Stiles stares at the contents of his suitcase in dismay – in particular, at the innocuous looking hard drive tucked in a side pocket that’s silently judging him for being a Bad Friend. Cora loaned it to him several weeks back, on the understanding that he’d return it before she left for home, and he honestly meant to because a pissed off Cora isn’t something anyone wants, but he just…didn't, in the frenzy of packing to come back to Beacon Hills.
He lets out a groan. His bag’s been sitting here for an entire week waiting for him to get his ass into gear and unpack properly, but he kept telling himself there wasn’t anything important in there. More fool him. Cora's going to skin him alive.
He bites his lip, thinking. He knows Cora got back a few days before he did, he just hasn’t caught up her yet – hasn’t seen her since before his night with H, in fact. (He tries not to think too hard why everything in his life seems to be divided into Before H and After H right now.) Since she hasn’t called him to harass him about the hard drive, maybe she hasn’t missed it yet? So if he takes it over to her place and adds some apology chocolates she can’t be too mad, right? Besides, a tiny part of his mind whispers, there’ll be witnesses at her house, so she can’t hurt you too badly.
In fairness, it’s not like Cora’s ever actually done anything to Stiles. In fact, now that he thinks about it, Stiles isn’t sure he’s even seen her touch anyone but him. It’s just that her whole being seems to exude a barely contained willingness to maim. It almost reminds him of the dangerous energy that seems to roll off H.
He sighs. Everything reminds him of H. Maybe he’ll get over it, with time. After all, he never even got around to asking the man’s real name, too busy being ravaged and loving it. He gives another tiny sigh and shakes off the thought, getting back to the matter at hand, trying to remember if Cora’s a Rocky Road girl or more of a peppermint fan. No, he recalls, peppermint makes her sneeze and pull weird faces. Rocky Road it is.
He stops off at the store and gets the chocolates and throws them in a gift box with the hard drive and a hastily scrawled apology card, then drives out to the Hale place. It’s right on the edge of the preserve and Stiles hasn’t been there in forever, so it takes him a couple of tries to find the turnoff, but then he sees it, the Hale house, standing alone in a clearing. He recognizes Cora’s car, parked with several others.
The Hales are a large family, and they all seem to come and go at random, moving in and out of the family home as circumstances dictate. He can’t imagine it, too used to it being just him and his dad. Cora had been talking about it once, how her sister had moved back home again for a while, and he’d asked if it didn’t get crowded living on top of one another like that. She’d arched one killer eyebrow at him and said, “Our family’s close, and home is always home. You got a problem with that?” while giving him a look that clearly said Shut up, Stiles.
Stiles had shut up.
He parks and walks up to the front door, gift box in hand, and he’s just raised his hand to knock when the door’s wrenched open and Cora’s there, arms folded across her chest, looking distinctly annoyed. She glances at the gift box and rolls her eyes. “How did you know he’s here? Who told you?”
“Um, who’s here?” Stiles asks, completely lost.
“Does everyone know? Oh my god, is it all over town? I should have known. And what, you bought him a gift? Honestly Stiles. What, were you hoping for an autograph?”
Stiles is at a loss, so he holds out the box. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. This is for you. It’s your hard drive, and I threw in some chocolates because I still had it and I’m slightly terrified of you,” he admits.
She narrows her eyes and examines him for what feels like forever. “You’re not lying,“ she declares. “So, you’re really not here because of my uncle?”
“Nope. Just dropping off the hard drive. Who’s your uncle?” he asks, intrigued by whatever has Cora acting so squirrely.
She runs a hand down her face and then cocks her head as if considering something, before reaching out and dragging Stiles inside by his collar. “You know what? You can meet him. But first you have to promise that you won't tell anyone he's here, okay? His identity's a secret."
"What, your uncle's Batman?"
He really should have expected the flick to his ear. “Idiot. No, he is kind of a big deal though. He’s a musician. He’s here for a break after touring, and this is his safe place. Nobody’s ever figured out who he is yet, so if it gets out, I’m coming for you.” She bares her teeth at him, and Stiles could swear, just for a second, that he hears her growl. “You promise?” she presses.
He raises his hands in a placating gesture. Personally, he thinks Cora’s taking this way too seriously. But Stiles is probably already in her bad books, so he goes along with it. He figures the guy’s probably a singer with a seventies cover band or something, maybe in Vegas. “Jesus, Cora, chill. I won’t tell anyone I met your mysterious uncle, okay?”
