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.
Stiles is chopping vegetables and reading up on Greek mythology at the same time when Peter shuffles into the kitchen, looking a hell of a lot better than he has over the past few days. Still, his journey from the bedroom to the kitchen seems to have exhausted him because the werewolf is quick to take a seat at the dinner table.
“Food’s almost ready,” Stiles declares, glancing up fleetingly from the laptop on the counter even has his hands fly confidently over the chopping board. “In the meantime, you wouldn't happen to know anything about Alpha Arachnes, would you? I’ve been reading up on the myth, the one about- well, Arachne, she knew how to weave kickass tapestries, she pissed off a goddess because Athena couldn't handle a bit of competition, then she got turned into a spider, and so on and so forth. Doesn't really mention anything about how to kill her descendents though. And that’s assuming the Arachnes we’re dealing with are her descendents in some way.”
Peter cocks his head, watching Stiles with a calculating regard. “I thought you would've raided my study by now. There might’ve been a few books on Arachnes in my collection.”
Stiles pins him with a how stupid do you think I am look. “And risk having you claw my face off when you found out I’d been poking around? No thanks. Besides, you were too sick to leave alone for more than a few minutes at a time; I didn't have time to raid your library.” He pauses, and then can’t help tacking on hopefully, “But now that you're awake, could you lend me a few to read?”
Peter’s mouth twitches with a smile. “Of course, Stiles. I’d be happy to let you borrow a few sometime.”
Stiles squints at the werewolf, immediately suspicious. “That was way too easy. Usually, nagging any information out of you is like pulling teeth, much less getting you to lend me anything from your sources.”
“I think we’ve progressed beyond that point by now,” Peter remarks.
“So this is your way of paying me back then?” Stiles accuses, throwing a glare at the werewolf before turning to fiddle with the stove. “Look, you don’t owe me anything. You're Pack; that’s enough reason to help you with no strings attached. How many different ways am I gonna have to use to show you that I'm not gonna hold the last few days over your head before you believe me?”
He stretches up a bit to grab a bowl and some cutlery from the cupboards but when he doesn't get a follow-up answer, he cranes his head around to peer at the werewolf, only to be met by a blatant look of startled disbelief.
“What?” Stiles demands, rewinding his last few sentences. Nothing seems amiss to him.
“...You said I’m Pack,” Peter eventually says, features meticulously blanked out and indifferent now.
Stiles leans a hip against the edge of the counter. “Yeeaahh,” He draws out. “Because that’s what you are. Pack. Beacon Hills Pack? Our sourwolf Alpha? Am I ringing any bells here? Unless of course you don’t want to be Pack, and you're just waiting for the perfect opportunity to stab us all in the back, in which case I'm not sure why you're even hinting at those plans to me, especially when I'm cooking your food.” Stiles scowls a bit at the very thought. “Not that I'm saying you should betray us, because you totally shouldn't, and I’d be kinda pissed if you do betray us one day, so just- don’t do it, okay? Like, please? I really don’t want to go down that road again. Once was more than enough, and we’ve already got a crapload of other things out there wanting to have a go at us every other week. We don’t need to throw in another round of internal strife on top of everything else going on.”
Peter... stares. He stares like he’s never laid eyes on Stiles before in his entire life, like Stiles is some sort of new and exotic creature, one that Peter is trying to imprint into his memory because he may not get another chance to do it, which, what? That doesn't even make sense. Maybe it’s just Stiles and his overactive imagination.
He puts the tableware down, turns off the stove, and moves around the counter to stand in front of Peter. “Creeperwolf, are you okay?” Maybe the fever’s coming back, and it’s affecting the Beta’s brain? Habit prompts Stiles to lay a hand against Peter’s forehead before common sense can stop him. The fever doesn't feel any worse but the werewolf goes unnaturally still under his palm.
He’s about to retract his hand, only to pause when he feels Peter pressing forward against his palm. The werewolf’s eyelids have slid down to half-mast, and there’s something almost terrifyingly vulnerable in the way he leans into the contact, as if he’s-
As if he’s touch-starved. Well duh, just because the man isn’t at the height of delirium anymore doesn't mean-
When is the last time someone touched Peter without the intent to harm anyway?
Hesitantly, Stiles eases his hand back, only to trail his fingers down Peter’s temple and over his cheek before cupping his jaw. Peter’s eyes snap all the way open the second Stiles’ hand moves, but he doesn't pull away, pinning Stiles with a Beta’s electric blue eyes instead.
Stiles is more than aware that his breathing has sped up but he forces his hand to remain for a few seconds longer (it’s not exactly a hardship if Peter is actually allowing it), offering tentative comfort because he can. He doubts Peter will allow himself this solace once he’s fully regained his mental faculties.
When Stiles finally makes to pull away, he’s swiftly stopped by Peter who snags his wrist (it’s utterly bizarre how the werewolf is always going for his wrist, whether he’s crazy, conscious, or even sleeping), but the Beta doesn't make any move to tug Stiles’ hand towards his mouth (fangs) or go even more creeperwolf on him or Bite him, thank god for small mercies.
