After everything Theo has been through, after everything he’d done, he always imagined that one day, the pain would end. He thought that if he could escape his family, the dread doctors, even hell, that he’d be free. But what he hadn’t anticipated was the aftermath of everything he’d done to escape.
Theo had never thought homelessness would end up being his freedom but it did. And it wasn’t that bad at all for him. He managed to get food and stay clean most of the time. As far as living conditions went, he’d survived worse. What had him suffering was all in his head.
The guilt, the loneliness, the memories: they all haunted him everytime he turned around. When he was out and about, he found himself distracted enough that none of that really mattered if he didn’t let it. But when he was alone, in the quiet and in the dark, his attention drifted inward to the pain of his past and went to dark, lonely places.
As he walked along the road to get back to his truck, that place got closer. Theo knew that if he couldn’t keep himself out of that place, it meant he was weak and sensitive. Those were two things Theo had never allowed himself to be from a very young age in order to escape and survive.
Brushing off those feelings, he drove a few miles down the road and found a spot to park for the night. He sighed, feeling a some of the tension fall out of his shoulders and then reached over into his passenger seat to grab the block of cheese he’d just bought. He pulled a large pocket knife from his center console and used it to cut himself a slice, feeling slightly content with himself as he ate his dinner.
He halfhazardly sliced and munched on the chese while it sprinkled rain outside of his truck. It was moments like that when he felt like he was normal. He didn’t feel like he had to hide anything. He didn’t have to think about his past or worry about whatever it was he was going to worry about that day.
He could just sit there and think about things that didn’t have to do with himself while he ate. The rain helped keep his mind on nature. He rarely let himself think about the natural beauties the world gifted him. But when he did, it was like he’d never had problems of any kind in his life. He listened to the rain, smelled it even.
Until it stopped.
The feeling was muted now. And a sharp pain in the palm of his hand snapped it right out of him. His eyes darted down at his hand, a deep gash across his palm from his knife, the block of cheese discarded on the seat between his legs.
His mind went blank as he watched the blood drop from his hands, a painful reminder of all the people that were dead because of him. He sat there silently, just watching it drip until he pulled himself out of it enough to put his cheese back in the grocery sack. Then he realized it was pointless to even keep it anymore since his blood was all over it.
Theo looked back at his hands, one dripping blood, the other still holding the knife. His vision blured and he realized it was because he was crying. He let the tears fall freely since neither of his hands were free. One was covered in blood and the other holding the culprit. Sure, he could set down the knife and wipe them away.
But it wasn’t enough blood.
It wasn’t enough pain.
Theo was confused as he just stared, doing nothing to stop the bleeding. He’d always had dark thoughts but he’d never once thought about this. The thought, the feeling… it came out of nowhere and he couldn’t stop himself.
His right hand reached over, steadily placing the blade on over his forearm. It rested there for a second as Theo tried to change his mind. He needed to stop but, in that moment, he could find a reason to stop and he could only find a million reasons why it needed to be done. So a shaky breath escaped his lips as he slid the blade across his arm, a sigh of relief once it was over.
The blood ran down the side of his arm and dripped on the gray leather seats beneath him. His tears would drip with it. His body trembled with sobs as he went through every reason in his mind he needed to do this.
He deserved this.
He let out a growl of frustration when he found the knife pressed against his skin again. He wasn’t strong enough.
He was weak.
Everytime the knife ran across the skin, Theo felt a wave of relief hit him as more blood was spilled, for Scott, for Liam, for his failures… for Tara. Tara deserved every once of his blood and he wasn’t sure if there was anything he could do to keep her from getting it.
“Why are we looking for Theo, again?” Parrish asked as himself and the sheriff drove around town looking for the young man’s truck late at night.
“Because,” Stilinksi said. “Deputies keep saying he’s been showing up all over town, sleeping in his truck. I just wanna check up on him real quick and see if we can get him a place to stay or at least a better place to park for the night.”
“So we’re gonna let him go even after what he did to everyone?” Parrish questioned.
“As much as I despise the kid, he has the right to a second chance,” the sheriff said. “And I trust Liam when he said he would take responsibility of the guy’s actions. So far, neither of them have let me down. This is my way of applauding both of them.”
Parrish hummed as they drove on for a few minutes and found the blue truck parked by the side of the road with the engine still running. “You stay here, alright,” Stilinski said unbuckling. “I’ll wave you over if for some reason I need you.”
