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Hunting Pains

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It was a sad day when one had to resort to time travel because things were just so fucked up.

Stiles should know.

He’s the one fucking doing it.

He grumbled as he stomped through the woods, slightly singed and mad at the world. This, this was just icing on the cake and it wasn’t even a particularly good cake and he would bet everything he had that the icing had gone bad too. First, he had to see everyone he ever loved die in the most painful ways possible. The fact that they died was traumatizing and awful enough to depress even Kira but when you have lived through kanimas, darachs, fucking Nemetons going crazy, a Nogitsune, ugh, and so many other things that were just plain wrong and something still comes up to top that?

Fuck that.

Stiles was having none of it, no sirreee.

Second, there was the time Stiles started searching for ways to prevent the things from happening (fun times, right?) and, bam, one clumsy moment later while doing a ritual and pouring a unicorn’s heart blood – willingly given and hadn’t that been a bitch to get – just a liiiiiittle bit more than necessary and, bam fucking bam, back in the past with a blast and his hair signed and brows smoking, no idea where he was or what time it was. Heck, he could be in the future for all he knew. Wouldn’t that be fun. Although he suspected that wasn’t the case since the forest was still intact and not burning to ashes or anything like that. That had happened a couple of times when the Nemeton had gotten hungrier than usual, and the results had included large clearings in the preserve where nothing grew any longer, all life having been sucked out of the land. During one of those times there also went the rest of the Hale House and Derek with it before the stump was finally satisfied.

For the moment.

Which, of course, didn’t stop it from calling more monsters of the week to terrorise the ever-decreasing number of citizens.

Damn it, Deaton, and your penchant for being cryptic! ‘Be the spark’, yeah, thanks a lot. Forever in debt and all that. Explained a lot, couldn’t live without you. ‘Believing is doing’ and Stiles still couldn’t wish himself dry or for the greasiest burger to ever grease. Useless, except for when in panic or being a second from getting killed, thus, creating more accidents. Or maybe that was just because Deaton didn’t believe in clear instructions and hoarded his fucking books.

Stiles wasn’t bitter, no, not at all.

He did manage to steal a couple of the books before the clinic went kaboom thanks to another hissy fit the Nemeton threw and learnt himself about them runes to anchor his meagre number of spells he had been able to gather through the years. If only the werewolves weren’t into carelessness and running head first into danger so much they probably got off on it, and ruining his hard work, Stiles might not have been the only one left alive.

Anyway, since he had nothing to lose anymore – and wasn’t that depressing – he had planned on going back and preventing the Hale Fire because that seemed to start the madness in the first place. Kind of. Well, the Nemeton was the beacon of Beacon Hills and pretty much awakened the moment Derek killed Paige in the root cellar. Which reminds him, Stiles was still iffy about the details of that. Just one sacrifice would only jump start an ongoing process and the Hale Fire in turn would put it on the map, so how was the process still there to be started? Huh? Stiles would really like to know because fuck that. He kind of wanted to prevent that too but the Hale Fire was a fixed point in time and easiest to aim for so Stiles hoped for the best. They could purify the Nemeton and hopefully stop it before it levelled the town or the state of California.

Anyway, too long didn’t read, he went back to undo the whole ‘Beacon Hills is a death trap’ thing but for now he would just settle for knowing where the fuck he was. Even the year would be nice. Someone? Anyone?

He was cursing a lot today in the most unimaginative way possible but whatever. It wasn’t his day, so sue him. None of the days were his days anymore, damn it. He would curse the day he dragged Scott to the forest but he rather doubted he would be alive if he hadn’t. Virginity was a social construct but the traditional asshats were too set in their ways to try for other types of ‘innocents’ to sacrifice – which, in their world, was probably more difficult to find so maybe Stiles could leave them the benefit of a doubt and, besides, Stiles was the one without the books so what did he know – and Stiles had been a brilliant example of the nerdy virgin, an image of which he got rid of so fast after the sacrifices had started again.

