Theo's patching himself up in a hospital supply-closet, like any self-respecting survivalist, when the door suddenly opens.
Melissa's eyes go to the bloody bullet casings on the ground, the Bic lighter being held to Theo's skin, the bubbling flesh on his calf, and suddenly looks very, very tired.
The bubbling noise fills the silence, and Theo waits for her to come to some kind of decision.
"Did you take those out yourself?" she asks, sounding exasperated.
"Uh," Theo says, bewildered, "yeah? What was I supposed to do?"
"Get proper medical attention," Melissa says, brows raised, unimpressed, "like everyone else. Doesn't that hurt?"
"Do I look like I'm in pain?" Theo asks, trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice because he's pretty sure Melissa's not above whacking him with a slipper. He shrugs, one-shouldered, and moves the lighter to another hole in his leg, neutralizing the wolfsbane and cauterizing the bullet wound -- two birds, one stone. "It's not a big deal, I've had worse. And besides, I'm not everyone else."
Her expression slides from nonplussed into longsuffering, and before Theo can even get his supernatural reflexes reengaged, he's being strong-armed into one of the examination rooms and propped up onto one of the beds while Melissa yanks his leg up, disinfecting the holes in his leg with a gentleness that's surprising, considering the severity of the frown on her face.
On the other bed is Liam, sprawled over the sheets, hooked up to an I.V., Mason slumped into the chair next to him.
"The hell happened to him?" Theo can't help but ask, and Mason doesn't even seem annoyed at the question for once.
"He got shot," he replies, scrubbing a tired hand over his face. "Deaton sent a recommended painkiller dosage for the formula he's been working on with Lydia, but I think he went for upper bound instead of middle ground on this one."
A beat of silence, then another.
" . . . He okay?" Theo asks.
"What do you care?" Mason snaps suddenly, so sharp that even he seems taken aback by it, looking startled for a brief second, before deflating into the shitty hospital chair. "Sorry, I'm just--" he sighs, gesturing vaguely.
"Tired?" Theo offers, the corner of his mouth helplessly flickering up as Mason snorts loudly.
"Understatement," Mason says. "Fucking exhausted."
It's a testament to how accurate it is that Melissa doesn't even reprimand him for the language. They're all goddamn tired, and Theo just wants to go back to his truck and sleep for a whole week. Theo just wants some peace and fucking quiet, which is a stupid thing to wish for, because the universe hates him, and by the time Melissa's done wrapping up his leg, the room is full of people -- not even because they're worried about Liam, really, he only got shot, like, three times -- just because they, apparently, have nowhere better to hang out. Dr. Geyer is monitoring his vitals, Corey's in the chair next to Mason's, resting a head on his shoulder, Scott and Lydia are fussing with Liam's blankets, blood still congealed under Scott's eyes. Malia's in coyote-form, curled into a ball at the foot of his bed, and Stiles, Derek, and Argent are arguing about something or the other in the corner. When the fucking Sheriff walks in, Parrish in tow, and joins their conversation, Theo knows it's a lost cause.
"What the fuck," he mumbles, exasperated, and Melissa -- the only one close enough to hear it over the cacophony of voices -- snorts.
She finally releases his leg with a reassuring pat, and he hops off the bed. That's when Liam wakes up.
"Oh," he rasps, eyes squinting and bleary, "heeeey guys, 's up?" His words are a little slurred as he stretches languidly in the bed, turning his head in Theo's direction absently, before his eyes actually focus, and they make eye contact.
"Whoa," Liam breathes, and Theo frowns. Liam gives him a very thorough once-over, which is, honestly, unnecessary, because Theo is fine and not even covered in that much blood. His shirt is a little destroyed, torn and bullet-ridden, and he had to slit the bottom quarter of his jeans open in order to have enough space to operate, but overall, nothing that warrants the level of scrutiny Liam's exhibiting. Liam props his chin up on his hand, resting his elbow on his pillow, and grins wide. Theo didn't even know people had that many teeth. "He-llo," Liam says, eyes hooded, leaning forward. "Who are you?"
"Oh no," Mason whispers, with the kind of horror reserved for truly awful things. Murdering your sister, finding out you've secretly been turning into the Beast of Gevaudan and going on killing sprees, that sort of thing. Theo doesn't know what's happening here that's so bad that Mason smells like pure dread.
"You . . . Don't remember me?" Theo settles on. It hurts, more than he expected it to, to be forgotten so easily. But then again, they're not friends. They're allies, if they're even that.
"No, hey, don't be upset," Liam says, brow furrowed and worried, gently coaxing, and then he reaches out for Theo's hands, taking them in his own, and Theo stills. "You smell sad, don't be sad. We've never met before," Liam assures, with a persuasive kind of certainty that Theo would probably be more curious about, if his head wasn't filled with a muzzy kind of static the second Liam tangled his careful fingers with Theo's. "I'd remember a face like that."
Theo does not know what that means, like, at all. He frowns harder, suddenly self-conscious.
"Liam, no," Mason hisses, before turning to Theo. "You should probably go."
Theo nods, numbly. Liam doesn't remember him and this isn't his pack. His usefulness has worn out, he's overstayed his welcome, his wounds are clean, leg neatly wrapped, and they're done with him. Neatly packed away and tied off, like another loose end.