The sheriff casually moseid on up to the driver’s side window, after checking the backseat with the flashlight. When he peered into the front seat his heart nearly stopped in horror. Theo looking at him helplessly with a knife in one hand while his left arm was soaked in blood. Stilinski acted fast, waving Parrish over and yanking the door open all at once. “Put the knife on the dash board,” he said firmly.
Theo slowly looked down at his hand. It was as if he didn’t even know how to move it anymore. Suddenly, Theo dropped the knife before sending the sheriff a panicked looked. “I’m sorry,” he sobbed.
“It’s ok,” Stilinski said reaching in and turning off the ignition before looking at Theo directly in the eyes. “Did you do this to yourself?” The sheriff felt his jaw stiffen as Theo slowly looked down at his arm that was drenched in blood and becoming distant. “Did you do that?” he repeated.
Theo’s voice was weak as he replied. “Yes.” And then choked on a sob.
“Why?” the sheriff asked as Parrish called for a medic in the distance after seeing Theo’s condition. When Theo didn’t answer he repeated himself in a softer tone. “Theo, why did you do this?”
“Because I had to,” is all he had to say before he started sobbing. After all those reasons he’d given himself, that was all he could come up with.
Stilinski got Theo to get out of his seat and to the tailgate of the truck. With how much blood he’d lost, Theo nearly fainted into the sheriff’s arms before being hoisted up and wrapped in a blanket. He immediately started sputtering apologies as Parrish started cleaning up the blood while they waited on the paramedics.
Once they arrived one asked, “Did you do anything else?” Earning a confused blank stare from Theo. “Did you take any medications?”
Theo shook his head. “No. I was just eating my cheese when I accidentally cut myself and I…” Theo felt a surge of anger course though his whole body and he didn’t know where it came from but it was gone as soon as it came. “I couldn’t stop myself.”
“Your cheese?” she asked as she continued to patch him up. “What kind of cheese?”
“Sharp cheddar,” Theo answered, unable to see how that was necessary for her to do her job.
“Oo, boy. You makin’ me hungry,” she said before laughing. “Honey, Imma wrap this gauz around your arm now, alright?” Once she finished up to took a step back. “Alright, hun, can you stand up for me? Let’s get you on the stretcher,” she said as another paramedic had it ready.
Theo agreed, hopping down from the tailgate. With how much blood he’d lost his head spun and he couldn’t remember where the stretcher was. Theo felt a pair of strong arms lifting him up suddenly even though he didn’t recall falling. The last thing he remembered before coming to in the ambulance was Liam’s face hovering over him.
The ride to the hospital was quiet. It consisted of the paramedics talking to him to keep him awake while they got fluids pumped into him with an IV. Once he was there, he was surrounded by faces and voices and smells. All of which only triggered those visions he had of tara and the dread doctors until he saw Liam’s face again. “Liam,” the name stumbled out of his lips. “You’re here.”
“You’re the first person he’s even acknowledged in the last half hour,” Melissa said, hands on her hips. When had she gotten there? She looked down at Theo. “I gotta stitch you up, bub?”
Theo scanned the room for any other presences but it was just the three of them now. He shook his head at her. “I’ll heal. There’s no point.”
Melissa sighed, looking at Theo sympathetically. “Theo, you’ve been through a lot tonight. I think you’re asking a lot of your body to heal itself. Let me stitch it up so that you can rest and work on your heart, ok?” she said sweetly, patting his chest gently which was apparently a bad idea.
Theo’s eyes widened. “What’s wrong with my heart?”
Melissa froze before pulling her hand away and slipping on some gloves. “Your physical heart is perfectly healthy, Theo. I’m talking about the heart that’s in your head.” She started stitching up the gashes on his arm like it was the simplest thing in the world while Theo watched.
“You mean my brain?”
“I’m pretty sure your brain is healthy too,” she said as she continued without looking up. “I’m talking about your mental and emotional health.”
“I think I’m ok,” Theo said, voice still weak and tired from passing out twice.
“Honey, if you were ok, you wouldn’t have done this to yourself,” she said softly, the sympathy turning into empathy as she looked up at him. “Theo, you need to talk to someone about what’s going on in your head. Don’t give up yet. Don’t stop fighting.”
Theo sighed so tired he felt like crying. But he graoned as Melissa poked at his skin more. His head was pounding and his heart was unsteadily palpitating the longer he tried to stay awake. “If my brain and my heart are so healthy then why do I feel like shit?”
“The paramedics think you may have lost two liters or more of blood,” Liam finally spoke from his spot over in the corner. Theo’s attention was drawn to him now, standing with his arms crossed, making short paces every once and while, purposefully trying not to see Mrs. McCall poke needles into his arm. “Even with your healing powers, that’s a lot to recover from.”
