Stiles was just kind of weird.
Weird name, weird sense of humor, weird habits.
So it wasn’t really a surprise to anyone that his weirdness extended to the point of him being a Guide. Hell, it wasn’t even really a surprise when he was shipped off to the special school for Guides and Sentinels that were too potent to be in public before they were trained.
But it was a little bit of a surprise when his instructors discovered that he was not, in fact talking to himself between classes as they thought.
He was talking to his soul animal.
“He’s been here one month!” Ms. Clara, the bonding counselor, hissed at Finstock. “There are instructors who have been here for years without seeing theirs, much less engaging in verbal communication!”
“Stilinski can barely shut up in class, why would his soul animal be any different,” Finstock answered carelessly as he scrawled six question marks at the top of an econ paper and flung it to the side. “I don’t know what you’re complaining about. He’s starting to make progress at shielding, and the sooner he gets that shit the sooner we can kick him out. Then maybe I’ll finally be able to get a cup of coffee in the morning before he’s emptied the entire goddamn carafe.”
“I’m not complaining,” she said, offended. “It’s just… unsettling. Soul animals are sacred. Most of us only see them a handful of times, but he talks to his as if- as if it were a particularly rude cat!”
“Ferret,” Finstock corrected absentmindedly, writing NO on the next paper and underlining it three times.
“It’s a ferret. And apparently it bites him when he’s not giving it enough attention, so rude is pretty accurate.”
Ms. Clara’s mouth was hanging open, and continued to do so even after Derek Hale stormed into Finstock’s office.
“I need to talk to you about Stiles’ soul animal,” he said, eyebrows drawn together in a frustrated line.
“See?!” Ms. Clara said, gesturing sharply at him. “I’m not the only one who finds it unsettling!”
“What?” Derek said. “No, I don’t- it keeps interrupting my lectures on Animal Farm.”
Finstock finally looked up from his grading.
“How in the hell is a soul animal interrupting your lectures? Stilinski’s the only one who can see or hear it!”
“Stiles says it won’t stop biting him unless he tells everyone what it’s saying,” Derek said, shifting his weight and crossing his arms. “I guess he could be lying. Stiles is already extremely proficient with projection- Look, the point is I wasted fifteen minutes arguing that ferrets couldn’t have prevented the rise of Stalinism-”
“Tiny baby Jesus,” Finstock pleaded, rubbing his face. “I know you’re still relatively new here Hale, but just because a student, or a student’s soul animal, brings up a topic doesn’t mean you have to engage. I would, because Animal Farm sucks and talking about anything else would be more interesting, but I know how anal you are about lesson plans-”
“-it’s state curriculum -”
“So Hale, if the sacred ferret interrupts you again then tell it to shut up, and Ms. Clara, engage in some selective attention if it really bothers you that much. Now get out of my office so I can drink bourbon while I grade, the way God intended.”
Ms. Clara turned on her heel and stormed out, but Derek hesitated.
“... Can I really do that? I mean… it’s not really a normal situation, and I absolutely have to get through this unit by the end of the week, but… it’s his soul animal. ”
“Nothing about Stilinski is normal. Just work something out.”
“You should find a Sentinel and bone them so we can get out of here.”
“Shut up Quincy, I’m trying to read about communist ham.”
“You could be reading about communist ham on your own bed, with your blankets and your TV-”
“-and feeling every emotion in a ten block radius until I fall into a swoon and end up right back here,” Stiles finished dryly.
“You have better control than that.”
“Not yet,” Stiles said grimly. “I will, but not yet. And I’m not about to go out and bond with the first Sentinel I see just so I can go home. Besides, even with the lightest of bonding, which, by the way, does not necessarily include fucking, but even with that , whoever I bonded to wouldn’t want to let me out of their sight for at least a week. We’d still be stuck, even with the boost in my shields.”
“Of course you don’t have to fuck them, but why wouldn’t you?” Quincy asked, baffled. He looked over from where he was basking in a patch of sunlight on the floor.
Stiles rolled his eyes.
“Is every soul animal as horny as you?”
