Previous: "Escape"

Series 10 Episode 11

Freddie’s head was spinning. There was too much going on for his brain to process. He couldn’t sit still, his leg bouncing up and down subconsciously as he tried and failed to get everything correct in his mind.

The pack had never been stretched so thin, but somehow, they’d been pulled tighter and tighter apart in just fifteen minutes. Forsyth was always bound to show up, but just as they thought they’d tricked him, the curveball to end all curveballs shows up. How on earth was Mia wrapped up in any of this? Nothing made sense.

Above all, though, Freddie remained most bewildered by Jonah, the little boy who had arrived out of nowhere. The boy who had called Mark “dad.” The boy who was apparently his brother. It felt impossible – why did he not know this sooner? Either way, now both Mark and Jonah were caught up in the supernatural, and that was the last thing Freddie wanted.

“We need to follow them,” Josh insisted, “Or we’ll lose their scent.” The pack were more disorganised than ever while Caroline and Dylan helped Maria out of the car. Thankfully, she was unhurt, but visibly shaken up.

“We can’t just walk after them, she’s got a gun,” Yasmin reasoned.

“What do you suggest?” Josh questioned abruptly. Everyone was at odds.

“Stop,” Dylan yelled firmly, “We need to take a step back. We’re no good to anyone like this.” Freddie took a deep breath, enjoying the silence. He could finally think straight.

“What’s the plan?” Jono calmly asked.

“We find out where they’re going,” Dylan decided, “Then we can figure the rest out. Right now, we don’t know what we’re walking into.”

“We might have an idea,” Oscar called over, jogging up the driveway. Brett followed, alongside a couple of others. One of them was a new face to Freddie’s eyes, but he easily recognised the other. He’d only seen Cody from afar before, but his lengthy, shaggy red curls were very distinctive.

“What is he doing here?” Dylan immediately interrogated, stepping in front of Freddie as if to protect him and the pack.

“He wants to help,” Oscar insisted, “And we need it. The Nemeton is spiralling, Dylan, and we’re all in danger.”

“Um, okay,” Dylan pondered. Freddie could see the panic in Dylan’s eyes as he desperately dug for a solution.

“Go. We’ll be fine here,” Caroline urged, her arm lodged firmly around Maria.

“I’ll drive,” Mark offered.

“Dad, no,” Freddie immediately protested.

“Freddie, whatever’s going on, it affects my kids. I’ve let you down for far too long,” Mark defended, “I’ll let you explain everything to me later, once we’re all safe, okay?” Freddie felt conflicted. This was all he’d wanted for so long, but he didn’t want to put someone else in danger. Certainly not someone who still had no knowledge of what he was up against, “Jonah, go with Maria.” Freddie noted how Maria wasn’t referred to as “mom” – another question he had to ask.

“Take care, mom,” Dylan requested, “Put mountain ash across the door. Don’t take any chances.”

“Of course. Go kick their asses,” Caroline encouraged.

“Coming?” Freddie asked George. He looked spaced out, understandably so after the day he’d had.

“You bet,” George firmly nodded, “I’m ready for this bitch to get what’s coming to her.”

Surrounded by David’s pack, Lily felt nervous. It had been a rollercoaster of a morning, and still, Lily wasn’t sure what exactly was going on. Jeremy had proved that she hadn’t killed anyone, which was an overwhelming relief, but that didn’t change the situation at hand: people had still been killed, and David had blood on his hands, whether he carried out the murders or not.

“Why are you testing us?” Sammi was disgusted. David really did have no morals.

“To see how strong my opponents are,” David revealed, “To see how many people I need on my team. Do you like the new pack, by the way?”

Lily scanned the group that had circled around the crime scene. There were four, almost enough for two murders each. None of them seemed any older than Lily herself, and that broke her heart. More young people roped into the danger of the supernatural world, to further a plan they surely didn’t understand fully.

“Of course, I can always make room for family. Jono’s got his own alpha issues, I understand, so he might have to sit this one out, but the three of you would be most welcome. In fact, you’d practically be royalty,” David persuaded. Lily’s skin crawled at the mere thought. His ego hadn’t changed one bit.

“I’d rather kill myself,” Lily set the record straight.

