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Next: "Lectures"

Series 9 Episode 2
"Safety Net"

Wrapped up cosily in bed, Freddie didn’t want to get up. He was in no rush, and his mind was still processing the night before. It felt like a wild dream, as if it had come and gone within a second.

Before Freddie could find anything out about who the girl was, she had vanished. No goodbye, no introduction, nothing. He had no idea how to find her again, either, but Freddie was absolutely sure he would. Something as special as that couldn’t be so brief.

“Oi, lazy bones,” Josh threw a pillow at Freddie. He was already up and about, making full use of his werewolf healing powers to swerve the hangover.

“What? What’s the rush?” Freddie groaned.

“It’s a new day, I’m not wasting a second of this free time before lectures,” Josh harped on. Freddie didn’t care, though. He only had one thing on his mind.

“I’m not feeling it,” Freddie rolled over to face away from him.

“What? Come on, you were living your best life last night,” Josh encouraged, trying his best.

“Exactly, now today is one big bump back down to earth,” Freddie sighed.

“You didn’t get her number? Dude, that’s dating 101, I can’t believe it,” Josh replied, disappointed.

“She vanished, it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t even find out her name,” Freddie felt deflated.

“The thrill of the chase,” Josh excitedly plonked himself down at the foot of Freddie’s bed.

“She wants me to track her down?” Freddie was confused, “Why didn’t she just tell me her name? That would have been so easy.”

“Who told you girls were easy?” Josh laughed, “Neither of us have had much luck with girls, dude. Not even the same girl.” Of course; Freddie found it so strange that both he and Josh had dated Yasmin. Freddie and Yasmin as a couple felt like ancient history – their friendship was solely platonic, and it was all the better for it.

“So, how do I find her?” Freddie pondered, feeling lost.

“You’re a werewolf. Track her scent,” Josh suggested.

“You think I caught any sort of scent last night? There were hundreds in the room, and still all I could smell was alcohol,” Freddie felt exasperated. He was out of options.

“Well, lucky for you I haven’t actually decided what to do today,” Josh persisted, “Get ready. We’re finding your girl.”

Freddie wasn’t sure what to expect. Would they be able to find her? Was he getting his hopes up? Freddie knew he probably was, but he was going to try his best. He had nothing to lose.

There was nothing Lily enjoyed more than a quiet stroll first thing in the morning. Fresh air helped her gather her thoughts, and she had a load of crazy thoughts racing through her mind since restarting college. Arriving brought mixed emotions; a fresh start was exciting, and there was the potential for so many amazing things to happen. Not to mention how Lily was now surrounded by all of her friends, as well as Jono.

On the other hand, Lily’s only prior college experience hadn’t been so positive. Travelling far away was supposed to be her great moment of independence, where she truly got to be the person she wanted to be. Ultimately, she had jumped into the deep end and the current was too strong. It was true – packs were stronger together.

At least it hadn’t been a complete waste of time. She had made friends for life in Sindy and Misha, and they had spent the best summer together at the lakehouse. The mission had mainly been to distract Misha from everything that had happened with Monroe and Jamal, and it turned into the most brilliantly therapeutic couple of months. It felt slightly weird that they were continuing on at Washington while Lily had transferred.

Thankfully, she had Alex with her. The best part of her college experience had been meeting him, and now they were stronger than ever. Living together at the lakehouse had given her the dose of independence she so desperately wanted.

“It’s so pretty here,” Jono commented, examining the sights around campus. Lily had vowed to spend more time with Jono, seeing as they were living together for the first time in a year. Dylan had tagged along too, which Lily didn’t mind. He was family, and quite frankly, she was closer to him than most of her blood relatives.

“Just wait until the parties really start. Beer cans will decorate every sidewalk,” Lily reminisced, thinking about the state of Washington after freshers’ week.

“Probably from your parties,” Dylan called out. Lily blushed, knowing he was spot on. Their graduation party over the summer was the only event she’d hosted in ages. She missed hosting deeply; it was the time when she felt most at home.

