The Hales are famous. Their emissary is infamous. The Hales are one of the oldest and largest packs in North America, so it logically follows that their emissary would be equally as famous. Every hunter and supernatural on the continent knows not to cross the Hale emissary, but very few know who the Hales' emissary is or what they look like. The ones who've survived meeting the emissary all say the same thing. "You wouldn't believe me."
With this knowledge in mind, Chris Argent paces the length of the conference room on the thirty-fifth floor of Hale Enterprises, hands twitching toward where his guns should be.
"Dad, sit down."
Chris glances toward his daughter. She's right. He should appear calm. No werewolf wants to meet with a twitchy hunter. He falls into the chair next to Allison and buries his face in his hands. Allison is too young to understand. The Argents and the Hales have a colorful history, full of attempts by one family to kill the other. Chris hopes they'd ended that feud when he turned his father, his wife, and his sister over to Hale justice, but old grudges die hard. He doesn't care if they try to kill him, but not his daughter.
The conference room doors open, and four people walk in. Chris and Allison stand. They shake the Hale Alpha's hand from across the table. Talia sits across from Chris, with her daughter Laura—the heir to the Alphahood—to her right and her brother Peter—the pack enforcer—to her left. A familiar-looking young man takes a seat at the head of the table and kicks his feet up onto the wood. He's wearing tattered jeans and a red hoodie, completely at odds with the business casual the rest of the room is wearing. Chris stares. Who is this boy that shows blatant disrespect in front of the heads of the Hale and Argent families?
"Stiles," Peter says, his eyes never leaving Chris. "Feet off the table."
The boy rolls his eyes but rearranges his limbs to sit properly. The name jogs Chris's memory. That's Peter's husband, the one who'd made headlines when they'd married because of the large age gap between them. Peter was close to Chris's age and Stiles was the same age as Allison.
Why had Peter brought his human husband to this meeting?
"Mr. Argent," Talia starts. "I believe you've already met my daughter and my brother." Chris nods. "Allow me to introduce our emissary, Stiles Hale." Stiles waves with a wide grin.
Emissary? This scrawny kid is the Hales' feared emissary?
"Hi, Mr. Argent. Hi, Alli. How's Scotty?"
Chris's eyebrows reach higher. He can't possibly mean Allison's boyfriend, Scott McCall.
Allison smiles back, her posture completely relaxed. "He's good. Busy. He's got two dogs about to pop and he's worrying they'll both start giving birth at the same time."
Stiles nods. "Tell him to send me pictures. After. Not the gross part."
At least Chris isn't the only one out of the loop. Talia and Laura look just as lost. Peter is strangely smug.
Stiles notices the confused looks and nods toward Allison. "I went to high school and college with Allison's boyfriend. He was the best man at our wedding." Stiles blushes. "We, uh, we may have snuck Alli in as one of my 'cousins'." Stiles actually uses air quotes. Talia drops her face into her palm and groans.
Chris looks between Allison and Stiles. He feels lighter knowing that their families aren't as much at odds as he'd thought. He's grateful for the next generations of their families. The poison of the Argent line had never reached Allison and the Hale emissary seems just as interested in opening doors.
"Are you done?" Talia asks Stiles, who nods. It's obvious that she's just barely resisting rolling her eyes. Her attention turns to Chris. "You requested this meeting, Mr. Argent. If you would, can you go over what you told me?"
Chris nods. "Of course. A few days ago, one of my contacts in the fringe hunter community notified me of planned attack by the Calaveras family on the Hale pack. My contact wasn't able to specify how or when they planned to go after your family, but he's digging into it as much as he can without compromising his position."
Talia looks to Peter, who nods. "Do you have any other information for us?"
Chris slides a thumb drive across the table. "It's all on there."
Peter picks up the drive and stands, only to be blocked by Stiles in his rolling chair before he can reach the door. Chris can't tell if Stiles is frowning or pouting.
"Two days," Stiles says.
Peter crosses his arms. "Five."
Stiles's eyes narrow. He's silent for a minute. "Three."
Peter's posture relaxes, and he leans down to kiss Stiles deeply. Chris looks away. He's strangely jealous. It's been a long time since he trusted anyone enough to form a relationship. Not after Victoria's betrayal.
"I promise," Peter says. Stiles scoots back to the table.
Once Peter's gone, Stiles steeples his fingers. "So, what's Plan B?"
Four days later, Chris and all his guns, knives, and crossbows are parked a mile away from the warehouse the Calaveras are using for their temporary headquarters. He has a routine with Allison and his hunters. They arm up from the back of their two SUVs, moving around each other like one unit. There are five of hunters on this mission and four Hales. Charlie, Jim, and Sharon are all skilled hunters, committed to the Argent Code and minimizing casualties. Chris has never worked with the Hales. Stiles leans against a Camaro, dressed much the same as their meeting earlier in the week. The only addition is a wooden baseball bat. Chris knows Derek Hale by sight. The other werewolves introduce themselves as Erica, Isaac, and Boyd.
