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Next: "Venom"

Series 8 Episode 5

Tossing and turning, Dylan was struggling to sleep. That wasn’t a new feeling for him – he’d spent the best part of a week trying to cope on two or three hours of sleep. He was exhausted, mentally and physically, but his racing mind wasn’t letting him rest.

For the most part, his life had snapped back to normal. He was back at school, being met by a ridiculous amount of catch-up work, and his “mom time” after school had resumed, with Josh, Jono and Freddie in tow. Caroline seemed to enjoy the extra company of four teenage boys around the house, and Dylan certainly did too. They were the perfect distraction.

After all, Dylan knew he wasn’t out of the woods yet. In fact, he was surprised that he hadn’t seen the Lunar Sanctum again already. It wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to track him down, which meant they were biding their time, and it was seemingly having its desired effect on Dylan. He felt permanently restless, and he was sick of it.

On the bright side, the pack was ready. Both Dylan and Jeremy were never left alone, and Liam had stuck around with Nolan so that when the attack came, they could present a strong, united front. Dylan felt confident when he had the pack around him. He knew he could win.

“Come here,” Jono commanded. That was one good thing about his nights. Jono moving in had meant they’d barely spent a second apart, even overnight. Dylan had really missed sleeping by his side. Without needing to be told twice, Dylan snuggled closer to Jono, resuming his usual position as the little spoon.

“Did I wake you?” Dylan felt bad. It wouldn’t have been the first time his tossing and turning had jolted Jono awake.

“No, don’t worry,” Jono lied, trying to spare Dylan’s feelings. He appreciated the gesture, “I’ve got you, baby.” Dylan felt so safe in his arms. Perhaps he would be able to sleep after all?

“Hold on,” Dylan’s mind sped up again, “What time are we meeting Lily?”

Lily had suddenly arrived back from college with Sindy and Alex in tow, because of a hunter. That was the last thing Dylan need, but of course, he was going to everything he could to help out.

“Not early, don’t worry,” Jono replied, “Come on, try to sleep, it’ll help.”

Jono was right. Dylan at least had to try. He closed his eyes and tried his best to shut out all distractions. Hopefully he could push for four hours of sleep that night.

The sights from the lakehouse master bedroom first thing in the morning were so beautiful. It had become Lily’s favourite way to spend much of her day, in fact. The lake was so gentle and calming to watch over – a huge contrast to the hectic college lifestyle she had become accustomed to.

That same lakehouse had been the home of some amazing memories from her childhood, too. The expeditions she and Jono found themselves on during their summer vacations were so much fun, and it was the only real time they’d spent together as a family without work looming over them. Things used to be so easy.

On the bright side, the lakehouse provided the perfect place for Lily to hide out for the time being. There was plenty of space for her, Alex and Sindy to take shelter, and it meant she could continue to give her parents a wide berth for the time being. Eventually, she was going to have to speak to them, but she was very keen to delay that as much as possible.

“I could get used to this,” Alex commented. Of course, he’d been by her side for almost the entire week. Just the way they both loved.

“What, being on the run?” Sindy ruined the atmosphere, bringing them a cup of tea each onto the balcony.

“We’re not on the run, we’re ten minutes from my house,” Lily was quick to point out.

“Feels like it,” Sindy complained.

“I mean, it could be worse,” Alex backed Lily, “This place is beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Lily replied, “Next time, Ed can find us a dingy squalor to stay in.”

“Alright, point taken,” Sindy conceded, “It’d help if we knew how long we’d need to be here, though.”

“Until we have a plan,” Lily answered decisively. The plan of action was clear as far as she was concerned – they weren’t safe at college until they knew more about Jamal.

The door creaked open. Lily instantly knew who it was by the sound of the comforting chit-chat that arrived with them.

“And here comes that plan,” she smiled.

“Morning,” Jono grinned, pulling up a chair to the balcony. Dylan and Yasmin followed him over – the dream team as far as Lily was concerned.

“You’re early,” Lily remarked, “If I didn’t already know you were back, Dylan, this would have given the game away.” Dylan laughed, but he looked shattered. Lily couldn’t imagine how anxious he must have been feeling; Jono had told her the full story, and even for someone as brave as Dylan, his ordeal sounded terrifying.