“I’m an extension of you, so if you have a problem with it-”
“Yeah, yeah,” Stiles cut him off, cheeks turning a little pink. He knew exactly why Quincy was acting the way he was; Stiles hadn’t been able to smuggle any sex toys into his luggage before he was whisked off to Guide Camp. Or The Institute for Sentinels and Guides of Sensitivity. Whatever. The point was that he was lacking, and apparently it resonated all the way down to his soul. He cleared his throat. “Besides, it’s your fault that Hale is watching me so closely. I probably could have gotten away with the CliffsNotes if you hadn’t insisted on arguing about your ferret superiority.”
“If you think for one second that ferrets would have put up with any of Napoleon’s-”
“That is so not the point. You’re lucky he offered to listen to your bullshit during his office hours instead of just straight up kicking us out of class.”
“ I’m lucky?”
“Yes,” Stiles said firmly. “Because you’re a reflection of my soul, and I could very easily see my soul going hairless if I have to repeat American Literature next year.”
“You wouldn’t. You couldn’t. ”
“Do you really want to find out?”
Quincy’s furry little face somehow managed to convey utter betrayal before curling back up with a huff in his warm patch.
“Whatever,” he grumbled. “I’ll show you, and Hale… class discussion is for chumps… office debates are the real battleground…”
Stiles finally returned to Napoleon and his windmill, ignoring the touch of homesickness and loneliness that resonated between the two of them. Stiles just had to get through this. He had to get through being the weird one here so he could go home and be the weird one there.
At least when he was the weird one at home he had his Dad and Scott.
Here he had no one.
Stiles knocked on Hale’s office door, and then walked in without waiting for an answer.
Derek looked up from his desk, exasperated.
“You’re supposed to wait for me to tell you to come in, Stiles. What if I’d been helping another student?”
Stiles waved a hand dismissively.
“Then I would have felt two people inside the room instead of your lonesome brooding self.”
“You’re not supposed to be able to feel in here at all, Stiles. That’s what the shields in the Institute are for, to prevent-”
“-Prevent overwhelming emotions from my sensitive little Guide brain, blah blah blah.” He dropped down into a chair, immediately sticking out a hand and then bringing it to his lap, as if he were picking up something Derek couldn’t see. Disconcerted to once again see Stiles treating impossible things as if they were no big deal, Derek tried to push back to his initial concern.
“Yes, exactly. If you’re still picking up things like that then we may need to, I don’t know, move you to a more secluded area, or double up shields or something. We’re responsible for your wellbeing, Stiles, and we take that seriously.”
“Okay, first of all dude,” Stiles said with an eye roll, “you’re like four years older than me. Stop acting like you’re wiser and so much more experienced.” He had one hand up by his shoulder now, clearly supporting the weight of something. “Second of all, we both know that the Institute barely has any idea what to do with me. The only reason I’m here instead of locked up in an isolation room somewhere is because Finstock is just crazy enough to say ‘what the hell’ instead of ‘hell no.’ I make everyone uncomfortable, I pick up on some training way too quickly, and other training doesn’t work on me at all. Sensing how many people are in a room is the least of my problems.” He paused, and tilted his head toward the shoulder with his hand. “Quincy says stop stalling and get ready to admit that ferrets would make the best political leaders.”
“Quincy. Your soul animal… is named Quincy?” Derek asked, dazed. Stiles shrugged.
“I told him it was a girls name.”
“Names don’t have genders, don’t be fucking rude,” Quincy said, nipping Stiles’ ear sharp enough that Stiles dropped him to rub it, scowling. Quincy just sat up on his lap instead, clearly ready to do battle.
“It’s a… him?” Derek asked, eyes darting around Stiles occasionally, pointlessly trying to see what only Stiles could.
Stiles smiled bemusedly.
“Well, he’s a reflection of my soul, and I’m a ‘him.’”
“Right,” Derek said, a little distantly. He’d only ever caught a glimpse of his own. A blackbird of some kind. He’d always referred to the animal as ‘it’, but now he wondered if that was offensive. He sternly shook himself back into the moment, reasserting his attention. “Just because your situation is… unique, doesn’t mean that your learning environment shouldn’t be as good as everyone else’s.”
