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golden silhouettes and these fragile moments

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“You weren’t planning on telling anyone, were you?”

Theo steeled his gaze, but it faltered at the look on the sheriff’s face. “No.”

The Sheriff sighed, a weary look on his face as he dragged a hand down it. Theo took the brief reprieve to collect himself, locking his mask on again as the Sheriff glanced at him.

“How long?”

“I don’t know, I lost track,” Theo lied, and the Sheriff gave him a dry look.

“Bullshit, Raeken. I’m not gonna ask again,” he warned, “How long?”

Theo cast his eyes to the floor of the Sheriff’s office, suddenly feeling absurdly claustrophobic in the small room, like the walls were closing in on him. “Ten months.”

“Goddamn it, kid,” the Sheriff breathed out, and Theo caught how his scent shifted, hints of guilt and pity lingering in the air. “Why?”

“Why what?” Theo asked blankly. He had a feeling he knew what the Sheriff was talking about, but that was a road he didn’t really want to get down with the man he had previously kidnapped and hurt. 

“Raeken, I might not be supernatural,” the Sheriff began, irritation creeping into his voice, “but I didn’t become Sheriff overnight. And we all know the extent of your intelligence, so don’t you dare act dumb with me.”

Theo’s mouth parted in surprise, before he schooled his expression again, digging down deep into the pits of his stomach, reaching for that Theo, the Theo he hadn’t been for a while now, not since he got back from hell. “So you finally admit that I’m smart?” he asked with a small smirk, but his chest twisted at the implication behind his words. 

But the Sheriff didn’t take the bait. “Raeken,” he reprimanded, his voice low, and Theo’s index finger tapped on his thigh. 

“There was no point,” Theo finally conceded after a few tense moments. “It wouldn’t have mattered.”

“It wouldn’t have mattered? the Sheriff mouthed incredulously, and Theo was taken aback at the disbelief in his voice. “You’re eighteen, and you’re living in your truck. Did you really think that no one would bat an eye if they found out?”

“Almost nineteen and they shouldn’t,” Theo retorted, his words hollow as they left his throat, and his mind was screaming at him to stop, stop spilling his insecurities to the Sheriff, of all people, but for some fucking reason that Theo couldn’t figure out, he kept talking. “They shouldn’t care, so I made the decision for them.”

“Made the decis…” the Sheriff trailed off, and Theo didn’t need to use his senses to pick up on his anger. “Tell me something, kid. Did you even consider the fact that some of the people you’ve assumed wouldn’t care have already forgiven you?”

Theo stilled. “They shouldn’t,” he repeated, his voice unnaturally even. “I’m not saying this just to say it, not saying it cause I want your pity or anything. I’m saying it cause it’s the truth. They shouldn’t care, shouldn’t forgive me. So if that’s all you brought me in for, I’m gonna leave now.”

Theo stood up, and if he felt his hand shake against his thigh, he ignored it, because he wouldn't be weak. Not again. Never again. 

“Do you have a job?”

Theo froze, his hand reaching for the doorknob. “Why does that matter?”

“Answer the question, Raeken,” the Sheriff demanded, exasperated.

Theo turned around slowly, shaking his head jerkily. The Sheriff gave him a wary look, opening and closing his mouth twice before sighing.

“You start tomorrow, Parrish will get you settled,” the Sheriff said, watching Theo carefully. 

Here? Theo asked in disbelief. “You want me to work here?”

“Don’t discredit your intelligence, kid,” the Sheriff muttered, “You know just as well as I do that Scott has you come to pack meetings for a reason.”

Theo did know. Even if the pack didn’t exactly like him or even trust him, they trusted his experience and the knowledge he gained from working for the Dread Doctors. “But—”

“You have experience,” the Sheriff interjected, twisting a pen in his hands, “You can try and deny it but you know that and I know that. And having another supernatural input on these cases would be useful.”

Theo blinked a few times, trying to digest the fact that the Sheriff wanted him to help with supernatural cases. “I know this is Beacon Hills, but I don’t think even we get that many cas—”

“Then you’d be surprised,” the Sheriff cut him off, his brow raising, “And besides, you’re not getting away with just helping on the supernatural cases.” The corner of the Sheriff’s mouth pulled into a ghost of a smirk. “Deputy Thomas has been having a little trouble with organizing all the case files. And you look like you’re an organized person.”

“I’m not,” Theo rushed out, because if he was being shoved into his job, he was not gonna waste his time organizing files. 

“First rule,” the Sheriff gave him a hard glare, “Don’t lie.”

How was Theo just supposed to stop doing something he’s done for the last ten years? He hid everything behind his lies and the walls he’d built around the emotions that threatened to burst out of him over the years, and it had worked. He didn’t get caught in any unwanted situations, always made it out in the nick of time, but shit catches up with you sooner or later, and Theo made his bed a long time ago, so he had to lie in it. 

“You wouldn’t be able to tell even if I did,” Theo smirked slightly, and the Sheriff closed his eyes for a moment, like he was praying for someone to give him some patience.

“Let me give you some advice, Raeken.” Theo’s brows furrowed at the Sheriff’s exhausted voice. “You can hide, you can deny and pretend and lie all you want, because that’s what you’re good at.” Theo held back a flinch, and the Sheriff pinned him with a pointed stare. “But all you’re gonna be left with if you do is yourself.”

Wasn’t he already? Wasn’t he already by himself, an omega without a pack, without a family? His destiny was already written for him, Theo didn’t get the luxury of going after his dreams, didn’t get the chance to rewrite his own fate, because Theo made his bed a long time ago, and he had no choice but to lie in it. 

“I already am,” Theo drawled, his lips curling up into a smirk that he hoped didn’t look as bitter as it felt, “And I don’t need your advice, Sheriff.” He opened the door, one foot out the door before he turned around, his face slowly closing up again. “I’ll be here tomorrow. Just tell your deputies to stop waking me up.”

And with that, not even waiting for the Sheriff’s response, Theo left the office, making his way back to his truck. Sitting in front of the wheel, the exhaustion and nausea from the last week caught up with him, and he slumped back into the seat with a shaky breath. When was the last time he even ate?  

Theo knew the answer, but he wasn’t going to admit it, even in his own head. He was sure that if he stayed here for even another minute, some deputy was gonna come and yell at him for loitering, so he sighed and pulled away from the station. But he didn’t really have anywhere to go, so he drove around mindlessly, until he somehow ended up at Lookout Point. 

He felt his stomach turn as he got out and sat against the side of his truck, looking out into the preserve. Why did the Sheriff even offer him a job? Theo knew that what the Sheriff had said wasn’t true—that some of the pack had already forgiven him. The pack didn’t give a fuck about Theo, and that was fine. After everything he did, he’d be concerned if the pack cared, because that meant that eventually someone would come along, and Scott would forgive them, and they’d ruin the pack. It was good that the pack was keeping him at a distance, it was good that Scott finally learned that his blind trust in everyone wasn’t always safe, that sometimes, being suspicious helped you survive. But Theo hated that he was the one who taught them that lesson. Because the Sheriff had been right. Theo had done nothing but lie and deceive and manipulate for the better part of ten years, and all that got him was this

Living in his truck, barely sleeping or even eating, completely alone because he’d destroyed the trust every single person had in him.

A twig snapped in the distance, and Theo’s senses perked up, reaching through the air to find soft footsteps making their way to him. He stiffened, because that scent was easy to recognize, and Theo hated that it reminded him of his early childhood, reminded him of days when he’d still been human. Because whatever Theo was now, it wasn’t human. 

“What, did all the Stilinskis decide it was ‘bother Theo’ day?”

Stiles ignored the question, staying silent as he dropped down next to Theo, neither of them looking at each other as they gazed off into the preserve.

Theo tried to read his scent, but it was so messy, emotion on top of emotion clashing together, and Theo’s nose scrunched a little at the sudden attack. 

“Did the Sheriff put you up to this?” Theo asked after a few minutes of silence, and Stiles finally turned to him.

“Why are you here?”

Theo gave him a dry look. “I should be asking you that. How’d you even know I was here?”

Stiles' face hardened, and he turned away again, his scent dipping into frustration. “I don’t mean here. Why are you still in Beacon Hills?”

Theo froze for a second, some part in the back of his mind catching that Stiles didn’t answer his question, but the bigger part of it was frantically searching for the reason he could’ve sworn he had a few days ago. But he relaxed his expression into one of callous amusement and painted a smirk on his face. “You want me gone that bad, huh?”

The words might’ve sounded accusing, and in Theo’s head, they might’ve even sounded hurt, but as they left his mouth, he knew they sounded just as uncaring as he had wanted them to be. 

“And if I say yes?” Stiles’ voice was flat, and Theo quickly pushed away the flash of hurt that stabbed at his heart. You deserved that, he told himself.

Theo was quiet for a few moments before answering. “Then I’d say good.”

The words echoed in the air, hanging between them like smoke, a remnant of their twisted past, of their tragic story of childhood friends torn apart. 

Stiles broke the haunting silence that had fallen over them. “Why?”

Theo angled his head towards the human, picking up on the way his jaw ticked once, twice, before settling. “Why what?”

Irritation flared from beside Theo, and he almost smirked at how similar the two Stilinskis were. Sure enough, Stiles’ next words echoed almost exactly what his dad had said earlier. 

“Don’t act dumb, we both know you’re not.”

Theo picked at a loose thread on his hoodie, trying to come up with a believable enough reason that would get Stiles off his back but wouldn’t reveal the truth. “You don’t have to pretend that you don’t know I’m not a good person.”

“Try again,” Stiles said curtly. “Maybe the truth this time.”

Theo hated how easily both Stilinskis could discern his lies now. Which was ironic, considering, well, just considering

“What do you want me to say, Stiles?” Theo muttered, his fingers twisting in the loose thread. “Just tell me what you want to hear and I’ll say it.”

Stiles scoffed. “The truth. That’s what I want to hear. You could’ve left, no one was stopping you. But now you’re saying that it’s good if I say I want you gone. So tell me the truth, Theo.”

Theo stared at the ground in front of him until his eyes started to burn from the strain. He took a quiet breath, trying to reinforce the armor he knew was cracking with this conversation. If he was gonna tell the truth, he had to make sure he didn’t reveal his emotions with it too. 

“I tore your pack apart,” Theo stated, his voice hollow, and he felt Stiles’ flinch back a little at the crude reminder. Good, maybe this will make him and the pack stay away like they should. “I’d be worried if you wanted me to stay. Because that means you’d be willing to forgive anyone, no matter what they did to you.”

