The forest fell silent around them, unnaturally so if you asked Chris who had been feeling ill at ease all evening. Then again, he always felt uneasy when a new threat raised its head these days, he was beginning to feel too old to keep on going the way he had.
`Now, ´ Deaton says, breaking a silence that had lasted for a good while, pausing their slow walk down the ridiculously narrow path through the dark forest. Watching Deaton, the Emissary that Peter had been stuck with, turning around slowly to face not only Chris but Peter too.
`The two of you, ´ continued the Emissary who Chris knew would’ve rather have served any other pack than Peter’s, but Deaton’s reputation had been ruined with the loss of the first-alpha he’d served, Chris could only just hear the man as Deaton kept his voice as low as possible, ` Are still a happily mated couple. So, act like it. ´
Aware of what was at stake, Peter moved with an air of reluctance to stand a little bit closer to Chris, and Chris has to remind himself to not move away and to keep that muscle memory in check.
It takes the Peter a moment to try and appear less angry standing next to him, a man Peter had eagerly mated years ago, a human Peter had shared a few good years with before Chris’ sister ruined everything.
There isn’t a part of Chris that doesn’t understand Peter’s anger, because he does understand the deep-rooted dislike Peter now feels towards him, Chris gets why sharing a space with him makes Peter’s skin crawl.
It was Chris’ own sister, Peter’s sister-in-law who set the fire that killed almost every member of Peter’s family, and ever since the fire anger ruled Peter Hale’s heart.
With the intense gaze of the uncommonly worried Emissary on him Chris did his best to try and appear less uneasy where he stood, certainly there was still a small part of Chris that yearns to lean in just a little bit closer to the warmth that radiates off of Peter, and breathe in his natural scent that had always soothed Chris during the nights when sleep did not come easily to him.
There had been a time, a time before the fire, when neither Chris or Peter could stand being away from one another, when just one day of separation left them feeling unsettled. However, these days being a part seemed like the best thing to do, especially with how Peter’s anger was quick to erupt, to lash out violently whenever Chris was round; and perhaps it was easier for Chris too to avoid being around Peter as being around him meant being around Peter’s nieces and nephew, all three of Talia Hale’s children had been had been orphaned because of Chris’s sister, and the anger Chris could see in especially Cora’s eyes was one of the reason Chris struggled to be there for the Hale’s.
`Remember, ´ Deaton says, looking none too impressed with Chris’ or Peter’s attempts at appearing as a healthy and happy Alpha-couple, `if the Stilinski-pack so much as suspects something isn’t right with the Hale-pack, they will no doubt make another move on Hale territory. And the Alpha couple Stilinski, will not leave any of us alive once they take over the land. ´
`We are, ’ Peter growls all impatient and visibly annoyed, his eyes flashing crimson, ` well aware of this. You’re not telling us anything we haven’t already heard a hundred-times before. ´
`Simply because you two are aware of the consequences of your possible failure doesn’t ensure success. ´ the Emissary counters sharply, the fear that had settled in the Emissary since the Stilinski’s crossed the border growing now that the hour drew near, ` If you’d only allowed me to…´
`I’m not going to be drugged or manipulated by magic to love him again. ’ Peter snarls, eyes flashing crimson while rows of sharp teeth replace human ones. A now familiar ache pulsates a little bit stronger within Chris’ chest, born from Peter’s words, although he’d known Peter could no longer stand to be near him, hearing the werewolf Chris had fallen in love with in high school and later was mated and married, declaring that he no longer loved him still hurt; Peter’s words caused him a great deal more pain that the lingering phantom ache of Chris’ leg, or what remains of the leg that had been ravaged by the same fire that killed most of Peter’s family, and even now Chris felt the price of a leg to save Peter’s life was worth it.
Seeing Peter’s control slipping is a cause for a great deal of concern, and Chris honestly feels less and less convinced that come dawn the Hale and Stilinski pack wouldn’t be claws deep in battle, a battle Chris couldn’t see the miniscule Hale-pack winning or surviving.