“Dude, just don’t worry about it, okay? I’m slowly getting better at consistent shielding, but short of my perfect sentinel match magically walking through that door and bonding with me immediately, there’s nothing to do about it right now anyway.”
Suddenly a knock rapped at the door. They both turned to look at it in surprise as it opened. Stiles’ mouth fell open as the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen stepped in.
Blue eyes, broad shoulders, and a smirk that said a million things Stiles immediately wanted to have whispered in his ear. He was magnetic.
He was a Sentinel.
“Hello nephew. I apologize for interrupting, but your mother insisted I get this to you before it cooled.” He placed a tupperware container on the corner of the desk, clearly ready to leave as quickly as he came, but stopped abruptly when he spotted Stiles sitting.
They stared at each other for a beat, and Stiles felt an undeniable pull. An urge to get up and touch, to wrap himself around the other man and stay there for days. His knees twitched, as if they were going to get up and move whether or not they had permission.
“Holy shit,” Quincy whispered.
Peter’s eyes shot down to Stiles’ lap and widened.
“Holy shit ,” Quincy repeated. “Look at that huge ass wolf!!”
Stiles tore his eyes away from Peter to look behind him and sure enough, there in the doorway stood an enormous grey wolf. Peter’s brow furrowed, looking behind himself in the same direction and stiffened in surprise. The wolf just ambled in, nudging Peter’s hand with his nose before continuing over to sit in front of Stiles. Quincy wasted no time in scurrying off Stiles’ lap to climb on top of him, causing Peter and Stiles to both shiver as they touched.
It took one more beat for Peter to recover, and then his eyes snapped back to Stiles, sharply taking in everything about him. A clever grin slowly took over his face. He extended his hand.
“You must be Stiles.”
The moment their hands touched, Stiles sucked in a sharp breath. He could feel it; feel him. The potential for near perfect balance.
His eyes darted down to the wolf again, and he tried to comprehend what it meant that he could see it. It should have been impossible, but there he was. Enormous and furry and currently licking Quincy.
Peter continued to hold his hand far longer than any normal handshake, and the small connection felt so good that Stiles kind of hoped he never let go.
Derek’s voice was flat and his eyes were panicky.
Stiles startled a bit, having forgotten that he was still in the room- that this was his office.
“It would appear that Stiles and I share bond potential,” Peter said, his light tone belying the weight of what he’d just said. “A… profound bond potential.”
“What.” Derek’s repetition was somehow even more flat, eyeballs clearly on the verge of leaving his skull and abandoning the situation entirely.
Peter’s eyes, however, were still stuck on Stiles’, and Stiles was now glancing back and forth between the two Hales. He could feel Derek’s worry and panic on the back of his tongue, but couldn’t seem to make himself care. It simply didn’t matter in the face of Peter’s overwhelming presence.
God, Stiles wanted. He wanted to have him; wanted him to be his. He wanted to shield Peter so thoroughly that every Guide who came across him would know that he belonged to Stiles, wanted to imprint every part of himself on Peter’s senses so deeply that he would be impossible to forget-
“You can’t bond with my student inside my office , Peter!” Derek said, voice strangled.
“That’s fine, my house isn’t far,” Peter said dismissively, still holding on to Stiles’ hand and staring at him as if he’d never seen anything so fascinating in his life.
“Yeah, yes. Yes absolutely let’s go,” Stiles blurted, slightly hypnotized by the deep V of Peter’s shirt.
“No!” Derek yelled, his panic finally becoming obvious. “You can’t just leave! He has a paper to turn in- you haven’t even told mom yet- and Ms. Clara has to approve the bond! Finstock has to sign the paperwork!”
“Then why don’t you go get Bobby?” Peter asked smoothly. “Because one way or another, we’ll be leaving soon.”
If looks could kill, Derek would have had a gun to Peter’s head.
“Do not bond with him in here,” he threatened one more time and then hurried out, slamming the door behind him. Peter immediately took a step closer to Stiles, bringing them nearly chest to chest. Then he took out his phone.
His eyes were still roving over Stiles’ face as he called a number without looking.
