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The Madness Within

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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.

“Your sister?”

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.”

“Fine.”

 

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.”

“And then?”

“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!”

“Uh…”

“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.

“Hey!”

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.”

“Err…”

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?”

“Taken.”

“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.”

“Fine.”

 

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 Text

“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?”

“Hahaha.”

“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.

“He’s awake.”

“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.”

“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-”

“Theo!”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“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?”

“Of course.”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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?”

“Huh?”

“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?”

“Yes, Theo!”

“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.”

“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.”

“Shit.”

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 Text

“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.”

“I don’t-”

“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?”

“Dunno.”

“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.

 

“Sit there.”

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.”

“Why?”

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?”

“Huh?”

“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.”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.”

“Whatever.”

“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.

“Theo?”

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?”

“Who?”

“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…

Chapter Text

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!”

“Don’t!”

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.”

“But-”

“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?”

“What?”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.”

“And now?”

“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-

“Theo?”

“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.

”Hello?!”

“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.

Chapter Text

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?”

“I…I remember.”

“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?”

“Hey!”

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.”

 

“Come on.”

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.

“Ow!”

“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?”

“How far?”

“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."

"Yeah."

"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."

Chapter Text

“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."

Chapter Text

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?”

“Go in.”

“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…

“Theo?”

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.”

“And me?”

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?”

“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.

“Don’t!”

“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.”

“Mmh.”

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.”

“Yeah. Night.”

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.”

“But-”

“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."

"I know."

"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."

"But-"

"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?"

"Yeah."

"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.

“Hi Theo.”

“Parrish.”

“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?”

“No.”

“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.

“Who?”

“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?”

“No.”

“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.

”Theeeeeeeeooo!”

“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.

Chapter Text

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.”

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.”

“I-”

“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.”

“I figured.”

“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.”

“What?”

“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!”

“He’s exaggerating.”

“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.”

“Um.”

“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.”

“Huh.”

“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.

“Theo.”

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.”

“Go on.”

“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.”

“Ok.”

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?”

“Yeah?”

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.”

“Really?”

“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 Text

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.

“Theo?”

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.

“Theo?”

“Ah!” The chimera scrambled backwards jumping towards the window.

“No!”

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.”

“Huh?”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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.

“Theooo!”

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.

“Um, Theo?”

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.

“Sure.”

“Yeah.” Theo watched him leave, breathing normally, even as his pulse spiked.

“Another…vision?”

“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.”

“Who?”

“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.”

“But Theo-”

“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.

“Ah!”

“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.”

“Huh.”

“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?”

“No.”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

“Uh…”

“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.”

“Um…”

“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.”

Chapter Text

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!”

“It’s nothing.”

“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.”

“You ever…?”

“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?”

“Fine.”

“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.”

“That…yeah.”

“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.”

“Oh, ok.”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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!”

Chapter Text

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…

 

“…Theo! Theo!”

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.

“Theo!”

“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!”

“But-”

“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?”

“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.

 

“Wohoo!”

“Fuck, yeah!”

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 Text

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!”

“Theo!”

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-”

“NOOOOOOOOOO!”

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!”

“Theo!”

“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.”

“Ok.”

“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.

“I’m sorry!”

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?”

“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.”

“But-”

“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?"

"But-"

"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 Text

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-”

“Theoooo!”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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…”

“Not what?”

“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.”

“Oh.”

“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-

“Theo?”

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.”

“Theo…”

“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.”

“No flowers?”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

“Theo…”

“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.”

“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.”

“Yeah, that’s-”

“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.”

Chapter Text

“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!"

“I know.”

“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.”

“Why not?”

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?”

“Away.”

“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.”

“You?”

“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.”

“You don’t-”

“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?”

“Um, right.”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.

Chapter Text

“Theo, dude, you gotta stop sneaking outta the house like this.”

“I wasn’t sneaking.” Theo replied moodily as Stiles sighed over the phone to him. The chimera tipped a bowl of black powder into a beaker of silver liquid and swirled it around. “I just left quietly.”

“Yeah, but I was talking to myself in the kitchen for ten minutes looking like a crazy person!”

“Mmh, you’re not the crazy one.”

“Shit, Theo, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“I know what you meant.” Theo cut him off and twiddled the knobs on the gas burner underneath the glass tubes. “But it doesn’t matter, Stiles, and you should be getting ready, your flight is in a few hours.”

“My Dad is gonna drive me out there, we can stop for you if you want?” Stiles sounded hopeful and this time it was Theo who sighed. “Or not? I mean, it won’t be forever anyway, the first few days are all admin and crap, I can come home pretty quickly.”

“Don’t.” He frowned, checking the mixture and adding a thimbleful of blue grounds, nodding when a pink smoke exploded from the concoction with a loud pop. “You should-”

“Theo, what are you doing?

“I told you this morning.”

“No, you told me that the ‘moons had aligned, and the Doctors instructed you that it was time.’ That wasn’t an answer then, and it’s not one now.” Stiles paused, and Theo could almost see his frown. “You’re not trying to make more chimeras, are you?”

“No, why would you think that?” Theo shook his head even though Stiles couldn’t see him. “It’s for…well, just send me your new address as soon as you have it, and then you’ll see.”

“Oh? So, it’s a surprise, for me? Cool!”

“Yeah, and don’t worry about the packaging, it’s something I learned from the Pathologist when using the postal service.” Theo added conversationally. “Those fragile stickers are great and all, but you really need to slap on something like ‘Highly Volatile’, or ‘Explosive,’ or hell, ‘Warning: Dangerous Pathogen,’ they won’t drop it then!”

“Um, Theo,” Stiles spoke slowly after almost a minute of silence. “You do know where I’m going, right?”

“To college.”

“Yeah, uh, yup, and why?”

“To become an FBI agent, duh.” Theo frowned at the phone and rested it in-between his cheek and shoulder as he pulled on a pair of thick, fire-retardant gloves. “Enforce the law, catch terrorists, that’s what you said.”

“Right, right,” Stiles grunted. “Just making sure we’re on the same page…even if you’re in a different book.”

“Just a minute, Stiles.” Theo let the phone drop onto the bench, so he could use the tongs to grip the crucible better, pulling out the glowing clay jar from the furnace, his grin lit up by the white heat rolling off it. “Just a minute!” He shouted out as Stiles demanded to know what he was doing. Theo tilted the crucible and watched carefully as the molten metal poured out onto the clay molds he had made. “Shit!”

“What?! What’s going on? Why is there screaming?” Stiles’ voice came through the phone as Theo danced around the Dread Doctors’ underground library, molten gold having slopped out of the crucible and splashed all around the bench when the molds broke. “THEO!”

“Everything’s fine! Nothing to worry about! It’s all fine, all fine, Stiles!” Theo shouted at the phone, reaching across the melting table to push it away from the gold. “Just a minor malfunction, no big deal!”

“Malfunction? Theo, you said this wasn’t an experiment!”

“I said it wasn’t an experiment on anything alive!” Theo replied hotly. “What sort of monster do you think I am? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go mop up before the molten gold melts through the floor and hits all those highly explosive chemicals stored in the sub-basement!” He slapped the phone hurriedly before Stiles could cut across him again and glared at the large grey rabbit watching him innocently from across the sea of liquefied gold. “That’s your new master, Axel, he doesn’t quite understand yet, but once you arrive, he’ll get it, ok, bunny? Just have to get the consistency of the reaction right…”

 

Theo straightened up when he heard the creak of rusted hinges behind him, and the sound of footsteps on the concrete stairs. He went still, brows furrowed as he listened to the person’s heartbeat, finally nodding to himself when she stopped behind him, the scent twisted with motes of Scott and Liam, the former being more dominant. “Hayden.”

“Theo.” She replied shortly, glancing around as the chimera finally turned to look at her. Hayden’s arms were folded, a small cloth bag tucked under her left one, it was empty from the way she shrugged at him. “This is…cosy.”

“Why are you here? Who told you about this place?” Theo eyed her suspiciously and walked slowly back towards the alchemy equipment. He had managed to clean up the molten gold and left the sheets of it to one side, so he could smelt it down later. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Neither should you,” Hayden smirked cruelly. “You should be in a hole in the ground, and we would have figured out the Ghost Riders some other way.”

“Well, I’m not.”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, Theo. At first, I didn’t much care about you, when Liam started talking about how you have all this gold lying around, I’ll admit I began to think you might actually be useful.” She smiled again.

“What do you want?” Theo placed his hands behind his back, reaching for the flat-bladed chisel that he had used to chip the hardened gold off the ruined table. Werewolf now, I can’t beat her in a straight-up fight, not if-

“Retribution!” Hayden plucked the bag from under her arm and threw it at his feet. “Reparations for everything you’ve done to me, to the pack, to Scott, to Beacon Hills. I want you to pay for all the hurt you’ve caused, all the blood on your hands from helping the Dread Doctors…”

Theo glanced to one side as the room seemed to grow darker and Hayden’s outline went fuzzy, only the sound of her voice distinct. He swallowed hard when her eyes began to glow and water dripped down from her sodden hair, Hayden’s features falling away as Tara’s slid into place on the werewolf’s body. “You…”

“Give me what I want, Theo!”

“You’ll never get what you want! I’m not giving it to you, it’s mine now!” Theo shook his head furiously and whipped out the chisel, “You’ll have to kill me first!”

“Blue eyes aren’t worth the hassle of killing you,” Hayden’s voice came from Tara’s unmoving lips, and Theo winced as the image of his sister shuddered and flickered between her and Hayden. “Just give me the gold and we’ll call it even.”

“Gold?” Theo stumbled backwards with a cry as Hayden’s claws flashed out and sliced the knuckles of his hand, prompting him to drop the weapon. He didn’t fight back when she shoved him against a row of metal drawers; her terrible, dead face looking at him, eyes burning with malevolent fire filling his vision. “No, no, no, just take it, just take it all!” Theo pointed towards the other bench across the room where misshapen stacks of golden lumps and twisted cords of the precious metal had been placed. “Just, just leave me alone!”

“Oh, I plan to!” Hayden reappeared as she moved away, firing a grin his way, before picking up the bag and cramming it full of the transmuted element. “Or rather, I should say that we will be leaving you alone. We’ll be going faraway, Theo, maybe somewhere hot, somewhere we never have to see you again.”

“Liam is-”

“You know that’s not true. I heard you, just like Scott did. At the party you ruined?” The werewolf grunted as she glared at the gold. “This better sell like the real stuff.”

“It is real.” Theo straightened up, shaking his head as Tara’s face finally fell away from Hayden’s. “You and Scott are running away? Is that what this is about?”

“He loves me!” She whirled around, the bag clunking in her grip. “We are going to start a life together, and you owe me, Theo, you owe us for everything!”

“I brought you back from the dead, isn’t that enough?” He watched her coolly, his hand healed. “I could’ve-”

“Shut up. You manipulated me, you…” Hayden trailed off, huffing. “I have Scott now, and you won’t tell anyone about this. Who’s going to believe you anyway, Theo? You’re crazy, clearly.” She scoffed, looking past him at the half-melted table and hardened streams of gold that Theo hadn’t gathered up.

I could fight her, but, she’s Liam’s…no, maybe she’s right, maybe this is a good way to make amends. It’s what I did for the Sheriff, there’s nothing different about it. Theo had closed his eyes while the thoughts sluggishly pushed through his mind, opening them to see Hayden looming imposingly over him, claws bared and yellow eyes boring into his own. “Get out of here, I won’t tell anyone.”

“I’m counting on a head start!” Hayden snarled, using both hands to grab Theo’s t-shirt and throw him across the room.

“Argh!” Theo screamed as he crashed through a stack of carefully ordered notes and collided heavily with the wall behind. His head cracked against the brickwork and he was vaguely aware of his knee being a mass of pain, something wet and viscous on his hands when he reached down to feel his leg. But before Theo could confirm an injury he blacked out completely.

 

“There you go, ok, Theo, you’re ok.”

“Who-” He frowned, before relaxing, a lance of pain racing across his features. “Ah!”

“It’s alright, I’m here, just gonna get you off the floor…and out of the blood pool, fuck Hayden.”

“Liam?” Theo blinked his eyes, recognizing the werewolf’s voice, his scent laced with fury and upset. “Liam, is that you?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m right here.” Theo felt strong hands grip him and pull him upright, placing him into the Pathologist’s reading chair, a tall, leather and polished wood affair, the armrests feeling familiar under his fingers. “Ok, um, I don’t know how long you were out, and chimeras heal slower than us, but, um, your leg is kinda alright, I think.”

“Hmm,” Theo forced his eyes open, head feeling like it was stuffed full of cotton wool and looked up at Liam’s concerned face. “What?”

“Um, Hayden threw you across the room, right? I mean, maybe you did it to yourself, but I know how meticulous you are about the Doctors’ possessions. I just thought-”

“Stop!” Theo sat upright, barely acknowledging the long gash down his knee and leg from where he had caught the edge of the Surgeon’s experimental multi-scalpel hand attachment. The chimera’s face crumbled as he stared at the strewn notebooks and blood splattered pages. “No, no, no!” He jumped up, shoving a surprised Liam to one side and started gathering up the scattered journals. “They have to be in order, numerical and then scientific, and no blood! No blood! NO BLOOD!” Theo screamed at the floor, tears spilling down his cheeks as the bitter sting of failure cascaded through him. “When the Doctors come back, they’ll be so angry…I need to, need to fix this, with, with cloths and water and-”

“Theo, stop.” Liam cut him off by hugging the chimera tightly from behind, pulling him upright and crossing his arms across his chest when Theo struggled to get free. “Theo, it’s ok, they won’t be…back for a while. For days, in fact.”

“Days?” Theo half turned, Liam’s face close to his own, close enough to see the stubble forming after the teenager’s morning shave. “Where are they gone?”

“They’ll be back, don’t worry!” Liam’s expression flickered for a moment as though he was lying. “They’ve, um, gone to get new, err, parts? You have plenty of time to clean up.”

“Ok, good.” Theo replied, facing forward again, the panic fading. But the werewolf didn’t release him, if anything his grip got tighter, and the chimera flinched when Liam unexpectedly hooked his chin over Theo’s shoulder, the tip of his nose brushing along bare skin as though drawing in his scent. One of Liam’s hands started running up and down Theo’s forearm in a gesture that was part comforting and part…something else. Stiles does this sometimes, well, he usually doesn’t thrust his crotch forward as much, maybe werewolf hugs are different. But I need to start tidying up! “Liam?”

“Hmm?”

“Can you, um,” Theo hesitated as Liam’s lips touched his neck and the chimera went still when he felt the hard bulge against his ass. “Um, Hayden said…”

“Yeah, I know.” Liam sighed regretfully, slowly pulling away from Theo as though he didn’t want to. “I have your gold, by the way. I don’t know what got into her, but Scott obviously wasn’t down for whatever plan she had going on.”

“She said they were going to run away, start a life together,” Theo replied, making his way past the knocked over books and towards the front of the library where Liam had left the bag full of gold. “That she and Scott were…in love.” He looked at Liam for a reaction, but the werewolf just nodded. “You knew?”

“I suspected, but I didn’t know for sure until Scott told me an hour ago.” Liam shrugged, sitting on a stool next to the rabbit cages. “Things between us had been strained long before you came back, but I’m not gonna say that I don’t…that you didn’t…well, we had that shower together, right?”

“Sure,” Theo muttered, taking the bag back to the bench. And you got Scott to lock me up the next day; I know what that meant. “So, where’s Hayden now?”

“Scott said her sister changed districts after the whole Ghost Rider incident, so Hayden will stay with her, change schools, leave the pack.” Liam sighed. “Scott will be here until the Fall though; he wants to make sure the pack will be ok when he goes to college then. He said he never had plans to run away with Hayden, but admitted they were sleeping together.”

“Are you ok?” Theo glanced at him, seeing Liam shrug. “You don’t seem too upset.”

“Well, not about her and Scott cheating.” Liam shook his head, scent twisting into hesitation before he reached for Theo’s arm, fingers gliding across his warm skin. “But that doesn’t mean that she can get away with hurting you and stealing all your gold!”

“I gave it to her.”

“What?”

“She said that I had to make reparations for everything that I did, and she was right.” Theo nodded, tipping the gold chunks back onto the table. “I know we got Stiles back, and Corey, and Parrish, but that doesn’t make up for everything that happened with the Dread Doctors and the Beast and making you attack-”

“Theo, stop, it does,” Liam gripped his forearm tight, dragging the chimera’s eyes away from his glinting treasures. “It more than makes up for all of that, including the whole trying to kill Scott thing! And besides, you’re…you know, different now.”

“Huh.” Theo pulled his arm out of Liam’s grip, shaking his head. “Just because I’m different doesn’t mean I get a free pass for all the things I’ve done. If Hayden was gonna be persuaded by money or gold, then I’d have had no problem giving her everything.”

“Well, forget about the gold, she attacked you!” Liam was glaring at him, and Theo just shrugged.

“I’ll heal.”

“Gah! Why aren’t you angry at her? Plotting, scheming, vengeance!” He cried, throwing his arms out dramatically. “No?”

“I need to put everything back the way it was.” Theo mumbled, calmly replacing the misshapen blocks of gold as Liam just gaped at him. “That’s the only thing that matters.”

“I…fine, Theo.” The werewolf sighed. “But you can’t stay cooped up in here all day every day. It’s summer now, we don’t have to be in school anymore, we can do…things, you know?”

“I like it here.”

“Yeah, but, c’mon,” Liam smirked at him, fingers on his muscular arms again, this time trailing upwards to push the short sleeves of his shirt back. “How are you gonna maintain this killer tan without going outside?! Come swimming with us tomorrow night! Me and Mason and Corey; there’s this awesome spot in the Preserve, near the big waterfall. The water gets cool and clear and kinda magical; perfect for a stifling summer’s night! It’ll be fun!”

“Hmm, maybe.” Theo shrugged, smiling slightly when Liam arched his brows at him. “I guess.”

“Cool, I-” Liam stopped mid-sentence as his phone buzzed against his leg. “Um, it’s Mason. I’ll just go outside, ok?”

“Of course.” Theo nodded and ran his hands across the gold, nodding to himself when he came up one short, the scent of another werewolf all over the metal. “College is expensive after all, isn’t it, Scott?”

 

Theo looked over his shoulder, smiling when Stiles appeared, looking around the library and glaring at the melted table. “Hey, you found it!”

“Of course I found it, Theo.” Stiles nodded at the gold. “Is that what you were doing this morning?”

“I was trying to get the gold into the molds, see?” Theo held up one of the cracked clay frames, casually throwing a drape over the cage containing the grey rabbit. “But they broke apart and it went everywhere.”

“Are you hurt?” Stiles placed his hand on Theo’s neck and jaw, tilting his face this way and that, the chimera letting him. “Hmm, I thought you’d be burnt, not bleeding?” He dabbed his index finger against the still-tacky smear along Theo’s forehead and frowned. “Did something happen? Does it have anything to do with Hayden stealing a squad car and fleeing from Scott and half the Department while carrying a bag of your gold?”

“Err.”

“Yeah, I thought so. Never a dull moment in Beacon Hills.” Stiles grinned at him and slid his hand further along Theo’s neck to tilt his face upwards, moving closer so their lips touched. “Mmph.”

“Stiles,” Theo whispered pulling back from him, “Your flight?”

“I know.” He smiled sadly. “I just wanted…I wish it had worked out differently, that’s all.”

“It’s for the best, you and I both know that. We were never meant to be together anyway.” The chimera gently pulled Stiles’ hand away and held it as their eyes met.

“That’s not true, it’s just the wrong place at the wrong time.” Stiles squeezed his hand and grinned. “Hey, maybe you’ll find your way out to Virginia some day soon, and we can give it a try there? And I’ll be back before school starts up, so it’s not really goodbye, Theo.”

“You got it.” Theo returned his smile. “I’d come to the airport but…”

“I know, you’re still recovering.” Stiles hugged him one last time, before turning towards the stairs. “You take care of yourself, Theo. I, I’ll miss you.”

“Miss you too, Stiles.” Theo mumbled, watching him leave as Liam muttered an embarrassed farewell and came back inside the room. The chimera waited until the door closed above them, his eyes following suit a moment later.

“Hey,” Liam was in front of him. “It’s alright, Theo, he’ll be back. And, um, Mason and Corey want to come see us, I guess, since you’re here, can they come here?”

Theo nodded, ignoring Liam’s awkwardness. “Of course, they probably heard about the car chase.”

“Oh yeah, well, I didn’t want to make it sound that bad!” Liam squirmed under his glare. “Love can make people do crazy shit! And when it becomes an obsession, well, let’s just say that for once I’m glad my dick isn’t as big as Scott’s.”

“Err,” Theo frowned as Liam flushed. “I really couldn’t say, for that comparison, but you’re big enough compared to the others I’ve, um, seen, yeah.”

The silence between them stretched out until a furiously blushing Liam turned away and walked over to the pile of gold. “So, how do you make gold out of something else?”

“It’s the one secret I can never tell.” Theo replied, his serious expression slipping sideways as he smirked at Liam. “Besides, you wouldn’t understand the mysteries of our glorious alchemy!”

“Hey!”

 

“This place is awesome!” Mason cried out, running from one part of the underground library to the next, cooing over the lab equipment, gasping at the alchemy set up, moaning with envy at the sight of all the books. “I want to read them all!”

“You really don’t,” Theo shook his head as he stood next to Corey. “There are some very graphic descriptions of the chimera creation process in those books, diagrams and everything.”

“Yeah, but, think of the knowledge!”

“The Dread Doctors trust me to look after their collection while they’re away, you can’t read the books, Mason.” Theo replied firmly even as Corey frowned at him. “What?”

“What do you mean the Doctors are away? I thought they were-”

“Ahhhhem!” Liam coughed loudly, clearing his throat and wildly pounding his chest. “Harrahm!”

“Are you ok?” Theo looked at him, expression becoming concerned. “That sounds like a serious cough, maybe even chest infection. But werewolves don’t get sick…could be a case of the gumps though.”

“What?” Liam paused in the middle of shooting Corey and Mason a look, and turned to stare at Theo. “What are gumps?!”

“Very serious pathogen.” The chimera nodded, moving past Mason to pull out an ancient, cobweb covered tome that stretched across one of the desks when Theo cracked it open. He traced his finger down the index of flowing black script and nodded again. “Ah, the ‘Gs’. Hmm, nope not gasrot, no, further on.”

“What’s gasrot?” Corey asked as he moved around the table to peer over Theo’s shoulder.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Theo dismissed it with a wave. “Gasrot only affects were-bears and we haven’t had any of those in years. Now, ah, gumps! Liam, please be honest, you’re among friends.”

“Err. I don’t-”

“Have you noticed any unusually large swelling recently? In the crotch area?” Theo looked up as Mason snorted and Liam flushed. “Increased sperm production? Sore balls? Heavy-”

“What?! Stop, no more, I don’t have the gumps!” Liam protested hotly, shoving Mason sideways. “I was just clearing my throat, have you ever heard of vacuuming, Theo?!”

“Hmm.” He glanced at Corey, the younger chimera smiling innocently at him, and then Theo looked down at the book, tracing the dust off the spine. “I guess that makes more sense. Probably a good thing too, since we would have had to cut your dick off to stop the infection.”

“Theo!” Liam shouted at him as Mason and Corey fell around laughing at the werewolf.

“Mmh.” Theo shrugged and replaced the book, letting Mason drag Liam over to the alchemy set as Corey wandered towards the rabbit cages and squatted down in front of them. He followed the other chimera and lifted up the cages onto a nearby desk, opening the doors as Corey’s eyes gleamed and his smile got even bigger. “You can hold them if you want?”

“Awesome!” He practically squeaked, picking up Alexander and hugging the fluffy bunny to his chest. “Aww, he’s so cute!”

“They’re battle-bunnies,” Theo grinned at him, Corey’s excitement infectious. “The black one is Ares, he’s the rabbit that we used to defeat the Ghost Riders that were holding you hostage.”

“Aww, but he’s super-snuggly too!” Corey patted Ares gently, the rabbit watching him with intelligent eyes. The younger chimera nodded at the cage covered in the drape. “Who’s that?”

“This is Axel,” Theo pulled the cover off, and opened the cage, carefully picking the grey rabbit up and holding him gently. “He’s not quite ready just yet, but he’ll prepared once Stiles sends me his new address.”

“Wait,” Mason had come over to them. “You’re sending Stiles a rabbit in the mail?”

“He’s a special rabbit, obviously!” Corey bristled defensively. “Right, Theo?”

“Very special.” Theo grinned, an insane gleam in his eyes as he looked at them. “He’s a Midas bunny!”

Midas? As in the king that made everything he touched into gold?” Mason gaped at him. “How is that gonna help Stiles?!”

“Well not everything he touches,” Theo replied as though that ought to be obvious. “Both Ares and Alexander are able to grow big and act as battle-bunnies, but Axel can do something different, or he will, once I figure out how to stop him turning into a solid gold rabbit at night…”

“Um, Theo,” Liam looked between the three of them. “These are all male rabbits, right? So, where are they coming from?”

“I built them.” He said simply, pointing at the bench in the far corner, a thick black cloth draped over it. “Same way that the first chimeras were built, except this is easier, rabbits don’t need to talk.”

“Oh, good.” Corey mumbled, looking down at the one in his arms. “So, why the gold obsession?”

“The Surgeon used to say that the only thing humans care about more than their families is gold.” Theo shrugged. “Makes sense, right? Hayden could’ve just left, but she stopped to get money.”

“She still robbed you, Theo.” Liam frowned at him, nodding as Mason looked his way. “Um, actually, we were talking about your gold before, we might have an idea.”

“Ok.” Theo placed the rabbits back inside as Corey mock-pouted. “You can play with them later.”

“Yay! Can I take one home? Just for a night, I swear, I’ll be careful, Theo!” He begged the older chimera, reaching out to touch his arms and tilting his head the same way Theo remembered from that night. “Please?!”

“Hmm, ok, but not right now, there are things you need to know about taking care of them.”

“Awesome!”

Theo blinked as Corey kissed him on the cheek and hugged him tight. “Oh, ok.”

“He really loves cute stuff.” Mason muttered as Liam’s expression soured. “You’re not facing any competition.”

“Competition?” Theo glanced between them, but Mason kept quiet and Liam shrugged, his scent hard to get a read on. “Huh. Well, you said you had an idea about the gold? Do you want some?”

“No, no, of course not!” Mason shook his head quickly.

“You already covered my hospital bill, Theo, I don’t need anything else from you.”

“Don’t look at me,” Liam replied. “But we think we might have a solution for your molds problem.”

“I can make them.” Mason explained, pointing out the flaws in Theo’s broken frames. “…and if we added just the right amount of graphite, we should be able to avoid the shattering that happened here.”

“Hmm, yeah, that sounds good. I mean the Doctors are fine with it coming out in lumps, and sure that was good enough in 1508, but times have changed!” Theo glared at the twisted columns on his desk, before nodding at Mason “Ok, that idea’s good, but I’m still not happy with the purity of the gold I’m getting, it’s still only eighteen karat. The alchemy process is stable, and we’ve always come out with a mix of gold and silver, but just once I want pure gold!”

“Um, what about Parrish?” Corey suggested. “He could probably melt it down and remove the impurities just by clutching the bars to his chest and going on fire.”

“Huh.” Theo grunted in the silence that followed as each of them looked at the ceiling or floor in thought.

“Am I the only one thinking,” Corey paused, a flush rushing across his cheeks as he glanced at his friends. “that, um, a naked, flaming, gold-covered Deputy Parrish is kinda…hot?”

“No, definitely not!” Mason sighed in relief, grinning at his boyfriend. “Thank you for saying that. And don’t worry, Theo, we’ll be forming real ingots soon, well, once we all stop thinking about metal-covered Hellhounds!”

Chapter Text

“Wow,” Theo mumbled, slipping into the pool alongside Corey and Mason, Liam lingering on the bank behind him. “It’s so warm!”

“Yeah, we reckon it must be from a hot spring or something.” Corey said, moving away from him to the opposite bank a few armlengths away. “It’s not very big, so it could be, right?”

“It’s probably just warm from the heat of the sun,” Mason explained, joining his boyfriend. He pointed at the setting orb of fire in the distance, red and orange clouds sparse in the sky. “The only trees around here face north, so the sun has all day to heat the water. Anyway, we’re not here for a science lesson, Liam, you getting in here?!”

“Yeah, just a moment.”

Theo frowned, feeling a prickle on his shoulder blades and he turned, catching a shirtless Liam staring at him. “What?”

“Nothing!” The werewolf flushed, and his pulse spiked. “I’m just getting undressed.”

“Ok.” He turned back around, seeing Mason and Corey exchange a look. Hmm, something about this feels wrong… Theo glanced around carefully, but he couldn’t see any of his sister or her shadows. He hadn’t seen them for a while now, but that didn’t settle his stomach, and the chimera hid his hands under his swimming shorts, flicking his claws out. Best to prepared, just in case this is a trap or something.

“Cannonball!” Liam splashed in beside him, waves slopping out around the werewolf. “Satisfied?”

“Um, why are you naked?” Corey averted his eyes quickly and Theo could smell the sharp tang of his arousal before the other chimera quenched it out. “The rest of us are wearing shorts!”

“C’mon guys, it’s summer, live a little!” Liam flashed Theo a grin, “And I did say to our friend here that he needs to get the sun on his skin, keep his sex-err-awesome tan! We have a few hours of light left.”

“But he’s sitting with his back to it,” Corey shook his head, frowning. “And most of our bodies are in the water, how-ow!” Theo shot a look at Mason, the teenager adopting an innocent expression when Corey glared at him.

“Oh, sorry, was that me?” He shrugged and wriggled in the water for a moment, grunting until his hands rose into the air, holding his patterned white and blue shorts. “Liam’s right, show off those assets, Corey!”

Theo met the other chimera’s eyes and nodded. “Sounds like this is a tradition of yours, huh, Liam?”

“Oh, yeah, we always go skinny dipping in this pool.” The werewolf nodded eagerly, his scent twisting into something Theo vaguely recognized, but before he could identify it, Corey sighed and pulled off his trunks, twirling the wet, striped fabric around his finger.

“Happy now?”

“Almost.” Liam looked expectantly at Theo, as Mason and Corey did too.

“Sure, why not?” Theo sheathed his claws and hooked his fingers into his borrowed shorts, Liam having offered them to him a few hours before. They were slightly too tight for the chimera anyway, and Theo didn’t really mind them seeing him naked, especially when he’d already seen Corey and Liam that way before. “Here.” He tossed the shorts onto the bank and smirked, “You wanna have a feel too, make sure I’m not deceiving ya?”

Liam’s heartbeat jumped suddenly, but the werewolf shook his head, drifting slightly closer to Mason. “Err, I’m good.”

“Fine.” Theo replied coldly, looking up at trees above them.