“Any word from Misha?” Yasmin questioned. She didn’t look so great either, but knowing how Yasmin bottled up her feelings, Lily figured she’d appreciate the distraction.

“Not a word. She’s clearly not missing us that much,” Lily answered.

“She seemed so innocent,” Sindy sighed.

“Assuming she and Jamal are working together, then,” Yasmin continued, “Where did they learn about werewolves?”

“If they’re hunters, it could be a family thing,” Dylan suggested, “Scott’s told me about the Argents, from Beacon Hills. They passed it down through the generations.”

“Do we know anything about their family?” Jono wondered.

“They’re from Readcastle, it’s a couple of hours away. Their mom raised them on her own,” Sindy informed, “Had a pretty long chat with Misha the night she arrived.”

“I’m sure we can do some digging,” Dylan seemed positive. Lily hadn’t realised how much she missed his unique brand of optimism – it rubbed off on everyone around him.

“I’ve got an idea,” Sindy mentioned. Lily was thrilled they were all so keen to help. They needed all the dirt they could get.

It wasn’t often that something outsmarted Freddie’s computer skills. The pack relied on him for anything technical, but he was struggling a lot with his latest task, and it was making him frustrated.

Dylan had given him a USB from the Lunar Sanctum. He had no idea what was on it, but whatever it was could have given them some insight into what was going on in there. After all, they were still very much a threat, and Freddie felt the pressure of protecting the pack on his shoulders.

“Not exactly the best way to spend a Saturday,” Sammi remarked. Freddie had her and Josh for company, but neither of them were much help. In fact, they were more off-putting than anything.

“Hey, what’s so wrong with my bedroom?” Josh commented.

“The fact my boyfriend has to share this tip,” Sammi replied. Sharing a bedroom wasn’t ideal, but Freddie didn’t mind it so much – Josh was his best friend, and he appreciated having a roof over his head.

“I think we can both take credit for the mess,” Josh continued the back-and-forth.

“That’s enough,” Freddie yelled, “I can’t focus. The room isn’t important, and I think we all know organisation isn’t my strong suit.”

“I’m sorry,” Sammi instantly cuddled up to him. Of course, he could never be truly mad at her, or Josh for that matter. They both made him so happy, most of the time anyway.

“Any luck?” Josh questioned.

“There’s so many layers of encryption, and I don’t have the username or password, so getting in is taking some time,” Freddie reported back, “But I can do it, I just need to focus. Adderall only gets me so far.”

The coding was complicated for what seemed like a basic USB. This told Freddie that whatever was on there really wasn’t meant to fall into the wrong hands, and that only spurred him on further. He had to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Another layer of encryption removed. Freddie was making progress, but he’d done so at a snail’s pace. He’d been working on it most of a week and the end still wasn’t upon him.

The doorbell rang. Another distraction.

“Are we expecting anyone?” Josh wondered.

“Red alert,” Sammi warned, peeping out of the window, “Soldiers at door.”

“Lunar Sanctum,” Freddie’s panic levels rose. This was bad news all round.

The bunker had never been Brett’s favourite place to visit. Under Drew’s ownership, it was basically derelict; the various items of tat left to gather dust on their own. Thankfully, Dylan had cleared much of it out, but it couldn’t change the dark, muggy atmosphere of the small, concrete room.

It didn’t help that Brett’s lasting memories of that room came from the day of the explosion, either. A day that brought out every negative emotion in a way Brett had never experienced before. It was an unwelcome reminder of just what he’d signed up for by agreeing to be a part of Dylan’s pack.

He couldn’t make complaints, though. After everything, Dylan was alive. The supernatural world had given him the strangest surprises, and he was stood next to one of them: Johnny. Brett didn’t believe in silly stuff like destiny, but finding Johnny again was the closest he had ever come to changing his mind.

The bunker entrance was cordoned off above ground. Nobody had been down there in months while the structure was inspected, and it still wasn’t completely safe, so they had all steered clear. Sadly, Brett had drawn the short straw in investigating whatever that creature lurking by the basketball court was. He and Johnny were the only ones who saw it fully, so unfortunately, they were the ones chancing the tunnels.

