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I Know What I Am, They Know What They Are (So Let Me Be)

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“Bull-fucking-shit.

“Excuse me?”

Stiles collapses into the armchair across from the couch Peter’s been lounging on for the duration of his story.

“You heard me! What was that? I’ll tell you what it was: a bunch of fucking bullshit.”

Peter doesn’t seem angry by Stiles’ outburst. In fact, he looks faintly…amused.

“What more can I say? Derek’s personality changed—”

“He’s not the only one,” Cora mutters.

Peter glances sharply over at his niece, who’s still lurking over by the windows. “—and that was the confluence of events that lead up to it.” He relaxes even further into the couch. “I simply gave you the God’s-honest truth.” He presses a palm over his heart and widens his eyes beseechingly. “I swear.”

Stiles rolls his eyes. “You’re a shitty liar, Peter.”

Peter’s imploring look melts from his expression, leaving it blank and his eyes thoughtful. “Not usually,” he murmurs. He gives Stiles a look that he can’t decipher and stands. Peter tilts his head in Stiles’ direction. “I guess it’s true what they say.” And then he makes his way back up the spiral staircase.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Stiles yells up at him. He looks over at Cora, and she just shrugs.

Stiles yelps as Peter suddenly pops his head back around the bend in the staircase. “It takes one to know one, Stiles.” And then he smirks, like he knows something obvious—like he knows something that should be obvious to Stiles.

Stiles just gapes at him, thoroughly confused as to what game Peter’s playing at.

The bastard’s smarmy grin just grows at Stiles’ confusion, and he laughs softly before disappearing back upstairs.

Stiles watches Cora watch Peter climb the rest of the steps. She looks troubled. Cora catches him staring and asks an aggressive, “What?”

“Your uncle is an absolute cunt.”

There’s that troubled look. “Yeah, I—yeah, I guess he is.”

Interesting.

Replaying their entire conversation over in his head, Stiles broods. He thinks and he thinks, trying to remember something—anything—that made Peter fumble.

He jumps a little when he realizes that Cora’s been sitting by him silently for about 20 minutes.

Then he remembers.

Stiles faces Cora, a determined glint in his eye. “What did you mean when you said, he’s not the only one?

 


 

Stiles doesn’t sleep easily that night.

He’s too busy thinking about what Cora had told him.

I don’t know what to say, Stiles. What he said, from what I can remember, was true. He and Derek really were close. He watched out for the pack—Peter was the left-hand, you know. He was paranoid and did what needed to be done, but now…I do see what you mean about him being an unreliable narrator.

He watches us more.

He’s too quiet.

Laura…it just doesn’t make any sense. Even if he did go insane.

He’s not the Uncle Peter that I remember, the one that used to sneak me out for ice cream when I did something my mom didn’t like.

He’s just…not the same.

In his gut, Stiles knows that Cora isn’t lying. But she would’ve been 10 years old the last time she saw Peter.

He keeps trying to rationalize why digging further into this feeling—that something isn’t quite right—is a useless idea, but he keeps coming back to one thing: Derek’s utter horror at learning that Peter was the Alpha.

It was so obvious in hindsight, that Peter had killed Laura for her power, but that begged the question of why Derek was so surprised.

Derek is a lot of things—mainly grumpy—but he isn’t stupid. But he was surprised, and that indicates that for the Peter he knew, the whole murder spree thing was completely out of character. After all, if Peter was as ruthless—as power-hungry, and vengeful, and predatory—as he is now, surely it wouldn’t be such a shocking thing, him killing his niece.

Stiles is tempted to write it off like everyone else has—blame it on the fire, Peter’s coma, the loss of his pack, Laura and Derek leaving him in Beacon Hills—but he can’t.

It’s that smirk. That awful, knowing smirk that Peter had worn before telling him it takes one to know one.

That smirk tells Stiles’ hind-brain that something is wrong with Peter Hale.

