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The Shadow's Heart

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Large plass doors hissed apart as, Chris McArgent Stilinski strode into the first operational control room, with his assistant Jesse on his heels. The room’s metal walls were gleaming and unblemished. Monitors and holographic interfacing technology lined some of the walls, while panels and screens lined others. The room was large enough to host fifty people with workstations equipped with computerized interfaces.

At the back of the room was a smaller office. Waving a hand toward the reader on the door panel, Chris activated it to its function and it swung open to let him and his small entourage in. At the centre of this room was a large oval table with holocomputer workstations built into all of its separated seat stations so that those who gathered there could access anything they needed to from the internet, the computer systems, or the vast archives of stored intelligence and other such information kept by Shadow law.

Chris looked to those who’d raise their eyes upon his approach, serious if a bit thoughtful as he always seemed to the subordinates beneath his purview. Jesse, a tall muscular black man, with short, cropped, curly black hair and silver eyes that slashed through a man like a sharpened blade, carried in his hands, two electronic work pads. He handed one to Chris as they passed through the frame.

The strike unit that had been seated around the oval table at the head of the room, Stiles’ unit, noted him and Kali approaching just behind the shadow law director and his assistant. Stiles also held a pad of his own and as he raised it to swipe at the screen, Kali swiftly made her way to the vacant seat she often occupied. Danny eyed her with mild amusement as she passed behind him and came around his other side to sit down. She burned him with a heated look and he worked to hide a smile.

“Good afternoon people,” Chris greeted. Stiles pulled up at his right and scanned the faces of his teammates. “Listen up. You have a new mission. Our Athena satellite system, which as you know is tasked with monitoring for actionable intel on threats to the SCRI has picked up on something big. We have reason to believe that there will be an ordinance buy at twenty four hundred hours tonight. The rebellion is set to receive a new type of chip controlled explosive. We don’t have as many details as we’d like on the shipment. The last we heard about this, it was meant to be a prototype but what we do know for certain, is that it’s potential for destruction is immense. The seller is a major player we have been, as yet unable to pin down. Strike one will be intercepting.”

Jesse’s eyes seemed to go hazy and his head cocked to a side, as if he were hearing something the others weren’t and then he turned to Chris. “Director, Tamora Monroe is on the line for you,”

“Why is Main Hunting Division calling me?” he asked idly, brow furrowing. He didn’t expect a reply and Jesse was unable to give one, he simply looked on waiting for something he could respond to. Chris glanced over at Stiles, “You have this...” it was less of a question and more of a command, with a vote of confidence somewhere laced about within it. Looking back to his assistant he said, “Patch it through to my office,” and began walking back out of the room. Before he made it out though he turned back and addressed all of them, yet his eyes were on Stiles, “I want this done clean. The seller is priority, we must get him alive. The rebel leader is secondary, I’d prefer him alive but if that isn’t possible, terminate. Everyone else... use discretion.” Stiles nodded, accepting his words on behalf of his team.

The captain assumed command as the director, his stepfather exited the room. “Ok, let’s talk mission specs.”

“Do we have information on exactly who we’re targeting here?” Erica asked.

“We know who’s buying. One of the rebel leaders shadow law’s been looking at for sometime. Seito Takeshi.” Stiles held his pad forward, then swiped in an arc across his screen, that brought his hand curving in a manner that spanned the room. At once, the files he’d been reviewing on his own pad distributed to the holographic viewing panels set into the table where each of the team members sat. With a few finger flicks and gesticulations, there was a small projection of information rising from their sections of table. Each held the same knowledge, an echo of what Stiles had been provided by Chris.

“He’s a fire kitsune alpha, incredibly lethal and highly paranoid. He’s escaped our teams on several occasions. I don’t intend on letting him get away tonight.”

“What about the seller?” Derek asked and for a moment, their eyes locked and something absolutely secret passed between them. Something that, just as quickly as it had come, became locked behind their walls and screens of professionalism.

“Adrian Delecourt.”

“Adrian Delecourt?” Danny mumbled questioning.

“It’s an alias, tied to several other aliases we’ve been able to identify over the last four years. Michael Drummand, Francois Delouise, Mitch Gotye, Yosef Habib and the list goes on. What we know is that we know nothing. Except that he is a front man for the crime syndicate known as the inferno circle.”

