Previous: "Fresh Air"

Next: "Johnny"

Series 7 Episode 4
"Family Reunion"

Packing up the last of her things into a cardboard box, Sammi felt frustrated at having to move again. It had been five years since she and her dad left Crystalshaw, and they hadn’t stayed anywhere for any significant duration. Now they were abandoning another house, and he refused to tell her where they were headed next. It was time for Sammi to get some answers.

It was easier said than done, though. Sammi used to be very close with her dad, but their relationship had become strained. He was always out, and he never gave an explanation as to where he had been. It was cause for concern, and not something Sammi wanted to deal with. She was in sophomore year now, she needed to concentrate on her studies.

Heaving the cardboard box on top of another gathered by the front door, Sammi took one last glance at the house. She felt nothing – no sense of home or comfort. Four months wasn’t long enough to develop a feeling like that. Her dad confidently carried the final box from the kitchen out. It was time to talk.

“Where are we headed?” Sammi questioned, innocently and inquisitively.

“Never you mind. We’ve got a new place ready and waiting for us. You’ll love it,” he replied, shedding no light.

“That didn’t answer my question,” Sammi wasn’t giving up, “I mean, I deserve to know my own address, dad.”

“I’ll tell you later, there’s no time now. I need you to help me load everything into the car,” he swerved again, “Please, sweetie.”

“You never tell me anything,” Sammi was like a dog with a bone – she wasn’t letting go of this. Enough was enough.

“Don’t you think there’s a good reason?” he yelled, startling Sammi. His eyes began to glow, in a way Sammi had never seen. Not on him, or anyone. They glared a bright red. The colour of danger. Sammi was terrified.

“What the hell?” Sammi quivered in fright. That wasn’t her dad. She needed to get away, and fast.

Stunned into silence, Sammi didn’t know how to react. She hadn’t seen her father since she moved in with Jono; no phone call, no text, not even a birthday card. Since she had seen those fearsome, nightmare-inducing eyes, her father ceased to be.

Therefore, the doting father act wasn’t working with her. She wasn’t going to join in with his ridiculous circus act; it was insulting to them both. However, Uncle Steve and Aunt Helen were in the room. They knew about werewolves, but not the full story. Clearly not anything involving their own flesh and blood.

“So, aren’t you going to introduce me?” he probed further. Sammi hated that she had to be civil around him Her blood was boiling, simmering overboard.

“This is Dylan, he’s my boyfriend,” Jono took the reins, as if he could sense her anger, “And this is his brother, Josh.”

“Your mom was just telling me you have a boyfriend, Jono. Good on you, nice to meet you both,” he continued. Sammi felt sick. How was anyone able to stomach this? “I hear you have a fella too, Sammi.”

That was the final straw. He didn’t get to ask about Freddie. He had lost the privilege of asking personal questions. She hurried out of the room, enable to cope in the toxic, suffocating atmosphere any longer. All she wanted to do was cocoon in her duvet and shut her problems away. Sammi pushed her bedroom door firmly shut and buried herself under the covers.

“Hey, Sammi, it’s Josh,” she heard from the other side of the door. She really wanted to be on her own, but Josh was a friendly face. Behind his jovial, sarcastic exterior was a sincere heart.

“Come in, but don’t expect elegance,” Sammi tried to perk up.

“Trust me, I’ve seen Jono first thing in the morning. Elegant is not the word,” Josh teased, closing the door softly behind him and placing himself at the end of the bed, “Wanna talk about it?”

“I can’t believe how brazen he’s being,” Sammi began to vent, though she wasn’t sure she’d be able to stop, “Walking in as if nothing’s happened. How dare he?”

“Parents, eh?” Josh commented. Sammi paused – Josh was adopted, but she didn’t know the situation with his birth parents. She may have just put her foot in it.

“I’m sorry, that was insensitive,” Sammi apologised.

“No, it’s fine. I never knew my birthday parents. Even my surname is from my first foster family,” Josh replied openly, “And I’ve not seen the Rayners since I was five. I know more than most that parents aren’t always what they crack up to be.”

