Series 11 Episode 9
Though Dylan was aware of everything around him, he couldn’t really process anything. It was good to have his family by his side – Ed had joined him and Caroline after asking the childminder if she could keep Libby a couple more hours, with Josh on the first flight home – but their hugs and words weren’t scratching the surface.
After all, nothing could change the truth: Harry was dead. The person Dylan had devoted four years of his life to had gone. Four years of happiness after Dylan had resigned himself to being single forever. In the blink of an eye, Harry had vanished.
Through everything, Jono hadn’t left Dylan’s side. Just as Lily had encouraged, he’d been there the whole time. Dylan didn’t know what to think anymore. His relationship status was ultimately irrelevant but knowing that Harry understood how he felt about Jono was at least a little reassuring. Jono didn’t deserve to be strung along.
“They’re waiting on someone to move him to the morgue,” Ed explained, walking back to the waiting area from the reception desk. Dylan felt suffocated – they were sat in the exact area where Harry was attacked.
“Let’s get you home,” Caroline suggested.
“I can’t,” Dylan sighed, “Whatever caused this is still out there.”
“The others are on it already. They’re more than capable,” Jono reminded.
“It’s not their fight. It killed him, Jon. He’s dead, and I can’t just sit here,” Dylan insisted. He couldn’t do nothing. Harry deserved more than that.
“Then we do it together,” Jono replied, “I might not be a werewolf anymore, but I remember how to fight. I’m not leaving you alone for even a second, Dyl.” Even at the worst time, that nickname still sent butterflies through Dylan’s stomach. Jono had the most powerful ability to make Dylan feel better.
“Dylan!” a voice desperately called out from down the corridor. Sammi rushed towards them, looking flustered and stressed, followed by a panicked Jonah.
“Hey, what’s up?” Dylan wiped his tears, putting on his best brave face.
“You know Leah, Jonah’s friend? The entity possessed her, it’s gone now but she’s very weak,” Sammi explained.
“Hey, I’m sure she’ll be okay,” Jono smiled at Jonah. They barely knew each other, but still, Jono was keen to look out for him. Dylan couldn’t help falling for him all over again.
“She’s with the doctor now so I hope so,” Sammi filled the silence, “How’s Harry doing?”
Dylan’s heart skipped a beat in panic. That was a question he was going to have to answer over and over again, and he didn’t know what to say. He felt sick, and the tears were making their way back.
The brave face was cracking.
The scent of blood was so strong in Lily’s nose that it felt like it was being wafted right in front of her. They had to be so close, but there was no sign of anything. The road out of Crystalshaw was barren, and there was almost nothing for miles, so where were Yasmin and Jeremy?
“No, we can’t be in the middle of nowhere,” Freddie panicked, and Lily couldn’t lie, she was scared too. She’d spent years honing her senses and she knew she couldn’t have followed the wrong scent.
“Well done, now they’re even more screwed,” Keisha bluntness was the last thing Lily needed.
“This has to be it,” Lily insisted, frantically looking around as if a building was magically going to appear.
“We must be missing something,” Brett remained optimistic, exactly the way Dylan would. Lily tried to think of how he would approach the situation. Dylan would never have given up, even when things looked bleaker than ever.
“Like this?” Charlie stamped his foot on the tufts of greenery that covered the side of the road, making an ill-fitting clanging sound as he did so. That was the lifeline Lily was desperately hoping for. Shrouded under the untamed grass was a metal hatch, unlabelled and unremarkable to the naked eye. Freddie heaved it open, exposing a ladder that travelled a couple of metres downwards. None of them had to say a word to each other to know what the plan was.
Lily was the second one to climb down the hatch, with Freddie leading the way and Brett, Charlie and Keisha following behind. At the bottom of the ladder was a tunnel, far less sophisticated in design than the bunker tunnels that trickled through the whole of Crystalshaw. The walls were made of stone slabs and there wasn’t a hint of natural light.