She seems satisfied with his answer, letting go of his shirt. She leads him through the house and towards the back door, muttering, “Just, be cool, okay?” before opening a door and leading him out onto the back porch.
Stiles wants to protest that he's always cool, thank you, but the words die in his throat when he steps onto the porch to see none other than H, his own personal rock god, the man he spent an unforgettable night with three weeks ago, laying barefoot and shirtless on the back lawn, tattoos and tanned skin on full display as he soaks up the sun, his eyes closed and a cigarette dangling from his lips, his arms spread wide like some sort of dissolute Jesus.
Stiles freezes on the spot. ”That’s – ”
“That’s my uncle Peter,” Cora says, amused.
Stiles can’t breathe.
The man’s eye snap open, and in seconds he rolls to his feet with a sinuous grace, his gaze locked on Stiles. He strides over, stopping directly in front of Stiles.“It’s you.” Their bodies are mere inches apart, and he runs a fingertip down Stiles’s jawline. “It’s really you,” he repeats, with something like wonder in his voice.
“It’s really me,” Stile agrees, overwhelmed. H is here. He’s here and he’s Cora’s uncle, and Stiles is suddenly fervently glad of his decision not to share the details of his wild night with Cora – not that it ends up mattering.
Cora looks from one to the other. “Stilinski, what the hell did you do?”
H – no, Peter - smirks. “Me, Cora. He did me.” And then all his attention is on Stiles, and he’s cupping his face in his hands, and smiling softly. “Hello, sweetheart. You got away from me last time, but now I’ve found you again.” His gaze is intent, and Stiles doesn’t quite know what’s happening, but he’s distracted by the warmth of Peter’s palms, the tiny smile the man’s giving him, the way he’s talking as if their one-night stand was actually more. Stiles wishes that was true.
Cora throws up her hands in defeat. “Really? You’ve been pining over Stiles?”
Peter holds up a hand to silence her. “He’s it, Cora. He’s the one.”
On hearing that, Cora’s face breaks into a smile like nothing Stiles has ever seen. “Really?” she asks again, but this time her tone’s reverent, awed. “You think he’s it?”
“I don’t think, I know.” Peter steps closer, flicks his cigarette butt into the dirt, and then he's kissing Stiles, one hand wrapped around the back of his head to hold him in place, the other tight on his hip, and Stiles thinks fuck it and leans into the kiss. He’s not sure what’s going on, but if it involves more kissing and Cora being nice, it can’t be a bad thing. Peter pulls away, leaving Stiles stunned and breathless. ”Definitely the one,” he says, the corners of his mouth pulled up in his trademark filthy smirk.
“What? What am I?” Stiles asks.
Cora’s gaze goes from one to the other, and she lets out a sigh, but it’s fond. She nods at Peter. “You want me there while you explain?”
Peter doesn’t seem able to look away from Stiles, his gaze roaming over him, both hands now on Stiles’ hips, holding him close enough that Stiles can feel the heat from his body. “That’s probably wise. It’s a lot to take in.”
“Explain what? Will someone tell me what’s going on?” It’s not that Stiles isn’t reveling in Peter’s touch or in the way he’s staring at Stiles like he’s something precious, but there’s definitely something weird going on here.
Peter’s hands drop from his hips and Stiles briefly mourns their loss, but it’s only so Peter can take his hand, holding tight like he never wants to let go. “Come inside, sweetheart. We have a lot to tell you.”
“You’re…werewolves,” Stiles says slowly.
Peter nods, but doesn’t make any move to touch him, just sits there, watching Stiles expectantly. “Stiles?” Cora’s voice is quiet, more hesitant than he’s ever heard. “Are you okay with it?” Stiles can feel the tension building in the air, can read the way Cora’s tense, like when she’s stressed out before a big test.
There’s a part of him that immediately wants to reassure them, but it’s a lot to take in. He’s not sure if it’s the revelation of fangs and claws, or the realization that he got fucked by a werewolf, his crush is a werewolf, Peter is a werewolf, oh god oh god oh god…
“Breathe, sweetheart.” Peter moves immediately to sit next to him on the couch, one hand on the back of his neck, grounding him, and the other resting on his knee. It shouldn’t be comforting, it should be frightening, yet somehow, it feels…right. “Shhh, it’s fine, you’re safe.” The fangs Peter was sporting mere seconds ago are gone, the transition so smooth Stiles didn’t even notice it happening.
