Peter was not having a good day. Well, not a good night since it was past three in the morning by now. It wasn't the fact that he was covered in blood or that he was carrying a body through the woods, things like that happened, it was the fact that he was hiding in the bushes like a damn teenager while the deputy in the patrol car was shining his flashlight into the very bushes Peter was currently hiding under.
Cursing under his breath Peter ducked deeper into the shadows. Even with the flashlight, the deputy shouldn't be able to spot him but it would just be his luck.
Eventually, the man decided that it had been nothing and turned off the flashlight.
Only when the back-lights had disappeared down the road, Peter dared to breath easier.
"That's all your fault," he told the dead omega at his side who didn't bother to answer. "Why couldn't you just take the hint and leave?"
This was Hale territory, had been for centuries, everybody knew that but it was also known that the Hale pack didn't mind other werewolves passing through and even offered shelter to the ones who respected the etiquette and introduced themselves properly to the alpha and stated their business in their territory.
Peter was the one who took care of the rest.
Most just needed a bit of encouragement to remember that they had something important to do on the other side of the country. Some just couldn't take a hint. Which lead to situations like this. Usually, Peter was better prepared, he had to admit.
He had thought that he could just scare off the scrawny guy before he could pile his shit on their doorstep. As far as Peter knew the guy was not part of a pack but he'd managed to piss off a few packs and even hunters and now a lot of not so nice people were looking all over for him.
Peter didn't care as long as he wasn't bringing a war into his territory but that idiot had been determined to piss off another pack which just happened to be the Hale pack. Mainly by trying to kill Peter.
"Not your best of plans, wasn't it?" Peter looked down on the body still half-hidden under the bush. It was tempting to just leave him here but he would be found too soon, causing even more trouble.
Since Stilinski had been elected sheriff, he had his deputies patrol this back road frequently. They were looking for dumb teenagers sneaking out to the lake for some nightly skinny dipping, which in this lake was more of a dare than something even the dumbest kid did for fun, but they wouldn't miss a dead body right next to the road for long.
With a sigh, Peter picked up the dead guy again and started walking. He wasn't familiar with the woods on this side of the town so he had stuck close to the road because getting lost just a few miles out of Beacon Hills would have been the cherry on top of this pile of crap. He would never live that down.
Instead, he had almost gotten caught by a pimpled deputy who was green enough to get stuck with patrolling the back-roads at three in the morning. He would have never lived that down either.
"Pack doesn't go there," he muttered under his breath and tried to get a good grip on the body over his shoulder.
The preserve with the Hale house was on the other side of town and Peter knew the woods around there like the back of his hand. But this part of the woods didn't belong to the Hale pack and Hales didn't go there. Period.
Naturally, Peter had been one of the dumb teenagers sneaking out here to see what all the fuss was about but there were just more woods out here. And the lake of course. At least Peter hadn't been dumb enough to take a swim in there. The lake was known for its wicked undercurrent, people tend to drown if they dared to go for a swim. Some did it on purpose, though. Aside from being a magnet for teenagers looking for an adrenaline kick, it was also known as a suicide spot.
Sheriff Stilinski's patrolling routine had scared off most of the idiots, though, Peter had to give him that.
Keeping an ear out for any cars Peter walked alongside the road until he reached the overgrown path that would take him to the lake. In the dark, he couldn't read the signs but the No Trespassing was clear.
The body wouldn't pass as a drowny, he looked more like he had a run-in with … well, a pissed-off werewolf, but Peter hoped that it would stay undetected long enough for nature to take its course. At least the water should wash off any trace Peter had left on it.
But chances were good that nobody would find the body for years. Aside from the stray teenager here and there, and the Sheriff was doing a good job on that side, nobody ever came out here. The area was even partly fenced in to keep trespassers out.
Thinking about it, Peter didn't even know who this parts of the woods belonged to. They were privately owned, that much he knew but not by who.
"Strange." Peter adjusted his grip on the body over his shoulder. At least the bleeding had stopped and the guy wasn't dripping down on his ass any longer.
However, it was Peter's job to know what was going on in and around Beacon Hills and he took pride in knowing that little got past him but he had never really thought about this part of the woods. Which was strange because it was just on the other side of town.
"Because it's just miles of trees with a lake in the middle," Peter justified his lack of knowledge to himself. He probably should look into this, it didn't sit right with him, not knowing who a huge chunk of the land around here belonged to, but it was probably not a good idea to show interest in the lake right after he'd dumped a body there.
"And pack doesn't go there." He could almost hear his grandmother's voice. She was the first he could remember telling him this but she hadn't been the only one by far. Every adult in the pack was telling the kids the same thing. That they could roam the woods on their side of the town as much as they wanted but pack didn't go to the other side. Talia was telling her kids this and Peter himself might have said it on occasion. Peter was pretty sure that Laura and Cora had sneaked out here just to have a look but there wasn't anything to see.
Besides, walking deeper into the woods here felt strange. If asked, Peter would have said that Beacon Hills and the surrounding woods were all Hale territory but this part didn't feel like territory at all. It almost felt as if he wasn't welcomed here. As if he was the intruder somebody needed to scare off.
The feeling grew stronger with every step and when he finally stepped out of the woods with the lake lying in front of him, the surface eerily calm and uninterrupted, Peter was almost ready to just drop the body and run.
"Get a grip," Peter muttered to himself. He did drop the body but only to have his hands free. If he got attacked out here, he wanted to be able to defend himself.
The path ended at a pier but it looked old and rotten and Peter wasn't sure if he should dare to step out on it. An involuntary bath in the lake sounded just like the perfect way to end this night.
There was no boat at the pier but Peter hadn't expected to find a convenient boat waiting for him out here. As if he had planned any part of this night. His plan had been to chase that idiot off, get home and maybe read for a while while the house around him settled down for the night.
He liked these quiet evenings where he sat in his chair in the living room, reading. Right after dinner the house was still loud and chaotic but farther into the evening it became quieter. The youngest went to bed first, the conversations became low murmurs and eventually, it would be just Talia and him. They had the best conversations right around midnight.
Talia would pat his shoulder, remind him to not stay up too long and then she would turn in as well, leaving Peter the only one still awake.
Peter would go to bed eventually but before that, he usually stepped outside for a moment to get a feeling for the night, a reassurance that they were safe, before he came back in and locked the doors.
But not tonight.
Peter glared at the body at his feet again.
"You're a pain in my ass, you know that?"
At least the feeling of not being welcomed had eased off, or he had gotten used to it, either way, it was time to get rid of the body and go home. He should probably get rid of his clothes as well and take a shower before the pack woke up. It wasn't a secret that he was the one, taking care of any threats to the pack, but there was no need for the others to see him soaked in blood.
Maybe he should wash up in the lake while he was here, just to take care of the worst.
"But first I have to get rid of you." He kicked the body in the side, just because.
Aside from the pier, there was a small cabin to the left but it was too far away for Peter to tell if it was in any better condition than the pier. As far as he knew, nobody came out here for longer periods of time, so it had probably been abandoned for decades.
Which would make it a good hiding spot for a body. And he would be able to dump it there without taking a swim which was a plus. The first this night.
There was a small path, following the curve of the lake, but Peter couldn't tell if it was man-made or if animals had made it when they came here to drink.
Taking a sniff, Peter didn't catch a trace of people, but he had a stinking, blood-soaked body draped over his shoulder so he wouldn't read too much into that assessment.
There was no heart-beat coming from the cabin, that much he could tell when he came closer.
The cabin itself was old but not in a bad shape. As far as Peter could tell in the poor light, the roof was intact, the door was closed and hanging properly in its hinges. The shutters were closed as well but there was no light behind them.
Judging by the size, it was only a small, one-room cabin, most likely used as a shelter over a fishing trip. Peter doubted it had electricity or running water.
When it had been used last, Peter couldn't tell, it might have been years. Perfect.
The locked door was no problem for Peter. He ripped it half off its hinges without a second thought.
The inside of the cabin was just like expected. A place to sleep in one corner, a stove with some firewood piled next to it in the other. A few shelves and cupboards.
What he hadn't expected where books and magazines piled along one wall, a stack of DVDs and the black rectangle thing on the bed turned out to be a laptop. Why somebody would forget something like this here and didn't come back for it was beyond Peter but why somebody would bring a laptop to a fishing trip in the first place was another mystery.
Peter took a breath, maybe the cabin wasn't as abandoned as it looked, but the copper scent of blood was still clogging his nose. However, he was pretty sure that nobody had been here for quite a while.
Peter stepped out of the cabin. Time to finish up. If he left the body on the bed and the door open, chances were good that animals would take care of his problem. By the time the body would be found it should look as if a homeless guy had broken into the cabin, died in his sleep and got snacked on by some critters.
Grinning to himself, Peter picked up the body again.
"What are you doing here?"
Peter swirled around just in time for the condescending "Huh?" which the person standing in the water delivered with his whole body and loud splashing.
"This is private property."
For a second Peter just looked at the person standing in the shallow water, dumbfounded. He had not heard said person sneaking up on him and he had been on high alert. Now, however, the heart-beat just a few feet away was loud in his ears along with the other noises the person was making in the water, how could he have missed that? Okay, he had been focused on the land and the woods surrounding the cabin but he should have heard if somebody was in the water right behind him.
"Well?" The person asked and stepped closer. A teenager, Peter noticed with some delay. His wet hair was plastered to his skull and water was running down his naked torso, as if he'd just came up to the surface. Which would explain why Peter hadn't heard him. Hearing a heart-beat from underwater was not impossible but it was hard to pick up without actually looking for it. The boy must have a long breath, though, because for sure Peter would have noticed if he'd dived in anywhere nearby.
"What are you doing here?" Peter asked. "Swimming is forbidden here."
The boy came out of the water and at least he was wearing wet shorts if nothing else.
"So is trespassing, breaking and entering." He gestured at the cabin behind Peter but then his eyes fell on the dead body at Peter's feet. "And littering." And then, as some kind of afterthought: "And murder. I guess. Dude, did you kill that guy?"
Peter quirked an eyebrow at him, not sure how to handle this. Usually, people started screaming or running when they saw somebody covered in blood with a body right next to them. Most started pleading that Peter didn't kill them as well and of course nobody would tell anything to anybody ever. But not this kid. He was coming closer, a curious eye on the dead person.
"I'm friends with the sheriff, you know." He was now standing on dry land, water running down his legs. He had long limbs, pale skin, and moles all over his body. Not the build of a fighter but lean and not to be underestimated in a fight, that much Peter could tell.
"So I better not kill you?" Peter guessed. He doubted that the kid even knew the sheriff. He wouldn't be out here in the middle of the night if he did. The sheriff was the one person who took the no going out to the lake this seriously. Or maybe it was because of that. If the kid was friends with the sheriff, he probably thought that he wouldn't get in much trouble if he got caught out here.
"What?" The kid had been inspecting the body, totally dismissing Peter which just wasn't right.
"I'm covered in blood, that guy is dead," Peter stated the facts. Maybe the kid was a bit slow and not aware of the danger he was in. "You are a witness."
"I didn't see you kill him," he pointed out and crouched down next to the body to get a better look. Peter wasn't sure how much he was even able to see because aside from the poor light from the stars and the thin sickle of the moon, it was pretty dark. Not much of a problem for Peter but for human eyes it must be pitch black.
"You did a number on him." The kid nodded in what could have been approval. "But you're not going to leave your trash in my cabin."
"What makes you think that I'm not going to leave you right next to him?" Peter threatened. The kid was weird and he was getting on his nerves. Peter could be half-way home by now but no, he had to deal with a nosy teenager. Killing him would be the easy solution and he might have no other choice to keep him from talking but it didn't sit right with him. The kid was most likely out here on a dumb dare and it didn't seem right to just kill him for a stupid wrong place wrong time thing.
"You could try." The kid threw him a look over his shoulder, not in the slightest bothered that he was still crouching with his bare back at Peter. It would be so easy. But something in that look told Peter that it wouldn't be easy at all. He rubbed his face with one hand, this night had been way too long already.
"What do you want?" If money could solve this problem, he would take it.
"I want your wolfy ass back on your side of the town." The kid stood up and looked him straight in the eye. "And take this with you." He stubbed the body with his bare toe to make his point.
"Wolfy?" Peter tried to hide his surprise behind an amused expression. He wasn't sure if he succeeded. This night was just getting better and better. If this kid knew about werewolves ...
"You're a member of the Hale pack, aren't you?" The kid asked. "Man, you sliced up this dude real good." He made a slashing motion with his hand, imitating claws, but then something seemed to occur to him. "Or is this a member of the Hale pack and you killed him?" He looked between Peter and the body. "Because that would be awesome, I'm telling you, but you're not going to dump a Hale on my doorstep, no way. Noho." He shook his head so vehemently that Peter feared he would give himself a concussion. "If this is a Hale, you're going to bring him right back where you found him. No Hales on this side of town and for sure I don't want the whole pack poking around to find the murderer of one of their members. No way."
"Nobody is going to come looking for him," Peter interrupted the flow of words, his mind racing. Whoever this boy was, he knew about werewolves, about the Hale pack, and he was most likely an enemy. And Peter had no idea who he even was. Interesting.
"There better won't be," the kid said darkly.
Peter didn't tell him about the other packs and the hunters the omega had pissed off who were most likely still looking for him but with any luck, they would just assume that he had long left the Hale territory.
Instead, Peter had a closer look at the kid. His first impression had been that he was just a human teenager but now he wasn't so sure any longer. He had sneaked up on him after all.
Peter took him in with all his senses but whatever he was, he couldn't place it. His heart was beating steadily in his chest, a bit fast but that was normal given the circumstances, he smelled of the lake water that was still pooling around his feet but under that, there was a very human scent. Like most teenagers, he could use a shower but that didn't help to place him. There was nothing indicating that he was anything but a teenager taking a swim in the lake in the middle of the night. He wasn't the first and for sure he wouldn't be the last, teenagers loved their dares no matter if the sheriff was patrolling the road or not.
"So you're the Hale." The boy put together the pieces.
"Maybe?" Peter felt an amused smile tucking at his lips. This kid was a mystery, he liked that.
"You're not welcomed here." The kid walked past him until he was almost up to his knees in the water. "Leave and take your trash elsewhere or I will tell the sheriff about you."
Peter shot forward and grabbed his wrist, claws digging into the soft skin.
"Why should I risk that?" He growled and let the blue bleed into his eyes.
The kid looked him straight in the eye, not in the slightest intimidated by the werewolf looming over him.
"If I disappear the sheriff will notice. And he will move heaven and hell to find me." His gaze darkened and he stepped closer until he was face to face with Peter. "But he's not the one you should worry about."
Something in the way he was saying it, made Peter shiver. He wasn't intimidated easily but he knew without a doubt that the kid was serious. Peter wasn't even entirely sure if he was human, he might not be that easy to kill.
"My apologies." Peter let go of his wrist and stepped back. "I'll leave."
He watched the kid for a moment longer who just stood there in the water but then Peter picked up the body and left. Putting his back on the kid felt wrong and Peter felt the tension between his shoulder blades but he kept walking.
He did dump the body miles out of Beacon Hills and he only made it back home around noon. But by then he'd made sure that nobody would find the body anytime soon, had washed off most of the blood in a creak and even managed to sneak into the house without anybody seeing him in his soiled clothes. A shower and a set of fresh clothes later Peter felt better but his mind was still racing. He hadn't slept all night but he was too wired for a nap.
Whoever the kid was, he knew about werewolves in general and the Hale pack in particular and for sure he wasn't friendly, facts Peter couldn't just ignore.
"Long night?" Talia joined him in the kitchen where he was downing his second coffee.
Peter gave her a look over the rim of his cup.
"Are we going to have problems?" She asked, fixing herself a cup. At this time of the day, the house was quiet. The kids were at school and most of the adults were at work. It was only him and Talia right now. Which was the reason he had been able to come in without anybody freaking out over the blood.
"The omega won't be a problem any longer," Peter answered truthfully.
"And what is going to be a problem?"
Peter threw her another glance, his sister knew him way too well.
"Not sure yet. I'll have to look into a few things," he said to which Talia nodded without more questions. She was the alpha, she had to know what was going on but she didn't need to know every little detail. If there was something to report, Peter would tell her but he knew she trusted him to take care of most things without bothering her. There were things she didn't need to know.
"The other side of town, you know the woods and the lake out there, who does that belong to?" He would have to look into that kid but the lake was also bothering him. The kid had drawn the same line, the Hale pack belonged on this side and not on the other. So, who did belong there? That was the big question.
"Why?" Talia asked but before he could even answer she added: "We don't go there."
"Why?" Peter threw the question back at her. "Why don't we go there? Who's land is that? Is there something in that lake?"
Maybe he had met the owner of the land last night. The kid had looked just like that, an ordinary teenager, but looks could be deceiving. Peter was still not sure if he had been human or something else. Not that he had the slightest idea what something else he could be. Which on itself was worrying. He had thought that he knew his way around the supernatural world. Some water or wood creatures came to mind but he was pretty sure that he would have recognized one of those.
Maybe a fae.
Please no faes, he prayed silently. He hated faes.
It took him a second to notice that Talia hadn't answered his question. She had her brow furrowed and a distant look on her face, thinking hard.
"I don't know," she finally admitted. "If there is something out there, I don't know about it. Just that we …"
"… don't go there," Peter finished the sentence for her. "I know."
"There is not much out there anyway," Talia dismissed it. "Just more forest and the lake." With which she confirmed that she too had been out there just to have a look at why it was forbidden. Most members of the Hale family went through that phase, Peter guessed.
"People do tend to drown out there," Peter pointed out.
"There hasn't been an incident in years."
"Not since the sheriff's department has a close eye on what's going on out there," Peter said. Maybe he should have a look at Sheriff Stilinski as well. The kid had said that he was friends with him after all.
"Peter, what's going on?" Talia put her cup down and had a good look at him. Peter gave her an easy smile.
"Nothing you need to worry about."
"Where have you been?" Derek asked to which Stiles let out a huff.
"At the cabin," he answered. "Can you believe it? One from the Hale pack tried to dump a body in my cabin. A body! In my cabin!" Stiles himself still couldn't believe it. "He ripped off the door, too."
Thinking about it, he should have made him pay for the door. And for emotional trauma or something.
"Did you get rid of him?" Derek asked, already looking in the direction of the cabin as if he was considering going there to take care of things himself.
"He left and he took his trash with him." Stiles put a calming hand on Derek's shoulder. He wasn't a fan of the Hale pack and neither was Derek but they hadn't been bothered by the werewolves in years so it did come as a surprise that one of them had been suddenly at their shore so to speak.
"Are you going to tell John?" Derek asked but for now, he seemed content with letting Stiles deal with the situation.
"And tell him what?" Stiles made a wide gesture to demonstrate the big pile of nothing he had on this.
"I might if it turns out that this is just plain old murder," Stiles mused after a moment but he doubted it.
Sure, John would take his word over the Hale's but he was pretty that there wasn't even a body to find at this point. Besides, he doubted that this was some upstanding citizen of Beacon Hills the werewolf had killed just because. Better not get caught in pack business, Stiles had meant it when he'd said that he didn't want the whole pack poking around this side of town.
However, seeing John brooding over unsolved cases never sat right with him so if pictures of the werewolf or that dead guy showed up on his desk ...
Derek just nodded to that, he didn't care what was going on in town.
"But I should visit John tomorrow," Stiles decided. Maybe he could get some information that way.
If he was honest, the werewolf with the dead body had been the most exciting thing that had happened around here in years, Stiles would be stupid to not look into it.
"Don't get in trouble," Derek said, looking not in the slightest surprised that Stiles wanted to make a surprise visit.
"You know me." Stiles gave him a grin.
"That's why I'm saying it."
"You know that it doesn't change a thing if you say it or not," Stiles reminded him. "Besides, the werewolf didn't try to kill me in the middle of the night at a remote lake so I doubt he'll do anything in town in broad daylight."
"Don't poke the werewolves." Derek gave him a stern look.
"You think I'm not ready to deal with a poked werewolf? Please." Stiles huffed out a breath. "What are they going to do? Kill me?"
"Just don't draw attention to us." Derek turned to leave. "And don't get John in trouble."
"I would never." Stiles grasped his chest in a fake outrage but it was only partly fake. Derek knew that he would never get John in danger, that he even suggested that much ...
Over his shoulder, Derek gave him one last look before he left.
The next day, Stiles returned to his cabin where he inspected the damage to his door.
"You owe me a new door, you know that? Asshole."
Stiles managed to get the door closed behind him without ripping it off the hinges completely but that was only a temporary solution. He would have to ask John to come out here to fix it because Stiles was more likely to maul his hand than to repair the hinges, he was well aware of that fact. And asking Derek would just be as useless. Derek had never really grasped the concept of doors, he would just tell him to leave it as it was.
Inside the cabin, Stiles stripped off the wet pants and put on some dry clothes. Then he grabbed his wallet and keys and one struggle with the door later he was on his way to where he had parked his jeep. Well, technically it was John's but he had given it to Stiles years ago when he'd gotten sick of picking him up at random places. Stiles loved that jeep and the mobility that came with it. He'd never known what he'd missed until he'd gotten this jeep.
He got behind the wheel and eased the car onto the road. It was a few miles into town but there was no traffic on the back-roads at this time of the day.
In town, he stopped at his favorite burger joint before he headed towards John's house. This wasn't their usual day but Stiles knew his schedule and if nothing had come up, like a dead body in a ditch somewhere but he really hoped the werewolf had found a better hiding spot for that, the sheriff should be home any minute now.
Stiles parked the jeep in the driveway with enough space next to it for the Sheriff's cruiser. Then he let himself into the house and set the paper bags on the kitchen table. Already munching on some curly fries, he set the table and laid out the food. He was just helping himself to some coke, no need in letting the ice melt, when the front door opened and the sheriff came in.
"Didn't expect you today," John greeted him but caught him in tight hug nevertheless. Then his eyes fell on the take-out bags.
"What did you do?" He asked with a groan which didn't stop him from snatching some of the fries Stiles had already opened.
"Can't I just come by for a friendly visit?" Stiles asked innocently and nudged a burger in John's direction which got him another suspicious look. Not that John said no to the burger, though.
"You come by for dinner three times a week and you drop by at the station whenever you feel like it." John peeled the wrapper back to have a look at the burger. "So no, you don't just come by for a friendly visit. What did you do?" He repeated the question.
"Nothing, I swear." Stiles raised his hands to show how innocent he was. It was the truth, he hadn't done anything. He wasn't the one who had murdered somebody to death.
John narrowed his eyes on him.
"What do you want, then?" He asked and took a bite of his burger. "You didn't butter me up with unhealthy fast food for nothing."
He might have a point there, Stiles had to admit.
"I need to have a look at your file about the Hale pack," Stiles said with his mouth full of curly fries. Those were just too good. He would get them daily but John was right with the unhealthy food. It wasn't good, at least for John. And getting them just for himself to eat them all alone was just sad. Junk food was meant for people to share otherwise it was just something a sad and lonely person did. And Stiles was not sad and lonely. At least not sad and lonely enough to stuff himself with curly fries and ice cream while he was all alone.
"What makes you think I have a file about the Hale pack?" John pulled him off his train of thoughts. "Officially werewolves don't exist and even more officially I don't know that they exist and are living next door."
"Next door is living Mrs. Chandler," Stiles corrected him. "I'm lucky her little rat of a dog didn't notice me when I got out of the car, that's a biter no matter what she says. Those are not playful nips. The pack lives out in the preserve."
"The dog just doesn't like you." John shrugged. As far as Stiles knew that little hell beast had it out for him but only him. To others, it was just a barking nuisance but to Stiles, it was an ankle biter. Something in his scent, Stiles guessed, the dog probably knew that there was something up with him but that was still no reason to bite him every chance he got.
"The point is that I need to know about the pack." Stiles brought them back on topic.
"Why?" John asked, now full in sheriff mode.
"Had a run-in with one of them last night," Stiles admitted because he knew that he would have to give him something. Not the whole story, of course, he had no intention to mention the dead body at this point but something.
"Nothing really." Stiles swirled a fry between his fingers. "One of them came out to my cabin last night."
"Did he ..." John made a vague gesture at Stiles. "You know ... notice something about you?"
"Not sure." Stiles let out a sigh. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut. "But he knows that I know about werewolves."
"How did he take it?" John asked carefully. They both knew that werewolves kept their very existence a secret, something both of them could understand, but it raised the question of what they would do if somebody found out.
"He tried to threaten me but he backed off when I mentioned that I'm friends with the sheriff." He winked at John. "Then he left."
