “As wonderful as it is to see that you’re finally getting your act together, I’ve changed your diapers and watched you trip over your own paws on your first shifts. That look isn’t going to work on me,” he said.

“Peter,” Derek growled. 

“We both behaved within the confines of the Laws,” Peter said. “And even though we acted without your permission or knowledge, we acted in the benefit of the pack at large.”

“I’ll be the one to decide that.”

Peter nodded amiably. “And you’ll agree with me.”

Derek rolled his eyes, sighing heavily. “Then start talking,” he snapped. 

“You know what the purpose of the Alpha Pack is, and how they treat young packs. And young Alphas. You are a young Alpha with a young pack of undisciplined Betas with loose control, two of whom have run away,” Peter said. 

“That’s none of the business of the Alpha Pack,” Derek said, though he didn’t look entirely convinced. “When I find my Betas, I’ll deal with them myself.”

“But what if the Alpha Pack has them?” Stiles asked quietly. Both werewolves looked over at him. Derek looked shocked and not a little bit scared at the suggestion, while Peter was wearing an expression of smug satisfaction. “Look, if Chris wasn’t lying and he did let Boyd and Erica go, wouldn’t they have come back? Being hunted and trapped by the most psychotic sons of bitches out there would probably send them back to you, right? I mean, you were helping them before they left, weren’t you?”

Derek nodded stiffly but didn’t say anything. 

“So it stands to reason that if they did get loose, they’d come back to something stable.”

Peter hummed in acknowledgement. “It does.”

Stiles shrugged. “But they didn’t. And no one else has heard from them since then,” he said. “And the Alphas got here right after Jackson shed his scales and went permanently furry. It’s not that big a leap to think the Alphas found Erica and Boyd and have them.”

Derek said nothing, watching Stiles with an almost concerned look on his face. “Did you go looking for them and find one of the Alphas instead?” he asked finally.

“No,” Peter said. “I brought Stiles with me when I went to seek out the Alpha of the Alpha Pack.”

“Why?”

“You know why,” Peter said. At a blank look from Derek, he rolled his eyes. “You aren’t always as foolish as you come across, and we both know it. You were taught the Laws as a pup, and I know Talia and Mitchell pressed their importance,” he said. “Not only was it imperative that Stiles come, given his potential position, it was a show of good faith on my part.”

“Why your part?” Derek asked, voicing the question that Stiles had as well.

Peter glanced over at Stiles. “There’s a reason he carries my scent,” he said with a smirk.

Derek growled. “You could have gotten him killed!” he snapped.

Stiles looked between the two of them, slowly catching on to what they were talking about. “I was in danger because crazy Uncle Peter rubbed his creepy wolfy love cooties all over me?” he asked, giving Peter a particularly impressive stink eye. “And what is my potential position?”

Peter opened his mouth to say something, but Derek cut him off with a loud growl.

“You haven’t told him how serious the consequences could have been if something went wrong, have you?” Derek asked. When Peter shook his head, he growled again. “God damn it, Peter!” he snapped, slamming his hand on the end table next to the couch.

Stiles flinched at the movement and the dull thud, briefly flashing back to his night in the Argent’s basement. He closed his eyes, taking a steadying breath, and opened his eyes. Derek and Peter were still staring at each other, but Stiles doubted either of them had missed his reaction. It didn’t seem like either of them were going to comment on it, even if only for the time being. 

“I was well aware of how much danger both he and I were in if Deucalion was less willing to deal with things in an amiable way,” Peter said calmly. “He seemed almost as intrigued with Stiles as I am. I made sure it was clear that our dear Stiles wasn’t available to be claimed and taken away,” he added.

“You’re taking advantage of his ignorance.”

Stiles rolled his eyes, offended. “The ignorant little human is right here, assholes,” he said, reaching between the two wolves to take the last egg roll from the coffee table. “And I’ve done plenty of research on your furry asses. I know more than you think,” he said.

Derek looked over at him. “You still don’t know enough,” he said, sneering at him. 

“I might if you’d share information when our lives aren’t all in danger,” Stiles shot back.

“You’re welcome to peruse my library at your leisure,” Peter interjected smoothly, shooting a quick, knowing glance in Derek’s direction. “Right now, if you’d like.”

Stiles smirked. “Nice try.”

Peter chuckled. “And I don’t suppose asking you to leave the room so the grownups can talk would work either?” he asked.

“Nope,” Stiles said, popping the ‘p’ as his smirk just grew. “You’re about to talk about Pack Laws, with capital letters. There’s no way I’m missing out on this conversation.”

Derek sighed again. “Fine,” he said. “Let’s get down to it,” he said, motioning for Peter to start talking.

Stiles leaned back against the couch, looking between Derek and Peter, waiting for someone to start talking. 

“You are well aware that established packs don’t have to fear for the future of their packs when the Alphas pass through their territory. Your mother had a good rapport with Deucalion. I sought him out in the hopes that he would be willing to extend some lenience given what’s happened in the past few years,” Peter said. 

Derek frowned. “You took on the role of an Alpha when you spoke to him?” he asked.

Peter shook his head. “I acted as something of a pack ambassador. It’s custom to greet foreign Alphas when they come into pack territory, and that duty does not always fall on the Alpha,” he said. “No business was discussed, and I did not present myself as anything other than a pack member speaking with an Alpha not my own,” he added.

“And Stiles?” 

“I made sure it was clear he was not unclaimed. Deucalion was intrigued, but he didn’t challenge my claim on him,” Peter said.

Stiles scowled. “I’m still right here, assholes,” he muttered, returning to his box of chicken lo mein. 

Peter smirked, rubbing a hand over Stiles’ head. “And I plan on keeping you here, darling. You’re far too valuable to be left vulnerable to undeserving wolves,” he said. 

It was Derek’s turn to scowl. “Knock it off, Peter,” he said, sounding bored. “What did you talk about with Deucalion?” 

“Somewhere private to talk about pack business,” Stiles said. “And I have a place in mind that will probably work, but Peter’s gonna help me check it out to make sure it’s good enough before we call the dude and tell him we’ve found a place.”

“Where?”

“Dude, I’m going to make sure it’s good enough for a meeting before I tell you that,” Stiles said.

“And why’s that?”

Stiles glared at him. “Because it’s got enough resources that we might be able to use it for more than just this meeting,” he said. “And if the house has somehow been jeopardized, it’s better for you to be able to claim ignorance. You already look enough like a serial killer that you scare people, but knowing about a house in the middle of the woods that can be used as, like, some kind of giant kill room? Dude, that’s just going to make my dad put a tail on you just as a preventative measure,” he said, biting back the jokes. Even with his usual lack of a filter between brain and mouth, he knew when to be serious and when to crack a few jokes.

Peter chuckled but didn’t say anything.

Derek was silent for a long moment, staring at Stiles. He seemed almost to be looking for something. When he found whatever it was, his expression relaxed a bit into an almost gentle concern. “Peter, leave.”

“Alpha or not, nephew, this is still my house.”

“I need to talk to Stiles alone,” Derek said, turning suddenly red eyes on Peter. “Get out so I can talk to him alone and do not to eavesdrop.”

Peter rolled his eyes but stood up. He turned his back on Derek, looking straight at Stiles. “Would you like something else to drink?” he asked, picking up Stiles’ empty can of root beer.

Stiles shrugged. “Sure, I guess,” he said. 

Peter nodded and left the room, still ignoring Derek. 

When Peter left the room and had gone far enough to satisfy him, Derek pinned a curious look at Stiles. “What are you doing?”

Stiles looked up from his box of Chinese food, frowning. “Eating Chinese takeout and trying to ignore the fact that Peter’s actually pretty cool when he’s not a raging dick,” he said. 

“No, what are you doing involving yourself to this degree?” Derek asked.

“What, because I’m not pack?”

Derek scowled. “No, you are,” he said. “Pack, I mean.” He was silent for a long moment. “You’re human. Why are you so willing to put your life and humanity at risk when you could walk away? Go back to whatever was normal for you.”

Stiles frowned, setting his food on the coffee table and leaning forward. He met Derek’s eyes evenly and made sure to keep eye contact as he spoke, well aware of the fact that it could be taken as a challenge to the Alpha but needing Derek to understand him. “Normal wasn’t all that good for me and besides, Scott’s involved. There’s no way out for him and he’s basically my brother. I’m not abandoning him to this, even if his head is planted firmly up his ass right now,” he said. “And anyway, if there’s a way I can make my dad’s job any easier, I’m going to do it,” he added. 

“Then why Peter?”

“He came to me first,” he said. “And he’s never drawn my blood, even when he had the chance to leave me dead in the trunk of his car with his psychopath nurse.” He shrugged. “Dude came to me and we talked. He explained why he did what he did, asked for a blank slate, and told me how I could help.”

“What makes you think you can trust him?” 

Stiles smirked. “What makes you think I trust him? I could just be using him because he’s convenient,” he said, fiddling with his chopsticks and picking his food up again.

Derek scowled again. “He’s not the type to be used, Stiles. He’s not the same man he was before the fire.”

“Maybe not, but he’s not the lunatic he was when he woke up from the coma. It’s almost like death, I don’t know, man, made him more stable,” he said. “I’m not saying he’s the second coming of Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross or anything, but he’s not our biggest problem right now.”

“Your flattery is overwhelming, Stiles, really,” Peter said as he walked back into the room. He frowned, looking over at Derek. “I would offer to have the same conversation with you, but I would like to avoid a second throat slashing,” he said. “Coming back is quite tedious.”

Derek was silent for a long moment before nodding once. “The only reason I’m not going to kill you right now is because you’re useful,” he said. “If you hurt any member of this pack” - here he cast a quick glance in Stiles’ direction - “I will rip you into so many pieces that no one will be able to put you together again, no matter how magically inclined you are,” he snapped.

Peter nodded. “I came back to help, nephew,” he said, holding his hands up. “I harbor little ill will for you and your strays.”

Stiles bit back a grin at the look on Derek’s face at the insult to his Betas, but abruptly looked down at his food when Derek looked his way. “I’ll leave the two of you alone,” he said when Derek’s eyes flashed red. “You said I could use a room?” he asked, looking over at Peter, who smirked.

“Down the hall and to the left. The same one I showed you earlier.” 

“Cool, thanks,” he said, standing and taking his food with him. “I’m gonna try and get a few hours of sleep.”

Peter looked over at him. “I’ll wake you up when it’s time to play secret agent,” he said. “Try not to spill any food, would you?” 

Stiles just nodded and left the room.

Chapter Text

“Wake up, Little Red,” Peter crooned as he walked into the room. He sat on the bed next to where Stiles was sprawled out, the comforter draped on top of him but somehow tangled from the young man’s sleep.

Stiles muttered something unintelligible and shoved his head under a pillow.

“Don’t be like that, darling,” he said. “Wake up. The Big Bad Wolf wants to play.”

“That’s creepy. You’re creepy. Why’s this bed so comfortable?” Stiles mumbled, slowly pulling his head out from under the pillow and blinking up at Peter.

Peter smirked. “Unlike my nephew, I make sure my living environment meets my standards of comfort. I’ve also never been inclined to sleep in the woods when better options are available to me,” he said. “It’s time to wake up. I’ve got coffee on and I’ve got your jacket. I’ll give you enough time for one cup of coffee before we scout out your safe house.”

Stiles smiled sleepily. “Make it two and I’ll tell you how to turn off the electric fence before it shocks you,” he said.

“It’s a deal, my sweet,” Peter said. He stood up, pulling the blanket off of Stiles as he went. “Five minutes, otherwise I’ll come back and wake you up however I see fit,” he said, his smirk returning.

“Creep,” Stiles shot at him as he left. Even still, he crawled out of the bed, straightening his clothes. “I’m totally not telling you anything about the electric fence, jackass,” he said.

Peter was waiting for him in the kitchen, and he handed Stiles a cup of coffee without saying anything, choosing instead to drink his own cup. Once they’d finished their cup and Peter had put enough for two more cups into a thermos, they made their way out to Peter’s Jeep.

...

"I trust your father won't be home?" Peter asked as he pulled out onto the main road and started making his way to Stiles' house. 

Stiles shook his head, doing a mental run-through of his dad's schedule for the next few days. "I don't think so?" he asked, giving himself a mental reminder to double check the schedule that was taped to the fridge. He'd need to go back to memorizing his dad's schedule if he was going to be skirting the law more than usual. And after what he'd been through since finding out that werewolves exist, he was going to have to adjust to his new life of semi-crime. He scowled. He'd also have to remember to take some Adderall while he was at home, maybe grab the bottle and start keeping it in his pocket again. "If he is, he's probably crashed in his room until his next shift," he said, his mind going back to his father. "He'll be out cold for a few hours, so as long as we don't make too much noise, we should get out clean."

Peter nodded. "Good. Where are the keys to the safe house?"

"They're in his office. He doesn't lock that room, but the keys are in a locked drawer of his desk," Stiles said.

"And the key to that?"

"It's a combination lock."

"Do you know the combination?" Peter asked. When he didn't receive an answer, he looked over at Stiles. The younger man was gnawing on his thumbnail, staring out the passenger's side window. "Stiles?"

The younger man nodded. "Yeah, I know the combination," he said quietly, his voice barely audible even to Peter's supernaturally enhanced senses.

Peter frowned, his curiosity obviously piqued. He took in the way Stiles had shrunk into himself, doing his best to look as small as possible, and found himself wondering how much he would be able to push at this subject before the young man folded permanently.

"Are you going to park in front of my house?" Stiles asked after a moment. 

"I'm not going to risk your father or one of your neighbors getting too familiar with my car. It might lead to complications in the future," he said. "There's a house for sale about a block away from yours. I'll park in front of that house and we can walk the rest of the way."

Stiles frowned. "No, that's probably gonna look weird to anyone passing by. That house has been for sale forever," he said. "The Parkers are next door to me, but they go out of town every summer. Their garage is on the other side of the house, and we can use it as long as we don't take too long."

"You're sure?"

Stiles nodded slightly, once again chewing on his thumbnail.

"Good," Peter said.

