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Vernon Boyd's Home For Kids Who Can't Talk About Their Feelings Good and Want to Learn to Be Good People Too

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The first time Theo sees him, he attacks.

 

He bolts upright in his bed, panting as he tries to regain his breathe, images of Tara ripping her heart back out from his chest overwhelming his brain. Theo rests his right hand over his heart, minimally comforted by the thumpthumpthump of the still beating organ in his chest.

 

“You good, dude?” an unknown voice shouts from the living room.

 

Theo panics as he doesn’t recognize the voice, heart thundering in his chest as he shifts his eyes to gold and drops his fangs. He listens closely for the sound of another heartbeat, but besides his own thundering one, he hears nothing else in the loft with him.

 

Opening the bedroom door, Theo allows his claws to elongate, silently creeping down the stairs to confront the intruder. His instincts are split between RUN THE FUCK AWAY and KILL THE INTRUDER , but he hasn’t had a place of his own in...well, forever, and he’s not going to give it up so easily.

 

Theo presses his body flush against the wall, listening harder for any sounds of the intruder. The Dread Doctors had taught him how to calm his heart rate during a lie, but to completely eliminate the sound? Impossible. Unless the creature was dead.

 

Theo mentally rolls his eyes. Just his luck.

 

He turns the corner, body in a slight crouch as he stalks towards the area he heard the voice come from. The living room is clear, but as Theo moves closer to the kitchen, he sees the outline of the trespasser.

 

The invader is male, human looking, and is nonchalantly seated on the kitchen counter, long legs dangling back and forth as he watches Theo from his perch.

 

“Why are you in my house?” Theo growls, standing up straighter while keeping a watchful eye on him. His muscles are still tense, ready to pounce at any moment.

 

The boy is large, definitely bigger than Theo, with dark skin and a muscular frame. He’s wearing a black leather jacket over a white shirt, paired with jeans and black combat boots. Theo thinks they might be the same age, but it’s hard to tell with the soft, ethereal glow emanating from the boy.

 

“I live here, too,” he replies, a slight mocking smile blossoming on his face. “Or did Derek forget to mention me?”

 

“What are you?” Theo asks, leaning his right shoulder against the wall as he assesses the man. He crosses his arms over his chest, making sure his sharp claws are visible as he refuses to rise to the bait.

 

There’s still no heartbeat, and he doesn’t have a scent.

 

It annoys Theo, because he can’t think of any creature he learned about with the Dread Doctors that fit this profile.   

 

The larger boy lifts his right hand up, positioning it in front of his face, palm facing Theo. Theo watches, face emotionless, as the boys claws spring free.

 

Theo growls deep in his chest, dropping into a low crouch as the other boy slides off the counter. He flashes his werewolf eyes, and the creature in front of him flashes his eyes golden in return

 

“What do you want?” Theo bites out, having difficulty talking around his fangs.

 

“I’m just here to help,” the boy calmly answers, returning his features back to human. He holds his hands up in front of his chest, defensively, as if to say he isn’t a threat.

 

As the boy gradually approaches him, Theo scoffs at the nice-guy charade.

 

He reminds himself that the thing doesn’t have a heartbeat. And who does have a heartbeat? Theo. And who repeatedly has his heart ripped out? Theo.

 

Nine out of ten times, it’s Tara slamming her hand through his rib cage to pull her heart back out. He doesn’t blame her. Theo knows he stole her life from her, and if he was her? He’d take any revenge offered to him.

 

But sometimes, his subconscious gets creative and draws up new, interesting horrors for him to endure. Sometimes it’s Derek, sometimes it’s Peter or Scott or Lydia….but usually, it’s Liam.   

 

And now it’s crafting new people to infiltrate his house, the one place he finally allowed himself to feel safe in. He knew he shouldn’t let his guard down, shouldn’t get comfortable, and now he’s paying the price.

 

Theo lets him get close enough before he swipes his right hand out, expecting claws to rip into the thing in front of him. And it does, sort of, but as he attempts to tear his claws through the flesh of the boys arm, nothing happens. Confused, he strikes out with his left hand, claws gliding over the surface of its cheek. There’s no blood, no tearing of the skin and no sense that the creature felt anything. It eyes him with his arms crossed over its chest, so in a last ditch effort, Theo roughly shoves him. His hands touch the creature, but even though he’s pushing his hardest, it doesn’t move.

 

The boy sighs, before pushing him back with one hand, and Theo goes flying into the wall behind him.

 

“Oh, shit, my bad dude!” The boy exclaims, extending a hand to Theo to help him up. “Still getting used to this whole being dead thing.”

 

Theo ignores the offered hand and has barely registered the comment before he’s sprinting out of the loft, grabbing his car keys off the coffee table, and slamming the door closed on his way out. He finds his truck in the underground lot, too scared to look back to see if he’s being followed.

 

It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream, it’s just a dream!

 

He repeats the mantra in his head, over and over again, hands hitting the steering wheel in frustration as he drops his keys for the second time because they are shaking so badly.

 

Theo finally gets the truck to start, tires squealing as he throws it into reverse, exiting the parking garage and pulling onto the streets of Beacon Hills. He keeps driving, no clear destination in mind, thoroughly unsure what to do next.

 

Scott wasn’t in town, not that Theo would really go to him anyways. Derek lived a few blocks down from him and likely had some answers for him seeing as how the thing mentioned the older werewolf. But it was...Theo glances down at the clock, 2:45am...he’d go to Derek in the morning, or ya know, when he wakes up.

 

Driving in a daze, Theo is startled to recognize the familiar houses he’s passing by. Without thinking too much about it so he doesn’t lose his nerve (because even in his own dreams, he’s still weak around a certain beta), he switches the car into park on the side of the street, riffles through the back seat to grab his duffle bag, and jumps out of the car, locking it behind him as he goes.

 

As far as nightmares go, this is an unusual one, even for Theo’s standards. He normally doesn’t have as much control over the scenery, but he’s not going to question it too much, less his mind draws up a new trauma for him in the house he’s about to sneak in to.

 

He darts across the street, quietly walking through the dewy lawn as he approaches the oak tree on the side of the two-story house. Theo slings the strap of his duffle bag over his shoulder, grabs the lowest branch, and gracefully hoists himself up. Climbing a few more branches, Theo reaches the desired window on the second floor, carefully opening it. He ducks through the open window, drops his bag, and removes his shoes, lightly crawling onto the bed, careful not to startle its owner.

 

“Theo?” the owner questions, voice laced with sleep.

 

“Shh, go back to sleep Little Wolf, it’s just a dream” Theo says, snuggling under the covers as he pulls the smaller boy to his chest.

 

Liam is shirtless, skin radiating a satisfying heat that Theo greedily soaks in. He’s always just so cold in his nightmares. Liam’s warmth is a welcome relief.

 

“What are you doing here?” Liam asks, turning over to nuzzle his face into Theo’s neck.

 

“It’s just a dream,” Theo reassures the boy, resting his chin on top of the beta’s head.

 

“Okay,” Liam accepts, placing a small kiss on Theo’s neck before closing his eyes.

 

Theo smiles to himself in the darkness. As far as nightmares went, this one didn’t turn out so bad.


The second time Theo sees him, he asks some questions

 

Theo wakes the next morning, bewildered. Eyes still closed, he feels a heavy weight on his back  and a sharp pain in his chest. All at once, his senses are overwhelmed by Liam’s scent and the smell of his own blood. Fear clutches his chest as time seems to stop, his breath coming in short huffs. He feels each individual trail of his own blood dripping down his chest, the coppery scent making him nauseous. Was he ever going to wake up?

 

“Was goin’ on?” Liam mumbles, pressing closer to his back as he noses along Theo’s neck. “You smell funny.”

 

“Just do it,” he grits out, panicked, unsure what’s going on. Was he still dreaming? He had to be, why else would he be in Liam’s bed with Liam’s claws digging into his chest?

 

“Do what? This?” Liam asks, and Theo squeezes his eyes closed in preparation for the pain he knew was coming.

 

But instead of ripping his heart out, Liam begins to trail soft kisses down his arm, retracting his claws as he does so.

 

“Mmmm, sorry for the scratches,” Liam smirks. Before Theo can react, Liam is pulling him onto his back, straddling him, strong legs locking him in place. “But I know you like it like that.”

 

Liam grins lazily down at him, hair wild from sleep but eyes bright and sparkling. Theo, speechless, admires the view of Liam’s cut abs and strong, defined shoulders.

 

“You’re cute in the morning,” he says, tongue darting out quickly to moisten his lips. “Even if you’re quiet and grumpy.” Theo mimics the movement as the beta lowers his head down, his long hair falling around his face and tickling Theo’s nose.

 

Their lips brush briefly, Theo letting out a soft moan before Liam pulls slightly back to give him a smug grin.   

 

“Liam?” he chokes out, still terrified but now for a different reason. Theo’s never had a dream like this before...or well, he doesn’t remember having one..

 

Liam kisses his cheek with a dramatic ‘smooch’ sound, before leaning further down to run his nose along Theo’s neck. Theo shifts his head slightly to the left, exposing more of his neck for the beta.

 

The beta moans loudly at the unspoken symbol of submission.

 

“Are you scenting me?” Theo laughs, enjoying the unfamiliar sensation of having someone touch him, someone he has come to care deeply about for the first time in his life.

 

He knows it isn’t real, and he knows he doesn’t deserve this. But in the dark, hidden depths of his mind, he could allow himself some simple pleasures. No one had to know.  

 

“You never smell like yourself in my dreams,” he answers, and Theo moans softly as the beta gently bites along the pulse point in his neck.

 

Theo understands what Liam means, because even in his nightmares, the only thing he can ever smell is himself; his scent, his blood, his fear.

 

They both realize it at the same time.

 

“Oh my god, THEO?!” Liam screeches, voice going so high Theo has to cover his ears. The beta jumps off him, scrambling to the farthest corner at the end of the bed. “What the fuck are you doing here?”

 

“I sleep walked,” he says casually, ignoring the sinking feeling in his chest as he discerns he’s about to lose the only friend he has. “Dream about me often?” His mouth shifts into a smirk on its own accord.

“No!” Liam cries, grabbing a blanket off the bed and curling it into a ball. He holds it to his chest like some sort of makeshift teddy bear. Theo doesn’t have to be a werewolf to hear the lie.

 

“Just nightmares.” He glares at Theo, daring him to challenge the comment

 

Theo nods, slipping his mask back on. He was sure a few pack members had nightmares about him.

 

“Well, this sleepover has been fun, Little Wolf, but I have things to do.”

 

Theo pushes the covers away from him and climbs off the bed, grateful he went to bed in sweats and a tank top last night.

 

“No, wait! Shouldn’t we talk about...this?” Liam’s shuffled to the opposite corner of the bed, blue eyes ablaze as they look up at him.

 

“Like you said earlier, I’m not really in the talking mood,” Theo answers blandly, swiping a red hoodie off Liam’s chair, not noticing the name “Dunbar” printed on the back in white lettering. He yanks it over his head, comforted by the beta’s scent swirling around him.

 

Liam doesn’t say anything, but his eyes soften as he examines the chimera in his lacrosse hoodie. It’s tight on Theo, hugging his shoulders and chest like a glove. When Theo lifts his hand up to smooth back his ruffled hair, the hoodie rides up to show a sliver of his abdomen.

 

“You can make breakfast,” Liam says, crossing his arms over his chest as he drags his eyes back up to meet Theo’s.

 

Theo raises an eyebrow in response.

 

“Since you gave me a heart attack and all.” Liam’s tone is defiant, and Theo just knows Liam is 100% ready to launch a persuasive argument if need be.

 

Theo rolls his eyes, torn between fleeing the awkwardness but also selfishly wanting to spend more time with the younger boy. Plus, leaving Liam’s means going home, and he’s not ready to face that or seek Derek out just yet.

 

“Fine, but I choose what we eat,” Theo answers, lips quirking up at the excited grin Liam gives him in return.

 

When he heard Hayden and Liam broke up, the unparalleled amount of joy Theo felt made him realize he had some sort of... feelings…. for Liam. The “more than just friends” kind of feelings.

 

He’s not sure when it first started, maybe when she moved, but after the hunters left town, Theo gradually recognized Liam was his anchor. He felt calmer when he was near the beta, more in control, more grounded. They hung out a lot, usually playing video games or watching movies to “educate” Theo after his “deprived childhood” (Liam’s words, of course). Sometimes they went out as a group with Corey and Mason, usually going bowling or dancing at Sinema.

 

Theo knew Liam would never feel the same way. And he tried to leave, tried to spend less time with the beta and more time holed up in his loft. But Liam didn’t take too kindly to being ignored, and all but hunted him down to demand an explanation.

 

Theo lied his ass off, not expecting the boy to even notice his missing presence. He put on an Oscar worthy performance depicting how he was just so busy remodeling and not purposefully ignoring Liam, and he was just so very sorry if Liam took it that way. He even showed him the loft blueprints as proof of his claims, having redesigned the rest of the building’s lower floors into a skatepark for him and Liam. How he was going to build that?... he had no fucking clue, but it gave him something productive to do besides wallow in self pity.

 

Derek was the pack member that found Theo living out of his truck, catching him early one morning on the edge of the preserve. He had taken a job as a police officer alongside Parrish and Stiles’s dad to assist with the growing number of supernatural residents in Beacon Hills and had been the one patrolling the preserve that night.

 

Theo tried to lie his way out of it, claiming he had car problems and was just too tired to deal with it that night, and, “ Why are you insinuating I should be on the road while tired, isn’t that dangerous?”

 

Derek had grilled him, question after question, until eventually Theo talked himself in a circle, accidentally admitting his home was his truck after twenty minutes of brutal interrogation.

 

“I know,” Derek answered gruffly, clearly trying to keep a smile off his face. “Solid quick thinking on your feet, though.”

 

Theo glared at him, unable to control the scent of embarrassment before Derek picked it up.

 

Derek sighed, switching the flashlight off. He flicked a claw out, impressively unlocking Theo’s front door. He slid into the driver’s seat, relocking all four doors, before turning to look at a wide-eyed Theo in the backseat.

 

“Are you kidnapping me?” Theo snapped, internally debating if he could outrun the older werewolf.

 

“Yeah, technically,” Derek bluntly answered, finding the car keys sitting on the dashboard. “Come sit up here, though, so I don’t feel like a chauffeur.”   

 

Theo warily climbed over the seat, buckling his seatbelt as Derek maneuvered the vehicle back onto the road.

 

“Please don’t take me to Scott,” Theo whispered, fingers tapping back and forth across his thigh. “I don’t need his pity.”

 

Theo gazed out the window, staring blankly as the trees flew by. He could feel Derek roll his eyes.

 

“I’m not taking you to anyone,” Derek replied, eyes firmly on the road ahead. “And trust me, no one pities you.”

 

“I don’t blame them,” he answered. Derek glanced over at him, but didn’t say anything.

 

The rest of the drive was silent, with Derek guiding the car into an underground parking garage somewhere downtown. They both exited the vehicle, Theo following a short, yet safe distance behind, still debating on making a run for it. But curiosity won out, and he watched as Derek typed a code into the keypad on the door, holding it open for Theo as they entered the building.

 

They took an elevator up to the top floor, Theo matching the ding of the floor numbers with the tapping of his finger along his thigh. Eventually the elevator opened to reveal a large, metal door, which Derek opened to reveal a loft apartment.

 

“Nice digs, but isn’t taking an offender to your apartment in return for keeping them out of jail, ya know...illegal?”

 

Theo said it with confidence, sarcasm dripping with each word, but internally, he was freaking out.

 

“I’m only going to say this once, so listen closely, Theo.” Derek closed the door behind them, expression serious as he faced Theo. “You need a place to stay. I own this entire building. I hate this building. Why? Too many bad memories. So, either I pay thousands of dollars to knock it down and then let Peter buy you some overly expensive condo, or I give you this building, and the police department, me especially, has significantly less paperwork to deal with.”

 

“Wait, rewind to the Peter thing,” Theo demanded, mind spinning as he tried to process the onslaught of information

 

“You know he’s fond of you,” Derek replies awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head. It was the first time he showed any discomfort since he found Theo.

 

The chimera’s mouth dropped in horror as a blush burned across his cheeks. Yep, he definitely needed to get out of there.

 

“Jesus, Theo!” Derek shifted his body so he was blocking the door, sensing Theo’s instinct to flee. “Not like that, get your mind out of the gutter. You’re like another kid to him, but more like him than Malia.”

 

“You mean more evil.” Theo stated, face expressionless.

 

“Correct term is ‘eviler’,’ but I’d say more cunning; he’d say more intelligent, but don’t repeat any of that in front of his actual kid.”

 

“I still don’t see how my life affects either of you.” Theo intended for the statement to sound flippant, but even to his own ears, he sounded whiney.

 

“Both of us have killed people and done shitty things, me less so than Peter,” Derek explained, moving away from the door now that he no longer categorized the chimera as a flight risk. Theo followed him into the newly re-designed kitchen, taking a tentative seat on one of the barstools as Derek scoured through the fridge. “But we know what it’s like to want to redeem yourself, to try to be a better person. With Peter, he’ll expect something in return for helping you -”

 

“Everyone wants something in return when they help you,” Theo interjected, taking a sip from the water bottle Derek had just placed in front of him. “Nothing is free. My question is, what do you want, Derek? No bullshit this time.”

 

“Okay,” Derek nodded. “I want you to take a DNA test to prove you aren’t another spawn of my charming uncle.” The older werewolf squints at him. “I kinda see the resemblance.”

 

Theo huffed in agitation. “I’m serious, what do you want?”

 

“I want you to stop being an ungrateful little shit, take these keys, sign the papers on the coffee table, and stop asking twenty million questions so I can go back to work.”

 

Theo was so surprised by the abrupt change in demeanor, he signed the papers without another word.

 

Now, he’s starting to wish he had asked some more informed questions about the property.

Chapter Text

 

Liam and Theo spent the morning together, lounging languidly on the plush couch playing video games after a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast.

 

Theo wasn’t thrilled to go home, but he wasn’t the type to let adversity turn him into a cowardly, quivering mess, either. He faced his problems head on and would find a way to remove the creature-man-thing from the premise...at least that’s what he told himself.

 

Theo pauses outside the front door, futilely listening for any unusual sounds coming from the loft. Hearing nothing, but knowing that didn’t mean anything with this thing , he swiftly slides the door open. Shoulders tense and claws out (they may be ineffective, but they gave him a sense of security, okay), Theo instantly sees the boy seated on his couch, feet crossed over one another as they rest on his clean coffee table. His hands are laced together behind his head, and he’s leaning back like he doesn’t have a care in the world.

