- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
- Discussion - Rape
- Discussion - Torture
- Dubious Consent
- Explicit Sex
- No Beta
There was a thump outside Stiles’ window.
“Creeper-wolf?” he asked, sitting up from where he’d been sprawled lethargically on his bed, watching the latest Gotham episode. He still ached, and it was easier to lie on the bed with an abundance of support pillows than it was to sit in the living room on their ancient sofa.
The window slid open, and Scott tumbled into the room, a frown marring his expression.
“No, it’s me. Why would you think it was Peter? Has that jerk been bothering you?”
Stiles sighed and rolled his eyes. “No, I haven’t seen him since we got out of That Place.”
Stiles wasn’t mentally in a state where he could give a name to the horrors he and Peter – though mostly Peter – had endured. It had just become That Place in his head, capital letters and all.
“Oh. Good.” Scott nodded decisively. “I don’t want him around you, especially after he got you hurt.”
Stiles suppressed the urge to smack Scott, knowing it would only hurt his hand. He didn’t bother defending Peter either, since it would just get him yet another lecture about how Peter was corrupting him, which would lead to talk about “neutralizing” Peter. Stiles didn’t think Scott would kill Peter, but there was that freaky Eichen House out at the edge of town. Stiles had always gotten a weird vibe from that place. With the way their lives were going, he wouldn’t be surprised to learn they had some kind of supernatural wing too.
Instead, Stiles slipped his thumbs back through the thumbholes in the long-sleeve t-shirt he was wearing beneath his usual plaid and was grateful he’d never told Scott about Peter biting him. Though Stiles had to wonder how the hell his childhood friend could be a True Alpha if he couldn’t sniff out Peter’s mark on him. Even Stiles could sense Peter on his skin, and he didn’t have any supernaturally augmented senses.
The mating bite had saved his life without a doubt, but there was no way Scott would see it that way. No, to Scott it would just be another unpardonable crime Peter had committed. Unlike all the others Scott had let off with a warning, Peter would never be forgiven for his crimes, real or imagined.
“What are you doing here?” Stiles asked, changing the topic. “You realize I’m still grounded, right?”
It turned out that his dad’s idea of keeping him safe from being kidnapped again was grounding him for the last week of school and the entirety of winter break. If he was honest, Stiles hadn’t fought it that hard. He’d been left on the fringes of the Pack ever since he’d had that huge blow up with Scott because he and Derek had just let the darach go instead of making sure she was dead, and they’d let Deucalion go free entirely despite the fact that the werewolf had murdered dozens if not hundreds of people – both humans and supernaturals.
Scott gave him a crooked grin. “I know, but I know your dad is at the station tonight, and I checked for a patrol car just in case. I couldn’t leave my bro in his time of need, you know?”
Stiles eased back down on his bed and gave Scott an unimpressed look. He pointedly didn’t ask where his bro had been for the last dozen days. Nor did he ask when he’d been those first several days and nights when Stiles had hurt so much he couldn’t sleep and had been too afraid to take the pain meds in case he got stuck in a nightmare like had happened the only time he’d tried it. He really could’ve used the wolfy pain-drain thing then.
Fuck, Stiles missed Peter. As horrible as it had been, he’d slept better in Peter’s arms in that hell on earth than he had since he’d found out the things that go bump in the night were real. He regretted telling Peter he was grounded so the werewolf couldn’t come around until his dad calmed down. Though, in all honesty, he was shocked that Peter was obeying instead of finding a way around Noah’s edict.
“Well….” Scott shrugged and flashed him one of his trademark silly-puppy grins. “Me and Allison were going to go to a movie, but her dad got this idea in his head that he wanted to do a father-daughter bonding thing instead. We’re going to go tomorrow, so I decided to come see you tonight.”
So much for “just friends.” Stiles almost groaned at the thought of enduring the on-again Scott-n-Allison drama. He also noted that not only was he not invited, he was yet again merely an afterthought in Scott’s life.