“Hm,” Theo hummed tiredly.
“Stilinski had good timing,” Melissa commented.
At that, Theo felt something in his chest tighten. If he hadn’t been found, he’d probably be dead or in a coma by now. And it was all because something just triggered him and he couldn’t find the strength to stop. “Yeah. I’m glad he found me. I just couldn’t stop. There was something wrong with me… there is something wrong with me.”
“You’re hurting, Theo,” Melissa said. “That’s what’s wrong.”
Theo blinked tiredly. “So this isn’t normal?”
Melissa chuckled and shook her head. “If this job has taught me anything, it’s that there is no such thing as normal.”
This was all so much to process, to think about. Theo had always been good at puzzles and the dread doctors made sure he was good at strategy but this… this Theo couldn’t figure out. This wasn’t the kind of problem he knew how to solve. Theo his eyes tear up again without his permission. He was just so weak, he couldn’t control it anymore. Everything was out of control. He needed help. “What am I supposed to do?” he asked, voice so weak and scared that it broke Melissa’s heart. Theo’s body shook as the panic settled in and he cried.
“Honey, you don’t need to worry about it, alright?” she said comfortingly. “We’re working things out as we speak. We’re not just gonna fix you up, set you free and expect you to figure it out on your own after this. Arrangements are being made. We’re gonna give you options.”
Theo’s panic started to subside as the news settled in. Everything was so hard to understand. But he had to at least try and be reasonable so he nodded and let her finish up all the stitches while Liam continued to pace and make anxious glances at Theo and towards the window to the hallway. “What’s the point of you bein’ here if you’re just gonna stand there, pacing?”
Liam tensed, his lips tightening in anger as he stalked up to the side of Theo’s bed, opening his mouth to say something before he scoffed and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation. Melissa obviously sensed the tension between them as she muttered an, “Oh boy. Here we go.”
“Are you mad at me?” Theo asked, that scared, hurt little boy side of him tucking itself away while that big, bag chimera snarled in annoyance for a second. “You’re mad at me for hurting so fucking bad that I almost took my own life without a second thought?”
“I’m not mad at you,” Liam snapped. His eyes settled on Theo’s, all red and puffy. “I’m mad at myself, Theo, because you’re my responsibility and this happened to you on my watch. I let this happen to you,” Liam said, voice shaking with emotion, tears begging to roll down his cheeks.
“Alright. I think that’s it,” Melissa said nonchalantly as she finished the last stitch as if Liam and Theo weren’t having a serious discussion. She let out a breath of relief and stood up. “You two play nice,” she warned them before leaving. Obviously, she was concerned about more damage being done to Theo’s heart but she had to trust that Liam was going to heed her advice and be gentle.
Once the door shut, Liam continued. “When you do stupid shit like this, it’s on me.-”
“No, it’s not,” Theo said because it had to be true. “I’m responsible for myself.”
“I’m telling you how I feel,” Liam said, firmly, looking Theo dead in the eyes. “I feel like it’s my fault for not keeping a better eye on you.”
“But you don’t have to do that,” Theo said.
“When I pulled you from the ground, the only reason you weren’t sent back was because I convinced everyone that you were my responsibility. I took ownership of your shit for you until you did it yourself,” Liam said, one of those tears finally falling down his cheeks. “I did it then because it needed to be done but now… Now I care about you, Theo. And when you care about someone, you don’t want to see them suffering alone. So, maybe it’s not my fault that you’re here but I feel like it is.”
“And I feel like it’s all my fault,” Theo argued, his defenses trying to run high but buckling under the pressure of his emotions. “I feel-I feel…” Theo squeezed his eyes shut and a couple tears ran down his cheeks before dripping onto the hospital gown which he hadn’t noticed he was wearing until that moment. Theo sucked in an unsteady breath and looked Liam in the eyes painfully. “I feel, Liam.”
The desperation in Theo’s voice broke Liam. He couldn’t play the voice of reason anymore, not the way Theo did so well when he was all messed up in the head with anger. All he could do was comfort him and hold him. It never occured to Liam that that might be just what he needed.
The way Theo leaned into the touch, seeking the warmth and comfort told Liam that was probably all Theo needed in that moment. There were probably a lot of moments before then when Theo needed that too but he never got it. It all added up to this, a cry for help that he was lucky anyone heard even if he didn’t realize he was doing it.
“You don’t have to feel alone,” Liam promised him. He sat up, looking down at Theo both of them still recovering from being sobbing messes. “Okay?”
