Peter stood at the back of the tv room, staring at the screen as the president took the podium. Talia was fussing with feeding Cora, Peter resisted the urge to shush her as the president began his address.
“My fellow Americans, I would like to thank you all for coming to what may be the most important press conference I've ever called. I think we all know what I'm here to talk about. Here are the facts as I have them.”
The President coughed.
“Three days ago in Chicago, at 1220 local during a robbery, a person held at gunpoint transformed and ripped the arm off of his assailant, protecting the lives of several other citizens. Since then we've seen footage of, mainly teens and young people uploaded to different internet sites and submitted to news channels of transformations and unbelievable feats. Most people believe this is merely a hoax, however I have seen this phenomenon with my own eyes. I, as your President, can confirm the existence of supernatural creatures such as werewolves.”
The journalists began to shout, flashes going off, the President raised his hand. Peter felt his heart drum in his ears, felt everyone’s panic rise. Talia grabbed their sister’s hand.
“Ladies and gentleman, please.”
The journalists settled. Peter felt sick.
“Thank you. A few questions will be taken at the end.”
The President sighed.
“I understand. I understand how massively our world has changed for both regular humans and our fellow American super humans. These people have lived in secret out of fear. Fear of what we would do to them, think of them, demand from them... Ladies and gentlemen we have the opportunity to greet whole new species into our lives - people we may already know and trust as I have discovered. I can reveal to you all that members of my own security unit - my own bodyguards - are werewolves. I trust them with my life daily. So I ask this hard but achievable favour from the American people.”
The President nodded for a moment before taking a deep breath. Peter held his.
“Do nothing. Treat people the same as you have always treated them - treat them better. Trust the fact they've been hidden for hundreds of years without being discovered. They are in control of their bodies the same way any American is.
“I will be implementing a division of the government to deal with whatever situations our society faces now that this world has been opened up to us. If you believe yourself to be a supernatural expert information will be released as to how you can help us build that division up.”
“For now, to all the supernatural paramedics who can lift cars off their patients, the supernatural cops who take bullets for their partner, the extraordinary people doing ordinary things - thank you. Keep doing what you're doing. God bless America.”
“We'll be taking a short recess before questions.”
It could have been worse.
“They're asking for experts to come forward, Tally. I am the expert in this family.”
They’re outside, in the shadow of the house just on the edge of the nearest treeline. Talia can’t seem the let the house out of her sight.
“Which is why we need you here while this disaster is going on,” she hissed back.
Peter took a deep breath. “This is not a disaster. It's a new world order,” he stated calmly. “Are you really going to let the Argents of the world be their only source of intel?”
Talia stared at her brother, red eyes flaring up and down as she oscillated between calm and fear.
“My instinct tells me not to split us up, to stay together, and wait it out.”
Peter nodded. “And that is how they will spot us for one. For two, we can't 'wait out' knowledge. Tally, they know.”
Talia snarled and dug a claw into a tree. Peter rolled his eyes. This is why he opted for a conversation outside in the Preserve.
“I'm scared,” Talia admitted quietly.
“For me? Or for yourself?”
“Yes, and the children...”
“I'm not going to give them any specific information about us, our family. I'm giving an alias, I'm taking every precaution. Including this one.”
Talia looked down at her claws. Peter resisted the urge to flinch. She’s used them before to great effect, Peter’s confident she can do this task even as difficult as it is.
“It would be complicated. There might be gaps you didn't intend on,” Talia said eventually, coming to a decision.
Peter shrugged. “An initial blurring ought to be enough. If I'm placed in a situation where I'm being forced to give you up I'll be able to resist them long enough. If the government is being truthful then in a year or two I'll start to remember without you there to reinforce it.”
Talia frowned. Peter stepped forwards and took her wrists.
“You'll know where I am and you'll know how to contact me. I'll know how to contact you. It's more than some positions I've put you in.”
Talia grimaced, eyes flicking away.
“I do trust you with this,” Talia replied. “That's not - “
Peter smiled. “I know it's not. You wouldn't let me stay if I couldn't be trusted with something so basic as keeping our family safe.”
Talia nodded and turned her wrists round so she could hold her little brother's hand.
“What if all our fears are true? What if this call for information is the start of a witch hunt?”
“Then you'll know. Which is better than this... Limbo of uncertainty.”