“Is it just me who has a really bad feeling about this?” Brett commented, moving the barriers out of the way.

“I’d be worried if you felt okay about this,” Johnny replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll go first.”

Johnny had this amazing way with words. He never seemed fazed by anything or anyone, and it was contagiously calming for Brett. He was used to burying his problems, feeling the burden of being a stereotypical team captain. Johnny brought out the best in him.

Brett navigated the ladder carefully, jumping the last step. The tunnel looked just the same as it always did – dim lightbulbs showed the way forward with pipes trailing along the walls. Dylan’s bunker was directly to his right. Johnny heaved the heavy door open surprisingly easily, exposing the bunker just as it had been left.

“Let’s find that book and get out of here,” Brett suggested. Thankfully, Dylan was brilliant at organisation and order, so it wasn’t difficult to find the old and dusty, yet annoyingly helpful Bestiary.

“Hold on, what’s that?” Johnny paused. Brett was confused. What was he talking about? Brett couldn’t see or hear anything.

“What?” he queried.

“Heartbeat. Outside,” Johnny answered.

“Dude, I’m not a werewolf,” Brett chuckled. Nevertheless, they both crept back to the door, Johnny taking the lead. Brett felt nervous. He knew they weren’t safe anywhere. A creature was on the loose. The Lunar Sanctum could appear from anywhere. They had to be on their guard the entire time, and the door was still open.

Suddenly, Johnny was fiercely yanked out of the room. Rushing ahead in panic, Brett saw him being dragged down the tunnels by a grotesque-looking, dark, reptilian creature. That same one. It had found them, and Johnny couldn’t wiggle free from its grip.

Brett sprinted after it, but he was losing pace. He was terrified and needed back-up. He couldn’t fight the creature alone, and Johnny’s life depended on it. Brett couldn’t lose him again.

Following Sindy’s lead, Jono felt good to be busy. He knew just how bad Dylan’s nights had been since his return, and they were both extremely concerned about when the Lunar Sanctum would eventually show up. Neither of them were willing to risk Dylan being taken again.

Dylan was throwing himself into the mission, too. When Lily needed help, Dylan didn’t need to think twice. They were family, whether their parents approved or not. Jono himself was enjoying the distraction for that very reason – anything to continue avoiding the fact that his parents hadn’t spoken to him in over five months was good as far as he was concerned.

Strutting past the hospital reception desk, Sindy grabbed a spare lab coat from the empty desk. She jingled an ID card attached to a lanyard that she pulled out of its pocket. For someone who hadn’t been doing this for very long, she had an admirable amount of bravado.

“Let’s find somewhere a little more private,” she suggested.

“In here,” Yasmin spotted an open office door. Quickly, all of them filtered inside. A group of six was hardly subtle, but Sindy had kept tight-lipped on what her plan was. Jono was too nosey to wait outside.

“What are we actually doing?” Lily impatiently wondered.

“You know my mom works at a hospital? I figured we’d probably need her help, so I procured her login details. It’s the same system,” Sindy explained. Jono was impressed. Lily had trained her well.

“We'll keep watch,” Jono decided, nudging Dylan. The perfect chance for a quiet chat while they waited.

“I’m okay, you know,” Dylan assured him as they pressed their shoulders against the door. He’d sussed Jono’s plan out.

“It’s my job to worry,” Jono justified. It was all he ever really did, and he knew Dylan did the same back.

“I know,” Dylan acknowledged, “I don’t really want to think about, you know, them. It’s like, that first day back was so happy. Everyone was on cloud nine, but the next day, reality hit. None of us are safe.”

Jono felt so bad for him. He truly couldn’t imagine how Dylan had coped inside the Lunar Sanctum. He enjoyed routine, familiarity and friendly faces, and that would have been so far out of his comfort zone.

“I didn’t think you were dead at first,” Jono recalled, “When they didn’t find a body, I thought you’d definitely be alive, but a week passed and you didn’t show up. I figured you’d have come back by then. I didn’t even consider any other option. I should have found you.”

