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Series 2 Episode 9

It took Dylan ages to feel even slightly comfortable at high school. People were wary of him because he didn’t take part in sports activities and barely spoke when he wasn’t being spoken to. However, he never forgot his friend from the first day.

Now Yasmin was round his house. He had stupidly mentioned it in conversation during biology that day, to Drew Marsden, who pointed and laughed at Dylan “bringing a girl home.” Drew knew full well that it wasn’t meant in a covert way, but he took the piss nonetheless.

Yasmin was actually there to help Dylan with his history homework. He hated history – he was a journalist but the endless articles and sources tired even him out. Yasmin was good at everything though. She worked hard and passed every single exam with flying colours.

What’s more is that she was a genuine friend to him. They hung out at school and always sat next to each other. Yasmin always told Dylan about her failed relationship attempts, as well as her crushes, including their classmate Jono Chadwick. Dylan fancied him like crazy, but didn’t want anyone to know that part of his life yet. Nevertheless, Dylan appreciated Yasmin like crazy. He knew he’d be lost without her.

It felt like it should have been a relief. Everything he had been keeping to himself was now out in the open – to the Sheriff at least – but somehow Dylan didn’t feel the weight lifting off of his shoulders. In fact, he felt anything but. Yasmin had so eloquently explained the entire situation – about werewolves, Clara and Mr. Forsyth – but it seemed like information overload for the baffled Sheriff.

“You expect me to believe all that?” Sheriff Taylor questioned, bemused.

“Do you think we would make all of that up?” Yasmin defended. The level of detail was way beyond a silly prank. The Sheriff took a moment to figure everything out in his mind.

“Alright. What do you want from me?” the Sheriff accepted.

“They are almost definitely at his warehouse,” Dylan interjected, “Jono and Josh went there and haven’t returned, which is bad news.”

“Because Josh is the…alpha?” the Sheriff attempted to get his head around the terminology.

“Yeah, and that’s what Clara wants. We have to get there now,” Yasmin commanded.

“I shouldn’t bring you kids. It’s dangerous,” the Sheriff considered.

“Go on then, blunder on in. Get yourself killed,” Yasmin reasoned, “We have to be smart about this.” Yasmin was right. The Sheriff had to be selective about what information he told his deputies, and none of them had the senses that Dylan and Freddie had.

“Alright alright, but you’ll all be following my instructions with no question. Is that clear?” the Sheriff commanded.

“Yes Sheriff,” a chorus of replies joined Dylan.

“Okay, let’s go,” the Sheriff led the way, although he stopped and hung back after Yasmin, Freddie and George made their way out of the office, “Dylan, mind if I have a word?”

“Sure,” Dylan agreed, worried by yet another ominous statement.

“Have you told your mom? Does she know?” the Sheriff sounded concerned.

“No. I’ve not found the moment,” Dylan explained, “I’m worried she’ll hate me.”

“She could never hate you, Dylan. Your mom loves the bones of you,” the Sheriff encouraged, “I think she has something to say to you too.”

“What is it?” Dylan tried to find out. He hated open-ended vague comments more than anything.

“Best to hear it from her. Nothing to worry about,” the Sheriff gave Dylan a pat on the back and headed out to the car before he could probe any further. Ironically, that made Dylan worry even more, but it had to wait. They had a mission.

Pacing around the room, Jono felt increasingly anxious. He had spent the last few hours in a cell, guarded all the time by one of Mr. Forsyth’s guards. On the bright side, he was with Drew and Lily. At least they were together.

They hadn’t heard about Josh though, which worried Jono more than he thought it would. The last Jono saw of him was when he was escorted away from him and into the cell. At the time, he was still chained up, and looked drained. He was also concerned about exactly why Clara wanted Josh. Time for a conference.

“Okay, we need to brainstorm. What’s so special about Josh?” Jono began.

“He’s a werewolf,” Lily instantly replied.

“So am I, and I’m stuck in here with you,” Drew noted, “He was in Clara’s pack though.”

“He was Clara’s alpha,” Jono realised, “She never liked that. It’s why he came here. She was issuing orders.” It was an important detail. Josh had always made it clear that although Clara was in his pack, he never got along with her and had made it his business to stay out of her way.