It was the truth, more or less.
"I just want to be prepared. Just in case," Stiles said.
John nodded to that.
"I have the file in my safe, you can have a look after dinner."
Not that Stiles hadn't known where said file was and he even knew the combination to the safe, Claudia's birthday. As a sheriff, John should know better than to use his dead wife's birthday for his safe but Stiles wasn't complaining.
There were other files in there along with a gun and wolfsbane bullets. When John had found out about werewolves, he had done his research and he was prepared. As far as Stiles knew, the gun and the bullets had been sitting in the safe since John had bought them years ago. Stiles was no fan of the Hale pack but he had to admit that they did keep a low profile. Some might even call them pillars of the community.
"Who are you looking for?" John asked when he got the manila folder out of the safe.
"He didn't tell me his name. Do you have pictures in there?" Stiles made grabby hands at the file.
Over the years, John had built up an impressive file on the Hale family with a dossier about every member but leaving through the pages Stiles found it rather boring. It was a big pack with fourteen members living permanently in the main house. They had property all over the town where some of the extended family lived but the notes on those were more sketchy. Not that it mattered, Stiles was pretty sure that he had met one of the inner circle last night. Not the alpha, the man's eyes had been blue not red, but close. He had carried an aura of authority.
"Talia Hale is the head of the family." John pointed out the pages about her. "Most likely she's the alpha. Her brother Peter is kind of a trouble maker, got arrested a few times when he'd been younger but it looks like he's calmed down." He paused for a second, thinking. "Or he just got better at hiding his tracks."
"That's him." It had been dark but Stiles would have recognized him anywhere. And what John had just said erased all doubt. Peter had moved on from juvenile vandalism to murder but he was better at hiding his tracks. The lake and the cabin were good places to get rid of a body, Stiles had to give him that. It was just that it was his cabin and his lake, well, Derek's lake actually but that was not the point.
"Can I borrow this?" Stiles asked, he wanted to read the file in peace. He had avoided the Hale pack for years but now he had the feeling that it was a good idea to get up to date with them. Just in case. Who knew what Peter Hale would do? He had murdered someone and Stiles was a witness after all.
"You can read it here but I don't want to give it out of my hand," John said with a stern look. "How long can you stay?"
"Not long enough to read it all." Stiles made a face.
"You're coming by for dinner tomorrow anyway," John reminded him. "You can read the rest then. One day doesn't matter, right?" That was the sheriff speaking.
"No." Stiles shook his head. He doubted that Peter would do anything right now. He was probably waiting if Stiles made a move.
"I left my laptop at the cabin can I use your computer?" Stiles made himself more comfortable in the chair, looked like he was staying here for a while. "I'd like to take some notes."
Peter left the Hale house before most of the pack was back for the day. He was not in the mood for a full house. He hadn't slept and the events from last night were still on his mind.
On some level he expected the sheriff to show up with some of his deputies. At least to question him. Peter doubted that they had more to go on than whatever that kid from last night had told them, though. If he had told the sheriff.
And even if, they didn't have a body, Peter hadn't killed the guy at the cabin so they didn't have a crime scene and he was pretty sure that nobody had filed a missing person report for him. So far no hunters or other packs had shown up in the Hale territory so chances were good that nobody even knew that he had gone missing around here.
So it was just the word of a teenager against his and with no evidence, there wasn't much the sheriff could do even if he believed the kid.
It might be the lack of sleep but Peter still kept a wary eye on the cruiser with the logo of the sheriff's department on the side when he saw one in town. But it took a left turn where Peter had to turn right so there was that. Not that he was actually bothered. He had been caught more red-handed before. But he was curious what the kid would do. And he still didn't know who that kid even was.
Without much to go on Peter did the one thing he could do. Find out who that damn lake belonged to. It probably, most likely, was irrelevant to the current situation but it kept bugging him that he didn't know. Usually, he took pride in knowing what was going on in Beacon Hills. How he could have kept a blind eye on such a huge part of the surroundings was beyond him and that just wasn't right.
At least that bit was easy to find out.
An hour later and quite a bit of money poorer, why did official offices have to charge for every finger they lifted, Peter left the building with an answer that didn't help him whatsoever. The lake and the surrounding woods had been Hale land in the beginning. At least on paper. Nobody had ever built on that land, the cabin was most likely illegal or not big enough to count, and it hadn't been used whatsoever. At least not in any official way. As far as Peter could tell the Hale pack back then had claimed it but had left it alone. Which kind of made sense, they had more than enough land on the other side of the at that point growing town.
But then one day for no particular reason, somebody named Johnathan Hale had signed that land over to a company. The Beacon Hills Lake Company was still registered as the owner of the land.
"What the fuck is the Beacon Hills Lake Company?" Peter muttered when he got into his car. A lot of the businesses in town were owned by a member of the Hale family and if they weren't the owner, they were involved one way or the other anyway. It was part of Peter's job to keep an eye on what was going on in town. Not every threat came with wolfsbane bullets, some came with money and sweet promises and next thing you know, you've lost your bakery. And your house.
However, Peter had never heard about this company.
Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel he weighed his options. He probably should try to find out who that kid was but he had nothing to go on with that and all he could do on that front was to wait for his next move. If there was a next move.
Every other kid would be hiding in his room, peeking out between closed curtains for the werewolf coming his way. Judging by his reaction yesterday that was this teenager's least likely reaction and that alone piqued Peter's interest. He had no idea what the kid would do and he loved it.
Making a decision Peter started the engine and headed over to the library. Maybe he could find something about that company in old newspapers. Signing over such a huge chunk of the Hale property must have caused some ripples back then. And while he was at it, he should have a closer look at the sheriff.
"Hi, Denise," Peter greeted the librarian when he entered the building.
"Peter." She caught him in a motherly hug. She had been working at the library since he had been a kid and she was one of the few people who never grew tired of his questions. "What brings you here today?"
His usual day to come in was Friday, after he had dropped off Emily for her guitar lesson, and by now he knew how many books he needed to last him the week.
"Bad book haul or do you just need a place to escape?" She gave him a knowing smile. He liked living with his pack but fourteen people in one house, even if it was as big as the Hale house, it could become too much from time to time. As a teenager, he used to hide in the library until Denise kicked him out when they closed for the day. His nightly activities had been, and still were, less sophisticated, though.
"Neither," Peter replied easily. "Just good old curiosity. How far back is the Beacon Hills Daily digitized?"
"We're still on it," Denise admitted. "Somewhere around 1940? Are you looking for something specific?"
"Have you ever heard of the Beacon Hills Lake Company?" Peter asked. It was worth a shot, Denise had been around for a while and had always been involved with what was going on in Beacon Hills. Aside from being his book dealer, Denise was a valuable source of information, not that she knew that Peter used her that way. She just liked to chat with him. And with everybody else willing to talk to her. Which was half the town.
"Never heard of them." She made the same face Peter was sure he had made when he'd read that name in the register. "Someone new in town?"
"More a rather old one, it looks like," Peter answered, already heading towards the computers. The Hale pack had signed over the lake a good 150 years ago but before he started with the microfiche he wanted to see if the company was mentioned in what was already digitized. It was worth a shot.
The library was rather empty and Denise was not the only one working so she had the time to follow him.
"Why are you interested in some old company?" Denise asked but by now she was used to him being interested in weird topics. Even if she only got the censored version of his interests. At home, he had a whole library with rare and obscure books. Most authentic books on the supernatural didn't belong in a public library.
"They are registered as the owner of the lake." He didn't need to specify which lake he was talking about, there was only one lake around here.
"Don't tell me you're interested in buying that damn lake," Denise hissed in a low voice and had a quick look around if somebody was close enough to overhear their conversation.
"I doubt it's for offer." He wasn't sure if he would buy it even if it was for offer. Something out there had felt wrong last night and if he was right that something supernatural was living in the lake, it was probably for the better to not disturb it.
That company did not come up in the archive but as Denise had said, the earliest newspaper he found was from 1938. He would have to look at the microfiche for the older ones. At least he had the date when the land had been signed over.
However, since he was sitting at the computer, he typed Sheriff Stilinski into the search bar.
"The sheriff?" Peter didn't have to look at Denise to hear her raised eyebrow. "Peter Hale, what are you up to?"
"Just curious." When the sheriff had been elected, Peter did have a closer look at him just to get a feeling for what kind of person he was. It was Talia who maintained the political and social connections they had in town, Peter was more interested in the not official stuff.
John Stilinski, however, didn't have much in the way of not official stuff which was why Peter had left him to Talia. He had other connections in the sheriff's department.
What came up with his search now only confirmed what he already knew about the man. Widower, no children and no family in town. Elected sheriff three years ago.
The few times they had interacted in person he had seemed like a nice man and a good sheriff. Not that there was much going on in Beacon Hills anyway.
"What can you tell me about him?" Peter asked because Denise was the person to ask if one was looking for some good old gossip.
Over the next minutes, Peter learned that John and his late wife Claudia had been high school sweethearts who had married young but that he had lost her two years later to cancer. Denise didn't outright say it but it was clear that that had been a dark time for the sheriff during which Jack Daniels had been his best friend. But he had come back from that and now she only had high praises for him.
"Oh, and he's kind of taken his nephew under his wing."
"Nephew?" Peter gave her a look. According to what he'd read just a minute ago the sheriff didn't have any family around.
"He's from out of town or something." Denise made a dismissive gesture. "But he visits John regularly and he often comes here when he's in town. Kind of reminds me of you." She gave him a soft smile. "Lots of weird interests."
"Trouble at home?" Peter guessed.
"He doesn't talk about his family and I don't ask." Denise shrugged. "This is supposed to be a safe place."
Denise liked her gossip like the next person but she had always known when to back off. A fact about her Peter appreciated, especially when he had been a kid who just wanted to escape his family for a little while.
"Not sure if I've seen him around."
"You would have noticed him." Denise chuckled to herself. "He's a chatty one and if he's not absorbed in whatever he's reading up on this time, he kind of forgets that this is a library."
"Is that so?" That did sound familiar. It didn't have to be the kid he'd met last night but so far it was the first kid he'd heard of with a connection to the sheriff.
However, Peter was pretty sure that this was not the kid he was looking for. He had said that he was friends with the sheriff not that the sheriff was his uncle. But checking him out wouldn't hurt and if nothing else he could cross him off his list. Which would leave him with no names on the list again.
By the time Peter moved over to the microfiche, Denise had to go back to work but she had provided him with a name, Stiles Stilinski, and his preferred time to come into the library.
In the old papers, Peter found one small article that mentioned the Hale family signing off half their land to that mystery company but that was it. It didn't come up ever again.
He would have to tap some other sources but so far it looked as if that company had been founded for the sole purpose of legally owning the lake and the surrounding area. There was no individual name coming up not even an address and it didn't look as if that company had ever done anything. But legally it was still around.
"Interesting." Peter leaned back in his chair.
On his way out he waved Denise goodbye and drove back to the Hale house. By now most of the pack was home and dinner was almost ready.
"Slice the bread, would you?" Deborah put a knife in his hand and shoved him in the direction of where the bread was waiting for him on the counter.
Next to him, Laura was busy with cutting tomatoes for the salad. She was home from college for the week and Cora hadn't stopped pestering her with questions about life on campus. Which she was doing now from the other side of the counter. Cora couldn't wait to leave for college as well but that would still take a few years. For now, she was hanging with glassy eyes on her big sister's lips.
On Peter's other side Deborah was talking to her husband, something about Emily and school, and from the living room, Peter could hear the soft murmur from the rest of his pack. Peter let out a content sigh and started to slice the bread.
The sheriff didn't knock at the Hale house's door the next day or the day after that so Peter was pretty sure whoever the kid had been, he hadn't told the sheriff. And it didn't look like the body had been found either but he doubted that anybody would find it. At least not this decade.
So Peter turned his attention to other things.
To babysitting Emily for example. The girl had come down with the flu and as a human, she had to suffer through it. Why it had to be him who had to bring her fresh tea and read her story after story, Peter didn't know. Okay, he didn't have a nine to five like the others, strictly speaking he didn't work at all, but even if Emily's parents had to work, Pamela and Walter were retired, why couldn't they look after the kid? Reading stories was basically in the job description for grandfathers but Walter was off with some church thing and Pamela out to buy more supplies for the garden. Peter appreciated the fresh fruits and vegetables but couldn't she let the garden be for one day and look after the sick child? Apparently not which was the reason Peter was stuck with that duty.
He didn't mind that much, his complaining was mainly out of principle alone. But Emily liked the way he read the stories, with sarcastic comments sprinkled in, so he sat with his back propped up against the headboard, the feverish child tucked into his side and read to her until she fell asleep.
When he was sure that she was deep asleep, her breath heavy from her congested nose, he untangled her and slipped out of the bed. He had stains of snot on his shirt and he was reeking of sweat and sickness and the medication he had given her earlier but to his own surprise, he didn't mind. Nothing a shower and a fresh shirt couldn't fix.
Emily was still sleeping when he came out of the bathroom and it looked as if she would sleep for quite a while now. Earlier the coughing had kept her up.
"How's she doing?" Cora asked when he came into the living room. She was back from school but instead of starting with homework right away, she was busy on her phone.
"Sleeping." Peter watched her from the doorway. It hadn't been long since Cora had been a nine-year-old he had read stories to. And when had he become a sentimental old man?
"Being sick sucks." Cora made point of sniffing the air. Even after his shower, Peter was pretty sure that she could smell the traces on him. And that was nothing compared to what Emily was reeking of. Poor kid but at least human kids seem to bounce back from something like this pretty quickly.
"Can you keep an eye on her for a while?" Peter asked. Emily should be sleeping for the next hours, at least, but he didn't want to leave her alone just in case.
"Why don't you do it?" Cora had turned her attention back to her phone like the teenager she was. "I'm going out with a friend in a bit."
"I want to get some books from the library, I'm getting sick of reading this series to her." Emily was enjoying the stories but some variety didn't hurt and it would keep them both sane.
"Can't you ask Boyd or Isaac?"
"They're still at school, lacrosse training," Peter reminded her. "And Erica has work after school. At the moment it's just you and me so you're going to keep an eye on her while I'm gone."
Cora groaned with a hint of a growl.
"Park your ass on that couch until I'm back," Peter snapped at her. "If she wakes up, you check if she needs anything. I won't be long."
Cora glared at him but didn't object. Knowing that this was all he would get from her, Peter left the house. He wasn't worried that Cora would skip out the second he was out of the driveway, she was a wolf after all. She wouldn't abandon a pack member in need. On the outside, she might be all huff and puff but on the inside, she loved her cousin. Well, second cousin. Not that that made a difference.
Peter could have waited with the library run until the rest of the pack was home but this was one of the times it was likely that the sheriff's nephew was at the library as well.
Even if he saw the kid there, Peter doubted that he was the one he'd met at the lake but so far no other name had come up. Peter had even spent an evening with Cora's yearbook but so far no luck. The kid didn't go to Beacon Hills High.
When Peter wanted to pull into the lot of the library, he had to wait for a beat-up jeep to exit first. Peter didn't pay much attention to it, his mind was on what kind of books he should get for Emily and that he might need Denise's help to find something for her, but then he noticed a familiar face behind the wheel of the jeep.
Library forgotten Peter turned the car around and followed the jeep. It was a pretty distinctive car so Peter kept his distance to not alert the kid to his presence.
However, he might not have been as sneaky as he'd thought because the kid drove right to the sheriff's station. Peter drove by slowly but kept an eye on him through the rear-view mirror.
The kid parked the car and got out without a care in the world, though. Peter noticed gangly legs and a wide plaid shirt before he was out of sight.
He dared to turn around and park at the other side of the road, not directly in front of the station but close enough that he had a good view on the jeep. A stakeout in front of the sheriff's station might be a bad idea but Peter was not willing to let that kid go again.
The pack's WhatsApp group was full with new messages so he wasn't just pretending that he was on his phone but he did keep an eye on the entrance of the station.
Cora was complaining that Peter had basically grounded her but nobody bothered to answer to that. So she spammed a few pouty faces but then she moved on to other things.
At least Deborah and Talia should be home any time now so Peter didn't feel bad for her.
He glanced over to the station again but the kid wasn't coming back out.
"What are you doing in there?" Peter wondered aloud. He had only gotten a short glimpse at him but the teenager hadn't looked like somebody who had been constantly looking over his shoulder for the murderous werewolf coming for him for the last few days.
Twenty minutes later the kid still hadn't come out and Peter started to get an uneasy feeling. This was most likely the Stiles Stilinski Denise had told him about so it might be normal for him to pop in at his uncle's work, Peter didn't know. He did know, however, that it would look rather suspicious if he stayed here much longer. He gave Stiles another five minutes but when by then he still had failed to appear, Peter cursed under his breath and turned the key in the ignition.
But at least now he had a name and a license plate, he could work with that.
He drove back to the library but his mind was not on books for Emily. However, he could use that as an opener to get Denise to talk.
Like expected Denise was delighted to show him all the books they had for nine-year-old girls. At the sight of this much pink and unicorns, Peter wanted to throw up. He picked a few that didn't let his teeth rot just looking at them and he even found one or two that sounded pretty cool.
"By the way, did I see the sheriff's nephew in here earlier?" Peter asked innocently. "That Stiles kid?"
Was Stiles even a name?
"Oh, yes." Denise lit up. "He reminds me a lot of you. He was looking for old newspaper articles as well." She shook her head, amused by the coincidence, but Peter couldn't help but wonder if Stiles had been looking for him. Maybe that was what he was doing at the station. Maybe he wasn't there to report anything, maybe he was there to use his uncle to get information about him.
"What was he looking for?" Peter asked while he pretended to be engrossed in the blurb of a book with princess in the title. It also read dragon so it might not be too bad.
"I don't know, it was quite busy here at the time," she said. "And I usually don't read over somebody's shoulder while they're in here."
"You could have fooled me." Peter gave her a toothy smile. She was nosy but she also knew where to draw the line. "Does he usually read old newspapers or was this the exception?"
"Peter Hale." She straightened up to her full high, which wasn't that high, and gave him a scolding look. "Why are you so interested in that boy?"
He did look like some creep, Peter had to admit, but he couldn't tell her the truth either. So he went for the next best thing.
"Cora, she …" He lowered his voice to a conspiracy whisper. "She's sixteen now and well …" He made a vague gesture and let her fill in the blanks.
"You mean your Cora and the Stilinski kid?" Denise whispered back but way louder than him.
"She hasn't used a name." Peter back-paddled a bit. He didn't want to spread rumors but Cora was sixteen, there was most likely somebody she had hearty eyes for. If so it was nothing serious, though. He and every other wolf in the pack would have smelled the pheromones on her if she were in love. But she was a teenager and Peter had given up on keeping track of the emotional roller coaster she was emitting.
"You keep out of that." Denise pointed with her finger at him. "Let the girl make her experiences. She doesn't need her uncle to give some poor kid the shovel speech. Besides, he's the sheriff's nephew, he knows right from wrong." She paused at that. "Most of the time. But he's a good kid."
"You said he has trouble at home," Peter prompted.
"I also said that the sheriff took him under his wing," Denise reminded him but it was enough to get her talking.
Stiles came into the library at least once a week and he had dinner with the sheriff quite often. And he visited him at work regularly so his trip to the station today was not out of the ordinary.
"I once saw the sheriff over at that burger place a bit down the street and he begged me to not tell Stiles that he had a burger and cheese fries there. Stiles is obsessed with him eating healthy, it's kind of a running gag by now. Deputy Parrish even said that the sheriff had paid him a twenty just to keep him quiet."
Peter left the library deep in thoughts. Thanks to Denise he had gotten quite a good picture of Stiles. However, he didn't seem to be a guy who was unfazed by blatant murder. So Peter was pretty sure that this was only what Stiles wanted people to see about him.
Peter drove back to the Hale house, by now it was almost dinner time and most of the pack should be home.
"You!" Cora was right in his face when he came through the door. "You said you would be right back."
"Didn't you want to go out with your friend?"
"Yeah but guess what." Her eyes showed a hint of gold. "She left without me because I was stuck babysitting Emily. Which was your job."
"Haven't Deborah or Talia been home by then?" He wondered. He had counted at least on his sister to come home right after work. She always came home right away.
"Mom had a meeting and Deborah had to finish a project, they were counting on you to look after Emily." Her voice dropped into a growl and now there were too many teeth in her mouth to talk properly any longer.
"Cora!" Talia called from deeper into the house.
Cora let out one more growl which was answered by a deeper one from her mother which was enough for her to gain control again.
"I'm sorry," Peter said. He had fucked up, he knew that. "I'll make it up to you."
"You better." She growled at him and then stalked back to her room.
"I just hope Denise isn't spreading any rumors," Peter muttered to himself.
Stiles hadn't kept up with the Hale pack for quite a while but now he read the dossier John had on the pack, Peter's official file and every newspaper article that mentioned a Hale.
They were pillars of the community. Talia, the alpha was involved with the town's council, several members of the family were active in the community and it looked as if half the town belonged to a Hale one way or the other.
Over the years the pack had taken in several teenagers. The details were not publicly known but John hinted at an abusive background for that Lahey kid and Denise said something about medical bills Erica's mother couldn't pay. The latest addition to the pack was a teenager named Boyd but neither John nor Denise knew much about him. Stiles' best guess was that he got bitten by accident or had to be bitten in an emergency situation.
The Hales were good people, that's what Stiles got out of what he read and heard about them. Except for Peter. As a teenager, he had been kind of a troublemaker but he had calmed down over the years. Denise liked him a lot and she even mentioned that he had been reading old newspaper articles as well just the other day.
"Something about the lake." Denise dismissed his question when Stiles wanted to know what Peter had been looking for. But she had been called away before Stiles could find out more.
Chewing on his pencil Stiles had continued his research but he couldn't help but wonder if Peter Hale was looking for him as well.
From what Stiles found out about him, Peter didn't work. He had finished school with impressive grades, had gone Ivy League with two semesters in England but he had never really worked a day in his life. At least not as far as Stiles knew of.
"He works from home," Denise said when Stiles asked her about that. But what exactly he was doing, she couldn't tell either.
Stiles' money was on some kind of left-hand thing for the pack. If he was right than Peter was the one who took care of any threat to the pack. He was the one who got his hands dirty to keep them safe.
They had met over a dead body after all.
"Do you see me as a threat?" Stiles wondered. It had been a few days and so far he hadn't seen the werewolf. Hadn't Denise mentioned him, Stiles wouldn't even know that he was still in town. But from what he now knew about the werewolf, Stiles didn't peg him for somebody who would run. Most likely he was waiting for Stiles' next move. Not that Stiles intended to do anything.
He hadn't told John and as long as no body was found and no missing person report regarding that man came in, he wouldn't. As far as Stiles knew the man had been another werewolf or maybe a hunter, nothing the normal world needed to know about. Besides, he really didn't want to get involved in pack business.
So Stiles went back to his normal routine with dinners with John, the occasional visit at the station and his trips to the library.
"So." Denise cornered him when he was checking out the shelf with the latest Scandinavian murder mysteries, those had been popular for quite a while but he'd only discovered them recently and now he was hooked. He'd read his way through Stieg Larsson and was now checking out what else was there.
"Hm?" Stiles wasn't sure what he should make out of the situation.
"You and that Hale girl ..." She gave him a knowing smile.
"Me and what Hale girl?"
"Cora," Denise prompted.
It took him a moment to get what she was implying.
"There is no me and a Hale girl," Stiles squeaked and almost dropped the book he'd been eyeing. "I don't know any Hales and I don't want to know any Hales. Certainly not a Hale girl."
He'd read the name Cora Hale in John's file but she was sixteen and not the guy who had been at his cabin with a dead body in the middle of the night so he hadn't spared her a second thought. Even if he got in trouble with the pack, Cora would be the last one he would be wary of.
"I see," Denise said with a knowing smile.
"Who's saying that there's a me and a Hale girl thing?" Stiles almost yelled. "Because there isn't. I don't even know her. We've never met. The only Hale I've met lately is Peter and that's enough Hale for a while thank you very much."
"Hope he didn't give you too much grief," she said in a sympathetic voice that left Stiles even more confused. "Don't let him discourage you. You and Cora do what you want to do and don't let some overprotective uncle drive you apart."
"I'll keep that in mind," Stiles said because he didn't know what else he was supposed to say to that. Because what the fuck.
Stiles drove back out to the lake, still fuming. Why was Peter spreading rumors about him? Where was this even coming from? Because just like he'd told Denise he didn't know any Hales and he had no interest in getting to know them.
