He was wounded and the woods were dark and deep, and he had no idea where he was, exactly.
But he could hear them, the horses and the hounds, and the humans, too. The Argents were ruthless, but they’d been fair until something changed after Gerard Argent’s wife died almost three seasons ago.
Within a few months, they’d picked off every Hale, one by one. Last night they’d set their last hiding place aflame, and only because Peter had been patrolling and because they’d used some magic or chemical to make the fire burn fast and too hot, had he not been able to get back in time.
His pack was all gone. Every single one. The hole in his chest, his very soul, was wide open, gaping.
So he ran on four paws, only because he wouldn’t make this easy for the Argents. If they wanted to wipe out every single Hale, they would have to work for it.
He’d run for hours. Dawn’s first singers were reaching through the branches by the time he was done running. He couldn’t anymore. The taste of blood in his mouth and the way his paws felt raw made him think that the Argents were herding him towards something, after all.
There was no way they had this kind of power, fresh men, horses, and dogs, for the chase unless they knew where he was going.
It didn’t take long after the realization for him to look ahead and see it.
A tall, foreboding stone wall stood before him in the distance. It was a dead end. The natural stone of the cliff face too high for him to jump in any form, even if he hadn’t been dead tired.
The sounds behind him got louder, there was laughter now, they were celebrating the kill already.
Not willing to give them the satisfaction quite yet, Peter ran impossibly faster.
If they wanted him, they still had to come get him at the rock wall, not before.
And then he saw it. A sliver of darkness in the otherwise solid wall.
Peter dashed into the too-narrow cave. He almost got stuck, his paws scrabbling against jagged rocks as he tried to propel himself deeper.
The dogs could still get him, they were smaller than him, but he refused to make it easy.
And then suddenly, like a cork from a bottle, he was released into a bigger cave and collapsed to the stone floor.
Too stunned to move, he lay there panting, trying to get his bearings.
The noise from the outside came closer, he could hear the hounds clearly now.
He crawled away from the tunnel-like entrance and when he turned to look back, he saw the sliver of light that made it through.
As if dawn had decided to bless him one last time, the light got stronger and he followed it to the ending point at the back of the chamber. And there he saw it, an altar, ancient and dusty, but still clearly a place of worship.
To whom, he didn’t know. He’d never been here before. He didn’t know all the ancient tales even though he knew many, but if there was a deity being worshiped inside a cave like this, it meant they were to be worshiped in secret, and Peter, well, he was all about secrets, wasn’t he?
With the last tiny bits of strength he could muster, he dragged himself to the altar.
Struggling to get up on top of the smooth surface, he whined deep in his throat.
The dogs were closer, he could hear the hunters outside, their laughter echoing inside the cave.
And then, just as his exhausted body slumped on top of the stone slab, all noise stopped. The light went away. Impossibly, the tunnel closed and something told him that all the hunters would see would be solid stone where the entrance had once been.
Peter passed out from relief.
“Well, well… it’s been a while since anyone left me an offering so tasty and bright,” a voice said in the dark.
Peter jerked fully awake. He could feel the cold stone against his skin, chilling him to the bone.
He was curled up on the altar still, yet he’d shifted in his sleep.
“There you are, little one. Feeling better now?” the voice, younger than Peter would’ve expected, asked.
His own voice was raspy when he replied, “Yes, much. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me, little wolf.” The chuckle echoed in the complete darkness, but it was a lovely sound instead of foreboding.
In a split second, Peter made a decision.
“I would be yours, if you’d have me,” he rasped out. “I have no one else. The Argents, they took everything from me.”
The voice hummed. “A wolf without a pack,” it mused.
“Yes. They slaughtered everyone. Even the children and the elderly.”
“And you will be mine?”
Peter nodded, then felt an almost-caress against his shoulders and back. “Yes. As long as I’ll live.”
“Even if that is forever?” the voice was curious now.
He nodded again. “Yes.” He had nothing to lose, after all.
“Then bleed for me, little wolf. By your own hand.”
Without hesitation, Peter extend a claw and sliced his own arm, letting the blood drip onto the ancient stone below. He could hear each drop it echo through the chamber.
“Ah, little wolf, you have so pleased me,” the voice purred in the darkness. “You will get your revenge.”
Peter, still weak from the chase, slumped back down. “W-what can I call you?”
The voice let out a youthful laugh. “You, my wolf, can call me Stiles.”
“Stiles,” Peter said, tasting the word in his mouth.
He nodded and closed his eyes.
“Rest now, wolf, for we have all eternity ahead of us, and you will need your strength.”
The hole where his pack had been would never close, but somehow it didn’t feel as raw anymore. He wasn’t alone. He had Stiles now. Forever.