Theo clicked the dial forward on the lever behind the column that controlled the wipers, setting the interval to its shortest setting in a seemingly futile attempt to repel the heavy snow.
“Remind me again where driving through the Sierra-Nevada’s and getting caught in a blizzard falls on my bucket list?”
Liam just stared out the window at the falling snow.
“Oh, that’s right! It doesn’t” Theo gritted through his teeth, in answer to his own question.
“Nobody forced you to come” Liam shot back as he turned his gaze toward the driver, eyeing the white knuckled vice-grip Theo had on the steering wheel, his claws slightly tearing into the leather cover.
“No, but it wasn’t like you would’ve made it out here by yourself, not with your truck at least”
Liam frowned as he bit the inside of his cheek. He hated when Theo had a point.
“Besides, Argent made it sound really important”
“Just wish his contact had actually shown up” the beta muttered
Theo felt the back of the truck fishtail slightly, as the rear wheels struggled to find traction in the snow. Taking his foot off the gas, he shifted into low gear to try to slow down, knowing the brakes would likely cause them to lose control.
“This is with the 4-wheel drive” he lamented
By now the setting sun had given way to rising darkness, the heavy snow making it next to impossible to see more than ten feet in any direction.
“We have to pull-over somewhere for the night” Theo stated adamantly
Liam hummed in agreement; pulling up his phone he quickly searched for the nearest place they could stop.
“There’s not really anything out here” he said as he started going through the results, “Wait, I think I found something”
“Well as long as it’s not the county morgue, I’ll take it. How far away are we?” Theo asked, not taking his eyes from the snow laden road before them.
“According to this, we just need to turn down . . . .”
Looking up from his phone Liam pointed over to a reflective trail marker that indicated the road they needed. “Right there”
Theo carefully maneuvered the truck down the unplowed snow-covered drive; for being so remote there were oddly few vacant parking spaces.
Turning the truck off, he hopped out of the driver’s side and looked over at the massive carved wooden wolf that stood guard outside the entrance.
“The Lost Wolf Inn & Resort” he read aloud from the sign around the neck of the wolf. The outside of the building had a rustic log-cabin design that ran complete over its many floors.
“Has some pretty good reviews” Liam offered, “kind of pricey though”
“That’s why we have Argent’s credit card” Theo grinned.
The two boys made their way through the entrance, a welcome rush of warmth embracing them as they stepped in from the cold. Walking down the dark red carpet, they headed towards the check-in desk.
Theo hit the bell twice, summoning the attendant.
“Welcome to the Lost Wolf Inn, do you have a reservation?” the man behind the desk asked
“Uh, no, we uh, just wanted to see about a place to stay for the night” Liam fumbled over his words.
The attendant looked down through his ledger before looking back at the two boys. “Unfortunately, we don’t have any vacancies left for the evening. . .” he trailed off
Theo felt his heart sink at the prospect of having to share the back of his truck with Liam, instead of a clean, warm bed of his own.
“Unless of course the two of you are here to register for our Christmas Couples Weekend?” the attendant offered cheerfully
Without a moment of hesitation, Theo threw his arm of over Liam’s shoulder and made a sickeningly sweet grin, “Of course we are, right babe?” he said turning to the beta
Liam was caught completely off-guard, “babe?” he mumbled back to himself in total confusion as to what just happened.
“Excellent!” the attendant replied as Theo handed back over the credit card Chris Argent had left him.
“We have an excellent program lined up, you’re lucky you got in just now, you haven’t missed a thing!” he started to explain as he handed out a brochure with a schedule of all the events that were going on.
“I’m sure you two will have a truly magical holiday experience here at the Lost Wolf Inn & Resort” he added with a smile and barely subtle wink before handing Theo the key card to their room.
With his free-hand, Theo pulled the card from the electronic lock, a green light and audible click signaling they were free to enter. Turning the handle, he readjusted their bags over his shoulder and stepped inside.