They stood in the forest for a moment longer before Talia spoke.
“Keep them hidden. Keep them safe,” Peter asked. Talia nodded.
Then she plunged her claws into Peter's neck, removing all mentions or sight of Beacon Hills, CA from his memories.
The Division for the Supernatural. A brand new government approved department. Part of the Better Together Initiative. But what does this Division do for you?
“Division gave me a safe space to explore my abilities and plot out a course for my future!” – Sarah, 19
“Division commissioned and funded the research that cured my breast cancer.” – Maria, 56
“Division trained rescue super paramedics saved my life after an earthquake trapped me underground.” John, 32
So what does Division do for you? We help create a safer, healthier, brighter future. For all of us. Division. Because we're Better Together.
The intro video needs some work.
Peter eyed the young man with the blonde hair. He was maybe the same age as himself. Training to be an FBI agent of some sort, to go around finding rouge werewolves under the guise of catching serial killers. Handy.
“Actually, it’s Alec.”
Peter waited a beat before inclining his head slightly. "Peter."
“Great to meet you, Peter,” he said holding his hand out. Peter shook it daintily.
“Right gentlemen,” said the leggy brunette with an air of command walking in the door. “Let's begin, shall we? Your job is to root through these documents and tell us which are credible and which are nonsense.”
“What documents?” Alec asked.
A line of eight men with three boxes each entered the room and dumped the boxes down.
Peter sighed. “You just had to ask.”
The work is too hard and too vast to argue or attack each other. Instead, they must work together and trust the other’s expertise and judgment.
It’s harder for him than it is for Peter.
Peter’s always known how dangerous and smart hunters are.
There’s a knock on the door of the shit apartment Peter’s managed to rent. He can’t quite remember where his money came from or how long it’s supposed to last him, so he’s as frugal as he can be.
He opens up the door and Alec is there with two bottles of red.
“Can I come in?”
It took them three weeks.
Apparently they were the most efficient team in the building. Peter asked for a pay rise.
He got it.
He’s the lead expert on obscure lore, there isn’t a department name for what they do yet, but Peter’s been given the task of coming up with a job title.
Lore Acquisition sounds nice. King of Knowledge? Obscure artefacts, maybe?
Peter wonders what his Alpha is like. If he’s from a family pack or a gathered pack. If he has a heritage or was once human. It keeps him up at night.
He’s the head lore specialist, with a head of historical research tandem to him, a department head of lore research above them, and a director of research above her.
Not bad, all things considering.
He’s making a reputation for himself said Alec one night in the moonlight, a cigarette poking out from his lips.
An almost… unsavoury reputation.
There’s a hole in his chest that burns raw when the moon is high in the sky. He howls.
No one howls back.
Peter is promoted, maybe, but reassigned certainly as the Division is refined and after he saved the lives of eight Division hunters in an incident with a kanima.
Rare Lore Field Specialist.
It means he gets to go out and brief the hunters on what they’re hunting.
The irony isn’t lost on him.
Alec leaves the same way he came. Without notice and in the middle of the night.
Division has no clue what they’re doing. Anyone in the department could be reading these tombs. Anyone could have the power of these horrors in their hands.
He recommends they be classified, or burned. He get promoted again, or something. Now he has to figure out a system for classifying dangerous material.
He buries the secrets he reads in the dark corners of his heart.
He wasn’t using his heart much anyways.
Peter’s invaluable. He knows it. He knows nearly everything there is to know. His job gets less and less easy to define.
He’s now part of the rare and dangerous acquisitions task force. There’s another Argent on the team.
He fucks her too.
Apparently he’s ‘toxic’.
There’s a new government approved top secret division of Division. Well, Peter thinks, that didn’t take them long. He takes the news with a pinch of salt and keeps a sharp eye on the live acquisitions list, his instincts screaming about the hunters at his back, the people he was hunting down, the things he locked away, the witch hunt that may or may not be starting.
There are creatures in this world that should have remained hidden. Remained sleeping.
There are places that keep them locked up, places Peter now has to inspect, has to liase with, has to transfer ice cold hell hounds and banshees with holes drilled into their heads to.
He can never shake Eichen House out of his memory – he’s not sure why.
His memories have been seeping back. Now he knows why Eichen House resonates with him – he knew some of those inmates. His pack had put them there. His pack.