“So, she’s getting her payback, right?” Lily thought.

“It’s not about payback. She’s getting what she wanted all along,” Jono realised, “She’s becoming the alpha.”

Glancing down at his phone, Dylan was checking every few seconds for a text back. He had sent a message to his mum, saying “Are things OK? Hear you need to talk.” Perhaps it would be better face-to-face, but the wait was driving him insane. At least some reassurance would keep Dylan’s mind at ease while they busted Jono and the others out.

Currently, they were all packed into the Sheriff’s car, while another two deputies followed in the vehicle behind. As they approached the front gate, Dylan heard the Sheriff sigh noticeably.

“Kinda defeats the point of infiltration if we have to ask to get in,” he commended.

“It’s okay, I know the code. Ten-twenty-five. The only issue is, the keypad’s not on this side of the gate,” Yasmin explained.

“Let’s see,” Dylan hopped out of the car and took a look at the gate. The mesh wires that made up the tall gate had diamond-shaped holes in, roughly the size of an average plastic cup’s diameter. Dylan could squeeze a few fingers through it with little problem.

He slid his index and middle fingers through the hole nearest to the keypad first. Darn. He was about a centimetre short. He tried forcing forward but it wasn’t enough.

Then it occurred to him. He was a werewolf. Those fingers could become claws. Dylan closed his eyes and focused. He summoned the wolf towards him, mentally pleading for its help. He felt it taking over, and suddenly, the keypad grinded against his nails. Instinctively, Dylan keyed in the numbers, stretching as hard as he could. Then the gate pounced into action. Perfect.

Dylan rapidly shot his hands back out of the gate as they moved apart, ready for the car to zoom through.

Waiting patiently in the car, Yasmin was feeling nervous. No matter how she felt about the entire situation, he was still her dad. She hated how her life seemed to be falling apart, and there was nothing she could do about it.

She had tried phoning her mum countless times over the past few days, but she must have been busy. That’s what Yasmin told herself anyway. Couldn’t even reply to her own daughter when she’d been shot. Summed up how useful she had been over the past couple of years. She couldn’t blame her for leaving her dad, but Yasmin missed having her mum around, rather than living the high life, working in New York.

On the bright side, Yasmin was feeling a lot better now. She was still weak and the doctor was wary of discharging her, but she knew she had to help out. It terrified her that her dad was so dangerous, and could be doing anything to her friends while she was sat in a car, helpless.

Interrupting her train of thought, much to her relief, a jovial ringtone sounded. Yasmin knew it was Dylan’s phone, ringing from the passenger seat. Yasmin stretched out, being very careful of her stitches, to grab the phone. The screen flashed – “Mom,” was calling. Yasmin didn’t hesitate to answer the call – she knew Caroline well enough.

“Hey,” she greeted, “It’s Yasmin. Dylan’s a little preoccupied.”

“Oh, hi Yasmin. Is he okay?” Caroline sounded concerned.

“Yeah, he’s all good. Anything you want me to pass on?” Yasmin politely offered.

“No, it’s okay. I’ll call him later,” Caroline said, “See you soon sweetie.” The call ended. Almost instantly after, the gates vaulted open. Thank god. She saw Dylan bounce his way back to the car.

“Mission accomplished,” he grinned as he plonked himself back onto the passenger seat.

“Your mom called,” Yasmin notified. Immediately, Dylan’s breezy mood sank.

“Did she say anything?” he asked in a dead serious tone.

“No, just that she’ll call you later,” Yasmin informed. Dylan sighed and nodded. Something was up, and as Dylan’s bestie, it was her job to find out.

Weaker than ever, Josh was desperate. Any sort of miracle to get him off those railings would be just a spot of what he needed. He was already feeling pretty exhausted. He hadn’t felt normal in months – since he lost his alpha status. He had gone past resenting Dylan for that. Perhaps he was losing his touch, but he knew he would rather have Dylan on his team than on the opposite one.

He had learnt a lot since Clara kidnapped him. Dylan’s no-violence way of solving problems seemed much more efficient. He knew he could do with some of that sooner rather than later.