The interior was adorned much the same as the lobby, a rustic almost hunting-lodge aesthetic that was accordingly decorated for the season. Green strands of garland lined the doorframes, accompanied by glittering multi-colored Christmas lights, silken red bows, and colorful glass ornaments. A mid-sized, tree stood proudly in one corner of the room, opposite a comfortable looking recliner, itself clothed with a Christmas themed quilt. There were even fresh boughs of pine set about, and white candles on the nightstand, opposite the flat-screen television that was playing a looping video of a roaring fireplace.
If there was even the smallest crevice that more Christmas would fit into, you could be sure it was there.
On the pillows were two candy canes, set such that the short and long ends were touching, mirroring each other and forming a heart shape.
“You booked us for a couples weekend?!” Liam said again in disbelief
“I booked us for a hot shower and clean place to sleep” he corrected, setting the bags down by the bed.
“Here” Theo said, throwing the welcome packet at the beta, “find something to do tomorrow, doubt these back-roads will be cleared by then”
Liam looked up at him, “where are you going?”
Theo ruffled through his bag, before grabbing a clean pair of sweatpants and started towards the bathroom
“All yours” Theo called out, as he stepped out into the main room
Looking up, he almost spit out the hot chocolate he had made for himself while the other boy was in the shower.
He had seen Theo shirtless before plenty of times. What he had not seen was Theo wearing only a pair of Beacon Hills Lacrosse sweatpants, with a towel slung over one shoulder; his hair still dripping wet from the shower, while the droplets of water that clung to his perfectly toned chest refracted the multi-colors from the Christmas lights above.
“Come on Liam, I’m not sharing the room unless you take a shower” the chimera barked. They had been out in the woods for two days before this, trying to meet up with the contact Argent had given them.
“I, uh, this is my last change of clothes” Liam confessed, snapping out of his daze
Theo rolled his eyes, “wouldn’t know it from how heavy your bag is”
“I like to be prepared!”
“For everything except basic hygiene apparently” Theo sassed, as he held up a gas-mask he pulled from the other boy’s duffel bag.
“Lucky for you, I’ve got some extras” he added, retuning to his own bag and throwing a clean shirt and pair of briefs the other boy.
“Wh-?” Liam started, before getting cut off,
“homeless, remember?” Theo huffed
Liam nodded and made a quick step for the bathroom.
Drying off and pulling the clean t-shirt on, Liam looked at himself in the mirror above the sink. It felt weird being away from home, given that tomorrow was Christmas Eve. Not that anyone else would be there; his mom and Dr. Geyer were 3-months into a 6-month mission with Doctors Without Borders in Honduras.
This would be his first Christmas by himself, he thought to himself; unless they were still stuck here by then.
He reached for the door, and stepped out of the bathroom.
“Alright. Yeah, we’ll check-in if anything changes.” He heard Theo say, before setting his phone down on the bedside table.
“Left, or right?” the chimera asked
“The bed, which side are you taking?” Theo asked again
“We’re sharing the bed?” Liam asked again, assuming Theo would have taken the chair or the floor or something.
“Unless you’d rather sleep in the truck?” the other boy challenged.
The furrowed brow and crossed arms provided all the response he needed.
“Right” he finally grumbled, as he walked to the respective side and began to lie down, “but only if I get your candy cane”
“fine with me” Theo replied, before rolling on his side, back turned to the beta, and hitting the light.
Just as he thought he was about to drift off to sleep he heard a loud CRUNCH
“So, who was that on the phone?” Liam asked, in-between bites of candy cane
“Derek” came the terse reply
“What did he want?” Liam asked again, the chimera’s reticence always at odds with his hyper-curiosity.
Theo sighed and sat up in the bed. “He talked with Argent, they found the body of the contact we were supposed to meet. Looks like hunters knew where the rendezvous was before we got there”
“So, it was a set-up?”, a loud smack of the lips followed the questions as Liam continued eating the candy cane
“They’re not sure, but they want us to come back as soon as the weather and the roads clear up” he answered
“and until then?”
