Series 10 Episode 7
In. Hold. Out
Jono was trying every technique he could to slow his breathing. It was the only way he could take back control. A lot had happened in a very short period, and his mind needed to catch up. Processing was imperative, and he didn’t have any answers yet.
As soon as the Nemeton had finished with Jono, the pain ceased. Nothing had ever felt more relieving. He wasn’t sure what it had actually done, though, and that was only stressing him out. Somehow, he felt stronger than he did before, but justifying how or why was impossible.
He sat up, pushing his back up from Lily’s arms. Jono was pleased to have her and Alex, but he wasn’t confident either of them would know more than he did. They needed answers from elsewhere.
“Lily, I need you to answer me honestly,” Jono looked at her directly. The answer to this question was make-or-break.
“Of course,” Lily nodded.
“What colour are my eyes?” Jono flicked the imaginary switch on his wolf eyes. He so desperately hoped they were back to their usual golden yellow.
“Um,” Lily hesitated.
“Honestly,” Jono reiterated.
“Red,” Lily sighed, “This can’t be good, right? You’re not an alpha.”
“I’m not so sure anymore,” Jono pondered.
“I thought you had to kill an alpha to become one?” Alex added.
“Most of the time, yeah,” Jono worried, “Just when you think this supernatural shit can’t get any more confusing.” He was doing his best to stay composed, but it was difficult.
“Come on. We need to find Dylan,” Lily suggested.“Oh my god, please, Jono heaved himself onto his feet, holding a hand out for Lily to help herself up. Nothing made sense but Dylan. He was the one constant in Jono’s life, and he needed him more than ever.
Sprinting into town, Dylan was assuming the worst. Freddie’s text spelt things out as clear as day, but Dylan needed the finer details. Josh was missing, but was he taken, or did he run away? Dylan couldn’t have blamed him for the latter – David being back was the worst-case scenario. Dylan really wished he’d stayed in the past.
Even the mention of David’s name had triggered Dylan. It brought memories of the Lunar Sanctum flooding back, and they sent shivers through his body. It was the worst few months of his life, and it was brought on almost exclusively by David’s actions. Dylan would never forgive him.
For some reason, the Snapchat map had Freddie in the middle of town. Perhaps Dylan had been so consumed by Oscar and Cody, plus the excitement of his and Jono’s engagement, that he’d fallen behind in checking in with the rest of the pack. He felt guilty about it – everyone deserved his attention, and it was his job to make sure everyone was okay.
“Freddie,” Dylan called out as he caught up to their location, sliding in and out of the swathes of shoppers. Sammi, Jeremy and Felix were stood around him, and all of them looked highly uncomfortable.
“Thank god,” Freddie breathed a huge sigh of relief upon seeing Dylan.
“What’s the update?” Dylan was clearly a little behind.
“We tracked David’s scent to this shop earlier,” Freddie explained, “Well, I didn’t. These guys did.”
“Did you find anything?” Dylan questioned.
“No sign of anyone, but Lily’s blood was on the floor,” Sammi answered, concerned.
“He bit her, and I doubt he’s going to stop there,” Jeremy added.
“And he definitely has Josh? Would he really come back here?” Dylan tried to follow along.
“The scent leads here,” Freddie verified, “Shall we wait for more back-up? Jono, Oscar…?”
“Oscar’s with his mom, and I tried calling Jono,” Dylan replied. It was unusual for Jono not to pick up – he could only hope everything was okay, especially knowing what had happened to Lily, “We can’t hold off, he’ll surely be expecting us. Let’s go.”
Dylan took a deep breath. He wasn’t emotionally prepared to see David, but this wasn’t about him. This was about Josh, his brother, who had even more reason to be terrified of David than he did. He had to do this.
Clenching his fist, Dylan punched all the way through the boarded-up shop door. It slid through as if he’d just dipped it in water. Dylan ripped the door handle off from inside and shoved it open with ease, granting them access. Things were only going to get tougher from then.
Weirdly, though, the shop was empty inside. Dylan was starting to panic. If David and Josh weren’t there, where were they?