The rest of the drive took place in relative silence. Stiles did his best to keep himself calm, but he was unable to stop himself from bouncing his knee up and down. Peter watched him out of the corner of his eye but he didn't say anything, choosing to let the young man think. If he was unable to get a handle on his nerves, he might have to think twice about bringing him to the meeting later. Still, he had hope for him. And confidence would come with time and experience, he knew. 

"This isn't going to end badly, is it?" Stiles asked as Peter turned onto his street. "No massacres like with the Kanima, right?"

"Nothing of the sort," Peter said. "There is far too much at risk for anyone to be too uncivil about this."

"But what if something goes wrong?" Stiles asked.

Peter was silent for a long moment. "They'll kill us, but it won't be excessive," he said. "As a human, you'll just get your throat slit, but Derek and I will be ripped to pieces and those pieces scattered or burned."

"Awesome," Stiles muttered under his breath.

"If that happens to be the outcome, darling, your death will come quickly. I'll promise you that much," he said. 

Stiles licked his lips and swallowed heavily. "That's actually kind of reassuring, Peter, thanks," he said.

Peter was silent for another moment. "If it looks like that's going to be the outcome, I will do whatever I can to make sure you at least have a chance to get away," he said. "And I suspect Derek will do the same as well," he added.

"Why?" Stiles asked.

Peter frowned slightly. "You are part of our pack, even with your status as a human," he said. "And given Lahey's fluctuating loyalties, the actions you've taken on behalf of the pack makes you the most loyal and the most valuable." He paused for a moment. "If I were a betting man, I would put money on Derek naming you his Second once the territory is more stable," he said.

Stiles scoffed in disbelief.

"Is it really that difficult to believe?" Peter asked, arching an eyebrow at Stiles. "I understand that you've protected Derek's Betas when you were all in danger, you've saved Derek's life as well, and on top of that, you're a growing Spark."

Stiles frowned and shrugged noncommittally, not saying anything. 

Peter looked over at him. "You are a valuable asset, Stiles, and both Derek and I are selfish men. If there's a chance we can convince you to be a permanent member of our pack, we will take it," he said. 

This time the silence that settled between them was more comfortable. Stiles thought about Peter's less than subtle offer, and the possibilities associated with it, while Peter found himself thinking about how to handle the coming conversations in such a way that would end with everyone involved walking away without any bloodshed. 

...

There was no car in the driveway when they pulled up to the Stilinski house, which meant that Stiles' father was still at the station. He led Peter in through the back door, just in case, looking around as he went. His shoulders slumped a bit when he noticed the empty beer bottles in the kitchen trash can, but he didn't say anything.

Peter noticed his reaction to the bottles and frowned, but followed him through the house.

Stiles slipped into his father's office, glancing at the files on his desk out of habit. Three files for new cops, and a few notes about a new string of burglaries on the other side of town. Nothing about the massacre, but Stiles expected his father kept those files at the office. Probably to keep Stiles from trying to stick his nose in it.

"Tidy office, for a cop," Peter said, looking around. He looked over at Stiles, who shrugged and dropped into his father's chair.

"He realized he had to keep it clean when he realized that his kid liked to play cop whenever he could," Stiles said, leaning down and forward so he was about eye level with the combination on the locked drawer. "It didn't really help that my mom would peek in sometimes, too."

"Was she a cop?"

Stiles shook his head. A lump formed in his throat at the reminder of his mother. "No," he said. "She just wanted to make sure that I wasn't getting into anything seriously messed up or too graphic," he said. He leaned forward a bit, licking his lips a bit, and put in the combination for the lock.

101304

"What's the significance behind that date?" Peter asked. 

Stiles was silent for a long moment, staring at the combination. "My mom died," he said, his voice going a bit hoarse. He clenched his eyes shut, forcing the memories back to the back of his mind. There was too much to focus on at the moment.

He opened the drawer, pushing the files to the side and picking up the small lockbox. "I don't think he's going to notice if the key's gone for too long, but I don't want to risk it," he said.

Peter nodded. "That's fine," he said. "I can have a copy made if we're using the house for more than just this meeting."

Stiles nodded slightly and tossed the key to Peter, who caught it easily. "As long as my dad doesn't find out, it's fine, I guess," he said. 

"Is there anything else you need to get while we're here?" Peter asked, tucking the key into the front pocket of his jeans.

"Yeah, actually," Stiles said as he put the lockbox back in the drawer. He made sure everything looked as it had when he'd opened it before shutting and locking it. "I'll be like five minutes, tops," he said before leaving the room.

Peter wasn't more than a few steps behind him, though he stopped in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. "I'll wait here," he said.

Stiles ran upstairs, taking a quick look around to see if anything had changed since he'd left. Nothing seemed to have changed, so he settled for grabbing his pill bottle and shoving it into his pocket. He pulled on his hoodie, grabbed his Maglite and the switchblade from the drawer in his nightstand, and headed back downstairs, more than slightly surprised to find Peter waiting in the same spot he'd left him in.

"Are you ready to go?"

"Yeah."

"Do you expect to need to use that little blade of yours?" Peter asked lightly as he watched Stiles dry swallow two pills and put both the pill bottle and the switchblade into his pocket.

Stiles shrugged. "Not on you, obviously," he said. "But I don't want to risk anyone following us, so if I have to pop a few tires, I will," he said. 

Peter chuckled. "You are a delightful boy, aren't you?" he asked, running a hand over Stiles' head before nodding toward the door. "Shall we go?"

"Yeah."

Peter grinned. "Do you remember how to get there?" he asked. "I don't want to spend hours driving around to find a safe house if you manage to get us lost?"

Stiles shook his head. "No, it's pretty much a straight shot. It's out of the way, but I remember how to get there," he said.

"Good," Peter said as he headed back out to his Jeep, Stiles not too far behind him.

“Are we taking main roads or using the service roads in the Preserve?” Peter asked. 

Stiles shook his head. “Not the Preserve,” he said, bringing up the directions to Betsy’s, an old diner on the far end of town, on his phone. “We can park here and walk the rest of the way. There aren’t any roads that lead to the house, and it’s only a twenty minute walk from the diner.”

“I suppose you’re expecting food once we’ve finished our inspection?”

Stiles shrugged. “If you want,” he said, following Peter's lead and getting into the Jeep.

“How long have you known about this house?” Peter asked, glancing at the directions and pulling out of the driveway.

Stiles fidgeted in his seat, not looking at Peter. “A few months before the fire at your house, there was a serial killer working in Beacon County, and there was one victim who escaped before he could get murdered. When it was time for him to go to the safe house, my dad had me with him. My mom was in the hospital with my Nan, and she never liked me being there when she did her chemo,” he said quietly. “So I got to ride along with my dad and he let me come inside as long as I promised to keep the place a secret.”

Peter didn’t look at him, instead watching the road. “Why were you unable to stay with Scott?”

“He and his mom didn’t move here until a year after the Hale fire,” Stiles said. “He never even knew about it until we saw Derek for the first time.” He sighed heavily. “I think there’s somewhere to park a car near the house, but I can’t remember where it is.”

Peter nodded. "It shouldn't take more than ten minutes to get to the diner from here," he said. "You've done some research on the hierarchy within packs, I hope?" he asked. 

"Yeah. I'm not sure if any of it's any good," Stiles said, grateful for the change in conversation. "Can you just give me a run-through and I'll ask questions as we go through it?"

Peter nodded again, thinking about where to start. "When Derek, you and I get into the house, you and I will be expected to stay quiet until after introductions are made," he said. "Alphas speak first. You and I do not contradict anything our Alpha says, and we do not argue with him while the other Pack is able to hear."

"There's no rule about not arguing with the Alpha?" Stiles asked.

"Not at all," Peter said. "In stable Packs, like we had before the fire, healthy discussion helps the Alpha make balanced decisions, and those involved in the conversations are expected to contribute however they can," he said. "Ours was a very diplomatic sort of hierarchy, as are most other stable packs that I've seen."

"And after introductions?"

Peter made a quick turn and sped up a bit. "Once everyone is acquainted with each other, it's tradition to look to the foreign Alpha before speaking with one of his Betas," he said. "And we wait for Derek to make sure that he has no objections to an open conversation."

"Dude, I don't have much of a filter, even with my meds."

"Both Derek and I are well aware of that," Peter said. "And Deucalion found you amusing enough that I expect he'll allow certain leniencies with you, but acknowledging our customs will earn you favors," he said.

Stiles nodded. "I can understand that. Fostering good feelings and all that."

Peter smirked. "Alliances can be made or lost on details sometimes," he said.

"Right. Anything else?"

"You do not make physical contact with anyone in the other pack, and they keep their hands off of you," Peter said. "Scents are key, and they can define who belongs to a pack and who is merely associated with pack members," he added.

Stiles frowned. "If it's that important, why did Deucalion use my shoulder as a guide to get out of the club?" he asked.

Peter was silent for a moment, his hands tightening visibly on the steering wheel. "That was a test," he said. "I'd already stated my claim on you, and even though he's a guest on territory that belongs to us, he is an Alpha. Challenging him over something as relatively small as an unofficial claim could have sabotaged everything before it even got started," he said. "And I fully expect he was wondering how you'd react to the contact."

"Why?"

"I can't say for sure," he said. "Though it might have been a subtle way of staking his own claim on you."

Stiles scowled. "You guys should change up your tactics. All the touching gets creepy," he muttered. "Fruit baskets, maybe."

Peter chuckled but said nothing.

Stiles settled for pulling out his phone and playing a few games of Mahjong as Peter drove.

They parked in the far side of the diner's parking lot, away from the two streetlights, and headed straight for the service road, which was overgrown and relatively hard to navigate.

"The diner's open twenty-four hours, dude," Stiles said, grinning as he pulled out his Maglite. "I'm thinking you get to reward me with curly fries and a milkshake before I get to crash again."

"You're not falling ill, are you?"

Stiles shook his head. "Nah, but the pills have me on a weird sleeping schedule," he said. "Your bed is ridiculously comfortable, though, so I'm gonna be sleeping on that more than you probably want me to," he added.

Peter smirked, choosing to avoid commenting to the contrary. There was no need to risk scaring the boy off too soon. "Like I told you before, I like to indulge in the creature comforts," he said. "How far are we going?" he asked.

"About three miles down this road," Stiles said. "Make some noise while you walk, would you? In three miles, there's going to be a fork in the road. We take the one on the left and about half a mile down that road, we'll see the fencing."

Peter nodded, deliberately tromping on a twig in front of him. The sudden noise had Stiles jumping slightly and shooting him an exasperated look. Peter just returned the look with a faux-innocent expression that was ruined with his smirk and the way he let his eyes glow blue.

"Asshole," Stiles grumbled.

"What kind of fencing is there?" Peter asked, going for a change in topic. He kept his wolf eyes glowing - they worked better for him than the Maglite, even if they did leave the human slightly unsettled.

"Six foot wood panels first. They're the external defense, and the plant growth serves as natural camouflage," he said. "After that, the electric fence. It should be like three feet tall, with an electric line every foot," he added. "I don't know if it's still functional, but I'm pretty sure it can be turned on from inside the house."

Peter nodded. "I'm making a copy of the key, regardless of whether we use it for pack business again," he said.

Stiles laughed quietly. He jumped when Peter abruptly pulled him to his side, causing him to drop the Maglite and stumble over a root that he didn't see. "What the fuck was that for?" he asked, trying to get out of Peter's hold.

"Gopher hole," Peter said, letting go of Stiles and watching him scramble to get the flashlight and regain his balance. "Or a hole from a root. Either way, you'd have broken your leg and we can't have that."

"Right," Stiles said quietly. "So how much better do your neon eyes work than your regular ones?" he asked, motioning at his face with his free hand.

Peter arched an eyebrow over at Stiles. Maybe the boy was less unsettled and more curious. "Better than usual. I have almost full vision in the dark, and I can see just as far as I can in full light," he said.

"So no heat vision or lasers or anything?" Stiles asked, sounding oddly disappointed.

"I'm a werewolf, not a robot, you imbecile," Peter said, his tone one of fond exasperation. "And what of you?"

Stiles frowned, not sure what Peter was talking about. "My sight? It's good. Thirty-twenty at the last check," he said.

"You don't have any heat vision or lasers?" Peter asked with a smirk.

"Not without borrowing some police equipment, no," he said with a shrug.

Peter laughed quietly. "Do you plan to follow in your father's footsteps?" he asked after a moment. "Become a police officer?" he asked.

Stiles was silent for a long moment. "No," he said. "I talk too much, and I'm spastic on a good day so there's no way I'd be able to handle a firearm. Besides, the meds and the fucked up sleeping schedule are gonna put me out of the running anyway." He shrugged. "I kind of want to be a mechanic."

Peter looked over at him, curious. "Why?"

"I like the idea of fixing things. My mom was good at it, and she used to let me help out sometimes," he said. "Besides, it'll end up being a part time gig anyway, since I'm pretty sure your furry little asses aren't going to leave me alone any time soon."

"Sweet boy, you couldn't stay away if you tried," Peter said in a husky voice, a smirk curling onto his face.

Stiles scowled at him but didn't object to the pet name, choosing instead to focus on not tripping on the service road.

Chapter Text

After another two near-misses with a gopher hole and overgrown roots, wading through a small stream that Stiles hadn't remembered from before, and it was harder than he liked to admit to get over the fence, they finally made it to the house, which was pretty much just as Stiles remembered. A small, wood ranch house - little more than a cabin really, and even though it had fallen into some disrepair, it didn’t seem too dilapidated.

“Can you hear anything?” Stiles asked, looking over at Peter.

The older man listened for a moment before shaking his head. “The cameras aren’t on right now, and neither is the electric fence, but there’s a squirrel nest in the roof.”

"Is that a bad thing?"

"No, but it may prove distracting if there are younger or excitable wolves coming to this meeting," he said. "There's also a black bear about two miles outside the fence, and a small herd of deer a few miles beyond that, but the wildlife will clear out when the negotiations take place. Avoiding the more dangerous predators and all," he said. 

Stiles nodded. "Right. Did you want to go inside, or just wait out here?" he asked.

"Lead the way, darling," he said, motioning for Stiles to head toward the house.

