The storm that Peter had thought of as soft that afternoon two days prior had hung low in the sky, cracking open in the early evening. It rained throughout the night, unusual for the time of year, and continued to muddy the ground, breaking only briefly to swollen, cold, kinds of day, that begged for warmth. Even now, the rain fell in sheets, diluting the colours, dimming the world. Peter hated how it washed away scents, and the rainfall’s lulling shush drowned out sounds, but he loved the way it narrowed existence.
He could forget himself in these watery moments, wandering down a quiet street of Beacon Hills. Those he passed on the pavement either ran to escape the rain, or walked carefully, umbrellas tilted forward, faces hidden. Peter didn’t mind the rain so much, but then it was more merciful to him than it was to his woollen sweaters. Dare he admit it, but the rain made Peter feel safe, despite the way it drenched his senses – a flame could not burn so easily in such weather.
Peter was nearing his favourite café, warm lights aglow in the large, picture windows at the front of the store. He fancied that even in the soaked street he could smell their delicious, roasted, coffee blend and the sweet, almond biscotti that they serve with their drinks. As he neared the café, a man walked along the pavement toward him. Peter moved to the side so that he could pass, and lifted his own umbrella a little to allow the man’s large, black one to go beneath.
The man looked serious in a way that the dreary day alone, even with its welling maelstrom, could never have made any singular person seem. Dressed head to toe in black, he might have come from a funeral, but his clothes, while formal, were clearly business attire. He wore a waistcoat, beneath a jacket, beneath a heavy overcoat. Even his undershirt and tie were black, though the latter had a glimmer of thin gold embroidery. He carried a briefcase, and his polished black shoes were speckled with dirt. Despite being someone who seemed to lack anything resembling a sunny disposition, he was tan.
The man nodded his thanks seemingly thoughtless, as he passed Peter, though made the effort to hold eye contact as he did so. Ink. Salt too, but mostly ink. The man smelled so strongly of it, the acrid, expensive kind that came with fountain pens, or high-end rollerballs. Peter wondered if the man had not been drenched in it, and that might be why his clothes were so black. The ‘wolf spared a glance, as the man walked back up the street the way Peter had come, and even after he turned away, listened to the tiny splashes of the man’s footsteps for as long as he could hear them. Finally, Peter glided the last few steps to the café, opening the door, and turning to shake out his umbrella, before leaning it against the wall by the door.
Inside the café was as warm as it had looked from the street. The ambience was cosy, and the lighting bright. Peter sought out the source of the warmth to a large, glass, table top fire-pit, and promptly made his way over to an armchair and coffee table on the other side of the room. He warily glanced at the flames, not willing to let his gaze linger, but not wanting to let the threat slip from his sight. That is when he spots a familiar face smirking back at him. Stiles is sat at the table beside the fire, and had clearly caught Peter looking in his direction. Peter smirks back, quickly disguising his discomfort, before looking away, interrupting any chance the young man had to invite him to sit.
He orders a ristretto, and pulls out his phone to read his latest emails, when not shortly after someone sets a tea cup and saucer down on the coffee table, and sits opposite him. Someone who smells of cedar smoke, clay, and at the moment, contentment.
“This seat isn’t taken,” Stiles says, as if it were a fact, a flirtation, and a defence all at once. Peter looks him over, from the way he toes off his shoes leaving them by the table leg, tucks his socked feet up beside his body, and comfortably curls into the corner of the opposite sofa.
“It is now,” Peter grumbles, though it's more the rumbling sound of a satisfied wolf. Stiles grins at Peter's acceptance of his company. They’re both quiet for a moment, though they continue to watch each other, Stiles leans forward to gather his teacup into both hands, and sip at it.
“Lovely weather we’re having.” Peter laughs, which clearly had been Stiles’ intention, both too well acquainted not to know that Stiles has no talent for small talk, and too well acquainted to need it.
Peter’s coffee arrives, during a peaceful, warm silence that had enveloped them, and Stiles seems to lean forward into its aroma, inhaling greedily. “I miss coffee,” Stiles sighs mournfully, and Peter raises an eyebrow, as he sips at the hot, dark liquid. Its flavour rich and earthy, and not one Peter thought Stiles would surrender so easily. Caffeine being the only recreational drug that Peter knew the young man indulged in, liberally.
“Have you unacquired the taste?” Peter asks, and Stiles sighs mournfully.
“No, trying to tame my dependency.” Stiles takes a sip of his tea, closing his eyes, and savouring the taste, taking a deep breath. “I sleep better without it.”
Peter had noticed Stiles’ reckless efforts to avoid sleep after the nogitsune. He could relate, he too had nightmares. At least when Peter awoke he knew that the darkness and pain was his reality, but that it had happened long ago, and that he wasn’t still there. While Stiles had been looking much more rested this last month, this was the first admission Peter had heard that meant he no longer fought off sleep. The ‘wolf felt relieved that Stiles was healing, would help any way that he could. Peter hides his smile behind his palm as he leans his face on his hand, and turns to look out the café window. Rivulets run down the glass, and thunder rumbles overhead, Peter takes in the damp on Stiles’ shoulders and in his hair from the corner of his vision.
“You didn’t bring an umbrella,” Peter says, as if it were a fact, a flirtation, and an offer. Stiles smiles.