No matter how hard he struggled, Josh couldn’t break free. David’s grip around his body was far too strong. He had the strength of an alpha, after all, and Josh had long since blown his own opportunity for that sort of power.
Josh’s fighting spirit had been ignited by the voices he heard outside, though. They were tucked away inside a storage room out back, irritatingly close to the comfort and familiarity of the voices in the shop. Dylan. Freddie. They’d found him, yet they were still so far away.
All David needed to restrain Josh was one had around his waist and another around his mouth. He made it look easy, as if he had all the strength in the world; Josh suspected he probably wasn’t far off. After all, he wasn’t only an alpha, but one of the most experienced alphas they’d ever met. Josh alone didn’t stand a chance.
“His scent is here,” Dylan identified. He was so close, surely they were going to find him? If there was anyone Josh knew he could rely on, it was Dylan.
Though David’s hand was over his mouth, muffling his words, Josh could still make noise. Noises that could easily be heard by someone with enhanced hearing. He tried screaming, pushing the loudest possible sound of his mouth. There were no words, but there didn’t need to be.
David tightened his grip, the anger blatant in the way his fingers clenched his jaw like it was a tennis ball. The plan was working, though. Dylan was guaranteed to hear him. He was guaranteed to find him.
Sure enough, the voices outside were reacting. They’d heard him. Josh was seconds away from being found, and the fight to free himself would then begin. Furthermore, he had the best possible back-up team.
Jolting backwards, David pulled Josh to the side. There wasn’t much space to manoeuvre, so why did they need to move? It became clear quickly, though. Keeping a hand around Josh’s mouth, David used his other hand to heave up one of the floor panels, revealing a staircase shrouded underneath that led downwards into darkness. Josh’s optimism seeped away like a water bottle with a hole in. David was always one step ahead.
Before he could protest, David released his grip and gave Josh a shove. Flailing and flapping to no effect, Josh plummeted downwards uncontrollably.
Brett’s emotions were all over the place. He was struggling to focus on anything around him because nothing in his brain was making sense. He was disorientated, and he was fed up.
After all, he’d been feeling that way for a short while now. The moment it began was obvious. As soon as he realised Johnny was missing, things went awry. At least it only felt temporary then. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. He hadn’t imagined any conclusion other than Johnny returning safe and sound. Everything now felt so final and unavoidable.
That was because it was. Johnny was gone, and there was no way of reversing that. Brett wished so hard that he’d been able to prevent it. He’d relived the whole day time and time again in his mind. All he needed to do was not let Johnny out of his sight. That way, he could’ve still had the love of his life by his side.
Brett collapsed back into one of the seats opposite Ed’s desk almost in sync with Yasmin by his side. For some reason, seeing Forsyth hadn’t really fazed him. It was Forsyth’s influence that almost made Brett a hunter instead of a part of the pack, but the anger and resentment he expected to feel were completely absent. His body was numb. All he wanted was the one he loved most to come back. Life was cruel.
“Are you okay?” Yasmin checked in with him.
“I feel like it should be me asking you that,” Brett sighed.
“You know me, I’m always alright,” Yasmin blatantly lied, “My dad is old news.”
“Doesn’t stop it hurting,” Brett noted.
“You never really mention your parents, Brett. Are you close?” Yasmin observed, “Sorry, I don’t mean to pry.”
“It’s okay. There’s not loads to tell. I live with my mom. We’re close, sorta. It’s a long story. She’s a devout Catholic, so coming out wasn’t the easiest,” Brett recalled. He remembered the moment so vividly – it was just before he left for college. He was so excited to head out into the world and become the best version of himself, but he left feeling somewhat deflated.
“I’m sorry,” Yasmin sympathised.
“It’s better than my dad, to be fair. He’s not spoken to me since I came out. I posted a photo on my Instagram of me wearing a skirt, and he unfollowed me,” Brett recalled, “But I haven’t seen him in a couple of years anyway so I’m not sure he was that invested in me regardless.” Though he was well-versed in his dad keeping his distance, it didn’t stop it hurting.
