Actions

Work Header

I Lied When I Was Seventeen

Work Text:

BEACON HILLS HERALD

Liam Dunbar: The Hero We Need, Not The One We Deserve
By: Sydney Andrews

In the aftermath of the supernatural war, the people of Beacon Hills are rediscovering what exactly that word means. Supernatural. For weeks, it’s been a cause for concern, it’s been whispered with fear in our voices, and contempt in our hearts. It’s been something evil. Something we, as good, must eradicate.

But what makes us good? What makes them evil?

Research has uncovered many answers to the second question: Evil can be fostered by dehumanization, unjust systems, group pressure. Sometimes, it can be a woman with grandiose ideals who put guns in the hands of children. Sometimes, it’s a monster lurking in the shadows, feeding our every fear until right and wrong blur.

When we ask why people become heroic, an answer is harder to come by.

I think it takes compassion, and patience. I think it’s a drive to help others, or to stand in defense of certain ideals. It’s putting yourself in danger for the good of someone else. It’s performing an act with recognition and acceptance of possible risks and costs, be they to one’s health or reputation. And finally, it’s all of these things, without external gain anticipated at the time.

All these qualities can be found in Liam Dunbar, a boy who’s been looking out for the rest of us long before we knew who and what he was.

He’s been a classmate. A teammate. A lacrosse player. A friend.

A werewolf.

At the start of the school year, our eyes were opened to that, but not in the best way. There were other factors at play that kept us from seeing past the fangs and claws to the person underneath. To the hero who’d been fighting tooth and nail for our safety for well over a year. And not just against corrupt teachers and fear-eating monsters.

Some of us can clearly picture the ghostly horse riders in the Spring, and the train station that nearly became our home. For others, it’s hazy and feels like a dream, but the only reason it remains that way, instead of having become our new reality, is Liam Dunbar.

Liam, who vanquished the Beast that terrorized our town last fall, and who stopped the curious wave of death among students from Beacon Hills High. Who’s probably saved us from countless other threats without ever demanding a thank you or any recognition.

As a hero would.

But who is Liam Dunbar?

He’s just seventeen years old and a senior at BHHS. He’s the talented co-captain of the lacrosse team. He’s 5’6” and keeps himself very well in shape with his werewolf physique. He’s funny, brave, and a history buff. He’s the definition of a Gryffindor.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, sources say he is single.

And at the of the day, he’s someone deserving of our recognition for fighting for us even when we were cruel and unkind. For putting his life on the line to keep us safe.

So let’s not keep quiet any longer.

Let’s celebrate our unsung hero!

When you pass him in the halls at school or out on the street, clap him on the back, shake his hand, smile and nod. But most importantly, thank him.

Thank you, Liam Dunbar.

 

"This is a joke, right?" Liam whispered in disbelief.

"No, it's really not." Corey laughed, then coughed when Liam flashed golden eyes at him.

"Look, man." Mason grabbed the school newspaper out of Liam's hands and shoved it in the trash. "Don't worry, no one even reads the school paper."

"Hey Liam." A girl called from across the hall, then giggled with her friends as Liam looked up at them.

"Nah, it's online too and has been shared on the school Instagram." Nolan added, taking a bite of his apple. "I think the post had like 100 comments this morning. Most of them were just hearts, but a few of them were a bit more... suggestive."

"I don't even have an Instagram, thank God." Liam sighed.

"Nope, you do, man. We made it like sophomore year." Mason corrected with a glance of pity.  "I tag you in shit all the time. So does Scott.  How don't you know this?"

Liam groaned and hit his head on the locker behind him.

"We gotta go, man." Nolan took another bite of the apple before tossing it in the trash and nodding toward the front doors. "We're supposed to be at the media building before the bell."

Liam groaned again, hitting his head harder this time before pushing off the locker to follow the human.

"Can't you do this without me?" Liam whined as Mason and Corey waved goodbye with twin looks of sympathy.

"Nope. We're co-captains. Remember?" Nolan threw an arm around his friend, grinning wider as Liam pouted pathetically.

*****

Liam zoned out into the red light below the camera. The sound of the morning announcements went in one ear and out the other easily and Liam wondered to himself if Theo would agree to pick him up early and not tell his mom. Maybe they could go to the beach or something. Theo had Fridays off, and was probably just sitting at the Geyer's catching up on the shows like he did every Friday until Liam was done with school.

"Right, Liam?" Nolan elbowed Liam, shaking the young werewolf from his thoughts.

"Sorry, what?" Liam cleared his throat and turned his attention to the morning announcements hosts. Brenda and some other senior guy that Liam hadn't ever had a class with before and couldn't recall the name of. The guy was definitely giving him a very flirtatious look, however, considering they'd never spoken before.

"Nolan was just telling us how hard you've been training for the championship, and I have to say, it really shows." The blonde teen winked at Liam from the other end of the curved reporters desk.

Liam looked at Nolan, confused, and Nolan simply rolled his eyes, sitting back in his chair with a huff.

"Uh, yeah, th-"

"No one's gonna argue with that, Robert." Brenda laughed politely, cutting Liam off. "In fact, I think most of our viewers are paying attention to the sports segment for the first time all year just because they want to see you up here. They're all dying to know when the lacrosse team is going to have a bachelor's auction."

Brenda winked at Liam, leaving him completely speechless. Wasn't this supposed to be about the Lacrosse Championship they'd just qualified for? Nolan leaned forward, trademark charm ever-present and leaned up toward their shared microphone.

"That's not a bad fundraising strategy." Nolan smirked at the camera and he used what Liam had learned over the past few months was Nolan's self-proclaimed "Oops... I did it again" voice. "I know I would take one for the team, liter-"

"That's nice, sweetie." Robert was leaning forward again, trying to make eye contact with Liam. "Now, Mr. Dunbar, you have to know everyone would have their money saved up for you, as the most eligible bachelor on the team."