“Thank god for phone torches,” Charlie commented, flicking his torch on.
“And wolf eyes,” Lily switched her focus. She didn’t need a torch to see – it was great for when she woke up in the middle of the night.
“Woah,” Charlie reacted to the trio of wolf eyes he saw glowing in front of him, “That’s insane.”
“You get used to it,” Brett chuckled, “What’s the plan?”
“Three heartbeats,” Lily identified, listening intently, “They’re close. Two must be Yasmin and Jeremy.”
“And then the kidnapper,” Freddie worried.
“Okay, so we need a distraction,” Lily decided, “Brett, take Charlie and Keisha and keep the kidnapper busy. Freddie and I will get Yasmin and Jeremy out.” It was a risky plan – Lily had no idea who they were up against, but with Jono back in Crystalshaw, the pack were finally together again, and Lily wasn’t going to risk losing that.
No matter how hard he tried, Jeremy just couldn’t break free. He should easily have been able to break out of chains like those, but he couldn’t even summon the strength of the wolf to make a small dent in them. It was aggravating him, and he was starting to give up.
Jeremy was determined not to let the Lunar Sanctum win once again. The fact they weren’t all caught and jailed the last time was bad enough, but he’d sworn he wouldn’t let anyone spoil the life he’d built for himself. This couldn’t be his story. He wouldn’t allow it.
Chang’s vendetta against the pack was baffling. Jeremy remembered meeting Dylan for the first time; he was nothing but welcoming and understanding, and he went above and beyond to satisfy everyone. Why did being a werewolf somehow invalidate that? The cocktail of a Lunar Sanctum member idolising the most notorious hunter Crystalshaw had seen terrified Jeremy, and he was firmly in Chang’s possession.
“They’ll be on their way. The pack,” Yasmin tried to reassure him, but it wasn’t working.
“That’s what she wants,” Jeremy replied, “They’re going to die if they come here, and so are we.”
“You’re not giving our friends enough credit,” Yasmin reminded, “We’ve gotten through stuff like this before. We’ve survived both our dads, surely we can survive this weird imitation?”
“I don’t think anyone asked for a cocktail of our dads,” Jeremy tried to raise a smile, but he was in far too much pain, “It’s weird, I know my dad’s gone, but I still worry he’ll just turn up again. I thought, if he was going to resurface, he’d have done so at my wedding, you know? Ruin my best chance of happiness.”
“But he didn’t,” Yasmin keenly reminded, “You’ve got a husband who understands and adores you, and your dad is gone. For good.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy pictured Felix in his mind. That was his number one reason to keep fighting. Felix needed him just as much as he needed Felix. That couldn’t be the end.
“Jeremy,” a familiar whisper came from outside. To his delight, it was Lily, with Freddie just behind her. Sure enough, rescue had arrived, but the battle wasn’t over just yet.
There was nothing about their situation that made Brett feel comfortable. Sure, they had a plan, but when they didn’t know who they were up against, Brett wasn’t feeling optimistic. It was a recipe for a disaster.
Keisha led them and Charlie in the direction of the third heartbeat, their phone torches being the only things lighting the way. It was obvious the tunnels weren’t typically used for anything, which made them the perfect hiding place, Brett supposed, but they had to have been a last-minute thing. Why the urgency?
“Round the corner,” Keisha whispered. Brett’s heart was racing. Who was it? What did they want? Why had they kidnapped two of their friends?
Before they made their move, Brett gave Charlie a nod. They hardly knew each other, and Charlie obviously knew next-to-nothing about the world he’d found himself in, but there he was, helping out as if he’d been there since day one. That was to be commended. Charlie gave an approving nod back – he was okay, or so he pretended.
Keisha gave the command. They all knew the plan. Keep the person talking long enough to give Freddie and Lily time to rescue their friends. It couldn’t have been more straightforward, and Brett was desperately praying that, for once, it went well. Just a couple of hours before, their future had never looked brighter. They wanted to hold onto that, more than anything.