“He’s doing that job shadowing thing for class tonight.” Scott beamed. “How cool is it that he’s shadowing my mom? It would be great to have somebody in the Pack who knows about medical stuff, just in case Mom is at work when we need that kind of thing.”
Stiles very carefully didn’t think about the professional-grade medical kits in his room and in his jeep. Neither did he think about the classes he’d taken so he’d be a certified first-responder if it ever came up. Not to mention the research he’d done and the herbs and various strains of wolfsbane he’d gotten his hands on – with no help from Deaton, thank you very much – so he could be prepared no matter who got shot with what.
“Medical training is always a good thing,” he said instead, wondering if Scott could smell his resentment. Probably not. True Alpha or not, Scott still didn’t seem to know how to use the senses the bite had given him.
“I know, right? Isaac will be the best… at least once he’s trained. I’m sure Mom will hook him up with the best people to learn from. It’s not like medicine is something he can just learn from the internet or books.”
Right. Unlike the endless hours of research Stiles had done. Research was only valuable when it was something that would benefit the Pack immediately. Besides, research was something Scott knew he did with Peter, Scott’s very own He-who-shall-not-be-named. Anything that was related to Peter even remotely was anathema to Scott.
“I was about to watch Gotham. You up for that?” Stiles finally asked, wondering if Scott had even noticed how subdued he had become since he’d come back from That Place. Probably not. It wasn’t like he’d been around enough to know.
“Yeah, sounds great.” Scott clapped him on the arm, which still had bone-deep bruises from what had been done to him. Stiles had to wonder how Scott missed the hiss of pain or the flinch that preceded it. “You have any popcorn? Maybe some Doritos?”
“Sure, dude.” Stiles gave him a strained smile, but Scott didn’t notice that either. He was already out the door and pounding down the stairs to the kitchen.
Stiles dragged himself from the bed and followed much more slowly. He wondered when being Scott’s friend had become something he endured rather than enjoyed.
Stiles yawned as he shuffled into the kitchen the next morning, grateful he wasn’t expected to go to school. He was black-and-blue over the majority of his body, and he ached like an old man. Well, that’s what happened when a person was restrained in stress positions for hours on end. He was doing physical therapy he’d found on the internet just to make sure his joints healed correctly.
Stiles could smell eggs, bacon, and toast, so he knew his dad was home. Since finding out about the supernatural after the whole darach thing, Noah had been making an attempt to be home more often when Stiles was going to be there and awake. The station was still short-staffed enough that Noah couldn’t get out of all the doubles and overnights, as the previous day’s double shift proved, but he was trying, and that was what mattered. As much as Stiles thought he should chafe at the confinement after years of being self-sufficient, he couldn’t. It finally felt like he had a dad again, and he didn’t want to screw that up.
“Those better be Egg Beaters and turkey bacon,” Stiles grouched.
His dad’s health and diet was one area Stiles refused to give up trying to control. After all, he only had a dad for as long as the man was healthy enough to stick around.
The dual snorts of amusement broke him out of his tunnel vision and made him blink stupidly at the table where his dad and Chris Argent, of all people, were sitting with the remains of their breakfasts. Well, if they were having breakfast, at least whatever supernatural crap had brought Chris to their door wasn’t urgent… yet.
Noah wiped the runny, yellow yoke off his plate with his last bit of toast and popped it in his mouth with a half-guilty, half-defiant look, making Chris hide his smirk behind his coffee cup.
“Good morning, Stiles,” the older man greeted.
Stiles crossed his arms over his chest and glared at his dad.
“Hey, kid. Sleep okay?” Noah asked after swallowing the last of his contraband.
Stiles grunted a non-answer. “I hope you know you’re having fish and Boca burgers for the rest of the month.”
“Hey now, that’s not fair!” His dad pointed to the fried tomatoes. “It was only one egg, and we had vegetables!”
