Dedication: For 1001cranes.
A SAVAGE HARVEST
It has been many years since he has taken a mate. The fire and his subsequent self-exile, for the sake of remaining covert and wreaking his vengeance, have little to do with it; even long before the fire, when Peter had been in search of a mate, he had found none suitable.
Now, of course, he is the Alpha; now, he needs a mate, any mate, in order to stabilize his pack.
Truth be told, he's been keeping Jennifer on reserve, much as the thought appalls him. Melissa McCall would be far better, both as an individual and as a means of securing Scott's allegiance, but her heart is still set on her dead human mate, and it seems improbable that she will consent to something as otherworldly as a life-bond with a werewolf, let alone a more conventional marriage with another man. An Alpha can forcefully Turn anyone else - a Beta, an Omega, a rogue - but not a mate, for a mate must be an equal, not bound to the will and the words of the Alpha by power but by sheer devotion and loyalty - and, while the mate is young, lust.
It really is quite simple. And yet, it is devilishly difficult, for what is simple in theory is rarely simple in application. He is restricted in his movements, on the run from the police and in the midst of hunting the Argent bitch; he has little time to spare for finding a mate, crucial as that activity is. With a mate, he can finally complete his pack; his position will be consolidated, as will his honor in the eyes of other packs. He is not concerned about convincing Scott; the brat is ludicrously easy to manipulate. Nor is he concerned about Derek, as Derek is sentimental to a fault, and quite incapable of killing a member of his own pack in anything less than extraordinary conditions.
The danger is that Derek might have begun to see the humans he has grown close to as more of a pack than his long-comatose Uncle Peter - but that can be resolved with a judicious application of force, both physical and mental, and the recounting of old family memories. That Derek suspects his part in Laura's death is a pity, but perhaps he can find a way to pin it on Kate Argent, after killing her.
Yes. That would be best.
He plans to convince Melissa, by hook or by crook, when he makes the most astonishing discovery.
The Stilinski boy.
He did not expect Stiles. No one can expect Stiles; the boy repeatedly exceeds expectations. He is resilient, loyal and has a keen sense of pack - keener than that of most humans, as he sees pack not as a matter of blood but as a matter of bond, and has chosen to ally himself (perhaps inexplicably) with that young idiot, Scott.
The alliance may, however, work in his favor. Scott will be more likely to cooperate with Peter if Stiles is Peter's mate, and Stiles will be more likely to agree to being his mate if Scott's safety can thereby be secured. It is, in many ways, what the humans call a 'win-win' scenario.
Peter has every intention of winning.
Stiles is… remarkably distracting. Not only in his strange habit of talking too much - which is, at times, almost certainly a deliberate means of camouflage, of misdirection through over-information - but also in his stubbornness, which is what makes him so appealing, if also so (delightfully) frustrating. He behaves in every aspect as prey should behave, timid and quick and easily startled, but his true nature is something else entirely, something unbreakable and unfathomable and immovable, and there are layers and layers of secrets to the boy that are as tantalizing to Peter as his scent, elusive under the whiff of starched cotton and that useless, perfectly horrid soap. Peter has to quell the urge - the persistent and persistently growing urge - to pin Stiles to the damp earth after an hour's chase, with the boy smelling of nothing but his own sweat, and fasten his jaws to the boy's neck, to his fast-beating pulse, and taste.
That is definitely the reaction prey should inspire in him, and it is… confusing, for he knows very well that Stiles is anything butprey. Were Peter to hunt him and press him to the ground and taste him, Stiles would, indeed, smell of fear - but that fear would soon be overcome by rage, by affront, and Stiles would never submit to him, would never grow pliant and still, and even were Peter to mount him by force and hold him down by the back of his neck, the boy would still struggle, all heat and hatred and bitter, acrid tears, and even as Stiles might bury his ragged sobs in the dirt, so would his fists clench in it, and for all that he would be exquisitely responsive and exquisitely warm, he would hate himself for every spark of corresponding pleasure, and the moment the act was done he would be back to killing Peter, or trying to kill him, and no matter what Peter did to him, there would never be any surrender in him. Ever.
It is that thought, and that thought alone, that keeps Peter from acting out the very fantasy that so possesses him. He needs amate. He needs precisely the sort of mate that will resist him, that can resist him, but chooses not to, unless it is on matters of morality. He needs a mate with a conscience and a sense of social justice more developed than his own, capable of winning over new members to the pack and capable of keeping them, with affection and mutually-developed trust, for without that bond, no power - not even mind-control - will suffice to unite a pack. Peter knows himself well enough to know that he does not have that quality, that ability to charm, to cherish, to care. He is not the nurturing type; ergo, that is the very type his mate must be. The union of an Alpha with another must always be a union of complements; it must serve as a balancing force in times of peace and a lighting-rod in times of war, a circle of safety in one context and a formidable weapon in another.