Stiles mulled over his answer for a couple of seconds before turning his head back over to him, his eyes narrowed. “Why do you care who the pack does and doesn’t forgive?”

The question pierced through Theo’s carefully built walls. Because he knew the answer. He knew what admitting it would mean. “Scott’s an idealist, he sees the best in everyone,” Theo started, but Stiles cut him off.

“We’re not talking about Scott, we’re talking about you,” Stiles hissed, “Stop deflecting.”

“Scott’s an idealist,” Theo repeated, giving Stiles a glare, because he was getting there, if the human could just keep his mouth shut for a moment. “But you’re a realist. You don’t trust like he does, but despite that, I still managed to break you two apart. And look how that turned out for me.” Theo let out a humorless snort before continuing. “But eventually someone’s gonna come along, and they’re gonna do exactly what I did. And Scott’s learned to be less trusting because of me, but if he forgives me now, you’re all gonna end up the same way you did before.”

“Why do you care?” Stiles asked his earlier question again, because Theo never really answered it. He was still deflecting, because that’s all he knew how to do when it came to his feelings. 

“I don’t.”

Stiles huffed, tilting his head back onto the truck, looking at the sky. “The truth, Theo.”

Theo sighed, copying Stiles’ position and leaning his head back against the truck. “Do you really want to hear me say that I care that bad?”

“Do you?”

Theo turned his head to stare at his ex-childhood best friend for a moment before facing forward again. “Yeah,” he breathed out quietly. This was the most truthful Theo had been in a long time, and he thought it would suffocate him, make him hate that he revealed it in the first place, but it… didn’t. It actually felt sort of… liberating.

Liberating to admit that he cared, cared about something other than himself for the first time in ten years. He hadn’t been allowed that opportunity when he was with the Dread Doctors—it was either care about yourself and survive or care about someone else and die. But they were gone now, and Theo didn’t know how to care, but he finally admitted that he did.

Stiles didn’t say anything for a few minutes, and Theo could reach out with his senses, figure out what he was thinking, but he was too tired to. And right on cue, his stomach rolled, a brutal reminder of the nausea he had shoved aside. Suddenly, Stiles stood up, before walking around to the other side of the truck, pulling open the passenger seat. Theo bolted up, his brows furrowing as he opened the door. 

“What are you doing?”

Stiles slid into the seat, not even bothering to ask Theo, just pulled the door closed, and Theo stood there like an idiot gaping at the human.

“Are you just gonna stare, or are we gonna go eat lunch?”

Theo broke out of his daze at Stiles’ words, and he slid in, giving Stiles a wary look. “What are you doing?” he repeated as he turned the key, starting the truck.

“Getting lunch,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. “I thought you were smart, why are you so slow today?”

Theo didn’t say anything else as he drove, his mind flicking through their conversation, picking apart anything that could’ve led to this. But he came up blank, and he was just as confused as he’d been when they started when he finally pulled up to the diner Stiles told him to go to. 

Stiles pushed the door open, halfway out when he twisted back. “Why aren’t you moving?”

Theo cocked an eyebrow. “I didn’t know you were telling me what to do no—”

“Get the fuck out, Theo,” Stiles snapped, slamming the door a lot harder than necessary, and Theo growled.

Stiles gave him an amused look when he finally got out. Theo flipped him off, because how dare he slam his truck door like that? But Stiles just grew more amused and walked into the diner, Theo following him, because apparently he didn’t really have a choice. 

“Is this your way of asking me on a date?” Theo suddenly asked, a smirk pulling at his lips to cover up his confusion. “Cause I’m flattered, Stiles, but you’re not really my ty—”

Stiles cut him off with a dry look as they slid into opposite sides of a booth, before a mischievous look flashed across his face. “Yeah, Scott was more your type, wasn’t he?”

Theo stilled, his eyes widening as he gaped at the human across from him, whose smile broadened at the shock on Theo’s face.

“You didn’t think I forgot, did you?” Stiles teased, and Theo was shell-shocked, because how was Stiles teasing him right now? Where was the Stiles that hated him, the Stiles that didn’t trust him, where was he? “Your crush on him was obvious, even if we weren’t even ten years old at that point.”

“Wh—what the fuck?” Theo sputtered, and Stiles crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned back. 

“I do have to warn you though, if you haven’t gotten over it yet, you probably should. Malia might actually kill you if she finds out.”

“I am over it!” Theo blurted out, because there was no way he wanted Stiles to think that he still liked Scott. Their conversation was cut short by the waitress coming over, and they quickly ordered.

Stiles hummed when she left, a shit-eating grin still taking over his face. Theo stared at him for a few seconds before taking a deep breath and finally asking him the question that had been echoing in his mind since Stiles got in his truck.

“Why—why are you doing this?” 

The human’s amusement faded as he silently studied Theo for a couple of moments. “You know, after everything you did, after we found out that you were evil, after you tried to ruin my friendship with Scott,” Stiles began, his voice low, “I looked at you and I couldn’t see the Theo that used to be one of my best friends all those years ago.”

Theo stiffened in his seat, his back ramrod straight, but he didn’t interrupt, and Stiles kept talking. “I still remember the way you were back then, remember the way you used to shrink in a room, like you were trying to occupy as little space as possible. I didn’t understand for a long time why you did it, but I connected the dots eventually,” Stiles’ face was hard, and Theo’s breath caught in his throat. He knew what Stiles was talking about and he didn’t want to talk about it. “It wasn’t even your fault, your heart condition, but they still blamed you—”

Stiles,” Theo interjected, but Stiles pinned him with a glare that was creepily reminiscent of the Sheriff, and Theo’s mouth snapped close.

“And you never even told anyone,” Stiles stated quietly. “I still remembered that when I looked at you, but it was always like it was a different person. But today, when you admitted that you cared, I saw that Theo. The Theo that I used to know, not the ‘chimera of death’ that you were last year.”

Theo let out a shaky breath, and hesitantly looked at Stiles, just to find him already looking at him. 

“That’s why I’m doing this,” Stiles concluded, his voice strained. “Because today was the first time I recognized you.”

“Stiles, I’m still—”

“Don’t,” Stiles warned, his fingers fidgeting on the table in front of him, and it felt so familiar and it took Theo a second to realize that it was—it was something Theo had seen the human do many times, after sneaking food into the library, sitting in the principal’s office after Scott, Stiles, and him had accidentally started a small food fight, waiting by Scott’s hospital bed after a particularly bad asthma attack. “This isn’t me forgiving you.” Stiles paused, a contemplative look on his face. “Yet."

Theo’s heart twinged in his chest. “Did you not hear a word I said before?”

“I’m the realist,” Stiles pressed, “That’s what you said. I’m the realist, and I’m saying that you can be forgiven someday. Not Scott, me.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Theo snarled, “It’s the same thi—”

The waitress appeared with their food, and Theo broke off as she placed their plates on the table. The second she left, Theo turned back to Stiles, but the human cut him off with an intense stare.

“You’re a realist too,” Stiles noted, and Theo faltered. What? “You’re a realist too,” Stiles repeated, his voice steady as he held Theo’s gaze. “And if someone comes around and wants to do what you did before, wouldn’t it be better to have two realists who can keep Scott from making the same mistake again?”

“I… ” Theo trailed off, and Stiles gave him a look that screamed you know I’m right

“I’m not forgiving you yet, but,” Stiles let out a quiet breath. “That doesn’t mean I never will, and it doesn’t mean that other people in the pack haven’t already.”

Theo’s head snapped up, and Stiles’ expression turned a little amused. 

“Scott might’ve learned not to trust as easily anymore, but he’s still Scott,” Stiles explained, and Theo’s heart calmed down a little.

“He needs to work on his trust issues,” Theo mumbled, and Stiles snorted, a small grin on his face.

 

---

 

No,” Stiles snapped, and the Sheriff huffed. Theo felt a small smile pull at his lips, but he wiped it off quickly, focusing on the papers on his desk instead.

“Stiles, this is getting out of han—”

“Theo, come here,” Stiles cut him off, and Theo froze before slowly getting up and making his way over to the Sheriff's office, opening the door and glancing wearily at the both of them.

“How long have you been working here?”

Theo’s brows pulled together and he gave Stiles a weird look before answering. “Two weeks?”

“And you didn’t think to tell me,” Stiles gestured wildly, “that my dad wasn’t actually eating the lunch that I told him to?”

“Uh…” Theo’s eyes darted to the Sheriff, who rolled his eyes as he dragged a hand down his face. “I didn’t know?”

“Oh, no,” the Sheriff cut in, glaring at Theo, “If I’m getting in trouble, you are too. You’re the one who’s been helping me avoid…” He looked at the salad in front of him in disgust. “This.”

Stiles whirled around to face Theo, and Theo held back a wince at the betrayal on his face. “You’ve been helping him?” Stiles screeched, and Theo glanced back at everyone staring at him, so he quickly stepped into the room before pushing the door shut behind him. 

“I helped once,” Theo corrected, scowling at the Sheriff for getting him into this mess. “He threatened to make me help Thomas again, and I never wanna deal with that again. I had no choice.” Theo crossed his arms over his chest, and Stiles grumbled.

“You don’t get to do this,” Stiles narrowed his eyes at the Sheriff. “You guys can’t team up on me.”

Theo looked in between the two Stilinskis, whose glaring contest didn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. “Okay, how about this?” he started, and they both turned to him. “Clearly, if you keep making him eat that, he’s just gonna find a way to avoid it, right?” Theo asked Stiles, and the human huffed before nodding. “But you can’t avoid them all the time, you do have to eat it some of the time,” he said to the Sheriff. “So, compromise.”

Stiles glowered at Theo for a moment before turning to his dad. “Six days of this, the other one you can do whatever.”

“Two.”

“Five.”

“Three.”

“Four, and that’s the lowest I’m going,” Stiles barked, and the Sheriff conceded after a moment of contemplation. “Now eat this,” he said, pushing the salad in front of his dad, and the Sheriff groaned but picked up the fork. 

Stiles smirked victoriously, before turning to Theo, who didn't understand why it took them this long to think of compromising. “I need to talk to you,” he suddenly blurted out, and grabbed Theo’s arm and pulled him out of the room, calling out a threat to the Sheriff that he better eat all of the salad. Theo yelped at the sudden movement, and hurried to catch his footing before he fell. The human dragged him out of the station, pulling him to a stop in front of Theo’s truck.

“If this is about helping your dad,” Theo said cautiously, “I—”

“It’s not,” Stiles said, rolling his eyes. “Although I’m gonna find some way to get you back for that. This is about the pack.”

Theo stilled, and Stiles studied him carefully.