The younger man watched him for a long moment before scowling at him and making his way to the front door, well aware of Peter no more than a foot behind him. "Can you tell how many cameras are out here?" he asked. 

Peter was silent for a moment, casting a few glances around the front of the house and the front lawn. "Ten," he said quietly. "Two on the door, one on each window, two under the awning, and three along the fence line. What can you tell me about the house that isn't just a guess?" Peter asked as Stiles unlocked the door and walked inside the house, immediately feeling along the wall for a light switch.

Stiles frowned slightly, not saying anything until he flipped the switch a few times. "The windows are mirrored so you can't see inside the house, and they're reinforced to be bulletproof, too. Same with the front and back door, and there's some kind of reinforcement on the door to the panic room," he said. "The whole property, inside and out, is wired for security, but you said the cameras aren't on?" he asked, looking to Peter for an answer as he turned on his Maglite.

"There's no electricity in this house, and it smells musty. No one's been in here for years," Peter said, letting his eyes glow blue as he looked around.

What he could see of the house was sparsely decorated - a worn leather sofa, an old television, and a small dining room table. The curtains were a dark red, and made of some kind of thick, heavy material that had been home to a large colony of moths as the house continued to wither with disuse. The musty smell was bad, but that could be solved easily enough.

Peter watched as Stiles carefully made his way through the house, going straight for what looked to be a simple linen closet. He was more than slightly amused to find out that inside the closet was a small hutch desk. "Something interesting in there?" he asked.

Stiles nodded. "There's a locked drawer that's going to answer all our questions," he said as he opened the drawer and pulled out a large roll of paper. He caught sight a glimpse of Peter's intrigued expression in the light from his flashlight. "Show and tell happens in the kitchen," he added with a grin, heading toward the back of the house without waiting for a response.

Once the two of them were in the kitchen and the Maglite had been propped up to give Stiles enough light to clearly see by, he unrolled the paper over the top of the kitchen table.

Peter smirked when he realized that he was looking at the complete blueprints of the house. There were handwritten notes in certain rooms, detailing various security measures put in every room. "This is a strange thing for a safe house to have," he said quietly.

Stiles shrugged. "Same combination as the desk drawer in my dad's office," he said quietly. "I guess he thought he'd never have to worry about me trying to get into a safe house." He scowled, staring unblinkingly at the plans.

Peter watched the younger man for a moment, curious about the history behind the defeated look on Stiles' face but not willing to ask yet. He better than most how painful certain demons could be. Instead, he turned his focus onto the blueprints, taking note of the room with the generator, as well as the three bedrooms. "I thought you said there were only two bedrooms," he said. 

"So I missed one bedroom, sue me," Stiles muttered, finally coming out of his head. He looked up at Peter. He looked at the notes on the paper, pointing to the windows. "These will all be reinforced to be bulletproof, and the basement should be soundproofed. For human senses, at least," he said.

Peter nodded. "I can bring my nephew here later and test how much the soundproofing affects our senses," he said.

"Did you want to start looking around the house, or just go by the blueprints?" Stiles asked.

"We're going through the house. Don't start slacking off now, darling. The fun has only just begun," Peter said. He smirked at Stiles, his eyes flashing blue as he leered at the human. "Would you like to start with the bedroom?" he asked.

Stiles scowled at him. "How about the holding cells? We can see how much stress the bars can handle."

"Smart, good looking and kinky," Peter said, adopting a faux-surprised expression. "You really are the whole package, aren't you?" he asked.

Stiles' scowl only deepened. "I know where the gun is stashed in this house, asshole, and I will use it on you," he said.

Peter laughed, genuinely amused. He motioned for Stiles to lead the way through the house.

The main level of the house was in decent shape, save for the layer of dust over everything, but his real fascination lay in the basement rooms. There was a room with three secure holding cells, but what was interesting was the iron bars.

"If we run into any other supernatural creatures, we can use this house for introductions and negotiations," he said. He frowned slightly at the look on Stiles' face. "Negotiations aren't always bloody, but when different species are involved, there tends to be a trade of pack members as a gesture of good faith between the two groups."

"Sounds great," Stiles muttered as he stared at the holding cells from the doorway of the room. "I'm already envisioning my kidnapping by vampires."

"I very much doubt you'd ever be chosen as the honorary trade," Peter said.

Stiles frowned slightly. "Why not? I could totally be a sacrifice! I've already played that part and it fucking sucked, but I was good at it!" he asked. He stopped abruptly, his expression becoming almost incredulous. "I'm not seriously making the case to be kidnapped, am I?"

Peter chuckled but shook his head. He moved out of the room, taking a quick peek into the panic room before heading for the surveillance room. "As convincing as you're trying to be, it's incredibly unlikely that you'd be chosen as the goodwill offering," he said. "You're too valuable already, and my nephew isn't going to risk losing you if any potential negotiations go wrong."

"I'm that important?"

Peter nodded, watching as Stiles dropped into a computer chair, mindless of the dust, and spun around in a circle. "Humans in packs are treasured for their humanity," he said. "And you've got that Spark, that potential to blossom into a proper Emissary."

Stiles leaned forward in the chair, his mind locked onto the term 'proper Emissary.' "Dude, what's an-"

"Put simply, an Emissary is a pack shaman and a personal advisor to the Alpha of his Pack. There's a mutual bond between the Emissary and the Pack that becomes permanent very quickly," Peter said. "I'll explain more of this to you after this situation with the Alpha Pack is taken care of," he said, looking around the room. It was a hub of computer screens, no doubt all of them linked to the numerous security cameras he'd seen - and those he'd missed - around the property. "Established Packs know that their pack humans are vital to the survival of the Pack as a whole, and many established Packs nurture the Sparks they find. A shaman is a useful thing to have and a very good ally in times of difficulty," he said.

"And that's what you're doing? Nurturing a Spark for the benefit of your Pack?" Stiles asked, watching Peter with an oddly knowing look on his face.

Peter smirked. "Among other things," he said. When Stiles' eyes narrowed, he took a few steps forward to stand directly in front of the human. He leaned down, running his nose along Stiles' temple. "I am nothing if not a wolf who works with only the best interests of the Pack in mind," he said, a smirk slowly growing on his face. "And you have a great deal of interest about you."

Stiles leaned back, watching Peter warily. "Is there anything else you'd like to check in this house, or do you want to try to play grab ass again?" 

"Only if you'll play with me," Peter said, his purr practically oozing smarm. "It gets a bit boring, playing with myself all the time," he said.

The younger man groaned, dropping his face into his hands. "That was horrible, dude, even for a creep like you," he said, standing up and moving around Peter. He looked around the surveillance room, checking through the drawers for a few things as Peter did his own inspection.

About ten minutes later, Stiles was satisfied that he wouldn't need to bring anything to the house for this meeting, and that the generator was in good shape to run for at least a few hours. He'd already started building a list of things to bring if the pack, or Peter, was planning to use the house for more werewolf business. He looked over at Peter, who was absently reading through a book detailing police procedure. "Are you ready to go?"

“I must admit, Stiles, I’m impressed. This is nowhere near the dilapidated shack I thought it might be,” Peter said, looking around once more before making his way upstairs. “It certainly has the potential to be used more than once.”

Stiles smirked slowly, following the older man. “And I just exist to impress you,” he said. “Do we call Deucalion now?”

Peter nodded. “Soon, yeah. He’ll set a meeting time and ask for an address,” he said. “It’s likely that he’ll send one of his pack mates here to make sure the house is suitable for our meeting, and to make sure that this isn’t a trap.”

“But we were the ones who sought him out," Stiles said, slightly confused. 

“Exactly,” he said. “The mere presence of the Argents in town is enough to make our pack look weak, and there are packs, pathetic, foolish packs, who have attempted to eliminate threats to their territory by teaming up with hunters to kill strange wolves,” he said. “They’ll inspect the house, and if it meets with their approval, we won’t be slaughtered upon our arrival for negotiation.”

Stiles winced. “Really?”

Peter nodded. “Pack politics are relatively straightforward. No matter how stable a pack is or is not, the first instinct among pack members is the preservation of the pack above all else,” he said. “We’re taught early on that the pack survives, while the lone wolf, the Omega, dies.” He paused. “Strength in numbers is not just an unproven theory, darling."

"Really, Peter? You're going with a quote from Game of Thrones?" Stiles paused. "Wait, is there any chance that that dude's a werewolf?"

"I very much doubt it. We tend to try and stay under the radar as much as possible," Peter said. "There's too much of a risk for exposure if we get careless with our identity, and with that exposure comes a lifetime of being hunted by those who think the world would be better off without any of us there," he said. "Come along," he said, motioning for Stiles to follow him.

"Where are we going now?"

"I'll buy you food, but we're making a quick detour to the Walmart near my apartment on the way back," Peter said, leading the way out of the house and heading back the way they came.

Stiles nodded. "They've got that do-it-yourself key copy machine, don't they?"

Peter nodded, smirking. "They do indeed," he said. "You'll be home, sleeping in your own bed, within an hour."

"And where will you be?"

"Likely doing the same, though in my bed," Peter said. He turned a leer onto Stiles. "Unless you'd rather me stay, and keep you company?"

Stiles flushed bright red, shaking his head vigorously. "Don't do that, dude. Don't promise me food and sleep and then go all pedophile on me like that," he said.

Peter's leer disappeared, but his amusement remained present. "My apologies, darling," he said. "Would you like help over the fence, or would you rather clamber over on your own?" 

Stiles eyed the older man warily before taking a step closer to Peter. "I'd rather not risk breaking my arm committing a felony," he said. "Just don't go for the bad touch while you're helping me, or I'm putting wolfsbane in your coffee.

"I will try my absolute hardest, dear," Peter said, keeping pace with Stiles as they made their way back to the fence line.

Chapter Text

Stiles walked into his room fresh from his shower and changed into a pair of sweatpants and a worn Spiderman shirt. He had just settled on the bed and started reading the article he’d brought up before spilling half a bottle of blue Mountain Dew all over himself and his bed when his window opened and someone plopped onto the bed next to him.

“Isaac said there’s a pack of Alphas coming,” Scott said without so much as a greeting. “He said he heard Derek talking about them and you at his loft.”

Stiles nodded, waiting to see where Scott was going to go with this conversation. “I figured after Matt killed like half of my dad’s kids, it would be a good idea to know what was coming next,” he said, still reading through the Wikipedia page on military strategy. “I talked to him and he agreed to keep me in the loop.”

“And since when has Derek been all sharing and caring with us?” Scott snapped. “Look what he did to Isaac!” He stopped, looking over Stiles’ shoulder at the article he was reading. “Dude, why are you reading about military stuff?”

“Because it’s interesting. And Derek realized it’s a good idea to try collaborating to avoid getting arrested. Again,” Stiles said, finally looking up from his laptop. “Besides, there’s less collateral damage when we know what’s coming and how to deal with it,” he said.

“Right,” Scott said slowly. “He’s still an asshole.”

Stiles smirked. “I never said he wasn’t, dude,” he said.

Scott was silent for a long moment. “So Isaac was right. There is a pack of Alphas coming to Beacon Hills?” he asked. 

Stiles nodded. “We think so, yeah.”

“What do they want?”

“How should I know? They might not even have gotten here yet and, anyway, I’m just a sideline human. I doubt I’ll find out any of the good details while they’re still here,” he said, hoping Scott wouldn’t be able to detect the lie. “You could always apologize for being a massive dick to Derek and actually talk to him. You’re already wolfy bros with Isaac, I’m sure he could put in a good word for you.”

Scott scowled. “I can’t.”

“Why?”

“He could have let me get a cure but he killed Peter instead! He stole my humanity!”

Stiles exhaled heavily. “Dude, that was just a rumor. And it’s more applicable to vampires, anyway, if they exist. Fuck, I really hope there are no such things as vampires,” he said, rubbing a hand over his head. He’d need to buzz it soon, otherwise he’d start looking like a deranged hedgehog. It wasn’t a pretty sight. “I’ve been looking through every piece of lore I can get my hands on and there’s nothing about a cure. Just a few attempts at suicide by Bitten wolves that went crazy.”

Scott was silent for a long moment. “Look, dude, I didn’t come to talk about this,” he said. “Isaac said there was a pack moving in, and you’re the only one I could come to with this.”

“With what?” Stiles asked.

“It’s something you have to see in person. And you can’t tell Derek about this.”

“Why not?”

Scott scowled and stood up. “Dude, you’ll find out when I show you,” he said. “But can you drive? My mom’s on shift tonight and she’s got the car.”

Stiles hesitated.

“Dude, it’s only like an hour away and I’ll give you money for the gas and everything,” Scott said, pulling out the puppy eyes. “Please, dude?”

Stiles hesitated for just a few more seconds before changing into a pair of jeans. Ignoring Scott's grumbled complaints about his lack of modesty, he shoved his feet into his shoes and grabbed his red hoodie, wallet and cellphone. “How long is this going to take?”

“It depends on you, and what you think about what I’ve got to show you,” Scott said as he follow Stiles down the stairs, watching him lock his back door before following him into his Jeep. “It’s not too bad, I promise. It might even help solve the Alpha problem.”

But the Alphas aren’t a problem yet. They may not ever be, Stiles wanted to say. He bit his tongue before it could leak out, though, unwilling to involve Scott in this. Especially since there was no way that Scott would be able to work with Peter, no matter the potential gains that could come from that. “Whatever, man. Just as long as you give me the right directions,” he said, pulling out of the driveway. “And we aren’t stopping at any crime scenes, no matter what you smell.”

“No problem, dude.”

...

About an hour later, Stiles pulled into the parking lot of a private nursing home in Beacon Ridge, his confusion only growing. “Are you going to tell me why you brought me to a nursing home on a Sunday afternoon?” he asked.

“I’m gonna show you, dude. Just come with me,” Scott said, already getting out of the Jeep.

Stiles frowned but followed him.

Scott grinned and jogged inside, not bothering to stop at the front desk to sign in. The nurse, who was half asleep, didn’t seem too upset about it, if her response of a yawn was anything to go by.