For the third time.

He didn’t have a death wish no matter how many people claimed otherwise. He was the one with all the backup plans of backup plans! He wasn’t the one running off with his claws and fangs head first into danger without a plan!

Damn it, he really was bitter.

So, yeah. Past. Preferably. Hopefully.

Stiles was rather out of belief at the moment, please come back later, so he kept hoping hope would work just as well.

Scott’s forever optimism and good faith would have come handy here. Sometimes he wondered why it was Stiles who got the spark and not Scott, genetics aside (he was pretty sure his mother had been magic, had always been, but this time it wasn’t just a child’s fancy; he had to get it from somewhere and it certainly hadn’t been from his dad). Scott’s imagination sucked, though, so maybe it would have been useless with him. Black and white didn’t make good tools to make things work since one needed to see the shades of grey and the whole spectre of power to get anywhere.

Stiles promised himself he would start believing in himself and miracles if he really was in the right place and time.

Rainbows and sparkles, here he comes.

***

Two hours after his new year resolution (this counted, alright?) he was still stuck in the fucking forest. Evidently, he wasn’t as familiar with the forest as he thought he was. Had it changed so much during the years? Or, maybe, was it even the same forest?

If Stiles had suddenly changed states he would kill someone.

He heard a crack somewhere on his left and his back stiffened. He quickly activated a rune on his arm and faded from the view. He activated another to mess with people’s senses so he couldn’t be smelled either. Now, he just had to be quiet because that rune had been messed up by the explosion that landed him there. He had other things to worry about than his spellwork, alright? He had managed to live to 21 without creating a single one, which was a miracle on its own, especially since most of what he knew centred on how to run away.

He would really need to start working on his sparky lessons the moment he got out of there. Maybe he could steal Deaton’s library? It wasn’t like he used it for anything but holding it over innocent sparks.

Stiles took a deep breath and stepped into the clearing. There were four people there. Two he immediately recognised as werewolves. They were down on the ground and the male was crouching over the female – at least it looked like she was a, well, she but if she identified as a he, or he as a she, Stiles wasn’t going to judge but he was digressing – in defence. The other two seemed to be hunters. There was an older man, maybe in his thirties or forties, and he was pointing a gun at the werewolves. Yeah, definitely, a hunter he was. The girl was young and blonde but that’s about as much as Stiles cared.

The werewolves looked a bit like Derek and Peter so they were almost certainly Hales which meant that he was still in Beacon Hills. Yay. Also, they were Hales he didn’t know! Double yay, he was in the past. However, that also meant that he probably should care about what was going on. Ugh. He probably couldn’t just ask directions and be on his merry way. No, bad Stiles, you were going to change things so what could one little thing…?

A lot.

Fuck.

Whatever, he was here anyway. He exhaled loudly, alerting the werewolves apparently since they turned their heads just a little bit his way, and dropped his spells.

“Hey there, buddy, I think you are in the wrong place doing some naughty, naughty things!” Stiles called out. Immediately all heads snapped in his direction and the werewolf still standing growled in response. Stiles rolled his eyes.

Cute. Definitely a relative of Derek’s. Nonverbal communication and all that.

“You one of them too?” the gun was now pointing at Stiles’ direction. Ugh, a zealot. Lovely. It was like Gerard all over again.

“Take it easy, old man.” Stiles smirked when the hunter bristled. The girl behind him hid a snort but otherwise looked plain bored. “You’re on the Hale lands, you know that, right? Their territory, their rules, et cetera. Hunting on a peaceful pack’s land goes against the Code, doesn’t it?”

“They were attacking us, this is just self-defence,” the hunter said casually, turning his gun back at the wolves. The male bristled.

“You attacked my cousin, unprovoked!”

“And even if they had attacked unprovoked, you were still on their lands, probably even without permission which is a clear offence of the Code,” Stiles pointed out. He skipped as annoyingly as he possibly could to have a closer look on the female wolf. She looked younger than Stiles had estimated from further away. She was also lying on her side, clutching at her stomach. Black lines were lining to reach for her heart, slowly but surely.