“I hope it doesn’t end like this one,” Jono pointed ahead to the restaurant, which had served as the venue for the freshers’ party the night before. However, it didn’t inspire positive memories from the night before. Police tape guarded the entrance, and two deputies stood either side. Ed’s sheriff car was parked outside. Something bad had happened. A shiver travelled down Lily’s spine.

“What the hell?” Lily was gobsmacked.

“Can you smell that?” Jono wondered. Lily paid attention to her nose. There was a strange, damp scent in the air, quite unlike anything or anyone she’d met before.

“Something weird is going on. Come on, let’s speak to Ed,” Dylan suggested. Lily couldn’t deny it – she was intrigued.

Watching Sammi fret was making Jeremy anxious. She already had enough on her plate; Jamal had knocked her for six, and the break-up with Freddie was affecting her more than she was letting on. So much had changed, and Jeremy understood. Neither of them had experienced any level of normality in a long time.

Jeremy couldn’t lie – he really missed the pack, too. They weren’t far away, but when he had school and they had college, social visits weren’t going to be the priority. It was like a barrier had been raised between them, and he and Sammi were on their own.

“What if he tells people?” Sammi panicked. It was all they had discussed that day. Felix had left quite the impression on them, and it wasn’t a positive one.

“He doesn’t know what I am. We didn’t confirm anything,” Jeremy attempted to reassure her, but he was also trying to convince himself, “He’s just speculating, like most people do. He was right, there are rumours.”

“What if he tries to get proof, though? He thinks we’re the key, but we’re more than that. You’re more than that,” Sammi worried.

“Then we keep him close. He wanted to be friends, so let’s be friends. If we’re his friends, he won’t want to cause any harm,” Jeremy decided, “Perhaps he’s better off knowing my secret?”

“No way, are you for real? We don’t know this guy at all,” Sammi panicked further.

“Exactly. This way, we keep control, we tell him on our terms, and nothing more needs to be done,” Jeremy reasoned. It was the key skill he had learnt from Dylan during their time in the Lunar Sanctum – they had to remain optimistic.

“Hey guys,” Felix grinned excitedly, joining them at the bench, “What’s up?”

“Hey,” Jeremy smiled back. Already, he was putting his plan into action. Keeping Felix on their good side could be just the solution to containing the rumours.

“I spent last night doing loads of research,” Felix dived straight in, continuing the previous night’s discussion. He slid a folder out of his rucksack and shoved it down on the table. Jeremy flicked through it, seeing printouts of werewolf mythologies from various websites. Half of the myths were completely inaccurate, of course.

“What are you going to do with all that?” Sammi nervously queried. She still seemed tentative over the plan.

“Prepare ourselves. Knowledge is power, right?” Felix justified. In his eyes, it made perfect sense, but he only knew half the story. He had put two and two together to get five, and he needed to know most werewolves were not a threat to him.

“Maybe we don’t need to?” Jeremy found himself saying. This was it. This was the crucial moment.

“Why not?” Felix enquired. Sammi shot him a worried glance, but Jeremy knew he was doing the right thing. After all, it was his life, and he needed to be in control of it.

“Because I’m a werewolf,” Jeremy revealed, glowing his eyes. Felix’s face was a picture – pure confusion, shock, and strangely, a load of excitement. The secret was out, and Jeremy wasn’t sure how to feel. He was placing his trust in a stranger, and it could easily backfire.

Grabbing the carton of milk out of the now-packed fridge, Yasmin was surprised by how quiet the dorm was. It was part of a tall, wide building with various floors and dorm rooms, so she’d expected a lot of noise. She supposed it was the effect of a hangover from the freshers’ party, but even her own dorm was perfectly tranquil.

Most of the pack seemed to have gone out. A quick scout-around the house revealed Oscar and Alex were the only two at home, and Alex was still sleeping; the downsides of not having werewolf healing powers. Surprisingly, even Freddie and Josh seemed to have gone out. It wasn’t like them to be up and about so early when they didn’t need to be.

“Bathroom’s free,” Oscar notified. Each bedroom had an en suite, and Oscar was using it to get dressed, allowing each of them a level of privacy. So far, sharing with Oscar was going pretty well.