At the cabin, Stiles struggled with the door. Again. John had promised to come out to fix the hinges but he had to pull double shifts because two of his deputies had called in sick and he had nobody but himself to cover for them. Maybe over the weekend. Until then Stiles had to struggle with a not cooperating door. At least it wasn't winter so it didn't matter that it wasn't closing properly. The little draft was quite nice, actually.
Still huffing, Stiles dropped his bag with the books on the bed and had another look at them. Which one to start with?
"So, you're Stiles."
Stiles jumped and dropped the book on his foot.
"Dammit," he cursed, jumping on one foot. "What's with you and the breaking in?"
The cabin was small, almost tiny, but Stiles didn't have a real look around when he'd come in. Peter must have been standing by the stove. Or he had been up in the rafters like a creeper.
"The door was open," Peter offered.
"Har har," Stiles made. "You still owe me for that."
Peter stepped out of the shadows.
"What do you want?" Stiles asked when Peter failed to say anything. At the moment he was inspecting the books Stiles had on his shelf. Which weren't many. He didn't have much room to store them and at the library, he got them for free.
"Stiles Stilinski," Peter finally said.
"That's me," Stiles confirmed, gesturing at himself. "And?"
"You were not lying when you said that you know the sheriff." Peter turned towards him. "But he's not your uncle. I checked. John Stilinski doesn't have close family and none of the family he has lives on this side of the country. Same for the relatives of his late wife. In fact, there is nobody by the name Stilinski living anywhere around here."
"Your point is?"
"My point is that I don't know who you are." Peter stepped closer. "But you know about me and my family. I don't like that."
"You know, it's kind of funny." Stiles shook his head. "The deputies never questioned my relationship to John, they just took his word for it. And then you come along and blow my cover."
"I haven't blown anything," Peter reminded him. "Yet." His eyes wandered down Stiles' body.
"Careful." Stiles closed the gap between them. "You might put more into your mouth than you can swallow."
They were only inches apart now, Stiles felt Peter's breath on his skin when the other man huffed out a laugh.
"You're not easy to intimidate."
"What do you want?" Stiles held his gaze. He didn't know what the werewolf was up to, maybe he did come here to get rid of a loose end, but Stiles would not back down.
"What are you, Stiles?" Peter asked with a tilt of his head that told Stiles that he was listening to more than just his words.
"None of your business."
"I have to keep my pack safe." Peter broke eye contact and took a step back. He moved around Stiles and picked up the book which Stiles had dropped on his foot. Carefully, he put it back to the others. "Are you a threat to my pack?"
"I don't care about your pack." Stiles felt his voice rising. "You were the one who came here. With a dead body. You wanted to dump your trash in my cabin. I didn't start this."
"True." Peter gave him a nod.
"But you know about me and my pack," Peter continued. "And you don't like us." He paused, probably waiting for Stiles to explain himself but for once in his life, Stiles didn't feel the need to fill the blank.
"Are you a hunter, Stiles?"
"I'm not part of your war if that's what you think," Stiles answered. "But just FYI I don't want hunters snooping around here either."
"I see." Peter gave him a little half-smile as if that statement had confirmed something for him.
"You should leave now," Stiles said and made a point of taking out his phone. "You're trespassing, I should call the sheriff."
"I could kill you before you even hit the first number."
Stiles gave him an unimpressed look.
"If you keep threatening to kill me without following through with that, nobody will take you serious any longer," Stiles told him. "You know, it's a crying wolf kind of thing."
"Maybe I should just do it, then." Peter stepped closer again. For a second Stiles was sure that he would snatch the phone out of his hand but he didn't. "Slash your throat and get it over with."
Stiles set his jaw and looked him straight in the eye.
"You would regret that." Stiles wasn't sure who would get to Peter first, John or Derek, but he knew without a doubt that Peter would regret trying to kill him. Some of that must have translated into his expression because Peter backed off without slashing his throat. Good because that would have sucked.
"How old are you, Stiles?" Peter changed the topic.
"Worried that I'm jail bait?" Stiles shot back but he had to give him kudos for still trying to get information out of him.
"I think you're way older than you look." Peter gave him another up and down. "You're not a fae, are you?"
That made him laugh.
"I've been called a fairy before but no, I'm not a fae."
The relieved expression on Peter's face which he didn't even try to cover up made him laugh again.
"You thought I was fae?" Stiles couldn't help it, he couldn't keep a straight face. "That's what you came up with?"
"Since you're not giving me anything …" Peter spread his hands in a helpless gesture.
"Why should I?"
"You know more about me than I know about you."
"That's why you're making things up about me?" His conversation with Denise was still fresh in his mind.
Peter raised a questioning eyebrow at him.
"According to you I'm dating your niece," Stiles reminded him. "You can't just spread rumors like that. I'm not dating a fucking Hale." The rage was back and if Peter didn't wipe that smug expression off his face right now, Stiles would do it for him.
"I needed an explanation why I'm interested in a sixteen-year-old boy. Denise started to think I'm a pedophile." Peter shrugged.
"Sixteen?" Stiles latched onto that. "You think I look like sixteen? Eighteen! I should look at least like I'm eighteen."
"Why eighteen?" Peter asked calmly. He was watching him closely to catch every bit of information he could get out of him, Stiles knew that, but he was done. He just wanted the werewolf gone. He wanted to dig into his books and read the whole night and not care about fucking werewolves in his cabin.
"You want to know why?" Stiles was right in his face. "Do you?" He didn't give Peter the chance to answer. "Because I was eighteen when the Hale pack killed me!"
"We what?" That was not the answer Peter had expected.
"Yeah." Stiles was poking his chest with a finger. "You fuckers drowned me."
"I ..." Peter had no idea what to say to that. It did explain why Stiles didn't like the Hale pack, though. "Why would we do that?"
Stiles opened his mouth to tell him exactly why they had done it but suddenly there was a figure in the doorway.
"Stiles!" The man bellowed and Stiles snapped his mouth shut. "Enough."
Stiles threw him a glance, not in the slightest surprised by the newcomer it looked like.
"Just make him go away," Stiles said, sounding defeated. He shouldered his way past the other man and then Peter was alone with whoever this was. Another one who had managed to sneak up on him, maybe he was getting old.
"And you are?" Peter had a closer look at him. Just like Stiles the other day, the man was dripping wet but at least he was fully clothed. Jeans and a Henley were clinging to his body while there was a puddle forming around his boots. His wet hair was plastered to his skull and there were droplets in his scruff. He must have come straight out of the water.
"This is my territory," the man said and crossed his arms in front of his chest. He had come in far enough to not block the door any longer but he kept his distance. "Go back to yours. We don't want you here, wolf."
With Stiles Peter hadn't been sure if he was human or not, still wasn't, but with this man there was no doubt. He was not even remotely human. The eyes that were glaring at Peter from under thick brows were old and his whole presence vibrated with something else.
Peter took a quick whiff but he didn't smell anything but lake water and the muddy smell of the vegetation from the bottom of a lake. This was a creature of the water, there was no doubt about that. Now the drownings made sense. There was no wicked undercurrent, it was this creature.
Peter raised his hands to show that he didn't mean any harm. "I'll leave."
The man, or what looked like a man, didn't move and Peter had to almost brush shoulders with him to leave the cabin. For a second he was convinced that he would grab him. The shore was only a few feet away, it would be easy to drag him underwater. But the creature didn't move at all and Peter breathed easier once he was outside and had brought a few more feet between himself and the water.
"Derek," Stiles called out to the man who was now standing in the doorway again, still watching Peter. "It's okay, he's leaving."
He's trying to protect me, Peter realized and took another step back.
"Stay on your side of the town," the man, Derek, said before he turned around and walked out into the water. It was up to his hips when he looked back over his shoulder but not at Peter.
"Stiles," he said. "Come."
"Sorry, gotta go." Stiles grinned at Peter, his outrage only minutes ago seemingly forgotten. "You still owe me for the door."
Peter just nodded and then he watched as Stiles followed the man into the water. Derek just disappeared under the surface but Stiles dove in with a big splash. They didn't come back up again.
Peter watched the surface for long minutes, the ripples had long disappeared and the whole lake was lying calm and quiet again, but neither of them came back up.
Whatever Derek was, Peter didn't want to agitate him even more so he turned around and walked back to his car.
The last minutes had gotten him some answers but they had also raised quite some questions.
He was about to start his car when the sheriff's cruiser came to a halt behind him.
"Great," Peter muttered but plastered a smile on his face when the sheriff approached him.
"Sheriff," he greeted him. "Did I do something wrong?"
"This is private property," the sheriff repeated Stiles' words from the other day. "What are you doing out here?"
For a long second, Peter weighed his options.
"I came here for a little chat with Stiles," he finally answered just to see the sheriff's reaction.
"He mentioned that you've been out here before."
"Your nephew is an interesting person." Peter gave him a toothy smile but he couldn't help but wonder what else Stiles had told the sheriff.
"You're playing with fire, I hope you know that," he said.
"It's more playing with water, don't you think?" Peter asked to test the waters so to speak. He knew that Stiles was involved with the sheriff but he didn't know how much the sheriff knew about what was going on out here. Considering how determined he was with keeping people from the lake, he had to know at least something.
"Stay away from the lake." The sheriff dismissed his comment.
Peter drove home deep in thoughts. In his mind he was already sorting through the books he had on water creatures, however, when he entered the house, he found almost everybody home.
Deborah and Christina were in the living room with baby stuff spread around them. Since Christina had announced that she was pregnant, not that the werewolves needed such an announcement to know, everybody was on some kind of baby high. The pack kept all the baby stuff and it got handed around to whoever needed it and at the moment everything was in their living room. He doubted that a newborn would need shoes right away but he spotted at least two pairs on one pile. If that was the to keep pile he didn't know and he didn't stay long enough to find out.
Pamela, Anthony, and Talia were in the kitchen but they had only started with preparing dinner and Peter left before he got roped into cutting onions.
Usually, the library was his place to retreat to, nobody else ever went there, but today he stopped right outside because he heard noises coming through the door. And for sure those were not reading related.
"Seriously?" Peter muttered under his breath but Boyd and Erica were too busy to even notice that somebody was right outside. Or they didn't care.
In the end, Peter retreated to his room where he had at least his computer. If nothing else he could do an online search on water creatures. It would at least give him a general idea.
But then he just sat there, staring blankly at the screen, while in his mind he was replaying what had happened at the cabin earlier.
Derek was a water creature living in the lake, that much was clear, but how did Stiles fit into the picture? Peter still wasn't sure if he was entirely human but for sure he was not like Derek. And what did he mean with that the Hale pack had killed him? Drowned, he corrected himself.
With nothing else to go on with, Peter searched for drownings in the lake. He would have to check out the newspapers at the library again for a more accurate result but this would do for now.
He did find articles about people who had drowned in that lake, some had been ruled accidents, some suicides, but he didn't find anything regarding Stiles. If that was his real name. It didn't sound like a real name.
"Peter?" There was a knock at the door and Isaac poked his head in. "Dinner's ready."
Leaving his research for now, Peter went to have dinner with his pack. The table was loud and chaotic, everybody was trying to talk about their day and what they wanted to do with the evening. Peter gave Boyd and Erica a glare just to let them know that they hadn't been as sneaky as they thought, and they were still reeking of sex, but Erica just stuck her tongue out to him and snatched a piece of bread from Boyd's plate.
Laura would leave for college again tomorrow so that was the main topic along with how cute she and Cora had looked in that onesie or this shirt Deborah and Christina had found among the baby stuff. Peter just knew that they would bring out the baby pictures just to prove that the girls had been cute babies in those clothes.
Neither Laura nor Cora were fond of that idea but nobody was asking them.
"I'm going out anyway," Cora proclaimed. "I'm not going to stick around when you start to coo over my baby pictures."
"Same," Laura agreed. "Want to watch a movie? Have a little sister-sister time before I leave?"
Cora made a face, clearly wanting to go but she shook her head. "I'm out with a friend. Had to cancel the other day because Uncle Peter dumped Emily on me, I can't cancel again."
"He didn't dump me on you," Emily spoke up. She was still talking funny because of her stuffed nose but her fever was down and she had stopped coughing. Mostly. And she was eating with appetite again.
"He totally did." Cora threw him a glare which Peter pretended to not notice. It hadn't been a nice move but she was acting a bit over-dramatic here. She had missed out on one outing with a friend. She was seeing her friends almost daily, he doubted that she had missed much.
Later that night, when the house had calmed down and it was only him and Talia left in the living room, Peter stretched out his legs with a sigh. He loved his pack, he really did, but they were a loud bunch and he was always looking forward to the quiet hours at night.
"There is some kind of water creature living in the lake." Peter broke the silence. Talia had brought out a bottle of wine and they were both sipping at their glasses without talking much.
"What kind of water creature?" She asked, taking his word for it. She didn't waste her time, asking if he was sure, instead she most likely was already thinking about what to do to keep the pack safe.
"I don't know," Peter admitted. "I have to look into it."
"Is it a threat?" Talia took another sip of her wine.
"I think it's the reason we don't go there." Peter got more comfortable in his chair. "We should keep it that way."
Talia just nodded.
"People have drowned out there," Peter continued, not sure how much he wanted to tell her.
"You're the one who was out there," Talia reminded him. "Hope you didn't go for a swim."
Peter just gave her a look.
After Talia bid him a good night and had turned in, Peter poured himself another glass of wine. The house was quiet and he had the peace to let his mind drift.
It was circling around Stiles.
The water creature was self-explaining but how did Stiles fit into the picture? Human sacrifices came to mind. Peter knew that some water creatures didn't just drown their victims. Some kept them as some kind of servants. Was that what Stiles was? Was he the creature's slave?
Peter had seen Stiles around town and he was at least interacting with Denise and the sheriff. So he was kept on a long leash?
The creature had told him to come and Stiles had followed, that much Peter knew. But Stiles hadn't seemed to be afraid of it. And when he'd said that Peter would regret killing him, he had most certainly spoken about the creature.
He stepped outside for a moment to get a feeling for the night but the forest was quiet and he didn't sense any danger in the air. Satisfied he locked the front door and checked the other doors and windows like usual.
Then he went upstairs but instead of heading to bed, he entered the library. The scent of Boyd and Erica still lingered in the air but it wasn't that dominant any longer. Peter opened a window nevertheless before he set his glass of wine down on his favorite desk and settled in for a long night. He had some research to do.
Mainly he had to find out what exactly was living next door and what Stiles' role in all this was. Because right now it looked an awful lot like the Hale pack had fed him to the lake creature at some point. And that didn't sit right with Peter.
He was trying to convince himself that he just wanted to know what he was dealing with, to estimate the threat the creature posed to the pack, but if he was honest, he wanted to know more about Stiles.
The next day Peter packed some tools and drove out to the lake. He had a door to repair.
He should let things rest, he knew that. Before he'd stumbled over Stiles everything with the water creature had been quiet and peaceful, so quiet that he hadn't even known that it was out there. There was no need in waking sleeping dogs, or water creatures. However, he couldn't stop thinking about Stiles. About the things he had implied. And outright said.
And it looked like the sheriff, who shouldn't know anything about the supernatural world knew at least about what was going on with Stiles and that didn't sit right with Peter.
It was still early in the day so Peter hoped that he would find Stiles at the cabin. Looking like a sixteen-year-old he hardly could wander around town while he was supposed to be at school. Especially as the sheriff's nephew.
Peter knocked at the door which Stiles hadn't bothered to close this time. It was still hanging askew, Peter had almost ripped it off and Stiles fighting with it every time he wanted to get in or out of the cabin hadn't done it any favors either.
Stiles was lying on the bed in the corner, which was more a pile of pillows and blankets than anything else, but now he looked up from the book he was reading.
"You again?" He groaned but didn't put down his book. "What do you want?"
Peter raised the toolbox.
"You said I owe you for the door."
That seemed to throw him off. Stiles dropped the book and rolled to his feet, and almost landed on his ass again when his foot got caught in a ripple of a blanket, but then he bounced back to his feet with a wide grin.
"I broke it."
"Thanks, man." Stiles came over to have a look at the tools in the box. "John promised to take care of it but I don't know when he's going to come around to it. He's working double shifts at the moment."
Peter nodded to that and had a closer look at the door.
"You didn't ask ... what was his name?" Peter asked with a gesture at the lake.
"Derek," Stiles confirmed the name Peter had in mind. "He's not great with human stuff. Never got doors."
Peter threw a glance at the lake, the shore was only a few feet away. Could the creature hear them? It had come out yesterday when Stiles had been talking too much.
"What exactly is he?" Peter dared to ask while he bent the hinge back into shape with his bare hands. He felt Stiles watching him with interest but he kept his eyes on the work at hand. The whole cabin was kind of old style, the hinges looked ancient but they were still in good condition. Peter was confident that they would hold the door just fine for at least a few more years.
"Why do you want to know that?" Stiles asked.
"I like to know what kind of creature is living this close to my pack," Peter answered honestly and reached for the screws to secure the hinges where they belonged.
"His name is Derek," Stiles said stiffly. "Don't call him a creature, creature."
Peter threw him a glance.
"I didn't mean to insult him," he said. "I just want to know what I'm dealing with."
"Why are you dealing with us anyway?" Stiles raised his arms to emphasize the question. "We've been fine going separate ways for decades. Why is a werewolf suddenly on this side of the town?"
Peter had another look at the lake. The surface was rippled by a light breeze but there was nothing indicating that Derek was nearby. Even the bad feeling he'd had when he'd come here the other night had eased off.
"I would like to talk to you somewhere private," Peter said and tried the door. It closed properly with only a hind of fraction when it fell into the lock. A careful tug in the right direction took care of that.
"Good as new." Satisfied with his work, Peter opened and closed the door a few time.
"What do you want to talk about?" Stiles narrowed his eyes on him, completely ignoring the door. Which was a shame.
"You, Derek, the part my pack played in whatever happened to you." Peter shrugged. "And I would like to have that talk somewhere not at the lake." He gave Stiles a pointed look.
"Who says that I want to talk to you?"
"I'm usually at the library around four in the afternoon on Fridays," Peter told him while he picked up his toolbox.
"You think I'll show up just because you say so?" Stiles yelled after him but Peter was already on his way back to his car. With the lake in his back, the uneasy feeling in his stomach was back again. He was not welcomed here, that much was clear. And he was pretty sure that he was being watched. And not by Stiles. At least not just by him.
Peter came home just in time to say goodbye to Laura. Walter would drive her to the airport and they had to hurry if Laura didn't want to miss her flight. So she just hugged Peter, promised to do some studying alongside the partying, a promise she gave with an eye-roll, and then she was gone.
It always felt strange when a pack member left for a longer period of time so Peter watched the car until it disappeared behind the trees.
Pamela was in the garden, there was always something to do there, but otherwise, the house was empty. At this time of the day the others were at work or school.
Peter used the quiet time to go back to his research. He had been able to narrow the creature, Derek, down to a handful of possibilities. He was living in a lake which crossed out a lot of things living in rivers and for sure everything ocean-related was out as well. And he appeared as a man. A lot of water spirits looked like women, those were out as well. So were kelpies and the like.
But Peter didn't want to assume too much. Just because Derek lived in a lake didn't mean he couldn't have chosen a river instead if he'd wanted to. And one appearance didn't mean that he couldn't take on a different shape as well.
Peter spent the next hours in the library with ancient books. The internet was fine and dandy but a lot of things he could only find in old books that hadn't even been translated into English.
"What are you working on?" Pamela came in with a tray.
"What time is it?" He hadn't thought that he'd been on this for that long but if she was here with sandwiches and coffee, it must be way past lunchtime.
"Almost two." She set the tray down on the desk that was not cluttered with books and notes. Once she had her hands free and there was no danger of spilling coffee over priceless books any longer, she had a closer look at what Peter was currently reading.
The text was in Latin but it was illustrated with woodcuts which showed a Vodyanoy, an East European water creature. This one was pretty high on Peter's list. It was known to present as a man, it could be pacified by gifts and it was known to keep people it drowned as servants.
"Brushing up on water creatures," Peter answered and reached for a sandwich. He had told Talia that there was one living in the lake but she was the alpha, she needed to know. The rest of the pack didn't. In most cases, they never got to know the dangers Peter kept them safe from.
If this thing was a danger to his pack, he was still trying to find out.
"Do I dare to ask why?" Pamela gave him a look.
"Just curious." Peter took a bite of the sandwich.
Pamela made an unbelieving noised but didn't push it.
"They say there's something out in the lake," she said, still eyeing the picture in the book.
It was a not flattering picture of the creature. It had a frog's head and there was seaweed hanging off its sleeves. But it was also known to be wearing wet clothes all the time which was a way to tell it apart from a human. Derek didn't have a frog head but he had been dripping wet. Given that he'd just came out of the water it didn't have to mean much, though.
"Why haven't I heard about that?" Peter wondered. It was his job to know about things like that. Most fairy tales had a grain of truth and for sure he needed to know if there were tales about that lake.
"Just something the adults used to tell us kids to scare us away from the lake," Pamela dismissed him. "There had been a few drownings when I was a kid and our parents didn't want us to go anywhere near the lake. So they told us that something was lurking there that would drag us underwater if we set as much as a foot in the water."
Peter had read about that series. There had been four cases, all ruled accidents. It had been a hot summer and a bunch of young people had been camping at the lake over the weekend. It read like some cheap horror movie, especially knowing that there was something in the water that had killed them and not just some undercurrent. It made sense that parents didn't want their kids to go there.
However, that didn't give him something new to go on with.
Without more information, he doubted that he could determine what exactly that Derek thing was so in the late afternoon, when people were piling in and the house became noisy again, Peter finished up in the library and left the house. Just because he had a mystery to solve didn't mean that he could neglect his other duties.
He made his round through the preserve, checking the borders, but everything was quiet. So far no werewolf or hunter had entered their territory but with that omega he'd killed the other day, Peter wanted to make sure.
Satisfied with that he drove back into town just to make sure nothing was going on there as well. Perks of having such a large pack spread all over the town, he had his contacts everywhere.
Peter didn't solve his pack's day-to-day problems but he had an open ear for them and the information he was gathering this way did help him to keep his pack safe and not just from supernatural threats. If something needed Talia's attention he would relate it to her later that day.
Nobody told him something important today, things were quiet on this front as well. The biggest problem seemed to be that an English teacher wouldn't be back anytime soon and that the substitute teacher would stay for the foreseeable future.
Cora had that class as well and she hadn't been complaining so Peter just nodded politely and hurried to leave before he had to listen to more school-related problems.
There was nothing he had to tell Talia so that evening they were just enjoying each other's company. Laura had arrived safely at her dorm which was the most important news.
As usual, Peter was the last one up and before he turned in, he made sure that the house was safe. Then he went to the bathroom to get ready for the night.
He was just rinsing the toothpaste out of his mouth when he heard something behind him. He shut off the water and strained his ears. The house was old but that was a noise he couldn't quite place. A soft scraping. Metal on metal.
Suddenly water started to drip from the showerhead.
Peter frowned at the knobs which of course weren't moving while he was watching them. Without taking his eyes off the shower he put down the toothbrush to have both hands free.
When after long seconds the showerhead just kept dripping without anything else happening, he stepped over to shut it off.
Somebody was standing behind him. Of course, there was. Peter gritted his teeth.
"What do you want from Stiles?" Derek asked.
Peter turned around and brought some distance between himself and the man standing in his bathroom. Which wasn't a man at all. Like yesterday he was dripping wet and glaring at him from under thick eyebrows.
"Leave us alone." Derek stepped closer backing him up against the wall.
"I don't mean to …" Peter started but Derek didn't let him finish the sentence.
He was quick. The next second he had pinned Peter against the wall, his hand covering his nose and mouth. To prevent him from screaming Peter thought but then water filled his airways.
Peter tried to break free but Derek just pressed his water-hand more firmly over the lower half of his face.
"I wasn't given what I've been promised," Derek said, not in the slightest bothered by Peter's claws slashing at his arm and face. "Maybe I'll take you instead."
Derek wasn't there.
At first, Stiles hadn't noticed. He had been in his cabin so he couldn't tell for how long Derek had been gone but he was not here now.
"Derek?" Stiles called out for him nevertheless but he didn't expect an answer. He didn't get one. "Great, just fucking great."
Fisting his hair, Stiles tried to think of something he could do. Derek hadn't left the lake in ages. He didn't care about what was going on outside his territory. And now he wasn't here.
It wasn't hard to guess where he was, though. The only thing that had bothered them lately had been that werewolf poking around.