He doesn't even make his way past the bed, before he feels a hand on his shoulder.
“You’re coming back, right?” Scott asks, and Theo doesn’t know how to reply. It turns out, it doesn’t matter. Scott digs into his pocket, and shoves a couple crumpled hundreds into Theo’s hands.
It’s enough for Theo to get out of town. Enough for him to pay for gas and stay a couple nights in a shitty motel while he looks for a job.
Scott knows that, judging by the heavy look in his eyes.
“Just get some of everything,” is what Scott actually says out loud, and it takes Theo way too long to realize he’s talking about food.
“What,” Theo scoffs, “their delivery service not fast enough?”
Scott grimaces. “The Domino’s on Marigold only has one delivery guy, and I’m pretty sure he just got arrested.”
“Coach bludgeoned him half to death with a lacrosse stick,” Lydia offers brightly.
Theo sighs. “Of course he did.”
The Doctors had told him to go to school, blend in, make friends with Scott, but if they had really wanted him to get close to the pack, they would’ve just told him to play lacrosse. He suspects even the Doctors were wary of the sheer demonic energy of Coach Finstock.
Theo tucks the cash in his front pocket, swapping its position out with the keys of his truck, which he swings around an index finger.
“Hey, sweetheart,” Liam calls out, speech still slurred, vowels mashed together, and the only reason Theo turns is sheer, masochistic curiosity at who the fuck Liam could be calling sweetheart, but when he swivels around, Liam’s eyes are fixed on him, and the sudden, unexpected eye-contact almost makes Theo jump. Liam’s beaming. “You got a CDL?”
Theo frowns, thrown. “A . . . Commercial drivers license? No. Why would I—?”
“You know,” Liam says, like it’s obvious. “For that absolute dump truck of an ass.”
The room goes dead silent.
Theo stares. Melissa stares. Stiles, Derek, and Lydia stare. Argent stares. Dr. Geyer stares. Mason has his head in his hands.
Theo opens his mouth. Shuts it again, when he realizes that he can’t think of a single thing to say. Turns around, and leaves the room, and makes his way to the front doors of the hospital, mind completely blank.
He hears Dr. Geyer's voice, faintly. "Was that a . . . Compliment?"
"Yes," Mason groans, "yes, it was."
"You know what," Stiles says, getting quieter and quieter as Theo picks up the pace, "that's on me, I don't know why I thought this would be a good place for all of us to meet, nothing good ever happens here, I swear to god."
And then the sounds of the rest of the pack making noises of agreement and leaving the exam room, and Theo all but sprints the rest of the way to his truck -- doesn't think he could look any of them in the eye right now.
He gets a text from Scott a couple seconds later: yo, we're going back to mine, could you bring the food there pls?
Theo stares at his steering wheel for a long time. He could make it down to San Diego with the money Scott gave him, and from there, he could catch a bus to the border.
His eyes flick back to the hospital.
He starts the car, pulling out of the parking lot. When he reaches the intersection, he takes the right onto Marigold instead of continuing on towards the highway.
"I," Liam declares, shortly after everyone has left the hospital, "m'gonna marry that man. I jus' decided. He's single, right? Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter, even if there is someone, I can just--"
"Liam," Mason tries, pressing into the vein throbbing in his forehead as Liam continues to mime some kind of horrific strangulation attempt, "don't say that around everyone else! I know you're a little high right now, but he's a murderer!" And then, yelps, as Corey aims a sharp kick to Mason's shin with the back of his heel. "Okay, fine," Mason relents, with a groan, "a reformed former-murderer, he's better now, but still."
"'Kay," Liam says, unimpressed. "I literally don't know what you want me to do with that information."
Mason stares. "He killed people."
"O-kay," Liam says slowly, before frowning. "And?" he shrugs. "He probably looked good doing it!"
Corey presses his fingers back to Mason's forehead, right where the shooting pain starts every time Liam decides to open his mouth, and Mason smiles at him, grateful.
Theo gets the pizza and goes back to the McCalls', and it's a lot less awkward than he expected it to be. They mostly just lounge around eating and absently watching the Friends episode playing on the screen, pleasantly mind-numbing. He thought he would feel left out, without anyone to talk to, without anyone in his corner, but the reality is that no one gives a single fuck. The room is silent except for chewing noises and the occasional snort. Malia throws bread at the TV every time Ross does something horribly problematic. Theo feels half-asleep already, comfortable where he's curled up on the couch.
When his phone rings, at two in the morning, the noise is so sudden and startling that everyone jumps.
"Sorry," he mumbles, scrubbing the sleep from his eyes, before answering without even checking the caller ID. "Hello?"
"I've got him distracted with Angry Birds right now, but it won't last long," Mason says, sounding exhausted. Theo frowns. "Come to the hospital."
"Why?" he asks, before frowning harder. "How'd you even get this number?"
"Extortion," Mason says flatly, before promptly hanging up. Theo stares at the phone for a long time, before he finally works up the energy to get up off the warm couch, and back into his truck.
"I told you," Liam says, petulantly, just as Theo approaches the room, "I'll only eat if--"
He catches sight of Theo through the doorway, and the theatrical pout melts off his face, replaced by pure elation. Those must be some good-ass stimulants being pushed into his veins right now.