“How could you have known? You had no reason to suspect anything like that,” Dylan reassured, “It’s my fault anyway, I was the one who blew up that place.”

“I get why you did it, don’t get me wrong, but I remember that moment so clearly. Freddie pushing me outside. I realised what was happening, and then the blast happened. My world collapsed,” Jono thought back. It still made him feel sick to think about.

“I’m sorry,” a tear slipped down Dylan’s cheek, “My heart sunk too. I couldn’t watch you leave. It broke my heart, and I thought that was going to be my last thought.”

Wow, Jono thought. That hit him in the feels. He was full-on weeping now.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Jono replied, “Please never leave me again.”

“Never,” Dylan pointed to his eternity ring. Jono flashed his own, too. They were a promise to each other, and Jono knew they would always stick to it.

“Got him,” Sindy was thrilled, “Jamal Monroe. One sister, Misha. Father unknown, mother called Tamora.”

“Monroe,” Dylan realised. He spoke as if he’d heard that name before.

“Ring a bell?” Yasmin queried.

“Come on. I think we need to speak to Liam,” Dylan suggested. Jono started to feel worried. There was something bigger going on here.

Panicked, Sammi wasn’t sure what to do. Josh and Freddie shared the same exasperated look of concern. Different scenarios were playing inside his mind. Perhaps they were doing a door-to-door search? They may not have known Dylan’s address. Alternatively, they knew exactly where to come, and exactly who they would find.

“What do we do?” Sammi worriedly questioned.

“Don’t say anything. They might think nobody’s home,” Freddie reasoned.

BASH! The front door had been kicked in. So much for hiding.

“Okay, we need a plan,” Freddie quickly changed course.

“I’ve got one,” Josh piped up, “But you’re not going to like it, Sammi.” Sammi sighed, but she was listening, “Only one of us is human. If you go downstairs and shoo them away, we’ll be safe up here.”

Sammi felt nervous. She didn’t know how good she would be at such a distraction, but it really was their only option.

“Okay,” Sammi stood up, straightening her back, ready for business. She left the boys’ room and headed downstairs. Instantly, she saw guards lining up the hallways. It was a terrifying thing, especially in a house that was usually so calm and happy.

“Excuse me,” Sammi put on her best angry voice, “What do you think you’re doing? Get out of my house.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m going to need you to identify yourself,” one guard said.

“Not when you’ve busted my front door. Get out, and I will be contacting your superiors,” Sammi swerved the difficult questions. Just like her dad used to. In a way, she’d learnt from the expert.

The soldiers begrudgingly left the house, but Sammi sensed they weren’t done yet.

“Ma’am, I still need your name,” the guard requested, this time from the doorstep. Darn. Sammi couldn’t tell him her real name.

“Tracy,” Sammi lied, “Tracy Barlow.” Jono’s interest in British pop culture had, against all odds, proven useful.

“We’re very sorry Ms. Barlow, we’ve had reported of four dangerous individuals in this area. If you see any of these,” the guard handed her a piece of paper with pictures of Dylan, Jeremy and Liam on, “Please call us.”

“Yes sir,” Sammi nodded, pushing the now-dodgy door shut. Caroline was going to be furious.

Sammi rushed back upstairs to reunite with the boys. Of course, Freddie embraced her in a tight hug immediately – it was so reassuring to be in his arms.

“They’ve gone.” Sammi revealed, “Come on, we need to get into that USB. I’m over this shit.”

Sprinting across town, Brett was trying his best to keep a clear head. He knew how easy it would have been to panic and lose his mind, but that wasn’t going to help Johnny. He had to think sensibly and rationally. Of course, there was no way his human legs could catch up to the basilisk. Even before the end of the tunnels, the basilisk was out of sight. Johnny was out of sight. Brett had to think logically. Where could he find help?

Of course, Snapchat was his best friend. Dylan and Jono were at the hospital according to the Snapchat map, so that’s where Brett had run to. It was the biggest comfort to know Dylan was around again, because he never gave up on the ones he loved. They were going to find Johnny, whatever it took.