“You didn’t come to the pack meeting yesterday.”

Right. Theo was a little busy trying to find a place to park where he wouldn’t be disturbed. The Sheriff had talked to him multiple times about staying at his house, but Theo refused every time, even making him promise not to tell Stiles. The Sheriff wasn’t happy about it, but Theo was on the verge of begging, and he eventually gave in. 

“It’s one meeting, why are you making such a big deal?” Theo asked, thanking all the gods he didn’t believe in that Stiles wasn’t supernatural.

Stiles continued to study him, and it made Theo feel… vulnerable, like Stiles could read his every thought. “There’s another one tonight. You better show up this time.”

And with that, Stiles walked up his Jeep, leaving Theo staring after him dumbfounded. Out of everyone in the pack, he never expected Stiles to be the one that he’d talk to the most, never expected him to be the one reminding Theo about pack meetings. But there was a part of him that relished in it—that Stiles was slowly becoming somewhat of his friend again. Theo hadn’t had friends for ten years, and the fact that his childhood friend wasn’t avoiding him like Theo thought he would felt… nice. 

He turned and walked back into the station. At least he still had a few hours before he had to deal with the entire pack again. 

Those few hours passed very quickly, and Theo found himself debating whether to ditch again as he drove towards Scott’s house. But Stiles’ reminder sounded more like a threat, so Theo sucked it up and rolled to a stop in front of the unofficial pack headquarters. Theo could sense that everyone was already there, and he stared at the Sheriff’s car parked in front of the driveway for a moment before making his way to the front door. 

Scott opened the door with a grin. “Hey, Theo,” the alpha said, patting his back in that Scott way that Theo got used to seeing over the last few months. It was weird that it was being extended to him though, Theo had always thought it was a pack thing. 

Theo gave him a small, hesitant smile back as they walked into the living room, filled with the other pack members. Stiles and Derek were standing near the doorway to the kitchen, chatting casually with the Sheriff, Argent, and Melissa. Lydia and Malia were on the couch, their legs pulled up as they talked. And the Puppy Pack was spread across various spots on the floor—Mason and Corey snuggled up next to each other, across from Liam, Brett, and Nolan. Alec and Lori were close by, laughing at something on Lori’s phone. 

The room quieted down when Theo entered though, and Theo instantly wanted to disappear. Liam was the first one to speak, and Theo caught the undertone of irritation in his voice.

“Where were you yesterday?” Liam glared at him, and Theo gaped for half a second before responding.

“I was busy.”

“You didn’t answer any of our calls or texts,” Stiles added, and Theo wondered why he hadn’t asked this a few hours ago at the station. A quick glance around the room made it glaringly obvious why—Stiles wanted to do this with the pack

“My phone died,” Theo answered, keeping his voice steady, “Forgot to charge it.”

“So it has nothing to do with the call my dad got about the ‘same goddamn truck loitering again’ last night?” Stiles pressed, and Theo’s pulse skipped. His eyes darted to the Sheriff, who subtly shook his head, but his eyes betrayed his relief that Stiles had somehow found out. So Stiles figured it out on his own. Great.

“Wait, what are you talking about?” Liam asked, his brows furrowed as he looked between Stiles and Theo. The rest of the pack seemed just as puzzled, but neither Stiles or Theo explained. 

“I told you to tell the truth that day,” Stiles continued, stepping closer to Theo, and Theo heard his teeth grind together. “Why didn’t you?”

“This had nothing to do with what we were talking about,” Theo hissed back, ignoring the looks he was getting from the pack.

“You didn’t think this was important enough?” Stiles practically yelled, and the Sheriff reached for him but Stiles dodged his hand, his glare holding Theo in place.

“No,” Theo growled, his patience wearing thin. “This is none of your business.”

“This is none of my business?” Stiles screeched, and the pack was getting restless, anxiously watching the two of them grow more and more annoyed with each other. “Maybe we’re not best friends, Theo, but that doesn’t even matter. You’ve been working with my dad for over two weeks, we were getting along, things were getting better. And I told you that I wanted you to tell me the truth. And you think that you being homeless isn’t my business?”

The room stilled. 

What? Liam whispered, his eyes wide. Theo kept his eyes on Stiles, who was breathing heavily after his rant. Partly because Theo was a little afraid that Stiles might actually try and kill him if he took his eyes off of him for even a second, and partly because he didn’t want to see the pack’s reactions. 

“Theo, I told you this before, and I’m telling you again,” the Sheriff broke the silence, and Theo’s gaze moved to him, “We have a roo—”

“You knew?” Stiles whirled around to face his dad, and the Sheriff winced at the fury on Stiles’ face. 

“It’s not his fault, I told him not to tell you,” Theo cut in, his voice quiet. He didn’t want Stiles to get mad at his own dad for something that was Theo’s fault. “I made him promise not to tell anyone.”

Why? The question came from Liam, and Theo struggled not to flinch from the raw anger radiating from the beta. “Why the fuck would you not tell anyone?”

“Because it’s none of your business,” Theo snapped, repeating his earlier words. “This has nothing to do wi—”

“What about food?” Corey asked suddenly, and Theo felt his irritation flare again.

“I eat,” Theo snarled, “I have a job, I’m not broke.”

“And what about before you started working at the station?” Stiles hissed, and Theo faltered. “You’ve been back from hell for months, how much of it have you been homeless for?”

Theo didn’t answer, which was pretty much an answer in and of itself. 

“Theo,” Scott’s voice was gentle, and Theo hated how much it oozed comfort, “You know that we care, right? We wouldn’t leave you like that if we found out before, we’d help.”

Theo’s eyes met the Sheriff’s, who was giving him a look that very much yelled I told you so

“Look, it happened, and it’s over now,” Theo finally said, exhaustion poking through, “Can we just move on?”

“What do you mean it’s over?” Liam fumed, “You think we’re just gonna let this go, just so you can go back to your truck after the meeting is over?

Stiles didn’t even give Theo a chance to respond, just stormed over to him and snatched his truck keys out of his hand. But Theo’s reflexes were fast, and he grabbed Stiles’ arm before he could move back.

“You’re not taking away my truck,” Theo sneered, but Stiles didn’t react, just met Theo’s eyes with just as harsh of a stare.

“Let go, Theo.” Theo’s grip tightened, not enough to hurt him, but enough to tell him that he wasn’t planning on it until Stiles gave the keys back. 

The Sheriff and Scott moved to them quickly and separated them, the Sheriff holding Stiles back as Scott pulled Theo. 

“Stil—”

“You’re staying with us,” Stiles cut him off, his face blank. “Don’t you dare argue with me, Theo, because I’m this close to using my baseball bat on you.”

Theo sighed, looking down for a moment before lifting his eyes to meet Stiles’ again. “Stiles, I—”

“I said,” Stiles snarled, “Don’t argue. Did you really think we wouldn’t care? Do you even remember what I told you that day at the diner? After that, did you really think that I would walk away if I knew you were living in your truck?”

Theo’s mind pulled up the conversation from the diner. Because today was the first time I recognized you.

Theo knew when to give up. “Okay,” he breathed out reluctantly. “Okay, fine. But can I have my keys back?”

Stiles studied him for a moment before shaking his head. “No.”

“Stiles, he doesn’t look like he’s gonna run,” Scott suggested softly, and Theo almost laughed. Scott’s optimism never seemed to run out, did it?

No,” Stiles repeated, pocketing Theo’s keys. “Consider this payback for not telling me about the lunch thing.”

Theo let out an irritated huff, before turning to the Sheriff, whose face held a trace of amusement. “Can you tell your son that it wasn’t my fault?”

The Sheriff’s lips curled up into a small smile, and Theo just knew that he wasn’t getting his keys back anytime soon. Theo huffed again, before dropping down on the couch next to Malia, grumbling. 

“I don’t want you next to me, go somewhere else,” Malia said bluntly, shoving Theo’s shoulder, but Theo didn’t budge.

“I don’t fucking care,” Theo snapped, still annoyed that one, Stiles had outed his situation in front of the entire pack, and two, he refused to give his truck keys back. And Theo knew that he was stronger than the human, he could easily get his keys back if he tried, but despite his anger at Stiles, he still didn’t want to hurt him. Not again.

The pack meeting had started after that, multiple people trying to catch Theo’s eye, but Theo didn’t look up from the ground, avoiding everyone’s wandering looks. And Scott—honestly, Theo really needed to thank the alpha for being so understanding, especially towards him—seemed to pull everyone’s attention away from the chimera as much as possible. Theo didn’t know why, but he was grateful for it nonetheless. 

He had been so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t even notice the meeting was over and that everyone had got up to go get food from the kitchen until he felt the couch next to him dip. Theo jerked, snapping his head to the side quickly. 

Scott was looking at him with a concerned look, and Theo wanted to yell that he shouldn’t be concerned for him. “Theo, are… are you okay?”

Theo took in the guilt in the alpha’s scent, and he sighed quietly. “It wasn’t your fault, stop blaming yourself, Scott.”

Scott blinked in surprise, before leaning back against the couch. “I should’ve noticed,” he said, remorse coloring his voice. 

“I didn’t want anyone finding out,” Theo retorted, “This isn’t your fault.”

The alpha studied him for a few moments before letting out a soft breath. “What did Stiles tell you at the diner?”

Theo stiffened, not expecting the sudden turn in conversation. He had thought that Stiles already told Scott everything, but apparently not. Apparently that had just been in between them, and Theo didn’t know whether Stiles even wanted Theo to tell Scott about it now. 

“Derek told me what you guys are talking about,” a voice drifted over to his ears, and Theo and Scott both looked up, only to find the room still empty. But Stiles continued talking, apparently from the kitchen. “Theo, you can tell him, it wasn’t a secret.”

Okay, one, what the fuck Derek, and two, how did Stiles know exactly what he was thinking? 

But Scott was looking at him curiously, and Theo stayed silent for a couple of moments before opening his mouth. 

“He—” Theo broke off, suddenly realizing that if Derek could hear what they were saying, so could everyone else. “Can we go outside?”

Scott caught on pretty quickly, and he glanced at Theo with a look in his eye that Theo couldn’t quite place. But he nodded, and they both went out to the porch, Scott shutting the door behind them. 

“He said it was the first time he recognized me,” Theo said after a minute, deciding to just get it over with.

“Recognized you like…”

“Like from fourth grade,” Theo finished, leaning against the railing and avoiding Scott’s searching look. “And that even if he didn’t forgive him yet, that didn’t mean he never would.”

Scott exhaled slowly, copying Theo’s position next to him. “I think he already has.”