 

Theo feels the growl rumbling through his chest on its own volition. Who did this guy think he was?

 

“Can I help you, sir ?” he asks, voice dripping with sarcasm.

 

“Nah, I’m good,” the other guy laughs, mirth evident on his handsome face.

 

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to put your feet up on a stranger’s table?” Theo glowered, awkwardly closing the door behind him to avoid turning his back to the boy. The intruder didn’t seem like he wanted to harm Theo, but as he knew from personal experience, those were usually the ones to watch out for.

 

“Dead people don’t really care about manners,” the boy says nonchalantly, face impassive as he waits for Theo’s reaction.

 

Theo’s heart rate spikes at the mention of the word “dead”, but other than that, he keeps his expression blank.

 

“So, are you haunting me?” Theo asks, silently praying to any existing deity that the boy says no. “Or this loft?”

 

“Technically, yes,” the dead boy answers with a nod, eyes bright with mischief

 

Theo’s heart rate is roaring in his ears, so loud that he’s sure the dead people buried in the cemetery across town can hear it from inside their coffins.

 

“Okay,” he replies, dragging the word out as his instincts rage in his head.

 

On one hand, he just wants to run the fuck out the door, tell Derek “thanks but no thanks,” and watch from a very far distance as the building is demolished, preferably by cannons. And maybe also purchase a flamethrower to douse the ruble in a sufficient amount of fire to burn for a solid week, ozone layer be damned.

 

On the other hand, he hasn’t had such a comfortable living space in like, ever, and he’s not ready to give that up just yet. Sure, he spends most of his time with Liam, anyways, because living alone can be well...lonely, but it’s still just fucking nice to have a place to call home. A place that’s his, and not a dank, musty, closet-sized room in a tunnel. And yeah, he knows he doesn’t deserve something like this after all that he’s done, but he’s selfish, and he doesn’t care, and he wants .

 

“Are you a ghost?” Theo questions when the boy doesn’t say anything else. He lets his fingers tap a quick back and forth rhythm against his thigh as it mimics his still pounding heartbeat.  

 

The boy snorts.

 

“Dude, you ask a lot of questions. Let me lay it out for you,” he begins, and Theo’s momentarily reminded of Derek’s demeanor when he first brought Theo to the loft. “My name is Boyd. I am dead. That means, my life has ended. Do you follow so far?” Boyd starts, using his hands in exaggerated gestures to highlight his points. On the word “dead,” he makes a little ‘X’ over his heart.

 

Theo wants to have a Liam-esque rage episode, but he knows showing no emotion usually pisses people off more. Relaxing the tension in his jaw, he quirked an eyebrow as if to say, “Go on.”

 

“Since I died a gruesome, horribly tragic and unexpected death at a young age, I was given three options at the Gates of Hades.” Boyd holds up one finger. “One, become a guardian angel of sorts for new werewolves for eternity. Or two,” he adds another finger, “Return to Beacon Hills as a mentor for lost and confused supernatural beings, or three,” he lifts another finger, wiggling them around to indicate it’s the final choice, “Wander the Fields of Asphodel for eternity with no memory of who I am or who I was. Sounded kind of boring, so I went the mentor route.”

 

“Why not be a guardian angel? Scared of heights?” Theo mocks, mind whirling as he tries to process this new information. The boy sounded sincere, but with no heartbeat or chemosignals, Theo had to reply on his gut feelings. As a scientist, he hated subjective information being the basis for decision making. It was just such a….Liam, thing to do.

 

“No, dickhead. Being a guardian angel means I get to be immortal, but I’m stuck following some dumbass new werewolf around for his or her entire life. As a mentor, I’m dead, yes, but I can show myself to supernaturals in need of guidance, and after I achieve enough successful closed cases, I get to enter Elysium.”

 

Theo nods in understanding. Elysium was the Greek version of Heaven, or something like that. Liam had mentioned it once during a “brief” overview of Greek and Roman gods.

 

Theo’s not completely convinced he isn’t totally hallucinating this moment.

 

Before he can reply, his phone vibrates in his pocket, and he sldes it out to see Liam is calling him.

 

“Answer it,” Boyd directs, rearranging his large frame to lay on the couch, shoes resting on the arm rest. And really, how rude.

 

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Theo childishly sneers, hating himself as he hits the green answer button, anyways. Liam never calls him, usually preferring to text, so Theo was concerned it must be an emergency. Maybe he wasn’t the only one hallucinating Mental Health Specialist Ghosts? As bad as it sounds, he was kind of, one hundred percent, hoping that was the case.

 

He sees Boyd’s smirk as he turns his body 90 degrees to create a semblance of privacy, allowing him to see the boy in his peripheral vision.

 

“Liam,” Theo says as a greeting.

 

“Fuck you, Theo!” Liam shrieks, shocking Theo so much he almost drops his phone.

 

 

"You can’t afford me,” Theo smirks back, not knowing how else to react. He doesn’t remember any new malicious schemes, but maybe he did something while sleeping? Theo prays the mischievous plot was worthy of his intelligence, and not something petty or basic.  

 

“Oh my god, stop you perv,” Liam chokes out, quite possibly literally choking as he seems to be having a slight coughing fit at the moment. “You stole my sweatshirt, which has my wallet, which I fucking NEED to buy...things.”

 

“What kind of things, Liam?” Theo purrs, dropping his free hand into the hoodie pocket, where yes, there’s definitely a wallet there. How did he not notice that before?

 

Ha, he isn’t going to lie to himself anymore. Theo felt it the second he put the garment on, figuring Liam would say something about it before he left...which he didn’t so Theo won’t take the blame for this one.

 

“Nothing for you, asshole,” Liam aggressively snarls. Theo would normally continue to push his buttons because it was just so very easy, but he notices a slight spike in the beta’s heart rate, indicative of a lie being told. Intriguing.

 

Theo’s unwanted guest gives a slight cough, reminding the chimera of his presence.

 

“I’ll tell you what,” Theo says, plan forming in his mind to solve both problems. “How about you come over and get it, and then I’ll buy you lunch and take you on a little adventure.”

 

“What kind of adventure?” Liam asks, voice slightly cheerful as if he didn’t just scream Theo’s ear bloody two minutes ago.

 

“Just get here, and you’ll find out,” Theo lightly laughs, cringing at how fond his voice sounds.

 

He disgusts himself.

 

“I’m here,” Liam says literally two seconds later, following the statement with a soft knock. Theo doesn’t have time to react as suddenly Liam’s sliding the door open without waiting for an answer.

 

They stare at each other face-to-face, both slightly nervous.

 

“Hi,” Liam says with a small smile, promptly stepping forward and wrapping his right arm around Theo’s midsection in a hug. Theo’s pretty sure Liam sniffed his neck, but it was over before the chimera even had a chance to blink. “Thief.” He punches Theo in the arm.

 

“Ow, fuck you, who leaves their wallet in their hoodie pocket?” Theo questions, resisting the urge to run his opposite hand over the wounded area to soothe it.

 

“Most people,” Boyd answers from behind him. Theo carefully watches Liam for a reaction, but he shows no indication he heard the other boy.

 

“Most people,” Liam replies, and Boyd says, “Told ya.”

 

“How did you get here so fast? Are you stalking me, Dunbar?” Theo leers at the beta, giving him a lewd wink. He watches, fascinated, as Liam’s entire face flushes red in a heated blush.

 

“In your dreams, Raeken,” Liam snorts, shoulder checking Theo as he walked passed him into the loft. The brief touch sent a shiver through Theo, distracting him from pointing out that Liam didn’t answer his question.

 

“You should come sit on the couch,” Theo instructs, grabbing the sleeve of Liam’s long-sleeved shirt to guide him towards the living room.

 

“Oooh, good plan, Theo,” Boyd cheers, still comfortably laying on Theo’s leather couch. “Would you believe me if I told you he can’t see me?”

 

Theo glares in response.

 

“You’re being weird, Theo,” Liam replies, bewildered. He plants his feet firmly in place, not budging as Theo tugs harder on his sleeve.

 

“It’s new,” is all Theo says before he wraps his arms around Liam’s waist,and picks him up. The beta lets out an indignant squawk, kicking Theo as he struggles to free himself. Halfway to the couch, Theo agilely lobs the boy over the coffee table. The beta lands with an agitated huff.

 

“See?” Theo asks, trying to keep a smile off his face at the image in front of him.

 

Boyd didn’t react as Liam landed roughly on top of him, not even when the beta’s big head hit him in the nose. Liam, however, is red-faced with tousled hair, clearly not impressed with Theo’s antics if the scent of Liam’s annoyance radiating around the room was anything to go by.

 

“What the fuck have you been stuffing your cushions with? Rocks?” Liam grumbles, standing up as he rubs his hand over his back. “I think I broke my shoulder.”    

 

“Bricks, actually, and come here so I can kiss it all better since your Alpha and mommy aren’t around,” Theo taunts, holding his arms wide and beckoning the boy forward.

Theo should have expected the punch to his sternum.

 

“Were you aiming for my nose and couldn’t reach?” Theo sniggers before breaking into a coughing fit as he tries to regain his breath.

 

“Please remind me again why we’re friends?” Liam casually remarks, making his way into the kitchen to raid Theo’s pantry. Theo forgets about Boyd completely, trailing after the beta.

 

“Are we?” Theo asks, voice small but hopeful.

 

They’d never explicitly used the word “friend” before when referring to each other….Theo never wanted to ask because he was afraid of rejection. Or were things like friendship implied? Was it just one day you woke up and things changed? He hasn’t had a friend since he was nine and wasn’t sure how the whole concept worked.

 

“Yeah? If you want to be?” Liam stammers, now facing Theo as he chews on his bottom lips while he thinks. He stands up straighter, decision made, firmly looking Theo in the eye from across the breakfast bar. “Yes, we are friends.” With a nod, Liam goes back to rummaging through the food closet. Theo smirks behind the beta’s back, knowing the desired snack is on the top shelf.

 

“I don’t get a choice?” Theo chuckles as Liam says “Aha!” and the chimera hears the sound of Liam’s feet hitting the ground after a jump to reach the snack. The beta begins stuffing his face with Chex Mix.

 

“Nope!” Liam answers, mouth full of food as he tries to chew it all. Theo knows he should find it gross and unbecoming, but he finds it slightly enderaring.

 

“You know I said I’d buy you lunch, right?” Theo reminds the boy, who’s already halfway through the previously unopened bag.

 

“I’m hungry now. And you know how I get when I’m hangry.” Theo shivers at the memory. “Are we adventuring before or after lunch?”

 

“Food after,” Theo answers, knowing he’ll need an empty stomach for the ‘adventure’. “Do you want your hoodie back now or later?”

 

“Later,” Liam nods, tongue darting out as he licks the crumbs off his fingers. Theo loses his train of thought as he watches Liam suck his ring finger into his mouth after being unable to get some of the crumbs off just by licking it.

 

“Have fun going out with your boyfriend,” Boyd’s voice calls from the living room, startling Theo back into reality...or well, back into his most current hallucination.

 

“Let’s go,” Theo says, placing as hand on Liam’s lower back to steer him to the front door, glaring at Boyd as he passes. The darker boy gives him a mocking wave in return, flipping the page of a book he must have grabbed off one of the shelves.

 

“Where are we going?” Liam asks, looking like an excited puppy. Theo rolls his eyes, wondering if Scott purposefully chose a beta who was just as energetic and innocent as him, or if it just happened over time. Like how they say people can resemble their pets.

 

“We’re going on an adventure,” Theo says smugly, knowing the lack of information will piss Liam off.

 

Surprisingly, he doesn’t rise to the bait.

 

“We’re going on an adventure, Theooooooo,” Liam cries in a high pitched voice. “To Candy Mountain!”

 

“Now you’re being the weird one,” Theo snickers, flicking Liam on the side of the head.

 

“Shun the nonbeliever, shunnnnn,” Liam laughs, fiddling with radio to connect his phone to the car’s speakers. “Seriously, though, I have secondhand embarrassment for your lack of Internet video knowledge. The video is the best, but you can still listen to it and get the jist.”

 

Liam plays the video for him, something called “Charlie the Unicorn.” Theo hears probably half of it, mostly enjoying how Liam laughs so hard he tears up, the sheer joy on his face bringing a small, unseen smile to Theo’s face.

Chapter Text

“Uh, why are we here?” Liam asks, looking out the window and seeing the entrance to the tunnels the Dread Doctors used as their lab. “And if you say, ‘for an adventure,’ I will break more than just your nose.”

 

“Why are you so violent?” Theo asks flatly, parking the truck discreetly near a grouping of trees and turning the vehicle off.

 

He jumps out of the truck and locks the doors behind him, not really expecting the beta to answer. Liam punches him in the arm, smirking at Theo as the chimera glares back. They walk alongside each other towards the entrance of the tunnels, Theo mulling over how much to tell the beta.

 

“I need a book from their lab,” he decides, standing closer than probably necessary to the beta as they enter the barely lit tunnel. Theo promised himself after the Anuk-ite he’d never come back down here. There were too many memories, too many nightmares, too many reminders that he was a failure . He knows Mason would be the most helpful to bring along with him to find a solution for his current ghost problem, but Liam calms him, gives him the courage to enter the tunnels that he otherwise wouldn’t have.

 

“What for?” Liam inquires, fingers accidentally brushing against Theo’s as they walk further into the underground maze.

 

“Well, Liam, typically a book has knowledge,” Theo says pretentiously, ignoring the shiver that ran through his body at the beta’s touch. “So when people read said book, they garner knowledge, so I, as a person, want to garner this knowledge, by obtaining said book. Do you follow?”

 

Out of his peripheral, Theo sees Liam’s fist flying towards his shoulder, so he raises his left hand to catch it. He swiftly weaves his fingers through Liam’s, dropping their entwined hands down to their sides in a gentle grasp. He does it partially so it’s easier and quicker to pull the beta along through the tunnels, but he also seeks the comfort the beta’s touch provides him. The instant their hands touch, Theo automatically feels his heart rate lowering, thoughts unclouding as his footsteps retrace a familiar path.

 

The Dread Doctors combined electromagnetic frequency, paranormal science, and some magical fuckery (Theo’s word, not theirs), to transport their lab from tunnel system to tunnel system in each city they occupied. He never understood how it all worked, but he knew it took them a lot of energy to do so. Theo always hated Jump Days, because the Doctors would lock themselves in their individual offices for several days, leaving Theo alone to entertain himself in the main lab when all he wanted to do was explore their new location.

 

When they weren’t working, his three guardians gave him full run of the main lab as he entered his teenage years. He passed their Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Supernatural History, Supernatural Biology, Medical Terminology, and Math curriculum at the age of twelve, and shadowed the Geneticist as she worked for an entire year. They each had their own office which Theo was forbidden to ever go in. On the rare times when all three Doctors left the tunnels to do field work, Theo raided the Surgeon’s office and the Pathologist's office, hiding interesting books or scrolls in his backpack to read and return later. He never got caught, but he’s pretty sure the Geneticist covered for him once or twice.

 

He respectfully never entered her office, because she was his biggest supporter and disappointing her always made Theo feel like the failure the other Doctors claimed him to be. The other two doctors would always remind Theo of his faults, noting every time he missed something in training while ignoring his successes. The Geneticist treated him more like a person than her colleagues did, always congratulating him when he achieved something, but calmly pointing out where he went wrong or where he could make improvements.

 

Theo believed the answers to his ghost issues resided in her office. She pursued a range of interests and was the main expert on supernatural beings between the Doctors. He wanted to solve the issue on his own without further involvement from Liam or the pack.

 

He guides the beta through the miles of winding tunnels, feet following the confusing path on their own with little conscious direction from his brain.

 

Twenty minutes later, Theo abruptly stops as they reach their destination, a large blank gray wall that looks no different from the other walls of the tunnels. Theo’s able to locate the office by scent, having spilled a few drops of his blood over the stones after tracking the Geneticist’s heartbeat when he was fourteen. He remembers how fucking confused he was at first as he tried to track her through the tunnels, her unique heart beating clear as day, yet he was surrounded by stone and not much else. Self-doubt clouded his thoughts, anger pulsing in his veins at the thought of failing to utilize his senses properly.

 

After soliciting help from a werechameleon (the girl whose DNA helped created Corey), Theo watched invisibly as the stones parted, revealing the Geneticist and a brief glimpse of the lavish office behind her as she exited the room. Knowing he’d have a hard time finding the area again, Theo flicked his finger, one claw popping out to prick the pointer finger on his left hand, scarlett drops of blood dotting the stones. Now better adept at using his senses, Theo can feel the pulsing of the electromagnetic energy under his fingers as he skims them along the wall, another clear sign he was in the right spot.

 

Liam hunches over to rest his hands on his knees, sucking in large gulps of air.

 

“Dude,” he huffs, “You walk way too fucking fast.” Liam stands up straight, shooting an unimpressed glance towards the barren wall.

 

“Sorry, I forgot you have little legs,” Theo sniggers, tracing a complex pattern along the bricks.

 

“Was that….the Deathly Hallows symbol?” Liam asks, tone incredulous, ignoring the dig at his height.

 

“Yep,” Theo answers with a laugh. “The Geneticist was a huge fan.”

 

“Please tell me you’re joking.”

 

“Nope,” Theo says, popping the ‘p’ sound, smirking at the gaping boy. “She liked to read all kinds of things.”

 

“Twilight?”

 

“Okay, no, not trash. She had taste,” Theo snorts, entering the office for the first time in his life. He looks around, taking in the high ceiling with the sparkling chandelier, the plush green carpet under his feet, and the bookcases lining the room, filled to the brim with books. There’s an elegant oak desk in the middle of the room, various office supplies visible on its glossy surface. The Geneticist’s office was finely decorated and well organized, a stark contrast to that of her colleagues.

 

“Whoa, nice digs,” Liam says, tone full of wonder. Theo glances over at the boy who’s just slightly behind him. The beta’s face is a look of total awe, blue eyes ablaze with curiosity as he rotates around in a semicircle to take it all in. He heads over to a smaller bookcase on the far left of the room, the only one that doesn’t reach the ceiling, and studies the cover of a book Theo can’t see,   

 

“Can I like...touch stuff? Since I can’t really be too much help because you’re being all mysterious about what you need from here.”

 

Liam turns back to face Theo, eyes pleading, but Theo picks up the slightly bitterness in his tone, like he’s offended Theo doesn’t trust him enough to tell him the full reason why they’re here.

