Noah looks around the crowded hospital room. His son’s friends are leaning against the wall, Erica and Boyd sitting in the corner on the floor, arms wrapped around each other. And Stiles is center stage, as usual, in the hospital bed. He’ll be fine, the doctors have said. Bruises and a cracked rib that will make it hard for him to breathe. Broken wrist already in a cast. And his face a mess of bruises, lip split and swollen, and one tooth broken.
“Okay so what the fuck happened?” he asks, focusing in on Scott. He’s the alpha and is supposed to be Stiles’ best friend and he is supposed to know his best friend is human. “How did my boy get so hurt?”
Derek growls quietly, shaking his head. “Hunters. Not the Argents, I don’t know if they know this group is in town. They went after Erica and Boyd and… we think Stiles saw they got taken and went after them.”
Squatting in front of the couple, Noah slowly reaches his hand out, ready to pull back if they react badly. But when Erica leans into his touch, he gives her arm a gentle rub, squeezing her shoulder, and then does the same to Boyd. Shaking his head, he thinks again, They’re just kids, younger even than my kid. “That what happened? And you two are okay? Or mostly okay?”
“Yes, sir,” Boyd answers quietly. He moves just a bit, enough so he’s closer to the Sheriff, just enough so their legs are touching. “We’re okay; we heal quickly.”
Noah gives them each another squeeze and then stands, grimacing a bit as he reaches down to rub his knee. Leaning against the wall, he’s able to watch Stiles and stay next to the traumatized couple. Yes, their bodies heal, but how many times can people be kidnapped and tortured before they don’t just shake it off? “You guys stick together for the night, right?” He asks, mostly looking towards Scott. Be a leader.
“Yeah, we can all stay at Derek’s loft, right? That okay?” Scott asks, looking towards the older wolf. “He’s got room, that’ll work.”
Derek nods, but before he can say anything, the hospital door opens.
“Oh, darling,” Peter whispers and heads straight for the bed, ignoring everyone. He brushes the hair off Stiles’ forehead, his own brows drawn together and he carefully runs a hand over Stiles’ swollen, bloody lip. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.”
Noah says nothing, watching as Peter puts his hand flat on the bit of bare throat showing and sees the black lines go up his arm. “What are you doing, what is that?”
“Taking his pain,” Derek answers, looking almost embarrassed. “It’s something we can do.”
Apparently it works, because Stiles’ eyelids flutter and he sighs, with whatever tension he had, leaving as he sinks even more into the mattress.
Peter steps away, shaking his hands while turning towards Noah. “We can do this, and there should be someone here with him all the time. We can take turns taking his pain.”
“He’s on pain meds, Peter. I mean, this is a hospital, it’s not like they’re going to let him hurt!”
Peter briefly shuts his eyes, not before Noah sees a hint of bright blue. “The pain meds dull his pain. We are able to take that pain away entirely. That seems a good choice since he’s a human and we let him get hurt.”
Noah doesn’t get a chance to say anything or ask anything before Boyd whimpers with Erica curling up closer into his side.
Peter squats in front of them and Noah can’t help but notice how graceful he is and how his knees don’t pop. Of course, the man may be a few years younger than he is, but he’s not a teenager either. He can’t hear what Peter says to them, but after a second, they almost pile on top of the older man, who chuckles as he puts his arm behind him to keep himself upright. There’s more whispers and what can only be described as cuddles before Peter stands again, turning to Noah.
“They know where they were kept. They were able to describe it and I know where they were held. Where Stiles was tortured.” He grins and Noah sees the fangs crowding his lips. “Sheriff… are there circumstances where if someone vanished from our fair city that you would be able to ignore it?”
Noah doesn’t get a chance to answer because Scott grabs Peter’s arm, pulling him away. His eyes are bright red and he’s also got a mouth full of fangs. Although somehow Peter’s look more ferocious.
“Peter, you know that’s not what we do!” He shakes his head and his fangs go back in, which still looks strange to Noah, no matter how often he’s seen it. “We can talk with them. Have Chris talk with them, find out who they are, and he should tell them to leave! We can’t just kill everyone who hurts us!”