Liam startled as he watched Nolan get up dramatically, knocking over his chair and walking off set.

Neither Brenda nor Robert blinked an eye at his exit, gazes both fixed heatedly on Liam. He swallowed nervously, looking back at the bright red dot on the camera, imagining the entire school watching. Liam had never been nervous in front of a crowd, but then again, he usually was doing something he was amazing at.

He was not amazing at words. Which explained why the following ones left his mouth:

"Well, uh... I... don't think... the person I have been seeing for the past month would appreciate me putting myself up for auction?"

A collective gasp came from the rest of the room, staff and crew included. Nolan appeared out of the side of the stage, picking up his chair and settling in once again with a blinding smile.

"I was saying."  Nolan spoke into the microphone, smiling wide and bright at that mesmerizing red dot.

*****

Liam managed to avoid everyone for the entire weekend, as he and he mom went up north for all of Saturday and Sunday to visit relatives.

Mason had texted and called but Liam had turned off his phone after responding that Oregon had shit service everywhere.

That wasn't true at all.

But the questions his best friend were sending were not ones Liam was prepared to answer. The stress from what had happened on Friday was eating at him, so he figured he’d just ignore the problem and hope it went away by the times he turned his phone back on.

When he came back late Sunday night, he texted Mason a promise that he’d talk to him at school and ignored everything else on his phone.

Monday came and he hadn’t seen Theo around the house at all, so he shot the older boy a text, making sure he was picking Liam up after school.

As he was walking to school, Liam read all the texts from teammates, classmates, etc. The first one he opened was from Nolan.

Nolan H: Bro. If I knew you were into Theo, I would've stopped trying to get into his pants months ago!

Nolan H: Makes so much sense why he always turned me down now!  I feel so much better about myself.

Nolan H: Love you, Bro.

He found that everyone else had come to the same conclusion about who his significant other was, and while Liam was surprised at first, he came to reason it was actually the perfect cover.

Theo didn’t even have to know.

The school day went by quickly. Liam accepted the congratulations from some, and ignored the judgy stares of others. By Liam’s last period, no one was looking at him at all and he’d virtually forgotten about the whole thing.

So when Theo pulled up to school to pick him up, he was just happy to see the chimera, and bounded to the car in a better mood than he had been in days.

"Can I drive?" Liam asked, pouting for emphasis.

"Nope." Theo squinted at him. "Get in."

"But you said I was getting good." Liam grumbled, getting into the passenger seat. "Why did I even get my license if you never let me drive anyway?"

"You're fine, you haven't stalled in ages. I trust you with my car, just not while we're having a serious conversation, which is what we're about to do." Theo waited until Liam was buckled in to pull away from the curb and start driving. He looked over at Liam when they hit the long line for the light exiting campus. "I've had a very interesting couple days, Liam."

"Oh yeah?" Liam arched an eyebrow before looking back to the road where a handful of cars passed through the light, leaving them at another red.

"Yeah. I've been threatened, called a 'dream-crushing whore', complimented on various things, and had some delightful little old lady make some lewd implications about how I must be 'splendid in the sack.'" Theo was cut off by Liam snorting at that. Theo rolled his eyes and went on. "Obviously, you're not surprised. I assumed as much. Listen. I'm gonna need you to explain what the fuck is going on with these people."

"Yeah, about that? I guess I accidentally implied to the entire student body that we were in a very serious, committed relationship, and it may have spread all over town." Liam sighed.

Theo looked over at him with wide eyes, but Liam just sat there, looking tired but completely fine, as if this was just a minor annoyance in an otherwise normal week.

"Excuse me?" Theo screeched, making Liam jump slightly in alarm.

Horns started honking from behind them, but Theo was frozen in his seat, hands still on the wheel, head turned toward his passenger, face contorted between shock and anger.

"It's green." Liam whispered, cowering in on himself slightly.

Theo looked forward and started driving carefully once more, but the hard set to his jaw told Liam he shouldn't relax just yet.

Theo hadn't shown even a trace of anger at Liam, or anyone else for that matter, ever since the big pack meeting where Stiles blew up at Theo's presence. Liam had come to his defense before Theo could even react. Instead of being grateful, Theo yelled at him, saying he didn't want to be part of the pack and Liam needed to stop trying to make him. Stiles and Liam had it out after Theo had stormed out of the meeting, Liam asking Stiles what he had done for the pack lately, and Stiles asking when they started forgiving manipulative homicidal maniacs.

Scott had defended neither of them and instead took Theo's side in his absence, reasoning that everything was perfect the way it was, with Theo as an important ally instead of a part of the pack.

Scott pointed out that judging by Theo's outburst, it seemed that Theo was really happy with how things are now. And if history were any indication, they could all benefit from Theo staying happy.

Liam had come home hours later to his mother sitting on the couch with Theo, watching the bachelor, crying dramatically and drinking out of matching 'besties' wine glasses.

Happy was definitely one word for it.

Liam, who resolutely refused to watch that awful show with his mother, simply stood in the doorway to the living room, watching them with a tight feeling in his chest. Theo had to have known he was there, but he didn't look back to acknowledge him, even when Liam had whispered "I won't bring it up anymore" and made his way up the stairs.

The next morning Theo made Liam breakfast before he had to go to school. Bacon and eggs in the shape of a smiley face, just like Liam had made him the first morning after Theo moved in with the Geyers.

They hadn't spoken about the argument again.

In fact, their friendship had been stronger than ever. No big bad threats that they couldn't easily handle had come their way. Liam had almost forgotten what angry Theo looked like.