Stiles is, consciously or unconsciously, doing his very best to lure Peter into a lust-haze - and perhaps this is why Derek's scent is so strong on him, for Derek must be ill-equipped to resist the boy, if not by outright mounting then at least by frequent and dominating behavior, pouncing and marking and so forth. Derek, foolish child, likely has no idea why Stiles inspires that sort of behavior in him; he has no idea of the treasure he has, of the potential for a perfect mate, one that not only knows about werewolves but is uncannily like one, already, in every aspect but the physical.
The physical shall soon follow, too.
Peter will make sure of it.
When the boy says 'yes', it is a matter of some surprise, not least because Peter knows that the boy does care for Derek, and is aware of the true reason for Derek's scent on him, even if Derek - being Derek - is not.
"Why?" Peter asks, still cradling Stiles's wrist, his fingers resting on the boy's pulse.
"You know why," says Stiles, and meets his eyes. "Once I'm a werewolf, I can kill you. I'll be the Alpha, and I'll set everything to rights."
Peter… stares. Well, he had thought this would be one of the boy's reasons, but to hear it stated so plainly, so openly, is a thrill beyond compare. He has to suppress his hungry quiver, his urge to take and bite - "Do you honestly think you can kill me?"
"After what you've done? I have to."
"Derek is a werewolf. Why not leave my disposal to him?"
"Derek's - Derek's your family, okay? Or you're his family, not that you act like it, but he can't - he - he shouldn't have to - "
"You believe it will hurt him," says Peter, softly, and smiles at Stiles's flinch. "Don't you? Even if he does manage to kill me - unlikely as that is - you think that it will break him. Drive him mad."
"He's lost so much, he doesn't deserve - "
"You, Stiles. He doesn't deserve you."
Stiles clamps his mouth shut. It's such a very pretty mouth.
"Your loyalty is extraordinary. So you're willing to mate with me, an individual you'd rather kill, in order to prevent Derek from getting hurt? Does he know how much you think of him? Does he return even a fraction of your regard?"
"I ain't no Math major, okay? Don't go talking about fractions. I - I'm doing what I have to do. And you'll Turn me, because it's what you have to do."
"Been researching pack dynamics, have we?"
Stiles raises his chin. "I know my stuff."
"I'm sure you do." Peter tilts his head, and lifts Stiles's wrist to his face, hot-scented and sweet as it is. He doesn't bite; he merely brushes his lips against it, and watches the boy stand his ground. "Tell me," he says. "Will you try to kill me while you mate with me?"
Stiles looks sick.
"Once you're Turned, you'll be considerably stronger - not as strong as I am, not for some time, but certainly able to take advantage of a moment's… distraction. How will you distract me?"
"Anyway I have to." Stiles swallows and refuses - oh, beautiful thing - refuses to look away.
Peter's own blood hums with heat. "With your mouth? I'll find that very distracting."
"Just get on with it, will you?" Stiles snaps. "You know what I want; I know what you want; there's no need for mind-games."
Peter bares his teeth, and Stiles does not gasp, for all that his eyes go very, very wide. "Oh, dear boy," says Peter, "I don't believe you know the half of what I want."
"Didn't we agree on no fractions? I get enough of that shit at school; if I'm getting to be a werewolf, I oughta be able to skip it, right? No Math, that's rule number one of Stiles's pack, not that you'd - "
"Stiles. It will not work."
"Your tendency to ramble as a means of distraction. It will not work. Not with me."
"Yes. That's the spirit. So, Stiles. Do you want the bite?"
"You already asked," says Stiles, "and in case you forgot, I already said yes."
"Perhaps I keep asking you," Peter says, "because you find such entertaining ways to say yes."
"Note to self: Be less entertaining."
"Oh, no, please, don't. It's quite titillating."
"Ti…" Stiles trails off, and gapes at him. "Did you seriously just say that? Also, were you an English major, or something? 'Cause I've been wondering - "
The boy looks at him. And stops talking.
"Good. You know that won't work on me."
"You just said my mouth will work on you," Stiles says, flushing red to the tips of his ears, but saying it, anyway.
"Oh, undoubtedly. As will the rest of you. Starting," Peter says, "with this."
He kisses Stiles's wrist. Stiles stiffens, an indecipherable emotion flashing across his face, but then it's hidden behind the more acceptable mask of wide-eyed fear.
"Have you thought of it?"
"Being bad-touched by you? Uh, no."
"Being touched by Derek. Kissed by him. Have you thought of it?"
Stiles narrows his eyes. There is hurt in them, hurt and horrified betrayal, but he doesn't say a word. Peter is beginning to realize that the easiest way to deduce whether Stiles is telling the truth is to render him silent. Nothing short of the truth can silence the boy.
"Your scent changes when I mention him. Have you realized that? If he has, and has left you untouched, then he's a fool."