“You are my beta, Lily. I turned you,” David continued to pitch.

“No, I’m Dylan’s beta. He’s more of an alpha than you’ll ever be,” Lily hit back, and she meant every word.

“A brazen choice when you consider track records. How many has Dylan killed?” David mocked.

“None, and that’s the point,” Sammi defended, “Because there’s always a better way. A way to survive, without killing.”

“Without locking your son up away from his mom and sister,” Jeremy added.

“A little gratitude wouldn’t go amiss. I taught you both everything you know,” David argued, refusing to concede.

“Except about family,” Jeremy continued, “And love. I figured those out for myself.”

“Love? What do you know about love?” David laughed. It was the rudest, most arrogant laugh Lily had ever heard, and not only did her heart break for Jeremy’s recently developed self-confidence, but she felt angry. He had no right to be so vile.

“Everything,” Jeremy hit back, with more fire in his belly than Lily had ever seen from him before, “Because Felix showed me how much I’m worth. He’s made me feel happier than I’ve ever felt before. I love him.”

“Him,” David pondered, “That’s a curveball.”

“And that’s why you have no respect from either of us,” Sammi took the baton from her twin, “Mom would be ashamed.”

WHAM! Lily jumped back, barely landing on her feet. A bolt of lightning narrowly missed her. Smoke simmered from the tree she had been stood next to from where the impact landed. She’d never seen anything like it before, and she was terrified.

“Sammi? Jeremy?” Lily called out, her vision obscured by the growing levels of smoke. She was desperate to find her cousins – none of them were safe yet. Lily could only hear two heartbeats, but that didn’t mean David wasn’t still in the vicinity.

“Here,” Sammi reached out, locking hands with Lily, “Come on, we need to get out of here.”

“Wait,” Lily looked upwards, noticing how dark the forest had become. Thick black clouds had coated the sky, and they were spreading out from the middle of the forest.

“The Nemeton,” Jeremy realised, “This way.” Lily nodded. Whether David was on their toes or not, there was something more going on, and she needed to keep her family safe.

No matter how comfortable Oscar seemed in his presence, Dylan couldn’t be so forgiving of Cody. This apparent alliance didn’t excuse everything he had put one of Dylan’s best friends through and, should they all make it out the other end, Dylan wasn’t going to hesitate to say it to Cody’s face.

Mark’s car could only carry so many people, so he had taken George, Yasmin and Brett, none of whom had werewolf speed on their side, as well as Freddie, who understandably wanted to stay close to George. That left the rest of the werewolves – Jono, Josh, Oscar, Cody, Keisha, and Dylan himself – to sprint to the general location of the Nemeton. Naturally, they beat the car there.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Oscar whispered in Dylan’s ear as he scanned the area, searching desperately for the concealed precise location of the Nemeton clearing, “This isn’t forgiveness or a promise. I’m not going back, Dylan. I’m with you forever, and I give you my word. No matter how hard Cody tries, he won’t tear me away from where I need to be again.”

“I hope that’s a promise,” Dylan replied, “Because we were worried, Oscar. I was worried. We didn’t know if you were safe, and that was because of him. He took you from us, and I don’t think I can ever get past that.”

“Would it shock you if I said I feel the same?” Oscar replied, keeping his cool in what must have been a difficult conversation for him, “I felt what I felt, but it wasn’t real. It was like being in the Big Brother house, you know?” Dylan chuckled, appreciating the reference, “Since coming back, I’ve realised what I want, even if I have to wait a little while to get it.”

“Oh my god, of course,” a lightbulb flicked on in Dylan’s head. It had been staring him in the face since their return, “Brett.”

“I know, the timing is terrible, but I feel differently with him. I feel calm, and comfortable,” Oscar explained.

“It’ll happen when the time is right,” Dylan assured, “You deserve happiness, Oscar.”

“You do too,” Oscar smiled, “I know you have Jono, but I mean beyond that. I don’t know where I’d be without you, Dylan. You’re the best alpha. Take that from someone who’s actually experienced more than one.”

Dylan couldn’t help himself smiling. He didn’t need an ego boost, but it was obvious that Oscar meant every word he said. Now, he had a reputation to live up to, and people to save. There was no time to waste.

