Hey, hey, hey, it’s alright. Everything’s okay.
Peter’s mind, for the first time in...in a very long time, goes quiet.
Shit, did you just die? Hello?
Peter fights the words swimming to the front of his mind, voiceless but there and not his. Renewed rage fills him.
You don’t have to be scared.
Peter is anything but scared.
You’re in a coma despite having freaky werewolf powers that should heal you and suddenly there’s a voice in your head. I’d be freaked out if you weren’t freaking out.
It’s not as simple as a voice being in his head. Peter’s not hearing any voice. It’s as if someone takes over his thoughts for a moment before handing control back over.
Huh. I can hear your voice. Very snarl and growl. Also, not controlling. I’ve been hearing your thoughts for days but this is the first time you’ve reacted. Some weird telepathy thing? Is that a werewolf thing? I’m not a werewolf but I’m in a coma, too.
Peter’s head whirls. It’s too much and not enough after being alone for so long. It’s hard to listen—in a figurative sense—hard to hear werewolf and coma and not spiral back into—
Hey, hey, it’s okay. It’s alright.
Peter’s glad his first conversation post-fire is inside his head. This way he can’t sob.
Uh, sorry, but internal sobbing is a thing. No shame in it. But if it’s that important to your dignity, we can pretend I’m not here.
It takes a while for Peter to grasp onto telepathy. His companion has it mastered despite saying they’ve never done it before. It’s draining, purposefully projecting his thoughts into words. He still doesn't hear his companion's real voice, the words only coming through Peter's mind in his own tone of thinking.
The first time he directly interacts, he says, ‘You have no idea what this is like. Nothing is okay. Nothing will ever be okay. I’m burned and my family is dead. D-E-A-D, dead.’
His companion, as always, has a dictionary’s worth of words to say.
When I was a kid, my mom tried to drown me with her during a hallucination episode. We both died, technically, but CPR and an ambulance managed to save me. But I used to think that I died, too, and was a ghost because my dad wouldn't look at me. I don't know if it's because he resented that I lived and she didn't or if it's because I have her eyes. Whatever it was, Jack Daniel's looked a hell of a lot better to him than I did. Someone doesn't have to be dead for you to lose them, you know. It wasn't a fire but I lost my family. Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to be you. But I know what it’s like to hurt so bad that it feels like you’ll die from the sadness. But you won’t. You won’t. And you might hate it, but you’re alright.
You’ll get better.
It’s going to be okay.
You’re not alone.
‘How did you get in a coma?’ Peter think-asks.
Car crash. Drivers usually swerve in the direction that shields them most from a collision, even if it’s a dumb move to make.
‘You were the passenger?’
No, I was the driver but I didn’t swerve to protect myself.
‘Of course you didn’t.’
I thought you’d get less judgemental the more lucid you became.
‘I’m a saint. It’s you that brings out this side of me.’
Wow, I’m so honored.
‘Why didn’t you swerve?’
It was my mother’s car. It’s more surprising that I didn’t get into an accident as soon as I started driving. That thing was a death trap. But, it was hers, you know? So, my instinct was to swerve to protect the car from getting crashed instead of swerving to protect myself.
And I missed the car coming at me. But I swerved so hard in the other direction that I ended up going off the bridge.
‘...by trying to not wreck the car, you ended up wrecking the car completely and yourself?’
You’re so sensitive about your trauma and yet I confess my horrible story of falling off a bridge and you smother me in sass.
‘I wish I could actually smother you.’
No, you like me.
‘Were you scared?’
No. I don’t really remember the falling. I was still conscious when the car hit the water and it was oddly soothing.
‘To clarify, your mother’s car sunk in water and you survived drowning a second time.’
Trust me, the irony is not lost on me.
‘I don’t understand you.’
That makes two of us.
‘I’m sure there are many others who don’t understand you.’
I take that as a compliment.
They’re not constantly linked together. Peter wonders in the lulls of lonesome what his companion looks like. He’d referred to himself as he during an impression of his father scolding him. He’d been disappointed when he realized Peter still doesn’t hear his voice and insists he’s a master of imitations.