“I thought the circle was a myth...” Ennis mused looking around with a mixture of hopeful excitement and thoughtful confusion on his face.

“No myth,” Danny chimed in. His hands were working with the rapidity of an old world machine gun, on the holo-keys of the table’s workstation that was his. “Shadow Law’s been unsuccessful in finding anything concrete on these guys since they first emerged.” Looking up at Stiles, he added, “I’m guessing that’s why his capture is top priority.”

“And the gold star goes to...” Danny rolled his eyes and went back to reviewing the information the captain had distributed to them. “Now you heard the director. Delecourt is top priority, we take him in alive. Under no circumstances is he to be taken out or left unable to communicate,” Stiles turned on Ennis as he spoke, the man also known by his call sign, Sledge, before flashing an equally intense look of accusation at Boyd.

After a moment of fielding his captain’s glare Boyd caved, “Ok ok, I get it cap, jeez.”

“Just making sure the point is well received here. I’m not about to have the director breathing down my neck on this one, because somebody, got a little hammer happy, or their claws too wet.” Stiles gave one final withering stare and then swiped the screen of his pad as he continued. “Now this is taking place in the Barren Shipyard tonight on a class SX3 series four hundred Helecarrier.” It was a cross between what looked like an enormous ship but outfitted with five turbines which allowed it to leave the water body it travelled along and take to the air like a plane.

“We’re coming in aerially. We will approach at twenty five hundred feet from a stealth mission jumper,” which was a small rectangular craft used for mission transportation through the air as well as quick extractions. “This is to avoid the ranged sensors of the carrier. When we are in position we take the plunge. Now we aren’t entirely sure of the extent of what we are walking into so we need to be careful here. It’s my understanding that the meet will be taking place in the captain’s private dining facility four levels down.” He eyed his team as he manipulated the information on his pad and in turn, in front of their faces, so they could follow along with him.

“So when we drop,” he continued activating a large holographic projection of the helecarrier they would be boarding. The image bloomed above the expanse of the table and rotated slowly, so that each member could get a good look at every aspect of the ship. “We gather here.” Stiles pointed toward the stern of the craft and the spot indicated, lit up on the holograph to better indicate their target for contact. “We need to stay sharp and quietly take down any hostiles where we land. This area provides good cover so depending on the situation we may be able to touch down in stealth and clear the deck after. Erica,” Stiles glanced at Erica and she returned his gaze intently, waiting. “I want you and Boyd clearing the deck. Again I want this done quietly, we can’t tip off the targets to our presence until after the rest of the team is in position.” Erica nodded and glanced over at Boyd, who seemed pleased with his assignment by the half smirk on his face.

“Kali, You will track down all escape crafts and disable them. Don’t take any chances. Take out their systems and plant a few explosives as well. If by some miracle they’re able to escape and to override your work, we want to ensure we can blow them out of the sky.” She nodded and began assessing her range of explosives for what would be perfect to deploy on the mission.

“Danny and Ennis, you two take the engine room. I want the carrier under our control before the party really gets started. Danny focus on system, Ennis focus on keeping him undisturbed.” Turning then to Isaac, Stiles went on. “You’re gonna infiltrate that meeting Isaac. Before we come busting in there, I want you to glean whatever information you can from their exchange. It would be the fastest way to get something we could use before we take them in and jaws get locked. Try to plant a few surveillance devices in the room once you get in there. Derek and I will be waiting nearby. I will give the signal when we’re ready to take them in. Wait for it. Don’t start alone, we don’t know what they’re capable of and while I have no doubts you can handle yourself, this is delicate and it’s better if we handle it as a team.” The covert operations expert nodded his agreement and Stiles returned it.

Finally, Stiles looked to Derek, and the werewolf returned his gaze seriously. “Your target here is Takeshi, I’m going after Delecourt.”

“Understood.”

“Good. Now are there any questions.” A charged silence met his question and he half smiled. Stiles often thought of his team as a powerful and precise weapon. Well oiled and well maintained. All one ever had to do was point and shoot and they would get the job done. “Alright, get yourselves organized and prepared, we’re in the air by twenty two hundred hours.” He shut down the projection and powered down his pad. Turning around, his eyes flicked to Derek nonchalantly and then he was walking out of the operations room and heading for his office.

Stiles was just a few paces from his door, when he spied Jackson walking down the corridor coming toward him. Inwardly he cursed the gods of circumstance, that in a building as large as Shadow Law headquarters, with a grand total of twenty five floors, not including the underground transport ship yard, he still managed to run into one of the only people, he would give anything not to see.