 

And that’s not that case at all, because Theo does trust Liam, probably more than he’s ever trusted anyone in his life. But he’s scared. Scared that Liam will realize he’s fucked up, realize that he doesn’t have his shit together, realize that Liam deserves better than anything Theo has to offer him.

 

What kind of teenager gets haunted by the dead sister he murdered and a random werewolf ghost, whom he’s pretty sure he didn’t murder?

 

Theo wants to tell Liam no, it’s probably not safe, there’s no telling what the books could contain, and he should probably stick close to him just incase. But Liam is looking at him with sparkling eyes and a small pout, like he just knows Theo is going to deny him.

 

“Just be careful,” he sighs, slightly concerned by the sly smirk Liam gives him, the beta practically rubbing his hands together in glee.

 

With Liam’s attention absorbed by the contents of the smaller bookshelf, Theo turns back to his task. He assumes there must be some sort of organizational system, otherwise he could spend an entire month here just reading the titles of each book. There was a rolling metal ladder on the opposite end of the room from Liam. It looked more like a staircase than a typical ladder, with each rung wider and longer than the usual steps of a ladder. Theo was pleased to note that it was automated, a little joystick mounted on the safety bar to control the direction. He climbed up, gently pushing the joystick to the left, and the ladder moved soundlessly an inch. Theo pushed it a bit harder, and the ladder moved effortlessly along the bookshelves.

 

He peers over his shoulder to see Liam had taken a seat in the high back chair at the desk and was flipping through a large leatherbound book, paying rapt attention to whatever he was reading. Curious, because he’s never seen Liam pick up a book in his life, Theo hops down from the ladder and makes his way over to the other boy.

 

“What chya got there?” he asks, leaning over the side of the chair to get a better look.

 

“NOTHING!” Liam squeaks, slamming the book closed before Theo could see it. Which, of course, makes him want to see it even more.

 

“Liam,” he says with his sternest tone, face devoid of emotion.

 

He’s pretty sure Liam “meeps” at him, unless his ears are playing tricks on him, but the beta just hugs the book tight to his chest, angling his body away from Theo.

 

“It’s nothing, T, did you find what you were look for?” Liam questions, eyes focused on a spot over Theo’s shoulder. But Theo hears the small skip in his heart beat, and clearly, whatever was in that book was something .

 

Theo pauses, frowning. Liam never calls him anything except Theo, unless it was an offensive word that had nothing to do with his actual name, like idiot, or asshole, or douche . Was it a coincidence he suddenly used that nickname, or did it have something to do with that book?

 

The chimera is confident he could take Liam in a fight, but that could potentially cause irreversible damage to the book. So, after doing some quick calculations in his head, he goes with a different tactic.

 

“Holy shit, what is that?!” he exclaims, gaze snapping to a point over Liam’s shoulder. He adjusts his expression into one of shock, eyes wide and lips parted, releasing the scent of fear from his body with the assumption that the beta could, at the very least, recognize such a common emotion, especially after the Anuk-ite.

 

Liam falls hook, line, and sinker for the ruse, jerking his head back so fast to look behind him that Theo thinks he hears something crack.

 

Theo silently lunges for the book, ripping it from the beta’s grasp as leaps backwards without looking to land gracefully on the top step of the ladder.

 

“Are you mixed with some type of werekangaroo?” Liam pouts, arms crossing as he glares at the chimera from his seat. Theo smirks in response, wiggling around a bit to get more comfortable on the ladder.

 

“Sure, Baby Wolf, I’ll be whatever helps you sleep at night,” he purrs, batting his eyelashes and giving the beta an air kiss.

 

“How about dead?” Liam snarks back, brows furrowing as he continues to glare at Theo.

Theo’s mouth parts open in shock, lips forming a little ‘o’ as he struggles to processes the sudden animosity. He shifts his expression to detached, closing his mouth and allowing his lips to form a straight line, taking comfort in his familiar mask. He lowers his eyes, keeping them trained on the hands clenched on his thighs, the book at his side already forgotten.

 

After about ten seconds of glaring, Liam’s face shifts to a look of absolute horror as his mind catches up with his mouth.

 

“Oh my god, Theo,” he gasps, jumping up from the chair and scrambling to the ladder. He hesitates for a moment at the bottom of the ladder, unsure, before his expression turns determined, and he effortlessly climbs to sit on the step below Theo.

 

Liam grabs his right hand, touch light as he carefully uncurls each of Theo’s fingers, weaving his own hand through the chimera’s once he was done.

 

“Hey,” he says feebly. Theo doesn’t respond, the claws of his right hand digging roughly into his palm. “Theo, look at me.”

 

Theo clenches his jaw, but refuses to look up or acknowledge Liam’s presence. He feels the blood drip down his hand, and Theo discreetly shifts it to hang over the edge of the ladder.

 

He hears Liam sigh before letting go of his hand, and the ladder shifts a bit. Theo thinks Liam finally got the hint and is going to see himself out, but instead, the beta sits down on his left side, uncomfortably pressed up against him due to the lack of space, intertwining their hands once more.

 

A finger touches his chin, Liam guiding his face towards the beta’s. Theo knows his eyes are emotionless; It was a look he had practiced and perfected while in the care of the Dread Doctors, his own personal version of Void. Liam’s eyes, however, are scared, wide and doe-eyed like a deer caught in headlights.

 

“I didn’t mean that at all, Theo,” he says, voice low but firm, lowering his hand back down from Theo’s chin. “You know I’d be dead ten times over without you.” Liam gives him a small smile, lightly bumping his shoulder as his thumb rubs soothing circles across Theo’s hand.

 

“Probably twenty,” Theo mutters, heart lifting from the darkness as Liam’s startled laugh reaches his ears.

 

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” he agrees, reaching over Theo’s lap to grab the book. Theo expects him to dart off with it, but instead, Liam rests the book over their thighs.

 

“It’s about you,” he says. At Theo’s confused look, he adds, “The book. It’s all about you since you came to live with the Dread Doctors. The first, like, eighth, is boring science shit about your procedure, but the rest is like-” Liam breaks off, trying to think of the word. Theo waits, patiently,unconcerned because he knew the scientists documented their work. The most important part of an experiment was efficiently and accurately recording every detail so the experiment could be replicated.

 

“The rest is like a scrapbook.”

Chapter Text

A scrapbook? That was unexpected.

 

“What do you mean?” Theo asks, knowing even Liam thinks the question is stupid based off the blank “Are You Fucking Serious Right Now?” look he was receiving.

 

“What do you think I mean?,” Liam huffs, rolling his eyes. He bumps shoulders with Theo to show he’s just joking, a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Theo sticks his tongue out at him. Liam’s eyes are drawn down, seemingly honed in on Theo’s lips.

 

Theo coughs, embarrassed, and Liam snaps his gaze back to the chimera’s eyes, a crimson blush spreading across his cheeks.

 

“”It’s a scrapbook,” Liam repeats breathlessly. At Theo’s pointed gaze, he clears his throat, running his hand through his hair before continuing. “There are pictures of you from like, age ten to seventeen, with little captions under the bottom.”

 

“Let me see,” Theo demands, making grabby hands towards the beta who still had the book tucked close to his body on the opposite side from where Theo was sitting.

 

“We can look at it together.” Liam beams at him, mood shifting as he’s almost vibrating with excitement. Theo growls low in his throat, which only serves to make the beta smile brighter.

 

He sighs dejectedly. Why was he friends with Liam again?

 

Oh, yeah.

 

Because he’s the only person crazy enough to want to spend time with you? He shushes the voice in his head, eagerly watching as Liam flips open the large tome, skimming the pages until he comes to the first set of photos.

 

Theo leans impossibly closer to Liam, their shoulders touching as he tries to process what he’s seeing.

 

Because Liam wasn’t exaggerating. The Geneticist legitimately crafted a secret scrapbook about him.

 

And it wasn’t just some hodgepodge collection of photos, either.

 

Nope, she surpassed full on Soccer Mom and moved into some sort of expert/professional “I Do This For a Living” type shit.

 

The book was handmade with glossy pages, a sheer film covering each of them to keep the designs intact. She chose a green and silver color scheme, complete with stickers, tastefully chosen embellishments, and some particularly embarrassing photos and captions.

 

“This is my favorite book,” Liam sniggers, lightly tracing his finger over the title on the first page.

 

“I didn’t know you considered me to be your favorite,” Theo replies smugly, wincing as Liam flicks him on the forehead.

 

“Nobody likes a narcissist,” Liam retorts matter-of-factly, gaze moving back down to the book. Theo stares at the beautiful boy next to him for just a moment longer. He loves how expressive Liam always is. Even now, just seeing him from the side, the beta radiates happiness.  

 

Our First Chimera, it reads in oversized elegant silver writing. There are little paw print stickers placed attractively underneath the heading, with four various photos strategically glued onto the page. The main photo, the largest of the four, is of a ten year old Theo, eyes golden, claws out, and fangs bared, mouth contorted in an attempt at a vicious growl. The other three pictures show a close-up of each chimera body part. On the bottom of the page, the date was recorded along with his height and weight.

 

“You were scrawny as fuck,” Liam notes, looking between the photo of a young Theo and the current, muscular version next to him. “Did they inject you with steroids, too?”

 

“Nah,” Theo chuckles, remembering the awkward conversation he had with the Doctors when he was thirteen after realizing he was shorter than most of the girls in his class. ”The Geneticist said no, and the other two wouldn’t go against her.”

 

“Did she wear the pants in the family?” Liam asks lightly, his face more intense than his tone as he studies Theo, waiting for a reply.

 

“When it came to me, yeah I guess,” Theo answers nostalgically with a tinge of sadness. Liam scoots closer, his leg practically draped over Theo’s, the heat from his body helping to melt the cold feeling settling around his heart.

 

Because it was hard.   

 

He knew, logically, the Geneticist wasn’t what you would call a “good person” (not that he really had any room to judge anyone, of course). Kidnapping teenagers, manipulating them for personal gain, and conducting grueling experiments on them against their will tended to be frowned upon in mainstream society. He also knew, logically, that the kinds of things she taught him wouldn’t win her any Parent of The Year awards, either.

 

But for Theo, the Geneticist was the closest thing to a parent he ever had. His biological parents basically ignored him, spending their time fawning over his sister, Tara, because she was so perfect and talented at everything she did. And she was normal . Theo, on the other hand, was small and sickly, preferring to spend his time reading comic books and avoiding talking to other people at all costs.

 

Theo still found it difficult when he remembers that the Geneticist is gone for good. He’ll never spend weekends with her in the lab learning about mutating and activating genes of various supernatural creatures to create new ones. He’ll never be able to run to her in excitement when he accomplishes something challenging, like the time when they were working on persuasion techniques, and he convinced his teacher he should be class President, even though he just started at the school the week before. He’ll never participate in one of her “social acting classes” again because Theo was an awkward kid and needed a fuck ton of help in talking to people. He’ll never be able to go to her for advice again, whether it’s for an academic problem or a social issue. He’ll never hear her grumbling low under her breath as she complains about the Surgeon and the Pathologist, always annoyed at how disorganized they were.

 

“You okay?” Liam gently asks him. Theo feels the wetness around the corners of his eyes, and he quickly rubs the side of his finger across them. He can smell his own sadness, and he clamps down on his chemosignals in an effort to regain control.   

 

“Yeah, I’m good. The dust is making my eyes itch,” he responds evenly, proud in the steadiness of his heart rate.

 

He brushes off Liam’s dubious expression, instead turning the page of the book, groaning internally at the next set of images.

 

“Oh. My. God,” Liam literally squeals, grabbing the book and none too gently pulling it completely onto his lap. “Did they force you dress like this for Halloween?”

 

“No,” he sighs, deciding it was too much effort to craft a suitable lie. Who was he becoming these days? Old Theo would have that lie rolling off his tongue in a split second. “They were pretty open minded considering they were hundreds of years old.”

 

Theo looks down at the images, cringing. When he was eleven, he decided he wanted to be Hermione Granger because she was the smartest witch and top of her class in Hogwarts, and he was the smartest kid at school. At age twelve, he dressed as a narwhal, literally only because they were fucking awesome. When he was thirteen, he went as Bill Nye the Science Guy. At fourteen, he didn’t dress up due to unforeseen circumstances.

 

Theo watches anxiously as Liam’s eyes skim across the page. The photos only had a year below them and not a description of the costume, so the chimera is praying Liam doesn’t know what the last costume was.

 

“Theo,” Liam says blankly, slowly turning towards him, eyes wide with confusion. “Please tell me this isn’t what I think it is.” He points to the picture of Theo’s fifteen year old self.

 

“It depends on what you think it is,” he answers evasively, looking everywhere but at the beta in front of him.

 

“Were you Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones?”  

 

“Is there a problem with that?” Theo sneers, nose in the air as he levels his gaze at the beta.

 

Liam snorts. “Jon Snow is the one true king of Westeros, but I’m sure you picked Khal Drogo so you could walk around shirtless with your abs out.”

 

“Spending a lot of time focussing on my abs, are you?” Theo leers, laughing at the blushing beta even after he receives a punch to the arm.

 

Theo maneuvers the book so its once again half on his leg and half on Liam’s. He smiles fondly at the next set of pictures, the headline reading, “T Makes His First Pet.”

 

“You made your own pet?” Liam asks incredulously, squinting down at the picture of Theo posing next to a small, white winged horse. “Is that a baby pegasus?”

 

“Nope,” Theo answers proudly, unconsciously sitting up straighter as he remembers his first successful experiment crossing the DNA of a pegasus with a miniature horse. “That is a full grown Mini Pegasus named Ares.”

 

“And you made that?” Liam asks again, doubt evident in his tone.

 

“Yes, Liam, I made him,” Theo huffs, launching into a five minute rant on the scientific process involved, hands moving fervently as he talks. Liam stares, mouth open and blue eyes wide as saucers the entire time but remains silent.

 

“Cool…” Liam trails off as Theo finishes, the chimera taking a few deep breaths afterwards, seemingly skipping the whole breathing thing during his impassioned lecture. “Didn’t understand about 99% of that but 10 of 10, very impressed. Moving on….”

 

Theo nods, reluctant to see anymore embarrassing photos, but curiosity wins over. He wanted to know what other moments the Geneticist captured without his knowledge. And he’d do anything to keep that smile on Liam’s face.

 

“Look at all these trophies!” Liam laughs loudly. The picture was taken in Theo’s room showing his wall of awards that he won from fifth grade through sophomore year of high school. “Spelling, science, math, reading….gym? I didn’t know they had gym awards.”

 

Liam arches an eyebrow, wordlessly demanding an explanation.

 

“I outlifted everyone in weight training,” Theo answers smugly, remembering the pride he felt watching the most popular senior in their school struggle under Theo’s warm-up weight for bench press.

 

“Of course, that makes sense. But I didn’t realize you were such a fucking nerd.”

“You’re just jealous because you never won anything academic,” Theo snarks back, glancing back down at the collection of photos of his academic achievements. He’d been so prideful for all those years, always the smartest one at school, always secretly the most powerful due to his genetic modifications. If only his younger self knew what was coming, he might have taken a step back and reevaluated his decisions and priorities.  

 

“I just didn’t realize you were so smart, T,” Liam says quietly, chewing on his bottom lip, eyes still trained on the book.

 

“You never bothered to find out,” Theo answers honestly. The tension in the room is palpable, and Theo find himself holding his breath as he waits for Liam’s reaction.

 

“I know,” the beta nods. “And I’m not going to apologize for being cautious around you for so long after you came back -”

Theo snorts at that. He didn’t “come back.” He was rescued, by the very person sitting next to him.

 

“But I trust you now, Theo. And I’d like to get to know you better. I consider you a good friend, but I just wish you would trust me, too.”

 

Theo’s heart breaks, because he wants to tell Liam the truth. But he can’t admit he’s seeing ghosts. He knows that’s not normal, even in their unusual supernatural world. He decides to settle for a half truth.

 

“I have a lot of nightmares. About Tara,” Theo begins, and wow, this isn’t easy to admit, either. He takes a second to collect himself, only continuing as Liam grabs his hand again, rubbing his thumb across his palm. “I was hoping she’d have a book about dreams or things in the afterlife.” He pauses. “Or ghosts.”

 

“She’s not real!” Liam passionately cries, unintentionally clasping Theo's hand harder to the point that the chimera had to suppress a wince. “I know nightmares suck, but they aren’t real. Tara isn’t real. I broke the sword, she’s stuck in the ground, and she won’t be coming back out.”

 

“And logically, I know that,” Theo agrees, grateful when Liam loosens his grip and begins the soothing circles across his palm again. “I’d like to just read up on all of it, and maybe when the research concludes ghosts don’t exist, the nightmares will go away. It's kind of like the placebo effect in a way.”

 

Liam nods, like everything Theo says makes sense, further serving to increase Theo's feelings of guilt for lying to the boy who is only trying to help him.

 

“Let’s get to work, then,” Liam says, standing up and pulling Theo with him, their hands still entwined.

 

They walk down the ladder together, only dropping their hands from one another as they reach the bottom.

 

The two spend the rest of the day going through a multitude of books, Theo snagging a rolling suitcase that was tucked away discreetly in a corner. They piled the potentially helpful books into the suitcase, neatly arranging them all to fit. Liam added the scrapbook much to Theo’s mortification.

 

“The first rule of the Geneticist’s Club, Liam?” Theo questions the beta as they retrace their steps through the tunnels, Theo rolling the suitcase behind them.

 

“We don’t talk about the Geneticist’s Club?” Liam answers, arching an eyebrow at Theo.

 

Theo nods.

 

“Yep, very good, my precious beta. Which means if you mention any of this,” he inclines his head over his shoulder at the suitcase behind him, “I will rip you limb from limb and mail your body parts to Scott once a week until only your head is left, which then I will sneak into his house and place it on the top of his Christmas tree.”

 

“I’m glad you realize I’m a star,” Liam laughs loudly, the sound echoing around the tunnels, making it even more amplified. “Your secret is safe with me, T.”

Chapter Text

The third time he sees him, Theo actually listens.

 

After a few hours, Theo drops Liam off at home, their stomachs full to the brim after hitting up the all-you-can-eat buffet at Golden Corral. Honestly, Theo was surprised they didn’t get kicked out, because Liam easily ate enough for five people. It got to the point where Theo had to glare at a group of old ladies ogling the beta, their expressions disapproving as they whispered behind their hands about how he must be “on that marijuana.”

 

When Theo parks his truck in the beta’s driveway, Liam unbuckles his seatbelt and sits there for a moment. Theo keeps his hands on the wheel, despite the truck being off, and stares straight ahead, unsure of what to do.

 

“Thanks for coming with me,” he settles with, half turning his body and glancing over to give Liam a small smile.