“We wait. Blend in, act normal, play it straight” Theo explained, “well maybe not the last one” he added with a slight laugh
“So, we have to act like we’re dating? For the whole weekend? Even on Christmas?!” Liam exclaimed, almost choking on his candy cane
“Don’t flatter yourself, it’s just for the weekend”
“But, how am I supposed to pretend to be your boyfriend for an entire weekend?” Liam continued
“Says the guy wearing my underwear, sleeping in my shirt, and sharing a bed. Seems like you’re off to a pretty convincing start Dunbar” he retorted
A low growl, and aggressive flop to the side was the only response. Theo smirked a little, before settling back down onto his side of the bed.
Liam stretched his arms out as he yawned. Squinting, he rubbed the sleep from his bleary eyes as he noticed a figure moving to open the blinds.
Suddenly the room was bathed in bright white light, as the few rays of sun that broke through the clouds reflected off the freshly fallen snow with maximum intensity.
“How are you up so early?” he asked, eyes still trying to adjust to the light.
Theo just stood there, a silhouette in front the window, white light beaming in rays around his figure, like some sort of dark angel.
“Didn’t want to miss the free breakfast”
Liam yawned again, his stomach growled indicating that it didn’t want to miss breakfast either.
“Also, you kick in your sleep” Theo added, walking to the door
“Do not!” the other boy protested
“If it weren’t for my supernatural healing, I’d have the bruises to show you” the chimera threatened, “though if you say you’re sorry, I might feel so inclined as to return with breakfast-for-two”
“Hmmpf” was all he got in response
“One plate of gluten-free raisin toast, and vegan bacon coming right up!” Theo promised, before letting the room door slam behind him.
Liam swung his legs over the side of the bed, and took a deep breath. Just one more day of this after today, then everything would go back to normal, he told himself.
Just then his phone started buzzing, a video call was incoming
“Hello?” he answered, trying to bring the phone into focus. He saw his mom on a sandy beach, warm sunlight filling the background, and people going all about behind her.
“Hi kiddo, just checking in to see how things are going, and to wish you a Merry Christmas, in case I don’t hear from you tomorrow” Jenna Geyer smiled lovingly
“Hey mom, things are good, I’m fine, just woke up”
“I can see that” she said, noting his ruffled hair and sleepy eyes, “Are you staying with a friend or something, that doesn’t look like our house?” she asked suspiciously
“We, uh, I sort of got caught in a bad snow storm, so we’re, I mean, I’m at a hotel until the roads are safe to drive again” he stumbled out, “the Lost Wolf Inn & Resort” he added
“Is anyone there with you? And, is that a new shirt? Looks a bit big for you?” she continued her inquisition, mom senses in full form.
Shit, he muttered under his breath, “uh, yeah, I’m here with Theo, he let me borrow his shirt”
“Ah” his mother smirked, “Is this the Theo that gave you a ride home when your car broke down last month, or the Theo-with-the-nice-arms?”
“Uh, both?” he answered, wait, did I just say I think Theo has nice arms? Shit.
“But it’s no-” he got cut off
Jenna smiled softly, “It’s okay sweetie, I’m glad; though you know you could have always told me earlier?”
“Mom, it’s not li-” he tried again
“I’m just happy you’re not spending Christmas alone, it’s good to have someone special to share it with” she continued
“You know, the Lost Wolf Inn was one of the first Christmases I spent with Dr. Geyer after we got married” she reminisced
“Mom!” he tried to keep his voice restrained
“Alright, I know, TMI. Just, I think you boys will have a lovely time there is all.” She smiled softly, “Uh, got to go, your dad needs help with the piña coladas. Your grandma will be so happy when she hears you’re finally dating again! Love you, bye!”
The call disconnected.
This was not happening he muttered to himself over and over.
Sighing heavily, he began to get dressed.
Almost as if on cue, the door opened, and in walked Theo carrying a wooden tray with warm mugs and plates loaded high with pancakes and eggs and bacon.
“You’re lucky they were fresh out of cold plain oatmeal and water” he said, setting the plates and mugs at the end table near the window.
Liam finished pulling on his pants in silence, before stumbling over to the small table.
