Fandom: Teen Wolf
Summary: When Peter gets sick, Stiles is the only one who cares enough to check on him. That’s where it all begins.
Peter doesn't answer the door.
“Peter!” Stiles calls out again, banging on the door and ignoring the dirty look that the lady just coming out of 306 is shooting him. It’s nine-thirty in the morning on a Monday; if people aren’t up yet, then Stiles is doing them a favour by being their alarm clock. “Peter, open up! It’s Stiles!”
He heaves a sigh after several futile minutes, arm dropping back to his side when it becomes clear that either Peter isn’t in, or he isn’t going to answer the door. He looks both ways (the woman’s long gone) before grabbing one of the paperclips in his pockets and picking the lock. Sheriff’s son; he learned how to pick handcuffs and break into the police station a long time ago. An apartment unit is child’s play.
Within thirty seconds, he’s stepping into Peter’s home, and a part of Stiles is wary of anything planning to jump out at him. But the place is fairly normal, the walls and floors in earthy browns, and the furniture all arranged with an aesthetic flare that even Stiles’ novice eye can appreciate.
The thing that stands out most however is the smell. There’s a staleness lingering in the apartment that he can pick up even without a werewolf nose, along with the sour tang of sickness. Dread pools in his gut, and he doesn't waste any time sliding open the balcony doors to let some fresh air in before hurrying down the only hall towards what looks like the bedroom.
The bed is a tangle of knotted blankets like someone’s been tossing restlessly around in it but it’s devoid of life right now. Stiles grimaces when he spots the dried puddle of vomit beside the left side of the bed. The curtains are drawn so the room is only lit by the hallway light, but it’s enough for Stiles to make his way over to the open door at the far end of the room where the stench is strongest.
He flicks on the bathroom light, and even though he was expecting it, it still comes as a shock when he finds Peter on the tiled floor, half-slumped against the wall by the toilet, and every breath hitching in his chest like a death rattle.
“Oh shit,” Stiles sheds his sweater and rolls up the sleeves of his shirt before rushing forward to kneel next to Peter. The toilet is all kinds of gross but Stiles overlooks it in favour of the werewolf’s unmoving form. “Shit shit shit, okay, uh, Peter?” He gives the man’s shoulder a gentle shake, cringing and almost snatching his hand back when he feels the heat radiating right through Peter’s sweat-soaked shirt. “Peter, can you hear me?”
Peter doesn't even stir, and Stiles spares exactly eight seconds to internally flounder in panic before pulling his shit together and getting down to business.
Stiles has done this for the idiot puppies who are absolutely pathetic when they're sick, and before this week, approximately seven and a half years ago, he’s done this for his mom who was adamant about remaining at home until the end instead of staying shut up in the hospital.
It’s not quite the same but Stiles can adapt. Peter is in far worse condition than any of the other werewolves ever became over the past week, he’s dangerously hot and not in the handsome way, so without further ado, Stiles begins filling the bathtub with cold water.
Peter is drenched in sweat, and Stiles pretty much has to peel his clothes off. He focuses his mind on being Melissa degrees of professional as he hauls the older man up, staggering under Peter’s deadweight before getting a better grip and half-dragging, half-carrying the werewolf to the tub.
It’s a testament to just how ill Peter is when the man doesn't make a single noise even after Stiles lowers him into the water. But his temperature needs to go down, not to mention he reeks, so Stiles grits his teeth, hunts down a washcloth, and tries not to think about how Peter is going to rip his face off for this invasion of privacy when the man is lucid again.
“You’ll just have to suck it up,” Stiles mutters as he wipes carefully at Peter’s face (the guy needs a shave but Stiles barely needs to shave; he’s not about to risk cutting Peter with a razor), and he frowns when he realizes he can still feel the Beta’s body heat through the freaking washcloth. He continues rambling, disregarding the water that splash on his shirt and even jeans when he has to lean over the tub to wash Peter’s other side. “Why didn't you call Derek, you stupid creeperwolf? Seriously, is pride a symptom of wolvlihood or something? What if I hadn't dropped by? You probably would've choked to death on your own vomit, and that’s just sad after all the crap we’ve been through.”
It takes nearly forty minutes and refilling the tub twice with clean water before Stiles is cautiously optimistic over Peter’s temperature. It’s dropped back to uncomfortably-close-to-hazardous instead of mayday-we-need-a-hospital-stat, and it looks like it will actually stay that way. Of course, that’s when he remembers the bed sheets that probably need changing, so he groans, checks that Peter will remain propped upright and in no danger of drowning himself, and then gets up to wash his hands before hunting down clean sheets. Luckily, Peter has two other sets in his closet, and it only takes Stiles five minutes to strip the bed and replace everything. He even finds Peter’s cell on the bedside table. The last text sent is probably the one from yesterday informing Derek that he’s ‘busy’.
Yeah, busy dying.