Since they're going against hunters, Chris has point. Stiles is certain that Peter is inside, along with other supernatural captives. Chris doesn't question Stiles's reason for being on this mission, but he's not convinced that Stiles will live up to the rumors about him.
"We break into pairs," Chris says. He points to each person as he names them. "Erica and Charlie. Isaac and Sharon. Boyd and Jim. Derek's with me. Stiles, you'll be on reserve with Allison."
Stiles snorts. "Yeah, that's not happening. My husband is in there. The only reason I'm waiting on you all," his hand wave encompasses hunters and werewolves, "is because he's not injured." Derek arches an eyebrow. Stiles sighs. "And because you want survivors to question." Stiles waves a hand. "Either way, I'm not going to stay out here like some fragile flower. And she," Stiles points at Allison, "is wasted as a babysitter."
Chris opens his mouth to argue but Derek minutely shakes his head. "Fine," Chris says. "Then you're with Derek and me."
"Okay." Stiles rests his bat on his shoulder. "Let's get this show on the road. All this standing around is cutting into my kiss-it-better time."
The Hales don't even react. This is somehow normal for them.
"Fine. The first three teams will head in first to distract the Calaveras, and then we'll follow to free the captives. Clear?"
Everyone nods and they march through the woods to the warehouse. Chris crouches behind a parked car. There's an explosion on the far side of the building. He hears gunfire.
They manage to stay in formation through the first floor. Every adversary they come across is either dead or subdued. They're descending into the basement when a pained roar echoes off the walls.
"Oh, you fuckers," Stiles shouts, as if the enemy were right in front of them. His expression hardens. He rolls his shoulders and holds one hand up, palm out. The section of wall he's facing explodes. Stiles steps through the hole. There's a flash of lightning that leaves the smell of ozone in the air and then another explosion. And another. And another.
Chris curses and jumps through the hole after Stiles. Derek and Allison are right behind them. It's only been seconds, but Stiles is already far ahead of them. He hears Stiles shout something, but the sound is too mangled to make out words. They run through the rooms Stiles had already cleared. It's obvious what this section was for. There's blood on the floor, sharp tools, and large systems of restraints.
None of the Calaveras they find are alive. Their faces are twisted in terror, like they'd seen Death itself. Chris understands why when they enter the main room. Cages line one wall. The people inside barely have room to stand.
Stiles turns toward them, one hand crackling with barely restrained power, and for a second, Chris thinks they're going to die. There's something dark and feral about Stiles. His eyes are shadowed. Power ripples around him and the few Calaveras still alive are scrambling to escape. Stiles doesn't even turn to look as he raises a group of them in the air and slams them into the far wall hard enough that Chris can hear their bones break.
Peter's in the center of the room, strapped into some strange chair. There's blood on his forehead and his eyes look a little wild, but he's grinning as Stiles tears the room apart.
Stiles turns away. Chris shudders. He understands the rumors now.
The device Peter is on crumbles like ashes. Screams fill the air. People are literally being torn apart. Chris has never seen anything like it.
Derek offers his shoulder for Peter to lean on. They share quiet words. Derek doesn't look the least bit surprised at the level of devastation. Chris turns to suggest for Allison to head back to the others, but Allison is watching Stiles with appreciation. She's seen this before, he realizes, and he's not sure what part of that realization scares him the most—that she'd known what Stiles was capable of or that she'd been in a situation to witness this level of destruction.
Stiles is still screaming obscenities after the Calaveras are dead. He blows a hole in the wall, letting natural light stream in. The captives use the opportunity to flee.
"Come on," Peter says. He's looking less and less injured each passing second. "He needs a minute to work it out."
Chris lets the others know to vacate. They gather in a loose grouping at the edge of the woods. Derek is talking to the rescued captives, getting their stories and asking where they need to go. Isaac and Boyd tend to the injured. Peter, Erica, and Allison stare at the building as it implodes. The degree to which the building is reduced to rubble is impressive. He can barely call the remains of the cement walls pebbles.
Stiles strides out from the settling dust. His bat is unmarred. There's not a speck of dirt or blood on him. Peter and Stiles look at each other with matching grins. Erica shoves Peter forward. What comes next is not suitable viewing for minors. Chris isn't sure he's old enough for the twist of limbs and shredded clothing.
"Yeah, they're gonna be a while," Allison says. "We should head back."
Chris stares at Peter and Stiles for a long moment before leading the group back to their vehicles. Chris eyes his daughter. "Are they always like that?"
She smiles. "No. That was tame."
Chris is very jealous.