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It’s been 6 weeks and 4 days since the war ended, and for the most part, life has returned to normal in Beacon Hills. Slowly, they’ve picked up the pieces in the aftermath of near annihilation, together.

The first week had been the best of Liam’s life. The school had been closed, a decision Mrs Martin had made following the chaos, to give students time to process and heal, and to give the McCall Pack a well-deserved break. Together.

There’d been movie nights and beach days and catching up on all their time apart. They’d been a strong, united front. A family, more than ever. And even though Jackson constantly managed to set Liam or Stiles off, he’d still felt that thrum deep in his bones that signified pack.

It hadn’t all been rest and relaxation, of course. There’d been some work, mostly for him and Scott and their parents. With the curtains pulled aside, and knowledge of the supernatural out there, in the town, people had wanted answers. Had wanted to be heard, and kept in the loop. So with the Mayor, they’d come to an agreement moving forward.

Mason’s mother had suggested a council be made, of adults who were aware and willing to help (most of whom already did), who could work with and support Liam and his friends after the seniors left.

Sheriff Stilinski to represent the police force, one he and Parrish could now train and teach about the supernatural, and how to handle them. It meant that when trouble came calling, they’d have the police to back them up.

Melissa to represent the hospital, but also Liam’s stepfather David, who finally had answers to all his questions about the strange things that happened in his workplace. The two were given a wing of the hospital to manage, where they could deal with supernatural-related injuries explicitly.

Two other surprises had come in the form of both Liam and Mason’s mothers. It had been Camille’s idea, so obviously she wanted to be involved, and Jenna, well… the moment Liam had told her what he was, that they were going into hiding because people in town wanted him dead, it had ignited a fire that burned brighter than any other. There was simply no keeping the woman out of it. Especially when her position as a social worker made her very good at helping kids left orphaned or families without homes post-war.

Deaton and Argent offered the council everything they had on the supernatural, and though he was hesitant at first, Argent agreed to work with the police department too. To help Parrish and the Sheriff with their task force. And after some convincing, Deaton had brought his sister in. Morell had been skeptical at first, but with Deucalion gone, she had nothing left. So with her brother, and Argent, and funding from Mrs. Hewitt, she’d ripped Eichen apart and stripped out the rot that had been plaguing it for years in an attempt to make it a better place for humans and supernaturals alike.

And finally, rounding off the council, with the interests of their school at heart, had come Mrs Martin and surprisingly, Finstock. He’d admitted to figuring things out years prior—after all, he had lacrosse players that were just way too damn good to be human. Some of whom talked about their supernatural problems on his bench, within earshot of him, constantly. He’d just always thought Scott and Stiles were crazy, that’s all. He’d never really believed it until he’d seen Jackson and Ethan turned to stone in his locker room.

Eleven people, all with different resources and means to help protect Beacon Hills. To make it a safer place for humans and supernaturals alike. To give Liam and the pack support once Scott left.

Because he finally did leave, much to Liam’s chagrin. They all did.

Stiles was the first, of course, with Lydia in tow. They’d headed out at the end of the two weeks, bound for Washington. Lydia planned to fly out to MIT a few days later from there, and everyone had gotten the sense that they’d needed a weekend to themselves after nearly dying.

Jackson and Ethan had joked about tagging along and taking them out on what probably would’ve been an awkward double date, but in the end had flown back to London the next day. Still, they’d stuck around long enough for one last lacrosse scrimmage between supernaturals, told Scott and his beta not to be a stranger the next time Beacon Hills was under siege, and gone on their way.

Derek had been next, bound for South America. He’d grumbled and complained, but still agreed to let Peter tag along, seeing as his uncle had very little left in Beacon Hills. The two had given Liam their keys to the Loft, their numbers, and Derek had left him with an emergency credit card. Just in case.

Surprising the rest of the pack, Malia had chosen to go with them. After all, she wanted to travel and see the world, and the moment the Hale boys had mentioned that their road trip would involve reuniting with Cora, the one family member she hadn’t met, she’d jumped at the opportunity and chose to forgo her trip to France.

Which left Scott to say his goodbyes to the remainder of his pack, alone. His speech had been heartfelt, full of hugs, and he’d told Liam he was the best beta he could’ve ever asked for. That even without the council in place, and the city’s new countermeasures, he was leaving Beacon Bills in the hands of the best person capable of looking after it. It was a lot of pressure for the stand-in alpha, but Scott had no doubt he was more than capable.

Especially with such good people behind him.

Mason had started learning from Deaton in their off weeks. Much like Stiles before him, Mason had become the core researcher and Deaton planned on giving him more than just supernatural knowledge—but the means to defend himself, too. For all those times a metal bat failed the human.