He tried to scurry for his door but of course, the act itself drew Jackson’s attention out of whatever withdrawn day dream he was in, to noticing who was walking in his direction. “Mieszko!” he called eagerly, excitement blooming in his eyes, then quickly sputtering to a low flame at Stiles’ reaction.

Stiles’ eyes widened and then he sighed, slowing himself to a normal pace. His expression was that of exasperation and weariness. “Jackson, you should really stop calling me that.”

“Why,” and he really did sound very confused and a little hurt.

“Because, we’re not together anymore. That’s an intimate name, don’t you think?”

Well we have an intimate past, don’t you remember?” This time Jackson sounded irritated. He pushed a rough hand through his dirty blond hair, which brought the dark blue shirt he was wearing beneath his black leather jacket pressing tightly against his muscular chest. His green blue eyes flashed impatience. Stiles balked at his reaction, the heat in Jackson igniting a spark of ferocity in him as well. Jackson saw it and immediately cooled himself down. Somewhere inside his head he knew he was pushing things, but he also felt like Stiles wasn’t being fair. In fact, the man was being downright unreasonable.

Sighing and letting his hand drop to his side, he tried again. “I just mean, I’ve called you that for a long time. Together or not I still know you in a deeper way than a lot of people. It’s not so easy to just break a habit once it’s fully formed. Besides, its just a nickname, like Stiles.”

Stiles huffed and then flailed a hand in the air as if to say, fine do what you want. “I gotta go,” He said and began moving but Jackson touched his hand and stopped him.

“Wait,” Stiles looked at him pointedly. “I just wanted to apologize, for what happened at the gala. I was out of line.”

“Yes you were,” Stiles jibed.

I know, it’s just,” he paused. Eyes glanced down at his feet as if he were unsure of exactly what he wanted to say. He looked up again and stared into Stiles’ eyes, deeply. His green blue gaze, disarming the heat of Stiles brown ones, just so. “I may have been an asshole. A really really imperfect one. But for all my faults, Mieszko, I really really, loved you. Maybe I didn’t know how to show it the right way or express it well, but, it was true for me...” He went on staring, all soft and slightly broken like a puppy waiting for you to pick up the ball and throw it, or scratch it behind the ears because it needs the positive reinforcement.

Stiles felt himself caving. First his brow furrowed, wrinkling into a sympathetic frown. T hen his lips relaxed and he half smiled. His heart clenched and he expelled a slow breath. His eyes became understanding and the empathy that he often had to put in a box inside himself, came rushing out. All too quickly Stiles remembered the love he did feel for Jackson. T hat romantic love from once upon a time. Looking at him just then, seeing his vulnerability, seeing him apologize, something the old Jackson didn’t make t o o big a habit of doing, touched him inside.

“I know it was Jacks,” he offered and then absentmindedly, completely caught up in the moment, raised a hand to caress his cheek. “I know you did, I did too,” He felt and saw Jackson turn his face into the hand at his cheek and Stiles withdrew, seeing, really seeing, only then, what he was doing. He cleared his throat. “Listen, I might have overreacted today. Honestly I don’t mind when you call me that, I just... want to make sure you understand that our relationship, romantically anyway, that’s over. I can’t go back,” he admitted solemnly. “But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real and it doesn’t mean I don’t wanna be your friend, I just want you to understand that too.”

Jackson sighed and nodded, defeated. Stiles relented then and leaned in, to press lips to Jackson’s cheek. It was soft and slower than he should have allowed, perhaps, but it was like saying good bye to something and he felt it was necessary.

Captain,” the low baritone of Derek’s voice, broke the enchantment of the moment for Jackson and the solemnity of it for Stiles. Before Stiles even pulled away, Jackson could feel the change beneath his skin. He glared at Derek, as the man approached.

“Hale,”

“We were supposed to go over mission details,” Derek uttered professionally, then turning to Jackson he greeted, “Captain Whittemore.”

“Hale,” Jackson said with a hint of venom and dusting of irritation.

“Right,” Stiles admitted and stepped back. “My office. Jackson, I’ll see you...”

