The next morning, the pack gathered in the area between their houses. Scott and Isaac were hugging each other tightly. Both Chris and Derek were standing as far apart as they could. Everyone seemed to be waiting on him. He turned around and hugged his father. "Be safe, Stiles," the Captain whispered into his ear.
"I will," he replied. He turned around to face the pack. It all felt too awkward for him to say anything, so instead, he simply began walking in the direction of the village. The rest of the pack followed behind him.
The silence was both relieving and stifling. When they were a few miles away, Scott finally made him stop. "What's the plan. We're not sending the entire pack into a Hunter stronghold without a plan."
"If you see a Hunter, kill it," Stiles replied.
"That's not a plan and you know it, Stiles!" Scott scolded.
"I don't even know what to expect when we get there, how am I supposed to plan for that?" Stiles demanded.
"We're not walking into that village until we have a plan of attack," Derek echoed.
Stiles finally stopped walking and turned around to face his pack. "Why would any of you trust me to get this right when I can't even get my relationship right? I'm not the person to be making decisions. I only fuck them up."
"As much as I agree with that statement, it's the kitsunes who are in trouble. You're the only kitsune we know," Derek said. He turned to Chris. "What would the Hunters do?"
"Valuable kitsunes would be kept and detained, any who weren't important would be killed. That was what we felt last night. The moment the detained kitsunes stopped being useful, they'd be killed," Chris replied.
"Then I say we each enter from a different part of the village. We make it our mission to protect as many kitsunes as possible. But we need to detain at least a few for questioning," Derek said.
"The Hunters would kill themselves before they submitted to questioning by a werewolf," Chris replied.
"I can keep that from happening," Stiles said. "I'll use my power and immobilize them… then Derek can take the memories from them."
There was silence before Derek admitted the value in his plan, but the hesitant way in which he did hurt Stiles. Chris could sense the pain, but said nothing. They all got into position and once they were each inside the town, Stiles used his command over the earth to raise a barrier to keep the hunters in. The stench of death hung in the air and every hunter Stiles came in contact with was sucked into liquefied ground before Stiles solidified it back, trapping them all for questioning. He heard fighting and offered his help where he could, struggling hard to fight the urge to kill each one he saw. They all regrouped in the center of the village and Stiles used his power to move the captives toward them.
"You've never done that before," Chris said shocked as he watched the Hunters move through the ground.
"Whatever this place is, I feel stronger here," Stiles told him.
"Wherever there are many kitsunes, our power becomes more," said an older woman who had come out of hiding. "I sensed you were here."
"How many are left?" Stiles asked, trying not to be insensitive to the fact that the woman before him had just lost a large portion of her village to senseless tragedy.
"Perhaps a dozen. But we're all that's left of our kind in this part of the world. When the Hunters took over North America, we all moved down here. We thought we'd be safe… until you were made," she said.
"I beg your pardon?"
"They came after us to find you," she said. "We don't blame you for what happened, but if you had never been created, my friends and family would still be alive."
"That sounds like blame to me," Stiles said softly.
"You started out as a Nogitsune. You destroyed the Panopticon and slaughtered thousands," she said.
"It wasn't my fault!" Stiles insisted.
"I get the feeling that nothing ever is," she replied.
Derek noticed it first. "He's telling the truth," he said. "Stiles was raped and tortured and he thought he watched someone he loved get killed." Stiles felt how hard it was for Derek to say that.
"His very nature brings destruction and imbalance," she said. "He poses a danger to everyone around him. We would all be safer with him dead."
Derek bared his teeth. "You won't touch him!"
"It is an abomination for there to be an Alpha of our kind. The highest we have is the Celestial Kitsune!" the woman spat.
"Did she survive? Take me to her… she may be able to help!" Stiles said.
"The only help I could offer you is death," the woman said. "My name is Noshiko and I'm the Celestial Kitsune."
"Stiles only came here to help you all," Chris said.
"Empty words from a man who lacks honor," Noshiko replied dismissively. "Your order states that you should have taken your own life after you were turned."
"I needed to help Stiles. I needed to return his tails to him," Chris said. "And I'm Stiles' mate. If I were to die, he would live in agony for the rest of his days."
"And how many people did you make suffer, Hunter?" she demanded. She said the last word as if it were a slur of some sort.
"He isn't a Hunter anymore and I'm not a Nogitsune anymore! I'm an Earth kitsune!" Stiles insisted. "I felt the slaughter when it started. We came here to help you."
"Only after the slaughter had ended," Noshiko pointed out.
"You're intent on seeing only the bad in us," Scott pointed out. "What about me? I'm a True Alpha. You know what that means, don't you?"