And Stiles isn’t going to forget about it anytime soon.

 


 

Except he does.

Derek turns up as he usually does: with little explanation and a very large scowl.

Lydia and his father both have a run-in with the Darach, which ultimately leaves Lydia with a garrote mark across her still-breathing neck and his dad getting fucking kidnapped.

Kidnapped by the fucking Darach—which, hey, turns out to be Stiles’ English teacher.

Stiles makes it a note to never bang Derek Hale, because it’d be a sure sign that he’s actually bat-shit insane.

And then, to top it all off, Cora gets sick. She starts vomiting and sweating and panting like it’s her fucking job, and Stiles has zero clue how to handle both his kidnapped father and his dying potential-friend.

To say that everyone is stressed is an understatement.

Even Peter, as enigmatic as he is, gets a peculiar glint in his eye as he mops up Cora’s sickly sweat from her brow.

It’s not the time to obsess over things like gut feelings when his dad is missing.

So Stiles forcibly forgets all about it, and braces himself to endure the hell that the Alpha Pack and Ms. fucking Blake are about to unleash upon them.

 


 

The hell unleashed is…not quite what Stiles expected.

Every single member of the Alpha Pack—barring the already dead Ennis, may he forever rot in the bowels of the Earth—gets killed.

Every. Single. One.

Their bodies were discovered in the town's old distillery. The twins' giant head had been sliced right off of their shared, grotesque body.

Kali's hands and feet were found scattered across the gravel, a single wolfsbane-laced bullet buried in the back of her skull.

Deucalion was found with two bullets in his head, one in each blind eye.

As ferocious as each kill was, they were obviously carried out with quick hands and a few very precise weapons. The rest of the pack figured it was a group of hunters.

Stiles wasn’t so sure. The only thing that was sure, was that it was the craziest shit he had ever seen. And he’d once fought off a lizard-man.

It was even crazier, then, when only a few hours later, Danny and Cora Hale both made miraculous recoveries.

They don’t know exactly why until two days later, when Chris Argent finds Jennifer Blake’s mutilated corpse at the base of a giant tree stump—the nemeton, whatever Deaton—with six of her fingers lying in the grass beside her, and all of her limbs bound in iron manacles.

This discovery also leads Chris Argent to finding and freeing Stiles’ father, who had been trapped in a root cellar located underneath the stump (fuck you Deaton). Apparently, he had heard Blake's screams the entire time she was tortured.

The only words he had been able to understand through her agonized groans were her instructions on how to cure those she had poisoned.

And, strangely enough, a final scathing remark about her torturer becoming an Alpha again.

To which Sheriff Stilinski had heard a gravelly voice reply: “Again? I am the Alpha—I’ve always been the Alpha.” And then there had been a wet ripping sound, and then nothing.

And two weeks later, when Stiles reads that single statement from his dad’s first draft of the official police report—as is probably obvious, there were many, many drafts before a final un-supernatural report was deemed believable enough to file—he knows.

He knows. He doesn’t quite know how, or hell, why, but he knows.

And then he remembers the wrongness wriggling at the Peter-centric area of his brain.

So with his Dad safely trying to sneak doughnuts and every enemy that’d been terrorizing them dead, Stiles decides that he’s allowed to obsess over it.

And obsess is just what he fucking does.

 


 

“Hey, Derek! I’ve brought you these bags of groceries as a way of saying, hey, sorry about that crazy bitch that fucked you over, and as a means of communicating that you have zero edible food items in your apartment and that’s a problem for me.”

Derek glares at Stiles, but he moves aside to allow him into the loft.

Stiles starts puttering around the kitchen, putting away the cold items before stockpiling the pantry.

Derek just sits and stares at him from his seat at the breakfast bar.

The ice is as broken as it’s going to get.

“Derek, quick question,” Stiles grabs a baggie full of cold cuts. “Does Peter eat Reese’s?”