“What? No ‘thank you Theo for getting me a real breakfast’?” the older boy asked astounded
“No, it’s, it’s not that” Liam tried to explain, while taking a sip from the mug of hot coffee.
“You know what, forget it” the other boy said, shoving a forkful of pancakes into his mouth, “Did you decide on what you wanted to do today?” he managed to get out between bites
Liam thought back to the brochure he had been reading through last night on the itinerary for the day.
“I always wanted to go skiing” he finally said
“Do you know even know how?” Theo asked in disbelief
“Not really” he confessed, “but I didn’t know how to ride a horse either, and that turned out okay” he offered with an optimistic, pleading, puppy smile
Theo took a loud slurp of his coffee, “skiing it is then”
“You only picked this because you wanted to ride the cabriolet, didn’t you?” Theo accused, as he placed their ski rental tickets in the inner pocket of his jacket
A confused blank stare was all he got from his fellow passenger, “the ski lift” he clarified
“No, I’m totally down for skiing!” Liam stated in his defense, “I just, really like how far you can see when you get to the top” he added
Theo huffed and shook his head, “I bet you were the kid that went to the mall just to play on the escalators”
“That is completely different!”
“Whatever, just promise me we’ll get off this time? This is like the seventh time we’ve been around”
Liam nodded, begrudgingly. Secretly he wished they could just stay up there all day.
And just like that, his wish was granted.
* CLUNK *
“What was that?” Theo asked nervously as he lurched forward in his seat.
The lift had stopped moving.
“I, uh, I think we’re stuck” Liam observed
“So I noticed” came the snarky reply, “Got a plan to get un-stuck?”
“It’ll come back in a minute, right?”
----- hours later -----
“Any minute now, huh?” Theo said sarcastically, his arms folded across his chest
“We could always jump” Liam offered, “since we both heal so fast”
“That wouldn’t look suspicious at all” the chimera replied with an eye-roll
By now the sun was starting to set, not that it ever broke through the cloud cover, but the sky was getting much darker. Gradually, more and more of the serene snow blanketed forest valley before them began to fade into the twilight.
A low howl echoed off the snowy mountains.
“Did you hear that?” Liam asked, eyes wide
“Sounded like a wolf” came the unimpressed response from the his very-much-tired-of-being-stuck-on-a-ski-lift chimera seated next to him
“What if we’re stuck here all night, and the lift falls, and we get eaten by wolves?” Liam’s mind was racing
“That was just a movie Liam” Theo said, with another eyeroll, “besides, you’re a werewolf, remember?”
“A very cold werewolf” he said, teeth chattering
“You’re the one who only wore their lacrosse hoodie”
“I-” Liam tried
“to go skiing”
“in the snow”
“during the middle of winter” Theo finished, taking delight in cutting off Liam at every point
“If you were really my boyfriend, you’d let me have your coat” he tried
“Would I now?” the older boy asked dismissively
“Yup, and your beanie too” Liam added with an innocent smirk
“What?! You trying to take all my clothes now Dunbar?” Theo scoffed
“Hey, my ears are cold” the beta explained, “and it would definitely make us more convincing”
The freezing beta had a point, Theo reasoned. He stripped off his coat (the best he could, being restrained by the safety bar in front of them), and handed it over to Liam, before ripping off his beanie and throwing it as hard as he could at the other boy.
Liam put the coat on as quickly as he could, taking immediate comfort in the warmth radiating from the garment that had soaked up the other boy’s body heat. The beanie too, did much to shield his ears from the icy wind that was starting to gust down the slope.
“Thanks” he managed to get out once his teeth had stopped their chattering.
“I’m too hot anyway” Theo quipped, never one to mask his arrogance with subtlety
Just as Liam was about to offer some snarky comeback, their car lurched forward as the lift began to resume their descent down the slope.
“Sorry ‘bout that! Thought you two boys had got off at the top. Would’ve sent someone up to get ya if I’d known you were still up there” an older man with a scraggly beard said, apologizing at least two more times before the pair made it out of the station at the bottom of the slope.