The Stilinski pack was a large one, and it had been the pack that not even the Demon Wolf had been able to take down, instead Deucalion and the remains of his pack had been cut to piece before sent to each pack Emissary as a none to subtle reminder of just how powerful the Stilinski-pack was; it was a particularly gruesome tradition of the Stilinski-pack, to cut the remains of their enemies to pieces and send them to every known pack Emissary, a warning of sorts.
`As you wish. ´ the Emissary said with something like annoyance flickering across his dark features.
`Just do try and not get the rest of us killed. ´ Deaton continued, his words are laced with something that causes Chris already existing guilt grow.
Following the Hale Emissary, or as some called him the disgraced Emissary, Chris hoped with all his might that all would end well.
Walking into the clearing where the Stilinski-pack had set-up camp days before, Chris could feel Peter tense beside him, the protective charms placed on the area by the fresh-off-the-boat Emissary of the Stilinski pack made Chris feel like his whole body had fallen asleep. Chris recalls that the former Emissary hadn’t been dead for more than a few days before Alpha Stilinski had replaced her with another, then again Alpha Stilinski was not known for mourning the loss of any one, not even his own flesh and blood.
The camp was surprisingly small, but then again Chris knew not to let the size of the camp fool him, just because he could only see a few tents and five werewolves around didn’t say that the Alpha hadn’t brought his entire pack to Beacon Hills; one could never trust Alpha Stilinski not to act in the underhanded way possible to ensure himself victory, he was cunning and vicious which was why Talia Hale had avoided any confrontation with the alpha.
It had been years since Alpha Stilinski himself had fought, it a been decade or so since the Alpha had been in the frontline of a conflict, only coming forth to take the life of an alpha once his betas had captured the alpha. Chris found there to be no honour in the way Alpha Stilinski fought and captured territories, but he wasn’t foolish enough to say it.
The Alpha of the Stilinski pack who was seated next to large fire appeared innocent enough where he sat, but although the man appeared all frail with age, there was something about the pale eyes that spoke of a man of sharp mind and vicious cruelty. This was a werewolf not to be trusted.
`Alpha-Hale. ´ Alpha Stilinski says in way of greeting, rising slowly to his feet, his movements slow and apparently stiff, but Chris doesn’t buy the frail and old-man act for a minute.
`Alpha-Mate. ´ the Alpha goes on to say, glancing over at Chris, although the werewolf did his best to be as respectful towards him as possible, Chris could tell that the old Alpha who’d killed two of his own heirs when the fear of losing position of alpha rose into his demented head didn’t think much of him as a mate or a man.
The Alpha ignores Deaton, something that wouldn’t have happened if Deaton still was viewed as a strong and trustworthy Emissary, and Chris can positively feel Deaton bristle at this sign of disrespect.
`I am pleased to see you and your mate well. ´ Alpha Stilinski continued to say, a small smile playing on his face but there was something about the pale-eyes that Chris doesn’t care for, something like ill-intent flickered in those pale-orbs.
`It is good to see you doing well, Alpha-Stilinski. ´ Peter replies as respectfully as possible, putting on all the charm, `I hope the journey wasn’t too taxing. ´
Although to anyone else Peter seemed perfectly relaxed where he stood, Chris who knew him well could tell that Peter was anything but comfortable, the large fire burning no doubt making Peter feel uneasy and on edge.
If things hadn’t gone so wrong between them, if Chris’ touch wouldn’t cause Peter to snap at him, then Chris might’ve been able to comfort Peter and show him support with a simple touch, a brush of fingers would’ve been enough in the past to settle Peter before Kate’s destruction ripped them all apart, but as it was Chris did nothing but stand silent beside the younger alpha.
Catching on to Peter’s unease causes a cruel smile to flicker onto the thin lops of the older Alpha’s face, but it’s swiftly replaced with a seemingly welcoming and friendly smile, but Chris had caught sight of that unkind smile and knew immediately that Alpha Stilinski had caught on to Peter’s discomfort and took pleasure form it. The fact that this Alpha took advantage of Peter’s trauma, his pain and sorrow, for some sick powerplay really made Chris hate the Alpha even more.