Stiles stared him down until Noah admitted, “Fine. Two. Two eggs. Chris said they were free-range, though, so that has to count for something, right?”
“It counts toward eggplant lasagna in your future. And kale. Lots and lots of kale.”
“Aw, now there’s no reason to go overboard,” Noah complained with a grimace. “Chris brought breakfast, and it would have been rude to turn it down. He brought some for you too. I put it in the oven so it’d be warm whenever you decided to get up.”
“How generous of you,” Stiles snarked, though he did retrieve his breakfast and his usual super-size mug of coffee with eggnog-flavored creamer. He loved December for the eggnog creamer if for no other reason.
Chris took one look at the cup and shook his head ruefully. “Really, Stiles?”
Stiles, who was attempting to shove a piece of toast laden with eggs, tomatoes, and bacon into his mouth, just shrugged. With the way his life was going lately, he hadn’t been able to resist a mug that said, “Good morning! I see the assassins have failed.”
“So what’s going on?”
“Chew, Stiles. Chew, swallow, then talk,” Noah instructed with a resigned sigh. “At least pretend you weren’t raised in a barn.”
Obediently, Stiles swallowed and asked again, “So what’s going on? Some supernatural craziness last night you guys didn’t bother to tell me about?”
Noah and Chris looked at each other and had an entire conversation with their eyebrows, or so it seemed. Stiles wondered if they’d been taking lessons from Derek.
Stiles started humming the theme from Jeopardy and waited for one of them to break. Not surprisingly, it was his dad. The man might be the town sheriff, but Stiles had been coercing information out of him for years.
Noah leaned back in his chair and narrowed his eyes. “Chris brought something to my attention, and I think we need to have a serious conversation about it.”
Stiles groaned and nearly faceplanted into his plate. Probably not supernatural after all. Scott must’ve told Allison where he’d been last night, and she’d told Chris. Now Stiles was busted, he just knew it. He hadn’t even been the one who instigated the rule breaking this time – it was so unfair!
He held up his fork and preemptively protested, “I don’t know what this is about, but I want it noted that it’s not my fault!”
“I didn’t say you were in trouble…” Noah paused and raised one eyebrow, “unless maybe there’s something you think I should know?”
“Nope. Nothing. Nada.” Stiles shoved another huge bite in his mouth to prevent himself from any further declarations.
“You sure about that?”
“Nothing at all?”
“Nyet,” Stiles blurted past the mostly-chewed mouthful.
“And where did Peter Hale bite you?”
“My wrist – shit!” Stiles gasped, gagged and nearly killed himself. It took almost the entire cup of coffee before he had stopped choking and could breathe again. It really wasn’t fair when his dad used his ADHD against him.
Noah gently gripped Stiles’ shoulder, careful of the bruising he knew was there. “Breathe, Stiles. You’re not in trouble; I just wish you’d told me.”
Realizing he’d admitted what he had in front of not just his father but Chris I’m-a-hunter-kill-‘em-all Argent, Stiles started to panic.
“I’m sorry, but I thought it would get Peter in trouble, and he only did it to protect me. Those hunters were going to kill me because I wasn’t a ‘wolf or anybody important! Peter had to make it seem like I was important to the Pack and especially to him, or they would have blown my brains out – if I was lucky!” Stiles looked back and forth between the two men. “The hunters almost killed me anyway, but Peter got between me and them and – and the one woman, she was determined to kill me even though Peter did the fake mate claim thing and showed them my wrist, and dude, Peter went nuts and ripped her head off before she could get anywhere near me! I’m talking Norse berserker kind of thing, Dad!”
Stiles shot to his feet, staring at Chris, his eyes huge. “But you can’t blame him for that! He was just protecting me. If I hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have killed her, so it’s not his fault. You can’t go after him for keeping me safe!”
“Dad, you can’t let the hunters kill Peter! He didn’t do anything wrong, not really!”
“Stiles!” Noah and Chris shouted in unison.