“Thanks, I’m not in a rush. Trying to enjoy not having to study or get up early for a few more days,” Yasmin informed.

“I thought you’d be raring to go,” Oscar chuckled.

“Sort of,” Yasmin tentatively answered, “I suppose I’m enjoying the relaxation. This is the most chilled I’ve been since…” She tailed off, not sure of the best way to phrase her sentence.

“Since you met Dylan?” Oscar understood. He got it in one – her life changed when she met Dylan, and at the time, she had no idea.

“Right,” Yasmin smiled knowingly, “I’m not complaining. My life is different in just about every way, except the bad luck in the dating department.” She laughed, and Oscar did too. Humour and self-deprecation were always the best ways to cope, Yasmin found, “Without Dylan, I’d probably never have spoken to Jono, or Lily, or Freddie, or Josh. My dad would have murdered so many more werewolves. Anything bad that’s happened to me, I can deal with, because I’ve gained so much from meeting Dylan. I’ve gained my best friends.”

“Same,” Oscar agreed, “I don’t know what I’d have done in Crystalshaw without you all. Becoming a werewolf? That’s a small price to pay.”

“Do you ever think about how normal life would look?” Yasmin wondered. It was something she thought about more often than she’d care to admit. Normality was a strange fantasy, and not something she ever envisioned she’d have.

“I don’t think I’ve ever known normality,” Oscar considered, “I had friends at my old school, but we were definitely the outsiders. Nobody would have called us normal.”

“Normality’s boring,” Yasmin affirmed, “That’s always what I’ve decided. Our lives are dangerous, but they’re exciting. We get to see what nobody else in the world sees. You can’t tell me that’s not awesome.”

Oscar smiled. Yasmin admired the kindness in his eyes. Even the supernatural world couldn’t take that away from him.

Suddenly, Yasmin was no longer in the room. In the blink of an eye, she found herself in the restaurant, where the party had taken place. This time, though, it was empty. The decorations were up, the food and drink were out, the music was playing, but not a guest in sight. Yasmin knew exactly what was going on. The nix was trying to tell her something, and it was important she paid attention.

Appearing directly in front of her, in the centre of the dancefloor, was an older man. He immediately looked wise, wearing round spectacles and, oddly, striped pyjamas. He must have been a professor at the college.

“Hello?” Yasmin nervously greeted. She knew how to treat a vision – probing for clues was the best skill she had.

“You’re a nix,” he simply said. His facial expression remained vacant. It was clear; he was dead.

“How is that relevant?” Yasmin made sure to ask the right questions. Visions weren’t meet-and-greets with the dead. Sympathy was a waste of time.

“You are similar,” he added. Nothing made sense. Similar to a nix? What did he mean?

“Who is?” Yasmin considered her next question.

“My killer,” he coldly answered. His mouth began to trickle water, followed by his nose. Quickly, water started to ooze out of every possible exit. It was a horrifying sight; Yasmin felt sick.

Back in the dorm. Oscar was staring worriedly at her, not sure what to do. Yasmin was shaken. Her premonitions were never unfounded, but were always so vague.

“What happened?” Oscar desperately questioned.

“Something bad,” Yasmin gravely answered. Something more was going on.

Half an hour down, Josh was getting sick of knocking on dorm doors asking about an unnamed girl with the vaguest description ever. It was tedious, and so far, they hadn’t even gotten close to finding her. However, this was for Freddie. A chance at giving back to his best friend. It was the least he could do.

After all, Freddie had gone so far to help Josh out. In the darkest hour, Freddie had never stopped fighting for him. He was the first to forgive the horrifying things Josh had done under David’s spell. He owed Freddie everything.

“Nothing,” Freddie rejoined Josh at the top of the staircase. They had exhausted all options. There were no more dorms left.

“Maybe she doesn’t study here? Anyone can get in,” Josh pondered. As much as he wanted to make the most of his free time, Freddie was priority. He deserved his full attention.

“It’s hopeless. I wish I’d never seen her. It got my hopes up. Just another disappointment,” Freddie was disheartened. It only made Josh more determined to succeed.

“Maybe we just need more details? Think, was there anything else?” Josh probed.