Corey rolled his eyes and moved away from his boyfriend and Liam towards Theo. “I’m not here for a feel or a look.” He said, holding up his hands with a smirk. “Just to talk.” Corey nodded towards the sun and turned his back on Liam and Mason, resting his arms on the grassy bank. Theo mimicked him, even letting his legs drift back, their butts not quite breaching the water’s surface. He disregarded the sudden scent of mingled arousal in the air behind him, attributing it to Mason seeing his boyfriend’s perky ass. “So…”

“Yeah?” Theo glanced at Corey, the younger chimera closing his eyes as he basked in the sun’s final rays.

“What do you think of the pool? Mason said he and Liam found it a few years ago.”

“Mmh.” He looked around at the soft, grassy banks, sloping into the surprisingly deep, rock lined swimming hole, the water mostly clear and warm, not quite like bathwater, but certainly hotter than the river that flowed nearby. Theo nodded and smiled at him. “Yeah, I like it, it’s a sweet spot, and pretty private too. You and Mason, err, you’ve been here before?”

“Alone?” Corey flushed as Theo nodded. “Once or twice. It’s not like either of us have hot tubs, and even if someone did stumble upon us, I could always do this!” He grabbed Theo’s hand and the two of them vanished.

“Corey! No party tricks!” Mason called out jokingly.

Theo glanced at the younger chimera, seeing his smile gleam brighter in the refracted world he brought them to. When he looked over his shoulder, Theo’s lips parted in surprise at the way the water danced and sparkled, almost separating like sheets of colored glass. But it was when his eyes skipped over to Liam and Mason, that he frowned, the change in perspective allowing him to see Liam was fully erect, his cock pushed to one side, his left hand massaging the head underwater. Mason has to notice that, he’s making ripples! Corey released his hand and Theo snapped his eyes back to the sunset, not wanting Liam to think he was spying on him. “That was cool.”

“Thanks!” Corey’s cheeks were red, and he shrugged.

Maybe he saw Liam too? Theo smiled at him. “I’ve only ever seen that place once before.”

“I remember,” The chimera mumbled, quiet enough that only Theo could hear him, Corey rubbing shoulders with him, whispering even softer so Theo had to lean in closer. “And I wouldn’t mind showing it to you again.”

“Huh?”

“Mason’s been wondering how to thank you for, um, saving me from Douglas.”

“Oh.” Theo flushed, and his pulse quickened. He cast his eyes over Corey and glanced back at Mason, seeing him talking in an equally quiet tone to Liam. “Corey, I saved you because it was the right thing to do, not because I was expecting any reward. Besides, you and I are the last chimeras, all that’s left of the Doctors’ work.”

“Right.” Corey’s voice returned to normal volume. “So, you know that they’re…?”

“Gone.” Theo nodded. “For now.” But I will return them soon enough in one form or another.

 

“Just talk to him!” Mason hissed loudly behind them, causing Theo and Corey to turn around. “Err…”

“Nice.” Liam muttered, glaring at his best friend. After a moment, he sighed and swam over to Theo, the chimera glancing down through the water to see Liam was still hard, his cock acting almost like a rudder. Theo flicked his eyes up to meet Liam’s as Corey patted his shoulder affectionately and returned to Mason’s side. “Hey.”

“Hello, Liam.”

“So, um, I reckon we have about an hour of light left, and even though the rocks here have a sort of iridescence at night which is pretty magical, only you and me can actually see in the dark.” Liam wet his lips, folding his arms across his chest, his eyes flicking up and down Theo’s body in a way that reminded the chimera of Stiles.

“Uh, right, and Mason drove us here.” Theo splashed some water on his chest, smirking slightly when he realized Liam really was paying attention to his body. Interesting, well, he is pretty boned up, not having Hayden around must be frustrating for him.

“Right, so, um,” Liam took a deep breath. “I was thinking that we could go get dinner somewhere, with Mason and Corey, of course!” He added quickly.

“Sure,” Theo nodded. “Parrish exchanged a few pieces of my gold for actual cash today, he said that’s the better way to pay for goods and services. I don’t know, I never understand how bits of paper can be worth as much as gold.”

“Uh.” Liam was staring at him. “That was…nice of him. You’re friends, right?”

“I think so,” He shrugged and then grinned excitedly. “Actually, we’re hanging out in a few days’ time. He and Strauss said they’d show me how to play football!”

“Mmh, lots of tackling in that sport,” Liam murmured, unfolding his arms and letting his hand drift lower towards his naval. “Lots of contact…”

“I don’t know, I’ve never played it.” Theo looked at Corey and Mason, and then back at Liam. “Maybe we can play together after I know how? Even though it’s not lacrosse-”

“I’m in!” Liam cut across him excitedly. He grinned suddenly. “Oh, I almost forgot!”

“What?”

“We have to take a selfie!” Liam hoisted himself half out of the water, reaching for his pants, Theo carefully looking away from his flapping semi, so Liam wouldn’t think he was being creepy, only glancing back when the werewolf dropped into the pool again, his hand held aloft, clutching his phone. “Yeah, one of me and you, and then all of us. It’s a tradition we do, right, Mason?”

“Err, sure, yeah!” He nodded a little too quickly.

“Ok.” Theo shrugged, looking sideways at Liam when he pressed close against him, one hand wrapping around his shoulders to hold the phone, their bodies touching, thighs rubbing in the water. He could’ve sworn Liam’s cock flopped close to his own before the werewolf shivered and moved away slightly. The chimera looked into the camera and smiled as Liam did the same and tilted the phone down a little more than Theo thought he should. “Did you get it?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Can I see?”

“Let’s get you guys over!” Liam called out, seeming to ignore Theo’s question. Mason nodded and swam across to sit on Liam’s other side, while Corey slid in next to Theo, smirking at him. “Closer now!”

Theo was pushed tighter against Liam, Corey bunching up against him, their arms brushing. Fuck! This is way too much contact! For everyone, it seems. Theo slouched slightly, trying to hide his rapidly inflating cock, even as a covert glance into both Corey and Liam’s laps revealed that they were both fully erect, even Mason’s cock was visibly hard. Liam had taken the picture, but none of them made an effort to move, Theo’s nostrils flaring as he drank in their aroused scents, each a little different, Liam’s was particularly potent. Fuck, that’s…but Corey and Mason are together, and Liam is, well, complicated about these things. Still, I wouldn’t mind-

The werewolf tossed his phone on the bank behind them unexpectedly, breaking Theo’s train of thought. He wet his lips and glanced at Mason first and then Theo. “Um, sun is almost set.”

“Yeah, it is.” Mason replied carefully, the water above his dick rippling as he ran a hand up and down the shaft. “Getting hard to see.”

“Yup.” Corey added, his own hand busy underwater, looking along the line of wet, muscular bodies. “It’s really comfortable here, but I guess we better get out soon.”

“I suppose,” Liam’s voice was the most reluctant of the group and he looked at Theo, a strange expression on his face. It was familiar, though unlike the others, almost…pleading. “Or we could stay and, err, skip the food, have some fun until the sun is gone completely. What do you think, Theo?”

“I think…” Theo paused as he remembered the way it had felt that night with Corey, the chimera moving inside him, the delicious sense of surrender and pleasure. And he did mention that Mason was thinking…no, it’s not the right time. “Err, no, I’d like some food actually.” He got up suddenly, hoisting himself out of the pool, not caring that they saw he was still hard. “Maybe, maybe another time, guys.”

 

“So, you guys just went for dinner after as normal?” Parrish asked him as they tossed the football back and forth in the empty parking lot in front of the Sheriff’s Station a few days later. “It wasn’t weird?”

“Of course it was weird!” Theo shrugged, catching the ball by jumping into the air when the Deputy overshot him. “I had just seen them all naked and I know that smell, but they’re friends and I…I mean, sure, it would have been hot and great and probably like a scene out of a porn movie, but what would we do if things felt even more awkward between us afterwards?”

“Hmm, porn isn’t real life, Theo.” Parrish nodded at him, and the chimera flicked the ball back his way. “Good throw, that’s a great spin!”

“Thanks.”

“So, what does it smell like? Ah, arousal, I mean?” He flushed and glanced around, but they still had about twenty minutes before the work day started and no one was about. “I’d love to be able to recognize people and their emotions, it’d make police work a lot easier!”

“But you should be able to.” Theo frowned at him. “I thought…well, I can show you, if you like?”

“Really? Sweet!” Parrish grinned at him. “Let’s do it tonight, when you come over. You still are, right?”

“Yeah, of course.” The chimera glanced at his phone. “I’m meeting Mason in the library at eleven though.”

“The library?” Parrish frowned. “But school isn’t-”

“Not that library.” Theo laughed, shaking his head. “The Doctors’ library, I showed it to you last week, remember?”

“Yeah, the underground one that you are for some reason sleeping in even though I’ve offered you my couch several times.” The Deputy huffed, throwing the ball at him for an easy catch. “I told you that Aaron doesn’t mind.”

“Hmm.”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Theo shook his head. “Just pay attention to how he smells next time all three of us are together and maybe you’ll figure it out. I’ll give you a primer this evening anyway; I’m able to modulate my scent to different emotions at will, so you’ll be able to differentiate between happy, sad, hungry, and so on.”

“Can I do that?”

“No, don’t think any non-chimera supernatural can.” Theo paused, “I don’t think Corey can either.”

“So, how come you’re unique?” Parrish frowned, tossing the ball back to him.

“I’m infiltrator,” Theo grinned, deftly catching it with ease. “It’s what I do.”

“Hmm, that’s a bit disconcerting.” The Deputy paused as two of his colleagues walked past, glancing at them and whispering. “You’re eighteen, right?”

“Err, yeah?” He frowned, shaking out his shirt as he wiped sweat off his brow. “Why?”

“Just checking.” Parrish lowered his voice. “The Sheriff gave out hell to me for being friends with Lydia last year. Said it was ‘inappropriate.’”

“Yeah, but she was still in high school, of course it looked creepy!” Theo laughed, even as the Hellhound scowled at him. “But, I’m not in high school, so chill, and we really are just friends, right?”

“Of course, Theo.” He smiled, nodding happily. “Now, give me another one!”

“Hey guys,” Strauss pulled up nearby, grinning at them. “Looking good, Theo, just pull your arm back more when you throw, and it’ll go longer.”

“Got it.”

“How was the dentist?” Parrish asked, leaping up to grab Theo’s high pass.

“Nothing major, just a cleaning.” He shrugged, walking over. The Deputies paused as Sheriff Stilinski passed by, Theo waving at him as he smiled back. Strauss waited for him to go indoors and then moved closer to Theo, his gaze flicking over the black t-shirt and jeans the chimera was wearing. “You know, it’s a time honored tradition to play shirts versus skins on a hot day like today!”

“Really?” Theo looked at him, and then frowned when he smelt the anxiety from Parrish. Oh, so, it’s not…Maybe I was wrong about why Aaron is always horny around Parrish. “Err, I don’t know about out here.”

“I guess you’re right.” The Deputy smirked shamelessly. “Good job we have a back yard with the house; nice and sunny for our game this evening!”

The chimera paused, mid-throw and glanced at Parrish. “And I thought you were the pervy one!”

 

Theo nodded as he pulled the transmuted graphite out of the chamber, Mason, Corey, and Liam gathered around him to watch the process. He could see the surprise on their faces and smirked. “Relax guys, this is one of the easiest ones to make. If I left it in the solution for a little longer it would have turned into diamonds. It’s just a form of coal, the Doctors taught me how to make this material first, since they used it a lot to get graphene.”

“But that’s nearly impossible to refine.” Mason blurted out. “And with this level of technology! What did they use it for?”

“Energy mostly,” Theo shrugged and gathered the last blocks from the apparatus. “They created them for use in graphene super-capacitors years before any-”

“Enough with the nerdfest!” Corey shouted, startling Axel from his sleep, the rabbit looking at Corey with what was an unmistakable glare. “Oh, sorry, bunny.”

“He’ll forgive you in a minute, Corey.” Theo said, handing the transmuted element to Mason, the teenager bringing it over to the workbench where they were making the molds. “But you understood what we were saying, right?”

“Yeah, but, Theo,” He gave the other chimera a friendly grin. “You just turned a pile of wood shavings into graphite in ten minutes! In twenty, we could’ve gotten diamonds!”

“Come to me for all your jewellery needs.” Theo grinned back at him and nodded towards the corner. “I know you don’t want to stay here and watch us form molds for the next forty minutes, you can let the battle-bunnies out of their cages. Just make sure-”

“Not to feed them, I remember.”

“Well, try and get Axel to eat some of the leftover gold nuggets, his internal transmutation system still isn’t working.” Theo sighed, stroking his chin thoughtfully as Corey gathered the grey rabbit into his arms. “I’ll open him up later and see what the problem is.”

“What?” Corey stared at him, even as Mason and Liam fell silent.

“Yeah, well, the Doctors made the other two, Axel is my first new rabbit, the, uh, prototype, I guess.” He nodded sagely. “I need to make sure the internal mechanisms work properly before…”

“Before what, Theo?” Liam asked him carefully, the werewolf sounding almost afraid of him.

“Before I send him to Stiles, of course.” Theo smirked at Liam, changing his scent to a more easy-going emotion and nodding at Mason. “Ok, let’s get to work!” Liam was still watching him as Theo sat down, but a moment later he shrugged and went back to sitting nearby, fingers tapping on the table.

“Can you stop that, please?” Mason glanced at him, brows furrowed. “We’re trying to concentrate.”

“Sorry.”

“Here.” Theo went to a nearby bookshelf and pulled down a dusty, leather-bound book, placing it in front of Liam. “I think you’ll like this one. It’s an account of the Second Werewolf War of 1443 in the region of Bohemia. The Pathologist recorded it himself!”

“Oh, wow…” Liam stared at the curly writing as Theo watched him. “Thanks, I guess.”

 

Theo watched as Mason worked, skilled hands molding the wet clay over a bowl, kneading it together as he looked at the failed molds from Theo’s last attempt. “Have you done this before?”

“Once or twice. My Mom showed me how, she’s an engineer.”

“Cool.”

“It’s pretty simple really,” Mason explained as he continued to manipulate the clay, nodding for Theo to start crumbling the graphite in the second bowl next to him, the chimera using his own knowledge to add the other ingredients to the mix. “Yeah, I think you used too much silicon carbide in the last molds, so make sure you only add a few ounces this time.”

“Got it.” Theo nodded and shook the powder in, mixing the dry elements together. He paused and searched around the table before handing Mason a mask and gloves. “I forgot that humans can’t breathe the dust; wear these.”

“Thanks.” Mason smiled at him, slipping the protective mask on, and gesturing for Theo to tip the graphite mix into his bowl. “Now add a lot of water, we really need to get our hands in there and mix it up!”

“Ok.” Theo did as he asked, gesturing for Mason to wear the gloves, sticking his own fingers into the mix. “I don’t know if it’s harmful for you to touch, but it’s super-messy.”

“Yup!” Mason joined him and soon enough the mixture had turned into a big ball of grey-black looking dough. “Now we roll it out.”

Theo glanced up, feeling like Liam was watching him, but the werewolf was staring at his book. It’d be more convincing if he’d turned a page in the last half hour… He grabbed the most intact mold he had left and pressed it into the graphite dough, grinning as the shape was set and Mason pulled it out. “Looks good, right?”

“Just like making cookies!” Mason grinned back, stacking the rectangular shapes on top of each other to make the molds look more uniform. They repeated the process until all the “dough” was used up, Theo listening for the sound of a page being turned, but Liam still seemed to be watching them.

Maybe he wants a different book? Theo was about to stand when Mason nudged him. “What?”

“Grab that metal box over there, we’ll use it to hold the graphite for firing.” They stood together, Mason carrying the stacks of graphite clay, Liam jumping up to help, and Theo led them over to the alchemy bench again. “Good. Let’s start stacking, Corey, give us a hand.”

“Ok.”

Theo glanced at Liam when they had finished, and Mason inspected their work. “Was it boring?”

“What?”

“The book?”

“Oh, err, what you guys were doing sounded really interesting.” Liam’s cheeks heated, and he nodded at his best friend. “We good?”

“Almost. I need you two to press down on the molds; they need to be tight together, the air and excess water expelled.” Mason pointed at a long rusty, iron tube by the wall. “What is that anyway?”

“Just a cannon.” Theo replied, bending over to grab it. He looked back at them. “What? The Doctors had plans for cannon ball shooting chimeras, but sadly the idea never worked…”

“Yeah, sadly.” Liam muttered, hefting the other end with him. “Fuck, it’s heavy!”

“Used during the Battle of Prague in 1757!” Theo grinned. “The first human battle to feature Kanimas on both sides, you know?”

“You’re a fount of supernatural history, Theo.” Corey muttered, directing them over to the molds. “Almost there...a little more, more…there!”

Theo and Liam pressed down at the same time, biceps bulging and forcing the cotton of their t-shirts to stretch and strain. They kept the pressure up until Mason gestured for them to back off and allow him to inspect the molds. Theo looked at Liam, the werewolf panting, chest heaving, his pecs prominent through his shirt. Fuck…

“Ok, start firing, Theo!” Mason gave him the thumbs up and the chimera nodded.

“Stand back, the Doctors made this too, it’s, um, well, they called it Dragon’s Breath for a reason.” He twisted a nozzle next to the twisting collection of tubes, pipes, and beakers and a howling noise filled the underground room for a few seconds, followed swiftly by a belching gurgle as a pillar of blue-white flame erupted from the spigot under the molds. “We’ll leave it for about four hours and then it should be ready to cool and cast into!” He shouted over the sound of the liquid flowing through the pipes. “We should go above ground and wait it out. Corey, bring the bunnies!”

“Gotcha!”

 

“Theo,” Liam touched his shoulder as they climbed the stairs to the surface. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to leave an open fire running surrounded by chemicals and all those flammable books?”

“It’ll be fine, there’s a safety valve that’ll cut off the flow if the heat in the library gets above a certain level.” Theo paused and looked at the ceiling, nodding to Liam. “And the fire suppression system is still active, so it’ll be totally ok.”

“Oh, ok.” Liam fell back to wait for Mason as Theo moved on ahead. “Hey, uh, the swimming hole isn’t far from here, if you want to take a dip while we wait?”

“Yeah, sure, sounds fun.” He smiled, gesturing with his phone. “I’ll be staying with Parrish and Strauss this evening though, so we won’t be hanging out again until tomorrow? Friday, even?”

“Uh, sure. But, um, we’re not gonna need our swimming trunks, are we?”

“Maybe, to avoid a repeat of last time?”

“Oh, well, what if I don’t want to avoid it?” Liam wet his lips and gazed at him.

“Huh.” Theo frowned, smelling his hopeful scent and eyed Liam up. “You sure that’s what you want? You’re not going to freak out and throw me in jail again if we…” He trailed off as Mason’s exasperated shout reached them.

“Use the cages, Corey! Those bunnies are far too big to lift by yourself!”

“Um, no, of course I won’t do that.” Liam replied, moving up the steps to stand below Theo. “And I totally messed up that time, I wasn’t sure who you were, I mean, the last time we faced off, you did electrocute me and try and steal the Beast’s power for yourself. We had our…thing in the shower, but I was scared that maybe it was all an act, that you were preparing for another attack against us, and were just pretending to be, you know.”

“Right,” Theo nodded slowly, “I suppose that makes sense, it’s not, like, a pattern with you or anything? I saw the chains in Hayden’s car, I thought maybe-”

“No, Theo,” Liam broke in, inching closer to him. “It won’t ever happen again. Let me prove it to you; let’s go swimming, Mason and Corey can wait here, just you and me, yeah?”

“I…” Theo was saved from answering when Axel bounded past him and Corey hurried up the stairs, pushing the werewolf out of the way.

“NO! Come back here, bunny! Sorry, Liam!”

Chapter Text

“Swimming?” Theo managed to keep a serious expression even as Corey dived on top of the escaping rabbit with a muffled cry and thump. “Hmm, is that code for you and me having some watery fun like what almost happened last time?”

“Sure.” Liam nodded, his cheeks tinged with pink. “That’s kinda what I’m saying.”

“Right, but, um,” Theo paused, trying to get a better read on the werewolf’s nervous scent. “Is that all you want, or is this more than just me giving you some release?”

“Do you want that, Theo?”

“No one ever asks me what I want.”

“I am.” Liam moved up another step, falling silent as Mason hurried past, carrying the other two rabbits in their cage. “And I do want more than just a quickie in the swimming hole, I want…why don’t we go for dinner and talk about what we want?”

“Ok.” Theo replied after a moment of studying his expression. No sign of deception, heart-rate elevated, sweat along his upper lip, he seems to genuine. “But if that’s the case, then we should go swimming with the others.”

“Uh, sure, yeah!” Liam grinned at him and touched his arm before climbing the rest of the stairs and joined Mason and Corey.

Theo blinked, unsure what he had just agreed to. He shook his head and exited into the warm summer air, seeing the other three sitting on the ground under the shade of a large tree, the cage on one side as Corey held onto Axel tightly.

 

“Theo?” Corey looked at him hopefully as he released the bunny to hop inside the circle they had made.

“What is it, Corey?”

“I know they’re important and like, warrior rabbits and all, but, um,” He paused, reaching out to run his fingers across Axel’s soft fur. “Can I take one of them home with me tonight? Just for tonight!”

“Hmm.” Theo pursed his lips, seeing Liam and Mason share a grin as Corey’s eyes widened slightly as his expression became more innocent. Oh, I bet that works wonders on Mason…he’ll have to be careful, but Corey has been good with them before. “Um, ok, Corey.”

“Awesome!”

“But, hey, listen.” Theo held up his hand, grabbing Corey’s attention again. “There are ground rules, ok? You can’t feed them, ever. Do not fall asleep on them, and make sure they drink only boiled water, ok? Oh, and you should take Ares, he’s the most used to being handled, Alexander can be a bit nippy if you touch him for more than an hour.”

“What about Axel?” Corey asked, gesturing for Mason to open the cage and let Ares out.

“No, he’s not performing right just yet.” Theo replied, continuing in a neutral tone as the others stared at him. “I’ll open him up this evening and see why he’s not a true Midas bunny; the rabbit part is working fine, but as a proof of concept for an enhanced animal chimera, Axel needs to be tweaked more. And once I get him working, he will be perfect!” The chimera’s eyes flashed yellow for a moment.

“Animal chimera?” Mason asked, brows arched as Liam shuffled around uncomfortably. “I thought you’d stopped the experiments when the Doctors…left.”

“Died, you mean?” Theo shrugged. “I know they’re gone, you don’t have to tip toe around me. As for the experiments, well, they’re not on people.”

“It’s still creepy!” Liam cried out, shaking his head. “What are you trying to achieve anyway?”

“Proof of concept, like I said.” Theo replied stoically. And once it is proven, perhaps then you can see how my plan will work. But I still have to be careful, as long as Liam and Mason and Corey think that the rabbits are the main goal of experimentation then I can focus on the other chimeras without interruption. He looked up suddenly when he heard his name, Liam and Mason talking back and forth while he had been lost in thought. “Hmm?”

“Nothing, we’re just wondering what you’re going to do with your life now that you’ve graduated.” Mason asked, smirking as he gestured. “Make custom rabbits for wealthy patrons?!”

“I never finished high school.” Theo plucked the grass from the ground in front of him. “Not that I need to; the Doctors covered everything I needed them to, and I’ve literal pots of gold to keep me sustained. And their library has a small sleeping area in the back where I can keep an eye on everything: it’s safe, it’s fortified, hidden away, I don’t need anything else. Plus, I’ve you guys and Parrish and the Sheriff to talk to and do, um, stuff.” He glanced at Liam after the last word, both of them smirking at each other.

“Ok,” Corey put down the rabbit for a moment, concern filling his scent. “But what about next year? When we’re all gone to college, I don’t want to think of you stuck here alone!”

“College?” Theo frowned. “I thought you all were Juniors.”

“Err, Lydia’s Mom is the new principal,” Liam explained, grabbing Axel when the bunny made a leap for the grass beyond the circle they were sitting in. “She approached the three of us and talked about letting us skip the grade in order to get out of Beacon Hills faster.”

“Because of everything that’s happened?”

“Yeah.” Corey answered his question, sighing. “I mean, I wouldn’t be complaining if that was all that was going on; it’s not like I’ve many friends anyway, but no way am I going to be able to pull my GPA up by enough to get into UCLA!”

“We have plenty of time, Corey.” Mason smiled reassuringly and gripped his knee. “Besides you got a tutor right here!”

“I can help you with science stuff if you need it?” Theo offered. “The Doctors mightn’t have PhDs and licenses on the wall, but they knew everything about the human body, biology, chemistry, physics, magnetics, all that stuff.”

“Thanks!” The younger chimera grinned at him. “I got pretty good grades in Mr Douglas’ class, before he turned into a Nazi werelion…” He trailed off as they looked at him, Theo hearing him mutter, “Didn’t stop him still being so hot though.”

“Well, whatever you decide, I’ll be here for you, Corey.” Theo grinned. “The rest of you guys too, of course, though you’re probably ok, huh, Mason?”

“Err, yeah.” He was looking at Corey as though trying to figure out what his boyfriend had just whispered. After a moment, Mason shrugged and glanced at Liam. “So, we still have time to kill, how about a quick swim to wash all that school talk away?”

“Uh,” Theo felt his phone vibrate against his leg and pulled out the device. “Can’t, Parrish is here, or he will be in five minutes.”

“Oh.” Liam nodded, not hiding the disappointment from his voice. “Another time then.”

“You bet.” Theo grinned at him, before turning to Corey and pointing at the cage. “Please put Axel and Alexander back in, you can keep Ares out if you want.”

“Hmm, the Hellhound is coming, huh?” The younger chimera exchanged a grin with Mason, their scents becoming sharper, more potent. “Uh, probably better to leave Ares inside where he’ll be safe, and I can keep my hands free for, um, holding…things.”

“Sure.” Theo stood up and stretched, flexing his biceps and arms, catching Liam’s gaze. “You ok?”

“Never better!”

 

“Hey, Theo!” Parrish greeted him warmly, nodding at the other three behind him. “Hey guys.”

“Hey.”

“Yo!”

“Hi.”

“Straight from work, huh?” Theo asked, gesturing towards the hidden library.

“Yeah, Aaron is staying a bit longer to finish some paperwork and said he’d meet us back home.” Parrish paused, glancing at Liam and then Theo. “Unless you’ve got other plans?”

“No, I’m not bailing on you.” He smiled. “I’m looking forward to it actually.”

“What is it?” Corey asked, walking next to Theo, leaving Liam and Mason to put the rabbits into their cage. “What are you doing?”

“They’re teaching me how to play football, and the I’ll stay over, right?”

“Yeah, if you want, I mean, there’s no pressure, Theo.” The Deputy followed them into the underground room, looking around admiringly. “Nice place.”

“Thanks,” Theo hurried over to the alchemy desk and turned off the furnace, twiddling other knobs and pulling leavers, dashing back and forth to change liquids from the flasks and decanters. “Just a minute and I’ll have the molds cool enough to handle!”

“Ok, ok, don’t get too frantic.” Parrish reached out and touched his arm. “I’m not on a deadline, Theo, even if it is a little hot in here.” He pulled on the collar of his uniform, seeing the three other teens do the same. “Glad it’s not just me.”

“It isn’t. You’re, err, it’s so hot!” Corey replied, waving the front of his t-shirt up and down to cool his skin, Mason taking off his light jacket, and Liam completely unbuttoned his shirt. “Theo, can’t you-”

“I’m working on it!” The older chimera barked, flinging the contents of a round-bottomed flask over his shoulder, the liquid splashing against the concrete pillar with a hiss of smoke. He quickly refilled it with blue chips and screwed the flask into place. “Just a moment,” Theo straightened up, ignoring the dissolving concrete and grabbed Parrish’s arms, gesturing for him to go. “You’re too heavy to lift, move please!”

“Uh, sure.” Parrish walked over to where Theo was pointing. “Here?”

“Yes, yes, there.” Theo beckoned the other three over, grouping them around the Deputy. “Now stand still…” He threw up a hand to silence Mason’s question and grabbed the large red lever attached to the end of the apparatus, thrusting it forward with a grunt. There was a sudden, loud hissing as clouds of steam billowed around them obscuring their view. The air became ice cold, their breath turning to mist. A moment later, Theo flipped the lever back and gestured for them to step forward, the front of the library, including the alchemy table, had been covered in a thick layer of frost, only the circle they were standing in had been spared. Parrish, the tallest of them, shivered and brushed the ice off his hair. “Excellent!

“Next time can you say that in less of a creepy Dread Doctor voice?” Mason muttered, zipping his jacket closed, Liam hurriedly re-buttoning his shirt. “You’re literally one evil cackle away from a villainous mastermind, Theo. Brr!”

“Don’t worry, it’ll get hotter again soon.” Theo replied, rushing over to the molds, tipping them out of their casings so he could see them. “They look great, Mason!”

“You’re going to flame up, huh?” Corey asked the Hellhound nervously, moving back towards Theo.

“Yeah, but don’t worry, Corey,” The Deputy offered him a smile. “I’m in complete control this time, not like…in Eichen House. I’m sorry about what happened, I should have said that to you sooner.”

“Um, thanks.” Corey muttered, looking to Theo, the older chimera nodding. “I, uh, forgive you?”

“Great.” Parrish smiled wider this time, his eyes sparkling with mingled happiness and relief. “Now, are you ready to melt, Theo?”

“Did you bring your special shorts?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“You can go behind the shelves to change,” Theo pointed behind him, helping Mason to lift the molds onto the table. He smirked when he smelt the shift in the teenager’s scent and caught Liam’s eye, both of them detecting the sudden spike in arousal in the room. Not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that Parrish hasn’t figured out scents yet. Maybe he’d find it flattering? Or just embarrassing? Hmm, but the graphite molds have really come through! “Last one, Mason. Mason?”

“Err…”

Theo turned, seeing Parrish standing next to the table of golden lumps and sheets, clad in nothing but his snug-fitting black shorts, arms folded across his chest. Liam, Mason, and Corey were all staring at him as though Parrish was an ice cream in the middle of the desert. “Um, ok, let’s go.”

“Right.” If the Deputy was embarrassed, he didn’t show it, closing his eyes instead and letting his fire emerge from his crossed arms, a searing orange bloom that engulfed his body. That seemed to wake Corey from his aroused trance and made him back into Theo.

“It’s ok.”

“I know.” Corey shook his head but stayed beside Theo instead of inching closer like his boyfriend and Liam were doing. Together, the chimeras watched as the Hellhound picked up a lump of gold in his hand and stared at it. After a moment, it melted into liquid and Parrish used both hands to cup the molten metal, pouring it into the first mold. “Woah!”

“Tell me about it!” Mason whispered, “That one is pure gold, right, Theo? Melting point of nineteen hundred and forty-five degrees!”

Theo nodded slowly, watching Parrish pick up the sheet of gold, his super-heated hands allowing the Deputy to crumple it up and turn it into a ball, his hands pressing it together until a few drops of silver and copper ran out of it. “He’s removing the impurities from that sheet, it’ll be perfect soon.”