Stiles takes a slow, steadying breath, and Peter nods approvingly. Stiles turns to look again at Cora, really looks, and sure, her face is kinda weird right now, and she’s lost her perfect eyebrows, and her claws look deadly, but it’s still Cora, still the girl who cried while she watched The Notebook and threatened to end him if he told anyone. It’s still his friend. Once that thought settles in his head, Stiles finds that the rest of it doesn’t matter quite so much. He gives her a weak smile. “I knew there was a reason you’re fucking terrifying. Is this why you threatened to punch me the one time I joked about it being your time of the month?”
Cora snorts. “No, that’s because you were being a sexist asshole.” She relaxes though, her shoulders unhunching the tiniest bit and the tightness around her eyes disappearing. “Luckily I taught you better since then.” She does...something, and her face transforms back to normal and Stiles won’t lie, he’s pretty happy to see her looking like herself again.
Peter’s hands are still on him, warm and solid and comfortable, and Stiles leans unconsciously into the touch even as his brain tries to assimilate the new information it’s been given. H is Cora’s Uncle Peter. The Hales are werewolves. It begs the question. He turns his head and asks Peter, “Why are you telling me this, if it’s so top secret? I’m just Cora’s school friend.”
Peter regards him seriously. “I like you, Stiles. And you’re going to be so much more than Cora’s friend. I want you.”
“Um. Thanks, I guess? But didn’t we already do that?”
Peter exhales loudly. “Not like that. I want you as part of my life, permanently. We’re meant to be together.”
Stiles jolts upright at that, backs away from Peter’s touch. “Dude, we’ve literally spent one night together.”
Peter pouts. “Yes, but you don’t understand. You’re my partner. My wolf has decided.”
Stiles stands and backs away. “No offense, but this sounds like some serial killer bullshit.” It does, too, like something out of every True Crime stalker special Stiles has ever watched. “You can’t just…claim me as yours and expect me to agree.”
Peter arches a brow at him. “Why not? You can’t deny you’re interested. I can smell it on you.”
“Okay first off, that’s just creepy, telling me what I want.”
“Am I wrong?” Peter challenges, standing and stalking towards him, slow and deliberate. “Do you deny that the thought of being with me, being in my bed every night, excites you? And don’t try and lie, I can hear it in your heartbeat.”
Fuck. Stiles forgot about that. In his defense, in the last hour he’s learned so much about werewolves that one or two of the details were bound to get lost. And the thing of it is, Peter’s right. Stiles does want him, more than is reasonable or normal, especially given what he’s just discovered. Peter’s mere inches away from him now, gazing at Stiles with what can only be described as hunger. Stiles tilts his head to one side experimentally, and watches as Peter leans in closer, drawn to the soft skin of his throat by some invisible pull.
His eyes flick over to Cora, who’s watching with interest, and it occurs to Stiles that Cora’s not freaking out at this, not even a little. Why, exactly, isn’t Cora freaking out at her uncle making wild claims about Stiles being his? “Okay, what aren’t you telling me? Is this some werewolf thing?”
Peter grins up at him, something like triumph in his eyes. “Clever boy.” Stiles’s insides melt at the praise, and that’s – it’s not normal.
“Tell me?” He means it as a demand, only it comes out as more of a plea.
Peter takes his hand and leads him back to the couch. He opens his mouth, hesitates, and finally speaks. “I’ve slept with a lot of people over the years.”
A stab of jealousy hits Stiles in the gut, sharp and unexpected. “Way to make a guy feel special,” he mutters.
Peter lets out a low growl of frustration, and Stiles stiffens and leans back, conscious all over again of the fact that Peter’s a werewolf, and Stiles interrupted him, and now he sounds pissed. Cora though, just rolls her eyes at the pair of them, and with a sigh she stands from where she’s been perched in the armchair. She walks over, threads a fingertip through Peter’s belt loop and yanks him to his feet, then herds him towards the door. He starts to protest. “Wait, no, I was about to –“
“You were about to screw this up completely. Go.” Cora plants a hand in the centre of his back and steers him relentlessly out of the room while talking quietly in Peter’s ear, and Stiles catches, “Absolutely useless…I’ll explain…how are you even…social skills of a child…don’t you dare whine at me, trust me with this…” and then the door’s closed firmly behind him and there’s just Stiles and Cora. Something in the atmosphere changes, loosens when Cora flops on the couch next to him and pulls a face. “My god, how does that man function in the real world? ‘I’ve slept with a lot of people’ How did he even think that was a good place to start?”
