Chapter 1: A Tortured Mind
Theo thrust his fist upwards, punching through the earth and concrete, his claws reaching clear air at last as the ground exploded around him. The invisible hands that had been dragging him towards the surface vanished and he found himself standing in a cloud of dust and dirt. He felt alive, blood pounding through his body, his eyes glowing yellow, casting the tunnel beyond him in a red sheen, his muscles bunched and flexed, sharp claws pressing against the palm of his hand as he clenched and released. The chimera looked around, faintly recognising the tunnel, but he had more immediate concerns. “Where’s Tara?” He demanded from the two teenagers standing in front of him.
Hayden The name sprang into his mind automatically, and he nodded. “Yeah, where is she?”
“You killed her, remember?”
Theo glanced at the other one, Liam his brain supplied and the chimera blinked as it all came rushing back to him; the Dread Doctors, the Beast, that insane plot to get Scott’s werewolf powers, and Stiles…how the hell did he manage to forget about everything he had done to Stiles? He groaned, fingers brushing dirt from his temple, This isn’t right, everything feels wrong. Theo was dimly aware that they were talking in his direction. He looked away, frowning as he tried to clear his mind of the memories, of the last time Stiles had looked at him, the way his eyes had gleamed, fury in his voice, even though he smelled disappointed. He had to get out of here, he had to find Stiles, explain, apologize. Theo glanced back at Liam and Hayden, watching them suspiciously as they edged closer, the male werewolf with a sword in his hands. This can’t be real… The chimera moistened his lips, the earthy taste of grit unpleasant on his tongue. He waited until Liam was closer, before snarling and diving forwards, catching the werewolf off guard. Theo slammed him into the wall, claws at his throat, knee pressing hard at his wrist, forcing him to drop the sword.
“Theo!” Hayden cried out beside him. “We’re not trying to hurt you.”
The chimera ignored her, looking around for Scott and Kira, sniffing the air. Where are they? Where’s Beast? This is different from before, maybe she’s not here, if it even is real. Or maybe, maybe this is another trick. He growled as Liam struggled to break free.
“We’re the ones who brought you back!”
“Where’s my sister?” He asked them again, frowning as they glanced at each other. “Well?”
“Your sister’s dead.” Liam muttered. “You just asked us that. She’s still dead, you still killed her.”
“She died a long time ago.”
“No,” Theo looked away, memories tugging at him, Hayden’s voice faraway. “No…that…she was right-”
“There’s no one here but us, Theo.” Liam said, his voice strangely calm.
“And soon there won’t even be you!” Theo growled at him, feeling as though a switch was just flicked on inside of him. Being bad is what I know. “I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill all of you!” His claws dug into Liam’s chest as he stared into the werewolf’s amber eyes.
“Send him back!” Hayden picked up the sword and thrust it into her boyfriend’s hands.
Liam hefted it and pushed the chimera backwards. “You know what this does?”
Theo looked at him and then at the sword, loosening his grip. “That’s the sword. Kira’s sword.” He muttered, realization in his eyes. “If that was all just a dream, if this is reality, then…no, no, no, it’s a trick, it has to be. Hehe.” Theo suddenly chuckled and let Liam go. The werewolves were staring at him as he walked back to the center of the hallway, looking both ways. “Where are you Tara?! You can’t hide from me! I know you’re here, I know what you’re coming for!” He roared into the darkness, his voice descending into intelligible mumbling. “You want my heart? Come and take it!”
“Theo, stop, she’s not here.” Liam exchanged another glance with Hayden before moving forward to touch his arm.
“Don’t!” The chimera shrugged him off, still muttering darkly, eyes unfocused. “A new playground, but the same old tricks. Just phantoms, no, no, no. I’m not…You can’t, hahaha.”
“He’s crazy.” Hayden pulled Liam away. “Now what?”
“We don’t really need him to be sane.” He replied, frowning as Theo slashed randomly at the air. “He just needs to be able to handle the current. Let’s at least ask him.”
Theo started as Liam and Hayden moved around into his vision. “Who are you? What are you doing here? Did she send you?”
“Err, no.” Liam moistened his lips. “Um, Theo, we need your help.”
“Help. Help.” The chimera echoed him, eyes searching the darkness. “I tried to help once.”
“Uh huh. Well, maybe you can-”
“It didn’t work, though.” Theo continued speaking over him, “He wanted my help, but not that sort of help, a different kind, I thought…” He paused, staring at Liam. “I know you.”
“Yeah. Liam, remember?” The werewolf spoke quickly before Theo’s attention was diverted again. “We need your power to help us.”
“I said I’d kill them all, including him. Why did I say that?” Theo looked at the werewolf, expecting an answer. He blinked and then nodded. “Help you how?”
“You’ve heard about the Ghost Riders?”
The chimera hesitated, “Sounds familiar, stories, from…them? Doctors, Doctors of- Dread Doctors.” He shook his head. “No, I won’t go back! No, you can’t make me!” Theo snarled, brandishing his claws in Liam’s face.
The werewolf shook his head. “No one is going to make you go anywhere, not if you help us. Tell us what you know.” He saw Hayden glance at him, and cleared his throat as Theo frowned in concentration. “Actually, if you come with us, we can show you what we need your help with.”
“You can go wherever you want, I guess.” Liam replied, unnerved by the sudden lucidity in Theo’s eyes. It passed almost immediately as the chimera began muttering again.
“Good, good, then I can find him, find…and help. No, not help, no, no, help is wrong, have to-”
“Theo!” Hayden cut across him and gestured towards where Mr Douglas was waiting for them. “It’s this way. We don’t need you for long.”
Theo eyed her with suspicion, glancing at Liam. “It’s them you have to watch out for; the, uh, the sister, yes, watching, always need to watch for her...”
Liam sighed, avoiding the chimera’s crazed eyes, instead pushing him gently. “C’mon, Theo, it really is this way.” His pulse spiked as the chimera grabbed his arm tight. “What?”
“It’s the heart you want, isn’t it?” Theo stared at him, a piercing yellow stare, but he moved when Liam walked, their progress up the tunnel slow. “Yes, I thought so, you’re after the heart, just as she is, as they all are, but they can’t have it, it’s mine, mine, mine! Mine now, no, no, no, you can’t have it back. Take it, oh, you can try and take it. But-” Theo stopped speaking as they reached an intersection in the tunnel. He released Liam’s arm, walking slowly around the black wire hanging down from above. His attention flicked to the man standing opposite him, battery clutched in his hands. Theo sniffed the air, a strangely familiar scent in his nostrils. He moved closer to the man, sniffing him even as Mr Douglas recoiled. “You…you are not him.” The chimera dismissed the man, flicking his attention back to Hayden, hearing her apologize.
“Theo, this is Mr Douglas.” Liam explained. “A teacher at our school; he’s seen the Ghost Riders too, and he’s helping us with our plan.”
“To catch one.” Theo whispered. “Catch the lightning, riders of the storm, taking people, harvesting more and more for their unstoppable army.”
“That’s right.” Mr Douglas nodded at the cable. “We need to negate their lightning, or at least, that’s what Liam and his friends have told me. He says that you have an ability to help us. Is that so?”
“Ability?” Theo echoed at the werewolves. Where did she go? What sort of game is this?
“Yeah, you took Josh’s powers, remember?” Liam sighed as the chimera looked blankly at him. “You can do it, Theo.”
“This is to get the heart, isn’t it? Tired of just ripping it out? Want to try something different? Why don’t you just take it?” Theo pulled down his sweater, exposing his chest to Liam. “I already told you I don’t want to play anymore, just take it again!”
“It’s alright, Mr Douglas, he’s just, err,” Hayden struggled to explain and shrugged. “Crazy. Completely nuts. Um, just go ahead.”
“Hang on a minute,” The teacher looked between them and Theo. “He doesn’t seem all there, I’m not so sure we should be asking him to do something like this.”
“He can do it.” Liam replied as Theo sniffed the wire curiously. “He has the ability to absorb electricity, even if he’s not aware of it. His, uh, time underground seems to have messed up his mind a bit.”
“I don’t like this.” Mr Douglas shrugged uncomfortably as he looked around at them.
Theo grabbed the wire and looked at them. “Do it.”
“Are you sure you understand-”
“You’ll just take my heart anyway.” The chimera smirked, “What difference does it make how she gets it?”
“Uh, right.” Mr Douglas turned the dials carefully, and nodded at Liam. “Ok, here we go.”
Theo blinked rapidly, stars exploding around his head. He stared up at the tunnel’s ceiling, ringing in his ears as the others cried out. This isn’t how it starts. Where’s the metal gone? Looking at his burnt hand, the chimera tried to remember what had happened. He scrambled onto his feet and glanced up the passageway, seeing Liam and Hayden distracted by the still sparking wire. Mr Douglas was twiddling the dials this way and that, but he didn’t have much time until they looked for him. Now’s our chance, run! She’ll never catch us if she can’t find us! Theo turned and sprinted down the tunnel, his rubber soles making no noise.
He heard Liam shout behind him, but kept going, turning a corner rapidly, breathing fresh air for the first time. Real? Maybe, a door, look! If it opens- Theo burst through the door into a wet, dripping tunnel, this one wider than the last. Yes! That hasn’t happened before! But, still run, we need… He paused, thoughts tumbling over and over in his mind. Theo sniffed the air carefully, then resumed running, hearing the werewolves close behind him. Natural light was ahead of him; twilight turning into night time. Theo exited the storm drain and found himself in a part of Beacon Hills he didn’t recognize.
“Theo! Get back here!” Liam shouted as he saw the chimera climb the sides of the concrete embankment, scrambling forwards and hoisting himself over the top.
“Just use the sword!” Hayden gestured at him, but her boyfriend shook his head.
“He knows about the Ghost Riders, he still might have information we could use.”
Theo reached the top and felt a smile tug at his lips as the edges of the Preserve were just in front of him. This, I remember, running, freedom, run… The chimera began pulling his clothes off, dumping them as he ran across the asphalt parking lot and leapt into the deep loam of the forest floor, landing on four paws.
Liam and Hayden slowed to a stop as they came to the Preserve, frowning at his discarded clothing. She gathered the pieces, searching for anything that might help them, as Liam crept forward, frowning at the tracks. “Ok, this is weird. There’s human footprints and then nothing. Except over here,” He pointed towards a tree. “There’s paw prints. Could be coyote, or wolf, maybe, hard to say. Can he, can he fully shift?”
“I don’t know, no one ever talks about him.” Hayden shrugged, rifling through his jacket. “There’s nothing in here; his wallet, phone; but that’s dead, some-” She withdrew her hand suddenly, groaning. “Ah! Damn it!”
“What? What is it?”
“He has mountain ash in his pockets!” Hayden dropped the jacket, kicking it into the bushes. She glared at Liam. “He’s gone. Not only have we released Theo Raeken, but we’ve managed to lose him.”
“Yeah, but you saw the way he was acting, whatever Theo was before, he’s not the same.” Liam shook his head. “Do you think we should look for him though? Scott’s gonna be mad either way, but I figure if we at least have control of Theo, he won’t be so-”
“Scott doesn’t know?”
They turned quickly, but the direction of the voice was impossible to discern. “That’s right, Theo. He doesn’t.” Liam gestured at Hayden to stay still. “Look, I don’t know what happened to you, but you have to know that your sister isn’t here. And we’re not…” He winced, continuing on. “We’re not after your heart.”
“Easy to say,” Came the muttered reply. “So, if Scott doesn’t know about this, I guess you’ve done it alone, didn’t even tell him?”
“Him?” Hayden repeated. “Scott, you mean?”
“No, not Scott.” Theo stood up, looking at them suspiciously over a nearby bush. “Him.”
The chimera hesitated, avoiding their inquisitive stares. Finally, he sighed and whispered his name. “Stiles.”
“You remember Stiles?” Hayden said, moving closer to the bush.
Theo frowned at them, expecting a trap. “Why wouldn’t I? He’s…I…We…” He shook his head, backing away from her, before stopping suddenly, a moment of clarity in his deranged state. “Where is he?”
“Gone?” Theo echoed, blinking. He shook his head again, “No. I don’t believe you. He’s…he can’t be. He’s the glue that holds everything together, without him, you’re all just…”
“Just what?” Liam asked, curious. But Theo didn’t answer, moving deeper into the forest. The werewolves followed him closely, catching sight of his dirt streaked naked body as he darted from tree to tree. “You have his underwear, right?” He muttered, glancing at Hayden, relieved when she nodded. “Let’s keep on him then.” They followed the seemingly random direction Theo took through the forest, walking rapidly one way, before pausing and then turning back. Liam averted his eyes every time the chimera walked towards them, feeling his cheeks burn. He frowned at Hayden as she looked obviously at it. “What are you doing?” Liam hissed at her as Theo walked right between them, as though oblivious to their presence.
“Nothing.” The werewolf replied innocently as her eyes raked across Theo’s smooth naval.
“You’re looking right at his…you know!”
“Are you feeling self-conscious? I think you’re bigger actually.” She smirked at him, turning to find that Theo had vanished. “Damn it, where did he go?”
Liam cursed under his breath and ran forward, searching the dark undergrowth. He gestured for Hayden to come closer, hearing the sound of fast flowing water near them. The werewolves crept forward, stopping short at the top of a high waterfall. “Shit!” Liam exclaimed, lurching backwards. He felt Hayden looking at him. “No, no way. He couldn’t have jumped that.”
“He’d survive it.” She peered over the edge. “We would.”
“Ok, let’s get down there.” Liam glanced at her. “Using the path, not jumping.”
Theo surfaced behind the waterfall, the erosion having worn away the rear wall of the plunge pool. The water was icy cold and he felt the chill hit him hard, breath pulled from his lungs. The chimera swam quickly backwards, pushing himself back into the spray of the waterfall for a few minutes. He ignored the chill spreading across his limbs, treading water instead, his mind retreating from its previously feverish state. Think I’m crazy, don’t they? Well, maybe I am, the longer this goes on, the more realistic it feels. But that was what, no, is what Tara created. Sure, a hallway in the hospital, but always the same, never different. Maybe this is reality? But without him…No, I have to make sure, I have to find him, make him understand, maybe then… Theo let the thoughts trail off, hearing the two werewolves talking nearby, on the bank closest to him. The chimera grabbed hold of a smooth stone jutting out from the bank, stopping himself from being sucked away. After a few minutes, he heard them leave, snapping branches and arguing about something. He didn’t care what it was, instead making his way towards the opposite bank, dragging his shivering body out of the water.
Theo stayed on all fours, letting the transformation twist his body again, black fur appearing before his eyes, matted and wet as his limbs stretched into legs and paws. He shook his head, clearing his eyes of the after-effects. The wolf started to run through the forest, letting his nose guide him back to all the old familiar places; first to the school, but Stiles’ scent was missing and he whined softly, sniffing the ground where he remembered Stiles always used to park. But even the traces of the blue Jeep had been expunged, and Theo turned away, following disused paths through backyards and plots of wasteland until he reached his old house.
Theo frowned, seeing another car in the driveway, different scents other than his and those fools who had pretended to be his parents. He sat on his haunches, watching as the side door opened, light spilling out. The wolf cocked his head, watching a dark-haired girl come outside. An agent of evil…be prepared! She walked a little way towards him, and Theo let his hackles rise, growling in the darkness under the rose bush. The girl stopped moving, staring at him, his eyes glowing yellow. She screamed and ran back into the house. Theo blinked and stood up, padding stealthily out of the driveway. Maybe I never lived here, because none of this is real, but I can’t trust them, any of them, they’re all after the heart, my heart, it’s mine now. But…he could still be here. The wolf crossed the street, squeezing through a gap in the fence that he remembered from before. Theo stopped moving, looking back at the fence. How did she know about that? How does she know about any of it? Tara, no! Don’t say her name! But she was dead, in the other place when I lived here, when I found him, perfect, soul-burning…Stiles. It doesn’t make any sense. It, it…no! He whined softly, shaking his head and kept moving, pushing the thoughts to the back of his mind.
Theo arrived at Stiles’ house, confusion washing over him as he sniffed around the Sheriff’s cruiser. Stiles’ scent was there, but somehow it wasn’t, as though he was only able to smell it after realizing it should be there. Theo groaned internally, a sick feeling in his stomach, it all felt wrong, twisted. But if this is reality, and Liam and Hayden were telling the truth, if she…Tara…careful! If she isn’t here, she’s below, then the Wild Hunt is in Beacon Hills. Maybe. It could another trick. The wolf crept over to the tree that grew beside Stiles’ window, looking up at the sturdy branches. “Ah!” Theo gasped as he reverted back to his human form, leaping up to grab hold of the trunk, pulling his body upwards. He frowned as he sat outside Stiles’ bedroom. Or rather, where his bedroom was meant to be. There was a boarded-up window, the scent of fresh paint and cut wood. He blinked as memories of climbing in the window to see Stiles resurfaced suddenly; the scent of happiness on the air. But that was before, before he knew the truth, before… The chimera reached out a finger to brush against the wood. “Recent.” Theo muttered to himself, “Trying to pretend he was never here? No, the Sheriff wouldn’t do that, he loves his son. So, it must be… They ride the lightning.” The chimera finished absently, dropping to the ground. “Scott lives nearby, if the Ghost Riders took him, they’ll want him back. But I need him too, need to find him, explain, apologize.” Theo nodded to himself and turned back into his wolf form.
Scott’s car pulled into the driveway, bright lights illuminating the driveway. Theo watched as the Alpha, Lydia, and Malia got out, heading towards the house. The wolf felt the fur bristle across his body as Malia stopped in the middle of the lawn, her eyes sweeping the garden.
“What is it?” Scott called out, his key in the door. “Malia?”
“Nothing.” She shook her head. “I just thought I smelled something familiar. But it’s impossible.”
Theo bowed his head in relief as they went inside. When he looked back up, the wolf had transformed back into his human form. The grass was wet under his feet, but Theo ignored it, walking towards the front door. He paused, glancing to one side, thoughts whipping across his mind like a hurricane. If this is a trick…But what if they’ve been telling the truth? Does it matter? Stiles isn’t here, but then I wasn’t here either and they only came for… Theo shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts of the incessant chatter. He swallowed and knocked on the door, the wood feeling real against his knuckles in a way that it hadn’t at Stiles’ house. The chimera stared at his hand, not noticing the door had been opened until there was an audible gasp in front of him. “Huh?” Theo looked up, finding himself face to face with Scott.
“Err…Theo?” Scott gulped, his eyes unable to resist trailing down the chimera’s naked body. He managed to pull his eyes up before Theo noticed him. “What…Who…uh.”
“Scott!” Liam barrelled out of the sitting room, grabbing his Alpha’s arm. “I swear, I was literally about to tell you! I just, I didn’t expect him to show up here…and still naked, oh crap.”
“What? What’s he even doing here?!” Scott glared at his Beta.
“Where is he?” Theo broke in, looking at them, expectantly as the rest of the pack gathered around the door. He frowned, suspicious of their stares and muffled gasps. “How did you let him get taken?”
Chapter 2: The Fractured World
“Where is he?” Theo frowned at them, glancing from Scott to Malia to Liam, their names popping into his mind as he looked at them. The chimera turned back to the Alpha. “Why haven’t you found him yet?!” Theo stepped inside the house, Scott stepped back.
“Err…Liam, what is it you need to tell me?” His tone was careful, measured, but Theo could sense something off about the werewolf, and his eyes flashed yellow. “Oh crap.”
“You want my heart, don’t you?” Theo whispered, moving closer to Scott as the Alpha continued to back away from the naked teenager. “You can’t have it back!” He raised a clawed hand, mad eyes boring into Scott, but grunted as he felt someone else reach out and grasp his arm. “Huh?”
“No.” Malia growled and yanked back hard, forcing Theo to stumble away from Scott.
He raised both hands, turning to look at the other side of the living room, tilting his face as a flicker of long dark hair caught his attention. A whisper, like the wind through the trees, came towards him, the same sibilant hiss he’d been hearing for as long as he could remember. Theooooo. The name sent a chill down his spine, memories flooding back of endless chases through darkened hallways of the hospital, his sister’s playground that he could never escape from. “I knew this wasn’t real…” Theo muttered, turning back in time to see Malia’s fist coming towards him. He staggered backwards, tasting blood in his mouth, his lip busted. She hit him again, harder, his nose crumpling this time. Another punch, driving him back. Another forcing him to the ground, tripping over the rug and falling hard on his ass. The chimera blinked, nostrils filling with the potent scents of their rage, a clawed hand swiping across his bare chest, gouging deep. Yes, this is it. This is how it goes. He fell back onto the wooden floor, blood running into his eyes, blinding him, his face a mass of pain. Yet not as sore as he expected, Theo frowned, a numbness creeping over him, as though he was looking down from above, watching the blue-eyed monster batter his face and slash at his chest.
“Just like before.” He muttered aloud, a strange grin pulling his broken lips further apart, fresh blood spilling onto his mouth and tongue. “Haha, haha, haha, haha!” Theo started to laugh uncontrollably, feeling Malia, no, not Malia, his sister in another form, he felt her hesitate. The chimera laughed louder, even as he choked on blood running down his throat. “I knew it wasn’t real! Another trick, another trap, another illusion! Got tired of the hospital, eh? Hahaha, well don’t stop now! Take it! Take my heart, and let’s start again! Haha, thinking you could use Stiles against me? As if he would care…” Theo glared at Malia, the were-coyote kneeling beside him, hands raised, claws painted with his blood. “Go on and rip it out! Just like before! I know you’re Tara, no matter what face you wear! Hahahaha, why don’t you wear his face? That would be justice, wouldn’t it? I took his heart, now he gets to take mine!” The chimera frowned, the crazed grin plastered across his face as the image of Malia distorted and for a brief moment it was Stiles crouched over him. Stiles with electric blue eyes, and claws dripping red. He was grinning too, that dark smirk that Theo had dreamed about seeing. And then the vision snapped and Malia returned, her face scowling as Scott knelt on Theo’s other side. “Two of you; one hand to grip, one hand to tear!” His arms shot out, fingers grasping their hands and dragging them towards the already healing gashes across his chest. Scott was struggling to get free, but Theo held grimly on, eyes fixed on the Alpha’s red orbs. “Go ahead and finish it!” He arched his back, pushing his chest towards them, grinning madly as blood streamed down his face. “Take the heart! And let’s start again!”
Malia pulled free of him with a grunt and looked at Scott, “What the hell is wrong with him?”
“I don’t know.” Scott tugged his hand out of Theo’s grip, the chimera’s eyes turning glassy. He looked over at Liam. “We need to talk.”
Theo felt them stand up, whispering softly. “Talk, talk, talk, that’s all you ever did, but talk didn’t save Stiles from Donovan.” He blinked as Scott grabbed his shoulder and pulled him into a sitting position.
“What do you mean?”
“Theo! Donovan was a failed chimera, he died trying to run away.”
“Well, I don’t expect Tara to know everything. I suppose not all the details are there.” He looked to one side, seeing an after-image of his sister walk through the wall. “You know my mind! You plundered the depths long-” Theo suddenly stopped and turned back to Scott, his eyes brighter than before. “How did you let Stiles get taken?”
He could hear them, the werewolves, Liam and Scott, talking quietly in the other room, could even make out words and sentences, but Theo ignored them. None of them knew about Stiles, about what had happened, about the things he had done, that they had done together. No, they didn’t know the truth; the Ghost Riders had pulled the veil across their eyes and now they were all blind and confused, remembered the events of the previous year in a mess of haze and fog. Though not just the previous year; all years, all time, jumbled and disordered, missing half their life. No wonder it all feels so different. But why would Tara hide Stiles from me, from them? “Why didn’t she take my heart?” Theo frowned as a blanket was thrown across his waist, heavy fabric uncomfortable against his skin. He made to push it off, but his wrist was grabbed and the other one, the banshee, Lydia came into his field of view.
“Don’t pull that off.”
“Why?” He frowned, seeing her cheeks heat. “It’s itchy.”
“I don’t need to look at your…” She gestured at his naval and moved away, glaring at the other two beside her. “What?”
“I’ve seen it before.” Malia shrugged. “It’s pretty thick even when limp. I wonder-”
“Malia!” Lydia hissed at her, while Hayden laughed.
“Relax, besides, if you think that’s big, well let’s just say Liam may be small in stature, but not where it counts!”
“Ugh!” Lydia flushed and rushed out of the room.
Theo frowned, following her with his eyes. He was about to ask a question when shadows flickered across the room and gathered in front of Scott’s fireplace. The werewolf and were-coyote faded into the background and Theo stared into the darkness, seeing the glowing outline of his sister approach him, clawed hand outstretched, hair dank and dripping, water puddling around her as she moved forward, her chest gaping and bloodied ribs broken, dead eyes drilling into him. His breaths came in shorter gasps, catching in his throat. He willed his claws to emerge, but they didn’t, just like before, like all the times before, frozen in place. The chimera pushed himself further back against the side of the stairs, feeling the wood warm against his skin, the hardness of the floor under his buttocks. The raw, itchiness of the woollen blanket across his crotch. Still his sister came closer, lowering herself down to look at him, white, pale, dead face staring at him, hand ghosting across his smooth, tanned pectoral muscles. He tilted his head upwards, eyes closed, awaiting the familiar puncture, the slow grip of ice around his heart, and then the ripping out of the organ, a few seconds of watching it beat blood and viscera in her hand before being returned to the darkness of the metal shelf.
But not this time.
Theo started when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder, opening his eyes to see Liam crouched beside him, the scowling werewolf turning back to Scott and nodding.
“Good. Now let’s see if he actually knows anything that can help us.” Scott gestured at Hayden and Theo watched as the Alpha took hold of the sword. Kira’s sword. “You know what this is, don’t you?”
“The key?” Scott echoed, confused.
“To the other side, once you go in, you never come out.” Theo grinned at him, teeth stained red with his blood. “I’ve been inside, still inside, nothing is real, nothing is fake, it’s all around us, and you are not Scott.”
“Who am I then?”
“Tara, of course, another skin to pull upon herself, as if I would reveal everything to him; Scott McCall, True Alpha.” Theo paused, staring off into the distance. “I tried to kill him once, you know? Used his Beta to weaken him, and tried to steal his power. It didn’t work out. None of my plans worked out.”
“Who is Stiles, Theo?” Scott asked him, ignoring Liam’s shuffling. The chimera didn’t answer and he reached out to tilt Theo’s face towards him. “You know him, that’s what you’ve been saying. So, who is he?”
“Stiles?” He smiled horribly at them, eyes flickering between yellow glow and natural dark. “He is, he was…how could you forget about him? He is the pack, the glue, the binding, the tape, the-”
“Stiles is everything…but now he is nothing.” The chimera let his head droop, eyes cast down, scent turning bitter and sour. “Gone, gone, gone, down into the darkness, stolen away, never again.”
“By the Ghost Riders, the Wild Hunt?”
“And you know about them?”
“Always seeking answers, always pushing boundaries, push, push, push, the Doctors of Dread looking for the levers of the world.” Theo’s hand shot out suddenly and gripped Scott’s forearm tight. “They’re here already, in this room, I can feel the Ghost Rider.”
Scott looked at Liam, “That’s right.”
“You’re afraid.” The chimera felt the tremble race across Scott’s skin. “You should be. They take, and take, and take, until there’s nothing left to take. And now they’ve taken Stiles, the only good thing about a town drenched in blood. Blood I spilt, and blood you will spill too.”
“I told you he was crazy.” Liam gestured at him. “Scott, Theo is broken, whatever he knows about the Ghost Riders doesn’t matter if he can’t tell us about it.”
“But he knows about Stiles, a lot more than we do.” The Alpha shook his head and pulled his arm away as Theo let go. “I remember fragments, images, parts of last year that don’t make sense. But you were there, Theo, you saw everything, didn’t you?”
“The good, the bad, the bloody. I saw it all.” Theo met Scott’s gaze, seeing the werewolf step back involuntarily. “You want him back, don’t you?”
“Me too. I have so much to tell him.”
“Why is Stiles important to you, Theo?” Liam asked, flinching at the expression on the chimera’s face. “Err.”
“I owe him.” Theo growled, flicking out his claws and scratching four thin lines down his chest, blood running in rivulets after his fingers. “I failed him. I bleed for him…” The werewolves were still watching him, all of the pack, staring at him. Theo looked down at his hand, fingers dripping his blood, frowning. “You brought me here to take power.”
“We don’t want your heart, Theo.”
“Not that, not yet. Before, with the man who is not Stiles, and the wire that smelt of burning.”
“Mr Douglas.” Liam looked back at Scott. “Remember, I told you we had a plan to catch a Ghost Rider, interrogate him, find something to help us?”
“I remember.” Scott frowned at Theo. “Do you know something?”
“Tracy and Josh’s power is gone, along with them.” Theo sighed, an unfamiliar sensation rushing over him. “But I know of a place where the Doctors worked, where they kept power and the means to harness it.”
“Experiments,” Theo grinned suddenly at them, his eyes taking on the insane glimmer again. “See behind the veil, see what makes the world tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, hahahaha.”
“Ok. Take us there.”
“Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.”
“Theo!” Scott reached out and grabbed his shoulder, shaking him, but the chimera just laughed at him, continuing to repeat the words over and over. “Damn it! We need to know where that place is.”
“Maybe if we cured him?” Liam suggested, standing up when Scott did.
“Maybe.” The Alpha nodded, handing the sword to him. “We better take him to Deaton tomorrow, can’t really bring him to a regular doctor.”
Theo fell silent, looking at the sword in Liam’s hands, glinting with blue and silver light. He reached his hand out and touched it, unnoticed by everyone except Malia. She started towards him as Theo closed his hand around the blade.
“Watch out!” Malia cried, Liam jerking backwards. Theo grunted as the sword sliced deep into his hand. “What the hell was that, Theo?”
The chimera didn’t reply, staring at his hand, the cut slowly healing as blood ran down his arm and onto Scott’s floor. After a moment, he looked at them. “Blood and death and blood, but he’s not here.”
Lydia moved over to him, pressing a dishcloth into his hand and wrapping it tight. She looked at the others as he stared at the fabric turning crimson. “I don’t care if it is Theo, he needs help. And fast.”
“I know.” Scott sighed heavily. “Ok, Deaton should be back tomorrow morning, we’ll bring Theo to the Animal Clinic, maybe he can fix him, or give him medicine, or something. We just need to figure out what to do with him tonight. He’s not staying here.”
“Don’t look at me,” Lydia shook her head, the action echoed by Malia and Hayden.
Liam grumbled as Scott stared at him expectantly. “Seriously?”
“My Mom might just kill him after everything he’s done.” Scott said, gesturing at his Beta. “And didn’t you say you were responsible for him?”
“Well, yeah, but-”
“Your parents are gone on work trips this week, right?” Hayden broke in, smirking at him. “It’s not like they’re going to be there to ask questions.”
“Yeah, thanks, Hayden.” Liam glared at her as Scott rubbed his face tiredly.
“This would be a lot easier if we just had a cage to put him into.”
“No!” Theo jumped up suddenly and looked around, alarmed, he started to shout. “No cage. No cage! No cage! No cage! No cage! NO CAGE! NO CAGE! NO CAGE! NO CAGE!” He screamed the words over and over again, watching as the werewolves reeled backwards, reacting to the torrent of fear flooding from him. “NO CAGE! NO-”
“Theo!” Liam shouted, hand on his bicep. “Stop!”
The chimera stared past them, tears streaming down his face as he watched his sister crawl towards him, except this time it was strange, there already was a bloody heart in her hands. Theo moved away from Liam and Scott, his lips parting as he saw the lifeless body behind his sister; a ghostly pale form, his chest ripped open, a gaping wound. “NO!”
Liam flinched back, “Theo?”
Theo fell to his knees beside the body, shaking hands reaching out to touch the blood-soaked fabric, tracing along towards his collarbones, the name falling from his lips like a shattered dream. “Stiles…”
Liam crouched beside him, hand gingerly touching Theo’s shoulder. “Theo? There’s no one there, there’s nothing there.”
“I can see him, I…I did this.” Theo shut his eyes tight and rocked back and forth on his haunches. He remained silent as Liam and Scott pulled him upright, tucking the blanket around his waist again. The chimera stared into the distance even as they brought him outside and put him into Hayden’s car, silent, not noticing the chill in the air, as his body responded; goose bumps racing across his skin. As they drove away from Scott’s house, all Theo could see was Stiles’ dead body, his eyes wide open, unseeing, his mouth ajar, as though he had been killed in the middle of delivering a witty one-liner.
Theo blinked, stumbling forward as Liam pushed him in the small of his back. The bathroom was bright; white tiles on white walls, the ceramics gleaming around him. “Huh?”
“You need a shower.” Liam explained as he pulled out a towel. “You’re filthy, covered in blood and dirt and who knows what else. Give me the blanket, and I’ll get you something to change into.”
“I don’t understand.” Theo muttered, looking around as though he had just woken up. “Where’s Stiles?”
“He’s not here, Theo.” Liam wrinkled his nose, trying to clear his nostrils of the sorrow that threatened to suffocate him. “Um.”
“But you know where he is, right?”
“Uh, yeah, sure, uh huh.”
“Good.” Theo nodded to himself and pulled the blanket away from his waist, letting it fall to the floor. He frowned when he saw Liam’s eyes flick up to the ceiling. “What?”
“Why are you blushing?”
“I’m not!” Liam replied indignantly. “Besides, you’re naked!”
“So?” Theo looked down his tanned torso and then back at Liam. “Is that wrong?”
“Huh, maybe you’d be more comfortable if you were naked?”
“What?” He blushed a darker shade and shook his head furiously. “No, I wouldn’t.”
“I think you would.” Theo replied, looking at the shower. “This is…real?”
“Yes, Theo, it’s real.” He stepped closer, sighing. “Let me show you how it works.” Theo watched him closely as he twisted the dials and jumped back when the spray hit his arm. “Crap.”
“Your shirt is wet.”
“I know.” Liam frowned at him. “Well, go on, get in.”
“Will you help me?” Theo looked at him innocently, eyes wide and gleaming. “I don’t remember.” He frowned as Liam’s pulse spiked. “What is it?”
“Nothing. Just, err, I can’t believe I’m asking you this…don’t tell Hayden or anyone that I helped you like this, ok?”
“Ok.” Theo nodded, stepping into the spray when Liam pushed him forward. As he turned around, he saw the werewolf pulling off his t-shirt and stepping out of his pants. Liam hesitated a moment, hands on the band of his underwear. “Say nothing, I won’t tell anyone.”
“Good.” Liam grunted and sighed again, stripping out of his boxer briefs and joined Theo in the cubicle, closing the glass doors behind them. “Take this cloth and start washing yourself.”
Theo took it from him and waited for the fabric to get wet, looking at Liam, seeing his cheeks heat. “What?”
“Stop looking at me! Just, you know, wash!”
The chimera nodded and began to rub the cloth across his chest and abs, up towards his neck and face, closing his eyes as he tilted his head towards the spray. Theo took a step back as he felt Liam’s hands on his stomach. “What-”
“I’m just soaping you up, don’t freak out! And don’t take it as something else, either, you’re not my type.” Liam growled at him, working his hands and the shower gel into Theo’s smooth, wet skin, his hands lingering for a moment too long on the chimera’s broad pectoral muscles, before pushing up to his shoulders. “Turn around and wash your hair, I’ll do your back.”
Theo complied, blinking as memories surfaced of another shower stall, another teenager feeling his skin under the spray of hot water. He frowned, trying to put the pieces together as he massaged shampoo into his scalp. “I…”
“You’re not telling anyone about this, remember?” Liam waited for his nod and then knelt down behind Theo, pouring more shower gel into his hands and started washing the chimera’s strong, powerful leg muscles, sweeping his hands from Theo’s feet upwards across his knees and muscular thighs. The werewolf hesitated as his soapy hands reached Theo’s ass. “Err, you better wash your ass and dick yourself.”
Theo looked back at him, seeing Liam’s face flushed, his breathing elevated, “We never did this before, did we?”
“What?! No, of course not.”
“So, it was him.”
“Stiles.” Theo whispered, taking the bottle from Liam, missing the way the werewolf’s eyes had widened. “He put his hands there, and other…things happened.”
Theo finished soaping himself and stepped back under the water, eyes closed, washing the suds off. He felt ghostly hands caressing his body, and smiled faintly, the expression vanishing when real hands replaced the memories, Liam’s gliding across his chest and abs, drifting low, a brush of his fingertips along the base of Theo’s cock, almost fast enough to imagine it never happened. His eyes opened as Liam turned off the water and gestured for him to leave.
“Step onto the towel, don’t drip everywhere.”
“Ok.” Theo waited on the fluffy cotton as Liam draped another towel around his shoulders, taking one for himself. “Now what?”
“Dry yourself.” Liam tried not to look at him as Theo rubbed his body dry, waiting until the chimera stopped moving to glance over. “Uh, your hair’s standing up. Hang on.” He made to flatten it with his hands, but stopped himself, grabbing the brush instead and thrusting it into Theo’s hands. “Follow me, about time you get some pants.”
“You’re not Stiles.”
“No, Theo, I’m not.” Liam shook his head. “So, don’t get any ideas. I was just helping you out.”
“Oh.” Theo frowned, looking him up and down. “So, why is your dick hard?”
Chapter 3: Over the Brink of Insanity
Trigger Warning: Self harm and disturbing imagery in this chapter.
“No, it isn’t!” Liam glared at him, dropping the towel in front of his erection.
Theo just smiled. “You're horny.”
“I’m…it’s hot, I don’t-”
“I don’t get hard when I’m hot.” Theo frowned again, reaching out towards Liam, but the werewolf stepped back quickly, pulse racing, heat blooming across his neck and chest. “Oh, I forgot, we’re not…what do you want?”