“Where are you going?” Liam asked as Theo started off towards the lodge
“Back to the room” Theo answered, as if that was the only possible option
“But I didn’t get to go skating!”
“It’s dark. It’s cold. And more importantly, everything is closed” the other boy chided
“But, but skating!” Liam pleaded
Theo sighed, try to reason with Liam Dunbar once he set his mind to something, was like trying to heard cats.
“Alright, but let’s make it quick” Theo conceded, before following behind the beta, the other boy almost skipping with excitement.
The skating rink, as it were, was really just a small pond, not too far off the path, that had wooden poles with bright, multi-color, Christmas lights strung between them. The individual light-bulbs were the massive C9/C7 style, and glowed soft in the night.
They both walked up to the small boathouse at the edge, finding the attendant midway through closing up for the night.
“Hi, we’d like to borrow some ice-skates” Theo asked, as Liam explored around the dock.
“Sorry, but we’re closed” the guy behind the counter replied tersely. He couldn’t have been more than a year or two older than he was, Theo thought to himself
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a few $20’s, “My boyfriend would really like to ice skate tonight, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind staying open for just a few minutes over?” the chimera tried pleading
The attendant just shook his head, “closed”
So much for the nice-guy approach Theo muttered under his breath, before landing a fist square on the nose of the uncooperative attendant. The kid fell sprawling flat on his back, the drop knocking the wind out of him.
Reaching behind the counter, Theo grabbed a pair of ice-skates.
“How’d you convince him to let us skate?” Liam asked in fantastic disbelief
“I had to knock him out” came the completely deadpan response.
Typical Theo Liam shook his head. “What, you didn’t get a pair for yourself?” he asked, noting the chimera had only grabbed a single pair of skates
“Oh I’m not here for the skating” he assured with a grin
Liam looked at him puzzled, before he continued
“I’m here to laugh and record the sight of you falling flat on your ass” he smirked as he pulled his phone out of his pocket.
Liam just stuck his tongue out and began to trot out onto the ice, once he finished lacing up his skates.
He was a little wobbly at first, but he slowly learned to find his balance, and could make a slow glide.
Think snowflakes were falling all around them, the bright colored lights reflecting off the tiny ice crystals. It was like a scene straight out of a Christmas movie; it was so impossibly idyllic.
At least it was until, as predicted, Liam fell flat on his bottom.
Theo struggled to keep the camera steady as he was almost doubled over from laughing.
“Just wait until the rest of the pack sees this!” he called out over the ice
Just then, he heard the unmistakable sound of ice cracking.
“Come on Liam, I think we should get going”
“Why, so you can laugh at me all the way back?” the beta pouted
“I’m serious Liam, I really think you should get off the ice” Theo said, nearly begging, his voice laden with worry
“Well I’m not done skating yet” Liam continued
“Get off the ice!” Theo ordered
Liam began to stand up, to try and have another go, but in the blink of an eye there was an even louder crack sound and the next thing Theo knew, Liam was gone and, in his place, a massive hole in the middle of the pond.
Acting more on instinct that reason, Theo swore under his breath and ran out onto the frozen pond.
“Liam!”, he got no response. Looking into the hole in the ice, he couldn’t see anything.
Thrusting one arm down into the icy black water, he tried feeling around for something, any part of Liam to grab onto to pull him out.
By now the cold water was beginning to numb the feeling in his hand and arm.
By a stroke of fortune, he felt what seemed like the collar of the jacket he had lent. With an iron grip Theo used every ounce of supernatural strength he had within to pull up.
A completely drenched, and barely conscious Liam was miraculously raised up to the ice. Theo moved them to the safety of the dock, before trying to bring the other boy to.
“Come on Liam, wake up!” he shouted, noticing for the first time a tiny bit of blood on the back of his head. Must’ve hit his head on the ice when he fell under Theo realized.
Patting the beta’s cheeks, he tried desperately to try an get him to regain consciousness.
Finally, he laid him flat on his back, and straddled himself over top of him, pressing his hands over Liam’s heart and beginning the first stages of CPR.