Stiles found Peter entertaining if he was honest but to Derek, he was an intruder. A Hale no less. Stiles wasn't fond of the Hales either but he wouldn't just go out and kill one of them. Because that was exactly what Derek was most likely doing right now. He was out there, killing Peter Hale. And there was not a damn thing Stiles could do about that.
Wherever they were, they were too far away for Stiles to get there in time. By now it was too late most likely anyway.
Stiles wasn't sure how he felt about Peter being dead. He was a Hale but Stiles liked him. Kind of. And he had repaired his door. But Stiles got why Derek wanted him gone.
On the other hand, a dead Hale meant that the whole pack would have it out for them. Stiles guessed that they could retreat to the bottom of the lake for a decade or two but he liked his cabin and he liked his relationship with John. No way was he giving that up just because some werewolves didn't know on which side of the damn town they belonged.
Hands still in his hair Stiles paced up and down. Should he call John? There was a murder going on after all. Not that John would get to them sooner than Stiles would. Especially since he didn't know where they were. Most likely the Hale house, it was the middle of the night after all, but they could be anywhere in Beacon Hills.
Before he could make up his mind Derek was back.
"Where have you been?" Stiles yelled at him.
"What do you think?" Derek glared at him but he looked tired and just done.
"Did you kill him?" Stiles dared to ask and not just because he might have liked this particular werewolf or because of the trouble with the pack his death might cause them at the moment, he was focused on Derek.
Derek didn't like killing people. It had come as a surprise, his whole existence centered around drowning people who dared to come into his lake but that didn't mean that he liked it. It had taken Stiles almost a century to figure that out.
Thankfully they now had an alley in John who actually had the power to keep people away from the lake.
The last series of drownings had been devastating for Derek, four dumb teenagers who had thought that camping at the lake was a good idea. At least after that people had been wary of the lake again but things like that tend to fade over the years and people had started to come out here again. But thanks to John there hadn't been a drowning in years.
Except for today. Today Derek had gone out there to kill somebody.
Stiles caught him in a tight hug. Derek didn't reciprocate but he didn't pull away either. After a long second, he let his forehead rest on Stiles' shoulder.
"I didn't kill him," Derek finally said. "Just spooked him a little bit."
"That's good." Stiles rubbed a calming hand up and down his back. Like always, Derek's clothes were wet so his hand didn't run that smoothly over the fabric but he got his point across.
"He won't bother us again," Derek said but for some reason, Stiles doubted that. He didn't think that Peter was the kind of man who backed down when threatened but he didn't tell Derek that.
Derek retreated to the depth of the lake for the next few days but that didn't bother Stiles. Derek had spent years almost dormant down there.
Peter didn't come back either so maybe he had learned his lesson.
However, on Friday Stiles packed the books he had already finished and drove over to the library. It happened to be just after four in the afternoon but that was totally coincidence. He wasn't sure if he wanted to talk to the werewolf but he did want to make sure that Derek hadn't done any permanent damage to him. Like death.
Not that Stiles thought that Derek had killed Peter, he believed him when he said that he hadn't, but Stiles still wanted to see for himself that the werewolf was okay. He was the first interesting person he'd met in years, so sue him.
Stiles dropped off his books and had a little chat with Denise who happened to be behind the counter today while he not so subtly tried to have a look around to see if Peter was here. Not that Stiles was able to see most of the library from where he was standing. Mainly he saw the kid section on the right and the computer and copying machines on the left, for everything else he had to go deeper into the building but Denise wasn't quite ready to let him go.
"Ran out of books?" She guessed. "You're usually don't come in on Friday."
"What can I say?" Stiles pointed at the books she had put on a trolley behind the counter to get sorted in later. "These are good, I need more."
"You're almost through everything we have in that regard," Denise told him. "If you're missing a particular book, I can get it from another library, you know that. Just give me a word."
"You bet." Stiles gave her a finger gun and then went to have a look at the shelf with Scandinavian murder mysteries. She was right, most of what was on the shelf he had read already but he did find two he hadn't. And he made a mental note to check what else this author had out.
While he was busy with picking out his books, he kept an eye out for Peter but so far no such luck. Not ready to leave just yet, Stiles started to browse the shelves, one never knew what might catch his eye.
"Didn't expect you to show up," Peter suddenly said right behind him. Promptly Stiles dropped the book he had been inspecting. Of course, it landed on his foot. Biting back a curse, Stiles hopped around but he managed to not take down a whole shelf with his flailing. He counted that as a success.
"What's with you and dropping books on your foot?" Peter asked and bent down to retrieve the book. Instead of putting it back, he had a closer look. "I recommend this one, it's quite good."
"You read history novels?" Stiles took the book back but at the moment he couldn't care less about some stupid book about medieval times.
"I have a wide variety of interests," Peter answered solemnly. "We have that in common, don't you think?"
"How would I know? You've been snooping around in my stuff but I know next to nothing about you," Stiles hissed, this was a library after all. Not that his hissing was very quiet but at the moment they were alone in this part.
"Did you send Derek after me?" Peter changed the topic, his eyes now fixed on Stiles.
"Don't blame me for that." Stiles pointed his finger at him. "That's on you. You came into his territory. You're lucky he didn't kill you."
"Does he visit people in their bathroom often?" Peter asked in a chatty tone but his eyes stayed cold. There might even be a hint of blue in them.
"Are you worried about your dignity?" Stiles stabbed back but it wasn't packing any heat. He couldn't deny that he was glad that the werewolf was alive and feeling well enough to banter with him. "Do you even have dignity?"
"I have many qualities," Peter assured him with a smile that sent shivers down Stiles' spine.
"He is a Vodyanoy, isn't he?" Peter asked.
"Why?" Stiles didn't like where this conversation was going. "Are you looking for a way to get rid of him?"
"I just want to know what I'm dealing with," Peter repeated his answer from the other day. "I like to know what's going on in Beacon Hills."
"Do you now," Stiles muttered. "But no, he's not a Vodyanoy." He wasn't that far off, though, and Stiles wasn't sure if he liked that.
If anything Stiles had time and he liked to talk so naturally, he was talking to Derek quite a lot. His nature had come up pretty early and after a while, Derek had been willing to answer his questions. Stiles guessed, that Peter had his information from books, Stiles had gotten his first hand. But it had been a good guess.
"I mean no harm." Peter raised his hands to show how harmless he was but Stiles just shook his head at him.
"You're the most dangerous person of your pack," Stiles reminded him. "You're the left hand, am I right?"
Peter just raised an eyebrow at him.
"Dude, you tried to dump a dead body in my cabin." This time Stiles made sure that his hissing was actually low enough to not be heard at the other end of the library. "You're the one who gets his hands dirty to protect your pack."
"You know a lot about packs," Peter said without confirming anything. "And I still don't know anything about you." He paused of a second. "Except that you claim that my pack killed you."
"You don't know," Stiles realized. He kind of had thought that his story was some kind of joke they were still telling among the pack. Maybe not among the whole pack but he had thought that at least the alpha and the left hand knew.
"Stiles." Peter stepped closer, his voice soft for a change. "If my pack did something to you, I need to know."
"Why?" Stiles asked but didn't step back to bring more distance between them. Peter was close now, it felt almost intimate.
"Because we pay our debts."
Stiles couldn't help it, he laughed.
Then he made the mistake to look at Peter's mildly puzzled expression and dissolved in a new fit of laughter.
Peter waited for him to put himself together, which took a while because the whole situation was just so surreal. Something that totally went over Peter's head which only made it funnier.
In the end, Stiles had to hold his sides and tears were running down his face but he had composed himself enough to speak.
"Thanks, man, I needed that." He wiped the tears of laughter off his face with the heel of his hand.
"I'm glad I'm able to entertain you," Peter said dryly.
"You have no idea."
"You could just tell me," Peter suggested.
That did sober him up completely. John was the only one Stiles had ever told his story to and that hadn't been easy. Telling Peter would be even harder.
However, Stiles had the feeling that Peter wouldn't just back off if he didn't spill his beans. And if he was honest, he kind of wanted to tell Peter. Stiles wanted to see his face when he told him what his pack had done to him.
"Okay," Stiles decided after a long moment. "But I need coffee for that."
Stiles stuffed the three books he'd chosen into his bag and marched back to the counter. The werewolf followed him.
"I knew you two would get along well," Denise greeted them with a delighted smile. "I bet you have quite some books to talk about."
"We do have common interests," Peter answered for them for which Stiles threw him a dirty look.
"Yeah, we're going to start a book club," Stiles said with as much sarcasm as he could muster. Which was a lot but it didn't seem to register to Denise. "We're going to hash out the details over a coffee, don't sick my uncle on me, Peter is not a creeper who's out to molest me."
Denise waved him off with a small laugh and Stiles hurried to get his books.
"I was lying about the creeper thing," Stiles said under his breath once he was on his way out of the building.
"I'm not going to molest you." Peter fell in step next to him.
"But you're not denying the creeper part."
"You are aware of the fact that Derek is the real creeper around here, right?" Peter held the door open for him. "He sneaked in and almost drowned me in my own bathroom. That was not a pleasant feeling."
"Try drowning for real." Stiles shuddered at that memory. Damn, he needed a coffee.
Peter couldn't breathe. Water was filling his nose and mouth and he only managed to bubble out the air in his lungs but there was only water coming back in.
He felt his claws digging into Derek's arm but it was like clawing at a brick wall, the creature didn't budge and kept him pinned against the wall with ease. Peter snapped at the hand over his face but his fangs just bit into water.
Derek said something about taking what he'd been promised but the words rushed over Peter without meaning.
He was dying, he knew that. He kept fighting but he already felt his struggling becoming weaker and dark spots started to cloud his vision. His lungs were screaming and he knew that he was only seconds ago from inhaling the water filling his mouth and nose.
Over the hand on his face Peter looked at the creature looming over him. It was just a blurry face but maybe his eyes were underwater as well, he couldn't tell.
Then, suddenly, Derek let go of him. Like a rag doll, Peter went down, coughing and spitting but he managed to suck some air into his burning lungs.
"Stay on your side of the town." Derek was standing over him but Peter didn't have the energy to look up at him. On all fours, he was gasping for air, the heavy boots just in his peripheral vision. He braced himself for getting kicked, just for good measure, but for a long moment, the boots didn't move at all. When they did move, it was away from him.
Seconds later the shower started to drip again, a sound almost lost in the dripping coming from Peter, he was still coughing up water, but then he was alone in the bathroom. Not trusting the peace Peter stayed like he was for another long moment, straining his ears for any unusual sound but there was only the slow dripping of the shower.
Nobody came running for him either, the house stayed quiet. Nobody had noticed the attack, nobody knew that Peter had almost died right in the middle of his pack. This was his den. His alpha was sleeping just a few feet away and he had a dozen pack members in shouting distance and still, this creature had managed to sneak in and almost kill him.
Peter spit out the last bit of lake water, because that was what it was, it tasted muddy and for sure was not the clear water from the pipes, and dared to slump against the wall. He was sitting in a puddle but he didn't care about his pants getting soaked.
Peter closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It tickled in the back of his throat and made him cough but he could breathe again.
After long minutes, Peter got up. He shut off the shower and then he cleaned the floor as quietly as possible.
When he finally went to bed that night, he couldn't sleep.
That he had gotten attacked and had almost died was one thing. He could deal with that. It hadn't been the first time and for sure it wouldn't be the last.
What really shook him down to his core was where it had happened. In this house, surrounded by pack and his alpha, he should be safe. This was not the place where he should get attacked. If he died in this house, it should be of old age peacefully in his bed. He doubted that that would be the way to go for him but he was pretty sure that he wouldn't die in this house. At least he had thought so an hour ago.
On a more rational level he had to give the creature kudos. If Derek had attacked him anywhere else, it wouldn't have been this effective.
Peter didn't sleep all night but in the morning he plastered a smile on his face and joined his pack for breakfast as usual. Talia threw him a glance, she might have noticed the bags under his eyes or she did feel something along the pack bonds, but she didn't say anything.
After breakfast people piled out to go to school or work which left Peter with Pamela and Walter again. It was a rainy day so Pamela didn't go out to work in the garden instead she got out the cleaning supplies. Walter and Peter shared a glance and came to the silent agreement that they had something important to do somewhere else.
Peter had no idea what he wanted to do with the day, he was just tired but his mind didn't let him rest, so when Walter asked him to help him with some heavy lifting in the shed, he wanted to sort out some stuff, Peter agreed easily.
Peter didn't tell anybody about the creature invading their home, there was no point in scaring them when Derek had clearly been after him specificly, and in the evening he had composed himself.
The night was quiet again, the smell of rain heavy in the air and there was no hint of a threat palpable. Before Peter turned in that night, he tested every faucet in the house to make sure it was closed properly and not dripping ever so slightly, though. He doubted that that would be enough to keep Derek out if he wanted to come in but he felt better that way.
He had been bone-tired all day but once he was lying in his bed, sleep wouldn't come.
He could almost taste the water in the back of his throat but what really bothered him was what Derek had said to him while he had been drowning him. That he had been promised something. And that he might take Peter instead.
Peter didn't know what to make out of those words. It did sound as if somebody, most likely the alpha of the Hale pack at that time, had promised Derek some kind of human sacrifice. It fit in with what he knew about water creatures. The ones on top of his list were known to take bribes and they could keep somebody they had drowned as some kind of servant.
However, his working theory was that that was Stiles. That his pack had sacrificed him to the lake creature.
It was way after midnight when Peter finally drifted off to sleep. He woke up in the morning feeling even less rested than before and with half-remembered dreams still clogging his mind. He had dreamed about Derek drowning him and he kind of remembered Stiles watching from the distance.
Peter didn't go back out to the lake again but on Friday he dropped off Emily for her guitar lesson as usual and then he drove to the library.
"Peter Hale!" Denise greeted him in a slightly louder voice than what was appropriate for a library and he knew that he was in trouble.
"Yes?" He had been scanning the room for one particular person, not that he expected Stiles to be here, not after his encounter with Derek but he was looking for Stiles nevertheless. But now Peter turned his attention to Denise who gave him a disapproving look over her glasses.
"I told you to stay out of Cora's business," she told him in a more acceptable volume but still with that scolding mom tone.
"Pardon me?" Peter had no idea what she was talking about but it became clear a second later when she told him in detail how flustered Stiles had been when she had mentioned Peter to him. "Let the love birds be and shove your shovel speech."
Taken aback Peter just looked at her, he was pretty sure that she'd just told him to stick it where the sun don't shine and that made it the bluntest words he'd ever heard from her. She was surrounded by kids all day, she was so used to watching her language that he'd never heard her saying something even remotely obscene.
"You should apologize for scaring that boy," she told him. "He's here, you can do it right now."
"Yes, ma'am." Peter couldn't help the amused smile tugging at his lips when she shoved him into a direction.
He did find Stiles at the history novels.
"Didn't expect you to come," Peter greeted him but he should have stomped his feet to announce his presence because Stiles jumped at his words and promptly dropped a book on his foot. Again.
They left the library not much later, Stiles needed coffee for the upcoming conversation, but Peter got the feeling that he wanted to tell him. Not because Stiles needed to tell his story to someone, even if it was a difficult topic for him and Peter could tell that he was steeling himself for that on their way over to the coffee shop next door, but because he wanted to use it as a weapon.
Peter didn't know what to expect but for sure it wouldn't shine a good light on his pack, that much was clear.
They entered the coffee shop and Stiles made a beeline for the counter without even looking at the menu. The barista greeted him with a smile and asked if he wanted his usual so Stiles was a common sight here as well. Stiles agreed to his usual but ordered two extra shots of espresso in it.
"This conversation is asking for extra caffeine." He justified his order while the barista was making his drink. A monstrosity of caffeine and sugar.
"I didn't say anything," Peter said and ordered a black coffee for himself.
When they had their drinks, Peter followed Stiles to a table. They passed several free ones, they had missed the big afternoon rush, and headed for the table farthest away from everybody else.
When they sat down, Stiles immediately attacked his drink. He had to hollow his cheeks to suck the thick liquid through the straw and Peter had to avert his eyes to not stare at his lips wrapped around the plastic.
Stiles might look like a teenager but according to him, he had been eighteen when whatever had happened to him which most likely had been decades ago. At least. Peter was pretty sure that Stiles was older than him.
However, this was neither the time nor the place to drool over the way Stiles was molesting the straw.
Taking a sip from his own cup, Peter waited him out.
"Derek was here first," Stiles finally started to speak. He kept his eyes on his drink, his fingers playing with the straw. "I don't know if he came here with German settlers or if he hitched a ride with the Vikings, you do know that they have been on this side of the pond way before Columbus, right?" He threw him a glance to which Peter gave him a confirming nod. "He doesn't talk about how he got here but point is, he's been living in this lake long before Beacon Hills was founded. For sure long before your pack came into the area."
"Figured that much."
"Point is, this has been Derek's territory way before your people showed up." Stiles pointed the straw at him but then had to chase the whipped cream dripping off it with his tongue.
"Your pack came here with other settlers and Beacon Hills was founded," Stiles continued. "At first everything was fine, Derek never cared much about what was going on outside his lake and your pack was small, just settling in at that point."
"But we grew bigger," Peter guessed.
Stiles nodded to that. "And people were drawn to the lake. Some drowned which got Derek the attention of the pack. The alpha, a Johnathan Hale, went to the lake to talk to Derek and they came to an agreement."
"They divided the territory?" It made sense. One side of the town for the pack, the other with the lake for Derek.
"Yep." Stiles licked his lips. "Derek allowed them to stay and Johnathan promised to keep people away from the lake. He even made sure that the land legally belonged to Derek."
"The Beacon Hills Lake Company." That one had been bothering him for a while now.
"You've been busy."
So far it all made sense but it still didn't explain Stiles' role in this. Across from him, Stiles was swirling the straw in his half-empty cup. It was clear that they were coming to his role in this now.
"Johnathan promised something else, didn't he?" Peter prompted, Derek's words loud and clear in his head.
"It's part of Derek's nature," Stiles justified whatever he was about to say. "He can't help it, there are rules he has to follow even if he doesn't like them."
Peter had a pretty good idea what they were talking about here but he waited for Stiles to tell it in his own words.
"He asked for a pack member," Stiles finally said. "To seal the deal Johnathan had to give him one of his pack."
"You're pack," Peter realized but he snapped his mouth shut when Stiles slammed his fist on the table.
"No!" Stiles yelled. "I am not pack! I never was pack. I'm the guy who has lost his family on the track, who was new around here, who nobody would miss." Stiles locked eyes with him, his face distorted in disgust. "I'm the one Johnathan Hale grabbed off the street and threw into the lake instead of one of his precious pack members."
That explained a lot. Peter sat there in stunned silence while Stiles kept talking.
"I was minding my own business when suddenly two werewolves jumped me in a back alley. I had no idea what a werewolf was, there were just suddenly these dudes with fangs and claws and glowing eyes. I tried to run but you know how well that went." Stiles let out a nervous laugh.
Peter didn't want to hear this but he forced himself to sit there and listen to what Stiles had to say. For all Peter knew he was one of the very few people Stiles had ever told his story to and judging by the desperate grip he had on this cup of coffee this was not easy for him but despite his visible discomfort with the whole situation Stiles kept talking.
"I screamed for help but nobody came," Stiles continued, his voice distant and Peter wasn't even sure if he was aware of his presence. "One of them put his hand over my mouth to prevent me from screaming. I bit him." He shook his head in disbelief. "Bit a werewolf, how ironic is that? Anyway, they knocked me out after that and when I came to we were out at the lake. They had gagged and bound me and there was another man. I later found out that that was Johnathan Hale, alpha of the local pack of werewolves." Stiles pointed with his straw at Peter.
"Anyway, Johnathan was talking to the lake. I remember that. He stood at the shore and was shouting out over the lake. I thought that was weird." Stiles paused, caught in memories again. "Then he came over to me and picked me up. Didn't say a word to me, didn't look me in the eye either. He just picked me up and threw me into the lake."
Stiles stopped talking with a shudder.
Peter remembered way too clearly how helpless he'd felt when Derek had put his hand over his face. He could still taste the water in the back of his throat but that was nothing compared to what Stiles had suffered. Drowning like that? Bound and gagged? Peter didn't want to imagine that.
Peter opened his mouth to say something, to apologize maybe, but Stiles cut him off.
"Don't you dare and say that you're sorry," Stiles said, his eyes too shiny. "Don't you dare."
"Why did Derek accept you?" Peter asked instead. "He could have let you drown like the others." There had been more than enough drownings in that lake but as far as Peter knew, Stiles was the only one Derek had kept.
"Like I said, he has to follow the rules but he doesn't have to like them. He knew that I was not what he'd been asking for …"
"Not what he had been promised," Peter corrected, remembering Derek's words. When Stiles threw him a puzzled look he explained: "When Derek … visited me, he said that he wasn't given what he had been promised and that maybe he should take me instead."
"Yeah." Stiles made. "He could have gone after all of you, hell, I wanted him to go after the Hales. Drown the whole damn pack." He nodded grimly to himself as if the option was still on his mind. "But he doesn't like to kill people so he decided to let it go. As long as Johnathan kept his promise to keep people away from the lake, he was willing to play along. Plus, he now had me to deal with. I might have been a bit scared and traumatized when I came to at the bottom of the lake." He tried to play it down with a laugh but the haunted look in his eyes gave him away. "I bet I was a handful in the beginning. And I'm the only one Derek has ever kept, he didn't know what to do with me either."
That was another point Peter was curious about. He had read about water creatures who kept humans as servants but nowhere was explained what kind of services the creature demanded from their servants. There were not many things coming to mind. He doubted this was about doing the dishes.
"Does he force you to serve him?" Peter tried to ask the question as tactfully as possible.
"What?" Stiles gave him a look, now clearly amused. "You think I bend over for him?"
"Do you?" Peter asked but at the same time, he dreaded the answer. All this had happened how long ago? Stiles had been with Derek for how many years? Had Derek been abusing him all this time?
And this was on him. Not on Peter personally but on his pack. If he was honest, he was surprised that Stiles was even willing to talk to him.
"I have to stay with him," Stiles confirmed. "But otherwise I can pretty much do whatever I want. He doesn't need me and he doesn't use me for whatever your dirty mind has come up with. We're friends, actually."
Peter doubted the last part, he was thinking more along the lines of Stockholm Syndrome, but he didn't voice his concerns.
"I apologize," Peter said. He didn't use that phrase often and most of the time he didn't mean it but this was an honest apology. "On behalf of my pack. What Johnathan did was not right and I'm sorry that you had to suffer because of him."
Stiles hmmed to that, clearly not buying it. He took the straw between his lips again and started to slurp the last bit of his drink out of the cup, killing the serious mood that had been hanging over them.
"If there's anything I can do …," Peter offered. Like he had said earlier, the Hale pack paid its debts. Obviously, that hadn't been always the case, and now he got Stiles' laughing fit in the library, but they did now.
He wondered if there was a way to free Stiles but on the other hand, he dreaded that option because that would mean cheating Derek out of what little he had gotten. Peter didn't want to know what he would do then. Stiles was right, there were rules so Peter doubted that Derek could just let a breach of contract like that slide even if he wanted to. Best case scenario, Derek would demand what he had been promised in the first place, a pack member, worst-case scenario, he would just kill them all. Derek had proven that he was more than capable of doing both and Peter had not a damn clue how to stop him. If he knew what exactly Derek was, he might be able to prevent him from coming into the house but if he was right with his assumption that Derek had come through the pipes, he could get them wherever a faucet was. This could turn into a real-life horror movie for his pack real quick.
Stiles gave him one long look.
"You can't do anything," he finally said. "And I don't want you to do anything. It's been a long time ago."
"You're still holding a grudge against us," Peter reminded him. Stiles had been way too gleeful when he'd thought that Peter had murdered a Hale.
"Look." Stiles pushed his empty cup to the side to lean forward and face him directly. "You stay on your side of the town and Derek stays on his. It has worked for decades."
Stiles made an attempt to get up and leave but Peter held him back.
"Where do you get your money from?" He asked.
"What?" Blindsided Stiles dropped back into his seat.
"You paid for your drink and you're a regular here," Peter pointed out. "And you have a car. How do you pay for the gas?"
"That's none of your business," Stiles snapped in a low voice.
"Do you steal it?" Peter asked. "Or are you sucking dicks for it?" He gave the molested straw a pointed look. He should not think about Stiles' lips around a dick but damn that was a hot image.
"Why? Looking for a twink to blow you?" Stiles shot back but there was something in the way he was looking at Peter and when he took a little whiff, Peter could smell the arousal Stiles was emitting. Looked like Peter wasn't the only one with a dirty mind around here.