It never failed to baffle Yasmin how her dad had insisted on making her life as difficult as he could. He dished out false claims about how much he loved her, but actions spoke louder than words, and actively trying to kill her friends spoke the loudest.

His offer of leaving for good almost sounded tempting, but Yasmin didn’t take after her father. She wasn’t prepared to let other people suffer just to get what she wanted. In fact, it was the last thing she’d allow to happen, which meant she had to ensure her father went back to the one place he belonged: his jail cell.

There was one part of the story that made no sense to Yasmin, no matter how she tried to rationalise it. What did Mia have to do with Forsyth? Yasmin had known her for a while, and she’d never been anything other than kind and understanding. What did she have to gain by liaising not just with a hunter, but also a criminal on the run?

The car journey into the forest had been an awkwardly quiet one. Brett was in the front seat of the car, while Freddie sat in the middle of the back, between George and Yasmin. Nobody had spoken to each other since they got into the car, other than Brett issuing directions to a confused Mark. It wasn’t a long drive, but the silence was making it drag.

“Can I ask,” Mark cut through the quiet, “What is a Nemtom, or whatever it’s called?”

“Nemeton,” Yasmin corrected, “Long story. It’s a tree, but not your normal tree.”

“Okay,” Mark replied hesitantly, “I’m now questioning everything I’ve ever known.”

“You and me both,” George spoke for the first time. Nobody knew what to say in response. Yasmin couldn’t understand what he was going through, he must have been questioning and overanalysing everything, but the atmosphere was getting more and more awkward.

“We’ll find her, George,” Freddie reassured.

“And then what? She lied to me. She kept me in the dark this whole time,” George ranted, “Not to mention how we’ve gained a brother out of thin air.” Once again, no replies. Yasmin felt out of place – it was a discussion that needed to happen between George, Freddie and their dad, nobody else.

“I was planning to tell you all about it,” Mark replied, not breaking his focus on the road, “It’s safe to say today hasn’t exactly gone to plan.”

“Nothing ever does in this family,” George sighed. Yasmin shot Brett a wide-eyed glare in the rear-view mirror, one they reciprocated. They felt the same as she did.

The car pulled up alongside the curb, in front of an opening into the forest not far from the Nemeton. Yasmin knew what to do, “We’ll get out and leave you guys to it, thanks for the ride.”

“Thanks,” Freddie whispered. Yasmin smiled – it was a no-brainer. The rest of them could tackle Forsyth and the Nemeton, but sometimes, family came first. Yasmin could apply that same logic – it was time to face her father.

It wasn’t often that Forsyth felt blindsided. With so many years of experience, he’d seen it all, and there wasn’t any eventuality that he wasn’t prepared for. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been truly surprised by something – perhaps by how deeply Yasmin had become involved in the supernatural? Even then, she’d always had too enquiring a mind for her own good.

This, though, was something different. He had a supporter on his side that he’d never heard of before, let alone met. It was certainly a surprise, but a welcome one – anything that out-sussed Drummond was totally worthwhile – but he didn’t even know her name.

“It’s Mia, by the way,” she introduced, as if she’d read his mind. She was leading the way towards a place Forsyth hadn’t seen in a long time, but he knew extremely well: the Nemeton. All sorts of extreme weather seemed to be occurring around them – thunder and lighting matched with dark clouds and an increasing amount of rainfall. Forsyth knew what was happening, and it made him somewhat excited.

“Who are you, Mia?” Forsyth interrogated.

“Your number one fan,” Mia smirked a sickly grin.

“Fan?” Forsyth was baffled. He was in unchartered territory with this girl, and he felt an unfamiliar but exciting sensation of discomfort.

“You’re the greatest hunter out there. We read all about your killings, there’s so much on the dark web,” Mia gleefully explained, “We followed in your path.”

“The murders,” Forsyth realised. The seven deaths that Yasmin had accused him of, each with a letter of his surname scratched into their mutilated corpses.

“We hijacked the prison’s security to get you out. We’ve got contacts everywhere,” Mia continued. Forsyth didn’t know how to feel, but it seemed like she was a truly ally after all, “We needed you out, so we can kill the rest. Rid Crystalshaw of them all.”