“Hello Braeden. I’m afraid I might have flustered your guide a bit.” He paused, clearly listening. “I’m hurt that you think I would do it on purpose, Braeden!” he said in an affected tone before continuing with a grin. “After all, it’s not as if I planned to meet my own guide in Derek’s office.” Stiles heard a loud invective from the other end of the call. “The best laid plans and so on,” Peter said, clearly stepping over her reaction, “in any case, you might want to be prepared to mix him up a stiff drink later tonight,” he added thoughtfully. “Talk to you soon, dearest niece in law.”
Despite the drugging influence of Peter’s presence (and Peter’s muscles), the brief conversation served to give Stiles a chance to clear his head. A little. Really just enough to remember that he should probably learn more about Peter before diving headfirst into a bond with him.
“So, uh,” he began, voice so breathy that he cringed. He cleared his throat to try again. “So your name is Peter Hale? You’re my- a. A sentinel.”
Peter chuckled, sending a light tickling sensation over Stiles’ empathy. It felt so good that he wanted to drown to death in the feeling.
“I think you can call me yours. After all, I did just lay claim to you while talking to my nephew’s sentinel.”
A delightfully possessive shiver ran down Stiles’ spine, turning into a different kind of shiver when Peter reached out and brushed a hand over the side of his neck, resting his wrist on Stiles’ shoulder.
“Alright. Mine,” Stiles agreed, taking his own small step forward, moving until their bodies touched. Peter’s eyes darkened.
“Your eyes are beautiful. Like bourbon with flakes of gold,” Peter said quietly, the words so close that Stiles could feel his breath. He leaned forward almost imperceptibly closer.
“So you’re a sight sentinel?” Stiles whispered, despite his attention being on Peter’s lips. If he tilted his head up just a little...
“I’m a four sense sentinel. Sight, sound, smell, touch.”
Peter’s mouth was almost on his-
Stiles’ eyes flew open wider and he leaned back slightly.
“I’m sorry- fucking what? Did you say four sense sentinel?”
Peter’s eyes were still dark, but a hint of resignation had entered them.
“Yes. Luckily I’m missing taste, or my sister’s cooking might have actually killed me rather than just making me wish I were dead,” he finished with a charmingly wry smile. Stiles could easily recognize the play for lightness, but-
“Four senses,” he repeated, astonished. “How aren’t you bat-shittingly-crazy? God, that’s an insane amount of sensory input!”
“Let’s have a seat, shall we?”
Stiles nodded, but rather than moving toward the chairs in front of the desk, Peter pulled Stiles to the couch along the back wall. He sat down on one side, tugging Stiles down after him, and Stiles was only too willing to snuggle into his side, head on his shoulder. The contact felt amazing; tingling and comforting at the same time. He could feel Peter leaning into his hair and breathing deeply, and running his fingers up and down Stiles’ arm. Stiles shivered, sinking into the warm empathic embrace that Peter provided.
“I take it the weasel is yours?” Peter said after a moment, nodding his head towards Quincy and the wolf, who were curled up in front of the desk.
Though hesitant about the non-sequitur, Stiles still answered, “Ferret. That’s Quincy. He’s an asshole.”
“Fuckface,” Quincy called back drowsily from where he was buried in the wolf’s fur.
“Proving my point, buddy.”
“Do you spend a lot of time with Quincy?” Peter asked, curiosity burning in his tone.
“Yeah. I saw him before I even knew I was a guide. I thought he was a hallucination from not sleeping at first.” He paused for a moment before adding, “The wolf, though… he’s new.”
“I would imagine so. I’ve only seen him twice before, and he’s certainly never talked the way Quincy does.” Peter paused for a moment before continuing, “I’ve often wondered what kind of guide might be out there for me, if any. What kind of a guide would be a perfect fit for a four sense sentinel.” He took a deep breath of Stiles’ scent. “You’re even more incredible than I imagined.”
Stiles was torn between warmth at the flattery, and tense with how incomplete that assessment was. He couldn’t let Peter think he was some kind of genius- not when really, he was just weird.
“Quincy showed up the morning I sent my entire chemistry class into a panic attack during a test-” he blurted. “-And then also accidentally put them into a light coma when I realized what I’d done.”