“My dad wasn’t awful, though. He was the best. I guess he was living a double life,” Sammi thought aloud. Her phone buzzed. A new message from Yasmin – they had another patient, “I gotta go. New case of the virus. Could you tell the others for me?”

“Sure,” Josh accepted, “I’ll make an excuse for your dad, too.”

“Thanks,” Sammi smiled. He had been so kind to her – kinder than he needed to be.

Now for the distraction she so desperately needed.

His mind racing like a Formula 1 driver around the famous course, Dylan was desperate to think of an excuse to leave. This wasn’t how he expected his reunion with Jono to be. He wanted warm hugs, terrible jokes, and lots of kissing. Lots and lots of kissing. Instead, they were faced with a homicidal werewolf – one who was known for targeting his own kind as well as humans. It was beyond dangerous for them both to be there – family or not.

Dylan totally sympathised with Sammi. The sheer arrogance exuding off him was unbearable, and he wafted back in without even the hint of an apology. As far as first impressions went, he wasn’t making a very good one.

“I’m sure she’ll be back in a few minutes,” Helen commented on Sammi’s exit.

“It’s okay, it gives me a chance to catch up with my favourite nephew,” he continued the charm offensive. Dylan linked hands with Jono – a signal that they were a team, and they were in this together, “How long have you lovebirds been together?”

“Two years,” Jono kept a strong composure. Dylan was immensely proud of him – he wasn’t sure he had the bottle himself. It was better to stay quiet.

“That’s some going, Just, don’t be naïve by the time college comes around. High school romances never last,” he mouthed off. Dylan was getting agitated, and so was the wolf inside. How dare he make such offensive assumptions about their relationship?

“David, come on, there’s no need,” Helen defended. She always took Jono’s side in an argument – thankfully, this was no different.

“He’s got a point, honey,” Steve irritatingly interjected, “Young love isn’t forever.”

“Maybe it is,” Jono put his foot down, “Come on Dyl, I think I left my math book at yours.” Jono pulled Dylan out of the house. Of course, there was no math book – they just needed to get out. Dylan was pleased he hadn’t misinterpreted that.

“You were incredible,” Dylan told Jono. He needed to know just how awesome he was – it was important.

“I got defensive,” Jono was being hard on himself.

“Yeah, because they assassinated your character,” Dylan wasn’t letting this stand, “You stood up for yourself, and you stood up for me. I’m so proud of you, Jon.”

“I worry, though,” Jono opened up, “How will we cope during college? We couldn’t last forty-eight hours in quarantine.”

“It will work, because we love each other too much for it not to work, right?” Dylan encouraged. He was determined, and he knew Jono was too. They always had each other, and always would.

“Right,” Jono nodded, perking up.

“Besides, maybe we won’t need to worry,” Dylan thought aloud, “We both want the same course, all we’d need is the same college.”

“You’d be too big a distraction in my lectures,” Jono played about, gripping Dylan firmly around the waist.

“Yup, just the way it should be,” Dylan grinned, before embracing Jono in one of their heart-warming, stomach-tingling kisses.

“Hey, Romeo and Julien,” Josh yelled out, meeting them by Jono’s car, “Did you see Sammi?”

“I thought she was with you,” Jono mentioned.

“Yasmin messaged, they’ve got another case,” Josh relayed, “You must have just missed her.” Dylan panic levels began to rise again. This virus wasn’t one, and he couldn’t risk getting involved.

“We need to find out more,” Dylan decided, “Come on.”

Watching her classmate be examined, Yasmin was feeling a profound sense of worry. This virus was affecting people she never knew it could, and that scared her. Because the supernatural world was a place she was fully immersed in, she had forgotten that not everybody was the same. There were werewolves out there keeping their heads down, not making themselves known. After everything that went down with the hunters, in front of the school, Yasmin could hardly blame them. The lasting impact of Dami and Jake still lingered like a bad smell.

“How’s she doing?” Freddie passed Yasmin a cup of tea from the hospital machine.

“You shouldn’t be here, it’s not safe,” Yasmin warned. It was lovely that Freddie was so intent on helping out, but she didn’t want to put him in danger. Freddie was the closest thing she had to a brother, and losing him would break her.