 

“Uhhh...it was fun?” They both snort, because ‘fun’ is not really a word either of them would use.

 

“But seriously, anytime, T,” Liam chuckles, reaching his entire body over to wrap both arms around Theo’s shoulders in a lingering hug. Theo squeezes back, burying his face in the beta’s neck. He tries to be sneaky as he inhales a deep breath, letting Liam’s scent wash over him one last time. Theo feels Liam’s lips form into a smile along his neck, and Theo knows he should probably be more discreet about his sniffing. He would feel embarrassed, but Liam definitely scented him this morning, so he certainly had no room to judge the chimera.

 

“See ya later,” Liam calls, hopping out of the truck and closing the door behind him. Theo gives him a small wave, reversing out of the driveway once Liam safely enters the house.   

 

Theo drives home, mind half focused on the road ahead of him as he thinks of their time in the tunnels. They had found a few promising books about ghosts, nightmares, and one on reincarnation, and Theo was anxious to get home despite knowing his new ghost roommate would likely be there.

 

He parks his truck in the underground garage, giving his baby a loving tap on the hood as he locks the doors and heads up to his loft.

 

“Did you have fun on your date?” Boys immediately asks when Theo strolls through the door, the boy having moved from the living room to the breakfast bar. Theo notices Liam’s red hoodie dangling off one of the stools where he had thrown it before they left for their adventure.

 

“Don’t you have other people to haunt?” Theo retorts, giving the ghost the middle finger in response to his date comment. It earns him a raucous laugh that he ignores, rolling the suitcase through the loft and swinging by the kitchen to grab the hoodie. He would prefer to leave all the books in the living room where he does most of his reading, but he’d like privacy when perusing them. He picks the heavy object up and carries it up the stairs and into his room, carefully setting it on the floor by his bed.

 

“Where did you two go?” his ghostly roommate calls from downstairs, voice effortlessly picked up by Theo’s enhanced senses.

 

“Were you this nosy when you were alive?” Theo questions, genuinely curious. Maybe he should have first started by doing some research on this kid, and then consult the ghost books from the Geneticist's office. Boyd sounded familiar, but he couldn’t quite place where he heard it before. Obviously Boyd knew Derek, was a werewolf, and likely had been murdered, but other than that, he wasn’t sure what the boy’s story was.

 

Boyd doesn’t respond for a minute, and Theo mentally crosses his fingers that he’s left for the day. Or forever. Theo wasn’t picky.

 

“No, actually, I didn’t really give a damn about anyone else’s business.” Boyd sighs nostalgically. Theo slides his shoes off, sets his almost dead phone on the nightstand, and takes a moment to lay on his bed and collect himself. He needed a shower, badly, but his body ached from the stress of the long day, and the warmth of his bed was so inviting. “But I’m bored, first off. Secondly, I can only work on one case at a time, so until I help you, I can’t leave.”

 

“I don’t need help,” Theo snaps, agitation swirling through his veins. Who the fuck did this guy think he was that Theo would tell his “problems” to a stranger? He could handle himself just fine, as he’s been doing since he was a child. Theo didn’t need anyone.

 

“Your dead sister who rips your heart out every night says otherwise,” Boyd coldly replies, an automatic gasp slipping from Theo’s lips.

 

Theo flinches at the reminder of his constant night time visitor, preferring not to even think of Tara if he could avoid it. Even telling Liam about his nightmares earlier in the afternoon had made him anxious, fear spreading like wildfire through his body. It was like saying her name would make the ground open up in front of him, his dead sister crawling out of the prison he put her in as if she was summoned by his voice.

 

“How do you know about her?” Theo counters, voice controlled but heart pounding with nerves. Boyd was dead. His sister was dead. Was he here to take Theo to her?

 

Boyd lightly laughs, much to Theo’s chagrin. He didn’t consider his dead sister ripping his heart out to be a laughing matter, fucking thank you ever much.

 

“I’m dead, and I know things.” Theo rolls his eyes at the butchered Game of Thrones line.

 

“Dude,” Theo growls, patience wearing thin at the lack of answers. He needs a nap and a shower, not really in any specific order, and he doesn’t have time for this back and forth shit that wasn’t getting him anywhere.

 

He hears Boyd sigh dramatically, as if dealing with Theo is so stressful. Theo has to close his eyes and take a calming breath to keep his claws from popping out. He didn’t ask for this shit, so Boyd could just go and fuck right off. “Okay, fine. Come down here, I don’t like shouting across the loft.”

 

“We aren’t shouting,” Theo mockingly points out, not caring that he’s now being the difficult one at the moment.

 

“Stop being a dick,” Boyd scolds, causing Theo to smirk at the change of pace. Sure, he could give in and maybe learn something, but he felt it was important to give someone a taste of their own medicine if they’re consistently difficult.

 

He decides to ignore the irony of his new life point of view.

 

“But I’m good at it,” Theo insists, eyes still closed as he tucks his hands under his head to get into a more comfortable position. Sleeping in the same bed as Liam last night had been, well unexpected but also amazing, something he never even imagined doing because it was so unrealistic.

 

But Theo worships his insanely comfortable bed, the comforter thick and fluffy, always helping to sooth away his worries. At least while he was awake. When he was asleep? Well...not much could be done about that.

 

Plus having Liam’s scent all over him from the day they spent together, and the beta’s hoodie next to his pillow, may have contributed to his sudden feelings of relaxation.

 

“True,” Boyd agrees, snapping Theo from his musings. Ugh, he had already been dozing off. “But not the point. Do you want answers or not?”

 

“Fine,” Theo groans, his thirst for knowledge outweighing his desire to sleep. He tossed his legs over the side of the bed, rearranging his disheveled clothes. Theo walks down the stairs barefoot, because he found it peculiar when people always wore shoes in their house. Why would you forgo comfort in your own home?

 

Boyd has moved back to the couch, once again lying across the entire sofa. His hands are tucked behind his head, much like Theo’s had previously been. Rolling his eyes at the uncouth behavior, Theo delicately takes a seat on the recliner, arching a questioning eyebrow in Boyd’s direction.

 

His undesired roommate sits up slightly, leaning back onto his elbows to look at Theo. “It’s a long story,” Boyd begins, re-adjusting himself again so he’s resting his lower back against the arm of the couch, feet still sprawled over the other cushions. “So listen closely because I hate repeating myself. When the Skinwalkers sent you to Hell, they broke the laws of Nature. When your sister died, she was sent to the Fields of Asphodel-”

 

“Sent?” Theo interrupts, continuing on despite Boyd’s glare. “Was she not given a choice? Tara would have wanted to be someone’s guardian angel.”

 

“From my understanding, very few humans are given options of where they go. Most go to Elysium, the Fields of Asphodel, or Tartarus,” Boyd calmly explains despite his previous annoyance at being cut off. “Supernaturals, especially those who were murdered, have more choices because, as you know, the supernatural world is much more confusing than the human world. Those who are bitten or thrown into the world need more guidance than your average person.”

 

Theo nods in understanding. Even though he’s never heard of anything like this happening, for all he knew, the entire pack could have their own supernatural ghost buddies, and it’s just like one giant Supernatural Therapy Club. And the first rule? You don’t speak about it.

 

“Tara is different than most ghosts aimlessly wandering the Fields, though. Because she was murdered, she was allowed to retain some memories of who she was. Personally, I don’t know if that makes death better or worse, but that’s just how it is. And because her heart resides in your still living body, you two have a connection that most people don’t.”

 

Theo shudders at the thought. That was definitely a minor detail the Dread Doctors forgot to mention.

 

“Theoretically, this connection is normally meaningless, or at most, harmless. If a person dies, and their lung is given to someone else, the dead person may be able to visit the living person in their dreams. We call the dead person in this situation the Donor, and the person who received their organ or body part, a Recipient.”

 

“Can the Donor control these dreams?” Theo asks, curiosity piqued as his mind processes the new information.

 

“As far as I know, no they can’t. Donors basically live vicariously through their Recipients, spending the time when their Recipient is awake in the Fields, and visiting them in their dreams when the Recipient sleeps. They may be able to whisper advice in times of need, but it just comes across as thoughts from their conscience.”  

 

By now, Theo’s leaning forward, raptly listening to Boyd’s lecture. His inner science nerd was gleefully jumping up and down in excitement at the new information, but the realist in him told it to calm the fuck down because this wasn’t an abstract concept that happened to other people. Somehow, it was happening to him, and he needed to figure out how to solve it.

 

“But Tara and I are different?” Theo urges, internally screaming that the ghost hurry up and get to the point.

 

“Yep. Most Recipients don’t murder their Donors for their body parts. That’s what makes you different. Even though you didn’t technically kill her, you arranged for the situation to occur, and you did nothing to help her. Thus, in the eyes of the Underworld, you’re as guilty as the Dread Doctors who cut her heart out.”

 

Theo closes his eyes, a pained expression settling across his features. He didn’t really believe in the religious concept of Heaven and Hell, but he also held onto some naive hope that he wouldn’t be blamed for his sister’s death. It was a very small piece of hope, but it was now up and flames at Boyd’s explanation.

 

“How do the Skinwalkers play into this?” he questions, opening his eyes once more to observe Boyd’s relaxed expression. He looked nothing like Liam when he was talking about an important event in history, no excitement displayed anywhere on his body. Theo wondered maybe if dying stole that emotional range from you.

 

“Okay, so this is where it gets confusing,” Boyd resumes, a slight uptick of emotion to his tone. And of course, now he seems more passionate. Theo resists rolling his eyes at the irony. “The Skinwalkers should not have been able to give Kira the sword that opened the ground and allowed Tara to drag you in. When you’re dead, you stay dead, especially as a human.” Theo’s confident they’re both thinking about Peter at that statement. “Whatever dark magic they did in New Mexico linked you and Tara more closely together, preying upon the anger and rage she felt at her unjust death. They channeled her negatively emotions, giving her a breath of life to bring you back into Hell with her.”    

 

Theo tastes the blood across his tongue before he realizes he chewed his lip so hard it broke open. He licks the dried blood off, the would already knitted back together, before speaking again.

 

“But when I escaped….?” Theo trails off, unsure how to complete his thought.

 

“When you were rescued ,” Boyd emphasizes, and Theo nods at the correction. He definitely didn’t escape shit. “The spell should have broken, Fuck, honestly, no one is really sure how it lasted so long to begin with. But the latest theory is that the spell cast on Tara feeds off the hatred and insecurity you feel for yourself. It gives her power, allowing her to keep haunting you as you sleep. Like all Donors, while you’re awake she returns to the Fields of Asphodel,  harmless to you, but perhaps more aware of who she is even more so than before. But asleep? She has full control.”

 

Theo snorts, unwilling to believe this is what his life had become. Again, he wonders what his younger self would have done with this knowledge. Would he have still allowed the Dread Doctors to give him her heart? He sighs, knowing the answer is yes. Hopefully, his younger self would have peaced out of Beacon Hills long before Kira could come back with the Sword of Fuckery.

 

“And who’s coming up with these theories?” Theo asks, heart roaring in his ears as he feels the panic pulsing in his body. He wanted to flee. He wanted to run to Liam, confess to every sin he’s committed in his eighteen years of life, and beg the younger boy to run away with him. Maybe if he left Beacon Hills, if he left the presence of the Nemeton, he could free himself from his haunting mistakes.

 

“The same ones who come up with theories in the living world. The scientists. It’s a unique situation, because as a chimera, you break the laws of nature just by existing. But one thing is certain. Running away won’t help,” Boyd insists, giving him what Theo assumes is a comforting smile. He was hard pressed to find comfort after learning he was basically doomed to be haunted by his dead sister for eternity.

 

“Do your mysterious Ghost Scientist friends have any theories on how to get rid of her?” Theo hisses, eyes flashing gold as he fights for control. His skin itches, the animals within him raging at him to escape. To run away, so he could survive another day.  

 

But logically, Theo knows this isn’t something he can outrun.

 

For once, he ignores his instincts, turning his attention back to the ghost.

 

Before Boyd can continue, the front door is thrown open, causing both of them to jump up in alarm. As if they practiced for moments like this, both Theo and Boyd half shift, eyes turning golden, claws out, low growls escaping their fanged mouths.

 

Liam stumbles into the room, out of breath as if he ran the entire way from his house to Theo’s loft.

 

“What the fuck Liam?!” Theo shouts, adrenaline coursing through his body at the unexpected intrusion. He takes a moment to thank whoever designed his building with concrete walls and metal doors, thus making it slightly more idiotic werewolf proof than the average apartment.

 

“I forgot my hoodie,” Liam gasps, still bent over for air. Theo decides he really needs to take Liam on some runs with him as he watches the beta all but collapse onto his floor.

 

Sighing at the horrible timing, Theo bends over, scooping the smaller werewolf into his arms, carefully placing him on the couch that Boyd vacated.

 

“Hey, I gotta go, actually,” Boyd says, eyes trained on the glowing gold watch Theo hadn’t noticed until now. “Meeting with the Ghost Scientists.” He smirks at Theo. “Take good care of your little boyfriend, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

Theo nods briefly in agreement, watching in fascination as Boyd disappears in a sparkle of light, leaving no trace that he’d once been there. And who knows? Maybe he never had been, and it was all in Theo’s head after all.

 

He turns his attention back to Liam, slightly annoyed by his timing.

 

“So….what are you up to?” Liam awkwardly asks, having sat up while Theo was “talking” to Boyd. His eyes scan the empty living room, where Theo has no TV on or any books on the table as if he was reading.

 

“Just tidying up,” he promptly lies. “I was just sitting down for a moment going over the list of things left to do in my head before you barged so rudely into my apartment.” Theo levels a pointed gaze at the beta, wordlessly demanding a better explanation for his sudden dramatic appearance.

 

“Ah, you see,” he stammers, hand combing through his hair to push it off his face. Theo finds himself lost in the movement, wishing it was his own hand carding through the beta’s hair. “I just can’t sleep without it.”

 

Theo raises an eyebrow in disbelief at the terrible lie, not needing to be a werewolf to catch it. Apparently he needed to take Liam on runs with him and teach him how to lie with better precision.

 

“Seriously? Please note that I was with you this morning when you woke up, and you were not wearing that  hoodie.”

 

Liam’s cheeks redden at the mention of their awkward morning, and Theo’s eyes drink in the sight of the flushed boy. “But it was in the room with me!”

 

“Seriously?” Theo asks again, crossing his arms and wiping his expression blank. He knew Emotionless Theo always made Liam uncomfortable. And Uncomfortable Liam always talked.

 

“Oh my god, okay,” Liam growls after a few moments, standing up and walking the short distance to stand unnecessarily close in front of Theo, the top of his head parallel with Theo’s chin. Theo smirks down at the beta, knowing he hated being reminded of his shorter height. “I was trying to go to bed, and I kept having this uncomfortable thought that you were in trouble. So when I called you and it went straight to voicemail, I decided to go for a quick nightly run to clear my head and pass by here on my way.”

 

Theo decides not to point out that they live at least seven miles apart, which wasn’t exactly a “quick” run, even for a werewolf. Unless they sprinted at full speed.

 

He feels his heart swell at the thought of Liam being so concerned about his well being that he ran full speed to check on him.

 

“Aw, I didn’t know you cared so much,” Theo jokes, trying to lighten the tense mood. He ducks as Liam’s fist heads towards his face  at a much slower pace than usual, smirking at the beta as he rights himself because he’s sure Liam meant to miss. “No, but seriously, I’m okay, and my phone is dead upstairs. Not sure what your spidey senses were picking up.”

 

He’s glad he can control his heart beat, because he can tell by Liam’s intense expression, he’s listening for an indication Theo is lying.

 

“But since you’re here, and I don’t feel like driving you home, you might as well just stay the night.” The offer slips through his lips before he can reconsider what he just proposed.

 

“Oh,” Liam mumbles, eyes looking everywhere but at Theo. And fuck, Theo can feel his own cheeks heating.

 

Liam must see that, because he suddenly looks a lot more confident.

 

“Your couch is a lot more comfortable tonight than it was earlier,” Liam notes, nodding back over to the piece of furniture.

 

“I took the bricks out. My spidey senses told me you’d be coming over tonight.”

 

“Is that so?” Liam laughs. “I’d believe you normally, but your face when I walked in tells me that’s a lie.”

“You most certainly did not ‘walk’ in!” Theo shouts at the audacity of Liam’s entrance being considered “walking.”

 

Liam waves a dismissive hand. “Semantics.”

 

Theo rolls his eyes, deciding for once to be the bigger person and not start an argument.

 

“My bed is big enough for the both of us,” he mentions dismissively, trying to keep his tone casual to not reveal how anxious he was feeling. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep comfortably with Liam so close to him, yet so far away downstairs on the couch.

 

Theo heads towards the stairs, not looking back to see if Liam follows. He senses the beta’s hesitation, but as Theo reaches the top step, he hears the sound of Liam ascending the stairs as well. Theo notices just in time that the red hoodie in question is lying creepily across his other pillow. He quickly tosses it across the room, the item landing casually over his desk chair as Liam walks in.

 

“You can shower first,” Theo nods towards the adjacent bathroom, handing the other boy a pair of gym shorts and a tank top that Theo had outgrown from his dresser.

 

Liam takes the offered clothes, whispering his thanks as he darts into the bathroom. After the boy finishes, Theo follows right after, relaxing his tense muscle under the warmth of the spray. He takes longer than necessary, torn between excitement and nervousness at the idea of purposefully sharing a bed with Liam. Again. Maybe the past forty eight hours had been some vivid hallucination? If so, he was liking the current direction the visions were heading.

 

He dresses in the bathroom, wearing a pair of sweatpants and a looser tank top, liking the way the shirt highlighted his defined pectorals and shoulders. Theo smirks at his reflection, taking in his appearance at different angles. Yes, this would do nicely.

 

Theo exits the bathroom, smiling slightly at the sight in front of him. Liam was tucked under the covers, positioning his body in the middle of the bed. Meaning, if Theo wanted to be comfortable, he’d have to cuddle up right next to the boy, or risk falling off the bed if he tried to stay on “his” side.

 

Liam blushes once more as his eyes trail over the chimera’s body, and Theo pauses longer than necessary in the door frame to give the beta a longer look.

 

When Liam turns onto his right side, Theo turns the bedroom light off, using his golden werewolf eyes to illuminate his path to the bed.

 

“Is this okay?” he asks, crawling into the bed, also laying on his right side, his left arm resting against Liam’s back.