Liam forgot how much he hated it.

"I'm sorry! I swear, I didn't say it was you, everyone just assumed!" Liam pleaded with his housemate, not wanting the other man to be upset with him. "Its just, I had to tell them I was involved! They were trying to turn my life into a season of the bachelor. They had a signup list and everything, just ask Mason and Corey!"

"Do they know about this?" Theo bit back a growl at the mention of possible conspirators.

"No!" Liam hissed. "No one does. Like I said, all I told everyone was that I was in a very serious, committed relationship, and that we were keeping it private. You live with me. I mean, you can't blame them. You were the only logical conclusion."

"I don't blame them. I blame you." Theo said and glared at the road ahead, leaving the rest of the drive home awkward and silent.

They pulled up the the curb outside Liam's house and Theo put the car in park.

"Fine." He grunted out, shutting off the ignition.

Liam was caught off guard by the word and simply blinked at Theo.

"But just for a few days." Theo added suddenly. "Then it'll be old news, and hopefully everyone will forget and leave both of us alone."

"You..." Liam looked at him in awe, hand on the door handle. "You'll really go along with it?"

"Don't get too excited." Theo frowned and opened his door. "I'm just agreeing to not out you to the entire fucking nosy-ass-town on your lie."

He hopped out of the truck and stalked toward the house, leaving Liam to fumble his way out of the passenger side, trailing behind squealing out a string of thanks and praises.

*****

"Kiss me."

Theo stood up fast, almost banging his head on the hood of the truck he was hunched over. He turned to face the direction Liam's hushed voice came from, seeing the seventeen-year-old speed walking in his direction from the middle of the street. Theo gave him an incredulous look as he quickly closed in on the mostly empty garage.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Theo hissed back, looking around to see that the only person left in the shop was Kimberley, the owner, who spent most of her time at the desk reading comic books, marathoning Netflix shows, or blasting rock music.  Theo had been at work all day, safe from Liam and the mess he'd agrewd to go along with the day before.

"They're starting to suspect I'm lying, I can hear them whisper in the halls about it. It's spreading like wildfire, and those girls across the street followed me here." Liam begged under his breath, finally reaching Theo and immediately getting in his space. He pressed his front against Theo's lightly, both of his fiery-hot hands finding their way under Theo's Henley, gripping his bare hips and looking at him with beady puppy-dog eyes. "Please."

"Fuck you." Theo laughed exasperatedly but leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of the werewolf's mouth, moving away and out of his touch too quick for him to kiss back. "That wasn't part of the deal, babe. Go inside and bug Kimberley until I'm done."

Liam narrowed his eyes at Theo, but the chimera saw his vision flit toward the street quickly. He looked unsatisfied as he focused on Theo again.

"One more. Pretty please?" Liam whispered, voice a pitiful whine.

Theo rolled his eyes and stalked back toward Liam, a mischievous smile on his face. Before Liam could rethink his request, Theo was on him, arms wrapped around Liam, grabbing his ass firmly with both palms and pressing a smile to Liam's lips, staying there for a full five seconds before parting to grin blindingly.

Liam frowned in confusion before his face fell completely and his jaw dropped open.

"You just got oil and grease all over my jeans didn't you?" Liam gasped.

"Oops." Theo let go of his posterior then, holding his hands up in a pose of innocence. Liam took in the near black state of the chimera's hands and let out a small growl. "Ah, ah, ah. Don't get mad at your doting boyfriend, Liam. What would people say?"

Theo leaned in and placed a quick kiss on Liam's nose before walking away again, this time with an earnest, satisfied grin.

He heard the sound of Liam walking toward the office in a huff and waited until he heard his boss threaten Liam's life if he spoke during the fifteen minutes she had left in her episode of Being Human, then he turned and went back to work.

Two hours later, Liam had completed absolutely none of his homework and instead was fully invested in the US TV show, making Kimberley promise not to watch another episode without him as they closed up the shop for the night and went home.

*****

Most of Wednesday passed without much incident, as Theo had the day off work.  But as nothing lasts forever, of course Wednesday also had to be the day when shit started hitting the proverbial fan.  Theo watched Liam get out of Mason's car, hoping his best friend would just drive away, but his dreams were crushed as he saw Mason lower the driver side window.

"Hey Theeeeo." Mason cooed out the window at his friend.

Mason and Theo had become surprisingly close over the past year. They'd all been through so much, and a lot of it had been Theo saving the human, and once even the other way around.

With the events of the past couple days wearing at his patience, Theo looked less than pleased to see him. He was in the driveway, shirtless, covered in dirt and grease, working on the M3 that had broken down on Jenna over a year ago, and had been just sitting idle since. Jenna had mentioned she'd been meaning to sell it or donate it to charity, but she wanted to get it running first. Liam had come home about a month ago to Theo and Jenna in the garage, discussing car stuff and looking at a hefty BMW mechanics manual.

Theo had been working on it in his spare time ever since.

Theo leaned against Jenna's old beamer and wiped his hands on the rag hanging out of his front pocket.  He raised a hand in friendly greeting, hoping to convey by his blatant refusal to approach, that Mason should take a hint and just go home.

"Theo, we need to talk, man." Mason called at him.

Mason was never good at taking hints. Like the fact that Theo had been ignoring all of his calls and texts for the past week.

"Mason, not today." Theo grimaced, walking toward the human, shaking his head with meaning. "Trust me, I will catch up with you when I can, I just..."

"Dude, I'm so happy, though!" Mason smiled excitedly. "We told you-"

"Mason!" Theo shouted, visibly annoyed.

Mason flinched and drew his eyebrows up in surprise. Theo relaxed a little, feeling bad for snapping. He looked to Liam who was just standing there with his backpack in hand, face twisted in confusion.

