It’s not going on the list of Tom Stilinski’s best days ever. He’s annoyed that Peter isn’t texting him back, and although he doesn’t want to admit it, vaguely worried. Chris had put together a hunting party of sorts. What if, after Kate had been released, the two of them had gone after Peter? He only had Chris’ word that he was going to take Kate to the bus station, and although he thought Chris was sincere, he wasn’t sure Chris would have been able to force her.
He hasn’t managed to find Peter anywhere, and he’s sort of wondering if he should, if that’s the sort of thing a werewolf can do. From some of the things Derek has said about an alpha, he thinks it’s possible. But he certainly doesn’t know how to do it, and he hadn’t thought to ask Derek.
Given this, when his phone rings and he sees that it’s Stiles, his stomach drops into his feet. He was right, then – Peter has decided to use Allison as bait. He should have just gone to the dance –
“Hey, buddy, what’s up?”
“Sheriff!” It’s Kate’s voice, as vivacious as usual, and Tom bites out a curse. “Need to have a chat with you. Wanna bring your alpha? Got some things to say to him, too.”
The call disconnects without another word. But a second later, it chimes to say that he had received a text. He opens it and sees the picture Kate has sent him of Stiles. More accurately, it’s of herself and Stiles, taken selfie-style but from far enough back that he can see the way Kate’s gun is pressed into the bottom of Stiles’ chin.
“Shit,” Tom snarls, and realizes that he’s shifted, that his fangs and claws are already out. He takes a deep breath. He’s going to kick Chris Argent’s ass all the way to the border when he gets his hands on him. After a moment to think, he calls Peter. Yet again, Peter doesn’t answer. Tom texts him instead. ‘Kate has my son. Go to the high school so we can take care of this or I will make you regret waking up from your coma.’
He takes a moment to wonder where Derek is before deciding that it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t want Derek involved in this – doesn’t want Derek within ten miles of Kate Argent ever again.
Which is why it’s somewhat discomfiting when he barrels into the high school foyer and nearly runs Derek over. “What are you doing here?” he sputters.
Derek winces. “Pretending to be Stiles’ boyfriend? But he went to the bathroom a few minutes ago and he didn’t come back, and I – ”
“Kate has him,” Tom says, because there’s no time to soften the blow. He sees the pain and fear flash across Derek’s face before continuing, “Come with me, but stay behind me. Peter should be on his way – he’s going to pay for it if he’s not.”
“Okay. I – ” Derek hesitates, then says, “You’re shifted, you know that, right?”
“God damn it, I know, I couldn’t – it doesn’t matter. They’re in the locker room, I could tell from the photo Kate sent me. Come on.” He heads towards the lockers without waiting for Derek to reply. Despite the fur and fangs, he has his gun out, along with a flashlight. The lights in the locker rooms are off. He doesn’t see Stiles or Kate anywhere, until he peeks into the shower. Stiles is standing there, facing away. “Stiles?” he says, somewhat cautiously.
Stiles turns around, and Tom’s breath catches in his throat. There’s not enough light to get a good look at the device that’s strapped to his chest, but the wires and digital timer make it obvious what it is. “I’m sorry, Dad,” Stiles says miserably. “I’m really sorry.”
“This isn’t your fault,” Tom says firmly. He glances over his shoulder. “Derek, get out of here. Go tell the nearest adult that you heard a kid say he had a bomb – ”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” Kate says, emerging from behind them. “It kind of defeats the purpose if you evacuate the dance. I mean, okay, I don’t have to have such a large target, but it’ll help.”
“Your niece is there,” Tom says, as Kate walks past Derek with a smirk, over to Stiles.
“No, she isn’t. I just texted her, telling her that her dad found the condoms she bought and was coming to get her. She and Scott are gonna be twenty miles away before that thing goes off.”
Tom looks at the digital display again. It reads five minutes, but it’s not counting down. “How about you? How much time do you need to get safe distance?”
“Less than this,” Kate says, and hits a button on her phone. The numbers start ticking. Stiles gives a little whimper despite himself. “And let’s be clear – there’s enough explosive in that to kill everyone in there. Without the proper code, you can’t disarm it. So you can put your gun down, Sheriff, because if you kill me, your son dies, along with his entire class.”
Tom lowers his weapon. “What do you want, Kate?”
“I told you. I want your alpha.”
