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“I don’t want to be like you,” Stiles says as he tugs his hand out of Peter’s grip. As Peter allows him to remove his hand, because it’s shockingly easy to twist away.

Peter straightens. He doesn’t look like a madman about to attack Stiles for turning down the bite. “Do you know what I heard just then?”

Truth. Falsehood. Stupidity. He meets Peter’s thoughtful gaze and says, “Me changing my mind.”

“Interesting,” Peter murmurs, holding his hand out.

It’s the hardest thing Stiles has ever done, lifting his own and allowing Peter a hold on him.

Stiles doesn’t want to be like Peter. He doesn’t want to be controlled by madness or consumed by revenge. His sanity is already in short supply what with him getting dragged into the mess that these werewolves are making of his town. But Stiles is just brave (stupid, so stupid, and he’s smart enough to go into it with eyes wide open) enough to decide that that he needs more than sarcasm in his arsenal.

Peter’s lips linger against his wrist for a moment, soft and warm. A flash of memory flickers in Stiles: Peter, sitting in his wheelchair, burn scars covering half of his body. But pity has no place here. “This isn’t me agreeing to join your pack.”

Peter’s eyes are red, his shift in place, but he only nips at the sensitive skin of Stiles’ inner wrist. “You enjoy paving your own road to hell, don’t you, Stiles? We’ll always share a connection, you and I, even if you fool yourself into thinking that this is all you will need from me.”

It hurts. Peter licks the blood from his wrist like the creep he is. For a moment, Stiles thinks he might kiss him. He tells himself he’s not disappointed when Peter doesn’t.

Two betas, one still-turning werewolf, three hunters, and an alpha walk into the abandoned wreck of the old Hale home.

When sunlight hits Stiles’ face again as he crosses the doorway to get to his car, his eyes are red.

He won’t allow himself to regret it. Allison is innocent and as for her father—well, Stiles is reserving his judgment. Derek doesn’t deserve to bear the weight of killing his last remaining family, no matter how angry is now about Stiles’ status. Scott’s an idiot sometimes, but he’s Stiles’ best friend. He won’t trade any of them for a man who made his heart hammer with fear and want, who looked like the best bad decision Stiles could’ve ever made.

The Argents and the kanima don’t give Stiles the chance to mourn a man he barely knew, but he feels the ache of Peter’s absence deeply. Until one night, when Stiles awakens to a pack bond snapping into place. He laughs into the darkness. The bond and his common sense lead him to that house again, where Peter has just finished making his way out of his grave.

“Are you going to try to kill me?” Stiles asks, because that’s the most important thing here. Not, as the instinctual part of his mind claims, the fact that Peter feels much weaker than a beta should be. Stiles’ beta.

“I should,” Peter says. He looks Stiles up and down, and Stiles can’t decide if he’s checking him out or looking for weak points to attack. Knowing Peter, it’s probably both. “Are you?”

“No,” Stiles admits. “You were right. I still need something from you. There’s something called a kanima in town.”

“Is that it?” Peter raises an eyebrow. “Just my assistance? I’m hurt, Stiles.”

Stiles wishes he could blame all of his complicated feelings on the fact that Peter turned him. It would be so easy. But there’s too much red in his eyes for him to lie to himself. He wants both as an alpha and a man, all his desires intertwined into a rope that tugs at his neck, one he’s not willing to tear off. “I want Gerard’s head on a pike. I want Derek to stop living in an abandoned train station. I want you to leave Lydia alone. I want you to give living a chance because I don’t want to fucking bury you again.”

“I’ll consider it,” Peter replies, then gets into Stiles’ Jeep. He’s covered in dirt and mold, his face haggard behind the grime, and Stiles knows he’ll have to clean his car multiple times to get it clean. “Are you going to give me a ride, oh mighty alpha?”

It slips out as easily as breathing, as easily as claws through delicate flesh. “Yeah, I am.”