"Don't talk about him." It starts off sharp, like a reprimand, but breaks at the end. "D-don't. Please - "
"You do realize he'd never be gentle with you? He's quite incapable of it, young and boorish as he is. Once sufficiently aroused, it'll be as bad as being in heat, for him, and he'll rut into you without a thought as to your pleasure."
"Sh-shut up - "
"I'll be gentle, however. Very, very gentle. As thorough as you want me to be."
"I don't want - "
"Oh, but you will. You will, Stiles, because it is your nature, and once I Turn you, you will be mine."
"Thought - you said - no mind-control - "
"I won't need it." Peter revels in the smoothness of the boy's skin, the delicacy of his wrist, and the thought that this hand, thesefingers, want to kill him. Want to do him harm. "That's the nature of the bond. You will be my mate. And while it isn't unheard of that a werewolf might kill his mate - "
"Ha! Knew it!"
" - it is exceedingly rare. You will grow fond of me."
"Fond of - are you kidding me? You're a murderer!"
"I'm an Alpha, who kills for the sake of his pack, and once you are pack, you will understand that."
"I won't. I - I'm only doing this for Scott, and D-Derek, and the fact that once I say yes, you'll leave Mrs. McCall alone, and you won't kill Scott or Derek, or - or anyone else - "
"What about Kate Argent? Do you think she deserves to die? After killing innocent people, children, in a manner that even I am incapable of?"
Stiles looks conflicted -
"You see? Loyalty changes everything. Attachment changes everything. You care about Derek, so his suffering pains you, and anyone responsible for that suffering deserves to die."
"I didn't say that - "
"But you didn't say 'no', either, did you? Nor did you want to."
"Once you are Turned, my dear, and once you have mated with me, you will find it far more difficult to cause me suffering than you can even imagine, now. You will be covered in my scent, and all will know that you are mine, and you will know it, and will crave for my touch."
"Uh, dude, I can see that these bizarre fantasies you've got going are really doing it for you, but for me? Not so much."
"Hm." He slips a finger into his mouth. A thin boy-finger, barely teasing his fangs, although the pointed brush of them brings asound from Stiles, a quickly-muffled not-whimper that isn't nearly as much about terror as Stiles would like it to be.
"Y-you - "
Another finger, and another, and then, when he has tasted them, he leaves them be and licks the palm.
Stiles shivers -
"Your first mating," says Peter, "will be perfect. It will be a gift, from me to you, although I do not doubt that I will be doubly grateful."
"Stop - "
He moves his mouth down to the boy's wrist, again, and now, the pulse there is racing, for Stiles is yet a child, and knows nothing of self-control. "You're so very lovely," Peter murmurs, and means it, and perhaps the boys sees that, because he gasps- finally - and jerks his hand away.
"Stop." Stiles is breathing heavily. His eyes are dark and panicked, and the sweat that rises from his body is spicy and smells entirely like a pup in heat, entirely like it ought to be.
Peter inhales. And smiles. "Do you want the bite?"
Stiles stares at him.
"Do you want. The bite."
Stiles swallows. Looks away.
"Yes or no?" He's done what he can. What he should. He's warned the boy - told him exactly what agreeing will entail - and if Stiles says yes, now, it will be true consent. It will be what Peter wants. What the Alpha needs -
"Yes," says Stiles, quietly, and there is something jagged in his voice, like a shard of glass or a hidden knife, and it's quite possibly the most sublime thing Peter has ever heard. "Yes, damn you." He looks back at Peter, and his eyes are almost feral. Almost wild. Soon, they will be wild. Peter can hardly wait. "I'll kill you, you know that?"
"I know you'll try."
"Perhaps." Peter takes Stiles's hand, again, as tenderly as if it were a lover's, for it will, very shortly, be a lover's.
"Doesn't that bother you?"
"Why should it? I'd hardly want you for a mate if you had nothing in you capable of challenging me; you would not be my equal. You would not rule the pack."
"I don't want to rule - "
"You do," says Peter. "You will. Not because you want power, but because you want to protect. Everything you're doing now - you do realize it's to protect my pack? To protect Scott, my Omega. To protect Derek, my Beta. All that you do, you do for the pack. Why should I oppose your actions when they are the actions of a proper mate?"
"You - you think I should kill you?"
"No." Peter smirks. "But if you do manage it, it will be the right thing. It will be in the best interests of the pack, for nothing else could move you to kill."
"You… you trust me with that." Stiles gawks at him. "With your life? After I've threatened to kill you? Are you crazy?"
"You are my chosen mate," answers Peter, and the certainty fills him, brings him peace. "That is all."
"That - " Stiles shakes his head, briefly, as if to free himself from a spell. "You are crazy."
"And you are mine."
"Not yet." Stiles scowls. "Never."
"Always," says Peter, and bites.
The title is from the following poem:
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffling the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratúe.
– Pablo Neruda, One Hundred Love Sonnets: "Morning, XI".