“I think that’s already doing it for us,” Forsyth pointed through the exact clearing they were looking for. The Nemeton, in all its glory, stood dominantly over every other tree in the vicinity, “Let’s help it along.”

Freddie desperately needed some fresh air. Mark’s car had become far too suffocating for three people who all needed to blow off steam. The atmosphere was unbearably tense, and Freddie needed to take a step back.

As gently as he could, Freddie closed the car door behind him. The forest air felt so fresh against his face, even if the rain was lashing down, already drenching him from head to toe. George joined him, followed by Mark, all three of them leading side-by-side against the car. It was a much more comfortable silence than before. Maybe, this time, they could manage a civilised chat?

“How old is Jonah?” Freddie wondered.

“Ten,” Mark answered, “I met Nadia, his mom, a year after I left here, and we were happy for a while. I didn’t expect to have any more kids, but when she told me she was pregnant, I felt overwhelmed. What if I screwed this up as well? I know I have form.”

“What happened?” George didn’t take the bait for an insult and instead queried calmly.

“She went into labour. I got the call and rushed from work to be by her side, but of course, I got stuck in traffic. When I arrived, the nurse told me I had a baby son, but there was bad news. Nadia had died while giving birth.” Freddie felt his stomach drop as a tear slid out of his eye, not that it was obvious amongst the ridiculously heavy rain, “Your mom’s death was a lot to handle when I heard the news, and it brought back a lot of emotions I’d already felt when I lost Nadia. I wanted to come back, but I wasn’t strong enough.”

“I’m sorry,” George admitted, “I…I didn’t know.”

“You have every right to be angry,” Mark continued, “I let you down. I’d love for you to forgive me, but I accept that it won’t be quick or easy. What I’d like more than anything, though, is for you both to get to know your brother. He’s a smart kid, nothing like me.”

“I’d like that,” Freddie nodded. No matter how he felt about his father, Jonah wasn’t to blame, and the idea of having another sibling excited Freddie. He wasn’t the baby any longer.

“Me too,” George concurred. Finally, they could all agree on something.

“Okay, my time to ask questions,” Mark turned to Freddie, “Werewolf? Was that some sort of joke?”

“I wish,” Freddie sighed, “I promise, it’s true, a few of us are werewolves.”

“I’d ask you to tell me the whole story, but I sense your friends might need you more right now,” Mark acknowledged, “You can tell me another time, I hope.”

Before Freddie could reply, his vision vanished. All he could see was the most blinding white light, and it had come from nowhere. He backed off, shielding his eyes, but his senses were all over the place.

“Freddie!” George called out desperately. Freddie blinked repeatedly, rubbing his eyes as the forest blurred back into view. Horrifyingly, George was crouching down next to Mark, who was laid still on the ground, scorch marks scattered across his skin. Lightning had struck him.

Rapidly, Freddie knelt by his side and held his hand. His eyes were opening every few seconds, but the rain tipping down directly onto his face made it hard for them to stay open long.

“Call an ambulance,” Freddie ordered.

“No,” Mark muttered, “There’s no need.”

“Dad,” Freddie couldn’t hold his tears back any longer. Droplets fell from his eyes, cascading down his cheeks before falling to the ground alongside the rain. The severity of the situation was sky high, and Freddie wasn’t ready to let go.

“I’m so proud of you both,” Mark croaked, his speech slowing, his eyes opening for shorter intervals at a time, “Thank you for hearing me out.”

“And we’ll be here to listen more,” George insisted, “I forgive you, dad.” His voice was shaky. It meant a lot to Freddie that George had put the past behind him. They both needed their dad to pull through; there was no other alternative.

“Look after Jonah for me. He’s going to need his big brothers,” Mark continued. He knew the end was coming. He was saying goodbye.

“Of course,” Freddie nodded, “I love you, dad.” He never expected to meet his father, let alone get so close to him in the end. He was grateful for every second they had together.

No reply came. The grip on Freddie’s hand loosened. Mark’s eyes hadn’t opened for a good minute. Desperately, Freddie checked for a pulse, but its absence only confirmed what he already knew deep down. Their dad had gone, and Freddie didn’t know what to do.