“What are you gonna do with it all, anyway?” Liam asked, his eyes riveted to the way the flames licked up Parrish’s torso from his crotch, another bar of impure gold added to the ball clutched against his chest. “It’s a lot of bars you’re making.”

“Ingots.” Theo corrected him softly, his own eyes locked on the glittering substance, watching a few trails of gold run down Parrish’s smooth, muscular chest. “And don’t worry, I’m making enough to last for a while. Enough to sustain my…needs.” He blinked, careful not to say too much. But Liam was still distracted as Parrish finished pouring the molten gold into the molds. “Thank you, Deputy, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“My pleasure, Theo.” The Hellhound’s voice was a mix of Parrish’s own and the deeper, sonorous tone of Cerberus. “It was fun for me too!”

“Definitely.” Mason nodded, nudging Liam hard in the ribs, forcing his best friend to pull his hand out of his trousers. “Right, Liam?”

“Totally.” Liam murmured, his eyes locked onto Parrish’s defined chest and stomach.

“Hmm.” Theo smirked to himself, smelling the arousing tang of Liam’s precum waft through the air, the werewolf trying to casually wipe his damp fingers on his pants. “I’ll let these cool naturally and let you know how it went, Parrish.”

“Ok.” The Deputy had retaken control, blinking and smiling. “So, are you coming back with me now or…?”

“Much like Strauss, I have a few things left to clear up first.” Theo called out as Parrish went to get changed again. “I’ll drive over around six?”

“Cool.”

 

“So, um, sorry about earlier.” Liam wrung his hand and pressed his lips together. “With, um, Parrish.”

“What do you mean?” Theo frowned, listening as the door to the outside world closed with a gentle thud, Mason and Corey accompanying Parrish back to the parking lot, the younger chimera clutching Ares under his arm. “I didn’t notice anything except an excellent method of metal purification!”

“Right, right.” The werewolf wet his lips. “So, our date, um, do you want dinner and a movie, or…?”

“Drive-Thru and a quickie?” Theo smirked, shaking his head. “Sorry, Liam, I’m not that kinda guy when I’m mostly sane.”

“What? I wasn’t-” He paused, frowning. “Wait, what do you mean ‘mostly’? I thought you were better?”

“Usually, just, I sometimes get these flashes of, well, things that aren’t really there, misremembered thoughts, events, feelings that…” Theo hesitated, looking at his hands. He glanced back at Liam, offering him a smile again. “It doesn’t matter. But I’m thinking more like dinner than anything else; we need to talk, right?”

“Ok, I can do that.” Liam nodded. “I’ll call you later, no, wait, you’re with the deputies tonight, tomorrow then?”

“Sure.” Theo and Liam looked at each other, awkwardly pausing. Does he want a hug? Or is that too much? The chimera grunted and offered his fist, Liam blinked and touched his own against him. “See you, Liam.”

“See you.”

 

Theo turned away, eyes closed as he breathed in and out slowly. When he opened them, the orbs had turned chimera-yellow. “Alone at last, now the real work can begin.” He walked over to where Axel and Alexander were sitting, both of them looking up at him. “Soon, my pets, soon, Beacon Hills is quiet for now, but that won’t last, it never does. I’ll take a look at you later, Axel, Stiles is still sorting out his living accommodations, let’s examine instead that which I recovered from the forest last night.”

He walked over to a long table covered in a trailing white sheet, pulling the fabric dramatically off, revealing the leather-bound body of a Dread Doctor, the masked head and trailing pipes clawed and cut up. “The Beast did a lot of damage to you, didn’t he? But don’t worry, I will restore you and together we can realize your dream of adaptable bunny assault forces!” Theo paused in the middle of taking off the bundles of strong-smelling herbs that had kept Liam from detecting the corpse. “Well, I say ‘we’, I really mean me, just me. You can’t be trusted until the Surgeon comes back.” He wagged a finger sternly in the Geneticist’s face. “The last of the Löwenmensch’s serum has kept you well preserved, good. I will need your knowledge to better control the rabbit army when the next threat arrives. First, we’ll get those synapses firing, and then I’ll begin the transfer.”

Theo turned away from the body and opened a large chest standing in the gloom behind him, pulling out the Dread Doctor helmet that rested inside. “The Surgeon made many of these, including the one I was to wear when…if we had been successful here.” He took a deep breath, moving back to the table. “But at least your knowledge will not die with you.” The chimera affixed several long, glass tubes to the circular ports embedded in the helmet and quickly tugged off the Geneticist’s own to replace it with the one that was in his hands. “Now we apply the current, and soon, all your knowledge will be mine!” Theo grinned, his eyes glowing in the darkness, a mad laugh tumbling out of his mouth. “Mwhahahahahahaa!” The chimera paused, looking back at the silent rabbits. “Crap, Mason was right…”

Chapter Text

“C’mon, Theo, tackle me!” Strauss called out challengingly, grinning at him as Theo’s eyes slipped past his eager expression and down along the sweat-slick torso of the Deputy. “You have to tackle me if you want to get the ball!”

“Really?” The chimera glanced at Parrish standing nearby, seeing him nod. “Ok, I guess I can do that.”

“Don’t hurt him.” Parrish said quickly as Theo charged across their back yard. “Err, either of you!”

Theo grunted when he collided with Strauss, driving his shoulder into the man’s chest and bowing his head, cheek brushing against his muscular pectoral muscles. “Ah!” He cried out when Strauss wrapped his arms around Theo’s waist and heaved him sideways, both of them crashing down onto the grass.

“Hmm, not bad for your first time!”

“Yeah?” Theo looked up at him, sprawled out on his back as Strauss loomed over him, panting and grinning. His nostrils flared slightly as a familiar scent filled the air between them, not that he needed enhanced senses to feel the hardon pressing against his raised knee. Theo swallowed hard and rolled his head back, looking upside-down at Parrish behind them. “Was that really ok?”

“Um, well, you’re meant to hit him and then wrest the ball away, so you can pass or run with it.” The other Deputy replied, coming over to them.

“Yeah, you’ll get it, Theo.” Strauss smiled again, standing up and holding a hand out for Theo to pull himself upright. “We can do it over, or you can watch me and Jordan try it?”

“Ok.” Theo nodded quickly, backing off and wiping the sweat from his brow, late afternoon sun beating down on them. He paused for a moment, lifting the hem of his t-shirt. “Uh, you don’t mind if I…?”

“Not at all!”

“Best to be comfortable.” Parrish replied more reservedly than his boyfriend. “Take it off if you want.”

Theo stripped out of his t-shirt, feeling Strauss’ eyes on him. The chimera turned away, hiding his smirk. Geeze, could he be any more obvious? Good thing Liam said something this afternoon or I might actually…No, hang on, what about Jordan? He’s always been nice to me, and I don’t smell anything between us other than friendship. And I can’t afford to mess up the few friends I have. Theo rested against the lawn chairs near the house and watched as Parrish gave in to Strauss’ flirtatious grins and pulled his own shirt off, the two muscular men running towards each other. He blinked, seeing the Hellhound tear the ball from Strauss’ hands and sprint to the back of the yard where they had set up the end zone.

“TOUCHDOWN!!!” Parrish shouted enthusiastically, laughing as Strauss chased him, lunged forward and dragged him down onto the ground. “You can’t do that, I already scored!”

Theo walked over, tilting his head in confusion. “So, does that mean the score isn’t valid?”

“No, Aaron’s just a cheating cheater!” Parrish grinned at him, pushing his boyfriend off onto his back, both of the them lying in the sun that filtered through from the tall tree overhead. “Sit down, Theo, take a breather.”

“Yeah, relax!” Strauss patted the grass next to him and Theo nodded, folding his legs underneath him. “How is it hotter in the afternoon than at midday?”

“Confined space, not much wind back here with the tall fences.” Theo shrugged, his eyes sweeping over them both again, Parrish was sitting upright, arms out behind him to brace himself off the ground, his abs bunched, while Aaron was lying on his back, hands clasped behind his head, biceps tense and smooth skin all the way down to his shorts. Fuck, he’s- Oh no! Look away, he can see you! Theo flushed and averted his eyes quickly, even as Aaron smirked at him. He’s not even a supernatural and he’s got the body of a model! Still…I think Liam’s arms are nicer, and I’ve actually seen-and held- his dick, so, I mean, err…stop thinking, Theo!

“Hey, Aaron?” Parrish was looking between them and then nodding towards the house. “Do you mind going to the store to grab a few things while we wait for dinner?”

“Sure, no problem,” He nodded, standing up and looked at Theo. “We always watch movies on Friday night, but we can play Xbox if you prefer, Theo?”

“Um, I don’t mind, what are you going to watch?”

“Dunno yet,” The Deputy glanced at Parrish as they all got up and made their way towards the house. “You ever see 300, I think you’d really enjoy it!”

“If you say so.” Theo shrugged. “I haven’t seen many films, watched a few with Stiles, but not since he left.”

“Cool, I’ll grab some snacks, will I get beer?”

“Only for yourself.” Parrish shook his head. “I’ve the early shift tomorrow.”

“Ok, I’ll pick up pizza while I’m out.” Strauss pulled his shirt on, buttoning it up, but leaving the top three undone, allowing Theo to see the edges of his lightly tanned pecs. “Any preference, Theo, or is a mouthful of meat what you like?”

“Aaron!” Parrish groaned, covering his face in one hand.

“It’s fine,” Theo laughed, eyes sparkling. “I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy cramming meat into my mouth just as much as you do!”

“Hmm,” Strauss smirked and winked at him, before grabbing the keys off the counter and leaving through the door.

 

“I’m sorry about him,” Parrish said as soon as the car pulled out of the drive. “Seriously, he is not normally this thirsty, but then we don’t have that many friends our own age to hang with and no one as, um, no one who looks like you, Theo.” He coughed awkwardly as Theo frowned. “Anyway, um, you said you were going to teach me how to distinguish emotions from scents, remember?”

“Yeah, we should go outside.” He gestured and waited for the Hellhound to move first. “You haven’t told him, have you?”

“No.” Parrish sighed, turning to Theo once they were on the grass again. He glanced around before clenching his fist, a column of fire igniting along his right arm, his skin shiny and dark, though unburnt. “But how on earth am I meant to explain this to him? He’s just a regular cop, Theo, well, I mean, he’s smart, good, hot…haha, like I need to tell you!”

“What? No, I just-” Theo floundered until Parrish grinned and grabbed his forearm with his other hand, quenching his fire.

“It’s fine, you’d have to be made of rock if you didn’t respond to his flirting.”

“Oh, well, uh,” Theo paused, and nodded. “Concentrate and tell me what you smell from me.”

“Oh? Cool, ok.” The Deputy stared at him, nostrils flaring as he breathed in the air between them.

“You need to relax, be calm.” The chimera instructed, releasing Parrish’s hand. “You’re not really looking at me, it’s more like you’re looking through me. That’s it…you already have the scent, I’m going to hold it; keep the emotion going until you get it, but you know what it is.”

“I don’t…I’m not sure.”

“Yes, you do.” Theo replied. “Close your eyes, it’ll be easier if you can’t see me. Now tell me, how does it feel?”

“Like, ugh! Awkward!”

“Exactly.” Theo grinned as Parrish opened his eyes excitedly. “Ok, I’m going to try another, you’ll get it faster this time.” Hmm, ok, let’s try fear, that’s easy to recognize, but hard to do…hmm, hmm, ok. Someone or something is coming to get us, coming to take us away; me and Liam and Corey and Mason, going to take the battle bunnies and drown them, set fire to Doctors’ centuries of research and work, bury their labs and library, destroy everything that-

“Theo!” Parrish was shaking him fiercely, before pulling him into a tight hug. “Theo, it’s alright!”

“Huh?” He blinked and pulled away from Parrish’s strong grip, looking at him in confusion. “Did you get it?”

“Yeah, of course! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the smell of fear or panic or anxiety again, that was terrifying!” Parrish stared at him, reaching out to touch him again. “Theo, I-”

“Oh, it’s fine.” Theo smiled at him, letting his scent return to normal. “See? It’s just an act? I mean, I believe it just enough to sell it, but I don’t actually feel it in the way that a normal person who’s actually afraid would.”

“Uh huh.” Parrish frowned at him. “Please don’t do that again?”

“You want to stop?” He nodded slowly, “Ok, maybe try it out on Strauss; humans never notice when you read their emotions and it’s the best way to manip-err, figure them out.”

“That wasn’t what you were doing earlier, was it?”

“Huh?”

“With Aaron? Were you manipulating him?”

“Into being horny?” Theo smirked, but shook his head. “I don’t do that sort of thing anymore, Deputy, besides, Liam and I are going on a date soon!”

“I’m happy for you,” Parrish grinned at him and placed a hand on Theo’s bare shoulder, steering him back to the edge of the grass. “But, um, you’d tell me if Aaron was making you uncomfortable, right? I could get hints of what he was feeling, I guess he was being very obvious, but you got a better read on him, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” Theo sat down on a lawn chair next to him. “But you pretty much covered it: he was aroused, interested in me and you, probably together, I think.” He flushed slightly when Parrish’s pulse ticked higher and his scent twisted with discomfort. “But don’t worry, Aaron is a great guy; but I have Liam, or I soon will. And I, um, I kinda look at you like an older…brother.” Theo whispered the last two words, eyes downcast as the Hellhound looked sharply at him. “Err, forget it.”

“No, Theo, don’t.” Parrish smiled and nodded. “Thanks, I’m glad you trust me.”

 

Theo stared at the ceiling as he lay on their couch, trying not to listen in on the moving bodies in the next room, and Parrish’s whispers telling Strauss to be quiet. The other Deputy had been exactly as forward as Theo expected based on their previous conversations, asking if he wanted to sleep with them, since the couch was going to be bad for his back, and the living room would get hot. Theo refused with a smirk as Parrish flushed and Aaron released a dramatic, over-the-top sigh, winking at him and saying that the offer stood for any time during the night, and to make sure he stripped off before sleeping or he’d be too hot. Theo smiled to himself again as he heard Parrish groan. Well, at least all that energy and desire is going somewhere useful!

The chimera rolled onto his side as his phone beeped on the coffee table. He reached for it and slid his thumb across the screen to read the message from Corey. Can you come over? “Uh, why would I do that?” Theo muttered, typing his reply, the answer arriving seconds later. I made a mistake and now Ares is big! The chimera tapped on the attached picture and felt his stomach clench hard when he saw the battle bunny sitting in the middle of Corey’s living room, the plasma TV on the wall dwarfed by the enormous, black-furred rabbit, ears bent along the ceiling. “No shit you need help!” Theo grumbled, pushing back the duvet covering his legs. He quickly called Corey’s number while searching for his t-shirt. “Corey?”

“I’m sorry, Theo!”

“Don’t be sorry, tell me what happened.”

“Well, I was…and then…” Corey mumbled, the words too soft for Theo to hear. “And it wasn’t on purpose, I just thought-”

“Ok, ok, calm down, don’t panic.” Theo grabbed his t-shirt and pulled it on, stepping into his shorts from the day before as Corey continued to apologize. “I’m on my way, are your parents at home?”

“No, they’re out all night.”

“Good, ok, call Liam and Mason, I’m going to need their help and one of their cars.” The older chimera instructed. “I’m about fifteen minutes away, if I cut through the lacrosse pitches. Don’t do anything else, ok, Corey? Do NOT touch the nose under any circumstances!” Theo looked up as the door to the bedroom opened. “I gotta go.”

“You ok, Theo?” Strauss muttered, peering at him as he held a bunched-up pair of trunks against his visibly hard dick. “Bad dream? Or, wait, are you going somewhere?”

“Friend of mine is in trouble.” Theo explained, slipping his phone into his shorts’ pocket and moving around the couch towards the Deputy. “It’s, err, an animal control problem.”

“Do you need us to come with?” Aaron moved towards him, stopping when Theo reached out with both his hands, pressing them against his chest. “No?”

“No.” Theo whispered, locking eyes with him, suddenly aware of how close they were standing to each other. He grinned and nodded at the bedroom door, “Don’t you have something to finish in there, anyway?”

“Well, if you’re going, I guess that means we can get loud, louder.” The Deputy smirked, stepping towards him, light from a streetlamp outside sending a pillar of warm yellow down his defined chest and smooth naval to where his hand was now openly massaging his cock. Theo could smell the heavy scent of precum soaking into the fabric of the man’s trunks, but it didn’t have the same potent, tense edge as Liam’s did and Theo half shrugged.

“I really do need to go.”

“We’ll do this another time then.” Strauss smiled at him, lips parted, tongue darting out. His free hand gripped Theo’s bicep in farewell, before turning around and walking back to his and Parrish’s bedroom, giving the chimera an unobstructed view of two muscular ass cheeks.

Fuck! Maybe I should have gone to the swimming hole with Liam yesterday! Theo shook his head and darted towards the door, pulling it open noiselessly and running into the night.

 

“I didn’t mean for it to happen!” Corey wailed as Liam and Mason stared at the giant rabbit sitting in the center of the chimera’s living room, front paws lying on the sofa which had been pushed back against the window, the rabbit’s ears stiffening when Theo approached it, the light fixture swinging wildly. “Please be careful!”

“That’s what I asked you to be with Ares.” Theo looked at him with a glare, the expression softening when Corey looked back at him in misery. “Ok, tell me what happened, and don’t leave anything out this time!”

“Well, it was all fine when I left,” Mason explained as Corey avoided Theo’s intense gaze. “We hung out as normal, watched some Netflix, Ares was chilling in between us, though Corey did pick him up a lot.”

“He was really cute! I couldn’t just leave him there on the cushion,” Corey protested as Ares looked at them, dark, intelligent eyes sweeping the room. “And I didn’t pull his ears or anything like that.”

“I know, I know you wouldn’t hurt him.” Theo nodded, looking into one of the creature’s massive eyes, his lips moving silently as an image of a large pink object appeared in his mind’s eye. Oh. Well, I thought as much… The older chimera turned to Corey, “You fed him, didn’t you?”

“You said not to.”

“That’s not an answer.” Liam snapped, gesturing at Ares. “Theo said that was the one thing you should never do, and you did it?! What sort of-”

“Enough!” Theo growled, his eyes flashing yellow. “Stop, Liam, leave him alone.”

“You told him what he shouldn’t do, though, and it’s-”

“I said, enough.” Theo cut across him again. “He made a mistake, but Corey is still a chimera, he’s more…I mean, the rabbits respond better to a chimera than a regular supernatural.” Yeah, ok, good save, Theo. “But you should tell me exactly what you gave him to eat, all I’m getting is images of pink and white barrel-shaped objects.” He glanced at them as they stared back in confusion. “Oh, sorry, I might have forgotten to mention that as the battle bunny morphs into their true form, they gain increased intelligence and limited mind-to-mind communication.”

“Forgot, huh?” Liam was the first to recover as Mason exchanged surprised looks with Corey and the eight-foot high bunny. “You’re saying they’re…telepathic?”

“They can’t read your minds, and only chimeras can receive the images they share.” Theo shrugged. “It was meant to be part of a hive mind communication system, but rabbits aren’t exactly tactical geniuses, so they mostly communicate in pictures and usually about the last thing they thought of, which in this case is…?”

“Marshmallows.” Corey whispered, staring up at Ares, his lips parted in wonder. “I was having hot chocolate after Mason left and I put in too many marshmallows, and Ares was just sitting there on his cushion, looking at me. He looked kinda sad, so I might have, given him one.”

Mason sighed heavily, bowing his head as Liam rolled his eyes, and Theo nodded thoughtfully.

“But, c’mon!” Corey looked at them pleadingly. “Have you ever seen a baby bunny eat a marshmallow?! It’s the cutest thing ever! I recorded it on my phone, see?”

“We don’t need to see.” Liam hurriedly waved his hands in front of his face as Corey offered them his phone. “Theo, can’t you do something?”

“It’d be best if we could wait for him to shrink on his own.” Theo tapped his fingers against his jaw. “You said your parents are away?”

“Yeah, but they’ll be back in the morning.” Corey moved over to him after giving Liam a dirty look when he refused to watch the video of Ares eating. “Theo, we both know they don’t notice much, but I think they’d notice a giant rabbit sitting in the living room!”

“Wait,” Liam broke in, looking between the chimeras. “How do you know about his parents, Theo? Have you been here before?”

“Err…” Corey stammered, flushing suddenly.

“It’s ancient history.” Theo replied firmly, shaking his head as Liam’s eyes widened. “If it’s any consolation, it lasted about three days after I brought him back to life and Mason weren’t on the scene. Plus, I was a homicidal psychopath, so Corey definitely traded up. Now…” He ignored the sudden whispered argument between Corey and Liam, gesturing for Mason to follow him into the kitchen. “Did you bring your car?”

“Yeah, but, what was all that about?”

“I'm surprised you never told Liam about me and Corey, but I guess that doesn't really matter, huh?” Theo shrugged, “Can we just deal with this first?”

“The giant rabbit? Sure, sure.” Mason muttered darkly, glancing over his shoulder as Liam and Corey re-joined them. “So, what do we do?”

“And why couldn’t I touch his nose?”

“That sends him into berserk mode,” Theo replied casually, looking around the kitchen. “You wouldn’t have a house left, Corey. Now, tell me, did you give Ares cooled, boiled water, like I told you?”

“Yeah, he only had a few mouthfuls though. It’s over there.” Corey pointed and took out a bigger basin. “Do you think he needs a drink?”

“In a way, it’s how we’re going to get him to shift back.” The older chimera walked over and poured the kettle into the basin, explaining as he did so. “Unlike werewolves, were-rabbits don’t have the intelligence to control their shift, which is why they’re designed to have specific triggers and also specific anchoring procedures to bring them back down to normal size.”

“What do you need us to do?” Liam asked, meeting Theo’s gaze with a stern expression.

“I need half a cup of baking soda, one eighth of a demiard of werewolf blood and the scent of a fair maiden from across a lake!” Theo declared as the others gaped at him. He let them wonder for a moment longer before laughing. “Haha, really, guys? You believed that?!”

“Theo!”

“There’s a giant rabbit in my living room! Joke later!” Corey glared at him.

“Fine, fine.” Theo shrugged and pulled out a tiny vial of purple powder, sprinkling it into the basin of water. “This will reset his systems; it’s a…well, let’s call it a secret of Dread Doctors and I won’t have to tell you about the long and tragic history of the chimera hive mind experiments.”

 

They followed him into the living room, Liam smelling particularly nervous as Theo sat down on the carpet in front of the stationary, though enormous, battle bunny. “Relax, I’ve done this a few times before…when I was a kid.”

“What?” The werewolf moved closer, stopping when Ares looked at him and yawned, massive white teeth, the size of the TV screen, on display. “Theo, I heard that rabbit kill at least a dozen Ghost Riders…”

“It’ll be fine!” The chimera dismissed his concerns with a flippant wave, before dipping his hand into the purple water and splashing it on Ares’ fur, moving around the creature, anointing it from all sides. Theo pressed the last of the liquid against his own lips and muttered a single word. “Sleep.”

Ares blinked and slowly lowered his head until his long ears were horizontal, and Corey was flailing wildly until Mason pulled his face out of range of the ticklish fur. The enlarged rabbit huffed and there was a sudden gasp of purple mist before the bunny shrunk in the blink of an eye, plopping back to a tiny bunny sitting in Theo’s cupped hands. “Wow, thanks, Theo!” Corey grinned, trying to get over to pet Ares, but Mason and Liam gripped the back of his shirt tight. “Hey!”

“I think you’ve had enough fun with the petting zoo, Corey!”

“Aww!”

“No point giving me those eyes,” Mason shook his head firmly. “We’re going to bed and I’ll sit on top of you if it means you can’t play with that rabbit!”

“Oh.” Corey’s face fell, before it brightened, and he kissed Mason. “That seems alright!”

“It’s fine, I’ll take Ares back with me, if you can give me a lift, Liam?” Theo looked at the werewolf and raised his brows questioningly.

“Yeah, sure, it’s almost dawn anyway,” Liam nodded at the door and Theo followed him outside as Mason chased Corey upstairs. “Maybe we can get breakfast?”

“Sure, Ares won’t be able to change for about a week, so he’ll be safe in your car for a few hours. Thanks.”

“No problem, Theo, just another night in Beacon Hills, right?” Liam laughed.

 

“Pancakes are pretty good here,” Liam said as they looked at the menus.

“Yup, I’d expect so.” Theo smirked, “I might have been in a lab and bunker for a long time, but I have been in an IHOP before.”

“Right, right, sorry.”

“You nervous?” The chimera frowned, hearing Liam’s heart beat faster, his scent changing even as Theo nullified all the others around him, focusing only on the werewolf. Huh, of course. “Is this about what Corey said?”

“It’s about what you said.” Liam hissed at him, raising his menu to glare without anyone seeing. “Three days?! You could’ve told me that you and Corey were a thing!”

“Barely a thing.” Theo shrugged, muting his own scent and replacing it with frost, seeing Liam blink at him in surprise. “Chimeras are full of tricks, but Corey only…he felt guilty or grateful, I’m not sure which. I had just betrayed Stiles in every possible way, not merely burning that bridge between us, but smashing it to splinters. Corey filled a void, for a hot second, until he realized that I was a cold-hearted monster and he found Mason instead.”

“You’re pretty cold right now.” Liam shook his head as Theo modulated his scent again, letting it return to what the werewolf would associate with normality. “That’s crazy! But it could also be really useful if something bad started happening again.”

“True.” Theo turned and smiled at their server as she approached. “Hi, I’ll have the Belgian dark chocolate mousse pancakes please.”

“Err, same.” Liam nodded, wetting his lips. “So, um, how are you, Theo? You, um, seeing anyone else here?”

“We’re surrounded by people.” Theo frowned, taking a gulp of coffee. “Why? Is there someone here I should be seeing?”

“I’m just wondering if,” Liam paused, speaking as though he was choosing his words carefully. “If maybe…Tara was here?”

“She’s dead, Liam, I know that now.” Theo smiled at him, but that didn’t seem to reassure the werewolf. “Life is good, there’s no stress or strains or anything that might, hmm, trigger that stuff to come back. And if it does, Kira’s Mom has gathered most of the rare ingredients for that cure, remember?”

“Yeah, yeah, I remember.” Liam grinned at him, his scent flooding with happiness. “But don’t think about that, Theo, you’re right; everything is great! Oooh, those look really chocolatey!”

“Yes, they do.” Theo murmured to himself, nodding along as Liam talked about the ratio of filling to pancake. And with Tara to no longer occupy my mind and act as a distraction, I can finally secure Beacon Hills against the many supernatural threats that face us. Liam, Corey, and Parrish have proved themselves as allies, so they’ll be spared, of course. And with Scott, Malia, and Lydia leaving, I don’t need to concern myself with them. But the others, and that cursed beacon in woods must be purged. Once I confirm that the process is stable, the mass conversion can begin!

“Theo?”

“Hmm?” He glanced at Liam, smiling as the werewolf looked at him with a grin. “Sorry, I was thinking about my rabbits. What did you say?”

“Um, just that there’s about two weeks of summer left, and I don’t want to spend it all in my bedroom, but maybe we can spare a few hours?” He was blushing but holding the chimera’s intense gaze. “Especially since both my parents will be out of the house for the next, err, eight hours.”

“I understand,” Theo nodded and pulled out a small, pressed ingot of gold, leaving it on the bill. “Let’s go!”

Chapter Text

Theo chewed on his nail nervously as he waited in Liam’s living room, pacing back and forth, hearing the werewolf move around above him. Tidying his room, he said. Maybe, maybe not, hard to tell. Could be…something else. Could be nothing at all. Maybe-

“Theo?”

The chimera looked up when he heard his name, Liam standing at the door, cheeks flushed from exertion. “What?”

“Are you gonna stand there all day or come with me?” He was grinning, scent switching between excitement and arousal and anticipation, the rapid change making Theo feel more on edge than before. “Well?”

“Uh, yeah, of course.” Theo finally answered, nodding his head and forcing a smile to his face. He couldn’t exactly say what had happened on the car ride over to Liam’s house, but something fell apart. The chimera felt numb again, neither floundering in the depths of his madness, but not quite able to pull himself into the happiness that Liam was feeling. But he doesn’t need to know that. Theo nodded to himself, closing his eyes when he walked up the stairs behind Liam, hearing his eager chatter at the edge of his senses, focusing instead on using his scent to mask the apathy that threatened to overwhelm him.

“…and I was thinking maybe we could watch a film after? You know, if you don’t have things to do?” Liam was glancing at him again, though a glimmer of mischief lit up his eyes. “Or, we could watch a movie during, to, you know, get things going, in case you’re feeling…uh, from the…um-”

“That might be a good idea.” Theo nodded, looking at the floor instead of Liam, smelling the younger teen’s sudden awkwardness.

“Oh, I didn’t mean-”

“It’s fine.” The chimera paused outside Liam’s room, glancing towards the bathroom. “Actually, do you mind if I shower first? Just to, um…”

“Yeah, no problem!” Liam nodded and opened the door for him, pointing out where everything was as though this was Theo’s first time in the house, as though he had forgotten what had happened before. If it had happened. “What?”

“This…” Theo gestured between them, frowning. “Has this, did we, was is a dream?”

“Oh, um, sorry, I’m confusing you, ok.” Liam took a breath and placed his hands on Theo’s wrists. “I need to remember to slow down, it’s just, I didn’t think this would…maybe it’s better I don’t think about it?”

“Sure.” Theo nodded, more confused than ever, kicking off his sneakers and pulling down his pants. When he stripped out of his t-shirt, the chimera realized Liam was still standing next to him, staring unashamedly at the bulge in the front of Theo’s trunks. Oh, well, it started here the last time, maybe it’s a natural evolution for him? Theo slipped his thumbs into the waistband of his underwear and looked at Liam. “So, are you gonna stand there all day or come with me?”

Liam grinned at him at shut the door with a click. Eagerness rolled off him as he stripped in rapid time, standing naked in front of Theo in seconds, his thick, proud dick standing upright and ready. “It won’t be like last time, I promise!”

“It’ll be better.” Theo smirked and opened the door of the shower, standing inside the glass walls, waiting until Liam slipped in after him before turning on the water.

 

It started off slow, as before, Liam doing all the work as Theo tried to relax, tried to connect with the emotions that flooded the other teenager’s scent, tried to recapture that feeling that he had at the pancake house when this seemed like a good idea. He released a shaky breath when Liam’s hands moved lower, down his sides to just above his waist, fingers pressing against the firm globes of his ass. Theo could hear Liam’s heartbeat increase, the roar of blood somehow louder than the water spraying over them. It wasn’t like this was his first time, or they hadn’t had this experience before, but unlike that occasion when it had just happened almost naturally, this felt forced, uncomfortable.

“Relax, Theo.”

“Yeah.”