"Just... I'm sorry." Theo rubbed his forehead tiredly as he apologized. He felt Liam approach him and put a hand on his spine, dragging blunt nails across the taught skin in a comforting gesture that felt too normal. Too domestic. He exhaled loudly and looked up at Mason again. "I've just been working a lot, I'm really not ignoring you, I just..."

"Hey Mase?" Liam interrupted him, smiling at his best friend. "Maybe you could pick me up tomorrow? Give Theo a chance to sleep in an extra half hour?"

Theo's face pinched as he tried to smile down at Liam in gratitude, doing his best to make it look like he didn't want to move as far away from him as possible. Liam gave him a genuine smile back and leaned in to kiss him quickly, a soft press of lips to the corner of his frown. Theo didn't react, too distracted by the nails still scratching his back gently.

"Yeah, man." Mason grinned at them, clearly delighted by their relationship. "Don't work yourself to death, Theo. I don't think your boyfriend would be able to function without you."

Theo barked out an ugly laugh at that and pulled himself out of Liam's grasp under the pretense of going back to work on the car. He took a couple deep breaths and went back to examining the older model straight-six engine, trying to fight off the warmth of how touched he was by Liam's thoughtfulness, and trying to remind himself that it was all just an act.

"See ya in the morning, Mase." Liam called out to Mason as he rolled his window up and drove off. Liam approached the car, bending down next to Theo to pick up the rag he hadn't noticed he'd dropped. He placed it on the hood and leaned against the car door. "If this is going to work, you need to work on that."

"Work on what?" Theo grumbled, fiddling with things under the hood which Liam had never bothered to learn the name or function. He could probably identify the engine if Theo asked.

Probably.

"Kissing." Liam huffed out with a laugh.

Theo straightened, nearly missing banging his head on the hood of a vehicle for the second time in the same amount of days.

"I know how to kiss." He spoke with venom, clearly affronted by the suggestion.

"Yeah, not from what I've seen the past couple days." Liam laughed again, not even pretending to hide his low opinion of the couple of pecks Theo had given him to assist in the charade.

Theo changed his mind. Liam wasn't thoughtful. He was a nuisance.

"Oh." Theo laughed in disbelief before meeting the werewolf's eye in challenge. "I know how to kiss, Liam."

He grabbed the rag that was hanging from the edge on the hood, wiping his hands off angrily, but not looking away from Liam's eyes at all. Instead he keep the contact, and it turned predatory.

Liam would be lying if he said the only thing he felt in that moment was fear.

Theo stalked toward him, not quite smiling, but the look in his eyes was definitely delight. He crowded Liam against the driver's side door, propping himself up by his hands on the roof of the car, on either side of Liam's head. Theo's shirtlessness was more distracting when he was in his face, where Liam could smell the excitement seeping from his pores. Liam wanted to say something smart, or funny. Anything to break the tension, to prove he was unaffected by Theo's intimidating approach.

"Uh..." Liam started, but the words never came out as Theo's eyes finally left his to trace up and down Liam's body before settling on his pouty lips, just a foot in front of his own.

"But Liam?" Theo spoke so low that Liam swore it made his bones shake beneath his skin. Or maybe that was just how close he was getting.

"Yes." Liam whispered back, meaning for it to come out as a question instead of a plea.

"That kind of kiss..." Theo smiled finally, leaning in a bit closer until his nose was almost touching Liam's. Liam's eyes fluttered closed. "Is reserved for people who aren't just doing it for show."

Before Liam could even process the bitter words, he was hit by a rush of cold air as Theo turned and walked swiftly to the garage to rifle through more of Jenna's tools.

And before Liam could say anything or react in any way, his mother's Volkswagen was pulling into the driveway alongside the inoperative car.

Jenna stepped out of her car with a frown, glaring at Theo where he stood in the garage, and Liam where he was standing in the driveway.

"You." She hissed at Liam. "And you." She turned sharply to Theo, who was no longer wielding a ratchet, and was reaching for his shirt in his back pocket.

"You both have some explaining to do."

*****

Liam looked up nervously at Theo, who had the same look of embarrassment on his face. They both looked down at the table in front of them, waiting out the silence.

"You can't be serious." Jenna said, finally.

Both boys looked up at her after a moment, taking in her expression of pure disappointment. They looked at each other before trying to explain themselves loudly, talking over one another angrily.

"It's his fault! He did it!"

"I panicked! It's not my fault it's everyone else's!"

"He's a like chicken-"

"You're the one that agreed to it!"

"BOYS." Jenna yelled. Her manicured hands pressed the sides of her face as she took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. She inhaled and exhaled twice more then opened her eyes to look back and forth between their guilty faces. She gaped at them in shock. "Are you seriously this stupid?"

"Look, mom."  Liam held his hands up in surrender.  "Its not as big a deal as you're making it out to be. The town had to see for themselves that I was taken, so we just kissed in public a couple times, and now I'm sure the buzz will die down and everything will go back to normal."

Jenna blinked at Liam a few times, face void of reaction.

"You just..." She nodded and laughed hysterically for a second before slapping her entire hand over her face and dragging it down, accompanied by an exasperated groan. She shrugged helplessly and frowned at her son. "Good, so you are an idiot. I've raised a moron."

She looked at Theo sympathetically before walking around the the table to rub the young man's back comfortingly.

"You poor baby." Jenna tsk'ed. "You're stupid too, for agreeing to this."

Liam stared at her retreating form in shock as Theo sighed and grabbed his mechanics guide off the counter.

Theo sat down on a stool at the kitchen island, resolutely ignoring the affronted sounds coming from Liam, who was still staring at the stairs in confusion.