“Nothing!” Liam barked at him, pushing another towel into his hands. “Just come with me so I can get you something to wear.”
“Ok.” Theo followed him, a little too close, seeing his neck muscles tense. “Is this your room?”
“Yeah. Wait here.” He gestured at the bed and moved over to the closet.
“I had a room once.” Theo sat down on the towel, leaving his half-hard cock uncovered. He played with it absently, blinking at Liam as he turned and stared. “What?”
“Don’t jerk off on my bed, Theo.” He threw a pair of sweat pants at him. “Take these, and, damn it, Hayden still has your underwear in the car.”
“Just put them on!” Liam shouted at him, disappearing from view to dry off and change.
Theo complied, looking around the room as he did so. The brain fog was beginning to dissipate, the water of the shower cleaning away more than blood and dirt. His eyes closed, head bowed. “It’s beginning to clear, fall away, away, away. This isn’t Stiles’ room, but it is real, maybe, I’m still not sure. It’s lasted longer than before, and despite their repeated attempts to take my heart, even when I offered, I’m still here…”
“Who are you talking to?”
“Ah!” Theo started when Liam placed a hand on his shoulder, jerking away from him.
“Theo, it’s alright.”
“No, no, no.” The chimera shook his head furiously, “No, it isn’t. It’s never gonna be.”
“Ok, um,” Liam took his hand back, “Uh, are you hungry or anything? It’s been a while since dinner. Actually, when was the last time you ate anything?”
“Right, well, come on.” Liam moved ahead of him, only to turn suddenly and glare at Theo, “Why are so close to me? Back off.”
Theo didn’t respond, other than to look at the werewolf, when he resumed walking, Theo continued to follow him closely. He could see Liam’s shoulder tightening, the muscles in his neck drawing closer together. The chimera reached out to touch him before thinking better of it. Not Stiles.
Theo followed Liam’s gesture and slid onto the stool, resting his bare arms on the countertop. He looked down, tracing his fingers along the grooves in the tiled surface, but could feel Liam glancing across at him every few seconds. “What?”
“Nothing, I just, I should’ve got you a shirt.”
“You’re not wearing one.”
“No, well, you were talking to yourself.” The werewolf shrugged as he opened the fridge door. “I thought you might be having another break. From reality, I mean.”
“Huh.” Theo flicked out his claws, staring at them. “So, this is real?”
“Yes, Theo! It’s real. Now, there’s some cooked chicken and…”
The chimera ignored Liam’s voice, turning his hand in front of his face and then placed his claws on the skin of his forearm. “It hurt in the dream too, construct, whatever. But did it hurt in the real world, if that’s what this is? I don’t remember.” He was about to dig his claws into his arm when a powerful hand grasped his wrist.
“What are you doing?”
Theo looked up at Liam, seeing his eyes flare yellow. “Seeing if it hurts.”
Theo didn’t answer, but let his claws disappear, and Liam released him.
“Look, just try and keep it together for tonight. We’ll go to Deaton tomorrow and he’ll have some way to fix you.”
“Why are you bothering?”
“I remember what I did,” Theo’s eyes were burning a hole in the countertop. “Even if you don’t remember everything, you should know enough: The Dread Doctors, the chimeras, the death and blood and the Beast. And Stiles, of course, who could ever forget…oh, you can.” He flicked his gaze up to Liam, his tone even, lucid, normal. “Suddenly afraid, hmm, considering that you let him get taken, you should be.” Theo stood up, claws re-emerging as his eyes glowed and fury rolled off him in waves. “I hurt Stiles, deep down, but I never let him get hurt, I never put him in danger. But where was Scott when the Ghost Riders took him? Where were you? Or Hayden? Or Parrish? Or any of you?!” The chimera snarled, lashing out and throwing the fruit bowl to the ground with a crash. “You should’ve kept the sword! Rawrr!” He lunged forward, claws missing Liam’s face by inches as the werewolf pulled back, his own claws ready. “Good. Fight me!”
“Theo, what the hell are you doing?”
“I’m getting out of here!” Theo growled, looking between Liam and the back door. “I won’t be your prisoner!”
“I can’t let you go. We need your help against the Ghost Riders.” Liam held up his hands, seeing Theo’s eyes narrow. “We need your help to find Stiles.”
“Yeah, we can’t find him on our own, and you’ll never find him without our help.”
“Stiles…” Theo repeated, the anger draining away. “He’s gone and I never got to say…” He looked up suddenly, frowning at the space behind Liam. Theo moved forward, pushing past the werewolf as though he wasn’t even there, not feeling Liam’s hands grip his bicep until he was unable to move further. “I see him.”
“There’s no one there, Theo.”
“Yes, there is.” The chimera pointed with his free hand. “Over there by the window, he’s smiling and-” Theo stopped speaking suddenly as Stiles turned towards him, the grin falling from his face along with his skin, sloughing off like meat from the bone. He choked, watching blood run down Stiles’ perfect face, the white of his skull showing through. Theo tried to turn away, but found himself surrounded on all sides by Stiles’ ruined face, the lips moving, words assaulting him without sound. This is your fault. You did this. This is your fault. “No, no, no, no! I wasn’t- I, I didn’t-” Theo stumbled backwards into the cabinets, tears spilling down his face as he tried to banish the dozens of Stiles surrounding him, crowding him, suffocating him. “NO!” He threw his hands up, claws gouging into his skin, digging into his eyes, screaming as the copied Stiles came ever closer until his own blood blinded him.
“Theo! Theo, stop!” Liam was pulling at his arms, struggling even as he used his super-strength to wrench them away. “Fuck! What the hell did you just do to your face?!”
Theo grunted, tasting blood in his mouth, running the fingers of his free hand down the deep jagged claw marks across his nose and cheek, his eyesight returning after a moment of cloudy whiteness. He looked at Liam, “Put me back.”
“You have the sword; put me back in the prison.” Theo slumped down to the ground, hugging his knees to his chest. “I don’t want to be here anymore. An eternity of having my heart ripped out is better than watching Stiles die over and over.”
“Theo,” Liam crouched in front of him, grimacing as he looked at the chimera’s damaged face. “Stiles isn’t dead, he needs your help, same as the rest of us.”
“We do.” He insisted, reaching a hand out to rest on Theo’s arm. “I’m not going to lie and say that everything is forgiven and everyone will forget about the Dread Doctors and the chimeras you killed, and whatever happened between you and Stiles, I don’t know what that’s about. But if you help us now, that will go a long way to getting everyone else to forgive you.”
“I don’t care about everyone else. Stiles isn’t here, and I don’t know how to find him.” Theo muttered, wincing as the cuts on his face began to heal.
“But you know more about the Ghost Riders than the rest of us.” Liam insisted. “And we have a plan: I make us something to eat, we go to bed, you sleep, and then in the morning, we see Deaton. After that we’ll find some way to free Stiles and save everyone else in town. But we can’t do any of that, if you’re not here. Ok?”
“Fine.” Theo replied after a moment, not reacting as Liam patted his arm and moved around him, making sandwiches. He stared blankly through him at the other side of the kitchen, seeing Stiles’ body lying there. It was broken, bleeding, the werewolf stepping through the blood pool unseeing, not noticing the bloody footprints he was spreading around the kitchen. Theo could see it though. He felt the knot in his stomach twist tighter as the once dead Stiles stood up with unnatural ease and smiled at him, skin still crumbling and flaking off his face, blood staining his teeth red. Theo blinked; one moment Stiles was there, the next he was gone, the blood vanishing, Liam’s feet no longer slick with crimson liquid. He bowed his head, pressing his hands against his eyes, tears leaking around them, and suddenly he couldn’t hold it back any longer. The first breath became a gasp and then a sob. Theo heard Liam hesitate above him and smelt the werewolf move closer to him.
The chimera ground his teeth hard enough to hear his jaw crack with tension, and ruthlessly shoved the emotions back inside, cramming them into that little box he had kept them confined in for so long, shutting the lid with a grunt. Theo wiped his eyes with his hands and took a deep breath. “It’s nothing, I’m fine.”
“Right. Uh, let’s take these up to the room.” Liam gestured at him with the two plates. “I have a blow-up mattress you can sleep on. It’s probably better if you don’t sleep on your own tonight.”
“Ok.” Theo nodded, frowning as he saw Liam’s cheeks flush. He pulled himself upright, touching the tacky mess of drying blood on his chest, the rivulets having streamed down from his face. “Oh.”
“Err, yeah, you can use a washcloth to clean up, but first you better eat something.” Liam opened the door to his room as Theo followed him upstairs. “I can hear your stomach grumbling from here.”
Theo lay on the mattress, the duvet pushed down to his waist, staring up at the ceiling. Liam had tossed and turned for nearly an hour before dropping into sleep, his pulse lowering to not quite a beat every second. But Theo couldn’t follow him there, refusing to close his eyes and see Stiles’ broken face again. Instead he just looked straight up, feeling tiredness weigh him down, dragging him into the realm of dreams without him even realizing it.
Theo looked around, the sky was a dark red and purple mass of boiling clouds, rushing back and forth overhead. He frowned, staring at the bungalow in front of him, it looked ordinary, but there was something wrong with it, a strange sort of emptiness to the house. The grass was neat and clipped, and the paint fresh and clean. There were toys strewn about near the front door, but as Theo walked closer he could smell the wrongness, the scent of blood lay heavy on the air, in the ground, on the walls, in his mouth, coating his tongue. He pushed open the door and looked inside. There was nothing unusual about the rooms themselves; evidence of a family, of children. It was only in the kitchen, a kitchen that looked like Liam’s, this was where the wrongness had taken root. A sense of foreboding surrounded him, but Theo stepped into the center of the room, his insides churning, grimacing as the images in front of him flickered between pristine white surfaces and blood streaked walls. As his eyes looked around, Theo could feel the skin between his shoulder blades itch and he turned quickly to find himself looking at a small child, a boy…himself. Don’t you remember what you did with your new claws when they didn’t let you go play? The words appeared in Theo’s mind and he shook his head, trying to clear them. “It didn’t happen like this!” The chimera shouted, but the child just smiled, black eyes boring into him as blood flowed in a torrent from his mouth. “No, it never, I didn’t do this!”
But you wanted to…
The dream shifted, a moment between waking and slumber that Theo forgot as soon as the new images raced across his mind. Pursued along broken highways and through thick forested landscapes. There were others with him, following beside him, names and faces all washed away in the deluge of blood that dogged his every footstep. On and on and on, he ran until exhaustion clung to his bones and finally he could go no further. A deep chill sank into his body, the ground around him covered in snow and ice; chased to the peak of the tallest mountain he had ever seen. The world around him was covered in blood and death and terror. A nameless, shapeless, faceless dread existed at the center of all that torment, except Theo knew exactly who and what it was that hunted him. He lay at the foot of a tall spire of ice and rock, watching it come for him, the ocean of red surrounding him, creeping closer as pure white snow turned into red mush. The tide of blood was warm, almost comforting as it reached his feet. Theo struggled to stand, not that it mattered much, the trees in front of him were already coated in blood, the air beyond him darkening and twisting as the dread approached him, ready to claim the final bastion of purity left. And he had led it here.
But that’s what you do, isn’t it, Theo? Corrupt everything you touch?
The chimera slumped against the pillar, watching the tendrils of red reach up his torso, somehow squeezing it tight, up, up, up, until they crept across his neck, almost lovingly, almost like the way Stiles had done. He watched the dread come closer, waited as it resolved into the human’s face; sneering, cold, the monster he had made. Theo stopped resisting, letting the blood force its way down his throat, choking him.
Theo woke with a start, coughing and retching as he rolled onto his side. Morning sunlight was poking in between the blinds that weren’t quite closed. The chimera gasped and gagged, the after-images of his nightmares clinging to his mind’s eye. He pushed back the duvet and climbed to his feet, gripping the side of the bed for support. Liam was still asleep, and Theo walked quietly across the room, opening the door with care and then moved towards the bathroom. After pissing and splashing his face with water, Theo shook his head, the dreams fading. Yesterday seemed so far away, but he stumbled backwards in shock as Stiles’ bloodied face leered from behind him. “Ah!”
“Theo?” Liam called out to him, his voice tired. “Are you…Oh shit.”
Theo looked at him between the gaps in his fingers. “Is he…is he still there?”
“Stiles!” The chimera hissed, glancing around as Liam shrugged, bemused. Theo yelped as he caught sight of Stiles again, the same ruined face, the same streams of blood trailing down his face and chest, this time waving a wrench at him. “He’s right there!”
“There’s no one there, Theo.” Liam replied softly as though speaking to a small animal, checking his phone. “It’s just you and me, well, Hayden and Scott will be here in a few minutes to help escort you to Deaton’s. I called them after last night’s, um, incident. Theo? Argh!”
Theo’s hands shot out, bundling Liam’s sleep t-shirt and dragged the werewolf close to his face. “I see him! He’s coming for me! And not just for the heart, for everything!”
“Um, ok, but-”
“You need to put me back, right now, back into the ground! And break the sword.” He growled into Liam’s face, crazed eyes glowing yellow. “And never let me out!”
“No! Damn it, Theo, I thought we had agreed on this!” Liam pulled backwards out of his grip, not caring that his t-shirt was ripped apart. He pulled the shredded remnants over his head and helped Theo stand. “I want you to wait downstairs with me until Scott and Hayden arrive. No wandering off!”
Theo nodded numbly and forced his eyes to focus on Liam’s torso, trying to ignore the flicker of Stiles’ hands beside him. He followed the werewolf as Stiles echoed around him, his pulse quickening when Liam grabbed the sword and walked downstairs.
“I don’t know, Scott, he’s been acting really crazy since we got home.” Liam said to the Alpha, as they looked at Theo. “Like, way worse than when he was in your house, or the woods. I’m not sure what Deaton can do.”
“We’ll figure something out, Liam.” Scott moved over to Theo. “Hey, uh, Liam was saying-”
“Do you see him?” Theo glared at Scott.
“Not this again.” Liam muttered. “Stiles isn’t here, Theo.”
“Yes, he is, following me, waiting for his moment to strike…” Theo trailed off, staring at the sword resting on the coffee table. The werewolves began to talk about him, but the chimera ignored them, waiting until Scott’s back was turned and Hayden was asking Liam why he was shirtless, a certain smirk on her face and tang in the air. Theo stood up quietly and reached over to pick up the sword. He saw his reflection in the glittering blue hue of the blade, and frowned at the sudden silence.
“Put the sword down, Theo.” Scott called out warningly.
“Why? Why don’t you just do it already? I don’t want to be here, you don’t want me here, and he just wants to kill me!” Theo pointed at Stiles standing beside the TV as the werewolves frowned and looked at each other.
“Theo, there’s no one there.” Hayden glanced at Liam as he shook his head.
“He thinks Stiles is trying to kill him,” Her boyfriend explained. “I think he’s been seeing Stiles since yesterday evening, after our, err, the shower, I mean.”
Theo noticed her smirk but he hefted the sword and prepared to sink it into the ground. “You get your wish, Scott!”
“No!” The Alpha dived forward and wrestled with his grip on the blade, grunting as Theo refused to let go, the sword flicking dangerously close to his stomach. “Stop, we don’t want you to-”
“Too late.” Theo grinned suddenly, and collapsed backwards onto the coffee table, crashing through the glass surface, half the blade buried in his torso.
“Shit!” Scott reached down and picked him up easily, placing him on the wooden floor as he applied pressure around the wound, blood welling up through his fingers. “No, don’t take it out.” He warned Liam. “Hayden, start the car, we need to get him to Deaton’s now.”
“He won’t die, right?” Liam asked, frowning as Theo continued to smile, teeth flecked with blood. “He’s still a chimera.”
“Maybe,” Scott admitted, standing up with Theo in his arms. “At least this makes it easier to get him to Deaton’s. I’m just more worried about why he’s suddenly so desperate to return to the prison. What the hell happened last night?”
Theo saw Liam’s lips move, but couldn’t hear the werewolf’s words, the room telescoping in front of him, mocking laughter echoing around him. The voice was strange; as though his sister and Stiles were speaking together, the words sending a chill down his spine. Think you can get rid of me that easily? Stay here and face his vengeance, or return and face mine! Theo struggled grimly, but Scott had a tight grip on him and he stopped resisting, grunting as they laid him in the back of Hayden’s car. The Alpha hopped into the front as Liam swapped places with him. Theo frowned as he caught sight of the Beta’s face, brows pulled together, it was almost as if he was worried…
His eyes opened slowly, vision blurry and distorted. Theo felt weak, unable to resist as Scott and Liam carried him into the Animal Clinic. He grunted when Scott cut his t-shirt off him, leaving a square around the entry wound, Kira’s sword still buried in his chest. The Alpha’s scent was hard and sharp, his expression a mix of anger and annoyance, as though he didn’t want to be there. He pushed Theo down on the metal examination table. “Ah!” The surface was cold against his skin and the chimera shivered, a motion that soon turned to quaking, adrenaline pumping through his body. Just like the Dread Doctors, just like a failure, but I’m not a failure! He tried to get up again, but Liam pushed him down, just like Scott had done. But unlike the Alpha, Theo saw that Liam was still shirtless, his muscles clenching as he struggled to hold the chimera down. He reached out to touch his skin and then stopped, shaking his head. Not Stiles. “Stiles is…somewhere, just waiting for his moment to strike. But I got to the sword before he did, I won’t let him do that again, no more blood for his hands, no more, no-” Theo cut off suddenly as a man and woman entered the room. His heart began to beat faster as she approached him. “Working for Tara? Yes, I can see it now, she’s in there, just waiting to burst out of you!”
“Theo?” Her voice was soft, careful, hands held palms up in a calming gesture. But the chimera stared at her mistrustfully. “My name Marin Morrell, I’m a friend, I’m here to help you.”
“Here for the heart, you mean!” Theo struggled grimly to sit up as Liam and Hayden pressed their weight on his shoulders. He looked at Morrell as she came close to him. “No! You can’t have it! I’m not, you won’t, he’s-”
“Theo! Shut up!” Scott roared at him, eyes flashing red.
The chimera was silent for a moment, before his inconsistent babbling resumed. “No, you don’t understand! But…then you’re all her, aren’t you?” Theo looked at Liam and Hayden, eyes wild and glowing yellow. “All this time, it was just another trick, another way to laugh at me! So I can only die at your hand? Never!” Kira’s sword shuddered as he backhanded it, grunting when more blood spilled from the wound. “Argh!”
He looked at the other man, his mind supplying the name. “Dr Deaton? She dragged you into this too, then?”
“Theo, we need to get the sword out, you need to remain calm.” Deaton looked at Scott. “And you should leave, wait outside.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Theo called out, no longer resisting, slumping back on the table. “You win this round. I was waiting for the reset anyway, might as well just get it over with. I won’t try sticking the sword in my gut next time…” He trailed off, staring up at the ceiling, Liam’s face just in his view. The werewolf was frowning, his hand on Theo’s shoulder no longer pressing him down, but more resting on his skin, warm, almost comforting. Theo closed his eyes, It could be Stiles, the other Stiles, the one I found when I came back, not the one that I twisted and made bad, but he’s-
“Theo?” Dr Deaton called out, closer to him. “I’m going to sedate you, this solution is designed for werewolves, but it should work on you. Then I’m going to remove the sword and patch you up. After that, Ms Morrell here will give you something to help you, uh, see clearly. I’m putting the needle in now. When you wake up, it’ll all be over. Three, two, one…”
Theo woke up slowly, groggily, staring at the smooth, white ceiling in confusion. Where’s the metal plate of the shelf above me? Why am I still here? He half sat up, grunting as his stomach protested, a spasm of pain drilling through his insides. The sword was gone, his skin healed, the chimera ran a hand across his chest, trying to figure out if they took the heart back; hand sweeping across the smooth expanse of his pectoral muscles. But there was nothing, no cuts, no ragged claw marks, no blood either. So, the torture continues? Not had enough fun yet, Tara? Do you want Stiles to rip out my heart, to get his revenge and take back what I stole from both of you? Theo looked around, midday sun spilling through the high windows, warm on his naked back. The chimera shook his head, sitting up properly. “I feel strange.” He froze, tilting his head on one side as he heard his name being spoken.
“Theo has information on the Wild Hunt,” Scott was talking, his tone cold and hard. “But right now, he’s not of any use to us; we need to move onto something that has a better chance of getting everyone back, getting Stiles back.”
“Stiles?” Theo muttered to himself, glancing around at the empty surgery. “So, he really is gone?”
“We need to keep Theo somewhere secure though, I don’t trust him. And if that drug works, and he comes back to normal, he could be just as big a threat as the Ghost Riders.” Scott was moving around the room. “Let’s put him in Eichen House; it’s already a mental hospital, and the secure wing-”
His brows shot up and Theo slipped off the table, dropping onto the ground quietly. “Exit in the back,” He muttered to himself, crouching low and sneaking towards it. Theo froze as soon as a scent reached him, the woman from before. She emerged from the shadows and shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Theo, but we need you to wait with us a little longer.”
“No…not again!” The chimera stumbled backwards in terror, eyes wide and heart pounding. He slipped on the smooth surface of the floor, grunting as he landed on his ass, but he continued to scuttle back until his skin touched the metal legs of the table. Theo pulled his legs up to his chest, arms wrapping around them protectively. The chimera rocked himself back and forth, eyes shut. “This is, it doesn’t feel right, why are you, my mind is all fuzzy!”
“There’s a reason for that.”
“Morrell, right?” He looked at her, fear making his hands shake, so he clenched them tighter. Where are my claws? I used to have them, didn’t I? Or was that an illusion, and this is real?
“Yes, you can call me Marin, or Morrell, whatever helps you.” She approached him carefully, crouching down, but Theo didn’t shrink back as he had before. “Scott and Liam explained what happened last night, but weren’t quite as forthcoming about how this happened.”
“What did you do? Why does it feel so…I feel disconnected.”
“After the sword was removed and you started healing, I gave you large dose of a drug called Prolixin, it's an antipsychotic medication.” Morrell explained. “Your mind should be clearing by now. That's probably why you feel a little disorientated.”
“Why are you helping me?” Theo frowned at her, the world around him seeming a little more realistic than before. He stood up slowly. “Didn’t they tell you what I’ve done? Why I was, the sword, and Tara…”
“The werewolves have been tight-lipped on that.” Morrell admitted, gesturing towards the waiting area. “They’re still outside though.”
“They’re talking about me, Scott wants to lock me up, put me back in the cage.” Theo muttered, “But, Liam is saying that I was already punished, broken, that putting me back would be wrong now that they know what it did. He’s pausing, about to tell them that I was with Stiles.” The chimera moved towards the doors, hesitating as he looked back at Morrell. “How long do I have?”
“How long until everything unravels and Tara and Stiles return? The bad one, not real-Stiles.” Theo put his hand on the door and pushed it open when Morrell just shrugged. “Hey guys, I’m back.”
Scott was glaring at him. “So, you’re…normal?”
“Oh, Scott, I was never normal! Try extraordinary!” Theo laughed, his face pulling into a familiar smirk. “But, uh, Liam was about to tell you something, right?”
“No! No, I wasn’t.” The Beta shook his head furiously. “I was just saying that now we know what the sword does, we shouldn’t use it to send you back.”
Theo looked at Deaton standing in the center of the group, talking to him instead of Scott. “That wasn’t what you were going to say, Liam, I let it slip last night, when I was…unconvinced that this was real.”
“Well, it’s still not real,” He laughed, gesturing at the counter. “You’re all telling me that Stiles was taken by the Ghost Riders, which is ridiculous, because he’s right there.” Theo waved, smirking as “Stiles” waved back at him. The group were staring at him. “What?”
“There’s no one there, Theo.” Liam muttered, as Scott sighed.
“I thought you said this would work.” The Alpha glanced at Deaton. “He’s still insane.”
“He’s a lot calmer now,” Morrell observed. “Until we know more about this illness and the conditions that caused it, calm might be all you can get. The drug usually takes some time to get working, a few days in humans, maybe a few hours in chimeras.”
“You’re all blind!” Theo shook his head, moving closer to the counter. “I can see him right here. He’s not saying much, that’s a bit odd…”
“What would you know about how Stiles behaves?” Scott moved around towards Theo, blocking his view of “Stiles”. “Theo? What do you know? I spoke to him, day before yesterday, me and Lydia, and he never said anything about you!”
Theo frowned as “Stiles” suddenly vanished. He glanced at Scott, “Well, he wouldn’t, makes sense now why he didn’t speak to me. After what happened.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were together.” Theo shrugged, watching Scott’s face as a range of emotions swept across it. “He was my boyfriend…for a while anyway. Then I messed it up; it was my fault. Things got too real, too fast, too big. He was…the blood and Donovan, and I should have helped. But I used, no, I, but, then.” The chimera stopped talking, yellow eyes flicking up to meet Scott’s red ones, suddenly lucid. “Struck a nerve, did I?”
“He wasn’t your boyfriend!”
“He sure as hell wasn’t yours!” Theo bit back, claws springing out. “I protected him, I kept him safe! All those little holes in your mind? That’s Stiles! That’s all the times he’s saved your sorry werewolf ass!” He was shouting now, noticing that Liam had taken a grip on one arm, Hayden at his other elbow. Theo glared at them, and then back at Scott, his expression shifting with a queasy rapidity from anger to amusement. “Still can’t fight your own battles, Scott?
“Grr!” Scott snarled at him, claws scratching a groove in the wooden counter. “I’ll fight you right now!”
“Maybe we should all calm down again.” Deaton suggested, gesturing for them to move apart. Theo didn’t resist as Liam pulled him away from Scott. “Marin, how long is that shot meant to last?”
“A month, in a human patient.” She sighed, looking between him and Scott. “You have a few days, maybe more. He should become more lucid, and then he’ll start to slip back into the hallucinations again.”
“I’m right here.” Theo shrugged off Liam and Hayden’s hands. “I can hear you.”
“Do you have anything that will make him less of a douchebag?” Scott muttered. “What?”
“You should have more compassion, Scott.” Morrell chided him. “But you’re right that he needs a combination of drugs to stave off-”
“I’m fine.” Theo cut across her. “I have information they need, and they have a sword that can send me back to that underground hell. And now that my head is clearing, there’s no need to be nice or concerned.”
“We still don’t know what happened to you down there.” Morrell started, but stopped when Theo shook his head. “You don’t have to tell everyone, we can talk alone.”
“There’s no need to talk, but if the Ghost Riders took Stiles, then we need to get him back.” Theo’s eyes flicked towards Scott as the Alpha growled. “I need to talk to him, the way we left things…it wasn’t right, he needs to know that I, I-”
“What happened between you two?” Liam asked him, scent shifting into concern. He touched Theo’s back, unseen by the others, the werewolf’s fingers warm against his smooth skin. “Theo?”
“Nothing that I want to tell any of you.” The chimera replied coldly, stepping away from Liam. “Let’s just get this done. Morrell said this wasn’t going to last long before the horror comes back. So, tell me what it is you want.”
“Stiles, obviously.” Scott nodded as Morrell and Deaton slipped back into the surgery, both speaking quietly together.
“Yeah, yeah, but what?”
“I have a plan.” Liam moved around so he could speak to both of them. Theo looked at him expectantly, and the werewolf swallowed, beginning to speak. “Ok, so we want to capture a Ghost Rider…”
Why is his heart beating so fast? Theo frowned, studying Liam as he talked about the plan. Nipples hard, but the air is cool, still no shirt, blood washed off, smells eager, excited, nervous, and just a touch aroused. Yeah, ok, more than a touch, pretty sure that’s a semi in his pants right there. Scott hasn’t noticed, but then he never noticed me and Stiles either and we weren’t discreet. Hayden…hmm, maybe she is picking up on her boyfriend being horny, but she’s interested too, thinks it’s for her? Hell, it might be, but-
“Huh?” He frowned, pulled out of his thoughts. “What?”
“Did you hear anything I just said?” Liam folded his arms, biceps more prominent, tanned muscle bulging in a way that made Theo’s eyes flick over him once again. “Hey!”
“Yeah, I heard you; catch a Ghost Rider. But you need a transformer that can handle five billon joules of electricity, right?” Theo smirked at him, and then looked at Scott. “The Dread Doctors had all sorts of tests for new chimeras, Josh wasn’t their first electrical chimera, but he was their strongest. I know where they tested him, and kept the transformer array that held his power in check. Not as strong as a lightning bolt, but it was designed to take it. Hell, there’s even a cage to hold your captive.”
“That, that might actually work!” Liam said excitedly.
“See, Scott, I can be helpful.” Theo looked at the Alpha, eyes sparkling. “Stiles knew that, it’s why he trusted me.” Until I betrayed that trust, of course, but, I’ll make it up to him once we, I, get him back. If I save Stiles, then he has to talk to me, right? Not just… The thought trailed away and Theo tilted his head on one side as the HAM radio on Deaton’s desk began to light up. He moved closer, ignoring the werewolves as they argued about the plan. Theo crouched in front of the receiver, about to pick it up, when Scott called his name.
“Theo! Get away from there. That’s for emergencies, don’t mess it up.”
“I won’t.” He stepped back, freezing as he heard a whisper of sound from the receiver.
“Stiles?” Theo muttered and reached for the mic, but Scott rushed over and slapped it out of his hand. “Hey!”
“We don’t have time for games, Theo.” The Alpha glared at him. “You’re going to show Liam and Hayden where the transformer is. Deaton said he was going to reach out to his other Druid contacts, see if they have anything that can help you.”
“Right.” The chimera muttered. Frequency is 259.70, remember that! I need to find one of these machines though… He looked at Scott and frowned. “You could just use the sword, you know, if you hate me that much?”
“I guess now that we have the information…” Scott hefted the sword and weighed it in his hands, before offering it to Liam. “But that’s not my call. Noshiko gave the sword to Liam, not me.”
Still not wolf enough to do it yourself, Scott? Theo ignored the thought, and looked at the shirtless Beta. “Are you going to?”
“There’s more you know, right?”
“Of course; about the Dread Doctors, the Wild Hunt, Stiles.” Theo looked back at the door, lips twitching into a smile as they frowned at the empty space behind him. “Oh, there’s nothing there. I just haven’t been outside since-”
“You were in the Preserve.” Hayden pointed out. “I still have your trunks in my car, by the way. They’re a lot tighter than I thought, but considering your dick is so thick and…” She trailed off as Scott and Liam stared at her. “What?”
“You can keep them.” Theo muttered and walked out the door, hearing the two younger werewolves follow him, whispering furiously to each other.
“I can’t believe you just said that!”
“Relax, Liam, they don’t even smell of anything, like they were fresh when he went into the ground.” Hayden murmured. “Like, no sweat, or cum or-”
“Shut up!” Liam hissed, blushing furiously as Theo glanced back at them. The werewolf shot him an embarrassed look, but his pants were bulging a little more than they had been. Theo smirked and walked onto the gravel parking lot.
A bit shorter than the others, but this chapter gave me a lot of trouble. I went through about five different re-writes before I'm at a place where I'm happy. This chapter has been focused more on developing the plot and bringing Theo back to a more lucid state, not completely, and it won't last, but I figure every few chapters there needs to be a defusing of the tension and intensity of his madness.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 5: Rose Tinted
Theo smirked at Hayden as she stood in the parking lot with Liam next to her. He looked down at his hands, turning them over and slowly flexing his fingers. Curious, is that the drug working? I’m beginning to feel more like me. Well, not quite, feels like someone is watching me, behind… The chimera glanced around quickly, but there was no one else there. Liam was still flustered and his scent shifted between aroused and nervous. Theo looked at him again, and frowned. He was about to speak when Hayden broke the awkward silence first.
“You seem better.”
“Huh?” Theo glanced at her and then smiled his old smile, with just a hint of teeth. He heard her pulse tick up a few beats and grinned wider. “Oh, yeah, I’m almost back to being me.”
“Uh…” Liam shared a look with Hayden and stepped back. “Back to Theo who’s gonna help us, or, um, the other one?”
He’s afraid, and not of claws, it’s about last night. About why he’s so horny right now and doesn’t even know why. I can use this. Theo blinked, his mind so much clearer for just a moment, before the clarity faded and the world slid back into grey. The sensation of being watched returned with full force and he looked to his left as “Stiles” grinned and waved at him. Huh, he doesn’t look right. Kind of indistinct, but…it’s him Theo realized that Liam and Hayden were expecting an answer and he flicked his claws out, staring at his hands in surprise. So, this is the real world. But, then why is Stiles here? I thought we had to rescue him? Maybe we should ask him?
“Um, you still have those manacles from when Scott was trying to teach you to control the shift, right?” Liam asked Hayden quickly.
“Yeah, I’m gonna go get them.” She walked rapidly towards her car, and Theo grinned suddenly, leaning towards Liam, smelling his surprise.
“Now, now, Liam, there’s no need for such precautions.” He flicked his claws back in. “See? I can be reasonable.”
“You sound way too much like the old Theo, you know, the one who got trapped underground.” Liam hefted the sword reluctantly, as Theo moved even closer to him. “Don’t make me use this.”
The chimera lowered his voice, and spoke quietly, his lips brushing the shell of Liam’s ear. “Aww, worried that I might say something about last night? That you liked…haha.” Theo pulled away grinning, but right as Liam was about to respond, the chimera looked to his left where “Stiles” was and nodded, talking to him. “Oh, I know, but can you blame the poor werewolf? I am pretty perfect, right?”
“You shouldn’t lead him on though, Theo.”
“I’m not.” Theo shook his head, gesturing at Hayden. “He has a girlfriend, he’s just a horny teenage boy, c’mon, Stiles, you know me better than that.”
“That’s not true; you would be filing that information away for later. To use against him, or Scott.”
“Hmm.” Theo nodded, and looked at the ground, listening intently as “Stiles” continued to speak, ignoring the way Liam was staring at him open-mouthed. “Well, yeah, but I’ve changed. Just ask them when they come back. Scott was here a minute ago, I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you’re ok.”
“Who’s he talking to?” Hayden whispered, and Theo spared her a withering glance.
“It’s Stiles!” He gestured at the grinning human beside him. “Are you blind?”
“Um, I’m not the-”
“Shush!” Liam hissed at her, moving around so Theo could see him better. “Theo, I need you to listen to me.”
The chimera felt his claws slide out again, the uncomfortable sensation of extra teeth in his mouth, a prickling across his skin. “What are you doing? You can’t take him away from me!”
“Theo, is that Stiles? Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure!” He moved around in front of “Stiles” protectively, seeing the human shrink back. Theo glared at Liam. “You’re scaring him!”
“Ok, Theo, I need you to calm down, I’m not trying to take him from you.” Liam gestured at Hayden. “We want to help you, remember? Just like you’re going to help us, yeah?”
“Good, that’s good.” The werewolf inched closer, Theo watching him with glowing eyes. “It’s ok, but in order for us to help each other, we need you to put these on.”
“Why?” Theo frowned, glancing back at “Stiles,” hearing him speak.
“It’s alright, Theo, do what he says.”
“But, I…” The chimera ignored Liam and Hayden, feeling tears prick the corner of his eyes. “How am I meant to protect you, if I’m chained up like that?”
“You don’t need to.” The image flickered and then vanished suddenly, leaving only a whisper behind. ”I’ll find you again, Theo.”
“No! Wait!” Theo lurched towards where “Stiles” had been standing, hands out-stretched. “Come back!”
“Theo, what’s happening?” Liam’s voice was controlled, even as he exchanged a confused look with Hayden. “C’mon, tell us.”
“He’s gone.” The chimera mumbled in a small voice, his shoulders sagging. “Stiles is gone.” He turned back to them, scent heavy with sorrow, holding out his hands. “Just do it already.”
Hayden stepped forward, securing the heavy manacles to his wrists and locking them in place. She gathered the excess chain in her hand and tugged him forward. “Come on, move!”
“Hey, go easy.” Liam cautioned her, hand on her arm. “This is for his own protection as much as it is for ours.” He opened the door and gestured for Theo to get in, his hand reaching up to the chimera’s hair. “Watch your head.”
Theo sat in the car in silence, the chains heavy on his hands, weighing him down. His mind was slow, sluggish, and he didn’t notice Scott was crouched beside the open door until the Alpha poked his arm. “Huh?”
Theo looked at him sullenly. “No chains for my feet too?”
“Shut up, Theo.” Scott growled, but his tone softened slightly as he held out a pill bottle and a cup of water. “Morrell left these for you, in case the Prolixin didn’t work as intended. And judging from Liam just told me, it isn’t. You need to take four.”
“Ok.” Theo waited for him to leave, but the werewolf shook his head.
“I need to see you take them.”
“Fine.” He mumbled and struggled to get the bottle open, flushing as Scott just watched him. Eventually he managed to twist the child-resistant cap off, and shook out the round and white tablets. “What is it?”
“Morrell called it, uh, Seroquel, it’s meant to help reduce hallucinations. Now, stop messing around and take them.” Scott urged him. “We’re on a deadline.”
“Right.” Theo nodded and tipped the tablets into his mouth, washing them down with the water. He felt Scott look at him expectantly. “What?”
“Show me your tongue, c’mon Theo!”
The chimera frowned, but stuck his tongue out, an action which seemed to satisfy the werewolf since he immediately got up and shut the car door without another word. “Weird.” Theo rested back against the fabric, closing his eyes. He could hear Liam and Scott talking quietly, before the front doors of the car opened and Hayden and Liam climbed in. Theo opened his eyes when she wrenched the chain forward.
“Wake up! You need to tell us where we’re going, remember?”
“Preserve,” Theo mumbled, his thoughts drifting slowly together. The medication, must be working, I feel all…woozy. “I’ll tell you when to, to, uh, turn off.” He was quiet for the rest of the drive out to the forest, eyes half closed, only looking towards the front of the car when Hayden whispered at Liam, trying to hide their conversation from him.
