The moon looks different than it used to.
It's a strange thing to distrust, but the feeling is there all the same. It seems to hold an influence over this little world like nothing else, as though all those myths people have spun around it aren't so crazy after all.
It paints the wreckage of the Hale mansion with a strange otherworldly glow, and glints off the edges of his gun bright enough to blind. It catches on Peter Hale's wide, white grin, like that's where it belongs.
"I'm only going to ask you one more time. Where is my son?" the Sheriff asks, pressing the gun deep into the hollow of Peter's throat. Stiles has told him more than he ever wanted to know about the effects of aconite poisoning on werewolves, so he knows just how messy this night could become.
Peter must know it too, but he's fearless in that way the insane so often are. He seems to find the situation more amusing than anything else.
"You know, I'm starting to understand where Stiles gets his fire from," Peter says. "You always seemed so dull, chugging along in your little patrol car, oblivious to everything. But maybe you're not so useless after all. I mean, you're on the completely wrong track, but I like your initiative."
"Your house has collapsed in on itself and half crushed my son's Jeep, and he's nowhere to be found," he snaps. "If you think I'm going to stand here and waste time—"
"I do think you are, because that's what you're doing," Peter says, his tone as pleasant as if they've just crossed paths at a dinner party, instead of in the middle of the night amidst the ruins of his family's house. "I can't help you find Stiles. Do you see how easy this would be, if you actually listened when I answered your questions?"
"And I'm just supposed to trust you?" the Sheriff asks.
"I would never harm Stiles," Peter says. "He's probably one of the very few people in this world that I might even be persuaded to go out of my way to protect. He's certainly the only person I have ever asked to join my pack."
The Sheriff's fingers tighten around his gun as he feels a sick dread seep down into his heart. "If you've bitten him—"
"If you'd paid more attention in Werewolf 101, you'd know I can't turn him anymore," Peter says dismissively. "He said he didn't want it, anyway, though he wasn't telling me the truth. I think that just makes the refusal that much more intriguing, don't you? If he really didn't want it, that would be one thing. Strange, but understandable. But to want it and give it up? That's something else entirely."
"You don't know anything about my son," the Sheriff says, though his relief that his son had chosen to stay as he was is short-lived in the face of having no idea where he is now.
"On the contrary, I've held his life in my hands, so I know him better than most. Because that's when you can see someone for who they really are. Some people are brave, some are ruthless or afraid. Stiles is curious--so much so that he came back to face me when I was half out of my mind, and could have torn him in two. We had a door between us at the time, but doors were nothing to me then."
The Sheriff calls on years of experience dealing with criminals trying to get a rise out of him, and that's the only thing that reigns him in. His finger aches to tighten. "There's more to Stiles than that," he says. "So if that's all you got out of it, you're missing more than you think."
"There is a lot I've yet to learn, that's true. Which probably makes you wonder, why it is that I didn't bite him anyway," Peter says. "Scott ran from me, so I chased him down. But Stiles…when I had him in my grasp, he didn't run. He stood right there in front of me; utterly terrified, to be sure, but still he didn't run. I couldn't force him after that, because he wasn't prey any longer. For better or worse, he was already one of us."
Peter leans forward, seemingly unconcerned with the muzzle held to his throat. Maybe that was happened when you were near invincible—it turned you fearless.
"And no one can change that, Sheriff," Peter tells him. "Not even you."
"That's close enough," the Sheriff warns. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I want you to understand that I would never hurt him," Peter says smoothly.
"Try harder, because I'm not there yet," the Sheriff says.
"Okay, how about this? It's not the werewolves you need to be worried about. We didn't do this. We can't huff and puff and blow a house down anywhere outside a nursery rhyme. This was done by something far more powerful than any of us."
"I said that's close enough," the Sheriff snaps, when Peter inches closer. "These bullets will stop even you, so don't tempt me."
"Ah yes, wolfsbane," Peter says. "Let me give you a little advice for free—it's not the weapon that matters. Hunters put entirely too much stock in wolfsbane, don't you think? They seem to forget that it works as well on humans as it does on us. It'll wind its way into your heart and stop it in its tracks; and it doesn't even leave a trace. It's such a clever little plant."
"I'm more interested in what it would do to you," the Sheriff says.
"It would be much slower with me," Peter says easily. "I could hold on for hours, I might even crawl back up out of the ground. I've done it before. I'm not saying it's not useful, it's just it all depends on how you use it. It reminds me of Stiles, actually, because it counts on being underestimated. Looks completely harmless, but it's always planning ahead."
"You think I'm going to stand for you talking about him like that?" the Sheriff asks.
"It was a compliment," Peter says defensively.
"That's what concerns me," the Sheriff says. "Stay away from him."
"Not an easy task," Peter says wryly, "considering no one knows where to find him. He could be six feet beneath where you stand, and you might never know it."
"If I've found out you've done anything, if I even suspect that you've harmed him, I will hunt you down like the dog you are," the Sheriff snaps.
"Dog jokes," Peter says pleasantly. "Like father, like son. I have to say, you don't quite have his comedic timing."
"It wasn't meant to make you laugh," the Sheriff assures him.
"Have you considered yet, that perhaps Stiles doesn't wish to be found?" Peter asks. "I find it rather telling that my nephew has disappeared at the same time."
"He wouldn't just leave without a reason," the Sheriff insists.
"No, of course he wouldn't, but that's why you should be wary," Peter says. "You might not want to go barreling in, when you don't know what that reason may be."
"I'll keep that in mind," the Sheriff says.
"See that you do," Peter says. "Are we done here?"
"We're done," the Sheriff snaps.
"Good. Because now that we have that all cleared up," Peter says. "There's just one more thing."
Peter reaches up, lightening quick, and twists the gun from his hand. He reaches for his throat with his free hand, and slams him against a tree. He drops the gun dismissively and then presses up against him, leaning in close enough the Sheriff can feel his breath ghosting across his ear.
"The only thing keeping me from ripping out your throat is my respect for Stiles, and because I don't want bloodstains on my new coat," Peter whispers, his tone part promise, and part caress. "The next time you aim that gun at me, you better be prepared to use it."
Peter lets go as quickly as he'd grabbed him and the Sheriff collapses to the ground. He grabs for his gun as he gets back on his feet, but Peter is already out of sight; the moonlight slants partway through the trees like an accomplice, casting strange shadows and covering his retreat.