"Liam just..." Theo sighed again. "Just ignore her. You're right. It'll all be over in a while and we can go back to how it was before you decided to drag me into this embarrassing shitshow."

Liam made a louder, angry noise of affront at that statement.

"What the fuck are you even talking about? How is this that bad for you? I don't get it!" Liam yelled. He threw his hands up as he watched Theo continue reading his manual, ignoring every word Liam said. "Is it that horrible to just pretend to be with me? What, am I cramping your style? Keeping you from getting laid? You have someone you want to date, and I'm just being a massive cockblock? What is it? What is so bad about being my boyfriend?!"

Theo was up out of his chair, the wooden legs screeching painfully across the tiled floor with the force of his movement, and Liam found himself cornered by Theo for the third time in a week, but this time there was no smile to be found on the chimera's face.

Theo gripped his upper arms tightly, but not enough to hurt, and held him against the refrigerator. His eyes were glowing bright yellow with rage, but all Liam could see was the furrow in his brow. He looked like someone was hurting him.

Badly.

Liam had seen Theo tortured, dragged to hell, crying over ridiculous television shows, but Liam had never seen him look like he was in so much pain.

"I am not." Theo growled in Liam's face. "Your fucking boyfriend."

Theo let him go, picking up the manual that was lying open on the kitchen table and chucking it in the direction of the recycling bin, missing terribly, before storming up the stairs.

Liam jumped as the door to the guest room slammed shut.

He felt his chest seize in unexpected pain and he clutched at it instinctively, before realizing that nothing was wrong with him.

He'd felt that same feeling once before, but the trauma of it had all but erased the memory.

Everything in his body was functioning normally. He was perfectly healthy.

That was just what it felt like when your heart breaks.

*****

Liam avoided everyone the next day at school.

Everyone except Nolan.  Nolan was his new best friend. Because Nolan knew when to stay out of his business, and just talk about himself. Which for once, was completely fine with Liam.

He brushed off texts from the pack, both local and far away that asked what he was doing for his birthday. A lot of the messages were about how news had spread to everyone in the pack about his "relationship" and the part that hurt the most was how okay with it, even happy some of them were. 

Scott had tried to call, but Liam knew he couldn't lie to his alpha, so he forwarded it to voicemail. When he listened to the older werewolf's message later, he almost broke down when it ended with Scott saying, "I just want you to be happy, and I know Theo makes you happy.  So I'm happy. I miss you, man. Be well."

Nolan was sitting with Liam when he got that message. Liam wasn't sure if it was purely selfish, or if he was trying to distract Liam because he was upset, but human had immediately started ranting.

“Hey, I heard Scott and Malia decided to just be friends when they started college.  You should tell him I'm single. Cause I am. In fact, you should tell Malia too, just in case, y’know… cause they're both ridiculously hot.”

The disgust, yet complete lack of surprise, at Nolan’s shamelessness had taken Liam’s mind off of Theo for a bit, so he was thankful for that. And when Nolan had squeezed his neck and smiled at him knowingly before they parted to go to their last classes of the day, Liam wondered in the younger man knew a lot more than he was letting on about Liam’s actual relationship status.

Liam had grumbled to himself as he walked home that day, not daring to go to the shop and wait for Theo. He resolutely ignored the group chat, all other texts and calls, even Mason's.

When he got to his house, the car Theo had been working on was gone, even though it'd definitely been there. Theo's truck, predictably, wasn't there either.

Liam walked in the front door with a confused frown, rushing up the stairs to lie down for a much needed nap after an emotionally exhausting day.

Moments after closing his eyes, he jumped when he heard his step-dad call out his name. He looked around in confusion when he noticed it was dark.

Liam felt like he'd just shut his eyes two seconds before, and now according to the clock on the wall, it was half past seven at night.

"Liam, did you want dinner?" David called again, a bit louder.

Liam's parents had finally gotten used to werewolf hearing and he probably shouldn't be making his Dad yell. He shook himself out of his daze and got up, exiting his room and walking down the stairs, a rumpled, groggy mess.

"Hey dad, sorry." Liam mumbled, taking a seat at the island where David was plating some fish and chips.

"It's alright." David smiled at his stepson. "You don't usually nap. Did you have a rough day, son?"

"Rough week." Liam groaned, reaching out to grab a fry and munch on it.

"Well, cheer up. It's your birthday tomorrow. The big one-eight." David laughed, pushing the plate toward Liam and passing him the vinegar and ketchup as well.

"Shit, don't remind me." Liam stuffed another handful of fries in his mouth, reaching out for the condiments.

"It can't be that bad. Your mother told me what's going on, and if I know you, and Theo for that matter..." The doctor mused, walking around the island to sit next to Liam and eat his own dinner, "I think everything will be fine."

"I just feel like I'm..." Liam hissed in frustration. "I don't know, Dad. I really don't know where I screwed up, but I feel like I did."

"Yeah, you probably did." David shrugged.

Liam squeaked in indignation and threw a fry at him. They both laughed and ate in companionable silence, Liam lost in thought while David read the magazine next to him on the counter.

"Hey, Dad?" Liam asked when they were done, washing his dish in the sink. "Where's the BMW?"

"Uh..." David furrowed his brow. "Oh, I saw Kimberley hooking it up to her tow truck this morning when I was getting home from the night shift, actually. You mother was chatting with her. I was exhausted, I didn't ask, I just went upstairs to sleep."

Liam tensed and put his dish on the drying rack.

"Have you seen Theo today?" Liam tried to sound casual, and not as panicked as he was starting to feel inside. Theo usually was off work at 5, and should have been home long ago.

"I woke up to a text to your mother and I saying he wouldn't be home." David shoved a bite of fish into his mouth and continued reading.