“You owe me big time for this,” Stiles tells Peter’s strained features as he dries the werewolf off with a ludicrously fluffy towel, and then dresses him in some comfortable-looking pajamas. “A huge favour. But I’ll be willing to call us even if you don’t kill me for this once you get better. And maybe give me a few freebies when I'm doing more research for Derek. And some curly fries.”
It takes another minute to wrestle Peter into bed and tuck him in, and then Stiles is left with an unconscious werewolf who sounds like he’s struggling for every breath, and a bathroom and bedroom to clean up.
Somewhere between mopping up the hardwood floor (thank god it isn’t carpet; the smell is bad enough) and scrubbing the dirty stains from his clothes (the bed sheets have rips from werewolf claws in them, too large to mend, so Stiles throws them out) before dumping it all into the washing machine, it occurs to Stiles that he really should just call Derek and get him to take care of all this. Peter is Derek’s uncle after all, and if anyone should play Florence Nightingale for the Beta, it should be their dear Alpha.
But... Derek didn't sound all that interested in Peter’s wellbeing yesterday. Not that Derek sounds all that interested in anything most days but Stiles has gotten pretty good at reading the Alpha, and he’s fairly certain that Peter’s near the very bottom of Derek’s list of priorities right now. The others aren’t going to want to help, and Stiles can’t just leave Peter on his own now after seeing him in the state he was in, all but comatose after a week of trying to take care of himself with no one to turn to for even a measly spark of comfort. The sheer loneliness that comes with that thought makes Stiles queasy. He himself has always hated being alone, and werewolves aren’t meant to be isolated.
That’s never occurred to him until now, mostly because Peter is so very good at smirking away like nothing’s wrong and acting like the whole world is his personal in-joke, but surely, the Beta must feel something every time the Pack uses him as bait or treats him like an unwanted Omega or shuts him out of Pack activities?
It’s not a nice realization, and even reminding himself that Peter was once an out-of-control killer doesn't really make him feel better. Maybe it’s because the memory of Peter curled up on the bathroom floor is still fresh in his mind, or maybe it’s just that, while Stiles doesn't trust him, Peter does make for good company, attractive both mentally and physically (from a completely objective point of view of course, and Stiles is normally very adept at pretending he doesn't notice this observation at all), and the werewolf’s grown on him.
Either way, Stiles ends up staying.
All the others are either busy with the Arachnes or resting, and it’s the summer holidays so Stiles doesn't have anywhere else to be.
He regularly checks up on Peter, plastering icepacks on him that melt at an alarmingly fast rate, and in-between, he pokes around the kitchen, checking how much food is in the fridge and cupboards. The milk’s gone bad so he throws that out too, and he takes out the garbage while he’s at it. It doesn't take a genius either to guess that Peter hasn't eaten in at least a few days. He probably hasn't even left his bedroom for that long.
Around noon, Stiles remembers Peter’s job, and hastily phones in to call in sick for the werewolf. Another week, he tells them, spinning a tale about a nasty case of stomach flu. Peter must really have his boss and coworkers wrapped around his finger, or he turns in terrific work, or – in all likelihood – both, because they ask no questions and simply asks Stiles to pass on their well-wishes.
After that, he checks in on Peter again. The fever is still too high for comfort but if Stiles is going to stay here, then he needs to go out and gather some supplies, and it’s better to do it now rather than later in case the fever takes another turn for the worse.
An hour later, he’s back with an armful of grocery bags, a few changes of clothes, books, his Adderall, and his laptop in tow. When he looks in on Peter, he instantly wishes he never left because the werewolf is muttering under his breath, tossing and turning and overall delirious.
Stiles isn’t going to drag the poor guy up for another cold bath but the fever isn’t breaking and that’s not good. However, this at least he’s done for Cora and Isaac when their fevers spiked, albeit not as badly as Peter’s, so he settles down for the long haul, meticulously dabbing a wet cloth against the sheen of sweat breaking out across Peter’s burning skin.
He also does what he does best – talk.
“It’s gonna be okay, Peter,” Stiles murmurs quietly over the werewolf’s own incoherent mumbling. “We just have to ride the fever out. You should've asked for help earlier, you know, but then, I guess you thought nobody would care enough to help you. I’d probably think that too, in your place. But hey, we do research together, and yeah, I know, not exactly what you’d call a ringing endorsement towards the general improvement of our relationship but still, I buy you tea, exactly the way you like it too, so you should've at least tried calling me. Then again, I’ve never given you my phone number, but who am I kidding? You're a creeperwolf so you probably know everybody’s phone numbers-”
He is abruptly cut off when Peter twists onto his side, eyes snapping open as his nails extend into claws, and something heartbreakingly close to a sob clicks in his throat. “Talia!”
Stiles flinches away before he can be accidentally skewered, but he freezes at the garbled name that comes out of Peter’s mouth. The Beta isn’t really awake; his eyes are unseeing and wild, fever-bright and frantic.