“Easy, kiddo,” Noah said, standing to pull Stiles into his arms. “Peter’s not in trouble, and neither are you. Just breathe.”
Stiles clenched his hands in his dad’s uniform shirt and trembled as he fought back the panic attack and the nausea. He seriously wished they’d sprung this on him before he’d started eating. It was so much easier to puke when his stomach was empty.
It still made him feel sick when he remembered what had happened. He should’ve been able to protect himself. He should’ve been faster, stronger when the hunters had attacked them. He’d never forgive himself if Peter was murdered now because Stiles had been too weak and slow. Stiles might not be best friends with Peter (though that was debatable, since Scott certainly wasn’t filling that role anymore, and no one else seemed interested in the position at all), but he didn’t want the ‘wolf dead.
“Honestly, Stiles. I’m not going to hunt Peter Hale. He’s actually the one who asked me to talk to you and your dad.”
Stiles got back enough control that the panic attack retreated, and he could process what Chris had said. He stared at Chris, his mouth open in shock.
“He what? He – you – what?”
“Nobody’s in trouble. I promise.” Noah relaxed his hold and gently rubbed Stiles’ back. That almost sent Stiles’ brain spinning again because he’d forgotten that his dad used to do that for him to help him calm down when he’d had panic attacks after his mom got sick. It had been years since then, and he’d felt alone for so long that he’d actually started to wonder if it was something his mind had made up.
“Sit down and breathe, okay?”
Stiles nodded at his dad and dropped into his chair, aggravating his bruises and cracked ribs and making him wince again.
“May I see it?” Chris asked after several seconds. Apparently he and Noah both had been waiting for Stiles’ breathing to slow before they started again.
“What, the bite?”
Stiles debated with himself. While he knew they both knew the bite existed, there was something in him that was reluctant to let them see it. Just talking about it automatically had him pressing his wrist to his stomach, even though it was covered with two sets of sleeves – a t-shirt and a hoodie.
“You can’t touch it,” he told them seriously and didn’t move to uncover the scar until they’d both agreed.
Sliding his layers up to reveal the bite felt odd and wrong. It made his stomach tense as if he were stripping off all his clothes instead of just baring three inches of his right wrist. He couldn’t help it. He had to cover it with his other hand before his dad or Chris had even caught a glimpse.
Stiles looked up and caught them exchanging a speaking look, making him flush with embarrassment.
“Sorry. I don’t know why I’m being such an idiot.” Taking a deep breath, Stiles pushed his plate away. He definitely wasn’t in the mood to eat, not even real bacon instead of the turkey crap. He extended his arm onto the table, wrist up.
“It’s okay. We won’t touch it,” his dad reassured him, making a show of putting his own hands on his thighs.
“How soon after Peter bit you did it look like this?” Chris asked, mirroring Noah with his hands on his own thighs below the table as he leaned closer to see the bite better.
Stiles twitched when Chris got too close. He was grateful when the man sat back again without making an issue of it.
“I dunno. He bit me, and then those crazies stormed into the basement where they were keeping us a couple minutes later. I guess it could have been a little longer, but I was kind of out of it because of my head at that point.” He frowned, eyebrows pulling together as he tried to remember. “It was still bleeding when Peter licked the blood off it right after he bit me. I told him that was gross, but….” He shrugged.
“But what?” his dad pressed gently, strangely calm about it all.
“But I remember after Peter… after they left that first time, I was so dizzy and cold. Peter wouldn’t let me sit on the bare cement, so I sat in his lap. I know I was looking at the bite at some point, and it hurt. Not like a cut or a real bite, but like a loose tooth you can’t help but mess with. I started licking it like Peter had. I dunno why. I think somewhere in my head I thought it would make it feel better, but it didn’t help.”
Stiles looked at Noah and tried to explain. “I know I told you ‘wolves can do that pain-drain thingy, right?”