Jackson only nodded, and watched the two men disappear through the door frame a few steps down the hall from where they had congregated. Fucking Hale, he thought, the words a roiling cloud of frustration is his mind, that made his eyes burn a n d his skin feel too tight. The guy definitely had the worst timing in the freaking world. As far as Jackson could tell, he and Stiles were having one hell of a moment. Sure his old lover had tried for, letting him down easy, but he knew the man. Jackson knew that with a few good pushes in the right places, Stiles could be coaxed right back into his arms. And he was about to make his move when fucking Hale had to show up and shatter the moment like so much broken glass.

Jackson continued recounting the last few moments in the hall as he went along his way. He was headed down to D.R.U.I.D.E. in the lower levels of the headquarters. Bright fluorescent lighting making the off white walls of the hall look like a newly unveiled hospital wing with its sterilized paint job. He rounded a corner, turning briskly, seeing nothing in particular when the figure that had been coming from the end loomed in his peripheral vision.

He stopped himself abruptly and focused on who was in front of him. Had the person even been coming round, because the more he thought about it, they seemed to have been immobile. Jackson’s face scrunched up in confusion when he realized who it was he was looking at. Confusion, quickly changed to a shade of covered embarrassment.

Peter Hale stood in the hall wearing an unexpected smile on his face that was less welcoming and more expectant, as if to say, aha you are right on time my friend. His three piece suit of black cotton was immaculate. His vest covered a skinny black tie falling over a dark purple shirt and his shoes were so shiny you could see the image of your outline reflected in it when you drew close.

True his S upernatural C itizens R egistration I nitiative placed him in oversight of Shadow Law, but his office was hardly in the building, and he rarely came by. Furthermore, for the director to simply be walking around unaccompanied, or rather standing in halls waiting to see who comes around, was rather uncharacteristic. Though if Jackson had known then how calculating Peter Hale could be, he might not have thought that at all. The action might have seemed perfectly in character for the man.

“Excuse me, Director Hale I...”

“It’s quite alright Captain Whittemore, I was actually coming down to see you in your office. How fortuitous that you have met me halfway.”

“To see me... I’m sorry did I forget a meeting of some kind?” Jackson asked, even more confused than he had been a minute ago. It wouldn’t do to forget the director of the SCRI.

“No no,” Peter set him at ease, the broad smile on his face, shrinking to something a bit more natural and appropriate, kind even. “Nothing so formal as all that. I was just,” He paused and his smile became a frown. His eyes hazed over as if he were trying to find the way to phrase his thoughts. “I was just finding myself a bit worried over something and I was hoping, you might be able to help. I’m sure you would share my concerns after all.”

“Concerns... what about sir?”

“Captain Stilinski.” Jackson’s eyes widened and his interest piqued.

“Is something wrong with...”

Perhaps not,” Peter’s voice softened and he gave another small smile, to attempt easing Jackson again. The old instinct of a lover flaring in him, at the suggestion something may be even slightly amiss, with the one he cared for deeply. “I mean to say, I have been a little concerned over some things I have been, observing with regards to the captain and I was hoping, I could speak to you about it. I don’t have very much time so perhaps you could sit in my car with me for a few minutes hmm?”

Jackson involuntarily glanced backward. Around the corner where he had just come from, was Stiles in his office. If anything was going on with him, Jackson should know, Jackson should find some way to help. Besides if there were something Jackson could do to fix whatever might be wrong, it may go a long way toward Jackson and Stiles getting back together. He nodded his head and gave a smile of his own. “Lead the way sir.”

“Please,” the director cooed, gesturing down the hall with one hand, while placing the other to the small of Jackson’s back, “call me Peter.”

*

Stiles tapped a bu t ton on the console next to the open frame and the doors slid into place. Tapping another he ensured they would remain closed, until he authorized otherwise and with a final tapping of his fingers, deactivated regular surveillance equipment in the office. The cameras and microphones were used more as a means of protection for the ones they monitored, rather than as a means of monitoring them twenty four seven, and so the power to control them was left to the occupant. He then turned to gape at Derek. The wolf only regarded him coolly, wholly unfazed.

“You’re crazy, yup, you are definitely crazy, I have no doubt about it, off your rocker, lost the plot and the marbles fucking nutso crazy, What were you thinking!” Stiles whisper yelled and then glanced around as if someone with x-ray vision stood outside the door, and with the aid of super hearing like certain superheroes of old, were listening in on the conversation.