Derek’s expression blanks. “What?”

“Reese’s, y’know—the candy. Does he enjoy eating them?”

Squinting, Derek crosses his arms. “No,” he replies slowly. “He doesn’t like peanut butter at all, actually.” He leans on the counter. “Why do you ask?”

Stiles shoves a slice of ham into his mouth and says, “No reason!” before ducking back into the refrigerator.

 


 

Stiles taps his pen, keeping his eyes fixed on the text about Alpha werewolves he’d “borrowed” from Deaton, and making sure not to glance at where Peter’s sitting on Derek’s couch.

“O kurwa!” Stiles shouts, eyes glued to the page.

Holy fucking shit.

“Co jest nie tak?” Peter asks, looking up from his own book.

“Mówisz po polsku, Peter?”

“Tak,” he replies.

“Do you speak any other languages?”

That question causes Peter’s head to tilt slightly. “Hmm…I do, actually. Russian, German, and passable bits of Czech and Italian.” He shuts his book. “Now what’s got you so worked up?” Peter rises from the couch and saunters over to Stiles’ spot at the table.

“Nothing,” Stiles says, calmly shutting the text and gathering his supplies. “I was just looking through this old directory of Alphas and I stumbled across a few photos of a pack from the nineteenth century that loved inbreeding…”

Peter pulls a face.

“Yeah,” Stiles smirks, “my thoughts exactly.” He hitches up his backpack and swings open the front door. “Oh, and the wolves in those pictures? I swear one of them looked just like you!”

He barely ducks out in time before a chair smashes into the door.

 


 

Stiles finds an old Beacon Hills yearbook from the Class of ’98.

He skims through the clubs until he finds what he’s looking for.

A failing of the American public education system, you might call it. Where the only foreign languages offered are…yep, there it is.

Peter Hale’s teenage face smirking from a picture of the school’s Spanish Honors Society.

 


 

“Derek, what kind of clothes did Peter wear before the fire?”

What the hell? Don’t look at me like that, Stiles! Fine, he wore a lot of suits, now go away!

“How does he take his coffee?”

Stiles, I’m literally in the shower right now—no, do NOT come in here! Fine, with three sugars, now get OUT!

“Did he play any sports in high school?”

Basketball and lacrosse.

“Were you guys close?”

Yeah, actually—we were. He was my best friend.

 


 

Derek runs a tired hand over his face. “What do you want now, Stiles?” he sighs.

Stiles sits on the coffee table in front of Derek and says very seriously, “This is my last question, Derek, I swear. And I promise it isn’t meant to hurt you—I just really need to know.”

Derek rolls his eyes. “What?”

“How many people were at your house that night?”

They both don’t need to say what night Stiles is talking about.

Derek’s eyes go dark, but whatever he sees in Stiles’ face prompts him to whisper, “Thirteen. Laura and I were at a school dance.”

Stiles gives that statement the respectful pause it deserves, and then he gently pats Derek’s shoulder and says, “Thank you.” He gets up to leave, and as he pulls open the door he turns back. “You know if you ever want to talk about it, I make a really good listener. Well, not really—but I’d give it a shot.”

Then he leaves, but not before he catches Derek’s tentative nod.

 


 

Stiles digs out his own file on the Hale fire.

Dusting off the coroner’s report and the arson investigative report, he’s once again reminded that goddamn, that was some blatantly shitty police work that got filed. Like for real, if you’re going to take a bribe at least try to hide it.

He jumps to the list of the deceased and checks the total number of bodies recovered five times.

Twelve.

Twelve bodies. One missing person’s report. And one burn victim.

Stiles throws himself out of his chair and starfishes on the carpet.

“Well, I guess it’s time to break into the hospital, then,” he muses aloud faintly. “Fuck my life.”

 


 

Stiles isn’t stupid enough to try and locate certain hospital records on one of their computers. He knows that shit requires a traceable username and access code and he’s not entirely down for getting Melissa fired over this—so the records room it is.