“I don’t control him. He hasn’t been answering his phone since yesterday, because he’s pissed that you got out of the trap I had set up for you, and he probably thinks I backed out on my part of the deal.”
Kate shrugs. “Shame.” She turns to walk away.
“Now, Kate,” Peter says from the doorway, and Tom nearly cries from sheer relief. “You don’t think I would abandon my only beta, do you? Let you kill his son the way you killed mine?”
“Never know, with you,” Kate says. Tom half-turns to see Peter, see the rage hiding behind the mask of pleasant neutrality that he wears on his face.
“So, what are we doing here?” Peter asks, his gaze fixed on Stiles. “That looks unnecessarily dramatic. Stiles, do me a favor and turn around.”
“T-Turn? Why?” Stiles says, already moving to obey.
He’s halfway around when Kate yanks him back into place. “Seeing the back of the bomb won’t show you how to disarm it,” she says.
“No, I didn’t figure it would,” Peter says. “All right, Kate. You wanted me, you have me. And we clearly only have a few minutes, so how would you like me? Hands on my head? On my knees? Maybe I should just offer to shoot myself in the head and make things quick and easy for you.”
“You’d survive that and we both know it.” Kate gestures to the locker room door with her gun. “Walk. I can’t kill you here. Need a little more firepower. So you’re with me. Once you’re dead, I’ll disarm the bomb. So no tricks.”
Peter appears to think that over. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Peter,” Tom growls, but what can he say? He can’t ask Peter to walk into certain death for a stranger.
“How about we just wait it out?” Peter suggests. “You’re not going to let yourself be blown up, so if we don’t let you leave, you have to disarm the bomb. There are, after all, three of us and one of you.”
“Try that, and I’ll just shoot Stiles in the head.”
Tom’s gun is back up before he even thinks about it. “You point that thing at my son, and the only person shot in the head is going to be you.”
“Better wait for me to disarm the bomb before you do that, or you’re going to be picking teenagers out of trees ten miles from here.”
“You understand why I can’t just go with you, right?” Peter says. “We have no guarantee that you’ll disarm the bomb once I’m dead. You’ll probably just let it go off. You like killing people who haven’t done anything wrong, so what’s a gymnasium full of teenagers matter? Do you have a knife, by the way? It would make this a lot easier.”
Kate’s eyes narrow. “Make what a lot easier?”
“She had a knife in her boot when I arrested her,” Tom says, although he’s not sure what Peter’s up to, either.
“Good.” Peter says.
He takes a single step forward, and Kate apparently decides she’s had enough. Bullets might not kill an alpha, but they’ll at least slow him down enough to give her some breathing room. Or at least, that’s what Tom assumes her plan is. Whatever it is, it never happens. As soon as her gun comes up, Tom’s firing his. It’s an automatic response from years of training. He fires twice, hitting her in the chest both times. She stumbles backwards and hits the ground hard.
“Holy shit!” Stiles yelps, nearly falling on his ass as he flinches back. Derek grabs him before he can.
Peter’s shifted, and he starts forward like he’s going to finish Kate off, but Tom barks, “Don’t!” and he actually stops, giving Tom a questioning look. Tom takes a deep breath. “A police shooting is a lot easier to explain if her throat isn’t torn out afterwards.”
At this, Peter gives a nod. The pool of blood spreading from Kate’s unmoving form makes it clear that if she isn’t already dead, she will be within moments. He kneels beside her and takes the knife out of her boot.
“Peter, what – ” Tom starts.
“Everyone always tries to do this the difficult way,” Peter says, and starts slicing through the straps that hold the bomb to Stiles’ chest. “It’s so much easier to just remove the thing than disarm it.” The device falls into his hand with less than a minute remaining. He turns to Tom and says, “Things never would have worked between us, you know,” leaving Tom sputtering despite the situation. Then he takes off, carrying the bomb with him.
Tom scrambles to follow, but only catches a glimpse of him as he exits through the gymnasium door. He’ll never catch up and he knows it, so he turns back and grabs Stiles in a crushing hug. “Oh my God, oh my God,” Stiles is mumbling under his breath, clinging to his father.
“It’s okay, you’re okay, you’re safe now,” Tom says, rubbing his back. “I’m here, I’ve got you. You’re safe now.”