“We’re behind the glass, it’s okay,” Freddie reassured, “Besides, I’m not sure anywhere is safe right now.”

“I know,” Yasmin replied, “It’s why I’m so worried. Sure, Dylan and Josh were fine after all, but next time…”

“Next time we might lose someone,” Freddie recognised, “I know. I guess this is why you’re avoiding Josh, right?”

“Huh? I’m not avoiding him,” Yasmin played up. She absolutely was avoiding Josh, and she felt guilty about it, but worry was beginning to consume her.

“You’re avoiding each other,” Freddie corrected, “I can read both of you like a book. You’re making excuses as to why you’re not talking, but you’re scared, right? Scared to lose him?”

“Aren’t you? We’re all scared, Freddie. He’s at risk, you’re at risk, Dylan, Jono, and god knows who else, and for once, I don’t know how I can help,” Yasmin let rip. Her eyes were starting to water, but she was holding the tears in. They weren’t going to solve anything.

“It’s not your responsibility,” Freddie reminded, “We’re all in this, and even if I can’t get too involved, you have Sammi and Brett. And Josh on the end of the phone. Don’t forget that.”

Yasmin nodded. Freddie was annoyingly on point. She had been carrying the burden on her own, when there was no need to.

“Hey,” Brett called over, jogging down the corridor, expertly swerving the nurses and visitors on the way, “What’s going on?”

“Look to your left,” Yasmin instructed. All the answers Brett needed were in that hospital bed, clinging on to life.

“Damn, that makes two, how’s the other kid?” Brett questioned.

“I spoke to Ed earlier, there’s no change,” Yasmin fed back.

“That’s gotta be good, right?” Brett was surprisingly optimistic. In the corner of her eye, as Brett spoke, Yasmin found herself distracted. Someone was watching them. Someone she had never seen before.

“Don’t turn around too quickly, but I think we’re being watched,” Yasmin lowered her voice just as Sammi joined the group.

“What are you doing here?” Sammi hissed to Freddie, “What’s going on?”

“Hey, you,” Brett yelled, spotting the spy. So much for being subtle. The chase was on.

Staring aimlessly at her cup of tea, Lily’s appetite had vanished. It was like an anxiety hangover from the day before; knowing Alex knew the whole story was playing on her mind. What made it even stranger was how everybody else was continuing as normal – Sindy, Nicolas and Violet didn’t know any different. They had no clue about the world they stood on the edge of.

“Come on, it’ll go cold,” Sindy urged, sitting at the opposite end of the round dining table.

“Sorry,” Lily apologised. She couldn’t explain to Sindy while she felt uneasy, and lying was out of the question.

“Morning,” Alex strolled in, his dressing gown doing a poor job of covering his bare chest. The surgery scars below his nipples were visible in plain view, and Lily loved just how little he cared about that. He examined the room, before pushing the door shut behind him. He wanted privacy. Lily felt a wave of anxiety, rushing over her all of a sudden.

“Just the people I needed to speak to,” Alex lowered his voice, “You know I said I had an idea?”

Lily nodded. Their conversation the day before concluded with Alex saying he wanted to help, but he was coy on how.

“Sindy, we need your help. It’s a long story, but you said your mum works at the hospital, right?”

“Yeah, in Torrance, why?” Sindy seemed confused yet intrigued.

“We need to see the records of the guy who died at the bar the other night,” Alex explained without any supernatural details. Lily was amazed at how well he was handling the secrecy.

“What? How am I supposed to get those?” Sindy was baffled.

“Use your initiative,” Lily advised, “Please. There’s something going on. Above the police.”

“Tell me. Don’t keep secrets. If you need me this much, you’ll tell me everything,” Sindy urged.

Lily glanced towards Alex. He was remaining sensibly quiet. She was on her own with this one. It was her story to tell.

“Okay. What I’m about to say will sound stupid. I promise you it’s the truth,” Lily began.

“I’m listening,” Sindy sat intently. Lily took a deep breath. This felt so casual for such a huge moment.

“I’m…,” Lily took a deep breath, “I’m part-werewolf.”

“Oh,” Sindy didn’t really react. Her face gave nothing away. How she felt was cloaked, making these brief moments drag out for what felt like ages.

