Previous: "Jodie"

Next: "Scrutiny"

Series 12 Episode 2

“Who’s this?” Harry queried, examining Dylan’s photo board. Everyone who was important to Dylan featured somewhere on that display. Some of the photos dated as far back as his first home, and they were directly in view from Dylan’s bed.

Taking Harry round to his house for the first time was an exciting prospect. Every time they’d met up had been at a café, restaurant, or bar, but this felt like the next step. The pace was slower than what he’d had with Jono, but Dylan felt so comfortable around him. His bedroom was his hiding place from the world and trusting Harry in there was a major step forward.

“My dad,” Dylan smiled. He missed his dad terribly, but he’d been gone so long that all Dylan wanted to do was hold onto the good memories. Nothing had felt the same since his dad passed, but his new family was a good kind of different. Ed was the stepdad he never knew he needed, while Josh taught him that he didn’t want to be an only child after all, not to mention how adorably cute Libby, his toddler sister, was. They had all been his rock after the most unpleasant couple of years.

“He looks so happy,” Harry observed, paying particular attention to a photo of Martin, Caroline, and a two-year-old Dylan.

“He was. All he ever wanted was a family of his own,” Dylan replied. He loved that Harry was so curious about his family. He cared, and that meant the world.

“I wish my parents were like that. All they’ve wanted were mini versions of themselves. My sister ticks the box, but I decided I didn’t want to be a bald, beer-bellied bigot living in their basement,” Harry groaned.

“For what it’s worth, you made the right decision,” Dylan met eyes with Harry, who looked more vulnerable than he’d ever seen, “You are perfect as you are, and I love you.”

“You…what?” Harry looked startled as Dylan realised what he’d said. He’d been with Harry for three months, and he felt happier than he’d felt in so long. Saying those words came so naturally to him for the first time since Jono left.

“Sorry, I just thought…” Dylan trailed off, “I hope that’s okay.”

“No, it’s fine. More than fine, it’s amazing. I just didn’t want to overstep before. You know, when you said things with your ex were complicated,” Harry explained, “Honestly? I love you too, Dylan, and I’ve known it for a while.”

Dylan’s heart felt so hole. His instincts drove his lips towards Harry’s for the most exciting kiss they’d shared. The future had become so exciting, and Dylan’s heart was slowly healing.

­­An early night felt like a sensible decision at the time, but the anxiety flooding his brain meant Dylan only had an extra couple of hours lying awake in bed. He’d slept a grand total of forty minutes across the entire night, and it felt like the big day had started off on the worst possible foot.

Nevertheless, his alarm rang, Jono’s own alarm simultaneously jarring him awake. Dylan had been gazing at Jono sleeping for longer than he’d care to admit. It felt like the most ridiculous fever dream that he was back in Crystalshaw, let alone sleeping in the same beg again. He kept expecting to wake up one morning to find the week just gone didn’t happen. Among some extreme lows, the highs had never been higher.

“Morning,” Jono beamed immediately, “Dyl, you look wrecked, please tell me you slept.”

“I deserve full marks for trying,” Dylan tried to laugh, but he felt drained already, “I need today to go well. For Harry, not for me.”

“Everything will be fine. You’ve worked so hard to make everything perfect,” Jono assured, “He’d be so proud of you. I know I didn’t have much time to get to know Harry, but I know he’d be immensely proud of you, because that’s exactly how I feel. I know how hard it’s been for you.”

“Not like it’s been easy for you either. You made the ultimate sacrifice for me, and now you’re having to put up with my moping. I’m sorry,” Dylan felt bad. Jono was right, he barely knew Harry, yet he’d been there for Dylan unconditionally since Harry died. It was more than he’d ever have asked of him.

“Dyl, I know our wedding was a little rushed, but I meant what I said in our vows. I’m here for you, always. Sure, I hated London, but I’m back now, and all I need is right now. You’re my husband, Dylan, and don’t you ever forget that,” Jono affirmed. Dylan’s heart was full to bursting. Jono always used the best words to make Dylan feel comfortable and loved, and that was all he needed to make it through the day ahead.