She wasn’t, luckily, in immediate danger. Yet. She did need treatment, though, and soon.

“Alright, so one unprovoked attack, check. Using wolfsbane on a non-feral wolf on the Hale land, check. Using wolfsbane on a Hale on the Hale land, double check.  Probably taken liberties on other ends too, you bigots are all the same. Check.” Stiles rose from where he had crouched. He turned back to the hunters. The male wolf was still alert but he didn’t seem to think Stiles was a threat anymore.

Well, that, or that the hunters registered as a bigger one anyway. Stiles was on board either way.

“If you don’t want to face immediate dismissal slash questioning in the Tribunal, I’d suggest you throw us one of those fancy bullets of yours and we’ll be on our merry way. If not, well, it might get a bit sticky for you,” he stated cheerfully.

“The Tribunal?” the girl hunter asked. Stiles tilted his head, and nodded. Now that he thought of it, she looked a bit familiar. There was something about that nose that tickled his. “Why would the Tribunal care about a bunch of weres?”

“Honey,” Stiles drawled, and the girl frowned. Oh, fine. “The Hunter Tribunal is the Tribunal because it does care. I mean, it basically is its job. Care about the rules, and whatnot if not about the werewolves themselves. We don’t want a war upon us, do we? Exposure leads to nasties for both sides.”

Of course, during his time, none had told them about the Tribunal and by the time they had known about it, the hunters in question had come to check on the Nemeton madness and had been either drawn in on it and killed, or had fled and never returned. Those that fled were mostly the annoying ones who then decided that the Nemeton had been the fault of the supernatural, thus starting a purge to ‘cleanse the lands’.

Wait, Stiles hadn’t mentioned that yet? Yeah, there had been a purge. That had taken down Lydia who had gone to negotiate for a ceasefire and caused Stiles to combust in rage. He still had some burn scars on his back from it. That hadn’t been much fun since Stiles hadn’t even known he could do that and, thus, had no way of controlling it. Still didn’t.

Fun times.

Fuck you, Deaton.

The girl pondered on that for a moment, nodded, and then snapped her fingers. The hunter winced and frowned.

“Miss-”

“Your gun, Richard.”

“Listen, Miss-”

The girl’s eyes hardened. “Your. Gun. Richard,” she repeated slowly, as if talking to a child.

The hunter’s – Richard’s, his name was Richard? He did look like a Dick to Stiles – frown lines deepened. “Your father-”

“-is not here,” she said breezily. “And I am. Are you going to go against my word? Mm? My father only ordered you to show me how to hunt properly. Apparently, you aren’t doing a very good job of it.” The girl’s expression turned into pure steel. “One more time, Richard. Your. Gun.”

Dick looked mutinous but bowed and handed over his gun. The girl emptied it on the grass, seemingly ignorant of all threats, and threw one of the bullets to Stiles. He fumbled a bit but managed to catch it.

She stepped forward. The werewolf, Stiles had almost forgotten about him, growled again. She looked unimpressed and turned back to Stiles, dismissing the wolf completely. Stiles blinked.

She had balls.

“Will you show me how it’s done?” the girl asked. Dick gasped indignantly behind her.

“Miss, you can’t just ask a stranger-!”

“Richard, be quiet.” She stared at Stiles and cocked her head. “Well?”

Stiles snorted and shrugged. “Knock yourself out.” He wished he could swish out a little flame from his finger but he would probably blow himself up if he did. Sparks still needed a grasp on the basics before they could actually do stuff like the basics. Even having belief didn’t work miracles. Damn it, Deaton. He patted himself down before finding what he was looking for. He opened the bullet and poured out the aconite, burnt it and – before the male wolf could react – pushed the ashes on the female’s wound. She screamed but the black lines retreated before they could be attacked by an angry wolf.