"Hi," Liam says brightly, beaming, "'s you again. I missed you."
Theo . . . does not know what do that. He's too focused on keeping his heartbeat steady and not going blind from the wattage of Liam's smile aimed directly at him.
Theo blinks. "Hey," he replies reluctantly, before turning to Mason, who looks like he has been through a second war in the time the rest of them went back and had their pizza. Theo has seen real-life veterans with less PTSD in their eyes. "Shouldn't he be healed by now?"
"The nerve cluster the bullet went through wasn't dangerous, or anything, just painful," Mason says, shaking his head, "and Deaton's experimental formula didn't just slow down the pain, it slowed down the healing too. And it's making him kind of loopy."
"I can see that," Theo murmurs, approaching them and tipping Liam's face up so that he can check his pupils, which just confirm his suspicions. Liam lets him, perfectly pliant as he sits there, content to just watch Theo. His pupils are completely dilated, blown wide, the iris just barely visible. Theo snorts, shaking his head. "How high are you right now?" he asks.
"5' 8"," Liam replies absently, still examining Theo's face, and Theo hears Corey snicker in the corner, before abruptly being cut off by a sharp smack. "Green," Liam says resolutely, "definitely green."
He's so out of it that Theo can't help but smile. "What's green?"
"Your eyes," Liam replies, bringing his own hand up to brush his thumb against Theo's eyelashes carefully, and Theo freezes, shocked still. "Couldn't tell what color they were, before, but. They're so green."
"OKAY," Mason says sharply from the corner, clapping loudly, startling Theo out of his trance, and he jerks away, away from Liam's hands on his face and his blown eyes. Mason still looks tired. Corey's eating potato chips, watching them with wide-eyes like they're some kind of reality show, and Theo almost scowls. "Liam needs to eat to heal, and he hasn't had a full meal all day. And he refuses to now, because he's always been a shit, but the painkillers are turning him into a brat."
"The hell does that have to do with me?" Theo asks, which is a fair question, in his opinion, and definitely doesn't warrant the level of pure homicidal intent in Mason's eyes.
"I wanted you to feed me," Liam says cheerfully, blinking slowly, and Theo's brain has to reboot, just a little bit.
"Me," Theo echoes, disbelievingly, and Liam nods, resolute. "Why?"
He turns to Mason, bewildered, who, in turn, turns back to Liam.
"See, what'd I tell you, he won't--"
"Well then, I guess I'm not eating dinner, so--"
"It's not dinner, you shit, it's, like three in the morning, you need--"
"I don't care what I need, I want--"
"You're being such a baby right now, and you know it, stop throwing a tantrum, and just--"
"I am not, you fucking take that back!"
"We are trying to get those painkillers out of your system, Liam, do you want to be high for the next week?"
"I already told you, I won't eat, unless--"
"I told you who Theo is, there's no way he's gonna--"
"Wait," Theo interrupts, with a preemptive kind of wince. What the fuck, a voice in his head pipes up, what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck are you doing. He ignores it, mostly, just like he ignored it when he drove to the hospital in the first place, only about twenty-five percent certain that he wasn't walking right to his death. "He needs to eat to heal," he echoes slowly, because he's trying to rationalize it to himself, and Liam nods, nonsensically. Mason stares back with wide, disbelieving eyes. "And you're--" Theo tries, groaning internally as he turns back to Liam, who perks up instantly, "you're gonna eat? You're gonna eat the whole thing if I feed you? No bitching?"
"I'll be good for you," Liam promises, voice gone low, inundated with something that Theo does not have the mental capacity to pick apart, because, what the fuck.
Theo gives himself a solid thirty seconds to deliberate, before someone snorts in the corner, and Theo squares his shoulders, bracing himself.
"Fine," he concedes. "Where do I get his food?"
Mason's still gaping at him, unresponsive, so he turns to Corey instead. "Mrs. McCall," Corey offers, and Theo accepts it with a sharp nod, before turning on his heel to walk back out.
"Hey, wait," Liam calls out, grabbing Theo's wrist. "Never got your name there, sweetheart," he drawls, smiling brightly, and Theo sighs.
"Theo," he replies, irritated, before trying to tug his arm back, but Liam's not having it, grinning wider, tugging him closer instead, and he's injured, Theo's not about to play tug-of-war with him, so he goes -- lets himself be pulled towards Liam's bed.
"Pretty," Liam says, pleased, and then: "I bet everything about you is pretty, huh?" Theo chokes violently on his own saliva, but Liam continues, undeterred, "Theo, what?"
Theo doesn't reply -- can't reply, really, because his brain is still buffering, frame frozen somewhere around, I bet everything about you is pretty.
"Raeken," Corey contributes, before popping another chip into his mouth and crunching it loudly.
Liam hums, considering, but finally lets Theo go, allowing him to walk back to the door and put a safe distance between them. "Could use some improvement," he finally decides, brows furrowed. "You should change it."
Theo turns back, bemused. "To what?"
Liam grins. "Dunbar."
Theo trips on air on his way out, almost brains himself on the floor, and Corey laughs, loud, clapping delightedly.
"But, did you see his arms?" Liam says, for the fifth time in three minutes, still looking awed.