Peter jerks his arm away and raises an eyebrow. “Yes we can. Not only can we, but we will.” He leans closer and Noah feels something warm inside when Scott takes a step – a small step – backwards. “These were hunters who kidnapped three of your packmates, including your emissary. Your human emissary. And if that doesn’t mean enough to you…”
He draws something, a circle maybe or a couple of circles, on Scott’s shirt and the alpha wolf growls again.
Peter snorts and turns back to Noah, turning his back on Scott. It’s a gesture he can appreciate; he’s done it to more than one suspect in his time. It says, ‘You’re nothing for me to worry about.’ Noah loves Scott like he’s another son, but now his real son has been hurt and there’s only one person who wants to do something about the people who hurt him. And it’s this man who is much older than his son. This needs more information, but for now…
“Are they residents of Beacon Hills? Will anyone miss them? Because if not…” He shrugs, knowing it’s against everything that he’s supposed to do and to believe. But he’s probably also not supposed to believe in werewolves or ghost riders or that his son could come to visit from college and end up in the hospital.
Derek nods at his uncle, eyes glowing blue. “I’m coming with you. We won’t have hunters here again.”
The two Hales have barely left the room when Scott says, “Sheriff, I have something I need to tell you. About Peter. And Stiles.”
Noah’s not happy with how smug Scott looks, but that’s not important now. “Fine. Surprise me. But while you’re doing that, do that pain thing Peter was doing.”
Noah’s almost asleep when he senses, more than hears, someone come into the room. It’s Peter Hale, back after being gone for several hours. During that time, the wolves who stayed, did take turns with the pain-drain thing, as Isaac calls it. Scott did it a couple of times, telling Noah it’s not needed and Stiles has pain medication and on and on. But when he does it – when any of the wolves do it – he sees the black going up their arms and how it seems to settle Stiles down again. And yes, when Stiles does wake up the first time, his eyes look around the room and he mutters, “Peter?” before he goes back to sleep.
Now Peter looks freshly showered, with clean clothes and his hair still damp. He’s just in a Henley and jeans, but Noah’s experienced enough as a cop to know those aren’t jeans from the local Walmart and his boots probably cost a month’s worth of groceries.
“How is he,” he asks quietly, stepping towards Stiles’ bedside. “Did they help him while we were gone?”
Noah nods and before this man can touch his son again, he has him backed against a wall, his service gun against the man’s forehead.
“Daaaad? What’re ya doing?” Stiles whines and Noah chooses to ignore him.
“Hale. Are you sleeping with my son?”
Peter looks up at the gun barrel and dammit he smirks. He also smells nice, something Noah assumes costs more than Old Spice. “Honestly, there’s not that much actual sleeping.”
“Peter! You’re not helping!” Stiles calls and then moans a bit and they both watch as he slumps back into his pillows.
“Excuse me, Sheriff,” Peter says, using his finger to move the gun away from his head and quickly wraps a hand around Stiles’ wrist. “You’re in a hospital, you should be trying to heal, not be trying to make yourself worse.”
Stiles lifts the arm Peter’s holding, using a finger to beckon his father over. “Dad, come here, sit down. Both of you, sit down.”
Noah’s a little slow putting his gun back into the holster and pats it a couple of times, like the friend it is. “I heard some interesting things from Scott while you were asleep, Stiles. Maybe something we should be talking about? Like the older man, who’s your werewolf boyfriend? Were you planning on telling me? When did this start? And why? He’s a murderer, Stiles. There’s no two ways about it.”
“Why do you think I didn’t tell you about it? Cause there’s no denying it, Peter’s an asshole.”
“Hey! That’s a harsh thing to say to someone who is currently trying to make you feel better.” Peter pulls his hand back, but instantly touches Stiles’ lip, pushing it up just a bit. A fine, black line goes up Peter’s fingers. “Broken tooth, probably caused the lip injury. You’ll need an implant, which I’m told isn’t pleasant, but I believe there’s a lot of human pain drugs. And me.”