“Come on Liam, you can do this!” he shouted, before moving to pinch the boy’s nose and bring their mouths together to begin rescue breaths.
Right as Theo’s lips were about to touch, Liam came to, coughing icy pond water all over Theo’s face.
Theo sat back, half mad that he had water all over his face and equal parts glad to see Liam was alright.
“W-what happened to you?” Liam managed to get out, as his vision focused on the sight of Theo’s now very wet hair.
Theo just laughed to himself, “Come on, lets get you back inside so you can dry off” he said with a chuckle, before helping Liam to his feet.
Liam looked at his reflection in the mirror as he toweled off his hair, pile of wet clothes on the floor behind him.
There was a soft knock before the door to the bathroom opened and Theo handed him a fresh change of clothes, more specifically two coat hangers with something more formal.
“Here” Theo said as he handed off the garments, “I was able to guilt the manager into giving us free drink tickets on account of you almost dying”
“So why the shirt and jacket?” Liam asked puzzled, he didn’t mind, but like the hotel bar wasn’t that fancy
“I had to agree that we’d be at this Christmas Eve couple’s dinner thing they’re having downstairs” Theo explained, “not like we had other plans anyway”
He had a point.
“Just get dressed, and meet me in the lobby by the hearth in 30 minutes, alright?” the chimera asked, an unfamiliar nervousness sounded in his voice. Liam nodded and watched as the door closed behind Theo.
“Weird” Liam mumbled to himself, without giving it too much thought.
Walking through the nearly overwhelmingly Christmassy lobby, Liam made his way to the massive fireplace at the heart of the Lost Wolf Inn, where as promised, one Theo Raeken was waiting.
“You clean up nice” Theo complimented, upon seeing Liam in a clean dress shirt and blazer, his stubble from the past few days now clean shaven.
Liam couldn’t help but stare at Theo, the older boy wearing a midnight blue, perfectly fitted dress shirt, the top two buttons intentionally left undone, the flames from the fire behind him making seemingly impossible colors dance about in the other boy’s eyes.
“Uh, not too bad yourself” he finally got out, “thanks again for letting me borrow the clothes”
“You’re lucky I had an extra set in my truck” Theo teased, “plus you still owe me for the beanie you lost”
Liam rolled his eyes, “I was a bit occupied with the whole “trying-not-to-drown thing”
“Yeah, well you kind of sucked at it” Theo countered, earning a swift jab in the ribs before the hotel manager showed up.
“I’m so glad you two could make it! This is my favorite event we host all year!” he explained,
The two boys grinned, a bit forcibly.
“Well, grab a seat, mingle with the other guests while the band warms up, and then get ready for the main event, the Christmas Eve dance!” he added, very enthusiastically, before heading off to another couple.
“Wait, did he say dance?” Theo asked, Liam only shrugged.
The two of them made their way to one of the many small tables that had now filled the ground level of The Lost Wolf Inn surrounding the massive fireplace.
“You find a seat, I’ll go grab us some drinks, deal?” Theo offered
Liam simply nodded.
He had just sat down at an empty table, when an elderly man and woman walked up to the other side. “Are these two seats taken?” the man asked politely, gesturing to the empty chairs opposite the one he was sitting in.
Liam shook his head, “all yours” he offered
“Thanks” the man said kindly, taking his seat after helping the woman beside him to her seat.
“I’m Max, and this is my wife Michelle” he said, introducing himself
“Liam” he stated
“Nice to meet you Liam” the woman responded with a warm smile, “you’re not here by yourself I hope?” she followed
“No, I’m saving this seat for Theo” he replied, “my, uh, boyfriend” he quickly added.
Liam silently pondered how that last part didn’t feel so weird to say aloud, as it did at the start of this whole affair.
As if speaking his name was all it took to conjure former chimera-of-death, Theo suddenly appeared at his side, drinks in hand.