 

“No,” Liam says, and Theo immediately starts to scoot back to separate their touching bodies. Liam halfway turns over, grabbing Theo’s left arm and pulls it towards him. He wraps Theo’s arm around his body, the chimera’s chest pressing flush against Liam’s back in a proper spooning position.

 

“This is better,” the beta contently sighs, and Theo closes his eyes, unable to keep the smile off his face.

Chapter Text

Theo wakes in the morning, for once fully refreshed as sunlight filters through his blinds. He’s warm, though, like really obnoxiously warm, and there’s a heavy pressure on his chest.

 

Despite the discomfort, he’s unusually calm, a stark opposite from yesterday morning.

 

Cracking an eye open in hopes of being able to figure out what the fuck is happening, all he sees is a mess of brown hair obstructing his view of the rest of the room. After a few dazed moments, his mind catches up to everything that happened last night. Somehow in the middle of the night, Theo ended up flat on his back, both arms loosely wrapped around Liam to hold him in place, the smaller boy delicately resting across his chest. Theo’s hand carefully smooths down the beta’s hair to get it out of his face, loving the sensation of the soft strands gliding through his fingers.

 

Everything would have been fine and all. It’s quaint and cute, if you’re into that sort of quasi-romantic bullshit. But there’s an alarming tightness in his pants, and he knows it’s pressing roughly into the beta’s thigh.

 

The desire to beat his face against the headboard is nearly impossible to resist, because of course he was going to ruin this nice friendship moment with an Awkward Boner. Judging by the even sound of the beta’s breathing and the faint wetness of drool on his neck, he’s confident the boy is sound asleep.

 

So, he just needs to eliminate the problem before Liam wakes up.

 

Which, unfortunately, is easier said than done, because the most efficient way to make a boner go away was NOT an option at the moment.

 

Theo remembers someone once telling him they thought about clipping their grandma’s toenails when they faced the dreaded Awkward Boner. He could try it….but he doesn’t remember ever meeting his grandmother, and the Dread Doctors didn’t have toenails.

 

Instead, he imagines the horror he’d feel if Scott barged in on them at the moment, his hard dick pressed against the Alpha’s innocent and naive beta. Unfortunately, although it’d be irritating and awkward as fuck, the idea of getting caught by the pack having a sort-of-intimate-moment with Liam sends another rush of blood to his nether regions.

 

Ugh. He doesn’t know if he has some sort of voyeuristic kink or if it was more of a possession thing. It’s one thing for the weres of the pack to smell Liam and Theo’s scents mingled together, but it was another thing entirely for them to actually witness the two boys together in a slightly-maybe-more-than-friendly way.

 

Liam stirs, wiggling around ever so slightly to get more comfortable….or because he’s spiteful even in his sleep and wants to give Theo a heart attack. It could really go either way.

 

He’s forced to suppress a moan when the beta’s leg brushes over his crotch. He’s glad he wore sweatpants so he has some breathing room, because the tightness was starting to get painful at this point.

 

Liam makes a content little sigh, burying his face even deeper into Theo’s neck. Theo’s unsure how the beta can breathe in that position, but the smell of death hasn’t hit him yet, so Liam’s hanging on somehow. A small part of him finds the situation absolutely embarrassingly adorable, but there’s also the sheer, undiluted panic rising in his chest at the thought of Liam waking up and feeling an unexpected dick against his leg.

 

The beta’s breath settles into an even rhythm once more, and Theo remains motionless, focussing on the motion of Liam’s inhales and exhales, allowing the soothing sensation to calm his racing heart.

 

He closes his eyes, resigned to the fact that if he was going to resolve the problem with the power of his thoughts alone, there was one foolproof way to eliminate it. He recounts the conversation between Boyd and himself last night about his bond with Tara due to the Skinwalker’s magic. Theo allows his body and mind to experience the full extent of revulsion and terror he managed to hold at bay last night.

 

Theo spends every waking moment trying to avoid thoughts of his dead sister Tara, thoughts of his past crimes, thoughts of his monumental failures, and especially, the thoughts of how he planned to kill Liam after manipulating the beta into killing Scott. He’s strong, mentally and physically, but only because he dissociates himself from those memories by compressing them all into a little box and shoving said box into the dark depths of his mind.

 

The terror washes over his body, and he sighs, ironically in relief as the Awkward Situation instantly wilts.

 

He guesses it’s true when they say there’s a silver lining to every situation.

 

“Why you smell scared?” Liam mumbles sleepily, squirming around as he seeks a more comfortable position. Theo’s proud at his impeccable timing of resolving The Situation, ignoring the uncomfortable pounding of his heart at almost getting caught.

 

“I’m concerned you’re going to asphyxiate to death, and I’ll be blamed for it,” he lies smoothly.

 

But, his statement is partially true. That’d be an unpleasant conversation to have with Scott.

 

“Yeah hey, sorry Scott, but your beta accidentally died in my care by burying his face so deeply into my neck that he died from lack of oxygen. Oh, why didn’t I move him? Well, that might have been because I had some poorly timed morning wood, and I didn’t notice he couldn’t breathe until it was too late. Sorry again, please don’t send me back to Hell, I swear it’s all an innocent misunderstanding.”

 

He mentally snorts in amusement at himself, impressed by his own creativity.

 

Liam yawns, the beta’s warm breath ghosting over Theo’s neck, causing him to shiver.

 

“How are you one giant mass of rock hard muscle but so comfortable to lay on?” the beta asks, lifting his torso up to look Theo in the eye.

 

His green eyes meet Liam’s blazing blue, and Theo’s lips quirk up as he takes in the full extent of Liam’s disheveled appearance, from his messy hair jetting out in every direction to the pouting set of his plump lips. Both Liam and Theo were not typically considered morning people, but the chimera was willing to change his stance on the topic if it meant waking up next to Liam every morning.  

 

“I live to serve as your personal pillow,” he jokes, reveling in their close proximity. During his shower last night, Liam used Theo’s body wash, and the smell of Theo’s body wash, mixed with Liam’s normal smell, causes the chimera’s wolf to purr in contentment.

 

His muscular arms were still circled around Liam’s body, but he was broad enough compared to his little beta that he could allow his arms to drop to the side, and Liam would be fine. Was he going to do that? Hell fucking nope. But he could.

 

Knowing their moment would be over shortly now with the beta awake, Theo couldn’t help but marvel at how unbelievably lucky he was to have Liam by his side two mornings in a row. Even if the first was a misunderstanding, and the second time was….well, also kind of a misunderstanding, he was fastly becoming addicted.

 

“You can make breakfast,” Liam smirks, and Theo arches an eyebrow at the sense of deja vu.

 

“I didn’t give you a heart attack,” Theo notes, remembering their conversation from the previous morning. Tracking his eyes over the beta’s face, Theo takes in the beta’s tan skin from the time spent outside during lacrosse practice to the little scar next to his eyebrow he never noticed before. He wondered what happened but feared asking because he’d reveal he was obsessively mentally documenting every aspect of the boy’s face.

 

“But your face basically strangled me to death.” Liam sounds overly smug at his clever comeback.

 

The beta folds his arms together across Theo’s chest, using them as a makeshift pillow to rest his chin. Using one arm to reach back and rearrange his pillows. Theo props himself up about halfway, giving him a more comfortable vantage point. He wraps his arms back around the beta, the younger boy giving him a small smile in return.

 

“That was your fault!” Theo exclaims loudly, Liam flinching back at the harsh sound so close to his ear.

 

Rubbing a finger in his left ear to try to soothe it, Liam glares at the chimera. “I think I deserve some sympathy. All that lack of oxygen definitely killed a few brain cells. Plus, now I might be deaf. How can your voice go that high? Is that from the Dread Doctors sorcery, or did your voice do that as a kid? Maybe you should start singing. You could be like the male version of Mariah Carey.”

 

Theo laughs lightly at the word vomit, accidentally shaking the beta still sprawled over his chest. “We all know you need to hold onto every puny brain cell you have left.”

 

He deems the rest of Liam’s long winded rant unworthy of a reply.

 

Liam blinks, stupefied, before letting out a small sigh

 

“Fuck, I walked right into that, didn’t I?” he resignedly asks, frown marring his beautiful face.

 

Theo smirks at Liam’s put-out expression.

 

“Sure did, Little Wolf. But I’ll make you breakfast just because I feel a smidgeon bad at how easy it is to make fun of you.”

 

The younger boy slowly nods. “I guess I’ll take whatever I can get,” he whispers, voice soft and almost...vulnerable? Theo doesn’t have much time to think about it, because Liam’s rolling off his chest, the loss of warmth causing him to shiver once more as the cool air hits his heated skin.

 

“I’ll meet you downstairs,” Liam says, heading into the bathroom and closing the door. Theo hears the lock slide into place, which he thinks is wholly unnecessary. Why would Theo walk in on the beta peeing? They were fairly comfortable with one another, but that was just weird.

 

Taking the stairs two at a time, Theo’s surprised when a quick sweep of the loft does not turn up his ghostly roommate. Theo’s partially relieved because that means no inappropriate comments would be directed at him about Liam. But he’s disappointed as well, hoping to get more answers about his other haunting problem.

 

Losing himself in the familiar comfort of cooking, Theo meticulously moves through his kitchen, deciding it was a great morning for a decadent breakfast. Cooking was a hidden passion of his, having taught himself how to do it at a young age before the Dread Doctors took him. He approached new recipes like a science experiment, keeping track of every minute detail so he knew what to change next time if it didn’t turn out to his satisfaction. Or, if it was perfect, he’d be able to replicate it as needed.

 

“Do you need help?”

 

Liam’s voice startles Theo who for once wasn’t in touch with his senses. He refrains from jumping, but the hike in his heartbeat gives his surprise away.

 

“No thanks, I’d really like to keep my kitchen from burning down,” Theo chuckles, stopping abruptly as a look of hurt flashes across the beta’s face. “But, I hear you’re a coffee wizard, so if you want something besides black coffee, that can be your job.”

 

Liam rolls his eyes at Theo’s exaggerated claims but ambles over to the archaic coffee pot, using some sort of werewolf sorcery to bring the thing to life. Theo’s used it maybe once or twice, but he prefers the fancy Keurig the Dread Doctors invested in after the chimera complained for a straight week about the inconvenience of making coffee the old fashioned way.

 

The Surgeon tried to inject him with a new energy stimulant he’d been working on in his spare time, but the Geneticist absolutely refused to allow the other two Doctors to touch him after the Incident-That-Shall-Not-Be-Mentioned when he was fourteen. In an effort to keep the peace, the Pathologist bought the newest Keurig model, and Theo makes a mental note to search their lair once more to bring the item into his own kitchen.

 

Inhaling the sweet aroma of freshly brewed coffee, his mouth waters as the scent mixed with the smell of the omelettes, sausage, bacon, and toast he was cooking.

 

They eat at the breakfast bar, mugs filled to the brim with delicious coffee. Without adding too much milk, cream, or sugar, Liam somehow made the beverage just right, adding a dash of cinnamon and vanilla into the mixture. Theo watches, bemused, as the tiny beta all but inhales his breakfast, chugging his cup of coffee to wash it all down, most likely needing his werewolf healing to eliminate the burns in his mouth from the hot drink.

 

The two boys make eye contact, simultaneously moving their eyes back down to the counter where the last piece of bacon lay temptingly alone.

 

“I cooked, so I should get it,” Theo reasons, passing the fork in his right hand over to his left to give himself a better advantage if it came down to the speed of their reflexes. Liam’s hands rest on the side of his plate, palms down on the counter.

 

“But I’m the guest,” Liam counters, causing Theo to snort, because really? Were they some fancy rich friends on an episode of the Real Supernaturals of Beacon Hills?

 

Before Theo can respond, Liam’s eyes are widening and his mouth drops open in shock as he stares at something over Theo’s shoulder. The chimera whips around, fully expecting to see Boyd behind him, but all he sees is his empty living room. He turns back around, confused, noticing the empty plate of bacon in his peripheral.

 

Brows furrowing in anger at his own trick being used against him, he lunges at the smirking beta. Liam’s expression shifts from smug to shock as Theo tackles him off the stool, the boy helplessly clutching the piece of bacon in his hand as they tumble to the floor. Placing a hand behind the beta’s head before they land, he absorbs the impact of the fall in an attempt to not kill the boy. He wanted the piece of bacon, but not enough to murder his only friend over it (but a broken hand was a small price to pay).

 

Apparently, he didn’t need to worry about injuring the beta as much as he thought, because the second Liam’s back hit the floor, he wraps his legs excruciatingly tight around Theo’s midsection, flipping them over with ease. Now, Theo’s back was on the ground, the breath knocked out of him as he lands roughly. Liam’s still straddling him, using his strong thighs to crush Theo’s sides.

 

“Pinned ya,” Liam boasts, a laugh falling from his lips as he looks down at Theo’s pained expression.

 

“Oh my god, fine, you win,” he gasps, and the pressure on his midsection is released. Sucking in a desperate gulp of air, he’s grateful when Liam stops being dead weight.

 

Liam places half the piece of bacon into his mouth, slowly leaning down to bring the other end to rest against Theo’s lips. Theo’s eyes widen at the unexpected act,  seeing the lust swirling in the beta’s eyes. He parts his lips, taking the presented half of bacon into his own mouth. He uses his front teeth to carefully bite into the crispy meat, breaking his piece apart from Liam’s. Liam pulls back just slightly, giving the chimera some breathing room. Theo chews and swallows, eyes transfixed on the beta’s exposed neck as he watches the boy also swallow the food.

 

Theo swipes his tongue across his lips, tantalizingly slow, removing any potential crumbs. He shamelessly juts his bottom lip out slightly to make them look fuller and more tempting. Liam seems captivated by the movement, their faces just inches apart. Theo smells the cinnamon and vanilla undertones on the beta’s breath, and he can’t help but wonder what the beta’s mouth normally tastes like.

 

Liam drops his head down, his dark hair brushing across the Theo’s forehead. Their lips meet in a chaste kiss, the beta’s hands resting against Theo’s shoulders for balance. Liam’s lips are soft, much softer than Theo expected, and he smiles against them when he realizes they taste like bacon.

 

“You good?” Liam breathlessly sighs, sitting up and running a hand through his hair to push it off his forehead. Theo can’t even speak, stunned at the events unfolding, So, he just nods, hopelessly, and let’s out a little groan of frustration at the loss of contact. He keeps his eyes pinpointed on Liam’s lips, and when those perfect lips form into a smile, he knows the beta understood his wordless communication.

 

“You didn’t strike me as the needy type.”

 

Liam’s laughter removes any sting from the words, but Theo frowns, not sure how he feels about being considered needy in any sort of way. Liam notices the shift in expression, immediately lowering himself back down, but instead of giving Theo his desired kiss, the beta moves his mouth to Theo’s ear, running his tongue along the outer shell.

 

“But I like it,” the beta murmurs, gently sinking his teeth into the lobe of Theo’s ear. The chimera lets out a brazen moan, turning his head to the side in a silent demand that his other ear get the same treatment.

 

Liam softly giggles, the sound vibrating across Theo’s neck as the beta scents him again, his nose trailing from one side of his neck to the other.

 

“Yo, Theo, sorry for bailing on you last night-”

 

The two spring apart at the unexpected intrusion, Liam launching himself off Theo so roughly, it rips the air right from his lungs.

 

“My bad,” Boyd awkwardly mumbles, having materialized directly into the kitchen.

 

“What the fuck?!” Liam screeches, looking accusingly between Boyd and Theo’s prone form on the ground. “Did you give this guy a key to your apartment? You said you were just cleaning last night!”

 

The jealousy is evident in Liam’s voice, but Theo can smell it as well as he tries to regain his breath, struggling onto his hands and knees. He grabs the side of the counter, hoisting himself up, annoyed that Boyd decides now is a good time to reveal himself to the beta.

 

“No,” he chokes, unable to say anything more as a coughing fit wracks his body.  

 

“I’m a friend of Derek’s,” Boyd responds evenly for Theo, but Liam pays no attention to the newcomer, glare still focused on Theo.

 

Theo gives Boyd a pointed glance, hoping it conveys the “seriously, fuck you so hard right now,” he was thinking, but the darker boy shrugs helplessly, like he’s also not sure why Liam can suddenly see him.

 

“There’s nothing going on,” Theo swears, eyes locked on the beta’s to show his sincerity. The beta’s glare falters, but his frown still remains, the smell of anger and hurt emanating from the boy now.

 

“Why did he just appear in your kitchen, then?” Liam asks suspiciously, briefly glancing over at Boyd who stood rigidly, brows creased in confusion as he observes Liam and Theo’s discussion.

 

Unsure how to respond, Theo glances forlornly over to Boyd, heart sinking at the realization his secret was about to be laid bare for Liam to judge.

 

“No stress, little beta, I’m dead.”

 

For a moment, the room is dead silent, but then the tension is cracked by a sarcastic, bitter laugh from Liam.

 

“You really expect me to believe that?” he scoffs, voice angry but the devastated expression marring his beautiful face breaks the remaining pieces of Theo’s sister’s heart. “I don’t know what the fuck this is, but I shouldn’t have expected anything more from you, I guess. You’ll always be a liar and a selflish piece of shit.”

 

Liam storms across the loft, ripping the door open, ignoring Theo’s pleas to wait. That he can explain. That this truly isn’t what it looks like.

 

Standing in the doorway, Liam turns back to look at the shell-shocked chimera.

 

He angrily wipes a stray tear from his face, voice impossibly low as he finally responds to Theo’s begging.

 

But he hears him, though. And each word the beta utters is a figurative knife through his chest, blade twisting impossibly deeper as it sinks into what’s left of his battered soul.

 

“I wish I left you in the ground.”

 

As he watches the door slam closed behind Liam, Theo wishes it was a literal knife.

Chapter Text

“Dude, seriously, my bad,” Boyd reiterates, his normally amiable look replaced by regret. “I didn’t know he’d still be here when I came over-”

 

Theo doesn’t react to Boyd’s words. He just stands there stoically, staring hopefully at the door. He realizes his thought is illogical, but maybe, just maybe, if he waits here long enough, is patient long enough, the door will open, and Liam will come back to him.

 

He thinks about running after the beta but can’t find the will to move his feet, confident any altercation at this point would just result in bloodshed.

 

But in that case, maybe he should. Spilled blood and broken bones would fit nicely with the shredded remnants of his stolen heart.

 

“I don’t understand,” he mumbles, hazel eyes still glued to the door. He’s partially talking to Boyd, but also partially talking to himself.