“Trust me, I could never forget. I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you,” Dylan grinned, “Hey, how about we phone the estate agent tonight? The start of our new era.”

“Perfect. I should probably start job-hunting tomorrow,” Jono mentioned, “I’m not sure I’ll be able to work my notice in London, thank god.”

“Honestly, journalism isn’t all it cracked up to be,” Dylan pondered. His job was fine, but he didn’t wake up excited every morning like he thought he would.

“You don’t have to tell me. What are we missing? Why did we want to be journalists so much?” Jono considered.

“I didn’t sign up to write about town halls and school fairs,” Dylan sighed.

“Hey, it’s not too late, you know,” Jono thought, “Remember our dream? Our own business.”

“Wait, really? I don’t know why, but I wasn’t sure you’d still want to do that,” Dylan was freaking out internally. That was always their shared long-term goal. An investigative journalism business ran by the both of them, working together. That felt like the missing spark.

“Duh, of course I do. You and me together, that’s how it’s meant to be,” Jono grinned uncontrollably, and Dylan felt his face doing the same. Of all the emotions he had prepared himself to feel that day, elation wasn’t among them.

“Chadwick-Drummond. It’s got a ring to it, right?” Dylan considered.

“Perfect,” Jono agreed, “Okay, while you get dressed, I’ll make you some breakfast. If I can find my way around your kitchen, that is.”

“It’s tiny, you’ll be fine,” Dylan laughed. Seeing Jono in the flat still felt weird, like two worlds colliding, but with any luck, they’d be in a place of their own before long.

Before that, there was one final obstacle to cross. One final goodbye to say. Before Dylan’s heart could properly heal, it had to break one final time.

Attempting to tie a tie on someone else was a surprisingly difficult mission, Freddie had found. Jonah had never had much need to wear a tie, only for the occasional wedding like Jeremy and Felix’s a month before, not to mention their father’s funeral, though that felt like such a long time ago.

“Sorry,” Freddie apologised, accidentally catching a strand of Jonah’s hair. His wavy blonde surfer-like locks were longer than they’d ever been, but Freddie liked it. Jonah put more effort into his hair than Freddie ever had with his consistently shaggy mane, though George put them both to shame with the amount of product he used to style his notably shorter crop.

“I was thinking of tying it up, but Harry always wore his hair down, so I figured he’d appreciate it,” Jonah reflected. Freddie felt solemn. He hadn’t spoken much to Jonah about Harry’s passing – they had talked almost entirely about werewolves and supernatural for a week – but with Freddie distracting himself with work, he’d neglected that Jonah knew Harry well too, and he was also grieving.

“Perfect,” Freddie smiled, “It’s strange without Harry around. I keep expecting to get an invite to his next gig. I hate that he didn’t even get to celebrate his final show.”

“I was so angry I missed it,” Jonah recalled, “Hey, maybe we could do something to remember him? You know, get the message out about how talented he was.”

“I like that,” Freddie admired how mature Jonah was being. It had been a dreadful two weeks for all of them, but maybe it had been a wake-up call? “I know Dylan would appreciate it too.”

“He seems so happy with Jono,” Jonah mentioned, “Well, as happy as possible after everything.”

“Dylan and Jono are soulmates. I’ve never seen two people suit each other so well,” Freddie smiled. He’d seen every step of their relationship unfold, and the impact they had on each other was immeasurable.

“Not even you and Sammi?” Jonah wondered.

“I’m definitely punching above my weight,” Freddie chuckled, “It’s not all been plain sailing. We split up once, years ago now. It didn’t last long, obviously. In fact, I think it was a bit of a disaster for us both. Before Felix started dating Jeremy, he was with Sammi for a little bit. As for me, well, the girl I dated ended up being a siren.”