Currently, I’m thinking you are immensely paranoid and you should do something about that.” Derek delivered the words with with a calm and collected smoothness that made Stiles want to headbutt him, just a little. “Previously I was thinking,” And the beta wolf lowered his head and narrowed his eyes at Stiles while they flashed a hot amber. His voice became a quiet storm of jealousy as he continued, “I thought he promised he wouldn’t kiss Jackson anymore.” His words ended up being ground out between teeth that were so tightly mashed together, Stiles wondered if he wouldn't find tiny filings of enamel, on the floor of his office later on.

The captain looked at his secret lover incredulously. “You’re kidding right?” he said with a single, involuntary head nod of emphasis. The man had to be making a joke because otherwise, everything about what he just said, was just crazy. A lot of crazy. Way too much crazy for the level headed Derek Hale that he knew and... well, liked a lot.

Derek raised one argumentative eyebrow on his terribly serious face. He spoke no words as his expression did more than enough to say, no Stiles no I am not joking, I am anything but in a joking mood right now.

“Wow, Derek that’s... wow.” He shook his head as he continued to stare wide eyed at the wolf before him. “First of all you, made me promise I wouldn’t let Jackson try to kiss me again, and second that was barely a kiss,” Stiles’ face scrunched up as he finished, demonstrating how far from a kiss he thought it was.

Your lips, his face,” Derek grunted out. “By definition Stiles, that is called a kiss. Should I send you a link to an online dictionary, because clearly you’re having trouble with the concept of definitions.”

Fine, my lips were on his face, yes, and yes I promised I wouldn’t kiss him but that right there, was less about being romantic and more about saying goodbye.” Stiles’ voice was heating up and steadily rising higher in his ire. “Jackson and I have a lot of history and he just apologized for being an ass at the gala. Furthermore, he just explained why he was being an ass and that it is hard for him to let go, so forgive me for feeling sorry for the man I used to love, who clearly still loves me. I felt like he deserved to know I still care even if it’s not in the same way. So I fucking pecked him on the cheek big deal. Don’t tell me you’re turning into this... this guy.”

And just what guy is that Stiles?” Derek asked, his tone a bit less angry, now that he’d heard Stiles’ breakdown of events.

“The kind of guy whose overly possessive, overly jealous and overly controlling. The kind of guy that Jackson was when I told him I had had enough, and it was over. Because that is not the kind of guy for me.” He beat his hands against his chest for emphasis while flailing the other hand around aimlessly in his anger. “And you know what, I didn’t think you were the type, but if you are let me know right now because it’s not gonna work no matter how beautiful you may be.” His face reddened as he realized how he ended the tirade. He was even more annoyed to see the smirk Derek was trying and failing to hide. “Don’t you dare...” He stared yelling, and then caught himself, cutting off and fuming with flared nostrils.

“Stiles,” Derek groaned, relenting, saddened by the way things had gone. Yes he sounded like a jealous ass but he didn’t mean to come off that badly. It was just... “I’m a werewolf Stiles...”

“What is that supposed to mean?” the other man glared at him, half confused half tired of the whole conversation and just generally the past few days. .

“It means that we are very dominant and possessive creatures. Humans can also be possessive and jealous. So the human part of me and the wolf in me that feel those things kind of overwhelmed me,” he admitted, his voice a little tense as if he didn’t really wanna come clean, but knew he had to. Stiles just continued to look at him but his gaze had lost some of it’s heat, his mind already working along the track Derek was setting up before him. He could almost see where it was headed before the man finished explaining himself.

“You don’t know this, but this isn’t just my first human relationship. It’s my first relationship period.” The man’s eyes were averted and his face ripened, as he suddenly found the inner workings of the floor beneath their feet, fascinating to behold.

“What,” Stiles breathed. He thought he’d known where Derek was going but that admission had come out of left field. “No way you’ve never been with anyone else.”

Oh I’ve been with other people. Wolves, coyotes, even a werehyena once, though she had this obnoxious laugh, she did way too much whenever she came...” he looked up then and stared off to a side with glassy eyes as he remembered, “but that’s not the point. I’ve had sexual encounters, but never anything so real, or lingering as this. You’re my first, relationship... I mean if we’re calling it that,” he scoffed, “under the circumstances.” and then he finally looked back at Stiles for some kind of assurance or confirmation.