The girl ‘ooh-ed’. “So that’s how it’s done. I always wondered how the weres survived even after they were shot. Nice to know.”

“Glad to be of help,” Stiles snorted. He stretched and turned to the girl. “How about you show me the way out of this fucking forest, and I’ll call us even.”

She smirked. “You lost?”

“On the road of life.”

The girl snorted a laugh. Very unladylike. Stiles thought her mentor – he had to be her mentor, right? Chris mentioned the tradition briefly when he explained the Tribunal and other assorted traditions to the pack once – couldn’t look more scandalised than he already did. “Sure, why not?” she stared at the werewolves who were now both standing. She made a shooing motion and deliberately turned her back on them.

“This way.”

Stiles gave one last look at the Hales and followed the girl. Dick walked behind them, grumbling all the way.

“Richard, I said ‘be quiet’, didn’t I?”

The grumbling stopped.

Stiles snickered.

He liked this girl.

***

Stiles took his words back.

He didn’t like this girl one bit!

Sure, she had shown him the way out and even given him a lift – which seemed too generous for a stranger now that Stiles thought of it but he had just so enjoyed the annoyed expression on Dick’s face that he just had to accept the offer – but then she had just taken him to her house where he saw Gerard. Fucking. Argent.

Because the girl was Kate. Fucking. Argent.

He couldn’t kill him because of all the witnesses – there were a dozen or more hunters there, surrounding them – and a massacre of a hunter clan inside the Hale territory would draw too much attention to Beacon Hills and its Nemeton; mainly that there was one. Stiles couldn’t even run away because Dick was making it impossible by standing in his way. Right behind him.

Ugh, his life.

Well, since Kate was a teenager extraordinaire it meant that Stiles was in the past before Derek ever even met Paige. Hooray. It also meant that mobile phones were ancient and he would miss internet and forums and Tumblr for years before they were invented! Or were as accessible as they were in the future.

Which, wait, why couldn’t he invent one of them? Like, the creator of Facebook was rich. Stiles could be rich! It would probably be cheating but, hey, he needed some sort of reward from saving the world.

He might be planning a bit ahead but whatever.

Plans, they were Stiles’ jam.

“Kate,” Gerard spoke and Stiles tried his best not to react to his voice. For years, his immediate reaction to the former – present? – Argent patriarch had been ‘kill on sight’. His fingers even twitched and Stiles noticed that it did not go unnoticed. From the corner of his eye he thought he saw someone playing with a gun and he felt eyes fixed on his person.

Hah, what a basic intimidation tactic. His father could do worse.

It was still kind of working and Stiles forced himself to relax. He wasn’t bulletproof, darn it.

“What do you have here?”

“Father, this is-,” Kate turned around and gave Stiles a significant look. He realised he had never bothered to even introduce himself.

Huh. Melissa would have been appalled of his manners.

“Stiles,” he allowed. Little Stiles wouldn’t be using his nickname for years if he was even born yet, and he and the Stilinskis were staying under the radar for even longer, possibly forever, leaving Stiles alone-

Stop it, brain.

Gerard arched his brow. “Stiles?”

“Just Stiles.” He smiled winningly. Gerard continued to look at him unimpressed. Stiles wondered what kind of picture he was creating of himself in his dirty and slightly burnt clothes and a leather jacket he had pilfered from Jackson of all people. Or rather, Lydia had taken it and given it to Stiles to wear and he just had never given it back. Then Jackson had died, and-

“Richard was showing me how to hunt a werewolf but it seems he was remiss of some finer details,” Kate said. Gerard turned to her, and motioned her to continue. Stiles felt something press against his back. Sheesh, someone wasn’t happy, he thought flippantly. He could maybe survive a bullet to the back. If he was lucky. And it didn’t hit anything too important.

He really did hate Kate. He should have offed her and Dick at the woods.