The two of them hurried through the halls, dodging orderlies and elderlies alike, finally coming to a stop just in front of one of the rooms at the far end of the home’s Southern wing. 

“Dude, you’re starting to freak me out,” Stiles said when Scott went still, listening for something. “What the hell is going on?”

“It’s safe, for now. Open the door,” he said, a hopeful expression lighting up his face.

Stiles scowled at him, but did as told. He only opened the door halfway before stopping shortly when he recognized the room’s occupant, unable to believe that the man he saw in front of him was real. And still alive. “No,” he said sharply. “Just no. Hell no. Fuck no. What the fuck is wrong with you?!” he snapped, knowing better than to yell.

“Still throwing your lot in with the mongrels, then?” Gerard asked in a too-sweet voice before coughing. Black goo leaked out of his nose, which he wiped with a handkerchief, his hands shaky.

“Wait, what?” Scott asked.

“You can’t be serious about this, Scott!” Stiles said, doing his best to ignore the old man. “How can you work with him, knowing what he does?” he asked. 

“He helped us get rid of the Kanima!”

“He was controlling the Kanima, you jackass!” Stiles snapped. “I didn’t think even you could be this stupid! The dude hunts and kills werewolves!”

“But he helped us once. Why wouldn’t he do it again?” 

Stiles glared at Scott, unable to properly put into words how angry he was. Instead, he took a step back, clenching trembling hands into fists, and tried to take a deep breath. It wasn’t working as well as he hoped, and he knew that punching Scott in the face would only result in broken knuckles and a bruised ego.

“Dude, your heartbeat’s starting to go crazy,” Scott said, taking a step toward Stiles and reaching out for him. “Are you okay?”

“Don’t you fucking touch me!” Stiles snapped, shoving Scott’s arm away from him and backing up another few steps.

Scott stared with wide eyes at Stiles, clearly speechless. They had been drifting apart recently, but he'd been obviously been hoping that their previous camaraderie would grant him extra leeway. 

It wouldn’t. Not with this.

Stiles ignored the puppy-eyed look in favor of glaring at the man in the room behind Scott. 

Gerard, sitting almost comfortably in his wheelchair, was watching him with a smug look on his face. He had a handkerchief spattered with a black, ink-like substance that kept leaking out of his nose. It would be disgusting, were it not for the man's insufferable, if silent arrogance. 

"You can't be serious, Scott!" he snapped, finally looking away from Gerard. "Derek's not going to work with him! Shit, I'm not going to work with him!" he yelled, gesturing wildly.

"It's not like he did anything to you, Stiles! He's just a hunter!"

"He's not just anything," Stiles all but snarled, his anger channeling into a cold fury. "And I'm not working with the asshole who tortured two teenagers, kidnapped me and beat the shit out of me as some sort of bullshit message! Shit, Scott, do you ever think things through? He's just going to turn on you once he's gotten sick of using you as some rabid attack dog!" He bit back half a dozen more insults, knowing better than to say them aloud. Instead, he settled for storming out of the nursing home, ignoring the look on Scott's face. He went straight for his Jeep, hoping like hell that Scott wasn't trying to follow him.

He didn't see him, but he wasn’t waiting around to see if Scott would change his mind and give chase. 

He pulled out of the parking lot, narrowly avoiding hitting an old woman driving a Ford Mustang, and headed out to the highway, intent on getting somewhere safe before the inevitable panic attack set in.

Chapter Text

Close to an hour later, he parked his Jeep in the garage next to Peter’s Jeep. He stared for a long moment at his steering wheel, not sure how to deal with this. He didn't know how long he'd been sitting there, or how deep in thought he was, when he felt a warm hand settle on his forearm. Peter was staring at him with a concerned look on his face, and his grip tightened a bit when he met the older man's gaze. "What's up?" he asked, attempting to be nonchalant.

"You've been sitting here for almost twenty minutes and your phone's gone off twice. You reek of rowan and something else, your hands are trembling, and your heartbeat is through the roof,” Peter said. "Come inside."

"I don't want to talk about it," he said quietly, following Peter out of his Jeep.

"That's fine. You’re still coming inside,” Peter murmured, wrapping an arm around Stiles' shoulders and keeping him close as they headed inside.

Stiles nodded. "I'm going to use your shower and change."

"You can borrow some of my clothes, if you'd like."

That had Stiles smiling slightly and leaning more fully against Peter. "It's that bad?"

"It is," he said. "I'll fix you something to eat and we can spend tonight not talking about it. If you're staying," he added. 

Stiles nodded. “If you don't mind, yeah. My dad’s interviewing again all day and taking another night shift, so it’ll be safer, at least, I guess.”

Peter looked over at him, his eyes glowing blue. "Did someone threaten you?" he asked, a definite growl to his voice.

"There's always a threat, dude. Beacon Hills is a goddamn Hellmouth," Stiles muttered, not ready to answer the question honestly. It'd get too close to talking about what Scott was doing, and he wasn't ready to bring up the shitstorm that would come with that.

“Stiles,” Peter said gently, escorting him into the house and taking him straight to his shower.

"No direct threat," Stiles said. "Soon, probably, but not yet. I didn't interrupt anything, did I?"

"Nothing that can't be put off until later," he said gently. He took stepped closer to Stiles, taking a quick whiff near his neck. ”You don't smell hurt."

Stiles barked out a humorless laugh. "That is never not going to be creepy," he said. "Give me like half an hour in here and I'll meet you out in the kitchen.”

Peter nodded. “Wear whatever you’d like and leave your clothes in here. I’ll wash them later. I’ll have something ready for you to eat when you’re finished,” he said. When Stiles nodded once, he pressed a quick kiss to his forehead and left without another word.

...

Just over half an hour later, Stiles wandered into the kitchen to find Peter pulling something wrapped in aluminum foil out of the oven. He couldn’t tell what it was, but it smelled delicious. He said as much as he hopped onto the top of the kitchen island, only to receive a pleased hum in response.

“Do you feel any better?” Peter asked, setting the wrapped foil on top of the stove. He turned the oven off, shaking his hand a bit as the burn healed.

Stiles shrugged slightly. “What’d you cook.”

“It’s a garlic cheese pull-apart bread. I didn’t want to risk feeding you anything too heavy,” he said, finally looking over at Stiles. He smirked when he saw that the younger man was wearing a pair of his sweatpants and one of his grey t-shirts.

“Thanks,” Stiles said quietly. “Did I get rid of whatever the smell was?”

Peter nodded. “You smell clean. Like my body wash and less of the terror you reeked of in the garage,” he said.

When Stiles just nodded silently again, he put the bread on a plate, set it next to Stiles and leaned against the kitchen counter. He was quiet for a long moment, thinking about how to start a conversation without pushing the young man away. “My nephew was pleased with the house,” he said finally. “I took him to see the house before contacting Deucalion, just to make sure that our dear Alpha wasn’t taken too much by surprise,” he said.

“That’s good, I guess,” Stiles said, picking at the bread and absently eating a few small pieces. “I still don’t know how to act around them without offending someone,” he said.

“I spoke to Derek about that as well, and he believes that you’ve got enough intelligence to learn quickly,” he said. “And while I tend to agree with him on that, I also know better than to send you in blind to something this important.”

Stiles paused. “That’s... oddly reassuring, Peter, thanks,” he said.

Peter smirked slightly but didn’t say anything.

An amiable silence fell over the two of them for a few minutes, Stiles absently eating the bread and Peter lost in his mind. The two of them startled almost violently when Stiles’ phone started blasting the COPS theme song. He flushed bright red and scrambled to pull it out of his pocket and answer it, almost falling off the counter in the process.

“Hey dad,” he said, ignoring Peter’s amused chuckle. “What’s up?” he asked as he watched the man leave the kitchen. He’d still be able to hear the conversation - werewolf hearing being what it is and all - but still, Stiles appreciated even the illusion of privacy.

“Mitchell said he saw you driving out of town earlier and no one’s seen you or your Jeep for a few hours,” his father said, sounding a mixed of fond and concerned. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said, swallowing the lump that had appeared in his throat. He hated having to lie to his dad, and it didn’t look like that was going to stop any time soon. “Yeah, it’s all good. I just went for a drive and stopped for something to eat. Did something happen?”

The Sheriff sighed heavily. “Jasper Collier isn’t in Folsom anymore. His sentence ended last week, and he’s set up in a halfway house up in Sacramento. One of his COs called and told me that they never heard him make any new threats, and he didn’t really make any new friends in lockup, but he never expressed any sort of remorse for what he did either,” he said.

Stiles nodded, taking the knowledge in as a lead weight settled in his stomach. “He’s not moving anywhere near us, is he?” 

“Not if there’s anything I can do to help it,” his dad said, sounding suddenly weary. “But I need you not to disappear like you did earlier anymore. I need to know where you are,” he said.

“No, I get it,” Stiles said, rubbing at his neck as he hopped off the counter. “I’m on my way home now, and I’ll hang out there for a while,” he said.

“Thanks, kid,” his dad said, his relief audible.

Stiles smiled weakly. “I’ll text you when I get in,” he said.

“You’re a good kid, Stiles,” his dad said before hanging up the phone. 

Peter walked back into the kitchen just as Stiles ended the call and put the phone back in his pocket. “Is everything alright?”

Stiles shrugged, knowing that Peter had been listening in on the call. “Relatively speaking, I guess,” he said. “I’ve got to go home,” he added.

“I thought as much. Your clothes are in the washing machine already. They’ll be here when you come back,” Peter said.

“I’ll wash these and bring them back later,” Stiles said quietly. 

Peter nodded. “There’s no rush,” he said. “Would you like me to come in and check on you later?” 

“I should be good,” Stiles said as they walked out to the garage together. “If I need help I’ll howl or something.”

“Good,” he said, smirking. “I’ll be listening and so will Derek.” He watched as Stiles got into his Jeep and started it up. Once he was ready to go, Peter handed him an old book. “This has some of the best information on inter-Pack relations and humans in the Pack. It’s written in a mix of English, Russian, and a dialect that you aren’t going to be able to understand,” he said. “Try not to lose it.”

Stiles scowled at him. “Dude, it’s a werewolf book written by someone who doesn’t have freaky impossible kinks or too much Buffy on the mind,” he said. “I’ll probably be sleeping with it under my pillow.”

Peter smirked slightly. “Good to know,” he said. “Take good care of it.” He paused for a moment. “Call me if you need me for anything. No matter how inconsequential it seems to you,” he said.

Stiles nodded. “Thanks, dude,” he said quietly. After few seconds of silence, he pulled out of the garage and headed straight home.

He parked in the driveway and headed inside, keeping a tight hold on the book. The outside of the house didn’t look any different, but that wasn’t always telling. He’d have to dig up whatever he could on Jasper Collier to make sure he was able to take the necessary precautions to protect the house, himself and his father.

The first floor of his house looked much the same, as did the second floor. Once he was sure that everything was the same, he called his father.

“Hey dad,” he said when his dad picked up. “I’m home and everything looks pretty much the same.”

“Good,” his dad said, sighing heavily. “Mitchell’s agreed to do a drive by every few hours to make sure everything is okay, and I want you to call me if you even think something bad is happening.”

Stiles nodded. “I will.”

“And let me know if you’re leaving the house,” he said. “I know you’re going to hate checking in with me, but I need to know that you’re safe. At least until I figure out how to handle this whole situation with Collier.”

“Stiles shook his head. “No, dad, I got it,” he said. 

His dad was silent for a moment. “I’m going to be here for another few days.”

“I thought you had days off?” Stiles asked, putting the book onto the coffee table and dropping onto the couch.

“Kendra had to head out to Walnut Creek last minute,” he said. “Her mother was rushed to the hospital, and they wouldn’t tell her anything over the phone except that it was urgent. I’m covering half of her day shift and I’ve got my two new guys covering a few hours each, but I’m on call in case they need anything,” he said.

Stiles nodded. “I can bring you food?”

His dad was silent for a moment. Stiles could practically see him shaking his head and running a hand over the back of his head. “I’ve already eaten, and Mitchell’s wife is going to bring something in later on,” he said.

“Right.”

His dad huffed. “Just, try not to get into too much trouble, kid,” he said.

“Got it, dad,” he said.

Once the call was ended, he went upstairs. He changed into his own clothes - a pair of baggy red sweatpants and a BHPD sweatshirt that belonged to his dad - and grabbed the iron rod he’d found in the garage. It wouldn’t do much against a werewolf, but if Collier showed up, he’d at least be able to hold his own against the man. He left his room but turned back around, grabbing his laptop. He’d need the chance to brush up on Collier just in case he did show up.

He headed back downstairs, hoping that the rest of the day would be more uneventful, giving him the chance to relax at least a little bit.

When he turned the television on and found a Star Trek marathon on, he wrapped his mother’s old woven blanket around himself and did his best to put the serious things out of his mind while William Shatner overacted him into a sense of relative calm.

Chapter Text

He woke with a start when he heard someone knocking on his door, not entirely sure when he fell asleep. He looked around - the Star Trek marathon was still going strong, and nothing in the house seemed to have changed.

“Open the door, Stiles,” a familiar voice said from the front porch. “I can hear you in the living room.”

Stiles stood up and stretched, the blanket falling back onto the couch. “Hold your horses,” he said, slowly making his way to the door. On a last minute impulse, he grabbed the iron bar. He opened the door just enough to see who it was.

When he saw Derek on the front porch, eyes glowing red, he opened the door fully and stared.

Derek was completely silent, inspecting Stiles with the Alpha eyes.

Stiles stared at Derek, not sure what was happening. He belatedly realized he’d been staring for close to a full minute, so he settled for leaning against the doorframe, waving at Derek, and offering a lame, “Hey, dude.” He wasn’t all that surprised when Derek just raised an eyebrow at his antics. “Come on in,” he said, walking back into his living room and leaving his door open. “What are you doing here?” he asked, dropping the bar onto the floor by the couch. 

Fortunately, Derek didn’t comment on the makeshift weapon, though he did cast it a curious glance before looking over at Stiles. “You showed up at Peter’s house panicked.”

“How do you know?”

“I was there when you showed up,” he said. “In Peter’s office. We were talking and you showed up.” 