Suddenly, Brett’s phone screen went black. No battery. He’d have to trawl the entire hospital to find them. Now he was on his own. Brett sprinted through reception, scanning the corridors and side rooms as he passed through the building. It was no good, though. He couldn’t track a scent. He was a headless chicken, but he wasn’t giving up. Johnny was relying on him.

There he was. The lift doors slammed shut, but Brett knew who he saw. Johnny. However, the creature wasn’t there. Instead, a young man had Johnny captured by the wrist. Brett sprinted, but it was too late – the lift had already started descending. Johnny knew exactly where it would be going, too. The part of the hospital that nobody knew about. The part that needed a lift key to access. The scientists’ lab.

Brett didn’t have the key to hand. The pack’s key was located in the bunker, where he’d just come from, and there was no time to get there. He had to act quickly, not delay himself longer than necessary. There had to be a staircase to the basement, from when the hospital was built – such a fire hazard would never be left unfixed.

Wasting no more time, Brett sprinted down the staircase to the morgue. The stairs didn’t continue any lower. He had to think. Where could a staircase be? Then it clicked. Hidden in plain sight. A conspicuously placed rug next to the stairs. Yanking it up, Brett spotted a hatch in the floor. That was it. That was his way down.

Carefully lifting the lid, Brett saw a wooden, noticeably flimsier staircase down even further. Without another thought, he climbed downwards, the harsh white lighting of the corridors causing Brett to squint as he reached the bottom. Looking around, he knew exactly where he was. He was just along from the lift. Of course, Brett followed the corridor – worryingly, a trail of blood was by his side. He was desperately hoping it wasn’t Johnny’s.

Reaching the lab, Brett peeped around the corner. He made instant eye contact with Johnny, who was sat against the wall a couple of metres in. A small pool of blood surrounded his arms, which looked as if they’d been badly burnt. Across the room was that young man, facing away.

“Get out,” Johnny mouthed, but Brett wasn’t leaving without him.

“I’ll ask again,” the man spoke to Johnny, “What is the cure?”

“I don’t know, please, if you let me go, I’ll ask my friends, they’ll help you,” Johnny begged. He looked terrified.

The man opened his eyes. A bright glare shone out, and Johnny cried out in pain. It was burning him. Brett had to think first. He eyed up the hospital bed in the centre of the room – it was on wheels. Rapidly, Brett ran inside and shoved the bed forward, blocking the man from moving.

“Run,” Brett commanded to Johnny, taking his hand. Together, they sprinted away. They were safe, but not for long.

Though the Lunar Sanctum guards had gone, Freddie felt far from comfortable. In fact, he understood Dylan’s anxieties completely. They had no understanding of the humanity werewolves still faced. Freddie knew he was no monster; he buried his animalistic instincts every day. The Sanctum clearly didn’t care about that, though.

As a result, Freddie only felt more determined to get into the USB. They needed dirt to take them down, because he was not willing to live his life in fear. He saw how terrified Sammi looked, and if they could instil that fear in a human, Freddie felt no shame in being a terrified werewolf.

“I keep thinking,” Josh commented, “What if they’d found Dylan? It’s his house too, he could have been here. They could have taken him again.”

“Don’t think like that,” Freddie didn’t need any more pessimism – he had enough in his own head without Josh dosing him up further.

“But we don’t know that they haven’t found him since,” Josh worried.

“Jono would call us, no news is good news,” Freddie reassured.

“At least this time, we’d know where they’d be taking him,” Sammi mentioned. It was a good point. They wouldn’t have to fear the worst. This time, they knew their enemy.

“Oh my god,” Freddie let out an excited gasp. His laptop had given him good news. The final layer was cracked. He was inside the USB, “I’ve done it.”

Sammi and Josh quickly crowded around Freddie as he started to inspect the long list of files. Documents and spreadsheets made up the vast majority of them – he was in no doubt that he’d be spending his evening trawling through each one – but Freddie was most intrigued by the string of JPEG files at the bottom.

Freddie clicked on the first one. Instantly, he winced, and looked away. The sight was disgusting and gruesome. The picture was of a werewolf. A dead, male werewolf, lying on a hospital bed, with his body completely shrivelled. His blood had been fully drained out. Freddie closed it, noticing Sammi and Josh similarly freaked out. Nervously, he tried a second picture. This time, it was a female werewolf, baring her fangs with unhealed burn marks coating her skin. Freddie couldn’t look at any more. It was too horrible.