“Seriously, it’s alright.” Liam moved forward, into the hot deluge of water, bending his head down to press his lips against the back of Theo’s neck, the touch sending shivers down his spine and into his cock, slowly growing bigger the lower Liam’s lips went. “This is gonna be good, you’ll see.”

“Yeah.” Theo muttered again, barely audible. He lifted his hands and pressed them against the glass, bowing his head so Liam couldn’t see his expression, scent as guarded and false as it had ever been. Suddenly the werewolf stopped and pulled away from him, hands remaining on his waist however. “What is it?”

“Do you really want this?” Liam sounded confused, a touch of fear across his words. “I don’t want to feel like I’m forcing you, that maybe you’re not in the right place for us to go this fast.”

Would it matter if I wasn’t? The thought flashed across Theo’s mind before he could say anything, swallowing instead, the chimera turned around to face Liam. He ran his eyes over the younger guy’s body; hard cock jutting from his body, water winding its way down his muscular chest, his hands now placed on his hips, questioning expression on his face. Theo sighed and flicked his gaze up further to his eyes, shrugging. “You want to do this, I can smell it.”

“Yeah, but I’m not getting the same thing from you, it’s like a layer of frosting and then underneath is nothing but stone.” Liam reached out, rubbing Theo’s bicep affectionately. “You don’t need to hide from me, Theo. If this is too much or too fast or you just can’t…then tell me.”

“Um,” Theo averted his eyes, looking through the shower doors to the mirror beyond, seeing a different version of himself smirk and flex, mouth opening to whisper in his mind. It would be easy to kiss him now, to pin him against the shower door and make out, turn his horniness against him and make him think everything is alright, that we’re good, that-

That would be the old Theo. The counter-argument struck hard, causing real Theo to shake his head, vaguely aware that Liam was staring at him, lips parted, brow pulled together. And I don’t lie to the people I care about anymore.

No? What about our grand plan? Conversion and destruction! Do you really think the handsome werewolf on our left will allow us to go through with it? Take this opportunity to distract him!

“Theo?” Liam was tugging on his arm, pulling him back to reality, the echo of himself in the mirror offering a final smirk before vanishing. “Theo, what’s wrong?”

The chimera squeezed his eyes shut, silently counting the seconds until he knew had to give Liam some sort of answer. “Everything.”

“Um, how about we just watch that film instead, huh?” Liam shut off the shower and stepped out, grabbing a towel. He gestured for Theo to stay where he was. “No, no, uh, just give me a minute, I need to put some stuff away! Five minutes, ok?”

 

Theo knocked softly on the bedroom door, towel wrapped around his waist and bundled clothes held under one arm. He turned the knob when a muffled shout from Liam indicated he could come in, seeing the werewolf clad in tight-fitting trunks on his hands and knees on the floor, his head and shoulders under the bed. “Um, did you lose something?”

“No, just, uh, putting some toy-things! Putting things away that we won’t need!” Liam withdrew and glanced at Theo, face flushed, panting as he stared at the chimera’s upper body. “Um, I don’t have a change of clothes for you.”

“It’s fine, I’ll change when I return to the Doctors’ library.” Theo shrugged, sitting on the edge of the bed and sorting through his pile. “What are we gonna watch?”

“Uh, I’ll see what I have,” Liam muttered, turning away towards his TV, but Theo noticed the werewolf kept taking furtive looks at him as he stood up, towel falling away to let him pull his trunks on. “What are you in the mood for? Action? Car chases? Thriller?”

“I haven’t seen enough to know, pick whatever you want, Liam.”

“Ok, you just get up on the bed and lay back and I’ll put it in, err, on, uh, the movie, I mean…haha, this isn’t exactly the context I was thinking of for saying that.” Liam smiled at him, scent evening out, his words genuine even as Theo analysed them from every angle, searching for signs of disappointment, unsure of what to think when he found none. “Err…Jurassic World sound good? It’s got dinosaurs and action and genetic manipulation!”

“Well, what’s not to love about that?!” Theo returned his grin and nodded, tying off his sweat pants after pulling his t-shirt on. Liam opted to remain in just his underwear, but Theo didn’t mention it, things felt awkward enough already. He shuffled back on Liam’s bed, plumping the cushions as the werewolf fiddled with the TV, turning it more so they would be able to see it better. Theo froze, feeling something poke him from under the bottom pillow. “Huh?” He reached down and pulled out a very long, smooth, flesh-colored object. “Liam, is this-”

“Ah!” Liam vaulted over the bed and snatched it from Theo’s hands, his face turning bright red, clutching the object to his chest. “It’s nothing!”

“It looks like a-”

“I said it was nothing!” Liam shouted at him, throwing the offending article over his shoulder, wincing as it bounced off the desk and dropped to the floor, rolling to a halt in plain view. “Ok, fine, it’s one of Mason’s dildos, he said he hadn’t used it, and I wanted to…you know, see what it was like?”

“Um.” Theo frowned at him, seeing Liam turn an even darker red, the color flushing out along his collar bones and chest. “Ok, if that’s what you want, I wasn’t sure if…”

“Oh, well, I mean, you kinda said that you liked to, err, take it? Up the butt?”

“Bottom.” Theo corrected, pressing his lips together. “I probably should have asked you this back at the pancake house, but, um, you do know that there’s a difference between anal and-”

“It’s more than just what hole, yeah, I got that.” The werewolf sunk on the bed beside him, glaring at the floor in embarrassment. “What happened last time was great, I thought we could do that again, except, just, um, using my dick instead of fingers?”

“I’m the first guy you’ve been with, amn’t I?” Theo asked him, seeing Liam nod miserably. “Hey, it’s ok to take things slow and not know what you’re doing, you’ll learn.”

“Yeah, I know, and I want you to be the one to help me with that,” Liam looked at him, reaching for Theo’s hands again, lightly grasping his wrists. “But I also want to make you happy.”

“You do, just being here is enough right now.”

“Oh, but I thought-”

“That I needed a dick to make me happy?” Theo smirked at him. “That might have been how Hayden rolled, but that’s not me. Stiles and I rushed into it because…of a lot of things, and my, err, moment with Corey was the result of mutual desire and needed release, we never really had a relationship to back that up. I want this to be different, and I think you do to. So, let’s leave that large, double-headed dildo on the floor and just watch the film, see what happens next.”

“Sounds good.” Liam smiled at him, kicking the dildo under his bed as he leaned in to press his lips against Theo’s. The chimera blinked, but kissed him back, sensing Liam moving to go deeper and pulling away instead, placing his hands on Liam’s chest to stop him. “Ah, ok, good enough for now. I promise, next time, I’ll know what I’m doing! Porn is a great teacher!”

“Uh…”

 

“Pft! As if that genetic sequencing method would produce those results!” Theo muttered darkly under his breath, shaking his head as they watched the head scientist explain what was used to create the killer dinosaur. He saw Liam arch a brow out of the corner of his eye and gestured at the screen. “You can’t just throw a jumble of animal genes in together and expect them to work! Trust me, I’ve seen it! The type of monster that shuffles off the table is the stuff of nightmares!”

“I’m sure.” Liam smirked, a stray chuckle escaping from behind his hand. “So, you think the movie about scientists bringing dinosaurs back to life to live in a theme pack is far-fetched, huh?”

“Well, yeah.” Theo replied, folding his arms, unconsciously caressing the smooth skin at his right bicep, pausing when he smelt Liam’s arousal fill the space between them, the werewolf having remained in just his underwear as they watched the film, not quite lying against each other on the bed. Theo glanced at him, but Liam avoided his eyes, causing the chimera to smirk and continue caressing his bicep, pushing the short sleeves of his t-shirt higher, smile widening as Liam swallowed hard and gazed at him. “See something you like?”

“Yeah,” Liam nodded, pink tongue darting out to touch his lips, mirroring Theo’s gesture with his own arms, flexing slightly and causing the muscle to bulge upwards into his fingers. “I like everything about you.”

Really? The thought snapped into Theo’s mind without warning, but he pushed it to one side, concentrating instead on Liam, nodding when the younger teenager reached out to touch his forearm, stroking the back of his hand along Theo’s arm.

“Wow, you’re really smooth!”

“Uh, yeah, I like it that way, so it works that I don’t have much body hair.” Theo shrugged, shuffling closer to him, the movie forgotten as their heads tilted towards each other, his hand coming up to rest against Liam’s neck, eyes closing as their lips touched. He moved carefully, almost painfully aware of how eager Liam was, of how the unexpected intimacy had caught him by surprise, though it was a pleasant one, judging from the way the werewolf moaned loudly into his mouth, his fingers moving from Theo’s arm down onto his thigh and pushing in between his legs. Theo parted his lips a little, eyes flicking open when Liam shoved his tongue forward, widening the gap suddenly. The chimera growled and pulled back, “Hey!”

“Uh, sorry, I thought-”

“It’s fine,” Theo grunted, looking into Liam’s confused eyes, his hands on his shoulders. “Just…please stop being so aggressive, I know you’re eager and excited, but, just slow down.”

“Right, I’m sorry.” Liam apologized again, cheeks coloring a little. “Hayden always wanted dominance, I just…”

“You’ve never done anything at all with another guy, have you?” Theo asked him, the realization striking him suddenly. He silently cursed his lack of focus, holding Liam’s gaze as he answered.

“Uh, not really, other than you.”

“Ah.” Theo pursed his lips, tilting his head back towards the floor, seeing one end of the long dildo sticking out from under the bed. “Not even with Mason?”

“What? No way!” Liam cried out. “He’s like my brother!”

“Uh, ok, if you say so,” Theo gestured at the dildo, “You know that’s for two people, right? Like two guys can use it at once?”

“What? Really?” The werewolf stared at him, eyes wide. “I didn’t know that.”

“Yup, you really are innocent when it comes to this, aren’t you?” Theo smirked a little at Liam’s scowl. “But why were you using it anyway? I don’t top, uh, ‘put it in’.” He added as an explanation.

“I wanted to see what it was like,” He shrugged, “Plus, I used the other side for practice, I can give you a blow job, if you want?”

“Mmh, no, not yet.” Theo shook his head but pulled his t-shirt off and undid the string on his sweat pants. “Let’s just keep kissing for now.” Liam was grinning at him again, erection pushing the cotton of his underwear to one side as he enthusiastically made out with Theo, his hands caressing the chimera’s broad chest and smooth stomach, not pausing when his fingers brushed against the band of Theo’s trunks, skirting lower to gently tug at his cock. “Mmh.”

 

They continued kissing for a few minutes longer until Liam broke away, face flushed and lips slightly bruised, moving his cock to one side with the heel of his hand, the dark stain of over-flowing precum visible to Theo, even if he couldn’t smell the rich, heavy tang of it hanging in the air between them. “So, how does it work?”

“What?” Theo frowned. “How does what work?”

“The two-headed dildo.”

“Oh, well, it’s easy enough,” He answered, gesturing at Liam, “First I’d push it into your ass, and then when you’re ready, I’d lie opposite you and slide the other end into my ass. Then, we’d use the momentum created by our opposite movements to work the dildo in and out of each other’s holes, providing the pleasure.”

“Fuck!” Liam gasped, having slipped a hand inside his underwear to grasp the shaft of his dick and started jerking off. “Can we try that?!”

“Uh, if you have enough lube and time, I guess so.” Theo nodded, feeling his own cock twitch in anticipation. He let Liam get up and find the bottle of lube he had stashed away, feeling the numbness from earlier continue to drain the color from his world. It took effort to keep his scent neutral and interested, the chimera trying to hold onto the moments of pleasure and happiness even as dark thoughts flittered around his mind. Theo blocked them out when Liam returned with the bottle of lube and picked up the long dildo.

“Now what?”

“Better get naked!” Theo lay back on the bed, arching his hips and pushing down his trunks, hearing Liam gasp and moan as soon as he had kicked his underwear off, lying naked on the bed, cock lounging against his thigh, smooth ass cheeks hidden as the chimera lowered himself to the duvet again. “Your turn.”

“Done!” Liam ripped down his underwear, his thick dick springing out and slapping against his stomach with a wet sound, a splash of precum dripping onto his naval. “Do I do you first, or me?”

“I’ll do you,” Theo rolled over, standing up and gesturing for Liam to take his place on the bed, nodding approvingly at his firm ass cheeks and recent evidence of grooming. “First time shaving back there?”

“Uh, yeah.” Liam flushed, gesturing at his laptop. “I, um, I followed this advice video on YouTube, most of the gay porn I’ve seen seems to like, err, things, uh, it smooth, right? You do.”

“Yeah,” Theo shrugged. “But I like you fine the way you are, Liam. You should only change things like that if you want to.”

“I think it’s nice for stuff like this.” Liam nodded, relaxing again as he lay on his back, propping his head up with a pillow so he could watch Theo. “Do you just shove it in? It was really painful when I tried!”

“Uh…” Theo stared at him. “Why didn’t you use the lube? What did you think it was for?”

“Um,” Liam avoided his eyes, searching the ceiling as though it held the answers. “I didn’t need it before, Hayden was just kinda moist-”

“Ah!” Theo shook his head violently. “Stop thinking about her, and I told you, it’s different, you noob!”

“Well, show me how it’s done then, grandmaster Theo!”

“Watch and learn, grasshopper!” He shot back, a lightness flushing through his body as he crawled onto the bed and knelt in front of Liam. Theo held up one half of the dildo and popped the cap of the lube, squirting a generous amount out onto the toy, using his hand to smear the liquid all over, the remainder he offered to Liam, whispering, “Spread your legs and I’ll lube you up.”

“Ok!” Liam nodded and reached under his knee with each hand, pulling them back to his chest, exposing the smooth, white ass and delicate, pink hole. “Is this better?”

“Definitely!” Theo grinned and reached forward, glancing at Liam when his lubed fingers pressed into his hole without delay, the werewolf hissing and moaning, cock twitching. “This could probably get you off, but I’ll be quick and just prepare you, we can both handle the pain of rapid insertion better than humans anyway.”

“Uh huh!” Liam groaned, rocking back and forward slightly as Theo’s fingers slid into his hole, coating the tight ring well. “Just do it, already!”

“Easy now.” He guided the dildo’s head towards Liam’s hole, teasing the outside as the younger teen moaned and hummed, jerking off frantically. Theo stopped suddenly and looked at him, frowning. “This isn’t going to be like last time, Liam, where I got you off and you…”

“What?” Liam’s eyes snapped open and he shook his head, “No, it won’t be, I swear! Look, I’ll even stop touching my dick!”

“Hmm, ok, at least until the other end of the dildo is in my ass.” Theo nodded, satisfied, and resumed pushing the fleshy toy into Liam’s hole, watching as the head popped in with a horny grunt from Liam, the wider shaft encountering more resistance. “You have to bear down, like you’re going to the bathroom, open the hole a little more, that’s it, Liam, in it goes!”

Theo added more lube, easing the thick shaft into Liam's hole, seeing his expression shift from pain to pleasure. He twisted the dildo slowly, increasing the length inside his ass until Theo was satisfied there was enough left for himself too, Liam had turned into a moaning, shivering wreck, needy groans spilling from his mouth interspersed with Theo’s name. “Haha, I hear ya, Liam, let me get set up, and then you’ll really feel some pleasure!”

The chimera wasted no time in getting on the bed, deftly catching the pillow Liam threw at him and propping it under his shoulders so he could guide the other end of the dildo into his hole and still watch Liam enjoy himself. "Just another minute or two." He called out, squirting more lube on his fingers and greasing the smooth head for entry. Liam nodded, his expression tight as his needy cock dribbled torrents of precum down the thick shaft to pool on his skin, some slicked away onto his balls, dribbling onto the dildo.

"Hurry, Theo!"

"Almost ready." The chimera nodded and pushed his body closer to Liam, hand reaching for the double-ended dildo and using his fingers to bring the thickness towards his hole. Liam was grinning at him, enjoying the show, a series of low moans escaping his lips when Theo grunted and pushed the dildo into his ass in one short movement. "Ah!" Theo let his head fall back on the bed, eyes half open as he stared at Liam's white ceiling, letting his senses concentrate only on the sustained and pleasurable pressure inside his otherwise tight hole. They stayed still for almost a minute, each enjoying the sensation in different ways, Theo could hear Liam's pants and moans, feeling the vibration along the dildo as he clenched his ass and rocked back and forth in tight movements. "You ready?"

"So ready..." Liam moaned, grasping his cock and throwing his head back.

Theo reached for his knee and pulled Liam closer to him, the dildo pushing deeper into both of them. He grinned when he caught sight of the werewolf's flushed face, sweat making his skin glisten. His own body was slick as well, making it easier for Theo to run a hand down his chest and wrap it around his cock, finally fully erect, the need for release burning at a low heat in the pit of his stomach. Liam's frantic bucks against the dildo's head, pushing it deeper into Theo's ass, pulled him from his mind, concentrating instead on what was happening in front of him.

He let one of his legs slide off the bed, foot on the floor, allowing Liam to hook his leg around Theo's thigh and pull them closer together again, a chorus of moans accompanying the action. Theo took control, reaching between their tangled limbs to grip the slippery shaft of the double-headed dildo, pushing it into Liam and out of his own hole, then reversing the action and burying more of the dildo in his ass, withdrawing it from Liam's hole. They were both panting and moaning now, lost in the moment, feeling the pleasure in almost identical ways. Both of them jerked off in time to Theo's slowly increasing pace, both moving back and forth to increase their own pleasure, while simultaneously causing the other even more. "Ah!"

"Gimme," Liam grunted, his abs bunching as he reached for Theo's cock, jerking him off in fast, desperate strokes, his pre-cum slick hand reducing friction. "Ah, fuck, dude!"

"You're close, aren't you?"

"Mmh!"

"Yeah, I thought so," Theo grinned at him, removing his hand from the dildo to jerk himself off, Liam using both his hands to grasp his thicker cock. "Impale yourself on it, Liam!"

"Ugh!" Liam moaned, following Theo's instructions, ass clenching as he locked his legs around the chimera's, anchoring himself in place as they bucked rapidly against each other, the dildo moving almost naturally between them. "I'm super close!" Liam mumbled, arching his back and neck, every muscle clenched, his hand a blur. "Fuck yeah, I'm cumming, Theo!"

"Right on time!" Theo laughed, his own balls tightening and cock shooting thick ropes of cum onto his sweat-slick chest. He grinned at Liam as they looked at each other, pressing their cock heads together, groaning as the final eruptions shuddered across the other, puddling in the space left by the dildo. “Fuck, yeah!”

"Phawww!" Liam groaned, collapsing back on the bed. "That. Was. Awesome!"

"As good as any top, I'd say!" Theo grinned at him, feeling a deeper connection form between them that had nothing to do with the long toy lodged in both their asses.

 

Theo pulled up the parking brake and climbed out of his truck, frowning up at the mottled green and black camouflaged façade of the Beacon Hills Armory, the somewhat over-compensating name for the local gun and hunting supply shop. The bell sounded as he stepped inside, a middle-aged man looked up from the counter, while another, older woman paused her stacking of the clothing section to glance at him. “Afternoon,” Theo nodded at them both, turning away from the hunting rifles lining the back walls and walked instead into the survival gear section, casting his eye over the tents, stoves, sleeping bags, and other equipment scattered about the store.

“Help you with something?”

“Uh, I’m not sure, maybe, maybe not.” Theo smiled politely at the woman and shook his head. “Just looking for camping fuel, something in a can, medium to large?”

“Over there, near the archery equipment.” She frowned at him, “Camping and hunting seems to be making a comeback, you’re the third young man today to come looking for supplies. Actually, I think one of them is still here. Over yonder.” The woman gestured and walked away.

“Oh?” Theo followed her finger, seeing a medium-height teenager with longish, brown hair, swept across his forehead and above his eyes, though it shorter at the back and sides. He was wearing an open plaid shirt, the green t-shirt calling attention to his eyes. The chimera ran his eyes over the teenager’s pale complexion, cheeks flushed, with embarrassment or nervousness, Theo wasn't sure which, his scent was hesitant and yet eager, an untapped reserve of-

"Yes?"

“Huh?” Theo blinked, not having noticed the other guy approaching him.

“You were staring at me. Did you want something?”

“No, sorry.” Theo muttered, looking away.

“It’s ok, I’m not really sure why I’m here either.” He gave a nervous laugh, shrugging towards the hunting arrows. “Gabe and I were thinking of giving archery a go, do you shoot?”

“I’ve used a crossbow before.” Theo nodded, walking towards the compressed gas tanks, the other guy following behind him. “The modern ones are easy, just hold, aim, and fire, the bolt should cut through whatever it is that you’re hunting.”

“Cool, cool.” He took a breath, scent shifting to friendliness. “I’m Nolan.”

“Theo.”

“You look familiar, actually. Have we met before? Do you go to Beacon Hills High?” Nolan asked, leaning against the rack, slightly too close for Theo’s comfort. “Have we shared a class together or something?”

“Um, I was a Senior last year.” Theo answered carefully, running his eyes over the nearby fuel tanks, looking at the mix percentages. “But I don’t think so, I’d have remembered you…err, I mean I have a knack for faces and names.”

“Yeah, maybe, I’m an incoming Senior, just missed each other by a year!”

“Right.” Theo stopped, meeting Nolan’s eyes, an intense gaze he wasn’t expecting. “Gabe is your…friend?”

“Uh, uh huh.”

“Hmm, this one I think.” Theo pulled down a small can, tilting his head against the metal skin as he shook it gently. “Yes, the mixture sounds right.”

“You’re going camping?” Nolan frowned at the can. “Or is it for cooking?”

“Of a kind, out in the Preserve.”

“Haha!” Nolan laughed at him suddenly, the expression faltering as Theo looked blankly back at him. “Wait, you’re serious? Don’t you know that there’s been dozens of murders and dead bodies found out there? It’s really dangerous!”

“I can take care of myself, I know how to protect against wild animals.” Theo shrugged off his concern, turning to look at the rack of hunting arrows, the titanium tips glinting in the sunlight pouring in from the opening door. “And anything else that tries to take me as prey.” He glanced at Nolan quick enough to see his widening eyes and hear the hitch in his breath. Interesting…

“Nolan, dude, there you are.” Another teenager came over to them, slightly taller than Nolan, with handsome features and a certain confidence that Theo recognized. The guy was dressed more casually than Nolan, the short sleeves of his shirt tight enough to give added width to already muscular biceps. He stopped short when he saw Theo, glancing at Nolan for introductions. “Oh, hi.”

“Gabe, this is Theo.” Nolan introduced them, smiling before he shook his head, leaning towards Gabe. “This guy is crazy enough to go camping in Beacon Preserve!”

“Alone?”

“That’s right.” Theo smirked slightly, smelling the shift from aggressive protectiveness towards suspicion and curiosity. “Nolan clearly thinks I’m crazy, but I’m pretty sure I can scare off any mountain lions that come sniffing around my campfire.”

“It’s not mountain lions you should be afraid of, it’s the-oof!” Nolan was cut off as Gabe elbowed him in the stomach. “What was that for?!”

“We need to go if you want to catch that film.” Gabe said, holding out a set of car keys. “Go get the engine started, you can drive.”

“Awesome! See ya, Theo!” Nolan grinned, evidently forgetting what he was about to warn Theo about.

“Bye.”

Gabe leaned in closer to him, the teenager’s heavy cologne making Theo’s nose wrinkle in annoyance, “It’s not common knowledge exactly, but there are things in the Preserve a lot worse than wild animals.” He pulled away, shaking his head, but keeping his voice low. “Just rethink your plans is all I’m saying, Theo. Or bring a decent weapon with you.”

“Thanks for the head’s up.” The chimera nodded and waved at Gabe as he left after Nolan. Fascinating, hardly surprising I suppose with the Beast and the Ghost Riders, but still, the secret is coming undone. But not for long, once I have gathered all the components, no one will ever have to fear the forest again. Theo walked up to the counter, placing the fuel tank on top of the glass case, looking down at the guns displayed, eying the detail on one of the barrels. “Huh?”

“Anything else?”

“Hmm, I’ll take two cans of black powder too, please.” Theo pointed at the shelf behind him, reaching into his pocket to pull out his driver’s license. “I’m eighteen.”

“Muzzleloader is it?” The man asked, arching a brow as he reached back to grab the cans. “Your father teach you how to use that weapon?”

“You could say that.” Theo smirked, memories of the Pathologist’s musket-ball shooting chimera surfacing. Intriguing idea, great execution, a pity about having to reload it all the time, even with the coral tubes and extra arms… “Thanks, here you go.” The chimera pulled out a bundle of crisp hundred dollar bills, frowning at them as he weighed the amount in his hands. Theo sighed and just gave the entire stack to the man. “I’m not used to paper money, it’s seems far too light to hold such value. Here you are.” Theo gathered up his purchases, turning away as the man gasped behind him. Hmm, maybe I should stick to gold, even if Parrish thinks it’s easier to pay with cash.

“Hey! Hey, son, you gave me too much!”

“Keep it,” Theo dismissed him with a wave, walking outside and climbing back into his truck. “I can always turn more gold into paper.”

 

On his way out to the Doctors’ Library, Theo felt his thoughts drag back to Nolan and Gabe. He knew that school was starting for Liam in a matter of days, Corey and Mason returning with him. “It will allow more time for the plan to come to fruition, without them there to constantly fuss over me. The last two experiments failed because I didn’t have enough power in the mass conversion assembly.”

“Avoiding the subject, Theo.” He said to himself, feeling the darker side that he had been suppressing return to the surface as it had been doing more and more since Stiles left. “Gabe would make a fine test subject! And Nolan too, they both have such potential!”

“I don’t do that anymore.” Theo replied, shaking his head as his reflection in the vanity arched a brow at him. “It’s not the same, this will help people, people like Nolan and Gabe.”

“Who you just met. Why are they so much more important than Parrish and Liam and Corey? The ones this little experiment will actually affect?” Dark Theo sniggered, the car gradually filling with maniacal laughter as the chimera threw his arms into the air dramatically. “Oh, it’s a plan that would have brought the Doctors much concern, to see their objects of fascination robbed of power.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Theo snapped, glaring at the mirror as the laughter stopped, his hands back on the steering wheel. “The beacon is the problem; it’s what has been drawing them all here ever since Stiles and Scott and Allison turned it back on. If we take that off the board, Phase Two may never need to be implemented!”

“Hmm, perhaps.” Dark Theo twisted his lips, turning off into the Preserve, gesturing at the leaf-strewn ground in front of them, “But do you really think you can contain the power unleashed by the destruction of the Nemeton?”

“I know the Doctors were too afraid to use its power,” Theo shrugged, smiling properly now as the other voice faded. “But the books are there, gathered lore from across the Old World and the New, channels must be dug through the air to harness currents that have never touched this reality.”

“You’re really sounding quite crazy, Theo.”

“It doesn’t matter what you think!” Theo glared at his smirking reflection and stopped the truck. He climbed out and hurried down the stairs to the Doctors’ Library, ignoring the whispers that strove to cling to his thoughts, nagging doubts and subtle distractions: the press of Liam’s lips against his, the smile Corey gave him when Theo said he could look after one of the rabbits again in the Fall, the brotherly hug Parrish greeted him with the day before. “None of it matters if I can restore them to life, if I can do what no other para-scientist has ever achieved, Green Serum or not!”

”You’re mad, Theo, mad! Maaaaaad!”

“Get out of my head!” The chimera snarled, slamming the gas canister onto the ground. “I’m just as sane as you are!”

No reply.

“Exactly.” Theo nodded firmly, placing his purchases onto the desk at the center of the chamber. It had been weeks since Liam or Corey or Mason had come out here, Theo always going to them, and even Parrish only waited in the stairwell. “It is good they stay away, because it’s getting to hard to hide. The exothermic reaction of the core components is burning through every sheet I have!”

The chimera grabbed ice from a bucket, tossing it over the complex machine in front of him, a hiss of steam rising from into the air. It was about the size of three shoeboxes stacked on top of each other, with two large, melon-sized orbs on either end, jumbled rubber and brass tubing running through from one end to the other while copper wiring connected the various components together, an eerie red glow being emitted from the open slot on the front of the device. “Almost ready!”

Theo unscrewed the cans of black powder and tipped them both into one of the orbs, sealing the top tight with a flat brass seal. He took up the fuel canister from the hunting store and slid it carefully inside the other orb, the center piece folding back to allow the connector of the tank to click against something inside the gun-metal grey machine. He hummed happily and stood back, admiring his handiwork. “Good enough to test, or at least make a serious dent in that stump!”

 

The bomb whirred loudly, red light flickering across his face as Theo grinned, the momentary happiness broken as another figure entered his line of sight, arms folded casually when Theo flicked the final switch, stepping away. “Ah, back again. I guess you’re the one who doesn’t leave.”

“Does that bother you?” Dark Theo asked, gesturing at the weapon. “Without me, we would have never created this machine. The explosive force will be enough to forever end the threat of the Nemeton. You should stand back, you’re still in range of the test subject, Theo.”

“Right, of course.” Theo nodded and moved further from the weapon towards the treeline, eyes on the fallen oak tree, the winter storms having brought it down the year before. “This should be safe enough, don’t you think?”

“Oh, definitely.”

“Good, good.” He listened as the bomb started becoming increasingly loud, the red light flashing out across the clearing in violent pulses, a howling wind almost deafening him. Theo covered his ears, crouching low just as the weapon fired: a semi-circular shockwave that arced out twenty feet and vaporized the oak tree. “Woah!”

“Impressive!” Dark Theo stood up and grinned at the empty clearing, red afterimages hanging in his vision. “We’ll have to direct the force downwards, but it is a success!”

“Indeed.” Theo muttered, going still as he heard a rustling noise behind him. The chimera turned, sniffing the air, collecting only a trace of heavy cologne and an almost familiar tang of-

“Theo!” Dark Theo wrenched his body around, dismissing the scents, and instead inspecting the cooling weapon. “We shall have to come up with a name for it! The Freedom Frizzler comes to mind!”

“That’s terrible.”

“Well, you come up with a better codename!”

Chapter Text

“Did you know that Scott made Liam the new Alpha?” Corey said to him as Theo pulled into the school parking lot for the first day of Senior Year. “I’m pretty sure he’s still just a Beta, but Scott wants him to lead the pack, such as it is, once he’s gone to college.”

“Really?” Theo frowned and pulled in alongside a bright red C-HR. “I don’t think he can transfer power like that.”

“I know.” Corey nodded and just sat in the passenger seat, making no move to open the door.

“We’re here.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s your cue to get out.” Theo looked at him, seeing Corey fidgeting with the hem of his shirt. “What’s wrong?”

“What are you gonna do, Theo? You can’t just stay out in the woods like a crazy hermit with your battle bunnies and piles of gold! You’re like one dragon away from being a bad fantasy trope!” Corey looked at him, eyes shining. “Why don’t you come live with one of us? Or maybe we can get the Sheriff or Deputy Parrish to help you find a place.”

