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Those Who See

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There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.

- Leonardo da Vinci

Peter is walking the woods behind the Hale estate when he is forced to a sudden stop. He glances at the ground and sees the delicate circle of mountain ash dust closing itself around him. It's moving like it has a mind of its own, but Peter knows better.

He glances up to look for the mind controlling it, and a figure is standing a few feet away in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. The boy reaches up to pull down the hood, and Peter is anything but surprised to see Stiles staring back at him.

"You should have worn the red one," Peter says dryly. "It would have been ripe with symbolism."

Stiles just watches him warily. He's holding all the power, but he isn't smug. He's noticed that about Stiles in situations like these—he goes serious. He's only ever smug when it's a bluff.

"I thought we should talk," Stiles says. "Seeing as how you seem to be sticking around."

"We could have gone for a coffee," Peter says. "No need for the dramatics."

Stiles tilts his head, watching him carefully. There's always been something slightly unnerving about Stiles. Peter has been watching him a long time—since Scott was turned. He knows Stiles figured out that Scott was a wolf before even Scott did.

He sees all the things that others ignore. People were extremely good at lying to themselves. They see a pair of glowing eyes hidden in between the trees and convince themselves it's only a housecat. Stiles looks and he sees. Peter doesn't think he's ever regretted anything so much as biting the wrong boy in that forest—except, perhaps, everything that came before it.

"I want to know what you want from us," Stiles says. "What, exactly, is your plan? We both know that you have one."

"I came back to be with the last of my family," Peter says, and he lets his voice slip just a bit, adds in just enough hesitation for it to sound real.

"Yeah, let's try again," Stiles says. There is no hesitation in his voice, no doubt at all.

Peter's eyes flash as he steps closer to the barrier. "Why don't you let me out, and we can continue this somewhere more comfortable?"

"I'm perfectly comfortable, but thanks for the concern," Stiles says, and he doesn't move back when Peter gets closer. There's no reason why he should. They both know he's not getting through that mountain ash. "Answer the question."

"He's all the family that I have left," Peter says again. "Whatever else you believe, you know that much is true."

"Yes, it is true. And why is that true again?" he asks, then snaps his fingers like something's just occurred to him. "Oh, that's right. Because you killed his sister."

"I wasn't myself," Peter insists. "I lost control of myself, I never would have…"

"Yeah, you said that before, claimed it was an 'accident,'" Stiles says, and he actually uses air quotes, so it should be hard to take him seriously, except there's something in his voice that makes Peter close off. He knows something. "I'd like to believe you, I really would, but I think we both know it was pre-meditated."

"What makes you say that?" he asks.

"Because you cut her in half," Stiles says simply. "That takes forethought. That takes planning. You don't do that in a frenzy, and you know what that tells me? That tells me you killed her for her power and then you set her up as a pawn to bait Derek and the hunters both—to set them against each other, and keep them out of your way."

"That certainly would have been rather clever of me," Peter says.

Stiles tightens his jaw, and Peter can see him tense with anger. It is disappointing that the only one clever enough to figure out his plans is too moral to appreciate them.

"I'm not going to let you hurt him," Stiles says firmly.

Peter smirks. It might seem like a non-sequitur, but he and Stiles can both follow a conversation without laying out every last word. "Him, not her?" he asks. "You're not here for your precious Lydia? To warn me away?"

"Lydia can take care of herself. I'm not worried about her if you're stupid enough to try something again," Stiles says.

"Scott then?" Peter asks coyly. "Looking out for him as usual, I suppose?"

"You know very well who I mean," Stiles says.

"Yes," Peter agrees, "but I do wonder, do you know why?"

"Shouldn't you be more interested in the how?" Stiles asks. He starts to pace around the circle. It's a calculated move. Peter has to spin to keep him in sight, and it's meant to put him off balance. "Because, see, I've been reading up on what you did. You had to bargain more than a few things to get back here, didn't you?"

Peter feels an uncharacteristic twinge of unease. "I came back from the dead, of course there was a cost," he says.

"And you're still paying it, aren't you? I'd like to apologize in advance, because this is gonna sting," Stiles tells him, and then he holds out the palm of his hand, and blows a silver cloud of dust straight towards him.

Peter cries out as it makes contact, snarling and falling to his knees. He blinks the dust away and he feels himself start to heal at once, but the sting, as Stiles called it, doesn't disappear as quickly as it should. "What the hell was that?" he demands.

"I have to make sure you understand just how far I'm willing to go," Stiles says, his voice strangely gentle. He kneels down in front of the circle, his arms resting on his bent legs, hands hanging deceptively innocently between his knees. "Words are all well and good but we're both too skilled at them for them to mean much of anything, don't you think?"

Peter glares at Stiles as the sting finally disappears and his vision blinks clear. "You're playing a dangerous game," he says.

"You'll be fine, there's not a scratch on you," Stiles says dismissively, and gets back to his feet. "I just wanted to give you a little demonstration."

"What? That werewolves don't like wolfsbane?" Peter snarls. "It's not exactly news."

"And that wasn't exactly wolfsbane," Stiles says dryly. "You're fond of stories, aren't you? Let's see if you remember this one. Silver being used to kill werewolves is just a myth, based around the Argent family name. You know it?"

"Of course," Peter says, and that unease is getting stronger, because this can't be leading where he thinks. There's no way for Stiles to know.

"But see, the part the others never seemed to think about it, is maybe there's a reason the Argents chose that name for themselves in the first place," Stiles says. "The supernatural and certain metals have a long bloody history, and while it's true silver wouldn't hurt a werewolf, you're not just a werewolf anymore, are you? You've been touched by the other side."