`Well, my mate and I are getting there in our years, ´ the alpha says while gesturing for Peter and Chris to take a seat, ` And I do hope my son will soon take on most of my Alpha-duties. ´ the alpha went on to say, but Chris doesn’t believe for a second that the Alpha would stepdown, men like Alpha Stilinski would continue to cling on to power until the very last breath.
There’s something vicious in those pale eyes of the old-alpha that causes Chris to grit his teeth, and the smirk that follows when Peter for a second hesitates to take his seat by the fire. Showing any kind of weakness before another Alpha simply wasn’t something Peter Hale did, showing weakness before those he did not trust was not a Peter Hale thing, but the smell of burning wood and the heat of the large fire played a cruel game on Peter’s nerves and instincts.
Peter took eventually his place by the fire with cool defiance, head held high, but Chris knows it’s pretty much all for show. With far less grace than what Peter had displayed, Chris takes his seat at his side and it’s only the fear of falling into the flames the pushes him to dare reach out and take support from Peter’s broad shoulder.
`We come with no ill intent, Alpha-Hale. ´ the older Alpha said while turning his head just enough to look over at one of his female betas, giving her a nod that sent her moving towards the larger tents.
`Then why come here? ´ Peter asks rather sharply, making it clear that he had no interest in enduring the Stilinski’s presence this close to his land, his territory, and especially near the few family members he had left.
Alpha-Stilinski doesn’t respond immediately, instead he appears to take a moment to look both Peter and Chris over, searching for something before speaking once more with the sort of steady and calm voice that reminded Chris of his therapist.
There’s a twinkle in the eyes when the Stilinski alpha speaks, `We wished to bring you Alpha Hale and your brave mate, ´
`A gift. ´ Alpha-Stilinski says just as his mate appears from within the tent, the poor woman had aged poorly, some might blame it on the harsh life of being married to Alpha Stilinski while others might blame it on the twelve-children she’d birthed him. Her thin tall body wrapped-up in thick furs that had seen better days, and her face was hard and her eyes were cold as she moved towards them, two little children not dressed for the night were dragged towards the fire none too gently by this stone-faced woman.
Both of the children were wearing nothing but what appeared to be diapers. There were no shoes on their tiny feet and Chris is absolutely horrified by it all.
`A gift? ´ Peter asks turning his gaze towards the old-woman who moved slowly towards them, yanking forcefully at the smaller child who couldn’t keep-up with her.
`Two, really. ´ Alpha Stilinski clarifies, gesturing towards the little boys, one of which is covered in bruises and scrapes and who had been whimpering the whole way over to the fire, but the child goes silent immediately as the old woman growls down at him, but the big brown eyes grow damp none the less and soon a little tear slips forth and the other boy with lighter-eyes and hair colour glares at the old woman but says nothing.
`My mate and I, we are gifting you and your mate two sons. ´ Alpha Stilinski goes on to say, gesturing at the children brought forth.
`What? ´ is the response of both Chris and Peter are able the muster.
`A children, ´ the alpha explains as casually as one would explain that every night had its dawn, ` to raise and build a strong pack with. ´
The mate of Alpha Stilinski continues, voice raspy and hollow, `We gift you with new strength. ´
`Why would you gift us with something that would make us stronger? ´ Peter asks, voice full of suspicion as he turned his attention towards the Alpha situated across the fire, the flames danced bright and strong between them.
The Alpha’s mate continues to move towards Chris, and then without warning begins to lift both boys onto Chris’ lap, the boy glaring boy doesn’t try and move away from him but the brown-eyed one does, but when the alpha mate of the Stilinski pack speaks to him in a tongue Chris does not know, the child stills and looks up at the woman who walks off without another word which truly brings forth the tears.
Although the child doesn’t know him, he seeks comfort from Chris, tiny hands clinging to Chris’ jacket and hiding his face against his chest before starting to cry earnestly. To comfort an unfamiliar child doesn’t come naturally for Chris, and yet he tries to do it, and the other boy leans in closer to the crying child and whispers soothingly words Chris doesn’t understand to the distressed child.