At his dad’s nod, Stiles continued, “I think I whined about it, and Peter agreed to help me. He didn’t just take the pain, though. He licked over the bite. It felt better right away, and I kind of lost a little time after that. I know I got sick a couple of times too. Anyway, the next time I remember thinking about it, it was all scarred over like it is now.”
Unable to stand having them look at it anymore, Stiles jerked his arm back and re-covered it with his sleeves, sliding his thumb into his hoodie thumb hole just to make sure it wouldn’t accidentally slide up.
“So that’s why you’re suddenly wearing those shirts with the holes in the seams,” his dad said with a weak smile. “I wondered about that, but I assumed it wasn’t Lydia influencing your fashion choices.”
“No, definitely not,” Stiles scoffed.
Even Chris smiled briefly. When he met the man’s eyes, Stiles thought it was probably the first time he’d ever describe his eyes as kind or compassionate, which only made Stiles more wary.
“Stiles, what do you know about mating bites?” Chris asked.
Stiles shrugged again. “Just what Peter said when he told me what the hunters were saying. He said if he bit me and told them it was a mating bite, they might not kill me. They’d still hurt me, and they’d probably use me against him, but he’d rather that than have me die. I didn’t—I didn’t want to die, so I told him to do it.”
He swallowed and dropped his gaze to the top of the table as he remembered the things Peter had endured in order to protect Stiles, to protect his fake-mate. His own shame made him feel sick. The hunters had hurt and debased the proud werewolf in ways Stiles would never reveal to anyone. He owed him that much.
“Alright.” Chris’ voice snapped Stiles out of his memories and back to the present. “Part of why Peter came to me is because he thought the circumstances made it impossible for you to understand and truly consent to what happened.”
“No offense, but why you?”
“Stiles,” Noah chided.
Chris held up a hand. “No, it’s alright. With the history between my family and the Hales, Stiles has every right to be skeptical. Peter knew he would be. He said to tell Stiles that he didn’t trust his nephew or a bunch of teenage ninja wolves to give you both the whole truth. He also said to say that Scott only thinks he’s Leonardo, and that you’re Raphael even when you pretend to be Mikey. You even wear red. I honestly have no clue what that means, but he said you’d get it.”
Stiles ducked his head, unable to stop the smile. Part of what had kept them sane – more or less – down in that hellhole was their arguments about comic book characters, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even when he’d been in so much agony he’d barely been able to speak, Peter had insisted that Stiles was more than Michelangelo (the comic relief) and Scott wasn’t nearly the leader (Leonardo) he thought he was.
“Yeah, I get it,” he whispered, glancing from his dad back to Chris. “So what is it he wanted you to tell me, and why can’t he tell me himself?”
There was a part of Stiles that worried Peter regretted what he’d endured to save him. With every day that had passed since they’d escaped, he had been more and more afraid that the werewolf and was staying away because he resented him. Stiles could certainly understand why he would, even if it hurt.
“Right. First I need to explain that the bite Peter gave you, whether or not you intended it to be a fake mating bite, is very much a real mating bite now. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t have healed and scarred like it did.”
Stiles sucked in a breath and looked to his dad, eyes wide and afraid of what the man was going to say.
“It’s okay, kid.” Noah reached over and grabbed his left hand, squeezing it reassuringly. “Chris already explained all this to me. This isn’t what I wanted for you. Honestly, I don’t like it, but I’m not about to load up on wolfsbane and go hunting Peter either. He saved your life, which is something I can never repay.” Noah tried to smile, but it came across more a grimace. “I am going to warn Peter that if he hurts you, the wolfsbane option will be back on the table. I won’t torture him, but he’ll be just as dead, and I’ll make sure it sticks this time.”
Stiles stared at his dad, studying him intently. “Are you saying I got werewolf-married and didn’t know it?”
“Something like that,” Chris admitted. “The wolf part of Peter is bound to you now. It—”
“He,” Stiles automatically corrected.