"Yes, Liam," Corey repeats dutifully, indulgently, also for the fifth time in three minutes, and Mason his banging his head against the wall.
"Do you--" Liam asks quietly, before swallows. Mason can hear his throat click. "Do you think he could bench press me?"
"You're a werewolf," Corey replies, sounding like he's trying not to laugh. "You could bench press him."
Liam makes a strangled noise, and Mason bangs his head against the wall harder, thanking every deity he can think of that he doesn't have a supernatural sense of smell.
"Yeah," Liam says, voice gone low and hoarse — for reasons Mason is trying very hard not to think about — and eyes flared and unfocused. "Yeah, I could get behind that."
Mason picks up one of the pillows on Liam's bed, and whips it into Corey's body,
"Stop," smack "enabling," smack "him."
Corey doesn't stop laughing, and Liam's eyes are still glazed over, half-flared yellow. Mason wishes it was just because of the drugs.
Theo comes back with a frown on his face and a plate of hospital food on his hands, plops down on Liam's bed unceremoniously, and holds out a spoon full of soggy vegetables, which Liam accepts into his mouth obediently.
"Not a word, Hewitt," Theo threatens, but Mason's so shaken that he doesn't think he could string two vowels together. "I swear to god, one word, and I'll slit his throat with this butter knife."
The butter knife is plastic, but Mason doesn't doubt Theo's ability to use it to inflict grievous bodily injury. Probably not on Liam, though, considering the careful hand he brings up to brush Liam's hair out of his eyes, before tucking a napkin into the front of his shirt like a makeshift bib. Mason stares, and steals a potato chip from Corey, too tired and out-of-it to even mind what's happening right in front of his eyes, just enjoying the show.
Half a cleaned plate later, and: "Did it hurt," Liam says, muffled around a mouthful of mashed potatoes, "when you fell from heaven?"
"Liam, you literally watched me crawl up from Hell," Theo replies quietly, absentminded, still frowning severely, grumpy and generally disgruntled, but he gently wipes up some gravy from the corner of Liam's mouth with a napkin, and Mason wonders faintly if he has gone to Hell.
It's four in the morning, and the Chimera of Death™ is literally hand-feeding Liam grapes.
Liam sucks Theo's index finger into his mouth, looking up at him through his eyelashes, and Mason thinks, yeah, definitely Hell.
The food is finally done and no throats have been slit, much to Mason's pleasant surprise. Corey's asleep on his shoulder and Mason envies him for his ability to sleep through literally anything, including Liam and Theo speaking in what they clearly think are whispers, but are emphatically not.
"I'll blow you if you help me escape," Liam promises, looking like he means it, and Theo choking on his inhale, pointedly not meeting his eyes.
"I'm not helping you break out of the hospital, Liam, you're injured," he replies, sounding a little winded. Mason clamps his eyes shut, and tries to force himself to go to sleep.
A pause of rare, blissful silence. Mason thinks he can finally rest, and then--
"Want me to blow you anyway?"
"Liam," Theo snaps, voice cracking horribly in the middle, and Mason almost snorts.
"Oh my god," Liam whispers, awed, "are you blushing?"
Mason cracks an eye open to see Liam's hands pressed to both of Theo's cheeks, their bodies curled into each other, much closer than he realized.
"You are," Liam says softly. "Gosh, you're so cute."
"Fuck you," Theo hisses, sounding embarassed, but to Liam's credit, he really is blushing, pink spreading down his cheekbones and neck. "Shut up, Liam, oh my god."
"I love the way you say my name. Say it again?"
Theo doesn't, Mason notes, move Liam's hands away. Or even move away at all, really. He just sits there, looking heavenward like he's praying for patience, while Liam presses himself harder into his body, watching the flush spill across skin, fascinated.
"Just go to sleep," Theo grumbles, and Liam purses his lips thoughtfully. "Seriously, you need your rest."
"I'll only go to sleep if--"
"Oh, for fuck's sake."
Mason finally decides that he needs a break, and tries to get up slowly in order to get himself a snack, and, like, some clothes that aren't covered in Liam's blood, but he accidentally jostles Corey in the process.
"Hey," Corey mumbles softly, blinking his eyes open blearily and squinting into the light, wrinkling his nose, which is cute, so fucking cute, he's adorable, and also, like, Mason's world.
"I love you," Mason blurts, abruptly, because it's only been hours since they first said it, and he can't help himself, not when Corey's wide, returning smile makes his stomach do backflips.
"I love you too," Corey replies quietly, and Mason can't help but lean down to taste the smile on his face, which is difficult when he's smiling too, but.
They finally break apart when the mock-applause starts up from the direction of Liam's hospital bed, and Mason rolls his eyes, tangles his fingers with Corey's, and drags them out of Liam's room for a much-needed reprieve.
When they finally come back, fairly disheveled but still put-together enough to be publicly decent, they both freeze in the doorway.
Theo's nose flares as he smells them before he actually sees them. "Oh, gross, guys," he groans. "Really? In the hospital?"
The bed is collapsed back down to an actual bed, instead of Liam being propped up, and somehow they've shifted to Theo being completely underneath him, Liam curled up on top. Theo's shirtless, for no discernable reason, and Liam's cheek is mashed into his bare chest.