"I'm looking for a way to make amends for what my pack did to you," Peter explained. Money felt like the cheap way out but it was all he could think of at the moment. Maybe he could do more once he'd thought about this a little more.
"I don't want your pity and for sure I don't want a sugar daddy," Stiles almost yelled. "I don't know what you're aiming for here but I'm not that desperate."
"Stiles, where does your money come from?" Peter asked again, more serious this time. "The sheriff?"
As far as he knew the sheriff was the only person who knew about Stiles. He had to at least know something even if he didn't have the whole story.
"Okay, yes. John pays for my gas and my clothes and whatever else I need, he even gives me an allowance. Happy?" Stiles almost knocked his cup off the table but he managed to keep his voice down. "And no, I don't want your money. What you did to me …" His voice toppled over the words, breaking. "Don't you dare and try throwing money at me. This is not something you can buy your way out of, there is no forgive and forget."
With that Stiles stood again and this time Peter didn't hold him back. He just watched him when he stormed out to the coffee shop. Through the window he could see him getting in his jeep he had parked on the other side of the street and then he drove off.
Slowly Peter drank his coffee, he had a lot to think about. Stiles was right, this was nothing he could get out of with money. It was tempting to just forget about it. Stiles had lived, was he even alive, like this for a long time, why should he wake sleeping dogs?
"Because the dogs are already awake." Peter sighed into his almost empty cup. He had woken this particular dog when he had invaded Stiles' home. Stiles had made the best out of his situation, had carved out a small space for himself in what little the Hale pack had left him with and then Peter had come along and contaminated that as well.
Peter finished his cup and got up, he needed to pick up Emily from her guitar lesson soon, but then he noticed the bag on the floor. In his hurry to get away Stiles had forgotten his bag with his books.
He should bring them over to the library, which was just across the street, and let Denise handle this but instead, Peter took the bag with him and put it in the trunk of his car before he went to pick up Emily.
He only remembered that the bag was there when he went outside for his final round around the house late at night when the house was quiet and everybody else was sleeping.
Peter took the bag inside and emptied it on the coffee table. Stiles' books were on top, no surprise there, but the bag wasn't empty after those. A handful of candy wrappers, two chocolate bars and an open bag of Twizzlers came up next. Followed by various pens, all chewed on. Peter was getting the feeling that Stiles had an oral fixation.
A phone. For some reason, Peter hadn't thought that Stiles had a phone. He set it aside for the moment because at the bottom of the bag were loose sheets of paper and a notebook.
"What have we here?" Peter flipped through the book which was almost half full, the pages filled with messy handwriting. The loose pages were printouts of various newspaper articles.
"Someone has been nosy." Peter got comfortable on the couch and scanned the first pages. The name Hale came up quite a lot. It looked like Stiles had noted down everything he could find about the Hale family in the newspapers. Every graduation, every obituary, every business opening, everything that mentioned the name Hale. Between the pages, Peter even found a map of the town littered with red crosses. All the businesses owned by a Hale. There were even crosses on things that officially had nothing to do with the Hale family.
Stiles must have other sources for his information aside from the public library, that much was clear. Some he might have gotten the same way Peter had gotten his by paying a fee at the public office but there were things in there Stiles had no business knowing.
"Are you abusing the sheriff's resources?" Peter wondered aloud. He had seen Stiles going into the station, which might have been more than just a friendly visit.
The fact that Stiles knew this much about his family was scary, Peter had no idea what he would do with all the information, but on the other hand, it was exciting. Stiles had piqued his interest in a way he hadn't experienced in quite a while.
And Peter liked it.
Stiles stormed out to his jeep. He slammed the door and drove off without looking back. He didn't need to look to know that the werewolf was watching him through the window of the coffee shop.
For a moment Stiles just drove, a white-knuckled grip on the wheel.
What was Peter thinking? That he could just throw money at him and everything was fine?
"Why can't you just leave me alone?" Stiles asked through gritted teeth. Why had he even told Peter his story? What did he expect? That Peter would beg for forgiveness? Aside from saying that he was sorry, money was the only way Peter could even try to make amends, Stiles got that. It wasn't that he would magically be able to leave Derek just because one of the Hale pack acknowledged what they had done to Stiles. Not that he wanted to leave Derek, Stiles liked his life the way it was.
"Where is the point?" Stiles asked.
On the other hand, it had been Stiles who had come to the library on a day he usually didn't go there in hope to meet Peter. He could have just hidden in the lake for a week or two, or a decade or two, if he wanted to and just wait for Peter to lose interest. Or to die of old age. Instead, he'd come here.
It didn't help either that he had caught himself staring at Peter's collar bone. V-necks should be prohibited. And the sexual innuendo, Stiles couldn't deny that either.
"I hate Hales," Stiles told nobody in particular but he had to admit the banter with Peter was fun.
Stiles gave himself a few minutes to compose himself before he drove over to John's. It was one of their dinner nights and if he didn't have to cover for somebody, John should be home by now.
Stiles parked his car in the usual spot, leaving enough space for the cruiser which wasn't there yet. Not a good sign.
"Of course." Stiles groaned and got out of the car. It was just his luck.
The second he set a foot on the ground that rat of a dog came yipping after him. Stiles sprinted to the front door but he had to search for his keys which the dog used to bite his ankle.
"He just wants to play," Mrs. Chandler shouted over from her driveway, cheerfully watching while her little devil was mauling Stiles' pant leg. At least he was wearing jeans today, the thick fabric protected him from the worst.
Stiles didn't even bother with asking her to call Buttons back, he just shook his foot to dislodge the dog. With a wave at Mrs. Chandler, he dodged into the house and slammed the door shut behind him. He was kind of hoping to accidentally squish that little monster with the door but no such luck.
"Not my day," Stiles muttered and went farther into the house. "Absolutely not my day."
He went into the kitchen to see what John had planned for dinner, if he had planned anything or if they would order in. With John's crazy schedule lately, Stiles often brought dinner when he came over or they had take-out. Most of the time John didn't have the time to cook and Stiles was banned from touching the stove. The pancake incident had been almost ten years ago, it was ridiculous that he was still not allowed to use the stove but John insisted.
So Stiles helped himself to a sandwich to last him over to whenever they would have dinner. If they had dinner together today. He checked the clock on the wall just to confirm that John was late.
"Great, just fucking great."
After his conversation with Peter, he had been looking forward to some distraction but no such luck.
With his sandwich in one hand, he used the other one to pat down his pants in search for his phone. Usually, John gave him a heads-up if he was running late or wouldn't be home at all but Stiles might have missed it. Since he had been in the library he had turned his phone to vibration only because that was just common courtesy, right? Nobody wanted to hear loud ringtones in a library. Or worse, people talking on their phones. That was just rude. So Stiles made a point of switching to vibration whenever he was in the library and he did tell off whoever he caught talking loudly on their phone. It was a fucking library, what part of "shh" didn't they understand?
However, his phone was in none of his pockets. Stiles groaned. It must be in his bag which was in his jeep which was outside where most likely Buttons the chihuahua from hell was still waiting to take another chunk out of his ankle.
Stiles finished his sandwich before he peeked out of the window to see if Cujo was still out there. The little bastard was nowhere in sight so Stiles dared to open the door and to dash over to his jeep.
He came back in a few minutes later with a bloody sock and no bag.
"Dammit!" He cursed after he'd once again closed the door right in the dog's face.
He knew that he had his bag when he had left the library with Peter, he had stored his books in there. He had put it down in the coffee shop but he couldn't remember if he'd grabbed it on his hasty retreat or not.
"Looks like not." Stiles thumped the back of his head against the door. So it was either still at the coffee shop or Peter had taken it. Given his luck today and the fact that a lot of his research about the Hale family was in that bag as well, he would bet money that Peter had it.
Which gave him a reason to interact with the werewolf again. Not that he wanted to interact with him again. Peter and his stupid v-neck should just leave him alone.
Which brought him back to the conversation they had earlier. Stiles went over it again in his head. Why had he even said the things he'd said? He had told John what had happened to him ages ago when they had become friends but otherwise Stiles liked to pretend that it had never happened. And then Peter came along and had to bring everything back up.
Stiles closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
He felt the water closing over his head, soaking the cloth they had stuffed in his mouth. He had struggled, he had fought but he had still sunken like a rock to the bottom of the lake. With his hands and feet bound, there had been nothing he could have done about it. He had known that. He had known that he would drown. He had held his breath for as long as he could, his lungs had been on fire but he'd held his breath for just a second longer but eventually he had sucked in the water.
Stiles put a hand on his chest. He could still feel his lungs screaming in need of air but all they had gotten had been water. He had drowned that day. He had died.
With his back still pressed against the door, he slid down until his butt hit the ground.
He couldn't breathe. He was gasping for air but it wouldn't reach his lungs. His chest tightened and he felt the strangled gasps he was making but the sound was lost in the rushing of the blood in his ears. He was drowning again.
Stiles curled in to himself, his vision tunneled and he was just waiting for the darkness to consume him again. To drown him again.
Stiles heard somebody calling his name but it was distant and muffled which made sense since he was drowning right now.
"Hey, it's okay," the voice continued. "I'm here."
Distantly he was aware that he was manhandled into a sitting position, his back pressed to somebody's chest.
Caught in his panic it took Stiles a while to identify that somebody as John.
"Breathe with me," John said, most likely not for the first time. He had put a hand on Stiles' chest, keeping him close.
It took a while but eventually, Stiles' breath slowed down to match what he felt from John's chest firmly in his back.
Eventually, Stiles relaxed into the solid body behind him, his head resting on John's shoulder.
"You with me again?" John asked but didn't let go of him just yet.
Stiles nodded, not trusting his voice but he did dare to take in a deep breath. His ribs were aching and he just knew that his whole thorax would be sore tomorrow but he drew in the air with little resistance.
"What happened?" John asked.
"Told Peter Hale what his pack did to me." Stiles closed his eyes and once again wondered why he had opened his stupid mouth in the first place.
"I can see how you took it," John said and only now Stiles noticed the position they were in. They were sitting on the floor, John with his back to the wall and Stiles with his back to John's chest between John's spread legs. John had still a hand on Stiles' chest, grounding him. Stiles let out a sigh and relaxed more into the firm body behind him.
"How did Peter take it?" John ask.
"It wasn't what he expected." Stiles couldn't help a chuckle at the memory of Peter's face. "He offered money. As if that fixes anything."
John was quiet for a long moment. Long enough for Stiles to remember that he was living at John's expense. Maybe he should have taken the money instead of laughing in Peter's face.
"I …" Stiles started but he was cut off by John.
"You made the right decision," John assured him. "You would only become dependent on him, that's never a good thing."
"I am dependent on you," Stiles reminded him. "But I guess, I can always go back to my old ways." He craned his neck to grin at him. John groaned.
"Please don't." He made a suffering face. "It would shine a bad light on me if my deputies drag in my nephew once a week."
"I didn't get caught that often," Stiles defended himself.
"Too often for my liking. You were relying on Derek to bail you out way too much." John patted his chest to get him going. Getting the hint, Stiles scrambled to his feet. He did feel dizzy for a moment but John had a strong grip on his upper arm to keep him upright until he had collected himself.
"You didn't answer your phone so I didn't know if you would be here," John said, still a wary eye on him. "We can order pizza if you like."
Pizza sounded good, suddenly Stiles was starving.
John made the call while Stiles went upstairs to take a shower. His clothes were damp with sweat and he didn't need a werewolf's nose to know that he was reeking.
When he came back downstairs freshly showered and wearing soft sweats and a well-worn t-shirt, he kept most of his wardrobe at John's, the pizza had arrived and John had set the coffee table. Looked like they were eating in front of the TV today.
"That bad?" Stiles asked, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. Usually, they ate at the kitchen table, dinner plus TV was a thing for the weekends or the bad days. They both had bad days from time to time but today it wasn't John.
"The game is on." John pointed at the running TV without even looking at the screen. Neither of them was a fan and Stiles doubted that John even knew which teams were playing but Stiles took his seat next to him without commenting on it and reached for a slice of pizza.
"Any idea what Peter is going to do now?" John broke the silence.
"No clue," Stiles admitted, puffing around a hot bite in his mouth. "But I'm pretty sure that he has my bag so I have to see him again."
"How did he get your bag?" John asked, suddenly in sheriff mode.
"Forgot it at the coffee shop when I left." When he'd fled the coffee shop to be correct but Stiles didn't say that out loud. "Besides, I think that he's interested in me. If not my bag he would find another reason to see me again."
"Interested?" John picked up on that. "You mean interested or interested?"
Stiles thought about it for a moment. Peter had been like a dog, werewolf, with a bone right from the beginning and what Stiles had given him today would only make him more persistent. But he also couldn't deny the sexual tension between them. And it was not only Peter.
"Both?" Stiles crunched his face. "I think?"
He was saved by the sound of running water coming from the kitchen.
"Shit!" Stiles almost dropped his half-eaten slice of pizza. "I forgot the time."
A second later Derek was standing in the kitchen door, dripping all over the floor.
"You're not going to drag me through the pipes, we're taking the jeep," Stiles yelled at him. He had already lost his bag today, no way was he leaving the jeep at John's.
"Sit down and have some pizza." John gestured at the chair closest to Derek. "We have more than enough."
Peter wanted to do the right thing and give back Stiles his bag first thing in the morning but over breakfast, his phone rang with an out of town number. Peter excused himself from the loud table, not that anybody noticed, they were too busy discussing baby names on one end of the table while the other end, consisting of the teenagers, was more busy with quizzing each other for a chemistry test today.
"What is it?" Peter answered the phone without a greeting. He had retreated to the library where he should be safe from curious ears.
"Not sure," the man at the other end said. "Might be nothing but you better have a look at this."
Half an hour later, when the house was empty except for Walter and Pamela who both were about to leave as well for whatever they had planned for the day, Peter got in the car and drove two towns over to meet one of his contacts, Bob the owner of a small gun shop.
He did, however, take the time to use Stiles' phone to shoot the sheriff a message that he had Stiles' bag and every intention to give it back but that he was kind of busy at the moment. If there was a good time to drop it off at the cabin?
Peter could drop it off there anytime, Stiles didn't need to be there for that, but Peter would have liked to give it to him in person. He wasn't exactly sure what he was hoping to achieve with that but he wanted to see Stiles again. Just to make sure that he was okay, his retreat yesterday had been a bit too hasty to just shrug it off.
The sheriff answered a few minutes later. He said that without Stiles having his phone, he wasn't able to reach him and he couldn't give a good time for a drop-off except that they would have dinner together tomorrow.
Come by at the station around noon, the sheriff wrote. I would like to talk to you anyway
Peter read the message with a smile.
"Aren't we a nosy one," he said and wrote back that he would be there. He still didn't know how much Stiles had told the sheriff but after their encounter near the lake where the sheriff had confirmed that Stiles had mentioned Peter to him, it didn't come as a surprise that the sheriff wanted to have a closer look at him.
Peter put Stiles' phone back in the bag which he put in the trunk of his car. He doubted that anybody would go into his room while he wasn't there but with his luck, somebody needed a book or something while he wasn't home and stumbled over the bag. No need to risk that. Stiles' research would be hard to explain and Peter didn't want Talia or the rest of the pack to get worried about somebody snooping around. And maybe he would take a little detour on the way back just to check if Stiles was in his cabin.
The ride to the gun shop was not that long but it did give Peter time to think. Where was Stiles when he wasn't in his cabin or in town? He was at the cabin quite often but his scent had not been so prominent in there that Peter thought that he lived there. The cabin didn't look like somebody lived there permanently. If he had to guess, he would say that it was Stiles' retreat.
The only other place he could think of was the sheriff's house but Denise and now the sheriff himself had confirmed that Stiles didn't live there.
"Does he keep you at the bottom of the lake?" Peter wondered out loud. Was Stiles stuck under water most of the time? That was not a pleasant thought. Peter remembered way too clearly the feeling of drowning. And according to Stiles, he had drowned in that lake. Was he forced to stay where he'd died? A constant reminder of his death? Peter shuddered at that thought.
Peter parked the car in front of the gun shop but he needed a moment to bring his mind back to the task at hand.
"What do you have?" Peter greeted the man behind the counter. At the moment, the shop was empty so they could speak freely.
"Two guys." Bob didn't waste time with platitudes either. "Came in yesterday. Worn jeans, flannel, could use a shower, you know the type. Said they were hunting buck. Mentioned that they were heading to Beacon Hills."
Peter did know the type. Most were just that, simple men with simple pleasures, but some were not out for buck.
"What makes you think that they're not just on a hunting trip?"
"Aside from them heading to Beacon Hills?" Bob adjusted his trucker cap. He was exactly the type he'd just described, not that Peter would point that out to him, and for sure he was not just a harmless hunter out for buck on the weekend. But at least he wasn't a hunter who had it out for werewolves either.
"Ain't as stupid as I look." Bob gave him a toothy smile from behind his salt and pepper beard. "Folks switched to French when talking among themselves but I've been dealing with that witch from New Orleans long enough to know some stuff. Mountain ash came up and silver."
"You got footage of them?"
Peter left the gun shop not much later with video footage of the two men. It didn't have audio but the quality was way better than from the usual surveillance camera, he could work with that.
On his way back into town, he made that little detour out to the lake.
Stiles' jeep was parked a little out of sight, easy to miss from the road, which meant that Stiles was most likely home. If this counted as home. Peter let out a bitter huff.
There was no heart-beat indicating that somebody was in the cabin but Peter tried the door nevertheless. It was locked and the door didn't budge. Not that he was trying to rip it off again.
"Stiles?" Peter called out but he didn't get an answer. There was a light breeze leaving the surface of the lake in ripples but aside from the usual critters, Peter didn't sense anybody around. Even the feeling of not being welcomed here was just a little nagging on the back of his mind.
"Stiles?" Peter tried again, louder this time. Still no answer.
He could just leave Stiles' bag at the door, Peter doubted that anybody would stumble over it and steal it, but that didn't seem right.
In the end, Peter ripped out an empty page of Stiles' notebook and wrote him a message:
Since I missed you here, I'm going to drop off your bag at the station
For a moment he was pondering to add more but then he just signed it and slipped it under the door. With one last look around, Peter shouldered the bag and walked back to his car.
Before he drove over to the station, he got out Stiles' phone. Aside from the sheriff and the library Stiles had only a garage and a few fast food places in his contacts. It was kind of sad, actually.
Peter added his own number to the short list and shot himself a message to get Stiles' number as well. Satisfied with that, Peter put the car in reverse and brought it back on the road.
Peter had his run-ins with the former sheriff but that had been in his teenage years. Since then he'd been to the sheriff's department only a couple of times, mainly on behalf of various pack members. The last time had been to aid Isaac when they had questioned him about his father's death.
The way Sheriff Stilinski had been looking at Peter, it had been clear that he had known that Isaac was not the one he should be interrogating but aside from that hunch, there had been no reason to question Peter. He was not that sloppy.
I'd beg to differ, he could almost hear Stiles' voice in his mind.
"Shut up," Peter said to the imaginary Stiles while he walked up to the entrance.
Looked like most of the station was on lunch break, aside from the clerk behind the desk and one deputy in the back, there was nobody in sight.
The clerk looked up when he approached her.
"Hi, Nancy," he greeted her with a winning smile. "Is the sheriff in?"
Her last name wasn't Hale but she was family and with that pack. And she was one of his contacts in the station.
"He said that you would come by." She gestured at the closed door with the word Sheriff written on it. "Something I should know about?" She lowered her voice but Peter doubted that the deputy, Parrish if he wasn't mistaken, had even noticed that he'd come in. He was pretty engrossed in his phone.
"No," Peter assured her. "Met his nephew at the library yesterday and he forgot his bag." He lifted said bag to emphasize his words. "Heard he comes here quite often?"
Since Peter didn't want to draw too much attention to Stiles, he hadn't used his contacts at the station. He doubted that they knew more about Stiles than that he was the sheriff's nephew anyway.
"He brings him lunch a few times a week," Nancy confirmed his assumption. "Over the summer he helps out from time to time, filing and things like that. Why?"
She didn't believe him but when he just smiled at her, she sighed and waved him through.
"Sheriff Stilinski?" Peter knocked at the door and poked his head in.
"Ah, Peter. Come in." The sheriff gestured for him to come closer.
Peter closed the door and took a seat.
"Stiles left in a haste yesterday." Peter put the bag in the second chair. "Hope he's okay?"
At that, the sheriff made a pained face and leaned back in his chair. He had time to prepare himself for this conversation but now it looked as if he was still pondering his options.
"He's okay now, " Sheriff Stilinski finally said.
"I didn't mean to upset him," Peter said honestly.
"It was his idea to tell you, I get that." The sheriff nodded. "But you were pushing."
"Can't deny that, Sheriff."
"Call me John, please." The sheriff gave him a weak smile. "Looks like we're sharing some secrets now."
"How did you get into this, John?" Peter asked. "Why are you pretending to be his uncle?"
"Rookies get the easiest and most boring jobs," he said after a long pause.
"Like patrolling an empty back-road in the middle of the night." Peter had been hiding under some bushes from a young deputy not that long ago.
"It keeps people from the lake." John shrugged. "At least most of the time." He gave Peter a look.
"Rookies also get send out to deal with teenage shoplifters," he continued.
So Stiles had been stealing to get by before John had taken him in.
"And you adopted the delinquent?"
"We kind of adopted each other." John's face darkened, there was more to the story that much was clear but that expression left his face quickly and he straightened up. "Anyway. Stiles told me that you're interested in him."
That was unexpected. Peter blinked at him, not sure what to say to that.
"Stiles doesn't look like it but he's older than the two of us together he can do pretty much whatever he wants with whoever he wants."
"That's not what I expected you to say." Peter dared to relax. "But I can assure you, my interest in him is not of that nature." Not for the main part but he didn't say that.
At that John snorted. "Yeah, same for him."
Whatever that meant.
"However …" John leaned to the side and opened a drawer. He put a single bullet in the middle of his desk. Peter almost laughed at the gesture but then he caught the scent. Wolfsbane.
"Your pack has hurt him deeply. Your alpha drowned him like a rat just to cheat his way out of a debt." John's voice was stone-cold. "He had a flashback last night."
"I …" Peter didn't know what to say. For some reason, it had never occurred to him that the sheriff might know about werewolves as well. After Stiles' revelation yesterday it shouldn't come as such a surprise, though.
"This is not a shovel speech," John clarified. "What you and Stiles are doing is none of my business but if you're playing games with him, if you or Talia or somebody else from your pack is using him for whatever I want you to know that Derek is not the only one you should worry about."
Peter left the station with an uneasy feeling in his stomach, this had not turned out as expected.
He was just about to start his car when his phone beeped with a new message.
There's a Stiles here looking for you, Cora wrote. He says you have his bag?
NaNoWriMo starts next week. I'm going to finish this story and my other one over the month so there will be more frequent updates in December. There will be updates over November but I'm not sure when I'll have the time for those. Please be patient with me.
Sorry for the delay, I'm still hungover from NaNoWriMo. I'll have to figure out a schedule but I have lots of chapters just waiting to get posted so stay tuned, there will be more soon.
Peter cursed under his breath but wrote Cora that he was on his way.
What was Stiles doing at the house? He had been the one who had emphasized more than once that they should each stay on their side of the town and now he was at the Hale house? Okay, it was the best place to look for Peter, he had to admit that.
In his head, Peter was calculating who could be home at this time of the day. It was just after noon, the kids should be all at school and the adults at work. He didn't know if Walter or Pamela were home for lunch, though. Why was Cora even at the house? She should be at school.
Peter pushed it and was back home in no time. He parked right next to the beat-up jeep that told him that Stiles was still here.
"Hello?" He asked into the empty house when he entered the front hall.
The house was quiet. It didn't look like Pamela or Walter were here but he didn't pick up on Cora or Stiles either. Peter made his way through the house and found them on the back porch. They were talking to each other but stopped before he was close enough to make out the words. He heard Cora giggling, though.
"You two having fun?" Peter came out the back door where they were sitting next to each other on the stairs.
"You weren't here so I made do with who I got." Stiles turned until he could lean his back against one of the posts framing the stairs. "And I don't see my bag." Stiles narrowed his eyes on him.
"You were a few minutes too late, I'd just dropped it off with your uncle." Peter mimicked his nonchalant position by leaning his shoulder against the door frame. "Didn't expect you to show up here."
"I'm full of surprises." Stiles grinned at him.
