It was late and Theo still didn’t have a place to spend the night. He was driving around, looking somewhere he could park his car and try to sleep before some fucking cop will wake him up. It was the same every night since Liam brought him back. However, besides the nightmares, it was still better than hell.
It was funny, Theo thought bitterly, not to be sure if his life was better or worse than actually being in hell.
There was, however, no Liam in hell. So, maybe it was better being back, even with the nightmares, even with the loneliness and living in his truck. Because he could be there for Liam. Why did he care, anyway? The boy had rescued him, but they were not friends, were they? Friends or not, he didn´t know why or how, but it seemed like he always could find Liam, especially when he was in trouble. So,Theo was not surprised when he heard Liam´s howl.
Theo turned left and there Liam was; half-shifted with panic and rage in his eyes, just standing in the middle of the street with a lot of people staring at him, the smell of fear filling the air. He was near two bodies, and Theo felt his own heart jump. He moved his truck until he was near Liam and opened the passenger´s door.
“Get in.” Liam looked at him, freaked out. “Come on, Dunbar, get in the fucking car!”
Liam reacted to the shout, his face changing back to human as he got in to Theo’s car, but he hadn’t closed the door. “Wait,” he said in a low voice, as though he felt he had already lost,“we can´t leave them here”.
“Liam, we need to move, now. We can´t do anything and you can´t stay here. So, please, close the fucking door, or I swear…”.
Theo felt the air freeze in his lungs. That was not Liam. Liam would have fight him. But not this Liam. This Liam suddenly looked younger and somehow older than ever: tired, scared, and so heartbreaking sad. But Theo said nothing, did nothing. He just drove the rest of the way to Liam´s house in silence, while the younger boy stared blankly out the window. He wanted to ask what happened, wanted to reach and grab Liam´s hand and say something to comfort him, but he didn´t. He couldn´t take the risk of being rejected; of being exposed and vulnerable.
He stopped in front of Liam´s house. The street was quiet and peacefull, just like a different town, not the place where two teenagers just died in the middle of the street. The city was like Theo: a pretender, hidding the ugly places and showing just a false good side.
There was no light in Liam´s house, no sign of life inside, so Theo thought his parents might be out or sleeping. Liam stood, quiet, until Theo spoke. “Liam, are you ok?”
Liam didn´t answer.
What a stupid question, Theo thought. “Do you want me to call Scott? Mason?”
“No. I´m fine. Thanks for the ride,” he said as he opened the door, not looking at Theo.
“No problem,” Theo said. He wanted to go with Liam, make sure he was fine, but Liam just turned around and Theo started driving again. It wasn´t his problem. Not his pack. Not his friend.
Five minutes later he stopped. He couldn´t leave Liam alone. He thought about calling his friends, but it was late and he was closer to Liam´s house than anyone. “Fuck,” he said as he turned to go back to Liam´s place. He knocked on the house door but nobody opened. He tried to opened it and it was easy: it was unlocked. It was the kind of neighbourhood where people leave their doors unlocked.
When he entered the smell of panic hit his nose. He followed it to the stairs, and there he found Liam. The boy was sitting in the last step grabbing the rail and gasping for air. He didn´t look at Theo, as though he was miles away.
“Liam, you need to breathe”, Theo said. He knew what a panic attack was, and Liam seemed to be really fucked up. “Come on, Liam, listen to me!” he said, grabbing Liam´s hands. He let the rail go and finally looked at Theo, panic all over his face.
“I can´t…” he couldn´t even finish the phrase but Theo knew what he meant.
“You can, Liam, you can breathe, I promise. I need you to trust me, ok? Now, stand up” he said and helped him to stand. Then he went down the hallway until he found a bathroom. Liam was almost being carried by Theo, who turned the cold water in the shower on.
“Ok, Liam, now I´m going to put you in the shower.”
Liam didn´t answer, so Theo pushed him until he was in the water.
Liam took a big breath in surprise.
“There it is, Little Wolf, you can breathe,” Liam started trying to breath normally, and Theo stood there.
He looked misserable, his clothes wet from the cold water showering down on him and his hair falling into his face while he gasped for air.
It seemed weird, the whole scene: the perfect blond teenager in the perfect clean an fancy bathroom, but nothing else was perfect: people just died, and watching the perfect boy was the perfect monster, the perfect killer.
Theo tried not to think so much; he knew it would be easier for Liam if he had something to focus, so Theo thought he could tell him a story.
“You like history, don´t you? Well, I´m going to tell you a story, ok?” Liam looked at him and nodded, and Theo finally stopped the water while Liam continued relaxing his breathing. “There was this ancient… King or sultan or something like that who…”
“Where?” Liam asked.
“Where? Mmmm, well, maybe in Europe. Yeah, Europe.”
“For god sake, Dunbar, I´m trying to tell you the fucking story.”
“Ok,” Liam said, his breath still too fast.
“Just don´t say it’s historical” Liam said, sitting in the shower, all wet, looking at Theo.
Theo sat on the floor, back against the wall, and couldn’t help laughing at Liam´s words.
“Ok, not a historical story, just a story. So, this non-historical King wanted to inscribe on a ring something really important to remember, something wise, you know?”
“I don´t know why, Liam! That´s what kings and rich people do, inscribe things in rings!”
“Ok, Theo, you don´t have to be so grumpy.”
Theo took a deep breath, tried to ignore the urge of punching Liam in a no grumpy way.
“So, the King asked his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. And finally the words were ‘this too shall pass’.”
Liam looked at Theo, an eyebrow up, like wondering what he should say.
“What I mean, Liam, is that nothing is forever. When you´re happy you have to enjoy it because it won´t last, and when you are… all broken and wet in the shower, well, it won´t last forever either.”