"What's," Corey says, brows inching towards his hairline as he gestures vaguely, "going on here?"
"Made a deal," Liam mumbles. "With c’nditions. Gonna sleep. That is, if he--"
"No, Liam, absolutely not."
Liam pouts dramatically, eyes flaring yellow, but the effect is somewhat dampened by the way he keeps pressing his face into Theo's pectoral. "I bet you have a great singing voice, come on." He drums on Theo's chest with clawed fingers.
"Liam, no," Theo says sharply. And then, to Mason and Corey: "I took his I.V. out, so the painkillers should wear off by the morning. He’s a little more lucid now, but it’s having some really weird fucking side effects. I think the shift's trying to overcompensate."
"Wh--?" Mason splutters. "You took out the whole thing? What about all the--?"
Pain, he stops himself from saying, right when Liam's starting a new line of reasoning in the argument he’s desperately trying to win, as Theo cards a hand through his hair, blunt fingernails scraping across his scalp, and Mason catches the black veins trailing from Theo's hand to the rest of his body. Liam melts into the touch, but Mason has a sneaking suspicion that it has nothing to do with the pain-siphoning.
One word, Theo's sharp glare says, say one word about this, I dare you.
It's a threat that's not all that threatening, considering how Liam's arching into the touch like a cat, and Theo's obliging him. His veins stay black.
It's not that threatening, but Mason also watched Theo almost strangle a man with a shoelace so he just nods, wordlessly and sits down, mind blank, hand tangled with Corey's, who's watching the both of them with doe-eyes. Oh my god, Corey mouths, and Theo catches it, narrowing his eyes into slits.
One word, Theo mouths back, one fucking word. Followed by some fairly violent hand gestures, promising things that Mason is one-hundred percent sure violate the Geneva convention.
“C‘mon, Theo, please?” Liam asks, voice small and pleading instead of flirty and taunting, and Theo frowns down at him, a little line between his brows as Liam rubs at the skin of Theo’s chest with the pad of his thumb absently, and Mason suddenly wildly intrusive. It’s too intimate for him to look at straight on, he feels like he has to avert his gaze.
“Hey,” Theo says, just as quietly, brow furrowed in concern, forehead pressed to the crown of Liam’s head, “hey, what’s going on with you?”
Mason glances at Corey, bewildered, to find the exact same bemusement reflected right back at him. We should go, Corey mouths at him, and Mason nods, about to step out, but--
“‘M sorry, I know—” Liam tries, still slurring his words, this time seemingly because of the fangs sprouting from his gums instead of the pseudo-narcotics in his veins, not meeting Theo’s eyes as he starts picking at his fingernails nervously, but with the claws, he starts to draw blood, “I know it can be a lot, like, too much—”
“It’s not,” Theo insists, vehement, and then, seemingly just for good measure, “shut up, I never said that.” It has a little bite to it, sharp, but Theo takes Liam‘s fidgeting hand in his own, tangling their fingers together. Which is an effective tactic of getting him to stop picking at the skin on his fingers, albeit not one Mason has tried before himself. Against Theo's hand, the claws retract immediately, leaving blunt human fingernails in their wake.
“You don’t have to—”
“You idiot, like anyone could make me—”
“Theo, come on, I can’t ask you to—”
“Shut up,” Theo finally snaps, furious. “Just shut the fuck up! Christ, don’t you you get it by now? Why won’t you let me—” he spits, before letting out a sharp, frustrated noise. And then, so quiet that Mason can barely hear it: “I’ll take care of you. Just let me—”
Liam finally turns to face Theo directly, expression staying solemn even as he brushes his fingers over Theo’s bare collarbone. He laughs, humorlessly. “It’s rotten work.” Mason doesn't notice his other hand has curled in on itself, claws buried into the meat of his palm, until he sees the slow trickle of blood dripping onto Theo's chest.
“Not to me,” Theo murmurs, his other hand coming up to press Liam’s curled-up hand against his bare skin right above his heart, to hold it there. “Not if it’s you.”
He carefully pulls each fingernail out of Liam's flesh, resulting in four wet-sounding noises, before pressing Liam's claws into his chest. "Put them away," he says quietly, and Liam shakes his head vigorously back and forth.
"I can't--" Liam protests, voice hoarse and half-shifted.
But Theo continues, undeterred, pressing Liam's claws harder into his chest, until the indents are visible in the flesh of his pectoral, until it breaks skin, a drop of blood drawn, and Liam makes a low, wounded noise, makes a move to jerk his hand away, but Theo doesn't let him, grabbing his wrist with his other hand, and holding it there. He presses harder.
"Theo, stop," Liam begs frantically, sounding desperate, thrashing to get away from him, but Theo's face stays impassive, "stop it, I can't--"
"Yeah, you can," Theo insists stubbornly, unrelenting, not even flinching as the second claw breaks skin, a rivulet of blood dribbling down from his palm, and Liam thrashes harder, a steady, pained whine echoing throughout the room. "You can, I know you can, c'mon, put 'em away."
"Let go," Liam growls, eyes flaring brighter, fangs getting sharper. "Fucking let go of me!" Blood dribbles down onto the sheets, dark and staining.
