Previous: "Renewal"

Next: "Adjust"

Series 4 Episode 1

Jolting awake, Noah was immediately disorientated. He felt like he had been asleep for a long time, but there was no way of knowing just how long. The unfamiliar room he was in didn’t have a clock. It was decorated with gaming posters and messy all over, and he wasn’t restrained. He couldn’t remember how he got there, but he knew it couldn’t be all that bad. He was comfortable at least.

He reached into his pocket for his phone – it as still there, much to his relief. The time said 08:37. Monday morning. How the heck was it Monday? The last thing he remembered was Friday night. He leapt out of bed, his lengthy auburn locks resting messily part-way down his chest.

He saw himself in the mirror next to him. His eyes glowed a deep, dark shade of red. Then he remembered. The Téras. Dylan’s bedroom. A bite from both alphas. Noah agreed to it – he couldn’t be surprised, but his eye colour scared him. It was a way darker colour than Dylan’s own eyes.

He checked his hands – no signs of any wounds. Did they heal already? He ran downstairs terrified, noticing Freddie in the living room.

“What’s going on?” Noah queried, distressed.

“You’re okay, you’re safe, don’t panic,” Freddie encouraged, “You need to keep cool or this is going to be more difficult than it needs to be.”

Noah felt anything but calm. He had to get fresh air. Noah ran for the front door, feeling the need to escape the confines of the walls. He couldn’t focus his mind, everything in front of him looking way more distorted than they should be. He had to get home, to safety, and fast.

The atmosphere could be cut with a knife. Dylan felt so embarrassed. His mum had seen Chase’s Tumblr post – she knew everything. What made it even worse was the awkward silence. Everyone else at the table knew already – Jono, Lily, their parents, Ed and Josh. She was the last person to find out, and this was not the way Dylan wanted it to be.

“It can’t be true, it’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as werewolves,” Caroline nervously laughed. Nobody said a word.

“I think we had better go home,” Ed intervened.

“No, I think we need some answers,” Caroline looked around, “Why am I the only one surprised by this?”

“Not here,” Ed said more firmly.

“It doesn’t seem to be any sort of secret,” Caroline was getting frustrated. Dylan hated it. He wanted the ground to swallow him up. Jono squeezed his hand, sensing his discomfort, “Come on. Give me answers.”

Dylan glanced to Josh. He looked just as flushed as Dylan felt. They couldn’t escape. Dylan gave in; standing up and letting his inner wolf display itself.

“Mom, this is me,” Dylan looked into her eyes, not hiding any of his wolf aspects. Glowing red eyes, fangs, claws, extra hair across his face. All of it was on show.

He knew he looked ugly. This was never going to be welcomed with open arms. However, Dylan was never one to be ashamed of his identity. He knew who he was, and never felt like he should hide it from anyone. Why should this be any different? “I am a werewolf.”

“Me too,” Josh shifted too. The two of them stood side-by-side at the top of the table.

Caroline was stunned into silence. Dylan watched as a tear slid down her cheek. She ran out, too scared to face her sons any longer. It broke his heart.

Beep beep beep. The alarm sounded. Dylan was already awake though. He hadn’t slept much over the weekend. He’d been lying in bed, playing out the events of Saturday night on repeat in his mind. He wished he wasn’t dwelling, but he couldn’t help it.

Things at home couldn’t have been much worse; his mum hadn’t said a word to him or Josh the whole weekend. In fact, she had barely left her bedroom. Ed had tried to talk her down, but she was distraught. Dylan tried talking to her from behind the door, but he got ignored. Never had he felt more distant from his mum. She reacted similarly to her dad’s death, but she never shut him out – quite the opposite in fact.

Dylan rolled out of bed. He was so not ready for school. He ruffled his hair, not really caring about the end result, the mane was messy at the best of times anyway. He flung some clothes on and headed downstairs. The spring in his step had gone on vacation.

Ed was making breakfast, but Dylan wasn’t hungry.

“Are you sure you’re up to school, kid?” Ed questioned.

“Nothing will be achieved here,” Dylan sighed.

“She’ll come round, I’m sure. It’s quite a shock,” Ed assured. Maybe he was right, but it felt like Dylan’s entire relationship with his mum was reset to step one. It felt horrible.

Coming back to school was disorientating for Lily. George had picked her up, thankfully, but she didn’t really feel like interacting with anybody else. All she could see was Taylor, her pretty face becoming a pile of dust at the hands of the Téras. Her potential vanishing in an instant.

Furthermore, she had no idea what sort of reception she would get. It was fair to say her classmates weren’t exactly nice to her or the rest of the pack. She looked at George – he seemed so chilled. Nothing seemed to faze him. She wished she could be a little more like that.