Besides, it’s not like Clara especially wanted him in her pack anymore. She had spent a couple of hours electrocuting him, for reasons he still didn’t understand. He had been given water, since it stopped, so she obviously wanted him alive. The lights flickered back on. It was time again.

“I hope you’ve enjoyed recess,” Clara commented, walking towards him from the far door.

“What do you want?” Josh impatiently queried. The electrocution drained him of patience as well as energy.

“Wouldn’t you like to know, Mr. Alpha?” she teased.

“Revenge? Is that what you want? Cause your mom wanted me to be the alpha instead of you?” Josh tried to guess.

“Partly. You took what wasn’t yours. My mom was delirious. She had no idea what she was saying,” Clara defended herself. Josh rolled his eyes. The delusion was unreal.

“You really think you deserved it? Look at you. Heck, look at me. You turned me into this,” Josh argued, “Bet it sucks to realise you’ve missed your shot.”

“You think?” she came closer, her hand gently caressing Josh’s cheek, “Your body is weak. It can’t cope. You’re still the alpha, nobody has taken your power so it exists within you.” Josh was baffled. How could he still be the alpha? The mountain ash surely flushed it out of him.

That said, it did explain the way he’d been feeling. The fits and the drowsiness made sense.

“How can you get it?” Josh worriedly questioned. He knew that you had to kill an alpha to steal their power, so he was more than a little frightened.

“Your status isn’t alpha, so I think I can spare your life, but there are no guarantees,” Clara vaguely answered. It sounded like he should be okay, but with Mr. Forsyth still around, Josh knew Clara was only half the battle.

Bringing them food and water, Lily was disgusted to see the sight of Mr. Forsyth again. As someone who was relatively calm all the time, he made even her blood boil, and that spoke volumes. His face was the epitome of arrogance, and it made her want to punch him. She restrained herself, knowing it wouldn’t solve any of their problems, but the temptation was strong.

She sipped on her shabby plastic cup half-filled with water, relishing every drop as she knew drinks were few and far between. What confused Lily the most about the entire situation was why they were still imprisoned. Mr. Forsyth and Clara had Josh in their hands now, why couldn’t they be released?

“I hope there won’t be any more antics like yesterday’s tragic escape attempt,” Mr. Forsyth patronised.

“There wouldn’t be if you let us go,” Drew bargained. He was obviously on the same wavelength.

“And risk you leading Mr. Drummond and your other buddies here to help save your friend? Try again,” Mr. Forsyth laughed, slamming the door behind him.

“I could honestly kill him,” Drew paced back and forth, trying to control his anger.

“Come on, we can’t win thinking like that,” Jono tried to encourage positive thinking. He was good at that. Always the positive influence of the family.

“We’re not gonna win at all stuck in here,” Drew counteracted with negativity.

“Dylan will find us. He always does,” Jono’s optimism refused to fail. Especially where Dylan was concerned.

“You’d better hope so. I don’t know how much longer I can take in here,” Lily sighed.

Following carefully behind the Sheriff, Dylan was on red alert. They were inside the warehouse, while deputies guarded the outside entrances to ensure nobody escaped, and were creeping along the trail left by Jono’s cologne. Dylan could smell it a mile off – being able to pinpoint anything that reminded him of Jono was practically instinct to him.

They were going downstairs, following a concrete stairwell all the way down. The steps were sturdy, but the walls had been neglected severely. There were no doubts in Dylan’s mind – this was definitely where the scent was leading.

As they reached the bottom, they were presented with a dilemma. Left or right?

“We should split up,” Sheriff Taylor suggested.

“I’m confident Jono is this way,” Dylan pointed right.

“Wait, Josh’s scent is this way,” Freddie looked left. He had obviously been following his nose too, but for a different person.

“Alright, Dylan, you take Yasmin and George and clear that route. Be very careful. I’ll take Freddie and check this way,” the Sheriff commanded.

Dylan led the way to the right, heading off just as he watched Yasmin and Freddie’s hands slip apart. The scent grew stronger and stronger, teasing Dylan’s senses with the prospect of being in Jono’s presence again. It had only been a few hours since he last saw him, but it was more than enough to miss him. That said, ten seconds apart was enough for Dylan to miss Jono.