Peter glares at Stiles, some of his calm façade slipping.

"You're part spirit, Peter, you had to give up a piece of your soul," Stiles says. "You anchored yourself to Lydia but not even she could bring all of you back."

"I thought one was supposed to use Iron on spirits," Peter says, trying to sound casual, but the only reaction he gets is a quirk of Stiles' lips.

"Now that's just another myth. Silver is connected to purity, that's why it's used on dark creatures, because it's imbued with light magic," he explains. "Iron is used in blood magic, but useless on its own--you can hang as many iron horseshoes over your door as you want, it won't stop anything getting in. But silver? Silver can stop dark spirits in their tracks, or get rid of them for good."

"There's no way you can know all this," Peter decides. "The Argents don't even know, and even if Deaton did, he would never tell you."

"You're right," Stiles agrees. "So I went straight to the source, actually." He takes out his phone, and flips it so he can see the screen. It's a scanned page from a very familiar journal. "See, I turned your creepy little Grimoire into a PDF. I was actually sort of surprised you hadn't already done it yourself, but I didn't find anything useful on your laptop at all."

Stiles leans forward, his honey colored eyes searching and curious. Peter's always thought it strange that Stiles's eyes are more like a wolf's than any of the rest of them.

"But that's just like you, isn't it?" Stiles asks quietly. "Say one thing, while you do another. Put down old traditions, but keep all your own."

"How did you find it?" he asks, trying for casual, though he can't help but be slightly unnerved at getting one-upped by a sixteen year old boy. "If you've harmed it—"

"Don't worry, I just took photos. As to the how, you're really sort of obvious. If I was looking for Derek's super secret journal of black magic, I would have been looking for an old coffee can buried in the ruins of your house. But you like to pretend you're classy, and you keep the key to your safe deposit box in your front jacket pocket."

Stiles holds up a key with a grin as he says it, and Peter instinctively reaches into his own pocket. He drags out the key and runs his fingers along the edge of it. He probably wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't been looking, but this wasn't his.

"Sorry, didn't have time to make a copy," he says with a shrug, and then tosses him back the key. "Found that one on eBay. They really do have everything."

"You picked my pocket," Peter demands incredulously. "There's no way. I would have noticed."

"You did notice, you just didn't realize what it meant," Stiles says. "People underestimate me, Peter. It's one of my greatest talents. I'd actually sort of expected better of you."

Peter remembers Stiles crashing into him three days ago. He'd come running in through the doors like an Alpha was on his tail. He'd knocked them both down, and—and he had fallen back on Peter once or twice as he stumbled to get up. It was more than enough of a distraction for him to have switched out the keys.

Stiles was right. He should have known better than that.

"And how did you get in?" Peter demands. "I chose that bank for their security, they wouldn't let just anyone wander in off the streets."

"That’s why I didn't go myself," Stiles said. "I sent Derek, and they let him right in. You know, what with you being dead and all, and him your next of kin."

Peter laughs. "Oh, you are clever, Stiles," he says in admiration. "How did you get Derek to go along with it?"

"I asked nicely," Stiles says.

"I can't imagine he knows what you wanted that book for," Peter says.

"He knows I like to research," he says. "And you know I'm a quick study. I know all your secrets now, and all of your tricks. So here's the deal, you hurt my dad or Derek or Scott, or Lydia, or any of them, and I'll kill you." He smiles grimly. "And this time I'll make sure that it sticks."

Peter can admire Stiles for getting one over on him, but it doesn’t mean he's happy about it. He can feel the wolf in him pushing to be let out, and he steps as close to the barrier as he can, but speaks softly, because he and Stiles both understand that it's the words that matter, not the volume they're spoken at.

"And what would happen," he asks, "if the one I hurt was you?"

"Try it," Stiles says, and gives no fear away. Peter knows he's terrified, even if behind this barrier he can't verify it by scent. He knows and it makes him admire Stiles all the more, because even when he's terrified he never backs down. "No, really. Go ahead. Because anything happens to me? And a copy of your little book gets sent to Chris Argent, and I'm fairly confident he'll take care of the rest."

"Then you haven't already given it to them," Peter says, and he can't stop his pleased grin.

"I don't trust the Argents," Stiles says easily. "But don't get excited, because I still trust them more than I trust you."

Stiles really is sort of glorious, and Peter doesn't understand how the rest of them cannot see it. Even his nephew, in all his awkward, fierce over-protectiveness, has no idea at all how valuable Stiles really is.

"You really would have made a tremendous wolf," Peter says, his tone caught between regret and admiration.

"I'm tremendous in any case," Stiles counters with a quicksilver grin. "And I'm far more dangerous to you as I am."

"You've realized that, have you?" Peter asks wryly. "You know none of the others have? They don't have any idea just what you're capable of."

"That's how I like it, so let's not give me a reason to show them," Stiles says. "Behave yourself, and maybe we can all just get along."

Stiles starts walking backwards then, away from him and back towards the trees. Peter looks down at the still closed circle and then glares up at him. "You better not leave me here," he warns. "Stiles."

Stiles just laughs as he disappears into the dark, but a moment later the mountain ash scatters around him, just wisps away into the air and sets him free.

Peter steps forward and tries to catch Stiles' trail, but there's nothing. It's like he was never here, and there's no trace of his scent. Peter laughs as he realizes why.

There was a spell in his book for that, too.