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.
“It’s a useful skill,” Peter remarks from Stiles’ desk chair and promptly giving Stiles a heart attack. “But also a somewhat alarming one.”
“Jesus Christ!” Stiles – having leapt back and nearly brained himself on his doorframe after entering his room and being startled by an uninvited guest – instinctively lobs a handful of mountain ash in the general direction of his desk before he can stop himself. Peter ducks smoothly out of the way but Stiles’ other arm is already slashing upwards in a cutting motion, and the mountain ash unfolds like a cloak and splits like the yawning jaws of a beast, changing direction midair and following its prey like a homing missile, ready to devour its quarry whole.
A split second later, the mountain ash collapses in on itself as Stiles’ brain catches up with his eyes, and a hasty flick of his wrist stops the assault two seconds before it descends on Peter like a tsunami.
“Are you crazy?!” Stiles exclaims, throwing his hands up when he spots the open window (it was locked, damn it) and the various papers on his desk that Peter was no doubt poking through like the nosy creeper he is. “After the entire catastrophe with the Alpha Pack, wouldn't you think twice before busting into the house of the guy who got kidnapped by them?”
Peter – now reclining back on Stiles’ bed like he owns it – doesn't even look concerned with his near brush with asphyxiation via mountain ash. Instead, he looks mostly intrigued.
“Impressive,” Peter praises. “A touch paranoid, but all things considered, that’s understandable.”
“I’m so glad you approve,” Stiles says, sarcasm dripping from his words as he gathers up the mountain ash with another wave of his hands before straddling the chair that Peter was forced to abandon. “What are you doing here, Peter?”
“I can’t visit my favourite human now?” Peter counters, all fake innocence and blasé amusement. “I seem to recall someone dropping by my apartment and all but moving in for half a week.”
Stiles gives him an incredulous look. “Really? That’s how you're gonna do this? We’re going with quid pro quo now?”
Peter shrugs. “As I understand it, you let Derek in here all the time, and what has he ever done for you in exchange exactly?”
“Okay, first of all, I don’t let him into my room, ever,” Stiles denies vehemently. “Except when I was hiding him from the authorities, but other than that, he breaks in on his own under the assumption that he has free rein to come and go from the Sheriff’s house. If he wasn't a werewolf, he would've gone to jail for repeated breaking and entering a long time ago. And second of all, even if I did let him in, that has absolutely no impact on me extending the same courtesy to you.”
“Ah, but you’d let me in if I brought a gift as compensation, wouldn't you?” Peter gestures at the desk, and Stiles automatically turns to look.
“Don’t think you can bribe your way in-” He stops when his eyes land on two tomes stacked neatly on the side of the desk, both leather-bound and delicate-looking even from here, and Stiles all but lunges over to them, picking up the top one with greedy but careful reverence.
Lycanthropia is written in gilded, slightly faded cursive letters on the cover, along with a line of smaller script underneath, also in Latin. Fortunately for Stiles, he’s got Google and his own burgeoning knowledge of the language to help him out. The other book is on Fae and the Faerie Courts, also written in Latin. The pages crinkle when he turns them, smelling of long-dried ink and old parchment, and he sort of really wants to sit down right this instant and get started on translating and recording everything in English, and soak up all the new information in the process, but he hasn't forgotten that Peter’s still in his room. Almost, but not quite.
He spins around, beaming helplessly at the werewolf. “Thanks, Peter! Thanks! I won’t rip any of the pages! I’ll take good care of them!”
Peter looks like he wants to laugh but generously refrains from doing so. “Most teenage boys would be happy with video games,” He remarks instead. “You are far more high maintenance than most, Stiles.”
“Okay, one, I happen to love video games, and I’d be perfectly happy with some good old Mario Kart; I just happen to like reading too. And two, excuse you, I don’t want to be accused of something like that by you of all people,” Stiles rebuffs. It’s no secret that Peter has a flair for dramatics. Even during his killing rampage, the man had his grandiose supervillain moments.