“Hmm,” Theo nodded slowly, “You’re right, I do need a dragon. The Dread Doctors had a plan for one, but they needed the Hellhound to fight the Beast and they could never quite find the right set of wings for it to work…”

“Uh.” Theo was vaguely aware that Corey was staring at him again, mouth open.

“I mean, sure, you can use a bird’s wings, but there’s always the risk of setting the feathers on fire,” The older chimera continued, turning sideways to look at Corey. “Insect wings are a total disaster though, not enough carry capacity, however, I always thought if we could combine scales and-”

“Theo!” Corey snapped, waving his hands in front of Theo’s face. “Focus!”

“On what? Creating the perfect dragon is hard.”

“Bah! Never mind that.” Corey whined slightly and put his hand on Theo’s. “I’m worried about you, we’re back at school now, so you’ll have way too much time on your hands.”

“I won’t be bored.”

“That’s not what I’m nervous about.” The younger chimera replied darkly and sat back in the seat, looking out at the stream of other teenagers heading into the school buildings. “I know me and Mason and Liam got bumped up a year, and we should probably be grateful for that, but it just means we’re leaving a lot sooner than we’re meant to be.”

“So?” Theo frowned at him. “I thought you wanted to leave Beacon Hills?”

“Yeah, but that was before you came back, before you rescued me from the Dread Doctors.”

“The others did-”

“You, Theo.” Corey shook his head firmly, glancing back to the sidewalk as he saw Mason fold his arms and pace about. “Scott wasn’t going to help me, and Liam and Mason wouldn’t have made it without your help. All I’m saying is that I don’t want to leave Beacon Hills if you’re going to be stuck here, going nowhere.”

“That’s kind of you to say so, Corey.” Theo whispered, avoiding the younger chimera’s eyes. “But I don’t expect to go when you do, or when Liam does.” My place is here, watching over the secrets of the Dread Doctors.

“Hmm.” Corey grunted as he picked up his bag and rested it in his lap. “That’s probably the best approach to take with Liam, actually.”

“Why?”

“Um, I shouldn’t say anything.”

“It won’t go further than this car.” Theo looked at him, waiting until Corey met his gaze. “I thought you liked Liam?”

“He’s growing on me.” Corey shrugged. “You just need to be careful around him, that whole Hayden and Scott cheating thing really threw Liam for a loop. He’s been talking to Mason a lot about it, I’m not listening in or anything!” He added when Theo arched a brow at him. “It’s just after a betrayal like that, it makes sense Liam would want to piss Scott off.”

“And Scott has made it pretty clear how he feels about me.” Theo nodded. “Thanks, Corey, but I don’t think I need to worry about Liam pretending he likes me. I’m pretty sure his feelings are genuine, and we’ve had, err, sex, kinda.”

“Oh? Guess all the dildos and shit Mason has been lending him have paid off!”

“Something like that.” Theo muttered, looking up when he heard the bell for first period ring. “That’s your cue, Corey.”

“I know.” He sighed and opened the door. Corey paused before he stepped out and smiled at Theo. “Thanks for listening to me, even if there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Nice to think you’re looking out for me.” Theo whispered as he watched the other chimera walk across the parking lot. He chewed his bottom lip for a moment until Corey kissed Mason on the cheek and the boyfriends went inside. A sensation of anxiety flooded Theo’s body and he took a deep breath as his vision blurred. The feeling passed several seconds later, and he nodded, “No time to get nervous, I have to complete preparations for the real thing. We must strike before they get suspicious.” Theo looked at his reflection in the vanity and saw Dark Theo smiling back at him. “Right?”

“That’s right, we must use the machine tonight.”

“Good, after lacrosse practice then; Liam and Corey and Mason will all be there, I can slip away or make an excuse that will keep them in the dark.” Theo turned the engine on and slowly reversed out of the parking space. “Almost all the components are charged and with an increase in the amount of thorium, the weapon will be potent enough to vaporize the stump and anything else that lies beneath it.”

“Weapon?” Dark Theo twisted his lips as he prepared to leave the parking lot.

“Call it what it is, my friend, we must-”

“Be quiet!” Dark Theo hissed as the SUV slowed to a stop near the exit. He watched with suspicious eyes as Gabe raised his hand in greeting and approached the driver’s side window. “Yes?”

“I thought that was you.” The handsome teenager leaned on the door as Theo lowered the window fully. “Dropping someone off?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool, so, um, we should talk.”

“Really?” Theo frowned in confusion. “I don’t think we’ve anything to talk about.”

“Considering what I saw in the woods last night, maybe we do.” Gabe grinned at him. “And maybe we can help each other out, not in every respect, sure, but I’d still like to discuss it with you.”

“Hmm.” Theo flicked his eyes up and down the other guy, smelling his sincerity as well as something the chimera couldn’t quite put his finger on. “Don’t you have class?”

“This is more important, and school won’t matter if we don’t…haha, I’m getting ahead of myself.” Gabe shrugged and looked around as though to check if they were being watched. “I have an offer for you, and I hope that in return you’ll be able to help me and my, uh, group out.”

“Can’t hurt to hear it, I guess.” Dark Theo ignored Theo’s protests and reached across the passenger seat to open the door. “Get in.”

 

“Take the next left onto Industrial, and drive for another mile and a quarter.” Gabe instructed him as they continued along empty streets and forgotten factories. “So, you moved here a year ago, right?”

“That’s right.” Theo shrugged, glancing at him. “Doesn’t feel like it though.”

“Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?”

“More like when you’re running away from monsters.”

“Huh.”

“That’s what this is about, right?” Theo held his gaze for a moment before turning back to the street. “When I met you and that other guy, you warned me about something worse than mountain lions in the woods. But I get it, we were in a public place and there’s plenty of people in this town that like to keep their eyes shut.”

“Soon they’ll be open, and they won’t be able to avoid the truth about why and how so many of their loved ones are dead.” Gabe growled, his hands balling into fists. “Take the next right into that factory yard. It’s abandoned, or, at least, no longer being used for its original purpose.”

“Fine.” Theo rolled across the broken asphalt and came to a stop near the mildew-covered doors. “This is it?”

“Yeah, c’mon.”

The chimera nodded slowly and got out of his SUV, following Gabe. He looked around carefully, cautious for a trap. This is too similar to what the Doctors used to have me do; find some willing guy or girl, convince them with whatever story worked, and lure them out to an abandoned factory. Hmm, maybe the Surgeon had relatives? Did the Pathologist have an uncle? Or maybe the Geneticist had time to have kids before trying to dominate the world with an army of bunnies…

“Theo?” Gabe was looking at him strangely.

“Sorry, lost in my mind.”

“Right, uh, in here.” He pushed open a rusty door and led Theo into a large, open space. There were a few empty containers scattered around the dusty remnants of a broken conveyor belt. Gabe stood in the middle of the factory floor and glanced around. “I think we’re alone.”

“Yeah, I don’t see anyone else.”

“Do you smell someone?”

“Err?” Theo frowned at him, hearing an edge to the question that was almost hostile. Time to play innocent, I think, Theo. “That’s a weird question to ask someone, Gabe, the only thing I smell around here is stale air.”

“Good, I wasn’t sure if I could trust you completely.” Gabe smiled at him, the first genuine expression Theo had seen on the guy’s face. “I mean, whatever it was you were doing in the forest was my second indication that we could use you; the first was at the store with Nolan. You have some idea of what we’re up against, don’t you?”

“Maybe,” Theo shrugged noncommittedly. “But maybe you should tell me what I’m doing out here in the middle of nowhere first?”

“Yeah, ok.” Gabe nodded and gestured around. “This is where it happened, no one believed me, of course, they said I must have imagined it, or was on drugs, or some other bullshit that meant they didn’t have to confront the fact that there are monsters in this town that eat people.”

“Wendigos, right?” Theo asked after a moment to make it look as though he was dragging the thoughts up instead of having the answer straight away. “I’ve heard about them. They kidnapped you?”

“Yeah, but apparently that was some sort of mistake.” Gabe shrugged, “I was out running one evening, had my earbuds in, must have been clocked over the head because I woke up right…over there.” He pointed and walked towards the spot, Theo following him, so they were standing side by side. “There were three of them, didn’t see any faces, just glowing eyes in the gloom. One was a lot younger though, I know that because they were giving out to it, saying that they only take backpackers or scavenge from the kills of the other monsters.”

“What happened next?”

“I got up and just started running.”

“They let you go?” Theo frowned in confusion. “Why?”

“The only reason I can think of is that they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves.” Gabe shivered and rubbed his bare arms up and down. “Ugh! The point is that on that night, the curtain was pulled back and I know there are monsters out there. They want to eat us, they want to kill us, and right now they’re so close to acting out in the open that the fear of discovery won’t stop them from snatching up children or old people or anyone!”

“Hmm.” Theo turned away from him, nodding slowly. He has a point; the Beast ripped a bloody swath through Beacon Hills and all the adults just act as though we had a bad mountain lion roaming about. Most of them won’t even admit that it happened… “So, your eyes have been opened, I won’t bore you with my own account of crossing the supernatural; it certainly wasn’t as, uh, exciting as yours. But it’s not just wendigos out there, Gabe, there’s other things; werewolves and the like.”

“Yeah, I know.” He smiled at Theo when the older teen turned back to him. “Knowledge is power and knowing our enemies is the first step to securing our town and ultimately our friends. Nolan was at the library last year when it was attacked by that giant monster. He saw Scott McCall with red eyes and claws and was told that he too was just imagining things.”

“So, what is it that you two think you can do against creatures as dangerous as them?”

“It’s not just us. That group I mentioned?” Gabe walked over to him and offered Theo a hopeful grin. “I want you to join us; we already have a bunch of men and women who have lost their kids or brothers or other family to the monsters, and there’s Tamora Monroe too-”

“The Guidance Counsellor?” Theo arched a brow. “I’m guessing you’ve got guns, right? Shoot something enough times and it’s bound to keel over.”

“Yeah, that seems to be the philosophy of the hunters.” Gabe shrugged. “But I’ve seen what you can do; that…machine you had in the forest, where did you find it?”

“I made it.” Theo replied simply as Gabe blinked in surprise. “If you were in the forest last night-”

“Me and Nolan both.”

“Well, then you might have heard some, err, some…” Theo trailed off, flushing.

“I can deal with whatever crazy you have if you can give us access to more weapons like that.” Gabe placed a hand on his shoulder. “Or we can get you some help with the voices, if that’s what your problem is?”

“I don’t need help, and sometimes the other Theo has useful things to say.” Theo replied defensively. “For instance, right now, he’s not so sure that you can handle the type of firepower I can bring to bear.”

“Me and Nolan have spent all summer learning to handle long arrows and big guns.” Gabe blinked suddenly as Theo stared at him. “Uh, that came out wrong. Point is that we know what we’re doing.”

“Ok, but what do you plan on doing with these weapons? You saw the Freedom Frizzler, it’s not exactly subtle.”

“Are you really calling it that?”

“It was Theo’s idea, I quite like it.” Theo said, gesturing to one side as he saw a shadowy reflection of himself skirt around in the corner of his eye. His response seemed to have confused Gabe even more, so Theo continued speaking. “You haven’t answered my question, what are your plans for the supernaturals? Wipe them out?”

“I don’t think I can tell you that just yet, uh, Theo.” Gabe shook his head. “We need to establish more trust.”

“Hmm, how about I let you in on my plan for the Freedom Frizzler then?” Theo grinned as the other guy nodded. “Ok, there’s a tree in the forest called the Nemeton. It’s one of the sources of supernatural power in Beacon Hills, it’s what draws the monsters to the town and surrounding area. For a long time it was just dormant, not really calling anything towards it other than what was here before. But something has changed, now it acts like a true beacon; a blazing light in the darkness that causes all of the supernaturals to swarm towards it, like moths to a flame.”

“How do you know that?”

“You’re not the only one who has heard of the hunters.” Theo answered carefully. “My guardians studied the supernatural, looking for weaknesses and ways to…counter it. It was they that gave me the materials and knowledge to create the weapon, even if they wouldn’t approve of how I was going to use it.”

“You speak about them in the past tense.”

“Yeah,” Theo sighed heavily and glared at the concrete floor. “They were killed by the monster Nolan saw in the library; not Scott, though he didn’t do anything to help them either.”

“What would you expect?” Gabe shrugged. “He’s a monster, they want to kill us all.”

“Hmm,” Theo murmured, wetting his lips. “Regardless, the first thing I’m going to do is destroy the beacon; the tree. That helps us both and stops the flow of, err, reinforcements for the other supernaturals.”

“I’d like to watch that!” Gabe grinned eagerly, before the expression faded. “But if it’s as powerful as you say, won’t the monsters guard it or have some sort of protection around it?”

“There is a pack who try and stop people from interfering with the Nemeton.” Theo nodded. “But I’ve been able to infiltrate them, and I’m sure I can get close enough to the stump to destroy it before they know what is going on. I don’t think you should come though, it won’t be safe, and I’d like to keep my cover intact.”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea, you’ll need to get close to them in order to take them out later.” Gabe said approvingly. “Give me the location of this Nemeton and Nolan and I will check it out later; make sure it’s been destroyed.”

“And then you’ll tell me what your plan is?”

“In exchange for a vaporizing weapon? Hell yeah!”

“That’s a deal.” Theo smiled and held out his hand to shake on it. “I can’t wait to find out if our goals are truly aligned, Gabe.”

 

Theo glanced around at the empty stands, wincing slightly in the bright lights above him as the lacrosse team ran drills back and forth on the field in front of him. He raised a hand in greeting to Nolan when the teenager waved at him before pulling his helmet on and rushing out to mid-field. Scott was still coaching the team, but they both ignored one another, Theo waiting for Liam and Corey to come out of the locker room. He glanced up when Mason approached and sat down next to him on the benches behind the team. “Hey.”

“Hey, Theo.”

“How was your day?”

“Pretty uneventful all things considered,” Mason grinned at him. “Actually, I found out that I almost have enough credits to graduate even if I hadn’t skipped a year, so I could’ve finished in Junior Year! Pretty cool, huh?”

“You’d leave Corey behind?” Theo glanced at him, no heat in his voice. “I thought the three of you were going to college together?”

“That’s still the plan.” He opened his mouth as though to continue, pausing only when Corey and Liam jogged onto the field. They both waved up and Mason waved enthusiastically back while Theo simply nodded.

“You were going to say something?”

“Uh, yeah, me and Corey and Liam were talking about it today, we think it’d be really cool if you came with us.” Mason smiled as Theo kept his expression neutral. “We’d get a house instead of dorms, or maybe an apartment and you’d still be with us instead of being cooped up in a bunker in the forest with just-”

“My battle bunnies and a pile of gold?” Theo huffed. “Corey has been talking to you. Well, I’ll tell you what I told him, I’m fine, and I’m fine here.”

“Ok, ok, no pressure, dude.” Mason took a breath and ploughed on. “But, uh, maybe talk it out with Liam before you decide for sure.”

“Yeah, maybe.” They fell silent as practice continued, Theo frowning when Coach blasted the players with his unique mix of withering criticism and borderline praise. Does that really work?

“So…” Mason started, seeming to want to fill the silence with more conversation. “Liam told me you and he finally did the deed!”

“Uh huh?”

“Yeah, though he was a bit sketchy on the details, and even Corey wouldn’t answer when I asked him if you were a top or vers or-”

“What’s it to you?” Theo asked, glaring at Mason. “Why do you care what I do in bed, whether it was with Corey, or now with Liam?”

“Oh, uh, sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.” He shook his head quickly. “It’s just Liam has pretty much borrowed every type of sex toy I have, and I wasn’t sure if I had anything left to offer!” Mason laughed nervously as Theo just looked at him. “Um, just tell him to put them in the dishwasher after he’s done with them.”

“You want them back?” Theo stared at him.

“Dude, the good ones are expensive!”

“I’ll pass that message on.” The chimera muttered, grimacing slightly. They watched the players continue to play, passing the ball and running into each other, Theo wincing as he watched Nolan collide heavily with Corey and both of them fall over. “Ouch!”

“Corey will be alright.”

“Yeah…who’s the other guy?” Theo asked, feigning ignorance. “Err, number sixty-eight?”

“Um, Nolan, I think, yeah.” Mason nodded as Scott called out to the two players and helped them to their feet. “He’s in our grade now, I have a few classes with him, but I don’t know anything else about him.”

“Huh.” Theo grunted. “They should be more careful.”

“Corey’s a chimera, he can heal through anything.” Mason replied proudly.

“I wasn’t talking about him, humans are squishy.” Theo heard Mason’s pulse spike a little higher after his comment and shrugged. “I don’t want either of them to get hurt, but at least Corey never has any control issues to worry about.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I can smell…something,” The chimera tilted his head on one side and closed his eyes. “It’s like rage, but not really; aggression with a touch of…fear? Weird.”

“Not so weird maybe,” Mason winced as Liam was thrown off his feet and crashed onto the ground.

Theo’s eyes flicked open and he looked in his boyfriend’s direction, hearing the werewolf’s growl at the same time Scott did. The assistant coach ran across the field towards where Liam was crouched on all fours, helmet down. This could be a problem. Theo breathed a sigh of relief as Liam stood up somewhat unsteadily and shook his head. “Just a hard knock, nothing to worry about.”

“If you say so.” Mason frowned at his best friend as Liam accepted the ball and the teams reset. “I dunno though, I haven’t seen Liam lose his temper at a lacrosse match in ages.”

“It was a hard hit,” Theo repeated, eyes sweeping across the field, checking first on Corey as he limped back to his defender’s position, and then over to where Nolan had come out of the goal, before swooping back to linger on Liam. The werewolf was breathing hard, Theo could hear it from the benches next to the field. Sounds kinda like those orcs from that film I watched with Stiles before he left, not like a human at all. I don’t like this…

“Theo!” Mason nudged him hard in the ribs and stood up. He pointed across the field to where the school grounds disappeared into the forest. The team had stopped playing and were gathered around each other, staring at a grey wolf that was standing in front of them. “Is that-”

“Blood.” Theo nodded as he cast his eyes across the animal’s crimson-matted fur. “Fresh kill maybe.”

“What do we do?”

“Nothing. Leave it to me.” The chimera answered, moving slowly across the pitch. He pushed through the ranks of players until he stood beside Coach Finstock and Scott. The Alpha glanced at him, a hard look in his eyes that Theo ignored. Liam was standing slightly in front of them while Nolan was the closest to the wolf. “Easy, no one make any sudden movements. Nolan? That’s your name, right?”

“Uh huh.” The teen nodded, eyes locked onto the animal a few feet in front of him.

“Please stay still,” Theo made to advance when both Coach and Scott grabbed him, though only the teacher spoke.

“What are you doing?!”

“I know how to handle animals,” Theo glanced at Scott with a barely perceptible smirk, pulling himself free. “You could say that my guardians specialized in creating well-trained wolves!”

“Theo,” Scott snarled at him, falling silent as the blood-soaked wolf growled menacingly. “I can-”

“Leave it to an expert.” Theo shook his head and reached into his jacket pocket, sorting through the various items he kept inside, fingers skipping over the lumps of Cesium and tiny vials of wolfsbane until he found a small cube. He withdrew his hand and crumpled the earthy block, keeping his fist clench tight. The chimera walked carefully towards Nolan, using his free hand to grab the teen’s shoulder-pad and pulled him back slowly. “That’s it, get behind me.”

“What are you going to do?” Liam called out in a loud whisper, the wolf keeping its attention on Theo.

“It’s an old trick, but you might want to tell everyone to cover their nose as soon as I open my hand, ok?” Theo glanced at Liam and nodded.

“Got it.”

He crouched low, bringing himself level with the animal and shuffled forward slowly, until he was close enough to see the scraps of flesh caught in the slavering jaws of the wolf, hackles raised and brown eyes boring into his own. Theo kept his gaze human and carefully extended his arm and opened his fist as soon as he was close enough to almost touch the animal.

“Cover your noses!” Liam cried out with a gagging noise as a foul odor filled the air in all directions from Theo’s open hand. “Oh god, that stinks!” The lacrosse players staggered backwards, many of them pulling up their jerseys to cover the bottom half of their faces.

Theo grimaced as the wolf yelped and turned around, racing away from him and into the forest. He stood up slowly, breathing only through his mouth as he let the little wind there was brush the crumbs of the dark substance from his palm. He gestured for the players to continue to back off. “Keep going, the smell will dissipate in a few minutes.”

“What the hell was that?” Coach was staring at him as he fanned himself with the clipboard.

“A little trick my guardians taught me,” Theo shrugged as Liam, Corey, and Mason gathered around him. “Plus, some chemical improvements I made; it’s called thioacetone.”

“What? The most foul-smelling compound in the entire world?!” Mason looked at him. “That can cause nausea and vomiting and even unconsciousness!”

“Yeah, I know,” Theo replied calmly, unsurprised at Mason’s breadth of knowledge. “That’s why I said I modified it; the smell will vanish in a few minutes, though you might want to suspend training for tonight, Coach.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s…” The man was shaken, and he blinked, blowing on the whistle. “Alright! Uh, training is over, hit the showers.” Finstock gave Theo a lingering stare, before shaking his head and hurrying away.

“Theo, that was…something else.” Scott muttered, not meeting the chimera’s eyes. “But I had it handled-”

“Dude! That was awesome!” Nolan cheered at him, talking over Scott as the older teen grunted and walked away. “You’re like a wolf-whisperer or something!”

“I guess.” Theo shared a smirk with Liam. “Just happy no one got hurt.”

 

“So,” Liam started as they walked across the parking lot towards their parked SUVs, brushing flat his still-wet hair with his fingers. “Do you have plans for tonight? Do you want to come over?”

Sorry, Liam, I’m blowing up the Nemeton…yeah, not exactly the best time for honesty, Theo. The chimera shook his head as Dark Theo’s voice echoed nastily in his mind. “Um, that’s probably not a good idea, uh, the thioacetone will stay on my skin for the next twelve hours and you’re already six feet away from me.”

“Sorry, dude, it’s just really gross!” Liam gagged and turned away, waving his hand. “Fuck! It’s like a chemical weapon to take out supernaturals!”

“Yes, I suppose it is,” There’s an idea! Theo shrugged apologetically and lowered his voice. “Still, it was better than letting Scott go all glowy-eyed on that wolf; it was ready to attack, people would’ve noticed if it just ran away.”

“Who would’ve noticed?”

“I’m not sure yet,” Theo replied evasively. “I just feel like something is off, Liam, I’m investigating.”

“Oh, right, of course, Theo! Investigate away!” Liam sniggered a little, sobering up as the chimera grunted and looked away from him. “No, I didn’t mean, Theo, wait!”

“It’s fine, you obviously think I’m crazy!” Theo snapped at him and unlocked his car.

“That wasn’t-fuck, ok, yes, it was.” Liam admitted, reaching out to grab his arm. “I’m sorry, that was cruel. Forgive me?”

“Yeah.” Theo muttered after a moment, looking at Liam’s hurt expression. “It still doesn’t change the fact that my hand fucking stinks. I need to head back to the Doctors’ library and soak it in a basin of ethanol for about an hour.”

“That sounds…painful?”

“Can be, but my hands aren’t cut up or anything.” Theo shrugged, opening the door of his truck and swinging in. “I’ll text you later, ok? I hear we have some college related stuff to talk about.”

“Mason, right?” Liam sighed as Theo nodded. “Yeah, uh, we should discuss that in person though, maybe at lunch tomorrow? I have two free periods after lunch, so I can come out to the library.”

“Sounds good.” Theo started the engine and closed the door, lowering the window so he could keep talking to Liam. “Oh, Mason also said to make sure you put all the sex toys you’re finished, err, exploring into the dishwasher since that tight-ass wants them back!”

“I bet his ass is tight,” Liam muttered, turning red. “Well, Corey has to be the bottom in that relationship, right?”

“Don’t presume anything about Corey, Liam.” Theo shook his head, eyes narrowed. “Or Mason for that matter, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t discuss what we do together in bed with him either.”

“Oh, shit, I’m making mistakes all over the place, huh?!” Liam facepalmed. “Sorry, Theo.”

“I forgive you, well, as long as you’ll forgive me?” Theo smiled as the werewolf frowned. He still reached out and kissed Liam gently as they prepared to part ways. “Well?”

“Err, I guess? Not sure what I need to forgive you for, though.”

You will soon enough. Theo just kept smiling and pulled away, driving out of the near-empty parking lot. “But I’ll still do it, because we must. Once the first stage is complete, we can begin the conversion in earnest.”

“They will surrender,” Dark Theo answered the silent doubts with a determined grin. “They must when the alternative is Gabe and his thugs. They require only a little manipulation, and everything will fall into place, Theo, you will see.”

“Maybe.” Theo shrugged, eyes watering as a shadowy echo of himself became visible in the seat next to him. “What about Liam and Corey?”

“We should spare them, the chimera especially, he is, after all, one of our people.” Dark Theo gestured broadly in front of them as Theo turned off into the Preserve. “Liam will join us, I think, though we should prepare a vessel for him too should the werewolf prove resistant.”

“I won’t trick him, I’ll give him the choice openly,” Theo promised as the other version of himself laughed quietly. “With Scott out of the way, he could become a real Alpha, maybe curb the excesses of the others.”

“We talked about this, Theo.” Dark Theo glanced in his direction, his face was a cloud of shadows divided by two bright yellow orbs where his eyes should be. “The others will be contained within their vessels, and with the beacon destroyed, no more supernaturals should come creeping towards Beacon Hills and the humans will be safe. There will be a rapid increase in the rabbit population, but such is the price we must pay.”

“I can think of one person who wouldn’t see that as a negative thing!” Theo laughed to himself, conviction restored. “Alright, I’m almost at the library, will you help me load the real weapon into the back of the truck?”

“Only if you use the name.”

“I’m not calling it the Freedom Frizzler!”

“Well, then, Theo, I’m afraid I won’t do any heavy lifting.” Dark Theo replied smugly.

 

“THEO!” The roar echoed around the Nemeton grove, a feral mixture of Parrish’s voice and another, altogether more supernatural one. The chimera looked up as the flame-wreathed figure approached him, orange eyes burning, long, pointed claws raised aggressively. “What are you up to?”

“I am doing what I must.” Theo replied quietly, glancing at the Hellhound before turning back to his machine, dismissing the closing monster as he entered the final computation. The weapon released a high-pitched whine as it began to build up power, an eerie red light spilling from open ports across the metal casing began to flash around the clearing. “I am not surprised that you are here, Hellhound; you guard the supernatural, and for that you must burn them around the Nemeton. But your guardianship has failed.”

“What?” Cerberus growled at him. “Explain yourself, chimera!”

“The humans know that the supernatural exists, more and more of them are becoming aware, gathering strength, preparing to fight back.” Theo looked up from a control panel he was tapping and shrugged. “The time is coming, Cerberus, when you will have to take greater action to protect the secrets of your brethren.” He pulled out a bundle of trailing copper wires with glittering, gold tags on the end and began fitting them into the cracks across the Nemeton’s surface. “You know what I mean.”

“I do, the town of Beacon Hills will be purged! As has been done in the ages before whenever the fumbling of werewolves and other creatures became too obvious not to notice. Grr!” Cerberus snarled, his eyes flickering between molten orange and the grey-green of Parrish. “But this vessel does not see it as I do, he is strong.”

“Which makes you weak.” Theo gestured at the Nemeton. “This tree has brought nothing but death and destruction to Beacon Hills, but not any longer, I will save them from that. No one needs to die if we do it my way, Parrish.”

“I am not Parrish!” Cerberus snarled, his eyes erupting into twin blazing embers. The Hellhound charged forward, wrapped in bands of flame again as he grabbed Theo by the neck and smashed the chimera into the surface of the tree. “Turn it off!”

“I can’t.” Theo grunted, feeling blood flood down his mouth and chin from his broken nose. “Or at least, I won’t. You go fiddling with it and a missing Nemeton will be the least of your worries.”

“Missing? What does this weapon do?”

“It goes boom!” Theo giggled as the Hellhound snarled in his ear and ground his face into the Nemeton again. He shook his head free as Cerberus released a howl of frustration and the pressure vanished. Theo looked over his shoulder to see the monster shifting between Hellhound and human as Parrish attempted to wrest control of his body from Cerberus.

The chimera stood up, wiping away the blood and spreading his hands. “The Dread Doctors let their obsession control them, but I am not my makers, and I can finally see clearly! How many supernaturals were killed over the years? How many died bringing forth the conflict between the Beast and the Hellhound? No, I will not allow it to happen any longer; it is the Nemeton that draws them here, but I will destroy the beacon and woe to he who would try to stop me!” Theo lunged for the button to activate the weapon, its howls reaching a fearful height as the red light flickered rapidly. He managed to get his hands on the console, but the Hellhound backhanded him viciously, sending the chimera tumbling head over heels.

“Theo! What are you doing?!”

“Liam?” Theo groaned as he pulled himself upright, looking over at the other side of the clearing where Liam, Corey, and Mason had appeared, panting and sweating. “Why are you here?”

“Parrish called us, obviously before Cerberus took control.” Liam answered as Mason and Corey approached the stump. The Hellhound was thrashing around nearby, claws wildly slashing into trees and bushes as the two entities fought for dominance. “He said there was some sort of threat to the Nemeton, I tried calling you, but, err, apparently that’s not needed. What’s that thing on the Nemeton?”

“It is not for you.” Theo reached the stump and pushed Corey and Mason backwards. “You weren’t meant to see this.”

“But what is it?”

“A weapon,” The chimera turned back to it, finding the Hellhound standing between him and the tree. “It will stop the supernaturals from coming to Beacon Hills, and if you will stand down, Parrish, I can do-”

“No!” Cerberus barked, his claws springing back out. “I cannot allow it!”

“I’ll fight you if I have to!” Theo snarled, dropping into a combat position. The Hellhound lunged out and Theo ducked, Parrish’s claws hitting air as Corey tackled the other chimera to the ground, cloaking both of them. “What are you doing?!”

“Be quiet,” Corey hissed and hauled Theo upright, keeping a tight grip on his arm as Cerberus looked around furiously. The twisting world of the Phase-Walkers turned and skewed around them as Theo looked down at his fingers, seeing a second hand rise through the first one, though this was the same black shadows and smoke as Dark Theo.

“Corey?”

“I see it.” The younger chimera mumbled and moved backwards carefully, dragging Theo with him as the smoke solidified into a Theo-like shape. “That’s not you, not really, uh, look at Parrish; do you see the two-headed dog?”

“Yeah.” Theo stared at the Hellhound, the image corkscrewing and blurring. There was at once a naked man standing in front of them, and at the same time a massive, black, two-headed dog. He tried to avoid seeing the details as one head appeared to belong to Parrish, while the other was wreathed in flame, two dark, charred holes for eyes. “Do you see this all the time?”

“It’s only this bad when he’s in full Hellhound mode,” Corey whispered, edging them around to where Liam and Mason stood. “I’m gonna let you go now, ok?”

“Yeah.” Theo blinked as the images were ripped away and replaced with Deputy Parrish standing naked in front of the stump, his flames extinguished. The chimera avoided the others and approached his friend, “Uh, I’m sorry for attacking you.”