“Now he can make amends with mom,” George sobbed. Freddie hugged his brother as tight as he could. They still had each other, and they needed to be strong. Now, they had Jonah to look out for.

To Dylan’s relief, the Nemeton hadn’t made itself a challenge to find. After all, it couldn’t exactly hide when electrical lightning bolts were firing out in all directions from its branches. It had never behaved like that before – Deaton was right, it was finding its own way to right the wrongs of two alphas in the same pack. A problem that Dylan still didn’t have a solution for. To say he was nervous would have been an understatement.

There were more immediate problems to tackle, though, and Dylan was relieved to have the whole pack together again – all except Freddie and George, that was. Strength In numbers was key, but every pack member felt physically stronger when they were united. They needed the best possible defence when both Forsyth and David were on the loose.

“I see we’re all here,” the spine-tingling voice of David shot through Dylan’s body like an audible bullet. He breezed straight past the pack and approached the wide trunk ahead. Forsyth was already there; he looked like he’d been tinkering with the Nemeton somehow while Mia looked on longingly. Forsyth and David paused, staring each other in the eyes. Dylan was terrified – the two of them together could only be bad news.

“It’s been a long time, David,” Forsyth smirked, “I’m sorry, can’t stop to talk.”

“What’s the plan?” Jono whispered nervously in Dylan’s ear.

“I’m not sure,” Dylan replied honestly. Part of him was intrigued to see what would happen between the two, but it could prove deadly for everyone.

“You should be thanking me,” David smarmed, “I did you a favour. I cleansed Crystalshaw of a few useless mutts.”

“The hunter of his own kind, how counter-productive,” Forsyth mocked, “Though I assume, for the first time ever, that we have a common goal.”

“There’s a first time for everything,” David considered, “Two alphas in one pack. The Nemeton’s going to destroy them both.” Dylan’s stomach was performing somersaults as he listened in. As untrustworthy as they both were, both Forsyth and David knew considerably more about supernatural myths than Dylan did. He was inclined to believe them.

“And take a lot more with it at this rate,” Forsyth mentioned, “Unless we can find a way to control it. Focus it on Drummond.”

“No,” Jono called out. He had reached boiling point, and Dylan couldn’t blame him. Their lives were on the line.

“Stay there,” David ordered, “My pack are waiting. Just one word and they’ll attack.”

“Your pack don’t have a clue what they’re involved in,” Sammi yelled, the rain almost drowning her voice out.

“Done and dusted,” Keisha returned with Cody, side-by-side. Dylan hadn’t even noticed they were gone, but Keisha looked exceedingly confident, “Your pack are unconscious. It’s you and us.”

“Now is the time, David. Delay any longer and you risk losing,” Forsyth persuaded.

“Leave him, use me,” Mia begged.

“Mia, come here, we can save you,” Lily called out. Mia shook her head with a creepily proud grin on her face. She was proud to be with Forsyth.

“She played the long game,” Forsyth bragged, “Getting close to you to get close to me. I almost feel sorry for you all.”

“Use me,” Mia repeated, sounding like a possessed servant.

“I need a werewolf. A supernatural who already has a connection with the Nemeton,” Forsyth justified.

“Allow me,” David placed both of his hands onto the trunk and closed his eyes.

“No,” Jono yelled helplessly. None of them knew what was happening, but Dylan felt confident of one thing – it couldn’t have been good.

“Wait,” Dylan’s stomach sank. Forsyth was laughing. He looked far too assured and comfortable, as if he knew something the rest of them didn’t. Once again, he was a step ahead.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake. David’s hands began to sink into the Nemeton, as if he was dissolving through the wood. He howled in pain, the pitch hurting Dylan’s eardrums as the once omnipotent alpha fell victim to the supernatural force that usually protected them all. In a few seconds, David was gone, but Forsyth had become more powerful than ever. It wasn’t over yet.

“Now it has the blueprint,” Forsyth chuckled.

“For what?” Yasmin called over.

“For werewolves. The Nemeton cannot cope with two alphas in the same pack, and it’s going to deal with the situation by wiping out both Dylan and Jono. Except things have changed. Now it has a new model to build from. Thanks to David, it’s now going to target every single werewolf,” Forsyth couldn’t contain his glee. Mia laughed along, as if that was her ideal scenario from the start. It was beyond eerie.