Derek is staring at the door. “Do you think he – ” he starts to say, and then the floor starts to tremble. It only lasts a few seconds.
They exit the locker room into a swell of chatter about the earthquake that had apparently just struck. It’s rare to get them this far north, but not unheard of. Nobody seems bothered by it, and the thudding bass beat of the music had kept anyone from hearing the gunshots. “I’d better call this in,” Tom says, already thinking over how he’s going to have to explain it. “Derek, take Stiles home.”
Derek nods, getting an arm around Stiles’ shoulders. “Come on,” he says quietly. “Let’s go.”
~ ~ ~ ~
It’s not as bad as it could be. Tom has the call from Stiles and the picture of him in his phone. He has Kate’s arrest two days previous. It’s actually not that crazy-sounding to say that she decided to get revenge by abducting his son and strapping a bomb to his chest. Kate’s fingerprints are all over Stiles’ phone, which Tom took before he left. He leaves Peter out of it entirely, saying that Derek – his son’s date – had carried the bomb out of the school.
The dance is called to a premature halt and the teenagers are sent home. Men are out in the forest, looking for the blast site. It’s not hard to find, especially not for Tom, who can follow his nose. He’s the first one there, and although there’s plenty of debris, there’s no blood, no body parts. Peter either dropped it and kept running, or threw it. Either way, he wasn’t caught in the explosion.
Tom’s not sure whether or not he’s relieved. He directs his men to carefully collect and catalog the bomb fragments. Since Kate is dead, it might or might not matter, but it’ll certainly help his own case regarding the fact that he shot her. Once all of that is done, he heads to the Argent house. He’s probably not the best person to notify Chris of his sister’s death, given that he’s the one who killed her, but he knows that Chris will have questions that only he can answer.
Chris answers the door looking wary and says, “Sheriff.”
“Mr. Argent. Can I come in?”
After a moment, Chris stands back and lets him in. “What is it?”
Tom lets out a breath. It’s never easy to notify family of a loved one’s death, even if he knows that loved one was a terrible person. He hates being blunt, but he knows it’s better than being obtuse. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your sister Kate is dead. She was killed this evening.”
Chris pales a little. His jaw trembles and it takes him a moment to speak. “What happened?”
“She attacked several civilians and was shot.”
At this, Chris’ eyes narrow. He clearly suspects that ‘several civilians’ include werewolves. “Can you give me any more detail or is this an ongoing investigation?”
“There probably will be an internal investigation, since it was a police shooting, but frankly I doubt it’s going to receive much scrutiny. Your sister abducted a sixteen year old boy, taped a bomb to his chest, and held him hostage in exchange for Peter Hale. In the locker room right next to the gymnasium where the dance was taking place.”
Chris goes even paler. He looks away for a moment, then says, “I put her on that bus. I swear to you that I did.”
“Next stop is only ten miles down the road. She wouldn’t have had any trouble getting back.” Tom shakes his head a little. “We both knew she wasn’t going to go quietly.”
“Did Peter kill her?”
“No. I did. Peter took the bomb and carried it out of the school, to get it away from the kids.”
Chris looks a little surprised. “He . . . oh.”
“Don’t give him too much credit,” Tom says, with a wry smile. “There was enough time left on it for him to get it away from the school and reach a safe distance afterwards. He’s not the self-sacrificing sort. But he saved my son’s life – along with a lot of others.”
“I see,” Chris says.
“Which brings me to my next point, which is that I would like your word that there will be no reprisals for Kate’s death.”
Chris takes a deep breath and lets it out. “I can’t guarantee that.”
“Oh, really.” Tom gives him his best unimpressed face.
“I don’t control the entire hunter community, Sheriff.” Chris frankly doesn’t look very impressed either. “All I can tell you is that I, personally, won’t retaliate. Other people might not feel the same way.”
“Why do I have the feeling that you have someone particular in mind?”
Chris nods a little. “My father. He’s . . . not the forgiving sort.”
“Well,” Tom says evenly, “you can tell your father that if he has any problems with what happened to Kate, he can take them up with me. Because if he sets one finger on either Peter or Derek Hale, he’s going to find himself in a world of hurt.”
“I’ll tell him,” Chris says.
“Good. You have my condolences for your loss, Mr. Argent. Please contact my office if you have any further questions.” With that, Tom turns and walks away.
~ ~ ~ ~