Stiles at first just continued looking at him with equal parts shock and wonder, painted up and down his face like a used canvas. Then he quickly shook his head having defined what Derek was communicating with those vulnerable expressions and came back to himself. Stiles took a step forward and nodded to the man. “Yeah, yeah that’s... we’re calling it that, even under the circumstances,” he chuckled a bit to himself and then went silent, giving the other man the chance to finish.

I’m glad... I mean that you feel that way. Listen I’m not used to this. But I do know that for the first time, two sides of me are both having a hard time seeing you with other people. I’m trying to come to terms with it. I mean I’ve had my wolf under control for years, but he’s never had to deal with... this part of living. It’s different and weird. And with all the hiding I guess... I guess I’m...” afraid, “...worried that you’re gonna realize I’m not what you want.”

Stiles huffed out a breath as his mouth transfigured into an O of revelation. He closed the distance between himself and the other man and then took Derek’s hands in his own. He knew what it felt like to be insecure. He knew what it felt like to worry that you weren’t enough and the person you wanted, the person who claimed to want you would discover that, that wasn’t true at all. That there was someone else, someone better. Or maybe just that, they didn’t want to be with you after all. Not because there was a greater alternative, but because you, simply didn’t do it for them anymore.

Stiles caressed the back of Derek’s hands with his own and then, turned them around so he could lace their fingers together. “Listen, silly wolf. The situation may be terrible, but I don’t wanna be with anyone but you. How about this, you and I have our own little new mission. I try to appease the wolf within,” Stiles squeezed Derek’s hand, “and you, try to remember that even when we’re pretending we aren’t more to each other, I still don’t want any one else, but you.” Derek kept looking at the ground and, if it weren’t so heartbreaking to see how vulnerable he was it would be funny. Just the image of the indomitable Derek Hale, warrior, prince of the Hale clan and taker of zero shit from anyone, standing there looking so abashed and like a shy child standing before a strange family member they’ve never met.

Stiles released one hand and brought thumb and forefinger up to Derek’s chin, to lift it so he could look into his eyes and show him, how sure of his words he was. “No one else,” he repeated. And then he leaned in and took the man’s lips with his own. He had to tilt his head upward slightly as Derek was only a few inches taller. The soft, silken feel of Stiles’ mouth, pressing against his and then moving with intent to taste the slickness hidden within, was a soothing balm that helped wash all his worries away just then.

He responded with fervour, lifting a hand to frame the captain’s cheek while they continued to press palm and palm of their other hand, entwined by fingers together.

***

Jackson slid into the back of the Raspcort series four hundred luxury vehicle. It’s plush seats were made of a new hybrid fabric called sleath, a binding of leather and silk which, gave the sturdy and beautifully gleaming leather, the silky, soft and texturally appealing quality of silk. The velvet red upholstery colouring, of the inside of the vehicle was a deep and attractive contrast, to the solid obsidian black colouring of the outside. He could see his own reflection in the surface of the highly polished metal as they had approached the high-park, where vehicles belonging to personnel and visitors of Shadow Law were garaged. Now he felt like he were sitting in a blood den, the image coming to him from one of those classic old world vampire movies he used to let Stiles sucker him into watching.

Peter got in opposite him and sat there watching for a minute, appearing deep in thought. He was about to ask the director what was wrong, thinking he might have lost himself in his own train of thought when Peter finally spoke. As he did so, his eyes slid up and latched onto Jackson’s, like a pinball slipping into the groove of the score goal perfectly.

“You and Captain Stilinski... Stiles, have shared a very intimate relationship for quite some time, until a little while ago.” He didn’t phrase it as a question, but Jackson found himself nodding just the same, as if the words required confirming before they could continue. “Yes, yes,” Peter murmured almost to himself. “That is precisely why I have come to you Jackson. May I call you Jackson?” He crooned in a slowly, lowering voice that made all his words seem compelling and important. There was something about words spoken utterly quietly, that just lent that much more weight to them and forced you to listen even more intently than you were.

“Yes of course, Director.”

“Good then, please I’d have you call me Peter. I am about to confide in you Jackson. I am about to share with you my innermost thoughts, feelings, concerns and that, I think, will tie us together in a rather deep way.” The words were starting to make Jackson feel, equal parts, important and uncomfortable simultaneously, but he tried not to show any reaction, relying heavily on his covert operative training to do so.

