“Next up, we’ve got Relient K in the studio here to play an acoustic cover of one of their old songs live. Enjoy!”
A slow melody began to play on a piano.
*Never forget...there’s life after death and taxes...*
As the song played, Theo sat there at a stop light. The red was almost a painful color to look at. The color only held negative connotations with the boy. It warned him of danger, death even.
It extinguishes his hope. But when the light turns green, it’s there again. He can still leave. He’s good to go. He can get away from all of his mistakes now, away from Beacon Hills and the McCall pack.
It was probably the fifth time he’d gone through this… leaving. Or at least tried to leave. But something always brings him back. They keep asking for him help. All Theo wants to do is run away and ditch his life because all his mistakes keep him awake at night. And even if he does fall asleep, they’ll wake him up without a doubt.
He’s sorry. And he thinks about it every time they ask him for help because he knows he owes them. He can’t leave as long as they’re expecting something from him.
But the Aunk-Ite has just been defeated and Monroe and her hunters are gone for now. The pack shouldn’t even notice he’s leaving. Besides… he needs to get away.
He wants to sleep.
And that’s what keeps him going, the hope that maybe if he leaves, the nightmares will go away and he won’t feel guilty anymore. He really hopes that’s what will happen. Really hopes. That little bit of hope is all he has.
Deep inside of him he knows he has other hopes, things that he’ll never have. Like forgiveness. Even if, by some miracle, the pack does forgive him, he could never forgive himself. He knows he let every single one of them down. He feels bad about it too. He feels bad about letting down his sister. And, as messed up as it may seem, he feels bad about letting down the Dread Doctors.
He feels bad about letting himself down.
And the only way he can think to deal with it is to run away. Just run away from his problems and never look back because consequences suck and just thinking about them makes living his life seem like too much. He didn’t want to face up to the consequences of… basically his whole life. He felt like he’d already been punished enough. He was tired and numb from the constant ache that was in his heart.
They all knew he’d messed up and so did he. He knew more than they did. There were so many things they didn’t even know about. But he couldn’t lie about it anymore.
*And I spent all last night
And stop sign in this town
Now I think there might
Be no way to stop me now
I'll get away despite
The fact I'm so weighed down*
He was so caught up in his head, so focused on leaving, he hadn’t been paying attention to the road signs or even how fast he was going. He zipped right past a stop sign. He might’ve even missed some stop lights back there too. But he couldn’t take any more ‘red’. He just wanted to get out.
Theo’s heart jumped into his throat when red and blue flashing lights appeared behind him. He was scared to pull over, to face the consequences of yet another mistake. But he was tired of running.
He used to be strong but he knew he couldn’t do this much longer. Running away was hard.
He pulled over to the side of the road and flicked off his radio. He couldn’t stand any more of that song. It was like it was reading his mind or something. He pulled down the visor in front of him to find his registration and stopped at the sight of his stupid, red, puffy face.
When did he start crying?
Why was living so hard?
He startled when there was a tap on his window and quickly gathered his license and registration. Once his window was rolled down he looked up and found the Sheriff. “License and registration, please,” Stilinski said. Theo handed it to him quickly, not really wanting the man to see that he’d been crying. It wasn’t like he’d think they were real tears anyways. “You runnin’ away from something, Mr. Raeken?” the man dared to ask. “You were going awfully fast through that stop sign.
Theo took a deep breath and tried to get his emotions under control. “Just my problems, Sir,” he said earnestly.
“And how’s that working out?”
Theo let out a shaky sigh. “I’m tired,” is all he could say. The words slipped out of his mouth so easily. “I’m tired of trying to run away.” He shook his head in annoyance with himself for being vulnerable. It’s not like the Sheriff even cared about him. “I don’t even know where to go,” he said quietly.
Sheriff Stilinski sighed and leaned against Theo’s truck. “Well, son,” he said. “Maybe running away isn’t the answer.” Theo sat there staring at the dark road ahead of him. “Just think about it, Theo.” With that, he turned around and left to go check the licenses and registration in his squad car leaving Theo to do just that, think.
And when he came back, Theo seemed a little more collected. He leaned against his truck again, elbows nearly inside of the truck. “Does Scott know you’re leaving?”
Theo shook his head.
“I’m pretty sure they’re expecting you to show up at the meet-n-greet tonight,” he informed him. “Everyone knows about how you saved Liam.”
“You want a piece of advice? Don’t run away. Liam’s worried about you. He asked me to keep an eye out for your truck. I think we both know that he saved you just as much as you saved him and I don’t think leaving is what he’d want you to do.”
Theo didn’t do much in response, a small nod was all.
“Do you know a Marcel?”
At the name, Theo felt his insides clench and his blood in his ears. “Uh… what?” He looked up at the Sheriff, confused to why he would even bring it up.
Stilinski waved around the registration form and it became clear to Theo. “It’s the name on the registration form.”
“Oh. Um… yeah. He was the one who bought the car…” Theo didn’t really want to say it but it wasn’t like the Sheriff knew. “He was one of the Dread Doctors.”
Stilinski studied the paper for a moment before he nodded. “Come down to the station soon and get it sorted out soon. It makes it look like you stole the vehicle.”
“Didn’t I?” Stilinski gave him a strange look. “Technically it’s not mine. Marcel is dead and, sure, in a sick and twisted way he was like a father to me but he wasn’t so it’s kinda stolen…” Suddenly Theo didn’t know what he was doing. He was basically informing this law enforcer that the car he was driving was stolen and probably going to get arrested now.
The Sheriff clenched his jaw at Theo, a small sign of aggression that he was suppressing. “Just get the title put in your name, alright?”