“I want you to stay with me,” Liam said quietly yet leaving little room for argument before he elaborated a little. “Like to live with me and my parents. They’re gonna give you other options but I just thought you should know that I want you to be with me.”
And those words meant a lot to Theo. That Liam actually wanted him and cared about him was a hard concept to grasp but it was the only thing he wanted to reach for at this point. Liam was his only chance at survival now. He wasn’t even safe from himself anymore. Theo swallowed down the lump in his throat and replied, “Ok.”
“I want to keep an eye on you and it’s not because I don’t trust you. It’s because I care about you-”
“I know,” Theo said as a very faint but genuine smile stretched across his lips. “You’ve made that kinda obvious.” Theo glanced at their hands, fingers interlocked firmly but gently. Liam followed Theo’s line of sight and held back a sheepish grin that Theo was finding amusing enough smile with his eyes. That smile pushed the weights off of Liam’s shoulders because he knew Theo was going to be ok. A large burst of air left his lungs as he smiled his own smile and relaxed his posture. Theo was going to be ok.
Both boys tensed when a knock on the door sounded before it cracked open. The Sheriff, Melissa, and Scott walked in. Theo was honestly a bit surprised to see Scott there but… he shouldn’t be. It was a very Scott thing to show up like that. “Scott,” Theo greeted him.
“Hey, Theo,” Scott said offering a wave, chosing to ignore how Liam was staring at Theo with puppy dog eyes. “How are you doing?”
“Well, considering I almost killed myself a little while ago I’m actually doing pretty good,” Theo said.
“Do you think you’re ready to talk options about where to go from here?” Melissa asked, returning to her seat by his bed, the sheriff taking a stand behind her and leaning his arms on the chair.
“I mean, the sooner I can get out of this place the better,” Theo said, a hint of disgust in his tone which… was actually a sign that he was starting to returning to his normal self.
“We just wanted you to know that we’re here for you,” Scott said from his spot at the foot of Theo’s bed. The alpha had always had a very genuine presence but he seemed a little shaken. Could Scott have been affected by this as much as Liam? “Think of us as your family. I know we don’t exactly have the best history with each other but I want that to change and I think it can.”
Scott was right. The people that were staring at him had probably hated his guts not that long ago. He searched each of their eyes as if he could tell if they were being straight with him until he landed on Liam’s eyes and did a double take. Liam was still staring at him with those puppy dog eyes. “Would you stop staring at me like that?” Theo snapped and everyone held back snickers at his reaction to being stared at with doe eyes. Theo’s head snapped around so he could look back at them. “I’m sorry but I find it hard to believe when three of the people I’ve hurt the most and hated me want me to think of them as family.”
“I’m pretty sure we both know whoever that was that hurt us is still trapped in the ground,” the Stilinski said and both McCall’s smiled and nodded at Theo to confirm the sheriff’s speculation.
Theo then found himself glancing at Liam who was still looking at him with those damn eyes. He sighed. “God, Liam. Would you relax? I’m gonna stay with you.”
Scott sighed in disappointment. “You already told him?”
Liam blinked at the alpha unapologetically before… apologizing? “Sorry.” They were going to give him his options all at once together so he didn’t have any pressure to say yes to any one person but it was to late for that.
“Anyways,” Melissa continued. “We wanted to give offer you a few housing options with the condition that you attend counseling sessions…” Melissa went on with the sheriff and Scott interrupting every few sentences to add something. Theo just sat an listened. That was all he needed to do, all they expected from him as far as he knew.
As hard as it was for Theo to trust them, he knew how Scott and his friends were. They didn’t do the emotional manipulation like he’d been accustomed to all his life. They genuinely wanted to help people. So Theo accepted it. He accepted that these people were probably going to be a bigger part of his life from now on and he was going to have to rely on them.
And if Theo had learned anything from his big bad chimera days with the Dread Doctors, it was that anyone who messed with Scott and his friends usually didn’t fair well in the end and it was far better to be on their side anyways.
He wasn’t going to be alone anymore. He didn’t have to suffer all by himself. It would be hard to get used to but he had to let himself turn to people for help. People like sheriff Stilinski who helped him without question when he’d been about to die. People like Mrs. McCall who stitched him up even though he tried to convince her it wasn’t necessary. People like Scott who just showed up unannounced to make sure you alright.
People like Liam who cared about him and did things for him even when others told him not to. Who would end up accidentally holding his hand without realizing it and end up staring at him with the most ridiculous doe eyes for minutes without blinking.
Theo felt something in his heart rest peacefully. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy but with someone other than himself caring about whether he survived or not, living would be worth it.