Stiles throws his hands in the air. “Did you just throw your uncle out? I’m so fucking confused right now."
“Listen, I love Uncle Peter, but apparently being around you makes him stupid. So it’s better if I explain this, even though he’s probably listening at the door.” She raises her voice just slightly for that last part, and snickers when they hear a definite huff. She grins at Stiles. “Yep. Out there sulking, even though I’m doing him a favor.” Cora leans over and bumps shoulders with him. “You know we’re friends, right?”
“Yeah?” Stiles eyes her cautiously.
“Do you trust me?”
“I guess. I mean, apart from the whole ‘not mentioning I’m a storybook creature and not telling you my uncle’s famous’ thing.” Stiles can’t resist taking a dig, but Cora looks pleased rather than annoyed.
“Apart from that, yeah. Anyway, Peter’s not being a creeper when he says you’re his.”
Stiles suppresses a sigh. “Just tell me?”
Cora sits up straighter and looks him in the eye. “You’ve heard of soulmates, right? One true loves? Their eyes met across a crowded room, and they just knew, that kind of thing?”
Surely Cora’s not saying what he thinks she’s saying. “Sure. But – soulmates aren't real. Love at first sight isn’t real,” Stiles argues.
“And neither are werewolves, and yet…” Cora lets her eyes glow gold. “There’s a whole,” she waves a hand vaguely, “spiritual, biological, pull I guess? Who knows, exactly? Anyway, werewolves can have mates. One true loves. Perfect partners. And we just know, when we meet them.”
Stiles stares, open-mouthed. He doesn’t know what to say.
Cora must sense his confusion (scent it, his brain helpfully reminds him), because she props her chin in her hand and leans forward expectantly, asking, “Not that I want any kind of details, but when you met Peter, did it feel like maybe it was more than it should have been? Did you feel a deeper connection than you expected?”
Stiles doesn’t have to think twice. “Absolutely. I haven’t been able to get him out of my mind,” he admits. “But I thought that was just because he was, y’know, who he was. And because he was so good at –“
A hand clamps firmly over his mouth. “No. Details.”
Stiles licks Cora’s palm in petty retaliation. She just shrugs and takes her hand away before continuing. “The attraction isn’t one-sided, then. It’s a lot stronger for Peter, but you’re feeling it too. Congratulations, you have a mate.”
Stiles blinks, slightly dumbstruck. “Do I get any say in this? Can I say no?”
Cora shrugs. “Do you want to?”
The question gives him pause. Does he?
The thing is, the night he spent with Peter was amazing—and not just because of the sex, mind-blowing as that was. He felt secure in a way that he never does, like he was meant to be there and nothing else mattered. And he wasn’t lying—he really hasn’t been able to shake Peter from his thoughts.
He looks at Cora and shakes his head mutely, and she gives him a knowing smile. “Listen. We weren’t even expecting Peter home, but he turned up after his last concert acting like a bear with a sore head. Mom finally got it out of him that at his last gig he met someone, and he was sure they were his mate. Only whoever it was left some time in the night before Peter could get any kind of details, and he tried to find you but you were impossible to track down. And let me tell you, Uncle Peter pining isn’t fun for anybody. For weeks now he’s been moping about the place, and it’s been all, “I had his phone in my hand, why didn’t I give him my number?” and “he left me, why did he leave me?” and “I can never sing another love song.” Mom’s ready to drown him just to put us all out of our misery.”
“Really? He tried to find me?” Stiles is both entertained and flattered.
“Yep. He tried tracking you down through the names on ticket sales, but nobody with your name was in the data base. Of course, if he hadn’t been so damn precious and told any of us he was looking for a Stiles, it would have been a lot easier. But nooo, it was all, It’s too painful to say his name.” She pauses. “By the way, what name was on your concert ticket, Stiles?”
