A Pack of Two
Rated TEEN

Peter walked outside their townhouse and considered the street. As usual, a beta from the local pack loitered on the corner. No doubt, he had been ordered to watch for any sign that Peter was about to go on a homicidal rampage. Peter had expected as much, but he still chafed under the assumption.

But were he the left hand of any of the local alphas, he would have insisted on a guard. The East Coast wolves had to live in much closer proximity to the large hunter families. Very few could afford the sort of wilderness werewolf packs preferred, so most had to make do with visiting state and federal parks on the full moon. Travel patterns made it much easier for hunters to track and identify the local wolves.

Peter much preferred the open spaces in the West where werewolves could slide under the radar. At one point, the Hale family had used their money and relatively isolated home to ensure that they were hidden from the hunters, but Talia had wanted to be known as the famous Hale Alpha who brought a truce to the supernatural world, and no matter how much Peter had pointed out the danger, she had dismissed him as paranoid and incapable of carrying out the very job that she had forced him to take – the left hand of the pack.

Sometimes Peter wondered what had transpired to create such a distance between them, but those memories were gone. He had rediscovered his daughter, but the gaps and sudden changes in relationships between himself and Talia that suggested that there were arguments that Talia had removed from him that he had never recovered.

Whatever had happened between them, Talia had stopped listening to his advice. She had stopped listening to him at all.

Stiles came down the front steps, a messenger bag slung over his shoulder and a smile on his face. “I fucking love that I can walk to college from here. This place is awesome, especially since I am currently jeepless.”

Peter considered the townhouse barely adequate, but Stiles was as excited as if Peter had bought them a mansion on the campus itself rather than a renovated unit a mile away. It was a nice change from Derek who would take advantage of all of Peter's financial resources and never appreciate any of them, although likely that had far more to do with Peter's involvement in Laura's death than it did with any general sense of ingratitude on Derek's part. Or not. Derek always had been the spoiled child, so no doubt he saw Peter's attempts at providing for the pack is inadequate. Perhaps he thought that anyone who did not give him everything he wanted was abusing him. Actually, that would explain his perpetual bad humor.

Stiles poked Peter in the side. “You are thinking too loud.”

Peter shifted to better defend his midsection. “You do not possess telepathy, so my thoughts are my own.”

“Not even.” Stiles snorted. “You get this look on your face when you're going all melancholy. And since I have no interest in living with a carbon copy of Derek with all of his brooding, it is my job to poke you out of any bad moods. Stiles tried to poke Peter in the stomach again, but Peter captured his wrist.

“The wi-fi is in my name, and I have the password. Perhaps you should consider that before you resort to physical torture.” Peter narrowed his eyes, but Stiles did not seem to take the threat seriously. He pulled his right hand back at the same time as he poked Peter with his left. “You don't want to turn into Derek any more than I want you to. So, what's on your agenda today as I run off to be a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen?”

Peter looked down the street and towards the beta that watched. “I suppose I should introduce myself to the locals,” Peter said vaguely.

Stiles eyebrows went up and immediately he searched the street in an obvious attempt to spot their observer. Peter did enjoy Stiles’ predictability. Given how difficult his life had been in recent times, he found it soothing.

“Could you try to be less obvious?” Peter asked, although that was the last thing he truly wanted.

“What? I am having a perfectly normal reaction.”

“I could be discussing my intention to introduce myself in a few local law firms. After all, I need to form connections and get to know people before I take the local bar. Otherwise I will be unable to find a job.”

Stiles crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you talking about a law firm?”

Peter pursed his lips and gave a one shoulder shrug.

“Exactly!” Stiles threw his hands into the air before poking Peter in the chest. Even before he finished his ineffective assault, he had gone back to studying the street. For all of his faults, Stiles was not stupid, but the beta watching them was some variation of moronic. He didn’t even look away, although werewolf hearing meant he could hear the conversation. It only took Stiles thirty seconds to spot their watcher.

In a heartbeat, Stiles was trotting down the walk straight towards the other werewolf. The beta’s eyes grew large and he looked around as though seeking some shelter from which he could watch while hiding from the human who was closing in on him quickly. Peter gave Stiles a good head start before he ambled after him. He wanted this strange werewolf to enjoy the full power of Stiles's attention before getting rescued.

Stiles reached the beta before he could flee. In an instant, Stiles stuck his hand right into the werewolf's chest. “Hi, I'm Stiles. I just started at the university here, so I guess this is your territory that we’re going to be squatting in for the next four years.” He frowned. “Assuming I can get through university in four years, because I'm not always good at focusing. So I figure university is either going to be wonderful because I'm going to have such interesting classes that I can mentally flip from one topic to another, and get lots of stuff done, or this is going to be a complete and utter shit show and I am going to be struggling to get through my degree five or six years, and let me tell you, that will not look good to the FBI because that is my goal to get a job at the FBI.” Stiles’ smile grew wider. “So, what's your name?”