"What? Where would he be instead? Did you ask why?" Liam's voice was definitely more stressed at that point, causing David to look up from his magazine in amusement.

"Son." David sighed and shook his head. "I am not his father, and even if I was... Theo is a grown ass man. That is none of my business."

Liam growled softly, hoping that his step-dad wouldn't hear but from the way he rolled his eyes, Liam guessed that he did.

*****

"Mase, I need you to promise that you won't yell at me." Liam threw himself back on his bed, phone up to his ear.

"Bro. I could never." Mason chuckled into the receiver.

"Okay." Liam took a deep breath before remaking out the entire story, but from his side of things.

The truth.

With each word, Liam breathed a little easier, because lying to Mason had been one of the worst parts of this. Mason was his best friend. His trusty confidante. His guide through life.

"Mason?" Liam whispered when Mason failed to respond to his five minute rant.

"Liam?" Mason was definitely upset. He sounded like he was seething. "Corey is here, and I put you on speaker like one minute in, so he heard everything you said."

Liam wasn't exactly surprised, because Mason would tell Corey later anyway.

"I need Corey to talk to you now, because I promised not to yell, and I keep my promises."

"Mase-" Liam was cut off but the sound of shuffling and slapping.

"LIAM DUNBAR, YOU ARE AN IDIOTIC PIECE OF SHIT, I SWEAR..." Corey's voice sounded strangely reminiscent of Stiles' when he was really upset. "How. Could. You. Do you have any idea how cruel this was to Theo?"

"You guys don't understand!" Liam shouted back. "I know what I did was wrong, but I'm the one who ended up getting hurt here. Apparently Theo is so pissed off by a couple days of having to pretend to be my boyfriend, he's not even coming home tonight."

"Are you kidding? I don't understand how you're this dense, Liam." Corey's voice got higher and higher pitched as he spoke.

"And why are you guys this dense?" Liam argued back, on the verge of tears of frustration. "Didn't you hear me? Theo is disgusted by me? I don't think he wants to be my friend anymore. I don't think he wants to even see me. Which sucks because I think I might kind of be in love with him."

Liam mumbled the last sentence into his teeth.

"Excuse me?" Corey whispered after Mason audibly gasped. They were both clearly leaning over the phone. Liam could just picture their faces. He rolled his eyes and said it clearer.

"I said I think I might like Theo. Like, for real. I think I'm probably in love with him."

Liam heard the phone drop and some harsh hisses exchanged before Mason started talking to him in a much gentler tone.

"Oh, bro. Bro, you gotta tell him." Mason moaned on the other end of the line, and Liam was almost positive he could hear the sound of Corey hitting his head on the wall. "That's not... that's really not cool that you did that, but it will all be better if you just. Fucking. Tell. Him."

"Okay, but I didn't do it though!" Liam cried. "Everyone just assumed!"

"And why do you think they did that, you douchnozzle?" Corey all but screamed at him in response, much further from the phone than before.

"Because people are nosy and gossipy and won't stay out of my business." Liam frowned at the sweater in his lap. The Kimberley's Auto hoodie was worn and dirty, but Liam couldn't bring himself to wash it. It had been on the kitchen chair and Liam grabbed it before heading upstairs, missing Theo's scent much more than he'd expected to.

"No, Liam, trust us." Mason spoke encouragingly. "You've gotta call him. Tell him. He needs to know how you feel. You owe him after the what you asked of him. It'll make all the difference. I promise."

Liam constantly felt like he was out of the loop, or missing something, but right then all he missed was Theo. He dragged the sweater up to his chest and curled around in, settling in to try and sleep.

*****

Liam was jarred from sleep as his door rattled with a forceful knock.

"Liam? Baby, shouldn't you be at school?" His mother's voice carried through the door.

"I don't want to go!" Liam whined loudly.

Jenna turned the handle on his door, peeking in tentatively. Liam was curled into a ball underneath his covers.

"Baby, you can't ignore your problems. You're an adult now. Happy birthday, by the way. C'mon, I know that Mason probably has plans to bring you some cute thoughtful breakfast or something, and your friends will want to see you." Liam listened to his mom continue walking in until she sat on the edge of the bed and sighed deeply. "You should know something. And I said I'd keep it a secret, but then you ruined everything and I just can't bear to see you suffer in stupidity on your own birthday."

Liam's head popped out from under the covers and he squinted at his mother.

"It's about the car. So, you know I was going to donate it because I didn't really want to put money or time into fixing it. Those cars take someone who specializes in BMW engines and it's just so pricey for the parts and labor, so I abandoned the idea." Jenna reached out and pushed Liam's hair aside.

"So why was Theo trying to-"

"We made a deal." Jenna smiled sadly. "I sold it to him. Cheap. Very cheap. Like... free. Because God knows how much he was going to need to spend on parts anyhow."

"Mom, why-"

"And it's also why I was pushing you to let Theo teach you to drive manual." Jenna nodded. "Well that and you shouldn't be 18 and not at least know how for emergencies."

"Mom, I don't underst-" Liam froze and looked up at Jenna with big round eyes, mouth gaping, trying to form words to ask the question.

"I guess when it broke down and I talked about trashing it, you said something to him about how you loved that car and all the memories it held with just you and me, and always imagined you'd end up driving it one day?" Jenna shrugged. "I dunno, I wasn't there, but it sounds like you, you sap."

"Mom, was he really... why would he do something like that for me?" Liam whispered. "That was probably a lot of money and work and I thought he was doing it all just so you could sell it."

"Sweetie." Jenna shook her head and laughed. "I think the past week is proof enough that that young man does everything he does, just for you."

*****

Liam had tried to call Theo at least ten times, and texted him probably double that. He needed to talk to the chimera so badly that he couldn't think.  Friday passed by in a blur of hugs and birthday wishes, and Liam couldn't repeat a single thing that was said in any of his lessons.