Luckily for him, the information he’s looking for is most likely just on paper, too old and unimportant to have been digitally copied in a small-town hospital like Beacon Hills.

While hacking is really, really long and complex, picking 20-year-old locks is quite fast and easy. Stiles waits before the night guard Dwayne takes his five-minute bathroom break before neatly breaking open the door and scurrying inside.

He makes his way down the orderly rows, until he reaches E-H.

And what do you know—near the very beginning of the H’s is a wide stack of Hales.

Stiles skims through the stack until he finds what he’s looking for—Cordelia Hale, mother to Talia and Peter.

He flips it open, noting that it’s practically empty—hello, werewolves—until it gets to her admittances from giving birth. Twice. Once in 1968, and once in 1981.

Stiles’ heartbeat triples as he reads through the entirety of the ’81 report. Then he reads it again.

Placing it back on the shelf, Stiles takes a deep breath.

Shaky fingers drift over an inch to the right and pull out two more files.

 


 

It isn’t hard, breaking into Peter’s apartment. Stiles is just glad that it really isn’t a network of underground tunnels. He didn’t quite trust that Peter wasn’t lying, dramatic bastard that he is.

It is hard, however, sitting and waiting on Peter’s sofa once he actually breaks in.

The sound of keys turning in the lock, for some odd reason, calms him.

Maybe it’s because he knows what’s about to happen.

Maybe it’s because he has no idea what’s about to happen.

Maybe it’s both.

“Well, hello Stiles. Long time, no hear your rabbiting heartbeat.” Peter kicks the door shut, a paper sack of groceries in his arms.

“Yeah, I guess it has been,” Stiles agrees.

Peter raises an eyebrow and walks into his kitchen. “Not that I don’t enjoy a little B & E, but what exactly are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be out impregnating someone or arguing with strangers on the internet—or whatever it is teenagers do these days?”

Stiles snorts. “You’re still an absolute cunt, Peter Hale.”

“Now, that’s not very nice.”

Stiles leans on the counter and watches as Peter sorts out his fruits and vegetables. “I’m not a very nice person,” he murmurs.

Peter freezes, his hand hovering over a peach. He looks up at Stiles’ scrutinizing gaze. “What did you just say?”

Stiles cocks his head. He thinks about what Peter said that day, the one that started this whole chain of events. He thinks about what it means, that Peter saw through to Stiles’ own…tendencies—to thwart authority, to damn the consequences, to talk people in circles to get what he wants, to care only about a select number of people and not fuck-all about the rest.

Peter was right. He just hadn’t known the full scope of it.

Stiles knows what Peter meant, now. He knows what it means to truly know another person, and to have another person know him.

And he likes it.

Stiles shrugs. “It takes one to know one, Peter.”

A moment of absolute silence stretches between them, and Stiles finally catches a glimpse of the predator.

Goosebumps rise on his arms.

“I have no idea what you’re referring to,” Peter says after a beat, indifferent mask now firmly affixed. Then he turns around and busies himself on the opposite counter.

“Did you know that you used to play basketball and lacrosse?” Stiles asks, voice flat. “Did you know that you liked sugary coffee and hated peanut butter? Did you know that you spoke Spanish, or that you wore tailored suits? Did you know that you and Derek were friends and that you would never have talked him into turning that girl?”

Peter’s back is ramrod straight.

“They’ve all chalked it up to trauma—he’s been burned, resurrected—you can’t expect someone to stay the same after that!” Stiles rolls his eyes. “But, funny thing, trauma doesn’t make you forget what you like or what you know or languages you fucking speak—and it certainly doesn’t make you murder your niece.”

Peter turns around and crosses his arms, his face carefully neutral. “What are you trying to say, Stiles? Why else would I have killed her, if not for her power or because of a crazed rampage?”