"And you're making friends." Peter's eyes flickered over to Cora who was watching the exchange with interest.
"Just friendly small talk," Stiles assured him. "You know, getting to know each other. Since we're supposed to be dating and all that."
That made Cora giggle again.
"I'm never going to live that down, am I?" Peter shook his head.
"Why were you telling people that Stiles and I are dating anyway?" Cora wondered. "We don't even know each other."
"It was a necessary lie at that point."
"You're just weird." Cora got up. "Anyway, nice meeting you, Stiles." With that, she shouldered her way past Peter.
Before he hadn't paid much attention to her, his focus had been on Stiles but now he couldn't ignore her scent. The hormone cocktail of a teenager in love, somebody had been fooling around. Peter wasn't able to get a reading of the other person involved, Cora was emitting too many pheromones of her own, but the other scent was female, no doubt about that. Interesting.
However, that had to wait until later. First, he had to get Stiles away from here before other nosy pack members came back home.
"I thought you don't go here," Peter said and pushed himself off the door frame. With a tilt of his head, he indicated Stiles to follow him down the stairs. Stiles got up as well and the way he was looking at the house he got that Cora was most likely still close enough to hear every word.
"As I said, I'm full of surprises." Stiles walked with him away from the house. "The house has changed a lot since I've been here the last time." He waved his hand in the general direction as if Peter didn't know which house he meant.
"You've been here before?" The way Stiles had been talking, he hadn't set a foot on this side of the town in ages.
"I come here to have a look from time to time, last time in the fifties, I think, might have been the early sixties, whatever. Haven't cared to come here since then." He had another look over his shoulder. "Back in Johnathan's days, it has been way smaller. They demolished that one eventually and built this one."
"Did Johnathan ever see you?" Peter wondered. He would have loved to witness that. Johnathan's expression must have been priceless.
"Not at first." Stiles shook his head, a distant look on his face. "The first year or so I barely left the lake. But then I started to explore the town. Derek had told me about the Hale pack, I didn't have a clue who or what they were when those werewolves grabbed me so one day I wanted to see for myself. I didn't dare to get too close, Derek had said that they would be able to hear and smell me long before they saw me." He looked around, probably estimating the distance to the house. "Didn't see shit." He laughed to himself. "But I did run into one of the guys Johnathan had with him in town someday. He looked as if he was seeing a ghost."
"I can imagine."
"It is possible that I kind of started to haunt them." There was an evil glint in his eye. "Johnathan and his two henchmen, I mean. It got even funnier after they tried to kill me again."
"Can you be killed?" Peter wondered.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Stiles just grinned at him.
"I want to know everything about you," Peter countered. It was true. He wanted to know if Stiles could die or if he was kind of immortal, he couldn't help it, his brain just worked like that. He wanted to know every little detail, wanted to fill in every blank so that he knew exactly what he was dealing with. With Stiles, however, he wanted to hear things like this as well. Fun little stories, the things that made him laugh and what made him sad, he wanted to know everything. It was kind of exciting and scary at the same time because it had been a long time since he'd been actually interested in a person. Most of the time he just wondered if somebody posed a threat or how he could manipulate and use somebody.
Stiles threw him a glance.
"Do you want to know how I sound when I come?"
Peter's foot must have gotten caught in a rabbit hole. He stumbled a few steps before he was able to catch himself.
"Thought werewolves were supposed to be graceful." Stiles laughed but kept walking as if the incident just now had never happened. They were rounding the house and their cars came back in sight.
"You did go through my stuff before you handed my bag over to John, didn't you?" Stiles changed the topic.
"Of course." Peter saw no point in lying, Stiles would have done the same.
"And you're not worried about me?" Stiles wondered. "You're the pack's left hand, you should be worried when you find someone gathering information about your pack like this."
"I doubt you're going to act on that information, you just want to have it. Just in case."
"Takes one to know one." Stiles gave him a knowing nod. "You're gathering information about me as well. And Derek. Found out what he is by now?"
"A limnad?" Peter asked the first thing popping into his mind. It was on his list of possibilities but it didn't quite fit what he knew about Derek so far.
"Nope." Stiles let the word pop. They were back at the cars. "I should leave, this is not my side of the town. And I have a bag to pick up."
Peter nodded to that, there wasn't much he could say. And he just knew that Cora had been circling the house with them and was now watching them from behind a window. Not that he was thinking of doing something stupid like kissing Stiles goodbye. His gaze flickered to Stiles' lips but Peter forced himself to look somewhere else. He was not a horny teenager.
"You didn't answer my question." Stiles hopped into the driver's seat and closed the door. "See you around." With that, the jeep came to live and Stiles slammed it in reverse.
"You're impossible, you know that?" Peter told him which got him another grin and then Stiles left. Peter watched him for a few seconds but then he turned back to the house.
"So that's the sheriff's nephew." Cora didn't even try to hide the fact that she'd been watching them. "What's the deal with him?"
"Nothing," Peter said but that wouldn't get her off his back. "We met at the library and we started talking, that's all."
"It still doesn't explain your necessary lie," Cora repeated his words back to him.
"I wanted to know who he is," Peter explained which was actually the truth. "It's my job to know the people around here and he's the sheriff's nephew. Denise got nosy and I could hardly tell her why I wanted to know about him. That you and Stiles are dating was her idea, I just didn't correct her."
"And what if people hear about it? Have you thought about that?" Cora asked louder than necessary. Her fingers were twitching as if she wanted to throw fists.
"People or one certain person?" Peter made a point of sniffing the air. Cora froze. "And it's fresh, that's why you've been skipping school?"
"I ... I ... didn't ..." She started but broke off after a second, there was no point in lying. "Don't tell mom."
"Two things." Peter took pity on her. "Three, actually. First, don't come home when you skip school, I thought you're smart enough for that. Second, don't skip school. You can fool around after school, better for your grades and less likely to make Talia suspicious." He made a pause. "And thirdly, if you don't want to out yourself to the whole pack, watch your scent."
At that, all the color left her face and she was staring at him with huge eyes.
"Don't tell mom!" She squeaked. "I'm not ready. I don't even know if ... I mean I shouldn't ... it's wrong, I'm wrong." Gone was the teenager in love, the only thing Cora was emitting now was anxiety and panic. Peter's nose was clogged with the bad emotions coming off her.
He couldn't stand it, his wolf whined in distress at her distress. Without even thinking, he closed the gap between them and closed his arms around her.
"You're not wrong," he said. "You're just fine the way you are."
"I don't want to be different." She was hugging him back now and Peter smelled tears.
"You're a werewolf, you should be used to being different," he joked in hope to lighten the mood. This was not what he'd signed up for, this was Talia's job. She was the alpha and Cora's mother, if anybody, she should be holding her daughter through this. But no, here he was, holding his crying niece.
"As a werewolf, I'm not alone," she whispered into his chest. She had a point there. There were a few pack members Peter knew or at least suspected were not straight but none of them had outed themselves.
"You're not alone in this either," Peter said with a sigh. Looked like they had to talk about this.
"Yeah?" Cora made. "Who?"
"I for example." He had never made a secret out of it but it had been a long time since he'd been interested in anyone.
"You?" Cora brought some distance between them. "Stop making fun of me."
"You were married." Of course, she had to bring that up now. "You loved Aunt Olivia, we all felt your grief for months when she died."
Peter felt his jaw working, he did not want to think of Olivia right now but Cora had put her out there and now he had to say something to that.
"I loved her very much, still do." His voice sounded a bit raspy in his own ears. "But that doesn't change the fact that I've always liked men as well. I'm bisexual."
He had never thought that he would have to come out to his niece like this but today was strange like that. He was holding her gaze while she was searching for the lie. Which she wouldn't find. This might have been the most honest thing he'd said in quite a while.
After a long moment of doubt, she broke out in a huge smile.
"I think, I'm a lesbian," Cora said proudly but the next second she slapped her hands over her mouth as if she wanted to stuff the words back in. "Don't tell Mom. Don't tell anybody."
"Of course not."
She let out a breath, her relief washing over Peter.
She mumbled something about homework and turned to leave but then she stopped.
"By the way, that advice with the scent?" She sniffed the air. "That goes both ways."
Do you want to know how I sound when I come?
Stiles wanted to bang his head against the steering wheel. Why had he said that? Was he out of his mind? Okay, Peter had said similar things back at the coffee shop but that was not the point. The point was that Stiles shouldn't encourage him, he should just stay on his side of the town and forget about the stupid werewolf.
Stiles drove over to the station, he wanted his bag back. And then he wanted to retreat to his cabin and bury himself in some books. And for sure he did not want to think about a certain werewolf any longer. Stiles stormed into the station, his mind still on that stupid thing he'd said which he totally shouldn't have said but he had said anyway.
"Hi, Nancy," Stiles greeted her when he was rushing past the front desk. He opened the door to the sheriff's office with a bit too much force, the knob slipped out of his, and the door banged against the wall. From his place behind the desk, John looked up at him, not in the slightest surprised.
"Peter was here?" Stiles asked but by then he'd spotted his bag, sitting in a corner. "At least he wasn't lying."
Stiles closed the door more carefully and then he slumped down in one of the chairs in front of the desk to check if everything was still where it belonged.
"He went through my stuff," Stiles told John. Even if Peter hadn't admitted it, he could tell. His papers were not in the right order and for sure he would have never packed them in such a neat way.
"At least he didn't eat my Twizzlers." Stiles fished one out and stuffed it in his mouth. He grinned broadly at John with the candy handing out of his mouth.
"So he knows that you've been looking into the Hales?" John asked and put whatever he'd been working on aside.
"He went through most of my research on them." Stiles shrugged "But he didn't seem worried."
At that, John perked up. "You've seen him? When?"
"Just now, went out to the Hale house, looking for him." Stiles rolled the candy from one side of his mouth to the other.
"You went where? Are you insane?" John raised his voice but lowered it again with a worried glance at the door. "You've been avoiding the Hales for how long? Why did you have to go there now? Peter's dangerous. The whole pack is dangerous."
"What are they going to do?" Stiles became serious. "Kill me? Lock me up?"
"Don't piss them off," John warned him. "What if they come after Derek?"
"They're werewolves, not hunters," Stiles reminded him. "Besides, Peter still has no idea what he is. Even if he knew, coming after Derek would be the stupidest thing he could do. And he knows that. No, at the moment he's only interested in me."
"Yeah." John leaned back in his chair. "I noticed that."
"Why? Did he say something? What did he say?" Stiles almost choked on the rest of the Twizzler but he was sitting on the edge of his seat now.
"You're acting like a teenager with a crush, you know that?" John threw him an amused glance.
"I am a teenager, everybody here in the station will confirm that."
"You're not denying the crush part," John pointed out and reached for his work again. "Would you excuse me? I still have work to do."
"You didn't answer my question. Why is nobody answering my questions?" Stiles threw up his hands in frustration.
"Maybe you should ask him directly," John suggested, eyes already on his work, the conversation was over.
"He's the one who's not answering my questions in the first place," Stiles muttered but he did grab his bag and stormed out of the office.
By the time Stiles reached his cabin, he had cooled off. He kicked off his shoes and stretched out on his bed. He had wanted to dig into his books but he wasn't in the mood for that any longer. For a moment, he was just staring at the ceiling but then he rolled to his side and reached for his bag. Maybe some mindless Candy Crush would help him clear his mind.
However, when his phone came to life he found his contacts still open.
Peter had added himself to his contacts and he'd sent himself a message so he did have Stiles' number now as well.
What makes you think that I want to have you in my contacts? Stiles wrote.
Nobody is forcing you to use it, came the prompt answer. You can delete it if you want
I'm going to do that, Stiles threatened.
That's your decision
Stiles was holding his phone in his hand for a long minute and did not delete Peter's number.
It might come in handy at some point he told himself. Besides, Peter was right, just because it was there didn't mean that he had to use it. He had the number of that pizza place in there, the one with the awful pizzas that always came burned on the top and raw on the bottom, he hadn't used that one in years. It had just quietly been sitting in his contact since forever. On a whim, Stiles deleted it now. He couldn't even remember why he'd saved it in the first place, the pizza there was just awful.
Do you still want to hear the answer? Peter wrote.
What answer? Stiles played dumb as if he'd already forgotten about that throwaway remark.
The answer is yes
Stiles stared at the screen until it went dark. That was not the answer he'd expected. They had been circling each other, yes, and there had been a palpable sexual tension hanging over them but they were not supposed to act on it. Peter was not supposed to say things like that. They joked around but they never admitted things like that.
If you send me a dick pic I will delete you, Stiles wrote because he didn't know what to say to the other thing.
Please, what are you thinking of me?
Only the worst
Peter sent him a crying emoji.
Stiles couldn't handle this. He threw the phone away but ten seconds later he had it back in his hand.
Since you're determined to talk to me, entertain me, Stiles demanded. He needed some distraction. Since it was Peter he needed to get distracted from it might be a bad idea to ask him to distract him but now Stiles wanted to know how the werewolf would react.
Do you have something in mind?
Aside from dick pics?
Would you stop with the dick pics?
Stiles thought that this was it, Peter would not answer again because how else than with a dick pic could he possibly answer now?
To his surprise Peter changed topics completely and asked about one of the books Stiles had picked out the other day. If he'd started it and if so how he liked it.
Stiles hadn't started with that one but he told Peter about the book he was currently reading. And that he wanted to read the one Peter had recommended to him next. The one he dropped on his foot? Peter remembered that one and he was looking forward to hear what Stiles thought about it.
Stiles didn't know how it happened but he talked to Peter for way over an hour like that and dick pics didn't come up even once. Or even anything sexual. They were just talking about books. The ones they liked, the ones they didn't like, and which ones they had on their endless list of books they wanted to read eventually but never came around to read.
They had to stop when members of the Hale pack came home and they would start reading over Peter's shoulder because they did not have a sense of privacy as Peter put it.
It's your own fault, sitting in the living room like this, Stiles wrote.
He didn't even know if Peter was sitting in the living room but if he were, there were way too many ways to glance at his phone. The Hales' living room was huge and almost none of the couches and chairs had a wall in the back.
They ended their conversation with the promise to talk again soon.
Stiles put the phone aside and rolled to his back. He didn't know what to make out of this, out of Peter. The werewolf had not mentioned making amends again but Stiles just knew that it was still on his mind. Was he just a charity case to Peter? Was he trying to be friendly because he thought that Stiles was lonely? But that didn't explain the chat they just had.
With a huff, Stiles reached for his phone again and scrolled through their messages. They sounded genuine.
He was an overthinker by nature he knew that but he also knew that he wasn't good at this. Whatever this was they were doing. Was it flirting? Was Peter flirting with him? Was Stiles flirting with Peter? He didn't know.
It would be easier if this was just about sex. He knew how to do that. Sex was going to the right place, a simple question of yes or no and they were good to go. In desperate times he'd even made some money that way but it was something completely different with Peter.
Earlier, Peter had said that he wanted to know everything about Stiles and Stiles had to admit that it was the same for him. They had just talked about books for over an hour.
Stiles let out a groan, this wasn't going anywhere. And he was still not in the mood for reading. He wasn't in the mood for anything so he got up and stripped out of most of his clothes, no need to get them all wet, then he locked his cabin and dove into the lake.
Stiles let himself sink to the bottom. Here he didn't have to think. He just needed to be careful, he tended to lose track of time and he wanted to have dinner with John tomorrow. And maybe talk to Peter some more.
"Stiles?" Derek asked. Down here he didn't have a form, not really. Nothing down here had, not even Stiles. Stiles was just floating in the water with Derek's presence surrounding him. So Derek's voice was coming from everywhere but mostly it was in Stiles' mind.
"I'm fine," Stiles answered the same way. Derek was everywhere, he was a comforting blanket Stiles could wrap around himself. A very wet blanket but that didn't matter. With Derek Stiles didn't feel the cold. Here he didn't get tired or hungry or any of that. He didn't even need to breathe.
"Something is bothering you," Derek stated. After all these years he was good at reading Stiles.
"Peter." Stiles let out a sigh. "I just don't know what to do with him."
"You don't have to do anything," Derek reminded him and Stiles let himself sink deeper into his presence. It was tempting to just surrender to that and maybe wake up in a decade or two.
"I'm not going to miss dinner with John tomorrow," Stiles emphasized but his mind was drifting in the water.
"Do you want me to take care of the werewolf?" Derek asked quietly. He didn't like killing but sometimes he had no other choice. When people were coming to the lake, when they were staying for too long or swam out too far, then Derek didn't have a choice. It was his nature and he had to follow his instincts. Thanks to John, there hadn't been a drowning in years but the next poor soul going into the water was doomed. Derek wouldn't be able to hold back, not after years without drowning someone.
But what he was offering now had nothing to do with that. This was Derek offering to kill Peter Hale out of his own free will. Just because he wanted to help Stiles.
"No," Stiles said firmly. "I don't want you to take care of him." After a second he added: "I kind of like him."
Derek accepted it like he accepted everything surface related.
Stiles didn't have let himself sink into Derek this deep in quite a while and when he came up again, he had to hurry to be on time for dinner with John.
He hurried back to the cabin to get dressed but first, he checked his phone in case John had to cancel because he had to take over a shift or something like that. There was nothing from John but Stiles found two messages from Peter waiting for him. The first he'd sent this morning, a comment on the last book Stiles had mentioned in an obvious attempted to get the conversation going again and the second one just half an hour old, asking if he was ignoring him on purpose.
Peter growled after Cora for her comment about his scent but she was already heading up the stairs to do something about her own scent, no doubt.
Peter sniffed his armpit to check if things were as obvious with him as Cora had claimed. He did catch a faint whiff of Stiles on him and he couldn't deny the mixed feelings he had about him. Arousal was one of them. So a little freshening up wouldn't hurt.
While upstairs the shower started, Peter gave himself a quick once over in the smaller bathroom downstairs.
He wondered when or if Cora would introduce her girlfriend and how Talia would react to that. She was pretty open-minded and never had a problem with Peter being bi. Not that he had ever made a big deal out of that but he had brought home a boyfriend now and then when he'd been younger. Then he'd met Olivia and other people had been forgotten.
It had been eight years since Olivia had died but thinking about her stirred up the grief again. He probably would never really be over it and he'd meant it when he'd said that he still loved her but it wasn't a thing constantly on his mind any longer. But then there were moments like this, when Olivia had come up again or something reminded him of her, a scent, a song, and the grief felt fresh like on the first day.
Peter sat down on one of the couches, without most of the pack home, the living room felt empty and way too huge, and let his head fall back to rest on the back of the couch.
He just needed a moment. Then he would go upstairs and look at that video Bob had given him earlier. And he should start asking questions about new people in town but he put that off for later.
He was just about to get up when his phone buzzed with a new message.
Stiles. Looked like he had gotten his things back.
They texted a bit back and forth, just the usual banter and Peter just knew that he'd railed him up with answering Stiles' question. It was easy fun.
Not that he was serious with his answer. Maybe a little serious.
Then Stiles brought up dick pics and that did not help to get the images out of his head. Their little chat came to a lull but Peter didn't want it to end on dick pics.
So he asked about the book Stiles was reading. It was the first thing coming to mind but it turned out to be the right thing. Peter had only made the mistake of doing this in the living room. Boyd and Isaac were the firsts to come home, followed by Deborah who had picked up Emily. The little girl was instantly zooming in on Peter, asking him if he was busy.
Peter would have liked to keep his conversation with Stiles going but there were too many people around, the house was becoming louder, so he ended their little chat with the promise to talk again soon.
Cora did not mention Stiles but she was constantly throwing worried glances at Peter as if she expected him to out her right here in the middle of the pack. Which he didn't, of course. He might be a mean bastard sometimes but outing someone like that was just wrong. He hoped Cora knew that.
After dinner, Peter excused himself and retreated to his room. Stiles hadn't sent another message which was good because Peter had work to do and couldn't use the distraction.
He watched the video of the two guys at the gun shop several times. He didn't know these men which was too bad, it would have made things easier. With no audio, Peter had only what Bob had told him to go on with. That they were heading towards Beacon Hills and that they had mentioned wolfsbane and silver. And that they had been speaking French.
Peter extracted some good pictures of their faces, at least Bob had a decent camera and the faces weren't just pixely blobs, but there wasn't much else he could do. He would have loved to get a license plate but Bob only had cameras on the inside and even if the angle gave him a glimpse out of the window, it hadn't caught the hunters' car. That would have been too easy, Peter guessed.
However, he had two faces to look out for and first thing tomorrow, he would talk to a few people. Maybe somebody had seen something. New people in town were usually easy to spot, Beacon Hills was not that big and hunters tended to stand out.
Peter glanced at the time. Not too late to go out, he decided.
There were a few bars that would fit this kind of clientele, it couldn't hurt to check. He would check the hotels and motels around town tomorrow.
The first bar he hit was popular with truckers, it was the closest to the interstate. Peter scanned the room when he entered but at first glance, nobody stood out. Men in worn jeans and trucker caps were all around but nothing that screamed hunter at him. Peter made his way over to the bar where he gave the bartender a nod and got served a beer without asking. Peter accepted his beer and kept his eyes on that and the bar in front of him, he didn't need to look around like a fool to get a feeling for the other patrons. A bit down the bar were a man and a woman, slowly working their way up into an argument. Three men at a table telling war stories from the road. Two women in the corner, quietly drinking their beer. Some bikers at the pool tables.
Peter drank his beer slowly with his ears open but nothing was catching his attention. The couple at the other end of the bar, they were a couple, going on ten years, there was no way Peter could have missed that, was now close to yelling at each other. What the argument was about, Peter still had no clue, though.
"Anything else I can bring you?" The bartender came over when Peter was nearing the end of his beer.
"Seen any new faces around?" Peter asked. He'd made a point of being good friends with the bartenders in town, it did come in handy from time to time.
"Just the usual." He took Peter's by now empty glass. "Truckers and bikers passing through. Nobody who sticks around."
Peter ordered a shot, it would look weird if he was sitting here without a drink, but for now, he didn't touch it. He put his elbow on the bar and was now facing the couple. They had been at the yelling stage a second ago and Peter had fully expected that glasses would be flying by now or at least one of them storming out but they had done a complete one-eighty and were now taking shots together.
"What's with them?" Peter asked.
"They come here a few times a month," the bartender answered with an amused look at them. "They're fighting as if she's going to kick him out tonight and filing for divorce tomorrow but in the end, they're just getting drunk together. Don't ask me." He shook his head. "The make up sex must be great or something."
Peter watched them for a moment longer but they seemed to have calmed down and were just nursing their drinks now.
Shaking his head, Peter reached for his drink. He knocked it back, paid with a generous tip and then he left the bar.
He checked out two more bars but no luck. He did meet some interesting people and got one offer for a fun night, which he declined, but in the end, Peter came home empty-handed.
In the morning, he shot Stiles a message in hope to get their conversation going again. The house was empty and he wouldn't get interrupted but the little checkmark didn't turn blue, meaning Stiles hadn't even read his message.
So Peter grabbed his jacket and keys and left to ask around at some motels if somebody had seen the two men.
Frustrated Peter came home around noon.
"What's going on?" Pamela peeked around the corner when he slammed the door. She had one look at him and he could almost see when motherly instincts kicked in. Before he knew it he was sitting at the kitchen table and she was handing him a sandwich.
"I was about to have lunch anyway." She quickly fixed one for herself as well and then they were eating quietly. "Do you have time? I need a second pair of strong hands."
And just like that Peter spent the afternoon, helping Pamela in the garden. At least here he got somewhere, he could see the results of his hard work. And it kept his mind from thinking too much.
"Feeling better?" Pamela asked when they were finishing up. It was almost dinner time and most of the pack was home already.
"Yeah, thanks." He hadn't even told her about his frustrating search for these men, sprinkled with a random thought about Stiles now and then. Peter was used to the first, most of the time he had to do a lot of footwork to get some answers and sometimes it just didn't work out, it happens. What was really getting under his skin, though, was Stiles. Who still hadn't even read his message from earlier. Was he ignoring him on purpose?
Peter asked him just that before he went to wash up and join the others for dinner.
When Peter checked his phone after dinner, he did have a new message from Stiles.
Sorry, spent the day under and now I'm late for dinner with John. Talk later
Peter read the message again. The second part he understood. John had told him himself that Stiles would have dinner with him tonight but the first part Peter didn't get. Under? Under what? In any other case, his mind would jump to things like depression but with Stiles, he had the suspicion that he meant it quite literally, that he had spent the day under the surface of the lake.