“Um, hello?” Keisha played the role of accidental guest perfectly, as if she’d somehow stumbled upon the tunnel by mistake. There wasn’t much to see around the corner, just a woman sat on a wooden chair using her laptop. The identity of the woman, however, was far more concerning. It was someone Brett knew. They’d seem her countless times at the sheriff station. Lisa Chang. Quickly, Keisha’s confidence slipped as she realised who it was, “Shit.”
“This is an interesting selection of guests,” Lisa began, closing the laptop and placing it gently on the floor, “Brett, less so, but I thought you’d retired, Keisha? Not to mention our new addition.”
“Where are our friends?” Brett immediately interrogated. They knew the answer, but they had to buy time and keep their cover.
“Being rescued by whoever else you came with, I expect,” Lisa smirked. Brett was speechless. They’d been sussed out, “And that’s okay. You can take Yasmin and Jeremy, but you’ll have to be quick. There’s a bomb in their cell programmed to detonate shortly. If you can get them, and yourselves, out, well done. If not, oops.”
“She’s bluffing,” Keisha immediately stated.
“Do you want to put that to the test?” Lisa continued her horribly arrogant smile, as if she’d won already. Brett didn’t know what to say, but they couldn’t take any risks. They had to save their friends, and fast.
“Nobody’s read the message yet,” Dylan was getting more and more worked up, and Jono’s heart was breaking. He didn’t know what to do or how to react, and there was nothing Jono could do to change that. Dylan wasn’t even able to grieve while the entity was still lurking around. It was more than Dylan could cope with, and Jono desperately wished he could shoulder some of the burden.
The bad new seemed to keep coming, too. Jonah’s friend was unwell, and it felt like the whole pack had been plagued by death sine Jono’s return. He always knew that what they were doing was dangerous, but it had never been like that before. Jono had never felt so scared.
“They’re busy,” Jono reminded, “Trust them. I do.”
“Lily’s in charge,” Sammi added, “They know what they’re doing.”
“Sitting here isn’t helping anyone,” Dylan sighed. He was very fidgety, even more than usual.
“Come on, let’s go for a walk,” Jono offered. He knew Dylan needed some time away, and a walk never failed to clear Jono’s mind. Dylan heaved himself up and followed Jono without saying a word. Jono had never seen him so sullen before, and it was killing him.
“I’m sorry,” Dylan finally spoke as they turned the corner, “I’m not the best person to be around at the moment. You’re grieving your dad. You don’t need me feeling sorry for myself.”
“Do you think I’d be here if I didn’t want to be?” Jono questioned, “Dylan, I’ve spent the last seven years dreaming of getting home to you. I don’t care what mood you’re in, I care that I’ve got you here with me. I’ll always be by your side, Dyl.”
Dylan stopped in the middle of the corridor, taking Jono by the arm as he did so. He looked like he was about to cry again, but for the first time that day, Dylan was looking straight into Jono’s eyes. Jono couldn’t imagine just how many thoughts were flooding his mind. He was overwhelmed, more than ever before. Jono pulled Dylan towards a couple of seats, keeping them out of the way of the staff.
“Jon,” Dylan finally replied, “My head’s a mess right now. I’ve not lost anyone since dad, and I was so young then. I don’t really know how to feel or what to do, so I’m kind-of on autopilot.”
“Yeah, I feel you on that,” Jono answered, “My dad’s the first person I’ve lost. I never really knew my grandparents.”
“How are you feeling now?” Dylan asked, wiping away a couple of tears.
“Numb,” Jono shrugged, “It’ll hit me when I slow down, I guess, but I’ve barely had time to process anything since I got back.”
“You know, you don’t have to go back to your parents’ house,” Dylan mentioned, “Stay with me.”
“Is your couch comfortable enough?” Jono smiled. His heart felt warm. Dylan was looking out for him, and it meant the world.