“Glowing eyes aside, no,” Freddie casually murmured. Way too casually for such an important piece of information.

“Glowing eyes? She’s a werewolf? Dude, this is important, all we had to do was howl,” Josh groaned. They could have saved so much hassle.

“No, they were light blue, like Yasmin’s. I think she was a nix,” Freddie pondered.

“I thought nixes were rare. Yasmin’s never met another like her before,” Josh recalled. In fact, even the Bestiary barely had any information on nixes.

“I know, but there she was, I’m sure of it,” Freddie confirmed.

“Does she know who you are?” Josh queried.

“I think so. I glowed my eyes back. She knows I’m not human at least,” Freddie explained.

“Okay, so it’s fair to assume she knows you know what she is,” Josh tried his best to piece the information together.

“Huh?” Freddie was lost. Josh couldn’t exactly blame him, either.

“She’ll be waiting somewhere she knows you’ll look,” Josh thought, “Where can you find a nix?”

“By water,” Freddie knew, “There’s a lake a couple of minutes away.”

“Come on then, Romeo,” Josh smiled. He was desperately hoping that his theory was correctly. Freddie deserved good news.

Being the stepson of Crystalshaw’s sheriff certainly carried its perks for Dylan. It meant that none of the deputies even thought about challenging him when entering a crime scene. In fact, a couple even said hello to him. It made investigating supernatural goings-on surprisingly easy.

The summer had been rather uneventful after the Lunar Sanctum closed down. Though Monroe threatened an army, none of them had showed up, and Dylan had enjoyed a quiet few months as a result. Adjusting to the end of high school was weird, so Dylan appreciated the time he spent with both friends and family, even if those lines had very much blurred.

One thing Dylan couldn’t forget was Caroline’s bittersweet facial expression from the day before. She and Ed had helped them move in, dropping Freddie and Josh while Jono drove Dylan down in his cosy little car. Though Caroline was undoubtedly proud, she looked so disappointed to be losing not just her sons, but Jono and Freddie too. They were a unit, and Dylan was grateful for each and every one of them.

“What’s happened?” Lily was horrified at the state of the restaurant. Dylan was taken aback, too. It looked a complete state, and not because of the littered plastic cups decorating the laminate floor. The room had been flooded with water, just a couple of centimetres high, but enough to be ruining Dylan’s new shoes. Most worryingly, though, was the dead body in the centre. A man, lying face down, with greying hair and long pyjamas.

“I saw him last night,” Jono recognised, gobsmacked, “He was supervising. He’s a professor.”

“Who would kill a professor?” Lily wondered.

“I think the bigger question is where did this water come from? This isn’t a leak, there’s too much for that,” Dylan considered. It wasn’t adding up.

“Look who it isn’t,” Ed walked in with a proud smile on his face. It had only been twenty-four hours since Dylan last saw him, but it felt amazing to be reunited. It had been an emotionally exhausting day, and familiarity was very much welcomed.

“Hey,” Dylan smiled back, hugging Ed tightly.

“How did I know you’d find your way here?” Ed remarked.

“Just checking you’re doing your job,” Dylan joked, “What’s happened?”

“Hard to say,” Ed replied, “The CCTV is bust, and there were no witnesses despite the freakin’ party.”

“This place was heaving, even when we left,” Lily added, “Surely someone saw something?”

“Look at his clothes,” the ever-observant Jono pointed out. His journalistic eye was second to none. He was right, too. The professor wasn’t wearing the evening suit Dylan remembered seeing him in. The pyjamas were quite the contrast – bright and stripy, with slippers on his feet.

“No wonder nobody saw. This can’t have happened during the party. He came back,” Dylan pieced it together.

“But why? We still don’t know what did this,” Lily queried. She was right – nothing made any sense.

“Guys,” Yasmin rushed in, Oscar trailing behind. She skidded to a halt, noticing the state of the room.

“You saw him, didn’t you?” Dylan identified. He knew a Yasmin vision when he saw one, “Who is he?”

“Yes, and I don’t know, but water trickled out of his body. He said the killer is similar to me,” Yasmin relayed.