“I remember,” Stiles said, absently scratching his stomach as he sat back on the couch, hoping Derek wouldn’t say anything about the book Peter had lent him. Or his sudden need for a weapon. “Haven’t ever had as much fun as a road trip on my own, trying to hold off a panic attack for over an hour,” he muttered under his breath. 

Derek frowned and took a seat on the opposite side of the couch. He sat stiffly, looking incredibly uncomfortable and not a little bit out of place in Stiles’ living room. “Are you doing alright?” he asked, the question coming out stilted. 

Stiles shrugged. “I’m alive and not bleeding right now, so all things considered, yeah,” he said. “Look, not that this isn’t fun, dude, and I guess this whole checking up on me is cool, but why are you here?” 

“Your heartbeat was through the roof when I left Peter’s house,” Derek said. “And Peter’s still worried about you.”

“So why are you here and not him?” Stiles asked, genuinely curious.

“He had too much energy and he was starting to shift. Something about the scent when you came back kept setting him off, so I sent him on a run, but he’ll probably check on you in a few hours,” he said before sighing. “I need to talk to you before he comes over,” he said, looking over at Stiles and watching him with an odd intensity. “About Peter.”

Stiles tensed a bit before frowning and forcing himself to relax. There was no reason for him to be worried about what might have happened to Peter. “What about him?”

Derek was silent for a long moment, slowly and minutely relaxing on the couch. Stiles bit back a smile - his grandmother had picked out the couch, and he’d never met anyone who’d been able to resist the comfort of the couch. “You need to be incredibly careful around him,” he said, sounding almost hesitant. “Not because he’s not dangerous, which he is, and I don’t trust him after what he did. But I’m giving him a second chance.”

“So what does this have to do with me?”

“He’s different around you. Better. More like he was before the fire,” Derek said. At Stiles’ confused silence, he huffed. “I had a little brother, Dominick. He used to be Peter’s favorite, and Dominick, he followed Peter everywhere he could,” he said, still watching Stiles. “He was one of the humans in my pack, and he used to have these night terrors. He’d wake up screaming and crying, and about eight months before the-” he stopped abruptly, closing his eyes before frowning. “About eight months before the fire, he started having panic attacks. At their worst, it was happening on an almost daily basis. Peter was the only one who was able to talk him down and keep him stable, and eventually Peter was able to prevent the attacks before they fully manifested.”

Stiles stared at Derek, not sure what to think of this story.

“Laura figured it out first, that they were each other’s anchors,” he said.

Stiles frowned slightly. “Humans can have anchors?” he asked before he stopped himself.

Derek nodded once, looking back over at Stiles. “Yours is your father,” he said. “You’d do anything for him, even if he didn’t ask, and if you lost him, there’d be no way to pull you out of the grief and rage that comes with losing an anchor,” he said calmly. “It’s similar to the way werewolves would react, but there are bonds attached to anchors that make the loss that much more devastating for us.”

“Oh.”

“The way Peter acted around you tonight, the way he treated you, it’s a lot like the way he was around Dominick,” he said.

“Wait, are you saying Peter thinks I’m his anchor?” Stiles blurted out, sitting up suddenly and staring at Derek with a bewildered expression.

Derek shrugged. “I think if you aren’t already, then you will be soon,” he said before pausing. “You don’t have any obligations to him, if that’s the case,” he added.

“So why tell me?”

“Because this is serious,” Derek said. “And, given what Peter’s capable of, you need to be made aware of this.” He frowned. “The anchor needs a bond to form in the first place, and the more stable and stronger the bond, the better the anchor. If the bonds are still developing, it’s possible to wean them away without lasting damage,” he said.

Stiles frowned. “You want to cut off Peter’s anchor and watch the dude go crazy again?” he asked. “Isn’t that the exact recipe for the disaster that we had to use molotov cocktails to fix?”

Derek shrugged. “If it’s progressed too far, he can be killed before he does more damage,” he said. “But if you are Peter’s anchor, that bond is permanent and he’ll likely always try to be in your life, regardless of your feelings on the matter.”

“Why?” 

“Knowing that you’re happy and safe reinforces the bond, which keeps him more stable,” Derek said. “I’m going to be keeping an eye on him anyway, and if he does something stupid or inappropriate, I’ll be the first one to take care of it, but you need to know that you do have a choice in this.”

Stiles nodded slowly, already mulling the new information over. “He hasn’t done anything yet, dude,” he said. “And he’s pretty cool when he’s not on a power trip.”

The corners of Derek’s lips twitched minutely up and he shook his head. “Even if this thing with the Alphas doesn’t work out, you two do work well together,” he said. “If that changes, if he does anything wrong, or anything that makes you too uncomfortable to handle on your own, come to me.”

“Why?”

“It’s the Alpha’s responsibility to resolve problems between pack members. No matter how useful he is now, Peter’s already killed, and I’m not willing to risk your life just to indulge my uncle,” he said.

Stiles grinned. “Aw, Sourwolf, I didn’t know you cared,” he said. 

The werewolf glared at him, looking both irritated and slightly confused. “This isn’t a joke, Stiles,” Derek bit out through gritted teeth. 

“I know. But this is all kind of a lot to take in at once,” Stiles said.

Derek nodded. He glanced around the living room, his eyes narrowing on Peter’s book. He scowled silently, seemingly out of words for now.

Stiles watched him for a moment, wondering what had inspired the change in Derek. Or maybe the dude really did only have a certain number of words to spare. “You’re already on my speed dial, dude,” he said. “And if Peter ever gives me the bad touch, you’re my first call.”

“Good,” Derek said. “We’re meeting with the Alphas tonight, around eleven. You and Peter are going to be expected to come, but don’t tell Scott about the meeting.”

That caught Stiles by surprise, as he couldn’t stop his heart from lurching slightly at Scott’s name or Derek’s eyes narrowing at the sound, and he stared at Derek for a long moment. “I wasn’t planning on it, but why?”

“He’s allowed some leeway as a Bitten wolf, and I can buy him some time by telling the Alphas that he’s working on adjusting to his wolf before he makes a decision about joining a pack,” he said. “It’s not the best excuse, and it’s only believable if he’s not there to argue against that.”

Stiles was silent for a long moment. “He’s never going to adjust to the wolf,” he said quietly. “Not if it keeps Allison away from him.” He ignored the little voice in the back of his head that sneered at Allison’s name and told Stiles that he wasn’t enough for Scott and he never would be. “Besides, he’s got other plans tonight.”

“Stalking the Argent girl?” Derek asked, standing up.

 Stiles shrugged noncommittally and followed Derek to the door. “Probably,” he said, checking his phone. There was a text message, and he tossed the phone to Derek, who caught it handily and read the message from Peter. “Peter’s giving me a ride to the safe house tonight, so I’ll meet you there?”

Derek nodded. “Eat something before you leave,” he said. “And try not to ignore Peter,” he added as he handed Stiles’ phone back.

“I get the Basic Instinct thing with Peter, but why the food?”

“We’re going to start negotiations right away. I don’t want to be there more than a few hours, but new agreements can take a while,” Derek said.

“How long?”

“Depending on how detailed the agreement is, it can take days. And if there’s an official alliance cemented, as I hope there will be, it’s traditional for the two packs to share a meal together.”

“A sign of trust, right?” he asked. At the look Derek leveled at him, he motioned over at the book he’d borrowed from Peter. “I don’t heal as fast, so I figure it’s a good idea to brush up on my wolfy manners,” he said.

Derek smirked. “Good thinking,” he said.

“It’s all pretty much common sense so far,” Stiles said with a shrug.

“To you, maybe, but there are a number of humans who wouldn’t be able to understand our customs,” he said. “After this is solved, I’ll help you get more comfortable with the practices,” he added.

Stiles smiled slightly. “Thanks, dude,” he said. 

Derek nodded once and looked at Stiles for a long moment. “Jasper Collier?” he asked, deliberately keeping his tone gentle. 

“How’d you hear about that?” Stiles asked.

“Peter overheard your call with your father,” Derek said. “Who is he?”

Stiles was silent for a long moment. “My dad put him away a while ago,” he said. “He was the arresting officer and one of the main defendants in the trial, so the asshole came after my dad. He threatened me and my mom when my dad ignored the threats against him and refused not to testify,” he said.

“He’s out?”

Stiles nodded. “He’s not anywhere near here, but my dad’s starting to freak out,” he said. “He knows where the dude is now, so he’s fine, but he’s gonna wig the fuck out if he loses track of the asshole,” he said.

Derek was silent for a long moment. “We can protect you.”

“This isn’t Pack business,” Stiles said quietly, his brow furrowing in confusion.

Derek scowled. “You’re Pack. A threat to you is a threat to all of us,” he said. “I know Peter is going to make sure that nothing happens to you, and that will include protecting your father,” he said. “He knows better than most what happens when an anchor is lost.” The unspoken and so do I did not go unheard.

“There’s too much of a risk to you guys.”

Derek bared his teeth at Stiles in a loose imitation of a smile. “We heal.”

Stiles nodded. “I know. But my dad isn’t an idiot. I can only lie so many times before he starts picking up on what’s really going on,” he said. “And he might not pick up on the truth right away, but he’s not going to stay in the dark for too long either,” he added.

“We can discuss telling him,” he said, a brief flash of red flashing in at the suggestion.

“Not now,” Stiles said quietly. “Not until after the Alpha thing is solved.” He was quiet for a brief moment. “And maybe not even then. He’s in too much danger even on a good day,” he said.

Derek nodded. “Can I help with anything else?” he asked.

Stiles shook his head. “I’ll be ready for the meeting tonight,” he said. “But could you maybe drop Collier?” he asked.

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah,” Stiles said. “I’ll tell you if you need to worry about him, but for now, let it be,” he said.

Derek watched him for a moment, inspecting him, before nodding once. “Fine,” he said. “But do not lie to me.”

Stiles smirked. “Not like I’d get away with it if I tried,” he said, gesturing a bit at Derek’s ears.

The Alpha smirked. “Good,” he said, standing up and heading toward the front door. “I’ll see you in a few hours,” he said.

“Sure thing, Oh Alpha my Alpha,” Stiles said, his smirk still present.

Derek just rolled his eyes, huffed out what might have been a quiet sound of amusement, and walked out, shutting the door gently behind himself.

Chapter Text

Peter pulled up to the house promptly at ten, as he’d said he would. 

As he got in the Jeep, Stiles sent a quick text to his father, telling him he was crashing for the night. He received an almost immediate response, letting Stiles know that his father wasn’t going to be able to leave the department any time soon.

“How are you doing?” Peter asked as soon as Stiles was in the Jeep and they were on their way to the safe house.

“As good as can be expected,” Stiles said. He’d changed into decent clothes - dress slacks and a dark red button-down - but he’d stuck with his sneakers. Better to run with if his life turned out to be in the kind of danger that he’d need to start running. 

Peter was in a similar state of dress, though he was wearing a full suit - charcoal grey suit with a pale green shirt and leather dress shoes. He cast an approving glance over Stiles’ wardrobe. “Good. How much have you read?” he asked.

“About half of it,” Stiles said, motioning to the book, which he’d brought with him. 

“Good. Did you like the bread?” he asked.

Stiles nodded. “It was good, yeah,” he said. “And I had some pizza about an hour ago. Derek said this could take a while?”

“Sometimes,” Peter said. “Did you have any questions?” he asked as he pulled onto a service road and sped up.

“Why are we on the service road?” 

“I found a quicker way to the house, one that keeps us more out of sight,” he said. “Anything else?”

Stiles was silent for a moment. “How many of the other Pack is coming?” he asked.

“Only two,” Peter said. “Deucalion and his Second,” he said. “I don’t know much about her, other than the fact she’s a female.”

“Is that rare?”

Peter shook his head. “Not especially,” he said. “I am curious how she’ll react to you, though. You’ve never met a female Alpha, have you?” 

Stiles shook his head. 

The older man smirked. “You’re in for quite a treat,” he said. 

“How long until we get there?” he asked. 

“Twenty minutes tops,” Peter said. He paused for a moment. “Do you have any questions about what you’ve read so far?” he asked.

Stiles thought about the question for a few minutes before shaking his head. “It all seems pretty much like common sense, really,” he said. “Hands to yourself and mind your own business and all that. But I am confused about the whole thing with Emissaries.”

Peter nodded. “What about it?”

“How can a human member of a Pack be at almost the same rank as the Alpha without there being some kind of power struggle?” he asked.

“Because the two of them are strongest together. The entire purpose of an Emissary is to ensure the safety of the Pack,” Peter said. “And without an Emissary to balance his rank, an Alpha has an overflow of power without any way to stabilize them. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. The Alpha protects the Emissary, provides the necessary supplies for the Emissary to work, and the Emissary protects the Alpha and their Pack,” he said.

Stiles frowned. “But how does the Alpha choose the Emissary?”

Peter smirked slightly. “It tends to happen the other way around, actually,” he said.

The younger man shifted in his seat. “This has something to do with my Spark, doesn’t it? That’s why you’re so interested in the Spark?” he asked.

Peter nodded. “In part, yes,” he said.

“You think I’m going to end up as Derek’s Emissary?”

Peter smirked. “I think you already are,” he said. “How many times have you gone out of your way to protect Derek?” he asked. “How many times have you saved his life, or he yours?”

“I don’t know,” Stiles said. “Maybe half a dozen.”

“And when you saved him the first time, what happened?” he asked.

Stiles was silent for a moment, thinking about it. “The dude passed out in front of my Jeep and we drove around for hours, waiting for Scott to get the bullet to fix the wolfsbane poison thing,” he said. “He was taking too long and we ended up at Deaton’s office and I almost had to cut off Derek’s arm.”

“Would you have gone through with it if McCall hadn’t shown up?”

Stiles was silent for another few seconds, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, I would have,” he added.

“And how many other people do you think would be willing to do that for a near complete stranger?” Peter asked. He smirked slightly when he was answered with silence. “Your bond started growing from that first interaction, even though my nephew wasn’t an Alpha yet,” he said.

Stiles was silent for a moment. “But he said Laura was supposed to be the Alpha.”