 

Everything was going perfectly. He’d woken up peacefully, cuddling with the boy of his dreams, their combined captivating scent making his wolf purr in content. Yeah, there was the Awkward Boner incident, but it went away before Liam woke up. Then they shared a nice breakfast, they cooked together, and after a friendly scuffle (which was typical of their ‘relationship’), they finally kissed for real. Sure, technically their first kiss was yesterday, but this time they were both consciously aware of what they were doing.

 

“I honestly don’t either,” Boyd admits, jolting Theo out of his thoughts. He glances over to the ghost for the first time since Liam left, taking in his hunched shoulders and perplexed expression.

 

Theo restores his persistent gaze back to the front door. “What do you mean?”

 

“Well, there’s no reason why he should be able to see me. The only people I can reveal myself to are Derek, because he was my Alpha and the werewolf who turned me, and whomever I’m working with. Which, in this case, would obviously be you.”

 

Theo nods, half listening. It was nice knowing Boyd didn’t randomly or worse, maliciously, decide to reveal himself to Liam, but it still didn’t bring the boy back, either.

 

“Theo.” The ghost’s voice is a whisper, but it’s the unexpected hand placed on his shoulder that startles him. Boyd keeps his large hand comfortingly on Theo’s shoulder, circling around the chimera to stand face to face with him...blocking Theo’s view of the door. A pained sound escapes his throat, half growl, half whine. “Give him time. He might come back, but you wasting your days away staring at the door won’t bring him back any faster.”

 

“You don’t know that,” Theo petulantly replies, glaring up at the much taller boy.

 

Boyd rolls his eyes at Theo’s words. “I do, actually.”

 

“Oh so what, you’re a seer now, too?” Theo sneers.

 

“I prefer the term ‘realist.’ Where’s your phone? We can place it on the coffee table incase he decides to call, but we have a lot we need to talk about.”

 

Theo sighs, reluctantly nodding in agreement. Pragmatically, he knew staring at the door all day was pointless, but the task kept his mind focused, all thoughts basically nonexistent besides the singular prayer of ‘please open’ repeating non stop in his head . “It’s upstairs.”

 

Boyd pats his shoulder supportively. “I’ll go get it, you take a seat in the living room, and I’ll fill you in on everything else.”

 

He watches Boyd jog up the stairs, still amazed at the large boy’s ability to not make a single sound as he moves through the loft.

 

Theo does as he’s told, purposefully placing himself on the couch before Boyd can claim it, giving him a decent view of the front door.

 

Boyd returns, sighing as he spots Theo’s strategic placement.

 

“No.”

 

Theo smirks, defiantly crossing his arms. He sprawls out on the leather couch, allowing the thick cushions to absorb his weight, sacrificing himself to its unearthly comfortableness. His bed was expected to be ridiculously comfortable, but this couch had been a pleasant surprise when he moved in. Seriously, if the backseat of his truck was made from the same material as this couch, he probably would continue to live happily and ghost-free in the vehicle.

 

The werewolf ghost carefully places Theo’s phone on the mahogany coffee table. With one hand, Boyd grabs the bottom of the couch, rotating it around the table so the back of it faces the door, once again denying Theo the view he desires.

 

Theo attempts to bolt to the recliner but abruptly stops mid-way as Boyd literally vaults over the couch, landing precisely on the seat of the chair. He kicks his feet up onto the coffee table, giving Theo a self-satisfied smirk.

 

“Damnit,” Theo growls, flinging himself onto the couch in a childish fit of dramatics typical of….well, typical of someone he used to know. Theo entertains the idea of moving the couch back, but he’s fairly confident Boyd would do anything to prevent him from staying zoned out on the door, and he’s not sure he wants to witness the various creative methods the ghost can come up with.

 

Just to be spiteful, Theo keeps his eyes focused on the giant window pane he now had a spectacular view of, momentarily wondering if he could turn the area into a painted mural. He’d draw something science related, or maybe the preserve, with the moon high in the sky, the swaying trees in the light breeze, and a pack of wolves hunting in the darkness.

 

Theo’s heart falters, deeming the last painting a terrible idea. His whole body aches at the thought of facing a constant reminder every morning that he’ll never belong to a pack of his own.

 

He toys with the notion of painting it anyways for those days when he forgets his sins, starts to feel content with his life, or gets too wrapped up in his feelings for Liam. He deserves nothing more than a permanent reminder of the atrocious crimes he committed.

 

“So,” Boyd begins, and Theo jumps this time, once again so lost in his own head, his senses were nonexistent. “Did something happen between you and Liam since I last saw you? Besides, ya know, the part I was there for…”

 

Theo frowns, agonizingly reliving the last perfect twelve or so hours. What was out of ordinary or something that hadn’t happened before?  “I mean, not really. Nothing huge.”

 

Boyd lifts a skeptical eyebrow. “That was a whole lot of jealousy in a few short minutes if nothing huge happened between you two earlier.”

 

Theo flushes involuntarily, squirming at the idea of telling a guy he barely knew, who also happened to be dead, about the intimate moment he shared with Liam.

 

“Hey,” Boyd gently calls, Theo lifting his gaze to meet the other boy’s. “I need to know what happened so I can tell the Ghost Scientists. Maybe they can figure out why he can suddenly see me and if that means anything important in the larger scheme of things.”

 

Theo snorts, recalling their conversation last night. “Are they really called that?”

 

Boyd laughs lightly. “Nah, they each have individual names like you and I do, but as a collective, I think Ghost Scientists fits nicely. But that is beside the point.” The other boy gives Theo a meaningful look.

 

The chimera sighs, understanding the importance of gathering all the data in order to propose a possible solution or thesis on the problem. He just wished the data wasn’t centered around his personal life.

 

Theo sits up to get a better view of the ghost, crossing his legs comfortably on the cushion in the process. “I mean, nothing new really happened,” he explains, nonchalantly adding, “We kissed, but that wasn’t the first time.”

 

“Oh?” Boyd asks, leaning forward interestedly. “I mean, I joke about you guys being boyfriends and going on dates, but I thought you were still awkwardly circling around each other like oblivious idiots who haven’t come to terms with their feelings?”

 

Theo’s expression shifts quickly to offended, brows furrowing in annoyance. “I’m perfectly aware of my feelings, thank you very much. But I don’t deserve him, especially considering when we first met, I manipulated him into trying to kill Scott so I could then kill him to steal his Alpha powers and become a true werewolf. So I haven’t acted on those feelings, as I’m sure you can understand why.”

 

“Haven’t acted on those feelings until...?” Boyd rests his elbows on his knees, using his hands to hold his head. Theo really wanted to tell him he needed to get out more if he was this engrossed in Theo’s barely existent love life, but he reasoned it’d be a moot point considering the boy was dead and all.

 

“Until yesterday morning, I guess. When I left here the night before, after you rudely barged in unannounced, I went to his place. He kissed me in the morning, but we both thought we were in the midst of a dream.”

 

Boyd lets out a sharp bark of laughter. “You’re fucking serious? Oh man, of course you are. That’s some shit even the best writers in Hollywood couldn’t write.” He notices Theo’s heated glare, hazel eyes alight with anger. With significant effort, the werewolf ghost wipes the grin off his face, arranging his expression into a neutral mask, one Theo would only admit to himself he found impressive at the quick change. “Do continue.”

 

“Anyways, as I was saying,” Theo continues, rolling his eyes, “So this morning, before you rudely barged in again , we were play fighting for the last piece of bacon, and we ended up kissing.” The chimera feels his face turn crimson at the memory, wishing there were more moments like that to happen in the future, but realistically accepted the likelihood of that was slim.

 

“Who kissed who?” Boyd immediately asks, face still void of emotion, but his brown eyes were bright with laughter.

 

Theo pauses, trying to remember who technically initiated the kiss. “He brought his head down, but I’d say it was mutual.”

 

Boyd uses his thumb and index finger to stroke his chin, momentarily lost in his own thoughts. “True love’s first kiss,” he mumbles, causing Theo to whip his head around from where he was once again zoning out, head filled with possible color schemes for his colossal window pane project.

 

“Excuse me?!” Theo shrieks, wincing at the highness of his voice. Thankfully, no one important was around to witness it this time.

 

“Just joking, mate,” Boyd laughs uncomfortably, refusing to make eye contact with the chimera as he gazes around the loft. “I like what you’ve done with the place. Very minimalistic, but still modern. Has Derek been around lately?”

 

Theo arches an eyebrow haughtily, crossing his arms over his chest to amplify his look of dissatisfaction at that insufficient response and pathetic attempt at a topic change.

 

“Seriously, it was mostly a joke. But first anythings can be significant in the supernatural world. First kiss, first love, first time, first murder, first birth, first full moon, first beta, etc. Do you catch my drift?”

 

“So what you’re saying,” Theo responds matter-of-factly. “Because Liam and I kissed ‘for real,’” He uses his index and middle finger on each hand to make air quotes. “That it somehow gave him the ability to see you?”

 

Boyd shrugs. “That’s my best guess.”

 

Theo bristles at the offhandish response. “Well, a guess isn’t good enough.”

 

“Does it really matter, though?” Boyd retorts with a growl, face scrunching in irritation. “He can see me. He didn’t believe that I was dead, which lead him to incorrectly conclude I’m your secret boyfriend, and he’s jealous because he wants to be your unsecret boyfriend. It is what it is.”

 

“Now, just one moment-”

 

Boyd lifst a large hand up. “Stop.”

 

“But-”

 

“Stop.”

 

“Just-” Theo growls when Boyd leans forward, placing a long finger on the chimera’s lips.

 

“Shhhh.”

 

He silently glares at the ghost, hoping his eyes convey how much he loathes the other boy right now. Theo has half a mind to bite the appendage off, but after what happened the first night, he assumes he’ll just painfully end up breaking one of his teeth instead.

 

“Moving on,” Boyd says, returning to his position on the recliner. Theo scowls, but holds his tongue as the ghost props his feet up on the coffee table.

 

Were proper manners a foreign concept these days? The Geneticist would have struck her cane harshly across his shins if he dared to place his feet on one of their tables. “Remember how last night we talked about the link between you and your sister due to the Skinwalkers?” Theo nods his head, resisting rolling his eyes because, duh, he couldn’t forget that conversation if he wanted to. “The current theory is that she continues to ‘live’ so to speak, because of your hatred for yourself.”

 

Theo frowns contemplatively. “I think ‘hate’ is a strong word.”

 

Boyd sighs, wiping a hand across his face in annoyance. “Fine. Significantly dislike.”

 

“I don’t significantly dislike myself-” Theo’s heart skips a beat, and from Boyd’s pointed glare, the chimera knows the other boy heard it, too.

 

“Let’s go with this, then. Tara thrives off your personal belief that you deserve everything you get. No!” Boyd slams his fist on the table after Theo opens his mouth to disagree, causing a small dent to form on its surface and the chimera to snap his teeth together with an audible click. “Don’t you dare deny it. Earlier you said you ‘didn’t deserve him.’ Those were your exact words. Tell me, Theo, would pre-Hell Theo have said he didn’t deserve someone?”

 

Theo answered instantly, not needing even a second to think about his answer. “No. I would have said they didn’t deserve me.”

 

Boyd nods, satisfied with the chimera’s answer. “What about now? Say I wasn’t dead, and you were romantically interested in me. Would you deserve me?”

 

Theo’s lips thin into a straight line, and he just shrugs in response. Boyd once again nods, accepting his lack of answer as a suitable one.

 

“Exactly. You don’t believe you deserve to be happy. Hell wasn’t enough of a punishment for your crimes, apparently, because you’ve decided you’ll torture yourself for the rest of your life to atone for your sins.”

 

“You don’t understand,” Theo growls, re-adjusting his position to place his feet on the couch and circle his arms around his knees. “You weren’t around before I went to Hell. I hurt everyone and only saved people if their death would be inconvenient for me. And I never felt an ounce of remorse while doing so.”

 

Theo averts his eyes away from the window pane when he senses himself sinking into the depths of the memories he’s tried to repress. Instead, he centers his vision on the new dent in the coffee table, finding himself able to speak truthfully but impassively when he doesn’t have to witness the various expressions cross the ghost’s face. He didn’t need to see his pity, or his anger, or any of his judgment at the terrible things Theo did to people Boyd likely knew. Theo was well aware of what kind of person he had been before he went to Hell, and at times if he found himself forgetting, Tara was right there in his nightmares to remind him.

 

“Lydia ended up in Eichen House because I dug my claws into her neck to find out where the Nemeton was. I set Malia up to be killed by her mom because the she wolf had something I desired to accomplish my power trip. I convinced Liam he should kill Scott to become the Alpha so he could save his girlfriend despite knowing she was gonna die anyways. Why you ask? Because I intended to kill him after to become a real werewolf and an Alpha. I literally killed Scott.

 

I infiltrated my way into a pack led by my only childhood friends and turned them against each other. I killed my own pack to gain their power. Fuck, I killed one of them twice. I convinced Stiles he still was Void in the depths of his mind, and I hurt his dad so he’d have to choose between saving his childhood best friend or the only parent he has left. I was nine when I emotionlessly watched my sister die because I required her heart in my selfish quest for power. I didn’t kill my parents, but I didn’t object to the Dread Doctors killing them either. Nothing good comes when I’m around. I am Death and Destruction, all wrapped into a handsome face.”

 

He pauses for a moment, face dotted with red blotches after his rant, never once taking a breath while speaking. He inhales a deep breath now, but only stopped because he couldn’t remember the lyric he heard a few months ago that described him perfectly.

 

“I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.”

 

“Congrats, you’re life is a Taylor Swift song,” Boyd jokes, attempting to cut through Theo’s palpable state of angst. He sighs when Theo remains devoid of emotion, face stark white after the redness faded. “You were a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” Boyd stresses. “It happened. You were a douche, and you paid heavily for your actions by going to Hell. You can’t hate yourself forever, man. It’s why Tara retains power over you.”

 

“It sucks, but I deserve-”

 

“You’re not allowed to use the word ‘deserve’ anymore,” Boyd bellows, shocking Theo at the unexpected show of emotion. “You’ve overused it. I’m over it. Find a new word, or for the love of all that is holy, let me help you move forward.”

 

The werewolf ghost closes his eyes, rubbing his hands at a spot on his forehead just above his right eyebrow. Could ghosts get headaches? Theo promised himself he’d ask once all the drama was resolved. Maybe he should ask now since all his life seems to be lately is one shit show after another?

 

“Can you-”

 

The front door slams open, cutting the rest of Theo’s sentence off. As he springs from his seat, alarmed by the sudden noise, he briefly makes a mental note to be more consistent about locking his doors. Sure, a bolted door wouldn’t prevent a supernatural being from entering his loft if they so chose, but at least it would slow them down enough to alert Theo to their presence.

 

Unlike last night, Boyd doesn’t get up with him, instead remaining peacefully in his seat as if he anticipated this visitor.

 

Two people enter, one on his own two feet, and the other carried like a sack of potatoes over the muscular shoulder of the first person.  

 

“I can walk, you know,” Liam snaps, brushing the wrinkles out of his clothes. His expression is set in a defiant point, but the beta keeps his eyes glued to his converse, ignoring the pleading glances Theo keeps sending his way.

 

Derek sighs, the frown on his handsome face clearly indicating he’d rather be anywhere else right now than dealing with a stubborn beta who wasn’t even his charge. Theo finds it peculiar seeing the older man out of his cop uniform. He’s dressed in a tight gray Henley and dark jeans, casual but fashionable nonetheless. “Congratulations, that’s a good skill to have at seventeen. But I don’t care how old you are, if you’re going to act like a child, I’m going to treat you like one.”

 

Liam doesn’t look up, but immaturely grumbles under his breath in response. “Just wait until Scott hears about this.”

 

“Good!” Derek replies, positioning himself in front of the door to prevent Liam from darting out of it. It killed Theo knowing the beta needed to be trapped in a room with him against his will in order for them to talk. “Tell your Alpha. And tell him I’ll do the exact same to him if he chooses to act like a child, too.”

 

“Why are you here, Derek?” Theo curiously asks the older werewolf before Liam can antagonize the man further, carefully sitting back down on the couch. Liam lingers by the door, anxiety evident in his posture. His shoulders are pulled forward, the beta aimlessly twirls a loose string on his shirt back and forth around his finger.

 

“Because I texted him,” Boyd indifferently responds before Derek can answer, like a ghost texting someone was completely normal.

 

The werewolf ghost smirks at Theo’s dubious expression. “Dead people have phones?”

 

An odd, cynical sound emits from the beta,  a cross between “ha!” and “pssh” but Boyd explains before Lian can actually express his distrust with real words.

 

“Nah,” Boyd heartily laughs. “I used yours.”

 

Theo glares, offended by the breach of privacy. But, then something occurs to him. “How do you know my passcode?”

 

Boyd subtly moves his dark brown eyes to the still-pouting beta before arching a judgmental eyebrow at the chimera. Okay, so he might have used Liam’s birthday as his 4 digit passcode. At the time, he thought it was a brilliant idea, but apparently not if he was trying to prevent access to his device from crafty/nosy ghosts.

 

“Care to explain why you texted him, and why he’s holding Liam against his will?”

 

“I’d like to know, too!” Liam adds. Theo’s back is to the beta, but he can unsurprisingly smell his anger at his current predicament. .

 

“Boyd texted me after Scott’s dearest beta jumped to conclusions and stormed out of here without listening to anyone’s explanation.” Derek emphasizes the ‘Scott’s beta’ part, essentially saying no beta of his would ever jump to conclusions or storm away like that. Boyd rolls his eyes, but to Theo, the act seems more fond than anything else. “So I hunted this little guy down and dragged him here to listen to what Boyd and I have to say since he refuses to listen to Theo. You know, the guy he’s been spending all of his free time with for the last few months.”

 

Theo turns around to look over the couch just in time to see Derek sarcastically pat Liam on the top of his head, earning a deep growl from the beta for his antics. Theo forces himself to turn back around so Liam couldn’t see the smirk crossing his lips.

 

“So I’m here, feel free to spew whatever bullshit lies Theo’s convinced you of. It’s what he’s best at, afterall.”

 

Theo frowns but doesn’t defend himself, hurt by the boy’s words. Did Liam really think he was still trying to manipulate everyone? Why did he bother to hangout with the chimera, than, if he thought so poorly of him?

 

“Can you sit on the couch and listen without interrupting like a grown-up, or do I need to break out the chains and duct tape?”

 

“I’ll sit,” Liam immediately responds, coming around the side of the couch to sit as far away from Theo as humanly possible.

 

“Teenagers,” Derek sighs darkly, following the beta and settling himself onto the middle cushion, creating a strong barrier between Theo and Liam. He’d never admit it out loud, but he appreciated the wall, given the beta’s temperamental history and love for punching Theo in the face. Although it would heal almost instantly, he didn’t need a broken nose to add to the pile of shit he already had going on.