“Right,” Theo said, fingers getting antsy and tapping on his steering wheel. “Besides… they kinda bought it for me to drive cause…” Theo chuckled nervously. “I mean can you imagine them driving around with all that leather and… electromagnetic junk?”
Theo was handed his identification papers back. “I know you don’t have any money so I’m not going to get you fined but I’m going to tell my guys to keep pulling you over until you get the title in your name.”
Theo had to use all of his sass suppressing abilities not to sigh in annoyance. “I’ll get it taken care of,” Theo said with a nod.
That made the man smile. “So where are you sleeping tonight?”
Theo couldn’t suppress this sigh. He nearly even let the eye roll happen but he didn’t. “I’m guessing your deputies told you-”
At least when Theo rolled his eyes he looked away from the man. He didn’t know if he was mad or … what? “What do you suggest I do, huh? It’s not like everyone is looking to take in reformed sociopaths.”
“I’m sure someone in the pack will step up,” the sheriff said. “If not, there’s always a free parking place in front of my house. Even a spare bed if you’re interested.”
Theo didn’t respond, just stared at his lap and played with his fingers.
“Follow me to the McCall residence, alright?”
Stilinski waited for a response but never got one. So he made it back to his squad car, turning the vehicle around and checking his rearview mirrors for Theo’s truck. He drove slow, checking every few seconds for those red tail lights to turn into bright yellow ones.
And when they did, he breathed a sigh of relief, pressing the call button on his steering wheel. “Hello?”
“Scott, I’m on my way over to your place and I’ve got company,” he told the Alpha. “Theo was on his way out of town and I just barely caught him. He seems pretty lost, needs a place to stay. I was hoping you’d talk to the pack and see if anyone could… house him for the night.”
“Of course. I’ll talk to them.”
“I think he needs a friend. I mean, dealing with his past on his own is probably pretty hard-”
“I think I know someone who would be willing to help.”
Scott crouched down so he was eye level with his beta that was sitting on the couch. He'd come back asking Scott if he’d seen Theo or heard from him at all in a bit of a panic mode before he just huffed and worriedly plopped on the couch.
“Liam,” Scott said, a gentle smile on his face.
The beta opened his eyes and looked at his Alpha.
“The Sheriff is bringing Theo here,” he said reaching and grabbing Liam’s shoulder. “He needs a place to stay. I figured after everything you guys have been through it might work better if he stays with someone he trusts, someone who understands him.”
Liam sat up. “Yeah,” he said without hesitation.
Scott chuckled and smiled at how eager his beta was to help his friend. “Maybe you should give your parents a call and ask first.”
“Right,” Liam said standing up and leaving to make the phone call.
A few minutes later, the sheriff was walking in the door with Theo right behind him. The pack was scattered around the house by then but if they had still all been in the front room, everyone would’ve stared in silence.
Except for Liam of course.
Liam rushed over to Theo, anger on his face. “Where the hell have you been? You can’t just leave town like that. What were you thinking?”
Theo felt a little bombarded at that warm welcome, taking his time deciding if he wanted to answer or just leave it as a rhetorical question.
“Hey, Theo,” Scott greeted. “Thanks for helping out tonight. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Yeah,” Liam said. “I would be dead without you. You can’t just leave like that after saving someone’s life…” Liam bounced a little nervously before saying more quietly. “...after everything you did tonight.”
Theo knew he was talking about how he took Gabe’s pain. And he was probably also referring to how well they had fought together, that sense of comradery that had been felt soon after the war was over.
“Well, then what am I supposed to do, huh?” Theo asked, a little bit of anger masking how hopeless he really felt on the inside. He’d spent his whole life being told what to do, by his parents, the Dread Doctors. But so far, no one had told him the right thing. And yet he was supposed to trust Liam.
He did. Whether he liked it or not. He trusted Liam. Maybe not the entire pack but he trust Liam with his life.
“I talk to my dad and he said you can stay at our house,” Liam said, the storm that had once been in his posture now gone. “With me.”
Theo looked to Scott who nodded, then to the Sheriff who gave a half-shrug. Of course, the sheriff had put them up to this. He looked back at Liam. “I can’t. Not if you don’t want me to.”
Liam glanced at the other two occupying the room before he huffed and marched over to Theo. He grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him back out the front door, closing it so they could talk. “Theo, I wouldn’t have said anything if I didn’t want you to be there.”
“I know Scott put you up to this,” Theo said. “Stilinski just wants to keep an eye on me-”
“I don’t care what Stiles’ dad wants. You don’t get it, do you?” Liam looked at Theo expectantly, pleadingly but Theo couldn’t read Liam’s mind, not this time.
Theo bowed his head, forcing himself to be vulnerable. He needed Liam. And shutting him out was only going to push him away. He sighed and shook his head. “I just wanted to get by without getting hurt and running away from you seemed like the easiest thing to do.” Theo sucked in a breathe, holding back the more harsh, painful emotions he was feeling. “I don’t know what I was thinking and I’m sorry…” And now he couldn’t hold them back. He voice became hoarse and it became harder to breathe. “For everything.” And he meant it with his whole heart. He was sorry.
And he hated the consequences.
It wasn’t even that pack the was punishing him. They seemed to be taking his return rather well. But himself? No. He was angry at himself. He hated himself with a burning passion, the only thing that was probably keeping him alive anymore.
Theo was punishing himself.
“You already have my forgiveness, Theo,” Liam told him sincerely. When Theo didn’t, couldn’t respond, he sighed. “You seem tired. You wanna go home?”
Home? Was it really home if he’d never even been there before?
So they left. Just like that.
There were no consequences. Just Liam’s forgiveness. And with time, Theo hoped he would get everyone else’s forgiveness. And once that happened, then maybe he would forgive himself.