The wolf was a he, not an it. Stiles still didn’t know quite how it worked, but the wolf was no mindless beast within the human. Peter’s wolf certainly wasn’t, anyway. It was more base, more id and less ego or superego, but that didn’t make him any less capable of rational thought.
One side of Chris’ lips twitched upward. “Alright, he. The wolf is bound to you and doesn’t understand why the mating – the werewolf marriage, if you like – hasn’t been consummated. He doesn’t understand why Peter hasn’t taken you back to his den to start your own little family, and he is pushing Peter to take that step with you.”
Stiles flushed hot. It wasn’t like he’d never thought about Peter that way. The ‘wolf was hot like the sun, and Stiles felt like a walking ball of hormones most of the time. He’d actually gotten hard looking at Jackson’s ass once, before all the werewolf crap, so of course he’d spent some quality time with his hand while thinking about Peter. The fact that he was a sexually frustrated virgin just made it that much worse. Peter had to know that Stiles had thought about him like that, but he’d never called him out on it or made fun of him the way someone like Jackson or even Lydia would have. Peter could be nice in his own, weird way when he wanted.
“I’m sure you can see my problem with that,” his dad said.
“Yeah,” Stiles acknowledged, “I’m still in high school, even if I am eighteen.”
A pained look flickered across Noah’s features.
“Well, that, and I’m not sure how you feel about Peter. I know you tolerate him – I’m well aware that Scott isn’t the only person who thinks your window is a door – but that doesn’t mean you’re attracted to him.”
Stiles flushed and rubbed his hand over his eyes, whishing his dad weren’t quite so observant sometimes.
“Even if you are attracted to him, eighteen is so damn young. Not to mention, from what Chris told me, if you do bond or mate or whatever with Peter, that’s it. It’s permanent.”
“There is no such thing as divorce for mated pairs,” Chris confirmed. “Which leads me to why I’m here instead of Peter.”
“The wolf – he already sees me as his mate.”
“Yes. Peter wanted to explain all this to you, but he also wants you to have time and space to really think about what you want and make your own decision. His wolf… well, he didn’t know if he would be able to keep the wolf from pushing the issue, especially this close to the full moon.”
“Oh.” Stiles bit at the side of his thumb nail as he took in what Chris was saying. He honestly didn’t know what to do with that. The wolf thought of him as his mate, but what about the rest of Peter? Stiles was annoying on a good day. Was there any way Peter could tolerate him for the rest of their lives?
That aside, it sounded like Chris and his dad were both afraid Peter would rape him. Normally, Stiles knew Peter was dangerous, deadly even, but he’d never felt unsafe with him in that way. But that was before. Now, he’d been bitten, so how much say would the wolf have? Could he override what the rest of Peter wanted?
Chris paused and shifted uncomfortably. “Stiles, you have every right to decide you don’t want to be in a relationship with Peter.”
“But if you decide you don’t want that, then Peter will need to leave. His wolf will never let him be close to you and not pursue you, even against Peter’s best intentions.”
Stiles’ head jerked up, and he stared at Chris with wide eyes. “He’d just leave?” His heart ached at the thought that biting Stiles might drive Peter out of his own territory. With Derek and Cora thinking about leaving, Peter would be the only Hale left on what had been Hale land for hundreds of years.
His dad was studying him with a concerned frown. “The way Chris explained it, he’d have to. He’d leave, and he wouldn’t come back. He wouldn’t be able to call or email or anything else. It would have to be a clean break.”
Without thinking about it, Stiles whimpered and cradled his bitten wrist against his chest. He completely missed that Noah and Chris exchanged another of those speaking looks.
“What if – what if I do want Peter, you know, like that?” he finally stammered out.
His dad sighed. “Well, normally I’d tell you to wait until you’ve finished college at least, but that isn’t feasible in this situation.”
“The wolf won’t wait that long,” Chris said bluntly. “Peter asked me to lock him away from you until you’d had time to make a decision. Even then, he can only give you until the week before the full moon to decide, or the wolf will tear him apart because it – he – can’t stand being in limbo like that, neither accepted nor rejected by his chosen mate.”