“Making friends?” Theo asked with one eyebrow raised
“This is Max, and that’s his wife Michelle” Liam explained, gesturing to the company across the small table,
“You must be Theo” Michelle greeted him
“The one and only” he replied with a smirk, as he took his seat
“How did you two meet each other?” she asked, while taking a sip from her glass
“Funny story, you see I was in the woods late at nig-” Theo started
“School project” Liam immediate cut him off, while getting a quick side-glare in
“Aww” the other two cooed, while squeezing each other’s hands under the table
“So, is this your first Christmas at The Lost Wolf?” Max asked
“Yep, first-time” Liam replied with a half-smile
“Well I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far! We’ve been coming here every Christmas for the better part of a decade now” Max proclaimed
“There’s just something that’s almost magical about how this place gets this time of year, with the snow and the lights and decorations. We just have to come back!” Michelle added, before snagging a quick kiss.
At that moment, the band started playing, all around the room couples began to get up start slow dancing in the open area in the center of the room.
“Guess that’s our cue!” Michelle said to Max with an eager smile, before the two of them got up to join the others.
“Uh, should we . . . ?” Liam started, a bit awkwardly
“I don’t dance” Theo stated coldly
“What do you mean you don’t dance, like don’t know how or just don’t like it?” he asked
“Something like that” Theo muttered
“Have you ever danced with someone?” Liam tried again.
Theo just sat there in silence, not answering the question.
“You’ve never danced? Like never never?” Liam laughed in disbelief
“I had lot of other priorities, okay?” he growled defensively
Liam shook his head, “Come on” he said, grabbing Theo’s arm
The confused look on the other boy’s face was priceless, “Gotta be convincing, right?” Liam insisted, earning a defeated sigh from Theo.
Taking Theo’s hand in his, and placing his other on his waist Liam slowly led Theo as the two boys started dancing side to side to the jazzy cover of Baby It’s Cold Outside that the house band was playing.
“See? Not so bad, right?” Liam asked, their cheeks just shy of touching
“I think I’ll survive” Theo muttered
The two of them slowly made their way across the ballroom floor as they danced along with the other couples.
“Max and Michelle seemed nice” Theo observed
“I told them you ran a cat rescue” Liam stated, “and that you taught knitting classes to make booties for the cats” he added with a delighted grin
“I hate you” Theo hissed
“You called it ‘Mittens for Kittens’” Liam laughed
Just as Theo was about bring his claws out, a kneeling man wearing a Santa hat and holding a camera motioned for their attention, “Can I get a shot of the Christmassy couple?” he asked
Liam and Theo just looked at him, waiting for the photographer to finish
With a roll of the eyes, the Santa hat clad man gestured towards the ceiling; both boys looking up to find that they had managed to dance their way under a perfectly place piece of mistletoe.
“Oh” Liam said nervously
“Be convincing, right?” Theo said just low enough for Liam to hear.
Both boys gulped nervously, before engaging in perhaps the most awkward looking kiss of the entire evening.
Once the camera flashed, they immediately parted their lips.
“That’s enough dancing for one night” Theo stated, before turning to leave abruptly
“Yeah, me too” Liam added, before heading in another direction.
A few hours later the pair found themselves back in their room.
“I think I could use a drink” Liam said, sitting on the edge of the bed and watching the fireplace scene that was playing on the tv screen.
“Looks like you’re in luck” Theo exclaimed, withdrawing the bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon he was shielding with his jacket.
“Where’d you?” Liam started
“Liberated it from the bar when the bartender wasn’t looking” Theo confessed with a contented smirk
“Already put in the wolfsbane extract, don’t worry” he added, tossing the now empty vial aside
“You just keep that stuff on you?” Liam asked, surprised
“Helps me sleep” Theo admitted, before quickly downing a gulp of the bourbon and sitting down next to Liam in front of the fake fire.
“Here” he offered, handing the bottle over to the beta, who readily accepted.
“Shouldn’t we like, play a game or something?” Liam coughed out after taking a gulp of the bourbon
“I was going to be content just complaining about how awful of a kisser you are” Theo said, taking the bottle and downing another gulp.