Theo whipped his head up, but Scott’s face was composed, revealing nothing. “That can’t be tr—”

“Stiles wouldn’t do what he did when he found out if he didn’t,” Scott interrupted him, his voice leaving no room for argument. “If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have forced you to move in.” Scott sighed, finally turning to look at Theo. “And I know this probably comes as no shock since Stiles already forgave you, but I’ve forgiven you too, Theo. And I should’ve told you that, should’ve paid more attention to where you were, where you were living. I haven’t seen you as an enemy for a long time,” Scott rushed out, and Theo gaped. “I’ve seen you as pack, and I should’ve told you that.”

Theo froze. Scott saw him as pack? “Scott,” Theo started, and he wasn’t proud to say that his voice might’ve cracked a little. But Scott cut him off again.

“I’m not lying, Theo, and I’m not doing this out of pity,” Scott declared and Theo wondered why everyone joked about Scott’s obliviousness—he was clearly smarter than he let on. “You’re pack, you’ve been pack. And I’m sorry that we didn’t treat you like it for so long.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” Theo muttered, still taken aback by everything. “I’m the last person you should be apologizing to.”

“No, I think you’re the first ,” Scott said slowly, and Theo’s brows furrowed, but Scott didn’t give him a chance to interject. “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this ever since we did it, and I… I’m not perfect, and I have a lot of regrets, but my biggest regret is sending you to hell.”

Theo inhaled sharply. When did the conversation get to this? “Sc—”

“Let me finish, Theo,” Scott reprimanded, and Theo closed his mouth. “I don’t know what you went through down there, and if you ever want to talk about it, I’m here. But the more important part is that I shouldn’t have even let it happen in the first place. I’ve given second chances to almost everyone, but I didn’t to you, didn’t even give you the chance to redeem yourself. And I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to ap—”

Yes, I do,” Scott insisted, “You didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that.”

Theo was quiet for a few moments. He’d never expected Scott to apologize for that. “With what I did, who I was back then, I did deserve it.”

“You’re not the only one who’s done the things you did,” Scott emphasized. “Some people in this pack have probably done worse, and we didn’t do what we did to you to them. No matter what you did, Theo, you didn’t deserve that. And I can probably never apologize enough for it.”

“Y—you have,” Theo croaked, and he tried to reel in the emotions that were threatening to break through the seams of his armor.

Scott placed a hand on his shoulder, and Theo couldn’t believe how much the simple touch soothed him, how much it made him feel safe. He couldn’t tell if that was the alpha part of Scott, or if it was just Scott. “Let’s go inside, my mom ordered a lot of pizza, but I have a feeling if we don’t get there soon, it’ll be gone.”

Theo snorted, swallowing the lump in his throat and following Scott back into the house. He felt… lighter almost, after talking to Scott, like he’d been carrying something around he hadn’t even known he was until now. The kitchen was loud as the two of them entered, and unlike last time, the volume didn’t decrease when Theo came in, everyone continuing their conversations. 

“Theo,” he heard, but he didn’t turn around, reaching for a slice of pizza. “Theo!”

“Calm down, Jesus,” Theo mumbled to Stiles, angling his head towards him. “What do you want?”

“Did you charge your phone?”

Theo gave Stiles a confused look, before nodding slowly. Stiles’ face lit up, and a few seconds later, Theo’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He dug it out, placing his plate on the counter, and opened Stiles’ text.

All the blood drained out of his face.

“Stiles,” Theo warned, and the human snickered. “I swear…”

“This is payback,” Stiles exclaimed, and Theo gave him an incredulous look as the pack watched them, puzzled. 

“You already took away my keys,” Theo hissed, “Don’t you dare.”

“This is payback for not telling me about your situation,” Stiles retorted, and Theo growled. 

“Stil—”

“I’m doing it whether you want me to or not. I just thought you’d appreciate a warning before,” Stiles cut him off, and Theo was about to lunge when Stiles opened his mouth again. “You’re pack, so think of it like an… initiation. Everyone gets embarrassed in front of the pack, it’s like a rite of passage.”

“Stiles,” Theo snarled, but the pack was too intrigued, and Stiles was all too happy to indulge them. 

“Let’s play a game,” Stiles’ eyes twinkled, and Theo had to physically restrain himself from punching him. “First crushes, Theo, how about you go first?”

“I’m getting you back for this,” Theo grumbled quietly, “I hate you so much.”

The pack was looking at him in anticipation, their eyes all wide as they waited for Theo to reveal his first crush. 

“I’m not doing thi—”

“It was Scott, wasn’t it?”

Theo’s head snapped up to meet Lydia’s knowing look. Gasps echoed in the room (there was also a growl, and it didn’t take much thinking to figure out that it was Malia) and the pack looked at Theo, hoping he’d confirm it, but he didn’t say anything, just stared. Which was pretty much a confirmation. 

“Oh my god, it was,” Brett smirked, and Theo groaned as the rest of the pack all started talking over each other.

“Scott?” Corey.

“They were friends, it makes sense.” Nolan.

“But Scott? Liam.

“Guess he’s always been into the overeager puppy thing.” Mason

Theo choked when he heard the last one, and Mason gave him a wide smirk. Theo glared, because he was not dealing with this right now. 

Yes, Scott!” Theo yelled, interrupting everyone, “Now stop talking about this.”

The room was quiet for a moment and then— 

“If you try anything, I won’t hesitate to kill you.” Theo choked again at Malia’s threat.

“This was over ten years ago, holy shit,” Theo snapped, “I’m not gonna try anything. Ever.”

Scott was burning red, and Theo was sure he was too. But he dumped his plate in the trash can, flipped Stiles off, and started walking towards the living room. “I’m done with this, I’d rather deal with Argent than you assholes.”

He stilled when he realized Argent had, in fact, heard what he said when he entered the living room. “Uh, I didn’t mean that?”

Argent glared at him as the Sheriff and Melissa snorted. “Sit down, kid,” the Sheriff said, amused. “I know dealing with Stiles can be a handful sometimes.”

Theo flopped onto the couch, running a hand down his face. He was exhausted. He didn’t get much sleep last night—his nightmares were honestly probably more of a problem than the deputies ever were, and Theo just wanted sleep

“Theo.” He cracked open an eye to see Melissa looking down at him with a soft look in her eyes and a blanket in her hands, which she draped over him. “I’ll make sure no one disturbs you. Sleep.”

Theo started to protest, but Melissa was insistent, and the couch was comfortable (his only comparison was the backseat of his truck, so it didn’t take much), and the blanket was warm, and soon, Theo was drifting off, his eyelids too heavy to resist the temptation of sleep.

 

---

 

Theo was gonna kill Stiles. 

Stiles! Theo yelled, running down the stairs and growling when he heard the human try and sneak out the door. “Where the fuck is my phone?”

Stiles had his hand on the doorknob, but Theo was quicker, and he slammed the door shut and stood between it and Stiles. 

“Where is my phone, Stiles?” Theo snarled, and Stiles took a step back. 

“Why do you always think I had something to do with it?” Stiles whined, and Theo glared at him. 

“You are literally the only person here,” Theo scowled, “Now give it back. I have to get to the station, and your dad’s gonna stick me on file duty if I’m late again.”

Stiles grumbled and took the phone out of his pocket, and Theo snatched it quickly. “What do you even want with my phone anyway?”

Stiles gave him a nervous look, and Theo raised a brow. The human stayed silent for another few seconds before letting out a quiet sigh. “I just realized that I never added you to the tracking app.”

Theo’s eyebrow was up to his hairline now. “Tracking app?

“Yeah,” Stiles’s fingers fidgeted, and Theo followed the movement with his eyes. “After… well, everything, I started tracking everyone’s phones, cause I… I like knowing where everyone is. And I realized last night that I never added you, so…”

A warm feeling burst in Theo’s chest, but outwardly, he let out a quiet, “Oh.”

Stiles studied him for a moment, and Theo didn’t know how he always just knew what Theo was thinking, but Stiles put a hand on his shoulder, and pursed his lips. “Theo, you’re pack. I know Scott already told you a few weeks ago, but you don’t always act like you know.”

“I do,” Theo rushed out, his voice hoarse. “Know, I mean. But it doesn’t always…”

“I get it,” Stiles said, “But you are.” 

Theo nodded, letting out a shaky breath. “Your dad’s gonna kill me anyway, so I’m gonna go get coffee from the diner. Maybe he won’t be as mad,” Theo murmured, looking at Stiles. “Wanna join?”

“Yeah,” Stiles answered, then he pulled out his phone and groaned. “My dad’s blaming me again for you being late.”

Theo snickered as he opened the door. “Because it’s your fault.”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know that,” Stiles huffed.

“I think anyone would know that after being around you for five minutes.”

Stiles flipped him off and Theo pulled away from the house. When they entered the station after their coffee run, Parrish looked up and gave Theo a disappointed look. 

“You’re late again,” the hellhound reprimanded, and Theo reached for one of the coffees in Stiles’ hands. 

“But I got you coffee,” Theo said, placing it on Parrish’s desk. “Scale of one to Collins breaking the printer, how mad is he?”

Parrish snorted, taking a sip of the drink. “Thomas dropping the files after you sorted them.”

Theo winced. That wasn’t even on the scale.

“Good luck,” Parrish called out as Theo walked towards the Sheriff’s office, dragging Stiles behind him.

“Why do I have to be here?” Stiles complained, and Theo glared at him to shut up before pushing open the door.

The Sheriff didn’t even look up when they entered, and Theo took the last coffee from Stiles and placed it in front of him. 

“Is this a bribe?” the Sheriff asked, his eyes still on the file he was reading, and Theo exchanged a glance with Stiles.

“It was his fault!” Theo blurted, and Stiles’ jaw dropped before he squawked. 

Sure, blame Stiles for everything,” the human grumbled sarcastically, and the Sheriff finally looked at them, giving his son a dry look.

“Theo’s worked here for over a month now, and the only times he’s been late is after he moved in. So, based on the evidence, it is your fault, son.”

Stiles crossed his arms, rolling his eyes. Theo smirked, before sinking into the chair across from the Sheriff. 

“Anything new?”

The Sheriff sighed, reaching for the coffee Theo gave him. “Nothing significant. We’ve had false alarms, but nothing that gives us any clues about where Monroe could be. Argent’s contacts got nothing either.”

Stiles leaned back against the wall, his toe bouncing up and down. “What about the warehouse we found off of Waterbow?”

“Distraction,” Theo answered bitterly. “Same with the call we got about the camp on the south end of the preserve. She’s just taunting us now.”