Peter imagines someone older than him. He hopes his companion isn’t too many decades older. Peter’s desperate to reach the same state of mind—to rush forward to the years where anger and pain and resentment and grief and betrayal and all the hurt is something so easily lived with, so easily seen as everything will be alright.
It reminds Peter of his grandmother, the one pack member who truly understood him. If Peter is grateful for anything, he’s grateful that she’d died long before the fire, peacefully in her sleep. She’d been more well-liked than Peter but he could see the sharp edges in her. She saw the sharp edges in him and loved him just the same as the rest of the pack.
She forged through being the one to outlast all of her original packmates, living years beyond her wife and Alpha’s lives. She outlived her youngest sibling. Peter never understood how she didn’t stink up the pack house with grief, how she didn’t die from each snap of powerful bonds, one by one.
She would have liked Peter’s companion, admired his strength. She'd tell Peter to ‘wolf up and take charge of something so rare and precious. His companion annoys the hell out of him with such a calm acceptance of grief but Peter's somehow grown smitten.
Loving someone years older than you isn’t so taboo among werewolves. Peter thinks his companion could be ninety-years-old and Peter will still want to be with him.
Peter, Peter, please come back to me.
The wolf freezes. His other half, sedated in the back of their mind, stirs at the very human words penetrating through animal instinct. The wolf growls, crouching close to the ground. He’s caught between enemy-attack-hide and pack-protect-find.
The wolf’s growling tapers off into a whine as his other half pushes forth. It’s been so long since the wolf has been allowed out, seen as equal to his human half. He doesn’t want to be pushed away again but the voice in his head is comfort and with no pack around, the wolf latches on to it.
Sluggishly, the wolf’s human thinks, ‘Stiles?’
Yes, yes! Peter! Where are you? What happened? Something’s wrong.
‘I think I’m outside. I’m—is this a dream?’
No, or if it is then it’s my nightmare. I thought I lost you. You were struggling. I couldn’t understand but it was like when I first met you and your thoughts were everywhere and suffocating. Are you safe?
The wolf’s human sinks back down, searching, and the wolf relaxes at not being boxed back up. His human reaches inside, accepting them as one for the first time in years. The wolf shares what little he remembers once he’d taken control. Nothing mattered as long as he ended up outside.
‘The nurse. My nurse. She knows.’
Can you kill her?
The wolf rumbles. His human nearly slips back under but the wolf doesn’t let him—his human must show the voice appreciation. Packmate. A good packmate. Protective.
‘You think I should kill her?’
Don’t tell me you’ve conveniently lost all your murderous rage right when you need it most.
‘I don’t know where I am. How do I get back?’ The wolf whines as his human panics.
Hey, listen to me. You can do this. You will not die on me. Your wolf won’t let you die. He’ll get you back. Just open your mind like you did for me. Let. Him. In.
‘I thought you didn’t know werewolves.’
I know one and I’m not planning on losing him tonight.
The wolf whimpers, fire and packmates and gonegonegone. His human retreated to the back of their mind like the packmate demanded and the last time the wolf was counted on to save them from danger—
Hi, wolf? I’m calling you wolf. Listen. You’re safe from fire. You’re not safe right now. Get back to safety. And wolf? Kill that nurse.
Peter-wolf runs. Must protect his human. Must protect packmate. Blood will spill for revenge another time.
Peter kills the nurse. With his companion’s help, he has the mind to hide her body. Don’t need to attract any hunters, not when Peter’s barely recovered. He collapses back in his hospital bed and sleeps for a week. His companion is itching to talk when Peter resurfaces saner than he’d been before, grounded with his wolf tied back to him. He hadn’t realized it was possible to do so—not when he had to suppress his wolfishness as the pack bonds broke.
Peter thought he’d either live human, only half of who he is, or lose himself to his wolf if it ever surfaced.
So, you connected through revenge. That’s a good start.
‘Good start? This is a miracle.’
Revenge brings you together as a whole but you’ll lose yourself, both sides. Revenge is endless. It’s a crutch you need to let go of when it’s time.