“I understand.” The Deputy nodded at the weapon. “Can you turn it off, please? I don’t want to tamper with it.”

“I thought you were with EOD in the Army?” Mason asked as they inched forwards toward the wailing red lights.

“Never seen anything like this though.”

“I can imagine.” Theo crouched next to the control panel. “It was designed to vaporize whatever was placed directly in front of it, or in this case, what is below it.”

“Come on, Theo, turn it off!” Parrish said sternly, or at least as sternly as the officer could manage while being butt naked and covered in soot. “Don’t mess around.”

Theo looked up as Dark Theo frowned at him, gesturing at the weapon. “Maybe there’s another way.”

“There is no other way.” Dark Theo replied coldly. “Press the button, Theo, you know our plans demand it.”

“But…” Theo frowned, suddenly aware of the elevated heartbeats behind him. “They’re here now, maybe I can reason with them or-”

“Reason with the wendigos, will you?” He interrupted himself with a laugh. “I don’t think so, now press the button!”

Theo stared at the stump and nodded slowly. “There is no other way.”

“Wait!” Liam called out, approaching him from behind. “Who’s that you’re talking to, Theo?”

“You wouldn’t understand, little werewolf!” Dark Theo turned around and sneered at Liam. He spread his arms wide. “The weapon is charged; a simple press of the button is all that is required to-”

“Is that Tara?!” Liam pointed at something behind him suddenly. “Coming out of the ground?!”

“What? Where?!” Theo jumped to his feet and staggered backwards. “Where is she?!”

“Over there! See the ground quaking? Hands reaching up?” Mason cried out, running up to stand beside Liam. “Do you see it, Theo?”

“I do. I do!” The chimera began to shake violently, backing away from the stump in horror as the ground erupted in a shower of earth and wet, pale hands pushed through the soil revealing his sister’s sodden face and sunken, dead eyes. “No! NO! You can’t take me back!”

“What are you doing?!” Corey ran forwards, pushing Liam onto the ground. “Stop confusing him!”

“Shut up, Corey, it’s the only way to stop him.”

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Deputy Parrish began, stepping backwards as Theo leapt onto the stump sudden and hurled the machine off it onto the ground. There was a blinding flash of red light and a deafening scream as the weapon detonated, vaporizing a large section of the earth near the Nemeton. “Watch out!”

 

As the pink-tinged smoke cleared away, Theo stood on top of the Nemeton stump, his chest heaving. The chimera stared at the crater the weapon had created, a grim expression on his face. “That won’t keep her away, she’ll be back, she always comes back.”

“C’mon, Theo, come down.” Corey held out his hand, helping him down when Theo grasped it. “Uh, you should stay back, Liam.”

“We were just trying to help.”

“By making him relive the trauma that caused him to lose it in the first place?” Corey snapped and scowled at Mason. “You should have known better, both of you should have known better.”

“It’s alright, Corey,” Theo whispered, looking around suspiciously. “She’s here, she’s been here all along, hiding, waiting for her moment to strike-”

“No, Theo, that’s not true.” Deputy Parrish came over to them and placed his arm around the chimera’s shoulder. “The weapon is destroyed, along with a large patch of woodland, better than the Nemeton, I suppose. But what you guys did is unacceptable.” He glared at Liam and Mason.

“Well, it was obvious he was seeing things again,” Mason protested. “All we did was help him see something that stopped him from hurting anyone.”

“No, dude, we went too far.” Liam muttered, cheeks red as he approached Theo. “Hey, hey, come on, can you hear me?”

“I can hear you,” Theo nodded slowly, lowering his voice conspiratorially. “I can hear her too, getting closer, we should leave.”

“Yeah! Great! I’ll bring you back to my place and we can-”

“No,” Deputy Parrish interrupted, still standing protectively behind Theo. “He’s coming with me, he can stay in my house tonight and we’ll figure things out tomorrow, providing he’s in any condition to make decisions. C’mon, Theo, let’s go.”

“I’ll help you!” Liam offered, but Theo watched as Corey shoved roughly past the werewolf and followed him and Deputy Parrish out of the clearing. “Fuck, Theo, I’m sorry!”

“Yeah…” Theo frowned as a thought nagged at him, pulling his attention from Liam. There’s something I need to do, something that I…planned? Or maybe it was- His thoughts were interrupted as Parrish pushed him onto the ground.

“Get down!”

There was a whistling sound as something flew through the air overhead towards the Nemeton. Theo managed to raise his head in time to see fireball erupt from the center of the clearing and the howl of the explosion before Parrish forced him back down. “What the hell was that?”

“It sounded like an RPG!” The Deputy growled. “Heard enough of them to know, but never expected one back home!”

“Guys?” Liam called out as Theo was allowed to stand. “Uh, I don’t think the Nemeton is here anymore…”

Chapter Text

There was a tense silence in the police cruiser as Deputy Parrish drove them away from the Preserve, Theo was sitting next to him, the other three crammed into the back where the arguments from before the explosion still hummed unspoken in the air. The chimera shifted uncomfortably, a strange dullness to his world, even when Parrish swerved to avoid an out of control driver in the opposite lane. He glanced over at him as the Deputy growled and his fingers hovered near the button to turn on the siren. “Probably not a good idea right now.”

“No,” Deputy Parrish muttered, reaching up to turn on his dashcam instead. “I’ll track that car down tomorrow if it’s in the Beacon Hills area. Right now we better get home, I need to clean off.”

“Yeah, you’re covered in smoke and charcoal.” Theo replied, casting his eyes over the visual remains of the Hellhound’s transformation. “Does it hurt to go on fire?”

“No, Theo, it doesn’t. The only thing it hurts is my wallet.” Parrish offered him a small smile.

“Oh, you have to pay for every uniform you burn through, right?”

“Comes out of my payslip, but only the Sheriff knows, so I can still hide it from Aaron.”

“Hmm,” Theo nodded quietly, glancing over his shoulders at the others. Liam was sitting behind the driver’s seat, glaring at the headrest, his scent filled with anger and upset and what Theo thought was regret, but it was a smell he wasn’t used to. Corey was on the far side, behind him, staring out the window and appearing to try and ignore everyone else. Meanwhile, Mason sat in the middle, hands on his knees as he looked from his best friend to his boyfriend, a helpless expression on his face. Theo sat back in his seat and spoke to Parrish again. “Are we nearly there?”

“Uh huh, Strauss won’t be home until closer to the hour, so I’ll have time to clean up and you can, um, explain what you were doing out there, Theo.” Parrish glanced at him, his brows pulled together in irritation, though the chimera could smell concern rather than anger coming from the Hellhound.

“I guess some context would be helpful.” Theo agreed, looking around carefully as they pulled into Parrish’s street. You weren’t meant to be there, you weren’t meant to know until it started happening. But she spoiled it, because of course she did. Still after my heart, Tara won’t stop until she gets it. He nodded to himself when he saw Tara’s shadow turn away from where she had been waiting next to a lamp post and the chimera watched her outline shimmer and vanish without a sound. The opening of the cruiser’s doors brought Theo back to his immediate surroundings and he climbed out with the others, Corey walking beside him. I might have to accelerate my timeline, I can’t outrun her forever.

 

Parrish’s house was the same as it had been the last time he had been there; muted colors and slightly cluttered with too many lamps for two people to have at one time. The couch was angled towards the television, Strauss' Xbox lying in front of it, several games strewn between the controllers. Theo followed Liam and Corey into the living room, seeing the pillow and sheet piled at the end of the couch ready for those times when he came over to stay the night. The three of them sat down, Theo staying in the middle as the awkwardness from the car lingered. Parrish chewed his lip and he moved around the room, flicking on the lamps, pools of light cast outwards as shadows grew in some corners. The fan overhead blew warm air gently down on them as Parrish gestured towards the bathroom. "I'm gonna have a shower, I'll be back in about twenty minutes, um, make yourselves at home."

“Ok.” Theo nodded, but Mason groaned and hurried over to the shirtless Deputy.

“Uh, do you have like, tea? Or even coffee? But, tea would be great.” The teenager laughed nervously, and Theo glanced at a scowling Corey and standoffish Liam sitting on either side of him. “Just to, you know, calm everyone down after the, uh, the explosion…”

“Sure.” Parrish pointed at a door down the hall. “That way, look in the cupboard over the sink, I think Aaron has some herbal teas in there.”

“Great!” Mason looked back at them. “I’ll be five minutes, guys.”

“Take your time.” Theo shrugged, glancing at Liam when the werewolf stood up and walked over to inspect the shelf of books near the window. He waited until both Mason and Parrish were gone before getting to his feet and pulling Corey up with him, pressing his clenched fist against the younger chimera’s bare hand. “C’mon.”

“What?! Where are we going?” Corey stared at him, his lips parting as the room around them shimmered and fell away until they were standing in a vast white nothingness. His voice echoed loudly as he cried out in alarm. “Theo! What happened?”

“Good, you can see it too.” Theo smiled and opened his hand. He showed the other chimera the small carved jewel in his hand; a white amethyst, glinting with purple highlights. “I wasn’t sure it would work at all, and even if it did, I thought maybe the drama at the Nemeton had damaged it.”

“It? It what?!” Corey shouted at him, his scent twisting into full blown panic. He turned around and tried to run away but Theo’s hand shot out and grabbed onto the front of his t-shirt. “Let me go!”

“Hey, calm down.” Theo held him firmly, gazing into Corey’s eyes. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing. I read all the Doctors’ journals and looked through the library to find out all I could about the Phase Walkers. That’s where your abilities come from, remember?”

“Yeah, but-”

“They had a plan for you, Corey, but their unexpected success with Mason and the Beast forced them to abandon it.” Theo held him tight and gestured at the emptiness around them. “The Doctors would have made you bring them here eventually, it was all part of a wider plot to investigate and exploit the supernatural.”

“I don’t want any part of a Dread Doctor plan!” Corey glared at him, but there wasn’t any heat in his eyes. He pulled himself out of Theo’s grip and looked around. “Where are we anyway?”

“The is the World In-Between, the place you normally go is the Phased World, where you can see everyone and interact with them, and the Ghost Riders too,” Theo explained, gesturing around at the blankness. “There’s nothing here because the last Phase Walker died centuries ago and you have to, um, populate this space with whatever you want.”

“Like, anything?”

“Uh huh,” Theo nodded. “Just think about it, see it in your mind’s eye and it will appear.” He grinned as Corey frowned suddenly and a wooden table materialized in front of them, a large ice-cream sundae winking into existence a moment later. “Yeah, that’s it.”

“Hmm.” Corey frowned again and this time a door appeared next to them. He opened it quickly but there was nothing on the other side. “Damn, I want to get out of here, Theo.”

“I’m sure, but I needed to talk to you without Liam or Mason or Tara hearing us, and this is only one of the Five Worlds that is empty.” Theo smirked at Corey’s expression. “I wanted to tell you sooner, but I wasn’t sure if the jewel would take me with you or not. Until you have better control, we might have gotten trapped here.”

“You’re not helping, Theo.” Corey groaned and covered his face. He lowered his hands a moment later. “Wait, did you say Tara?”

“Uh huh, she can haunt me out in the Real World, but not in here.” Theo glanced around suspiciously just in case but was satisfied when all he could see was the table, the ice-cream, the door, and the concerned face of the other chimera. “She’s back, and this time she won’t leave without what she came for.”

“Which is…?”

“My heart, or her heart originally.” Theo shrugged and stepped closer to Corey. He placed a hand on his shoulder and held the Phase Walker’s perturbed gaze. “I know, and this means I have even less time than I thought we did. The schedule must move up and that means we have to move fast, Corey. If we are to save Beacon Hills, we may have to ally for a brief time with the enemy after all.”

“The enemy? Theo, what are you-” Corey cut himself off as a comfortable pair of leather chairs appeared and he gestured for them both to sit down. “Can’t you start from the beginning?”

“You know that I trust you more than anyone else, right, Corey?” Theo stared at him intensely as Corey shifted under the heat of his gaze. “You’re the first one I brought back with the Green Serum, remember?”

“Um, yes?”

“Good, we are connected, you and I. The last chimeras…” Theo leaned forward in his seat. “That means we have to preserve the legacy of the Doctors, no, not their barbarous experiments, but what they set out to achieve at the very beginning.”

“I still don’t understand.” Corey said, shaking his head.

“It is because we are chimeras that I trust you, and I’m going to tell you how we will save Beacon Hills from itself,” Theo nodded conspiratorially, “But you have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone else, not Mason, not Liam, no one. Understood?”

“Um, ok?” The Phase Walker replied slowly. “As long as you’re not going to hurt anyone, I guess I can keep it our secret. Hang on, does this have something to do with what happened at the Nemeton? Do you know who tried to blow it up?”

“Try?” Theo grinned suddenly as a memory of his time with Stiles hit him. “There is no try!”

“Ugh, Star Wars…fine, ok, tell me what we have to do.” Corey mumbled, reaching for the sundae and frowning until a spoon appeared in his hand.

“It’s very simple,” Theo nodded, gesturing expansively. “I call it the Great Conversion! I have perfected the method, even managing to allow them to keep their personalities. I think that will be important, though I had to draw the line at adapting miniature leather coats and masks for them. You’d have to put in holes for the ears and it just wouldn’t be the right look for a rabbit.” He looked up when Corey’s spoon fell to the white floor with a tinkle. “Are you ok?”

“Theo, are you telling me that you turned the Dread Doctors into rabbits?!” Corey stared at him.

“Uh, yeah, that’s about it.”

“What?! But, what? But, uh, how?!”

“Like I said, the conversion process.” Theo smiled at him and reached forward to pick up the dropped utensil, pressing it back into Corey’s unresisting grip. He used the tip of his finger to scoop a bit of the hot fudge off the glass and popped it into his mouth. “Mmh, it’s good!”

“I…I don’t even know what to say…” Corey mumbled, slumping back into his chair.

“It was tricky at first, I wanted to fully reanimate them, but without the Green Serum, I couldn’t do more than get a jolt of electricity arcing around in their brains.” Theo explained conversationally, his voice becoming excited as Corey just waved for him to continue. “So, then I remember that the Pathologist had come up with a way to map the entire brain and consciousness and store it like a blueprint on a wiped brain of a raven; very smart animal and easy to keep a large amount of brains since they’re so small, comparatively.”

“Uh huh.”

“After that, I needed a way to bring them back, but not have them become a threat at the same time. And everyone loves rabbits, right, Corey?!” Theo grinned, his eyes lighting up with a mad zeal.

“I’m beginning to love them less.” Corey muttered. “But why, Theo? And what does this have to do with saving Beacon Hills?”

“Can’t you see, Corey?” Theo stood up and waited for him to do the same. “We don’t have much time; it moves about half the speed in this place as in the Real World, but soon enough Liam is going to get worried.”

“Answer my question, Theo.” Corey folded his arms determinedly. “What are you planning?”

“Hmm,” The older chimera grunted and turned away from him, throwing his arms outwards. “Think about it, Corey! The supernaturals and the humans will always war with each other, maybe not deliberately, but how many people have to die before we admit that the monsters have the upper hand. You remember what the Beast did, don’t you?” He didn’t wait for Corey to reply and continued speaking. “There is no deterrence for the supernaturals, Scott and Liam and the others try, but they are not willing to kill to keep the peace. And I do not want them to, either, not when I have a better way!”

“By turning everyone into rabbits…” Corey whispered, horror sinking into his scent.

“They will be intelligent and live forever, but they won’t be like my battle bunnies: they can’t transform.” Theo nodded happily at him. “The Dread Bunnies were just the test case, but soon I shall be able to-”

“You’ve already started?” Corey walked around to face him and shook his head. “Theo, what have you done? Where is this happening?”

“A safe place, a secondary lab.” Theo muttered, avoiding Corey’s piercing eyes. We can’t tell him about the zoo, not yet, once I’ve completed the next step with help from those new allies, then I can tell them all. The chimera shrugged and grinned. “We should leave now.”

“But-” Corey’s protests were cut off as Theo stepped forward and pressed the jewel in his hand against the warm flesh of the Phase Walker’s arm. The World In-Between flashed a brilliant white and Corey stepped quickly away from him, sitting down suddenly on Parrish’s couch. “Drat!”

 

“Uh, where did you guys go?” Mason stared at them, teapot half raised, Liam dutifully holding out his cup, the tableau frozen as the two chimeras popped back into the real world. “Is everything ok?”

“It’s fine.” Corey muttered, glaring at Theo, but shaking his head when Mason offered him a cup. “Theo and I just needed to talk.”

“Yeah, got that.” Liam looked from one to the other. “Gonna tell us what it was about?”

“No.”

“No?” Liam echoed back at Theo. “What do you mean ‘No’?”

“I’m not telling you,” Theo accepted the cup of tea from Mason and looked directly at Liam. “It was for chimera ears only.”

“Really?” The werewolf smirked, the expression fading quickly when Theo continued to look at him. “Oh, uh, was it about that uh, that business with Tara earlier?”

“Not exactly.” Theo glanced around the room, seeing his sister pull herself out of the wall where the deepest pool of shadows rested. She walked past the coffee table and stroked the empty hole where her heart should be before pausing near the opposite wall. Theo took a deep breath, steadying himself so as to appear normal to Liam. “It had nothing to do with you, or anyone here, just a, just something I know Corey would understand better.”

“Uh, if you say so.” Liam shrugged and sat back down, a brow arching when Theo sat next to him. “Ok, I guess we’re good?”

“Of course.” Theo nodded, sipping the hot, sweet tea and watching Tara’s sodden form slink past him. So, it’s not my time yet, I still have a few days left to put my plan into action. With the Nemeton destroyed, the supernaturals will start to feel the effects of the frenzy by morning. In a matter of hours, Gabe and his hunter allies will be forced to act. We use them to deliver the first of the subjects, a proof of concept and-

“Um, hello?”

Theo looked up, his train of thought lost as Deputy Strauss entered the living room, confusion on his handsome face. The chimera put his cup down and stood up to greet him. “Hey! Sorry for just arriving, but, um, there was a…incident in the Preserve-”

“Yeah, I heard about that.” Strauss placed his hand on Theo’s shoulder, close to his neck and steered him out of the room. Theo could hear Liam’s jealous growl, but Strauss didn’t react except to smile at him. “Are you ok?”

“Uh huh, Parrish said we could come here; he’s in the shower.”

“Oh?” Strauss grinned and squeezed Theo’s shoulder gently. “Ok, I’ll go say hello, and, uh, you can stay here as long as you like.”

“Thanks.” The chimera nodded and returned to the living room. He glanced at Liam’s upset face. “What?”

“Nothing, I guess you weren’t using your nose right now, huh?” Liam muttered nastily. “Or maybe you were and just-”

“Can I talk to you outside, Liam?” Theo cut across him and gestured at the other end of the living room to where the sliding doors were. He waited until the werewolf huffed and stood up, before walking across to let himself into the garden. Theo could hear the gentle murmurings of Mason and Corey reconciling their differences behind him as Liam joined him on the grass at the back of Parrish’s house. He picked up the nearby football and tossed it from one hand to the other as Liam stood defensively in front of him. “So…”

“Why won’t you tell me what you and Corey were talking about?”

Because you’d only try to stop me. Theo pressed his lips together to suppress the thought from being spoken aloud. Instead he shrugged and said, “Corey has special abilities, I was going to show him how to unlock them this evening, well, once I had destroyed the Nemeton.”

“Uh, ok, never mind Corey, what’s the deal with that desire to blow the stump up?” Liam scratched his head. “I thought that it held special supernatural significance or something?”

“It’s a focal point of suffering, Liam, ever since it was awoken all those years ago by Derek, the Nemeton has pulled nothing but evil here. Think about everything that has happened and tell me that the Nemeton isn’t in some way responsible.” Theo continued to speak even as Liam opened his mouth to object. “The Dread Doctors knew that the Nemetons have a power of their own; the druids and darachs used them for occult purposes and the Pathologist had studied their interactions, recorded the details in his journals. I’ve read them, I, uh, know of a way to stop the beacon in Beacon Hills from being so bright.”

“So…that’s why you were trying to destroy it?”

“Exactly.” Theo moved closer to him however the chimera wasn’t looking at Liam, his eyes darting around the garden constantly. “Tara is coming for me, that attempt at the Nemeton was just the first strike. Her minions will need time to recover: The Freedom Frizzler hurt them, but it didn’t kill them.”

“Theo-”

“She’ll come soon to drag me back down, I know that now, we just have to make the best use of our-”

“Theo!” Liam cut across him angrily and reached out to grip the chimera’s arms. “Tara isn’t real, Mason and I just said that to get you to stop. It was the best thing I could think of at the time, but she’s not here or there or wherever you think she is!”

“You don’t have to lie, Liam, I understand.” Theo smiled at him. “While Tara may have tried to foil my attack, she never counted on my allies!”

“Allies?”

“Uh huh, don’t worry, Liam, we’re fine; you and me.” Theo hugged him suddenly. “Let’s just go inside, I can hear Parrish and Strauss talking in the kitchen. Oh, and ignore Strauss, he can be a bit flirty for a cop, but he and Parrish are tight.”

“Uh, maybe I should take it as a good sign that you’re using their surnames?” Liam stepped away from him, his brow still creased in concern. “But you’re right, we can talk about this another time, we should probably get some sleep, maybe you’ll start to make more sense in the morning.”

“Wait,” Theo reached out to him and Liam stepped close, his lips twitching into a smile. “We’re ok, right?”

“Yeah, Theo, I’m just glad this…what happened won’t drive us apart.” Liam embraced him, pressing his lips against the chimera’s own. It was a chaste kiss, broken when they heard the two cops enter the living room behind them. “Come on, I should try and patch things up with Corey, he is Mason’s boyfriend after all.”

 

Theo tried not to smile as Strauss unsuccessfully engaged Liam and Corey in small talk, the two teenagers sitting on either ends of the couch with the Deputy in between. They were playing Forza on the big widescreen that took up the wall opposite them, only grunting now and then when Strauss asked a question or made a comment about their driving. Mason was sitting in the chair nearest the bookshelves, glancing from one to the other, clearly trying to figure out how to bridge the gap that had formed among the group. Theo started as Parrish touched his shoulder and he followed the Hellhound out of the living room and into the kitchen. “What’s wrong?”

“You’re being remarkably calm for someone who just survived an explosion, Theo.” The Deputy fixed him with a concerned look. “Not to mention the uh…trick Liam and Mason played on you.”

“It’s not a trick, they were watching my back.” Theo replied stubbornly as Parrish sighed. “Tara was trying to stop me; her power would be diminished too if the Nemeton was destroyed.”

“Um, ok, I don’t want to upset you anymore,” Parrish placed a comforting hand on Theo’s shoulders and pulled him into a hug. “But I don’t want you to get hurt either. Anything could have happened when you threw that, err, device onto the ground. That was why I was angry with Liam and Mason, you understand that, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“Good, good.” The Deputy released him, and Theo stepped back, leaning against one of the kitchen units. “Look, I’m sure Liam wants you to go home with him and you probably want to return to the Doctors’ Library on your own, but I want you to stay with us tonight, Theo. I need to know that you’re safe, can you do that for me?”

“I guess so.” Theo mumbled after a moment’s pause.

“Great,” Parrish released his held breath and nodded happily. “Hopefully everything will be a little clearer in the morning, and I’ll figure out who fired that rocket. No one in Beacon Hills should have that type of firepower.”

“But being able to go literally on fire and flip Jeeps over is ok.”

“What did you say?”

“Nothing.” Theo muttered, avoiding Parrish’s eyes. He could smell the Deputy’s concern heavy in the air, but the chimera didn’t say anything else and Parrish only hugged him again. Theo rested his head on Parrish’s strong shoulder and relaxed in the embrace, mumbling into his pullover. “Sorry.”

“It’s ok, I understand what you meant.” The Deputy’s hands were warm on his back, making comforting motions with his fingers. “You’re gonna be ok, Theo.”

“Uh, guys?” Strauss paused in the doorway, “The others are going now, thought you’d want to say goodbye.”

“Thanks.” Theo pulled himself away from Parrish and walked back to the living room. Corey was already outside, waiting for Mason. He glanced at Liam, “Are you going to walk home?”

“It’s only about a mile to my house, less if we cut across the development, and Mason lives nearby, so he and Corey can stay together.” The werewolf looked hopefully at him. “You’re welcome to come home with me too.”

“I said I’d stay with Jordan.” Theo shook his head. “I’m not exactly feeling like we-”

“Oh, no! I didn’t mean it like that,” Liam flushed. “I thought maybe you’d want to talk or something?”

“You were right; things should look better in the morning.” The chimera embraced Liam and squeezed him for a moment. “Call me at lunch tomorrow and I’ll come pick you up, ok?”

“Ok.” Liam smiled and waved goodbye to Strauss and Parrish. “Thanks!”

 

Theo sat up on the couch, the sheets wrapped around his waist as the smell of smoke drifted through the air from Parrish and Strauss’ bedroom. He hadn’t been sleeping, turning the events of the night over and over in his mind, barely paying attention to the sound of the officers’ voices nearby. But it was the excited exclamation by Strauss that pulled Theo back to reality and he looked over to where their bedroom was. The Deputy had been quickly silenced, but Theo could hear the excited hammering of his heart from across the apartment.

Their conversation continued at a lower pitch and Theo lay back down, rolling onto his side towards their muffled voices, finding a strange, dulling comfort in not quite hearing them. His drowsy spell didn’t last, the sounds of Strauss leaving the room and cross the hallway into the kitchen made Theo blink and remember to not let his eyes glow in the darkness.

“Theo?” Strauss whispered quietly from the corridor, wearing only loose sweatpants that hung on his sculpted hips. “You awake?”

“Yup.”

“Parrish told me.” The man entered the living room, a glass of water in his hand. “He told me everything: about him, and you, and Liam, and all of them! Werewolves and chimeras and Hellhounds! I can’t believe I was right, I knew the supernatural was real!”

“What do you mean?” Theo sat up again, nodding for the man to come at sit next to him. Strauss placed his glass on the coffee table and settled next to Theo, his shirtless torso smooth in the low light, a muscled shoulder rubbing gently against Theo’s arm. “Did he show you?”

“Uh huh, just his hand, but I thought he was gonna set off the smoke alarm.” The Deputy grinned at him. “He said you were a werewolf and, um, something else, but that you’re really a chimera and that you don’t play by the rules that affect the other monsters?”

“Monsters…” Theo muttered, nodding slowly as Strauss tried to backtrack. “No, it’s fine. That’s what they are, but me and Corey are the last chimeras; he’s a Phase Walker, he can move between Worlds and see different layers to people.”

“That sounds so cool!”

“Hmm, I suppose.” Theo held up his hands in front of him so Strauss could see, and he let claws slide out.

“Woah!”

“Yeah, and they’re really sharp too, like cut-through-your-throat-in-seconds sharp.” Theo grunted. He flicked them away and his fingernails were human again. “I don’t want to have to use them anymore.”

“Then don’t.” Strauss replied simply.

“It’s never that easy.” The chimera looked at the discarded controllers nearby, memories of earlier coming back to his mind’s eye. “Something terrible is going to happen soon, Aaron, but I can stop it: there won’t be any deaths, there won’t be any suffering. Or…at least, there won’t be if they didn’t resist.”

“But they will?”

“Uh huh, even if I explained,” Theo shook his head as a grim line formed across his lips. “The Doctors would have taken them by force, said that they were being improved, but my justification is better, though they still won’t come.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you’re talking about, Theo.” Strauss was frowning at him. “Maybe I should get Jordan, he wasn’t asleep when I left.”

“He still isn’t.” Theo replied after he cocked his head to one side and concentrated. The other Deputy was smirking at him, curiosity lacing his scent. “Enhanced senses come in handy, though I try not to use them around other people anymore unless I’m in danger. It’s kinda rude.”

“Huh, never thought of the downsides to being able to listen to everyone’s conversations.” Strauss leaned forward and took a sip of his water, Theo watching the motion. “So, let me get this straight, you have a way to help whoever is going to cause harm to Beacon Hills? And you’re worried that they’ll resist if you just try and get them to come willingly?”

The chimera nodded and looked glumly at the floor. “Yeah.”

“Well, I don’t know if it will help at all, but I know some hand-to-hand combat; enough to safely take down an aggressive suspect before they harm themselves or others.” Strauss smiled at him and threw an arm around Theo’s shoulders. “I can show you, if you like? In the morning, Jordan has the early shift, I’m not on until the afternoon. With your enhanced speed and strength and reflexes, it could be enough to, err, help you with this situation.”

“Yeah,” Theo replied slowly, brightening up. “Thanks, Deputy!”

“But Theo,” Strauss held his gaze firmly. “Maybe you should consider that trying to help people by force will do more harm than good? The best weapon is the one you don’t ever have to use. It’s kinda like my service gun; I don’t want to have to use that on someone ever, but I will if I have to, and most villains know that the cops will shoot if they’re facing a life or death situation. So, sometimes the bad guys just give themselves up.”

“External events have changed the equation.” Theo sighed as Strauss stood up. “I’m not sure the…villains are going to stand down. Or the heroes either.”

“Hmm, it’s just something to think about, Theo.” Strauss smiled at him and finished his water, walking towards the bedroom. “I’ll see you in the morning and we’ll go over those moves, ok?”

“Yeah.” The chimera nodded, lying back down on his side, watching and listening until the Deputy entered the bedroom and climbed up to rest on the mattress next to Jordan’s now slumbering form. Hmm, maybe he has a point, maybe the conversion is exactly what the Doctors would have done, and I don’t want to be like them anymore. Maybe I can use their work in a better way…as a deterrent, like Strauss said. Maybe I can make more Battle Bunnies instead, maybe…

Theo smiled as his mind’s eye showed him a vision of hundreds of tiny, transformable rabbits shuffling around on the forest floor. Yes! That’ll work! And I can give them unique abilities just like Axel and Alexander and Ares! A bulletproof bunny so the hunters can’t hurt us, and a wolfsbane spitting bunny so the hostile supernaturals can be subdued! I need to get started immediately, I can still use the secondary lab, pretty sure Liam would try and stop me regardless. The chimera sat up and reached for his phone, tapping quickly into his memo app, the details of his new plan flowing rapidly from his mind. “Yes, yes! This is the right way to help people! Turning everyone in Beacon Hills into rabbits was crazy, but this is a plan worthy of the Doctors!”

Chapter Text

“Hmm.” Theo frowned as Strauss blocked his attack and the chimera backed off. “This would be a lot easier if I could use my claws…”

“Didn’t you say that was why you wanted to learn this?”

“Yeah, but, hmm.” Theo grunted and shook his head. “You’re right, even though I won’t be using it the way I told you about -I found a better way- it could still come in handy, it’s so easy to kill people with claws.”