Peter came up behind Stiles just as he finished his rant. The beta looked at Peter as though expecting some sort of rescue. Peter lifted an eyebrow and watched in amusement. Stiles looked from the beta to Peter and back again.

“Oh come on. Is this rudeness thing like genetic with you guys? Are all of you some variation on dicks?”

“No!” The beta blurted, but then he fell silent again.

Stiles made a “come on” gesture with his hand, circling his fingers in the air. “Well, then? Name? That's the way it's normally done in polite human society. I give my name and then you give your name. So unless you want to start sniffing each other's butts and doing something less human, this is it.”

That was a little over-the-top, even for Stiles. Peter decided to help the beta out before Stiles got them disinvited from the territory. “I'm Peter Hale, a beta from the McCall-Hale pack from California. So nice to meet you.” Peter gave Stiles a weary look that hopefully the other werewolf would interpret as frustration with the hyperactive human.

The beta cleared his throat. “Rick. Rick Stanton. I work for a local construction company.” His words seemed to fail him after that, but Stiles never had problem filling the silence.

“Cool. So what's it like around here? What kinds of things should we look out for? Rogue hunters? Dark druids? Kanima? Kitsune? Nogitsune? Let me tell you it's that last one, I am firmly out. One of those in a lifetime is more than enough for me. So, what brand of trouble do you guys have around here?”

Rick Stanton stared at Stiles blankly, his scent edging towards outright terror. Peter almost felt sorry for him, but this was one of the betas who had been sent to watch and determine whether Peter would be allowed to stay in the territory, so his sympathy was limited.

“Stiles is our researcher. He is always interested in making sure he knows what sort of complications we might run into,” Peter said.

“Oh. That's… Um, yeah.”

This beta was just a fontof brilliance. Peter considered taking offense at the fact that the pack thought that this imbecile was capable of monitoring Peter. This pup wouldn't have been able to monitor him while he was still in a coma.

“Like hunters,” Stiles said with a weird sort of enthusiasm after he checked to make sure the street was still empty. “Rogue hunters are the absolute worst in our territory. We have had so much trouble with them, and then there was the rogue hunter turned werejaguar. That was a serious problem, and she wasn’t even the only hunter to try to go for the were-upgrade. So, do you have problems with hunters around here?”

Rick looked at Peter as though hoping for rescue, but Peter remained silent. Rick eventually said, “Our pack doesn't target humans and hunters don't target us.”

Stiles’ laugh was dark with derision. “That's good in theory, but let me tell you, rogue hunters are like dark druids. They take all of their fancy ideals, and they just throw them all out the window. Why is it that people who had and lose a code are way worse than people who are just immoral from the beginning? It's like those people who quit smoking and all of a sudden they are anti-drug. There was this kid in our high school who was a complete pothead, and the minute he found God and stopped smoking, suddenly he was all up in my face because I take Adderall, and Adderall is a drug, and all drugs are evil. Trust me, you do not want to see me off Adderall. This is the calmed down, normal version of me, so if you take my prescribed medications away, things are going to get ugly. Fast. And hunters who fall off the path are like that. They take all that pent up morality and use it to get so morally judgy that suddenly a werewolf can’t breathe without being evil. Once they break their own code, they are the monsters.”

Peter put a hand on Stiles’ shoulder before he could take this too far. “Perhaps we should leave Mr. Stanton to do his work,” Peter said. “After all, don't you have a class to get to?”

Stiles nodded. “I totally do. And since this is a new start and I'm turning over new leaves, I am determined to be the kid who shows up early and sits in the front row.” He frowned. “Or maybe the second or third row. Sometimes when I sit in the front row, teachers are more annoyed because then they see how much I'm fidgeting and they get really hyper focused on my fidgets.”

“That sounds like the perfect plan,” Peter said soothingly. “You need to head to school, and make sure you text me if you run into anything supernatural.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “I'm pretty sure I'm safe at the university.”

“Considering how many supernatural creatures infected your last school, I am not certain,” Peter said firmly. “If you start feeling uncomfortable around anyone, I would prefer you call me.”

“Right. Creepy feelings means I call Creeper Wolf. Deal.” Stiles checked his watch. “I really do have to run. Hey Rick, great meeting you. Great chat. I hope we have a chance to get to know each other. Say hi to your alpha for me, and I’m off.”

Stiles did a one-eighty and took off down the street at a fair trot. The beta looked at Peter with horror in his gaze. No doubt Rick was, right now, considering that if he had to babysit Stiles, he would probably tear the man's throat out. Peter indulged in that fantasy occasionally himself, but he controlled himself well enough to not follow through on it. But overall, this morning was an unconditional success. This encounter would go far towards showing the local pack that Peter was the mature, measured adult, not a dangerous left-hand not yet in possession of his full sanity.