Peter hummed quietly. “Pack hierarchy isn’t always as predictable as we like to think. Derek and Laura were both born on the full moon, which made them both stronger from birth,” he said. “Laura was older, and as such, she was expected to take on the role of Alpha once Talia was done. She was given the training and education necessary to be successful in that role, while Derek was not.” He sounded almost disappointed about that.

“You don’t like that?” he said.

Peter sighed. “Talia and I fought about that a number of times. Derek always had the potential to be Alpha, but she refused to give him the training.” He sneered out the front window, speeding up a bit. “He was an excellent Beta, and there was no need to risk a potential challenge and upset the balance of the Pack,” he said.

“Isn’t there logic behind that?”

“If Derek were less stable, there might have been. Even as a pup, he wanted nothing more than to live a happy life with his Pack, regardless of his rank,” Peter said.

Stiles caught sight of the wood fence and sat up a bit. He put the book into the compartment underneath the cup-holders. 

Peter looked over at him, his eyes glowing blue. “You keep all of that to yourself,” he said, his voice colder than Stiles had ever heard it. “No one needs to learn anything about my Pack, past or present,” he said. “Don’t even talk to Derek about this.”

“Awesome,” Stiles said dully, even as he nodded. “More secrets.”

Peter nodded and parked the Jeep behind a large tree. “It comes with the territory,” he said. “Though you can always come to me,” he added quietly.

Stiles nodded and got out of the Jeep. “Are they already here? The others?” he asked, hoping that a change in subject would have him more relaxed. 

“Derek is here,” Peter said as he got out of the Jeep and helped Stiles over the fence. “But Deucalion and his Second haven’t gotten here yet. They shouldn’t be too far behind, though. Five minutes at the most.”

“Good to know,” Stiles said.

Peter took his hand and led Stiles inside, where Derek was waiting for them. He was dressed up as well, wearing what looked to be a designer-label black suit and some kind of leather shoes.

“You’re early,” Derek said as Peter closed the door behind himself and Stiles. 

“I had no intention of disappointing my beloved Alpha,” Peter said with a smirk. He looked over at Stiles, who was staring at Derek with an odd look on his face. “Something wrong, dear?” he asked with a knowing look.

Stiles shook his head, not looking away from Derek. “It’s not fair, dude,” he said, unable to keep the whine out of his voice. “How can you go from hobo serial killer to wearing some GQ-looking suit and still look like some kind of Greek god, Esquire mother fucker?” he asked.

That startled an honest laugh out of Peter and a genuine smile out of Derek. 

“Always a delight,” Peter said, wrapping an arm around Stiles and pulling him close, not even trying to be subtle about scenting him.

Derek watched the interaction with poorly disguised amusement. Once Peter was done, he pulled Stiles close and rubbed a hand over his head. He stiffened after a few seconds, releasing his hold on Stiles and exchanging a glance with Peter.

“What?” Stiles asked.

“They’re here,” Peter said, pulling Stiles back to his side just as the front door opened.

A tall, dark-skinned woman walked in, looking amused. She was dressed to the nines, wearing a tight black dress and what had to be some kind of wedged motorcycle boots, and her eyes went straight to Stiles.

Peter’s eyes narrowed and his hold on Stiles’ tightened a bit, but he said nothing.

She smirked at the action, but paid no mind to Peter. She continued staring at Stiles, her expression more curious than hostile. “Humans don’t usually come to meetings like this,” she said, taking a step closer to Stiles and ignoring the warning growls that came from both Derek and Peter. “Especially unclaimed humans.”

“Yeah but apparently I reek of wolf,” Stiles said with a shrug, jerking his head toward Peter.

She laughed at that. “That you do,” she said. “How long has he been courting you?”

“He’s courting me?” Stiles asked, deliberately not looking at Peter.

That elicited more laughter from the woman. “Clearly not well enough, given that response,” she said.

“I told you to stay away from the human until he approached you, Kali,” Deucalion said from the doorway. “I don’t want you scaring him off,” he said, shutting the door behind himself.

Stiles frowned and opened his mouth to speak, but Derek made a quick gesture with his hand and he closed his mouth, resigning himself to silence. He’d be pestering the Alpha for information as soon as the strangers were gone anyway.

The woman, Kali, apparently, frowned and took two deliberate steps away from Stiles. “He doesn’t seem all that scared, Duke. His heart’s not even going that fast,” she said, pouting at the blind man. “Faster than other humans, but nothing like a rabbit.”

“Yes, he is rather fascinating,” Deucalion said as he walked further into the room. “Though I have yet to be formally introduced to the boy or his wolves.”

Derek stepped forward. “I’m Derek Hale, Alpha of the Pack residing in Beacon Hills. With me is Peter Hale, my Beta and my standing Second, and Stiles,” he said. He frowned over at Stiles, seemingly at a loss for how to explain things.

Deucalion smirked. “I trust this Stiles is your pack human?”

“He’s ours, yes,” Derek said, watching Stiles almost curiously. “And Peter has a minor claim on him.”

“I don’t suppose Peter’s the type to share?” Kali asked. “I could have fun with him.”

“Don’t be rude, Kali,” Deucalion said, though he seemed genuinely amused. “We are, after all, their guests, and we are here for negotiations, not intimidation.” He looked over at Stiles and Peter. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

Stiles grinned. “You too,” he said, ignoring the curious look Kali and Derek both sent his way. 

“I must admit that I’m impressed with your choice in location, Stiles,” Deucalion said. “Much better than a private room in a gay club.” 

Kali made an amused noise in the back of her throat. “That’s where you found him?” he asked.

“He and his wolf found me,” he said before turning his head toward Derek. “I am Deucalion, Alpha of my Pack, and this is my Second, Kali,” he said. “We come bearing no ill will and hoping for the chance to establish a formal relationship between our two packs.”

“You’ve got two of my Betas,” Derek said, keeping his tone neutral, though his eyes flashed red as he spoke. 

“They were on the run from hunters and refused to name their Alpha when we caught them,” Kali said. “They’re with our pack mates, alive and unharmed.”

Derek nodded. “Will they be returned to me?”

“At the end of our discussion, yes,” Deucalion said. “Now, as much as I abhor being rude, is there somewhere more suitable for us to get started? I don’t much care for drawn out small talk when there’s business needing settled,” he said.

“There’s a conference table in the basement. We can get started as soon as we get there,” Derek said.

Deucalion nodded and motioned for Derek to lead the way.

Stiles made to follow the two of them, but Peter’s hold on him tightened. “What?” he asked.

“We don’t follow,” Peter said in a hushed Russian. “The Alphas discuss the details of the arrangement and we are only brought in if there’s a question.” He watched as Kali took off her pumps and made herself comfortable on the couch.

She watched them with open interest. “You two are closer than you first appear,” she said, sounding both intrigued and confused. 

Stiles frowned but didn’t answer the unasked question. Instead, he looked over at Peter. “What do we do now?” he asked, sticking with the Russian for now.

“We wait. If you’d like, we could walk the perimeter of the fence line? It would give us a bit more privacy and we could talk openly,” Peter suggested.

Stiles thought about it for a moment before nodding. “Yeah, let’s do that,” he said.

Peter nodded. He looked over at Kali. “Excuse us, won’t you?” he asked.

She smiled up at Peter. “I am your guest here,” she said. 

“The house is completely open to you,” Peter said quietly. “There are bedrooms if you’d like to rest.”

She nodded and watched as Peter and Stiles left the house together.

Chapter Text

Four hours later, after walking the property line a few times and a quiet conversation in a mix of Russian and English about a few things that Stiles still didn’t completely understand, Stiles got an unexpected text message from an old, familiar number. 

Your dad’s investigating a big case. 207-245-246. He won’t be able to get away from the scene for at least a few hours, but he’s safe. You need to check the Sacramento alerts ASAP.

“Shit,” Stiles said, his heart leaping to the back of his throat. “Shit, shit, motherfuck,” he said. “Tell me you’ve got your computer with you,” he said, looking up at Peter.

The older man nodded. “In my Jeep,” he said, immediately picking up on Stiles’ anxiety. “I can bring it into the house, or would you prefer-“

“This has nothing to do with this,” Stiles snapped, his hands trembling as he reread the message. “I need your computer now,” he said. 

Peter watched him for a moment before nodding. “Let’s go,” he said, hopping over the electric fence and waiting to help Stiles over that and the wooden fence.

Stiles was silent as he shoved his phone back in his pocket and followed Peter over the fence and back to his Jeep. He watched as Peter pulled out his laptop and turned it on. “You were listening when my dad called at your place, right?” he asked.

Peter nodded, not saying anything as Stiles grabbed the computer and brought up a police login website.

“So you know about Jasper Collier,” he said, bringing up the man’s criminal record. Stiles didn’t look at the profile, instead giving Peter enough time to see the numerous dropped charges, and the assault and battery charge that had finally gotten him convicted. After a few minutes, he brought up another part of the website that was a live feed of all California police codes.

“What are we looking for?”

“Something from Sacramento. It’s formatted by the area code and then the relevant police codes,” he said, already looking for what he was supposed to find. He found it a few seconds later. “There.”

916. 1010 reporting 1057 at 4157 Bradshaw Ave. BOLO Jasper Collier 962. 

Peter rested a hand on the small of Stiles’ back and leaned a bit closer. “Take a breath,” he said. “Your heartbeat is through the roof and I don’t want you panicking.”

“I can’t really help that,” Stiles said weakly. Still, he struggled to pull in a ragged breath.

“Take another breath and tell me what that line means,” Peter said.

Stiles nodded and did as told. “An off duty cop reported a missing person. That’s the address of Collier’s halfway house, so there’s probably a tip that he’s going to try to jump parole, and 962 means he’s considered armed and dangerous,” he said.

“And who tipped you off to this?” Peter asked.

“One of my little birdies,” Stiles muttered under his breath. He looked at the screen one more time before calling someone. “Answer the phone. Pick up, pick up, pick up,” he mumbled.

“Should I be telling your father about the fact that you’ve tracked down another unlisted number?” came the amused question in lieu of a greeting.

Stiles’ eyes brightened a bit, seeming almost to glow, and his back straightened. “Mitch, tell me where he is right now,” he said, a hard edge to his voice that Peter had never heard before.

Peter watched him, getting more and more impressed with the younger man as he took in the shift in posture - going from comfortable to battle-ready, even if Stiles was unaware of the change.

“We’re on a case, kiddo,” Mitchell said.

“I know, Mitch, and right now I don’t give a shit if Dad’s elbow deep in blood and guts or undercover with the fucking cartel. Tell me where he is right now and don’t lie to me,” Stiles said, an impressive growl to his voice.

Mitch was silent for a quick breath. “He’s interviewing a witness to a kidnapping,” he said. “What’s up? Is something wrong?” 

“Send me a picture.”

“Kiddo?”

“Shove it, Mitch, and send me a goddamn picture,” Stiles snapped.

Mitch was silent for another moment. Long enough to take and send a picture, which he did. “You good?” he asked once Stiles had checked the picture.

Stiles nodded, forgetting for a moment that he was on the phone. “I’m good,” he said. “Don’t let him out of your sight. Not even for a second. I don’t care how pissed he gets, you become his shadow,” he said.

“And what am I supposed to tell him when I follow him into the john?”

“That you admire his tenacity and hope to be just like him when you grow up,” Stiles said, eliciting a sharp, worried bark of laughter from Mitchell. “Make something up, dude,” he added. “Just-“

“I’ll cuff myself to him if it gets to that,” Mitchell promised.

Stiles nodded, relaxing a bit. “Thank you.”

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on now?” he asked.

Stiles shook his head. “I can’t. I owe you.”

Mitchell chuckled quietly. “We’re good, kiddo. Keep yourself safe,” he said.

“Will do,” he said before ending the call. As soon as that was done, he called the number that the text message had come from and wasn’t surprised when the phone was answered after the first ring. “Ollie, tell me something good,” he said, his hands still trembling.

“He ducked out of the house a few hours ago and he’s got at least one gun on him,” the man said.

Stiles sighed heavily. “That’s not good news,” he said.

“He doesn’t have a car, and I’ve got the Sacramento field office on alert. If he even so much as sniffs at the city limits, I’ll call in a favor with Whitney and he’ll have more than just me trailing after him,” he said. “I’ll keep you up to speed.”

“Thanks, Ollie,” Stiles said, sagging against the Jeep. He dropped his face into his free hand, relaxing visibly.

“And I won’t try to freak you out with another text like that again.”

Stiles huffed out a tired laugh. “Thanks.”

Oliver was silent for a moment. “I’ll be in touch, buddy. At least once a day, even if I’m just telling you nothing’s changed,” he said. “And if he gets out of Sacramento, I’m pulling in every favor I’ve got left to get you an armed guard until he’s caught.”

Stiles rubbed his hand over the back of his neck and looked over at Peter, who was shamelessly eavesdropping on the conversation. “I’m good, actually.”

“You aren’t outsourcing to the mob, are you?” he asked, only a thread of humor in an otherwise serious question. “I remember your mafia phase.”

“Not the mafia, no,” Stiles said. “But I’ve got some new friends. Like guard dogs on steroids,” he said with a grin up at Peter, who rolled his eyes and flashed his eyes and fangs almost playfully at Stiles.

Ollie was silent for a moment. “You’re sure you won’t need help?”

“None whatsoever,” Peter said with a smirk.

“I’m good, Ollie,” he said. “You won’t lose the asshole?”

“Not a chance. Keep yourself safe, Tyr,” Ollie said before hanging up.

Stiles ended the call and stared at his phone. After a few minutes, he put it back in his pocket and looked up at Peter. He stood up, shaking his shoulders a bit but unable to shake the energy from the close call. “Can we go back inside?” he asked. “I need something to drink.”

Peter nodded and turned off the computer, putting it back in the Jeep. “Who’s Ollie?”

“Retired FBI. He went to college with my dad,” Stiles said. “And he’s my godfather.”

Peter smirked. “Your real godfather, to more of your mafia phase?” he asked.

“Both, kind of,” Stiles said as he followed Peter back to the fence. “You’ve been able to hear inside the house, right?”