He led Yasmin and George through corridors and round corners, wondering each time who they might bump into. They turned yet another corner, and immediately, Dylan shot backwards.

“What?” Yasmin harshly whispered.

“There’s a guard. The scent is strong, I think he’s in there,” Dylan announced. How they would get past the guard was their most risky obstacle yet, particularly as he looked very familiar to Dylan.

“You can take him, right?” George suggested.

“He’s the one that exposed me at my party. He’ll shoot me before I get even halfway there,” Dylan reasoned.

“I’ve got an idea,” Yasmin smiled devilishly. Saying no more, she grabbed George by the arm and led him casually around the corner. Dylan watched on, using his hearing to listen in.

“Hey, I was wondering if you know where my dad is?” Yasmin spoke politely to the guard.

“You’re not authorised to be here,” the guard replied.

“Could you just show me where to find him?” she persisted. The guard sighed and turned away from the cell to point further down the corridor. Yasmin winked at George, who performed an exquisite karate move on him. The guard sagged to the floor, banging against the cell door on his way down. Knocked out stone cold.

Instantly, Yasmin dug out his set of keys and dangled them triumphantly in the air. Dylan laughed at her audacity, and jogged to join her.

“Nice karate move,” Dylan complimented.

“Training every day for the past ten years has paid off,” George laughed. Now for the fun part. Dylan could hardly wait to open that door and see Jono’s gorgeous face.

“What the fuck is that?” Lily screamed, hearing a bang against the cell door. Jono comforted her, gently rubbing his hand up and down her arm. Drew stood in front of them both, much to Jono’s relief. Whatever had made that noise could be coming for them, and Drew was the best equipped to keep them safe.

God knows what Clara had in mind for them. Jono feared she would force him into her pack. He didn’t want to become a werewolf. He’d seen the impact it had had on Dylan, and he didn’t want it for himself. He felt like he had been through the whole ordeal with Dylan anyway. They were in it together, and although it had stressed Jono out and landed him in a dingy cell from which he may not get out, he wouldn’t change it.

As he watched the doorway, he heard the key twisting in the lock.

“Stand back,” Drew commanded. Jono braced himself, still gripping Lily tightly. They were comforting each other by that point. The door shuffled open, the anticipation bubbling over. Much to Jono’s relief, Dylan was the first to step through.

“Oh thank god,” Jono released his grip on Lily and flung his arms around Dylan. Jono had never been so relieved to feel Dylan’s skin on his own, and his hair rustling against his nose. The sweet smell of his shampoo and cologne. It was heavenly.

“I am so glad you’re okay,” Dylan seemed just as relieved.

“We can celebrate once we get out,” Drew reminded. It was true. Jono regretfully loosened his grip, noticing Lily and George doing the same.

“Have you found Josh?” Jono questioned.

“No, the Sheriff and Freddie are still looking,” Yasmin informed.

“The Sheriff? What the heck is he doing here?” Drew was baffled.

“I’ll explain later. We gotta go help,” Dylan suggested. He led the way back in the direction he came. The plan was almost complete.

Not once walking in front of Sheriff Taylor, Freddie wasn’t scared to admit how terrified he was. The basement of this warehouse was huge and very dark, with only some dim, flickering lights to help lead the way.

The Sheriff had a gun primed, which both eased and worried him at the same time. As far as the Sheriff was concerned, they were dealing with a murderer. Freddie was following his nose though. He knew Josh’s scent off by heart, having spent so much time with him.

They reached a wooden door at the end of the corridor – no windows to peep through, but there were no other options. This must have been it. The Sheriff signalled for Freddie to hide behind the adjacent wall while he cleared the room. As soon as he entered, Freddie heard a cry for help.

“Freddie, get in here,” the Sheriff commanded. Freddie didn’t need to be asked twice – he ran inside and saw a room just as grotty as the rest of the basement, big yet claustrophobic, and full of wires and equipment.

However, what caught his eye the most was Josh. He was chained to railings on the far wall, and he looked like he’d been through the ringer. The Sheriff was trying to untie him, but wasn’t having much luck.

“Am I glad to see you,” Josh forced a smile. He looked like he had no energy whatsoever. Freddie rushed over and immediately tried tugging on the wires securing Josh’s wrists to the metal bars. Maybe with his wolf strength he could break them?