As soon as they arrived, they want to their usual bench. As always, Yasmin was there already.

“You look how I feel,” Yasmin said as soon as she looked up.

“Is it that obvious?” Lily nervously laughed.

“Come on, most people will have forgotten everything by now. Mrs. Johnson’s coming down hard on anyone who says a word anyway,” George reassured. He was so optimistic. Nothing was ever that easy.

Lily didn’t want to talk about it anymore though. It had been on her mind all weekend, now she needed some normality.

“Hey, where’s Freddie?” Lily wondered.

“Looking after Noah. He’s been out stone cold all weekend,” George informed.

“That’s not a good sign, surely?” Lily wondered.

“Dylan recovered way quicker,” Yasmin added, “I’m kinda worried. There’s a chance he might not make it. He becomes a werewolf, or he dies.”

“It’s been three days though. If he was going to die, surely he would have by now?” George reasoned. All of a sudden, Lily heard a bang, and jumped out of her skin. Drew had slammed his textbook down on the table in front of her.

“You’re a bit jumpy today,” Drew remarked, as insensitively as ever.

“Don’t you dare,” Lily scolded, before storming off. She wasn’t in the mood for smug comments like that. It was making her difficult day way worse than necessary.

Driving like crazy, Freddie had to get to school. Noah could easily have been heading that way, or if not, he would be able to recruit some help in finding him.

Freddie remembered the way he felt as soon as he had been bitten. He had an uncontrollable feeling of rage running through every fibre of his body. Noah was surely feeling the same. Although he now knew he would be able to defend himself, putting some of his worries to bed, he was still a loose cannon.

Considering those feelings, he would likely have gone somewhere familiar. Somewhere safe. It felt like a secret mission for Freddie; he had to make sure no teacher saw him. He had phoned in sick to keep an eye on Noah, and to keep Dylan from worrying any further. He had heard about Caroline finding out – Josh had been ranting and venting to him – and to hear that Noah was missing was the last thing either of them needed.

He parked up his car and ran straight for the bench.

“Have you seen Noah?” Freddie asked, flustered. He was still wearing his dressing gown, and could see Drew was trying not to laugh. He and George were the only two there, so at least his embarrassment was limited.

“Isn’t he with you?” George wondered. A stupid question.

“Do you think I would be stood here looking like a twat if he was?” Freddie sighed.

“Come on, we’ve got to find him,” George stood up, with Drew reluctantly following. Freddie knew exactly where to check next: Noah’s house.

Although he was more than content to walk to school, Dylan was waiting for Jono to arrive and give both he and Josh a lift. He had insisted on taking them in, quite why Dylan didn’t know as Jono was well aware of how much he enjoyed his walking. Either way, it was a nice sentiment and one he very much appreciated.

He and Josh sat side-by-side on the doorstep. Nether had said a word, but they knew how each other felt. Dylan felt sorry for Josh – just as he had found a happy home it all came crashing down. He couldn’t catch a break.

“I’m sorry,” Dylan uttered. He felt a sense of responsibility over Josh.

“It’s not your fault, shut up,” Josh replied instantly. He paused for a few seconds, “It’s more my fault than yours.”

“Give over,” Dylan instantly replied.

“It is though. I bit you, you wouldn’t have this problem without me,” Josh sighed. Dylan felt awful. In a way, he wasn’t wrong, but he never for even a second blamed Josh for what happened.

“You could never have known this would happen,” Dylan consoled, “And I have no regrets.”

“But she’s your mom,” Josh added. He wasn’t seeing Dylan’s point of view very easily.

“Now she’s yours too,” Dylan reminded, “You’re just as much a part of the family as me.”

“If they still adopt me, that is,” Josh groaned. Dylan knew his mum. She worked so hard to ensure she could keep every promise she made. There was no way she would go back on her word.

“You’re my brother. That will never change,” Dylan put his arm around him for a hug. Although he and Josh were only a matter of months apart in age, Dylan took his role as big brother seriously.

Jono’s car pulled up on the curb outside the house just as they broke up the hug. Dylan headed round to the passenger seat, while Josh hopped in the back.

“Hope you’ve got your walking shoes on!” Jono grinned devilishly.

“Huh? You’ve picked us up dude, we don’t need to walk,” Dylan replied, trying to decode what Jono said.

“You guys need a break. Call it a favour,” Jono smiled. Dylan really was not in the mood for school, so he wasn’t going to complain at a little detour.

Frustrated, Lily ran and sat inside the newsroom. She wanted to be on her own. She couldn’t cope with school after all. It was too much. She pulled the blinds down and made sure nobody would spot her in there. It was too soon for her to go back after all.