"Not a goddamn chance," Theo snaps back, his own face shifted as he presses Liam's claws into his chest so hard, Mason thinks they're going to go right through, shred the muscles to pieces, and Liam's hand is going to close right around his heart, before Theo's eyes flare bright and he snarls, "Calm down!" so loud that Mason swears the walls vibrate.
Liam roars back, retaliatory, just as loud, but then they both still, limbs tangled together, panting, blood drying on Theo's chest. A brief silence, in which no one moves a muscle.
Liam’s blunt human fingernails glint underneath the hospital fluorescents.
“Sorry," Liam whispers, pressing against the sluggishly-bleeding, already visibly healing indents in his chest with shaky fingers. "God, I'm--"
"Don't," Theo snaps, before deflating, and as he sags into the mattress below him, Liam moves with him, pressed against his chest, pressing his forehead to Theo's bare skin. "It's fine."
"It's not. You shouldn't always have to--"
"Liam," Theo snaps, voice cracking right down the middle, sounding tired, sounding desperate, sounding raw, and whatever Liam hears in his voice makes him quiet.
"It’s just,” Liam finally says, shaking his head, "s'making me see things, and, just hospitals, I can't—”
“I get it,” Theo assures, mouth pressed to the top of Liam’s head.
“You mean you’ll—?”
"Yeah," Theo says, sighing as he grimaces, shaking his head. "Yeah, what the fuck, fine."
His eyes flick to Mason and Corey, where they're awkwardly hovering in the doorway, and he startles, like he just realized they were there. It wouldn’t surprise Mason if he did.
"Get out," Theo says flatly, and Mason nods fervently, before managing to tug Corey away, shutting the door behind him.
Theo's are still black when they leave, like they were the second they entered -- like they were the entire time they've been standing in the doorway -- running down his hands, his arms, constant obsidian racing through his veins, pulling, pulling, pulling.
“What the fuck?” Mason breathes, as soon as they’re far enough. ”Babe, what the fuck?”
Corey snickers and swings their arms back and forth. “You knew there was something there, come on.”
“Yeah, but, like,” Mason manages, shaking his head, “I thought they were just barely friends.”
“Anchors,” Corey shrugs, squeezing Mason’s hand, and Mason squeezes back instinctively, ignoring the fucking backflips his stomach his doing, because that’s just embarrassing, they’ve been dating for months now, and Mason still feels his heart skip a beat every time Corey smiles at him. “It was inevitable.”
They make their way to one of the coffee machines nearby, and Mason resolves to give them some privacy for exactly as long as it takes for Corey to go completely still in the waiting room, eyes going wide.
“What,” Mason hisses, tugging on his hand, because he recognizes that head-tilt. “What’s going on, what'd you hear?”
Corey hushes him violently, and Mason lasts a grand total of five seconds before he starts tugging again.
"What?" Mason whispers heatedly, more violently this time. "Come on, tell me!"
"He's, uh," Corey manages, before slumping back into the wall with a surprised huff. "He's singing."
Mason blinks. "He's what?"
"Yeah," Corey says, shaking his head, disbelieving, a small smile playing on his face.
Corey hums an affirmative, and then, his grin gets wider. "You Are My Sunshine," he recognizes, and it shocks a laugh out of Mason, half-hysterical.
"Y'r the best," Liam mumbles, almost completely asleep, and Theo can't help the snort that escapes him.
"You don't even remember me," Theo replies, tone dry.
"'f course I do," Liam insists, eyes still shut, but brows furrowed in a way that Theo can feel against his bare collarbone, "mister 'people only feel one emotion at a time,'" Liam snorts softly, slapping Theo's abdomen blindly in what Theo assumes is supposed to be a friendly pat. "Fuckin' liar."
It almost startles laughter out of Theo, a snicker that he has to bite back because Liam's finally asleep, snuffling quietly, perfectly still, ear pressed right to Theo's heart.
It's not long before the rhythm of his slow, steady breaths lull Theo to sleep too.
Theo wakes up before Liam, because of course he does. Because Theo's used to existing quietly in the spaces between the walls, secretive and surreptitious, and wakes up almost silently, and Liam's used to taking up all the fucking space in the room, and wakes up with a groan so loud, Theo's pretty sure it served as a wake up call to all the patients in the entire hospital.
To be fair, though, he's got to have a hell of a pseudo-hangover.
Also, there's the fact that Liam's still completely on top of him, pinning him to the mattress, face buried into the crook of his neck, and hands--
"How's your arm?" Theo manages, around a yawn, just as Liam finally manages to crack an eye open.
Liam drags in a deep inhale, and lets out a gusty sigh that Theo feels on his neck. It takes more effort than it probably should, to quell the involuntary shudder.
"S'fine," Liam says, voice still sleep-raspy. "Head's fuckin' killing me, though."
Theo laughs softly. "Oh, I'll bet."
And that’s when Liam's head whips up, startled, like he forgot there was another person in the room with him -- another person in bed with him.
"What--" Liam manages, mouth flapping, opening and shutting rapidly, and Theo can almost see the buffering symbol in his eyes as Liam tries to shake the sleep from his mind. "What're you doing here?"
Theo can't help the way his mouth curls into a smirk, just as much as he can't help his response: "I was just asking myself the same thing."