Blinking slowly, Stiles mutters, “There’s always so much to look forward to. So anyway, Dad, yeah, me and Peter are a thing. It started after I went to college and sorry I didn’t tell you. It doesn’t always get a positive reaction so we kind of just don’t tell people.” He slumps down in the bed, and takes Peter’s hand. “But he’s good, or at least good to me. Good for me.”
“No, no I’m not, but thank you,” Peter whispers, using his free hand to smooth Stiles’ hair back. “I may not be a good person, but I love you. My mate, my moon.”
Noah sits in the hospital chair, the same type he’s sat in too many times before. Stiff and uncomfortable, not good for anyone’s back, but at least it keeps him from falling on the floor when his legs feel wobbly. “Mate? What does that mean, it sounds…”
“Mate?” Stiles tries to sit up and Peter clucks, gently pushing him back down. “You’ve never called me your mate.”
“Well, I didn’t want to give you a swelled head,” Peter says and then he turns away and murmurs, “Or make you worry. Or make you have to say…”
“That I am? That I feel it, too?” He grimaces when he licks his lips, “Ugh, are there stitches in my lip? That’s so gross.”
“Two.” Noah looks at his son, always bruised, but never beaten. “So this mate stuff is good? How about you keep him from getting kidnapped and having the shit knocked out of him?”
Stiles raises both eyebrows, surprise overriding the painkillers. “Wow, watch your language, Dad.” He looks to Peter and something passes between him, in the unspoken way spouses have. “This was… an aberration. Peter’s usually there and he protects me. He’s protected me before. I’d say it was my fault, I saw Erica and Boyd get taken and went off after them without thinking.”
“It was not your fault. The only fault is with the people who hurt you. And maybe the Argents, because they should be watching to be sure no one comes into their territory.” Peter paces a few steps before settling back down on Stiles’ bed, hand on his chest.
Noah sees no black lines so either the pain meds or the pain drain is working. At this point, he’ll take either or preferably both. “But you’re not planning on attacking the Argents, are you? And the people who did the actual…”
“It seems they left town,” Peter answers, with a smile so cold, Noah’s heart skips a beat. And Stiles, his Stiles is smiling like this is not only the best news, but the best delivery ever.
“And they won’t be found, right? There’s a lot of paperwork involved with missing people or even worse, dead bodies.” He should say something else, he should stick with Scott’s lines about peace, love and understanding, but it’s his son in the bed, drugged with bandages and stitches in his lip.
“Well, I don’t think anyone is going to drain the lake in the preserve, are they?”
He’s the sheriff, but he’s also a father. And he’s a man, a regular citizen seeing what’s in his small town. “I don’t think that would happen. As long as it doesn’t completely dry out, but we seem to get enough rain to keep it a pretty respectable lake.”
“It’s very deep, trust me,” Peter looks at Stiles and smiles, warm, loving and proud. “Stiles kind of deepened it and he makes sure it’s full. He’s amazingly powerful, your son. As long as he has a few minutes to plan.”
“Thanks, my wolf. My mate,” Stiles says and shuts his eyes.
Is he sleeping or just resting? It doesn’t really matter to Noah. “So let me ask you a question. Just hypothetical, of course.”
Stiles’ eyes open and he takes Peter’s hand, lacing their fingers together. He looks comfortable and safe and dammit, he looks like someone who’s in love.
“Let’s say there was a couple and the man…the man beat his wife. Repeatedly. But she won’t press charges, probably because she’s terrified of him. And we’ve arrested him and she bails him out and won’t testify against him and she always has stories about what happened and…”
“He sounds like a bad person. Not even a hunter, but obviously someone bad.”
Noah nods, thinking about the woman he’s spoken with a dozen times. He knows she’s probably too scared and too used to her life to leave. “Yup. So do you think someone like this could just – vanish?”
Stiles and Peter have almost identical grins, aside from a few extra teeth in the wolf and the ugly black stitches in Stiles’ lip. “Dad, I love you. And Peter -- get the details. I’m out in a day or so and we’re going to go pay a man a visit.”