“A nix?” Dylan wondered. Nixes weren’t usually killers – they predicted deaths, they didn’t cause them.

“No, similar. Not the same,” Oscar observed, “What’s like a nix?”

“I know how we can find out,” Dylan thought, whipping out his phone. The downside of living so far away from Crystalshaw.

Sammi had suspected it would only be a matter of time before Dylan called on her for help. Quite why he didn’t take the Bestiary with him, Sammi didn’t understand. All they needed to do was photocopy it – one for college and one for the lakehouse.

Though she was happy to help out, Sammi felt flustered. She didn’t think her day could be any crazier than the last, but it was certainly well on its way. Jeremy telling Felix the truth was such a risky move. They didn’t know how trustworthy he was, and now their greatest secret was in his hands.

No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t shake Felix off. He was like a dog with a bone, understandably considering Jeremy’s bombshell. However, they had a job to do, and they needed to reach the lakehouse. The Bestiary was kept there, and Sammi wasn’t sure she wanted Felix to know about it. After all, it was their only copy, and if anything happened to it, they were screwed.

“Is this where the pack lives?” Felix excitedly interrogated. Sammi had never seen him so giddy before; he was usually the most chilled-out person around.

“No, it’s where my cousin usually lives, when she’s not at college,” Sammi answered. The lakehouse was Lily’s domain, but she didn’t live alone. Of course, she had Alex, and George moved in when he returned from London alongside his girlfriend, Mia. It was the strangest living arrangement Sammi had ever heard of. The boyfriend, the ex, and his new girlfriend. All things considered, it was strangely harmonious, “Just…don’t say a word and let us get on with it.”

As if dealing with Felix wasn’t bad enough, Sammi hadn’t seen George since she broke up with Freddie, and Mia knew nothing of the supernatural world. This was going to be awkward as hell.

“Oh, hey,” George poked his head out from the living room as the front door clicked shut. He didn’t look so pleased to see Sammi, but she wasn’t getting into that. An awkward silence followed. Sammi didn’t know how to follow that.

“I’m Felix, by the way,” Felix broke the silence. So much for keeping quiet.

“Who’s he?” George interrogated.

“Nobody,” Sammi swerved.

“Oh, I thought I could hear voices,” Mia came downstairs. Sammi had met Mia a few times now and she was super nice, though extremely protective of George. She was a social butterfly, much like Lily in fact. George clearly had a type, “Hey guys.”

“Hi Mia,” Jeremy spoke up, noticing Sammi’s awkwardness, “We just need to find a textbook that we left behind over the summer. Mrs. Johnson will go crazy if we don’t give it back.”

Smart. Sammi admired Jeremy’s quick-thinking. She supposed he’d learnt that after years of being shrouded from the world by their dad. He needed quick-thinking to escape.

“Sure, take as long as you need,” Mia smiled, bouncing into the front room, taking George’s attention away from Sammi.

“Woah, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife,” Felix remarked.

“Dude, shut up,” Sammi groaned. However, she needed to put the animosity aside. Dylan needed her, and that was her only priority.

Nervously approaching the lake, Freddie had butterflies swarming around in his stomach. He so desperately wanted to get lucky and find the mystery girl he had fallen so quickly for. It was hard to explain why he felt how he did, but he could only describe it as electric. He hadn’t felt this way about anyone before.

It wasn’t that he didn’t care for Sammi any longer, but it was like he no longer cared about the end of their relationship. This sensation was new. Freddie had never felt more spellbound by anything or anyone.

The sun was reflecting off the gorgeous blue lake, surrounded by crisp green grass. It looked so beautiful, like a child’s painting. Freddie had never seen an area so gorgeous. It was the perfect setting.

“There she is,” Josh pointed. Sure enough, he was right. The same girl, bathing in the shallow lake, singing loudly yet delicately to a song Freddie didn’t recognise. Her beautiful golden locks were flowing down her back even when wet, and her natural bluey-green eyes shone brightly in the sunlight. She was just as breath-taking as Freddie remembered.