He couldn't repeat a word that had been said to him since his mother said goodbye that morning, promising to seeing him later for dinner.

Liam pushed open the doors to the school, texting Mason how he was a horrible friend for leaving Liam to make the walk home alone, on his birthday of all days, when suddenly there was a loud crack of thunder and the sky released a deluge of long overdue rain.

Liam shoved his phone in his pocket and then turned to stare up at the sky.

"So glad I'm an adult now!" Lam shouted at the sky, not caring who was around to watch him lose his shit. "So far, its working out fucking dandy!"

"Yeah, you look like a nutcase!"

Liam's head snapped down to locate the source of the insult. The voice he'd been craving in his ears for days.

Theo stood in rain a few meters away. Leaning against Jenna's old M3, which was clearly running just fine, and looked like it'd even had a shine job, from the way the water rolled off the sleek grey paint. The headlights were shining through the rain, and the engine hummed low and smooth.

"Theo." Liam whispered, a smile stretching across his face, despite the poor way they'd parted when they last saw each other. He couldn't contain the warmth that spread through his body at just the sight of the older man.

"Need a ride?" The chimera tilted his head toward the car and swiftly got back into the driver's seat, sheltering himself from the rain. Liam sprinted toward the passenger side. He dove inside, settling in before turning to Theo with a nervous smile.

"Not gonna let me drive?" Liam tried to joke, but Theo just frowned and shifted into gear.

"I didn't spend weeks on this just so you could drive it in poor weather and crash." Theo grumbled.

Liam figured it best if he just kept quiet for a bit, so he sat and watched Theo drive the easy route toward the shop, the feeling of being in the small beamer giving him flashbacks of his younger years. Of his mom, taking him to Disneyland, the long car ride filled with laughter, singing, and air guitar. Of his mom picking up him and Mason when they'd been held by the cops for egging a house when they were eleven.

The car meant a lot to him, and he'd been sad when he thought they were going to get rid of it, but he never imagined that Theo would've understood how much it disappointed him. He never thought Theo would care enough to do all this. Just for him.

"So it is mine?" Liam whispered as Theo parked the car in front of the shop. He undid his seat-belt and turned to face Theo. "This is... you did this for me?"

"Jenna doesn't know how to keep a secret for the life of her." Theo smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. He turned the car off and moved to open the door. "Let's go."

Liam followed suit, leaving his backpack behind. He hustled into the lobby when Theo unlocked the door.

It was no longer light out, despite the hour or so left til sundown, Liam noted. The sky had darkened on their drive over. The clouds were an angry silver against a grey blue sky, and the sun wasn't out to refract against the onslaught of rain that poured over their small California town. Liam startled as the lights flicked on. He turned to find where Theo had disappeared to, noting the door to the garage was open, and he could see a faint light in the back of the shop through the window.

Liam was about to venture through the door when Theo's voice suddenly echoed through the shop.

"Don't move. I'll be right there."

Liam obeyed, sitting down in a lobby chair, pulling his phone out to text Mason. He had a message already waiting for him that said, "Tell him." Liam ignored it and pocketed his cell phone once more.

"This is..." Theo walked into the room with a small auto part box with a string around it. "This is your present. Happy Birthday, Liam."

Liam looked at Theo, confused. Theo shoved the box at him, forcefully.

"It's just a set of keys to the car, shut up. I was up all night making sure it was actually done in time, so it's not exactly a great wrapping job. This wasn't exactly the way I planned it." Theo grumbled, walking away again, into the garage portion of the shop. "It was supposed to be a surprise."

Liam watched him walk away, then opened the box, finding the familiar key within, but a new keychain attached to it. It was a lightweight grey-colored wolf, almost the same exact color of the car. There was a small card underneath the keys with writing on it that made Liam's heart stop momentarily.

Happy Birthday.

I love you.

-Theo

Liam stared in awe at the card for a while, minutes passing by as he tried to focus on the hastily scratched words. Liam looked up, unable to see where Theo had disappeared to. He set the box down, grabbing the card and following in the direction that the chimera had gone.

He found the source of the light in the otherwise dark garage. Theo was sitting at a workbench in the corner, facing away from Liam, he seemed to be cleaning some tools. There was a clearly cold, half eaten pizza and a handful of empty protein bar wrappers scattered around the workspace.

"Is this where you were the the past two days?" Liam asked, standing a few feet behind Theo. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and waited as Theo put down his rag and spun around in his stool. The older man looked at him, not answering, but Liam didn't really expect one. "Tell me why you did this for me."

Theo continued staring at him blankly. Liam huffed, the desire for some sort of reaction bubbling up, almost like anger in his chest.

He was nervous.

Nervous that he was wrong. That this wasn't what it looked like. That Theo didn't mean those words on the card the way Liam wanted.

"Tell me why it was so hard to pretend to be my boyfriend, but it was easy to dedicate the last month or so of your life to giving me a car for my 18th birthday, which by the way, holy shit, Theo." Liam pulled his hands out of his pockets to run them through his hair, still in shock that this was really happening.

"I told you on the card." Theo deadpanned.

"No, tell me now. Here." Liam stepped forward, closing the distance between them to a mere foot. He crossed his arms and glared at the chimera.

"Okay." Theo nodded, seemingly unaffected by Liam's distress. He stood from his chair and crossed his arms as well, their forearms brushing slightly. "I'm in love with you, Liam. I love you. I'm just like everyone else in this town. I would do anything you wanted. I see you as a hero. My hero. Because just like you did with all the people you refused to harm despite them trying to kill you..."

Theo looked down finally, breaking the harsh staring contest. He uncrossed his arms and stuffed them into his sweater pocket.