“How did you know what do back there?”
“What do you mean?” The werewolf responded in a normal tone. “Why are you whispering? He can hear us no matter how low your voice goes.”
“Fine.” Hayden huffed. “You were trying to talk him down, and it looked like you knew what you were doing.”
“Oh, err, when I was in anger management last year, group work was a big deal and, um, well, not everyone was on the same page.” Liam glanced back, and Theo just looked at him. “So, um, I saw how the counsellors handled people who were, who had, err-”
“Delusions? Cool.” Hayden finished for him, grinning. The expression disappeared when she looked back at Theo. “Turn off up ahead, which way?”
“Right, then left. The trail gets steep, hard to traverse.”
“I can manage.”
“You don’t have a Jeep.” Theo muttered, looking out the window at the forest passing slowly by. But Stiles has a Jeep, we used to go places together, not, well, it was mostly for the pack and then it was about the Doctors and the chimeras. But before that, a tiny moment, less than a week, the most perfect time ever.
Theo smirked to himself as Hayden swore loudly in front of him, the tires of the car getting stuck in the muddy trail. He let his eyes fix on a tree across from him, his mind untethering from the present, and floating backwards into the past. Remember that first meeting? Rain, wet, an instant click when we looked at each other, or that day that he agreed to go out me, the cloudless night when the moon spilled across the street outside his house. I was just standing there, awkward, and he was the forward one, the one who kissed me. Theo smiled faintly, remembering the way that Stiles had looked after that first kiss, the rapid evolution of their relationship.
Neither of us wanted to wait, as if we both knew what was about to happen; blood and death and mercury. And betrayal, Theo, don’t forget that. Don’t forget how you- The chimera shrugged restlessly as his mind tried to push him towards the reasons for Stiles breaking up with him, but Theo resisted and as Hayden managed to pull them free of the muck and back onto the gravel track, he dropped back into his memories again. Those nights, there weren’t many, but they were hot, heavy, haha, we used every moment, no resistance, no stopping to overthink it, and the feeling of him next to me, in my ass, filling me so perfectly, I’ve never felt anything like that before, I never needed anyone as much as I’ve needed Stiles. I have to get him back, I have to feel him on top of me, I need-
“What are you thinking about?”
Theo blinked his eyes open and glanced at the werewolf. “Nothing.” He muttered, adjusting his bulging trousers. Liam’s eyes darted to his hardon, before he seemed to catch himself and blushed, averting his eyes hurriedly. The chimera smirked, and nodded at a sign in front of the car. “This is far enough. We walk from here.”
Theo nodded and got out of the car, grunting as Hayden pulled on the chain deliberately, causing him to stumble. He looked emotionlessly at Liam, seeing the werewolf sifting around uncomfortably, but remaining silent. Theo sighed, and pointed further up the trail. “That way.”
“Good. Let’s go.” Hayden replied crisply and tugged him along behind them.
“Go easy, Hayden.” Liam looked at her, lowering his voice. “We need him to help us, so, you know, leave your chain fetish behind, huh?”
She laughed and Theo frowned at the back of her head. Really? That seems…Hang on, I know this place, not from the Doctors, from Stiles. The chimera tuned out the flirting werewolves, slowing his pace as he looked over at a patch of fallen leaves, another memory rising to the surface; him and Stiles lying on the ground, skipping class…
“You are such a bad influence,” Stiles laughed at him as Theo flopped down on the leaves. “I’m meant to be helping Scott right now, not, rolling in the hay with you!”
“These are leaves.” Theo screwed up his face, before smirking.
“I know, you dummy!” Stiles punched him on the arm, and Theo yelped, pretending it hurt more.
“Haha, that hurt, huh?” Stiles grinned at him, eyes glittering. His tongue darted out and Theo rose quickly to kiss him, his own tongue lashing against Stiles’. “Hey!”
Theo fell back down, legs apart, trousers bulging as Stiles climbed on top of him, a moment of looking at each other before they kissed…
Theo grunted as his was torn from his memories by Hayden pulling sharply on the chain. “Argh.”
“Did you hear nothing I just said?” Liam was glaring at his girlfriend, clearly annoyed. He looked back at Theo. “I’m sorry. We’re just all eager to find the transformer and finally get some answers from the Ghost Riders. Right, Hayden?” He added pointedly.
“Yeah, of course.”
She was looking at him now, nostrils flaring, and Theo averted his eyes, frowning as the ground around him quaked and rippled, undulating queasily. A moment later, it was gone and Theo looked up, Liam a little too close to him. He stepped back, shaking his head to clear the images from his mind. “What?”
“Ten minutes.” Theo pointed at a clearing in the distance, “That way.”
Theo stooped by the transformer, pulling away the trailing vines and leaves that covered the console. "Hmm."
"Will it work?" Liam lingered by his shoulder, again, too close.
Theo shrugged, inching nearer to the machine to get away from him, feeling Hayden’s eyes on him as he did so. "Yeah, it'll work. Takes a while to power up though."
"Good." Liam nodded and stepped away.
Theo remained squatting, looking back at the old building. It had been a hunter's lodge in the 1800s, before the Doctors had turned it into an isolated testing facility. A large metal cage stood in center of the room, dark smears on the floor from previous failed experiments. The rest of the space was occupied by boxes and rusting, cobweb strewn machines and devices whose function he didn't understand. Theo stood up slowly as the door opened and two familiar scents flooded in. One, he knew from his terrible transformation, the other, however, was far more familial. Mason came right in, ignoring him as he talked excitedly to Liam about how this was going to work. But Theo didn't care about him, he felt Corey's innocent eyes on him, his face rushing through a dozen different expressions before settling on suspicious. His heart-rate was high, and Theo saw the beading of sweat on his brow. Not fear, not exactly. But not anger either. Theo looked away as Corey finally crossed the threshold. He looked at Mason and Liam, glanced at Theo, looked away to Hayden, then back to Theo. Ah, how could I forget about this? If Stiles was my mistake, Corey has to be my one regret. I need to make it right. I need to… Theo inclined his head slightly towards the door and Corey nodded, the younger chimera speaking up.
"I wanna talk to Theo."
Liam and Mason looked, and smelt, surprised. "What?"
"I don't think that's a good idea, Corey." Mason started, and Theo watched, eyes narrowing as the chameleon chimera shook his head. "Well, I'll go with you."
"No, that's..." He trailed off, color tinging his cheeks. Hayden looked at Theo, and then at Corey, her eyes widening slightly as though she understood. The older chimera remained silent.
"I'll go with them." Hayden offered, tugging gently on Theo's chain. "You two focus on setting the trap."
Mason looked uncomfortable and Liam looked suspicious, but Theo followed Hayden out into the crisp afternoon air as Corey walked over to a tree, far enough away that the werewolves couldn't hear them speak. Hayden stopped mid-way, and played out the chain until Theo was closer to Corey, but kept out of claw range.
"So," Corey began, keeping his voice quiet, neutral. "You got out."
"Mason told me that Liam said you're...different."
"Broken, I imagine is what he said; crazy, insane, talking to myself, seeing things." Theo looked at him as Corey nodded. “Seeing Stiles.”
"Yeah, something like that." He hesitated, glancing at Theo and then looking away, pulse rapid, scent hard to read. "You seem fine now, though."
"Morrell and Deaton gave me something to stop the, err, hallucinations, and it's kinda working." Theo shrugged, chains clinking. "My mind feels more normal now, still kinda like cotton wool though, you know?"
"Sorry." Corey shook his head, tongue darting out to wet his lips. He took a deep breath. "Are we gonna...talk about what happened?"
"We don't have to. You have Mason," Theo swallowed. "And Liam, and the rest of the pack. I haven't said anything because-"
"You've been focused on Stiles, Mason said." Corey flushed again, his ears burning, glancing at him, and then looking away. “Um.”
"Yeah, I have. I, I screwed it all up, with both of you." Theo gestured at him, feeling resistance as Hayden pulled him back. "Shit, I'm sorry, Corey."
The younger chimera frowned at him, holding his gaze for a moment before averting his eyes again. "Sorry for what, Theo?"
"Everything." Theo felt his chest tighten, unfamiliar sensations of pain and upset burning through his heart and stomach. "I'm sorry for scaring you, or making you do things you didn't want to, but most of all I'm sorry for what happened at Eichen."
"That was Parrish." Corey mumbled.
"No, that was me." Theo waited until the younger chimera looked at him. "I forced you to fight, when that's not what your abilities are for."
"I'm strong, I can fight." Corey bristled. "I'm gonna fight the Ghost Riders alongside my friends!"
Theo nodded silently, looking over his shoulder to see Hayden pointedly staring in the other direction, Scott arriving across the clearing. The Alpha paused, glaring at him, before disappearing into the hunter’s lodge. Theo looked back at Corey. "I guess we should go inside, huh?"
"Yeah, I..." Corey hesitated, bowing his head. "I forgive you, Theo."
"Just like that?"
"You're helping us now, and Liam said you've changed. I wanna believe that, I want to, I, uh."
"You don't have to say it, Corey, I remember." Flashes of that night, resurrection and fear, you felt like you owed me, and I was still smarting after my relationship with Stiles imploded. Easy to forget when you don’t want-. He blinked, torn from his memories yet again as Corey stepped closer to him, the same big, innocent eyes, the same calm determination, the same... "No, I don't, did that really happen?" He frowned shaking his head and squeezing his eyes shut as the chimera's face shuddered between his and Stiles, time felt like it froze and Corey cracked in half, bone fragments and blood firing outwards as the younger chimera’s cute visage shattered into crimson shards, organs falling wetly to the ground. Theo stared in horror as Stiles, blood-covered and grinning, climbed out of the ruins of Corey’s body and reached for him, a whisper on the wind.
You’re next, Theo Raeken!
“Argh!” Theo screamed, his claws springing out. He was about to plunge them into his eyes and rip the vision from his face when something stopped him, two hands on his wrists, he flicked his eyes open, twin slits, seeing Corey standing very close to him.
"See? Told you I'm strong."
“Theo!” Liam’s voice echoed across the clearing, as he and Mason spilled from the hunter’s lodge. Hayden was pulling the chain hard, the slack gone, and Theo’s eyes, open now, had locked onto Corey’s. “Theo, what are you doing?”
“Nothing.” The chimera whispered, shaking his head slowly. “Release me, Corey.”
“You were going to hurt yourself, I’m not letting that happen.”
“Why?” Scott was frowning at him, and Theo gently pulled away from Corey’s grip.
“Is the generator running?” Theo asked them, avoiding Scott’s question, seeing Corey’s cheeks flush and his eyes on the ground. “If it is, then you should finish setting up the rest of your equipment.”
“We will, but-”
“No, Liam.” Theo shook his head, and walked away from them, stopping when he was at the door to the lodge, the chain held taut. He could hear whispered conversation behind him, but Theo ignored them, a conflict erupting across his mind. Corey stopped me, but was that because he’s secretly Stiles? Is this all another illusion? Another fantasy, except this time it’s Stiles’ world that I’m trapped in? I haven’t seen my sister at all today, and now Corey…But if it is real, if he’s forgiven me for…the fear, and the injuries, and the…grateful to the one that resurrected him, but it was more than that. Stiles was magical and special, but with Corey, we were together, closer, chimera to chimera. Even it was just the one time; moving and grinding and panting, eyes flashing in the darkness, the sweat smell of his scent, the softness of his skin, and then-
“C’mon, Theo.” Liam pushed him gently and the chimera walked inside, his thoughts trailing off, memories still illuminating his mind’s eye. Corey was looking at him when Theo glanced over his shoulder, the younger chimera’s expression a mix of embarrassment and something that he had only seen on that night after the resurrection. “Wait.” Liam yanked on his chain, and gestured for Theo to look at him. “Ok, so, this plan is dangerous, and we need everyone available to help. I’m going to release the manacles now. Ready?”
“Sure, I’m not going to hurt you.” Theo replied, frowning slightly as Liam’s pulse jumped.
“Um, yeah, I know.” He cleared his throat and unlocked the shackles, dropping the chains into a pile by the door. His fingers brushed across the back of Theo’s hand, lingering for a moment longer than needed, before Liam pulled away as the rest of the pack entered the room.
Theo watched him walk over to Hayden, surprising her with a quick kiss and stood beside his girlfriend, cheeks pink. The chimera frowned, Pulse racing, and half hard too, if not more, same strong tangy scent as before. If I… The thoughts were interrupted as Scott pushed him away from the others, towards the generator.
“Stay here. I’m watching you.”
Theo nodded at him silently, but the Alpha ignored his gesture and turned to the others.
“Ok, so, we’re clear on the plan, right? We’re going to catch a Ghost Rider and get him, it, whatever, to tell us where Stiles and everyone is and how to get them out.”
“Right,” Mason began to speak, “So, the cage will allow us to capture the Rider, but, um, he won’t appear inside it. Corey will attach a lightning rod to the roof, it’ll travel down that line there and onto the base plate. The generator can transmute the energy from a lightning bolt.”
Theo stood aside as they all stared between his feet at the small metal square.
“That’s a long way from the cage.” Scott shook his head, grimacing. “We’re going to need to trick him inside…”
Theo lowered himself to the ground and sat on his haunches, their conversation a musical babble across his mind, ignoring the words, but following whoever was speaking, his eyes glancing at Corey and Liam every few seconds. He sighed softly, gaze dropping to the ground in front of him. Where it was once dry, dusty concrete, the floor had become covered in a black, slick goo, running in rivulets across the even surface. Theo reached down and stroked his hand across the warm wetness, feeling his stomach clench as he looked at his fingers, crimson blood dripping off his digits. The chimera blinked rapidly, hoping the images would disappear, staring in horror, jaw slack as the torrents of blood congealed in the center of the floor, forming a hunched, broken figure, splayed hands rising from the goo, blood that was fresh and red rushed over hardened black blood, forming a face, the familiar face.
He shook his head as the form solidified into a person. No, no, no! They said I wouldn’t see you, they said it would work for days! It was Stiles, again, just like before, except he wasn’t just looking at Theo. The chimera lunged forward, grasping the wet, bloody arm and pulled back hard as “Stiles” made a dash towards Liam. “No!” Theo screamed, horrified as the arm detached in a flood of blood and rotten flesh, making him gag and retch. He shook his head violently, “Leave him alone, Stiles!” Claws sprung out and Theo slashed viciously at the blood monster, his claws slicing through with ease as though “Stiles” was made of air. Theo crashed onto his knees, his eyes fixed on Liam as the blood monster collapsed in a spray of vital essence, drenching the werewolf. “No, no, no.” His words were muttered, repeating it over and over, staring at the Beta as Theo turned to him, Liam’s lips parted, skin blackening and hardening and peeling off to reveal raw red meat underneath. “Argh!” Theo screamed and tried to run away from them, but his feet were tripped from under him and he felt Scott throw him hard against the wall.
Theo blinked his eyes open a few minutes later, he was lying on the ground, Liam crouched on one side, concern etched into his face, while Scott was glaring at him from the other side. He was about to speak, when the sensation of being watched prickled the skin on the back of his neck. Theo groaned, seeing slick, wet hands wrap around his throat and squeeze tight. “No, Stiles, please!”
"You made me out to be a murderer, Theo, as cold and bloodthirsty as you. Scotty doesn't remember it now, but when he does, you and I won't be having that happy reunion after all!" “Stiles” laughed, the sound a gurgling wetness as dark liquid spilled out of his mouth and saturated Theo; a torrent of blood drowning him. He tossed and turned, trying desperately to get away. There was a sudden burst of pain across his face and he looked up, seeing Scott step back, glaring at him. Theo felt his lip; the skin was broken, a smear of blood on his finger, but “Stiles” had vanished again.
“That was too much, Scott.” Liam glared at his Alpha, “You might still hate Theo, but he’s sick, you can’t just hit him like that.”
“Get him up, Liam.” Scott ordered, glaring at Theo.
The chimera accepted Liam’s hand and stood up, eyes sweeping over him, but the werewolf was bloodless. Strange, I don’t understand. It was all over him… “Thanks.”
“It’s alright, Theo.” Liam squeezed his shoulder, the other hand on his side. “I had hoped that the meds would work for longer than a few hours though.”
“If you can’t help us anymore, just go sit in the corner and keep out of our way.” Scott told him, tossing a bottle of pills at Liam. “Give him these; four didn’t work, so just triple the dose and we’ll see if that has any impact.”
“Triple? Half the bottle, you mean!” Liam stared at him, releasing Theo. “Scott, that’s-”
“He’ll heal if it’s too much.” Scott dismissed his concerns with a frown. “Besides, it’s Theo.”
“And that justifies it? Are we seeing two different Theos, here?”
“Just do it, Liam.” Scott growled, red eyes flashing. “That’s an order.”
“I don’t know werewolf medicine,” Mason spoke up. “But maybe Liam has a point.”
“Noted.” The Alpha replied with gritted teeth. “But give it to him anyway, we don’t have time to argue.”
“Fine.” Liam nodded reluctantly and tipped the pills onto his hand, bringing them up to Theo’s lips. “Open your mouth.” Theo obeyed and Liam tilted his hand, letting the round, white tablets slide into the chimera’s mouth. “Swallow. Ok, show me?”
Theo opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue before closing it and looking down. His mind cleared quickly and he frowned, nodding as Liam stepped away. “Thanks.”
“Yeah.” Liam grunted, looking at Scott. “Happy?”
“Sure.” The Alpha nodded. “I don’t care if he’s insane and talking to himself, or quiet and seeing things, but this is Theo Raeken we’re talking about; he’s screwed us plenty of times before. Remember Eichen House?”
“Better than you.” Theo replied sharply, his mind twisting and snapping back into place. Well, he might have just tried to kill me, but I think that overdose is actually working. No more Stiles, because he’s trapped by the Ghost Riders, and I’m going to get him back. Scott stopped glaring at him and turned away. Corey smiled at him and grasped his bicep affectionately as he exited, Mason watching from the doorway. Theo didn’t listen in on their whispered conversation, looking up instead as thunder rolled overhead. “It’s almost time.”
Theo stared at the floor, ignoring the werewolves moving around him, thinking about all that had happened, lips twitching as he remembered Liam's hardon in the shower the night before. Has it only been one day? Haha, and who would have thought that Liam had such a thick dick too? No wonder Hayden is so happy all the time! Still, I wouldn’t say no to it, if the moment ever presents itself again! Theo smirked at Liam, remembering midway through the expression to turn it into a smile. Because I may be crazy, but apparently being insane makes me a nicer person. Interesting. Well, for all of them except Scott. He’s not willing to accept any new development, insisting on his truth. Sorry, Alpha, but Stiles was mine, I made a terrible mistake, but I’m getting him back, and you better not get in my way. Theo stretched, his expression grim and unclenched his hand slowly, looking at his claws. They'd never suspect an attack now, they're vulnerable! Running around and ignoring the crazy chimera in the corner. Stiles has been showing me blood-soaked visions all day, maybe they’ll believe me if I make them a reality?
Theo lurched forward, stopping as another thought crept into his mind. But not Liam, he helped me, tried to stand up to Scott, he’s been on my side ever since I was released. Not Corey either, we trusted each other for three days-and nights- before I fucked that up too, he’s forgiven me, but…And what about Siles? I’ll rescue him, but how? I don’t know enough about the Ghost Riders, about where their hostages are taken, how to get there. I need more information. I need this plan to work, to have the Ghost Rider answer the questions. I’ll save Stiles, and then he’ll see! Then he’ll know that I do care about him, that I can love another person! Theo nodded to himself and let his claws recede. He looked up as Liam glanced his way, offering the chimera a small smile. Theo didn't return the gesture, but steeled himself instead for the fight ahead.
Liam was crouching beside him as Scott and Mason retreated into the shadows on the other side of the room. Night had fallen outside and thunder rolled directly overhead. Theo watched with cold detachment as Hayden stood in the center of the lodge, staring at the base plate as lightning zapped down and hit the grounding rod. The electricity raced along the wire and a moment later the Ghost Rider appeared. Theo could smell the mix of fear and determination around him, his own scent a taciturn detachment that had Liam staring at him in concern. Ignore him, wait for the moment.
The Ghost Rider walked forward with a sense of inevitability, no fear of not catching Hayden as she ran through the cage to the other side. Liam jumped up and slammed the cage door shut. Theo stood and watched as Scott made time to glare at him, before running over and wrenching the two cage doors together, grunting as he struggled with the rusty iron runners. The Ghost Rider was staring at Scott, about to make an escape. I can’t let that happen! Theo hurried over and grabbed the other gate, pushing it along the runners furiously as it locked into place. The chimera grunted as the Ghost Rider grabbed him, and dragged his arm and half his shoulder inside. "Keep closing it!" Theo snarled at Scott as the Alpha hesitated. There was a crunch of bone, his arm breaking and Theo cried out in pain, yellow eyes flashing in the darkness. He glared at the Ghost Rider, "Fucking close it! Rip my arm off if you have to!"
"I'm trying!" Scott yelled out, grunting as the stuck door was pulled free, and he slammed it home, Liam pulling Theo out of the way just in time. The Alpha activated the diffusion cage and stood back to let Mason lay down the line of mountain ash. “Ok.”
“Thanks, again.” Theo glanced at Liam, nodding his head. The werewolf smiled at him and went to check on Hayden. He frowned as Scott smirked and displayed the Ghost Rider’s gun. “Impressive.”
Lightning arced around the cage as the Ghost Rider tried to escape, the generator behind them glowing brightly. After a moment the electricity subsided and the creature let its hands fall to its sides, standing in the center of the cage, motionless. Theo grimaced as the bone healed fully, and he popped it back into its socket with a grunt of pain. Liam glanced at him, but Theo shook his head as the werewolf made to go over to him. Instead, Theo gestured at the cage, eyes cold and hard. "So, now you have it, what are you going to do?"
"We try and talk to him." Scott replied as though it was obvious.
"Well, good luck with that since he has no mouth!" Theo snapped back. "How can you be sure he, it, even understands?"
"Mr Ghost Rider?" Liam spoke up, his voice younger and more innocent than Theo had ever heard before. The chimera smirked his old smirk and laughed silently as the Beta continued on. "Ahem, err, Mr Rider?"
Scott's eyes were on Liam now and Theo could see the flush in his cheeks, the heat that rushed up his neck. Oh, yes, I know that look of embarrassment, it was the same as that moment after the shower when I got you hard, haha.
"We'll let you out, if you tell us how to get our friends back?" Liam offered, the Ghost Rider remaining silent. “Please?”
"Everyone." Scott clarified, "We want everyone back."
"Tell us how to get them all back!" Liam cried out, as Theo frowned at them, suppressing the urge to laugh out loud.
"This is the plan?" He grinned suddenly, looking between them. "Seriously?
"There wasn't a plan for this part of the plan!" Liam hissed at him.
“Well, thanks to Scott’s generous use of the medication, I feel just like my old self!” Theo smirked openly, seeing Liam glare at his Alpha. “So, why don’t you let me take over the interrogation and find out how to save Stiles?”
“And everyone else.” Scott added pointedly.
“And everyone else,” Theo sighed as he gestured at the Ghost Rider. “I’m not sure what I’ll have to do though. Nothing is going to scare this thing. Look at it; it's a walking corpse." He was about to continue when the Ghost Rider made a noise and Theo tilted his head. “Who wants to bet he’s calling for backup?”
“Then you better get started.” Scott nodded and Liam frowned, looking unhappy. “Go on, Theo, isn’t this what you’re meant to be good at?”
Theo smirked and walked as close to the cage as he could without breaking the line of mountain ash. Now, what did the Doctors say? Oh, yes. Telepathic communication: you don’t talk to a Ghost Rider, you think at it. So, hello there. He remained still, staring at the ruined face, feeling Scott and Liam’s eyes on his back as Hayden left to check on Corey and Mason. Theo focused his thoughts into a weapon and directed them at the creature. Where is Stiles? How do I get him out? The Ghost Rider shuffled backwards and Theo glared at him, repeating his thought. Where is Stiles? How do I get him out? Tell me!
We are the Wild Hunt. Theo winced as the voice invaded his mind, a soulless echo that was different from the other voices tormenting his consciousness. We are the Wild Hunt. We are forever. Those who hunt with us, hunt forever.
Where is Stiles?! Theo fired back, recalling an image of Stiles smiling at him as he sent the thought at the Ghost Rider, hearing a break in the creature’s repeated thoughts.
We are the Wild Hunt. We are…That one we know of, different from the rest. Your love is captured, awaiting ascension, to become like us. You will never find him. There is only the Hunt. No one resists, no one escapes.
You're wrong, I will do anything to find Stiles! Theo shot back mentally and stepped over the barrier to put his hands on the cage.
“Theo!” Scott called out warningly, eyes flashing red as the chimera glanced at him.
“What are you doing, Theo?” Liam moved up to him, just behind the barrier, his voice more controlled, “C’mon, tell us what’s happening.”
He ignored the werewolves' shouts of alarm, and grunted as the Ghost Rider electrocuted the cage. Not as powerful as before, but now we're really linked! His hands were burning points of agony where they touched the cage and Theo could already smell the stench of his roasting flesh. He finally spoke aloud, grinning triumphantly. "That's it, now show me what I need to see! Argh!” Theo’s head arched backwards, his vision replaced with a slideshow of images flickering by rapidly; Stiles arriving on a Ghost Rider’s horse, cast off with the others, a fragment of him in the radio room, and then the long tunnel, windswept and gusty, white burning light as the Wild Hunt spilled out into the forest. So, that’s where the rift is, and it’s just like the Doctors described; impossible to get inside. "Thank you." Theo muttered, pulling his hands off the mesh with a grunt, his flesh sizzling, and bubbling. He felt sick, weakened, the fragile walls of lucidity threatening to collapse again. “Gah.”
"What?" Scott looked expectantly at him.
“I...” Theo glanced at him, stepping across the line of mountain ash before folding up, collapsing to the ground as darkness took him, the Ghost Rider's voice echoing around him, joining the cacophony of screams already within his mind. We are the Wild Hunt. We are forever.
When Theo woke up, Liam was sitting next to him, and Parrish and Scott were in front of the cage. The chimera's eyes widened as he realized what they were trying to do. "No! You don't understand!" He scrambled to his feet, Liam's hand on his, reaching for Parrish with the other hand. "He's gonna release-"
Parrish's clothes suddenly ignited and the Hellhound took over, Theo backed away, shaking his head, memories of Corey's horrific burns flashing across his mind. “No! No! No!” Pain and suffering and the smell, and I just left him there… Parrish stepped forward, burning away the barrier and melting the steel mesh of the cage. "I told you!" Theo cried out, blocking out the memory of the look of betrayal in Corey’s eyes as he darted towards the naked Deputy. Parrish was no longer flaming, but his eyes glowed orange and the cracks along his body vented heat. Theo looked him over, fear sinking through his stomach. He reached out his still healing hands to help them keep Parrish away from the cage, but the Hellhound looked at him irritably, the ball of his shoulder igniting quickly. Theo screamed as the flesh of his hand once again burned, and he was unable to block Parrish’s backhand, the chimera crashing down onto the hard stone floor, even as Liam and Scott managed to push Parrish out of the shack. He grunted, forcing himself into a sitting position as the Hellhound roared outside. They’re not going to be back for a while. I’m alone.
Theo replaced the line of mountain ash, as he tried to ignore the Ghost Rider's repetitive thoughts in his mind. He paused when the scent hit him, glancing over his shoulder at Mr Douglas. Oh, shit.
"Hello, Theo." The Löwenmensch smirked at him, American accent falling away to reveal his German one. "You did not recognize me ze day before, but now, now you see me, ja?"
"Yeah," Theo nodded and backed away, "I know who you are, and what you want."
"Perhaps, though maybe not vhat I vant exactly."
"You been here the whole time?" Theo stopped moving as his shoulders reached the stone wall of the shack.
"How could I stay avay?"
Theo watched the Löwenmensch’s face morph, hesitating for a moment before he tried to flee, making a jump towards the mountain ash line, but before he could get there, Mr Douglas’ claws dug into his back, the tips gouging along his spine. “Argh! Let me go!” He cried out, but the Löwenmensch gripped ruthlessly, and tugged him backwards.
"Break ze barrier!"
Theo gasped, heart hammering, aspirating blood as the claws dug deeper. “I won’t…”
"Break ze barrier! Or I vill rip you in two!"
“Fine.” Theo whimpered, using his foot to smudge the mountain ash. He gasped when Mr Douglas hurled him backwards onto the ground, an uncomfortable wetness dripping down his back. Theo rolled over onto his front, staring as the Löwenmensch acted like a monster from his hallucinations; ripping the back out of the Ghost Rider’s skull, blood running down his chin, fingers digging into the brain and pulling out a still jiggling piece. Theo felt bile rise up as he watched Mr Douglas devour the brain matter, his eyes flashing red before switching to light green. He lowered his face, heart hammering as the Löwenmensch stood over him, the Ghost Rider’s whip in his hand.
“Ah, Theo, so, here ve are. I could take you first, but, hmm, I do not think so. You are nothing but a broken toy that ze Dread Doctors left behind.” Mr Douglas laughed at him, his face returning to normal. “You are not even vorth killing!” He turned and left the lodge without another word.
Oh, thank you, thank you! I’m safe.
But Corey isn’t. Theo blinked as the thought came unbidden into his mind. “Fuck, failed him before, not again…” He grabbed the wall and used it to haul himself upright, his healing kicking in as he staggered out the door. I’m coming!
Theo ran quickly through the woods, following Mr Douglas’ scent as he wound around the trees, pulse ticking higher as he picked up Corey’s scent mixed into the trail. It’s older, he was here first. That bastard is tracking him. C’mon, Theo! He urged himself on, moving faster as he spotted Corey emerging from his cloaked form, the Löwenmensch too close on his flank, but nearer to Theo. “Corey!” The chimera screamed as he launched himself forward, crashing into Mr Douglas before the Löwenmensch had a chance to lash out with the whip. “Rawrr!”
Theo let instinct take over, his mind strangely detached as he watched his fists loosen and claws replace knuckles, blood flecking his face and arms and hands. The Löwenmensch healed rapidly, even as Theo tore strips of his flesh away. I wasn’t there to save Stiles, but I can save Corey! His attention drifted for a moment as Liam and Scott burst through the trees, Mason and Hayden on their heels. The Löwenmensch used the distraction to punch him hard in the chest. Theo fell backwards, his breathing suddenly tight, the ache along his rib cage telling him bones were broken. Mr Douglas scrambled to his feet and snarled at Theo and the werewolves.
“Another time, mein freund.” He snarled, snatching the whip from the ground and ran off into the treeline.
“Don’t!” Theo grunted as Scott made to follow him. “You won’t catch him, Löwenmensch are too fast.”
“Lowen-what?” Scott and Liam stared at him as Mason hugged Corey tightly.
“Löwenmensch; a lion-man.” Theo smiled weakly at Liam as he was helped to stand. “I know what he is and what he wants.”
“Really? So, you were hiding this information all along?” Scott folded his arms, looking smugly at Liam. “I told you we couldn’t trust him.”
“Fuck’s sake, Scott, he’s…”
Theo zoned out as Liam defended him, his eyes on Corey as he finished hugging Mason. The other chimera smiled at him and mouthed “thank you”, before his boyfriend urged him to go. Theo looked down at the ground, Now, all I need to do is find Stiles, no, I know where, I just don’t know how to get to him. His thoughts were interrupted by a hand on his back, a hesitant touch. “Hmm?”
“I just wanted to say thanks,” Mason nodded slowly. “For saving Corey.”
“Right.” Theo nodded back, the awkward silence stretching until Scott told them to leave, leading the way himself. Liam nudged Theo and he looked at the werewolf. “What?”
“That was really impressive, Theo.” He grinned widely.
The chimera didn’t reply, looking instead at his bloodied hands. If I did that to one of you, I’d be a monster, but do it to a monster and I’m a hero? He’s still looking at me, heh, and still half hard too. Theo smiled back at Liam and leaned against him as his body slowly healed, still staring at his hands. "I could do with a shower."
I had intended to update this story sooner, but my hard drive crashed and I lost a load of data. But, from the next chapter on, events will be quite different from canon. Thanks for reading!
Theo watched him wave Hayden off, the werewolf driving down the street quickly, Liam returning to the front door, frowning at him. The chimera shook his head, “What?”
“Ok, I’m still, um, covered in Mr Douglas’ blood.” Theo looked at his hands, the blood was still tacky when he pressed his fingers together. “I don’t want…I need to get clean.”
“I know,” Liam replied, closing the door behind him. “Let me sweep up the glass from this morning, you go up to the bathroom and I’ll get you some towels and, err, a change of clothes, I guess.”
“Thanks.” Theo turned to go, pausing as Liam touched his arm. “Huh?”
“Are you feeling ok?”
“I suppose.” Theo shrugged. My mind is clouded, but no more than usual. I feel kinda numb, cut off, but that’s not what he’s asking. He realized that Liam was waiting for him to continue. “Um, I, I don’t know. I’m not really feeling anything.”
“Huh.” The werewolf folded his arms, brows furrowed. “So, no ill-effects from all those pills Scott made me give you?”
Made you? Sure, you protested, but you still did it. Theo shook his head slightly. “I felt sick at first, my stomach was sore, the way it gets when you don’t eat in a while, as though a single punch would cause it to collapse in on itself.”
“Oh, right, um.” Liam glanced towards the kitchen. “It’s been such a crazy day, I didn’t even think about food.” His stomach grumbled loudly and Theo frowned. “I’ll, uh, see what we have, and bring it up to you?”
“No, um, thanks, but I still feel sick.”
“Ok, maybe after the shower.”
“Maybe.” Theo muttered, climbing the stairs slowly, tiredness weighing him down. The chimera elbowed the door to the bathroom open and used the least bloody of his fingers to tap the light on. He glanced at himself in the mirror, the castoff was drying into his skin and shifting from red to black along his nose and cheeks, blood flecks across the rest of his face and neck. Theo kept replaying the thoughts he had the moment Liam had complimented him for his rescue of Corey. If I did that to one of you, I’d be a monster, but do it to a monster and I’m a hero? He shook his head, unable to understand the difference and sat down on the closed lid of the toilet instead, clasping his hands loosely and staring at the blood stains on his tanned skin. I almost had it, I could feel myself getting sharper and better and more like me, but then it was gone again, lost in the fog that I have now. It’s better than before though, I know those things weren’t real, that they were delusions. But for how long? I can take pills for the rest of my life, sure, but the cost, and being dependent on their availability. No. There has to be another way, another solution. If only the Doctors were here, they’d know…
The chimera looked up as Liam stood in the doorway, a large white fluffy towel in his hands, sweat pants, trunks, and a t-shirt stacked on top. He blinked his eyes down and the werewolf came into the bathroom, depositing his load on top of the laundry basket.
“Theo, you ok? Is this about Mr Douglas?”
“Not really.” Theo replied softly. “It’s about me, the person I was, those pills, they sent me back into him, into the monster again; cold, hard, ruthless. I was going to attack you, use the distraction of the Ghost Rider to run, get away.”
“What stopped you?” Liam was standing closer to him, arms folded, the short sleeves of his t-shirt making his biceps all the more prominent when Theo flicked his eyes up and over him.
“You did.” The chimera shrugged as he smelt the sudden change in Liam’s scent, the extra tanginess to the air. “Well, you and Corey. I’m not hurting him again.”
“Right, I got the impression that-”
“I didn’t mean that way.” Theo cut across him quickly. “Eichen House, Lydia’s rescue, Corey got burned because I forced him to join us in attacking Parrish.”
Theo frowned at the hopeful edge to Liam’s voice, No, he doesn’t mean it like that, he’s been clear enough. And this time I can see he’s not who I though he was. Handsome though. “Um, you’ve defended me to Scott, multiple times, and you didn’t have to keep doing it after I showed you the generator and the trap.”
“Scott is…it’s complicated.” Liam finished with a shrug, unfolding his arms. “I got you some clothes that don’t fit me yet, if ever!” He laughed, but Theo just stared at him. “Um, yeah, so, you know how to work the shower and…”
The chimera tilted his head to one side, sniffing the air. Aroused, horny, but in general, or for something specific? Hmm, of all the times for the voices to be quiet, I could do with your advice. He shrugged, standing up and pulling off the blood-splattered jacket. Liam was still staring at him as Theo continued to undress, the air growing thicker and heavier. After Theo stepped out of his trunks and turned to fiddle with the taps in the shower, he heard Liam swallowing awkwardly.
“Um, maybe I should stay with you, just, for, um, safety reasons.”
“Ok.” Theo nodded and glanced at him, expression blank. The werewolf nodded and quickly pulled off his t-shirt, Theo heard the sound of his belt falling to the floor as he turned back to step into the hot torrent of water. The glass doors slid shut and the chimera shivered slightly when he felt Liam’s hands touch his shoulders gently.
Theo turned under the spray, facing Liam now, the werewolf had his eyes closed, face tilted towards the water. He looked down, eyes widening as he took in the long hardness jutting out from Liam’s crotch. Oh. The water was hot and Theo turned back towards it before Liam could catch him staring. “Ah!” He started when soapy hands caressed his back.
“Sorry,” Liam muttered. “Just relax.”