`Can I not simply give you a gift, Alpha Hale? ´ the older-alpha asks while his mate hurries back inside her tent.
` Neither you or your predecessor have ever granted a Hale a gift. ´ Peter says, voice far from friendly, `I’d call it a tradition, Alpha Stilinski, for you not gift me or my mate with any gift. ´
Alpha Stilinski shoots a glare at Peter, then and Chris can’t help but go still beside Peter.
`So, I ask you, Alpha to Alpha, why gift us these boys? What’s wrong with them? ´ this earns Peter a glare from the boy who didn’t look as worse for wear as the crying one.
`The crying one, ´ the alpha says with distain, `is human. We do not entertain humans, in our pack unless they are of use. He is too young to be of use. And that one, well, he’s not human but he’s also not a mouth worthy for us to feed even if he, like his twin there were fathered by my son Noah and birthed by my former Emissary. ´
Chris can tell that like himself Peter is surprised to learn that the Alpha was handing his own grandchildren to them, even if the Stilinski-pack weren’t fond of humans there had never been a reason to believe they’d abandon one that was of their own blood. Then again having one of theirs part of the Hale-pack could also be a move to try and secure some form of security for the Stilinski-pack.
`And, ´ the Alpha says voice growing very serious, `it is considered bad luck for a pack to keep the young of their dead Emissary, even if they were kin. So, after some consideration, and guidance from our new Emissary we thought gifting the boys to you, our closest neighbour would be a far more fruitful outcome than what I had first planned. ´
`Superstitious nonsense. ´ Peter says without thinking, and the look Deaton gives him spoke volumes of how much he disapproved of what Peter had just said.
Shrugging his shoulders, Alpha Stilinski hums out, `You might be right. Then again, my pack can’t afford anymore misfortune, and so here we are. ´
`You giving us your unwanted grandchildren. ´ Peter points out, and now Deaton does hiss a warning to Peter and Chris begins to weigh his options when it came to his own survival.
`I will not deny that. I disapproved of Noah mating a human, but they had their sons and they are my kin, and now they can be of some use to me and you. ´ throwing a large log into the fire, smirking wildly as it causes Peter to flinch violently, `This is my way of securing the future of my own pack, since I will no longer have the burden of two orphaned children on my hand, and if the price of that is making you and your pack stronger then so be it. ´
`And of course you’ve calculated the benefits of binding Chris to your pack as well, even if it would only be as the adopted father of these boys, your grandchildren. ´ Peter points out sharply, and Alpha Stilinski gives a small nod here.
`What if I refuse to take them? ´ Peter questions even while fully aware of the exactly the consequences of such an act, an Alpha could never refuse a gift given to them by another alpha, and especially not if said gift had already been touched by a member of the Alpha’s pack.
The Alpha’s refusal of another Alpha’s gift, it was as good as a declaration of war.
`Refusing the gift of an Alpha is an insult. A grave insult. ´ Deaton whispers in warning, showing little knowledge of the amount of knowledge Peter had of Alpha and Alpha interaction.
`I know. ´ Peter growls back at his Emissary, before going back to glare at the smirking Alpha.
`Thank you, Alpha Stilinski, for you gift. We shall cherish them, always. ´ Peter grits out, and Chris can’t help but stare at the werewolf with an air of disbelief because there was no way Peter would be able to handle a small child, let alone two who weren’t of his own blood.
`You are very welcome. May your pack be strong a flourish. ´ the older Alpha says, rising to his feet, a victorious grin now plastered upon his face.
`May your pack be strong and flourish, Alpha Stilinski. May the moon keep you and your mate in good health. ´ Peter replies curtly enough to pass, then he slowly stands, and Chris watches as the two Alpha’s give one another one last nod before Peter turns his hard and angry gaze in his direction.