“What the heck is a siren?” Jonah was confused. His mind had been blown by so many supernatural discoveries, but Freddie admired his curiosity. He was worried that Jonah would be terrified of him after he knew the truth.

“Something very nasty,” Freddie brushed it aside, “I’ll explain later, I promise. We need to make a move.”

“What about George?” Jonah wondered.

“He’ll meet us there, he’s going with Lily. The whole pack’s going to be there, don’t worry,” Freddie reassured, “And look on the bright side, you get to miss school.”

“Oh, please, can we not mention that word today?” Sammi groaned, arriving at the living room door. Freddie was blown away. She was wearing a striking black dress, bought especially for the funeral. It floated on top of her flawlessly, dangling just a little above her knees, and her wavy brunette hair was styled perfectly to match, sitting just below her shoulders. She was breathtakingly beautiful, and Freddie had no idea how he had been so lucky to marry someone so gorgeous.

“Wow,” Freddie smiled, “You look incredible.”

“As do you,” Sammi looked similarly impressed by Freddie’s suit. It was a far more obvious wardrobe choice, but by Freddie’s usual fashion standards, it was quite the uplift, “Are you ready?”

Though he was ready to leave the house, Freddie wasn’t sure he was prepared for the day ahead. The supernatural world was dangerous, he’d always known that, but this time, they’d lost one of their own, and the day ahead was going to be a stark reminder.

Watching Dylan anxiously bob his leg up and down was breaking Josh’s heart. He was there for support, but he wasn’t sure there was much he could do. He wished he could wrap him up in bubble wrap and keep him safe, because the most precious thing Josh saw in his brother was his naivety and kindness. Noticing him struggling so much was the last thing he wanted for him.

Therefore, he had only one mission for the day. As much as he didn’t want to socialise, Josh was going to endure anything for the sake of protecting and taking the burden off Dylan. That even included the insufferable Callahans, whose visit the day before was a vivid reminder of how much Josh detested their company. If anyone was going to sour the day, it was obviously going to be them.

Nevertheless, the funeral venue was decorated beautifully. A photo frame of Harry was carefully positioned on the coffin, situated at the head of the room. It was obvious that Dylan had chosen the photo; Harry’s unkempt locks were at peak messiness, and he had the biggest sile on his face, which was the clearest indicator that the photo was taken long after he escaped his parents. Flowers lined the sides of the room, while a playlist of Harry’s favourite songs was quietly setting the tone, artists such as Dean Lewis and Passenger creating the perfect reflective atmosphere.

“Hey,” a soothing voice greeted, snapping Josh back into the room. It was Yasmin, looking as beautiful as always. Few people knew Josh as well as Yasmin did, and as a result, she’d been one of the only people to respect his privacy since he returned to Crystalshaw.

“Hey,” he smiled back, though it didn’t last long. Yasmin’s plus one arrived behind her, and though josh knew that she had started seeing Cody, he didn’t feel good about it. The last time he’d seen Cody was years earlier, but every memory he had was negative. His protective instinct was taking over, and when it came to Yasmin, it was more intense than usual.

“Hi,” Cody sheepishly greeted. He looked nervous, as if he didn’t know what Josh was going to do next. Of course, Josh wasn’t going to disrupt Harry’s funeral. It wasn’t the time nor the place to act on his grievances. Dylan remained his priority.

“Dylan’s already here if you want to say hi. I think he needs all of us today,” Josh advised. Between the pack, Caroline, Ed, and even Libby, Dylan had more than enough buffers between him and the in-laws from hell.

“Jono looks glued to his side,” Cody observed.

“It’s been like that since Jono came back,” Yasmin replied, “It’s like they’re making up for lost time.”

“At Harry’s funeral?” Cody scoffed.

“Harry gave them his blessing. He knew exactly what Jono meant to Dylan,” Josh firmly defended, keeping his cool as much as he wanted to throttle Cody.

“You’d know if you’d seen them together, honestly,” Yasmin mediated, “Come on, let’s say hi.”