“Shit,” Yasmin sighed. She was the best listener he knew, “You deserve better, Brett. You’re kind, you’re smart, you’re the best basketball player I’ve seen.”
“Don’t say that around Jono,” Brett raised a smile.
“More importantly, though, you know who you are, and you stay true to that no matter what. I know Johnny loved you for that, and he was always proud of you,” Yasmin reassured. Brett couldn’t help himself crying. He’d bottled up his feelings for too long. The floodgates were open, and Brett didn’t know when, or if, they’d close back up.
“Is this a bad time?” Ed closed the door before taking his seat.
“No, any updates?” Brett wiped his tears. It was time for business.
“I spoke with the guards at the prison. They’re confident Forsyth hasn’t got any contact with the outside world. We can rule him out, guys,” Ed informed.
“Then it could be anyone,” Yasmin worried.
“Back to square one,” Brett sighed. It felt like they were treading water.
It had been a long time since Oscar last made a cup of tea for his mum, but he’d never forgotten just how she liked it. Strong, with a dash of milk and half a spoon of sugar; nearly the exact opposite of how Oscar liked his own.
After all, it was the best he could do to soften the blow of everything that had happened, not only that day, but for the best part of the past year. There was no sugar-coating everything Cody had put them through, and as far as Oscar was concerned, there was no forgiving him either. How could he come back from putting his supposed lover’s mum’s life at risk?
“Here you go, mom,” Oscar placed it on the coffee table and sat next to his mum on the sofa. She was gazing emptily ahead, as if she didn’t know what to do with herself anymore. Oscar couldn’t blame her – it had been a crazy day on so many levels.
“I could see you,” she spoke for the first time since Cody had left.
“Where?” Oscar was worried. He knew Cody had shown her his version of events, but precisely what that involved, he had no idea.
“I don’t know. A warehouse, I guess. You were with him,” she explained.
“Cody,” Oscar verified, “Whatever he’s shown you…”
“I saw the deal you made. I saw him blackmail you,” she continued.
“Wait… he showed you that?” Oscar was pleasantly surprised by Cody’s honesty.
“He also showed me how much he loved you,” she added, “And you loved him, didn’t you?”
“I guess,” Oscar admitted, “But it wasn’t real. It was built on manipulation.”
“I’ll be honest, I think you could do better. You deserve better,” Gemma advised, “But I know you, Oscar. Your heart is on your sleeve, and you can’t switch that off so easily.”
Oscar sighed. She was spot on. No matter how angry he was at Cody, and how much he hated the manipulation and pulling-of-strings that led to so much time away from home, he still loved Cody. He hated that he still felt so strongly about him. He wanted to feel nothing. Cody deserved nothing, but it wasn’t that easy. Love never was, from his experience.
“What should I do?” Oscar pondered.
“It’s up to you,” she answered, “You know what’s best for you. Just don’t forget about your old mom, my special boy.”
Oscar was a wreck. The tears were coming thick and fast. He’d missed his mum so much and being back in her arms was so special. He’d learnt his lesson. Though he didn’t deserve her, he’d never leave her again.
The voices were clear. Dylan knew what he’d heard. Josh was very close by. No wonder the scent was so strong. They were hiding in plain sight, which meant one thing – Josh was so close to coming home.
A shared glance with Freddie and Jeremy only confirmed what he’d heard. All three of them couldn’t be wrong. Now, they had to save Josh, and Dylan was prepared to fight if necessary.
“What’s going on?” Felix impatiently questioned. Dylan sometimes forgot that not everyone could hear what he heard. He so vividly remembered the intense tidal wave of emotions he felt when he was bitten. The idea of getting used to his new abilities and turning them into a new normal felt ludicrous.
“Josh. He’s there,” Dylan followed the noise, pointing to a side room. It looked like some sort of storage cupboard, with no signposting or windows in sight. Dylan braced himself. He twisted the door handle and swung it open to find…
The room was empty. No sign of Josh nor David. Dylan was baffled. The sound was definitely coming from there, so where were they? The room had no other possible exits. The worry was kicking back in. Josh was still in danger.