“Mmh.” Theo closed his eyes, leaning back into the werewolf, feeling him stroke along his spine and massage his shoulders and neck. One of Liam’s hands stayed rubbing Theo’s shoulders, while the other snaked around his torso and soaped up his chest, splayed fingers on his abs and drifting lower, lower, stopping just shy of the base of his cock. Fuck, I thought he was about to… He could feel himself respond, becoming as hard as Liam was, the fact confirmed by a quick glance over his shoulder. Liam’s attention was elsewhere though, and so too were his hands. Theo grunted when he felt his butt cheeks being massaged, the twin globes squeezed and pushed back hard enough to make him bite his lip. “Mmph!” Are you really going to do it? Liam’s breath was hot on his neck, his hands replaced by thick fingers pushing down the smooth skin of Theo’s ass and deeper into the crevice, finding another source of heat. Theo shivered as Liam’s soapy forefinger circled his entrance, his cock rock hard and leaking precum. “What are you doing?” He whispered.
“Saying thanks.” Liam paused, his forehead was resting on Theo’s back, lips brushing the wet skin, finger pushing inside now, as Theo moaned softly. “For everything; the generator, whatever you did with the Ghost Rider, saving Corey, mmh, not killing me.” The werewolf grunted as his finger pushed past the final resistance, his other hand slid around Theo’s waist, down his abs towards his rigid cock. “I’ve never done anything with a guy before, but, well, you’re different.”
Probably thinks I won’t remember…or object. Theo didn’t say anything aloud, instead pushing back into Liam’s fingers as a second one was pressed inside his ass to join the first. The werewolf had wrapped his hand around Theo’s thick cock, and was slowly jerking him off. “Ah!” Theo gasped as Liam began to pull his fingers out and then thrust them back inside, gaining speed and interrupting the rhythm with occasional flexes that made his ass tingle and his cock spasm in Liam’s wet hands. The chimera managed to look back at him when Liam adjusted his grip, lips twitching when he saw the other teenager’s impressive cock was still as hard as it had been at the start; the head red and swollen. “Been a while?” He murmured.
“Err, yeah.” Liam replied, pushing his cock against Theo’s thigh with a moan. “About a week, not much time for sex with the Ghost Riders around.”
“You don’t jerk off?” Theo turned back around, seeing that Liam wouldn’t meet his eyes. Ashamed already? “You’re doing a good job.”
“Oh, um, thanks.” Liam thrust against him again, this time Theo could feel the tip of his cock along one cheek of his ass. “Hay…my girlfriend likes big shooters, if I hold off for a few days between sex, then there’s plenty of cum.” He jerked Theo off more quickly as though to stop their conversation.
Heh, you can avoid saying her name, Liam, but that doesn’t change what you’re doing. And how well you’re doing it! Theo groaned suddenly, grinding back on Liam’s fingers. “Keep going, I’m so close.”
“Yeah.” Theo smirked as he heard the excitement in Liam’s voice, dropping one hand from where he was bracing himself against the tiles to fondle his heavy balls. “Nearly, gonna…ugh!” Theo gasped as the first load spurted out of his cock and sprayed the shower wall in front of him, the second, third, and fourth followed the same pattern, with the remainder splattering on Liam’s hand. At first all he could think about was the white hot, mind-blowing pleasure as it blasted through him, a moment later, as he was continuing to unload, Stiles’ sexy grin entered his mind, but his once-boyfriend didn’t linger and soon it was Liam that Theo was thinking about as he finished his orgasm. The werewolf’s fingers were still inside his ass, still flexing, though Theo could feel Liam’s cock head, slick with precum, pushing against the valley of his butt. Only fair. “Take your fingers out.” He instructed, pushing Liam’s hand away from his now sensitive cock. “Go on, I’ve taken a dick before, several, actually.”
“I…” Liam hesitated, his pulse spiking.
“It’s ok.” Theo turned around, seeing the werewolf stare at his cum-covered hands, not looking at the chimera, but his cock remained hard. “Let me thank you too. You could’ve put me back into the ground, but you didn’t.” He made to kneel down, but Liam shook his head furiously.
“Ok then, jerking off it is.” Theo pushed Liam gently back against the wall, smiling slightly as the werewolf still refused to look at him. He wrapped his hand around the thick shaft and began to stroke Liam up and down, slowly at first, from the base to the head, the pad of his thumb flicking across the glans. After a few passes, Liam was groaning softly, his legs spreading as his strength waned. Theo bent his knee and pressed it against the shower tiles, letting him rest on his thigh. Liam reached out to him, the werewolf’s hands on his arms and biceps, stroking the hard, flexing muscle as Theo continued to jerk him off. “Is that alright?” Theo whispered, his own eyes half-lidded from the heat of the water spraying around them.
“Great.” Liam murmured, biting his lip.
“Good.” Theo replied, his free hand rest on Liam’s muscular chest, thumb and forefinger flicking his nipple into hardness. Liam groaned again, bucking forward into his hand, his panting no longer soft and quiet, a neediness in his eager thrusts. Theo moistened his lips, feeling his own cock rise again. For the first time since coming back, his mind was completely empty, quiet, all concentration focused on Liam, on their actions, on making him cum hard.
“Ah, ah, ah,” Liam gasped, his mouth open, tongue rimming his lips. For a moment Theo wanted to lean in and kiss him, feel that tongue against his own, but he resisted the urge and instead gave Liam’s cock a gentle twist that caused him to cry out in pleasure. “Ah!”
“You’re so close now!” Theo muttered, feeling Liam’s thrusts into his hand become wilder and less controlled. “Bet you have a big load to fire off?”
“Oh yeah, Theo!” Liam whispered, his eyes finally flicking up to meet the chimera’s; yellow rings around a dark pupil. “Push me over the edge, I’m gonna cream all over you!”
Theo grinned and twisted Liam’s nipple just enough for the werewolf to yell and then with a final stroke across his cock head, Liam was spurting fountains of cum into the air between them. He blinked reflexively as the first shot splashed across his face, Liam groaning unintelligibly in front of him. The second spurt splashed against his mouth and nose, the remainder drenching his chest and abs in long, thick ribbons of cream. “Fuck!”
“Yeah.” Liam muttered, slowing his rapid fucking of Theo’s hand. “Wow. That was so hot.”
“Uh huh.” Theo nodded, looking down at the streaks of cum trailing down his tanned skin. “You’re so hot.”
Theo turned around and let Liam stand on his own feet again, the water washing away their cum, smelling Liam’s desire shift into guilt, before flicking back to lust when Theo turned to wash his chest and abs.
Liam was quiet as he opened the door to his bedroom, gesturing vaguely at the bed. “Um, maybe you should sleep there tonight. I know the blow-up isn’t that comfortable.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Liam dumped their used clothes into his hamper and slipped off his sweat pants, the chimera frowned at him. “Um, I sleep in underwear most of the time, but, um, I can wear a t-shirt tonight, if you would be more comfortable?”
“The bed feels comfy.” Theo remarked, sitting on it and pressing his fingers against the mattress. He looked back at Liam and shrugged. “I don’t mind what you wear, I’m warm enough like this.”
“Right.” Liam was staring at him. “Well if you get hotter, uh, too hot, you can, you know?”
“Um, ok.” The chimera nodded after a moment of silence. They looked at each other and then Theo climbed under the duvet. “I…goodnight.”
There was a groan of the bed springs as Liam got into bed on his other side, but Theo had rolled over to the edge. Tension where there was none before, I can smell his guilt lingering on the air, but he doesn’t want me to touch him, that scent is clearer than any other. Go to sleep, Theo, maybe he’ll be different in the morning. “Maybe.” He whispered softly into the pillow, stiffening as Liam turned over, sprawling in the middle of the bed, one arm stretched out, his fingers lifting the back of Theo’s t-shirt to brush against the soft, warm, skin. Theo looked over his shoulder, Liam’s eyes were closed, but the werewolf’s heart was beating too fast for him to be asleep. He considered him for a moment longer before turning onto the side facing Liam and shuffling closer, not quite touching him as Liam pulled his arm back, lips twitching into a grin. Theo closed his eyes and brushed his head against the cool pillow case, keeping them shut even as he felt Liam’s hand on his bicep. The werewolf didn’t make another move, other than to curl his fingers along Theo’s muscle, and soon, Theo felt himself drop into a world of confusing dreams and muddled faces.
Theo woke up suddenly, the images of his dreams falling away as he rolled onto his back. The sheets beside him were cool, and he frowned, the memories of what had happened the night before coming back to him. Heat and water and him. Seems like a dream now, but it happened. I know it happened. He sat up and pushed the duvet back, grabbing the t-shirt he had pulled off during the night. Theo froze, head tilted to one side, hearing quiet voices from below him. Liam…and Scott. Huh. He walked quickly down the stairs, slowing as he saw Scott holding Kira’s sword, Liam beside him looking uncomfortable. The younger werewolf wouldn’t meet his gaze and shuffled awkwardly next to Scott. “What’s going on?”
“Liam?” Scott prompted after a moment of silence. “It’s your idea, you tell him.”
“Um, so, you can’t stay here anymore.” Liam shot a glance at him before avoiding his eyes again. “It’s, um, not, err, it’s not suitable.”
Not suitable? Theo silently echoed to himself, nostrils flaring as he took in the air between them. You mean I’m not suitable? Because of last night? Must be. But I can’t tell what his fear is directed at; could be the fact that I’m a guy, or that I’m not Hayden, or…oh, of course, not just fear, not just regret, hints of guilt under there. Because I’m broken, crazy, huh. He folded his arms and looked at Scott. “So, you’re sending me back to hell, right? I mean, why else would you be here?”
“You’re suddenly very calm.” Scott was staring at him, suspicious. “Every other time you’ve freaked out.”
“What can I do? You’re the Alpha werewolf.” Theo sighed, looking at the floor. “And it’s not like there’s anything for me here; no Stiles, no friends, no future.”
“That’s not true, Theo!” Liam cried out, emotion suffusing his voice. “And we’re not sending you back to hell, or wherever that was. Just because you can’t stay here doesn’t mean that we’re getting rid of you.”
“Where am I going then?”
“Sheriff’s Station.” Scott answered, distaste heavy in his tone. “Liam convinced me that you’ve done enough to remain in Beacon Hills for a while longer, a few days, at least. You’ll be put in a prison cell.”
“It’s for your own protection, Theo.” Liam added, pointing towards the door with the sword. “You need to be watched, monitored, looked after. But we also might need your help later.”
Theo walked out of the house, hearing Scott snort behind him. He glanced at Liam, but the Beta was avoiding his eyes again. “Right. So, what will you do next?”
“Get in.” Scott pushed him roughly towards Hayden’s car, the other werewolf holding the door open for him. “C’mon, Theo, I don’t have all day.”
“I said move!”
“Ugh.” Theo grunted as he was shoved into the side of the car. A quick glance backwards confirmed the shift in their scents. Liam was glaring at Scott, Hayden looked concerned, and the Alpha flushed, as though realizing that he had gone too far.
“Sorry.” Scott muttered, turning towards his bike. “Get him to the Sheriff’s Station, Parrish is expecting us.”
Theo saw Parrish’s brows pull together as he was led into the holding area. Liam waited for the Deputy to open the cell door while Scott pinned Theo’s hands behind his back. “Ah.” The chimera winced at the prick of the werewolf’s claws against his skin.
“You can let him go, Scott.” Parrish gestured at the cell. “Go in, Theo.”
Theo staggered slightly as Scott pushed him inside and darted back as the door swung shut, the electric lock clicking into place. He rubbed his wrists and looked accusingly at Liam as Corey and Mason pushed open through from the offices to join them. Wow, Corey almost smells hurt. Theo glanced at him, seeing his expression serious. Parrish was looking at him and Theo nodded. “Thanks. You’ll be watching me, right?”
“Yeah, there’s only two other Deputies left, and the Sheriff is on leave.”
“Two?” Theo repeated. “I didn’t think the Ghost Riders had taken so many people?”
“They haven’t.” Scott replied shortly. “They’ve just been targeting the cops first.”
Makes sense to take out the biggest threat before grabbing everyone else. The chimera nodded and turned away, glancing at the Spartan accommodations; a long shelf moulded into the wall that served as seat and bed, along with a water faucet and steel toilet bowl. But no Tara repeatedly killing me over and over. It’s an improvement. He turned back to see Scott leave, thrusting the sword into Liam’s hands, his words muttered, though audible.
"Remember, he's your responsibility."
"So, get whatever information you can out of him, and then send him back." Scott ordered, turning on his heel to stalk out the door.
"Wait!" Theo called out, arms folded, "What are you doing?"
"We are going to find Stiles, because we're his friends." Scott grinned at him. "You are staying here. Well, maybe not, maybe I’ve changed my mind. You’ve served your purpose, we don’t need you now, I just didn’t want to ruin Liam’s living room any more than you already have.”
“That wasn’t the plan, Scott!” Liam protested before Theo could speak. “And it’s not your call.”
“What?” The Alpha turned back to his Beta.
“Kira’s Mom entrusted the sword to me, it’s like you said, it’s, Theo is my responsibility.” Liam glanced back at him, cheeks coloring. “He’s staying, for now.”
Theo watched as the two werewolves glared at each other. Is this another part of his guilt? He feels bad about ‘taking advantage’ and is trying to make it better? Hmm.
After another minute of silent confrontation, Scott huffed and shook his head, “Fine. Whatever, I’m going to meet Lydia and Malia, we’re going to rescue Stiles.”
"You don't know where he is." Theo called out, his hands wrapped around the bars of the cell door.
"We'll find the entrance to the rift, and then get him out."
"How are you going to do that?" Theo frowned. "It's-"
"Peter told us how to get him out, kinda.” Scott grinned at him, “I bite Stiles, he turns, he gets through the barrier."
Barrier? Theo frowned at Scott's retreating back, shouting at him. "And how are you going to bite him when you don't know where he is?" Scott didn't answer, leaving Theo alone with Parrish and the other four. Maybe Peter gave them a clue, maybe not. I know where Stiles is, just not how to get to him yet. I have to get out of here, first. “Deputy?”
Parrish looked at him, “Yes, Theo?”
“What are you telling the other officers?”
“Oh, um, that you’re in protective custody; you’re a few days from eighteen, so not a legal adult, but you can’t be committed to Eichen House either.” He shrugged. “It’ll hold for a couple of days, but after that, we might have a problem.”
“That’s assuming you’re all still here in a few days.” Theo muttered darkly.
“Well, my parents are meant to be coming home this evening.” Liam explained as Theo watched Hayden’s expression. “So, you couldn’t have stayed with me any longer regardless of, err, um, anything…else.”
Huh, you really need to learn to lie better. Theo blinked as the thought raced across his mind, it didn’t sound like him. Sounds like who I used to be. Oh, they’re talking again.
“…I’m just saying that if none of you are willing or able to take him in, I can do it.” Parrish said, glancing at Theo. “I have a spare couch, training for how to deal with agitated people. He’d be safe with me.”
"Don't I get a say in all this?” Theo glared at Liam, “Or am I just a toy for you all to pass around?"
“Uh, no, that’s not…” Liam stuttered, blushing furiously, as Hayden stared at him. “It’s not what I meant!”
“Why is he even in there? He saved my life!” Corey protested, looking at Theo and then glaring at Liam and Hayden, “He-”
“Corey, stop.” Mason broke in, pulling his boyfriend to one side, whispering in his ear. Theo tilted his head, frowning as he heard them. "Let it go. I'm sure Liam and Scott know best."
"Just leave it."
“Unit 5 to Dispatch, I’m at the corner of Washerman, code seventy-three, requesting EMTs, over.”
Parrish grunted and grabbed his radio as the call came through. “Copy that, Unit 5, standby.” He pushed through the teenagers and left the holding area. “I’ll be back shortly, we can continue this discussion then.
Theo sighed and sat down on the bench, watching the other four teenagers milling around outside his cell. Hayden had been staring suspiciously at her boyfriend for the past few minutes during the uncomfortable silence. She looked at Mason suddenly and he frowned. “What?”
"I know Scott has a plan to get Stiles out..."
"A stupid plan." Liam muttered darkly.
Hayden glared at him and then continued on. "But why hasn't anyone thought about the fact that no one can beat the Ghost Riders themselves? Peter said they regularly came through the train station and they might even be guarding the entrance now that he escaped."
"So, how do we deal with the Ghost Riders, is that where you were going with this?" Liam thought out loud. "Yeah, I mean, they're too strong to beat. No one can fight them."
"That’s not true. Douglas can." Theo spoke up. And I know of a way to make them easier to beat, but no one has asked me. And you did just lock me in a jail cell because you can’t deal with your feelings, Liam, so…sucks to be you! He smiled suddenly as they stared at him. "But Mr Douglas can also fight you, and I'm guessing none of you are prepared for that possibility, huh?"
Liam frowned, exchanging a look with Hayden. "You know something, don't you, Theo?"
"So, tell us, prove you're still useful to them and maybe they'll let you out!" Corey replied quickly, moving closer to the cell, Mason hurrying after him. "Theo?"
"Fine." Theo rested his hands on the crossbar of the door, his gaze resting on Liam, even as his nostrils filled with Corey’s pleasant, eager scent. Liam glanced away from him, unwilling to look him in the eyes. "The Dread Doctors weren't exactly chatty, but they were very proud of their acquisition of Der Soldat."
"Who is he?"
"Who is he now?" Theo shrugged. "I don't know. But I do know what he was and what he was looking for, doesn't seem like that's changed. And here's the thing, Douglas knows how to fight the Ghost Riders, he knows how to kill them, I'm just not sure you will be prepared to do the same."
"Just tell us what you know!" Hayden demanded.
"And then you'll throw me back to hell when I do? Like Scott said?" He stared at Liam until the werewolf finally looked at him, guilt etched into his face. "Because that outcome would solve all of your problems then, wouldn't it?"
"What do you want?" Liam replied quickly before his girlfriend was able to question Theo’s tone.
"The sword. Break it."
"That's never going to happen." Hayden shook her head. "We're not making that deal."
"I hold all the cards; knowledge, information," He looked at Liam with a smile. "Memory."
"You're locked in a jail cell, you have no cards!"
"Uh, maybe we should consider it." Liam said to Hayden as Corey nodded furiously. "What do you think, Mason?"
"Maybe. We don't know the value of his information."
"But you can't just hold that threat above Theo all the time." Corey argued. "How do you expect him to trust us, if we don't try and trust him?"
"Maybe because he's Theo!" Hayden cried, exasperated. Theo watched as the other three looked at her with varying degrees of determination. After a minute, she sagged. "Fine. We'll make the deal. But we're not letting you out. Tell us from in there."
"Break the sword first." Theo looked at the blade hanging in front of Liam’s crotch. "Then I'll talk."
“Err, yeah.” Liam nodded and walked away, pulling the sword out of its scabbard, his hands on the pommel, fingers hesitating over the grip. “I remember Kira’s Mom showed me how to do it, in case I did it by accident.”
“Then do it.” Theo nodded as the werewolf looked at him, Liam's scent a confused jumble of fear and arousal and nervousness. A moment passed and then the werewolf twisted the guard and the pieces fell apart, steel tinkling to the floor.
"Thanks." Theo smiled briefly. "He's a Löwenmensch."
"What the hell is a Löwenmensch?" Hayden demanded.
"Part wolf, part lion." Mason whispered, eyes flicking to Theo's. "Right?"
"Impressive, but yeah. Here's how the story goes..."
“I don’t know what Mr Douglas’ real name is, just that he had the rank of captain, or Hauptmann and was a member of the Ahnenerbe, the, uh, occult wing of the SS, the Nazis.” Theo added as Liam glanced at Mason. “They were searching for mystical artefacts and sites that would help them win the war. But that wasn’t Douglas’ motivation, he wanted to rule the world, and said he’d do it using the Wild Hunt. Apparently, there was some sort of power struggle; the Löwenmensch probably attacked and killed his superiors, took over from them.”
“You don’t know the details?” Mason asked.
“No.” Theo shrugged. “It’s not important. What’s important is that he had discovered that the Ghost Riders were active in the Ruhr Valley in western Germany. He took over a hundred men, some armored vehicles, heavy firepower; attempting to capture a Ghost Rider and use it to help him understand how to control the unstoppable army of the Wild Hunt.”
“Why am I thinking that it didn’t work out so well?” Mason commented drily as Theo grinned.
“Because it didn’t.” The chimera cleared his throat and continued. “They found the rift. Douglas told the Doctors that he touched it, it shimmered with green light and singed his hand. But, he didn’t go through himself, using one of the soldiers with him to test it. The man was able to walk right through, unharmed. At first. A moment passed, and then he burst into flames, green fire consuming him. That’s when the first Ghost Rider appeared, the soldiers started to fire, but it was useless. More Ghost Riders appeared, the entire unit was wiped out, except for the Löwenmensch. Douglas tried to run, and he was lashed with the whip, though it wasn’t deep enough to take him and he managed to escape.” Theo finished his story as Hayden glared at him.
“Wait, he didn’t actually fight them?! We’ve broken the sword for no reason!”
“Hang on,” Mason frowned, gesturing in a way that reminded Theo suddenly of Stiles. “If Douglas is from 1943, how come he still looks so young? Where has he been all this time?”
"Douglas kept looking, searching, eventually he found a group of scientists that he thought could help him. Three scientists."
"The Dread Doctors..." Corey whispered.
"Yeah, them." Theo nodded. "They betrayed Douglas, captured him for their own studies; injected their green serum and suspended him in a tank; they were moving at the time, no permanent lab setup, but he was too valuable to rush and not take with them. They didn’t realize it then, but the Ghost Rider’s whip had infested the wound, and the essence infected the tank, mixed with the fluid from the vat and actually made him stronger. He was sitting in that tank for seventy years, absorbing it, getting stronger, and when he eventually emerged, he was able to heal himself back to the age he was when he was first put inside it.”
"So, Douglas came out with the power of an Alpha, a Löwenmensch, and a Ghost Rider?" Liam shook his head.
"He can fight them." Mason nodded, "And control them, right?"
"No, not control. Maybe that's what he's trying to do, but he can use their weapons and he can't be taken himself." Theo explained.
"We have to warn Scott!" Liam cried out and turned to leave. He paused as the others ran out in front of him. "Thanks, Theo."
“Right.” Theo nodded, tension between them, until Liam ripped his eyes away and pushed through the door. Warn him, but it won’t do any good, not when you won't find Stiles without me.
A tunnel, no, the pipe first, rusting orange and red in the forest, and then down, underground, along the same passageways and tunnels that the Doctors used. The vast subsurface warren that hides Beacon Hills’ secrets. Theo thought to himself as he picked at the tray of food Parrish had brought him for lunch, his mind distracted by the knowledge of the rift. It’s in the middle of the forest, far out of the way, but they could still stumble upon it, could still find it, especially with that other werewolf’s help. But even then, no way to get past the barrier that Scott had talked about. I don’t remember that…maybe the Doctors said it, but I don’t know. He looked up at the window at the top of the cell, the sun disappearing as florescent lights flickered to life above him. Evening is coming in, maybe they already found Stiles… Theo blinked and stood up as Parrish entered the holding area, smiling sympathetically at him.
“You can call me Jordan, if you want?” The Deputy pulled out his key card and swiped it through the reader, the electric lock releasing. “C’mon.”
“What are you doing?”
“Letting you out, stretch your legs, don’t worry, the other two deputies are responding to a callout.” Parrish gestured to him. “Come on.”
“Ok.” Theo frowned and followed him into the office. “Aren’t you worried I’ll try and run, or attack you?”
“Run? No, I know you want to get Stiles back.” Parrish smiled again and patted a chair next to his own. “And attacking me? Hmm, that’s never really gone your way, has it?”
“Yeah,” The Deputy pressed his lips together. “I wish I could remember what happens when the Hellhound takes over, but I don’t, only get flashes, you know?”
“Um, yeah, I understand that.” Theo walked past the chair, looking around carefully. Is it here? The Sheriff’s Station should have one…
“Oh, you probably want to use a proper toilet, the restrooms are over here.”
“No, I don’t need it.” Theo muttered, his eyes lighting up as he saw a radio transceiver, hurrying over to it. “This is it! I need to-”
"No, Theo, leave that alone." Parrish called out to him as the chimera made to touch the dials.
"But," Theo looked back at the Deputy. "How am I going to talk to Stiles otherwise?"
"I don't think you're going to find him with that."
"But...ok." He nodded sadly and let Parrish lead him back to the desk. If I can contact Stiles, then maybe he can tell me how to get past the barrier. I just need-
"Here, sit down, I'll get you a cup of coffee, ok?" The Deputy smiled at him, the man’s scent heavy with pity. “And we can talk, you shouldn’t be in that cell alone, or well, in there at all.”
Theo waited for him to return, his mind becoming cloudy again, the lights around him flickering, shadows creeping into the corners of room. He turned quickly, but there was nothing there. “I can feel her, she’s coming back…”
“Who’s coming back?” Parrish set the mug down in front of him and held onto his own, wheeling his chair closer to Theo’s. “Hmm?”
“Oh, um, no one.” Theo muttered, sipping the coffee, warmth spilling down through his chest. He glanced at the Deputy. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” There was silence as they both drank and then Parrish met his eyes again. “They were pretty hard on you this morning. I’ve never seen Scott like that, although Corey seemed to have your back. Is that a chimera thing?”
“We’re the last two left, maybe.” Theo shivered as a memory of the younger chimera’s burnt body came back to haunt him. The smell, the blood, the burning crisp of his skin… “Did you ever apologize to him?” He asked suddenly.
“Corey. Eichen House. What the Hellhound did?”
“Oh.” Parrish put down his mug, sighing. “Yeah, I, uh, I heard about what happened.”
“But you said sorry, right?” Theo looked at him accusingly.
“Err, no.” Parrish nodded at Theo. “But don’t worry, I’ll do that, the Hellhound might be another, um, entity, but it was my body he was using.”
“Good.” Theo muttered, letting the silence wash over them again. Once the coffee was drunk, Parrish started to work on his reports, asking him to read them over for errors. Theo realized the Deputy was trying to distract him, but did it, grateful for the opportunity to forget about Stiles for a few hours.
“I have to head out to the 7-Eleven down the street, we need milk, and I was gonna get some candy.” Parrish looked at him as he stood up. “Do you want anything, Theo?”
“Ok, I’ll be ten minutes, fifteen tops. Will you be ok here until then?”
“Yeah.” Theo nodded, looking up from the latest report Parrish had given him. “I’ll be here.”
“Good.” The Deputy smiled at him and headed out.
Theo counted to a hundred under his breath to make sure Parrish wasn’t coming back, “…one hundred. Ok.” He stood up and hurried over to the radio unit, twiddling the dial. “Damn, what was the frequency Stiles showed me? Two, uh, two-fifty something. Fuck!” Theo growled, angry with himself, and then sat down in front of the machine, methodically going through each frequency. “He has to be here, he has to! He wouldn’t give me the frequency otherwise!” The chimera shivered as he felt a ghostly finger run along his shoulders, the other-worldly voice echoing from the prison cell, the one he always heard at the beginning, when he slid out of the shelf in the morgue.
“No, I have to concentrate, I have to find Stiles!” He twisted the dial forward again, inching it into two-fifty-nine. “C’mon! Where are you?!” Theo froze, ear pressed the speaker, frowning as the rush of static was replaced by a soft hiss. “Stiles?” He looked around, ignoring the tendrils of shadows and pools of blood that had appeared behind him, picking up the mic instead. “Stiles?” There was nothing but a whine and long hiss of static. He grunted and pushed the dial forward again, stopping and then pulling it back slightly, a voice rising out of the garbled sound for a second. Theo held his breath, edging the dial closer to the 259.70 frequency mark, jumping back as a voice tumbled out of the speaker.
“I say again, is anyone receiving me? This is Stiles Stilinski broadcasting from, err, well, I don’t know where the hell I am!”
It’s him! “Stiles!” Theo shouted and picked up the mic. “I’m here! I can, oh god, I can hear you!”
“Uh, who…wait, is that you, Theo?”
“Yeah, yeah, it is.” He grinned, a plume of heat rushing upwards through his chest. “Stiles, I’ve been looking for you!”
“How? I didn’t think this thing got through to hell, or, wherever you are...”
“Yeah, err, long story, but I’m in Beacon Hills.” He sounds the same, a little more frantic, but I can’t get a read on his tone, the radio is distorting it. Theo wiped the tears that fell from his eyes, before clenching his jaw and sobering up. “Ok, um-”
“No, wait, Theo, I don’t have time for apologies or long stories, I need you find Scott and the pack.”
“But I know how to get to you.” Theo replied excitedly. “But there’s some sort of barrier in the way, right?”
“Yeah, it burns humans to a crisp.” Stiles said, his sigh lost in the static. “Theo, don’t attempt to get through, even if you do, you’ll be nearly dead, and I won’t be able to get out with you.”
“I’ll figure out a way, Stiles!” Theo promised, “I’m gonna-”
“Wait. Shit! They found me, oh, ok, ok, I gotta go, I’ll try and reach you on this frequency again, Theo.”
“But…” He stared at the radio as Stiles’ voice was cut off and static filled the speakers. “No! NO! STILES!” Theo threw down the mic and twisted the dial furiously, desperately trying to reach him again. “No, no! Come back! Please, Stiles, come back!”
“Theo…” Parrish dropped the bag and the desk and hurried over to him. “Theo, what are you doing?”
“Stiles, I, I had him right there…” The chimera pointed at the radio, sniffling. “He was…there.”
“I don’t hear anything but static, Theo.” Parrish gently took the mic from his hand and pulled him onto his feet. “Come on, you should go back to the cell, lie down. I’ll get you a blanket from the Sheriff’s couch.”
“You don’t understand.” Theo gazed at him suddenly. “But you are the key.”
“Uh, maybe I should call Liam, instead.”
“Yeah.” He stopped at Parrish’s desk, dropping into the seat, staring into the distance. “Call them all, I know how to get Stiles back.” Theo didn’t hear the Deputy’s response, but saw him take out his phone anyway. It was sitting in front of me this whole time; the Hellhound, the one who can burn through any barrier; solid steel, mountain ash, the rift. He’s my way to rescue Stiles. The chimera looked up as Tara grinned at him from across the room, but he shook his head, muttering. “You’re not real, but Stiles is.” Theo smirked as the illusion faded and he nodded to himself. So close now, I’ll get him back and everything will be fine, back to the way it was!
“You’re joking, right?” Scott was glaring at Liam. “You don’t actually believe the bullshit coming out of his mouth?!” The Alpha waved his hands dramatically, and Theo nodded when Liam glanced at him.
“Yeah, Scott, I know he’s not exactly reliable, but this plan could work.”
“He’s crazy! And Stiles wouldn’t contact him, when he can contact me instead!” Scott shouted at him.
“Hang on,” Lydia raised a hand, brows furrowed. “We’ve spoken to Stiles before using the radio in his Jeep. Scott, it’s possible that he could have reached out at the right moment that Theo was using the radio here. What are you proposing?”
“Parrish.” Theo gestured grandly at the Deputy. “As the Hellhound, he can burn through any barrier, even the rift.”
“Ok, but we’ve been searching the forest for hours and haven’t found anything like a rift.” Malia shrugged. “Peter couldn’t remember where he came out, said it all looked different.”
“I know where the rift is.”
“What?” Liam stared at him. “Why didn’t you tell me that this morning?!”
“You locked me in a jail cell.” Theo looked back at him. “All because-”
“Shush! You, you be quiet!” The werewolf shouted at him, cheeks on fire as everyone stared at him.
“Uh,” Parrish spoke after an uncomfortable minute of silence, “Theo, what exactly is your plan?”
“Go to the rift, you burn it open, I go in-”
“We go in.” Scott cut across him quickly.
“Fine.” The chimera shrugged. “We go in, find Stiles, get out.”
“What about everyone else?”
“Get them if you want.” Theo shrugged. “I only want to get Stiles back.”
“Of course you do.” Liam muttered as Theo looked at him, brows furrowed. “We don’t have a better plan, Scott, we should do this. It’s our best shot.”
“Assuming it even works.” The Alpha glared at Theo, but nodded grudgingly. “Okay. Someone get the shackles!”
“No!” Corey stepped forward suddenly, placing himself between Scott and Theo. “He doesn’t need to be restrained, and you need to get over being angry with him. Theo’s trying to help, Scott, like he’s been doing all along.”
“Yeah.” Mason nodded and joined his boyfriend. Liam hesitated for a moment, before sighing and walking towards them.
“They’re right, Scott, you’re outta line.”
“Fine.” Scott growled at them, turning sharply and stalking out of the station.
Theo half-smiled as the three younger pack members looked at him. “Thanks, you didn’t have to do that.”
“Yes, we did.” Mason replied. “You’ve changed, and I was wrong this morning, I don’t think Scott knows what’s best after all.”
“Without the center to hold them in place, they all fall down.” Theo muttered, seeing their frowns. “Stiles is the key, the glue, like I said, without him, they collapse; when Stiles is back, Scott will be different, we all will.” He met Liam’s conflicted eyes. “You’ll see.”
Theo led the group through the large rusting pipe and into the tunnels, walking along the sprawling intersections with confidence. “This way.”
“How do you know?” Liam called out as he caught up with him. “They all look the same, hell, they all smell the same.”
“I saw it.” Theo turned right. “Last night, connected to the Ghost Rider when I touched the cage. It looked the same as the Dread Doctors’ lab, until I got to this point.” He slowed and came to a stop in front of a shimmering green and transparent barrier blocking off the rest of the tunnel. “This is it.” Stiles is on the other side of that rift. I’m so close!
“Ok,” Liam reached out to touch it, but Theo’s arm shot out and he grabbed the werewolf.
“Are you crazy? Didn’t you hear my story this morning?” He glared at Liam. “Don’t touch the barrier!”
“Uh, right.” Liam pulled his hand out of Theo’s grasp and stood to one side as Parrish walked up to it, already shirtless and clad only in a pair of tight-fitting shorts. “Good luck.”
“Thanks.” Theo nodded and looked at Parrish. “Ok, when you’re ready.”
Parrish closed his eyes, his body surrounded in flames as Theo stepped back, the Hellhound eyes flicked open, twin embers. The fire died down, leaving his skin riven with molten cracks. He nodded at Theo and thrust his hands into the barrier. It flashed green, turquoise fire splashing out around his penetration. Theo watched as a gap slowly formed in the center, but Parrish was struggling to breach it completely, teeth bared.
Now! Theo dove through the tight opening, cutting a jagged line down his arm, but he ignored the injury as Parrish stepped through after him. Scott was making his attempt when the rift fluctuated and shimmered, pushing the Hellhound’s claws back out, trapping him and Theo inside the rift.
“No!” Scott shouted out, red eyes pulsing furiously. “Theo, what are you doing? Parrish, open the rift!”
“I’m finding Stiles!” Theo cried over his shoulder as he ran down the tunnel, leaving the werewolves behind. He skidded to a halt at a non-descript wooden door which blocked his way. Theo opened it carefully, wincing as his eyes burned, the image in front of him flickering rapidly, before resolving into that of an underground train station. He looked around confusedly for a minute, before his pulse spiked and his lips twitched into a grin. “Stiles…”
The dark-haired teen looked up from where he was sitting. “Theo? You’re…here. Crap, they got you, huh?”
“No. I’m here to rescue you!” Theo smiled wider and rushed over to him just as the sound of hooves reached his ears. “The Ghost Riders! C’mon!” He grabbed Stiles’ hand and pulled him upright, racing back towards the door.
“It won’t work, Theo.” Stiles tried to protest as the chimera shoved him through. “I’ve…” The words died on his lips as Stiles looked around the tunnel. “Uh, how?”
“I have something you didn’t!” Theo laughed excitedly and took Stiles’ hand again. “Parrish is at the rift, he’ll get us back, but we need to hurry!”
“Open ze rift, Höllenhund!”
“Shit! It’s Douglas!” Theo stopped behind the barrier, Parrish nodding at him. He glanced at Stiles. “Mr Douglas, he’s a Löwenmensch.”
“What?” Stiles gaped at him. “He’s our Physics teacher!”
“Ok, well that too.” Theo shrugged. “Can you get us out, Jordan?”
“Of course ze Höllenhund can get you out.” Douglas was standing in front of the rift; Scott and the werewolves somehow having ended up behind him, fending off two Ghost Riders. “But ze question is really vhy he vould do it.”
“You want to get in.” Theo muttered. “We want to get out. It’s kinda simple, really.”
“Indeed, chimera.” The Löwenmensch nodded, “Ze Höllenhund vill open ze rift, your, hmm, Stiles, vill step through first, I vill step through, and then you. Ja?”
Theo hesitated, glancing at the teenager, “It’s the only way we’re getting out of here, Stiles.”
“Why do I have the feeling that this is one of those decisions I’m going to regret later?” He grimaced. “Like agreeing to go out with you, for instance!” Stiles smirked at him.
“I’m saving your ass right now.” Theo glared at him, but nodded at Douglas. “Deal.”
“Excellent.” The Löwenmensch grinned and waited until Parrish had re-opened the rift and Stiles had been helped through by Theo, before he stepped onto the other side. “Very vell, chimera, off you go!”
“Don’t you remember what happened the last time you let me live?” Theo whispered as he jumped through the collapsing hole. The Löwenmensch simply smirked at him and clicked his fingers, Parrish’s eyes switching from orange to green. “Shit.”
“Theo, let’s go!” Stiles was pulling him backwards, Ghost Riders pausing in their pursuit as Mr Douglas breached the entrance to the phantom train station. “They’re leaving, c’mon!”
“I’m fine, really.” Theo brushed off Liam’s concern, watching as Scott embraced Stiles, the Alpha reluctantly letting him go in order for Stiles to hug Malia and Lydia, but the chimera noticed how Scott maintained a hand on the teen’s shoulder. What did you expect? You rescued him, sure, but the once the exhilaration of the chase is over, you’re still left with those poisonous memories, those broken, burnt bridges. He’s not my boyfriend anymore. Theo turned to go, ignoring Liam’s confused expression.
“Wait, Theo!” Stiles called out, breaking away from Scott to walk over to him. “Where are you going?”