He glances back longingly at the tomes but it does occur to him that Peter isn’t here just to drop off a few books.
“So then?” Stiles drops back in his seat again. “I'm pretty sure you didn't just swing by to bribe your way into my room.” His brow scrunches in recollection. “Were you saying something about my chameleon suit earlier? And don’t give me that face; ‘chameleon suit’ is an awesome name.”
Peter looks offensively dubious but refrains from commenting. “It’s handy,” The Beta says instead. “But probably not something you should use too often around the Pack.”
He pauses like he’s pondering over his next words. “It’s unsettling to not be able to hear someone’s heartbeat when there should be one,” He says at last. “Doubly so when even your scent is hidden. That’s why Derek and the others didn't react quite the way you probably expected them to.”
Stiles looks down at his hands, tangling his fingers together for lack of anything else to fiddle with. That was... yeah. After the whole chameleon reveal thing, besides Lydia and Allison who couldn't hear the difference anyway, the others were all pretty terse with their sparse congratulations, and it didn't take an empath to realize that the majority of the Pack were uneasy with his ability to hide so well, sounding more upset with him than anything else. One would think they’d be happy that the helpless human has another line of defense in his arsenal but even Derek just looked mostly angry. Then again, Derek almost always looks angry.
It was disappointing to say the least, and Stiles left as soon as possible after that, telling himself that it doesn't matter whether or not the Pack appreciates his capabilities.
“So, like, what, they thought I was too much like a vampire or something?” Stiles queries, looking up again.
“When they can hear you, they know you're alive if not always safe,” Peter clarifies. “Concealing yourself the way you did, we would never know whether you were simply hiding or dead if you weren’t in our line of sight, and that doesn't sit well with... any of us.”
Stiles stares at the werewolf for a long moment. Peter looks nothing but sincere, yet Stiles knows for a fact that the man can pull off that look even while giving a sales pitch about werewolf-dom with a dead nurse locked in the trunk of his car.
“If that’s your way of trying to make me feel better, it didn't work,” Stiles tells him flatly. “How do you think I feel every time they force me to stay behind while they run off and get their asses handed to them? It’s pretty much the same thing. I never know whether or not they're dead yet, and it’s not like they're monitoring my heartbeat all the time. Or they better not be.”
“You never listen anyway,” Peter points out dryly. “And then you go haring off after them straight into danger as well.”
“Yeah, but unlike them, I actually have a plan to get them out of danger,” Stiles retorts. “And at least this way, when I do inevitably stumble into trouble myself, I’d be able to handle it, or at least stall long enough for help to arrive. Even they should be able to see that now; I wouldn’t just be a liability to them in a fight anymore.”
He thinks he’s said too much now, and Peter’s eyes are a little too knowing as they study him.
“You're not a liability, Stiles,” Peter maintains softly.
Stiles’ gaze narrows into a glare as he snaps back with a sudden surge of bitter resentment (What the hell is so wrong with him that the only one who believes in him is a former psychopath?), “Yeah? Well you're the only one who thinks that, and last time I checked, your opinion means fuck-all around here.”
A stiff silence falls over them, and Stiles is already regretting his words. He’s said worse to Peter before, especially back when the undead werewolf first resurrected himself, but that was then, and this is now, and on hindsight, Peter probably brought those books over to make him feel better, not just as a bribe or even because he semi-promised only a few days ago.
“That was- I didn't mean to say that,” Stiles fumbles out when the silence gets to be too much.
Peter looks largely unperturbed and not at all offended. Doesn't mean he actually isn’t.
“Why? My opinion doesn't mean anything to anyone,” Peter shrugs like he doesn't care. “Their loss of course. Derek wouldn’t get into half the messes he does if he just takes my advice once in a while.”