“Hey! That goes both ways Raeken!” Liam growled defensively, “plus you suck at dancing” he added, taking his turn with the bottle
“Guess it’s a good thing we’re not really dating then” Theo remarked,
By now the wolfsbane-tinged alcohol had begun to take its intended effect, both boys enjoying the warmth tingling through their veins.
“Yeah, good thing we’re just faking it for the weekend” Liam agreed, “and no one in Beacon Hills will know anything about it”
“Not a soul! I’ve got a reputation to maintain” Theo swore, “scouts honor” he added, throwing up a hand sign.
“Pffff, like you were ever a Boy Scout” Liam laughed at the thought in his head
“Was too, with Scott and Stiles back in grade school, ask them yourself!” Theo shot back, “even at that age I still killed it in a uniform” the chimera boasted
The now very tipsy Liam rolled his eyes.
The two of them found that over the course of their conversation they had been scooting ever closer until now they were practically shoulder-to-shoulder; whether out of convenience for sharing the bottle, or some other reason, it was hard to tell.
“You know the fire is just on the tv, right?” Theo asked, turning to face Liam
“I know” he sighed
“So why are your cheeks red?” Theo challenged, now staring
“I was thinking” Liam started
“That’s a dangerous game” the chimera teased back
“you suck at dancing, but like overall, we did seem pretty convincing right?” he asked brushing off the other boy’s jab
“the hotel manager was totally buying it! And the older couple seemed really convinced” Theo noted with a touch of pride
“Yeah, I think my mom even thinks we’re dating” Liam confessed, taking another gulp from the bottle
“You told your mom?” Theo asked, bewildered, “when?”
“She called when you were getting breakfast” he answered, “I kept trying to tell her the truth, but she kept cutting me off. Seemed really happy about it, I mean you, though”
“Really?” Theo said, stunned
“Mmmhm” he nodded, “said she was going to tell my grandma” he added with a slight laugh, passing the bottle back over
“Think she’ll be upset when she finds out?” Theo asked
“Probably” Liam admitted, “Could always lie though” he supposed. By this point both boys were facing each other, the light from the fake flames, flickering across their faces.
“You’re a terrible liar” Theo retorted, eyes locked on Liam’s lower lip
“What if we didn’t have to lie?” Liam whispered as he felt the chimera’s breath against his skin, his baby blues now drowning deep in Theo’s sea green eyes.
“Then I guess you’d be okay with this” Theo said, before closing the gap between them with a kiss. A real kiss. Not a forced event, awkwardly sprung upon them by a passerby; but the long-repressed chemistry between these two bright stars finally colliding into a fiery supernova of loving passion.
The clock sounded as it struck midnight, signaling the official arrival of Christmas day. The two finally parted lips.
They both took a deep breath, silently contemplating what this new chapter in their friendship now turned relationship meant.
“I got you something” Liam finally blurted out, desperate to break the thick silence that blanketed the room, “for Christmas that is”
“Me too” Theo confessed, reaching around in his coat pocket before withdrawing a half-sphere wrapped in shiny paper.
“Oh” Liam said, looking at the present, “I didn’t wrap yours” he hastily apologized.
“I don’t mind” Theo admitted.
Liam pulled out a folded up knit ball of fabric and handed it to the chimera.
Theo shook it out, and looked it over. A black beanie with The Lost Wolf Inn & Resort stitched along one edge. He immediately pulled it on, and handed Liam his gift. “I guess this’ll due” he said with a content laugh, earning a light punch in the shoulder from the other boy.
“Open yours!” he encouraged
Liam pulled back the shiny paper, and saw a snow globe. A replica of The Lost Wolf Inn was inside, and behind it was a slot to put a picture inside of.
A slot that was currently filled with a picture of himself and Theo Raeken awkwardly kissing under the mistletoe laden archway from earlier in the night.
“I bribed the camera guy to print me a copy after you left” Theo started, “Originally it was going to be a joke, but now . . . .” he tried to explain
“It’s perfect” Liam grinned
“Merry Christmas Baby Wolf”