Lily sat herself down on the floor against the far wall, facing the door. Her eyes shot around the remarkably tidy newsroom, undoubtedly kept tidy by Dylan rather than her messy brother.

Then she spotted, in front of the door. Taylor. Her silky blonde wisps of hair looked as flawless as always, resting elegantly on her shoulders. How was she there? She looked ghostly, white and pale. Lily knew it was her mind playing tricks on her. It had to be. She looked so real, though.

“It’s all your fault,” Taylor said to Lily, her voice echoing.

“No, I couldn’t have saved you,” Lily yelled back, feeling sick.

“It’s all your fault, Lily Chadwick,” Taylor repeated. Lily closed her eyes, curling up into a ball on the floor.

“No, no,” Lily kept saying to herself. She couldn’t let herself take the blame, but why did she feel so guilty?

“Lily?” she heard a voice ask. It sounded like Yasmin. Another figure of her imagination? She felt a soft hand being placed on her shoulder. Lily glanced up. Yasmin was right by her side. Taylor was gone.

“Where did she go?” Lily worriedly questioned, looking all around her.

“Where did who go?” Yasmin gently asked.

“Taylor. She was here, I promise,” Lily knew she sounded crazy, but she had to tell Yasmin the truth.

“I believe you,” Yasmin reassured, “What did she say?”

“She said it was my fault,” Lily admitted, “If that’s what she’s thinks…”

“No,” Yasmin interjected immediately, “It wasn’t your fault, and don’t think for a second that it was.”

“I should have stopped it,” Lily cried. She felt incredibly overwhelmed by everything in her head.

“How? You couldn’t have broken a grip that strong,” Yasmin reminded, “You need to forgive yourself. That might take time, and school’s probably not the best place, but I’m here for you. We all are.”

Lily nodded. Perhaps it was too early for school. She wasn’t quite as strong as she thought, and that was okay.

Bursting through Noah’s front door, Freddie was nervous. There were no cars outside, so at least his dad wasn’t home, but worryingly, it seemed to be pretty quiet all round. Where had Noah gone? If he wasn’t here, Freddie was out of ideas. He didn’t know Noah well enough to guess where else he could be.

“I’ll go upstairs,” Drew decided. Freddie used his nose to guide him. Noah’s scent was definitely there, but it was weak. He hadn’t been at home in a few days.

“Can you get a scent?” Freddie called up to Drew.

“No,” Drew replied, strangely delayed. It was unlike Drew not to reply straight away, he was usually on the ball more than anyone.

“He’s not here, we’ve got to get back out there,” George hurried.

“But where? We could search the whole of Crystalshaw and still never get to him,” Freddie reminded.

“Maybe he’s okay. He might have needed a breather,” George pondered.

“You didn’t see him. He looked out of it, just like me when I got bitten,” Freddie recalled.

“I guess I didn’t notice,” George’s body language regressed, as if he felt guilty.

“I didn’t exactly make it obvious,” Freddie admitted.

“I know, but mom would have noticed in an instant,” George sighed.

“You’re not mom, and that’s okay,” Freddie replied, “You’re only a year older than me, dude. Everything you do for me is super cool.”

“Things are kinda tight, I won’t lie,” George admitted.

“I better start job-hunting, then,” Freddie smiled. He had been meaning to suggest this before. Now was the perfect chance.

“You’re the best, bro,” George pulled him in for a hug.

“Back at ya,” Freddie smiled, “Don’t expect any more compliments this year, though.” George chuckled.

“At least someone’s having a nice time,” Drew muttered as he bounded back downstairs, “We’ve got to go. Now.” Freddie knew better than to argue with Drew.

Shoving the driver door shut, Jono was pretty satisfied at how well he had parked. The space in the forest car park was pretty narrow, but he navigated brilliantly with the help of his glamorous assistant Dylan. The two of them made for the best team going. Josh sort of ruined the dynamic, commenting on Jono’s parking ability, but Jono was used to his style.

As for their day out, Jono didn’t have much planned; he’d packed some snacks and drinks but otherwise, he had only planned to chill and take a quiet, calming stroll in the forest. Dylan and Josh needed a distraction from everything going on, so school could wait. As much as Jono was often a model student, even he knew it wasn’t always the best place for a positive state of mind.

He had charged his phone to one-hundred percent, ensuring it could play songs from Spotify all day long without running out. Feeling suitably planned, Jono led the way into the forest, venturing along one of the pedestrianised routes.

“Do you have any idea where you’re going?” Josh laughed.