Peter says nothing. He doesn’t see there being a time where he lets go. Until the nurse had seen him unconsciously half-shift in his sleep and wheeled him outside with cruel fascination, he hadn’t known if he’d ever recover.
His helplessness in being damned to a life trapped in his head has switched into urgent determination to hurry up and heal so he can carry out revenge.
Did you have some kind of anchor before? Is that a ‘wolf thing? A tether?
‘Anchor. Ha. That was more for Bitten wolves or ferals. Omegas. A wolf with a pack is a wolf integrated, stable. Your...anchor is pack.’
So, what do ferals do?
Peter’s glad to not be called Omega. ‘An Alpha would try and remind them of something real. Something that can be focused on.’
Like safety. Which is what I meant, you know, helping you and wolf back. Safety, not revenge.
‘Again, miracle. Seeing as you’re not a ‘wolf, you don’t understand how lucky it is I, for lack of a better word, anchored. Stop being picky.’
If you can’t do better, you don’t deserve to feel as smug as you sound right now. How do you feel about cursing me out while we do meditation?
‘The Gods truly wanted me to suffer, didn’t they?’
Buddy, you must have sinned so hard in your past life.
Even Peter’s wolf gets snappish at their packmate’s constant pestering. There is no accepting life beyond revenge.
‘Are you even human?’
Is that question offensive to supernatural creatures? Humans have done awful things, that’s a very broad question—
‘Do you have any feelings at all? Do you care about anything? Are you soulless?’
For once, no quick response comes. The silence isn’t the same as the days where they don’t connect telepathically. Peter hates those empty days but right now all he cares about is being left alone. No more meditation exercises or long talks.
The voice in his head isn’t a packmate. Barely a companion. Someone who doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. If he truly understood what it’s like to hurt so much it feels worse than death, he would know this pain never gets easier to live with. Peter doesn't love him. Peter can't love. All he knows is pain.
The next day drags in silence. Peter asks, ‘Did you die?’
Philosophically, if someone is soulless are they perceived as alive?
Okay, grudge holder. Peter wishes his side of telepathy went beyond the words just being in his head. He wishes he could hear the voice, what it sounds like, if this is sarcasm or anger or teasing. His companion is supposed to be unaffected by anything. He’d said once that he knew himself and that was all that mattered. Peter had cursed him far worse names than soulless.
No. You’re not. You just don’t want to be alone.
The words are a slap. He’s not wrong but—
‘I’m sorry I hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you.’
I don’t feel anything, remember? Can’t be hurt if I don’t feel anything.
‘Did you die?’
‘I know you’re here.’
‘Maybe you need an anchor.’
Does it matter.
‘You matter. You’re pack.’
‘You are. You have been for a long time.’
I’m tired. Let me sleep.
‘Sleep is not an anchor.’
I don’t care.
The wolf lies awake while Peter sleeps.
It’s okay. You’re safe.
Pack hurt pack not safe
Pack hurt. Pack not safe. Gone.
When the fire hurt you, Peter kept you away but you weren’t gone. My mind pushes me away when I’m sad. Same thing.
Peter bad alone. Safe now. Packmate come back. Bad mind.
Yeah, buddy, bad mind.
Mind give you back.
‘So, you talk to my wolf but not me?’
‘When I was in the woods, you said I can’t die. Well, you’re not allowed to disappear. You're right, I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be alone without you. There’s no one else I want with me. Not Derek. Not Laura. You.’
'Okay? Okay as in you'll stop being depressed and ignoring me?'
Okay as in I'm always depressed. I’m angry and sad and anxious all the time. Life has taken so much from me but I refuse to crack. That doesn't make me a robot. I’m clever and loyal and caring and I’m worth more than people see in me and I don’t care how many times I get hurt, I’ll keep fucking going. I feel like I’m drowning, always, but I’m a damn good swimmer.
Peter knew he crossed a line the other day but shit, he's been a gigantic ass, hasn't he? He's not used to this, to wanting someone and feeling desperate to fix the hurt he caused.
'I was wrong for what I said. The truth is, I’m jealous of your resilience.’