“Dunno.” He shrugged, looking at Stiles’ shoes instead of his face. “Can’t stay with Liam, and now that Parrish is gone, can’t stay at the station, maybe, I’ll-”
“No, stop.” Stiles’ tongue wet his lips and Theo’s eyes flicked up to meet his eyes. “I don’t…Yeah.” He grinned suddenly and pulled the chimera into a tight hug. “I never thought I’d say this again, but it is really good to see you!”
Theo blinked, feeling Scott’s glare, but melted into Stiles’ embrace. “I missed you.” He managed, voice choked.
Quite a long chapter for this story, but I really wanted to bring Stiles back without splitting the chapter in two. Hope you enjoyed reading it!
Chapter 8: Truth Among Madness
Theo clutched Stiles tightly, unable to let him go even as the teenager stopped hugging him. “You’re back!”
“Yeah, Theo, I’m here.” Stiles said, his lips brushing Theo’s ear. “But, come on, let me go, I want to see your face.”
“I…” Theo trailed off, flinching as Scott growled and ripped him out of Stiles’ embrace, the Alpha’s hand digging into his arm and threw him to the ground. “Ah!”
“Scott! What the fuck?!” Stiles was glaring at the werewolf, alarm flooding his scent.
“Stiles, he wasn’t letting you go!”
“He was hugging me!” Stiles fired back as Theo looked between them cautiously. “A bit tight, sure, but we were-”
“No,” Scott broke in, shaking his head. “I don’t believe that. I didn’t believe it when he said it, and I don’t believe it now!”
“Theo? What’s going on? Why doesn’t he remember we were together?” Stiles asked him over Scott’s growl. “I mean, sure, we broke up, but…”
“Their memories are damaged.” The chimera stood up slowly as he explained. “The Ghost Riders took you and then erased you from existence. They all forgot about you.”
“But not you?” Stiles asked him softly, his expression hard to read. “You remembered me?”
“When none of us would.” Liam stepped in, glancing at Theo, before he looked at Stiles. “He, uh, he knows everything that happened with you, at least from before the…Hell.”
“We’re getting off topic,” Scott said loudly. “You’re back, Stiles, that’s all that matters, even if it was him that helped you back.”
“Helped?” Theo glared at him, suddenly angry. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be talking to him!”
“Shut up, Theo!”
“Why? What are you afraid of?” He made a show of sniffing the air. “That’s right, I can smell it, you’re-” Theo stopped speaking as the pieces slotted into place. They kept it a secret? “You never told him, did you?”
“Tell me what?” Stiles was looking between them. “Scott?”
“He’s just trying to get into your head all over again, Stiles.” Scott moved aggressively towards Theo, jabbing his finger into the chimera’s chest. “Manipulate you, lie to you, trick you into hating me, like he’s done before, like he always does. It’s Theo, you can’t trust him!”
“Stiles, I-” Theo was cut off as Scott suddenly pushed him back onto the ground. He grunted, his ass hitting a rock buried under the leaves. “Ow.”
“Everyone, just…stop!” Stiles shouted out, glaring at his friends, and shaking his head at Scott. “I don’t know what has been going on, or what happened to you, Theo, but right now, we have the Ghost Riders to deal with, so stop fighting. In case you all just forgot; we lost Parrish back there, I’m not sure how, but we need to get him back. We need everyone back.” He walked over to the chimera and offered him his hand. Theo blinked, but accepted it and stood up. “You ok?”
“Yeah, thanks.” He muttered in reply, eyes darting to Liam, noticing the tension in the younger werewolf’s posture; jaw clenched, fists balled. “I’m fine.”
“Right.” Stiles was watching him, a familiar calculating look in his eyes. “Someone want to fill in the blanks for me?”
“Yeah.” Theo nodded after a moment of silence stretched across the clearing. He glanced at Scott and Malia, “But, your friends know more about it than I do, Stiles, you should talk to them.”
“I will.” He touched Theo’s arm softly, the action sending a shower of sparks down the chimera’s spine. “Hey, don’t think that we’re not going to discuss what happened between us.”
“Not now, Theo, later. I need to talk to my Dad, make sure he’s ok.” Stiles wasn’t looking at him anymore, the intensity of his gaze directed at his best friend. “Plus, you and I need to talk, Scott, there’s a lot I need to tell you about; the Ghost Riders, that train station, the fact they’ve been doing this for so long.”
“Centuries.” Scott nodded. “After you were taken, we…”
Theo backed away from Stiles as he moved closer to Scott, Malia, and Lydia, the three of them crowding around their friend. Scott glared at Theo one more time before grinning at Stiles and putting his hand on the teenager’s shoulder possessively. Why don’t you just go and mark your territory already? He thought bitterly to himself, as even Liam moved forward to greet Stiles properly. So, that’s it, I did it; Stiles is back, safe and sound and unhurt. That’s the important part, right? He was nice just now, but, Scott is still too angry. Theo nodded to himself and turned away, walking quietly towards the trees, slipping into the shadows and leaving their happy voices behind.
Theo looked up, a raindrop falling from the spread of branches and leaves above him to splash on his cheek. Soon it was joined by others and he stood alone in the forest, rain soaking into his clothes. “No one noticed me leaving, and with the sword broken, I could just disappear for good.” He whispered to himself, wandering aimlessly through the darkness, cold rain slipping under the collar of his borrowed shirt to drip uncomfortably down his back. “But there’s still threats to Stiles out there; the Ghost Riders. I need to finish it.”
Aren’t you forgetting the most important part?
Theo closed his eyes tight as the voice echoed in his mind, the momentary sight of the speaker at the corner of his perception was enough to make him continue walking, hands out-stretched, unwilling to look in case he saw fake-Stiles. “I know you’re not real. You’re not Stiles, he’s back there with his friends “
Now, now, Theo, don’t fool yourself, that might be “real” Stiles, but I’m your Stiles. The one who’s just waiting to burst out of the other one and tell you all about the hurt you caused. Don’t you remember?
“I remember.” Theo whispered to himself, looking at the forest floor, finally opening his eyes. The voice was a sibilant murmur behind him, his shivers no longer due to the cold rain. “You’re not there. You’re not real!”
I’ll always be with you, Theo, always. A constant reminder of how you screwed everything up, the blood that drenches your hands, the bodies notched off on your belt, the suffering that you deserve. Never again will you have another chance at achieving something so…perfect.
The voice disappeared with the last whispered word and Theo glanced behind him, but he was alone among the trees. “Nothing there, not anymore anyway, but it doesn’t look like this rain is going to stop.” He started walking again, rubbing his arms with his hands, a deep chill setting into his body that even his chimera abilities couldn’t banish. “I can’t go back to the station now that Parrish is gone. Damn…I never meant for it to be a prisoner exchange, if I could have done something…I should have grabbed him and pulled him through before Douglas could control him! We have to get the Hellhound back, Stiles was right, so that means I have to stay here in Beacon Hills, find Parrish.” And talk to Stiles. Theo grimaced at the thought, but nodded silently in agreement with himself. “Yeah, I know. Liam doesn’t want me anymore, so I can’t go to him, even though I thought we might be getting closer, might even have been something more than, well, whatever we were.” Stupid. Theo cast his eyes down as he trudged through deep falls of leaves, not caring that he could feel water squelching between his toes, the jeans were like lead plates on his legs. The chimera stopped suddenly as he patted the sodden fabric, a memory flashing before his eyes. “I bet no one has been there since. Why would they? Me and Deucalion were the last ones, other than the Beast, and no one else would even want to see the lab.” Theo nodded to himself and changed direction, heading towards the storm drains on the western edge of the Preserve.
The tunnels were drier, though water still dripped on his head from time to time, making Theo squirm. At least there’s no one here, no Ghost Riders, no Mr Douglas. I wonder what he’s doing? How is he going to control them? The chimera pushed the questions from his mind as he approached the hidden entrance to the Dread Doctors’ lab, reaching out to touch the ouroboros with his hand. “Home.” Theo twisted the secret lock until the mechanism clunked and the door was open.
The air was the same; humid and heavy, with the tang of blood and formaldehyde that he remembered from the time before. Theo breathed deeply, filling his lungs with the scent. Not the same as how Stiles smells, but it’s enough, safe enough. The lights were still on, the metal tables still stained dark red with blood, specimen jars lining the shelves. He walked through the mess caused by the Beast’s fury, bending down to pick up the fallen medical implements and sort them on a nearby tray. “Scalpel first, then forceps, then the…oh, it’s not here.” Theo mumbled to himself, memories of the Surgeon pressing against his mind, terror and respect and awe mixing together, the Dread Doctor’s almost comforting presence as he placed a hand on Theo’s shoulder. That was before, before Beacon Hills and the Beast, and then everything became about that. There was never any time left for…me.
He blinked, his chest suddenly tight, vision swimming as his eyes misted up. I preferred it when it was just us, and the experiments and I didn’t know about Stiles and what being with another person felt like. It was safer to just have the Doctors and no one else. They’d know what to do, how to fix me… Theo sniffled and wiped his eyes, walking slowly over to where their heavy leather aprons had been left hanging. He reached out tentatively and brushed his fingers against the rough surface of the hide, closing his eyes, recalling the Pathologist’s gaze, warmth somehow coming from the Doctor’s grim mask. Theo unhooked the apron and pulled it down, then another one, and the Surgeon’s last of all, hugging the weight to his chest. He dumped the other two on the floor in a corner of the lab and covered himself in the Surgeon’s apron, curling into as much of a ball as he could.
Theo squirmed, numbly feeling his shoulder being roughly grabbed. He buried deeper under the apron until the distinctive scent reached his nose. Blinking his eyes, Theo peeked over the edge of the leather. “Stiles?”
“Yeah.” The teenager was sitting on his haunches, shaking his head slowly. “You are way too hard to find for someone who just mounted a rescue mission to save me.” He grinned, his eyes sparkling in the low light.
“How’d you find me?” Theo rubbed his face and sat up. He looked suspiciously at Stiles, but there was no blood, or cracks in his skin, or darkness in his eyes that Theo had become used to seeing in his visions of his ex-boyfriend.
“Process of elimination, plus a little help from Liam, Corey, and Mason.” Stiles shrugged, glancing at the floor before sitting on it. “When I noticed you were gone from the forest, I wanted to find you, but Scott was being weird and I didn’t want to rock the boat so soon after getting back.”
“What do you mean?”
“Err, we’ll get to that later.” Stiles replied evasively. “But, anyway, I went home, talked to my Dad, but then Liam called me, said you didn’t come back, that you’d been sleeping over at his house, right?”
“He didn’t want me there anymore.” Theo mumbled, looking down. Don’t tell him why, if it’s actually Stiles, he won’t already know. “But he probably wanted to put me back in the prison cell again.”
“Again? Huh,” Stiles frowned. “He left that part out. Anyway, I knew you couldn’t be at your actual house since those people had moved out in a hurry after the Dread Doctors died.”
“They weren’t my parents.”
“They died a long time ago.” Theo gestured vaguely at the lab. “I don’t really remember much, the Doctors destroyed those memories.”
“And put what there instead?” Stiles was looking at him curiously, an expression that made Theo smile slightly, remembering the first time he saw it.
Raindrops amid a thunderstorm, but there was no one more perfect in that moment.
“Err, actually, I don’t want to know.” Stiles continued as Theo stopped smiling. “Oh, um, I don’t think you know, but my Dad impounded your truck after you…after whatever Scott and Kira did. I’m going to talk to him about getting it back, you know, so, you can move on.”
Of course, I can’t leave if I don’t have a way to do so. Theo nodded silently. Why did I think he’d want me to stay? Stupid. “So, how did you know how to come here?”
“Liam. He, err,” Stiles looked at him inquisitively again. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say he actually cares about you. I find it hard to believe considering you did manipulate him into trying to kill Scott.”
“Your memory obviously works.” Theo muttered, staring at the floor. He flinched as Stiles reached out to touch his hand.
“Hey, I know what happened, and I remember what you said that night. You were-” Stiles stopped speaking abruptly. “But let’s not do that here. C’mon, get up.”
“Where are we going?”
“Home, of course.” Stiles shook his head slightly at him and then grabbed Theo’s arm, pulling him upright. “There we go!”
“Hmm.” Theo made a nose in his throat. “I don’t know.”
“It’s too good, you’re too nice.” The chimera looked at him distrustfully. “You’re not the real Stiles, this isn’t real.”
“Yeah, Liam warned me about this.” Stiles muttered as Theo backed away from him slowly. “Theo, it’s me, I’m real. See?” He reached out and took Theo’s hand again, guiding him closer to touch his hoodie, up to his shoulders and then releasing him as Theo’s fingers brushed against the warm skin of Stiles’ neck, thumb resting on his face. “Real enough yet?”
“Maybe.” Theo admitted, looking down, his heart beating faster now that they were standing closer to each other. “You smell like Stiles.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“Mhh.” The chimera flicked his eyes up to lock onto Stiles’ gaze, the human’s brows arching slightly. “Ok, you’re the real Stiles.”
“Good, because I need you to come back to my house, we have to talk.” Stiles wrinkled his nose, “More importantly, I need to get out of this damn laboratory.” He was looking expectantly at Theo and the chimera nodded, pausing to pick up the aprons and hang them up again. “I don’t think you need to do that anymore, Theo.”
“What if the Doctors come back?” He looked sadly at Stiles. “Our lab has been trashed, I don’t…”
“They’re not coming back, Theo.” Stiles frowned at him, and gently pushed Theo towards the door. “You remember that, right? The Beast tore them apart, Scott told me all about it.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot.” Wishful thinking, more like. Theo ignored the voice in his mind and pulled the door open for Stiles. He took one final look around the lab and followed Stiles outside.
“So, why did you go away anyway?” Stiles asked him as they climbed into the Jeep. “I was just talking to Scott and the others for a few minutes. None of them noticed you leaving, well, they didn’t tell me if they did.”
“Dunno.” Theo shrugged, settling back into the passenger seat. Feels familiar, like that time, that perfect week. He glanced up, feeling Stiles’ sceptical gaze. “Fine, it’s not like you needed me anymore.”
“Theo!” Stiles groaned at him, the engine roaring throatily to life. “You rescued me, from the way Corey described it, you practically stormed the rift yourself!”
“Yeah, I got that, but Scott tried to say you didn’t do anything, so, reading between the two accounts,” Stiles grinned at him and turned onto the road leading out of the industrial district. “Well, I think Parrish helped you through the barrier, but maybe you did the rest?”
“I had to find you, Stiles.”
“Ok, Scott said that he had to find me, so did Malia and Lydia, but, why did you feel like that?”
“I…” Theo hesitated, looking first at Stiles’ face and then at the teenager’s hands, knuckles prominent as he gripped the steering wheel. “I needed to say sorry, everything that happened was my fault, I, I screwed up.”
“You didn’t kill Donovan, Theo.”
“Neither did you.” He replied immediately, before sinking back into the seat as Stiles quirked a brow at him. “But I abused that, I made Scott think that you had killed him, to spilt you guys apart, and make it easier to steal his power.”
“So, that’s what you’ve been telling yourself?” Stiles glanced at him, slowing in front of a red light. “I know that there’s something that’s screwing with your mind, and your memories, your perception of what’s real and what’s not, but, it didn’t happen exactly like that.”
“What do you mean?”
“You blackmailed me, sure, and you were trying to kill Scott, but not just for power.” Stiles picked up speed again as the lights changed, looking ahead this time. “After, in the impound lot, you told me that killing Scott was only partly about getting his abilities, it was also so we could be together again. You said that Scott was the reason I felt guilty about killing Donovan, that with him dead, I’d never have to feel guilty with you.”
“You punched me.” Theo whispered, the memories coming back to him.
“You let me.” Stiles was trying to hide his smirk, but Theo could see the way his lips twisted. “But yeah, I didn’t like what I was hearing, and you were-”
“I’m different now.” Theo interrupted him, words spilling from his mouth. “I’ve changed, do you want me to show you? I can help you. Or you can talk to Liam, or Corey, or-”
“It’s ok, Theo.” Stiles slowed down enough to look at him. “It’s fine, I want to believe that you’ve changed, but I’m not sure that’s possible.”
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense.” Theo muttered, head bowed, the glimmer of hope that had sparked in his chest extinguished. “I’ll just get my truck and leave.”
“What?” Stiles stared at him, turning into his street. “No, you’re not doing that. Not until I know you’re going to be alright. What happened between us was fucked up, but it doesn’t mean I stopped having feelings for you. And up until a few hours, days, whatever, time was weird in that station, anyway, I thought I was crazy to still think like that about you. I never told Scott, because he wouldn’t understand, despite the fact he was in love with a hunter, but whatever.”
“Right, sorry, rambling.” Stiles smirked. “Just like old times, huh?”
“I like your rambling.” Theo nodded, his cheeks flushing. “I always found it soothing.”
“Really? Haha, well, the point I was trying to make was that I still care about you. So, I want to find out what happened to cause your, um…”
“Madness.” The chimera prompted, frowning at him. “Did Scott and Kira not tell you?”
“Tell me what?” Stiles replied, pulling into his drive. “Theo?”
“What did they tell you happened to me?”
“That you were gone, Kira had a weapon that ‘made you go away.’ That was all Scott was willing to say.” Stiles shrugged as Theo saw the porch light come on. “Oh, and that you would never come back. I just assumed that he was trying to say the Beast killed you, but something about it never felt right.”
“You gonna tell me what really happened?”
Theo swallowed hard, chewing on his bottom lip nervously. His nostrils flared and the chimera looked up sharply. “Your Dad.”
“What? Oh, come on.” Stiles got out of the Jeep, greeting his father again, while Theo hesitated, eventually climbing out, and walked over to the stern-faced man.
The Sheriff’s voice was laced with distaste, and there was a moment of awkward silence, until Stiles rolled his eyes and nudged Theo inside. “Go!”
“Stiles, can I-”
“No, Dad, he’s got nowhere else to go.” Stiles cut across his father, guiding Theo into the living room. “It’s either here, or sleeping on a bunch of aprons in the Dread Doctors’ lab.”
Theo glanced at the Sheriff as the man nodded reluctantly. “Thank you.”
“Right, I’ll have my eye on you.”
“Yes, sir.” Theo replied softly, looking at the floor until Stiles touched his arm. “Huh?”
“Go up to my room, I’ll get you something to eat.” He came close enough to sniff Theo’s jacket. “Err, maybe find you something that doesn’t smell like mildew from that lab, and fits better.”
“Oh, um, thanks.” Theo climbed the stairs slowly, feeling strangely numb. These are Liam’s clothes, I should get them back to him. He pushed Stiles’ door open with his fingertips, standing outside it as the scent washed over him. The chimera moistened his lips and ventured inside, looking around. “Everything in its place. Just the way he left it, I bet. Some new editions though, but it’s been months since I’ve been here.”
“Theo?” Stiles touched his back gently. “Who are you talking to?”
“No one.” Theo blinked suddenly. “No one.”
“Ok?” Stiles was frowning at his sudden grin.
“There’s just you and me, there’s no one else here, I don’t hear anyone else either!”
“Uh huh, that’s good, right?” Stiles nodded at his bed and put down a plate of cookies. “Err, sorry, we don’t really have any other food.”
“It’s perfect.” Theo muttered, smiling at him as they both sat cross-legged, the plate between them. “So, um…”
“You were going to tell me what Scott and Kira did, so, tell me.”
“Right.” He sobered up and broke apart a cookie, offering half to Stiles. “Kira’s sword had special powers imbued into it by the Skinwalkers, she plunged it into the ground and called forth my sister.”
“Called forth?” Stiles echoed, hand half way to his mouth. “What does that mean?”
“She grabbed me, dragged me underground, but not exactly underground.” Theo struggled, his voice shaking. “My body was trapped in the dirt, but it was my mind that was being tortured.”
“It was Tara, my sister, the Dread Doctors took her heart and gave it to me so I could become a chimera and be their subject. She wanted it back.” Theo looked up as Stiles stared at him. “She made this world, everything felt real, sounded real, smelt real. She killed me, tore my heart out so she could use it herself. But it wasn’t just once; it was constantly, she took the heart, using her hand to rip it out of my chest, just like hers had been.” He paused, one hand pressed against his chest protectively, the other resting on Stiles’ duvet. “I kept running, trying new plans, new escapes, tried to fight, but it didn’t matter; she was too strong, too fast. It was her world, her rules. So, eventually I just stopped fighting and let her kill me, over and over, she didn’t even stop then, I tried to apologize, make it right, it still didn’t matter, over and over and over again, she kept killing me, torturing me as she grew bored, it was endless, it was going to be an eternity of suffering.” Theo finished his story, eyes looking through Stiles until the teenager placed his hands on Theo’s own. “Huh?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” Stiles swallowed hard, and Theo could see the emotions flicker across his face; anger, sorrow, horror.
“It’s alright, Stiles, Liam let me out.”
“But Scott never would have.” He glared at Theo. “It’s not right, you did some bad things, but no one deserves an infinity being tortured like that.”
“I don’t think they understood what was going to happen.” Theo shrugged. “Or what it did to me. Scott seemed guilty, maybe ashamed at first.”
“At first?” Stiles echoed, his voice hard. “Liam said you kept getting worse, and both Corey and Mason told me that Scott went out of his way to make things more difficult. Well, Corey was a little more colorful.”
“I bet.” Theo half smiled, but Stiles was still stony-faced. “Hey, it’s alright, Stiles.”
“No, it isn’t. Scott isn’t meant to be that kind of guy.” He shook his head, looking over at the door as the Sheriff lingered outside, fingers tapping slowly on the grip of his sidearm. “What, Dad?”
“The spare bedroom is made, your…” The Sheriff paused, coughing uncomfortably as he stared at the plate of cookies. “We need to talk, Stiles, there’s something that happened when you were gone, and I need to explain it. Theo can stay for tonight, show him to the room, and then come downstairs.”
Theo looked at him as Stiles turned back. “Thanks.”
“I’m pretty sure we can stretch that into a week.” Stiles grinned at him. “Besides, if it wasn’t for you, I’d still be waiting in that damn train station right now.” He pressed his lips together and Theo’s pulse spiked. “C’mon, I’ll show you the room, you’re literally next door to me, one wall, see?”
“Ok.” The chimera followed the pointed finger. “Stiles?”
I love you. Theo flushed as the words rushed across his mind. I never said those in real life, I can’t really say them right now. He cleared his throat and got off the bed. “I, um, I missed you.”
“So did I.” Stiles grinned wider. “I couldn’t say that to anyone, until now, they wouldn’t have understood. I think they’d be calling me the crazy one for missing Theo Raeken.”
“I can’t explain it,” Stiles shrugged, leading Theo into the guest room. “But you and me? We’ve always just clicked.”
Theo nodded, swallowing hard as Stiles leaned into his space. “Yep.”
“Thanks for the rescue, Theo.”
Chapter 9: Healing the Broken
So, it's been about 3 weeks since I last updated this, sorry if you've been waiting. As much as I enjoy writing this story, Theo's mind can be a very difficult place to be sometimes. Thanks for reading!
Theo lay on top of the covers, propped up by the pillows. He could hear the soft rumble of Stiles and the Sheriff talking beneath him, but he didn’t listen, preferring to concentrate on the tenor and pitch of Stiles’ voice, the sound comforting. Theo was more relaxed than he could remember, at least at first. He frowned as Stiles’ voice changed, the tone upset and angry. Theo shivered and stopped listening, the quietness in his mind disturbed. He glanced around the room, lit by the bedside lamp, shadows still, but deep. His eyes glowed and the shadows receded. There was nothing there, but Theo shuddered again, rolling onto his side away from the door. He pulled down one of the pillows and hugged it to his chest. It didn’t smell of anything other than fresh laundry, and he missed the scent of Stiles from earlier. Calm, reassuring, yet with that same flash of excitement and energy that he’s always had. I want him back. Theo felt his eyes grow heavy, his arms tightening around the pillow, and he stopped trying to fight the fatigue.
The chimera flicked his eyes open to see Stiles crouched in front of him, the same grin as earlier, the same scent. His clothes are different than before. Theo half sat up, still clutching the pillow to his chest, and rubbed his eyes. “What time is it? How long have I been asleep?”
“Oh, not long.” Stiles’ smile widened as he stood up, but the warmth never reached his eyes. “Not long at all.”
“Huh? Are you ok?”
“Oh, I’m great, Theo, I’m finally free! And you know what that means, don’t you?”
Theo frowned at him. Something’s wrong, he didn’t have those dark shadows under his eyes when I was with him earlier. Something-
“Don’t overthink it, Theo.” Stiles whispered, extending a hand towards him, nails sharpened into crude points, a mockery of werewolf claws. “You have something I need!”
“Ah!” Theo leapt backwards, falling off the bed as dream Stiles lunged towards him, his fingers dragging a jagged line across his chest towards his heart. He slammed into the floor and grunted, his vision blacking out for a second before returning. Theo gasped, gulping down air, his t-shirt soaked through with sweat. The door opened, and Stiles stared at him.
“Ah!” The chimera scrambled backwards jumping towards the window.
Flee! Theo could hear Stiles running after him, but before he could crash through the glass the human leapt on him and dragged him back down to the floor. “No, no, please! You can’t have my heart!”
“Theo, stop! Stop, it’s ok, it’s just me!” Stiles grabbed his wrists and pushed him down as the chimera struggled against him. “Hey, c’mon, calm down.”
“Stiles?” Theo eyed him suspiciously, his instincts clashing with his senses. After a moment of thought, he stopped moving. Stiles was looking at him strangely, but his grip lessened, and the chimera used to opportunity to grab Stiles’ hand and force his fingers to splay open.
“What the hell, Theo?!”
“Your nails are normal.” Theo muttered, releasing him. He flushed, suddenly embarrassed. “Maybe it was a dream…” Stiles glared at him, and the chimera sat up, head bowed. He could hear urgent footsteps on the floorboards outside, but kept his eyes downcast.
“It’s alright, Dad.”
“I heard shouting, a struggle.”
“We’re fine, honestly.” Stiles replied pointedly, still kneeling on the floor next to him. “Dad, we’re ok.”
“Right.” The Sheriff’s voice was gruff, raw even, but he turned away, moving back towards the stairs. “I’ll be in the living room.”
Theo looked at Stiles shyly from his position on the floor, the other teenager pressing his lips together, his scent nervous, though motes of patience ran through it. “So…”
“Liam warned me that you really weren’t yourself, Theo.” Stiles shuffled closer to him, slowly, carefully. “He could have been a little more specific on what that meant though.”
“You just had a…what do I call it? A vision? A break from reality? A delusion?”
“You were just like the other you.” Theo whispered, not looking at Stiles anymore. “But with sharp nails meant for scratching and tearing and ripping. And you, he, you wanted my heart.”
“Your heart?” Stiles repeated slowly, a look of realization passing over his face. “Oh yeah, Liam mentioned this. He said something about your sister trying to, um, take it?”
“She wants it back. It was hers in the beginning, but now it’s mine!”
“Well, I’m here, Theo.” The teenager reached out a hand to touch his arm, the contact sending shivers along Theo’s skin. “And I don’t want your heart, err, at least not in the physical way.”
Stiles was looking at him strangely, but Theo didn’t understand the change in his scent; the shot of embarrassment that rocked through it. “Um, ok.”
“So, this vision you had-”
“It wasn’t a vision,” Theo shook his head. “You were here!”
“Um, ok, well, it actually doesn’t sound that crazy.” Stiles looked behind himself at the closed door and then at the bed. “Can we sit on the mattress? It’s uncomfortable down here.”
“Ok.” Theo got to his feet, reaching down to offer Stiles a hand and pulled him up. “Is something wrong?”
“Apart from the obvious?” Stiles muttered, lying back on the pillows next to him. “Nope.”
“Good.” They were silent for a while, Theo inching closer to him until their arms were pressed against each other and the back of his hand touched Stiles’. He didn’t speak until the chimera rested his head on Stiles’ shoulder.
“Theo? How real was what you saw? When you saw the, uh, the version of me that was trying to kill you?”
“Very, as real and tangible as you are now.”
“The same thing happened to my Dad,” Theo tiled his head to better look at him, feeling drowsy as he breathed in Stiles’ scent. “Well, it wasn’t exactly the same…my Mom came back to life. Or maybe it was some sort of construct, or hell, maybe he was seeing what he wanted to see and everyone else saw it too.”
“Huh?” The chimera sat up straight. “Everyone else?”
“Yeah, she baked those cookies we had earlier.” Stiles was looking at him strangely. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, it’s just…” Theo met his eyes and chewed his lip. “No one else saw you when I did. And I know now that it wasn’t you, but at the time it felt real, like a vivid dream, one that you swear was real.”
“And evil me was trying to steal your heart, right?”
“Um, sometimes.” The chimera pulled his eyes away and picked at an errant thread on his t-shirt. “Other times you were just trying to kill me. You’d come into my dreams and turn them into blood. You’d walk among the others and invade their bodies just to mess with me. Once you cracked Corey’s face and-”
“Enough, Theo!” Stiles’ grip on his arm tightened and Theo could see the hurt in his face. “Those visions weren’t real. It wasn’t me. I know it felt like it, but it wasn’t real.”
“I know that.” He nodded, placing his hand on top of Stiles’. “It felt real to me, it still feels real.”
“Then how can you be sure that I’m really here?”
“Because you’re being nice to me.” Theo frowned at him, the answer was obvious, yet now Stiles was staring at him, lips parted. “Even after everything I’ve done, you’re still sitting next to me, you’re letting me sleep in your house.”
“Liam let stay with him the past few days.” Stiles pointed out.
“Yeah, but that was because Scott made him do it at first.”
“And after the first day?”
“He felt...” Theo paused, flashes of the special shower he and Liam had shared together rushing through his mind; skin on skin, the heat of the water, and the desperate, pleasured sounds they both made. He blinked, Stiles was waiting for him to continue. “He, um, took pity on me was all, but I think Liam believed me when I said I had changed, for a little while anyway.”
“Right.” Stiles muttered, and Theo could almost see the cogs turning behind his eyes.
Stiles always does love a good puzzle. “So, your Mom?”
“I don’t want to talk about it right now.”
“Ok.” Theo lay back down and put his head on Stiles’ shoulder again, seeing the teenager smirk slightly. “Just a minute more, then you can go back to your own bed.”
“Haha, thanks.” Theo blinked, surprised as Stiles moved his head onto his chest properly and wrapped his arm around the chimera, pulling him closer. “I probably should go back though.”
“I’ve been looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, oh, and my Dad is not going to be happy if he finds us cuddled up like this! And there’s the fact that Liam said…”
“Mmh.” Theo mumbled sleepily, eyes closed as he felt himself drifting off, using the timbre of Stiles’ voice to carry him to a dreamless sleep.
Theo sat on Stiles’ couch, staring at the TV, the teenager was talking to his father about something, the Ghost Riders perhaps, the chimera hadn’t noticed when Stiles had left. The TV was off, but that didn’t matter to Theo, his mind was moving slowly this morning, chugging along with barely any intent. He felt as though there was something he should be doing, but whatever that was, it kept vanishing as soon as he tried to think about it.
He frowned, hearing his name being called in the same way that his sister had called out to him in Hell, but this voice was deeper, male, the tone more welcoming. Theo turned towards the front door, watching it swing open to reveal Liam standing on the front step. The sun was shining brightly behind him, throwing his face into shadow. Theo couldn’t get his scent, but the werewolf walked over confidently, sitting on the couch next to him with a groan. Something’s not right…I still can’t see his face, it’s just shadows around vague features.
But it’s Liam!
Theo ignored the two sides of his mind, and nodded at Liam. “Hey.”
“Hey Theo,” The voice was the Beta’s, the words easy and smooth. “I think you know why I’m here; it’s all about that night, right?”
“Um.” The chimera frowned, his brows drawn closer together as his vision flickered and Liam was suddenly sitting naked in front of him, water dripping off his hair and winding its way down flushed skin. “This isn’t-”
“It’s always real!” Theo flinched as the werewolf grabbed his arm tight, where Stiles had touched him the night before. “You better not have said anything, Theo!”
“I haven’t!” He cried out, gasping when Liam’s claws punctured his skin, blood running down his arm to trickle onto Stiles’ couch. “I swear.” Theo shrank back as the werewolf leaned forward, yellow eyes burning into him, the ridged brow and large fangs standing out among the twisted features of his face.
“You better not! Or else it’ll be your throat next time!” Liam clenched his fist and shredded Theo’s arm, blood splashing outwards and flesh hanging from his claws.
“Argh!” The chimera sat up suddenly, clutching his arm and looked around him to see Stiles and Liam standing next to him. “ARGH!” He screamed louder and jumped up, diving behind the couch into the cramped space between it at the wall.
Theo sat with his back to the couch, hugging his knees as Stiles called his name. His claws flicked out and he prepared to strike when the cushions sagged behind him. But it was Stiles’ concerned face that looked down on him, not Liam’s monstrous one.
“Hey, whatcha doing down there?”
“Hiding.” Theo muttered, his claws retreating.
“I can see that, who from? It’s just me and Liam.” Stiles reached down to touch Theo’s hair affectionately. “It’s ok, it’s just us. C’mon.”
Theo glared at the floor and felt his arm where “Liam” had attacked him, the skin feeling smooth and warm like always. Stiles was still touching him, and the chimera stood up slowly, climbing back over the couch, his eyes downcast. “Sorry.”
“It’s ok.” Liam replied, sitting across from him. “I just came to see how you were. In all the chaos and confusion last night, you left the meds behind you. I wanted to make sure you had them if you needed them.”
“Thanks.” Theo muttered, still not looking at him.
“I’m going to get a soda; you guys want one?” Stiles stood up, swinging his hands awkwardly.
“Yeah.” Theo watched him leave, breathing normally, even as his pulse spiked.
“Kinda.” He shrugged, finally looking at Liam. “Except it was you instead of Stiles.”
“Me?” The werewolf looked confused, though fear seeped into his scent. “Did I, um, do anything?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Theo shook his head. “I wasn’t going to tell him anyway, about the shower and-”
“Shush!” Liam glared at him. “That was one time, and as far as everyone else needs to know, nothing unusual happened while you were staying with me. Well, maybe a few things, but nothing like that. So, just forget it!”
“Your secret is safe with me.” Theo glanced at him, voice hard. “And it would have been all along if you’d just asked me to keep it, instead of locking me up.”
“Still angry about that?”
“You broke the sword,” The chimera shrugged, forcing his scent into neutral. “It doesn’t matter anymore; your hands are washed clean of me.”
“Theo!” Liam groaned, sitting on the edge of his seat. “I still care about you and I-”
“Here we go!” Stiles returned with three cans and handed one to Liam, setting his and Theo’s down on the coffee table, opening the chimera’s can for him. “Here.”
“Thanks.” Are you going to cut up my food too? Theo stamped on the snide thought and nodded gratefully at him. He looked over at Liam. “Where are the pills? I think you noticed that I’m getting worse again.”
“Oh, yeah.” The werewolf dug into his pocket and took them out, tossing the bottle to Theo. “There. Might as well take a couple now. Not sure when you should get the long-term injection, Morrell said that it’s effective for a month in human patients, but you’re still pretty lucid, so maybe just a handful of Seroquel-”
“Hang on a minute,” Stiles interrupted, his hand on Theo’s wrist to stop him taking the pills. “What exactly has been going on here? I thought you said that you were helping him? When does that translate to shovelling down heavy duty anti-psychotic pills? Yeah, I know what they are.” He added when the two of them stared at each other and then him. “Well?”
“Scott wanted him well enough to help us.” Liam finally admitted when Theo didn’t say anything. “He didn’t care how or what happened to Theo afterwards, as long as the chimera could help us capture a Ghost Rider.”
“Right.” Stiles nodded, but Theo frowned, smelling the anger suffusing his scent. “That’s not good enough; there has to be other options, different things we can try, instead of just chucking human medicines into a chimera and hoping it will work. Let’s go to Deaton, see if he has anything.”
“What, just show up?” Liam stared at him.
“Uh, yeah, it’s not like we’re going behind Scott’s back, he doesn’t care about Theo, that much is obvious.” Stiles shrugged, taking a long draught of his soda. “C’mon, guys!”
Theo glanced at Liam while Stiles was explaining the situation, hands gesturing wildly, nodding impatiently while the man was talking about the difficulties of treating a supernatural creature with conventional medication. The werewolf had placed his thumbs in his pockets, fingers tapping a beat on the front of his trousers, drawing Theo’s eyes towards his crotch, memories sparking off again, just like the night before. He noticed Liam frowning, as though feeling his gaze and Theo looked away, staring instead at the stainless-steel operating table. Nothing, there’s nothing Deaton can do, and there’s nothing between me and Liam. But why would I want there to be? I’ve got Stiles back and he- The trail of thought broke off when Liam moved around him to get a better look at the book Deaton was showing Stiles, the werewolf’s hand touching the front of Theo’s trousers, fingers deliberately trailing the denim around his zipper and belt. Theo’s eyes shot up, and he looked at Liam, their eyes brushing momentarily, long enough for a spark of excitement to rush down his chest and settle cosily in his stomach. Maybe not nothing, after all.
“So, there’s no cure, is that what you’re saying?” Stiles grunted, exasperated. He rubbed a hand through his hair and glanced in Theo’s direction. “Don’t worry, we’ll find something.”
“Not in my branch of healing, Stiles.” Deaton closed the book thoughtfully. “Though perhaps there is someone who can provide insight into the mechanism that broke his mind, maybe even have a way to put him back to the way he once was.”
“Noshiko Yukimura, Kira’s mother.”