“Not really,” Jono admitted, “But the keyword of the day is spontaneity.” He styled it out well. Dylan quietly laughed at his geeky big word moment. Jono desperately wanted to plant a huge kiss on his lips, but had to make sure that Josh wasn’t feeling left out. Somehow, he didn’t think Josh would be into the kissing part anyway.

“So, we’re just gonna be walking…and walking…and walking,” Josh exaggerated, trying to sound dramatic. He wasn’t really grasping the concept of the day.

“No, we’re going to an arcade. You know, the magic one in the middle of the forest,” Dylan teased.

“Hey,” Josh chuckled, “I was being serious. What are we actually doing?”

“I figured you guys needed a diversion,” Jono explained.

“You weren’t wrong to be fair,” Dylan added, “I mean, it’s not exactly been my favourite weekend ever.”

“It’s not exactly been my favourite life ever,” Josh added, “That doesn’t quite make sense, but you get my point.”

“It’s not all bad. I mean, look at us now,” Dylan reminded, “I’d have laughed at the idea of even being friendly with you not long ago.”

“Probably not long until I’m shafted across LA again,” Josh sighed.

“That won’t happen,” Dylan assured, “I won’t let it, and Ed won’t either.” Jono felt awful for them. His own parents seemed to take the news of their werewolf secret better than Caroline had. Maybe it’s different when it’s your own kid.

“Do you remember when you first told me?” Jono tried to shift the topic away slightly.

“I think I’m still drying off from that rain,” Dylan laughed, “How could I forget? One of the scariest moments of my life.”

“When I kissed you that night, I pledged a commitment to you. I didn’t care that you were a werewolf. I just cared that you were honest,” Jono replied, “Your mom will realise that. Even if I have to tell her myself, but it won’t come to that.”

“I hope you’re right,” Dylan sighed, “I never thought this would feel worse than coming out.”

Dylan had a point. Either way, neither fact changed who Dylan was, but they had shaped him into becoming the fine lad he was now. The sooner Caroline realised that, the better.

Travelling in the passenger seat of Freddie’s car, Drew was feeling uncomfortable. Freddie was capable of tracking scents, but he was well aware that Freddie knew Drew had the better sense of smell.

The problem was that it was past tense. Drew could barely smell what was directly in front of him. He didn’t want the others to know about his loss of werewolf powers; it would be a weakness and they would surely see him as disposable. He was the most distant in the pack at the best of times.

Some of it was his own doing though. Large social groups weren’t really his thing. Even his basketball friends didn’t really gel with him on a deeper level.

“Let me know if I’m veering off track,” Freddie requested. Drew opted not to reply. He wasn’t into making promises he couldn’t keep. He couldn’t get their hopes up. On the bright side, obviously Lily hadn’t told George. At least she was trustworthy.

“You think he’s in the forest?” George did not sound optimistic, “We’ll never find him there, it’s like a maze.”

Drew never usually doubted his abilities, but he was actually concerned for Noah. A brand-new werewolf running about in public. It was a recipe for disaster. He had to trust in Freddie.

The car pulled up at the side of the road by a clearing in the forest.

“This way,” Freddie directed, seeming quite comfortable in his leadership role.

“Maybe we should split up?” George suggested.

“No, we’ll get lost. Better together,” Drew quickly replied. He couldn’t be expected to look after himself against a werewolf. Not until he had worked out a strategy as a human.

Everything felt so oddly quiet, too. No far-away sounds. It was like his ears, and his nose, had been chopped off. Every scent was unbelievably diluted. This was going to take some getting used to.

“I think I’ve got him,” Freddie added, “Straight ahead.”

Drew looked on. The trees were leaning over, blocking the sunlight from creeping through between the trees ahead. The forest should feel safe for Drew. His reaction time would usually keep him safe. However, that had slowed significantly.

As he approached the darker area of the woods, he felt a tingle running through his spine. He felt unsafe. Unprotected. Wham! Drew smacked down to the floor. Noah had landed on top of him, his sharp fangs open wide.

Parking at a picnic bench in a clearing of the forest, Josh was pleased to be resting his legs. He wasn’t expecting to do any walking, so wasn’t prepared for Jono’s so-called “spontaneity,”. His converse were filthy, and very uncomfortable on his feet. His jeans were getting ruined, too. Typical.

Not that these were especially pressing concerns of his. His whole life was up in the air again. If Caroline didn’t go through with the adoption, he might not even stay in Crystalshaw. It wouldn’t be the first time he had been relocated. The system didn’t care. Everything he had achieved in Crystalshaw would be for nothing. All his friendships, and the home he had found, would be worthless.