She continued, “For example, hunting on a claimed land. We have a standing treaty with the Hales for the moment, and the weres were non-feral and a part of the pack. He was also attacking unprovoked and with extreme prejudice. I think it is safe to say he wasn’t doing his job well, right?”

Gerard stared at her, his expression unreadable.

“Stiles here happened to arrive just in time to stop Richard from violating the treaty. He also showed me how to treat a wolfsbane bullet wound which, as you know, is part of my training that for some reason I still hadn’t learnt. For a future Argent matriarch, that is a pretty serious flaw,” she ended, twisting her hair between her fingers. Stiles bit his cheek to stop himself from speaking. For some reason, he had never really thought that Kate would have been the Argent matriarch if she hadn’t died. Had she even been it already? He had thought that Victoria had held on the title when she still had been alive and it had then gone to Allison… and then to Chris without any women – or sane Gerard – around.

Gosh, just thinking about Kate leading a hunter community gave him a headache and a half. He also wondered where that sudden knowledge had come from. He knew he had said pretty much the same thing but Kate was talking of it like it was old news and she hadn’t seemed to know anything in the clearing.

The gun against his back twitched ominously.

Alright, nothing of that really mattered. He needed to get away from there.

Pronto.

“Well, I just helped a bit, you know, the good deed of the day and all that,” he gave a smile, hoping it didn’t come out as fake as it really was, “nothing major, so I could just-”

“He also knew about the Tribunal.”

Stiles blinked when he was suddenly the centre of all attention. What?

What?

“Which clan do you belong to?” a man to Gerard’s left asked. Stiles blinked again, taken aback.

“Why?”

The expression could only be called bored. “The Tribunal, as you very well know, is made up of the major hunter clans and those adjacent to them. So. Which clan are you from, and why didn’t you announce yourself to the Argents when you entered their territory?”

Of fucking course Chris didn’t mention that free agents probably didn’t even know the Tribunal fucking existed. Not that it was relevant to them at the time, but it would have been nice to know since Stiles was apparently a hunter now and in the middle of a hunter community pissing contest. Why did all the adults in his life try to make his life that much harder again? Did he do something in his past life to suffer like this?

Although, technically, he just escaped his past life to the past which was now his present life which means all this was his own karma talking and was too complicated to even think about and Stiles very much hated his life right now.

Did he mention he hated Kate yet? Or Gerard. Or Dick, Chris, Deaton, pretty much everyone? Not himself, though, he was awesome. He should have just become a hermit with the fastest wi-fi somewhere remote that still took delivery instead of taking a leaf out of Scott’s book and be self-sacrificing and all that jazz.

His life.

“My only living parent was killed by a supernatural creature and I was saved by a hunter,” Stiles explained, mind whirling. “And I was then given the means of protecting myself against others of such.” It was even true. The Sheriff had been killed by Morrell who had gone mad whilst he had been trying to protect Stiles, the darach wannabe’s true target, who been rescued by a late arriving Chris. He had been given a funeral Stiles hadn’t wanted to ever attend, too many tears and a gun that came with every kind of bullet Chris could find in his collection.

Gerard frowned. “No clan?” he demanded. Stiles shrugged.

“He died pretty soon after that. I think I was meant to be his successor or something, something about him mourning his dead family and all.”

“Uncommon but could be true,” the woman on Gerard’s right said. She looked old enough to be Stiles’ mother.

“What did he say his name was?” the man on the left asked. Stiles shrugged again.

“He didn’t.”

Technically, Chris never really did introduce himself to Stiles since they both already knew who the other one was, thanks to Scott and Allison.

He glanced around and saw a few of the hunters relax a bit. Kate was looking at him with a disconcerting gleam in her eyes.

“You must be freelancer, then,” the woman said. She took a step forward and held out her hand. Stiles shook it, bemused.

“You could say that.”

“Shannon Caldwell.”

“Stiles.”

“No last name?”

“None I want to advertise.”