Peter had seen how easily Stiles had dived into the lake and hadn't come up again. What didn't sit right with Peter was the fact that Derek had ordered him to come with him. He'd come out of the lake to stop Stiles from talking to Peter and it had only taken one word from Derek and Stiles had followed him back into the lake.
However, Stiles hadn't seemed to be bothered by that, he'd looked as if he was used to it.
… spent the day under …
Peter couldn't get that bit out of his mind. Stiles' nature had been constantly on the back of his mind, he'd never really forgotten about it but for a while, he'd been able to kind of ignore it. And now it looked like Stiles had spent the whole day, most likely the night before as well, at the bottom of the lake.
What is it like, down there? Peter wrote but hesitated to send the message. In the end, curiosity won and he did hit send. Like expected Stiles didn't answer right away, he was most likely in the middle of having dinner with the sheriff.
Peter followed the rest of the pack to the living room. Someone had switched on the TV but nobody was watching. Boyd and Erica were quietly talking to each other. Pamela and Deborah had teamed up and were now giving Christina pregnancy tips, somebody would have to rescue her some time soon. There was homework being done and Walter was reading a book. Everybody was doing their own thing but they were all enjoying the company of the pack.
Things became quieter when a show came on most of them were interested in. Peter was not most but he didn't mind either and for a while, he just enjoyed being surrounded by his pack.
Emily was the first who had to go to bed, followed a little later by the teenagers. Peter doubted that those would be sleeping any time soon but they retreated to their rooms for the night. And then, one by one, the rest of the pack said their goodnights until it was just him and Talia.
The phone in his pocket had stayed quiet the whole evening and Peter had checked from time to time if he'd missed a message but no such luck.
"What's on your mind?" Talia asked. They were sitting in chairs with their legs stretched out, just enjoying the quiet that had fallen over the house.
Peter pondered his options for a moment. He had nothing on those hunters, it was way too early to bother her with that, but his mind was more on Stiles anyway. They, the Hales, had done this to him, it was their fault that Stiles had to spend whole days under. And Peter had no idea how to make it right.
"I told you about the monster living out in the lake," Peter started, maybe it was time for a second opinion. "Turned out that's not the only thing living out there. Well, not a thing more a someone."
First, Peter brought Talia up to date with what he knew about Derek. He left out the part where Derek had almost drowned him but he did mention that he could come through the pipes.
"You think he's a threat?" Talia asked the question Peter had been pondering for a while now.
However, Derek had come to him to threaten him when he could have just killed him and be done with it. Plus, Stiles had mentioned that Derek didn't like to kill. Even the sheriff didn't seem particularly worried about the lake monster in his town but Peter had to admit that since the sheriff was keeping an eye on the lake, nobody had died out there.
"No." He shook his head. "He's not a threat. At least not until provoked."
"Okay." She took his word for that. "So what about that other someone?"
Peter told her about the deal the alpha back then had with Derek and how he'd cheated his way out of it. That Stiles now was bound to stay with Derek. Peter just gave her the cliff-notes, no need to go into detail here. He didn't want to betray Stiles by gossiping about him but Talia needed to know at least the basics.
When he'd finished, she sat there in stunned silence for a moment, trying to comprehend the new information.
"Oh and by the way, the sheriff knows about us," Peter added for good measure.
"Sheriff Stilinski?" That threw her off. Peter couldn't blame her. He had thought that their secret was well kept and that he knew everybody around here who knew about them but the sheriff had completely slipped his radar. If he hadn't outed himself, Peter would have never guessed.
"The very same," Peter said. "He's pretending to be Stiles' uncle, pretty sure Stiles told him about us. Years ago."
The sheriff had known about werewolves for years and they had been none the wiser. Peter didn't like that at all but on the other hand, he had to give the sheriff kudos for taking it in stride. "As long as we're not breaking the law, he won't do anything."
"Why didn't we know about all this?" Talia asked. "How can this Stiles live out there for decades without us noticing? You say he's in town quite frequently."
"We never had a reason to have a closer look," Peter offered but he had been asking himself the same question. It was his job to know things like this. "And we don't go there, remember?"
She nodded to that and Peter was pretty sure that that rule would be enforced more firmly again.
"So this Stiles." She came to the point Peter wanted to talk about. "Is there something we can do?"
"I don't know how," Peter admitted. "Even if we free him somehow, I doubt Derek is just going to ignore such a breach of contract. He's played along and has accepted Stiles instead of what he's been promised but cheating him out of that?" He shook his head. "Things would become bloody." He had no doubt about that.
"So what can we do? We can't just leave him like that."
"He told me to do just that. To let things be." Peter sighed. "He has my number, we've been talking."
Talia threw him a glance but didn't comment on it.
"I want to meet him," she decided.
"I doubt that he wants to meet you. He's not particularly fond of the Hale family." Peter made a face, remembering how gleeful Stiles had been when he'd thought that Peter had killed a Hale. "For obvious reasons."
"What do you suggest?"
"Keep things like they are for now." Peter didn't like it but he had no other idea. "I still don't know what Derek is, I might be able to say more once I know. Until then? I'm going to stay in contact with Stiles."
"You're using him."
"No." That word came out sharper than intended. "I like him and I want to help him."
"You don't like people. And you don't want to help people," Talia reminded him. "You think about the safety of the pack first, always. That's the reason why you're my left hand."
"Stiles is different," he said and planted his feet firmly on the floor. "I'm going to check the doors and then I'll turn in." He stood and walked out of the room. He couldn't remember the last time he hadn't been the last to turn in but the conversation had been heading in a direction he didn't want right now. He felt Talia's eyes on his back but ignored them.
He made a quick round to make sure that everything was locked before he retreated to his bedroom.
It was still early, at least for him, so he got comfortable on the bed and took his phone out. Stiles had read his message but he still hadn't answered his question about what it was like to be under. Randomly Under the Sea popped into his head but he doubted that this was as colorful and happy as in the movie.
He was just about to put the phone aside, it was late and he doubted that Stiles would answer at this time of the night but then he saw that Stiles was typing.
Peaceful, came the answer. Nothing matters down there.
Do you like it?
Depends. It's a nice retreat but I do like being upside.
Hence the cabin, Peter thought. And Stiles did have contacts in town. Which reminded him …
Did you enjoy dinner with your uncle?
He was pouting all the way through dinner. I forced him to have salad
He deserved it for telling you that he knows about you. Not you you but you know
Peter did know and he appreciated that Stiles did not use the word werewolf in a written conversation. Who knew who might read it.
He was pouting so badly that I carved and we had pasta later. Totally forgot the time over that. Again
Peter sensed more behind those words but before he could type out the question, Stiles had sent him another message.
So about that book ...
Peter got more comfortable on the bed.
They started with books, picking things up right where they had left them yesterday but they moved on to other things eventually. If Peter had seen the latest Spiderman? To which Peter had to admit that he'd seen a few of the Marvel movies but that he wasn't particularly fond of Spiderman. To which Stiles broke into a rant about how awesome Tom Holland was, followed by a rant about how it was not acceptable that Peter wasn't up to date with the Marvel Franchise.
We need to watch them
All of them
I have a spreadsheet of the right order to watch them
With all the tie-ins
But we can keep those for later
The last few messages came in as rapidly fired shots.
Who says that I want to watch them? Peter asked.
Nobody's asking you. Those movies are our culture
If you say so, Peter couldn't help but tease.
There was a pause where the dots were indicating that Stiles was typing but there were long pauses as if he was writing and deleting something. Peter waited patiently for him to make up his mind.
When are you free? Was the message Stiles finally sent out.
Is this a date? Peter asked, partly to mess with him but partly because he wanted to know where they stood.
No, Stiles answered instantly but after a second another message came in: Unless you want it to be
Peter laughed at that.
It's a date, then
You do know that there are 23 movies, right? Stiles reminded him. Not that Peter had known the exact number just that there were a lot of these movies. That's 23 dates, 12 if we do double features
Let's start with one, Peter tried to slow him down.
And just like that Peter had a date.
They would hash out the details later because they would not have a movie night at the Hale house, both of them were set on that, and Stiles didn't want to watch the movies on the little screen of his laptop in his cabin. That would have been cozy but camping out on the floor in the pile of blankets Stiles called a bed was not Peter's idea of a date. He felt a tad too old for that.
Stiles suggested the sheriff's place, he was pulling nightshifts a lot lately and he did have a nice big TV. Stiles just had to ask him when it would work out with his schedule. Peter was not sure what to think about that but it was the easiest option. He didn't want to rent a room for a night because that would implicate things and he didn't know what Stiles would say to that. So the sheriff's place it was.
It was way after midnight when they called it a night and Peter put away his phone. Talia had gone to bed a while ago so the house was quiet again. Before Peter got ready for bed, he went downstairs again and stepped outside for a moment. He hadn't done that earlier and it felt wrong to go to bed without his last round around the house. Everything was quiet outside and with a good feeling, Peter locked up and went to bed.
He wasn't constantly texting with Stiles, there were long stretches of time where Stiles didn't read his messages and vice versa, Peter had things to do as well, but they were talking frequently now. For their date, they had set their minds on the weekend because weekends were for dates at least according to Stiles even if neither of them had to get up early over the week.
Besides, Peter had other things on his mind. There was no sign of those hunters but Peter did check in with most of his contacts just to stay in the loop.
Then he was still trying to figure out what Derek was. That had become kind of an obsession to him because once he knew what Derek was he might be able to help Stiles. Not that Stiles had asked for his help, quite the opposite. Stiles had explicitly told him to drop it but that was the one thing Peter couldn't do. He needed to know. If that knowledge would help him in the long run and if he would use it in some way he didn't know but he wanted to have it. Just in case.
Stiles had said that Derek might have come to America with the Vikings or German settlers so that narrowed it down but not by much. There were a lot of European water spirits. A lot of them quite similar but every country had its own version and even in the same country, those could differ wildly from region to region. Even if Peter had a name, it was quite possible that he wouldn't get the little differences in meaning and that this version of the creature would not play by the rules he thought it would. It was frustrating. But it kept his mind busy.
Peter drove Emily to her guitar lesson on Friday and stopped by the library as usual until it was time to pick her up again. He had kind of hoped to see Stiles there as well but no such luck. So he just browsed the shelves, picked a few books at random and was out of the library before Denise spotted him. He was not in the mood for gossip right now.
Cora was avoiding him but he caught her looking at him as if she was trying to figure something out or as if she was working up the courage to ask him something but every time he looked back at her, she ducked her head and said nothing. She would come around on her own time, Peter decided and didn't push.
Then it was Saturday and he had a date with Stiles. Peter did not tell his family where he was going when he left the house before dinner but they were used to him coming and going as he pleased so nobody questioned it.
On his way over to the sheriff's place, he stopped at the store. Peter didn't want to show up empty-handed. He'd thought about wine, the classic date gift but Stiles didn't even look old enough to have wine and it wouldn't fit the kind of movie they intended to watch. Peter passed on the chocolate as well, that wasn't Stiles either.
He left the store with Twizzlers and lollipops.
This was going to be the death of him, Peter just knew but it looked like he was that kind of masochistic.
Stiles was outraged when he read that Peter hadn't seen most of the Marvel movies.
Stiles had gone to the movies every time a new one had come out and he had been back multiple times. Those were his comfort movies and he didn't grow tired of watching them over and over again. Okay, there were plot holes and that time travel thing had just been bullshit but all in all, he loved them and he had thoughts about them. He might have spent whole days on the internet, discussing meta and reading fanfiction. Because Stucky. Among others. He was a multi-shipper when it came to Marvel.
But better start light with Peter. So the plan was to just watch Captain America for their first date. Because they were going to have a date.
Which had totally not been his intention. Stiles just wanted to fill this gap in education for Peter because how could he be alive today and have not seen them? Stiles wasn't sure if he himself counted as alive and he did spend quite a lot of his time at the bottom of the lake which kind of equaled living under a rock and still he'd seen all of the movies.
When Peter had asked if they were talking about a date here, Stiles had dropped his phone, totally blindsided by that idea. But apparently, Peter was talking about a date here.
So the next morning Stiles checked in with John if he could borrow his house for the weekend.
John had questions, of course he had. It had been a while since Stiles had a friend over, years actually, he was not good at making friends and he never managed to keep a friendship alive for long. His friendship with John was the longest relationship he ever had, not counting Derek, and most of the time that was enough.
Most people saw him as a teenager so his friends had been mostly teenagers but he didn't have anything in common with them. Even if they had the same interests, they were not on the same maturity level and it showed. But being friends with adults was not an option either since they didn't see him as an adult which made the whole situation creepy as fuck. John was the only exception.
And now there was Peter. Peter knew that he wasn't just a teenager and he didn't treat him as such. Stiles didn't know where this was heading but he was willing to give it a try. At least he had to educate Peter on Marvel.
"But Peter Hale?" John asked again but Stiles could already see the defeat in his posture. Not that John would try to forbid it. He was not Stiles' uncle and Stiles was not a teenager. And even if they had a weird kind of father-son relationship going on, John always treated him like an adult who could do whatever the hell he wanted. As long as he didn't get in trouble with the law.
On Saturday, Stiles left his cabin as late as he dared and headed over to John's place.
John had already left for work but he had set out some things on the kitchen counter. Glasses and bowls. Bags of chips and popcorn, the latter coming with a note telling Stiles that he should leave that to Peter.
Stiles snorted at that and crumbled the note in his hand. He could make popcorn just fine. How hard could it be?
There were enough stories cruising the internet about fire alarms in dorms because some drunk idiot had not been capable of operating a microwave at three in the morning but Stiles was not one of them.
John had also left money on the counter for the pizza they would order and when Stiles opened the fridge he found several bottles of juice and coke just waiting for him. There was even beer. Stiles chuckled at that. The sheriff providing a minor with beer for a date with a man twice his age. At least that's what it must look like to an outsider. Stiles closed the fridge and headed over to the living room to check if everything was ready there as well. Peter would be here any minute and by now Stiles was a twitching mess.
This was a date. Holy fuck, this was a date.
Stiles sprinted up the stairs to check his room. He used it for storage most of the time but there was a bed in there and for some reason he'd felt the need to clean up the other day. John had given him a look but he'd not been complaining that Stiles was tidying up for once.
Stiles doubted that they would come up here, they wanted to watch a movie nothing else but he felt better knowing that they could. There were even fresh sheets on the bed.
Then Stiles as pacing the living room until the doorbell rang.
"Your neighbors really shouldn't let their dog run free," Peter said when Stiles opened the door.
Stiles blinked at him.
"Let me guess, Buttons doesn't like you either." Stiles broke into a wide grin. "It's not just me."
But then he hurried to drag Peter inside before that hell beast could show up again. It was nowhere in sight but that didn't mean anything.
"Dogs usually have a problem with us." Peter closed the door. "But they tend to run with their tails between their legs." He flashed his eyes at Stiles, electric blue sparkling up for just a second.
"I wish I had those," Stiles muttered. He didn't want to become a werewolf, just no, but having some defense against that dog would be nice. One day he would just kick that little fucker across the lawn, he just knew.
Peter studied him for a moment, filing away the fact that the dog reacted badly to Stiles but nobody else, no doubt, but then he raised the bag he was carrying.
"I brought some snacks."
Stiles ripped the bag out of his hand to have a look inside and he felt his knees go weak when he recognized the package.
"I think I love you."
Stiles ripped open the Twizzlers right then and there and with the candy hanging out of his mouth, he led Peter farther into the house.
At first, it was awkward, they were sitting on the couch, Stiles munching away on his Twizzlers and neither of them knew what to do or say.
"I'll get the popcorn going," Stiles announced to which Peter offered to help but Stiles waved him off.
He did almost set the microwave on fire, though.
Only Peter's good nose saved them but the package of popcorn was ruined.
"Dammit." Stiles glared at the smoldering remains in the sink. "John is going to kill me."
"I doubt that he's going to kill you over some popcorn."
Stiles hung his head and fished the note out of the bin.
"Looks like he knows you." Peter chuckled when he read it.
Stiles grumbled to that.
They did have more than enough snacks even without the popcorn and they would have pizza later so Stiles just soaked the ruined package in water and threw it out.
"Okay, we have a movie to watch." Like a man on a mission, he grabbed the chips and a bottle of coke and marched over to the living room.
Watching the movie with Peter was fun. Captain America was one of the few Peter had seen before but it had been years ago and he admitted that he didn't recall much. He didn't seem to mind the comments Stiles threw in here and there, though.
They paused the movie half-way in to order their pizza. Stiles used the chance to quiz Peter on what he'd liked so far and what he thought would happen next. His guesses were wildly off and Stiles had the suspicion that Peter was messing with him here but then their pizza arrived and they started the movie again.
"I liked it," Peter admitted when the credits were rolling. He reached for the remote to end the movie but Stiles slapped his hand.
"First rule of Marvel movies." He raised a finger to emphasize this part. "There's always an after-credits scene. And you always watch the full credits, no skipping to the scene."
"I think you made up the second part."
"I sat through endless minutes of credits to watch those scenes in the theater, you have to do the same." He put the remote out of reach just in case. "Besides the music's good."
Stiles was not one to sit in silence for long so naturally, he started to talk again. He tried his best to keep his rambling spoiler-free but he wanted to know what Peter thought of this or that scene and if he'd noticed that one detail Stiles had only spotted on his third run. Stiles was way ahead of him, harboring years of knowledge not only from the other movies but from endless meta discussions on the internet, but he got the impression that that didn't matter to Peter. He was not as enthusiastic as Stiles but he had his opinions and he didn't seem to mind Stiles' rambling.
When Stiles checked the time it was almost midnight.
"Shit! When did it get this late?" He was not running out of time just yet, he was not Cinderella who had to be home by midnight, but he didn't have all night either. He just hadn't thought that he would spend most of his time, rambling about the movie. Thinking about it, he should have known.
"If it's getting too late for you I can leave," Peter offered.
"No, no." Stile held him back. "Please stay. It's just ..."
"Just what?" Peter asked gently. He put the bowl of chips aside he'd been hogging for a while now.
Stiles let out a sigh, he didn't want to dampen the mood with silly stuff like this, they were having a good time here.
"I can't stay away from Derek for too long," he finally said with another glance at the clock, calculating.
"Do you have to leave?" Peter asked and Stiles wished that he knew what was going on in his head right now.
"No, I still have at least two hours, maybe a little more. It's not an exact science." He slumped back into the couch with his arms crossed over his chest. There, he'd killed the mood.
"What happens if you're not back in time?" Peter asked but he was not just gathering information. The way he was looking at Stiles ... it was not pity, Stiles would have kicked him out if he'd looked at him in pity, but it wasn't anything he could place either.
"I'm not going to die if that's what you think." Stiles reached for a fresh lollipop. The Twizzlers were long gone and this was his third lollipop but he needed something to keep his hands busy. And his mouth. It helped him concentrate to have something to chew on.
"That's good to know," Peter said when Stiles failed to elaborate farther. He was watching with interest when Stiles peeled off the wrapper and just because, Stiles licked the lollipop to wet it properly before he rolled it between his lips. Peter followed every move with his eyes.
Stiles grinned with the candy between his lips.
"If I'm not back in time, Derek is coming to get me," Stiles explained. "That's not a bad thing but this is supposed to be a date and yeah." He gestured with the lollipop to indicate that Derek showing up on his date was kind of like John coming home early. Even if they were just sitting here, talking about the movie, it would be just wrong.
"Would he be mad?" Peter asked.
"Worried that he might be mad at you?"
"I don't want you to get in trouble," Peter answered and visible tore his eyes away from what Stiles was doing with the lollipop.
"I won't," Stiles assured him. "Usually I'm good at being home in time but lately he had to come and get me twice. He's not mad at me, quite the opposite, he would love to let me roam more freely. But he can't, it's one of the things he can't help." Stiles straightened up. "Let's not talk about that. We were having fun, let's get back to that."
But with that interruption, he was no longer in the mood to talk about the movie and his attempt to get the conversation going again was half-hearted at best. Maybe they should just call it a night.
They still had twenty-two movies to watch, Peter would not get out of that. They would watch them all.
However, Stiles didn't want their date to end just yet. So maybe …
He glanced over to Peter and caught him staring at the lollipop in his mouth again.
Stiles swirled his tongue around the bulb of the candy.
"Admit it, you were buying these in hope for a show."
"It was more that I knew I would regret it later," Peter said, his eyes hungry now. "I was right."
"I have a very talented tongue." Stiles curled it around the candy to demonstrate what he meant.
"I can see that." Peter scooted closer. "And you're a tease."
"What gave it away?"
Peter brought their lips together with the lollipop still caught between them.
Peter enjoyed the movie but he enjoyed the company more. Stiles loved these movies, that showed, but his comments and the way he talked about it afterward, he was making some compelling points. Peter didn't know which parts Stiles had come up with himself and what he'd learned on the internet but he had a way to talk about it that made it fun, listening to him.
The way Stiles strung together his arguments told of a sharp mind, Peter liked that. There was nothing worse than somebody who couldn't stand their ground in an argument.
Then there was the candy. Peter had been cursing himself when he'd bought it and he had not been wrong. The Twizzlers hanging out of the corner of Stiles' mouth had been one thing but since he'd switched to lollipops Peter couldn't help but watch in awe what he was doing to them. He wasn't sure if he should envy the lollipop or feel sorry for it, some of the things Stiles was doing to it should be illegal, but Peter couldn't help it and watched in morbid fascination. He even had to discreetly adjust himself in his pants, something that hadn't happened in quite a while. For years his own hand had been enough and he hadn't really looked at other people in that way but he was looking at Stiles now.
And that bastard knew exactly what he was doing to Peter.
In the end, Peter just leaned in and brought their lips together. There was still Stiles' latest lollipop victim between them. It tasted way too sugary and the chemicals were dominating everything, he wasn't able to taste anything beyond that but at the moment Peter didn't care. He cupped Stiles' head to hold him close, not that Stiles was trying to get away from him. Quite the opposite, Stiles was kissing right back, his tongue sneaking around the bulb of the candy to trace along Peter's lips.
When they parted, Stiles grinned around the candy, his lips shiny with sugary saliva. Peter plucked the lollipop out of his mouth and dove back in for a real kiss. Stiles met him willingly, his tongue darting out, brushing against his. Damn, it had been way too long since he'd had this.
"Do you want to know what else I can do with my tongue?" Stiles asked and nipped at his bottom lip. His hand fell to Peter's hip, fingertips tracing along the waistband of his jeans.
That was all the encouragement Stiles needed, he pushed Peter back into a half-lying position and then he was working on getting him out of his pants.
Peter had a short lucid moment during which he reminded himself that they were doing this on the sheriff's couch and that they were on a strict time limit before Derek would show up to collect Stiles but then Stiles' breath ghosted over his shaft and Peter just closed his eyes.
Stiles was talented with his tongue. Peter didn't keep his eyes closed for long, it would be a shame to not watch this, and then he was just mesmerized but the sight of Stiles' lips stretched around him. The swirl around the head of his by now fully erect penis coaxed the first moan out of him but the press of that tongue against the underside of his shaft when Stiles took him deep turned the moan into a low growl.
Peter spilled his release in an embarrassingly short amount of time but at least he managed to give Stiles a warning to back off before he shot hot jets of come all over Stiles' face. Stiles jacked him through the waves of his orgasm before he sat back with a satisfied smile on his face.
"Told you." With a tissue Stiles cleaned himself up which was a shame, the more animalistic part of Peter would have liked for his come to stay on Stiles' face. Or maybe he could have licked it off himself but that might have been a bit too much for a first date. Spent Peter let his head fall back, his body was still tingling all over from what Stiles had done down there.
"Did I break you?" Stiles teased. He was palming himself through his jeans but didn't seem in a hurry to get some attention there.
"Let me." Peter pushed himself back up. He took a moment to righten his pants but then he had Stiles lying under him. Bracing his arms next to Stiles' head, he looked down on him.
"I still want to know what you look like when you come," Peter reminded him and brought their lips back together for a kiss. The sugary chemicals from the lollipop were still there but now Peter tasted himself on Stiles' tongue, the heady taste of his precome and traces of come. That was way better. He licked the taste right out of Stiles' mouth. When he came up again to look him in the eye, Peter knew that his were showing a hint of blue. Stiles didn't flinch, he stayed open and relaxed, just lying there and waiting for what Peter would do next.
"What do you want?" Peter asked. He felt his gums itching with the prick of teeth just waiting to break through.
Instead of an answer Stiles closed his hand around Peter's right wrist and brought his hand into their line of view. Peter hadn't extended his claws fully, he was not a horny teenager, but his fingers were not humanly blunt either.