“That’s what we’re fighting,” Freddie muttered, “Come on. Ed needs to see this.”

He unplugged the USB and grabbed his car key. They had to put an end to this, or one of them would be next. Dylan and Jeremy had a lucky escape.

Rushing downstairs and outside, Josh and Sammi following behind him, Freddie immediately grinded to a halt. Waiting in front of his car were those same Lunar Sanctum guards. This was bad news. They’d been caught out.

“Ms. Barlow,” the head guard addressed, “Or should I say, Miss Samantha Chadwick.”

“Move,” Josh threatened, glowing his eyes. Freddie was ready too – if he had to fight his way out, he would.

Before he could shift, Freddie felt a stinging sensation in his neck. Tranquiliser. Unable to stop himself, Freddie collapsed to the ground, dropping the USB as he fell. They were trapped.

Dashing to the Chadwick house, Dylan was worried. He was sure he had heard the name ‘Monroe’ before. Liam told him about her hunting him, and the rest of Scott’s pack. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that this Jamal kid had the same surname and was also a hunter.

Jono was, of course, by his side the whole way there, both of them racing ahead of the others. They’d barely spent any time apart since Dylan got back; neither of them could stomach the thought of being separated again, and Dylan was keen to make up for every hug, every kiss and every moment that had been stolen from them.

However, Jono skidded to a halt outside the grand gates. He paused, looking on anxiously. Dylan hadn’t even considered that returning home would have been difficult for him. The concept of his mum not speaking to him, out of choice, for months on end, felt alien. Dylan couldn’t imagine how Jono felt.

“You don’t have to come inside,” Dylan assured. There was no way he was putting Jono through anything that could cause him anxiety.

“I’ll be okay. I don’t want to see them, but at the same time, I really do,” Jono confessed, “I shouldn’t have to make the first move here.”

“We got this,” Dylan held out his hand. They were unstoppable together. Jono had always given Dylan the best support when he needed it, and it was time to return the favour.

Together, hand-in-hand, they walked confidently inside, just as the others caught them up. Dylan noticed Jono also linking hands with Lily. It was hard for her too. For Dylan, it was a necessary reminder of just how lucky he was that his mum came around to her son being a werewolf relatively quickly. That said, he never once forgot how scared he was to lose her. He understood Jono and Lily’s sadness so clearly.

Once inside, Dylan followed his nose. It was directing him upstairs, to Jono’s old bedroom. Dylan was still gripping onto Jono’s hand. The anxiety in the air was strong, and Jono needed his support. This was hard for him.

Three gentle knocks on the bedroom door. Liam answered, dressed casually in a t-shirt that Jono had obviously left behind.

“Hey,” Liam greeted casually, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any spare clothes here, Sammi said I could borrow yours.”

“It’s fine,” Jono nodded. Dylan listened to his heartbeat – he actually meant it. Of course, Jono hadn’t lost his kindness.

“Hey, I wanted to ask you something,” Dylan mentioned, filtering inside the room. Nolan was sat on the bed, looking a little freaked out by the number of guests that had just arrived.

“Go for it, anything I can help with?” Liam smiled.

“You mentioned Monroe,” Dylan continued, “The hunter.” Nolan shuddered at the mere mention of her name. Whoever she was, it was clear she was someone to fear.

“What about her?” Nolan anxiously questioned.

“What was her first name?” Dylan queried.

“Why?” Nolan’s anxiety levels were intensifying.

“Tamora,” Liam replied, “Is everything okay?”

“Her son’s trying to kill me,” Lily responded, way too casually.

“Who is she?” Sindy was confused.

“A hunter. A werewolf hunter. The most famous werewolf hunter around,” Liam answered, “If she’s coming here, we’re all screwed, because she’s got a vengeance. We defeated her before, but she wasn’t happy about it.”

Dylan’s heart was racing. This was a huge problem, and every single one of them was at risk.

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Next: "Venom"

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