Peter simply cradles Stiles’ right wrist in a – Stiles notices – slightly clawed hand, never looking away from Stiles even as one finger taps idly against his galloping pulse.
“Uh... Peter? Mind letting go?” Stiles gnaws on his bottom lip and shifts his weight from foot to foot. He’s certain that he’s giving off apprehensive smells despite the fact that it was Stiles who pretty much shattered the concept of personal space to begin with. Nonetheless, Stiles is totally not cool with all the one-sided embarrassment that has been raining down on him ever since Peter became lucid again. He does not deserve this, he only meant to offer a bit of consolation because Peter looked like he needed it, but clearly, the universe disagrees.
When Stiles attempts to twist his wrist out of Peter’s grasp, the werewolf tightens his grip, and Stiles huffs a little but stops trying to get away, especially since Peter’s claws are beginning to feel like pinpricks against his skin.
“You're not afraid,” Peter murmurs at length in a thoughtful tone. “Nervous, but not afraid. Even though I could slice through your arm from flesh to bone right this instant.”
Stiles raises his eyebrows, mildly disturbed. “Dude, you could do that even if I was standing across the room. Squishy slow human, remember?” He pauses in consideration. “Are you planning on slicing through my arm? Because I'm definitely not okay with that. And you’ll end up having to scrub bloodstains off your kitchen floor.”
Peter just gives him a tight smirk in response before nuzzling briefly at the inside of Stiles’ wrist, and then finally letting go. Stiles hastily takes a step back, rubbing at his tingling wrist even as his face heats up.
“Be more creepy, why don’t you?!” Stiles snaps, conveniently ignoring his own previous actions (he’s not a werewolf so he’s fine with no touching) as he skirts back towards the stove. “Honestly, werewolves! Or no, I think it’s just you. Derek only slams me into various walls and regularly breaks into my house; you've cornered the market on the bad touch. What is it with you Hales and your criminal tendencies?”
Stiles babbles on because he’s still feeling decidedly awkward and uncomfortable and confused (mostly because Peter didn't claw his face off for letting Stiles see him with his defences down, even if for just a moment), but then, almost everything Peter does is more than a little warped when compared to your average social norms so Stiles really should be used to the werewolf’s random... idiosyncrasies (and that’s putting it mildly) by now. Hell, what just happened was probably another of Peter’s mind games, payback for what Stiles did. The former Alpha is incredibly fond of them after all.
“Eat,” Stiles grits out, placing a steaming bowl of noodles in a clear broth with a side of vegetables in front of Peter. Not too heavy, and not so much salt that the meal would upset Peter’s constitution.
“Won’t you be eating?” Peter enquires as Stiles returns to the counter.
“I would, but unfortunately, I’ve got a side job that waits for no man,” Stiles retorts as he takes a seat at the table as well, only with his laptop and another mug of fresh coffee in front of him instead of food. “And Derek said I had to sit out on the sidelines for this one. Hah! His pants were smoking before I even left the loft.”
“He thought Arachnes would be too dangerous for you when a coven of witches weren’t?” Peter scoffs, and Stiles can’t help the spark of pleasure that wells up in his chest. At least someone believes in his capabilities – Derek has the bad habit of always trying to keep Stiles out of things ‘for his own good’ until shit inevitably hits the fan and Stiles has to lend a hand anyway; at least it doesn't happen as often nowadays, Derek having – hopefully – learned through frequent trial and error of How Apocalyptically Bad Things Can Go Without Stiles’ Input, and-
“Nah, it wasn't that, at least not this time,” Stiles slugs back a mouthful of coffee before continuing, “I think he just wanted us to rest. Lydia, Allison, and I spent all of last week taking care of the other wolves. They were in really bad shape – not as bad as you were of course – but they still kept us up around the clock, helping them to the bathroom, keeping their fevers down, the works. It wasn't fun. For anybody. There was a lot of... projectile vomiting. If Lydia didn't care about them so much, she would've steered clear of the Pack for the entire week.”
Even with the new jolt of caffeine in his system, Stiles cracks a jaw-breaking yawn anyway, rubbing at his eyes as he squints blearily at the screen in front of him. Some of the words seem to be swimming together. Fantastic.
“When was the last time you slept?”
Stiles flicks a glance over at the werewolf sitting across from him. “A while.”
Peter somehow manages to arch a patronizing eyebrow even while swallowing a forkful of noodles. “Would your measurement of ‘a while’ be approximately three days, give or take a few hours?”
“No,” Stiles lies, refocusing on his research. “You know me, insomnia’s my best friend.”
“And here I was under the impression that that position belonged solely to Scott,” Peter mocks sardonically. “Trouble in paradise?”
Stiles snorts. They both know Scott spends more time with Isaac and Allison than Stiles these days. Stiles has more or less reconciled himself with it. They still eat together and hang out together and chase down supernatural creatures together but the rest of the Pack are usually there as well. They spend Pack time together, not... bro time.