Even still, Peter, despite being completely human, kept up his intense gaze, never moving his eyes away so that he could look deep into them for indications of Jackson’s own thoughts and feelings. Peter was a master at manipulation and considering he went over every training method used for Shadow Law operatives, he had something of a special insight into how they worked and what to look for. Like with Jackson, who did an admirable job at marshalling his facial features into a mask of calm, but they were just a little too tight, not relaxed enough, and the muscle that worked at his jaw, just to the right of his chin indicated his feelings of discomfort.

“It is because I trust you,” Peter went on, switching his tack just so as to get the man to settle into his words, and allow them to draw him in, rather than put him on alert. He could see it was working already. “It is because I know how much you have cared for Stiles Jackson. And a man like you, would want to protect those you care about, even if things between you have been... put on the back burner for a time. Am I right in believing that?”

“Yes, yes, direc... Peter.” Jackson nodded, his mind tuning into the implications of the man’s words, leaving his previous discomfort, a fluttering of smoke on a high wind which dissipated it.

“Good. Then let us get down to the crux of the matter. Let me start by saying,” he crossed his legs and settled into his seat a little more, but still maintained his eye contact. “I have admired the McArgent Stilinski family for some time now. As heads of agency, Noah, Melissa and Chris have been stellar examples of public servants. They have done everything in their power to lead the way into a bright future, under the Initiative. I respect this immensely. Their contributions to Shadow Law and the HSSD have been Incalculable, and have truly leapt us forward, far ahead of any projections we have made. Furthermore, their children, have all been ideal and shining examples themselves. Two captains of strike teams and another captain class agent, who for whatever reasons of modesty, has temporarily declined a team of his own. They have the highest close rate in the agency, beside yourself. They are dedicated and it shows. These are the reasons that I have admired this family and kept a close eye upon them as any other caring director would.” Peter sighed as if the next part of his speech was to bring him such sorrow he couldn’t bear it. His eyes fluttered as he lowered them for a moment, to add effect to his words.

“Stiles, is so full of potential and I have placed, a lot of faith in him. As well I have monitored his progress, if only out of courtesy to his parents and the friendship I share with them. It is because of this I come to you today. I fear Stiles is engaging in action, that is not just detrimental to his entire career, but also to his reputation and life. As well as the honourable reputation of his family.”

“What kind of action?” Jackson asked hurriedly, his idea of maintaining a measure of stoicism enhanced by his training, completely lost as the idea of Stiles in need of saving riled him up.

Peter looked back at him then with elusive eyes, “No I couldn’t say just yet...”

Peter please. You said yourself, you came to me because you thought you could trust me. So go ahead and trust me. I love Stiles and I would do anything to protect him. And I know first hand how self destructive he could be.” He was referring to breaking up, counting that as an action that went against what would be safe, smart and progressive, forgetting almost completely, the words he had confessed to Stiles in apology, a little while earlier. “Tell me,” he pleaded.

“Alright,” Peter relented. He uncrossed his legs and then leaned forward, conspiratorially, lacing his fingers together and resting his forearms on his thighs as he did so. “You are aware that the fraternization between humans and supers in a romantic or sexual nature remains illegal.”

“Yes of course.”

“And also of what the consequences for such intermingling would be if it were to be discovered?”

“Yes, I do... You don’t mean...” Jackson’s eyes first widened then narrowed, his brow creasing between his eyes.

“Have you not noticed a strange series of coincidental encounters between Stiles and Derek Hale? How he looks at the good captain, the way they interact when they believe others are not around or watching. How Hale seems to show up at unexpected times for private meetings with the captain. I have even noted missing surveillance footage of the captain’s office when Derek is in with him. Does that not strike you as odd?”

“I...” Jackson began but then stopped thinking. He could not really, honestly think of events like Peter had mentioned but that was not what dominated his mind. He thought of today and how Hale had interrupted the moment they were having. He thought of the gala and how he had had to cut in to Derek and Stiles’ dancing. Why were they even dancing. Peter’s words might not have drawn forth real memories, but they had not been designed to. They, were meant to put doubt in his mind and work on his own jealousies. They were meant to ignite a flame, that would steadily rise to a conflagration that Peter hoped, he could use for his own ends. And they were working.

“Yes,” Jackson admitted, however blindly, however false, though he didn’t see it that way. He only saw today, the interruption and the dance that shouldn’t have been in his eyes. Derek was still a super and Stiles was still his. “Yes I’ve seen things, that shouldn’t be. You don’t think that... Stiles’ wouldn’t...”