“Um, where is he?” Sammi asked the question on everyone’s lips as the group filtered inside the tight storeroom. Dylan wished he could answer, but his brain was frazzled. He was overwhelmed, and that was clouding his train of thought.
“The walls,” Jeremy said, “Check the walls, or the floor. If my dad’s been hiding here, there’s no way he’s not thought of an escape route.” Of course, how could Dylan not have realised? David was more on-the-ball than anyone he’d met, and in this case, that was definitely not a good thing.
“Here,” Freddie pointed out, standing above an unusually clean floor panel. The entire place was covered in dust like a street after a snowstorm, so to see a floor panel looking (relatively) dust-free was suspicious. How did Dylan not notice it already?
“Dylan?” a voice called out from the shop floor. A voice Dylan could recognise anywhere. The voice Dylan had been desperate to hear all afternoon. The voice of Jono.
Freddie heaved up the floor panel, exposing an ominous downward staircase. Dylan had to think fast. Who was his priority? What was his plan? Did he need to choose between speaking to Jono and finding Josh?
“You guys go, I’ll follow. Be careful,” Dylan directed. He needed to see Jono, but he could never abandon Josh. Freddie nodded and took the lead into the uncertainty of the basement, while Dylan rushed outside. It was the biggest relief to see that Jono was okay. He never usually went so long without answering his phone.
“Thank god you’re alright,” Dylan breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking at my phone. It’s been a hectic day,” Jono explained, “I’ll tell you later, I just wanted to see you. What’s happening here? Why are we in some empty shop?”
“Long story. I’ll fill you in later,” Dylan replied, “But David’s back. He’s alive, and he’s got Josh.”
“What?” Jono was horrified, and rightly so.
“David? As in Uncle David the werewolf-killing alpha?” Alex verified.
“David,” Lily repeated bluntly.
“Everything okay Lil?” Jono checked.
“Yeah, I’m just…this place looks familiar,” Lily thought.
“That’s the other thing,” Dylan regretfully informed, “We think…we think David bit you.” He was so angry at everything that had transpired. David had been back five minutes and he’d already messed up Lily and Josh’s lives – who was next?
“I remember now,” Lily nodded with a nervous expression.
“Come on, maybe we should help find Josh? We can figure the rest out later,” Alex pondered.
“Go, it’s through there. Freddie and the others are down there already. We’ll be right behind,” Dylan commanded. Lily nodded and the duo headed off, leaving Dylan and Jono alone. Dylan could sense Jono’s anxiety. Something wasn’t right, and he needed to know what.
It was amazing how simply seeing Dylan had calmed Jono down. Nobody was able to put his mind at ease like Dylan could. Even without saying a word, Jono knew he had Dylan’s unconditional support and love. He never forgot how lucky he was to have someone so special as his fiancée, not for a single second.
That’s why, though he knew their upcoming conversation was going to be tough, he knew he was guaranteed to have Dylan by his side regardless. If Jono was becoming an alpha, he had no idea what implications that could have for Dylan, but they’d see it through together no matter what.
Jono wasn’t sure whether it was reassuring or not that Dylan looked just as knackered as he felt. They were in the same boat, but there was so much happening. He hated how unsettled they both were. To tell the truth, Jono missed how calm their first year at college had been. He could have gotten used to the quiet life.
“So…David, huh?” Jono awkwardly began. He was gobsmacked that David was somehow alive, but at the same time, he was feeling numb. Nothing more could have shocked him that day.
“I’ve not seen him, but I’m scared, Jon,” Dylan admitted, his cutely soft cheeks shaded in a stressed red.
“Hey, listen, we beat him before, we can beat him again,” Jono insisted.
“But did we beat him? I almost died. I spent months in the Lunar Sanctum, but I told myself that it was worth it, because he was gone, and you were safe. Now I don’t even have that. We were separated for nothing,” Dylan vented. Instinctively, Jono enveloped Dylan in a tight squeeze. He was never going to let any harm come his way.