He can remember being surrounded by love; can remember the discipline, the need to be as ruthless as possible to protect his family – the single mindedness that had been pervading his every choice in this game suddenly hitting him full force, breathless.
He asks for another promotion. He gets a team and a mandate to track down anything he deems necessary.
His team are loyal to him. Him alone.
They found a town, a ghost town, with no one, and nobody there except a banshee and a dead boy. People used to live there and yet they can find no documentation to substantiate that. No birth records in the hospitals, no pay slips, no bank accounts, no city plans, no furniture in the houses, nothing.
He learns how to absail on an excursion into an ancient tomb. The writings he finds there ages him, makes him feel the weight of the world. He tells him team to set up shop on the mountainside and leave him here. He reads it all. Takes as many notes as he can safely, the histories and stories and events and theories and knowledge - all written down.
The nightmares he keeps in a seperate notepad, copies as exactly as he can. The rituals, the power, the paths into the dark.
He spends two months there. His team bringing him everything he needs as they stand watch on the surface, exploring outside and in to make sure no extras are hidden in the stone. When he’s done he burns the originals and has his druid cleanse the area. He sends one team member to the Lore Library with the notes and has the rest escourt him to the Red Library to seal the nightmares away.
He prays no one ever reads that notebook.
He prays no one has to.
Two years later he calls Talia from a payphone eighteen miles from his hotel. He thinks it’s safe. He’s been in the‘top secret’ department since it formed and so far no cull seems to be in motion, the Division seems to do what it’s supposed to be doing, what the President wants it to do, a regulatory body mainly, a collation of facts, to protect and serve – but for how long when they give experts like Peter their own mandates to hunt?
Please, he begs her, stay hidden.
He’s been working for Division for nearly seven years. There have been four coups that the public have never known about, and a true separation between Division and Division. Division helped people, both super and ordinary to control and learn about their new world. They created educational programs, researched medical diseases, trained the newly turned, collated lore, published history, set up therapy sessions, investigated incidents.
The incidents they couldn’t handle were passed on through the Division. To the part that really kept the public safe, where nearly every file was stamped top secret, that tried to rehabilitate the most serious offenders, that kept the most dangerous people off the street, stopped foreign assassins, performed experiments, uncovered lethal plots, surveyed tagged people, that hunted.
It’s been a fine line to keep Division from becoming a monster and Peter Hale honestly thinks that sometimes he succeeded.
Other times he’s trying to convince hunters to not shoot kids just because they can turn people to stone with a glance, because they can walk through walls, trap you in dream states, can shoot darts from their hands.
He doesn’t always succeed.
He doesn’t always try.
He needs to get out of the field and behind a desk if wants to know all the dirty secrets. He'll need to be sharp to keep up with the politics that surround the inner Division heads.
Head of Security. Head of Facilities. Head of Acquisition. Head of Mysteries. Head of Research. Head of Relations. Head of Staff.
Peter thinks he's more than qualified for one. Simply depends on when there's an opening.
Division are eager to keep him happy. He slots very easily into the Mysterious Acquisitions Liaison post. A choice to do field work, keep his hand in if he wants - some underlings to train up and send in his stead. Only the most top secret and dangerous of tasks to focus on, to numb himself to, to hide and bury. He has the opportunity to see what they do to the worst of them, where exactly the dark vaults are hidden.
He plays gentle politics with his superiors, doing favours, calling a few in for trifling matters, garnering good will. He trains up his underlings and creates a fierce loyalty that takes time to nurture and grow. He makes himself fully available to help his colleagues, gets a reputation as invaluable in a crisis, always happy to help, with a streak of ruthlessness to achieve the right outcome.
He makes noises about where he may like to be in the future, but he loves what he’s doing now of course. People begin to expect him to succeed a Head sooner or later.
For now though, this is good. For now he can settle here, peeking into the dark heart of Division from the doorway, ready to dive in if necessary - or run.
He could… It might be safe… maybe he might visit home.
Maybe he'll wait.
There's an incident. He wakes up and is in the office before anyone even phones him. He can feel it. In his soul. His heart.
“Sir! I was just about the phone you.”
“I felt a disturbance in the force,” the young man knew better than to laugh at the phrase. Peter tried hard at seeming omnipotent. “Where?”
“They need you in Beacon County, California.”