“Huh?” Lily was baffled. What did that mean? Her mind was working overtime attempting to figure it out.

“I’m a banshee, Lily,” Sindy revealed. Lily’s mind was blown. She had so many questions, and didn’t know where to begin.

Checking his phone for new notifications for what must have been the twentieth time since they arrived, Jono was nervous. The Chadwick family had a huge bombshell dropped on them, and he needed to know Sammi was okay. She was naturally the one who was going to be the most affected. He needed a reply from her, to make sure she was okay. On the bright side, no response meant she was likely distracted, meaning her mind was focused elsewhere.

“She’s strong, she’ll be okay,” Dylan briefly paused from scrolling through Ed’s database. It was like he could read Jono’s mind – he knew exactly what he was thinking.

“I’m not okay, though,” Jono admitted, “How can I expect her to be?”

“I got you,” Dylan rubbed his knee soothingly, “And Sammi has Freddie. She’s got all the people she needs.”

“Parents suck, what’s new,” Josh chimed in.

“Not all of them,” Dylan reminded. He was lucky – his mum was the warmest, most loving person Jono knew. It was easy to see why Dylan was so gentle.

“Fair point,” Josh acknowledged, “But still, not everyone has Caroline and Ed. I didn’t for years.”

“Yeah, and look what happened there,” Jono teased. Josh was candid and open about his past – Jono knew jokes were fair game.

“Ouch, dude,” Josh laughed, “You’re not wrong, I’ll give you that.”

“Ah, the tried and tested way to raise a smile on our faces,” Dylan added, “Taking the piss out of Josh.”

Jono felt good to be laughing. Both Dylan and Josh always knew how to cheer him up when he needed it, even in his darkest moments. Silence resumed afterwards as all three of them returned to their search. Ed was used to Dylan ransacking his office by now, and even though it broke protocol, Ed knew it was for the benefit of the town.

Jono had the coolest job of them all. He was examining the CCTV cameras of the lad at the hospital, finding the clearest picture he could to plug into the facial recognition software. If they could find out exactly who he was, they could begin to trace the virus and link the potential other cases that Dylan and Josh were looking for.

This made Jono feel excited. It was his favourite part of the job – investigative journalism. Though he and Dylan had similar aspirations, Dylan preferred to write the articles and publish them. They made an excellent team, and Jono knew this would go beyond the school newspaper.

“I got a case,” Josh announced, throwing a paper file into the middle of Ed’s desk “Female, twenty-three years old, found dead in a bar after coughing her guts up. Literally.”

“Yikes,” Jono was grossed out at the mere description.

“Eye-witness reports of glowing eyes,” Josh continued, “This was in public, guys.”

“There are loads of other werewolves in Crystalshaw that we won’t know,” Dylan added, “If we shield to keep ourselves safe, that could still happen to someone else. Maybe it’ll be worse. Everyone has cameras these days.”

“Maybe we need to get a message out there in some way?” Jono considered while watching the facial recognition software beaver away.

“We can’t exactly broadcast it on the news, dude,” Josh had to rain on his parade.

“There’s one signal that every werewolf can recognise, though,” Dylan thought. Jono was intrigued – finally, it seemed like they had a breakthrough, “Come on, let’s go.”

Left baffled and speechless, Lily was waiting for Sindy to make the next move. She had a vague understanding about what a banshee was – she’d met Lydia Martin after all – but had never considered that any of her flatmates could be immersed in the supernatural world too. She couldn’t help thinking it was a huge oversight on her part. There was never a time to take down her guard.

“Please, someone fill me in. What the hell is a banshee?” Alex was even more befuddled than Lily was. She had to remember he was entirely new to this world, and she was his tour guide.

“Oh come on dude, you must have heard of a banshee,” Sindy was less gentle in her reply, “Best known for screaming.”

“Scream like a banshee? Yeah, I’ve heard that,” Alex considered, “That’s your special skill? Screaming? Even I can do that.”

“Trust me, you’ve heard nothing,” Lily could never forget the ear-piercing wail of Lydia. It wasn’t a cry for help like screaming usually was, it was a weapon. One of the most powerful weapons Lily had seen, “Banshees are harbingers of death, like my friend Yasmin, remember?”