“No.” Theo growled, the first time he had spoken since entering the surgery. “Her daughter sent me down there, I’m not-”
“Theo,” Stiles broke in, moving back to stand in front of him. “She probably knows about the spell or whatever that they used to drag you underground, maybe she knows more about what really happened.” He reached out and rubbed the chimera’s bicep affectionately. “Hey, we’ll be right beside you the entire time, ok?”
“Yeah,” Liam nodded, folding his arms. “We’ll be there for you.”
“I don’t want to.” Theo replied stubbornly, avoiding Stiles’ intense gaze. “She’ll just send me back.”
“She can’t.” Liam assured him, moving closer. “Only Kira’s sword could. And that’s shattered. You’ll be safe, Theo, I promise.”
Theo looked at him, Liam was as close as Stiles now, his scent a mix of determination and arousal. So much for “it never happened”, looks like he wants it to happen all over again, multiple times! He frowned, shaking his head and pushed through the two of them and back towards the front door. His vision blurred, and Theo placed his hand on the glass pane, pushing it out, the fresh air outside was enough to keep his eyes clear. For now…It’s happening again, I can feel myself falling into the mist, soon I won’t be able to tell what’s real and what’s not… Theo tilted his head, ignoring Stiles and Liam’s cries behind him, walking slowly over to where the Preserve met the edge of the clinic. He stopped moving as the Surgeon gestured for him to follow, the Doctor’s mask hissing and clicking in that old familiar way of his. Theo swallowed hard, a lump in his throat as he remembered what it had been like in the lab last night. The Surgeon turned away, heading deeper into the forest, and Theo hurried after him, stopping in the gap between two trees when he couldn’t see the Doctor anymore. “Where are you? Come back! I need you!”
“Theo!” Stiles and Liam caught up to him, the human panting. “Theo, who’s there?”
“We need to find him.” The chimera muttered, crouching down and tracing the disturbed prints in the muck. “He can help.”
“Who can help?” Liam touched his shoulder from behind, fingers slipping under the loose fabric of Theo’s t-shirt to caress his skin.
Theo closed his eyes, breathing in Liam’s scent, a twist of jealousy lancing through it when Stiles came around to them, the werewolf quickly pulling his hand back. “The Surgeon.”
“As in the Dread Doctors?”
“Yeah, we should speak to him,” Theo stood up, glancing at them both. “He can help me, I know he can.”
“Um, Theo,” Stiles said gently, taking his hand. “I told you before that the Doctors are gone, all of them. Sebastien killed them, remember?”
“You have to hear the Surgeon’s voice. He’ll know what to do.” Theo replied firmly, seeing Liam’s mouth harden as the werewolf watched them holding hands. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
“No, you don’t understand.” He shook his head furiously. “You have to see, come on. Come on!” Theo started to walk away, and Stiles hurried after him, as Liam sighed, but followed.
Theo passed the waterfall and paused, turned around, walked five steps, and then turned back. “One. Two. Three. Four-”
“Theo!” Stiles glared at him, exasperated. “If it’s the lab you’re trying to take us to, we can just drive.”
“Not the lab, not the main one, and not the secondary one either.” Theo muttered in response, walking directly up to Liam. He glared at the werewolf and then grunted, picking up a startled Liam around his waist.
“You’re in my way.” Theo responded stubbornly, and put the struggling teenager back down on the ground next to where he had been standing. The chimera kept walking in a straight line, counting out loud. “Thirty-five. Thirty-six…”
“You could’ve just gone around me!” Liam shouted at him.
“Theo, c’mon, talk to me.” Stiles hurried forward to catch up with him, “Where are we going?”
“And fifty.” Theo stopped walking, and glanced at them. “I told you, we’re going to talk to the Dread Doctors.” He pointed at an overgrown shack, only the rusted chimney poking out from the mess of branches and briars that covered the building. “They’re waiting for us.”
“Have you been here before?” Liam asked when Theo looked at him, eyes glowing yellow and claws unleashed. “They’ve tried to kill us a few times.”
“Liam!” Stiles called out sharply, turning to him. “Don’t encourage his delusions.”
“That’s the safest way to calm him down, Stiles…”
Theo left the two of them to bicker and moved closer to the shack, pushing open the door with a grunt, using his claws to swipe away any further brambles that threatened to cut an unsuspecting visitor. He walked inside, down a sturdy wooden staircase and flipped a bank of switches on, a smile tugging at his lips when the long room was illuminated. There was a noise behind him and Theo half-turned, seeing Stiles and Liam rushing down the stairs after him. “What?”
“Please don’t just leave like that again, Theo.” Liam glared at him, while Stiles brushed past, looking at the rows of paper and books, scrolls and parchments occupied entire tables, as bookcases overflowing with more documents and journals. “Stiles?”
“This is amazing.” The teenager whispered.
“I know,” Theo nodded and moved around him, pointing to the far end of the room. “This is the Doctors’ archive; all of their notes, experiments, everything is here, even them!”
“Them?” Liam echoed nervously.
“Come on!” Theo grabbed their hands excited and pulled them through to a small reading area, books and notes open on the desk. “Ta da!” He grinned proudly and reached through the mess to pick up a tape recorder. The chimera pressed play and the Surgeon’s wheezing voice hissed across the tape.
“Volume One, Book One, The Search for Chimera Domination…”
“See? Now you can talk to them!”
“Uh,” Stiles was staring at him, shaking his head. “I’m not going to talk to that thing, Theo.”
“Why not?” The chimera’s face crumpled up, and he hugged the tape recorder protectively. “I showed him how to put his voice in here, keep it safe.”
“Yeah, but it’s not him, Theo, it’s just-” Stiles began, stopping as Liam growled.
“What?” Theo glared at Stiles, hurt. “It’s just what?”
“Nothing.” The teenager sighed after Liam’s pointed glare. “I’ll talk to the Surgeon, give it to me.”
“Ok.” Theo replied slowly, eying Stiles warily as he offered him the tape recorder. “Be careful with it.”
“I will.” Stiles looked at him, eyes full of concern as he accepted the box. “Why don’t you and Liam try and find something else that can help us?”
Theo nodded and gestured for Liam to follow him as the Surgeon’s scratchy voice filled the library. “The tomb was empty save for a single canopic jar, the symbol of the Over…”
“This way.” Theo pushed Liam forward, a hand on the small of his back. “Curses are over there, but Alchemy is near the furnace, and chimera research takes-”
“Theo, calm down.” Liam slipped his hand into the chimera’s and smiled. “We’ll find something, just remain calm, and don’t worry about it. Stressing always makes things worse, remember?”
“I remember.” Theo muttered, frowning as Liam kept holding his hand when they sat down at a table. He pulled his hand free, “What are you doing? You said-”
“I know what I said.” Liam cut across him, glancing up. “But seeing Stiles with you, the way he just stepped back into the role of your boyfriend even though you guys broke up…it’s not right. I know the Ghost Riders took him, but I’ve been looking out for you since you got back. I’ve seen how you’ve changed, I defended you in front of Scott! Hell, I was the one who brought you back!”
“Ok.” Theo frowned, “I don’t understand. You and Hayden are together.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t know for how much longer.” The werewolf muttered as he flipped through a grisly illustrated book. “She’s been different ever since she became a werewolf, a proper one.”
“How?” Theo took the book from his hands, shook his head and put a different one in his hands. “No, try this one.”
“Um, thanks.” Liam stared at him for a moment, Theo looking blankly back at the werewolf. “Well, uh, I don’t know anything for sure, they’re both really good at controlling their emotions and heartbeats, but I’m suspicious that she’s cheating on me with Scott.”
“I know, I know, it’s crazy, but I mean, it makes sense; they’re always finding excuses to spend time together.” Liam glanced at him, seeing Theo nod. “If it’s not extra training, it’s learning to fight like a werewolf-apparently, I’m too strong for her-or it’s help with that World History class that Scott took last year, or-”
“I got it.” Theo whispered.
“Well, yeah, but I haven’t even told you about the fantastic back rubs Scott gives, except I’ve never gotten one and she-”
“I got it!” Theo leapt up, shouting excitedly. “Stiles, I got it!”
“What?” The teenager rushed towards him, placing the tape recorder gently on a nearby shelf. “Theo, are you sure?”
“Uh huh, look!” Theo offered the pamphlet to Stiles, grinning proudly.
“Um, I can’t read this.”
“Oh, oh, right, the Surgeon used a code.” Theo took it back and frowned, mouthing words silently to himself, not seeing the flush of embarrassment that had engulfed Liam. “Uh, ok, I have it. Um, can you write it down? The ingredients anyway, I think I can figure out the recipe later.”
Stiles nodded and pulled a sheet of clean paper towards him, staring at the modern ballpoint pen in the middle of a pile of scrolls. He looked at Liam, “Is this yours?”
“It’s the Surgeon’s.” Theo said, frowning when Stiles recoiled in horror. “I got it for him a few months ago, well, it was a few months before I…back in June, anyway.”
“It was a gift, for Fa-” He cut off as both Stiles and Liam stared at him. Theo cleared his throat, “It doesn’t matter, just use the damn pen, Stiles.” The chimera blinked rapidly as his eyes prickled, unable to stop the memory from surfacing. The Surgeon opening the silver case carefully, gloved fingers pulling out the engraved pen. Theo watching eagerly to see his reaction, even though the helmet obscured everything. There had been a pause as the Doctor simply stared at the pen, and then his free hand shot out, grasping Theo’s shoulder and pulling him close… Theo sniffled, wiping his nose. “It’s the dust in here, that’s all.”
“Right.” Liam muttered, eyes wide, smelling sorrow heavy on the air. “Um, those ingredients?”
“Twelve fresh lion eyes.”
“What?” Stiles looked sharply at him. “Theo, are you sure you have the right list?”
“I’m sure.” He nodded firmly. “After that, we need one crushed hawk leg, and five elk hooves, three ounces of mountain ash, and a large mandrake root.”
“Is that all?” Stiles asked dryly as he finished scribbling everything down, dropping the pen distastefully.
“Oh, no, that’s just for paste, it needs to be diluted so I can drink it.” Theo replied calmly, looking up as they gaped at him. “What?”
“That, uh, that doesn’t seem wise.” Liam managed after a few attempts. “Maybe we should go back to the pills?”
“I won’t have to take it all at once.” Theo explained, waving the indecipherable pamphlet in the werewolf’s face. “Besides, the tonic is easy, it’s the totem that will be the really hard part.”
“The totem.” Stiles echoed, sighing. “Ok, give it to me.”
“So, we’ll have the large mandrake root, that needs to be soaked in the diluted paste,” Theo began, finger tracing across the parchment. “Then, I need access to a dead man’s grave, not fresher than a month, but not older than three.”
“And after that, hmm.” Theo carried on, “Oh, we need to water it for ten days with goat’s milk, but there has to be the toes of sixteen bats in the milk.”
“And then,” He continued to speak, unaware of how Liam and Stiles were staring at him, mouths open. “I need to take it out of the grave in the middle of the night and bake it in an oven made of cow pats and heated with crow feathers. Then I just carry it around with me!”
“This is another delusion, isn’t it?” Stiles muttered to Liam. “Theo, what does it say it’ll cure?”
“Um, well, it, uh,” Theo flushed. “It’s for removing the little men that creep inside your head at night, the Geneticist…crap. She’s written in the margins that it’s fake.”
“Yeah, I thought so.” Stiles patted his shoulder comfortingly, and Theo glanced at Liam, remembering what the werewolf had said earlier.
I’ve seen how you’ve changed… “Changed.” Theo muttered, and he gestured vaguely for them to follow him. “I thought they’d have a recipe or something I could just take, but that’s not how chimeras work.” Theo stopped next to a cloth-covered table and tugged the sheet off, revealing a sprawling chemical set. “The Surgeon told me once that chimeras are more versatile than werewolves or other supernatural creatures, our power comes from what they made us into.” He lifted an ancient beaker, the blue liquid inside still viscous, and then nodded at the slim red journal on the table. “Let’s take a look at what he found out.”
Theo turned the page carefully, taking in each line of meticulously written descriptions and instructions. “Hmm, not this one, it’s for making the glowing talon things.”
“What?” Liam was looking at him with raised brows, but Theo shrugged, flipping the next page. “Hang on, was that-”
“Um, no. No. No.”
“Maybe there’s nothing there, Theo.” Stiles touched his arm gently and the chimera looked at him. “Maybe we need to look somewhere else for the cure, or medicine, or whatever?”
“The Dread Doctors have to know!” Theo pulled away from him, skipping through the journal. “They know everything!”
“We’ve been through this; they’re not really he-”
“Stiles.” Liam cut across him, shaking his head. “Don’t.”
“They’re not what?” Theo frowned, glancing confusedly between them. Neither of the two teenagers met his eyes and the chimera huffed, about to speak again when his eyes landed on the page he had just turned to. “Oh. Here it is.” But…it needs…I can’t do that, I already hurt him before. No, I need to, err, think fast, Theo, distract them!
“What?” Stiles was staring at him. “You found something?”
“Yeah, it’s for split personalities.” Theo nodded quickly, as another memory pulled at his mind. “The Geneticist…before he found her, the Surgeon said that she had gone mad, they locked her up, but she knew things, ways to cross species and traits. She was so close to the supernatural, all it was going to take was a slight push and she’d be there.” He put down the journal and walked forward, Liam standing quickly to one side, approaching a desk hidden in an alcove behind them. Theo reached in and pulled out a small cage, thrusting it towards them as the two teenagers recoiled. “Behold!”
Once Stiles lowered his hands, he exchanged a glance with Liam, and then they both stared at the small, white, fluffy rabbit that was sitting in the cage, looking innocently at them. “Um…what is it?”
“It’s the were-bunny.” Theo replied. “Obviously.”
“Oh, of course,” Stiles muttered. “How silly of me to think it was just a rabbit.”
“Uh, so, it’s a bunny that turns into…?” Liam stared at him. “What? A werewolf?”
“A tiny wolf,” Theo nodded, smiling at the creature as it twitched its nose at him. “But yeah, it was the Geneticist’s first successful chimera. He’s called Alexander!”
“Wait, wasn’t that over a century ago?”
“Yup.” Theo sat Alexander down on the table next to the alchemical equipment and the rabbit fixed Liam and Stiles with a beady stare. “I’ll show you.” He reached into the cage and gently stroked the rabbit’s head, hearing Stiles gasp as Alexander’s eyes flicked from black to the glowing red eyes of an Alpha. There was a brief moment of horrifying transformation before the bunny had disappeared and a tiny wolf cub sat in its place, yawning. “Ta da!”
“Wow.” Liam hunched down to look at the wolf, now pacing slowly in the cage. “That’s amazing.”
“Yeah.” Stiles nodded, but Theo could see the gears turning in his mind. “Theo, aren’t you going to tell us about that cure?”
Damn it. The were-bunny wasn’t enough of a distraction. The chimera hung his head and nodded. “Ok, fine, I guess so.”
“What’s wrong? Are the ingredients rare or something?” Stiles touched his arm again. “We’ll find someway to get them, no matter the cost, I’ll find a way to help you.”
“Money won’t be a problem.” Theo replied, reaching into a pile of rocks that stood next to the decanter. He pulled out a lump of gold and handed it to Stiles. “They discovered how to turn lead into gold, but it wasn’t really important, just a way to finance their operations.” Stiles was staring at him, and Theo frowned, smelling his disbelief. “It’s true!”
“Theo, I don’t need to be a werewolf to tell you’re trying to hide something.” Stiles tried to give him back the misshapen brick, but the chimera held his hands up.
“You keep it.”
“Fine, whatever.” Stiles slipped the heavy object into his pullover pocket and looked at him expectantly. “Stop messing around and tell us what this cure needs!”
“Fine.” Theo muttered, as Liam stood up, Alexander having turned back into a rabbit and fallen asleep. He picked up the journal again. “They’re called Orbs of Sanctity; reddish balls of a sort of goop that I need to create using the equipment. Then I need to eat them.”
“And that cures you?”
“Not exactly; it forms a barrier in my mind to separate the voices.” Theo lowered the journal and Stiles pointed at a cruel looking device sketched in the middle of the page.
“What the hell is that? It looks like a torture implement!”
“You’re lying.” Liam spoke up, shaking his head. “I can hear it in your voice. Which I suppose is a good thing. The old Theo would have been able to lie straight to our faces and not feel bad about it.”
“What is it, Theo?” Stiles pressed.
“Grr…” The chimera growled softly under his breath as they ganged up on him. He finally grunted and gave in. “It’s called the Augmenter; a tool the Surgeon created to drill into the heads of crazy chimeras and kinda, sort the mad parts from the sane ones.”
“Uh.” Stiles was the first to break the silence that followed his statement. “That sounds painful.”
“It’s the better option, the Orbs only work for a time.” He shrugged. “You’re meant to use them with the Augmenter, but we’re not going to do that.”
“Why not?” Liam met his eyes as Theo tried to evade the question again. ”Why not?”
“Because it needs the blood of a chimera.” Theo replied eventually. “A chimera other than the one you’re trying to fix.”
“But there’s only one chimera left…” Liam trailed off. “Oh.”
“Right, I’m not asking Corey to do that for me.” Theo shook his head. “I’d need too much and he’s too cute to die!” He frowned as he saw Stiles and Liam exchange a surprised glance. “What?”
“You think Corey’s cute?” Stiles asked carefully, though Theo could smell the tendrils of confusion permeating the air around him.
“Yeah, well, he is.”
“I don’t want him to have to suffer because of me.” Theo ignored Liam’s question and abruptly turned around, looking at Alexander’s cage. He’s already done enough for me, and I need to keep the last chimeras safe. “We’ll use the Augmenter.”
“So, this device,” Stiles had edged around the table to come back into Theo’s field of view. “Do you know where it is?”
“I need to build it.” The chimera looked at the journal and nodded. “I can get most of what we need, but there’s one thing I don’t have, and the Dread Doctors ran out of it years ago.”
“Don’t leave us in suspense.” Stiles smiled at him. “I’m sure we can find it.”
“Really?” Theo looked at him sceptically. “I need fire-forged steel, blessed by a Kitsune’s nine tails. It doesn’t have to be a fire Kitsune, any type will do, but they’re so rare, and I don’t know any nine-hundred-year-old Kitsunes!”
“I do.” Liam grinned at them. “Noshiko! Kira’s Mom. She’s that old, right?”
“Right.” Stiles nodded. “We’ll go to her.”
“I guess.” Theo muttered reluctantly.
“Oh, and we need to talk to Scott.”
“No.” The chimera shook his head furiously. “I’m not talking to Scott!”
“It’ll be ok, Theo, I’ll be there with you.”
“I’m not talking to Scott!!” Theo screamed at him, running away to the other end of the library. He heard Stiles swear under his breath and follow him. “Scott’s angry and mean, and a dirty, rotten cheater!”
“Uh, Theo.” Liam called out, surprise and alarm in his voice. “Don’t-”
“I don’t like him.” The chimera muttered, sitting down in the chair next to the Surgeon’s voice. He reached over and picked up the tape-recorder, hugging it to his chest. “Scott doesn’t like me either, he’s not going to help us.”
“Maybe not, but I need you two to figure out some way to get along.” Stiles crouched next to him, meeting his eyes. “For better or worse, Scott is my best friend, and you’re, err, important to me.” Theo remained silent, glaring at the wall. “Ok, um, I’ll talk to Scott alone, but we should still go see Noshiko. I’ll call her, see if she’s around this evening. Theo?”
“Ok, I…don’t have any reception.”
“We’re underground, Stiles.” Theo helpfully pointed out, gesturing at the stairs. “You should have service if you go outside.”
“Thanks. I’ll be right back.” The teenager stood up, squeezing Theo’s shoulder affectionately and moved past Liam, the werewolf coming closer to him.
“You know,” Liam started, once Stiles had left the library. “I thought you weren’t listening to me when I told you that about Scott and Hayden.”
“I heard you.” Theo nodded. “I was just concentrating on finding a cure. Besides, Stiles was right there. I didn’t think you wanted to discuss the fact his best friend is sleeping with his own Beta. The other Beta, I mean.”
“Hayden doesn’t deserve you, Liam.” The chimera stood up, placing the recorder reverently back on the desk. He turned to the werewolf and hugged him suddenly. Liam tensed up, before relaxing and wrapping his arms around Theo, his face resting against the shoulder of the slightly taller teenager. “I know you don’t want to be like that with me, but I-”
“You’re wrong, Theo.” Liam cut across him, pulling back to look into his eyes. “I do, I want…” He stopped talking as the sounds of Stiles’ feet on the stairs reached him. “Uh, forget it.”
“Ok.” Theo muttered, frowning at him. I could have sworn for a second I smelt…It’s nothing, I mean, he threw me in jail after that shower we had together, that kinda says it all. He looked up as Stiles stopped just short of the long desk. “What is it?”
“Noshiko will meet us.” Stiles gestured for him to follow. “Now.”
“Um,” Liam glanced around, “I might stay, search the room some more. If that’s ok?”
“Hmm.” Theo stared intensely at him as Liam shrank back, before nodding slowly. “Ok, fine, but only because I trust you.” He walked after Stiles, stopping as he glanced at the were-bunny’s cage, and turned back to Liam, issuing him a stark warning. “Um, don’t give Alexander anything to eat, or he’ll grow to be a wolf-sized bunny and we’ll never get him back into the cage!”
“Theo! Come on!” Stiles called out, and the chimera took the stairs quickly as Liam gaped at him.
Theo followed Stiles reluctantly into Kira’s house, reaching out to grab the back of his pullover when Noshiko looked at him, offering him a small smile. Run, Theo! His mind screamed at him as they were led into the sitting room. We gotta get out of here! She’s going to send us back to Tara!
“Thanks for seeing us.” Stiles said, sitting down. He glared at Theo until the chimera sank onto the sofa next to him. “Scott told me that you were protecting Kira’s sword while she, um…”
“Learns to control her spirit.” Noshiko finished for him. “Yes, I admit I was reluctant to help Liam and Hayden, I thought it was a terrible idea to bring Theo back.”
“Because of what he was before.” She began to pour tea into three cups. “A murderer, a villain, someone who thought only of themselves and their own desires.” Noshiko offered a cup to Theo, but he refused, watching her suspiciously. “But now I see that the Skinwalker’s punishment was far greater than I had thought it would be. And much worse.”
“He won’t talk about what happened.”
“I’m right here, Stiles.” Theo muttered reproachfully. “And I told you what happened; my sister came for my heart and ripped it out again, again, and again. Time lost all its meaning and all I knew was the morgue and the circular corridors outside it, as time repeated itself over and over.”
“A terrible fate indeed.” The Kitsune frowned, shaking her head. “I thought when they returned you, it would be a monster that emerged, not…this.”
“This is actually Theo on a pretty good day, Liam tells me he’s not normally so lucid.” Stiles explained as he took a drink of his tea. “He’s talking to himself, seeing things that aren’t there, wandering around, acting weird. There is a sort of cure, but it needs something only you can provide.”
“Have you considered returning to the World In Between?”
Theo frowned as Noshiko looked at him. “What?”
“That is what it is called.” The Kitsune smiled slightly. “I can send you back, though not physically, only your mind. You could return and recover that which was taken from you; your heart.”
“Back…to the cage?” Theo shivered, and his claws slid out suddenly. “You won’t send me back! I won’t let you!”
“Theo! Calm down, that’s not what she’s saying.” Stiles grabbed his wrist, forcing the chimera to meet his eyes. “It’s your choice.”
“I can’t go back there, Stiles! I’ll never find you again!”
“Ok, ok. We’ll stick with the Augmenter, then.”
Theo nodded, and Stiles let him go, his claws retracting. He looked over at Noshiko, “There’s only one thing I need from you, I’m not sure if you’ve ever made it before, but it’s steel; forged by hand in a charcoal furnace, and blessed by the nine tails of a Kitsune.”
Her eyes narrowed, and she looked down, staring into the steaming cup of tea in front of her. “This is for a Dread Doctor construction, isn’t it?”
“That’s right.” Theo replied carefully, “A device to pierce mind and flesh, it needs to be sanctified to breach both planes of existence and not be corrupted by the madness within.”
“It will take time.” Noshiko said after another lengthy pause. “It will be difficult to make.”
“I can pay you.” Theo nudged Stiles and the teenager sighed, pulling out the lump of metal he had been given earlier. “I know how to make more.”
“I’m not sure this is real gold,” Stiles whispered to her, receiving another sharp dig from Theo. “Seriously?”
“Yes, it’s real!”
“Uh, of course it is, Theo.” Stiles patted his hand and glanced at Noshiko. “I’m sure there’s a way to work something out.”
“Stiles…” Theo groaned softly. He doesn’t believe me!
The Kitsune’s smile flickered slightly and she nodded. “I will make your steel, Theo Raeken, though this device, you are aware of the risks?”
“Risks?” Stiles looked between them. “What risks?”
“I need to be careful, walk along the edge, too much one way, and I go completely mad.” Theo turned to him, smirking slightly. “But too much the other way, and I become what I was; cruel, sneaky, evil. Don’t worry, Stiles, there’s a failsafe I can trigger if that happens.”
“And what? It’ll stop the procedure?”
“Sure.” Theo nodded. The procedure dies, and so will I. But better that, than a raving loon or the monster I used to be. He glanced at Noshiko, but before she could contradict him, the doorbell rang.
Theo stood up quickly when Scott entered the living room, flanked by Liam and Hayden. The Alpha stopped, arms folded across his chest and nodded at Stiles. “There you are.”
“Yeah, I told you that I was helping Theo.”
“Well, I hope you’re done wasting time with him.” The werewolf glared angrily at the chimera. “I need your help with the Ghost Riders. Me and Hayden have been working on some leads all afternoon.”
I bet that wasn’t the only thing you were working on. Theo thought to himself, frowning at Hayden, seeing her cheeks redden slightly. How can Liam not see it?
“The Ghost Riders are out there, Stiles, taking people!”
“Yeah, I know, Scott. I was one of them.” Stiles replied sharply, standing between him and Theo. “But I also needed to help my rescuer, you know, the chimera who did everything he could to get me back? That guy?”
“Whatever, you need to come with us to the Sheriff’s Station; they’ve started to take regular people now.” Scott dismissed Theo with a snort. “You can leave him here, we don’t need your broken toy.”
“Scott! That’s-” Stiles’ words were lost as thunder rolled ominously overhead and a lightning bolt struck the top of the house. The television exploded in a shower of sparks and the room darkened. “Shit!” A Ghost Rider was standing before them, whip and pistol at the ready.
“Grr!” Theo snarled, his eyes glowing and claws springing out as he pushed Stiles behind him protectively. “You’re not getting him!”
I've changed to a less restricted POV for this chapter, as Theo isn't as crazed, and there was quite a lot information I wanted to convey without focusing too much on the madness. I'll return to a tighter POV in the next chapter, which will hopefully be in about 2 week's time! Thanks for reading.
Chapter 11: The Fires of Ruin
Theo glanced at Scott, seeing the Alpha hesitate, a moment of tardiness that gave the Ghost Rider the opportunity to lash out with its whip. The chimera shoved Liam out of the way, ducking in time to avoid the scoring length of leather as it ripped through the fabric of the sofa. Liam was staring at him from the floor, about to speak, but Theo didn’t wait to hear the words, launching himself forward instead to smash into the Ghost Rider.
“Theo!” Stiles’ shout was behind him, but the chimera gritted his teeth and pushed the monster back, both of them falling over the sideboard in a crash of falling lamps and decorative bowls.
“Rawrr!” Theo growled and started to slash wildly at the Ghost Rider’s already scarred face. Red mist descended over his eyes, and the chimera couldn’t hear the voices of the others calling out. I know they’re trying to stop me, but I can’t…I can’t let anything happen to Stiles…or Liam. Theo snarled, baring his fangs and thrust his claws deep into the Ghost Rider’s neck, grunting in satisfaction as he felt the bones break and strange, cold, blood wash over his fingers. But as he stood up slowly, turning his hands over to stare at the dark blood, he felt the bottom of his stomach drop away and his fingers began to tremble.
There was a commotion behind him, but Theo wasn’t paying attention, staring instead at the Ghost Rider’s dead body, watching it bleed into the Yukimura’s carpet. He squeezed his eyes shut as the images swam in front of him; the Ghost Rider no more, instead Josh’s blood-flecked face and open eyes stared accusingly at him, his throat ripped open from both times he had been killed by Theo. The chimera took a deep, ragged breath, opening one eye and looking down at Tracy’s body lying in Josh’s place, punctured holes in her spine and under the rib cage, blood flowing freely as her face slackened out from the surprise betrayal. I killed them…I killed them all…
The chimera blinked, glancing around to see three more Ghost Riders had arrived in the time since the first had been killed. Scott and Hayden were at the door with Stiles, pushing him ahead of them, while Liam lingered between the coffee table and Theo, calling out for him to follow them.
“C’mon, Theo! Let’s go!”
Theo looked down at his bloodstained claws, and then raised his head, looking to the left of Liam as a different version of the werewolf shuddered into existence, dark rings under his eyes, fangs pushing past his lips, yellow eyes monstrous and glowing eerily. It pointed at the Ghost Riders and snarled, black blood tumbling from its mouth. The werewolf from the rooftop. The one who almost killed Scott. The one I created. Fitting, I suppose.
“No.” The chimera shook his head, turning to face the Ghost Riders. “You go, save Stiles and the others. I have to do this.” He lowered himself into an attack position and was preparing to charge the three monsters when Liam rushed forward and grabbed him around the waist. “Hey!”
“I’m not leaving you behind!”
“Gah! Idiot!” Theo struggled to free himself from Liam, kicking him out of the way as a Ghost Rider reached for them, and instead used the coffee table to batter the monster in the face, sending it reeling backwards. “Woah!” He exclaimed, jumping up to see a shining blade driven through the Ghost Rider’s chest.
Noshiko pulled the sword out and the Ghost Rider slumped to one side, dead. She gestured at them, “Go, I’ll hold them off!”
“C’mon, Theo!” Liam grabbed his arm and was pulling him towards the door, even as the Kitsune jumped forward and the Ghost Riders turned their attention to her, pistols firing and shots exploding around the living room. Scott, Hayden, and Stiles were already gone, but Theo spotted them as soon as they left the house, the two werewolves on Scott’s bike. He growled in his throat, watching them speed off, leaving Stiles behind.
“Where are they going?”
“Theo!” Stiles grinned at him, patting him on the shoulder, and gestured at his Jeep. “Scott and Hayden are heading to the Sheriff’s Station and the hospital; to check on his Mom and her sister.”
“Why didn’t they bring you?” Theo demanded, looking up at the dark sky as thunder rolled overhead. “You-”
“I have the Jeep, and I needed to give you two a ride.”
“Hayden brought her car.” Liam pointed at it with a frown. “She could’ve-” He was interrupted by the flash of lightning, and the three of them turned slowly to look down the street as dozens of Ghost Riders began to slowly march towards them. “Shit!”
“I guess Mr Douglas isn’t waiting around any longer.” Stiles said, gesturing at his Jeep, and pulling Theo along with him, even as the chimera resisted grimly. “C’mon, Theo! Don’t martyr yourself here, I still need you, both of us need you!”
“Both?” He frowned when they nodded earnestly and reluctantly sheathed his claws, letting Liam hop into the backseat. “Fine.” Theo half-turned when the screams were cut off behind them, the Ghost Riders sweeping from house to house in flashes of green, and clouds of smoke. He sighed and climbed into the front seat beside Stiles, staring into the side mirror at the slow tide of Ghost Riders washing over the streets of Beacon Hills.
“We need to find somewhere safe, and come up with a plan.” Stiles said, swerving hard around a corner and glancing at Theo. “Any suggestions?”
“The lab.” The chimera muttered, “The Dread Doctors build special electro-magnetic defenses into the walls. It won’t keep them out forever, but it’d buy us some time.”
“Great, where is it?”
“Um, guys?” Liam called out from the backseat, staring at his phone. “Mason and Corey are in trouble.”
“Corey?” Theo echoed, a thought flashing across his mind. The last chimera, other than me… “Where are they?”
“The school, they were studying when Mr Douglas showed up with the Ghost Riders and started zapping everyone!” Liam read through the text again, as Theo’s face became grim. “The parking lot is full of green smoke, but the Riders are all over the hallways, Corey can’t get him outta there.”
“Fuck!” Stiles slammed on the breaks and the Jeep skidded to a halt on the verge, throwing up a shower of gravel.
Theo stared out the window at the swaying trees lit up by the headlights, dimly aware that they were both staring at him. The chimera turned in his seat, looking back at them in confusion. “Why have we stopped? We’re going to rescue them, right?”
“Err, sure?” Liam muttered, and Theo grinned. “What about Scott?”
“Text him where we’re going,” Stiles called out, gunning the engine and turning around to head towards the high school. “But if the Ghost Riders are taking everyone, they’re probably going to be everywhere, we might be on our own, here!”
“Hmm.” Theo grunted, smirking slightly when he heard Liam echo it behind him. I don’t need Scott to save Corey and Mason, they stood up for me at the station, I owe them.
Stiles parked the Jeep beside the lacrosse fields, and Theo led the way towards the front of the school. The parking lot was no longer full of green smoke, but most of the cars had been pushed out of the way to make room for a large group of Ghost Riders, and one very naked Deputy.
“Parrish!” Theo whispered as they crouched behind one of the parked cars. The Hellhound’s skin was riven with deep fissures, criss-crossing along his back, arms, and buttocks, glowing red and orange in the darkness. “We need to rescue him! I would have never found you without his help, Stiles!” The chimera looked at them excitedly, and Stiles nodded slowly.
“A Hellhound would be good to have on our side.”
“Hang on,” Liam grabbed both their arms. “There’s, like, a hundred Ghost Riders down there! Some of them are on horses! How are we gonna-”
“I know a way.” Theo cut across him, nodding at Parrish again. “He’s fire, right?”
“So, we just need water.”
“Um,” The werewolf shook his head, “That’s not how it works, Theo.”
“Yes, it is.” Stiles grinned suddenly. “Chem lab backs onto the soccer fields, we can get in there. I know where they keep the liquid nitrogen, we get a tank of that and cool Parrish right down! Great idea, Theo.”
“Yeah.” The chimera nodded, looking back at the gathered Ghost Riders. “We still need to get to Parrish himself, though.”
“Uh, another text from Mason.” Liam whispered, his face darkening with worry as he read it aloud. "Mr Douglas is upstairs! He's coming for Corey! We're hiding."
“Ok,” Theo said firmly, slipping a hand into his pocket to feel the smooth surface of the orb he had taken from the Doctors’ library. “I need you to get a few things for me when you’re in the Chem lab. I need a thick beaker, a flask of water, and marbles or metal balls or something like that.” They were staring at him, and Theo sighed, taking his hand out and revealing the golf ball sized lump of metal in his palm. “This is Cesium, an element that will explode on contact with water, I’m going to use to make a bomb. The alchemy the Doctors practiced made a better version of the natural variety; more stable in the atmosphere, but more explosive in water. I just need some shrapnel to magnify the effect."
“You’ve been walking around with that next to your junk all evening?” Stiles gaped at him, as Liam inched away. “Uh, ok, we’ll get what you need. Just, just wait here and don’t go charging in.”
“I won’t.” Theo muttered, turning to watch the motionless ranks of Ghost Riders, and Parrish pacing back and forth. He frowned as he began to see the Ghost Riders move forward, entering the school. The Hellhound turned to look at them, and Theo felt his stomach clench anxiously. We need to get him away from them, none of us stand a chance against Parrish if he uses his fire abilities. He shuddered as the horrific memories of Corey’s injuries raced across his mind. The smell of his burning flesh, the screaming, the way it crackled and crisped under my fingers. And I still left him there, as though he wasn’t important, as though he was expendable. But when you’ve already done such terrible things, what’s one more betrayal? Theo blinked, glancing behind him to see Stiles and Liam returning, silently berating himself for losing track of time.
“Did you get it all?” Theo asked as Liam huffed and lowered the large steel drum onto the asphalt. Stiles handed him a thick beaker and stoppered flask of water. “Thanks.”
“No marbles, but Liam grabbed these from the Physics lab next door,” Stiles showed him a box of metal balls. “They’re pretty heavy, he said Mr Douglas used them to demonstrate the effects of lightning and power. Seems appropriate to use them to destroy the source of his strength.
“Yeah.” Theo took them from him and knelt on the ground, pouring the balls into the beaker and covering them with water. He nodded at the liquid nitrogen container. “You know what to do, right?”
“Unscrew the top and pour it on him?”
“There are phials inside the drum, crack it open and grab them; don’t use your hands.” Theo instructed them as he carefully added the last few drops to the beaker. “Once this goes off, you need to run in and pour the liquid all over Parrish. He’s not going to be affected by the bomb.”
“Uh, ok.” Stiles muttered, distracted by his phone.
“What is it?”
“Scott, Hayden, Malia, and Lydia are at the hospital.” He took a deep breath, “They’re trying to get everyone out, the Ghost Riders are there in force, the last two deputies who could respond are already gone, and, um, my, uh, my Dad has been taken too. Shit.”
“Don’t worry, Stiles.” Theo put down the bomb carefully and patted his shoulder. “We’ll get them back, we’ll get them all back. And him?” The chimera pointed at the now immolated figure of Deputy Parrish, “He’s our secret weapon.” Theo picked up the beaker and weighed the ball of Cesium in his hand. “Ok, I’m going in.”
“Wait!” Liam grabbed his arm, their eyes meeting, fear lancing through the werewolf’s scent. “What if this doesn’t work? Or what if the explosion is bigger than you expected?”