 

“Before we begin,” Derek starts, voice losing any sense of annoyance, instead shifting to more of a ‘teacher voice.’ “Liam, I want you to focus your hearing on the heart beats in the room. How many do you hear?”

 

The beta closes his eyes in concentration, surprisingly doing as he’s told without complaint. Apparently the threat of being chained down was one the beta took seriously, and Theo filed that information away for future reference.

 

“Three,” Liam answers proudly. The boy opens his eyes and does a quick scan of the room, brows furrowing in confusion when he realizes there should be four.

 

“Okay,” Derek nods. “Can you describe Boyd’s scent to me, please?”

 

Liam shuts his eyes once more, his nose visibly expanding as he inhales deeper. Theo can tell the exact moment he concludes Boyd doesn’t have a smell because the beta’s lips pull down in a cute, confused frown.

 

“Liam?” Derek kindly prompts.

 

“He doesn’t have one,” Liam answers with a disgruntled tone.

 

Derek nods again. “Okay, last one. It’ll be easier if you shift to your werewolf eyes. Can you see anything unusual in his appearance?”

 

Theo leans around Derek slightly to watch as Liam’s eyes transition from baby blue to his gorgeous golden ones. He returns to his previous position, Derek’s bulk blocking the chimera from Liam’s view. Following the beta’s lead, he switches to his werewolf eyes, intently concentrating on Boyd’s appearance. Now that he’s paying attention, the ethereal glow he noticed around the werewolf ghost earlier is practically blinding, and Theo’s shifts his eyes quickly back to his normal ones, blinking them repeatedly to ease the burning sensation.

 

The chimera peers forward to observe the beta, smiling softly when Liam seems to have the same experience.

 

“Jesus,” he exclaims, rubbing a fist over his watering eyes. “Could have warned me it’d be like looking straight at the sun.”

 

Derek chuckles as Boyd frowns self consciously. “Is it that bad? I can’t see myself in the mirror. Why didn’t anyone ever say anything? Though, I guess that explains why the last guy always kept his sunglasses on...”

 

“Are you sure you aren’t a vampire?” Theo genially laughs, immediately stopping when he smells Liam’s aggravation. He gloomily sighs, wondering if the beta would ever forgive him.

 

Sensing the downward spiral in his mood, the older werewolf moves to regain control of the conversation.

 

“Okay, I’ll explain more, but first and foremost, do you believe us when we say Boyd is dead?”

 

Liam shakes his head no. “I don’t believe this strange guy or the science experiment, but I trust you, Derek.”

 

Theo’s torn between flipping the coffee table in a fit of rage or crying pathetically at the unfairness of it all. He didn’t even DO anything! He’s so confused and hurt by it all. Liam should trust him first and foremost like Derek hinted at earlier, not the ex-mentor of his Alpha who he’s barely spent any amount of time with.

 

Unwilling to have a temper tantrum in front of the older werewolf, Theo sinks miserably into the couch in a bid to preserve what’s left of his remaining dignity.  

 

“Alright, that’s fair,” Derek says, discreetly patting Theo’s knee in a comforting gesture. “So Scott told you about my time as an Alpha and when the Alpha pack came into town?” Liam nods in confirmation. “Okay, good. Boyd here is one of the betas I turned during my pitiful stint as an Alpha.”

 

“I’ve seen worse Alphas,” Liam argues, side-eyeing Theo in the process.

 

“Fuck you, Dunbar,” Theo growls, unable to maintain his composure. The chimera moves to stand up, but Derek stretches his arm out, essentially clotheslining him. Fortunately, the older man hits him in his stomach instead of his neck. Unfortunately, it still rips the breath from his lungs, causing him to gasp for air, ungracefully landing back in his seat.

 

“Do I need the chains for you, Theo?” Derek threatens, his thick eyebrows pulling together in a disappointed expression.

 

“I’m not really into that kind of stuff,” Theo sarcastically replies, earning a snort from Boyd and a tiny smile from Liam, the latter glaring at Theo when they make eye contact. Too pissed off to care, Theo shoots Liam a saucy wink, internally giggling at the pink flush of the beta’s cheeks as the boy looks away, lips forming into a pout.

 

Derek growls loudly, the sound reverberating around the loft, making it sound ten times more menacing than normal. Theo unconsciously flinches, and Liam recoils, scooting impossibly further to the edge of the couch.

 

“One more word, and you’re both getting chained and your mouths taped shut. Do I make myself clear?”

 

Liam hastily nods, and Theo mutters a testy, “crystal.”

 

Derek huffs, crossing his arms over his buff chest. “As I was saying, Boyd was my beta and was killed by one of the members of the Alpha Pack, Kali, when she threw him onto my unsheathed claws.”

 

The older werewolf says everything plainly, but Theo presumes Derek is still riddled with guilt over the death. Liam makes a pained, sympathetic noise, and Theo aches to reach over and comfort the younger boy, but considering his current attitude, he doesn’t think he’ll receive a warm welcome.

 

“Long story short, because Boyd was innocent and unfairly murdered, he was able to return as a ghost to help other supernatural creatures. He basically acts as a mentor, assisting either newly turned creatures in adjusting and adapting or providing solutions to any creature who has an unusual problem.”

 

“But Theo isn’t technically supernatural,” Liam notes, cowering from Derek’s gaze when he realizes he spoke when he wasn’t supposed to.

 

Derek rolls his eyes, lightly chuckling at the fear in the normally bold beta’s expression. “You can ask questions, Liam. Just keep the smart-ass remarks to yourself, please.”

 

Liam relaxes minimally at Derek’s words, maintaining a watchful gaze on the older man. Theo internally frowns after repeating Liam’s words in his head. It never crossed his mind that by most standards, he wasn’t a supernatural being, so Boyd shouldn’t be able to assist him with whatever fuckery he was currently involved in.

 

“You make a good point,” Boyd agrees, granting Liam a friendly smile which the beta did not return. “Theo’s situation is unique. Just to catch you up, Liam, the Skinwalkers casted a dark spell on the sword Kira used to send Theo to Hell with his sister, Tara. Because she was murdered so Theo could use her heart to become a chimera, the spell amplified their link together. His -”

 

Theo coughs, not caring about subtleness, giving the ghost a meaningful glare, hoping the boy understood his silent plea to omit certain embarrassing details, like how he basically hates himself for everything he’s done.

 

Boyd inclines his head ever-so-slightly in understanding.

 

“Because of Theo’s inability to forgive himself for his past crimes, the link, which should have broken when he came back -”

 

“Was rescued,” Theo corrects, glaring challengingly at Derek for his interruption. The older werewolf rolls his eyes but nods at Boyd to continue.

 

Boyd smirks at the younger chimera defying his once overly proud Alpha. “The link should have broken when you rescued Theo from Hell, but due to his current feelings in regards to himself, the spell festers, allowing Tara to retain life in Theo’s dreams.”

 

“What do you mean ‘retain life’?” Liam leans forward, concern written all over his beautiful face. Theo marvels at the beta’s worry over him, but a small, vicious part in the back of his mind whispers that he’s only distressed by the idea of another dead person coming back to life.

 

“Ah…” Boyd trails off awkwardly. “Probably best to let Theo explain that part.”

 

Theo’s partially grateful for being allowed to describe the issue on his own terms, but he also loathes being put on the spot like this. Normally, he’s superb with words and can craft a sufficient answer quickly, but in this situation, he feels raw and exposed, incapable of appearing vulnerable around anyone, much less the boy he’s found himself falling for. And those feelings alone were a whole new terrifying experience he was trying to cope in conjunction with being haunted by his dead sister.

 

Poor Boyd, the werewolf ghost probably had no idea just how fucked Theo’s life was when he signed up for this gig.

 

Theo stares down at his hands in his lap, entwining them together and pushing the nail of his right thumb into the skin on his left thumb, letting the pain at the action ground him in reality.

 

“Every night since I came back from Hell, I dream about being in the hospital, waking up in the morgue, and Tara rightfully rips her heart out of my chest. No matter what I do or say, the vision repeats until I wake up. Lately, she’s been getting more daring, replacing herself with people in my life. Derek, Peter, Lydia, Scott, you…”

 

Theo hesitatingly glances up, seeing Liam thoughtfully stare out the window pane, wincing when his name is mentioned in the list of people who appear consistently in Theo’s nightmares “I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but the past two nights, I never once felt you wake up or heard your heart rate increase as if you were having a nightmare.”

 

Boyd makes an excited sound of interest at the statement. “You do appear better rested since I first saw you.”

 

“I don’t remember any dreams at all,” Theo agrees, blushing under the scrutiny of all three werewolves in the room

 

“What do you think that means?” Derek gruffly asks, looking back and forth between Liam and Theo as if they were a frustrating problem he couldn’t quite figure out the answer to.

 

“I’m not sure,” Boyd sighs, deflating. “Between Liam being able to see me all of a sudden, his presence possibly preventing Theo’s nightmares, and him randomly storming in when Theo reeked of fear, I’d assume they have some sort of connection, too.”

 

“Makes sense since Liam was the one who used the sword to rescue him,” Derek adds in agreement.

 

“Wait, what do you mean ‘all of a sudden?’ Have you been here before while I was here?” Liam’s voice has a note of panic in it, the scent of his embarrassment reaching Theo’s perceptive nose.

 

“Yep, I was here when you came over for your wallet and when you barged in last night to grab your sweatshirt.”

 

Liam turns an accusing glare to Theo, who shrinks into himself at the negative attention. “Is that why you threw me onto your couch? Why didn’t you just tell me about him? I thought we trusted each other, or is our entire friendship one-sided?”

 

“No!” Theo cries, literally crawling over Derek’s lap to sit next to the boy. The older werewolf huffs agitatedly, but scoots into the spot Theo just vacated, muttering under his breath, “You both better behave, or I’ll separate you again.”

 

Theo entwines his hand into Liam’s, using his free hand to gently lift the beta’s chin up like Liam did to him yesterday in the Geneticist’s office. “Hey, I do trust you. But it’s hard being vulnerable in front of anyone, especially someone I want to impress. And, seriously, do you know how crazy it sounds to admit I’m haunted by not one, but two, dead people? Even in your supernatural world-”

 

“Our,” Liam interrupts.

 

“What?” Theo confusedly asks, losing his train of thought.

 

“You said ‘your supernatural world.’ I corrected it to ‘our supernatural world.’ Because even if your gifts were given to you by mad scientists, you’re just as much of a part of this world as Derek, Boyd, or me.”

 

Theo moves to counter argue, but Liam delicately arches a challenging eyebrow in much the same way Theo would. Caught off guard, Theo closes his mouth, allowing the boy to continue talking. Liam smirks satisfyingly at him, and the chimera sulks, wondering when the younger boy started to pick up his traits. “What’s this about you wanting to impress me?”

 

Theo sighs. Of course that’s the one part he wants to focus on. “Anyways,” Theo drawls, deciding it’s best to bypass Liam’s last question to avoid further awkward conversations.  “It’s not normal in any world to be haunted by the sister you helped murder and a Supernatural Guidance Counselor.”

 

The beta blinks in consideration before giving him an understanding nod. Seeing dead people was more Lydia’s  neck of the woods, and for non-Banshees, it wasn’t a popular power to have.

 

“So what do we have to do to fix this issue?” Liam firmly asks, glaring at both Boyd and Derek when they don’t instantly start spewing out possible solutions. The younger boy stands up and starts pacing back and forth where the couch should be, waving his hands wildly in the air as he speaks. “We need a plan right now. Should we tell Scott? I can talk to Deaton if you haven’t already. Were those books from the...” Liam pauses, giving Theo an unsubtle but knowing glance. “From the you-know-where. We could also give them to Mason, he’s great at research. Or Stiles, but shipping charges will probably be expensive to get them across the state.”

 

Theo grins brightly at the determination in the beta’s voice, amazed that even after all the terrible shit he’s done, this incredible boy remains by his side.

 

Boyd laughs at Liam’s sudden enthusiasm and word vomit, while Derek simultaneously rolls his eyes, but there’s a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

 

“I don’t remember 99% of your questions, so let’s go with this. Simplest answer,” Boyd explains, mirth evident on his handsome face. “Theo needs to forgive himself. More complicated answer? Theo seeks forgiveness by apologizing to everyone he’s hurt. After that, maybe then he can forgive himself and break the spell.”

 

“I need to apologize to every person I’ve hurt?” Theo repeats in horror, mouth agape at the idea of approaching Stiles, who wasn’t even in the same state, or fuck, Malia. “They’ll murder me!”

 

“No they won’t,” Liam rigidly promises, squeezing Theo’s hand reassuringly. “I won’t let them.”

 

“I think you’ll find Scott’s pack to be more understanding than you assume,” Derek curtly adds, but then squints his eyes in thought. “Though, my niece may be a bit difficult to deal with. But no worries, you heal quickly.”

 

“You can support him from behind the scenes,” Boyd warns the beta, the seriousness in his tone causing Liam to sit up straighter. “But you can’t interfere directly. Theo needs to do this on his own.”

 

Liam opens his mouth to argue, but shuts it quickly at Derek’s “ hem-hem .” Despite his current state of fear, Theo returns Liam’s reassuring squeeze, silently promising to protect him in Derek’s unlikely attempt to chain him up for arguing.

 

“What happens if everyone forgives me, but Tara keeps showing up in my nightmares?” Theo fearfully asks.

 

He understands this plan is not foolproof or guaranteed to work. Shit, if anything, it was a poor excuse of an educated guess with little to no facts to support it that hopefully might work. As a scientist, he gets that, he really does.

 

But the non-scientist part of him he demands reassurance there’s a backup plan in the works. Plan B. Stiles always had a Plan B because Plan A never worked. That’s what the annoying human always said. Surely the older werewolf and his ghost beta would have a second plan at least semi-formulated?

 

“I know a guy in New York who does exorcisms,” Derek answers gravely. Liam chokes on air, and Theo gently pats his back until his face returns to a normal color.

 

Theo assesses the older werewolf. His heartbeat is steady, and his expression is blank, giving no obvious indicators of the truth in his statement.

 

“I’d rather do that first if we’re being honest,” Theo shrugs, causing Boyd to cackle at his honesty, especially after Liam painfully digs his claws into Theo’s forearm.

 

“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t give you time to explain yesterday and jumped to conclusions without facts to back them up, but I’ve seen enough horror movies to know an exorcism isn’t good for anyone involved. You’ll probably just make it worse,” Liam persuasively explains.

 

Theo moves his eyes from Liam’s pleading expression, down to the coppery blood dripping down his arm, and back up to Liam’s face. The beta glances down, immediately shifting his claws back to his normal nails with an apologetic smile. He leans forward, handing Theo a box of tissues to clean his arm.

 

“I can research on exorcisms,” Boyd provides helpfully, ignoring Liam’s displeased glare.

 

“Derek!” Liam whines, pouting at the older werewolf. “Tell them you were just joking, please.”

 

“I must not tell lies,” Derek responds with a straight face.

 

Theo makes a pleased sound at the reference, fist bumping the older man at the smoothness of his answer. Liam groans in annoyance, throwing his head back to glare up at the ceiling and mumble something about being surrounded by a bunch of nerds.

 

Derek stands up, and a burst of terror courses through Theo’s veins at his departure. “This has been fun and all, but I’ve gotta get to work.”

 

Boyd follows his head, leaving Theo and Liam as the only ones still sitting. “I’ve gotta bounce, too, but I’ll be back in a few hours to see how everything is going.”

 

“Wait! You can’t leave yet!” Theo cries, glancing unsurely between the two. “What am I supposed to do? Where do I start? I don’t even know how to apologize.” His hazel eyes are wide, and if he couldn’t control his chemosignals, he knows he’d stink of anxiety. “Are there like, supernatural antidepressants I can take instead? I bet I can make some! Maybe I should try that first?”

 

Derek rolls his eyes at Theo’s dramatic proclamations and hopeful look. “Start with Lydia. She’s the most understanding and accepting, and she may speak kindly of you while you work on talking to the others. And by all means, feel free to experiment but only on yourself, please. Scott will likely overlook his ‘we don’t kill people’ motto if you kill his baby beta.”

 

“I’m not a baby,” Liam pouts, crossing his arms over his chest, but Theo’s gaze hones in on the plumpness of the boy’s lips, and he finds himself suddenly wishing Boyd and Derek would hurry the fuck up and leave. He’s pretty sure he can weazel a few sympathy kisses out of Liam, which really would make the whole Apologizing-to-People-He-Tried-to-Manipulate-And/Or-Murder thing much less daunting and immensely more rewarding.

 

“And you can practice on Liam since he wants to help!” Boyd adds cheerfully, shooting Theo a cheeky wink before disappearing in a flash of light.

 

“Wicked!” Liam says in awe, despite the tears forming in the corners of his eyes at the harsh brightness.

 

“I’m going to be haunted for the rest of my life,” he moans despondently, flopping back against the couch.

 

“I’ve got you, T,” Liam smiles, placing a reassuring kiss on his cheek.

Chapter Text

“This is why you should make better choices than me, Liam,” Theo notes, eyes closed as he folded his arms behind his head to make the languid position more comfortable.

 

Liam flicks his finger against the side of Theo’s head, earning a growl for his antics. “I am soooo glad I’m an only child.”

 

“So no one can murder you or so you can’t murder anyone else?” Theo curiously asks, reaching his hand out and returning the flick twice as hard.

 

He smirks when he hears the beta’s soft gasp of pain.  

 

Liam pauses a moment, considering the question. “Both, I guess. It can be annoying having all the attention from my mom and step-dad focused solely on me, but it’s also nice not having to compete with anyone for attention when I need it.”

 

Theo holds his tongue, deciding it was best not to tell the boy quite yet that he would never have to complete for Theo’s attention. Might seem a bit too….forward.

 

“I really can’t imagine you with a sibling, though, especially a sister. Did she make fun of you for being such a pretentious nerd? Or was she even worse than you?”

 

Pause.

 

“Is that even possible?” the beta finishes in fake awe.

 

Theo laughs lightly, surprisingly okay with discussing these difficult memories with the boy beside him. He’s pushed the thoughts out of his mind for years, briefly reliving them when he was trying to get Stiles to trust him.

 

“She was a lot like, Stiles, actually, clever but also a smart-ass.” Liam snorts, mumbling something about “must run in the family.”