“Uh, uh huh.” The Deputy was staring at him, his raised fists lowering slowly. “That’s a little disturbing, Theo, especially since you said there are a lot of supernatural creatures and people in Beacon Hills. Are they all as strong as you? Err, muscular, I mean?”

“Um, I don’t know.” Theo shrugged and looked down at the old vest that Strauss had lent him. Since the man was taller, though leaner, the fabric both stretched across his chest and hung down towards his waist. “Our metabolism is increased and most supernaturals and chimeras have boosted healing, so they don’t theoretically have to work out to maintain their physique. But I do, or did, I don’t have access to gym machines anymore, only the free weights in the Doctors’ Library.”

“Huh, would never have guessed!” Deputy Strauss grinned at him and wiped the sweat from his brow. He gestured encouragingly at Theo. “Ok, show me that take down move from earlier!”

“Gah!” Theo grunted and grabbed the Deputy’s arm, pulling him close and then using his foot to push Strauss’ balance off center. The man tried to regain his footing, but Theo shoved him to the floor, trying not to push too hard but Strauss groaned, his back hitting the wooden panels with a thump. “Shit! Sorry, I-ah!”

“Haha!”

“Hey…” Theo frowned at the cop, having been pulled down when he relaxed, the man’s legs wrapping around his waist and dragging them close; Strauss’ face inches from his own. Uh oh. The chimera untangled his hands from the sweaty collection of limbs, his nostrils flaring as a familiar, if unwelcome, scent flooded the space between them. He pushed himself off the ground, looking towards his water bottle tactfully as Strauss rolled onto his side, hand reaching for the hardon in his gym shorts. “Uh, thanks, I’ll know not to let my guard down around you in the future.”

“Haha, no need to be defensive around me, Theo.” Strauss was behind him now, the chimera could feel the Deputy’s presence, even if he hadn’t smelt the latent arousal in the air. “It’s the bad guys you want to trip up, right?”

“That’s right.” Theo nodded slowly, drinking while Strauss patted his shoulder and moved away. “Is there more to learn?”

“Once you have the suspect down, usually we’re able to arrest them and that’s about it.” The Deputy shrugged, arms folded across his muscular chest when Theo turned around to look at him. “But I doubt you have handcuffs, so maybe I should show you how to subdue them?”

“Uh…hang on.” Theo frowned, hearing his phone buzz on the table. He picked it up and shook his head. “Looks like we’re going to have to call it there, Corey is waiting for me outside. Thanks though, Aaron, it’s been really helpful.”

“My pleasure, Theo.” The Deputy grinned at him and turned away, moving towards the kitchen. “I’ll get changed and head to work if we’re finished here.”

“Mmh hmm.” Theo nodded, watching out of the corner of his eye as Strauss stripped out of his vest, balled it up, and tossed it in the nearby laundry basket. The chimera breathed a sigh of relief when Strauss rounded the corner and walked out of view, the man’s gym shorts sailing through the air behind him. I should say something to Parrish, don’t want to give Strauss the wrong impression about our friendship. He’s getting too interested, but I guess he did stop himself so maybe I don’t have to say anything. “Better get changed too, don’t want to leave Corey waiting too long.”

 

Theo tried unsuccessfully to flatten his hair as he followed Strauss out of the house, resigning himself to using the antiquated shower in the depths of the Doctors’ Library, the smell of sweat lingering around him. At least the water is always hot. He looked up as Strauss offered Corey a greeting, the younger chimera responding with a quiet hello. “Hey Corey.”

“I was wondering where you were.” Corey stopped leaning against the nearby lamp post and smiled at him. The expression faltered, and he frowned. “What happened to you? Why is your hair like that?”

“Oh, Strauss was showing me how to fight, well, how cops fight, I guess.” Theo shrugged and pulled up the front of his shirt to wipe his brow, ignoring Corey’s hitched breath. “But then you arrived so I didn’t have time to shower.”

“Uh huh.”

“What?” Theo lowered his voice, standing close to the other chimera as Strauss climbed into his car.

“Well, he just seems to be a bit flustered is all, and I’ve noticed he kinda looks at you a lot.”

“I know.” Theo shrugged and shook his head a moment later. “It doesn’t matter, I think of Parrish as an older brother, Strauss isn’t getting anywhere. Besides, how come you’re even out here? Why aren’t you at school?”

“No one is going to miss me.” Corey sighed and chewed his bottom lip. “Mason and Liam know that I’m here, trying to talk to you.”

“Trying?”

“You can be really stubborn sometimes, it’s kinda part of your charm, but still, we’re worried about you.”

“Oh, so, it’s ‘we’ again?” Theo arched a brow at him as Strauss looked their way. “I need to pick up my truck from last night, come with me to the Doctors’ Library?”

“Um, ok.”

“Good, there’s something else I want to show you, something I want to give you, I guess.” Theo blinked, dark images skittering across his vision as Tara winked into existence across the street from them. He placed his hands protectively on the younger chimera’s shoulders and steered a protesting Corey towards the car. “We can’t talk here, ears all around.”

“Theo, I don’t-”

“C’mon!” Theo pushed him inside as Strauss held open the door questioningly. “Take us to the Preserve’s East Gate, that’s where I left my truck.”

“Um, sure, ok, I’m early for work anyway.”

“Grr…” Corey glared at him, his brows pushed together. “I need to talk to you.”

“Ok.”

“Well, not here!” The younger chimera sighed and nodded at Strauss in the driver’s seat. “I’ll wait until later.”

“Ok,” Theo repeated, lowering his voice as Corey shifted across the seats to the other side, the car speeding off along the street. “But Strauss knows now, Parrish told him everything last night.”

“Oh, that helps, I suppose.” Corey’s scent was prickly, defensive. The younger chimera remained silent for the fifteen minute ride to the Preserve, only speaking when they stopped, thanking Strauss for the lift.

 

“You said Mason knows you’re here?” Theo asked once they were alone again. “What about Liam?”

“He knows.” Corey shrugged, kicking his feet through the fallen leaves under the nearby trees. “We, uh, we talked about it last night, talked about you too.”

“Oh?”

“I’m still not happy about how…what Liam did, but I can put my differences aside for now, we need to focus on you.”

“I’m fine.” Theo replied, smirking as Corey raised a brow in his direction. He pulled his car keys from where he had hidden them in the wheel arch. “Ok, well, maybe I’m not so fine, it’s about Tara, right?”

“She’s not alive, Theo.”

“Oh, I know that!” He laughed and flicked his wrist in the direction of the truck as Corey sighed hopelessly. “Hop in, the Doctors’ Library is on the other side of the forest.”

“I thought you might want to investigate the Nemeton? See if it really is blown up?” Corey sat in opposite him. “Do you know who did it?”

“I have an idea.” Theo muttered, images of Gabe and Nolan flashing in front of his mind’s eye. “I’ll figure it out later, right now I want to show you my latest creations.”

“The Dread Bunnies…” Corey sighed resignedly. “Ok, fine, show me.”

“Great!” Theo beamed at him and climbed into his truck. “You’ll like them, but that’s only part of the reason I needed you to come with me.”

“Does this have anything to do with me being a…Phase Walker?” Corey paused and shrugged as though the idea was still alien to him. “What you did last night, I can do that on my own, right?”

“Yeah, but the Doctors left instructions on how to allow you to gain access to the deeper levels,” Theo turned in a slow arc, avoiding a large tree, the truck riding smoothly over the rough terrain of the forest. “It’s kinda over the top, but it won’t hurt, I promise.”

“Uh huh.”

“Seriously, Corey, I won’t hurt you.” Theo took his hand off the steering wheel and placed it on Corey’s forearm, his thumb brushing against warm flesh. “Ever.”

“Ok,” Corey frowned at him and nodded at the wheel. “Just don’t crash us into a tree. I’m meant to be meeting the guys for lunch, I don’t need to explain that I’m stuck in the forest helping you repair your truck.”

“Hmm.” Theo grinned and released him, slowing down. “We’re here anyway. C’mon, I’ll take a quick shower and you can have a look at the Dread Bunnies. As long as you keep them away from the scalpels, they’ll be fine.”

“That’s not reassuring.”

 

“Well? What do you think?” Theo asked, towelling his hair dry as he emerged from the stacks at the rear of the library, looking at Corey across from him. The younger chimera was where Theo had left him, arms folded, and brow furrowed. “Corey?”

“I thought you had used an actual person to get them into, err, rabbit shape, but you meant it when you said they were built, didn’t you?” Corey gestured at the worktable next to him, instruments and tools of all types scattered across the white surface; some cruel and wicked looking, others simple and elegant. Sheets of fur and flesh were stacked nearby, piles of bones and cartilage held in metal containers lined the back of the table next to the wall, a half finished rabbit structure sat in the center of the table, glassy eyes staring out at them. “I thought it would be gross, but it’s all so ordered and neat.”

“Yeah, the original Battle Bunnies have organic components inside that were later enhanced by the Green Serum, so that they’d live for a very long time.” Theo explained, dumping his towel nearby and standing near Corey as the younger chimera frowned at the tools. “I don’t think the Doctors would approve, but I’ve swapped those biological components out for clockwork and mechanical parts; it’s less messy and I think they’ll last longer without access to the Green Serum.”

“So, the Midis Bunny you gave to Stiles…hmm, that makes sense, I guess.” Corey nodded at the three Dread Bunnies sitting upright on another table, their ears twitching as they followed the conversation along. “They’re listening to us, aren’t they?”

“I resurrected the Dread Doctors and turned them into rabbits, Corey.” Theo said simply as the other chimera stared at him, eyes wide. “I guess you have to see it to believe it, huh? They were the test subjects, you might call that a fitting end.”

“I might, but you wouldn’t.” Corey sighed and touched his shoulder. “I remember that you said the Doctors were like your parents, that you had a relationship with them that went beyond creator and experiment.”

“Before we returned to Beacon Hills they were different.” Theo admitted. “But then they came here, and everything changed, I changed too, at first in the wrong way, but now, I have a chance to undo all that, a chance to make Beacon Hills safe again!” He walked over to another table, this one longer and covered in a grey sheet. Theo whipped the cover off and revealed dozens of completed rabbit shells sitting in ordered rows, unmoving. He heard Corey’s sharp inhale and turned back towards him. “There’s nothing in these yet.”

“But you planned that there would be…”

“You look unnerved, Corey.” Theo arched a brow at him and gestured regally at the motionless rabbits. “To answer your question, yes, they would have been filled.”

“Filled with what?” Corey asked hesitantly, fear lacing the air between them. He glanced at the Dread Bunnies and backed away quickly, hand on the staircase. “Filled with who?

“Hunters, supernaturals, whoever threatened the security of Beacon Hills.” Theo replied dismissively. “But that was the old plan, and it would have taken too long, too much effort.”

“You’re not doing that? Is that why you’re telling me?”

“Of course,” Theo nodded and waited until Corey came back to stand next to him, his fear dissipating. “It was something Strauss said actually, he pointed me to a better solution; a way to defend Beacon Hills without becoming a monster along the way.” He frowned as Corey suddenly grinned and hugged him tight. “What’s this for?”

“I’m relieved.” The younger chimera flushed and stood back, shrugging. “Liam was talking last night about how he felt you were pulling away from him, keeping secrets again. He didn’t really want to confront you though, that’s why I came; I think we have more in common.”

“That’s true, you are a chimera.”

“Well, yeah, but I’m also able to talk to you so easily.” Corey smiled at him. “Never really had that with anyone else before, other than Mason, I mean. Anyway, what do you plan on doing with all those empty bunny shells?”

“I have some ideas.” Theo replied quietly. “Battle Bunnies can’t breed, but I think they’d like to have some company, especially since the Dread Bunnies don’t really mix.”

“Uh huh.”

There was silence between them for a few minutes, Theo watching as Corey distractedly stroked one of the floppy ears of the nearest empty rabbit shell. Finally, he spoke and pulled Corey away. “But that was only part of why I wanted you to come-”

“Right, the Phase Walkers.” Corey nodded at him. “I’m ready.”

 

Theo brought Corey over to a different part of the library, near his sleeping area at the back. He lit the oil lamps that hung from the low ceiling, twisting the knob that controlled the wick until they shone brighter and illuminated the strange apparatus that was set up around him. There was a series of interconnected tubes attached to a large V-shaped glass jar, an outlandish, purplish liquid dripping from the tubes into the base of the jar, seemingly feeding back in a loop into the pipes. An archaic looking keyboard was linked to the jar’s base with a number of blue and yellow cables that were disturbingly organic in nature, while the rest of the apparatus was fitted with a dizzying array of levers and paddles that Corey was stared at in confusion.

“Stand there.” Theo positioned Corey onto a faded copper plate that was set into the stone floor, and then stood opposite him on a similar bronze square. “Ok, so this procedure was just labelled ‘Connection’ in the Surgeon’s journal on the Phase Walkers.”

“You do know what you’re doing, right?”

“Don’t be nervous, the first trip has to be induced, like when we went to the World In-Between last night.” Theo turned from him and pressed a complex pattern into the ivory keyboard. There was a shuddering cough and then the glass jar began to vibrate, the liquid inside hissing and turning into a violet mist. “Hold this.” The older chimera pressed a loop of coiled wire into Corey’s hand and grabbed the other end himself.

“Theo-”

“Give it a moment!” Theo grinned at him and reached for a nearby lever, yanking it down sharply. A howl emitted from somewhere in the center of the machine and sparks fired off into the air from the twin plates that they stood on. “Almost there!”

“Why did I let you talk me into this?!” Corey wailed, glaring at him. “It’s like a freaking time-”

He was cut off suddenly as a loud crack snapped in the air around them and both chimeras were flung off their feet, crashing backwards into the ground. Theo groaned, the world spinning around him, darker than the library should be, his hands passing through the ground as though he was shifting through fine sand. “What the…”

“Where are we?” Corey asked from nearby.

“I think…” Theo paused, waiting until he had located the other chimera and pulled Corey to his feet. “I think we’re in The Darkened World, the fifth and deepest level.”

“I thought we weren’t meant to go this deep.” Corey looked fearfully at him, the shadows beginning to lift around them. “How do we get out?”

“You can take us out, but not yet.” Theo glanced around, his eyes blazing amber as he took in the tall shapes of broken buildings and shattered monuments that surrounded them. There was a gentle keening on the wind that blew through the devastated city, the ragged flap of cloth caught on a broken spar nearby grabbed his attention. “This way, come on.”

“I don’t like it.” Corey muttered, but followed him nonetheless. “Why are we here?”

“To unlock the rest of your Phase Walker abilities.” Theo replied distractedly, the gloom had dissipated somewhat by the time the reached the closest building. Strange carvings covered the stone surface, not quite depictions, but not just symbols either. He stopped next to one that looked familiar. “Here. This is it. Give me your hand.”

“Fine, if it gets us out of here quicker.” Corey whispered, looking over his shoulder when he heard a creaking sound behind them. He placed his hand against the stone, Theo pushing his palm wide until his fingers aligned with the ridges carved into the surface.

“Do you feel anything?”

“Hmm, you smell nervous…” Corey blinked and then stared at him. “Wait, I don’t have enhanced senses like that.”

“Guess you do now!” Theo grinned and stepped away from him, looking up at the swirling darkness that covered the city and obscured the sky. “What else do you feel?”

“You, I, I can feel you behind me. But it’s more than that, it’s like I can find you, even if you got lost. There are…other sensations, but not like that, it’s like they’ve been cut off, no longer attached.” Corey frowned and was looking in his direction when Theo lowered his gaze. “Do you think those are the other chimeras?”

“The Doctors theorized that if you were able to reach this level and unlock the full range of the Phase Walkers’ powers, you would be able to get the ability that the Pathologist called ‘One Mind’. He said that when he observed the Phase Walkers a long time ago they worked together as a unit, able to anticipate the other’s movements and attacks.” Theo explained, looking around as he heard the creaking sound again. “They wanted to test the hypothesis that a chimera squad with a Phase Walker in it would make a better unit than a werewolf pack.”

“Huh.” Corey stepped away from the wall and looked around. “I wish it wasn’t so dark.”

“This isn’t the World In-Between,” Theo stood next to him. “And maybe it’s a good thing that we can’t see everything, that just means that whatever is out there can’t see us.”

“Hmm.” The Phase Walker groaned and clasped Theo’s hand. “This is making my head hurt, let’s just-” There was a bright flash of light and the two of them staggered into each other as the ground upended and a moment later they were in a pile on the floor of the Doctors’ Library. “Uh…let’s not do that again, Theo.”

 

Corey was shaking his head when Theo returned with two glasses of water. “What is it?”

“I just, I can’t believe that we went there, or that I got us back.” He frowned at his hands. “I feel strange, not just because of what happened, but I feel…”

“Awake?” Theo grinned and offered him the glass. “That’s what they said should happen; the Phase Walkers come from the Hallowed World, but they hid their secrets in the shadows of the Darkened World. As far as I could tell, apart from me, the only non-Phase Walker to enter that place was the Pathologist. It’s the reason why they knew how to find a Phase Walker in this world and harvest their essence for use in a chimera.”

“Lovely.”

“But he brought something back from the Hallowed World, more than just stories.” Theo smiled and dropped to one knee, drawing back a tarpaulin to pull out a rabbit cage. “A gem, just like the one I used last night.”

“That’s a rabbit.” Corey replied, his expression softening as he looked at the sleeping creature. “Well, I think so. I’ve never seen a rabbit with green fur.”

“That’s because he’s lying on something that’s green.” Theo explained, setting the cage on the table next to them. He opened the door and gently took Corey’s hand. “The Phase Walkers used creatures from the Darkened World as companions and allies, a sort of living power boost to enhance their abilities. This Battle Bunny has been constructed like the empty shells over there, but at its heart is a gem that promises power.”

Corey had reached out to touch the rabbit, but he paused and looked suspiciously at Theo. “Why did you make this?”

“It’s for you.”

“Ok, but why?

“I want you to be safe.” Theo looked away from him, his gaze lingering on the books and journals scattered across the Doctors’ Library. “My time grows short, Corey, and I need to make sure that the legacy of the Dread Doctors is not the terror and destruction of the Beast, but the return of a mythical being who can do so much more than have fangs and claws.” He sighed and bowed his head. “You.”

“Theo…”

“Didn’t you say that you were having lunch with Liam and Mason today?” The older chimera moved away as Corey’s hand lingered on his shoulder. “I’ll drop you off.”

“I…ok, what about the rabbit?”

“Bring him, he’s yours.” Theo smiled at him suddenly when Corey picked up the small bunny and cradled him in the palms of his hands. “And don’t forget to give him a name.”

 

Theo had just let Corey off at the school, promising to return for his and Liam’s lacrosse practice that afternoon when he saw Gabe and Nolan standing at the edge of the main building, talking intensely. The chimera pulled up alongside them and lowered the passenger window. “Hey guys.”

“Theo.” Gabe nodded warmly as Nolan just looked his way, unhappiness heavy in his scent. “What are you doing here?”

“Dropping off a friend.” He replied, silence filling the space between them. “So, uh, last night…”

“Didn’t go so well for you, huh?” Gabe glanced at Nolan and then back at Theo. “We were too far away to hear anything, but we saw that uh-”

“Fire monster.” Nolan spoke up, moving closer to the truck. “Are you ok? That thing was terrifying!”

“I’m fine, just glad you two had my back out there.” Theo reached across and opened the door. “Why don’t you come with me? I have something to show you, and a way to repay you for destroying what I could not.”

“I have free periods this afternoon.” Gabe readily agreed and looked at Nolan expectantly. “C’mon, surely this is more important than AP Bio?”

“I guess.” Nolan replied quietly and took Gabe’s hand, climbing in next to him. He closed the door and the two sat on the passenger seat somewhat awkwardly. “Where are we going anyway?”

“Hill Valley Zoo.” Theo turned quickly and sped out of the parking lot. “It’s an off-site location, completely secure; you’ll be the first people I let into it, well, the first hunters anyway.”

“How’d you know we were hunters?”

“I don’t know many high school seniors who can fire an RPG,” Theo grinned at Gabe and turned back to face the road. “Besides, you tried to warn me about the forest, and let’s just say that I can usually spot hunters of the supernatural from a mile off, something about the intensity in your stare.”

“And what about you?” Nolan spoke up from where he was leaning on the arm rest. “You’re not a hunter.”

“No, I suppose you could call me an inventor, or a scientist, a para-scientist, perhaps!” He laughed quietly as images of the Dread Doctors flashed through his mind; the experimental mask that he had worn with the aid of Josh’s stolen electricity, the years of training and assistance with their many projects, the endless failures… “Hmm?”

“I asked you what you studied?”

“The supernatural, of course.” Theo replied to Gabe’s question, illustrating with one hand as they turned onto the highway between the two towns. “You must know your enemy in order to defeat it, in order to design counter-measures that can negate its speed or strength or claws.” He smirked as they exchanged a look. “But in order to find their weaknesses and exploit them, well, that requires study and containment, and that is what this lab is for.”

“Sounds like the sort of thing that could really help us out.” Gabe grinned at them both, his scent dancing between excitement and arousal, though Theo could smell the interest appearing only when Nolan brushed against the other hunter. “Sure, we have Argent and Monroe, but what we really need is a mad scientist! Err, no offense.”

“None taken.” Theo smirked as he smelt it again, Nolan’s arm slipping against Gabe’s thigh for a moment before he pulled away with a muttered apology. “We’re almost there. The zoo is closed down, left to fall into disrepair, not even a guard to have to bribe or fool.” He turned off the highway, entering under the faded sign and slowing down to navigate the overgrown earthen road that led past the ticket booth.

He kept driving until they came to the panda enclosure, stopping outside the falling down walls and leaf-strewn walkways. “Here we are.”

Here?” Nolan arched a brow in a way that was disturbingly reminiscent of Corey. “This is your super-secret lair?”

“Under it.” Theo flashed a grin at them and killed the engine. “Come on, I’ll give you the tour!”

 

“…And as you can see, there’s plenty of space for containment and isolation of specific supernaturals, with enough equipment to ensure that their special abilities can be neutralised while I study them.” Theo gestured grandly at the stalls in the room on their right. “The lab facilities are next door, cleanroom in the space after that, and deep-freeze on the bottom level next to the generators.”

“Very impressive!” Gabe grinned at him, stopping next to Nolan in the central chamber; a glass-walled control room that looked out at the sprawling underground complex. “Tell me you didn’t build this all yourself?”

“Hardly.” Theo stood between them and placed a hand on each of their shoulders. “The ones who taught me what I know built this facility. It was their back-up in case the smaller, though more, hmm, arty space was compromised. They studied the supernatural for decades, seeking to harness their secrets and create better versions for their own scientific amusement. But then they were killed by the monster they were trying to perfect.” Theo moved away from them and walked towards the dusty glass pane in front of him. “You might have seen the creature of which I speak: The Beast.”

“Yeah.” Nolan drew a shaky breath and swallowed loudly. “I saw it, in the library last year. It was…”

“Terrifying.” Theo finished his sentence softly. “And that was a creature designed to be terrifying. The others are better at hiding in plain sight, a fact that should be much more frightening than that monster.”

“You obviously have a plan?” Gabe spoke out, walking around so he was able to look at Theo. “The Nemeton is nothing but a smoking crater in the ground, what happens next?”

“I have inventions that can help you, but I’m not sure that our goals are truly aligned.” Theo replied carefully. “The hunters that Argent has gathered, they do not mean to merely watch for excesses and abuses that the supernatural commit, do they? They have a more extreme method of protection in mind, yes?”

“Yeah.” Nolan answered when Gabe glanced at him. “Extermination.”

“And is that what you both want too?”

“Is there another way?” Gabe shrugged at Nolan’s raised brows. “Blowing up a tree stump with a rocket launcher was cool, but I don’t know if I could do that to another person. The Beast, sure, but you heard what Theo just said, the other supernaturals look just like us.”

“Not with claws and fangs and shit!”

“Ok, but what if it’s someone we know? I’m not sure I can pull the trigger on our soccer captain or the girl in my study group.” Gabe sighed as Nolan folded his arms determinedly. “Look, heat of the moment, yeah, of course I’d do it, and if you were in danger, I’d take out anyone. But you know how Argent talks; all cold and calculating and ruthless.”

“Hmm.” Nolan grunted, turning to Theo who had been listening to their discussion. “Ok, so you have an alternative?”

“I do.” Theo spread his arms and turned back to look out on the lab complex. “I learned from those who wished to bind the supernatural and use them to further their own aims. But that was foolish; the supernaturals cannot be controlled, only contained, and even then, they will always try and escape. Only without their powers can they be truly cured of what makes them. That is what I have turned this lab and facility into.”

“To remove what makes them special.” Nolan muttered, catching Gabe’s eye as Theo looked back at them. “And return them to being human?”

“Exactly; it will not be easy and will require time and dedication. I could do with more allies like you and your hunter friends.”

“They won’t like it.” Gabe sighed, shaking his head. “The rest of the hunters take their lead from Argent or Monroe.”

“This Monroe, who is he?”

“She,” Nolan corrected. “She works at the school, recruited me and Gabe earlier in the summer. Not sure if she works for Argent or if he’s even the one in charge, either way, they’re pretty adamant that the only good supernatural is a dead supernatural.”

“Yeah, pretty extreme.” Theo muttered, seeing Gabe nod next to him. “Especially when I have a better way. Maybe I should meet with your leaders?”

“I’ll see if I can set it up.” Gabe quickly agreed before Nolan could object. “Regardless of our different priorities, I bet they’d be happy to see some of your other toys at work!”

“Good.” Theo bent down and retrieved two wooden boxes from under the table near the door. “These are for you.” He opened the hinged lids and grabbed a handful of the fine, black powder. “This is mountain ash; I’m sure you’ve seen the other hunters use it, but it can be hard to find, and once we start, you should protect what you value the most. A ring around your homes or your bed will keep all the real supernaturals out. They can’t touch the stuff.” The chimera finished with a smirk as their eyes locked onto the black powder falling between his fingers. “Take it as a gift and a sign of our new friendship.”

 

Theo finished parking his truck and got out, walking across the quad towards the lacrosse pitch where Liam was waiting for him. He saw Corey and Mason wave as they left the library, the haft of Corey’s lacrosse stick visible from his training bag, Mason holding his boyfriend’s new rabbit in his hands carefully. “Hey Liam.” Theo smiled at the werewolf, embracing him after a momentary awkwardness. “Sorry I didn’t join you for lunch, there was something I needed to do.”

“Uh huh.” Liam glanced around and lowered his voice. “Tell me you’re free tonight, we got some serious stuff to talk about, starting with Corey being that Phase Runner thing-”

“Walker.” Theo cut across him. “It’s Phase Walker.

“Yeah, ok, whatever, he filled us in on the different worlds and stuff, he even showed us that rabbit you made for him.”

“Hmm, is that all?” Theo asked carefully, beginning to walk with Liam towards the lacrosse field.

“No, of course not!” Liam glared at him, anger flushing his scent for a moment. “We have to talk about the Nemeton and Tara and the fact you think you have so little time left before your heart gets ripped out.”

Ah, so Corey didn’t say anything about my Battle Bunny research. Good, good. The chimera frowned as he smelt another werewolf approaching them. “Why are we even meeting here?”

“I asked Brett to join us this afternoon,” Liam replied bitterly, his scent filled with wounded pride. “The fact is that since Stiles and Scott and even freaking Greenberg left last year, the team isn’t pulling together properly.”

“Oh?” Theo glanced at Nolan as the hunter passed him by with a subtle nod. “And Brett is…better?”

“Yes.” Liam admitted grudgingly. “I want to put the team through their paces; Corey is good in goal, but those Hill Valley Bulldogs have one of the best front rows in the county, I need him to be ready.”

“Cool, I’ll sit with Mason in the stands.”

“Wait,” Liam grabbed his arm, stopping next to the field as he put down his lacrosse gear. “There’s another reason Brett is here. He’s a Buddhist, and a werewolf, I thought he could maybe help you out, some, err, mindfulness, or ways to calm down, you know, for when Tara comes, uh, comes after you.”

“I guess we can try that.” Theo agreed after a moment of looking out at the tall werewolf. “After all, I’m sure it was painful to invite your arch-nemesis here!”

“Ugh.” Liam rolled his eyes and shooed Theo away. “Just go, we’ll find you after practice!”

 

Theo pressed his lips together to hide the smirk that threatened to spread across his face as Brett called out various plays and then executed them perfectly, leaving Liam red-faced and glaring. Mason was sitting next to him, concerned eyes watching Corey, the Phase Walker bunny asleep in the bag between Mason’s feet. “He’ll be alright.” The chimera spoke softly so no one else could hear him. “I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to hold back on abilities that would make this so much easier.”

“Yeah.” Mason agreed quietly, groaning a moment later as Corey dived in the opposite direction that the ball was tossed in. “I’m more worried about Liam; he’s been acting aggressive all day.”

“That might be my fault.”

“Last night at the Nemeton was fucked up, but Corey explained that you thought it would help stop the beacon drawing supernaturals here.” Mason shook his head as Brett scored perfectly again. “I just wish you’d talk to us more, Theo, we never know what’s going on with you.”

“Hmm.” The chimera grunted non-committedly, his gaze catching Gabe sitting a few rows down from them, the teenager’s eyes locked on Nolan as he stood on the side-lines, waiting to go onto the pitch. “There something new in Beacon Hills, or something old that’s been revived.”

“Huh?”

“Better that you don’t know until I see if it’s as dangerous as I think it could be.”

“But-” Mason cut himself off as his eyes returned to the practice session, Corey preparing to defend another shot, Liam squaring off against Brett between them. “I have a bad feeling about this…”

Brett moved quickly, ducking and diving around Liam as the other werewolf fell over, his stick releasing the ball before Corey had a chance to raise his own cross defensively.

Theo buried his face in his hands as the brutal assault continued, Brett weaving circles around Liam and scoring every time he said he would. “This is a bloodbath…”

“He’s pretty damn fast.” Mason moaned in despair when Brett danced around Liam again, this time clashing hard, causing the shorter werewolf to crash to the ground. “Are you sure he’s not using-”

“Shhh!” Theo glared at him as Gabe’s shoulders tightened noticeably in front of them. The chimera forgot Mason a second later as the sharp, acid scent of Liam’s anger made its way across the field towards him. “Oh no.”

“Ugh…” Mason and Theo grimaced at the same time when Brett harried Liam backwards and the two of them fell into the goal on top of Corey.

“I’m guessing those lessons on mindfulness are going to be rescheduled?” Theo smiled a little as Mason nodded. He fell silent when Liam looked across the field at him, their eyes connecting for a second before the werewolf turned away, his hands seeming to shake. “He’s angry, losing control.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

Theo continued to watch, not reacting this time as Liam thrust Brett over his back and sent the Devenford player tumbling onto the ground. Even as Mason swore beside him, the ball tearing a hole through the net, the chimera remained silent, watching Liam storm off the pitch, the glint of a yellow eye when he looked in Theo’s direction.

“Um, I’ll go after him,” Mason stood up, patting Theo’s shoulder as he did so. “Look out for Corey, will you? It’ll be dark soon and we’re meant to go study at his place.”