Peter’s tone is as flippant and condescending as it possibly can be. Stiles doesn't trust it for a second. He doesn't trust a lot of what Peter shows the world.
“And what am I, roadkill?” Stiles snipes before his thoughts can take a turn for the angsty(ier). “I ask your opinion on whatever I'm researching all the time.”
He swivels around in his chair before Peter can respond, hefting one of the tomes again. “And since you brought these, you can help me with the translations now. And I’ll have a ton of questions on everything. Can you actually read Archaic Latin? I would've thought these would be annotated already.”
He turns back expectantly, not looking away even under Peter’s indecipherable scrutiny.
“I know enough Latin to get by; the translated copies were lost in the fire,” The werewolf finally discloses, slowly taking the tome that Stiles was holding out. “As was over ninety percent of our library.” Something wistful surfaces briefly on his face as his fingers brush gently over the cover of the book in his lap. “The Hale library was one of the most comprehensive sources of knowledge in the world. It was my favourite place in the entire house. We had books that were one of a kind.”
Stiles lets him have a minute, wondering at the back of his mind if his magic can repair anything in the old Hale house. Maybe... hm. Now he’s curious; he’ll have to test out a few things later.
Right now though, he grabs his laptop and pushes his chair over to the bed. “Well, you still have these books so we can make electronic copies of them at least.”
Peter gives him a tight smile for that, not happy but not altogether sad either. “Electronic copies would be harder to burn if Derek ever sleeps with another psychotic girlfriend,” The Beta concedes with a vindictive bite edging his voice. Stiles lets it go. Considering Derek’s dismal track record with girlfriends, that’s actually a valid concern and not spite. Not just spite anyway.
The next six hours see the two of them bent over the tome on lycanthropy, puzzling out obscure phrases, debating werewolf origins, and tracing the older packs that still exist today through their ancient lineages. By the time Stiles’ stomach gurgles a complaint, he’s sprawled out on the bed on his stomach with his laptop in front of him and twenty-seven pages worth of text on the screen while Peter is leaning against the headboard with the book propped open against his knees, squinting at some faded writing that even his werewolf eyes are having trouble deciphering.
“Hungry?” Peter glances up over the top of his book.
Stiles scrubs a loose fist over his eyes before flopping onto his back with a groan. “Yeah, and my eyes are aching. Let’s take a break.” He checks his phone for the time. “My dad won’t be back until late, and he’ll have already eaten, so I can make dinner for us if you want?”
“Hmm,” Peter closes the tome with a muffled thunk, gaze sliding to the window in consideration. “As much as I’ve enjoyed your cooking, Stiles, how about we go out for dinner tonight? I haven’t had a lot of fresh air over the past week and a half.”
Stiles blinks at the out of the blue invitation, but then nods. That makes sense, although- “You sure you want me to come with you? My budget’s not that big, and you seem like the upscale restaurant type. Even the pastries from this morning weren’t really paid for on my dime.”
Peter smirks like he knows exactly when Stiles swiped Derek’s credit card. “I don’t mind burgers once in a while,” He says lightly, uncrossing his legs to rise from the bed. “And you have an unhealthy obsession with curly fries, don’t you? I’ll treat you tonight.”
Stiles brightens, scrambling up as well. “Oh hell yes! And it’s not unhealthy! Curly fries are the food of the gods!”
“Would you let your father eat them?” Peter enquires politely.
Stiles scowls. The werewolf chuckles as he opens the door and waves for Stiles to pass.
“Using the front door this time?” Stiles snarks.
Peter smiles almost secretively, hand resting between Stiles’ shoulder blades as the werewolf propels him forward.
“I can’t have you thinking I’m becoming predictable,” He counters easily.
Stiles snorts even as a grudgingly fond smile tugs at his lips. It probably says something bad about his mental state that he finds the notion of Peter entering his house from different access points just to keep Stiles on his toes amusing.
“No worries, creeperwolf. You'll never be that.”