 

“I think Scott and him only bothered with me because Scott had a crush on Tara. She was smart, too, but not as into her studies as I was. She teased me sometimes for it, but honestly, she left me alone most of the time. Occasionally, she’d stand up for me to the kids at school if they picked on me, but after I yelled at her to leave me alone because the teasing got worse when I ‘had to stand behind my older sister because I was so weak,’ she essentially ignored me unless it was necessary to talk to me.”

 

Theo opens his eyes for the first time since Boyd left to see Liam nodding in understanding. “Can you tell me more about…” The beta waves his hand in the air. “All this shit that’s going on? Like more of the finer details.”

 

“Of course.” Theo readjusts himself on the couch, turning to face Liam as he pulls his legs onto the couch and crosses them underneath himself. “How much do you know about what happens to humans when they die according to Greek mythology?”

 

Liam squints in confusion, clearly wondering how this related to anything they were dealing with but indulges the chimera’s questioning.

 

“A fair bit. When a person dies, their soul leaves their body and is transported to the Gates of the Underworld where they await judgment. Most people aren’t either good or bad, so they wander the Fields of Asphodel for eternity with no memory of who they are. For the wicked who’ve committed heinous crimes or angered the Gods, they are banished to Tartarus which is far below the Underworld. Once there, they’ll be punished for their sins in any way the Gods feel is suitable for what they did while they were alive. The righteous and distinguished who’ve done good deeds most of their lives and the heroes close to the Gods can enter Elysium where they’ll live a good life with no labors. Within Elysium, there’s the Isles of the Blessed. Anytime a soul enters Elysium, they can choose to stay there or be reborn. After the third rebirth, if they reach Elysium each time, they’ll enter the Isles and live in eternal paradise.”

 

Theo nods, impressed because he didn’t know the last part. He’s also slightly turned-on by how passionate the beta talks when he’s discussing something he finds interesting. “Very good, Liam.”

 

Liam mockingly rolls his eyes. “Thank you, Mr. Raeken.”

 

Theo ignores the thrill of pleasure at the formal title.

 

“Okay, so, according to Boyd, Tara entered the Fields of Asphodel like any human would, but was able to keep some memories because she was murdered. And since her heart is in my body, we have a unique connection like a dead organ Donor would have to the Recipient of their body part. The connection is normally harmless, and the Donor can sometimes even give advice in times of need. Basically, they live in these people’s dreams but aren’t able to do much unless in dire circumstances.”

 

Liam’s lips tilt down into a small frown, but he doesn’t interrupt Theo’s explanation.

 

“Whatever the Skinwalkers did to that sword preyed upon that connection, amplifying her negative emotions and giving her extraordinary power to ‘live’ again so to speak to pull me down…”

 

He finds himself choking on the word, images flashing through his mind at warp speed of his plea to Scott to save him, followed by all the ways Tara has ripped his heart out.

 

“Down there. When you rescued me, Boyd thinks the connection should have broken. But, of course, those bitches did some extra fuckery, and Tara retains power within my dreams. Not only can she speak in them, but she can completely alter the dreamscape and change her appearance into literally everyone and anyone who I know.”

 

“And Boyd thinks she maintains this power because you think you deserve it? And to begin forgiving yourself, you need to seek forgiveness from others?”

 

Theo nods, suddenly weighed down by the immense task ahead.

 

“How am I supposed to do this, Liam? These people don’t want to be in the same room as me, let alone hear me speak,” Theo tragically whines, deciding that adding a splash of extra drama to his spoken thoughts would be worth the wound to his pride. He wasn’t normally one to be such a whiny bitch, but if it meant getting more Reassurance Kisses, he’d say a lot of over the top dramatic bullshit.

 

And who knows, maybe he’ll get something more than just a cheek kiss? He would happily accept more cheek smooches, of course, but he definitely was not opposed to a repeat of their kitchen floor moment (minus the poor timing of his ghost buddy and the ensuing drama).

 

“Bro, it’ll be fine. Start small and work your way up,” Liam sighs, lacing his fingers through Theo’s and giving it an encouraging squeeze.

 

Frowning at the lack of kisses, Theo resolves to turn the theatrics up a bit. If he can accomplish this first goal (i.e. sympathy kisses), than he’d go in to the next goal (i.e. ‘apologizing’ to people who hate him) with more confidence.

 

“First of all, don’t call me ‘bro’. And secondly, I have physical and emotionally maimed all of them in some type of way. Why would any of them want to forgive me?”  

 

This is a reasonable question, he thinks, if someone were to ask his highly intelligent opinion. If he were in their shoes, he wouldn’t give himself the time of day. Granted, he’s clearly not as “nice” as them, but still. He literally killed their Alpha in a fit of impulsive rage because the one he tried to manipulate to do it (AKA the handsome beta currently holding his hand) failed to do so. If they forgive him for that, than they’re clearly dumber than he originally thought.

 

Liam rolls his eyes, and regrettably, does not fall for Theo’s intricately designed trap. What the fuck. Was he losing his touch? Was he not charming anymore? Did Liam no longer find him attractive? Has Liam ever found him attractive? The beta’s response interrupts his panicked internal monologue.

 

“Okay, bruh .” The beta laughs when Theo smacks his arm in faux annoyance, but the chimera assumes Liam notices the smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “I mean, what you say makes sense. I get it. But it’s obvious to anyone with eyes you’ve changed since you came back-”

 

“Was rescued,” Theo butts in again, but Liam proceeds to talk over him, tightening his grip on Theo’s hand to the point of pain in retaliation for cutting him off, but the chimera stubbornly holds back his wince.

 

Has Liam always been so sassy, and he just overlooked it? Or was this a new development and another trait the beta picked up from Theo? He guesses it’s better Liam pick up his insolence rather than his previous murderous tendencies. He’s not quite sure how he feels about the idea of Liam ending the life of someone else. On one hand, it’s kind of sexy? Yes, he knows that’s a fucked up thought to have, but it doesn’t stop him from briefly imagining the thought of his precious beta jamming his claws into the soft flesh of an enemy, preferably Monroe, and watching with satisfaction as the light leaves her vicious eyes.

 

But, on the other hand, he wants to spare Liam from ever experiencing the loss of part of his soul that occurs when you take a life, especially one of an innocent. You’re never quite the same after something like that, and Theo vows right then and there to kill anyone, even himself, if it meant protecting Liam from something like that.  

 

“And you’ve saved my life multiple times,” Liam continues, jerking Theo out of his thoughts. “Sometimes even to the extent of likely dying in the process. Stuff like that doesn’t go unnoticed.”

 

Theo sighs, smelling the determination radiating from the stubborn boy and the rigidness in his entire posture. Theo wasn’t prone to gambling, but he bets this wasn’t an argument he was going to win. And as any sane person knows, when one tactic fails, it’s best to try a very similar tactic and cross your fingers for better results.

 

“But Liam,” Theo groans, dropping his forehead to Liam’s shoulder in artificial angst. “How do I begin? What do I say? Should I write it down and read from that? And then you can proofread it! That’s a great idea. Let me go find some paper.”

 

Theo moves to stand up, but Liam uses their entwined hands to pull him roughly back down onto the couch.

 

“Absolutely NOPE.” Liam obnoxiously accentuates the ‘p’ sound to the point of rudeness. Theo frowns, realizing his (possibly exaggerated) anguish is being met with nothing but sass. Where was the sweet, comforting Liam he saw when Derek and Boyd were here?! The fuck was this shit??

 

Liam continues, unaware of Theo’s inner turmoil. Or probably just decided to ignore it. Theo snorts in amusement at this own thoughts, ignoring Liam’s raised eyebrow in confusion.

 

“You need to speak from the heart, otherwise it’ll seem contrived and fake.”

 

Oh goodness. Theo senses the melodramatic explosion before he can stop it. Maybe he was deluding himself by saying he was just being dramatic for kisses? Maybe he really was freaking out? Emotions weren’t his thing. He was logical. Intelligent. Sharp-witted. He wasn’t sensitive, or tuned in to his feelings . Even saying that word…. feelings ….leaves him feeling nauseated, at least when it was in reference to his own.

 

“You mean my stolen heart, Liam?” Theo turns his face downwards, wrenching his hand free from the beta’s. He doesn’t deserve the boy’s comfort, and he certainly doesn’t want his pity. Theo laces his fingers together, dropping them to his lap and focussing his gaze there. Where it was safe.

 

“They may see I’ve helped you in the past, but they won’t forget what I did to my own sister, my own flesh and blood, as a child , Liam. Do you understand that? Do you know what kind of a person it takes to do something like that as a nine-year old?”

 

Theo stands, and this time,  Liam doesn’t try to stop him. Walking to the window, he stares unseeingly out at the city below. “I’ve been a monster since I was a kid. Sure, I told Stiles I was naive and believed the Dread Doctors when they said Tara wanted me to have her heart. And part of that was true, I suppose. But deep down? What kind of smart kid legitimately believes that? Hell, what kind of dumb kid believes their happy and perfect sister wants to sacrifice her life just so her sibling can participate in some power trip experiment conducted by some creepy people in masks? I stole her life from her, Liam, because I was tired of being the weak, overlooked son. I craved power because I was scared all the fucking time, because the kids at school bullied me for being different. Something as terrible as that is not forgotten by a few good deeds. How do you move past that?”

 

He whispers the last question, aware Liam could easily hear it, but it’s more to himself than anything. Would he ever be able to forgive himself, even if all of Liam’s crazy pack members did? What was the point in trying something you didn’t even believe in?

 

Hearing a low growl, Theo turns in surprise to see a positively furious beta angirly scowling at him from his perch on the couch. The boy swiftly joins him at the window, all but leaping over the coffee table to reach him faster.

 

“So you’re just going to give up, then? Let yourself be haunted by your dead sister because you think you don’t deserve better? What kind of pathetic shit is that? LOOK AT ME WHEN I TALK TO YOU!” Theo had started to move his eyes back to gazing emotionlessly out the window, but Liam’s shout startles him, and he whips around in shock, wide hazel eyes meeting the golden eyes of the boy next to him. Why was Liam so mad he was losing control?!  

 

Liam snorts, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring up at Theo, golden irises slowly fading back to blue. “I guess I don’t know why I’m surprised. You always seem to give up when the going gets tough.”

 

Theo’s mouth drops in shock, noting the steadiness of the boy’s heart beat, and he seethed at the beta’s audacity. To Liam’s knowledge, Theo has never given up on anything, whether is was a simple task or difficult, almost pointless endeavor (which, okay, he probably should have conceded defeat after failing to kill Scott and resurrecting his chimera pack, but hindsight bias was a bitch). Theo was a lot of things, most of them not ‘good’ per se, but he sure as fuck didn’t just toss in the towel because things looked bleak  “ Excuse me ?! Can you please repeat that, because I don’t think I heard you correctly.

 

“Oh, so now you’re deaf as well as weak?”

 

Excuse me ?” he repeats again, his voice approaching a shrieking sound.

 

“I. Said. You’re. Weak.” Liam slowly enunciates each word, and Theo has to resist pettilly kicking the boy the entire time he speaks.

 

The frostiness in Liam’s normally bright blue eyes makes Theo want to shiver, but the rage in his soul is like a fiery hot flame coursing through his veins.

 

“FUCK YOU!” he roars, stepping closer to the shorter boy, knowing it agitates him when people get in his face. The little shit just smirks at him, arching a mocking eyebrow.

 

Theo wants to wrap his hands around his throat and squeeze until his face turns blue, or throw him out the window (not to kill him of course, just damage him enough to teach him a lesson on rudeness. Theo planted bushes around the side of the building for the very purpose of tossing someone out the window if need be. Sure, he never once imagined it would be used on Liam, but at least he was thoughtful!)

 

“How original,” Liam bites back, rolling his eyes so far back into his head that Theo thinks they might get stuck like that. He’s mildly disappointed when they don’t. “I understand now why the Dread Doctors called you a failure. They clearly meant it in more than just that one way.”  

 

The Dread Doctors taught Theo from Day 1 on how to control his emotions, and it was one of the first skills he mastered. Besides the whole Killing Scott Incident, he kept a pretty tight reign on them.

 

But, at that moment, Theo sees red, and all thoughts of maintaining his control fly out the window in place of the presumptuous boy standing in front of him.

 

By the time Theo pulls his hand back to deliver a fierce blow to the brazen beta, Liam’s already raked his claws brutally across the chimera’s cheek, and then easily dodges the messy punch Theo aimed at his face.

 

Ignoring the blood running down the side of his cheek from the already healed cut, Theo attempts to tackle the beta, but instead finds hands that aren’t his own gripping the front of his shirt. Before he can react, Liam’s leg is sweeping Theo’s feet out from under him, lifting him slightly off his feet before slamming him onto the hardwood floor. The beta straddles him, pinning his arms to his side in an unfortunately non-sexy way.

 

Theo lifts his head, fangs unsheathing and eyes turning golden as he roars in the beta’s face.

 

Face emotionless, Liam proceeds to just blink unimpressively down at him.

 

Groaning in frustration, Theo allows his head to carefully fall back onto the floor, relaxing his muscles in the process.

 

“Are you done, yet, or should I keep beating your ass?”

 

“Whatever you think is best, sir,” Theo childishly retorts, closing his eyes in feigned nonchalance.

 

Liam relaxes his hold but doesn’t move to get off him.

 

Theo waits patiently, taking deep breaths to lower his heart rate.

 

One….two….three….four….five.

 

Using the strength in his core and Liam’s loosened grip to his advantage, he quickly raises his upper body up, essentially doing a sit-up, and knocks his forehead into Liam’s face. He hears the satisfying sound of Liam’s nose breaking, and Theo uses his momentum to free his arms and shove the boy a few feet away from him.

 

He jumps up into a low crouch, adrenaline causing his heart to pound in his chest and increase his breathing. He waits for the boy to attack again, but Liam sits up, gingerly touching his fingertips to his nose.

 

“Help me adjust my nose, will you? I don’t want it to set funny” Liam asks like they didn’t just brawl in the middle of Theo’s living room. He looks away in disgust at his blood covered hands.  

 

Approaching cautiously in case it’s a trap, Theo stops in front of the now calm boy. “On the count of three?”

 

Liam nods in agreement, tensing as Theo begins counting, lifting his hands to the other boy’s face.

 

“One….two…. “ Theo sets his nose back into place, probably rougher than necessary, and he smirks at the beta’s aggravated grumble of, “You said three!”

 

“That was three,” Theo retorts, rolling his eyes before heading to the kitchen to clean their combined blood off his skin.

 

“That’s not how it works!” Liam complains, hot on his heels as he walks across the loft. Theo’s glad he doesn’t have downstairs neighbors (or any neighbors, if he’s being honest) because the tiny beta walks like a goddamn elephant.when he was annoyed...which was like, 9/10 times. “It’s one, two, three, set.”

 

“That would be four seconds, then. I can do that next time if you want”

 

“Ugh, whatever, I’m done arguing with you, there’s no point.”

 

Theo nods in understanding, glad the beta didn’t challenge his phrasing. They both knew there would be a ‘next time’ when it came to them and nose breaking. It was their thing at this point. “That’s about the only accurate thing you’ve said in the past twenty minutes.”

 

Theo wets a clean paper towel and gently rubs the dried blood off the beta’s face, cutting off his reply. Smiling softly at the flushed cheeks he finds underneath, Theo tosses the dirty paper towel into the trash.

 

“I’m going to go change and head to Lydia’s.” To prove you wrong , he mentally adds, and if Liam’s smirk is anything to go by, he accurately read between the lines of Theo’s statement. “Wait here for me?” he adds, silently praying he didn’t sound too hopeful. Or worse, desperate.

 

He was both of those things, but nobody needed to know but himself.

 

Liam frowns, and his eyes move unsubtly to the pantry.

 

Theo rolls his eyes. For such a small werewolf, Liam sure did know how to eat someone out of house and home. “Yes, you may eat my food and watch my TV. But if you get crumbs in my bed, I will kill you,” he warns, threatening leering at the beta.

 

He falters, however, when Liam presses an innocent, quick kiss to his lips that’s over before he’s even realized it happening. After all that drama, only outspoken threats seemed to get him kisses? He’d have to remember that in the future.

 

“Good luck, T!” the beta cheers before turning his back to Theo and fucking waltzing to the pantry.

 

Smug fucking bastard , Theo thinks fondly, taking the steps two at a time to head into his room.

 

Once there, he critically scans his closet, settling on a pair of dark denim jeans and a tight, long-sleeved forest green Henley. He slips his leather jacket on over the ensemble and pairs it with his black and white Vans. Checking the mirror he discretely hid behind his opened closet door, he observes his appearance, double checking to make sure he washed all the blood off his skin. It wouldn’t do well to appear bloodied with no solid explanation besides, “Liam did it.” Though, considering their violent history, maybe that’s the only explanation he’d need.

 

“See you later,” he calls, grabbing his keys off the key-rack next to the front door and ignoring the random array of food Liam lined on the breakfast bar. Pancake mix and Cheezits didn’t go together in any meal, but whatever.

 

“Do you know where to go?” Liam responds around a mouth-full of food.

 

“Yep.”

 

Theo hears the sound of Liam swallowing. “Do I even want to know how you know where Lydia lives?”

 

“Nope!” Theo gives Liam a sly wink, laughing all the way down the hall at his put-out expression as he goes to visit the Banshee whose home from MIT for Winter Break.


Hours later, Theo stumbles through the door, not bothering to collect his keys from where he accidentally drops them onto the floor, the sound echoing harshly through the silent loft. He vaguely hears what he hopes to be Liam bolting down the stairs before he collapses face first onto the couch in utter exhaustion.

 

“Oh my god, Theo?! What happened?”

 

The chimera feels the dip in the couch as the beta joins him, too tired to care about the soft fingers carding through his disheveled hair.

 

Theo doesn’t raise his face from the cool, comfortable bliss of the couch cushion. He has no intentions of moving from this spot within the next forty eight hours, perfectly content with dying here in the soothing embrace of his couch if it were to come to that

 

“She tortured me.”

 

Excuse me?!” the beta mimics Theo’s earlier disbelief, but his voice is significantly colder than the chimera’s was at the time. “I thought you went to see Lydia, first, not Malia?”

 

“I did. She’s an evil woman!”

 

“Why didn’t you call me? I could have saved you or something,” Liam questions, and Theo picks up at the hint of accusation in his voice.

 

“Left my phone in the truck like a dumbass. Plus, I wouldn’t have called you.”

 

Despite his nose being crushed into the leather of the couch, he still manages to smell the flash of hurt from the boy, and he hurries to explain.

 

“I didn’t want her to punish you, either!”

 

“Yeah, I’m going to need a bit more than that, please.”

 

Painfully rolling onto his back, Theo launches into the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad experience of his time with Lydia.