“I’ve tried all that,” Josh knew what he was doing, “Save yourself. Get out of here.”

“Not without you,” Freddie continued regardless.

“How sweet,” a voice came from behind. Freddie gulped. He knew the spine-tingling tones of Clara’s voice anywhere. He spun round to face her, eye-to-eye.

“Let him go,” Freddie demanded.

“Or what? Your dad will shoot me?” Clara teased, attempting to intimidate both him and the Sheriff in one fell swoop. The Sheriff had his gun primed already.

“Surrender and you’ll make this job easier for everyone,” the Sheriff suggested.

“So I can go to court and tell the judge all about werewolves? Would you risk the secret getting out?” Clara blackmailed.

“They wouldn’t believe you,” Freddie fired back.

“Perhaps if there were two identical witness statements, they would,” Mr. Forsyth walked casually into the room. His smugness was off the scale.

“Put your hands in the air and hand yourself over,” the Sheriff immediately commanded. Mr. Forsyth didn’t move a muscle. Perhaps this was going to be tougher than Freddie thought.

Rushing through the corridors, ducking below spiderwebs and leaping over puddles, Dylan was determined not to waste time. They could have been doing anything to Josh – he dreaded to think. If Clara wanted to become the alpha, she would probably have to kill Josh, and even if she didn’t, Mr. Forsyth certainly would.

The end of the corridor was in sight, and they were met by a rackety wooden door, left slightly ajar. Dylan signalled to the rest of the group behind him, placing his index finger on his lips. He listened in, sussing the situation.

“I won’t ask you again,” he heard the Sheriff order.

“Don’t, then,” Mr. Forsyth retaliated.

Dylan peered through the gap in the doorway. He saw Freddie next to Josh, both of them looking horrified. Clara inched towards Josh while the Sheriff’s attention was on Mr. Forsyth. In one swift move, she pushed Freddie out of the way with her left hand and propelled her right hand into Josh’s chest with no remorse. Dylan couldn’t contain himself any longer.

“Stop! He yelled, bursting unapologetically into the room.

“Too late,” Clara rejoiced, tilting her head back as Josh’s eyes snapped shut.

“I don’t think so,” Mr. Forsyth rapidly pulled a gun out of his back pocket and shot Clara, “Two birds with one stone.” Blood splattered out of her back and she plunged to the ground lifelessly. Blood dripped out of Josh from the claw marks and sagged further, only being held up by the restraints on his hands and legs.

Drew leapt in and shoved Mr. Forsyth to the floor, the gun sliding in the direction of the Sheriff, who picked it up for safe keeping.

“What the hell have you done?” Freddie was disgusted, tending to Josh and checking his pulse, “He’s still alive. Just.”

“He won’t be for long,” Mr. Forsyth remarked from the ground. Drew yanked him up, not caring to ensure his comfort.

“How can we save him?” Yasmin demanded.

“The transfer was incomplete. He can’t survive now. He was dying anyway,” Mr. Forsyth admitted.

“This was your plan all along,” Yasmin realised. Dylan hugged her, knowing this wasn’t easy. While he did so, he spotted Josh stirring in the corner of his eye, slowly lifting his head.

“If this is the last thing I do,” Josh’s eyes glowed yellow, and he stretched himself as far as he could. His fangs came into view and he sank them into Mr. Forsyth’s neck. Blood sprayed out – it was a horrifying sight for Dylan, and it triggered memories of his own bite, that horrible night in the woods. He felt sorry for Mr. Forsyth to an extent, but at the same time, karma was a bitch. He screamed in pain before sinking to the floor, shell-shocked. Josh collapsed back into the restraints of the handcuffs again.

“He was still technically the alpha,” Drew realised. The irony of a hunter becoming a werewolf.

“And he can be saved,” Yasmin considered, “If the transfer completes, technically.”

“So someone has to become the alpha instead,” Freddie joined the dot. Dylan’s brain was doing overtime. He had no idea what to suggest.

“I don’t want it,” Drew immediately said, “I vote for Dylan.” Dylan felt sick. The thought of becoming the alpha absolutely horrified him. The responsibility was huge and he’d be a walking target.