“I’m not saying that. I would hate to disrespect the good name of his family, by making such accusations, without the accurate proof. And even still I would like to give Stiles the opportunity to see what a foolish mistake this would be, if it is what he is doing before it is too late. But like I said. I need some kind of proof. Something to say, definitively that they are or aren’t carrying on. If we can’t save him from this folly, if it is true, his family would be devastated, his life would be ruined, and for what, a super.”

“What can we do?” Jackson asked completely led now by Peter and his manipulations.

“I don’t know, I thought perhaps if we could get some surveillance of his home, perhaps that might help. I mean if there is some kind of secret thing going on, that would be the place to catch it, but I can’t authorize that kind of thing. Not publicly. Furthermore I can hardly think of sending agents into his home and bugging it.”

“What about me?” Jackson offered not missing a single beat. Peter could almost smile at the man’s easiness. Playing him was as easy as clapping ones hands together to make sound.

“What about you?” Peter asked with false bafflement in his face and eyes.

“Well, I could do it. I could bug his wing, and his room.”

Peter shook his head slowly in denial and that was the last bit of convincing that Jackson seemed to require. His eyes blazed with righteousness as he elaborated. “I can do this. I know his wing better than anyone, including his father and definitely his stepparents. I even know his lycanther, Freyja. If there’s anyone who can get in and out undetected and bug that place its me. Then we can find out once and for all what’s going on between them. And if something is going on we could stop it, before it destroyed his life.”

Jackson looked at Peter with eager eyes and it was all the man could do not to smile and whisper the words, well done. Instead he nodded, reluctantly. “If you think you can, maybe it’s worth a try.”

“I know I can,” he said, this time with the more cocky and assertive tone that was most synonymous with Jackson Whittemore.

“The feed would have to go directly to me, can you make that happen?”

The man nodded, already thinking of who he could enlist for this little covert operation. “I have someone who can help,”

Peter flashed curious eyes at him. Curious and alarmed. “We can’t afford to let this become workplace gossip, Jackson, you understand that?”

I understand. Meredith Walker is completely discreet when I need her to be and she is entirely devoted to me. Even if she weren’t, she follows orders without question so long as she’s allowed to tinker with her toys, to her heart’s content. I tend to give her free reign to do so. I expect she should be no trouble with this. Besides, I won’t have to give her any details. All I need to do is tell her where I want the surveillance feeds routed and she’ll take care of it.” He nodded his head again and steadily, more vigorously as he spoke. The idea clearly coming to him as he went along and making more and more sense, the more he spoke it through.

Peter only watched in pleasure as the man exceeded his expectations when it came to this particular plan. He had known he could get the man to involve himself even in the capacity, that placed him intruding into his ex-lover’s home. But this... He was developing useful ideas to suit Peter’s plan, and the director couldn’t ask for more. One piece at a time, he thought, and Stiles will eventually be mine.

Jackson didn’t see the look of dark pleasure in Peter’s eyes. He didn’t see the way the man had played him like the proverbial fiddle. And he certainly didn’t see how his involvement in this or his feeding the man’s plan with fresh fire, would be the exact opposite of anything Stiles would want, and exactly the kind of thing that had split them up before. All he could think now was that Meredith, or Enchantress as she often preferred to be called, it was her code name on mission, would be the perfect addition to this. The woman was an expert hacker and engineer extraordinaire.

Her name was derived from her ability to create the most fascinating pieces of tech which gave her the ability to appear as if she wielded magick. Like her force gauntlets which applied magnetism and kinetic energy, in a refined and focused way, that mimicked telekinesis. Or her modified hacking chip implanted in her brain, which was able to hack the chips implanted in others enough that she could pick up their thought commands and transmissions, making it seem in some instances that she was psychic. Or even her pulse bracelets which emitted a projected and sustained energy field which served as a shield. She was a wizard when it came to technology or rather, an enchantress. She was also Jackson’s team engineer and hacker and thus all he would need to do is command her skills for this venture and she would provide him with what he needed.

“I’m trusting you with this Jackson, I expect a report soon, on your progress.”

“I won’t let you down Peter.”

“This is hardly about me Jackson, we can’t let Stiles down.” Jackson nodded his head and Peter returned it before hitting the switch which opened the doors to let Jackson out and onto his new mission.