Noshiko nodded. "And why you would surround yourself with such evil defies logic…"
"Stiles is my best friend. He's like a brother to me. It's true that he killed a lot of people when he was the Nogitsune, but he was acting out of vengeance. He's trying to recover from what happened to him. Stiles is a good person," Scott insisted. "I'll take full responsibility for his actions."
"Nobody should take responsibility for his actions except him," Noshiko said plainly.
"And I've taken responsibility for my actions. I'm trying to become a better person. I've hurt a lot of people… and I've hurt someone I love more than life itself and I'm tired of hurting people. I came here to try to protect you, but you would rather kill me, so I'll just leave you to yourselves," Stiles said angrily before storming off.
"What a wonderful Alpha we have, don't we?" Noshiko mocked. "The Alpha who came too late… after everyone had already been slaughtered!"
"Leave him alone," Derek said, finally speaking up in defense of Stiles. "He would have come last night had I not stopped him. You have all had your families to teach you how to be a kitsune. Stiles was bitten by me. He should have become a werewolf, but he didn't. We're here to help you, but we won't risk ourselves again if you don't want us to."
Stiles stopped in his tracks, turning to see Derek following him. When they were close, Derek whispered, "Are you alright?"
"Thanks for sticking up for me," Stiles said weakly. "When we get back home, I'm going to pack and leave… you shouldn't have to leave your pack because of me."
"What are you talking about?" Derek asked.
"Last night when you said…" Stiles started, but Derek interrupted him with a kiss.
"I was angry when I said it. I don't want you to leave," Derek replied, kissing him again. "I only want Chris to leave."
Stiles began crying. "I don't deserve you or your forgiveness," he said.
"You're right," Derek replied. "You have to earn it this time. You have to earn me, my trust, and my forgiveness."
"I'll do anything," Stiles vowed. "I just need to make sure Chris is going to be safe. Omegas don't last long… you know that."
"If he's your mate, he now has a permanent tie to the Pack. He can draw on our strength if he needs to," Derek said. "But this is your very last chance, Stiles. I'm not going through this same old song and dance again."
"I know," Stiles replied. "So what did you learn from our captives?"
"They kept one of each type of kitsune. They were merely following orders, unfortunately and had no idea why they were doing it… although one of them had a suspicion that the Hunters are trying to rebuild their ranks and use Kitsune magic as a weapon against us… and most specifically you."
"How could they be so organized already?" Stiles asked. "Their power was concentrated to the Panopticon and I completely destroyed it."
"Apparently they were able to transfer some of their research to an outpost they had on this side of the wall," Derek said. "But that's as far as their knowledge goes."
"How do you want to handle this?" Stiles asked. "Should we attack? I can demolish them without them ever knowing we were there and finish them off once and for all."
Derek shook his head. "No. You completely lost yourself the last time you did that."
"I have better control," Stiles insisted.
"I won't risk it," Derek replied dismissively. "You never really recovered from it."
Scott joined them, tired of arguing with Noshiko. "It may be our only opportunity to get rid of the Hunters forever, Derek."
"You don't know what it was like seeing him that way," Derek said.
"But if we can end the hold of terror the Hunters have over supernaturals, then don't we have an obligation to do it?" Scott asked.
"And what are we going to do with our captives?" Stiles asked before Derek could answer the question.
Neither had a chance to answer before Chris screamed, "Shut up!" and ripped the captives' heads off. Even from thirty feet away, Stiles could feel the rage coming off of him, its scent more pungent than the blood that covered him.
"Chris?" Stiles yelled running toward him. "What the hell?"
Chris moved back, looking down at his blood-drenched hands. "I… I'm sorry."
"Why did you kill them?" Scott demanded. "We could have used them as hostages…"
"I am so sorry," Chris said. "I just… they kept taunting me… they called me a traitor and a coward. I was weak… I'm so sorry."
"It's too late now…" Stiles blurted.
"You wolves are savages," Noshiko said. "Leave this place! It has seen enough death!"
"My offer to protect you still stands," Stiles told her.
"It seems that I am more in need of protection from you," Noshiko said before turning away.
The pack all headed back in the direction of home. "I really don't like her," Stiles muttered before shifting into a fox and climbing up onto Derek's shoulder. Derek winced a bit as Stiles' claws scratched him as he tried to get leverage, but Derek didn't mind. It had been a while since he had felt so close to Stiles.
Chris watched them feeling incredibly possessive in a way he had never before. Scott noticed the tension immediately. "Are you alright, man?" he asked.
"I'll be fine," he lied.
Author's Note: Sorry it's so short and sorry for such a wait on the update. I've been super blocked for some of my stories, but I'm trying to get them finished. Let me know what you thought.