“You do whatever it takes to save your…our friends.” Theo replied determinedly, pulling free and marching out into the parking lot, a grin spreading across his features. Slowly the Ghost Riders turned to look at him, and the chimera glanced quickly over his shoulder to confirm Stiles and Liam had ducked behind the car, before he dropped the Cesium into the beaker, his face lighting up as the ball sparked and fizzed, the edges burning with a bright yellow-red flame. “YWAAAAR!” Theo screamed suddenly and dashed forward, chucking the beaker into the center of the group of Ghost Riders. He threw himself flat on the asphalt immediately, hands covering the side of his face as the beaker shattered and there was a momentary pause. One. Two. Three- Theo’s count was interrupted by a massive crump when the bomb exploded, and he felt a wave of heat blister over his head, singeing his hair. Even with his face pressed into the ground, his eyes felt burnt by the brilliance of detonation.
Theo raised his head slowly, grinning as he heard Stiles and Liam shout out victoriously behind him. There was nothing left of the Ghost Riders except a row of smoking boots, and one very angry Hellhound. Theo swallowed hard as he watched Parrish’s eyes flare orange and saw him dig a blackened steel ball out of his chest with a snarl. “Guys? Where’s that liquid nitrogen?!”
“Coming!” Liam leapt over him and twisted the ampule, flinging the contents at Parrish, Stiles following a moment later with a second phial, the contents of both splashing onto the screaming Hellhound. “You ok?”
“Yeah.” Theo nodded as Liam helped him up, Stiles on his other side, panting. The parking lot was a mess of scorched cars and melting tarmac. Parrish was kneeling in the middle of a hardening pool of frost, clouds of icy fog rolling off him. When the man stood up, his eyes had faded back to the kind green orbs Theo remembered from the night in the station. He grinned, walking over to the Deputy and pulling the surprised man into a tight embrace. “Yes! I knew we’d get you back, Parrish!”
“Um, thanks, Theo…” The Hellhound patted his back, and pushed him away gently, looking at Theo in confusion as Liam and Stiles tried to keep their eyes from travelling south of Parrish’s defined abs. “Ugh, I don’t remember much. But, I see you got Stiles out of the rift.”
“I wouldn’t have done it without your help.” Theo replied eagerly, punching Parrish’s bicep affectionately. “We still need to rescue Mason and Corey though; Mr Douglas and a bunch of the Ghost Riders are inside the high school.”
“Right, right.” Parrish nodded absently, frowning as he looked at the still smouldering boots lined up in front of him. “Did you guys do that?”
“Theo did.” Stiles explained about the bomb, glancing at Liam meaningfully. “I’m sure you’re not that cold, Liam, maybe someone else could use your jacket?”
“What? I, I’m not, I,” Liam glared back at him, stuttering and flushing red when he looked over at Deputy Parrish who had turned around to study the school. “Never mind that, Stiles, we have friends to rescue!”
“Right.” Theo nodded, frowning at Stiles. It’s not warm out, maybe Stiles is cold though? Hmm. “Hey, Deputy, what do you know about Mr Douglas’ plans?”
“Hmm, let’s see.” Parrish thought for a moment, glancing at each of them. “Yeah, so, he wants power, and the Ghost Riders are being controlled by him through some kind of communal link. There’s a corporeal central hub that’s both inside the phantom train and in the real world, though I’m not sure if they’re in the same location. Douglas said that Corey is vital to his plans to amplify his power, but I don’t know why.”
“He can phase walk.” Theo whispered, glancing at the others. “The Dread Doctors used chameleon DNA to make him a chimera, but that wasn’t all they put into him. I’d have to check their records to make sure, but if Corey really can phase walk, that means he exists in both the phantom world of the Ghost Riders, and our, real, world.”
“Why would Douglas want him, though?” Liam looked at Theo with a frown. “How does Corey help him?”
“I’m not sure, maybe he’s trying to collide both phases and bring the Ghost Riders into our world all the time?” He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter though, we’re saving Corey and Mason right now!”
“Yeah!” Liam nodded determinedly, and Stiles smiled. “But, um, don’t take this the wrong way or anything, because it’s kind of a compliment, Deputy, could you maybe find something to wrap around yourself? It’s…distracting.”
“Oh.” Parrish flushed under his coating of soot and char, looking around the ruined parking lot. “Um…”
“Here.” Theo pulled his t-shirt over his head and handed it to Parrish. He ran a hand down his bare chest when the Deputy glanced at him. “Don’t worry, I’m hot enough already.”
“I’ll say.” Liam muttered, turning away as his cheeks turned pink.
Stiles was just staring at him until he seemed to remember where they were and flicked his eyes up to Theo’s. “Um, let’s go.”
“Go ahead, I’ll help Parrish.” Theo nodded and walked around the man, tying the ends of his t-shirt into a makeshift loincloth, above Parrish’s ash-covered buttocks. “There.”
“Thanks.” Parrish smirked at him, and gestured at Stiles and Liam as the two teenagers stopped at the top of the stairs leading into the high school. "You know they're both attracted to you, right?"
"Um..." Theo raised a brow. “I don’t…”
"Well, they are; increased heart-rate, dilated pupils, a, um, physical...diversion of blood." Parrish grasped his shoulders with a grin, pointing him towards Liam and Stiles. "You really should do something about that? Not right now, of course, but after this."
"Stiles and Liam?" Theo frowned at him, confused.
"Oh, um, sorry, Theo,” The Deputy released him suddenly, shaking his head. “I'm a cop, and there's about seven years age-”
"I wasn't-” Theo tried to protest.
"And I already have a boyfriend," Parrish continued over him, looking to one side. “Who is probably pissed...if he's even still here."
"Hey!" Theo glared at him. "I'm grateful for your help and everything, but I'm not into you like that! You were nice to me in the station when barely anyone else was, and you helped me rescue Stiles, even though that meant getting captured by Mr Douglas. I wanted to rescue you because I owe you, and we need your help, but I don’t want to get into your pants! Or lack of…”
"Oh, my bad.” Parrish turned towards the door, flushing as he muttered “Awkward!”
“Yeah, like you said, I already have Liam and Stiles looking at me.” Theo grinned suddenly as the words sank in. They both want me! His smile faded as a flash of light burned in one of the rooms upstairs, illuminating the parking lot for a moment until green smoke dulled the shine. “We gotta get Corey and Mason!” Theo nodded grimly and charged up the stairs after Parrish, Stiles, and Liam, flicking his claws out.
Chapter 12: End of the Line
The school was strangely quiet, Theo had expected screaming, or the thudding of the Ghost Rider’s boots on the floor, not this…stillness. He glanced at Liam, and then at Stiles, both of his…friends walking along with him. It was a momentary pause to admit that their status had changed, that they meant something more to him now, that they were important to protect and to take an interest in, not because doing so served some specific goal Theo had, or for exploiting an entry into the pack to gain another advantage. I need to keep them safe just because. Theo nodded to himself, not realizing he had slowed down until Parrish touched his bare shoulder, the smoke-blackened Deputy looking at him in concern. “I’m fine.” He muttered, and strode forward, before freezing at the staircase. Theo threw up his hand, gesturing for them to stop. “Do you hear that?”
“Ghost Riders?” Liam whispered, yellow eyes sweeping the hallway in front of them.
“I think so.” Theo nodded. “What did the last text from Mason say? Where are they?”
“Um,” The werewolf paused, “Fuck, he must have sent one while we were in the parking lot. They’re not upstairs anymore, he says they’re hiding in the English classroom, other end of the school. But Mr Douglas is nearby.”
“Right.” Theo took a breath, looking at Parrish and Stiles. “You should probably hang back, Deputy, don’t want him to take control of you again.”
“Yeah.” The Hellhound nodded, adjusting the makeshift loincloth. “Stiles, you should stay near me too, Theo went through hell trying to get you out of the rift, I don’t think he’d be too happy if you were thrown back in.”
“Heh, I bet.” Stiles grinned at him, touching Theo’s arm. “You just need to be careful too, I don’t want to see you get hurt either.”
“Yeah.” Theo muttered, feeling Liam’s eyes lingering on where Stiles was holding his wrist. He flicked his gaze up, wetting his lips. “That might not be optional; we’re saving Mason and Corey, no matter the cost.”
“You know, when you talk like that, it’s like the old Theo is back!” Stiles glared at him, but Theo shook his head.
“I meant any cost to me.” The chimera turned away abruptly before the argument forming on Stiles’ face could translate to his lips. He nodded at Liam and they began to run forward, through the deserted hallways until they turned around a bend and skidded to a halt, the glowing green eyes of the Löwenmensch bright in the darkness of the corridor.
“Shit!” Liam cursed under his breath and turned back. “We need to find another way!”
“No.” Theo shook his head, flicking his claws out again, fangs pushing his lips forward. “We go through him!”
The chimera charged forward, ignoring Liam’s frantic calls, as the two Ghost Riders who flanked the Löwenmensch turned towards him. He dropped into a roll when the monsters pulled out their guns, firing off shots that exploded into green mist above him. “Grr!” Theo snarled and lashed out with his claws, tripping both of the Riders as he tore through their shins. He smiled with grim satisfaction when they fell to the floor, and finished each of them with rapid stabs to their throats, puncturing the scarred flesh over and over until they stopped twitching.
“Impressive.” Mr Douglas drawled at him, “For a fake werewolf.”
“It’s their weak point.” Theo stood up slowly, black blood dripping from his claws and hands, cast-off splattering his chest and face. “You’re not getting Corey!”
“You can’t stop me.” He unfurled the whip at his side, grinning as more Ghost Riders appeared alongside him. The Löwenmensch paused, and gestured at Theo and Liam. “Kill them.”
“Hey!” Theo tried to move after him as Mr Douglas kicked down the door to the history classroom, but he was pulled backwards by Liam, narrowly avoiding a whip lash. “We need to-”
“I know.” Liam was glaring at him as Stiles and Parrish came running around the corner, “But you can’t just run in there like a one-man army, Theo! We work as a team, a pack, right?”
“I…I guess so.” Theo scrabbled to his feet as the Ghost Riders got closer, switching to their guns. He nodded at the glass display case nearby. “Give me a hand, we can use that as cover!”
“Got it!” Liam replied, following him, and tipping the case over, glass shattering and trophies breaking. “You should get behind this, Stiles!”
“Way ahead of you.”
“Ok, now we take ‘em out.” Theo called out and charged forward with Liam.
The Ghost Riders fought well, but once Theo and Liam closed the distance, they appeared more clumsy than dangerous. The chimera elbowed one of them in the ribs and forced it to stagger backwards, allowing him to deliver a savage uppercut that sent black blood spurting across the hallway. He looked up to see Liam subduing another Ghost Rider, hesitating over it, claws close to its neck. After a moment, the werewolf shook his head. “They’re not even alive.” Theo pointed out, walking through the other fallen Ghost Riders, and thrusting his claws through the monster’s chest. He ripped his hand back out and offered the blood-slick skin to Liam. “See?”
“Uh…” The werewolf was staring at him, disgust and apprehension mixing on his face. “I don’t-”
The sudden scream cut through their chatter and the four of them ran towards the history classroom. Corey was in Mr Douglas’ grip, the Löwenmensch’s claws pressed against the smooth, pale flesh of his neck. Mason was clutched by a Ghost Rider, the monster’s pistol held to his head. Theo slid to a halt, his eyes darting from one teenager to the other. Which one to save? Who has more value? Who can…no, that can’t be the basis for making this decision. He needs Corey alive, not Mason. Theo lowered his claws and nodded at Mr Douglas. “You have what you came for, let Mason go.”
“Hmm,” The Löwenmensch appeared to consider it, and then shook his head with a smirk. “Nope!”
The Ghost Rider cocked the gun, but before Theo could attack it, there was a gunshot and the monster staggered forward, Liam darting in to pull Mason away. Theo looked behind him to see Stiles grinning, one of the Ghost Rider’s pistols held in front of him. The chimera nodded and strode forward, his claws flashing in the gloom of the classroom, the Ghost Rider collapsing to the ground a moment later. “Done.”
“Where’s Corey?” Liam frowned after he helped Mason into a chair. “Fuck! They’re gone!”
“Must have escaped in the confusion.” Stiles muttered.
“Yeah.” Theo whispered, walking to the top of the classroom, crouching down to touch the spot where Corey had been standing, smelling the other chimera’s fear heavy on the air. There was a touch of defiance too, but the scent vanished as soon as Theo went out into the hall. He jumped as a hand touched his back, but it was only Stiles. “What is it?”
“Are you ok? You’re covered in blood.”
“I’m fine, it’s not mine.” Theo shook his head. “I don’t have their scent, he must be able to mask it somehow.” He looked back at Mason and Liam. “I’m sorry.”
“You’ll be able to find though, right?” The younger teenager glanced between him and Stiles. “If we get Scott and everyone, we can find Corey again?”
“That’s a good idea.” Theo agreed, explaining as Liam arched a brow at him. “Corey is the key to Mr Douglas’ plan; he’ll use the chimera’s phase-walking ability to merge the two worlds and allow the Ghost Riders to exist in ours all the time. But he’ll need a place to do it, and we need find them both. We need Scott.”
“I don’t need you.” Scott said flatly as Theo explained about Mr Douglas’ plan and how he was using Corey to merge the two worlds. “In fact, you should just stay here and let us handle it.”
“Handle what?” Theo asked suspiciously as Scott avoided his stare. The chimera shook his head as it clicked. “You don’t care about rescuing Corey, do you?”
“I need to stop Mr Douglas.” Scott replied firmly. “He’s the biggest threat, then, afterwards we can find Corey. I’m sure he’s not in that much danger, not if he’s so critical to merging the two worlds together.”
Theo glanced at Mason’s outraged face and the turned back to Scott. “You don’t get it, Corey can’t just snap his fingers and suddenly the two phases are merged. The Löwenmensch is going to have to dig deep into his abilities to activate them; he’ll use a high frequency oscillation matrix delivered via direct electrical input to force Corey to merge the worlds!” The others were staring at him, and Theo shrugged, glancing at Lydia as she nodded slowly. “You took your time to get here, Scott,” He gestured at the Dread Doctors’ lab. “I had a while to read the Surgeon’s records, see exactly what Corey was designed to do.”
“I don’t know enough about this to give an informed opinion,” Lydia began as Stiles, Scott, and Malia looked at her. “But Theo seems to know what he’s talking about, and the Doctors did use frequencies to alter the chimeras. Mr Douglas is probably just doing the same.”
“Which means we need to find Corey first.” Mason looked at the older teenagers, Theo nodding along with Liam and Hayden. “Right?”
“We don’t know where either of them are right now.” Scott sighed, running a hand over his face. “And besides, just because Liam and Stiles saved Parrish, we don’t have the forces to split up and take on both Mr Douglas, and the Ghost Riders he’s probably got guarding Corey. What we should do…”
Hmm, Theo turned away from them, letting Scott and Mason’s argument fade into the background. He stared at the specimen jars lining one wall of the lab, blinking as the solution hit him. Of course! Ares! He’s worth three werewolves! Theo looked over his shoulder, confirming that the pack were still arguing amongst themselves, and he padded into the shadows, slipping out of the lab and into the tunnels beyond, heading for the forest.
“Hello Alexander!” Theo cooed, reaching through the bars of the cage to stroke the rabbit’s soft fur. “Now, where did the Geneticist put your brother?” He stood up and looked around, opening the drawers and presses around the underground room. “Hmm. Ah! There you are!” Theo crouched and reached into the deep recesses of a cupboard, pulling out another cage containing a rabbit, though this one had black fur and bright, intelligent eyes. “Hello Ares!” Theo set the cage down and opened the door, waiting for the rabbit to come out. He nodded as the bunny sat in the center of the floor, looking up at him expectantly. “I know, I know, you haven’t been outside in ages, and you will, just let me see…” Theo turned away from him, searching the cupboard again and this time pulling out a cobweb-covered harness. He froze as the sound of footsteps reached him, the chimera whirling about, eyes flashing yellow and claws sliding out.
“It’s just me!”
“Liam?” Theo frowned, his eyes returning to normal. “What are you doing here?”
“I saw you leave, Scott and Mason and Stiles are still arguing about what to do.” The werewolf moved closer to him, stopping when he spotted the tiny black rabbit. “Um, I thought you might have a plan you didn’t want to share with the others, maybe some Dread Doctor trick to find Corey?”
“There is a way.” Theo nodded, remembering the device he had used with Malia to find the Desert Wolf, but then he paused, shaking his head. “No, we don’t need that. I think I know where Mr Douglas took Corey, the only place that he could use to amplify a chimera’s power; the central hub that Parrish told us about.”
“Ok, but where is that?”
“Hold this.” Theo dumped the leather and iron harness into Liam’s arms, and scooped up the rabbit, holding the squirming animal against his chest as he adjusted his posture. “This is Ares, the battle-bunny.”
“The battle…” Liam repeated, staring at him, and the looking at the rabbit. “Uh, ok, um, focus, Theo. Where is the central hub?”
“The Dread Doctors liked Beacon Hills,” Theo replied absently, stroking Ares’ head carefully. “The Surgeon said it reminded him of home, and the Geneticist had lots of space to run her experiments, even the Pathologist said that he liked walking through the forest; so many animal attacks, so many corpses!”
“But not all the places they operated out of were as spacious as this.” Theo continued unhurriedly, climbing the stairs back to the surface. “They had the hunters’ cabin where they tested chimeras in the cage, and that root cellar where they made Mason into the Beast for real. And there’s a bunker in the forest too that has a large generator and interface system for the type of thing that Mr Douglas is attempting: Station 43, I think.”
“What?” Liam grabbed his arm, spinning Theo around to face him. “What do you mean? Why would they have that?”
“Well, where do you think he got the idea from?” Theo frowned at Liam. “There were no phase-walkers when he tried this the first time around; the Surgeon’s notes say that Corey was the revival of a long dead supernatural race of creatures. The Geneticist had big plans for him, if he was to be a success, but, yeah, that must be how Mr Douglas knew to take Corey, and why he tried to grab him as soon as he took the Ghost Rider’s powers.”
“Fuck.” The werewolf sighed. “We gotta tell Scott all this.”
“He won’t believe me, but that doesn’t matter,” Theo shrugged, moving again. “Let’s just go back to the lab and get Mason, he can help us with Corey, if there’s Ghost Riders protecting him then we can distract them, and Mason can get inside.”
“That’s a good plan, Theo.” Liam murmured, suddenly a lot closer to him than Theo expected. “Hayden will go with Scott, because…well, you know why.”
“Um, I think so.” Theo nodded, taking a step back, frowning as Liam moved into his personal space again. “What are you doing?”
“For luck, you know?” Liam muttered, wetting his lips and reaching out to place his hand on Theo’s waist. “I-”
“There you are!”
Liam stumbled backwards as Stiles emerged from the treeline, and Theo glanced at him, confusion twisting his brows. What was that about? Weird. “Hey Stiles.”
“Theo, what’s with the rabbit?” Stiles was staring at him, and smirked at Liam. “Didn’t know you had a pet!”
“It’s a battle-bunny!” Theo replied proudly, hefting Ares up so Stiles could see him better. He ignored the sceptical look and walked forward, joining Stiles, Liam following them, his cheeks flushed red when Theo glanced back at him. “You come up with a plan yet?”
“Um, sort of.”
Theo placed Ares carefully onto the floor and told them to stand back. “Scott, you have to move.”
“I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is insane.” The Alpha folded his arms. “We agreed that you, Liam, and Mason could go searching for Corey while the rest of us find the Löwenmensch and deal with the real threat. Why are we waiting around for you and whatever crazy delusion you think is happening right now?”
“Because you’ve never seen anything like this before!” Theo grinned in the face of Scott’s glare. “Behold, the chimeras’ secret weapon!” He placed a piece of lettuce on the ground in front of Ares, the entire pack watching as the bunny inched forward and nibbled on a corner of it.
“Ah!” Malia shrieked as the rabbit exploded in size, one moment no bigger than her two hands, the next Ares stood over six feet tall, his large ears pointing straight up, brushing the ceiling. "What the hell?!"
“Um,” Scott swallowed hard as Ares looked directly at him, dark, calculating eyes boring into his own. “Nice bunny…Theo!”
“He won’t attack you without being commanded.” The chimera reached out to pat the rabbit, gesturing for Liam to approach. “Give me a hand putting on the harness. Mason, pull that lever over there, next to jar filled with eyeballs, that’s the one.” He glanced at Stiles and Lydia who were staring at him, lips parted. “Good luck with Mr Douglas, don’t under-estimate him.”
“Yeah, I think we’ll be ok.” Stiles managed after a moment of moving his lips soundlessly. “Um, you be careful too, Theo, make sure you come back.”
“I will.” He smiled and looked up as the back wall split open, revealing a large tunnel that was wide enough for the battle-bunny to pass through. “C’mon guys, climb on!” Theo gestured for Liam and Mason to follow him as he swung up onto Ares’ back.
“Err, I’m not good with horses.” Liam stuttered after Mason climbed on first. “I don’t-”
“It’s a rabbit.” Theo pointed out slowly, “Now come on! We have to rescue Corey!”
“Yeah, Liam,” Mason couldn’t help but grin at his best friend. “Hop on!”
“I hate you both.” Liam muttered, but scrambled up the rabbit’s flanks, taking Mason’s offered hand and wrapping his arms firmly around his waist. “Ok, I’m here.”
“Great.” Theo flashed a grin at him. “Make sure you got a good grip!” He leaned over and whispered into one large ear. “Time for that run, Ares! Bring us to Station 43!”
“Forty-three?!” Mason cried out as the rabbit raced forward. “How many experiments were the Doctors running?”
“Lots.” Theo called over his shoulder. “Keep your heads down, I think it gets a bit tight up ahead!” Ares leapt over a gap in the tunnel, and skidded under a low hanging ledge, his ears brushing backwards as the roof skimmed their hair. Theo was laughing to himself as Liam screamed in alarm and Mason breathed hard. “Don’t worry, we’ll be in the forest in a moment!”
“Woah!” Theo called out softly and Ares slowed down, the silent pace it had been setting softened even further as the giant rabbit padded closer to Station 43. “Ghost Riders ahead.”
“And railway tracks behind.” Liam muttered, pointing at the wooden slats and iron rails stretching out along the forest floor. “What’s happening?”
“Stiles was kept in a phantom train station; a holding area.” Mason replied as they inched closer to the concrete structure where several Ghost Riders stood guard. “Maybe as the two worlds collide, things from that phase appear here?”
“Sounds about right.” Theo nodded, gesturing for them to dismount. “I count eight Ghost Riders. I’m going to charge in, catch them off guard, make a distraction. Liam, you need to get Mason to Corey.”
“But I can fight with you!”
“Ares was designed to be immune to all supernatural powers; like Josh’s lightning or Tracy’s venom-”
“Or the Ghost Riders’ whips.” Mason finished for him, sliding off the back of the rabbit. “Come on, Liam, Theo’s got this!”
“I’ll be fine.” Theo whispered as Liam lingered next to Ares for a moment longer. “Go.”
“Alright, Ares.” The chimera leaned forward, hunkering down. “Let’s scatter them. Charge!” The rabbit dashed forward, emerging from the trees like a massive black shadow, crashing into the first Ghost Rider, large teeth glinting in the moonlight as they ripped another Ghost Rider apart. Theo jumped from Ares’ back and collided with a third Ghost Rider, his claws tearing through the monster’s neck at the weak point. He pointed at the door as Liam and Mason ran from the treeline, Ares was a silent reaper behind them, using his head to smash Ghost Riders down and surprisingly long claws to split them open, his teeth acting as devastating close quarters weapons. “Hurry!” Theo called out, and kicked the door to the research station open. “Oh, fuck.”
“Corey!” Mason cried out, emotion choking his voice.
“Ok,” Theo drew a deep breath as Liam comforted his friend, “Ok, um, Corey, can you hear us?”
“What…I…the train will arrive in ten minutes…”
“What the hell does that mean?” Mason demanded as he moved closer to Corey, staring at the thick wires and cords driven into his boyfriend. “What did Mr Douglas do to him?”
“Like I said, he needed to replicate the Dread Doctors’ frequency manipulation techniques.” Theo replied, looking at the wall of blinking switches and diodes behind the younger chimera. He traced the main bundle of cables from the central console into Corey’s chest, grimacing at the greenish goo that leaked from each entry point. “Don’t panic, we’ll get him out. We’ll get you out, Corey.” Theo repeated, frowning at his feverish face and glassy-eyed stare.
“Why don’t we just cut the wires?” Liam asked, glancing out the door as the last Ghost Rider was ripped in half by the battle-bunny, half the torso soaring into the air. “Err.”
“No.” Theo shook his head. “There has to be staged powering down and removal sequence or you’ll just kill him. I’ll try and find the power supply and then we can get started.”
“Attention passengers,” Corey called out in a robotic voice. “The train will arrive in eight minutes.”
“What happens after the train arrives?”
“We all get transported to wherever the final destination is, I guess.” Theo shrugged, on his hands and knees as he followed the main power line from the machine back to the generator. “But the phases are almost completely merged, if we don’t stop it now, they won’t be able to snap back; things won’t go back to normal.” He added in the silence that followed. “Guys?”
“Um, Theo?” Liam pointed at the doorway, which was now obstructed by the bulk of Ares’ back, black fur pushing into the room like a snowdrift.
“Oh, don’t mind that,” Theo shrugged, turning back to finding the off switch. “He’s just protecting us, he’ll sit in front of the door to stop the Riders getting in. He’s like a mobile mountain ash ring.”
“That is not comforting.” Liam muttered, pulling his hand back. “I rode him here!”
“Yeah, but it’s an ability Ares has, like my claws or fangs; it can be turned on or off.” The chimera explained patiently, standing back up to wrench the cover from a metal box. “Gotcha!”
“AHH!” Corey screamed out.
Theo whirled around, glaring at Mason. “Don’t touch the cables, you’ll only cause him more pain.”
“I didn’t know, I’m sorry!” Mason cried, slipping his hand into Corey’s instead of touching his arm. “I…”
“I’ve got the power switch.” Theo glanced at the box, nodding to himself. “Once I cut it, the system activates its backups, and we can slowly start to remove the cables, ok?”
“Wait,” Liam moved forward, shaking his head. “We need to give Scott more time-”
“Attention passengers, the train will arrive in five minutes.”
“What?” Mason glared at him. “What we need to do, is get my boyfriend out of this tangled mess before it kills him!”
“No,” Corey blinked, speaking normally even as his voice cracked with pain. He winced, squeezing Mason’s hand. “Don’t, give them more time. I can handle it, I can handle the pain.”
“The train is coming, I can feel it, trust me, Mason.” He tried to smile, grimacing instead. “I can hold out for a few more minutes. It’s…blinding, haha, I think I’m getting the hang of it…”
Hmm. No, I can’t let you do that. Theo looked down at his hands, and nodded to himself. He reached out and grasped Corey’s other hand, pulling the pain into himself, black lines shooting down Corey’s arms and into Theo’s. “Argh!” The older chimera groaned, falling to his knees as stars exploded in front of his eyes. We’re not built for this, the Surgeon warned-
“Theo? Fuck!” Liam pulled him upright and placed his hand on top of Theo’s, sharing the pain between them. His eyes widened, and he looked over at Corey. “How are you handling this?!”
“Get used to it after a while.” Corey managed a small grin, his skin flushing more naturally.
“Agh…” Theo gasped, the agony rippling across his body, fangs forced out, his eyes pulsing yellow. It was as though thousands of sharp needles were trying to press through his skin from the inside, and the chimera could taste blood in his mouth from the effort. He turned his head and spat to one side, hoping the others didn’t notice the red spittle. But as soon as he looked back, Corey was frowning at him. Theo shook his head slowly, and the younger chimera continued to frown, but remained silent. A little more, that’s all I need to take, just a little more. “How long?”
“Two minutes, it’s so close.” Corey replied, trying to catch Theo’s eye unsuccessfully.
“It’s done!” Liam shouted out a few minutes later. “Scott just howled, didn’t you hear that?”
“No.” Theo muttered, his voice strained, the veins along his hands completely black, disappearing under the tight arms of his borrowed shirt. He could feel wetness sticking the fabric to his skin across his chest and upper arms, but ignored it and released Corey, staggering over to the metal box, and punching the power switch.
"Do it!" Corey grunted as a shock rippled across his body. "I'll heal."
"You better." Mason whispered, moving to pull the bundle out, but Theo darted back over and grabbed his wrist.
"There's a better way." The chimera reached behind Corey and flicked the bank of switches into the off position, diverting the electro-magnetic currents away from him and into the transformers at each end of the machine. “I know it hurts, just hang on.”
“Ok.” Corey muttered, his teeth visibly clenched in pain as Mason kept a grip on his hand, and Liam stepped outside, Ares standing to one side.
“It should be ok now.” Theo said quietly, nodding at Mason and Liam. "Pull the cords and cables out slowly and carefully. I'll take his pain, and you won't feel anything more than a slight discomfort, like getting pricked by a needle at the doctor, ok, Corey?"
"Do it!" Theo cut across him, grabbing his forearm, and pulling the first cord out himself, sucking the pain away. It was almost cathartic to feel the rush of spikey agony roll down his arms and see Corey visibly improve, as though this made everything between them better, as though it had never happened to begin with. But it did. And this is nowhere close to what amends need to be made. Theo thought grimly to himself as he felt his blood burn and boil from the unnatural exertion.
It took almost five minutes before they had the last cable removed from Corey’s body and the chimera fell into Mason’s waiting arms, Liam supporting his other side. Theo stood upright, the world blurry in front of his eyes, mouth filled with the copper tang of blood. He staggered away from them, shaking his head silently when Liam turned to him, hand outstretched. No, I… Theo gasped as he walked into the cool night air, feeling it sting his face, a cool breeze ripping through his body in a way he hadn’t felt since he was a child. Hands in front of him, Theo managed to reach Ares, and slumped over the sitting rabbit, feeling himself rise as the giant bunny stood up. He let his lips part, blood trickling out of his mouth and managed a few words, “Take me home.”
The rest was a fuzzy mess, fragments of memories and images, Theo managing to get inside the Doctors’ library somehow, Ares waiting above for him, red liquid in a steel syringe, a feeling of intense nausea and weakness, and then the sensation of falling, crashing, nothing but darkness as the chimera blacked out, blood flowing around him.
Theo woke up slowly, lying on the hard floor of the Dread Doctors’ library, near the alchemy table. He was face down on the cold surface, his skin prickling as something tacky and inflexible coated his cheek and neck. Ares was sleeping next to him, a tiny rabbit again, an empty syringe with red liquid inside lay nearby. “Ugh.” Theo forced himself upright against the wall, and pulled his tattered shirt off, nodding grimly at the deep, bloody gouge marks scored into his skin, and then down, at the pool of flaky, black crimson around him, stretching out across the floor. “What the fuck happened last night?”
Chapter 13: The Final Fall
Events take a rather dark turn in the following chapter, Theo’s mental state becomes extremely stressed, paranoid, and he is determined that they'll never take him back to "hell". The tags have the specifics for triggers.
Theo stared at the syringe, lying in the center of the work desk, a vial of red liquid nearby. Ares looked at him, twitching his nose as Theo sighed. “It doesn’t matter, I suppose, at least you’ll fit in your cage now.” The chimera glanced at him and paused, looking over at Alexander, asleep among the fresh straw Theo had placed inside earlier that morning. “Hmm, maybe you should share for a while? Rabbits like company, don’t they?” He waited for Ares to respond, and the bunny shuffled sideways. “I know, but I need time to build a hutch for you guys…c’mon.” Theo picked up the rabbit and placed him carefully inside the cage, replacing it on the floor next to the alchemy station.
He walked across the room to the pool of dried blood, and picked up the tattered shreds of cloth that were all that was left of the borrowed shirt. “Fuck.” Theo looked at it, shaking his head. “I don’t remember whose it was; Liam or Stiles? I don’t…I should...” He trailed off, glancing at the stairs and shuddering. “No, I can’t go out there, not again, not when I’m…safe here. Scott is still…and I might…no, better to stay here.” Theo sighed heavily, shutting his eyes tight as he heard a ragged whisper on the air. “No, no, no, no, you’re not here, none of you are here!”
”Oh, but we are, Theo! Theoooo? You have to look at us sometime, Theo!”
Theo shook his head furiously, and buried his face in the ripped shirt, able to pick out the scent among the blood and dirt and death that hung heavy on it. “Stiles…this belongs to Stiles, and I’ve ruined it! I need to make it better, I need to-”
“I know you’re there!” Theo screamed at the shadows fliting around him. “I can fucking hear you already! You don’t have to say it!”
“But we want to, Theo. We want you to know we’re here!” The broken, bleeding faces of Tracy and Josh hung in the air for a moment, before the shadows returned. ”And when she comes for you again, we’ll be there to drag you down too!” Muted laughter filled the underground room and Theo slumped back against the wall, sliding down until he was sitting on the cold floor.
“I know.” He muttered, staring at the shirt balled up in his hands. “It’s time isn’t it? I helped them with the Ghost Riders, and now they don’t need me anymore. Maybe Stiles…but I ruined his shirt, just like I ruined everything else.” Theo drew in a ragged breath and looked around the Dread Doctors’ library. “All their knowledge is here; their last remains should be here too. I should have recovered what the Beast left and given them a decent burial, or something. I don’t know what they wanted, they never said; probably thought they’d live forever.” Even when everyone else had left, they’d always be there, but now…it’s just me who remembers them. I wonder…did they go to a better place? The Pathologist always talked about how the moments after death fascinated him, how he longed to understand what happened next, even if nothing did. His eyes landed on the syringe on the nearby work station, and then flicked up to the shelf above it, skipping along the vials and bottles until he found the one he was searching for. “Ok. Just in case, just as a precaution…”
After a quick look at the stationary, and now silent, shadows, Theo stood up, placing the balled-up shirt onto the table and reaching for the bottle above him. It was the work of a moment to transfer the silver paste from the flask into the metal syringe, the chimera watching dispassionately as a yellow gleam ran through the mercury. Theo placed the injector gun on the table and nodded. “If it comes to it, they can take me, but not alive, I’m not living that hell again.”
He started as the sound of the outer door opening reached his ears, and Theo turned cautiously, sniffing the air, his eyes glowing yellow, and claws extending. “Oh, it’s him.” The chimera returned to his normal appearance, even as doubts immediately set in. How can I be sure? Maybe it’s not him, maybe it’s-
“Theo!” Stiles grinned at him. “This was the third place I looked, glad you were here though.”
“Well, I was going to have to start checking the hospitals and the morgues otherwise!”
“Oh.” The chimera nodded, and Stiles’ expression dimmed. “Why did you bother looking for me anyway? I ruined your shirt.” He held it out to Stiles, but the other teenager just looked at the rags and shrugged.
“It doesn’t matter, I’ve got plenty!” He grinned again, and Theo could feel Stiles’ eyes traveling over his shirtless torso. “I would’ve brought a change with me if I knew that you needed it, but maybe this isn’t a bad thing, huh?” There was silence as Theo refused to meet Stiles’ eyes, and he sighed. “Well, anyway, I brought you a burger, some fries, and a soda. Should still be warm, even after all the searching for you.”
“Thanks.” Theo muttered, accepting the paper bag when Stiles gently shook it under his nose. “But you haven’t answered my question.”
“What?” Stiles sat down on the edge of the table next to him. “Oh, why am I bothering? Well, you never came home last night, I was worried after Liam said you staggered away covered in blood. I mean, he told me that this morning, I would have come sooner, if I had known you were in trouble.”
“Home?” Theo echoed dully. “What’s that?”
“Are you ok? Um, sorry, silly question, I just forgot. You’ve been really great the last few days.” Stiles took his hand and held it until Theo looked at him. “Liam’s been telling everyone what you did; how you took Corey’s pain-”
“Liam did most of it, he’s the real werewolf.” The chimera mumbled, pulling his eyes away, letting his hand remain in Stiles’ as the grip tightened. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Theo, he said that pain was crippling, and that you took it all as they disconnected Corey from the machine.” Stiles was still looking at him, “Plus, Mason is telling anyone that will listen that if it wasn’t for you insisting on finding Corey, we probably wouldn’t have got to him in time.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Theo stiffened when Stiles placed a hand on his bicep, leaning into him, his other hand reaching around to pat the chimera’s stomach. “Stiles?”
“Just…we haven’t…” The teenager exhaled slowly, stepping even closer and resting his chin on Theo’s shoulder. It was something they used to do, for that short period of his life when Theo thought he could escape from his darkness. Stiles had his eyes closed, heart beating fast. “It’s not fair to you, you’re not…”
“I’m sorry.” Stiles stood back, “I shouldn’t have done that, I just wanted to make sure that you…never mind.”
“Right.” Theo frowned at him, speaking before the silence between them became unbearable. “You and the pack managed to stop Mr Douglas though?”
“Oh, yeah!” Stiles grinned suddenly. “It was a hell of a fight! Scott, Malia, and Hayden did most of it, me, Lydia, and Parrish kinda stayed back, but there were these train tracks in the forest and we had to switch levers and everything, for the tracks, I mean.”
“Uh huh?” Theo nodded slowly.
“I don’t know if you guys noticed it, but there was this mini-storm for about a minute, swirling overhead when Douglas tried to get the Ghost Riders to attack us after the train passed by.” Stiles continued to speak excitedly. “And the Riders surrounded him and turned him into, like, a Nazi Ghost Rider!”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
“Hmm, yeah, anyway, they’re gone now, so things so go back to normal.”
“Normal.” Theo muttered, looking at the alchemical station nearby. Stiles must have been following his eyes.
“Don’t worry, Theo, we’ll find what we need for the cure.”
“Sure, I’ll figure something out.” The shirtless chimera shrugged. “If I get the time to, of course.”
“Full schedule?” Stiles grinned at him.
“No, I mean…” He stopped speaking, and just gestured aimlessly at Stiles. “Don’t you have school today?”