Turning around, her drenched hair flicking sprinkles of water behind her, she immediately fixed eyes on Freddie. She stopped singing and smiled invitingly, but Freddie was nervous. He didn’t want to mess it up.

“Go, you got this,” Josh encouraged. That was the push Freddie needed. Cautiously and sheepishly, he neared the girl, pausing at the head of the lake.

“Don’t be afraid,” she invited him into the water. This was the first time Freddie had heard her speak.

“I’ll get my clothes wet,” Freddie worried. Without saying anything more, the girl slowly moved her arms to the side, brushing them away from her body. Directly in sync, the water parted, like two invisible barriers had been built. Freddie was amazed. He jumped down onto the bone-dry sea bed, standing eye-to-eye with her.

“I’m Summer,” she introduced. At last, he knew her name.

“Freddie,” he replied.

“A cute name for a cute boy,” she replied, placing her damp hand on his cheek. Freddie had never experienced such elation before. This was exactly what he dreamed of.

“I thought I’d never find you again,” Freddie revealed.

“I told you all you needed to know to track me down,” Summer replied. She was immaculately spoken, and her voice was one of wisdom and experience, “And here you are. An intelligent beta is the strongest of its kind.”

“That’s what my alpha taught. Violence is a last resort,” Freddie mentioned, “And you’re a nix?”

“You’ve seen my kind before?” Summer looked surprised.

“My friend is one, though I’m not sure she can do this,” Freddie pointed at the impressive water barricades.

“It’s about learning. A nix can do so much,” she answered, “A bit like this.” Summer placed her calm, soothing lips on Freddie’s. It was the most magical kiss ever. Freddie had waited all day for this moment. It was everything.

Taking a breather outside the restaurant, Dylan was overwhelmed. He was certain that something bad was happening, and he’d only been at college for two days. It was like trouble had followed him away from Crystalshaw town and into the college. Was his mere presence enough to cause death? He felt cursed.

Though Dylan had seen so many different supernatural creatures, he felt more exposed at college. He knew the safe places at home. His bedroom, the treehouse, the lakehouse, the school, Jono’s house, and he could go on. College was new, and Dylan barely knew his way around. There was a lot to adapt to, and suddenly the pressure was on.

“Hey,” a comforting voice came from behind him. Lily had followed him out, “Getting a bit much, huh?”

“Was a couple of weeks to settle in too much to ask for?” Dylan sighed. He knew the supernatural world didn’t work to a schedule, but Dylan’s life couldn’t stop progressing. It was a lot in one go.

“I know exactly how you feel. One year ago, I was on my own, fighting a battle that was hours away from home,” Lily recalled, “At least you have us. Don’t forget that.”

“I won’t,” Dylan confirmed. Lily was right. He had all the people he needed around him, and that was the best safety net he could ask for, “Are you okay?”

“I think so. I wasn’t sure about starting over, but it was the right thing to do. I don’t care what comes our way now. Werezombies, vampires, whatever. I know we can handle it,” Lily assured.

“Werezombies?” Dylan chuckled.

“Shut up,” Lily laughed with him. Dylan saw Lily as the big sister he never had. She was always there for him, and Dylan was always keen to return the favour where he could.

Buzz! Dylan’s phone vibrated harshly. Sammi was calling back. With Lily’s words placed firmly in his mind, Dylan was motivated. He needed to know what this creature was. He answered the call and placed the phone on loudspeaker.

“Hey, so, we’ve found something,” Sammi launched straight into the explanation, “Water creatures are few and far between, but the one with the biggest Bestiary entry is the siren.”

“I’ve heard of that,” Dylan immediately thought of Doctor Who – one of his favourite shows to binge with Jono, “They live in water and sing to lure their victims to their deaths.”

“Pretty much, but I think there’s more to it than that,” Sammi informed, “Much like a nix, they can summon water, but they can also excrete it. They create water, Dylan.”

“No wonder it was flooded,” Lily thought.

“They’re bad news, Dylan. Sirens are cold-blooded killers. If there’s one in Crystalshaw, we’re all in danger,” Sammi warned. Dylan’s stomach dropped. This was serious, and lives were at stake.

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Next: "Lectures"

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