The Sheriff sat back in his chair, crossing his arms. “She’ll mess up eventually. They always do.”

“And how many more supernaturals is she gonna kill before that?” Stiles asked, and Theo blinked at the harsh tone.

“Stiles—”

“We’re working with what we’ve got,” the Sheriff cut Theo off. “I know that’s not enough Stiles, but we’re grasping at straws here.”

The anger drained out of Stiles, and he breathed out a resigned, “I know.”

The Sheriff looked at his son for a few moments, before letting out a sigh. “I got a call from the school saying they’ve had some complaints about spiders in the bathrooms. Why don’t you two go check it out?”

Theo cocked an eyebrow. “Neither of us are actual officers.”

Theo wasn’t even sure what their position in the station was. Stiles had finished his internship a while ago, and had moved back to Beacon Hills, but the Sheriff said he was too young to be an officer. Theo was caught in an awkward position between intern and consultant, but none of the other deputies seemed to care, so both of them continued helping out. 

The Sheriff dismissed it with a wave. “I’m sure you can handle a few spiders. Now go before Martin calls me again.”

Theo exchanged a look with Stiles, who also seemed to pick up on the fact that the Sheriff was very clearly trying to distract them from the Monroe situation. Theo was 80% certain that there hadn’t even been a call, but he walked out of the office anyway, Stiles following him.

“You think the spiders mean anything?” Stiles asked, and Theo snorted as they got into the truck. 

“If there’s actually spiders at the school, I’ll do your chores for the next two days,” Theo said wryly, and Stiles snickered.

Theo was right. Principal Martin gave them an irritated look before walking away mumbling about having a talk with the Sheriff about the school not being a distraction for Theo and Stiles whenever he felt like sending them. 

“What the hell are you two doing here?”

Stiles and Theo whipped around to see Liam and Brett walking up to them, and Stiles gave Theo a small smirk. Theo smacked the back of his head before explaining. “The Sheriff said he got a call about spiders and sent us. He just wanted to get us out of the station.”

Liam’s blue eyes turned to him, and Theo made sure to control his heartbeat, because even if Liam didn’t know how to be a werewolf and use his senses, Brett did.

“Well perfect timing then,” Liam stated. “We’re ditching the rest of the day.”

Theo crossed his arms, staring Liam down. “One, I’m not your Uber. And two, it’s been an hour since you got here.”

Liam rolled his eyes as the rest of the Puppy Pack made their way over to them. “We’ll be fine, at least we went to one class.”

Theo turned to Mason. “And you’re okay with this?”

“He’s not my mother,” Liam snapped before Mason could answer, and Theo and Stiles snickered. 

“Well, come on then,” Theo relented, walking towards the door. “But if Principal Martin finds out, I’m throwing you under the bus.”

Liam punched his arm half-heartedly, everyone else following them out of the school. They somehow managed to fit everyone in the truck, and if Alec, Lori, and Nolan were sitting in the bed of the truck, well, it’s not like anyone was gonna arrest them for it.

“Where are you going?” Liam asked when Theo took the right turn towards the station, and Theo gave him a dry look in the rearview mirror. 

“I still have work,” Theo reminded him, turning to Stiles. “We still have work. We can’t just ditch like you guys are.”

“But the Sheriff—”

“Will probably glare at you for two minutes, then roll his eyes and leave you alone,” Stiles interjected. “He’s had enough experience with me and Scott, he’s used to it by now.”

Stiles’ voice held a touch of pride, and Theo gave him an incredulous look as he parked the truck. “I can’t believe you’re proud of that, Stiles.”

Stiles flipped him off, the Puppy Pack rushing out of the truck and sauntering into the station. Parrish glanced up, and rolled his eyes at Theo.

“We’re not a daycare,” Parrish said dryly, and Theo’s lips pulled into a smirk as the Puppy Pack complained at the notion that they’d need a daycare.

“Theo, Stiles, get in here,” the Sheriff thundered, and the two gave each other confused looks before entering his office.

“I just got a call from Martin,” the Sheriff accused, and Theo winced slightly. 

“Liam’s sick?” Theo tried, and the Sheriff gave him a sardonic look.

“Liam’s a werewolf.”

“Nolan’s sick,” Stiles cut in. “And Mason, too. They’re both really sick, and if they stayed, they’d just spread it to everyone.”

The Sheriff glanced between Theo and Stiles for half a minute before sighing and dragging a hand over his face. “I don’t get paid enough to deal with all of you.”

“You don’t get paid for that at al—”

“Go home,” the Sheriff interrupted, giving them both a tired look. “And take the puppies with you. I’ll call you if we need anything.”

Theo started to protest, but the look on the Sheriff’s face made him snap his mouth shut, and he nodded before walking out, Stiles in tow.

“Hey,” Theo called out to the teenagers, “Puppy squad, get back in the truck.”

Stiles let out a snort at the name, and Liam flipped him off as they left the station. 

“You know you’re part of them, right?” Stiles teased as he slid into the passenger seat.

“Why the fuck would I be part of them?” Theo drawled, pulling out of the parking lot.

“Because you’re closer in age to them than to the rest of us.”

The Puppy Pack made various confused noises, and Theo rolled his eyes.

“How do you even know that?”

Stiles grinned, leaning back into his seat. “You skipped a grade in elementary school. I distinctly remember James’ never ending complaints that a kid a year younger was better than him at math.”

Theo snorted. James had held a grudge against him ever since Theo moved up to second grade from first. “So what if I’m younger, that doesn't make me part of the puppy squad.”

“Would you stop calling us that?” Liam interjected, irritated, and Theo smirked.

“Nope.”

“See if I give you those cookies my mom bakes anymore,” Liam spit out, and Theo’s smirk widened.

“See if I help you with your bio homework anymore,” he retorted as he pulled into Liam’s driveway. Liam huffed, throwing the door open and storming into his house, the rest of the Puppy Pack following him. Stiles gave him a knowing look as Theo turned the truck off.

“Can you guys just admit you wanna fuck already?”

Theo choked on air, and Stiles’ mouth curved up into a smirk as they got out of the truck. 

“I do not wanna fuck Liam,” Theo mumbled, and Stiles gave him a look that Theo could tell meant that he didn’t believe him. Lucky for Theo, Stiles couldn’t confirm it by listening to his heart.

“I don’t even have to be supernatural to know that was a lie,” Stiles said. “Guess Mason was right about you being into the overeager puppy thing, huh?”

Stiles,” Theo hissed, and the human lifted his hands in surrender, and they both finally made their way into the house. Brett gave Theo a knowing smirk as they entered the kitchen, and Theo fought the blush that threatened to rise. Stupid Brett and his born-werewolf ass. Why couldn’t all of them be as hopeless as Liam was at using werewolf senses?

Liam’s footsteps pounded down the stairs, and his panicked expression took Theo by surprise. “I have a lab due tomorrow, and I forgot about it,” Liam blurted out, shoving a piece of paper in Theo’s face. “Help.”

Theo grabbed the paper and put it on the counter. “No.”

Stiles and Brett smirked at him above Liam’s head, and Theo resisted the urge to flip them off. 

“Theo, please,” Liam whined, pulling his lips into a pout. Fuck, why’d he have to do that? Everyone (besides Liam, because he had the situational awareness of a rock) knew Theo couldn’t say no to him, something that had become a running joke with the rest of the pack. “I’ll do anything you want.”

Theo’s mind took a sharp dive, and he was powerless to stop his ears from turning pink. The bad news was that the rest of the pack noticed, but the good news was that they didn’t say anything about it. But Theo knew the second Liam was out of the room, he’d have to suffer their endless teasing.

“Just stop tackling me when you get mad,” Theo grumbled, and Liam nodded furiously, his eyes wide in earnest. 

“You sure?” Brett sang under his breath, but Theo heard him perfectly, as did the rest of the supernaturals and Stiles, who was close enough to the blond to hear him. “Thought you’d like that, being under Liam and everything.”

Theo and Liam both stiffened, before turning red. 

The rest of the pack cackled, and Theo wondered if Scott would understand if he murdered all of them.

 

---

 

“What happened?” Theo asked out of the window of his truck, panic creeping into his voice as he pulled to a stop in front of Liam’s house. 

Liam slid into the passenger seat, staring at Theo for a moment before facing forward again. “Nothing, I just wanted to go on a drive.”

Theo gaped at him. “You text me 911 at midnight because you wanted to go on a drive?”

“Yeah.”

Theo looked up, praying to whatever deity popped into his mind to grant him some patience. “Liam.”

Theo,” Liam mocked him in the same tone, “Start driving.”

Theo sighed before taking the truck out of park and pulling away from the curb. “Where do you want to go?” he asked, resigned to his fate.

“Don’t care.”

Liam’s voice was blank, and Theo immediately knew something was wrong. “Liam, what happened?” he asked again, his voice gentle. When did Theo get so soft?

“Nothing.” Liam turned away from him, looking out the window, and Theo stayed quiet, letting Liam take his own time. If the last few months have taught him anything, it was that Liam hated being pushed, even if it was for his own good. Liam didn’t talk for the next few minutes, and Theo absentmindedly started driving to Lookout Point. It was almost a force of habit, since he used to go there so often before he moved in with Stiles. 

“If your parents were still around, and they wanted to talk to you again, would you do it?” Theo inhaled sharply, turning to Liam, but the werewolf was still looking out the window.

“Liam—”

“Would you?” Liam pressed, and Theo parked the truck, staring out into the preserve.

“No.” His parents treated him like shit, and he was glad they didn't live here anymore. Though a part of him would always crave the feeling of family he never got in his childhood.

Liam exhaled slowly, and Theo turned in his seat, angling his body towards him. “Liam, why are you asking me that?”

Liam didn’t answer for a couple of minutes, but he finally turned to Theo, and Theo’s breath hitched at the anger and grief on his face. “My dad called my mom today. He said he… wanted to meet me.

His dad. Not Dr. Geyer, his birth father. Theo’s mind started racing. He didn’t know much about Liam’s birth father, just that he had left when Liam was in fifth grade. “Do you want to meet him?” he probed softly, and Liam’s gaze went back to the preserve.

“No,” Liam answered after a moment. “He… he wasn’t a good person, and I don’t want someone like that in my life again.”

Theo’s heart skipped a beat. “Liam, did he…”

Liam nodded jerkily, and Theo let out a harsh breath. “If you don’t want to meet him, then don’t. It’s your decision, not his.”

The truck was silent as Liam leaned back into his seat, tilting his head back, and it was at the perfect angle for the moonlight to strike his eyes, and Theo’s breath caught in his throat at how pretty he was. 