“I’ll find him once practice is over.” Theo promised, his gaze drawn back to Brett, clever eyes not missing the extra attention the lacrosse player was receiving from outside the pitch. Hmm, curious. The chimera frowned, now looking at the woman who had stopped to watch the game, a lacrosse ball in her hand. He pulled his eyes away before he was noticed, though Gabe had caught him watching and mouthed a name at him.

Monroe!

 

Night had fallen fully by the time practice was called off, Mason returning for Corey after he explained that Liam had just gone home. Theo had promised to call him once he had spoken to Brett, concern pulling at his mind at the attention Monroe had been paying Brett that afternoon. He watched the boyfriends leave and walked across the grass to where Brett was putting his gear back into his bag. “Hey.”

“Hey, Theo.” He grinned and stood up. “The others not hanging around? I thought we were going to go over a few things?”

“Yeah, uh, Liam went home, and Mason and Corey have to study, it’s just us.” Theo folded his arms across his chest and nodded at the parking lot. “Walk you to your car? Maybe I can fill in whatever details Liam left out?”

“That might help.” Brett smiled again and grabbed his bag, walking side-by-side next to Theo. “He wasn’t exactly clear on why you needed to my assistance; I know the mantra helped Liam gain control, but that’s not an issue for you, right?”

“No, I have complete control and the moon doesn’t affect me at all, for good or bad.” Theo replied, waiting for Brett to take the lead and guide them to his car. “It’s more to do with, uh, controlling those Liam thinks aren’t there.”

“But you do?”

“Oh, yes, Tara is following along behind us.” Theo nodded seriously. “Her and her minions will come for my heart very soon, and when they do, no amount of Buddhist teachings will stop her. No offense meant.”

“Err, none taken.” Brett replied slowly, his scent becoming confused. “So, how are you going to solve that?”

“I will use the little time I have left to create guardians for Beacon Hills, those who can deal with supernatural threats as well as human ones.” Theo stopped when Brett did next to a silver car. “They require some work, and some supernatural essence would be quite useful.”

“Uh, sounds like you’re asking me for a sperm sample!” Brett grinned at him and bit his lip as he flicked his eyes across Theo’s face. “Not saying I wouldn’t do that if it’s what you need?”

“Not exactly, just…” Theo trailed off when he heard footsteps approaching. “We can discuss this another time.”

“Uh, sure?”

The chimera turned abruptly and walked away quickly, ducking behind a nearby school bus, going still as he heard the footsteps stop in front of Brett. Theo knelt down and peeked around the corner, his brows furrowing when he saw that it wasn’t Tara, but the woman who had been watching Brett that afternoon, the one Gabe had identified as Monroe. “Crap.”

“Hello.” She smiled, Theo noticing that her gaze was fixed on Gabe. “I saw you play, you’re something else, aren’t you?”

“Haha, something like that.” Brett smirked and shrugged nonchalantly.

“I think you dropped this?” She held out a lacrosse ball. “From earlier?”

“Uh, yeah, thanks.”

Theo’s eyes widened when she tossed the ball to him, watching as Brett began to cough and splutter. Wolfsbane… He nodded when Monroe confirmed it a moment later. This is bad, Liam might think Brett’s a dick, but I can’t just let her kill him!

“Argh!” Brett cried out suddenly, Monroe’s attack smacking him across the head and leaving his chest bleeding. She was wielding his broken lacrosse stick like a baton, blood spatter wet on the asphalt. “Fuck!”

“Enough!” Theo called out, stepping away from his hiding place. He ground his teeth together, seeing Tara’s shadow dance and cavort behind Brett’s car, but the chimera tried to ignore his sister and focused on Monroe instead. “You will not touch him again.”

“Hmm, two on one isn’t fair.”

“Which would be true if I was a werewolf.” Theo reached down and picked up the discarded lacrosse ball, squeezing it slightly so more of the wolfsbane mist puffed out. “See? Not supernatural, but I am a concerned…scientist.”

“You…” Monroe tilted her head as she faced him, Brett forgotten for the moment. “You’re the one Nolan told me about. Theo, isn’t it?”

Well, he works fast. Guess it’s Gabe who trusts me. Theo smiled and inclined his head. “That’s right, and Brett is not going to be the first of the hunters’ prey. I need something from him, and you would do well not to get in my way, Monroe.”

“I don’t want to hurt a human.” She pulled a combat knife from her belt, glancing over one shoulder to ensure Brett was still on the ground before looking back at Theo. “But if you stand between us and them, you’ve chosen their side.”

“The world is not so black and white.” Theo replied slowly, reaching a hand into his pocket and sorting through the small balls inside until he found the one that felt completely smooth and silky. He withdrew his hand and looked down at Brett’s gasping form. “Werewolves aren’t all evil and hunters aren’t all good, and you should never under-estimate a wounded animal. Hah!” Theo shouted out loudly, smashing the sphere against the ground, an explosion of white smoke pouring out. “Run, Brett!”

The chimera shoved Monroe off her feet, grunting as he felt her knife slice through his arm, his own blood joining Brett’s on the ground. “C’mon!” Theo reached down and pulled Brett up, supporting the werewolf as they half-staggered, half-ran to the other side of the parking lot. He pushed Brett up against the side of his truck, sparing a quick glance over his shoulder to see Monroe still flailing wildly in the middle of the white fog. “Get in, we only have a few minutes before the toxin wears off and she realises we’ve escaped!”

“Yeah.” Brett managed, using his fingers to plug the wound in his chest, scrambling across the driver’s seat to collapse in the passenger’s one. “I’m in!”

“Ok, let’s go.” Theo flashed him a grin and climbed in after Brett. He gunned the engine, speeding out of the parking lot as Monroe let out an irritated scream. “Haha, never mess with a para-scientist! We got all the toys!”

“You’re insane…” Brett muttered, resting his head against the seat.

“So they say.” Theo shrugged and slowed down as they entered a residential district. “Are you healing yet?”

“No. The wolfsbane is still in there.” He groaned, arching up as a fresh flood of blood poured from his wound. “But still, I should be able to stop this…”

“It could be an advanced form of wolfsbane; I haven’t seen it that color when powdered before.” Theo frowned and turned down another quiet street. “I’ll flush from your system when we get to Corey’s house.”

“Corey?”

“Yeah, Mason will be there, and it’s less obvious than Liam’s house.” Theo explained, slowing down next to the curb. “Ok, looks like his parents are on another trip; that’s good, probably why they’re studying there.”

“Mmh.”

“I’ll help you out and then I’ll get my stuff.” Theo gestured behind him at the black boxes that filled the trunk, before stepping out and walking around to Brett’s side of the truck. “C’mon, I gotchu.”

Chapter Text

A strange thing happened to Theo as he helped Brett out of the SUV. It was as though he was suddenly, and smoothly, pulled out of his body and back into the cool night air, sound dulling around him. Now, Theo was watching himself support the bleeding werewolf and he drifted along behind them as they staggered across the somewhat too-long grass of Corey’s lawn. The door opened, and orange light spilled out, broken by shade and shadow and then the forms of Mason and Corey, their jaws slackened and hands rising slowly to help usher Brett and Theo inside.

The sensation vanished as quickly as it had come upon him and the sounds of panicked voices and thundering heartbeats crashed back onto Theo’s ears as he half-dragged, half-carried Brett into Corey’s house. The chimera didn’t have time to dwell on what had happened, his concentration pulled towards Brett’s suddenly lolling head and dangerously low pulse. Theo grunted at the couch and Mason darted forward to push aside the games controllers and bags of chips scattered across the cushions. “Thanks.”

“What’s wrong with him?!”

“He was attacked,” Theo backed off and glanced over his shoulder when Corey shut the door. “Some hunter in the parking lot of the school, she dosed Brett with a form of powdered wolfsbane I haven’t seen before, then stabbed him with the end of a broken lacrosse stick.”

“Fuck.” Corey muttered. “What do we do?”

“I’ll call Liam.” Mason said decisively and moved away from them, his hand slipping into his pocket.

“Yeah, that will help.” Theo replied absently, his gaze lingering on Corey’s new Battle Bunny. The rabbit was asleep on the coffee table in the center of the room, its fur changing colors every time Theo altered his position, blending into the differing backgrounds of the TV and nearby shelves. “Have you given him a name yet?”

“Huh? Oh…no, not yet.” Corey huffed, his cheeks flushing. “Mason said that the name I was going to call him was stup-not right for a Battle Bunny.”

Stupid, huh? Theo completed Corey’s answer silently, shifting his gaze to look at Mason instead. “What were you going to call him?”

“Mr Floppy Ears.”

“Heh.” Theo grinned at Corey’s mumbled reply and patted his shoulder supportively. “I guess it’s not exactly something that will inspire fear in the hearts of our enemies!”

“What enemies would those be?” Corey was looking at him, attention taken from Brett as the werewolf had slumped sideways.

“The hunters; they made it pretty clear that they’re back in business.” Theo crouched next to Brett and reached out a hand to press against his neck when Corey arched a brow. “Just making sure; pulse is still weakening, maybe there was something more to that poisonous mist he breathed in…”

“Liam is on his way,” Mason announced, returning to them. He gestured at Brett when Theo stood back up. “Is there nothing you can do for him?”

“Without understanding the chemical formula of what he’s absorbed…I don’t want to risk it.” Theo frowned, beginning to pace in front of them. “I have those tools available in the-” In the Zoo lab, but I can’t tell them that. And even the equipment I’m transferring from the Doctors’ old lab in the sewers won’t be much good; it’s designed for injection, not extraction. Hmm.

“Theo?” Corey was pulling on the edge of his shirt.

“Huh?”

“You zoned out!”

“Oh, sorry, I was thinking.” Theo shook his head. “I don’t think we should move Brett though; look at the wound.” He pointed at the dark stains around the werewolf’s pectoral muscle where the stick had been thrust inside. There was a black goop leaking from it, crusty at the outer edge, though still viscous at the center. “I haven’t seen anything like that before, maybe Liam has, but I’m betting that Brett needs a full blood swap.”

“What?” Mason quirked his brow, peering closer even as Corey gagged and backed away. “Why would you say that?”

“See this part?” Theo flicked a claw out and cut a narrow strip along Brett’s shirt, slicing the fabric away so they could get a better look at his wound. The chimera nodded at the tanned skin, tapping his finger gently on the toned flesh. “See here? Under the skin, the corruption flows along his veins, as expected when you expose a werewolf to wolfsbane. But this, this is unusual.”

“A thread of yellow running through the black.” Mason murmured, eyes slightly glazed over, following Theo’s tracing finger. “So…is that why you need to swap his blood?”

“Brett will keep making more of it as his body tries to combat the infection. We have a few hours.” Theo replied in a matter-of-the-fact tone. “The good news is that once I figure out what she added, I’ll be able to make an antidote; remove at least one advantage from them.”

“Err, good.”

“Liam’s here.” Corey spoke up, holding his now-solidly colored rabbit against his chest. “I’ll let him in.”

“Uh huh.” Theo nodded distractedly, eyes darting across Brett’s skin. But if we can’t move him, and I can’t get what I need here…then perhaps I can get someone to make the machines I’ll need. The chimera grinned suddenly, ignoring Mason’s disturbed expression. “Yes, that will do…”

 

“Theo! Are you alright?!” Liam strode into the sitting room, fear and anxiety on the gust of cold air that arrived before him. He grinned when Theo turned to him, the werewolf stepping forward into a momentary embrace. They pulled away somewhat reluctantly, Liam’s attention shifting onto Brett’s prone form. “At least he’s alive.”

“Yeah,” Theo shrugged, running his eyes over the fevered skin and sweat-dappled brow of the lacrosse player. “Well, his heart is beating, but that’s actually kind of a problem at the minute.”

“What?!”

“Uh, Theo said that the hunter used some sort of advanced wolfsbane on him.” Mason explained. “Something to do with…”

Theo let the conversation continue without him, his mind drifting back to when the Doctors did their experiments on werewolves; new techniques to harvest essence discovered and their weaknesses exposed. He became aware of a vibration along his leg and placed one hand on his pocket, before fishing out his phone. Gabe? Hell of a time, hunter! Theo slipped out of the room, Mason and Liam stuck in a conversation about the time twin assassins tried to kill him by trapping the new werewolf down a well, Mason becoming animated over the fact that Garrett had apparently sucked him off one time after lacrosse practice.

“Yes?” Theo whispered, standing at the window of Corey’s kitchen.

“Theo…what the hell is going on?!” Gabe’s voice was low and angry. “Monroe just came back from her hunt, marched over to me and Nolan and accused us of trying to set her up. Why did you help that werewolf?”

“Calm down, Gabe, the situation is under control.”

“If it was under control I wouldn’t feel like Monroe and the others are sharpening their knives and we’re their next target! Theo, you gotta give me something I can say to them, I can look after myself, but I need to protect Nolan, you understand me?”

“Perfectly.” Theo muttered, bowing his head. “Tell them…tell that I will brook no interference in my experiments and if they want to meet me in person, we can divide up Beacon Hills into appropriate hunting zones, and then I’d be happy to discuss who gets what werewolves.”

“I’m not sure they’ll be interested in something like that.” Gabe replied after a momentary silence. “Everything has been about killing the supernaturals, not capturing them, or curing them, like you said earlier. But I think she might accept the idea that you were protecting your interests, Monroe won’t like it, but she’ll accept it.”

“Good.”

“Things are getting serious, Theo.” Gabe said quietly. “In the summer it seemed fun; learn how to shoot a crossbow, peek behind the lies that have been covering up the truth and see the supernatural first hand. But now…”

“Now?” The chimera prompted him, hearing doubt in Gabe’s voice.

“Your idea is good, Theo, monsters are real, and they have a lot more power than we do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help them get back to the way they were.” The teenager sighed. “You’re the only one talking about saving everyone, so, I need to ask: does that include me and Nolan?”

“I guess I can take you in?” As what? Assistants? They don’t know the real plan, no one does. Theo shrugged, straining to listen as Gabe mumbled his next words indistinctly.

“Thanks, I…I gotta talk to Nolan, he’s not as convinced as I am about you.”

“Uh huh, great. I have to go.” Theo blinked and suddenly ended the call, sensing rather than hearing Liam’s presence behind him. The werewolf came closer, placing a hand on Theo’s back, but Liam quickly removed it when the chimera stiffened. “What?”

“Who was that?”

“No one.” Theo turned away from the window and walked back into the living room.

“Go again, Theo, I have ears.” Liam was glaring at him as they stopped next to the couches where Mason and Corey were sitting beside Brett.

“Fine, I was running interference.” The chimera looked at him, Liam’s arms folded across his chest and brow furrowed. “It will all become clearer soon.”

“That’s not good enough.” Liam shook his head firmly. “We’re meant to be together, but all you do is keep secrets! How am I meant to trust you? How am I meant-”

“ARGGGHHHH!” Brett screamed suddenly, cutting across Liam’s voice. The stricken werewolf’s eyes flicked open, bloodshot and sickly yellow as his spine arched upwards in an unnatural posture, his mouth opening, more screams tumbling forth. “AHHH!”

“Fuck!” Theo growled and rushed over to him. The chimera gestured for Liam to help him push Brett back into the seat and placed his hands on Brett’s shoulders. “Easy, easy!”

“Arghh!”

“Tear his shirt off!” Theo commanded and gripped Brett’s jaw tight, so he could look into the werewolf’s eyes without him thrashing around. “The corruption is speeding up.”

“I’ll say.” Liam muttered, and Theo glanced down, grimacing along with his boyfriend when he saw the heavy, black lines of wolfsbane poisoning spider-webbing across Brett’s muscular chest. “He won’t be quiet, fuck! Corey, what if your neighbors call the cops?”

“Oh, they probably won’t.” The younger chimera shrugged nonchalantly. “Screaming and shouting is nothing new. Mr Thompson is deaf in one ear anyway, so I don’t think he’s ever noticed, and the Carlsons only called the cops once after it happened in the back yard. He got smart after that…”

“Err, right.” Liam muttered, the three of them staring at Corey’s suddenly hard expression. “Um, Theo?”

“Yeah?”

“What do you think we should do?”

“I know you want me to renounce violence, Liam, but I was thinking maybe we could make a small exception.” Theo growled, his eyes glowing bright. “And deal with Mr Bryant’s temper once and-”

“What? No!” Liam grabbed his arm as Corey picked up Mr Floppy Ears again and walked away from the group. “Not, not that…I meant, Brett. What do we do for Brett?”

“Right, of course.” Theo whispered, letting his claws retract. He swallowed and turned his attention back to Brett. “It’s what I told Mason and Corey: I need to swap out his blood and purge the corruption once I figure out what the agent is that was introduced to the wolfsbane.”

“Oh, nice and simple then.” Liam muttered with a glare.

“It can be.” Theo stepped back from Brett and looked at Corey. “I need you to take us under, Phase Walker.”

“I was afraid you might ask me that.” Corey frowned, nodding slowly. “The World In-Between?”

“That should do.”

 

“What?” Liam was looking between them, the hot, dry scent of his anger filling the air. “What are you guys talking about? And what the hell is a Phase Walker?”

“You’ll see late-”

“No, Theo, now!” The werewolf growled.

“It would be easier to just show you. I told Mason before, but it’s kinda hard to explain without seeing it for yourself.” Corey interjected before Theo could reply. Liam turned his glare on him and the Phase Walker glared back. “Well, ok, I guess we can spare the time to explain it all to you right now, it’s not like Brett is bleeding to death because of an unknown strain of mountain ash! Oh, wait…”

Theo hid his smirk at the younger chimera’s sudden tenacity. He turned back to Brett instead and reached out a hand to touch his fevered cheek. “It’ll be alright soon, don’t worry.”

“My sister…” Brett managed through clenched teeth. “Lori, Satomi, my pack, they need me.”

“We have to help you first, if they’re being targeted in the same way, we should be able to protect them once I know what’s affecting you.” Theo looked at Liam for help, seeing his boyfriend glower at him before walking to Brett’s other side. “You probably don’t trust me, but trust Liam, he’ll be coming with us.”

“I thought you said you couldn’t move him?” Mason asked as Liam remained silent.

“We won’t have to move him far.” The chimera glanced at Corey, darting to one side to let the Phase Walker stand in the middle. He reached out his hands across Brett’s torso, one hand on his chest, the other touching Liam’s arm. Liam stared at him, about to speak when Corey grasped Theo’s hand and leaned against Mason’s shoulder, his Battle Bunny clutched tight. “Now!”

“Yeah.” Corey’s eyes flared with a brilliant white light for a moment before the corona enveloped them and a moment later the familiar emptiness of the World In-Between surrounded them. “We’re here.”

 

“Oh…” Liam was looking around himself at the brilliant whiteness, his mouth open.

“Corey is a Phase Walker, he has access to all the Phased Worlds,” Theo explained simply. “Well, he’s a chimera Phase Walker, but since that race is extinct, I don’t think anyone is going to challenge the definition. This is a safe place, bound only by Corey’s imagination, and right now, we really need a bed.”

“Right.” Corey muttered, frowning for a second until a comfortable queen-sized bed appeared from thin air next to them, plump pillows and a soft, brown comforter on top. He grinned at Mason, his boyfriend’s eyes widening in response.

“Give me a hand, Liam.” Theo gestured at Brett, lying on the white ground in the position he had appeared in the Phase. Together, they were able to lift his body up and place him on the bed. “Good, but the other things I’m going to need are a little more complex, Corey.”

“Figured as much.”

“So, you can create anything?!” Mason asked excitedly, his scent shifting rapidly from excitement to arousal to curiosity and back to anticipation again. “That’s awesome!”

“Yeah, but I have to know what I’m creating.” Corey’s brow furrowed as he looked at Theo. “I don’t know science stuff.”

“That’s what the rabbit is for.” Theo gestured at Mr Floppy Ears. “He doesn’t just augment your powers or boost your ability to travel through the Phases easily, he can…interpret things.”

“What, like mind reading?” Liam stepped away from Brett and back to them. “I thought it was just one of your bunnies, Theo.”

“I know: ‘crazy Theo and his army of critters!’ huh?” The chimera smiled a little too wide, smelling the sudden unease from Liam and Mason. He turned away quickly and crouched next to Mr Floppy Ears, extending his hand, palm outwards. The rabbit lifted a paw and touched it against Theo’s hand, the creature’s camouflaged fur changing to all black for a moment. It stepped back and returned to Corey’s feet, coat fading from black to grey and then back to white. “You should begin to see the machines now, Corey.” Theo looked at him, seeing the Phase Walker nod, wordlessly backing off and going around the bed to Brett’s other side.

“So, what just happened?”

“The rabbit is able to transfer knowledge from direct interface-touching-from one person to the Phase Walker, allowing him to build whatever that person saw and bring it forth here.” Theo explained to Liam, smelling Mason’s conflicting emotions again. The werewolf’s lips were parted, and Theo reached out, placing his right hand on Liam’s muscular forearm. “I promise, there’ll be a time when I can sit down with you and this will all make sense.”

“It better, Theo.” Liam muttered darkly. “No more secrets, understand? You explain everything tonight.”

“Deal.” The chimera inclined his head and gently squeezed with his hand. He could hear a series of large pops and associated gasps from Mason behind him, even Liam smelling surprised. “Ah, thank you, Corey, time to begin the extraction process!”

“You don’t have to sound so excited…” Brett whispered feebly, the corruption now lancing its way up his neck.

 

Theo watched approvingly as the arcanely twisted tubes of glass were filled with a clear liquid and short streams of bubbles rose through the elaborate plumbing that now surrounded the bed on which Brett lay. The other three had stepped back, silently observing as Theo paced around the contraption, adding colorful elixirs from strangely shaped bottles and foul smelling unguents from pots that Corey summoned after another interaction between the older chimera and Mr Floppy Ears.

Theo picked up a large, wicked-looking needle and turned towards Brett. “I’m not gonna lie, this is gonna hurt like hell.”

“Just do it!” Brett groaned, his claws digging into the bedspread as the corruption marched relentlessly up his jawline.

“Yeah,” Theo murmured, lining up the long, thin needle over Brett’s chest, above where his heart was racing. “Hold still now…” He pushed the needle into the werewolf’s pec, ignoring his howl and yanked the plunger upwards, filling the metal chamber with black blood. Theo withdrew quickly and moved gracefully back to his machines, an old tune escaping from his lips as his mind focused on the task at hand.

“Ugh, you do know what you’re doing, right?” Brett managed, sweat dripping from his face onto the fabric of the comforter beneath him.

“I’ve seen it done before: The Doctors once tried to create a chimera with molten lava for blood. He turned out to be too heavy to move though, so they extracted his blood and replaced it with a venom mix; it didn’t work very well, and he died several days later.” Theo replied conversationally, tipping the contents of a beaker into a large round-bottomed flask. He added the tainted blood a moment later and nodded as the liquid hissed and spat on contact. “Ah, so it is wolfsbane after all, and it smells…like strawberries.”

“Really?” Liam arched a brow when Theo looked his way.

“When exposed to this catalyst, yes.” The chimera frowned in concentration. “Hmm, red wolfsbane, I think, yes, oh, that’s a very rare plant. It’s a climbing variety, found in China and other parts of Asia. That makes it easier, I just need to…” Theo trailed off and gestured for Liam to approach him.

“What?”

“I need some of your plasma.”

“Uh, what?!”

“I’ll clone it.” Theo pointed at one of the other archaic machines next to them, this one had tubes and glass jars attached to a dizzying array of nozzles and taps along a central metal box of cast iron. “Then I’ll extract Brett’s blood, clean the poison and re-inject the cleaned blood with your plasma so he can heal normally. I need it to be a real werewolf otherwise I’d use my own.”

“Err, I don’t know.” Liam stepped back uncertainly as Theo looked at him in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. “Um, is it gonna hurt?”

“No, and I don’t need much, only a litre.”

“That all, huh?” Mason muttered.

“I can try and create some?” Corey offered, but Theo shook his head.

“It won’t be the same.” The chimera huffed at Liam and turned away. “Fine, I’ll do it another way-”

“No, wait, I’ll give it to you, Theo.” Liam grabbed his arm and thrust out his own. “I can trust you.”

“Thanks.”

 

The chimera watched as Brett slumped back, the color slowly returning to his face and the corruption purged from his body. Theo held a glass beaker to the stab wound and collected the foul ooze as it was pushed out of him, Brett’s blood becoming a rich crimson shade a few moments later. “Good, you’ll heal fully in about an hour, make sure you eat this chocolate bar, ok?” Theo raised his hand and Corey frowned next to him, the older chimera grunting when an elaborate ice cream sundae appeared in his grasp. “Not exactly what I was thinking, Corey.”

“Sorry, I tried to give you a chocolate bar, but me and Mason were about to open the Ben and Jerry’s when you and Brett arrived.” Corey looked wistfully at the ice cream. “It’s probably sitting there on the counter, melting…”

“Didn’t you say time moves differently in this place?” Mason rubbed a comforting hand on his boyfriend’s back. “Maybe it’ll still be frozen?”

“Priorities, guys!” Liam snapped, gesturing at Brett. “Are you sure he’ll be alright, Theo?”

“I’m sure.” Theo stepped away from the group and picked up a long glass test tube from the table nearby, stoppering it with a glass plug. He handed it to Liam gingerly. “When we return to the real world, I’m guessing Brett will want to go find his sister and pack, if they’ve been dosed with the same red wolfsbane, you need to give them each a sip of this antidote. There’s enough for you too, so don’t take any risks.”

“Thanks.” Liam accepted the tube, his fingers lingering on Theo’s before he moved away. “Wait, are you sure it will come back with us? This place is so…weird, and white.”

“It’ll come back.” Theo nodded, catching Corey’s attention. “Anything you make here, Phase Walker, can exist in all the Worlds. It is a great opportunity, but also a great burden; you must ensure that nothing is created that can endanger the other Worlds.”

“I understand.” Corey replied quietly and sat down on one of the chairs that suddenly materialized some feet away from Brett’s bed.

“I’m not sure I do.” Liam was looking at Theo again, this time his expression was cold and hard. “And not just about this place, but back in Corey’s house, you were talking to someone. Who was he, Theo? What are you planning?”

Theo glanced at Corey, seeing the younger chimera incline his head slowly. “Yeah, ok, I guess I can tell you, you did trust me enough to help Brett. I’ve been talking to these two, um, hunters-in-training, I suppose-”

“Fuck!” Liam cursed loudly, glaring at him. “What the hell are you thinking, Theo?! You said that hunters attacked Brett!”

“One hunter, likely the group’s leader based on what Gabe and Nolan have told me.” Theo replied calmly. He watched as Liam’s eyes widened and his scent changed from anger to surprise. “Yeah, they’re teenagers.”

“Nolan is on the lacrosse team.” The werewolf deflated, shaking his head slowly. “Don’t know about Gabe though.”

“He’s in my Creative Writing class.” Corey volunteered, watching their argument. “He’s, um, kinda intense, talented though.”

“They haven’t done anything wrong…yet.” Theo said, addressing Liam again. “And we have an opportunity to recruit them, well, I do. Gabe trusts me, don’t think Nolan does, but Gabe said he’s working on that. What I do know is that Monroe is the name of their leader; the woman who attacked Brett.”

“Monroe?” Mason gasped. “The Guidance Counsellor?”

“Hmm, makes sense that she’s at the school.” The chimera pursed his lips, seeing Corey nod his way. “I’ve been lying to them, presenting myself as a human to win their trust.”

“And you didn’t want to break that illusion when you confronted her?” Brett was standing upright, his skin returned to its clear complexion and healthy color. He moved away from the bed and grasped the back of Corey’s chair to support himself. “So, she wouldn’t tell your hunter friends that you are a supernatural?”

“Something like that.” Theo admitted.

“Does that have anything to do with your request for, uh, essence?”

“Theo?” Liam was looking at him suspiciously, his brow furrowing deeper when the chimera didn’t answer. “What’s he talking about?”

Theo remained silent, wetting his lips and glancing from side to side, eyes taking in the gleaming, endless whiteness all around them. They were still waiting on an answer, but he just shook his head. “No.”

“Theo,” Corey stood up and placed his hand on the older chimera’s arm. “You should just tell them, I mean, I can show them, if that’s easier?”

“Fine.”

“Ok.” The Phase Walker stepped back and gestured for them to clear out of his way. A moment of stillness hung over the group before the air in front of them shimmered and the rippled as though it was a pool of water recently disturbed by a stone. The details were murky at first, becoming sharper as Corey concentrated and Theo watched emotionlessly when the Doctors’ Library was recreated from the Phase Walker’s memory. Rows of empty rabbit shells were highlighted in a strange golden light that seemed to come from every angle, though Theo noticed that the Dread Bunnies were absent from Corey’s reconstruction of his workshop. “Now, Theo, you can tell them.”

 

“I’ve been pulling away from you.” Theo spoke at last, addressing Liam as he walked backwards into the imitation library. “It’s been deliberate.”

“I’ve noticed.”

“No doubt, but I have my reasons.” He took a deep breath and pointed at the empty rabbit shells. “These were meant to ensure that nothing would threaten Beacon Hills, I would have gathered those who sought to do us harm, the supernatural and the humans, and trapped them inside the rabbits. The conversion process would have kept their personalities intact but stopped them from being able to hurt anyone.”

“Theo-”

“No, please let me speak, let me finish, and then you can judge me.” Theo continued quickly. “I figured out the process from the notes the Doctors left behind; how to make transformable animals. I just expanded their purpose; but to achieve the security I was after…well, I just don’t have the time. Another solution had to be found; a way to create a supernatural defensive force to protect Beacon Hills.”

“And this is why you need, uh, essence?”

“Yeah, Brett, that’s why. You’d be fine, by the way, I can extract a sample without harming you or stripping your powers away.” Theo paused, avoiding their judgemental eyes. “The Pathologist did theorize that such an operation would be possible however: that full extraction of a supernatural creature’s essence would return them to a human-like state, but he never got to test that out.”

“Comforting.” Brett muttered darkly.

“My plan, Liam, is to harvest essence from whoever is willing to give it to me, so I can create an army of guardian bunnies to protect Beacon Hills.” Theo finished quietly, folding his arms across his chest. “I want to correct the legacy left by the Dread Doctors, make it better, make my own mark before I go…back.”

“Where are you going?” Liam came close to him, confusion rolling off him in waves. “I don’t understand.”

“You will in a minute.” Theo looked at Corey. “Show them.”

“It’s just an effect of stepping through the Phases, Theo.”

“No, it isn’t. Show them.” Theo replied firmly, raising his hands as Corey frowned and the coiled shadows around Theo’s knees and thighs were suddenly revealed. Wispy darkness waved back and forth as the chimera walked away from the recreation of the Doctors’ lab, and Theo glanced at Liam’s worried expression, a smile playing about his lips. “Soon I will be returned to the depths, where Tara will be waiting for me. I’m not quite as mad as you all seem to think I am.”