Cursing, Stiles rubbed his palms over his face. That meant Stiles had a week at most to make a decision that would affect the rest of his life – and his dad’s, and Peter’s, and the Pack. Which, come to think of it….
“The Pack will never accept me and Peter together,” he said, already feeling sick at the thought of their rejection. “Scott’s going to be convinced Peter did something to me or forced me or something. He’s already threatened Peter and said stuff to me about how Deaton could help ‘neutralize’ him.” Stiles’ breath was coming faster the more he thought about it. “Derek – Derek already ripped out his throat once. Who’s to say he wouldn’t do it now? Lydia, well she and Jackson would happily set Peter on fire again if they thought they could get away with it. And let’s face it; Lydia is smart enough she could get away with it. The others don’t care enough about Peter or me to stop them. What if—”
“Stiles!” his dad had him by the shoulders and was trying to get his attention. “Breathe with me: in – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. Out – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. Again. In – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. Out – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. C’mon, try it again.” Noah coaxed him through it over again until the darkness receded, and his heartbeat stopped thundering in his ears.
“Damn, kiddo. It’s been years since you’ve had one of those, and now twice in one day.”
Stiles let his forehead drop against his dad’s shoulder, silent because he didn’t want to lie to him. He felt Noah heave a sigh.
“How often?” he asked quietly.
Stiles shrugged. The panic attacks had never gone away, not like he’d led his dad to believe, and the supernatural bullshit had definitely brought them back with a vengeance. He was pretty sure he had PTSD (if the incident with Gerard hadn’t done it, this last kidnapping-and-torture stay with psycho-hunters sure as hell had), but it wasn’t like he could just drive on down to the local shrink to have it diagnosed and treated.
Noah sighed again and patted his back. “Okay. We’ll talk about that later. For now, rest assured that if you decide you want Peter, I will make it clear that attacking him will not be tolerated. No matter what else he’s done, he saved your life. I’m about to let anyone take him away from you, not even well-meaning Pack members. Got it?”
“If this is what you want, I’ll have a talk with Allison and make sure she understands that Peter’s wellbeing is tied to yours. If anyone purposely hurts him after knowing that, then they’ll have a problem with your dad and with me.”
Sitting back, Stiles nodded, but he couldn’t quite believe it no matter how serious and determined the two older men seemed.
“What happens if they kick him out? If he goes Omega, won’t the hunters be after him? Well, more than usual?”
“If he goes Omega and starts killing people, then yes, hunters will pursue him,” Chris answered carefully. “But I really don’t think that will happen.”
Stiles went back to biting the edge of his thumb nervously, his scarred wrist hidden against his stomach again. He felt like he was missing something, but he didn’t think his dad or Chris were going to tell him whatever it was.
“If I’m with Peter, will it make trouble for you at work, Dad?”
“I’m not going to lie: it could make things awkward,” Noah confessed. “Peter is twelve years older than you, so that’s going to raise more than a few eyebrows. If you take away the six years he was in a coma, he’d still be twenty-four to your eighteen. You’re still in high school, so of legal age or not, there will be uncomfortable questions.”
“Get married,” Chris immediately said. “You’re already werewolf-married, as you put it. Get legally married too.”
The sheriff nodded slowly. “We could come up with a story. Maybe Peter was a friend of the family before the fire. After he woke up, you and he got in contact while he was at some specialty clinic in Brazil healing and getting skin grafts. And yes, Stiles, I was paying attention to that documentary on plastic surgery advancements being made in Brazil.” Stiles’ lips twitched, and Noah rolled his eyes. “There’ll have to be paperwork to that effect, of course. You and he fell madly in love, and I couldn’t possibly stand in the way of that, even though you’re still in high school.”
Chris raised a brow. “Specialty clinic in Brazil?”