“It wasn’t for nothing. Because of you, we put a stop to his plan. You saved Yasmin. You saved Josh. Heck, you saved all of us. If that only amounts to a couple of extra years, then I’ll take it, because it meant we got engaged. More time with you is the only thing I’ll ever ask for,” Jono reassured.
“I guess,” Dylan accepted, “And more time with you is pretty awesome.”
“It damn well is,” Jono raised a smile for the first time that day.
“Okay, enough about my day, everything okay with you?” Dylan changed topic. Jono felt nervous. He knew so little about his situation, and nothing ever seemed to be positive in the supernatural world, so the thought of learning more terrified him.
“Um, it’s probably easier to show you,” Jono replied tentatively. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath in, before switching the wolf on. The eyes were easy to control usually, like a light switch in his brain, but the alpha eyes were more temperamental. If Lily had seen his wolf eyes earlier that day without him intending for her to, then control was suddenly out of his reach.
Jono opened his eyes and met Dylan’s gaze. Dylan’s expression morphed from a blank, patient stare, to an open-mouthed view of shock and confusion.
“How?” Dylan uttered, blatantly unsure of what else to say.
“I don’t know. I’ve been having nightmares of me as an alpha. Now it’s come true,” Jono explained.
“Your dreams made you an alpha?” Dylan only seemed to be getting more confused. At least they were in the same boat.
“I don’t know, but it wasn’t just that. I killed everyone, Dylan. The whole pack. I slaughtered all of them. I killed you,” Jono panicked.
“It won’t get to that. Remember who’s in control. You mastered the wolf like an expert, and whatever this means, we’ll figure it out together,” Dylan reassured. That was music to Jono’s ears. All he wanted to do was hear words of encouragement from his favourite person,” In the meantime, we’ve got another alpha to deal with. Fancy a blindside?”
In unison, they beamed. Jono was side-by-side with Dylan, just the way it was meant to be, and nothing was going to change that.
Much to Freddie’s relief, the staircase below the shop led to a place he knew well. By now, the bunker tunnels could have been navigated in his sleep. David’s advantage wasn’t as strong as he expected.
The downside was the complete absence of light. The bulbs were as dim as ever and using either their phone torch or wolf eyes would make them moving targets. Similarly, the surrounding pipes made it difficult to both hear and smell anything. They were on their own.
At least they vastly outnumbered David. Freddie felt confident in the team he had – he and Jeremy could use their werewolf abilities to their benefit, while Sammi and Felix could bring intelligence and quick-thinking to the table.
So far, Freddie hadn’t spotted any clues, but the tunnels were miles long, and David was fast. Even dragging Josh along wouldn’t have slowed him down much.
“Freddie,” a voice called out in a harsh whisper from behind. Freddie paused – he didn’t have time to stop, but it was a delightfully familiar tone – to see Lily catching up.
“Hey, are you okay?” Sammi checked.
“Fine, I promise. We want to help,” Lily replied confidently as Alex caught her up. Freddie was delighted – now they had another werewolf in tow. Surely David couldn’t compete with that? “Where are we going?”
“We don’t know,” Jeremy answered.
“He has to be down here,” Freddie insisted.
“Okay, if you were David, what would you do next?” Lily pondered.
“Hide,” Felix suggested.
“Where?” Lily probed.
“Wait,” Sammi interrupted, “So far, he’s not even tried to hide. He’s wanted us to see him. He’s been hiding in plain sight.”
“How does that help?” Freddie was only getting more bewildered.
“Which is the only bunker down here that we visit? The only one Josh has a key to?” Sammi questioned.
“Dylan’s,” Freddie realised. Immediately, he picked up the pace. His priority was to reach Josh, and he was going to be in the farthest bunker in the tunnel.
“Wait,” Sammi called out. Though Freddie was driven by his mission, there was one voice he would always make time for, and that was Sammi’s, “We can’t just breeze in. We need a plan.”
“Dylan would have the best plan,” Freddie sighed. He was no good at ideas.