Peter nodded. “Things are going much better than I could have hoped,” he said. “From what I can tell, they’re almost done.”

“Really?”

Peter nodded again and helped Stiles back over the fence.

When the two of them made it back inside the house, they found Kali watching them with a sense of genuine concern. “Is everything alright?” she asked.

Stiles watched her for a moment before nodding once. “Family business,” he said.

She frowned and looked over at Peter. “You allow your human to keep secrets from you?” she asked.

He smirked coolly. “I appreciate the need to keep secrets,” he said. “And I know better than to try and pry them out of him. He’s dangerous when he’s angry.”

“How dangerous?” Kali asked, standing and taking a step closer to Stiles. “I like my toys feisty.”

Stiles scowled at her. “Sure, your choice. Mountain ash smoke bomb or a straight molotov cocktail?” he asked. 

Peter chuckled at the taken aback look on Kali’s face but said nothing to her. Instead, he grabbed Stiles by the back of his neck and pulled him close, pressing their foreheads against each other. “He’s not going to get near you or your father,” he murmured in Russian. When Stiles closed his eyes and nodded, he let go of the younger man. “I’ll wait here while you get something to drink,” he said, switching back to English.

“You want anything?” Stiles asked, looking first at Peter and then at Kali. 

“I’m fine,” Peter said, while Kali shook her head. “I can wait until this is over,” she said.

Stiles nodded and headed into the kitchen, doing his best to calm down again.

Chapter Text

He’d only just walked in the kitchen when he heard the telltale tapping of Deucalion’s cane on the staircase. He turned to see both Derek and Deucalion walking up the stairs, the two of them seemingly completely at ease in each other’s presence.

Derek looked over at Stiles, not missing the way his hands were still trembling. He quirked an eyebrow in a silent question, and when Stiles shook his head slightly, he nodded and looked away.

Peter and Kali walked into the kitchen, both of them looking to their respective Alphas.

“We’ve reached a tentative arrangement much quicker than either of us expected,” Deucalion said with a slight smile.

“That’s good, right?” Stiles asked.

“It is,” Deucalion said as Derek nodded.

Peter walked over to Stiles. He looked over at Derek. “Is it done?” he asked.

Derek nodded. “Go pick up the food,” he said.

Peter nodded, wrapping an arm around Stiles’ waist and pulling him close. “Come along, darling,” he said.

Stiles nodded, snatching a bottle of red Gatorade off the kitchen counter before he was pulled out of reach. “I thought you had super strength to carry the food, creep,” Stiles muttered darkly.

“Which is why I’m able to bring you with me without any trouble,” Peter said with a smirk. “And I will put you over my shoulder and carry you if don’t stop squirming,” he said, looking over at Stiles.

“I’m trying to open the damn Gatorade bottle, asshole,” he snapped, though the familiar banter was helping him relax more easily. He waited until the two of them were over the fences and in Peter’s Jeep before asking his next question. “And why are we getting the food anyway?” he asked. 

“The custom after a new treaty is cemented between Packs is for the Packs to gather together and share a meal,” Peter said as he started the Jeep and drove out to the service road. Once he turned onto the dirt road, he sped up, going close to a hundred miles an hour. “The wolves will shift fully and go on a run, and the two Alphas will hunt together. They go after the strongest prey they can find, and it’s not uncommon for them to bring back a bear, or some other predator.”

Stiles’ brow furrowed, thinking back to something he’d read in the book Peter had given him earlier. “Because the stronger the kill, the stronger the alliance between the Alphas, right?”

“Good boy,” Peter said. “You’ve actually been reading. I’m impressed.”

Stiles scowled at him. “Could you sound any more like an asshole?” he asked. 

“I could try,” Peter said with a pointed smirk. When Stiles’ only response was a rather impressive bitch-face, he chuckled. “I can think of a few reasons why the custom is being followed in such an informal manner, the foremost reason being that our Pack and his are not intact at the moment. Once we’re all together, we’ll come back together and share a meal,” he said.

“Will it take place on the anniversary of the first meeting or on a full moon or something?” he asked.

“That depends entirely on the Alphas,” Peter said. “Though I would expect the meeting will take place when they come back, since the fact that we’re all alive means that they’re giving us time to shape up our Pack.”

Stiles was silent for a long moment.

The rest of the ride back was relatively silent.

When they were parked on the far end of the diner parking lot, Peter looked over at Stiles. “You are a fairly well-known figure in this town,” he said. “Would you like to wait in here?”

Stiles hesitated only briefly before nodding. “Yeah,” he said. “That’d probably be good.”

“I won’t be long,” Peter said. “Try not to work yourself into a panic. Everything is going to be fine,” he said.

“You can’t promise that.”

Peter smirked. “I can promise to do everything in my power to make sure I keep my word on that,” he said, an inscrutable look in his eyes. “Don’t get into any trouble while we’re here,” he  added before he shut the door. 

Stiles nodded and slumped back in his seat, doing his best to stay calm while he waited for Peter to get back.

True to the man’s word, Peter was back inside the Jeep within ten minutes, carrying two large paper bags that smelled delicious. He handed Stiles both bags and got in, pulling out and speeding back onto the service road.

“What’d you get?” Stiles asked, reaching into the bag. 

“Food that you’re not going to so much as look at until we get back to the safe house,” Peter said, smacking Stiles’ hand when he tried to reach into the bag to grab a french fry.

“Ow! Shit, dude, don’t abuse the squishy human!” Stiles said, shaking his hand and scowling over at Peter.

The older man smirked. “Then don’t try to take early bites of the Pack dinner.”

Stiles’ scowl deepened, though he was genuinely amused. “Growing teenage boy here. Don’t put food in front of me if you don’t want me to eat it,” he said.

Peter chuckled. “Then you can answer to the three Alpha werewolves who are expecting food when we come back with nothing but empty bags and a few french fries,” he said, arching an eyebrow when Stiles went to reach for another fry.

He slowly pulled his hand out of the bag and settled back in the chair. “You make a surprisingly reasonable point,” he said. 

“I tend to be a surprisingly reasonable man,” Peter said. 

“So this is a formal thing, right?” Stiles asked.

“It is, yes,” Peter said.

“Then why are we sealing the deal with a bunch of foil-wrapped burgers and diner fries?” he asked. “It just seems more like this is something that should be happening at the Silver Willow, or one of the places over in Beacon Ridge. We’re all pretty much dressed to eat there already.”

Peter nodded. “If both of our Packs were in one piece and our territory was stable enough that this alliance was truly something to celebrate,” he said. “When they return, if we pass their test, the two Packs will get together at a restaurant like the Silver Willow and we’ll celebrate then.”

“So this is just a temporary fix. Honoring the custom in spirit now so we can fix it completely later,” Stiles said and Peter smiled, pleased that he was able to pick up on things so quickly. “But what about Scott?”

“That depends entirely on him,” Peter said, though he gripped the steering wheel tighter at the mention of Stiles’ best friend. “If he chooses to join the Pack, he’ll be there with the rest of us. But if he doesn’t, then he’s either going to have to live as an Omega in Derek’s territory - which means still following his rules, even if he’s not acknowledging Derek as his Alpha - or he’s going to have to go somewhere else, to live as a rogue Omega in unclaimed territory, or he’ll have to choose another Pack,” he said. He caught sight of the look on Stiles’ face and bit back a frown. “He’s got very little choice in the matter if he wants to stay in Beacon Hills for too much longer.”

That had Stiles sitting silently until the Jeep was parked and they were on their way inside again.

Back in the safe house, the three Alphas had made themselves comfortable at the kitchen table and were talking quietly about something, but they fell silent when Peter and Stiles walked back inside.

“Well,” Stiles said when three pairs of Alpha red eyes swiveled to look over at him. “That’s totally not one of the freakiest things i’ve ever seen.”

Peter chuckled as he took Stiles’ bag, setting that one and the one he was carrying onto the kitchen counter. He nodded toward the chair next to Derek, silently telling Stiles to take a seat there.

He did as told a second later, watching curiously as Peter set out the food. He looked over at Derek, wondering if he’d be able to ask his question without getting into any trouble or breaking any rules.

Kali noticed his curiosity and glanced at Derek, who nodded slightly. “Alphas are served first, and in a case like this, the lowest ranking Pack member serves the food,” she said. “Technically the humans would be the ones serving the food, but you’ve got something that puts you at a higher rank. You’ve got a Spark, don’t you?”

“Don’t be rude, Kali,” Deucalion admonished gently.

Peter stayed quiet as he set a plate with a wrapped burger and a box of fries in front of everyone, finally taking a seat next to Stiles, his fingers ghosting along Stiles’ wrist as he did so.

Derek didn’t say anything, instead looking over at Deucalion. As soon as the other Alpha started unwrapping his burger, Derek unwrapped his own burger and nudged Stiles with his elbow.

Stiles caught on quickly and started in on his food.

The silence that settled over the five of them as they ate was surprisingly amiable.

Chapter Text

Once they’d finished their meal and moved out to the front lawn for some quiet conversation, Kali laid a hand on Deucalion’s forearm, silently asking a question. He put his hand on top of hers and nodded.

She looked over at Derek. “Let’s get your lost little puppies,” she said. 

He nodded slightly and waited for her to start walking. When she didn’t, and instead looked back at Deucalion, both Hales frowned slightly - and were it in a less formal environment, Stiles would have been unable to hold back the laugh at how similar the expressions on the two men looked. 

“Might I have a word with you, Stiles?” Deucalion asked. The unexpected question startled a growl out of both Derek and Peter, but the reaction seemed only to amuse him. “With the permission of your Alpha, of course,” he added, a small smile appearing on his face as he turned his head toward Derek.

Derek cast a quick glance at both Peter and Stiles. Peter’s scowl didn’t disappear, and Stiles just shrugged slightly. He looked back over at Deucalion. “It’s fine,” he said. 

“Don’t take him past the fence and keep your paws to yourself,” Peter muttered darkly, glaring at the blind werewolf.

Deucalion smirked but didn’t react. “Come along, Stiles,” he said as Kali and Derek left the house together. He headed out the back door, not waiting for the human to follow him. He was silent until they were about a foot in front of the electric fence, with Stiles standing just beside him.

Stiles watched the Alpha, fidgeting slightly when he didn’t speak right away. The dim light from the house was enough for him to see by, but not very far, and that wasn’t helping him feel any more at ease. 

“It’s rare enough for new packs to be able to walk away without any bloodshed after so much trouble in their territories,” Deucalion said as he looked over at Stiles, his eyes glowing Alpha red. “And yours is a particularly fascinating situation. Not just because you’re a human in a pack, but because you were allowed to be here while other Betas, other wolves, were not,” he said.

Stiles frowned. “Why would that matter? I was one of the two who came to find you in the first place,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I be allowed after that?”

The older man paused momentarily, frowning as he thought about how to best answer the question. “Not all packs have human members, so not all werewolves are aware of just how valuable your kind can be,” he said. “You are one of the best examples I have ever found of a valuable human.”

“Thanks, I think,” Stiles said, his brow furrowing. He wasn’t sure what to expect from this conversation, but he had an odd feeling that this was going to end on either a good note or an incredibly awkward one.

“There is no need for the confusion, young man. That was meant as a compliment,” Deucalion said with a smirk. “You currently occupy two positions that make you a high-ranking member of your Pack, and as involved as you are in the reborn Hale Pack, it’s quite peculiar that you’ve retained your humanity,” he said. “I find you to be a rather captivating specimen.”

Stiles took a quick step away from Deucalion, leaving him just out of arm’s reach of the older man. It wouldn’t do much if he decided to attack, he knew, but it was enough for him to feel a bit safer. He was standing closer to the house at the moment, and there was no way that Peter wasn’t listening in on the conversation as it was. “I’ve already been asked,” he said quietly. “And I’m not taking your offer, either.”

Deucalion chuckled. “It would be improper to ask that of you when you’ve already got a wolf courting you,” he said. “And as valuable as you are, I see no benefit to stealing you away from him. Or your pack.” He smirked. “I would like your phone, though.”

“Why?” Stiles asked, even as he pulled it from his pocket and handed it over.

“Because you are something of an anomaly in our world, I’d like to do what I can to make sure you are not thrown into more danger than you and your pack can handle,” Deucalion said. “I know the two Hales will die to protect you, that much is clear, but yours is a new pack in valuable territory. You and your wolf have earned my attention, and I’d like to see how you two grow together,” he said, his eyes glowing red.

“He’s not my wolf,” Stiles said. “We’re barely even friends, really.”

“And yet, you knew exactly who I was talking about,” Deucalion said, amiably enough. “I’d like you to keep in touch over the next year. Consider it an unofficial term of my arrangement with your Alpha. And if you run into any sort of situation that is too much for you and your pack to handle alone, I would be willing to offer whatever help I can,” he said.

Stiles frowned, still confused, but watched as Deucalion entered a new contact and his phone number into Stiles’ phone. 

As if sensing the younger man’s confusion, Deucalion smirked when he handed Stiles’ phone back. “I have no doubt you’re going to be powerful once you’ve fully matured,” he said. “You already carry the smell of ozone when your emotions run high.” His smirk grew more dangerous and, for a moment, Stiles thought he saw the hint of fangs. “It makes me almost hungry to see you in battle when you’ve fully grown into yourself,” he said, taking a step closer to Stiles.

“Sure, I guess,” Stiles squeaked out when he noticed the older man’s eyes had once again started glowing red. “If I live long enough.”

“Oh,” Deucalion said, a purr coming into his voice. “I have no doubt you will.”

A low, threatening growl had Stiles jumping and stumbling back a few steps. He looked around, at first unable to see anything or anyone new in the dim light. Finally, he caught sight of a pair of bright blue eyes glaring at the two of them from behind Deucalion. 

As Peter stepped forward, fangs bared and claws out, Stiles found himself calming slightly. Which, as the situation sunk in, was bizarre and unsettling for an entirely different reason. 

“Alpha or not, you’re overstepping your bounds,” Peter said, the growl making his voice gravelly.

Deucalion turned to face Peter, a small smirk on his face. “Another Alpha might take offense at your insolence,” he said.