"You saved me." He whispered.

Liam let out a heavy breath before surging forward and wrapping his arms around Theo's shoulders and burying his face in Theo's neck. Theo tensed, then finally put his arms around Liam, resting them on the small of his back.

"You're nothing like the rest of them, Theo." Liam mumbled into his skin before pulling away to take Theo's head in his hands, thumbs stroking his strong, tensed jaw. "You were by my side that whole time. And when I wasn't able to be the person I wanted to be, you saved me. Every time."

Theo swallowed and his eyes softened, and Liam cheered inside when he saw the vulnerability that he was feeling matched in the boy he loved's eyes.

"You tried to stop me from hurting Nolan. You did stop me from hurting Gabe. You saved me time and time again, in fight after fight, and all I could think when I read that stupid fucking article is how wrong they were." Liam was practically seething as he held Theo's gaze. "I didn't save anyone. I'm not a hero. I tried to be, and when I was failing, it was you who saved me. Theo, you saved a lot of people. It's you they're talking about, not me. You're the hero. And that's why I love you."

Theo's eyes flashed gold suddenly when Liam said the last three words, and it caused the younger werewolf's stomach to turn in excitement, knowing Theo was feeling it too.

The slightly nauseating, but indescribably pleasant feeling of falling in love with someone who loves you too.

"You do?" Theo whispered, widening his eyes with hope. He brought one of his hands up and placed it on top of Liam's on his neck.

"Yeah." Liam nodded, smiling softly. "Yeah, I really do. I think I've loved you a lot longer than I realized."

Theo smiled in earnest for the first time in days, and Liam's heart swelled. He leaned in, unable to resist and pressed his smile to Theo's.

Theo tried not to laugh hard enough to ruin the kiss, be he couldn't help it and their first real kiss turned into just giggling into each others mouths, nipping at each other's lips when they could control their faces enough to do so.

But neither of them complained.

Even several years later, Liam thought it was the best kiss they ever had.

***** 

BEACON HILLS HERALD

The Couple That Saves Together, Stays Together
By: Sydney Andrews

Sometimes, love is an enigma. Sometimes it’s an equation that we spend most of our lives looking for the answer to. And sometimes, love is the most obvious thing in the world, waiting just in front of our noses for the moment where we open our eyes to see it.

The latter is the case for Beacon Hills’ newest power couple, Liam Dunbar and Theo Raeken.

A month ago, the Herald published an article about Liam, and his heroic efforts to protect our town from the supernatural forces that have tried to tear it apart for years. It thrust him into the spotlight, and drew many eyes his way all dying to know more about him. Specifically, his relationship status. And with baby blue eyes and a winning smile, who could blame them?

Unfortunately for his adoring public, Liam is indeed taken, a fact I was unaware of at the time of our exposé on him, given that he’d kept it under wraps from even my source close to him.

Fortunately for the town hero, his boyfriend is just as much of a heartthrob, and a hero in his own right from what I hear, making the two of them very lucky young men.

And luckier still are we, who’ve been given the opportunity to watch their love blossom in front of us these last few weeks. Though I feel a little bad about causing them to announce their fresh relationship publicly, and possibly sooner than they’d planned, it’s been a delight getting to see it. From instagram posts by their friends and family to tweets made by other Beacon Hills residents who’ve come across the pair on dates, their smiles have been contagious and their happiness an infectious thing.

But who is Theo Raeken? And how did the two come to meet, and inevitably fall in love?

Born and raised in Beacon Hills, tragedy took Theo from our town at a young age, shortly after his sister died. He and his parents moved away, an understandable decision given the heartbreak of a lost loved one, and he didn’t return until senior year just last fall. But when he returned, it was as a changed man.

A changed werewolf, rather.

One that quickly fell in with and became friends with Liam’s group. Well, tentative friends, according to Mason Hewitt, Liam’s best friend, who sat down for a few quick words with me this weekend over coffee.

“They got off to a rocky start,” Mason told me. “They didn’t exactly see eye to eye—height jokes aside—and there were a couple punches thrown around.”

According to Mason, Theo was instrumental in banishing the Ghost Riders last Spring, and fought alongside Liam, ensuring the younger werewolf made it out alive. Was this when feelings began to blossom between the two? Was risking one’s life a heroic declaration of love?

“If it was, I’m not sure either of them knew it,” Mason explained. “Liam was still with Hayden, and Theo was a necessary ally, one we didn’t have many of. Also, they're idiots. Against the hunters, though… I think that’s when it started. I think that’s when Theo started to realize, anyway.”

He’s speaking, of course, of the events that opened our eyes to the supernatural world just a few short months ago. With most of the town caught up in it, afraid of the people who’d been risking their lives to protect us for years, Liam and his friends had gone into hiding.

And he’d spent most of his time working closely alongside Theo to save us from something we hadn’t even known to look out for.

“It was push and pull with them,” Mason smiled, as if recalling their interactions fondly. “Well, punch and pull, I guess, which sort of seems to be their idea of flirting. But they put up one hell of a fight at the end, together. It was… so in sync. Like they could feel what the other person was planning next. Relationship goals, man.”

He went on to tell us about how Theo saved his life and became one of his closest friends in the quiet weeks that followed. He spoke warmly about watching their relationship grow, about watching the two banter and bond and slowly come together. Slowly, because as Mason put it, they were “very, very blind about what had been right in front of them for months.”

Much like we were about their world.

But now, everyone’s eyes are open. We see the things that scare us, and we see the things that protect us from them. We see heroes in all shapes, sizes and species.

We see a love built on trust, and respect, and all the fond teasing two young men head over heels for each other can muster.

We see you, Liam and Theo.

And we thank you both for everything you’ve done for us.