“Oh, the nix? Sure,” Alex recalled. Lily had filled Alex in on the details of her friends. If he was going to be involved, he needed the full story, “So, you have a connection with the dead?”

“Sort of,” Sindy corrected, “It’s kinda freaky. I end up finding dead bodies without trying to.”

“That night, at the bar,” Lily realised, “We could have gone to any bar, there’s loads around, but you chose that one.” The fact they ended up in that specific bar where a werewolf died simply couldn’t have been a coincidence.

“You think there’s something more to that?” Sindy seemed a little more interested to help out.

“From my experience, there’s no smoke without fire,” Lily explained.

“Alright, I’ll ring my mom, see if she can help at all,” Sindy gave in. Lily was relieved. She could do this. She could figure this out.

“I owe you,” Lily smiled. Alex shared the same grin. They had each other’s backs, and if they wanted to stay safe, they needed each other.

In the corner of her eye, Lily spotted someone listening just behind the open door. She couldn’t see who it was, but it could only be one of two people. Besides, the cologne gave it away. Nicolas was listening, and he had heard their entire conversation.

Brett had learnt many things while being among the supernatural, but the most important was that nothing was insignificant. Any details could be a relevant piece of the puzzle, so if they were being watched, it wasn’t by a random nobody.

He was being led deeper into the hospital, towards the stairway and elevator. All Brett could tell so far was that it was a boy – surely within a year or two of his age. He was dressed casually, hardly the best attire for spying. He was clearly an amateur.

The gap was increasing between them. The boy had speed that Brett didn’t. He must have been supernatural, but Brett wasn’t going to let that deter him. He hadn’t trained all year to come second, and speed was a key skill in basketball.

Impressively, Freddie shot past. He was almost a blur, rapidly closing the gap. Brett’s training suddenly felt pointless when being a werewolf gave you all that speed and more for free. Nevertheless, Freddie latched onto the boy’s hook, yanking him down to the floor in a flash just in front of the elevator.

“Hold him, I can’t risk touching,” Freddie commanded as Brett caught up.

“Who are you?” Yasmin interrogated, her and Sammi bringing up the rear.

Brett saw his face for the first time as he pinned the lad’s arms against the ground. He had to blink to check he wasn’t seeing things. It couldn’t have been. It shouldn’t have been. The face he had longed to see again for so long.

“Johnny?” Brett was gobsmacked.

“Hey Brett,” he smiled back. He’d barely changed. His skin was flawless, his smile was perfect, and his hair was tamed expertly, “Miss me?”

If there were one unsolved mystery that Dylan could discover the truth about, he would undoubtedly choose the Nemeton. A mystical tree that had power over every supernatural being in the world? It shouldn’t have been real – the concept alone sounded ridiculous. However, there it was. Towering over him as if it knew its own importance. The golden, autumnal leaves were graciously descending to the ground, decorating the grass and mud in a way only nature could.

“Did we have to come all this way?” Josh complained, just as he usually did.

“Where better to summon every werewolf in Crystalshaw?” Dylan reasoned, “Nobody else can find us. The Nemeton has to want to be found, remember?”

“Let’s just hope it works,” Jono looked on the bright side. That was what he was best at – he was basically Dylan’s personal hype-man.

“On the count of three,” Dylan gave the order, glancing to Jono on his left and Josh on his right, “1…2…3!”

In unison, all three of them let rip. Unleashing a collective howl that would undoubtedly be heard all over Crystalshaw. Dylan kept going until he ran out of breath, giving every ounce of power he could. Now all they had to do was wait.

“How long do you think it will take?” Jono queried.

“Not long at all,” Josh replied promptly, spotting a couple of arrivals already. A couple soon turned into ten, all crowding around Dylan underneath the shade of the Nemeton branches.

Observing the crowd, Dylan saw a few familiar faces. A shop assistant, even one of the bus drivers – people Dylan never would have considered to be a part of this bubble. However, one familiar face freaked him out. It was a face he should have anticipated, stood firmly at the back, keeping his distance.


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