Though they both knew Corey would look after him, and wouldn’t let anything happen to his boyfriend. Given that his chimera abilities weren’t as strong or as dangerous as their werewolf ones, he’d started working with Parrish, learning how to fight. He’d found something in himself during that hospital fight, and he’d wanted to shed that weak, quiet persona and be someone that could throw himself into battle alongside Liam if need be.

Besides, they already had one shy, quiet member of their pack, and he was human. The newest addition, Nolan. Though Mason and Corey were skeptical, both Liam and Melissa vouched for him with Scott, explaining that he’d helped at the very end, that he’d turned on the other hunters and wanted to make up for all the wrongs he’d caused and committed. He wanted to do better, to be better and slowly, they were letting him. Trust was an easy thing to break, and most days Liam still wanted to punch him for what he’d done but… he was trying.

After all, if someone like Theo could come out the other side of redemption after all the things he’d done, then why couldn’t the young hunter?

Though Nolan wasn’t nearly as much of an enigma as the chimera. He went to school with them, co-captained the lacrosse team, he had no other friends. It made sense that he wanted to make peace given that they had to keep coexisting for at least another year.

But Theo… Liam wasn’t sure why he stayed. After the hunters cleared out, he’d expected him to take off. Scott had once and for all given him his blessing and told him his life was his own before leaving for UC Davis, but rather than take off and go live it… he’d remained in Beacon Hills.

He had no idea what the older boy did with his time. He’d seen him around town a couple times the first week after the seniors had cleared out, and by the third sighting it was obvious to Liam that Theo was staying in town (given that he’d been at the laundromat across from Mason’s favourite coffee shop), he’d approached him.

It had started out simple—he’d invited him to a pack meeting. And despite his complaints that he wasn’t, he’d still shown up. After that it had been movie nights, or video game sessions, or pairing up for patrol in the preserve. Slowly, bit by bit, he’d brought Theo into their group. He’d befriended him.

Mason was just as unsure about Liam’s decision to include him as he had been about Nolan, but it hadn’t lasted long. After all, he’d been at the hospital, too. He’d seen what Theo had done. He’d seen the change, same as Liam, that made Theo someone they could rely on.

Someone they could trust.

Someone they could spend hours trying to beat at Street Fighter or Call of Duty and end up losing miserably against.

Seriously, it was almost unfair how badly he kicked their asses. At basically everything. With minimal effort and a semi-bored smirk on his face. Liam had broken at least two controllers since they’d started hanging out. The third Theo had broken on his own playing Mario Kart, the one and only game he couldn’t beat Mason at. The human was… scary good at it.

He only wished it were easy to get him to open up. Liam felt a familiar thrum deep in his chest that signified pack when Theo was around, whether they were with the others or on their own, but it was smaller, fainter. He didn’t know what it meant, but it had been growing steadily the more time they spent hanging out. And it wasn’t the only thing he noticed.

He noticed the bags under Theo’s eyes, and the way some nights he looked worn out. He got tired far quicker than he should for someone with supernatural healing, especially one that mainlined coffee like he did. On more than one occasion, Liam’s mother had gotten a good look at him and all but bullied him into staying over for a hearty, home cooked meal and rest. He always looked incredibly hesitant and embarrassed, neither of which were emotions Liam was used to seeing on the chimera, but always always caved.

After all, it was hard to say no to Jenna once she put her hands on her hips and gave someone that look. The one that meant it really was in your best interests to say yes, or else.

Liam sort of wishes it were genetic. Because asking Theo what’s wrong really doesn’t get him anywhere. Worried about me, Little Wolf? That’s cute.

He’s pretty sure he’s heard the phrase what I do on my own time is my business and you’re not my keeper, Dunbar enough times to have memorized every inflection and tone Theo says them in. All because he’s just curious to know where the chimera goes when he’s not with them. All it does is piss him off when the chimera dodges the question or assures him he’s fine.

And thinking about it does him no favours, either, considering he finds himself scowling at the very thought of the frustrating chimera.

“Alright, fine,” comes an exasperated sigh, snapping Liam from his inner spiral. His eyes flicker left to see Theo tapping his fingers against the steering wheel and staring at him. “Yes.”

“Huh?” Liam blinks. He notices they’re stopped at a light, and the chimera’s face is pulled into a tight frown. He looks annoyed. “Yes to what?”

He shakes his head and presses on the gas, moving them forward as it turns green. “You asked me to be part of your stupid group costume next week, and I said no like, six times. But seeing as you’ve been fucking moping about it for the last twenty minutes…” He throws Liam a look again as he turns the next corner onto the werewolf’s street. “I’m sick of it. So fine. I’ll do it.”

Instantly, delight flares in Liam’s chest. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Theo rolls his eyes, letting out a small huff. “But I’m not doing any work. It was your idea, so you’re finding the outfit.”