He’s driven around familiar streets. To a familiar track inthe preserve.
“We'll need to walk from here, sir.”
As they walk Peter begins to notice the angle of the trees. It gets more pronounced until suddenly trees are lying on the ground. Lying back from an explosion. They reach a clearing and instead of the familiar withered nemeton there’s a stump. Peter hides his start.
Did someone cut down his nemeton?
There's a team already there – forensic style, a few local druids being interviewed, a few perimeter patrols - probably super. He approaches the command tent.
“So… who fucked up this time?”
A familiar Argent woman grins at him.
“Peter. This time, it wasn't us,” she said sneering. “I’ve got teams hunting them, no luck so far. So I thought I’d wait and see if you had any insight.” She raised an expectant eyebrow. “Do you?”
Peter’s eyes flickered from her to the hastily written report he was given upon landing about the incident.
“A magical bomb of sorts? I’ll have to look at the epicentre and see.”
“Be my guest. I’ll be waiting.”
Peter stepped out and headed for the stump.
It had never been a place of power, had been withered and dead for generations, he had climbed this tree when he younger, snapped brittle bark from it’s trunk.
Now it was a stump, three times the size, and thrumming with life. This… this wasn't his nemeton.
This didn't belong here.
He called in Deaton. He worked in a subsection of Division Lore, but Peter knew him well enough to know the only reason he wasn't in Mystery was because he didn't like sharing what he knew.
“This tree didn't grow in this soil,” Deaton said, fingers sunken into the ground near the stump’s roots, learning from the earth as only druids managed.
It had been two days and Kate was getting restless from missing the hunt.
“It's a stump. We know it's not growing.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “So how did it get here?” he directed at Deaton. Ignoring Kate’s petulance.
Deaton was climbing into the roots. “Have we gathered soil samples? From on the tree?”
“Yes, soil seems to be the same as the rest of the preserve. Plain old dirt,” Kate snarked.
“How is that interesting?” Kate drawled quietly to Peter.
“This stump doesn't belong here. It came from somewhere else. So why is the soil the same?” Peter queried.
Kate shrugged. “Dirt is dirt.”
“Dirt is sand, clay, magnesium, salt, fertilizer, bugs. You know that. Settle. Mysteries always take a bit longer,” Peter replied.
“This nemeton has travelled,” Deaton pronounced, walking round to the far side of the stump.
Peter was the one who rolled his eyes this time.
“We had gathered that,” he called back to Deaton.
“But with such a force, like a bomb? Odd. The easiest way to move a nemeton would be to use the leylines. And yet, this tree seems at home here. Same soil.”
“The force… it had to push the other tree out of its way.”
“Or replace it. An exchange.”
“We've had no other disturbances of this magnitude in the world. It only happened here. Isolated incident.”
“This stump has to come from somewhere.”
“Yet you say it comes from here.”
Deaton blinked. “I was saying it belonged here. But maybe… it did come from here.”
Peter tilted his head, thinking. “Not time travel. Stump is too large. You'd have needed to uproot the old tree and plant a new one then have it grow this large. The druids here would never have allowed that – no matter how dead the tree.”
“I think…” Deaton put his hand on the stump. Kate made an aborted movement, hand twitching for her gun. “I think she came from a different world.”
“A different world?” Peter repeated.
Deaton shrugged. “Makes the most sense. Where do ghosts come from. Fae creatures. Other mysterious things too I imagine. More your department.”
Peter stopped for a moment.
“We need to capture the two that came from the epicenter. Nemetons don't move for nothing. One of them will have charged the spell. One of them has the power to move between worlds.”
“One of them is a bomb,” Kate finished, fishing out her phone.
“More like a battering ram, I think,” Deaton murmured.
Kate rolled her eyes, then tilted her head to Peter. “Wanna come with?”
Peter shook his head. “I'm afraid I’m more interested in the stump. I’ll catch up later.”
Walking up to the house has never felt so strange.
Here is home, the pack he has fought so viciously to protect, so single mindedly to defend, and yet the disconnect is so vast. His memories have been back for years but this still feels like the first time he’s ever seen the plant potters, walked up the porch stairs, knocked on the door.
Seen his sister’s face.
He engulfs her without hesitation.
“It’s okay,” she gentles. “You’re home now, Peter. You’re home.”