Stiles blinks. “Do you remember that day when I told you that you looked like an inbred from the nineteenth century?”

Taken aback, Peter pauses. “Yes.”

“That wasn’t really what I found.”

“Really? That was a rather impressive lie, then. I didn’t hear a thing.”

Stiles smiles. “Yeah, I learned from that mistake, thank you very much.” He leans forward. “But, anyway—what I really found was a description of Alphas, y’know, what they’re good at, how they lead, how they’re made…” Stiles lets his voice drift. “And the thing that I learned? It’s that they’re not always made. Sometimes, a True Alpha crops up.”

Peter’s eyes glint.

Stiles picks up the pace, heart beating wildly. “A True Alpha—a power willed into existence.” He looks around the apartment. “Sometimes, it takes the right set of circumstances for a werewolf’s will to become strong enough. That’d be nurture.” Stiles lets his eyes travel the length of Peter’s stocky form. “And sometimes, just sometimes, a werewolf’s will is already strong enough—nature. Sometimes, babies are just born Alphas.”

Peter’s eyes flash a bright crimson.

“You weren’t lying when you said you’ve always been the Alpha, were you Peter? Your eyes have always been red, haven’t they?” Stiles walks around the counter and stands in front of the werewolf. “I don’t think you killed Laura because you wanted her power, or because you were insane—I think you killed her because you were an Alpha, injured and alone, and she was a stranger on your territory.”

Peter lets out a slow breath.

“A stranger to you, because you’d never met Laura Hale a day in your life.”

Stiles reaches up and cups Peter’s unblemished cheek, meeting his impenetrable gaze. “You didn’t know she was your niece, did you, Duncan?”

At the name, Peter slams Stiles into the wall across from them and slants his mouth over Stiles’ parted lips.

Peter bites down hard on Stiles’ bottom lip, growling as he buries his hands in Stiles’ messy hair.

Stiles gives as good as he gets. He licks and he nips, mewling into the wet heat of Peter’s skilled mouth. The thrust of Peter’s hard body coaxes a ragged moan from deep within his throat.

“Do you.” Peter pants, tongue dragging across Stiles’ jaw. “Have any.” He licks the curve of Stiles’ ear. “Idea how long it’s been since someone’s said my name?” He slots his mouth back over Stiles’, fucking his tongue in time to the smooth roll of his hips. “And that it’s you?

Stiles lolls his head back. “That really does it for you, eh?”

Peter’s eyes darken, that predator that has nothing to do with being a werewolf peeking out. “I’ve wanted you since that damn garage, you absolute tease.” He presses Stiles’ hands above his head and continues to grind their bodies together. “I took one whiff of you—and I knew, you were just like me.” Peter presses his lips against Stiles’ pulse. “Heartbeat rabbiting not from fear, god no—not for the likes of us—but from excitement.”

Stiles gasps as Peter sticks a demanding hand down his pants and cups Stiles’ erection. “I wanted to make you just like me, in every conceivable way, and you just turned me down—contrary minx.” Peter’s gaze grows heavy, and his steady strokes down Stiles’ cock slow as he starts to whisper directly into Stiles’ ear.

“I knew you’d feel it. You do, don’t you darling? They say people like us don’t feel at all, but that isn’t the case.” Stiles tips his head back against the wall, cheeks a ruddy red, and shakes his head. “We feel more than them—just fucking look at you, coming undone in my arms. Such a pretty sight.” Peter stops jerking his cock and drags his hand up, placing it directly under Stiles’ mouth. “Spit,” he demands, voice dark and sinful and promising.

And Stiles does. He locks eyes with Peter and spits directly into the palm of his hand. Peter lets go of Stiles’ wrists and fists his hair, right at the same moment he uses his spit-soaked palm to fist Stiles’ cock. “That was fucking filthy, darling—I approve.”