No more telling me what I am. I’m worth more than that. I won’t fall over my feet to prove myself to you.
‘Good. I hate you for forcing me to do more character growth so I don’t lose you, but I wouldn’t respect you otherwise.’
I like you.
‘You didn’t before?’
It’s different now.
Will you kill your niece?
The words put plainly in Peter’s mind, in his own tone of thought, stirs shame.
‘Would you think less of me?’
If you had a different Alpha to kill for power, would you still kill Laura?
‘...she will never be my Alpha. Not after what she did by abandoning me.’
I wouldn’t respect you if she was your Alpha.
‘No second chances? Youthful mistakes?’
I literally see inside your brain. I hear your real voice, growls and snarls. I listened to your ranting for weeks before you heard me. I don’t understand how you think I’m this...wise person. There’s only space for one crazy at a time and you’re taking it all up. You're insane if you think I’m not just as crazy. I thought a fun pastime would be poking into the mind of a murderous werewolf.
‘It’s very difficult to figure people out without werewolf senses. This is new to me.’
So, I’m a first for you. Aw, how special. Am I treating you right?
‘I’m getting stronger. I can pace around my room without holding onto the wall.’
Still hiding from the nurses?
‘I’m not dealing with any more hospital bullshit. I fake the coma and as soon as I've healed enough, I’m slipping out. I’ll need to start a new identity, anyway.’
Keep the name Peter. I like it.
‘How do you even know my name?’
You used to relive memories a lot.
‘Oh, the fun days. I’m not nearly as feral now. You can tell me your name. I’m fairly sure I won’t hunt you down to kill you.’
Oh, well, if you’re fairly sure.
‘It depends on how annoying your sarcasm is in person.’
My voice is angelic.
‘I look forward to hearing it.’
You know meeting each other is just pretend, right? I might have some weird coma telepathy thing with werewolves but I’m just human.
‘Humans heal. You wouldn’t be in a coma if you didn’t.’
I’m forgetting things. I don’t remember my name.
‘You remember mine.’
‘Would you accept the Bite?’
Depends on my Alpha.
Peter grows stronger.
His packmate talks more, taking over Peter's train of thought. He talks, but he doesn’t say much. And that in itself says it all.
‘I’ll find you.’
I don’t remember where I was driving. We could be across the country from each other. What if we’re not in the same hospital? How will you find me?
‘I’ll find you.’
I might never come out of this coma.
‘If I have to force my niece into Biting you, I will.’
Peter? Peter, I can’t hear you. I think…
If you can still hear me, I think I love you. No, I do love you. I know I’m in love with you. I need you to know that. I love you, Peter. Get revenge but don’t lose yourself to it, don’t die. Don’t let it consume you. You’re alright, Peter. It’s going to be okay.
Peter stands outside the hospital door for longer than he’d like to admit. Hope pounds in his rib cage, such a terribly fragile feeling.
The boy is skinny and broken and beautiful.
Peter sits by his bedside, staring at him for hours, and then, at night, he Bites.
Beautiful Beta gold blinks at him. The boy’s heart stops and restarts, the bite stitching itself together and his eyes flash electric blue before fading back to gold. Of course his eyes are naturally werewolf-amber. He always acted more wolf than Peter, brilliantly clever with the inner strength of an Alpha.
“You must be Stiles,” Peter says.
The boy’s eyes crinkle with a stunning smile, alive and safe and pack and anchor and Peter's. The pack bond dances with unfamiliar laughter, a gorgeous sound, and Peter aches to hear it come directly out of the boy’s mouth. It will take a while for the boy to heal though, newly Bitten. Luckily, the surprise of his youth, barely older than jail bait, will make the transition easier.
You’re the Alpha, trickles through the bond and Peter’s drunk on hearing his voice for the first time, amused and so full of life. You found me.
The railing of the hospital bed digs into his skin. Peter tolerates the discomfort. He presses forward until their foreheads are together. He finally gets to say the words back. “I adore you.” At the swell of self-consciousness, nerves, twinges of embarrassment, Peter presses a kiss to his boy’s forehead. He whispers, “It’s alright. Everything’s okay.”