“Good thing I’m here, then,” Dylan finally approached, bringing Freddie a wave of relief. All the past few minutes had proved was that he totally wasn’t cut out to be an alpha one day, “I’m over this shit. Let’s get my brother back.” Freddie watched on as Dylan stormed ahead, impressed by his bluntness and drive. Jono followed, and Freddie took their lead.
Outside the bunker, the pack organised themselves. David was surely only on the other side of the door, and he was guaranteed to be ready for a fight. Everyone knew their place in the line-up. The werewolves took the front, Freddie just behind Dylan and Jono to the side of the door. Everyone else stood behind – Freddie knew how important it was to protect them, and safeguard Sammi.
Dylan pushed the rusty door handle with a surprising amount of force. He looked back to the pack one last time. Freddie knew what they were about to walk into; all of them did. They had everything riding on it.
The door swung open. There he was. David looked just the same as ever. That smug smile remained carved into his face, as if he’d got everything he wanted already. He had Josh secured with one arm around his neck, making it look easy. Strangely, he didn’t look ready to fight. In fact, he barely flinched upon seeing the pack.
“I was wondering when you’d show up,” David began, “Surprisingly fast. Well done.” He looked so chilled, while Josh was the complete opposite. He was usually the most relaxed person around, so it said a lot that he looked so horrified.
“What do you want, David?” Dylan cut to the chase. Nobody was interested in small talk.
“Nothing. Nothing at all, in fact,” David replied casually. Freddie was confused – were his ears working properly?
“What?” Dylan was evidently just as gobsmacked. This wasn’t like David.
“Here, have him back. I’ve got all I need now. I’ll be seeing you soon, Lily.” David smarmed. He pushed Josh forward with unnecessary force and sprinted past the pack, way too quickly for any of them to catch him.
“Stay here,” Dylan ordered to the group as he helped Josh up, “There’s no point chasing him. He’ll show up again soon.” He turned his attention back to Josh, “Are you okay?”
“I think so,” Josh replied tentatively, “But he’s coming back. That was a test, Dylan. He knows how strong we are now. One less variable in his plan.”
“What plan?” Freddie questioned.
“To rebuild a pack,” Josh answered, “The strongest pack Crystalshaw’s ever seen.” A chill shot through Freddie’s body. They weren’t going to be outnumbered for long.
There was a distinct wave of assurance filling Yasmin as she saw the faces of the pack reunited. It was the first time they’d been together for a long time, and it felt so comforting. There was nothing Yasmin valued more than her friends.
It had been the most tiring day, too, so it felt even better to be in her comfort bubble. Physically, Yasmin was fine, but emotionally, she was exhausted. She felt like she’d run a marathon. So much had happened in the space of a day, and things were far from over.
No matter how hard she tried, Yasmin couldn’t wrap her head around her father’s involvement in the murders. It couldn’t have been any clearer that he was involved somehow, but in what way? He couldn’t possibly have committed the crimes from jail, and the guards were certain he couldn’t have communicated with the outside world either, so what was the link? Yasmin hated not being able to work it out.
Catching up with the pack had been eye-opening too. It seemed her dad was simply one of many problems: that Cody guy lingering around; Jono’s new alpha status; Lily being a newly transformed werewolf; and David’s unwelcome return. It was extremely overwhelming.
“Okay then,” Yasmin collected herself, “What’s the plan?” An awkward silence followed. They had all shared their stories, but not one of them had a solution in mind. All twelve heads in the room were stumped. Yasmin had never known the pack to feel so defeated.
“We need help,” Jono suggested.
“From who? We’re not exactly spoilt for choice,” Oscar was baffled and deflated.
“Drew?” Lily thought.
“He knows more than we do,” Brett concurred.
“Worth a shot,” Dylan shrugged, “But there’s someone else.”
“Are you sure it’s worth travelling that far out?” Yasmin twigged. She knew who Dylan meant – someone more experienced, and someone who had more supernatural contacts than they did.
“If it saves lives, yes,” Dylan confidently stated.
“Okay,” Yasmin took a deep breath in. Of course, she trusted Dylan, and she knew they had to do everything they could to save Crystalshaw, “Beacon Hills, here we come.”