Noah shrugged. “Well, we have to explain how a former coma patient recovered and is miraculously unscarred, right? With all the confusion when Peter ‘disappeared’ from Beacon Hills, I’m sure someone with the right connections could make sure the right paperwork was somehow ‘found’ by the right people to prove he’d simply been transferred to an expensive care facility.”
Chris huffed and stole the now-cold bacon slice from Stiles’ plate and pointed it at Noah. “Now I see the family resemblance between you two.” He huffed again when Stiles and Noah smirked at each other. “It would help if the romance was long-distance. There wouldn’t be any problems legally, since there couldn’t possibly have been any – ah, physical contact – prior to Stiles turning eighteen.”
Stiles flushed and interjected, “Did Peter say there was a certain amount of time I had to wait to decide?”
“Two days – 48 hours,” Noah replied promptly. “Though that’s not his rule; it’s mine. This is too big a decision to make and then regret later. I don’t like the time limit that you have before the full moon, but I can’t change that.”
“So we can’t just, I dunno, fast forward so we can stop pretending I’m not going agree to mate with Peter?”
“Kid.” Noah closed his eyes and heaved a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose with two fingers. “You couldn’t have given me even a day? A day to get used to the idea of my child being werewolf-married?”
“Dad, you weren’t there,” Stiles said slowly, his anguished expression saying as much as his words. “The bite saved my life the first time, but Peter saved it so many times after that too. You don’t know what he went through, what he let them do to them just so they wouldn’t do it to me.”
“Guilt or obligation are not a good foundation for a relationship,” Chris cautioned.
“I know that. It’s not just what Peter did for me; it’s all the time we’ve spent together researching and talking too. We’re friends, good friends, which I think is why he was willing to go so far to protect me after we’d been taken. Now I need him. I think… I think I need him as much as he needs me.”
Noah opened his eyes to study him, then gave a reluctant nod. “I know you hardly sleep anymore, and when you do, you wake up screaming.” He grimaced and stared down at his hands, fingers laced together on the table. “I get that it was bad. I wish you’d talk to me so I could help you get through this.”
“No!” Stiles shook his head vehemently. “I – I can’t. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Just talk to Chris. Ask him what he’s seen ‘wolves heal from, and you might have a clue.”
Chris frowned when the both looked to him.
“What Kate did to Derek, what Gerard did to Erica and Boyd was nothing,” Stiles murmured, and Chris flinched, jaw clenching.
“You’re sure about this?” It was clear Noah wanted Stiles to wait, to have more time to change his mind.
“I’m sure. I don’t know if I’ll ever fall in love with Peter, but I’m not going to let him be kicked out of his own pack and territory because of what he did to save my life and my sanity. Besides, if the wolf has decided I’m his mate, then there won’t be anyone else for Peter, will there?”
Chris sighed. “According to everything I know about mating marks, in a human-werewolf relationship, the mark binds the werewolf, not the human.” He paused and glanced at Noah before turning back to Stiles. “Though, honestly, with the way you act about the mark and how protective of it you are, I don’t know that I agree with that anymore. Maybe if there hadn’t been the trauma after Peter bit you….”
“You think I’m bound already.”
Chris agreed reluctantly. “I do. I think you’re bound, and the trauma and then separation from your mate is making you instinctively protect your connection to him. Letting me or your dad look at it or touch it wouldn’t change anything.”
“But my instincts are trying to protect the bond.”
“So you’re saying this was inevitable?”
“Sheriff, even now, he’s protecting the bite mark from us, and we’ve made it clear that we’re not a threat to the bond, and we’ll protect Stiles and Peter from those who are.”
They both stared at where Stiles was hiding his wrist inside the front pocket of his hoodie.
Stiles flushed but couldn’t do anything but shrug helplessly.
Noah pursed his lips before saying, “I guess we’d better hammer out a good story, then.”
If Stiles breathed a sigh of relief, his dad and Chris were kind enough not to mention it.