That gained him a few raised brows and stiff spines. Stiles blinked, and realised how that could have been taken. He hurried to explain, “I mean, not that I’m a criminal or anything, or that my family was, my father was a sheriff for fuck’s sake and I’m not a rogue either, just-, my father died. And then I was-, letting go off the name was… I mean-”

Kate snorted. Stiles threw her a dirty look. She just grinned, unrepentant.

“It’s cleansing to leave your name behind,” the man said on Gerard’s side. “Some do it by taking on another clan’s name, some to change their ways, some just switch for no reason. You don’t have to justify it.”

Stiles flushed. He hadn’t been this wrongfooted for a while. Nice to know that he was the same spaz still deep down.

“You look a little worn,” Shannon noted. “Have you travelled for long?”

He shrugged. “You could say that,” he repeated his earlier words and hid a wince when she looked at him sharply. “I help where I can. I haven’t had a real home for a while.”

Shannon nodded slowly, savouring his answer. “And if you don’t have a clan, you’re less likely to stay put either which can lead to unnecessary suspicion. We are a little territorial about our borders.”

“What a coincidence, so are wolves!” Stiles piped up. Dick behind him ground his teeth and gained Shannon’s attention. Stiles felt the gun disappear from his back. Note to self, Dick is afraid of the woman. Stiles should probably be too, although, fair to say, he had never really had a rational reaction to fear.

“What did O’Leary do?”

“Pretty much what little missy there said.” Stiles smirked when Kate bristled. “From what I saw, he had two Hales on gun point, one of them shot with a wolfsbane bullet and apparently wanted to finish them both off as a lesson.”

“Interesting,” Shannon mused, her eyes hard. “O’Leary, go with Dawkins. I want to have a word with you later.”

Dick followed the man on Gerard’s left reluctantly and with a dark glower. Stiles couldn’t help but wonder what the hierarchy was there. Gerard was a bit too quiet there, his head just a little too down. He wore mostly a neutral expression on his face but Stiles wasn’t fooled. He had to be over ten years back in time but things couldn’t change that much, right? Or had he accidentally messed up even more and turned up in an alternative dimension where Gerard wasn’t evil? Or was he? Did he just hide it better?

What was going on?

“Katherine,” Shannon frowned at Kate who winced, “O’Leary was the fourth mentor you’ve gone through in less than half a year. No, don’t try to claim innocence. I see your fingerprints all over this incident.”

“He was incompetent. There was no way I was going to learn anything under him!” she protested.

“And yet, you almost created a serious alteration between the Argents and the Hales.”

“Which I wouldn’t have learnt about under him,” Kate said blithely. “And I would have stopped him eventually so they could have escaped or something. Richard was-”

“Kate, to succeed as the Argent matriarch, you have to respect the traditions and the rules. What would your mother say?” Shannon said, expression stern, and the girl slouched down, casting a dark look to the side. Gerard cleared his throat.

“If there’s a problem, I can take over her training. As her father, I watched over her mother’s training of her while I trained Christopher, and I am quite familiar with her methods.”

Shannon pursed her lips. “Elizabeth was very strict about her training. Are you sure you’re up for that?”

Gerard nodded, and smiled. “Kate would in very good hands. You’ve seen how well Christopher is doing in Nevada.”

A frown creased Stiles’ forehead. So, the Argent matriarch, this Elizabeth, had died less than a year before? And Kate was in process of succeeding her? Was Shannon then the interim matriarch? Or was that still Gerard or Victoria? He patted around his pockets absently, taking inventory of what he had. A pen, a lighter, a notebook that hopefully was still intact as it contained most of his notes on runes, his dagger, and, thank the heavens, cash!

He must have grinned like a lunatic, lost in his thoughts, because next time he noticed Kate had slithered next to him. “What are you grinning about?”

“I’m rich!” he said before he could stop it. Kate looked unimpressed. Stiles ignored her, looking on his wad of bills. He had… altogether, some two hundred or so dollars. That would get him a lot if he was careful. He could maybe find a job somewhere, and save some money and then-

“Two hundred and you’re rich? Wow, you were deprived as a child.”