There was silence for a beat.
“A light coma?” Peter eventually said, eyebrow raised.
“They woke up!” Stiles protested. “It just took a day. Or two. Anyway, I’d stayed up all night studying, so when Quincy showed up obviously my first thought wasn’t ‘soul animal,’ it was ‘that last Red Bull was a bad choice.’ Then I went to go take my test and accidentally projected to the entire room.” Stiles bit his lip a little before continuing quietly. “I kind of need this bond, Peter. I need the stability.” Anxiety began to leak into his tone. “I project too easily, and I suck at shielding, and no one knows why Quincy’s so visible all the time, and-”
“Shh, sh,” Peter soothed him, bringing him in even closer, tucking Stiles’ head under his chin as he rubbed his hands down his arms. “I understand. You’re not alone in this, Stiles. I need it too. I haven’t had use of all four of my extended senses in years.”
Stiles stilled, making a questioning noise.
“It was always… on the edge of overwhelming,” Peter answered. “Managing my senses always took effort, but I did manage. That is, until six years ago, when someone tried to burn down my sister’s house.”
Stiles gasped and pulled away so he could see Peter’s face. He looked tired.
“I woke up because I heard the arsonist. I’m the only sound sentinel in my family, something she must not have known. I woke everyone up and evacuated the house before the fire got too bad, but it was still… a lot. Bright, loud, hot, and heavy with smoke. It was just… too much. I zoned. Deeply. I was out for months.”
Stiles’ heart was in his throat as he tasted the ghost of Peter’s devastation.
“My sister stayed with me,” Peter continued, “and pestered the doctors into trying different therapies and medications; honestly, I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d been alone. Eventually though, she found a combination of medications that dulled my senses enough that I could wake up.”
Stiles felt his wave of gratitude, followed by a shadow of sorrow.
“I still take them. Every time I’ve tried to wean myself off of them in the last few years, I’ve slipped back into a zone. The only other option I have to stabilize my senses is a bond, but I’ve never felt the potential… until now.”
Stiles flushed a bit under Peter’s gaze.
“I’m not saying this bond is the answer to every problem we’ll ever have,” Peter continued. “Bond potential, even a potential as intense as ours, is still just potential . We decide how to use that. But we’re in this as equals.”
“To create balance,” Stiles offered, leaning in a little.
“Exactly,” Peter agreed. “You’re a little strange, and I’m a little strange, and together, we’ll make something…” He leaned in, his lips a breath away from Stiles’, “... incredible.”
The door to the office banged open, startling them apart.
“Stilinski!” Finstock barked as he barged in with his eyes covered. “Put your clothes on!”
Stiles looked at him in confusion.
“I’m… not… naked?”
Finstock squinted through his fingers before removing his hand completely.
“Oh. Weird. You’ve got better self control than ninety percent of the miscreants we see bonded here.” He stuck his head back out of the office door and called, “Hey, neither of them are naked. Weird, right?”
Derek and Ms. Clara came into the room after Finstock’s proclamation, Derek with a pinched, constipated look on his face, and Ms. Clara with something like expectant relief. She came in and took one look at the couple snuggled together on the couch before saying, “Yes, approved, amazing bond potential! You two should leave the school and bond immediately.” She looked around at Finstock. “Sign the paperwork so they’ll leave.”
“Tell her I say hi,” Quincy said from where he was still perched on top of Peter’s wolf, digging his little paws into the thick fur.
“Quincy says hi,” Stiles dutifully repeated, hiding a smirk at the frigid look she shot him.
Finstock looked at the two of them and then at Derek.
“You think they’re legit?” he asked shrewdly, as if the ‘they’ in question weren’t right in front of him.
“Yeah, actually. I think they are.”
Finstock shrugged in acceptance before beginning to rifle around in Derek’s desk.
“You have any of the bonding paperwork here, Hale?” he asked.
“What? No, why would I have that? I teach American Literature,” Derek answered, baffled.
Finstock closed the drawer he was shuffling in and threw his hands into the air.
“Whatever. You two get out of here, I’ll mail you the paperwork. I don’t ever want to see you around my coffee carafe again, Stilinski.”