“Technically it was Mason’s…” Liam points out, then winces as Theo growls. His arms come up at his sides, palms flat. “Alright! Relax! I’ll do it.”

His eyes return to the road as they slow down, coming up on Liam’s house. He frowns, because normally Theo pulls in to drop him off, but there’s a second car in the driveway that isn’t his dad’s, so he can’t. He opts to ignore it, turning to look at Theo as the older boy puts the truck into park.

“Does this mean you’re finally going to get caught up?” Liam grins. He’s been trying to get Theo into Stranger Things for weeks, and not just because Mason had come up with the brilliant idea of basing a group costume around the main characters. It’s just a really good show, one he keeps telling the chimera he’d enjoy.

“No,” the chimera bites, snatching Liam’s backpack off the backseat and dumping it into his lap. The werewolf lets out a Buh! at the impact. The damn thing is filled with textbooks, and they’re heavy. “Now get out. You’ve got company, and I’ve got places to be.”

Liam scowls. “Like?”

He knows from the matching scowl on Theo’s face that he’s not getting an answer tonight. Liam blows an annoyed sigh through his nose, grips his bag tightly in his hands, and swings out of the truck. He tosses Theo a considering look over his shoulder before slamming the door shut and stomping off towards his house. Asshole.

A moment later, the pickup roars to life behind him and peels off the pavement, down the road, leaving Liam alone. As he marches sullenly up the driveway, he examines the mystery car. Slate grey Camry, California plates. Innocent enough, except for the barcodes lining the rear and front windshields, as well as the driver’s side. His grandmother has come to visit from Massachusetts enough for him to recognize it as a rental.

But she’s too old and too blind to drive, so that rules her out.

Liam frowns, trying to think of other options the rest of the way up the driveway and into the house. He supposes it could just be one of his mother’s clients or co-workers, but it’s nearly dinnertime on a Friday, so he feels that’s unlikely. Plus, as he closes the door behind him and toes off his shoes, he picks up three heartbeats in the living room, instead of two. One of which is beating rather nervously.

It’s enough to set him on edge.

Slowly, he sets his backpack on the floor gently, and inches down the hall.

“Liam, honey, is that you?” Jenna calls. There’s something off about her voice, which means hers is the erratic heartbeat. The hair on the back of his neck rises.

“Yeah!” He says back, keeping his tone neutral. “It’s me.”

His nose sets to work trying to identify the intruders. There’s the smell of sea salt and something gentler, something earthy and herb-like. It also sort of smells like wet cat, which causes his nose to wrinkle. Ever since being turned, he’s a hard time with felines.

“Can you—Can you come here a minute?” Jenna speaks up again. Liam pads into the living room a little quicker.

And comes to an immediate, abrupt halt.

His mother is standing by their fireplace on the far right-hand side. The TV on the wall behind her is on, but muted. Liam locks eyes with her instantly, and sees that hers are red-rimmed. She's been crying. Her hair sits atop her head in a messy bun, and she looks frazzled.

Across the room stands a young woman who can’t be that much older than him. Her brown hair is choppy and short, cut just above her shoulders. Her black jeans have holes in the knees and she’s got a leather vest on over a faded grey t-shirt. If it weren’t for the warm smile on her lips, Liam thinks she might look like trouble. Even with it, she sort of does.

He’s struck with a sort of familiarity, and there’s an ache in his chest as he sucks in a breath. More of the same scents from the front hall with something lighter underneath, something like spring rain and that floral crap Jenna puts in the bathroom. Somewhere far in the back of his mind, the smell brings up memories of Disney trips and blanket forts and a little girl pushing a pudgy baby on a swing. They're blurry, and he can't quite make out the details, but he remembers.

His breathing quickens, because he’s sure he’s sure he knows who this is, but he can’t—

There’s movement behind the girl as someone gets to their feet, stepping into his line of sight.

And knocking the breath entirely from his lungs.

He looks older than Liam remembers, but mostly the same. Scruffy beard, combed dark hair, a half-smile that sets the werewolf’s blood boiling almost immediately… and the very same blue eyes that Liam sees in the mirror every day. The eyes of his father.

The man has the audacity to look sheepish when he speaks. “Hullo, Liam.” The beta hates the way his name sounds in his father's accent.

Todd,” Liam says, voice tight. He sees the man almost flinch at the name, and he ignores it in favour of looking at his mother. “What’s going on?”

“Liam.” Jenna’s lower lip wobbles, but she does her best to look reassuring. “This is…”

The girl steps forward, blocking his—their father from sight. She outstretches a hand, the smile on her lips turning far more hesitant. Now that she’s closer, Liam can see her eyes more clearly. They’re the same shade of green as Jenna. As their mother.

“This is Lyana,” Jenna says softly. Her voice cracks.

“My sister,” Liam nods, and her hand is warm as it wraps around his.