“I don’t mean the couch. I mean properly. Move in with me. I might need a bit of time, and I can’t promise it’ll be like it was before, not yet, but I want you back, Jono. I need you back,” Dylan pleaded.
“I need you too, Dyl, and I want you more than anything,” Jono replied. Those were the words he’d been so desperate to hear, but he had to clarify something before he accepted, “Are you sure you don’t need some space? Harry’s not been gone long. I can’t be your rebound, Dyl.”
“I’ve been thinking about what I want since I heard you were back. Harry gave us his blessing, and sure, I loved him so much, I always will, but it’s you that I adore, Jon. You could never be just a rebound. You’re my soulmate. My husband. The person who’s always had my heart, even after seven years. I want to honour Harry’s life and what we had, but I also want you. That’s what I’ve learnt. I can live without you. I can get by on my own, but I don’t want to. Dylan and Jono, against the world, the way it should be,” Dylan passionately persuaded in a way Jono had never heard before. He’d never spoken so confidently about what he wanted, and Jono was impressed. Harry had clearly had a positive effect on Dylan.
“So, when can I move in?” Jono smiled proudly. That was his acceptance. He’d got Dylan back, and he could hardly believe his luck. Overcome with emotion, Dylan leaned in to kiss Jono like the world was ending. Their first kiss in seven years was magical; Jono could almost feel the sparks flying. It was like they were in their own dimension for a few moments. He was in heaven.
The moment broke as shouting and screaming filled Jono’s ears. His wolf-hearing had gone, so if he could hear it, so could everyone. People were running towards them, which meant they were running away from where Sammi and Jonah were.
Jono didn’t need to discuss hat the plan was with Dylan. They both sprinted back the way they came, against the tide of people frantically running away.
“Over here,” Sammi called, using all of her strength to keep the door shut to one of the hospital rooms. Harry’s room, specifically. Something was trying to open it on the other side, and so far, it was winning.
“What is it?” a worried Jonah stood back, nervous. Jono quickly pulled him aside as Dylan went to help Sammi.
“Dylan, you don’t want to see this,” Sammi said, struggling to speak while keeping her strength on the door handle. However, it was too late. Through the glass pane, Dylan had clearly noticed what was happening. Jono couldn’t believe his eyes. Inside was Harry, awake and trying to pull the door open. His eyes were a piercing orange, though, and not only was it terrifying, but it was cruel. Cruel to Harry’s memory, and cruel to Dylan.
The entity was in Harry.
With just one heave, Freddie made light work of the metal railings that made up the cell door, and Yasmin felt optimistic. They weren’t out of the woods, but the clearing was in sight. Freddie and Lily were just the lifeline Yasmin had been praying for.
Yasmin’s chains were easily ripped off by Lily, but Jeremy’s were another matter. Neither her nor Freddie could even touch them, so Yasmin couldn’t imagine the discomfort Jeremy was feeling to have them forced against his skin. She needed to help.
“Let me try,” Yasmin braced herself, stretching her arms for the first time in a while. Her powers were temperamental, and she had no idea how she did what she did, but Yasmin had to try. She placed one hand on each of Jeremy’s wrists, just on top of the chains, and closed her eyes. She focused, zoning in summoning the nix that was in her head somewhere. Sure enough, water trickled down from Yasmin’s fingertips through the chains, sliding between them and Jeremy’s skin.
“It hurts,” Jeremy winced as Yasmin gently tried to slip the chains downwards. The water helped loosen their grip, but every tiny movement caused Jeremy to shudder. The chains fell easily, though, as if the mountain ash hated being on Jeremy’s skin as much as it hurt Jeremy vice versa.
As the chains clanged against the floor, Jeremy collapsed into Freddie’s arms, panting heavily but with a clear expression of relief. He sent Yasmin a nod, a sign of thanks. Yasmin felt the relief just as vividly. It was on her to save her friend, and she wasn’t going to let him down.
“Wait,” Jeremy stood himself up, “Can you hear that?”