“But everyone always says that everyone deserves a second chance,” Liam began, “I can’t just ignore him.”

Theo was quiet for a few moments. “Is this a second chance or is it a third or fourth?”

Liam closed his eyes, a resigned sigh leaving his lips. “How do you always know?”

“Your pulse skipped when you said second,” Theo said quietly. “Liam, you can give people second chances, I wouldn’t even be here if I didn’t get a second chance. But, this isn’t a second chance, and you’re allowed to stop giving chances to people who don’t deserve it.”

“But what if he’s changed this time?”

Theo took in Liam’s hesitant expression. “Then that’s a choice you have to make,” he responded, his voice low. “But some people don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, not when there’s a pattern.”

Liam was silent, and Theo wanted to say something , but he didn’t know what . The moment felt… fragile, like one wrong word, one wrong breath would shatter it.

“Thanks for picking me up,” Liam said, and Theo blinked blankly at the change in topic.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” he replied, and Liam turned to him

“It was,” Liam pressed. His eyes left Theo’s face, and Theo felt his scent change, a hint of… nervousness? “It’s funny.”

Theo stared at him, his brows furrowing. “What’s funny?”

“The first person I texted was you,” Liam admitted, “It didn’t even hit me to text Mason until I was in your truck.”

Theo’s heart stuttered. “Li—”

“Mason’s my best friend,” Liam interrupted him, and Theo’s heart was pounding now, “but the only person I wanted to talk to was you.

And even after Theo dropped Liam off, and made his way back to the Stilinski’s house, the only thing he could hear were those words, echoing in his head long after he should’ve fallen asleep.

The only person I wanted to talk to was you.

 

---

 

“Theo, come over here.”

Theo made his way over to Stiles, who was leaning over a map with his phone in his right hand. A wave of apprehension drifted off of the human, and Theo’s chest twisted. 

“We got something from here,” Stiles said, pointing to the northwestern corner of the map, a dense area of forest a couple of miles from Beacon Hills. “And I had someone check it out, take a look at this.”

Theo’s stomach dropped at the picture on Stiles’ phone. “Is that—”

“Yep,” Stiles interrupted, his voice bordering on hysterical. “Monroe hasn’t just been recruiting hunters, she’s been stocking up on wolfsbane. And based on this, it’s not regular wolfsbane either, it’s yellow wolfsbane.”

“Where the fuck is she getting it from?” Theo asked. “Yellow wolfsbane isn’t that common, who’s supplying her?”

Stiles’s fingers tapped on the map as his face twisted in thought. “It can’t be another pack, can it?”

“That’s not possible,” Theo stressed, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest. “Even if Monroe somehow managed to offer them something good enough to get them to ally with her, no pack in their right mind would openly go up against a true alpha’s pack.”

“You did.”

Stiles’ voice was quiet, but there was no accusation behind it like there would’ve been a few months ago. Theo’s jaw clenched as he looked away from the human, his eyes landing on his keys on the desk. The key to the Stilinksi’s house lay next to his truck key, and Theo felt his stomach coil in guilt and regret.

“No pack in their right mind would openly go up against a true alpha’s pack,” Theo repeated, his index finger tapping on his bicep erratically.

Stiles studied him for a moment before turning back to the phone. His eyes narrowed after a minute, and he zoomed in on the picture. Theo perked up—he’d gotten good at recognizing Stiles’ I found something expression after spending over two months working with him at the station. 

“What?”

Stiles turned the phone sideways, zooming the picture with his index finger and thumb as much as it would go, before shoving it in Theo’s face.

“Tell me you see that,” he said, using his other hand to point to one of the wolfsbane containers, and Theo squinted. 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Theo muttered, and Stiles pulled the phone back. 

“She’s manufacturing it,” Stiles confirmed, his eyes lingering on the miniscule Monroe logo on the containers. “Is that even possible?”

Theo let out a sigh. “I don’t know. But she’s doing it, and unless we stop that, she’s always gonna have an edge over us.”Stiles looked at the picture, then slowly turned to the map, then to Theo. His face was almost blank, but Theo caught the flash of hope in his eyes.

“Stiles, no,” Theo said before Stiles could even voice his plan.

“Stiles, yes,” Stiles retorted, “This is our only chance, we know she’s been moving the wolfsbane, and it won’t be here for long. That warehouse near Waterbow? That wasn’t a distraction.”

The human’s voice was growing in volume, like it usually did when he connected the dots in his head. Stiles gestured wildly as he continued, excitement rolling off of him. “She was there, she had to be there at some point. But by the time we figured it out, she already moved it,” Stiles explained, his voice raising in pitch. “And if we don’t do this now, we’re gonna miss her and all this wolfsbane again.”

Theo opened his mouth, but Stiles didn’t even let him talk. “This is our chance, Theo,” Stiles emphasized, “We’ve been searching for months. This could be it. And even if we don’t find her, we can destroy the wolfsbane. That’s gotta count for something.”

Theo studied Stiles’ wide eyes and the resolve coloring his face. “The only way to get rid of that much wolfsbane is to burn it,” he said after a few moments, and Stiles’ face lit up at the compliance. 

“So we burn it.”

“You do realize that you’re suggesting we commit arson, right?” Theo questioned, a hint of disbelief in his voice, but Stiles just snorted.

“What are they gonna do, arrest us?” Stiles asked, rolling his eyes, and Theo rubbed his temples. He didn’t know what headaches felt like—a perk of being supernatural—but he was certain that he was this close from a migraine. 

“Okay, fine,” Theo acquiesced, “We blow the building up. Then what?”

Stiles pocketed his phone, walking over to grab his hoodie laying on the unoccupied chair. “Destroying the wolfsbane is our priority right now. Everything else comes after.”

“I thought you were supposed to be the one with the plans,” Theo mumbled as he followed Stiles out of the station. 

“I am,” Stiles squawked. “Go to the evil lady’s illegal stash of poison and blow that shit up. That’s a plan.”

Theo gave him a dry look as they got into his truck. “You know, Liam told me how Scott bit him then kidnapped him, and how he heard you saying that Scott was terrible at making plans. I’m beginning to think that you would’ve handled it almost the same way.”

Stiles let out an indignant noise from the back of his throat. “I would not. And Scott duct taped him and threw him into his tub. Almost anything would’ve been better than that.”

“No wonder Liam hates duct tape,” Theo murmured under his breath, but Stiles heard it and turned to him with an incredulous look.

“How the hell do you know Liam hates duct tape?”

The tips of Theo’s ears turned pink. “We were talking about absurd fears the other day, and it came up,” he explained, hoping that would be the end of the conversation. Stiles didn’t give up that easily. “Liam’s been in Whitelake for his lacrosse tournament for the past four days, and he just got back today. When did you talk to him?”

Theo hated that he couldn’t control the blush rising on the back of his neck. “Did you hit your head and forget there are these things called phones?” Theo drawled, and a smirk slowly spread on Stiles’ lips.

Before Theo realized what the smirk meant, Stiles grabbed his phone from the cupholder, and unlocked it.

“What the fuck, you know my passcode?” Theo exclaimed, reaching for his phone, but the human moved it out of reach, and there’s only so far Theo could go when he was still driving.

“It’s not my fault you unlocked it when I was looking,” Stiles mumbled, and Theo groaned when Stiles started snickering. “You’ve been calling each other every night?”

“Fuck off,” Theo grumbled, but this was Stiles, and Stiles rarely, if ever, fucked off.

“Is this why you wake up late, and why Liam’s always late for school?” Stiles teased, “Because you’re up till three every night talking?”

Theo’s cheeks darkened, and Stiles' laughter filled the truck. 

“Oh my god,” Stiles breathed out in between laughs, “You guys are lovestruck teenagers."

“We are teenagers,” Theo snapped, ignoring the first part. It was something that had been crossing his mind more and more over the last couple of weeks, but he had shoved the thought into the corner of his mind, refusing to acknowledge it.

“But you’re not even dating,” Stiles crooned, a shit-eating grin on his face. “You guys aren’t even dating and you’re more in love than some of the actual couples in the pack.”

“Just because we talk a lot doesn’t mean we’re in love,” Theo replied, the words almost getting stuck in the lump in his throat. “And give me my phone.”

Stiles calmed down, placing Theo’s phone back in the cupholder before angling his head towards Theo. “It doesn’t mean you’re not not in love.”

Theo threw a glare at the human, but Stiles kept talking, a contemplative look on his face. “You don’t think you’re good enough for him.”

It wasn’t a question, Stiles wasn’t asking, he was telling him. Because apparently Theo was a fucking open book now. And his silence was enough proof to confirm Stiles’ statement.

“Theo—”

“Don’t,” Theo ordered, but his voice cracked in the middle, taking the force out of the command. “Don’t, Stiles.”

No,” Stiles pressed, his scent dipping into irritation, “Listen. It’s not hard to see the way you look at him, okay? It’s fucking obvious, and the whole pack pretty much knows by now.” Stiles sighed, his voice dropping. “But he’s just as obvious, to everyone but you.”

“Stil—”

“Do you remember when the hunters attacked you two weeks ago?” Stiles interjected, and Theo’s brows furrowed. 

“What does that have to do wit—”

“You were unconscious for almost three hours,” Stiles cut him off again, “He stayed next to you the whole time, taking your pain. He wouldn’t even let Brett or Scott take over. When you were about to wake up, he was on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion, and Melissa forced him to leave the room to eat. If she hadn’t, he would’ve been there when you woke up. He cares, Theo.”

Theo’s heart was pounding so loud, he was surprised Stiles couldn’t hear it. He hadn’t known that. Liam had walked in a few minutes after he woke up that day, relief splashed on his face as he hugged him tight, and Theo didn’t even consider the fact that he had been next to him when he was still unconscious. But he had

“That doesn’t change the fact that I’m still no—”

Theo was seriously considering duct-taping Stiles’ mouth so he’d stop cutting him off. The human’s expression was serious as he looked at Theo. “You are,” Stiles declared. “Theo, you’ve saved Liam’s life probably over five times by now. Even during the war, you were always there, and Liam even brought it up one time. He said it was weird how you showed up everywhere, somehow managing to always diffuse his anger, and that’s when I figured it out.”

Theo knew what Stiles was going to say, and he didn’t interrupt this time. Because he already knew.

“You’re Liam’s anchor,” Stiles said gently, “And that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t care.”

“Being his anchor has nothing to do with whether I care or not,” Theo said.

Stiles exhaled softly, his fingers twisting in his lap. “It doesn’t. But you’re smart, I know you knew you were his anchor long before anyone else figured it out. And you could’ve used it to control him, could’ve manipulated him, could’ve used it to do what you did before.”