Stiles sniffed, and placed his money back in his pocket. “Not all of us were born with a silver spoon in their mouths.”

“A pity. You could’ve at least sold it.”

He snorted before he could stop it. Kate looked very smug about that.

He really didn’t want to like her.

“It wasn’t very nice of you to take me here without telling me.”

“What was I supposed to do? You were a strange hunter on our territory. Who knows what you were about to do?”

“Just like you and Dick-, I mean Richard.”

“Dick,” she bit her lip. “He was a real dick, oh gosh. Phish posh, Gerard this, Elizabeth that. Straighten your spine, you need to do this and that, be this person and not, ugh! All the mentors are the same. They all have such hard-ons for them. I mean, mom was great but-”

“It’s not easy to distinguish yourself when people want to mould you into a certain model.”

Kate nodded.

He sighed. He understood that a little too well, had seen how poisonous the effect was.

Pain flashed in his mind.

Allison.

“Well, if you want to separate yourself from their shadow, then you need to take control of your own training and not sabotage it. Don’t follow anyone’s lead without questioning their orders, search for your own answers, do your own thing. Never follow anyone blind. It only leads to grief.”

Kate blinked. “Is that what happened to you?”

“What? Oh, no,” Stiles shook his head, “My mentor didn’t really do much but train me in skill. I was emancipated and too independent for my own good. If he had tried to mould me into anything, I would have hightailed it immediately. I wouldn’t wish that fate for anyone.”

“Hmm…” Kate hummed, a contemplative look on her face.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“…That didn’t sound like nothing.”

She grinned at him impishly before chirping loud and clear over the discussion behind them, effectively disrupting whatever was going on.

“I want Stiles to be my new mentor.”

Stiles’ jaw dropped.

What?

“No!” he blurted out when all stares were directed in their direction. He thought he saw a vein on Gerard’s forehead pulse.

“Really, Katherine?” Shannon questioned, brows arched. Kate bristled.

“I will never be my own hunter under father or his men. How will I grow into a hunter like my mother if I’m not offered the same chance?”

“Kate, your mother followed the trad-,” Gerard started but was interrupted by his daughter.

“I’m not saying I won’t! I’m saying I want to have my own opportunity to grow!” Kate insisted. “Mother trained under another clan, away from her family and learning skills she couldn’t have otherwise, but I’ve been offered mentors only from ours. Here we have someone with no ties to anyone! Someone with neutrality, and who doesn’t have any preconceptions about me or my parents, with things I could learn!”

“I have no experience! I’m just 23!” Stiles insisted. And he definitely wasn’t a neutral side here! He would be leaving her in the first ditch there was because of what she did in the future-

But it was the past now.

Could he doom her just because of what she might do somewhere years away?

“With at least five years of experience!” Kate argued back. “With skills to sneak on people more experienced, and even weres! That’s not nothing, that’s something none of my previous mentors were able to do!”

“You snuck up on them?” Shannon questioned. Stiles flushed.

“It was nothing,” he whined. It was magic even if he didn’t want to mention it. Who knew what that might do to his apparent cover story? He was missing some key details here!

“Interesting. The Argents have become a little too rooted here, so travelling might do some good for you and the relations between the clans. Very well, Stiles of no name, from today on you’re a hunter adjacent to the clan Argent, and the mentor of their heir. I wish you well and hope you know to be careful. It would do no good for you if something happened to your future leader,” Shannon smiled pleasantly. “I, Shannon Caldwell, use my power as one of the Tribunal Twelve and do so declare. Off you go.”

She left with a glowering and arguing Gerard, leaving behind a beaming Kate and a flabbergasted Stiles.

What the hell just happened?

He threw up his hands and groaned loudly over Kate’s cheerful laugh and a rather endearing little victory dance.

At least tell him what year it was!