“Hear what?” Yasmin enquired. She was the only one in the room without wolf-hearing to aid her, so she was feeling left out.
“I couldn’t hear it before, the mountain ash was supressing my wolf powers, but it’s right there, in the background,” Jeremy elaborated.
“I noticed it right away,” Lily continued, “Something’s beeping, it’s really quiet so I assumed it wasn’t in here.”
“Same, helping you two was more important,” Freddie shrugged.
“I’m not sure, it’s coming from over there,” Jeremy pointed to the assortment of boxes in the corner. Cautiously, he approached and lifted the lid off the top box. His face said it all. He was horrified by whatever was in there, “Get out, all of you.”
“We have to go, now,” Brett arrived at the door with Keisha and Charlie in tow, “It’s a bomb. Chang explained her plan.”
Yasmin took a closer look out of morbid curiosity. Inside the box was a metal cuboid with a display of red numbers counting down, “Sixty seconds,” she read aloud, “I assume it takes longer than that to get out of here.”
“We can try,” Jeremy decided, “Come on, let’s go.”
“Wait, we can help,” Freddie volunteered, summoning a terrified Charlie inside the cell as everyone else flooded out.
“Us? What?” Charlie clearly didn’t want to get any nearer than he had to.
“We fix computers all the time. A bomb is still technology, we can figure it out,” Freddie theorised, “We just need to cut a wire, right?”
“Try not to touch it,” Yasmin warned. All she could think of was the horrific autopsy reports of bomb victims that she’d read at work. They didn’t get any more gruesome than that.
“You need to go,” Freddie advised as he slowly ripped the sides of the cardboard box open to get a better look.
“I can help,” Yasmin insisted
“Three wires,” Charlie observed, “The red one, right? It’s always the red one.”
“No,” Yasmin immediately disagreed. There were three wires – red, blue and green – and she could confidently rule one of them out, “You watch too much TV. Check which one is connected to the power.”
“Which is that?” Charlie stressed. Fifteen seconds.
“The panel there,” Freddie realised. It’s screwed in. It’s the most vital part, like how the insides of a computer are secured. The bombs stops working if it gets dislodged.”
“Stop talking and do it,” Yasmin commanded.
Freddie swiped at the blue wire with his claws, severing the link with the power box.
Three seconds. The screen faded. The countdown stopped. Silence. Yasmin could almost hear her heartbeat, pumping like a dance song in a club after she’d had a few drinks. That was far closer to certain death than she ever wanted to get.
“Well done,” Lisa stormed into the room, holding a gun directly facing Yasmin’s face, “You passed the test. Thank you for proving to me how dangerous this pack is.”
“You’re going to murder us? Oh boy, just wait until Sheriff Taylor hears about this,” Freddie bravely spoke up.
“He won’t want to get in my way,” Lisa smiled, “Last words?”
THWACK! Lisa slumped to the floor, eyes closed and unconscious. Behind her was Cody and Oscar, the former holding a baseball bat.
“Hey,” Cody smiled. Yasmin had never been so pleased to see someone before, and that just confirmed everything she’d been denying, “Hope we’re not too late.”
“I’d say you’re right on time,” Yasmin smiled back, matching Cody’s gaze. She felt a flutter in her stomach that she hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Guys, have you seen your phones?” Oscar looked less chirpy.
“I’ve kinda been tied up,” Yasmin chuckled, “Literally.”
“There’s no signal down here,” Freddie added, checking his phone, “What’s up?”
“It’s Harry,” Oscar solemnly said. Immediately, Yasmin knew what had happened. She felt sick, but she had a job to do. Dylan needed her help now.
Dylan could hardly believe what he was looking at. The face that had gifted him endless amounts of comfort for four years suddenly made him feel sick. It was the cruellest thing he could imagine, and his blood was boiling.