“What?” he struggled to form a sentence in response.

“I agree,” Freddie voted, “And we’re the only options here.” Dylan gulped. Could he be the alpha? Taking on the duty of leading the pack.

He looked to Jono for guidance. He nodded and smiled kindly. Yasmin gave him a double thumbs-up, too. He had their support. That’s all he needed.

“Let’s do this,” Dylan decided. He walked over to Josh, butterflies multiplying in his stomach, and whispered into his ear, “I forgive you, and I’ll do you proud.”

Worried about causing pain, Dylan regretfully poked his claws through Josh’s skin. He closed his eyes, focusing, allowing the wolf to take over and consume his mind. He was there for what felt like ages, but it can’t have been more than a few seconds.

Then he listened to his instinct. He withdrew slowly, keeping his eyes shut, and turned around to face the group.

His eyes shot open, and the red glow of an alpha shone brightly for the first time.

The car journey home was depressingly quiet for Yasmin. She had hopped into Jono’s car with Dylan, and was sitting alone on the backseat. It wasn’t entirely silent – the radio was playing, and Avril Lavigne’s “Head Above Water,” was playing. It felt pretty appropriate.

However, the lack of conversation spoke volumes. Nobody knew what to say, her included. She simply sat checking her phone. She had tried texting her mum again, each text sent with more and more urgency. Her dad had been arrested – the Sheriff had seen him murder Clara with his own eyes, he had no chance of getting off. It felt shit, although it was like ripping a waxing strip off. It would hurt either way, so better to get it over with instead of dragging it out.

“How’s the passenger?” Dylan smiled kindly as he turned around to face her.

“I’ve been better,” Yasmin honestly replied.

“Sorry. Stupid question,” Dylan sympathised.

“It’s alright. I’ve just…got a lot to think about,” Yasmin explained.

“Sure. Has your mom replied?” Dylan enquired.

“Nope. Not that I should be surprised. She’s always been too busy for me,” Yasmin felt ashamed to talk about her family life, even if she knew Dylan and Jono would never judge.

“I’d have to check with my mom but I’m sure she’d be fine with you staying at ours,” Dylan offered.

“Hey, what about me?” Jono jested.

“You can too, if you can bear sleeping in a separate bedroom,” Dylan teased.

“Maybe I’ll pass,” Jono giggled. It certainly lightened Yasmin’s mood a little.

“Thanks for the offer,” Yasmin replied, “Have you called your mom?”

“Not yet. I think I’d better do it face-to-face. I was gonna tell her about me,” Dylan revealed.

“Really? Wow,” Jono reacted, “Want a bit of support?”

“Thanks, but I’d better do it alone. I’m shitting myself,” Dylan nervously laughed.

“You’ll smash it,” Yasmin encouraged. She was proud of Dylan. He’d just taken on such a huge responsibility, and despite the setbacks, becoming a werewolf had been the making of him.

Carefully closing the front door on his way in, Dylan was cautious not to make a sound. It was the early hours of the morning – Dylan was unsure on the specific time but the sun was starting to show itself. His mum was almost certainly asleep, giving him time to think about what to tell her. So many scenarios were dashing through his mind. What were the right words?

He could have done with Yasmin’s help, but she wanted to spend a final night at Freddie’s before she potentially moved in with Dylan; it made sense, as all her belongings were there.

Nevertheless, Dylan was pleased to be home. The familiar feel of the carpet, the sight of the pretty wallpaper, and the fresh smell of the new sofa, bought a couple of weeks ago. Immediately, he felt calm after the rollercoaster of emotions that summed up not just that night, but the entire week.

“Dylan, is that you?” he heard Caroline call. It sounded close, and like she had only just woken up. Dylan popped his head into the living room, where a lamp had just been switched on. It was Caroline, lying on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket.

“Mom, what are you doing down here?” Dylan questioned, going to sit next to her. She made room at the opposite end of the sofa.

“I was waiting for you. I didn’t think you’d be so late,” Caroline explained.

“Sorry. Been a chaotic night,” Dylan responded.

“Anything you wanna talk about?” Caroline gently enquired.

“I thought you wanted to say something, the Sheriff said so,” Dylan swerved. He was gearing up to his moment, but it wasn’t yet.