“You go, I’ll grab us a seat,” Cody anxiously backed off, to Josh’s surprise.

“The pack are sitting on the first three rows on the left,” Josh instructed, “The Callahans on the right, and Brett invited a load of their college friends too.” Despite the big turnout, Josh still had a sinking feeling that something could go wrong. His mission came first, and that was the priority.

On a day tinged with sadness, something felt so heart-warming to Lily to see such a strong turnout at the funeral. There was never any doubt that the pack would show up, nor Dylan’s family, but the amount of other people that packed out the final few rows was a reassuring sight, from Harry’s college days as well as fans he’d picked up from playing at the bar in town.

Among the soft feeling in her heat, Lily was trying to ignore a strange headache and queasy sensation from her stomach. Lily hadn’t felt so rough in years – since before she became part-werewolf, let alone the fully-fledged werewolf she’d become. She knew her body, and something was off.

“What’s the matter?” Jono questioned, as if he had the spooky ability to read her mind.

“Nothing,” Lily was quick to reply, hiding the truth and keeping her voice low. Jono was right beside her, but Dylan and Josh were either side of them on the front row, and she didn’t wasn’t to draw attention to her unusual state.

“You seem anxious, that’s all. I can’t feel it like I used to, I guess that’s one part of being a werewolf that I miss, but I know the signs,” Jono queried. Lily looked down. Her knees couldn’t have been closer if they tried, and her hands were clasped together in her lap, one picking at the other’s nails. Lily hadn’t noticed she was doing any of that, but Jono was right. He knew the signs.

“I’m just tired, that’s all,” Lily downplayed, “And emotions are running high.”

“Of course,” Jono nodded, “I mean, I feel like a fraud sitting here.”

“Why? It’s not like you never met Harry,” Lily listened carefully.

“I know, but I didn’t know him well. I wish I did, I wish we’d have been able to make friends, but we never had the chance. Would he have wanted me here? Especially knowing my history with Dylan,” Jono worried.

“As someone who had the pleasure of knowing Harry well, I can guarantee you that he’d want you here, even if you’d never met him in person. He knew what you meant to Dylan, and he’d have known exactly how much comfort you’re giving him today. I promise you he’d be delighted you’re here, front row, right by Dylan’s side,” Lily confidently reassured. Jono smiled. Those were clearly the words he needed to hear, “Hey, by the way, have you noticed anything weird with Yasmin? You know, since you came back.”

“Um, I don’t think so. I’ve not seen her much as she’s been at work. Why?” Jono curiously replied.

“She came to the lakehouse,” Lily mentioned, “I was going to let you guys know, but I figured Dylan’s a little preoccupied today.”

“When you say ‘she’, I guess you don’t mean Yasmin herself,” Jono figured.

“Of course. She barely said anything, just one name. Jodie,” Lily recalled, “Then a body surfaced on the lake. No prizes for guessing who it was.”

“Jodie,” Jono figured, “She must have drowned.”

“That’s what we thought, but somehow, she wasn’t dead. She gave me a warning. She said I’m next,” Lily worried.

“How did she know who you are?” Jono was confused.

“I don’t know, but she said my name. My full name. Then she died,” Lily could picture it so vividly in her head. It was scary, because one thing Lily had learned from the supernatural was that there was no smoke without fire.

“Let’s tell Dylan tomorrow, we can talk to Ed and everything. We’ll be okay. I’ve just got my sister back, I’m not letting anything happen to her,” Jono assured. Lily smiled, but she still couldn’t help worrying. Something was coming her way, and Lily was terrified.

Taking a deep breath as he laid his crumpled notes out on the stand at the front of the room, Dylan was terrified. Public speaking was Dylan’s worst nightmare, and the pressure felt enormous. He had to do Harry proud. That was his only thought.

It was difficult when the Callahans were directly in his eyeline, though. The entire pack being there – even Brett and Oscar who had made the trip back from LA especially – wasn’t enough to distract him. He felt like he was being judged, and knowing what Karen was like, his intuition was likely spot on.