Peter just moved forward, deliberately putting himself between Stiles and Deucalion, the low growl still rumbling out of him. He reached behind himself with one hand, resting it on Stiles’ hip. “Another Alpha might try to be more subtle when attempting to recruit someone into his pack,” he said. “Especially when they’ve claimed to respect already established pack bonds.”

“Other Alphas would be distinctively less subtle in their attempts,” Deucalion said. That said, he conceded the point to Peter and took a small step back. “Stiles, I hope that if you ever need it, you call for my assistance. I would hate to miss out on a chance to watch you draw blood,” he said with a cold smile.

“Holy shit,” Stiles said, unconsciously taking a step closer to Peter. “I didn’t think it was actually possible to be creepier than a Hale. Goddamn,” he muttered.

Both Peter and Deucalion chuckled but didn’t say anything.

Stiles looked over at the Alpha, relieved to see the man looking genuinely amused. “Thanks,” he said. “If we’re ever near death, I’ll call you.”

“Excellent,” Deucalion said. He offered his hand to Stiles. “It truly was a pleasure to meet you,” he said. “And I do expect great things from you.”

“Right,” Stiles said, taking the hand and doing his best not to focus too much on the telltale pinpricks of claws against his bare skin. “I guess you’ll show up again sometime?”

“We’ll be back in a year’s time to see if your Pack has managed to become a more cohesive unit,” Deucalion said, slowly letting go of Stiles’ hand. “Keep a very tight hold on that phone number. I do not want to risk an Omega or a hunter finding out how to reach me.”

Stiles nodded, one hand straying to the pocket carrying his cellphone. “Keep it secret, keep it safe. I got it,” he said with a slight smirk. “I’ve got a few good encryption techniques that I can use,” he added. 

Deucalion laughed quietly. “I appreciate that,” he said, turning his head toward Peter. “If you do not care for this boy properly, I will be much less subtle about my intentions when I return,” he said. 

Peter nodded silently, his eyes cold.

“Excellent,” he said. “Well, no doubt my lovely Kali is getting restless waiting for me.” He offered the two of them a small, genuine smile. “Until next time,” he said.

“It was a pleasure to host you, Alpha,” Peter said, his tone flat, almost mechanical.

Deucalion nodded. “Your Pack shows a great deal of promise,” he said. “I don’t plan on coming back to draw blood.”

Stiles nodded, waving weakly at the Alpha and watching him leave, walking toward the side of the house, where Kali had parked the Cadillac on the other side of the fence. He leaned a bit against Peter, taking advantage of the heat the man put off, and opened his mouth to speak. Peter’s grip on his hip tightened almost painfully before he could get out so much as one word, and he stayed silent.

Only when Peter was satisfied with the distance between the two of them and Deucalion, did he let go of Stiles’ hip and turn to face him. He looked Stiles over for any sort of injury, running his hands up Stiles’ arms and neck in a way that had Stiles thinking it wasn’t an entirely conscious action on Peter’s part. “Are you hurt?”

Stiles shook his head. “Dude, he kept his word. Not so much as one finger on me, I promise. Except when he shook my hand just now,” he said, yawning. “Is everything good?”

Peter nodded, a smile growing on his face. “We’ve got time,” he said quietly. “A full year.” He looked over at Stiles, his face taking on a content, relaxed expression. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay right now, but when the adrenaline crash hits, I’m gonna be out for a few hours,” Stiles said.

“How long do you have until the crash.”

Stiles shrugged. “Not long,” he said. “Twenty minutes, tops.”

Peter was silent for a moment, wrapping his arms around Stiles’ waist. “Let’s get back inside. We can wait for Derek’s call there.”

“And then what?”

“We go our separate ways for a little while. Not long, but enough for the three of us to recover from the stress of this meeting and get the important things in our lives sorted out,” Peter said as he and Stiles walked back into the house and sat down on the couch. “Derek will be spending his time at his loft, helping Boyd and Erica recover from whatever they went through. You’ll hopefully be staying out of trouble and recovering from the hunters and this meeting.”

Stiles nodded. “And what about you?” he asked.

Peter smirked. “What kind of Disney supervillain would I be if I told you what I’d be doing?” 

“My favorite kind,” Stiles said with a weak smile.

At that, Peter laughed and leaned more fully against the couch, one arm draping along the back of the couch. HIs fingers wrapped lightly around the back of Stiles’ neck, and he smiled when the younger man didn’t move to avoid the contact. “I won’t be causing much murder and mayhem until I’ve had the chance to get a proper night’s sleep and a good run in me,” he said.

“That’s reassuring,” Stiles said, closing his eyes. His limbs started to get heavy, and he frowned. “Shit,” he mumbled.

“What’s wrong?” Peter asked, taking note of the slight slowing of Stiles’ heartbeat and the way the human slumped a bit. 

“This adrenaline crash is gonna knock me flat on my ass,” Stiles said, leaning back against the couch, inadvertently leaning more fully against Peter. Even after the events of the past two years, he had never quite gotten used to how quickly he crashed. “I’ve got maybe five minutes left before I’m out,” he said. “Can I crash at your place tonight?” 

“Of course,” Peter said, taking his hand off the back of Stiles’ neck. “You’ll stay for the weekend. I want to make sure you recover completely before sending you home to your father.”

Stiles nodded sluggishly, stars spotting at the corners of his vision. He dropped his head onto Peter’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “If you bad touch me while I’m unconscious, I’m going to cut your fingers off with a dull blade,” he slurred as he allowed Peter to pull him to his feet and wrap his arm around his waist, Peter’s fingers slipping under Stiles’ clothing to graze against his hipbone. 

Peter laughed quietly but tightened his hold on Stiles’ waist enough for the younger man to lean his full weight against him. When he felt the telltale slump of Stiles falling unconscious about a minute later, he picked him up into a bridal carry and headed to where he’d parked his Jeep.

His cellphone started ringing just as he’d put Stiles into the passenger’s seat of his Jeep.  Stiles stirred a bit at the noise, mumbling a sleepy protest. “Nephew,” he said in a hushed tone, shutting the door and walking around to the driver’s side. “I trust you’ve found your strays?”

“They’re at the loft with me. Drugged and unconscious, but alive,” Derek said. “They’re going to make a full recovery. Stiles?”

“Physically fine,” Peter said.

Derek made a quiet, contemplative noise but didn’t say anything.

Peter looked over at Stiles as he lingered outside the Jeep. There wasn’t any need to disturb the younger man now that he was finally asleep. “I’ll be able to tell more about his emotional state in a few hours. I’m taking him back to my house, but I don’t want you calling unless blood has been shed. The boy needs his rest.”

Derek was silent for a long moment. “Call me when he wakes up.”

“Of course, nephew. I trust you’ll be able to handle the territory alone for a few hours?” he asked, getting into his Jeep and starting the engine. Without waiting for a response, he hung up and drove off, intent on getting to his house before he was spotted by any police officers chanced to spot them.

Chapter Text

Late the next day, after almost eighteen hours of sleep, Stiles meandered into Peter’s kitchen. He looked around with bleary eyes, absently scratching his stomach. “Peter?” he asked after a moment of looking around and not seeing the werewolf. “Dude, we need to talk.”

“Something on your mind?” Peter asked, appearing suddenly behind Stiles.

Jesus, asshole,” Stiles snapped, whirling around and slapping Peter’s shoulder. “You can’t fucking sneak up on me like that! I can’t heal from a fucking heart attack!”

Peter smiled but didn’t say anything.

Stiles motioned at his clothes - a pair of black sweatpants and the red muscle shirt he’d worn under his shirt at the meeting last night. Clothes that he distinctly did not remember taking off or putting on. “I told you I was going to cut you if you gave me the bad touch,” he said.

“Darling boy, you reeked of Deucalion and hints of that female, Kali,” Peter said quietly. He reached forward and tugged lightly at the hem of Stiles’ shirt. “It was bad enough when we had to be polite and meet on neutral land, but the scent of those two Alphas in my house was something I couldn’t handle.” He met Stiles’ eyes evenly, a searching expression on his face. “I restrained myself.”

“How?”

“I can still smell Deucalion on you,” he said, letting go of Stiles’ shirt. “I wanted to toss you in the shower and completely wash his scent off of you.”

“But you decided to play dress up with me?” 

Peter scowled. “I took your two shirts and your jeans and washed them last night. The sweatpants are a clean pair of mine,” he said. “You are a pack mate of mine, Stiles, and the faintest scent of strange wolf agitates my more lupine instincts,” he said. “I am well aware that it seems inappropriate to your muted humanity, but-“

Stiles shook his head. “You were doing what you needed to make sure that a pack mate was safe after dealing with intruders,” he said, smirking at the shocked look on Peter’s face. “Just because Scott’s not the smartest dude doesn’t mean that I’m idiot by proxy,” he said. “And I kind of get that. Even with my muted humanity,” he added with a mean smile.

Peter smiled and took a small step closer to Stiles. “I meant very little offense,” he said. “Though you do possess remarkable insight for a human.”

“You’re not allowed to start trying to convince me to take the Bite before I’ve had at least two cups of coffee,” he said.

“It would hardly be effective, given that I’m no longer an Alpha,” Peter murmured. “Unless you’re talking about another kind of bite, in which case, I’m more than amenable.”

Stiles huffed out a quiet laugh even as he dropped his head onto Peter’s shoulder, taking no small amount of comfort in the contact. “What do you want, Peter?” he asked after a long moment. He sounded oddly exhausted, given that he’d slept nearly a full day.

Peter hummed quietly, lightly running a hand over the back of Stiles’ head as he pulled him closer. When the younger man didn’t resist the contact, seeming almost to melt into the touch, he leaned forward, rubbing his cheek against the top of Stiles’ head. “You,” he said gently. When Stiles tensed minutely, he let out a soothing rumble, not unlike he used to do to comfort his nieces and nephews when they were upset as pups, and wrapped Stiles into a loose hug. 

“That’s not making me feel much better, dude,” Stiles mumbled, though he relaxed into the hug. Slowly, and if Peter didn’t know the boy better, he might say timidly, Stiles returned the hug, tucking his face into the crook of Peter’s neck and closed his eyes. “Because you’ve still got that creepster vibe where you tell me to put the lotion on my skin,” he said.

That elicited a chuckle out of Peter, and he again rubbed his cheek over Stiles’ head. “You’ve got my intentions all wrong.”

“Explain it to me,” Stiles muttered. “And then I want coffee.”

“You are the only one I have ever met who was willing to face down an Alpha and challenge him over his prey. The only one willing to deny his own desire and his potential for power just to spite an enemy,” Peter murmured. “And even when we first encountered each other, I could smell the ozone on you.”

Stiles was silent for a long moment. “I don’t want the Bite.”

Peter let out another gentle rumble. “No. I don’t think I’d give it to you now, even if I could. You’ve got the makings of a powerful Emissary and I don’t care to jeopardize the future of our young pack for something that could kill you.” He smirked. “Even though I doubt very much it would kill you.”

“Why?”

“You are far too much like a wolf already,” Peter said, pressing a quick kiss to the crown of Stiles’ head.

The younger man huffed out another laugh. “I’m taking that as a compliment,” he said.

“Good,” he said.

Stiles leaned back a bit, enough to look Peter directly in the eye. “How do you want me, exactly?”

“Honestly? However you’re willing,” Peter said. “But you are far too young for me to ask anything serious of you, especially while the territory is so volatile and you’ve still got so much of your life left to figure out,” he said. “And I have no intention of forcing my desires on you, so you needn’t worry about any sort of reciprocation.”

Stiles was silent for a long moment before nodding. He held Peter’s gaze for a moment before heading into the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee for both himself and Peter. 

Only when each of them had a cup of coffee and were sitting on the couch next to each other did he speak. “And if, maybe, there was some reciprocation?” he asked hesitantly, once again meeting Peter’s eyes. 

“Then we would take things slowly. I do not want you to pushing yourself too far or too fast,” he said. “I want this to work much more than you might think.”

“Alright,” Stiles said, still hesitant. “And if you wanted something right now,” he started after draining half his coffee. He frowned, seemingly unable to to continue.

Peter set his mug down on the coffee table. “Why do you ask?”

Stiles shrugged. “The Alpha Pack came and left without bloodshed. Nobody died or needed to be brought back to life with some kind of freaky werewolf voodoo, and there weren’t any fires. That’s the closest we’ve gotten to a happy ending since I found out that werewolves aren’t just fairytale creatures,” he said. “This is what counts for a happy ending for us, right?” he asked. “I just figure we should celebrate it somehow, and I don’t much feel like booze is an option right now,” he said.

“So you mean to celebrate our victory with me?” he asked. 

“Unless there’s someone else you have in mind,” Stiles said with a sly, yet tentative smile. 

Peter smirked at him, showing the barest hint of fang, and his eyes flashed bright blue for a few seconds. “And you’re sure you’ll be willing to grant my request?” he asked.

Stiles’ smile morphed into a smirk of his own. “I could always call our Alpha to see if he’d like to be my celebration buddy instead,” he said. 

That only served to amuse Peter further, and he reached out to cup Stiles’ face, his thumb grazing over the slightly fading bruises on the younger man’s face. He’d siphoned some of the pain after he’d settled the boy in bed, and that had not only helped to accelerate the healing process, but it seemed to let Stiles fall into a more restful sleep than he’d had in a while. “A kiss, then,” he said. 

Stiles leaned into the embrace a bit, watching Peter with a wary expression. He glanced down at Peter’s lips, unconsciously licking his own. “Just one?” he asked.

Peter nodded. “As long as you give me the pleasure of earning more,” he said, already leaning forward. 

“Sure, just don’t suck at it, I guess,” Stiles said.

Peter didn’t respond, choosing instead to lean forward and press his lips against Stiles’ lips in a gentle, not quite chaste kiss. When they parted, he smiled. “You and I, Stiles. We are going to be a terrific pair,” he said.

Stiles’ only response was a slight nod, though Peter didn’t miss the darkly mischievous glimmer in the human’s eyes that accompanied his agreement. 

Oh, this was going to be fun.