“It’s four-thirty in the afternoon, Theo.” Stiles smirked. “But yeah, I did, last day too. I’m gonna assume you knew that it was summer, right?”
“Stiles, I barely know what’s real and what isn’t.” Theo replied, looking at the ethereal shadows of Josh and Tracy floating in the air to his right. The chimera glanced at him, smelling his sudden apprehension, and trying to appear normal. “So, school’s out for the summer?”
“For good, actually. I’m graduating.” Stiles shrugged, reaching out to touch Theo’s arm. “With everything that happened in the last six months, I’m not sure if you-”
“I don’t need to.” Theo shook his head. “The Doctors taught me everything I needed to know, and I’ve got the secret to make gold, plus I can live here if I need to, still close to you and-”
“Yeah, but,” He hesitated, fear arcing through his scent. “Theo, I won’t be here. For a few weeks more, yeah, but, um, Scott’s Dad managed to get me onto the pre-FBI degree at George Washington University. It was in the works since before I was captured by the Ghost Riders, and it’s over in DC, so I won’t…I won’t be here.”
“Hey, c’mon, that’s not for another few weeks, and besides, you have Liam and Corey and Mason as your friends now!” Stiles grabbed his hand when Theo moved away. “Plus, Parrish will look out for you, he’s been talking to my Dad about you all morning, even getting the Sheriff to release your truck from impound.”
“Ok.” Theo looked at him, feeling tears prick the back of his eyes. He sniffed, a wave of hopelessness threatening to overwhelm him. But Stiles didn’t have werewolf senses, he couldn’t smell the despair that coated Theo’s thoughts in a sticky, black film. He’s leaving, I just wanted to find him, make sure he was safe, but I don’t want him to leave. I can’t, I need Stiles! He swallowed hard, burying the panicked thoughts and forced a smile to his face. “That’s great news, Stiles, well done.”
“Thanks, Theo!” He grinned and pointed at the stairs. “C’mon, I’ll take you to visit Corey and get you something else to wear. You being shirtless all the time is too damn distracting!”
“Oh.” Theo looked at his blood-streaked arms and chest, nodding. “I guess so. Let me just grab something.” He turned around and picked up a small silver tube, slipping it into his left pocket, the other one already bulging. “Um, actually, I don’t know, Stiles, maybe I should just-”
“Nope! Let’s go!” Stiles took his hand and half-dragged the chimera up the stairs. “We’re having a little victory party tonight, you’re coming, of course, but it’s not just for defeating the Ghost Riders; Scott and Lydia got into their colleges too.”
“Oh, I don’t-”
“It’ll be fine, it’ll be good, everyone will be there!”
Theo flinched as one of the hospital doors banged shut, the electronic lock clicking into place. He looked back at the orderly standing nearby, flicking through a folder, eyes darting to the security tag on her waist. Can’t let them keep me in here, have to get out, have to get back to the library, have to-
The chimera pulled his eyes away, and nodded at Mason standing in the doorway of Corey’s room. “I’m coming.” He slipped inside, offering a small smile to Corey, who was propped up on the bed, dressed in a hospital gown. “Hey Corey.”
“Theo!” The younger chimera grinned widely at him, gesturing for him to sit down on the chair nearby. “C’mon, Mason really needs to pee, but he won’t leave me alone, haha.”
“Corey!” His boyfriend groaned and rolled his eyes, whispering to Theo. “I wish I could say that’s the drugs, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have any effect on him.”
“Yeah, that’s right.” Theo nodded, sitting down. “But, um, I’ll wait here if you want to use the restroom, take a break, or something?”
“Cool.” Mason punched his shoulder lightly and exited the room, leaving the two chimeras looking at each other.
“So…” Theo started, frowning as Corey laid his hands in his lap. “They have you on a drip?”
“Uh, yeah, it’s really sore.” Corey looked at the tube taped to the back of his hand. “Like, tight and stuff?”
“Your healing abilities are very advanced. Can I?” The older chimera gestured, and Corey let him examine his hand. “Uh huh, yeah, so, the skin is trying to heal around the insertion, it’ll be sore until they take it out. Same goes for any piercings you’re thinking of getting, or tattoos.”
“Uh, no thanks.” Corey scrunched up his nose, shaking his head. “Some guys look hot with tats, but I don’t think I would.”
“Yeah, you’d lose that cute appeal!” Theo nodded, gritting his teeth as he pulled on the pain from Corey’s hand, gasping when he wrenched away suddenly. “What did you do that for?”
“I don’t need you take the pain.” Corey glared at him, his expression becoming upset. “I know it hurts chimeras to do that, I mean, just look at your knuckles!”
“Hmm,” Theo grunted, staring at the fresh cuts that appeared across his skin, riven deep, blood smearing on the surface. He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll heal. I recovered from what happened last night just fine.”
“So, um, where are your parents? I thought they’d be here, you weren’t missing for long, but-”
“Don’t you remember?” Theo shook his head and Corey sighed. “They don’t care, I mean they’ll care once the hospital bill comes in, but until then, nothing.”
“I see.” Theo frowned. Yes, I can do that before I leave, a small thing, but maybe something he might remember me by.
Remember you? Mocking laughter filled his mind, the voice continuing, The only thing he will remember is all the suffering you brought him, the death and the pain and the terror of what you did. He’d be better off if you weren’t even here, Theo.
I know. The chimera nodded to himself, expression darkening. He felt Corey’s innocent eyes lingering on him, and pulled out the slim tube from his pocket. “This is for you, a sort of, hmm, get-well gift, I suppose.”
“Sorry, besides this will linger on even when other…things die.” Theo held it out and Corey took it from him curiosity flushing through his scent.
“Thanks.” Corey turned the tube over and over in his hands. After a moment he looked at Theo. “What is it?”
“The Surgeon made it for me before we came to Beacon Hills; it’s a special protective shield.” Theo explained. “It’s one of the last things I have that belonged to him.”
“Ok, but it’s really small.”
"It expands once you take it out." He looked at Corey, “Obviously.”
“Of course.” The younger chimera giggled. “Thanks Theo!”
“It’ll protect you against most supernatural monsters, and there’s a reflective coating to help against, um, fire and Hellhounds…” Theo trailed off, picking at a stray thread on the bedspread, before looking at him. “We never talked about it. Properly, I mean.”
“It doesn’t matter now.” Corey smiled at him, and touched his hand, rubbing his thumb and forefinger over the white lines and drying blood on his knuckles. “You saved my life, Theo, even though that put your own in danger. And the time before that, when Mr Douglas tried to take me? You saved me then too.”
“You’re a Phase-Walker,” Theo looked at him, their eyes connecting, before he averted his gaze. “You’re important, Corey, even if we weren’t…whatever, friends, or, yeah, you need to live.”
“Phase-Walker?” Corey frowned. “I thought I could just turn invisible?”
“It’s only a part of your abilities. The Surgeon has journals that will explain everything, I’ll make sure they’re in a pile and clearly marked so you can read them after…” He trailed off, and stood up abruptly. “I can hear Mason coming back, and Stiles is having some sort of victory celebration later, I better get ready for it.”
“Oh, ok, bye.” Corey was still rolling the tube over in his hands as Theo slipped out of the room, nodding at Mason as he passed.
“Excuse me,” Theo stopped in front of the nurses’ station, swallowing hard as Melissa looked up from her paperwork. “Oh, um…”
“Theo.” She spoke stiffly, eyes darting behind him to Corey’s room. “What do you want?”
“I didn’t know you were here, I’m just looking for the Accounts Department.” Theo stared at the water cooler behind her, “I’m sure I can find it on my own.”
“I have a debt to settle.” Theo glanced at her, seeing her eyes studying him, her scent suspicious, but also curious. “It’s for Corey, no reason he should get in trouble with his parents over him being here. They don’t even know, so let me pay his bill, and they don’t have to.”
“Hmm,” Melissa looked down at the logs and clicked her tongue. “Well, you’re right about them not being aware; they were called last night, and a message left, but nothing from them. How are you even going to pay for these bills anyway?”
“I’m sure Scott has told you everything, though maybe not where I’ve been for the past few months.” Theo reached into his pocket and pulled out a stack of slightly curled and well-worn dollar bills. “The Doctors liked to trade in gold, but even they had to use cash from time to time. There’s a couple hundred dollars here-”
“Those are stacks of Benjamins.” Melissa stared at him, using her hand to flick through the thick bundle. “His bill wouldn’t be that much.”
“Keep it then, or give it to Scott, he’s going to college soon, he can use it.” Theo shrugged, turning away from the counter and ignoring her repeated calls. “I won’t need it where I’m going.”
Theo stood in the middle of the Dread Doctors’ library holding the metal injector gun in his hands, it was still full of the tainted mercury and the chimera drew in a deep breath, preparing himself for what was to come next. Ares and Alexander were awake, staring at him, but Theo just shrugged, whispering. “You’re practically indestructible, and survived all these months alone without the Dread Doctors to look after you. You’ll be fine, maybe the others will take you in.” He exhaled and placed the injector on the nearby work station, glancing at the pile of the Surgeon’s journals and the neatly written note explaining their use to Corey. On the other side of the table, a large pile of misshapen gold ingots had been divided into groups, assigned to Stiles, Liam, Mason, Corey, and Parrish. Theo nodded to himself, satisfied that the preparations had been made.
“Yes, it’s done.” He wet his lips, hearing footsteps on the concrete stairs behind him, the dark shades of Tracy and Josh pressing on his left and right. Tara, come for me at last, now that my task is complete. Theo closed his eyes, picking up the metal syringe and placing it against his neck, at the point where his jaw met his ear. The needle was sharp and cold, and he could feel his blood pumping harder through his jugular. He paused, time seeming to slow to a crawl as Stiles’ face came into view, the rest of his body following. But this wasn’t his Stiles, this was the corrupt, broken, bleeding Stiles, grinning horribly even as the skin of his face cracked and spread apart into jagged fissures. “I know,” Theo muttered, looking at the monstrous figure. “You don’t need me anymore, you didn’t even really need me to begin with. The Hellhound could have opened the rift and Scott would have saved you. They should have left me where they found me, Stiles.” He drew one final breath, hearing the footsteps stop behind him, a heart beating fast. “Strange, I thought I had your heart? Or maybe you’ve already taken it, and I’m already gone? Trapped in this moment for all eternity? Is this my punishment? I want to go to the Dread Doctors, but instead you still find a way to drag me down into the darkness.”
“No!” The chimera snarled, his hand twitching and the needle skittering across his neck. “I won’t let you win!”
“No! Theo, don’t!”
“Grr! No, no, let go!” He whirled around, growling as strong hands wrestled the syringe away from him, the illusion of Tara crashing around him, and revealing Liam to be standing in her place. The werewolf’s eyes were glowing yellow and Theo released the injector gun in surprise. “You?”
“Theo? What the hell?!” Liam glared at him, taking several steps back. “What’s in this?”
“The end?” Liam echoed, scent diving from anxiety into fear. “You don’t mean…why would you do this?”
“I have to.” Theo replied softly, watching as the evil, bleeding version of Stiles moved around the room to stand beside the werewolf. “After everything I’ve done-”
“What? Saving Corey and Mason? Taking his pain so he could hold out and give Scott the time they needed to take down Douglas?” Liam shook his head and stepped out of reach as Theo tried half-heartedly to take the injector gun back. “Or how about all the times you’ve used tricks and secrets the Doctors gave you to help us? You’ve done things that no one else could’ve! We need you, Theo. I…” He paused, and flicked his eyes up, meeting Theo’s. “I need you. And I know that’s not fair, and you can’t give me everything I want right now, I get that, but please, just hold on, just ride out whatever nightmares are dancing around you, because I want there to be a moment where I might actually have the opportunity for this to be more than a bunch of really confusing feelings!”
Theo stared at him once Liam finished speaking, “I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything.” The werewolf muttered, his cheeks flushed and scent twirling between embarrassment and sincerity. “But, um, let me just get rid of this thing.” He gestured with the syringe, pausing at the foot of the stairs. “Don’t move!”
There’s about twenty more painful ways I could’ve done that, Liam, and they’re all still within arm’s reach. Theo heard the thoughts drift across his mind, a sudden wave of exhaustion washing over him. He sat down on the bench in front of the desk, trying to ignore the ever-present phantoms of the chimeras he had killed, and the crumbling visage of other-Stiles.
“Ok, so, we’re here, Theo.” Liam was looking at him, and the chimera blinked, thoughts of fleeing lost as the sounds of Stiles’ voice and laughter came across the driveway and in through his open window. “Let’s go.”
“Yeah.” Theo didn’t move.
“Um, Scott said he and Hayden won’t be here for another hour, they’re doing something.” Liam glanced at him, clearing his throat awkwardly. “Pack business.”
“Aren’t you part of their pack?”
“Yeah, but,” He flushed, a deeper pink than the moment in the Doctors’ library. “But I said that I wanted to check in on you. Don’t worry, Theo, once Scott understands how you helped us defeat the Ghost Riders, he’ll come around, you’ll see.”
“Right.” Trying to convince me or yourself? Theo shrugged and got out of the car, walking up the drive first, but waiting for Liam to knock on the door. He shrunk back as the Sheriff opened it, his eyes immediately darting down to the man’s hand where it rested for a moment on his gun. “Um, hi.”
“Come in,” The man stood aside, and Theo saw that there was a bottle of beer in his other hand, and he relaxed a fraction. “Stiles did all the cooking, so that means there’s a grand variety of takeout buffet from the finest places in Beacon Hills for under a hundred dollars!”
“Hey! Dad!” Stiles moved between Lydia and Deputy Parrish to glare at his father, but his expression changed quickly when Theo nodded at him. “Yay! You came!”
“Uh, oh, yeah.” Theo froze as Stiles unexpectedly hugged him, recovering in time to wrap his arms briefly around the teenager. His nostrils flared and once they moved apart, Theo glanced at Liam. Was that jealousy?
“So, you want a drink or anything? It’s either soda or juice or water, you know, with the law here and all!” Stiles grinned widely as his father groaned and walked away. “Theo?”
“Um, no, I’m ok.” He looked around, gesturing at the couch, “I’m just gonna sit down.”
“Stiles,” Liam cut across him, and Theo heard the urgency in his voice. “I need to talk to you, right now.”
Theo sat in silence, not reacting as Malia, Lydia, and Mason chatted amongst themselves across from him, only averting his thousand-yard stare into the empty fireplace when tan trousers moved into view. “Huh?”
“Hey, Theo.” Deputy Parrish smiled at him, and nodded at the vacant space on the couch. “May I?”
“Of course.” He mumbled, moving back so they weren’t so close to each other. “You’re back to yourself?”
“Yeah, I am, thanks to you.”
“It was Stiles and Liam, really.” Theo brushed off the praise, “You wouldn’t have even been controlled if I hadn’t dragged you into it.”
“That was to save Stiles.” Parrish shook his head. “And you didn’t just leave me under Douglas’ thrall either, you made an effort to bring me back. I appreciate that, Theo.”
“Ok.” The chimera nodded as the man smiled at him again, before seeing the expression change, his scent filling with more concern, and less of the smoky BBQ flavour that Theo had been unconsciously drawing in. He swallowed the excess salvia from his mouth and tried not to think about the delicious taste on his tongue. “Um…”
“Are you ok, Theo?”
“Yeah, I’m just, I’m tired.” He replied, successfully meeting the Hellhound’s kind eyes. “From everything; the fighting and Corey and-”
“Corey?” Parrish frowned, before realization dawned and he grinned wider. “That’s right! Mason was telling me about that earlier; you really are brave, Theo. Don’t know if I could do that.”
“Pretty sure you would if you could, Deputy.” Theo nodded. “I’ve never met anyone as nice or kind as you.”
“Not even Stiles or Liam?” Parrish laughed quietly as the chimera shrugged. “Well, we can keep it our little secret. Now, hang on, I’m gonna get you a soda, can’t have you sitting here all alone without even a drink to awkwardly sip!”
“Thanks.” Theo muttered, watching him stand and walk across the room, his eyes pausing on Stiles and Liam, deep in discussion. Just as the chimera was about to go over to them, he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. “Um, Sheriff?”
“I’d like a word with you, outside, c’mon.” Stiles’ father gestured, and Theo stood, following him through the kitchen and out onto the backyard. It was quieter out here, the sun almost set, casting the sky into a sea of pink-tinged clouds and the dark blue of approaching nightfall.
“What is it, Sheriff?” Theo turned away from the grass and looked at him.
“I’ve released your car from impound, there’s a few belongings in it, not much, but it’s waiting for you in the station parking lot.”
“Thanks.” Theo nodded, understanding. “When do you want me to go?”
“Go?” The Sheriff shook his head. “That wasn’t what I meant, I don’t need you to go anywhere, in fact, I agree with Stiles that you should stay here for a while. At the very least, until he leaves for college, that gives us a few weeks to figure out some sort of coping system or medical cure for…whatever this is.” He gestured vaguely at Theo.
“Why would you want that?”
“Because everyone deserves a second chance.” The Sheriff held his gaze. “Especially if that person is willing to do whatever it takes to save his friends and this town. And even more so if the only danger that person poses is to himself.”
“I don’t-” Theo began but the Sheriff shook his head. “Fine, I’ll stay. Wait.” He called out as the man made to return inside, reaching inside his borrowed hoodie to produce a small hunk of dull metal about the size of his index finger. “I’m pretty self-sufficient, but light, heat, power, this should cover it.”
“And then some!” The Sheriff took the gold piece after Theo waited expectantly for him to do so. “Stiles told me about this, but you do know you can’t just pay everyone in gold chunks, right?”
“Yeah, I know.” Theo nodded to himself, “I need to get the moulds for ingots.”
“Uh, sure.” Stiles’ father laughed, and gestured to the house. “Let me put this inside, and I’ll be right back to you.”
“Ok, I’ve made my amends to almost everyone who’s still alive…maybe that’s enough.” The chimera muttered, turning away to look at the garden, the sun had dropped below the horizon and shadows bled through the trees at the edge of the property. He sighed, nodding at the empty air. “I know you’re there, you can come out now.”
They emerged slowly, shadows flickering in the still night, pale faces and sunken eyes. Josh and Tracy and dozens more shades, echoed reflections of Stiles and Liam, Scott and Malia, Corey and Mason, all looking at him, accusing him. Tara came forward last, her appearance just as sodden and unkempt as he remembered. This time she didn’t speak, or point, or do anything, simply stood there, like a macabre tour guide waiting to escort him back to his own personal hell.
Theo exhaled softly, looking back at Stiles’ house, what the Sheriff had offered was kind, but only temporary. “Perhaps it would be better to end this all now.” He nodded at Tara, and began to walk towards her. “Let’s go.”
“Theo! Come back here!”
Rough hands pulled at him, grabbing his bicep and tugging him backwards, even as the chimera resisted their attempts to take him, seeing instead the group of reflections turn and look mournfully at him, Tara tilting her head, an evil grin splitting her face in two, foot tapping impatiently. “Let me go!” Theo grunted, ignoring the voices behind him. “It’ll be better this way, easier for everyone! Just let me go!” The claws had sprung out before he knew it and whoever was holding him released a cry of pain. A quick glance at his hand as he was running towards Tara’s open arms saw blood dappling the points of his nails. But Theo couldn’t stop to consider who he had hurt this time. “I can’t let them catch me, now that they have a justification, Scott won’t even have to argue for it…”
He had almost reached the fence at the end of Stiles’ garden when something heavy collided with him, and Theo crashed to the ground, rolling over and over. “Noooo! Get off me!” The chimera thrashed around, trying to free himself, but whatever was on top of him was pinning his body to the grass, their hand on his face, blinding him. For a moment, Theo couldn’t breathe, and he felt like he was back in the tight shelf of the morgue. He made to scream, but as Theo opened his mouth, a strange, smoky taste entered it. Parrish? Theo went still, and the weight moved off him, revealing that it was the Hellhound who had tackled him. The chimera glared at him. “Why did you do that?”
“To stop you running away.” Parrish frowned, before smiling at him. “You nicked Liam’s arm, but he’ll heal, and I thought for a minute I was going to have to ruin another uniform!”
“Oh. Sorry.” Theo muttered, glancing to his left, seeing Tara shake her head at him.
”I’ll be back soon, Theooooo!"
“What?” The Deputy stood up, offering his hand. “Come on, let’s go back, it’s fine, we can explain it to the others.”
“They’ll just put me-”
“No one wants to put you anywhere you don’t want to go.” Parrish pushed him gently towards the house as the Sheriff held a dishcloth to Liam’s arm and Stiles paced restlessly in front of the door. “But we need you to come back inside, can’t have you just running off like that, Theo, we don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Ok.” Theo muttered, glancing at his friendly expression, before casting his eyes down to the grass, not even looking up as they stepped onto the patio. He flinched when Stiles hugged him and shook his head. “Don’t.”
Theo didn’t answer, looking instead at Liam. The werewolf gave the Sheriff the cloth back, stained with his blood, even though his arm was healed again. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok, you’re not yourself.”
“That’s probably a good thing!” Stiles gave a short laugh, but Theo saw Liam glare at him. “Ok, so, um, where were you going, Theo?”
“Um, yeah, but back to the library or…”
“The only place I deserve to go.” Theo replied after glancing up to see them all looking at him. “But with the sword broken…only Tara can bring me there. I have to back; I hurt Liam-”
“It’s nothing.” The werewolf protested, but Theo ignored him, continuing to speak.
“-and that’s not even considering all the other horrible things I’ve done, not just here, but before, in other towns and places where the Dread Doctors came and went. They said it was for science, for the greater good, they said…so many things that weren’t true.”
“Ok, but Theo,” Stiles sighed, “the sword is broken, Scott told that himself. How is your dead sister-”
“She’s not dead.” Theo pointed over his shoulder. “She’s in the forest, waiting for me. I should go to her, end it once and for all.”
“Yeah, that’s not going to be happening, buddy.” Parrish shook his head and placed a hand on Theo’s shoulder. “You talk about all the bad things you’ve done, well, remember that you rescued me, you saved me from Douglas and whatever terrible plans he had for me after the Ghost Riders came through from the other side.”
“And don’t forget about me.” Stiles interjected, catching Theo’s attention. “I know that you spent every second since Liam brought you back trying to find me.”
“Not every second.” Theo murmured, frowning as Liam flushed. Weird.
“Sure, you had a few crazy moments along the way, who hasn’t-”
“Stiles!” The Sheriff groaned.
“But the important thing is that you never gave up,” Stiles grinned at him. “Hell, you even came inside the train station of doom to get me out! I forgive you, Theo, for everything. Ok?”
“And let’s not forget what you did for Corey.” Liam said, his scent fluctuating wildly between embarrassment and pride. “You and the battle-bunny took on a load of Ghost Riders and saved his life!”
“Battle-bunny?” Stiles’ father muttered, glancing at Parrish as the Deputy smirked.
“I guess.” Theo frowned. “But what about Scott?”
“Um,” Liam pulled out his phone, glancing at the screen. “He should be here in ten minutes.”
“Well, let’s go sit down inside, huh?” Parrish looked meaningfully at the door, and Theo followed his gaze, resisting again as the Deputy tried to get him to walk. “C’mon, Theo, it’s not a trap!”
“Ok.” Theo nodded slowly after Stiles chuckled and Liam smiled at him, moving again when Parrish pushed him in the small of his back.
Theo looked away from where Liam and Stiles were quietly arguing about him, his ears barely picking up the sound of Scott’s bike from the street outside. He had noticed that the exhaust pipe was bent in slightly and always gave it a throatier roar than it should, but perhaps the Alpha liked it that way. Theo used think that it was good for him to be able to identify when Scott was coming, so he could modulate his scent, or appear more innocent than he actually was. But now, it was a sound he associated with a different set of emotions. The chimera shuddered.
“You ok, Theo?” Parrish was standing in front of him, pushing a hot cup of tea into his hands. “Drink this, it’s pretty sweet, but it, uh, should help.”
“How is that going to help him?” Stiles asked, getting up to sit next to Theo. “He didn’t fall into a lake.”
“Well, it’s a hell of a lot better than your stupid idea.” Liam said nastily, his scent spiking into anger. “Eichen House is the last place Theo should be; locked in a tiny room, are you crazy?!”
“It was just a suggestion.” Stiles glared at him, rubbing Theo’s back possessively. “And don’t lecture me about Eichen, I know what it’s like a lot better than you do, I was only thinking it because of how, err…”
“Damaged I am?” Theo looked between them. “It doesn’t matter, Scott’s here.”
“Good,” Parrish sighed, “Maybe you two can stop taking pot shots at each other and actually help?”
“I’ll fill Scott in.” Stiles replied at once.
“Well, I’ll keep Theo company then.” Liam said firmly, sitting into Stiles’ vacated position. “Ok?”
“Sure.” Theo shrugged, watching the door until Hayden and Scott entered. He didn’t look away even as the two werewolves glanced his way. Huh, I thought Liam said they were doing pack stuff. Why did they need to have showers after that? Theo wrinkled his nose when Hayden came closer to them, sitting opposite Liam after a muttered greeting. She smelt of soap and hot water, with a hint of guilt. It took him a moment to discern the other twist in her scent, the smell only coming into focus when Scott returned and sat next to her, Stiles going to Theo’s other side.
He ignored the sudden closeness of both Liam and Stiles squashed into the two-person couch, his brow furrowing as the unpleasant melding of male and female arousal threaded across the room from the two werewolves. Theo rolled his tongue against his teeth, trying to rid the taste from his mouth, even as Hayden and Scott carefully avoided looking at one another. So, Liam was right, they are together. But does he still just suspect that? He doesn’t seem to have noticed their scents though.
“So,” Scott coughed awkwardly, heeding Parrish’s and the Sheriff’s not-so-subtle nods. “Um, Theo, there’s, um, well, the fact is…I was wrong. You have been useful.”
Theo remained silent, staring emotionlessly at the Alpha, even as Stiles gestured forcefully beside him.
“And, uh, well, I guess the pack-not me-needs you.” Scott glanced at Liam and then spoke quickly. “Uh, I mean, once I’m gone…to college, maybe it’s good that you’ll be here for them, I mean, since you’re not leaving, right? I mean, you can’t, right, you’re still cra-”
“Thanks, Scott.” The chimera cut off his babbling and nodded curtly. “That must have been hard for you to say.”
“You know, Theo, you’re actually kind of a good person.” Theo could see Scott was talking to him, but the Alpha was looking at Hayden instead. “You don’t lie to your friends, or steal what’s theirs, and everything you’ve done to get Stiles and Corey back, you’ve never…you’re not hurting the pack anymore.” The Alpha flicked his gaze across Liam and then to Theo. “Right?”
“I have no interest in hurting this pack.”
“Oh, good, great. So, um…”
“It’s important to tell the truth, Scott.” Theo continued to stare right at him, for the first time seeing the Alpha squirm slightly. “That’s something I’ve learned the hard way, not to let lies and treachery destroy everything you hold dear.”
“Great.” Scott glanced at Stiles, smiling and shrugging helplessly as if Theo was spouting more nonsense. “Is that it?”
“Not quite the party you were expecting, huh?!” Stiles laughed with Lydia and Mason as they walked out to the car with Malia. Scott had left soon after, and Liam took a sour-faced Hayden home just moments ago, once Theo had promised him that he’d come over and play video games with him, Mason, and Corey that Sunday.
Theo placed his hand on the wooden surround of the door, feeling his memory spark back to a time when he had stood in this very spot and revealed he was a chimera to Stiles, had told him everything, and watched the hardness form in what was then his boyfriend’s eyes. The day everything changed, the day I lost it all and burnt every bridge in the hopes of getting the Beast’s power for myself… Theo started when Parrish said his goodbyes and walked out past him. The chimera nodded numbly and watched the Deputy get into his car, driving down the street. “Ok, my turn.” He turned to leave, but both the Sheriff and Stiles were standing in the driveway, both with their arms folded, although Stiles’ smirk spoiled their otherwise intimidating stances. “What?”
“I meant what I said, Theo.” The Sheriff pointed back inside the house. “You’re staying here, and I’m not taking any argument about it.”
“C’mon, Theo, I’ll get you some clothes to sleep in, and then you can shower in the morning, ok?” Stiles grinned and bounded forward, taking his hand and pulling the reluctant chimera upstairs. “C’mon! You’ll be sleeping in the room behind mine, remember? So, if you need anything, you just call out, ok?”
“Um, ok.” Theo nodded, climbing the stairs after Stiles. “I don’t remember what happened to the clothes from yesterday though.”
“It’s cool,” Stiles grinned at him. “Blood is really hard to get out of fabric, but I have miles of flannel for you to wear!”
“Oh, I remember now.”
“Hey, c’mon, don’t be sad.” Stiles punched him affectionately on the shoulder and Theo looked silently at him. “I think for tonight though you should wear my Giants t-shirt. I got it in San Fran last summer when I was there with my Dad, but I only wear it to bed: it’s kinda long. Here.”
“Thanks.” Theo nodded again, blinking as Stiles continued to talk non-stop, his scent thrumming with happiness. He pulled off his shirt, hearing the teenager take a quick breath, his pulse spiking up. Theo glanced at Stiles, confused as to why he was suddenly silent. He ran a hand down his chest, but Theo couldn’t feel any injuries or dried blood. “What is it?”
“Um, nothing, just, um.” Stiles flushed, his eyes darting up to Theo’s. “I’m just remembering the last time we were in a situation like this, you’ve, err, become more defined, I guess. But, uh, put the shirt on, while my Dad’s here we’re meant to be friends, right?”
“And when he’s not?” The chimera asked uncertainly. “Then what are we?”
“Shh!” Stiles held his finger up to his lips and winked. “Hopefully he’ll get an early morning callout tomorrow and you’ll see!”
“Um, right.” Theo pulled the t-shirt over his head and followed Stiles into the guest room. “Thanks, by the way, I would have been fine in their lab or the library.”
“What? No way!” The teenager shook his head furiously. “I wasn’t gonna let you sleep there! There’s not even a bed! If my Dad hadn’t offered, I was gonna persuade him, at least for tonight. I was thinking that we get your truck back, and then at least you have something that’s yours.”
“I have gold.” Theo slipped a hand into his pocket and offered a knuckle-sized hunk to him. “I gave some to your Dad earlier, but that was just for all the trouble the Doctors caused with the Beast and all, this is for me.”
“Light, heat, water, wear and tear.” Theo grabbed Stiles’ hand and forced the nugget inside. “Take it!”
“Ok, ok, I’ll take it.” Stiles grinned at him. “We need to find you a jeweller, or maybe a bank or something, I’m not sure you realize the value of gold.”
“The Doctors always used it.”
“Not the best role models, Theo.” He gestured at the bed. “Go on, get in.”
Theo did so, watching as Stiles sat on the duvet beside him, “What?”
“I don’t think I ever properly said thanks.”
“I know.” He grinned again, leaning in to kiss Theo’s cheek softly, before pulling back quickly. “Thanks, Theo, I’ll see you in the morning, ok?”
“Ok.” Theo whispered, shaking his head when Stiles’ hand lingered on the light switch. Once he was alone, the chimera raised a finger to his face and then turned over, breathing in Stiles’ scent on the t-shirt as he drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
Theo chewed on his nails nervously as Parrish filled out the paperwork to get his truck out of the impound lot. He could feel the jagged edges of the plate smoothen out as chimera healing kicked in. Stiles gestured for him to stop. “Huh?”
“Relax, it’s gonna be ok.” The teenager sighed, foot tapping with excess energy. “Figures my Dad would get the call to go in after you had showered and dressed. I remember what you’re like; presenting the perfect image to the world, huh, Theo?”
“Well, maybe not anymore. Sorry.”
“It’s fine.” Theo shrugged, standing up quickly when Parrish came over to him. “Well?”
“Yeah, I’ll bring you out back, make sure it’s all there and you can sign it over.” The Deputy smiled warmly at him, gesturing towards the door, but held up a hand when Stiles made to follow. “Err, you stay here.”
“What? There’s no Department policy that says I can’t come!” Stiles protested as Theo followed the Hellhound.
“But there is a policy that recognizes achievement!” The Sheriff boomed out from behind the coffee machine. He moved forward with the help of two deputies, an enormous sheet cake between them. “Congratulations on getting into George Washington University, Stiles!” Streamers exploded overhead and the deputies all began to cheer and applaud, moving forward to shake Stiles’ hand and pat him on the back.
“C’mon,” Parrish whispered, touching Theo’s arm. Once they were outside in the impound lot, he glanced at the chimera. “I figured that maybe you’d feel uncomfortable in there with everyone and the surprise and all.”
“Yeah.” Theo nodded, glancing at him. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” The Deputy pointed at his truck, slightly dented and covered in mud. “We found it up near the Preserve; you left the keys in it, and a couple of Juniors took it for a joyride until the gas ran out.”
“Great.” Theo placed his hand against the dark blue panels and sighed. “Thanks, Parrish.”
“Sure, I put some gas in the tank, enough to get you around for a few days.” The Deputy stepped into his line of sight as Theo grabbed the edge of the cargo area and pulled himself up to look inside. “Hey?”
“I just want to let you know that if you ever need somewhere to stay-I know you’re at the Sheriff’s place now-but later, if you ever need it or want it, you can stay with me.”
“Don’t you have a boyfriend?” Theo grabbed a few of the beer cans that were still in the back and fired them into the trash bin with perfect accuracy. “Parrish?”
“Yeah, which is why I’m offering the spare bed or the couch.” He chuckled, watching Theo continuing to throw. “You’ve quite the arm there, ever play football?”
“No, never.” Theo shrugged. “I don’t know how.”
“Never did as a kid, and the Doctors never had any use for it, so I never needed to learn how.” Theo shrugged, jumping out of his truck and tossing the final can into the bin.
“Wow!” There was a shout of appreciation from the door of the station. “Touchdown!”
Theo looked around the truck to see another deputy approaching them, blond hair and good looking, he glanced back as Parrish’s pulse spiked. “Oh, that’s him?”
“Yeah, c’mere Aaron.” Parrish gestured, “I’m not sure you’ve ever actually met Theo, right?”
“No, I never did. Nice to meet you, Theo.” The Deputy grinned at him, nodding at the trash bin. “I saw you throwing, pretty good huh? Too bad Beacon Hills is all about lacrosse.”
“Wouldn’t do him much good,” Parrish grinned. “He doesn’t know how to play!”
“I’m guessing we need to fix that, huh?” Aaron smiled back, and gestured at the station, “Sheriff’s calling, there’s a 447 out on Route 18 near the Preserve. It’s pretty remote, I said I’d go with you…if you guys are done here?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Theo nodded and signed the paperwork, smiling to himself as he watched the two cops leave. It had been the first normal interaction in days, only to be interrupted almost immediately as Stiles emerged from the station with three paper plates, each balancing huge squares of cake. The teenager ran towards him and predictably tripped over his feet in his enthusiasm, two plates going flying as he held grimly onto the third. “Oh!” The chimera darted forward to catch the first plate as it fell over, saving the cake as Stiles whooped at him.
“Is it nice?” Theo asked, gesturing at the truck. “We’re good to go.”
“The cake is really sweet, Scott would love it!” Stiles grinned at him, opening the truck doors and managing to get inside without dropping anything else. “I brought you a slice.”
“Thanks.” Theo nodded, climbing into the driver’s seat. “Where are we going?”
“I don’t mind.” He shrugged, and the chimera started driving. Stiles continued to talk as he shovelled cake inside his mouth. “Hey, my Dad was wondering if you wanted to watch a movie tonight? Apparently, I’ve missed some good releases and then last year with the Dread Doctors, well, I haven’t seen a film in ages!”
“Um, sure?” Theo tried not to grin when Stiles sprayed crumbs all over the dashboard, handing him a bottle of water from the stash in the cooler behind him. Those Juniors didn’t touch that, took all the good stuff though, damn kids! “Here. Um, so I know when we had that, err, week when we were dating, and I said that I loved films and the cinema too…”
“You were lying?”
“Um, yeah, I knew that you liked that sort of thing, and I needed, wanted, to appear normal, so I lied.” Theo avoided his eyes. “I’ve actually, um, I haven’t seen a movie since I was nine, the Doctors never found a use for it or TV.”
“Nine years without TV?!” Stiles stared at him, aghast.
“Well, they did have screenings of old surgeries and experiments.” He added, “The Pathologist liked them because he said it helped you to learn, and the Geneticist always really enjoying writing those cards for what the people had to say.”
“Um, wait, you mean in black and white with no sound?!”
“Of course.” Theo nodded, glancing at him with a furrowed brow. “How else were you meant to know what they were discussing?”
“Oh, Theo,” Stiles grinned widely at him. “You are going to be blown away by tonight’s films! And if we’re lucky, you might just be blown too!”
“Um.” Theo flushed, unsure as to what he should say. He continued to drive, pulling in where Stiles gestured for him to. “What now?”
“Gotta have snacks for movie night, dude! C’mon, I’ll show you how!”
Theo stared at the screen, mesmerized by the colors and sounds of the explosion as the two heroes raced across the asphalt away from the evil doer’s lair. Stiles had told him the name of the film, but it hadn’t meant anything to him at the time. The Sheriff was on his other side, reacting loudly as the villain jumped down from a helicopter. “Woah!”
“Hell yeah!” Stiles whooped, watching the TV and pressing another bag of candy into Theo’s hands. “Here!”
“Thanks.” He grinned, happiness flooding through him for the first time since he was back in Beacon Hills. Even the shifting presence of Tara in the corner of his eye didn’t bother Theo as much right now; it was a battle he would fight another time.
Theo is beginning his slow road to recovery, but as ever in Beacon Hills, there are more monsters on the horizon! Some drama and fluff in the coming two chapters, and then more action for the rest of the story. I'm at about the half way point now.