“Oh, err, okay,” Caroline seemed unprepared, “How would you feel about me and the Sheriff, you know, being together?”

“Like, a couple?” Dylan was surprised. It all made sense now – his more frequent visits and his protectiveness over her, but he hadn’t thought for a second that this was a possibility.

“Only if you’re okay with it. I still love your dad and I always will, please don’t forget that,” Caroline worried.

“I know mom, and I will too. You can date who you want, you don’t need my approval,” Dylan responded. She had been so accepting of his relationship, the least he could offer was the same back. Besides, he liked the Sheriff a lot.

“Really? Thank you, sweetie, it means the world,” Caroline threw her arms around Dylan and planted a loving kiss on his cheek, “Right, get upstairs to bed. It’s a school night.” Shit. Dylan had forgotten about school. He had a matter of hours before he needed to get up.

“Night mom,” he gave her a peck on the cheek and headed up to bed. Every second of sleep was now precious. His own revelation could wait.

Shattered. Dylan had approximately two and a half hours’ sleep overnight. The walk to school was especially tiring, but he powered through. He knew he had the strength. He was the alpha, he could do anything he wanted. That’s what he told himself, anyway.

At the school gate, Dylan was surprised to see Josh, looking radiant and fuller of life than the night before.

“Hey, how’s it going?” Dylan smiled.

“Much better. Thanks, for everything,” Josh smiled back. Dylan hadn’t seen the kindness in his eyes in a long time.

“It’s nothing. I hope you’re sticking around,” Dylan responded. He knew very little about Josh’s home situation – he’d never mentioned parents or relatives.

“It’s down to the authorities I guess. Wherever they place me,” Josh thought aloud.

“You’re in foster care?” Dylan clarified.

“Yeah, since I was little. I ran away from my last home. I doubt they’d take me back. I’ll probably be moved again,” Josh explained sounding very disheartened. Dylan didn’t know what to say, so he placed a comforting hand on Josh’s shoulder. Sometimes, less was more.

Together, they strolled over to their usual bench. Yasmin was there alone, unusually without her school bag or even an exercise book in sight. Dylan caught her winking at Josh, who then left the two of them alone.

“What was that about?” Dylan wondered.

“I wanted to catch you alone, I’ve spoken to the others already,” Yasmin replied, “I’ve got some news. My mum’s been in contact.” Dylan’s stomach sank. He sensed this wouldn’t be good news.

“She wants me to live with her, in New York, and I’ve said yes. I’m leaving today. The authorities got in contact and she was keen, although she’s my only real option in their eyes,” Yasmin continued. Dylan felt like he’d been punched repeatedly in his gut.

“Can’t you stay with somebody here?” he couldn’t hide his upset. Tears formed in his eyes, and he noticed an identical situation in Yasmin’s too.

“I can’t. I need to get away from here for a bit. All those memories of him, it hurts, Dylan,” Yasmin justified, wiping some stray tears from her cheek.

“What about Freddie?” Dylan questioned.

“He knows. He took it alright, but feels a bit down. I trust I can rely on you to look after him,” Yasmin instructed. Dylan nodded without hesitation.

“I’m gonna miss you like crazy,” Dylan struggled to speak.

“Same. You’ve kept me sane, Dylan,” Yasmin tried to smile, “We can keep in contact, and I expect loads of visits.

“You try and keep me away,” Dylan giggled, “Who will help me with my homework?”

“Me over Skype, I bet,” Yasmin laughed. They stood up and wrapped their arms around each other. Dylan didn’t want to let go, knowing that as soon as the hug concluded, he’d have to say goodbye, and he hated goodbyes with a passion. After a few moments though, Yasmin regretfully pulled away, “See ya.”

“Bye,” Dylan couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, allowing them to slip down his face as Yasmin gave a little wave and confidently strutted off the school grounds.

He stood there motionless, trying and failing to clear his eyes, when he felt another hand slip into his own. It was Jono, of course. Just who he needed. He didn’t even have to say anything; the fact he was there as a shoulder to cry on – literally – meant everything to Dylan.

He had to learn how to succeed without Yasmin, and he’d hoped the alpha inside him would be able to inspire that.

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