“Trouble in paradise is par for the course in our lives, Peter,” Stiles says instead. “Heck, I haven’t even glimpsed paradise since Beacon Hills became a Hellmouth that tops Sunnydale any day of the week.”
“And you've glimpsed paradise before that?” There’s an insufferably amused curl at the corners of Peter’s lips. “I'm impressed.”
“Hey, I’ll have you know, Lydia Martin was the queen of my heart and the paradise of my soul,” Stiles shoots back.
Peter rolls his eyes. “Ah yes, Ms. Martin. I’ll admit, she’s a looker, Stiles, but you could do so much better.”
“Oh I didn't have a crush on her because she’s pretty,” Stiles interjects before amending, “Well, that was part of it but that wasn't all of it. I liked her mostly because of her brain. Lydia and I were always first and second when it came to academics. I remember, back in elementary, we were starting algebra, and the teacher was a bitch and new to the school who decided it was a smart idea to pick on Lydia. Lydia turned the tables and chewed her ear off with a fifteen-minute lecture on advanced linear equations.” Stiles grins at the memory. “The teacher’s face was purple by the time Lydia swept back to her seat like the goddess she is. All the other students didn’t understand half of what Lydia was going on about but it was clear that she totally put the teacher in her place.”
“But you understood,” Peter concludes without a hint of doubt. Stiles’ grin widens.
“I did,” Stiles agrees wistfully. “I thought she was fearless and smart and amazing. But then we hit middle school, and kids were either cool or not, and clumsy ADHD kids were decidedly not, so...” He shrugs, a touch melancholic. “I thought we could've been friends at the very least. I mean Scott is great, he’s such a good person, and I wouldn't give him up for the world, but honestly, he’s not the sharpest crayon in the box, and I thought it would've been nice to have someone to talk to who didn't tune me out if I waxed poetic about anything more complicated than video games and comics for over ten minutes. But Lydia wanted to be at the top of the food chain, and you can’t get there by hanging out with-” Stiles flaps a hand to encompass his entire spastic self. “-this, not to mention Jackson hated me and vice versa, so I settled for worshipping from afar.”
Peter stares unblinkingly at him again for a long moment. Another smirk spreads across his face, and his features take on a definite leer. “I don’t see anything wrong with... this.”
Stiles gawks for a second before throwing up his hands, thoroughly exasperated. “You turn everything into an innuendo, don’t you? Honestly, I was being serious. Telling you serious things, you know?”
“So was I,” Peter assures offhandedly, and then he’s gathering up his now empty bowl and fork, and taking them to the sink before Stiles can think of anything else to say.
“You should get some sleep,” The werewolf continues over the sound of running water. “I don’t need watching over at this point, and you're starting to look like death warmed over, not to mention you smell like you bathed in coffee.”
Stiles shakes himself out of his stupor and shunts Peter’s earlier remark to the back of his head. “I can’t. I have to look up-”
“I’ll do it,” Peter interrupts firmly, turning to look directly at Stiles. “I do feel better, Stiles, still tired but certainly well enough to find the necessary information on Queens for Derek. I won’t overexert myself. Scout’s honour.”
“You were never a boy scout,” Stiles accuses with absolute certainty, and he’s proven correct when Peter flashes him a fang-y smirk filled with the sort of diabolical mischief that would get someone arrested. “And wait, they’re called Queens? So like, Alpha werewolves and Queen Arach-”
“Stiles, sleep,” Peter repeats sternly. “I will tell you everything there is to know about Arachnes when you wake up if that’s what you want. I have a guestroom, second door on the right; use it.”
Stiles glances one more time at his laptop, and then looks back at Peter. Peter rolls his eyes and dries his hands on a washcloth before making his way back over. A moment later, he’s drawn Stiles’ hand up and pressed it against his forehead.
“Satisfied, mother hen?” Peter snarks, and Stiles grumbles out a wordless complaint. And then he releases a perplexed noise when the werewolf slides his hand over Stiles’ shoulder and wraps it around the back of his neck. A moment later, Peter’s head dips, cheek brushing against Stiles’, and nose pressing into his neck, inhaling deeply like this is all perfectly normal.
Stiles is completely frozen and at a loss for words for all of two seconds. “...Dude, are you... scenting me?” Because he’s seen the other werewolves do this with each other, and Scott with Allison, and even Jackson with Lydia when he came for a visit over spring break (and subsequently got caught up in dealing with rogue vampires – decidedly not of the Twilight persuasion – alongside the Pack, go figure), so he recognizes the action. Nobody ever does it with Peter though. Nobody’s ever really done it with Stiles either.
Peter doesn't answer, just pulls away after a handful of heartbeats and smiles down at Stiles, eyes glowing faintly under the kitchen light. “Go get some rest, Stiles. I’ll deal with the research.”
Stiles somehow ambles his way into the guestroom in a bit of a daze. Why does Peter always have to be so... calculatingly spontaneous? Half his actions never make any sense to anyone but him.
Stiles’ brain doesn't really give him much time to think about the whole scenting thing though, and mere minutes after his head hits the pillow, he’s out like a light.
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