“I met Harry just over four years ago,” Dylan began, trying his best to remain composed, “My good friend Brett introduced us. I was in such a bad place, and then I saw Harry. He was playing his first show in Crystalshaw, at the bar which became his second home. I still remember the first song he performed, a cover of “Let Her Go” by Passenger, but he changed the pronouns. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and I never did after that. From the very start, Harry was so kind. He understood me and was so patient in a way most people aren’t.”

Dylan paused, looking around, but his eyes made it difficult with tears clouding his view. The first reaction he spotted, of course, was Jono’s, and the proud smile on his face was all he needed to keep going.

“No matter what, Harry never judged me,” Dylan dug deep for the strength to continue, “And he was the same with everyone he met. He just wanted to make friends, and he made so many in Crystalshaw. He loved it here, and we made plans for our future here. We rented our first flat together and wanted so much more. I loved him. I still love him, and I miss him so much.”

Dylan turned to face the photo frame just behind him. It was his favourite photo of Harry, carefully chosen from so many Dylan had taken over the years, but this was special. Harry had the biggest smile on his face, and it was contagious. He wished he could hug Harry just once more. Reassure him how much he cared about him. How much he loved him, because there wasn’t one moment where he stopped. Among everything with Jono, his love for Harry was still there, and that was so important to him.

Collecting the sheet of paper that he hardly even looked at, Dylan took his seat back at the head of the front row. Immediately, Jono placed his hand on Dylan’s leg. The most subtle sign of affection, and it meant so much. Dylan had succeeded, and with any luck, wherever Harry was, he was smiling down on him.

On a day that was supposed to be sad, Jono felt strangely positive. Smiles were on the entire pack’s faces as everyone made themselves comfortable in the Drummond house living room. To Jono, the crowd of people in there felt complete, but the memories being shared by everyone painted a good picture of who was missing.

Somehow, it had never occurred to Jono that perhaps Dylan’s postcards really did paint the full picture of their seven years apart. Jono’s own weren’t false, but they left out his lowest moments. Dylan’s, on the other hand, always spoke about Harry’s brilliance – an attempt to reassure Jono that he was okay, no doubt – but the optimism of the postcards seemed real, and that was obvious for the whole pack as much as Dylan. Harry wasn’t just Dylan’s boyfriend, he was everyone’s friend and as much a part of the pack as any of them were.

“He was such a nerd at college,” Brett laughed, “I met him at the LGBTQ+ society. He wasn’t out then, but we spoken a lot about how he’d do it.”

“I remember the look on his parents’ faces. He told them he was bringing his partner home and in he walks with me on his arm,” Dylan chuckled, “Most awkward moment of my life.”

“Just imagine if they found out you’re a werewolf,” Oscar laughed.

“That was all my parents cared about,” Jono recalled, “A boyfriend? Fine, but a werewolf? They drew the line.”

“At least your dad wasn’t a literal hunter,” Yasmin laughed. Jono was amazed – everyone seemed so calm and relaxed. It was as if the world had stopped for just one day among their mundane day-to-day lives consumed by work. This was how he remembered the pack. This was how he loved it.

“We don’t have much luck with parents,” Jeremy concurred.

“Hey,” Caroline glared, albeit with a grin on her face.

“Okay, not all of us are as lucky as Dylan and Josh,” Sammi jested.

“We all claim Caroline and Ed as our parents,” Freddie chuckled.

“I don’t know if I can put that on my resumé,” Ed laughed along. Jono’s cheeks were hurting, but his heart felt warm. He’d missed every single person in that room so dearly.

“I wish he was here,” Dylan’s smile faded. The hole in the room felt bigger than ever, and Jono himself even felt it. He couldn’t imagine what Dylan was going through.

“But,” Dylan continued, turning to face Jono, “I’m so glad you’re here. I’m lost without you.”

“Harry took damn good care of you,” Jono nodded, “He was so lucky to have you.”