Liam shoots him a fantastically unimpressed look, which Theo thinks is fucking bold, for someone who has his hands on Theo's--
"Also, it was kind of hard for me to leave through the front doors," Theo says in mock-solemnity, waiting for Liam's brows to pinch in confusion, in concern, one, two, three beats of silence, before: "what with my absolute dump truck of an ass."
It takes Liam exactly three seconds to register what Theo said, before his eyes go wide, and he groans loud, dropping his head back to Theo's chest, shaking with the laughter that Theo can't suppress.
"Oh my god," Liam breathes, visibly mortified. "I thought that was a dream." His face is so flushed, Theo can feel the heat of the blood rushing to it against his own skin, and genuinely can't remember ever being happier than this. Which is such an embarassing, sappy fucking thought he almost wants to shove Liam unceremoniously off the bed, pounding migraine at all, just to reestablish some boundaries.
He doesn't. Instead, he just lays there and lets Liam press his blushing face to Theo's bare skin and fucking enjoys it, like the goddamn loser he is these days.
"Did I really say that?" Liam whispers quietly, and Theo can't help but smile, amused.
He hums a confirmation. "In front of the whole pack," Theo replies, biting back another laugh. "And, y'know. Mrs. McCall--"
"--Argent, Derek Hale--"
"Oh my god, what the f--"
That last one has Liam make such a strangled, horrified noise that the laugh finally escapes Theo's throat, bright and amused, and Liam's dramatics almost make him roll straight off the bed. That is, if he didn’t have his hands anchored on Theo's--
"Dude, oh my god," Liam groans.
"Don't call me dude," Theo says, irritated, "when you still have your hands on my ass."
Because . . . Yeah. It's not Theo's fault, that's how he woke up -- Liam's face resting in the junction between his neck and his shoulder, his body nestled comfortably between Theo's sprawled legs, both his hands buried in the space between Theo's jeans and his briefs, one hand on each cheek.
Liam's painkiller-addled brain, which clearly hadn't taken note of their position until this very moment, finally appears to clear, as he blinks blankly at Theo for a second, and then squeezing, almost reflexively, before he seems to realize what he's doing and practically squeaks. And then, he really takes stock of their position -- Liam between his legs, Theo's bare chest -- and all but fucking shrieks.
"Are you done?" Theo asks, nonplussed, and Liam takes a second to just stare at him. "You're handsy when you're high."
Liam appears to take a second to himself, and then another, before finally appearing to shake himself out of it.
"Sorry, man," Liam says, and then, abruptly, "I mean, uh," Liam says, and then squints, before managing, hesitantly, ". . . Baby?"
Which just sets Theo off again, laughing so hard his abdominal muscles ache. "You dork."
"I'm not really good," Liam blurts, flustered, "with the whole endearment thing. It's not really something I do."
That has Theo freezing, narrowing his eyes skeptically, because Liam's heart stayed steady. This is, somehow, the truth. "The whole endearment thing," Theo echoes, disbelieving.
"Yeah," Liam replies, the top of his cheeks still painted bright red, as he avoids Theo's eyes.
(He does not, Theo notes, move his hands.)
"It's not really something you do," Theo says blankly, and Liam has the audacity to roll his eyes, the fucker. "Liam," he says, and then doesn't continue.
"Liam," he repeats, with more emphasis, trying to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling, trying to--
"Yeah, sweetheart, what?"
Theo quirks a brow, and Liam stills.
"Huh," Liam manages, eyes flicking down before he ducks his head, sheepish. "Wow, that's-- weird, I've literally never used that word in my life."
"Sure," Theo placates indulgently.
"I'm serious," Liam shoots back, laughing. "I swear, I've never--" he shakes his head, before letting out a disbelieving little huff.
There's a beat of silence, in which Theo works up the nerve to finally ask the question he's been dreading.
"How much--" Theo manages, before wincing at himself, at how fucking transparent his tone is, but it's too late now, he's already in too deep. "How much do you remember from last night?"
"Oh," Liam says, blinking up at him, before wincing. "Uh, all of it. Unfortunately. The stuff from before you took me off the painkillers is a little hazy, but."
"Ah," Theo manages faintly, before pasting on a wry smile and soldiering on. Quieter, tenative and hesitant, despite his best efforts to hide it: "Still like me now, that you're sober?"
Liam's brows shoot all the way up. "Do you still like me, now that I'm sober?" he asks, voice an octave higher than it was before. "Because I know you did a lot," he says suddenly, "Because I was, like-- and now that I'm not-- it's fine if you--"
"Liam," Theo says quietly, alarmed by the pace at which Liam's heart rate is increasing, and he tucks a loose lock of hair behind his ear, before moving down his neck to squeeze his shoulder. "Liam, breathe."
Liam drags in a ragged inhale, before looking Theo right in the eyes, and squaring his shoulders.
Brave, Theo thinks absently, as he admires the way the sunlight plays off of Liam's sleep-mussed hair, always so fucking brave.
"I said a lot last night," Liam says.
"You did," Theo agrees. And then: "Did you mean any of it?"
"I'm not in the habit of saying things I don't mean," he replies, which is just . . .