The entity was inside Harry. Not only could it possess the living, but also the dead, and it had a horrific sense of humour. It knew what It was doing. Possessing Harry was blatantly not an accident when it had been targeting the pack for days. It wanted to rile Dylan up, and it was working.
Sammi’s grip on the door slipped. Dylan’s reflexes took over and he immediately shielded Sammi and Jono as the door slammed open. The corridor was thankfully empty otherwise, beyond a worried Jonah observing from the adjacent doorway.
“Go inside and barricade the door. Keep her safe,” Dylan ordered, thinking of Leah as well as Jonah. He was the same age Dylan was when he became a werewolf, and if he could help it, he didn’t need another seventeen-year-old having to grow up before his time. Jonah didn’t need such a burden when he was still a kid.
“It’s okay,” Jono wrapped his hand inside Dylan’s, unclenching his anxious fist in the process. Dylan was trying his best to keep a clear head to think rationally, but it was near impossible when the face of his dead lover was glaring at him.
“Cornered at last. The indomitable Dylan Drummond. You’re a tough alpha to corner,” the entity spoke. It even used Harry’s voice. Dylan wanted to throw up, but he wasn’t going to show any weakness.
“Go on then, kill me. That’s what you want, right? That’s why you’re pulling this gross stunt?” Dylan backed off towards the staff desk in the corner.
“That is my purpose,” the entity coldly replied, slowly following them, “Your friends got lucky. Well, most of them. This one didn’t.” Dylan’s blood continued to boil. He practically had steam coming out of his ears, “Now, I know how to control bodies fully, and I have a purpose to complete.”
“For who?” Sammi called out, “A purpose for who? Who are you working for?”
“The Lunar Sanctum,” the entity answered. Dylan didn’t think he could be any more disgusted. The people who ruined his life for almost a year were doing the same thing again, “They’ve been waiting, Dylan. Waiting to take down the alpha that shut them down. Waiting to unleash me. The Drummond pack will die.”
The trio backed up against the desk and Dylan focused on what he could see in the corner of the eye. His weapon was there, just about in his reach, but he had to wait for the right moment.
“Harry didn’t deserve this. You killed him, and now you’re mocking him. It’s not your mission. It’s murder,” Dylan kept talking, trying his best to say the right words, “And you know what? This is for him.” Dylan swiped the pair of scissors from the desk and slammed them into the entity’s neck. It was the worst possible sight; it looked like Dylan had killed Harry all over again. It was working, though. The entity slumped to the floor, a pool of blood trickling out onto the floor.
Silence followed. Nobody knew what to say. Jono’s hand didn’t move, though. He was there for Dylan regardless.
“Hey,” Jonah dashed out of the next room, oblivious to what had just happened, “Leah’s awake. She’s okay.” Dylan raised a little smile. There was some good news, but he still felt broken inside. There was a long way to go before normality found its way back to his life.
Her exhaustion only just beginning to fade, Yasmin wasn’t sure she was in the mood for socialising. A week had passed since Lisa and the entity, and the pack had been acting like things were over. Sure, the immediate threat had passed, and they were effectively back to where they’d been for years with the cult looming over them, but things had become too real for Yasmin to simply relax.
Nevertheless, it was Brett and Oscar’s last night in Crystalshaw, and it felt wrong not to show up at the small gathering Lily was hosting to say farewell. A party was out of the question, but they needed each other, and losing two of the pack couldn’t have come at a worse time, as happy as Yasmin was for Brett’s new adventure and Oscar’s fresh start by their side. Brett’s team had provided accommodation so the move could happen sooner than anticipated, but losing two more people broke Yasmin’s heart.
“He’ll be here soon,” Jeremy noticed, he and Felix keeping Yasmin company. Quiet chatter filled the lakehouse living room as most of the pack made polite conversation around the room.
“I’m worried about him,” Yasmin admitted. The only people absent were Dylan and Jono. Dylan had assured her he was coming, but he’d been unusually yet understandably distant for the whole week.