Dylan had helped him become a better person. He wasn’t sure who he was without Dylan. It scared him to think of what bad werewolf influences were in other places.

Josh glanced at Jono, sat next to him and opposite Dylan. He was his best friend. Jono had been kinder to him than he deserved. After all he’d put up with, he wouldn’t have blamed Jono if he never spoke to him again, especially after biting Freddie. Everything he did was to try and make it up to both Freddie and Jono, and to show his gratitude in some way.

“You’re unusually quiet,” Dylan commented. Josh had zoned out. He and Jono had been talking between themselves but Josh didn’t catch a word of it.

“Sorry. Alone with my thoughts,” Josh smiled.

“Everything okay?” Dylan queried. He seemed to have a sixth sense for detecting sour moods.

“Depends how you define okay,” Josh opened up, “I keep worrying about what’s going to happen to me.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Dylan reiterated, “Please try not to worry about it.”

“Besides, if Caroline doesn’t foster you, I darn sure will,” Jono lightened the tone. He always knew what to say to brighten Josh’s mood.

“I don’t think I’d forgive her if she went back on her word,” Dylan confessed. Josh had seen just how close he and Caroline were. It meant a lot to hear that, but he wouldn’t dream of coming between them.

“We need to make the first move,” Josh suggested, not wanting it to get to that point.

“I mean, she has had quite a while to get her head around it now,” Jono concurred.

“I guess we could try,” Dylan shrugged.

Josh knew it was the right decision. He couldn’t risk Dylan and Caroline’s relationship being ruined. He owed that to them at the very least after all they had done for him. Suddenly, Josh picked up on a lot of noise coming from the distance.

“Can you hear that?” he queried to Dylan.

“It’s Drew, I’ve got his scent,” Dylan replied, “Come on.”

Arriving back at Lily’s house, Yasmin didn’t want to leave her alone just yet. Taylor’s death was clearly playing on her mind, and she needed a friend to help her through. The house was otherwise empty; both her parents were at work and would be for hours, so they had free roam of the living room.

“Does George know about any of this?” Yasmin questioned.

“Can’t we talk about something different?” Lily sighed.

“I mean, if you want to bury your head in the sand, that’s your call,” Yasmin responded, “But from my experience, that’s never solved anything.”

Lily didn’t reply. She knew Yasmin was right.

“He doesn’t know. We both saw it but we’ve not said a word to each other,” Lily admitted.

“Maybe talking to him will help? You’ve been through it together. You can come out the other side together too,” Yasmin encouraged.

“He seems okay though. He’s always okay. It’s just me who’s an emotional wreck,” Lily opened up.

“Or he’s better at putting on a front. Just cause he’s a boy, doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling the same,” Yasmin reminded.

“What about you and Freddie?” Lily diverted the chat. Yasmin was caught off guard, “Don’t think I didn’t notice that you’ve not told your mom who he is.”

Damn. Nothing got past Lily.

“I’ve got a reason for it,” Yasmin tried to justify, “I mean, I still barely know my mom. I hadn’t seen her since I was a kid. What if she’s like my dad? He hid it damn well. I want to protect Freddie.”

“Are you sure that’s all? Really sure?” Lily probed.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t it be?” Yasmin was taken aback.

“You were apart for months. Don’t think I haven’t noticed a difference between you two. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t one,” Lily observed.

Yasmin considered. She was right – things were different. Being honest with herself, Yasmin knew she’d been avoiding thinking about her situation with Freddie for a few days now.

“Do you still like him?” Lily continued.

“Yeah, I’ll always like him,” Yasmin admitted.

“But it’s not enough, right?” Lily realised.

“He deserves the world,” Yasmin sighed. She still adored Freddie, but the magic wasn’t there anymore. She had a lot of thinking to do.

Fumbling around, Drew was doing his best to fight a vicious Noah off. His hands were keeping Noah and his dangerously sharp wolf fags away, but his claws kept swinging towards Drew’s face. He tried his best to dodge them, but it was difficult.

Swish! Another attempt. This time, Drew felt a burning sensation skid across his cheek. Noah had succeeded. Now Drew and his lack of healing powers were exposed.

Freddie lunged for Noah, but got hit back by his ferocious opponent. Drew was on his own. Before he could make his move to fight back, a rapturous roar filled Drew’s ears. Noah looked up and to his right – Dylan was there. Noah was responding to the call of his alpha. He shifted back, his innocent-looking human face staring down at Drew. Josh rushed over and gave him a hand up.

“Why aren’t you healing?” Jono questioned, noticing the blood seeping out of the claw marks on Drew’s cheek. He didn’t know how to reply. The secret was out. There was no place to hide.

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Next: "Adjust"

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