Theo inhaled sharply, and Stiles gave him a heavy look. 

“But you didn’t, because you’ve changed. You’re good, Theo, accept it. That’s the beauty of second chances, so don’t waste yours,” Stiles finished. Silence fell in the truck, and it felt so suffocating.

But they had reached the building, and Theo was sort of glad the conversation was over. He didn’t know what to say anymore, so he cleared his throat and parked the truck.

“You told Scott, right?”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “Yeah, he’s sending Argent to keep an eye on us. Apparently, he doesn’t trust you and me together.”

Theo snorted, sliding out of the truck. “We’re literally about to blow up a building, I’d be worried if he did trust us,” he drawled, and Stiles lifted his middle finger.

It should’ve been easy. All they were doing was setting fire to a bunch of wolfsbane, and getting the hell out of there. But they hadn’t counted on the hunters.

“Stiles, go,” Theo yelled, tossing the human his keys. He’d already been shot a few times, and he could feel the wolfsbane making its way into his bloodstream. Stiles had somehow managed to avoid getting hit so far, but it wouldn’t be long if he stayed here.

No, Argent’s coming, and I’m not gonna leave,” Stiles hissed back, and Theo groaned, partly because of the human’s stubbornness, and partly because he just got hit again. 

Stiles, you have to go tell the pack,” Theo snarled, “Stop being an idiot.”

Stiles ignored him, continuing to fire his gun at the hunters. Theo didn’t know when Stiles got so good at handling a gun, but right now, he was grateful. Even if he was being insanely stupid. 

And Theo was so busy fighting the hunters in front of him, that he didn’t see it coming. He should’ve, but he didn’t. A strangled choke left his throat when two bullets lodged themselves into his back. He fell to his knees, and he heard Stiles yell his name from somewhere to his right. But he didn’t have the strength to fight, every breath sending jolts of pain through his body.

“Monroe’s gonna love this,” one of the hunters smirked, the scar on his cheek lifting with the movement, binding Theo’s hands with wolfsbane-covered vines. Theo barely even felt them. 

Stiles was still fighting, but there was only so much he could do against so many hunters, and Theo yelped when one of the hunters swung his gun at Stiles’ head, knocking him out. 

“Don’t worry,” the hunter next to him sneered, “We won’t kill your little human. Not yet, at least.”

Theo growled, but the hunters just laughed. The last thing Theo heard before succumbing to the darkness was the distant screeching of tires. Argent.

Too late, Theo thought, as his eyes drifted closed. At least they’d blown up the building.

 

---

 

Theo gritted his teeth as the hunter with the cheek scar turned up the electricity.

“We can do this all day, Theo,” Monroe said, sounding bored. “Just tell us what we want to know, and you’re free.”

Theo's eyes drifted to Stiles, whose head was still hung low. “No.”

Monroe sighed dramatically, flicking her hand at the hunter, and Theo bit his tongue to stop himself from screaming at the pain that surged. “I thought you were smart, Theo, you’ve always been good at self-preservation. We’re making you a great offer here.”

Fuck you,” Theo gasped out, and he suddenly registered the heartbeat next to him pick up. He angled his head slightly to look at Stiles, but his head was still down, and his eyes were closed. At least Stiles wasn’t completely stupid. 

Monroe’s eyes hardened, and she turned around to grab something from the table behind her. A needle, Theo realized, and his pulse skipped. All those years of being experimented on by the Dread Doctors, all those years of being cut open again and again, stabbed with god-knows-what, and here Theo was, on the wrong end of a needle again.

The woman walked over to Theo, lifting his head up by his hair and tilting it to the side, baring his neck. “I see you’ve finally found someone to be loyal to,” Monroe whispered, pushing the needle against his neck, and Theo struggled not to show his panic. “Too bad that it’s the wrong side.”

The needle pierced his skin, and Theo felt the wolfsbane enter his body. But something was wrong. Wolfsbane burned, but not like this.

Monroe smirked at the terror and confusion on Theo’s face. “Mistletoe,” she confirmed, and Theo bit his tongue so hard, he tasted blood. “By the time your friend here wakes up, or your pack comes, you’ll be long dead, Theo. I hope it was worth it, whatever stupid thing turned you loyal.”

It was, Theo thought, his mind flickering to those bright, blue eyes that never seemed to dim. He vaguely heard Monroe’s heels clacking away, but everything burned too much to even open his eyes. His breath came out ragged and short, and he let himself sag in his binds.

He lost consciousness a second before Stiles called out his name.

 

---

 

Theo… wasn’t dead. His arms and legs were leaden, and every short breath he managed to take felt like a bullet, but he wasn’t dead.

Was he… moving? He opened his eyes, and came face to face with Stiles. 

“Oh, thank god,” Stiles breathed out, reaching up to untie the vines around Theo’s wrists. “I can’t do this by myself.”

Theo’s mouth was dry, but he talked through it. “Hunters?”

“They left,” Stiles informed, stumbling slightly when Theo’s weight came crashing onto him. “Stupid really, but I’m not complaining. Now come on, we don’t have much time.”

Theo had his arm around Stiles’ shoulder, but he was still struggling to walk. Which made sense, because well, mistletoe. “Stiles, the mist—”

“I know,” the human cut him off, tightening his grip on Theo as they shuffled towards the back door. “You gotta hold on, Theo, okay?”

Theo didn’t know if he could. The tingling in his chest was slowly starting to fade, because Theo was going numb. “‘kay,” he mumbled drowsily, and Stiles turned to him, panic all over his face.

No, Theo,” Stiles demanded, “You gotta stay awake, buddy. We’re almost there.”

Theo could tell they were outside, the sun beat down on his back. But they had no car, no phone, nothing. How were they almost there?

Stiles pulled keys out of his pocket, and Theo lifted his head in surprise. Stiles grinned as they made their way over to one of the cars. 

“Swiped it off the table,” Stiles said, opening the passenger seat door and gently helping Theo inside. “Fucking amateurs.”

Despite the pain ricocheting through his body, Theo snorted as Stiles scrambled to the other side and started the car.

“How’d you…” Theo’s breath hitched as they reversed, “get out?”

Stiles glanced at the rearview mirror, and slammed his foot on the accelerator. “They were sloppy with tying me up,” he murmured, his eyes flitting between the mirror and the road. “Thought I wouldn’t wake up.”

“Fucking amateurs,” Theo mumbled, and Stiles let out a short laugh. They hit a bump on the road, and Theo’s stomach lurched, a groan slipping out of his mouth before he could stop it.

“Sorry, sorry,” Stiles muttered, but he didn’t slow down. He took a sharp left turn, and Theo gritted his teeth as his right arm slammed into the door, sending waves of pain cascading through his body. “Almost there, just hold on, Theo.”

Theo couldn’t. “Wake me up when we… get…” He trailed off, and he heard Stiles’ startled cry, but the darkness was too compelling and he let himself fall into it.

 

---

 

The first thing Theo registered were the voices. They were so damn loud.

“He almost died,” someone screamed, and it sent a jolt down Theo’s spine. Liam.

“Liam, I know,” another voice said, this one quieter and more soothing, and Theo immediately knew it was Scott. “But we can’t—”

“Why not? Liam hissed. “This has gone on long enough, and how many more people have to die before you understand that she’s not going to stop?”

Theo heard a sharp inhale. “If we kill her, we’re gonna be just like her,” Scott said, and Liam scoffed.

“She’s not innocent,” Liam snarled, “She wouldn’t hesitate to kill one of us, she didn’t hesitate. Look at him, Scott. Just—”

Liam broke off, and Theo heard a muffled sob. I’m not dead, he wanted to scream at Liam, wanted him to stop crying. He used every last bit of strength he had and slowly opened his eyes. 

He was at the hospital, the white sheets almost blinding in the sunlight coming through the window. Scott and Liam weren’t even in the room, Theo must’ve heard them from outside. He heard a gasp from the other side of the door, and half a second later, the door was flung open.

“Oh my god,” Liam breathed, and Theo didn’t even get to say anything before he was being crushed against Liam’s chest, the werewolf’s arms wrapping around his back. 

“H—hey,” Theo stammered, and Liam pulled back, an angry look on his face.

Hey? Liam hissed, “You almost died after you and Stiles stupidly went to the hunters by yourself, and all you have to say is hey?”

“We didn’t go after the hunters,” Theo protested, wincing when Liam huffed. “We went to blow up the wolfsbane, and we did.”

“You should’ve waited,” Liam scowled.

“We would’ve missed our chance,” another voice cut in, and Theo and Liam both turned to see Stiles and Scott making their way into the room. “If we waited, the wolfsbane would’ve been gone,” Stiles continued. 

“That doesn’t mean you can just risk your lives for it,” Liam retorted, and Theo sighed.

“Liam, she’s been manufacturing wolfsba—”

“I should’ve sent backup,” Scott cut Theo off, giving him a guilty look. “I told Argent, but I should’ve told you guys to wait until there were more people on the way.”

“You didn’t know there would be hunters,” Theo responded, slowly sitting up on the bed with Liam’s help. “We didn’t know there would be hunters. We thought it would just be a quick mission. Blow the place up, and come back.”

“You were right, it was a horrible plan,” Stiles interjected, and Theo whipped his head to the human. “Maybe we should’ve waited. You almost died, Theo.”

“But I didn’t,” Theo countered, “Stop feeling guilty, this wasn’t your fault, Stiles.”

Stiles breathed out softly, collapsing onto one of the chairs in the room. “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. I already got yelled at by pretty much everyone in the pack.”

Theo’s eyes widened, and Liam noticed, because he smacked Theo’s shoulder lightly. “You really think we wouldn’t care, dumbass?”

Before Theo could answer, the door opened again, and the Sheriff and Melissa walked in.

“You,” the Sheriff fumed, glaring at Theo, “are never allowed to work with Stiles again.”

“Wha—”

The Sheriff was hugging him. The Sheriff was hugging him. He patted his back once, before pulling pack, his face hardening again as he looked at Theo. 

“With your horrible self-preservation skills and Stiles’ impulsiveness, I can’t believe it took me this long to split you two up. Consider this team dismantled.”

Hey,” Stiles protested, and Theo's lips curled up as he looked at the Sheriff.

“I see where you’re coming from,” Theo stressed, “But we both know you can’t stop us.”

Stiles snorted, exchanging an amused glance with Theo, and the Sheriff looked in between them, a resigned look on his face. “I thought Stiles was bad, but this is so much worse.