“I apologize,” Peter offered in his most conciliatory tone. “Stiles he is easily….” Peter let his voice trail off as though he couldn't find the appropriate word to finish his thought.

“Is he always like that?” Rick asked.

Peter made a show out of considering his answer. “Generally, yes. Sometimes he's worse. When he has long nights of research and he abuses that prescription medication of his, he can become downright unbearable. But he is a brilliant researcher, and he has helped the pack survive any number of dangers that would have decimated our ranks without him.”

“Him?” Rick gave Stiles fleeing back an incredulous look.

Now Peter knew he hated this beta. “He has faced every single one of the dangers he listed,” Peter said softly, his temper brewing under the surface. Peter would love to slam this beta into a wall for insulting the only pack who had chosen to stand with Peter, but that would not serve his agenda. So Peter plastered on a smile. “Sometimes I regret that the Nogitsune infected him, but I doubt the rest of us would've been able to fight that trickster to a stalemate long enough for the pack to have outsmarted it. His soul is scarred, and our pack is missing some valued members, but we came through the fight because of his strength.”

Rick seemed to shake himself out of his shock. “Is that why your alpha sent you here? Is it because he was a Nogitsune?”

Peter laughed as though amused by the impertinent question. He wasn’t. “My alpha required someone with enough patience to handle Stiles’ eccentric nature and enough ruthlessness to do whatever is required to defend someone handicapped by a lack of fangs and claws. I will always defend Stiles as though he were a pup not yet able to make his first shift.”

Rick cringed and the smell of anxiety increased. Peter could admit that a werewolf’s protective nature made it difficult to discern a paternal feeling from a psychotic break. Peter needed to soften that.

“I also understand that Stiles’ attitude does sometimes lead certain creatures to grab him by lapel and slam him into a wall until he stops talking.” A terrifying number of the McCall-Hale pack had done exactly that. “My alpha needed to send someone who would not overreact if someone here did that. After all, it would be poor manners to kill ever creature who reacted poorly to Stiles. The requirements for babysitting him make the position a particularly difficult one to fill.

“Oh.” With that, Rick's limited intelligence appeared to at its end. Peter truly was horribly offended that the alpha considered this an appropriate guard.

Peter smiled. “I do have an appointment with a local law firm, so I must go, but you are welcome to share a cab if you don't want to try to track me through the city.”

“I don't know.” Rick looked both bewildered and alarmed.

Peter patted him on the shoulder. “That's perfectly fine. Feel free to continue stalking me. I even promise not to get a restraining order.” Peter turned around and headed down the street, barely containing a whistle. That had ended brilliantly. Rick might not be the smartest werewolf in the pack, but he certainly could carry a tale well enough to prime the ground that Peter was trying to cultivate. Peter's phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled it out. Stiles was messaging him.

“Did it work?”

“Whatever do you mean?”

“I assume u wanted RS to get the full Stiles' spastic special.”

Peter stared at the phone for a moment before he composed the return message. “I am at a complete loss as to what you talking about.”

“Right. ;-) U weren't at all interested in showing u can hndle a hyperactive basket case.”

“Why Stiles, I'm horrified at your insinuation.”

“I’m horrified by ur correct grammr in txt. :P Besides, u r not as subtle as u think u are. I c the real u.”

“Camouflage is half the art of deception.”

“ur camouflages is failing. Hopefully RS is as stupid as he seems. I tried to play up the ADHD.”

“He is suitably horrified at your hyperactive nature.”

“Schlemiel Stiles FTW!”

“I would not have asked you to embarrass yourself for my sake.” Peter wasn't sure where that whisper of guilt came from, but he hadn't wanted Stiles to cast himself as the outsider.

“No probs. I play same game on teachers.” Stiles took longer to type out the rest of the message, or perhaps he had switched to dictation because the next bit was remarkably coherent for his abominable texting habits. “I had one science teacher in middle school who let me walk the track every class period as long as I read the textbook by myself. I had her convinced that I could not sit still for more than five minutes without having a complete fidget attack. It was awesome!”

Peter grinned at his phone. That manipulative little pup. Peter knew exactly how smart Stiles was, and he was still surprised that the man's deviousness. He had certainly manipulated both Derek and Scott in order to get them to agree with this plan and now apparently Stiles had turned those powers toward Peter’s plan. Peter slipped his phone back into his pocket.

The next four years looked to be interesting. And if Peter had willing assistance with his plan, he was more convinced than ever that he could rehabilitate his reputation in the werewolf community. That would open options outside the McCall-Hale pack. That was worth more than any amount of money. Hell, Peter might end up better off than he had been since Talia had taken over the Hale pack. A smile blossomed on Peter's face as he considered the odds that he could find genuine freedom. It was a heady thought.






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