Liam’s face was blank, impossible to read, but he nodded at Theo.
“I know. But still… Nevermind. Thanks, Theo,” Liam said, not looking at Theo´s eyes. “You don´t have to stay, I´ll be fine.”
“Ok, but you should take a real shower or you will freeze to death. And I need to be sure you don´t slide or do anything stupid, so I´ll wait in your bedroom.”
Liam didn´t seem pleased with the idea but he nodded.
Five minutes later Theo was in Liam´s bedroom. The room was too another piece in the perfect american family picture: it was a clean, roomy and nice space. Theo stare at the bookshelves: there was filled with books and trophies and pictures of Liam´s parents, Liam´s friends, all of them happy and smiling.
Theo felt like an intruder, sitting on the edge of the bed, listening to the shower and thinking about what the hell he was doing. He knew Liam wasn´t good at all, but his friends were dead and there was nothing they could do about it. Theo shivered thinking about the possibility of Liam getting hurt, maybe killed, as Lori and Brett had been. Why did he care? He was just a beta, one of a pack that didn´t want Theo around. Why couldn´t Theo stop thinking about Liam, then?
He was thinking about that when Liam entered the room, a towel around his hips. “Ey. You are still there.”
“Yeah, I told you I would wait.”
Liam didn´t answer and turned around to change. Theo looked away, giving him some privacy, trying to ignore the fact that he was blushing. Really? Blushing? The big bad chimera?
When Liam was dressed he sat in his bed, next to Theo. They were silent for a while, in an uncomfortable way, until Theo spoke. “Do you want to tell me what happened?”
Liam stared at his feet, and Theo remain silent, leaving him some space. After a few minutes, the boy started talking. He told Theo about Brett and Lori and what happened to them: the tunnels, the hunters, Liam trying to save them. His voice was low, like he didn´t want to hear his own story.
“I couldn´t save them, Theo,” he said, his voice breaking. “They are dead and it´s my fault.”
The tears started running to his cheeks, and he looked away, trying to hide it from Theo, who didn´t know what to do, what to say. Finally, he reached his hand out and grabbed Liam’s shoulder.
When Liam felt Theo´s touch, turned abruptly burying his face in Theo´s chest as he began sobbing. Theo froze as Liam wrapped his arms around him; after a while he returned the hug, letting Liam cry all over him.
“It wasn´t your fault,” he said, near to Liam´s ear, in a tone so soft that even he was surprised.
He thought about how young Liam was. Maybe he had never lost someone close. Or, parhaps, nobody had ever died in front of him. That made sense. That´s not normal; Theo´s life wasn´t normal, and he has no business with the soft and innocent Liam.
Theo was a mess. He knew how to fight Liam or how to fight with Liam, but he didn´t know how to comfort anybody; he wasn´t even sure if he wanted to do that, or why he would do it. Also, he doesn´t remember the last time someone had hugged him. Anyway, it was Liam, not just anyone, and all Theo could do was trying to take care of him. “But why?” he thought, and then, in his head, another voice answered: “Theo Raeken: failure.”
This wasn´t good. This made him weaker. He wanted to run away, but he couldn´t. He waited until Liam stopped crying and they separated.
Liam´s eyes were red, and he looked embarrassed. “I´m sorry,” he said.
“It´s ok,” Theo said, standing up.
“Are you leaving?” Liam asked, not hiding the disappointment in his voice.
“Yeah, I guess. You need to sleep.”
“Please… stay?” Liam asked, his voice so desperate that it made it difficult for Theo to say no. “My parents aren´t home, and I don´t wanna be alone. Not tonight. Please?”
Theo didn´t know what to do. He didn´t want to be so close to anyone, he didn´t want such a weakness, but on the other hand, he didn´t want to leave Liam alone and he couldn’t remember the last time he slept in a real bed.
“Ok,” he said finally, and Liam‘s face looked relieved. “Just tonight.”
“Thanks”, Liam said, trying to smile. “I have a guest room but… you can stay here. The bed is big enough, you won´t even notice I´m here.”
Theo raised an eyebrow. “Are you trying to seduce me, Little Wolf?”
“What? No! Fuck, Theo, no! Nevermind, it was a stupid thing to ask, you can go.”
“Chill, Dumbar. I was joking. I´ll stay here. But you will have to lend me some clothes if you don´t want me naked in your bed.”
A few minutes later they were both in bed, with space enough between them for somebody else. The bed was son comfortable and warm, tha Theo thought he couldn´t ever sleep in his truck again. He knew Liam was awake, and he turned and faced him. Without saying a word, Liam abruptly grabbed one of Theo´s hand and pulled it up to his head. Theo couldn´t help it and he started touching Liam´s hair, softly, until he felt Liam was asleep. He wanted to leave, but he fell asleep as well.
He woke up at 4 in the morning. Liam had his head against Theo´s chest, whose arm was around Liam´s waist. He closed his eyes and smelled Liam´s scent, feeling the heat radiating from his body. He thought this was the closest to home he had ever been. So, he freaked out.
This wasn´t his home. He didn´t deserve that, and more importantly, Liam was better without the murderous, failure, Theo Raeken. So, he got up, trying not to wake Liam.
Before he left, he wrote a Post-it and put it on Liam’s desk. “Remember, Little Wolf, this too shall pass.”
He drove around until he parked in an industrial area. He just sat there, thinking about what happened, thinking about Liam and the way he felt being with him, the urge to protect him and also the feeling of being safe around him.
He saw a light outside, and thought it was the police again, but when he looked there was three hunters pointing guns at him. Suddenly, his phone rang and he saw Liam´s name on his screen.