`Time to go, my love. ´ Peter manages somehow to sound almost like the man who’d once loved him, and Chris is a little bit taken aback by it but soon recovers when Peter offers to take the less starved and not bruised boy. Peter even went as far as to offer a helping hand when it came to Chris getting back onto his feet, ad Chris gladly took the helping hand offered to him since he was neither a proud man or one in a position to refuse Peter’s aid.
Chris knows he can’t question the gift or gifts given to him, he knows the rules and although he might not agree with children being handed over to strangers like this, he has to bite his tongue on the issue. Yet, he has to ask, `Their belongings, where are they…´
`The boys are no longer ours, and so they cannot have anything of ours. ´ Stilinski Alpha replies, his voice firm and eyes bleeding red as they looked over at the still crying boy.
`Seriously? ´ Chris says without thinking, `Not even a teddy or…´
`My Teddy. ´ the little boy cried pleadingly against Chris’ chest, and Chris feels his already broken heart break a little bit more which was a surprise and a half.
`Pleas. My Teddy. ´
`As I said. No longer a Stilinski, so none of the belongs that once belonged to Noah and Claudia’s sons, do no longer belong to the sons of Peter and Chris Hale. ´ the alpha goes on to say, and there’s a level of cruelty there that Chris simply cannot accept.
`You can’t be serious. It’s a toy. A toy. ´ Chris is too shocked by the coldness of the Alpha, the complete disregard towards a small child is just something he can’t get his own head around.
`Chris. ´ Peter says in warning.
`Pleas. ´the little boy continues to cry, and Chris feels his heart crumble within his scarred chest at the desperate pleading, `Teddy. ´
`You want the toy? ´ the Alpha Mate of the Stilinski pack questions as she steps outside from within her tent, drawing the attention of the smaller boy immediately to her.
At the sight of the Teddy bear that was missing an eye and an ear, but which still looked soft in the thin hands of the old woman, the sight of that toy has the little boy in Chris’ arms reaching out towards it, making grabby hands while smiling happily at what could be his favourite toy.
There’s something about the eyes of the older woman that is unsettling to Chris, and he finds himself holding on to the skin and bones child a little bit tighter.
`You want your dirty old toy? ´ the old-woman asks, and her cruel smirk grows as the child nods his head vigorously while responding respectfully, `Yes. Pleas. ´ the smile of the small child in Chris’ arms shatters, the look of hopefulness and delight is replaced by one of distress and horror as the grandmother of the small boy throws the teddy bear into the fire.
`Go fetch it. ´ the woman hisses before grinning viciously at the devastated child who screams in distress as he is made to watch as the flames swiftly lick at the once soft faux fur of teddy bear, the little boy makes a valiant effort to escape Chris’ hold in hopes of saving his beloved toy, but Chris clings on even tighter to the child who was treated so cruelly. The other boy yells out to his brother with an equal amount of distress as displayed by the smaller boy, `Stiles, stop. Stop. Fire bad. Fire hurt, Stiles. ´
`Your cruelty towards an innocent child is outstanding, Alpha Mate Stilinski. No wonder so many of your young have been less than stable in nature. ´ is Peter’s response voice tight with anger, eyes glowing ruby red while he does his best to keep the boy in his arms from tumbling out of his hold.
`How dare you…´ Alpha Stilinski starts, but Peter cuts him off swiftly.
Peter might not like children, might never have wanted any of his own, but he was also not a man who tolerated cruelty towards them.
`By the laws of our kind, the act of intentionally causing distress to the child of an Alpha with whom you have not declared war with, is, ´ Peter growls in warning, `I believe enough of a misstep for me to ether declare our packs at war, or to demand retribution, but since I find your pack and the lands you hold of no worth to me, ´ this of course was a lie, which Chris knew but from the look on Alpha Stilinski’s face the man did not catch the lie, ` and I have no desire waste any more time on you or your mate, Alpha Stilinski, and so I shall simply allow this to pass. ´
`However, ´ Peter says after a short pause, during which he’d somehow stared the older-alpha down, ` this will be the limit of my mercy. So, know, if you do anything to my young, or even hear you whisper any ill-will towards them, then I shall come down on you and your pack with the wrath of Fenrir. ´