Tentatively, Stiles reaches forward again, wincing when an uncoordinated flail of Peter’s limbs results in claws tearing into Stiles’ arm, but he bites back the pain – the scratch isn’t even that deep, and oh thanks a lot, Peter, there goes another one of his shirts, and Stiles isn’t even escaping from the latest Big Bad this time – and runs his fingers through Peter’s hair instead. It’s what Stiles’ mom did for him once upon a time when he was sick and wanted someone to make everything better.
“It’s okay, Peter, it’s just a dream,” Well no, it most likely isn’t; Stiles has a pretty good idea that – in this state – Peter is probably reliving the Hale House fire. “It’s okay,” Stiles shushes him all the same even though it’s sort of the farthest thing from okay. “You’re okay; nothing’s gonna hurt you here. You’re alright, you're safe.”
It takes a while, and Stiles loses track of time as he continues sliding his fingers though Peter’s hair in hopefully soothing sweeps. He’s sitting on the edge of the bed by the time Peter begins calming down again, claws receding as he nestles against Stiles’ thigh, shuddering intermittently between harsh coughs and uneven breaths. The Beta feels like a furnace cranked up to maximum even through Stiles’ jeans.
“If you were even halfway awake,” Stiles laments, staring down at the werewolf all but snuggling against him. “I’d be so embarrassed. If you hadn't killed me yet for being your human security blanket of course, which would probably happen because I’d totally make fun of you for this. You know, if the magic-induced fever wasn't a factor.”
He sighs. He’s just glad Peter’s not stuck in his worst nightmare anymore, and he’ll never say it out loud even on pain of death but the werewolf is kind of cute like this. Certainly cuter than his usual smarmy, skulking self when he’s screwing with everyone’s heads.
With some patient pushing and pulling, Stiles manages to get Peter straightened out again. He doesn't bother with the covers this time, just goes and exchanges a few more icepacks from the fridge, and then layers them on top of Peter.
Moving reminds him of the now mostly dried bloodstain on the torn sleeve of his shirt, and he’s more exasperated than bothered by the scratches. He’s received a lot worse in terms of bodily harm ever since the supernatural freight train hit Beacon Hills and hasn't had the decency to move on.
So he wraps a bandage around his forearm, changes his shirt, and then ambles out into the kitchen to make some chicken broth following his mother’s personal recipe. Peter’s stomach won’t be able to handle anything heavier than that for a while.
Of course, to handle anything, the guy has to wake up first, but no matter how much Stiles tries to coax him back into something at least semi-alert, Peter remains trapped in a haze of agitated oblivion. The broth will have to wait.
By seven in the evening, Stiles is chewing on a pop-tart at Peter’s bedside (and making sure no crumbs are dropped because he doesn't want to get maimed) when his dad calls to ask if he’s coming home for dinner tonight. Everything has been so much easier now that the Sheriff is in the know, there’s a lot less lying and sneaking around going on, and although he doesn't like the fact that his son is running around fighting all the things that go bump in the night, he’s also accepted that Stiles isn’t going to stop helping his friends anytime soon, so the best solution is to compromise and work together.
“One of the wolves got slapped with a bigger dose of witch-fever than the others,” Stiles explains. “It’s probably gonna take another week for all of it to get out of his system. I can’t leave him.”
Stiles hesitates for a moment before confessing, “Peter. It’s Peter.”
His dad is silent for a long moment. “He wasn't quarantined at Derek’s place with the others, was he?”
The man isn’t the Sheriff for nothing; he can read between the lines, knows that nobody in the Pack really cares about Peter Hale.
“No,” Stiles sighs shortly, absently checking Peter’s temperature again. No change. “He wasn't at the Pack meeting yesterday so I got- well, I stopped by his apartment this morning to check on him, just in case. Turns out, it was a good decision. He was a mess when I found him; he collapsed in his bathroom, probably sometime last night. His fever’s gotten better but that’s not saying much. Like, on a scale of one to hellfire, his temperature’s dropped back down to just beyond uncontrolled forest fire right now. He’s delirious, and he hasn't woken up yet. I think- I think I should stay here until he’s back on his feet. Is that okay?”
Stiles knows his dad is going to say yes. The man knows what Peter’s done, but he also knows what the werewolf’s lost, and there’s no way he would tell Stiles to just leave the guy alone in such a horrible state to begin with.
“Yeah, that’s fine, Stiles. Just give me a call every day so that I know you're still alive.” A pause. “The others looked terrible when I stopped by Derek’s loft last week. Peter’s lucky to have you taking care of him too.”
Stiles inexplicably flushes red, spluttering when he can practically feel his father’s amusement over the line.
“Well, he’s Pack; someone’s got to do it,” He grumbles back, and then doggedly forges on before his dad can say anything else. “How’s the Arachne problem going?”
His father graciously allows the change of subject. “Derek and Isaac managed to track down two of them but there are still at least six roaming around, seven if you count the missing persons report that came in today. We’re working on it. You just focus on Peter.”
“Alright, Dad, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“I’ll hold you to that. Try not to stay up all night.”
Staying up all night is something Stiles may not be able to avoid because Peter’s condition seriously needs constant monitoring. Thank god the Beta has a coffee machine.