Stiles cums with his eyes locked onto Peter’s and the man’s real name on his lips. When Peter finally lets him go, Stiles manhandles him until their positions are reversed, and then he drops to his knees like his strings have just been cut.

Peter runs an unforgiving hand through Stiles’ hair and purrs. “Oh, yes, Stiles.”

Stiles takes his time, shoving Peter’s pants down and working his cock out of his briefs. Maintaining eye contact, Stiles allows his gaze to go half-lidded and then he sucks the head of Peter’s cock into his mouth.

A large, claw-tipped hand holds the side of his cheek and guides him farther down. Stiles hollows his cheeks as he drags himself back, and that earns him an honest-to-god moan.

“That’s fucking dirty, baby—do it again.”

Stiles huffs a laugh around Peter’s cock and gets to it.

He works his mouth and hand in tandem until his lips are numb and his throat is sore. He laves at Peter’s balls and spends a good five minutes just tonguing the pulsing vein that runs up the underside of his dick.

Stiles only stops when the commanding hand in his hair pulls him back. He leaves his mouth open and soft, panting as he waits for Peter’s instructions.

“You’re going to swallow my dick, sweetheart, and then I’m going to come down your fucking throat. Is that understood?”

Stiles doesn’t even wait. He chokes himself on Peter’s cock until tears drip down his face and he feels Peter's cum force its way down his hungry throat.

He swallows every last drop, licking his lips and showing Peter his clean tongue when he’s done.

Peter yanks him to his feet and plants worshipful kisses along the tear tracks running down Stiles’ face. “You’re perfect, Stiles. Just for me.”

And then he picks Stiles up and carries him into the bedroom.

 


 

“They never understood me,” Peter says later, emotionless and with his hand still carding through Stiles’ soft hair.

Stiles shifts from where he’s laying on Peter’s naked stomach and turns to face him.

“You can’t hide when you’re like me, not when you’re a child and not among other werewolves. It has a metallic scent to it. It’s sharp. Unforgiving. And on top of it, I was an Alpha in a pack that already had a fixed successor.” Peter’s eyes glow. “Talia never did like to share. Peter and I used to steal and hide all of her toys. It was the most fun I had as a child. Well, the most fun I had without getting into serious trouble.”

Stiles curls into Peter’s side, the bed sheets rustling softly at the movement.

“So the pack sent me away to distant relatives in Europe. I was trained to be a very…specific kind of left-hand.” At Stiles’ raised eyebrows, Peter chuckles darkly. “The kind that does it for a price.”

Stiles ponders that, picturing Peter in all-black and gallivanting across Europe with an arsenal of weapons and a handful of deadly claws.

He shivers, delighted.

“Thank you, by the way. For what you did for Cora,” Stiles murmurs. “I know you didn’t do it for my dad, but the end result was the same.”

“You’re welcome.” Peter drags a languid finger down Stiles’ bare thigh. “I’ve found that I’ve grown…attached to the girl. And to you.”

A comfortable silence falls between them.

Until Stiles breaks it. “Do you want me to still call you Peter? I mean, you assumed his identity by accident…but I don’t know how you really feel about it all.”

Peter’s wandering finger stills. “I wasn’t even meant to be at that reunion, you know. Not fit to be around the children, is what Mother and Talia always said.” His eyes go distant. “But Peter invited me. And then the next thing I knew, my childhood home was aflame and I found my brother—my own face—staring back at me from behind the bars of the basement window.”

Stiles hitches his leg over Peter’s hip.

“The last thing he said to me was that I looked like shit, and to kill whoever had burned them. So I did. It was just easier being Peter—it was always easier to be him.”

Duncan Patrick Hale, born October 28th, 1981 at 8:37 PM (two minutes older, thank you), smiles down at Stiles and says, “I think it’d be nice to take things easy for a while, don’t you darling?”

“Whatever you say, Peter,” Stiles agrees sleepily, burying his head into the crook of Peter’s neck. “Whatever you say.”