"I've never done it with a werewolf." Stiles studied his hand with hunger in his eyes. "Jerk me off like this?"
Peter had to swallow at that. Normally he had himself better under control, he had slept with human partners without sprouting fangs and claws but something about Stiles brought out his animalistic side. Stiles seemed to like it, though.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Peter promised because those claws were sharp, they could easily slice through flesh, they both knew that. They had met over a body Peter had worked over with these claws and still Stiles tugged at his hand to bring it down between them to where he wanted it.
Peter scooted down until he was kneeling over Stiles' outstretched legs. To make sure that this was really okay, he locked eyes with Stiles who had come up to his elbows to watch the show which was encouragement enough for Peter. With a clawed hand, he reached for Stiles' fly.
Since Stiles wanted his claws, his breath had hitched and his heart had sped up at the sight of them alone, Peter made sure to let him feel them. He ran a pointed fingertip along his shaft from root to tip where he let it dip into the slit before he formed a cage and ran all five claws up his length at once.
Stiles made a strangled noise, eyes glued to where his most vulnerable part was trapped in Peter's deadly hand. Peter did the same again, this time with a little more pressure, leaving angry red lines on the upstroke. The noises Stiles were making now were borderline to pained and Peter couldn't get enough of it. So he did it once more just to hear those noises again but then he took pity on Stiles and closed his hand around him, palm firmly against his flesh and claws carefully averted. Peter jacked him off with quick strokes but he threw in the prick of a claw here and there just to keep Stiles on his toes.
"Peter!" Stiles threw his head back, his body tense, he was close now. Peter placed his other hand on Stiles' lower abdomen, claws pricking the soft skin there. Just a little more force and he would gut him right open. Stiles came with a strangled cry, bucking wildly under Peter and he had to hurry to retract his claws to not hurt Stiles by accident.
Stiles fell back, chest heaving.
"Damn that was good."
"For a guy who hates werewolves, you get off by these …" He held up his clawed hand. "Suspiciously quick."
"Fuck you," Stiles muttered and threw an arm over his face.
"We'll get to that another time," Peter said. They had time, they still had twenty-two movies to watch after all and he was looking forward to that.
"Pegged you more for a top," Stiles said with his arm still covering his eyes. "Thought you would go all wild, mounting your partner and all that."
"You were hoping for that," Peter corrected. The last few minutes had given him some interesting insights into Stiles' kinks. And his own. He'd never thought what a mouth could do to him. Or rather the way Stiles was using his.
"But you're right. I do prefer to top," Peter added.
"Wasn't actually thinking that far ahead." Stiles held out his hand. "Give me a tissue."
They cleaned up but neither of them wanted to move just yet so they got comfortable again.
But it was getting late and Peter wasn't sure if he wanted to face Derek again, at least not like this, so after a few minutes, he got up.
"It was a pleasure but I think I should leave now." Peter tilted his head in a little bow.
Stiles nodded in agreement, gaze flickering over to the clock.
"We should do this again," Peter said just in case Stiles doubted that point.
"Dude, we still have twenty-two movies to watch," Stiles reminded him as if Peter could forget that little fact. "But yeah, I'd like to repeat this."
He was fiddling with the hem of his shirt which had come strains on it but Stiles didn't seem to care. Peter stepped closer to bring his mouth to Stiles' ear.
"Next time I'm going to mount you," he promised to which Stiles sucked in a sharp breath. "And I'm going to be shifted."
This close Peter got a face full of the pheromones Stiles was suddenly emitting.
"Not fair, dude, not fair," Stiles muttered but Peter didn't even need his nose to tell how much Stiles liked the idea.
"Good night, Stiles." Peter brushed a chaste kiss on the soft skin behind Stiles' ear before he left.
Peter drove back to the Hale house, humming along to the radio. He hadn't felt this alive in ages. And he was looking forward to their next date.
There were still lights on in the house when Peter parked his car.
"Shit," he cursed under his breath. They had cleaned up with tissues but those were only able to do that much, there was no way that anybody with a wolf's nose would miss what Peter was reeking off. Back at Stiles' he'd liked the way their scents had mingled, how they smelled of each other's semen but now he wished that he'd taken the time for a shower before he'd left. That might have been a weird request but Stiles would have understood. But too late for that now.
Whoever was still up, most likely Talia who was he kidding, must have heard his car, no turning back now.
When Peter entered the house, he wore his scent with pride. He just had awesome sex, nothing to be ashamed of.
"Didn't expect you to be still up," he greeted his sister who was sitting alone in the living room. Looked as if she'd been going through baby pictures, they were all over the table.
"I bet." She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "You could have taken the time for a shower."
"I didn't want a shower." He took a seat not directly next to her.
She took another breath, this time deeper.
"Someone I know?" She asked when she failed to place the scent still lingering on Peter.
"You haven't met." Peter picked up a picture of Laura. She must have been five or six in this one. She was out in the yard, laughing at somebody outside of the picture.
"You haven't been with someone in quite a while," Talia said, sorting through the pictures to not openly stare at him. She was thinking of Olivia, no doubt.
"It was a first date." Peter picked up another one. Cora dressed up as a vampire for Halloween.
"It went well, I take." Now she threw him a knowing smile.
"You sound like mom when she caught me getting home late." It wasn't even that late, he usually was still up this time of the night anyway.
"I'm your big sister," she reminded him. "And your alpha. It's my job to bug you when you come home reeking of sex."
She had a point there.
"So?" She drew out the word.
"Who is it? How did you meet? C'mon, I'm your big sister, I want details."
"Too bad, you're not getting any." He put the pictures back. "I'm going on my round and then I'm going to lock up. Good night, big sister."
She stuck her tongue out to him but he just laughed it off.
The cool air of the night cleared his head and took away some of the scent but he was still in need a shower. When he went to bed that night, he fell asleep with a butterfly feeling in his stomach.
Talia was determined to find out who Peter had been with. If it had been a one-night stand or if he was serious with somebody. Just like when they had been teenagers. It was almost cute.
However, Peter had to make sure that his phone was locked at all times and that she wasn't reading over his shoulder when he was texting with Stiles. He was texting with lots of other people too but somehow she had a sixth sense for the times he was chatting with Stiles.
Since Stiles couldn't let himself be seen in town when teenagers should be in school, he didn't want to cause trouble for the sheriff, he stayed under most mornings. So when they were texting it was mostly in the afternoon or evening. Slowly Peter was seeing the pattern there even if he still didn't know if Stiles had to go back to the bottom of the lake that often or if he chose to go there.
If he went there on his own free will, what made him go? Stiles had drowned in that lake, why would he go back there willingly? They had been texting for a few days now but so far Stiles had refused to answer questions like that. Sometimes he did offer a piece of information but usually those raised more questions than they answered. Like the fact that Derek would come to bring him back. How long did Stiles have? How would Derek bring him back? Peter had the image of Stiles in mind, kicking and cursing while Derek was just carrying him under his arm down the street. Peter doubted that that was the case, somebody would have noticed and most likely would have called the sheriff. Peter was pretty sure that he would have heard about incidents like that. Not that he knew how often Derek had to come out to get Stiles but according to Stiles it had happened a few times lately.
However, Peter was chatting with Stiles at times when he wasn't alone in the house and thanks to Talia everybody wanted to know who he was talking to. Talia had tried to be discreet when she'd asked around if somebody knew who Peter was seeing but there was a reason he was the left hand and she was the alpha and that was not because she was older. She was good with people and the diplomatic stuff but she was shit at gathering information. Peter would have laughed if her clumsy attempt didn't draw the attention of the whole pack to him. Whenever it became too much, he fled the pack-house.
When Peter wanted to be alone he either just went out into the preserve for a run or he drove into town and hid in the library. When he came in two days in a row, even Denise noticed that something was up.
"You're coming here quite often lately." She cornered him one day.
"It's nice and quiet here," Peter offered with a little smile.
"And at home, it is not." She nodded in understanding. "You have too many people living on top of each other, just saying."
"We like it." Peter shrugged. They were pack. Not everybody lived at the main house but they all needed the closeness, it was a werewolf thing. There was a reason omegas didn't survive on their own. The loneliness drove them insane and most killed themselves before the became completely feral. Werewolves needed their pack.
But sometimes it was nice to be alone for a little while. Especially since the whole pack was after him now.
Thanks, sis, Peter thought. He would bet money that more interesting things would happen before the weekend that would catch Talia's attention but at the moment it felt like everybody was stalking him.
"But some privacy from time to time is also nice," Denise added but then someone demanded her attention and she had to leave.
"Didn't expect you here." Suddenly Stiles spoke up behind him.
Pleasantly surprised Peter turned around but was met with a confused look on Stiles' face.
"It's not Friday. Or is it?" For a moment Stiles didn't seem to be sure. "It's Tuesday, right? I've dinner with John tonight." He nodded as if he needed to convince himself of the date.
"Do you miss time?" Peter wondered.
"Days blur together if I'm not careful," Stiles said which didn't answer anything. "Do you want to grab a coffee?"
Maybe he was just in need of some caffeine, though.
"Sure," Peter agreed easily. It would be just his luck that somebody saw them together but he was willing to risk it. He knew that Talia would have a word with him if she knew that he was seeing Stiles. It was wrong on so many levels. Funny enough, the obvious one was not one of those problems. Stiles was not a teenager, he was old enough to do whatever he wanted to do.
But they were still standing on different sides, the division of the town between Derek and the Hale pack was just the result of something that went way deeper but if Stiles was willing to ignore that, Peter was not going to complain.
They went over to the same coffee shop as last time but today Stiles didn't add more shots of espresso to his drink which Peter took as a good sign.
"Is Talia still on your ass?" Stiles asked when they were sitting with their drinks at a table in the corner. Peter liked a seat from which he could overlook his surroundings and nobody could sneak up on him and it looked like it was the same for Stiles. He'd left the seat with the back to the wall to Peter and had taken the one at the window for himself but had twisted into the corner so that he almost had the wall in his back as well and could look out of the window.
"She's in big sister mode." Peter took a sip from his coffee.
"You could always tell her, you know?" Stiles reached for the straw.
"Where would be the fun in that?" He gave Stiles a feral grin. "I'm her little brother it's in the job description to not tell her things like this."
To not look at Stiles molesting the straw Peter had a look around at the other patrons. The coffee shop wasn't cramped, there were still quite a few tables free, and the guests were all focused on their drinks. For a moment he wondered what they thought when they looked at Stiles and him. They would most likely think that they were father and son, he guessed.
"John is going to pull a double on Thursday." Stiles changed the topic. "You up for the next movie?"
"Only if I can shower at your place afterward," Peter agreed. "At least if we …" He made a vague gesture to which Stiles blushed and almost knocked over his drink. It was adorable.
"Sure thing," Stiles said, trying for casually. He went back to attacking his straw but his heart was beating rapidly and the wave of pheromones coming from him gave him away.
Stiles was now looking out of the window, anywhere that wasn't Peter, he guessed, but then he spotted something outside.
"Is that Cora?" He asked.
Peter followed his line of sight and sure thing, that was his niece walking past the window. In the other direction with her back to them and she would have never spotted them but Stiles just had to blurt out that question, hadn't he? Because Cora had most certainly heard him.
She stopped in her tracks and was now looking around to identify who had just called her name. Peter would have liked to melt into the wall but even if she might not see him, with this angle he might be lucky, Stiles' was basically sitting in the window, there was no way that she would miss him.
Sure enough, her wandering gaze settled on Stiles.
Stiles waved at her.
A second later she stormed into the coffee shop.
"Stiles?" She asked but then her eyes narrowed down on Peter. "What are you doing here?"
"Having a coffee." He lifted his cup.
She rolled her eyes at him and took one of the free chairs. She opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by Stiles who loudly sucked the remains of his drink through the straw. How anything even went through the chewed and twisted plastic was beyond Peter but for sure it made it noisier.
"I should go now." For good measure, Stiles licked the straw clean before he declared his drink finished. "Thanks for the coffee. We'll text."
He stood and for a moment he was fiddling with his hands as if he wanted to say more but then he turned on his heel and hurried away.
"Sorry for interrupting?" Cora's voice trailed off as she watched him leave. "I didn't mean to ..." She turned back to Peter with confusion written over her face. "Sorry?"
"It's fine, he was about to leave anyway," Peter assured her. She'd just witnessed Stiles chugging down half his drink, it was clear that Peter was lying but she accepted it.
"What were you guys doing here, anyway?" Cora recovered quickly.
"We had a little chat over coffee," Peter answered. For sure he would not tell her that they'd hashed out their second date.
"Does he have problems or something?" Cora asked. "Are we going to take him in?"
Peter had his cup half-way up to his mouth but he paused in mid-air, not following.
"I was just thinking." Cora fiddled with a napkin. "When he came over the other day, we talked for a bit. He mentioned his uncle but when I asked where he lived, he didn't really answer."
"It's complicated." Peter sat down his cup.
"So, are we going to adopt him? That's why you're hanging out with him?"
Boyd, Erica, and Isaac had been adopted into the pack like that. Talia was not actively looking for additions to the pack, they were quite a large one already, but if they came across somebody who needed help, well, they wouldn't just turn their backs on them.
Troubled teenager had been Peter's first thought when Denise had told him about Stiles so it wasn't that far fetched.
"He has his uncle," Peter said. "He's looking after him, no need for adoption."
"If not that, why are you having coffee with him?" But then her face lit up with realization. "No way. This was a date? I interrupted a date?"
"It wasn't a date."
"I was right with your scent the other day. And now …" She took a deep breath. She shouldn't be able to find much but Peter had been watching Stiles molesting that straw for minutes, he had no illusions that that was still lingering in the air. "Is he the guy Mom's asking about?"
Of course, she connected the dots, she was too smart for her own good. Her excitement for figuring it out turned into something else rather quickly, though.
"How old is he?" She narrowed her eyes on him.
"Older than he looks," Peter answered truthfully. He knew what this looked like. He was a grown man and Stiles looked like a teenager. But it was not like that.
"I bet he's very mature for his age too." She even made the air quotes.
It was a common phrase to justify older men prying on teenagers, Peter had to give her that.
"No." Peter wasn't sure if mature was a word he would choose to describe Stiles. "I'm saying that he's old enough to do whatever he wants. The evening you're referring to? We spent that at his uncle's house. The sheriff knows about me seeing him and he's okay with it."
Cora studied him for a long moment, not buying it. She had seen Stiles. He looked like sixteen at most even if he claimed that he'd been eighteen when he'd stopped aging. But Peter wasn't going to tell her that. He'd told Talia because as the alpha she needed to know but he was not going to spread Stiles' secrets around the pack or the whole town.
"Let's make a deal." Peter became serious. "I'm not going to tell anybody about you liking girls and you're not going to tell anybody that I'm seeing Stiles." Not that he would tell anybody but Cora didn't need to know that.
"If it's okay to see him, why don't you want people to know?" She challenged him.
"Because sometimes people don't understand." Peter let out a sigh. If this thing with Stiles became more serious he would have to think about that. "But I swear, Stiles is old enough and I'm not taking advantage of him." He was looking her straight in the eye when he said it and he made sure that his whole body was transmitting that he was telling the truth. "Do we have a deal?"
Stiles fled the coffee shop when Cora showed up. He liked Peter and he was looking forward to watching more movies with him and he really hoped that Peter would stay true to his word and that they would have more animalistic sex but Stiles was not ready to meet the family. Especially not the Hale family.
The other day Stiles had made small-talk with Cora and she was okay, he guessed, but he didn't want to hang out with her. So he excused himself and left it to Peter to deal with her. In the car, Stiles made double sure that he had his bag with him, which he had with library books and everything, before he drove off. Not that he would have walked back into the coffee shop if he'd forgotten his bag again. Just no.
Stiles threw one last glance at the window where he could see Peter and Cora talking animatedly but then he started the car and left.
He stopped by John's house to pick up some fresh clothes only to find out that John hadn't gotten around to do the laundry. Cursing under his breath Stiles loaded the washing machine and then he was sitting on the couch in his underwear, releasing some of his frustration in a round of Call of Duty. Here at John's Stiles had a rather nice setup with a PlayStation hooked up to John's large TV, which John had gotten solely for that purpose no matter what he said, and sometimes Stiles spent a whole day here just playing some video games.
He got so absorbed in the game that he almost forgot to put the wet clothes in the dryer but eventually he left the house with a bag of clean clothes. They were even half-heartily folded.
On his way back to the lake, Stiles made a little detour to stock up on energy drinks and snacks and since he had to do the laundry he'd earned himself a cheeseburger and a large curly fries with cheese.
At the lake, Stiles took his food out to the pier. It was old and rotten and Stiles had to be careful to not break through the boards with his foot but it was still stable enough. Maybe he could get John to repair it. Or rather set up a new one. Either way, it would be a bigger project and John hadn't even gotten the time to repair a simple door. Or to do the laundry. Maybe he should ask Peter instead, Stiles mused.
He sat down at the end of the pier, feet hanging over the edge but the surface was still a few inches under his shoes. It wasn't warm enough for wet feet.
Stiles left the fries for last and attacked the burger first.
There was something under the surface, a shadow moving around which could have been a fish but Stiles knew better. He didn't even blink when a head broke through the surface.
"What are you doing out here?" Derek asked.
"Eating." Stiles held up his burger. "I have curly fries if you want some. With cheese." He had gotten a large, he had enough to share. More of Derek emerged from the water and with one smooth move he hoisted himself up to sitting next to him. Stiles got the food out of the way before Derek could soak it with the water dripping off him.
"Here." Stiles offered him the bag with the fries. Derek didn't need to eat but he did it from time to time to humor Stiles. Stiles had the suspicion that Derek did enjoy the food but he didn't call him out on it.
After a second of hesitation, which was not fooling Stiles, Derek did reach into the bag. The cheese was deliciously stringy, Derek had to catch it with his tongue before he could put the fries in his mouth. Stiles bit back a laugh and returned to his burger.
They were quietly sitting there, watching out over the lake while Stiles was slowly munching his way through the remaining fries. They did this sometimes, just sitting here or at the shore, sometimes they talked, sometimes they didn't. Stiles liked these rare occasions.
"You're going to see that werewolf again, aren't you?" Derek asked. Stiles had told him when he'd left the other day for his date with Peter. In case that Derek had to come and get him, he didn't want him to be surprised by Peter being there as well.
"Thursday, most likely." Stiles fished the last fry out of the bag. "We have quite a few movies to go through." At least Derek got the concepts of movies. Not like with doors. Stiles had forced Derek to watch a few movies with him before but Derek was not good movie company. Or the best, it depended on the point of view.
Derek would sit there the whole time with his arms crossed over his chest and glare at the screen as if the people in the movie were personally offending him. It was kind of hilarious, especially with comedies but horror movies were even better. Watching a horror movie with a literal monster was just the best. That was the reason Stiles sweet-talked him into watching something with him once or twice a year.
"You sure it's a good idea to get involved with the Hales?" Derek asked. "They hurt you."
"Not the ones living today," Stiles reminded him. "But yeah, I don't want to get involved with them." That had been the main reason he'd left the second Cora had shown up. He didn't like the Hales and he didn't want that to change. Peter was the exception he was willing to make.
"Why him?" Derek asked.
"I don't know. I like him." Romantic feelings were also something Derek didn't understand but he got friendship. He and Stiles were friends and he was kind of friends with John as well. But that other kind of relationship? That was a foreign concept to Derek. Stiles wasn't even sure if he understood sex.
But he was always supportive. When Stiles wanted to have things like this, Derek was always telling him to just get it. Because that was a concept Derek understood way too well. If he wanted something, he took it. It was in his nature. Sadly, the things he wanted were the things he regretted later. He never wanted to murder anybody but if someone was dumb enough to come out to the lake for a swim, Derek couldn't help it, he wanted to take that person. The urge was so overwhelming that he couldn't even try to fight it. Stiles had seen it often enough. And he was the one who had to help Derek to pick up the pieces afterward. So yeah, Derek knew exactly how it felt to want something.
"On Thursday I'll try to stay away for as long as possible," Derek promised.
Derek slipped off the pier and landed in the water with a splash, Stiles barely managed to keep his feet dry.
"You coming with me?" Derek asked.
"Na, I'll stay in the cabin for a little while." Stiles gathered the trash and stood. "See you later." He waved at him but Derek had already disappeared under the surface.
The next day, Stiles felt restless so in the early afternoon, he drove into town to entertain himself. Beacon Hills was not that big but it had a nice mall. Stiles liked to go there just to watch the people but maybe he could watch a movie or try out some new games.
At first, Stiles was just wandering around, he had no real determination in mind, and just enjoyed the people around him. There were families and couples, people alone or in groups. Stiles soaked it all up while he was walking by. He wondered what kind of lives these people would go back to later. If they had work or school tomorrow. If they were just aimlessly drifting. Like him.
"And now I'm sad," Stiles muttered under his breath and pushed himself off from the banister he'd been leaning against. From here he had a good view on the people on the floor below him.
"Stiles?" Suddenly somebody behind him spoke up.
"Are you stalking me?" He asked when he turned and found Cora standing behind him.
"I was here with a friend." She dismissed him.
"She had to leave." Cora let out a sigh and braced her forearms on the banister just like Stiles had a second ago. "But she bought me this." Her face lit up and she showed him the necklace she was wearing. "It's an arrow."
"It's nice," Stiles said because it was a necklace, what was he supposed to say to that?
"She likes buying me things. The other day she got me this cute top." She twisted around to show off her top.
"Sounds like more than just a friend."
"Maybe?" She blushed and turned back to looking down at the floor beneath them. "I don't know."
Stiles just smiled at that. Teenagers, how adorable.
As if you're any better, he could almost hear Peter's voice in his head.
"So," she said with a glance at him. "You and Peter?"
Now it was his turn to become all flustered.
"Also a maybe," he finally admitted. "We're just trying out if we fit. Did you know that he hasn't seen most of the Marvel movies?"
"What?" She sucked in a breath.
"My point exactly. But I'm going to change that." Stiles nodded to himself.
"So that's what you two are doing?" She asked."Watching movies? And having coffee dates?" The way she was asking, as if there was more to that question, made him perk up but he couldn't read her expression.
"Yeah." Stiles made. He was not going to tell her about Peter's claws on his dick. Or that he was looking forward to what Peter had promised him.
Cora had the advantage of being a werewolf so she had more to go on than just his expression and Stiles was pretty sure that she knew exactly that movies and coffee dates were not all they were doing.
"Stiles? How old are you?"
Shit. Stiles wanted to slap his forehead, he hadn't thought about that.
"Eighteen," he answered which was even kind of the truth. But at the same time, it was a flat out lie and she caught on to that.
"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to." She almost growled at him but she caught herself before it became a full out growl. It was kind of unfair that he knew that she was a werewolf but she didn't know that he knew and that he wasn't plain old human either.
But for one, they were in the middle of the mall with people all around them, Stiles was not going to have that conversation here, and second, he had no desire to explain himself to the whole pack. Peter had confessed that he'd told Talia about him and Stiles was okay with that. Talia was the alpha, she needed to know at least the part about Derek, not the dating Peter part. Stiles was not okay with the whole pack in the know. He wanted to walk around town without getting pitying looks from every member of the Hale pack.
So Stiles chose to not explain himself and went back to watching the people downstairs. There was an uncomfortable silence hanging over them now and it didn't take long for Cora to back off.
"Gotta go," she said. "See you around?"
"Yeah," Stiles said. If things with Peter became more serious he would see her around more often. And most likely the rest of the pack as well. He was not looking forward to that.
She ducked into the crowd and Stiles wondered what she thought of him and Peter now. Statutory rape was a term coming to mind. He did not want anybody to think of Peter in terms like that but he couldn't do anything about it.
Stiles went to check what movies were on but nothing caught his eye so he started to wander around aimlessly again.
He passed a store with sporting goods right when a guy on his phone came out without looking. He almost slammed into Stiles and didn't even seem to notice.
"Hey!" Stiles called out. "Watch were you're going."
The guy didn't spare him a glance and just hurried off, still talking on the phone.
"I know that that ammunition won't do shit," the man said. "Ask Argent to hurry up with the wolfsbane bullets. And if he doesn't get the …" The rest of the sentence was lost to Stiles, the man already too far away, but the bit he'd heard made Stiles change directions.
There had been a few hunters coming to Beacon Hills over the years. Sometimes they had even looked past the werewolf pack and had a closer look at the lake. Stiles had his encounters with them, he knew the type. Besides, who else would be talking about wolfsbane bullets? And would be dumb enough to just blurt out stuff like that in a crowded mall?
Stiles followed the man.