Theo quirks an unimpressed brow, and Liam sighs. "All of it," he promises, and Theo feels something warm unfurl in his chest, trying to back a smile, only to find that he can't, that it's too persistent for him to hide by worrying his teeth into the skin of his inner-cheek.
"Good," Theo says, a quiet, warm-from-the-inside kind of pleased, looking back up to meet Liam's eyes again. "Me too."
"Oh," is all Liam says in response, and Theo can feel Liam's breath on his face, but he can't get a read on him, doesn't know where they're supposed to go from here, what he's supposed to do next, and all he can think to do is nod nonsensically, and Liam's smiling, small and fond, and Theo doesn't know what to do with that, doesn't know what he's supposed to do here, he's never done this before, not like this, and Liam's face is so fucking close, eyes sweet and warm, and Theo wants to taste the red on his mouth, wants to bite it off, and the way Liam's looking at him is unbearable, it makes Theo's heart clench sweetly, painfully, in his chest, beating double-time and making the words stick in his throat, though, what words he would even say, he doesn't know, because he can't talk about it, the thing twisting and curling inside of him, making his heart skip beats and making him drive to hijacked hospitals in the dead of night, is too loud to put into words, and Theo would just fuck it up on the way out anyways, coat it in poison, because he's not good at this, not good at being gentle, not good at telling the truth, his truth, that sometimes home isn't four walls, it's two eyes and a steady, sure heartbeat, and Liam's been pressed up against his bare skin for hours now, but the look in Liam's eyes, like he sees him, chokes him, almost --steals the breath from his lungs and the oxygen from his brain, light headed and out-of-breath -- and it almost feels too intimate, being understood, and Theo thinks too much, he's thinking too much about this now, because he always spends too much time in his own head, that was his problem, not good enough with people, and he can't help the building urge to do something, to say something, to finally take his chance before the moment withers away, crumbles before his eyes, and he thinks he can feel it slipping through his fingers, and his thoughts are racing, racing like his sister's heart, pounding away in his chest, racing like the black in his veins for eight-hours straight as they slept, and everything's going too fast, all of a sudden, and Theo's going to be left behind, so, half-hysterical, completely, pathetically desperate, he opens his mouth to say something -- something, anything, even he doesn't know what and--
And Liam kisses him.
Slow and painfully sweet, steady and thorough and sure. A little messy, a lot enthusiastic, and just off-center enough to really break Theo's heart, as he brings both his hands up to carefully cup Liam's face, fingers spasming.
Time slows down, and Theo's mind goes blissfully quiet.
And Liam kisses him and kisses him and kisses him.
Later, much later.
Much, much, much later.
So much later that Theo's head feels muzzy -- and he wonders, absently as his mouth tingles, if this is what it feels like to be intoxicated -- Liam suddenly blurts, "I need to cancel something."
It takes them a minute to locate Liam's phone, stuck beneath the two cushions of the chair next to the bed, before Liam finally retrieves it with a triumphant noise, and then takes great efforts to make sure Theo doesn't see it, keeping the phone conspicuously tilted away from him in a way Theo's sure Liam thinks is surreptitious, but Theo's not about to say anything, not when he can see it's reflection perfectly well in the glass of the picture frame behind him.
He watches patiently as Liam navigates to Amazon, and then proceeds to violently choke on his saliva, as he watches Liam hit 'Cancel order'.
On a ring.
Liam catches the noise, whips around, follows Theo's line of sight, and abruptly understands, turning back to Theo with his eyes narrowed threateningly.
His mouth is still beautifully swollen, hair a mess, pupils dilated (not from supernatural drugs this time, thank god) and it takes Theo a second to shake himself out of it.
"You told Mason you were playing Angry Birds," Theo says, blinking dumbly.
"I lied," Liam huffs.
"You--" Theo manages, blinking quickly, trying to process, "you--"
"Shut up," Liam says brightly, "shut up, shut up, shut up, I was very high, and also very injured, and it seemed like a good idea at the time."
Theo breathes in shakily. Blinks at him some more, mind blank. "You--"
Liam kisses him again. As far as distraction tactics go, it's incredibly effective, because Theo forgets about it entirely as Liam licks into his mouth.
Eventually, they end up wrestling for the phone, because Theo can't help his curiosity, he wants to see what doped-up Liam thought seemed like a good idea at the time, but Liam puts up a good fight, a mortified blush spreading down his neck that Theo wants to lick.
Liam's stronger but Theo's been doing this for longer. He has him pinned on his stomach, Theo sitting astride his back, as Liam grumbles, disgruntled, and Theo's about to click into it, when he's distracted by the barrage of notifications.
"Your friends have a gambling addiction," Theo says.
"Mmm," Liam replies unintelligibly, before finally letting the skin he's been worrying between his teeth go, mouth unlatching from Theo's neck, before he brushes his thumb across his, pressing into the bruise, as if to make sure it stays there. "Better get used to it," Liam murmurs against his skin, "they're your friends now, too."
And Theo can't help the horror from flashing across his face, scandalized.
Liam laughs so hard that he actually falls off the bed, this time, no ass-cheek to conveniently grab onto and anchor him, because he doesn't deserve one, the shit.
Liam laughs, loud and bright, and Theo doesn’t even try to bite back the helpless smile that results. He lets it spread across his face, uninhibited.