“Dylan, this is happening because of us,” Jono mentioned, “Surely we can do something to stop it?” Dylan pondered. Jono had to be right. The Nemeton was reacting to them, so surely they could be the antidote too?

“Come on,” Dylan took Jono by the hand and led him to the foot of the tree. Forsyth didn’t move an inch, his typical arrogance allowing him to believe he’d won, “Touch the tree.” Dylan placed his spare hand on the tree while keeping the other firmly gripped in Jono’s palm. Jono followed his lead, completing the circuit. More bolts of electricity immediately fired out from the Nemeton’s branches, sending the supernatural beacon into overdrive, but that wasn’t enough. It had to be stopped, and it needed a bigger impact than that.

“Kiss me,” Jono commanded. Dylan knew they had nothing to lose, and everything was worth a try. Regardless, he never needed to be asked twice to place his lips where they felt most at home. They collided with Jono’s with the utmost urgency, and Dylan felt incredible. It felt even more electric and powerful than it usually did. Around him, Dylan noticed the rain begin to clear. The clouds faded, and the Nemeton calmed as if the fuse had blown.

“No,” Forsyth yelled. Almost on cue, blue lights flickered into view around the clearing. Ed had finally caught up to them, and Forsyth’s fate was sealed.

“Let’s make this easy,” Josh took pride in jogging over to grab Forsyth by the arm and escort him out. Mia, on the other hand, made a desperate run for it.

“Don’t let her go,” Lily warned.

“This is for Johnny,” Brett affirmed, sprinting after her with their fit basketball-player legs easily making up the head start. They grabbed Mia’s wrist just before she could slip out of the clearing, “You killed my boyfriend.”

“He deserved it,” Mia grunted.

“And you deserve this,” George angrily hit out, leading Ed inside with Freddie trailing behind. Dylan could feel the tension radiating from both brothers – had something else happened? Either way, for now, it appeared everyone was safe. Together, they had succeeded. Together, they could do anything, and Jono’s cute smile only confirmed that.

It was difficult not to feel some sort of relief after the day they’d had, but Jono couldn’t completely switch off that evening. It almost felt too easy – the Nemeton wasn’t going to suddenly forget about the rules of the supernatural, so what was going to happen if, or when, it repaired itself?

Nevertheless, Jono couldn’t deny how great it felt to be relaxing in bed next to Dylan, having made it through one of their toughest days ever. David was gone, for good this time, and both Forsyth and Mia were sealed in custody where they couldn’t harm anyone else, but it wasn’t without a cost. Freddie and George were broken by the loss of Mark, and little Jonah hadn’t stopped crying. Beyond that, though, it had sent a shockwave through the entire pack – a necessary reminder of how dangerous the world they lived in could be.

“Welcome to the rest of our lives,” Dylan snuggled up to him. As always, Dylan was the more optimistic one, and Jono desperately wished he could join him on cloud nine.

“Until the Nemeton wakes back up,” Jono reminded regretfully.

“We don’t know that it will,” Dylan kept his positive outlook, “Let’s just take the win for now.”

“But I don’t just want the win,” Jono considered, “I want you, forever, without having to worry.”

“Okay, let’s put your mind at ease. Screw this weekend. Let’s get married tomorrow. Invite everyone. There must be a registrar around who’s available at short notice,” Dylan offered. Jono couldn’t lie – that was music to his ears. He couldn’t wait any longer to call Dylan his husband.

“I’m in,” Jono smiled, “We’ll talk plans in two. I need to chat to Freddie first, see if he’s still up to it.”

“Tell him there’s no pressure, though we’d love him there,” Dylan agreed. Jono slid himself out of the comfort of the bed and stood up. Immediately, he almost collapsed back down, startled by a lightning bolt outside.

“It’s just a storm,” Dylan reassured with a polite chuckle.

“It’s meant to be a clear night,” Jono replied, his stomach sinking. Dylan’s face dropped; the smile wiped cleanly off as reality hit them both.

They weren’t out of the woods yet, and the Nemeton hadn’t finished with them.

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