The teenagers in the room snickered, as Melissa checked Theo’s wounds, which had all pretty much healed by now. “Okay, you’re still gonna be weak for the next couple of days,” Melissa stated, giving Theo a pointed look. “ So no strenuous activity, and that includes working. You’re on house arrest.”

“Oh, come on,” Theo complained, “That’s not fa—”

“You almost died,” Liam pointed out, and Theo flinched at the bitterness in his voice, “You’re staying home.” Melissa patted his arm, giving him a look that Theo knew meant that he wasn’t getting a choice in this, and left the room.

Theo huffed, before suddenly remembering something. His eyes widened, and he snapped his head to Stiles. “Where’s your phone?”

Stiles looked at him weirdly before pulling it out of his pocket. Scott glanced at Theo cautiously. “What happened, Theo?”

My phone,” Theo rushed out, and Stiles’ eyes widened. 

“Did you—”

“I slipped it into one of the crates in the room when they were bringing us in,” Theo blurted out as Stiles opened the tracking app. “She’s probably not there anymore, but if she moved everything...

“We found her,” Stiles breathed out, and Scott and the Sheriff immediately went to look at the phone. “We found her, oh my god.”

The Sheriff grabbed Stiles’ phone, giving Scott a heavy look. “You ready for this?

Scott’s mouth tightened. “This ends today,” the alpha promised, turning to Theo and Liam. “Stiles, stay with Theo. Liam, do you wan—”

“I’m coming,” Liam said, his voice daring Scott to disagree. He turned to Theo, and Theo was breathless at the look in his eyes. Liam squeezed his hand once, before following Scott and the Sheriff out of the room. 

Theo’s eyes followed his back, and he waited until he couldn’t hear Liam’s footsteps anymore before exhaling slowly. 

“Theo,” Stiles said quietly, and Theo angled his head towards the human, who suddenly looked exhausted. “I’m sorry.

“Stiles,” Theo pressed, holding the human’s gaze, “Stop. If we didn’t get captured, we wouldn’t have found her now. And I didn’t die.”

“You could’ve,” Stiles’ voice was small, and Theo let out a small sigh.

“I’m okay now,” Theo stated, “And that’s what matters. No matter what anyone else says, this was my fault too. I agreed to the plan, I wasn’t forced into it.”

Stiles’ fingers were tapping his thigh, and Theo watched the movement as silence filled the room. 

“He was by your side the entire time again,” Stiles finally said, and Theo stilled, before his cheeks darkened. 

“If you two don’t get together after all this,” a new voice called out, and Theo turned to see Mason entering the room, “I’m gonna lock you guys in a closet.”

Stiles snickered, and Theo knew that if Mason did lock him and Liam in a closet, Stiles would be right there next to him. 

“Where are the rest of the puppies?” Stiles asked Mason as he dropped into the other chair, and Mason rolled his eyes at the name.

“Brett and Liam are with Scott, and the rest of them are backup. Nolan’s with Argent,” Mason informed. Argent had taken a liking to the former hunter, becoming somewhat of a mentor to him. Now, Theo still wasn’t used to seeing Nolan’s ease with a gun. It scared him sometimes, honestly. Mason turned to Theo. “I’m glad you’re not dead,” he said, relief evident in his voice, and Theo held back a snort. 

“Thanks,” he said dryly, before tilting his head back to rest on the upright bed. “I hate that I’m not there.”

“You did your part,” Stiles declared firmly. “Now all we can do is wait.”

 

---

 

Monroe was dead. 

Stiles had slumped back on the couch in the McCall’s living room when Derek called him and told him the news, and Theo had let out a heavy sigh, sinking back into his own chair. Derek hadn’t said how, but Theo could make a pretty good guess when the pack filled the room and he caught a hint of her blood on Argent’s gun.

The remaining hunters were being rounded up by the Sheriff and Agent McCall, Scott informed them, but Theo was still on edge. His only thought was a certain blue-eyed beta, because he wasn’t in the room. Where was he?

But right on cue, Liam entered through the front door, blood and dust covering his clothes and skin, and Theo’s relieved exhale was loud enough that Stiles turned to him with a small smirk. But Theo ignored him, standing up and making his way to Liam. 

He didn’t even get a chance to open his mouth before the beta was dropping his head onto Theo’s chest, his arms wrapping around his waist. Liam’s face was pressed firmly into his shirt, and Theo felt, more than heard, him inhale shakily.

“It’s over,” Liam whispered. “It’s over.”

Theo raised one of his hands up to Liam’s hair, gently combing through it, grimacing slightly when dirt clung to his hand. “It is,” he breathed out softly. He could feel the pack’s eyes on them, but he didn’t look up, squeezing Liam tighter. 

They stayed there for god knows how long, reveling in the feeling of being alive, the feeling of being in each other’s arms. 

When Liam finally pulled back, Theo’s eyes roamed over his body, checking for any injuries, but most of the blood on him wasn’t his own. 

“You need to shower,” Theo said, his nose wrinkling at the tangy scent of blood and Liam’s lips pulled up into a small smile.

“Wanna join?”

Theo choked on air, and the pack, who had been trying and failing to make it seem like they weren’t eavesdropping, cracked up.

Theo’s face was burning, but apparently everyone needed a distraction after the day they just had, and all their attention was focused on Theo and Liam.

“Please don’t,” Brett grumbled, but there was a wide smirk on his face. “I really don’t want to hear that.”

Theo groaned, dropping his head onto Liam’s shoulder, which was shaking slightly with Liam’s quiet laughter. 

“Who won?” Stiles called out, and Theo lifted his head to see Corey pulling out his phone

The other chimera’s face lit up as he snickered. “Brett had money on Liam making a move first with an innuendo, Mason said it would be after a life-threatening situation, Lydia predicted it would be on a Friday, and Stiles said it would happen within two weeks of the day we started this.”

Stiles whooped, Brett and Mason exchanging a fist-bump, as Lydia watched it all with a calm smile on her face. 

“You guys bet on us?” Theo asked incredulously, turning to Liam, but the beta clearly hadn’t known about it either.

“Oh, wait,” Corey added, ignoring Theo’s question. “Oh my god.”

Scott’s face turned concerned. “What?”

“The Sheriff bet on a date,” Corey whispered in awe. “January fifteenth.

The room went silent. 

Theo broke it. “You guys bet on us?” he hissed again, but Stiles waved him off

“That’s not important,” Stiles barked. “How the fuck did my dad get the date right?”

Theo let out a noise of disbelief, turning back to Liam, who patted his arm consolingly. The rest of the pack was still trying to figure out how the Sheriff knew.

“There’s no way, let me see,” Alec reached for Corey’s phone, and the werewolf shook his head in shock as he realized that it was, in fact, true.

“He’s the only one who guessed a date,” Malia added, and Alec shook his head. 

“No, wait, Corey missed one. Melissa did too,” Alec stated, his eyes widening as he looked at the phone. His voice dropped to a whisper. “And she guessed today.”

“What the fuck? Stiles exclaimed, his voice bordering on hysterical. “How did both of them know?”

Theo had enough. “You guys bet on us.”

Brett rolled his eyes. “Yes, we bet on you, who wouldn’t? Your little push and pull game was exhausting to watch, at least this way we could make it fun.”

Melissa poked her head out of the kitchen, a grin on her face. “If I recall the rules right, dates win over general guesses,” she sang, and Stiles groaned. “I’ll let the Sheriff know, you guys pool all the money.”

“How did you know?” Lori pressed, and Melissa’s smile broadened. 

“Call it parents’ intuition,” she said, winking at Theo and Liam, before walking back into the kitchen. 

Theo was dumbfounded, staring at the rest of the pack as they broke out into arguments about the bets they had made. Liam nudged his arm, and he tilted his head to the side. 

“Let’s go,” Liam whispered softly, and wrapped an arm around Theo’s wrist. Theo glanced quickly at the pack, but they were too engrossed in figuring out if there was any way for them to get at least some of the money to pay attention to them. Liam pulled him onto the porch, closing the door quietly behind them.

They were silent for a few moments, side by side as they leaned on the railing, and Theo suddenly had a feeling of deja-vu, of when Scott and him were out here talking about Theo being in the pack. That felt like years ago, even if it had only been a couple of months. 

“You’re my anchor,” Liam said quietly, and Theo turned his head to the side. The beta was still staring forward, but his face was relaxed, his mouth a neutral line. “I know you know, but I never told you.

Theo didn’t say anything, waiting for Liam to continue. “When Stiles called us after he took you to the hospital, and told us that you got hurt, my mind went blank. The only thing I could think of was that you almost died, and I didn’t even tell you that you were my anchor. That I need you.”

Theo inhaled sharply, and Liam finally turned to him, his blue eyes piercing into Theo’s. “I know you’ll never need me the way I need you, but—”

“That’s not true,” Theo croaked out, his voice rough with emotion. His heart was beating a mile per minute, and he was sure Liam could hear it, but he didn’t care anymore. Controlling everything, putting up this facade, that’s what Theo was used to, but he couldn’t do it anymore. “You brought me back, Liam. You’re the reason I stayed. Maybe I don’t need help with my control, but you’re still my anchor.

Liam let out a shaky breath, and shifted closer, until their arms were brushing. Liam’s hand was inches away from Theo’s now, and it took all of Theo’s willpower to not close the gap between them. 

“I’m the reason you stayed?” Liam asked softly, and Theo felt the beta’s heart pounding. 

“You’re the reason I stayed,” Theo repeated in a low voice. He pushed off the railing, turning his body completely towards the werewolf, letting his left hand rest where his right one was seconds before, a breath away from Liam’s hand. 

Everything happened all at once. Liam pushed off the railing just like Theo had, and intertwined his right hand with Theo’s left on the railing. And with his other hand, he grabbed Theo’s shirt and pulled him closer until their faces were so close, Theo could feel Liam’s breath on his lips.

“Last chance to say no,” Liam murmured, and Theo almost laughed. Did Liam think he’d ever say no?

Theo closed the gap, pressing his lips gently against Liam’s, and Liam made a noise in the back of his throat. The werewolf squeezed Theo’s hand tighter, and tilted his head, deepening the kiss.

It wasn’t urgent or desperate, like it might’ve been if it had happened earlier. Liam’s lips gently pulled at Theo’s bottom lip, and Theo parted his mouth a moment later. The kiss was slow and delicate, like they had all the time in the world. Like they were still reveling in the fact that they were here, in front of each other, and they weren’t dead.

When they finally broke apart, Theo’s eyes fluttering open, Liam’s lips were curved up in a small smile. 

And Theo couldn’t help but smile back.