“Mieczyslaw,” he mumbles, because yeah, it’s a pain in the ass, but all his legal documents, including his credit card, have his actual name on them.
Cora gives a smug smile. “That explains it. Anyway, Peter’s been pining like a lovesick fool, and it’s all because of you. He’s got it bad.” She leans in closer and confides, “Just before you arrived? He was laying on the back lawn moaning, 'Just leave me out here to die, alone and mateless in the elements.' He’s such a drama queen.”
Hearing that, some of the suspicion Stiles had that this is all some kind of misunderstanding lifts. Maybe Peter really does want him that badly. Maybe his incessant daydreaming wasn’t just hopeless fantasy after all, but part of the bond.
Perhaps he can have this.
He lets out a long breath of air. “I want this to be real, but I have no idea how it works.”
Cora’s eyes twinkle with mischief. “Well first of all, you don’t let Uncle Peter win too easily. You make him prove his affection.”
Stiles frowns. “That doesn't seem fair. Isn’t that manipulation?”
Cora shakes her head. “It’s a werewolf thing. He’ll enjoy the pursuit, and he’ll strut around like a peacock every time you’re pleased with him, trust me.”
Stiles shakes his head, confused. “It sounds like I’m taking advantage, stringing him along.”
“You’re not stringing him along. You’re letting him show he’s worthy. It’s important to him. His wolf needs to be sure that you really want this.”
“But if we’re already ‘mates’,” Stiles makes air quotes, "what’s the point?”
Cora makes a noise like a dying seal. “Ugh. Peter is so buying me a new car for this. Just because you’re mates doesn’t mean you don’t still have to get to know each other, okay? It works like this. You tell him you’re open to his advances, and then he works his ass off to prove he’s good enough for you. It’s really not that different from regular dating.”
Stiles mulls that over. “So…I tell him yes, but make him work for it? And he gets to feel good about being the best boyfriend?”
Cora grins. “Now you’re getting it. Believe me, if you let him court you, he’ll enjoy every second of it.” At Stiles's dubious look she gets up and heads towards the stairs. “Wait here.”
Stiles does as he’s told and she’s back minutes later holding a book. “Here. Take this home, read it, call if you have any questions.”
Stiles takes it, examining it. It’s a slim volume, entitled “The Traditions of Mateship.”
“It’ll help,” she assures him.
When Stiles stands to leave, he suddenly finds himself with an unexpected armful of Cora. She hugs him tight, and whispers, “Peter’s nothing but sweet under all those eyebrows and swagger. This is a good thing Stiles, I promise,” and he can’t help but believe her.
He returns the hug, and he’s heading for the door when it swings open and Peter’s right there, not quite blocking his exit, but not letting him past either. He extends a hand. “Can I please get your number before you leave me again?”
Stiles doesn’t even think before he hands over his phone. “So, you're serious about this? Cora wasn’t lying when she said you’ve been pining?”
“Cora,” Peter says with an arched eyebrow directed at his niece, “has been telling tales out of school. But yes, I’d planned to ask you over breakfast if you’d consider something more, only you slipped away.”
“In fairness, I didn’t think you’d want me to stay. You’re sort of notorious for, well,” Stiles tries to find a polite way to put it. He settles on, “not having relationships.”
“You mean I’m an infamous man-whore?” Peter says with a smirk.
Stiles blushes. “Yeah. That.”
“That’s what I was trying to tell you before Cora interrupted. I’ve had my fair share of partners, but none of them has ever affected me like you do. You’re—” Peter leans in and honest to god sniffs Stiles “—intoxicating. It’s what I’ve been looking for all my life. Tell me you’ll be my mate, Mieczyslaw?” The pronunciation’s perfect, his voice is warm and syrupy, and Stiles’s insides flutter with something like want.
It’s unreal, to think that someone desires him this much, especially someone as gorgeous as Peter. Stiles can’t quite fathom it, and he almost says yes just in case Peter changes his mind. Almost. “Give me some time to think about it. You can text me,” he concedes.
Peter’s face lights up, and he says, “Thank you, sweetheart,” in a breathy tone that causes another wave of lust to run through Stiles as he remembers their night together, that voice murmuring huskily in his ear. It’s oh, so tempting to give in. He doesn’t, though - he’s determined.
He’s going to read the hell out of that book before he gives Peter an answer.