“I think I was the lucky one. I still am,” Dylan met eyes with Jono, sharing the most vulnerable yet content look Jono had seen. Things were settling again, and Jono was so happy to be home.

Listening more intently than ever, Dylan could hardly sit still. He’d left the phone call to Jono – he’d only get flustered if he had to do it himself – but he was paying close attention to every single word of the phone call, excitement and anxiety flooding his body in anticipation.

It was getting late, and with work looming the next day, most of the pack had gone home. Nevertheless, to ensure privacy, Dylan and Jono had taken themselves outside, sitting side-by-side on the doorstep. Dylan’s wolf-hearing was coming in handy, though with how closely they were sat, he didn’t have to focus too hard to clearly hear every word coming out of the estate agent’s mouth via Jono’s phone.

“Okay, thank you so much,” Jono finished the call, pressing the red button on the phone screen. Dylan could barely hold his excitement in. After one of the most emotional days of his life, he felt strangely content.

“Our offer’s in, they’ll let us know as soon as possible whether the house is ours or not,” Jono reported, “But you knew that already, right?”

“Of course,” Dylan chuckled.

“Damn, I miss my wolf-hearing like mad,” Jono reminisced, “The amount of times I’ve tried to use it this past week.”

“Just wait until you get a cold, or a hangover. No healing,” Dylan laughed.

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m teetotal,” Jono chuckled, “I quit while I was ahead a year after I arrived in London. Couldn’t get drunk but it was draining my bank balance, and honestly, I don’t miss it.”

“You and me both,” Dylan agreed, “I don’t see the appeal of getting drunk, even if I could. I prefer a cup of tea in front of the TV.”

“We’ll be able to do that in our own house soon,” Jono beamed. Dylan could hardly wait. He wished they could move in immediately; the wait was killing him.

A beam of light flicked into Dylan’s face, Dylan instantly shielding his eyes from its intensity. The headlights of an approaching car. A posh car, Dylan observed. Undoubtedly expensive, and without a single scratch on its surface. Dylan couldn’t see who was inside (without flashing his piercing red wolf eyes), but he didn’t need to. He knew exactly who it was.

Immediately, as the car engine switched off, both the driver and passenger doors clicked open. A tall, suited figure emerged from the driver side, while tall black heels crunched over the stoned driveway from the passenger side. Both Terry and Karen Callahan felt like intruders, and Dylan immediately stood up, as if he had to keep Jono safe.

“That’s an awfully big smile you had, just then,” Karen instantly interrogated, “On the day of your lover’s funeral.”

“Was there something you wanted?” Dylan ignored her remark, but inside, he was angry. The wolf wanted to react, but Dylan wasn’t going to lose control. Jono stood up behind him, backing him up, and Dylan desperately wanted to grip his hand tightly, but he figured it wasn’t the best idea.

“We came to tell you we’ll be speaking to your stepdad in the morning,” Terry explained, “To express our disappointment in how the murder of our son has been handled, and to demand the investigation is stepped up, seeing as you don’t seem to be doing anything.”

“I thought there wasn’t any evidence,” Dylan recalled. He knew exactly what happened, but of course, he had to downplay it. The supernatural element had to remain secret, so all the Callahans knew was that Harry was attacked at the hospital during a lockdown, where the power systems including CCTV cameras were shut off. Not only did this protect their secret, but it protected the innocent person possessed by the entity at the time of Harry’s attack.

“There’s always evidence,” Terry insisted.

“And you know more than you’re letting on,” Karen concurred, “You and your replacement boyfriend are guilty as sin, and if the cops can’t prove this, we will.”

Instantly, Karen strutted back to the car, Terry following, leaving a shaken Dylan watching the car depart as if nothing happened. Dylan felt enraged, but also, he was scared. He knew he was innocent, but there was a huge secret on the line which affected more people than just Dylan and Jono.

And it was on the cusp of being exposed.

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Next: "Scrutiny"

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