“He’s got Jono,” Jeremy reminded, “He’s grieving, but nobody knows Dylan better than Jono does.”
“It does feel weird without Harry here, though,” Felix added.
“Things are going to be strange for a while,” Yasmin concurred. The pack needed time to heal.
“Oh, by the way, Oscar wanted to speak to you,” Jeremy mentioned. Yasmin was confused. Why couldn’t he have come over himself?
“Um, okay, where is he?” Yasmin scanned the room, but he was strangely absent from his own party.
“Front door,” Jeremy smiled a knowing grin. Yasmin felt hesitant. What was going on? Nevertheless, she took herself curiously to the front door to see Oscar proudly stood like he’d secured a new job as a doorman.
“What the hell is going on?” Yasmin laughed in disbelief. She hated being out of the loop.
“I’ve got a present for you,” Oscar admitted, “Please don’t hate me, but I’m playing Cupid on your behalf, and someone else’s.”
“Who told…?” Yasmin trailed off, realising mid-sentence, “Jeremy.”
“We pieced it together,” Oscar chuckled, opening the door. Behind it stood Cody, wearing a dark blue shirt and navy chinos, looking more dapper than Yasmin had ever seen him, “If you want him, go get him.”
“Hey,” Cody beamed. His expression was so pure. He looked as if he’d been waiting for that moment for years, and it warmed Yasmin’s heart. She felt butterflies fluttering in every direction inside her stomach, and though she was nervous, it was her gut that was telling her to throw caution to the wind.
“Hey,” Yasmin stepped forward, just centimetres separating the pair.
“You look beautiful,” Cody complimented. Yasmin felt herself blushing. She wasn’t used to hearing flattery, but she couldn’t deny how much she liked it.
“You too,” Yasmin replied, “Come on then, kiss me.” She smiled playfully. Cody obliged, and against her better judgement, Yasmin couldn’t deny how insane Cody’s lips felt against hers. It felt right, in a way that nothing in her life had for a while.
The kiss relaxed and Yasmin simply stared at Cody in amazement. In the corner of her eye, she noticed Dylan and Jono slipping into the lakehouse behind them, both sharing a proud smile. Suddenly, Yasmin had a reason to feel good. The future seemed less bleak.
The atmosphere at the lakehouse was understandably gloomy, but Brett appreciated the fact their friends had come to say goodbye regardless. They’d been a little blindsided by how quickly it had come around, but it was simply too good an opportunity to pass up. A modern, stylish pad by them and Oscar, and the chance to play for one of the most iconic teams in basketball history. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“You’re going to forget us all within half an hour of living there,” Freddie giggled, examining the photos of the pad on Brett’s phone with Lily and Sammi.
“No way,” Brett laughed along, but it was true. They were going to miss the pack more than anything. It wasn’t the first time they’d lived away from Crystalshaw, but so much had happened in the interim. Losing Johnny. Finding Oscar. Discovering themselves. It had been a rollercoaster journey, and Brett owed everything to the support of their friends.
“I think we’ll be visiting too often to allow that to happen,” Lily grinned, “You try keeping me away from a place that glamorous.”
“Trust me, Jonah won’t want to leave,” Sammi smiled. It meant a lot to Brett that they’d all found the energy to smile, even just for a short while. It was a miracle, especially so soon after Harry and Steve’s passings.
“How’s he coping? You know, now he knows everything,” Brett wondered.
“So far so good,” Freddie replied, “He thinks it’s cool more than anything else, but I’m still worried. He could be a target by association, and he can’t protect himself.”
“He’s got the best possible support network, don’t forget that,” Brett assured, noticing Dylan and Jono quietly slipping into the room, “I’ll be back in a moment.”
As Brett neared the newly reunited couple, they could visibly see how anxious Dylan was to be there. One hand was scrunched up into a fist, and his leg was bobbing up and down like crazy, but his other hand had Jono’s securely tucked up inside it. It was the cutest sight; Brett admired how much love they’d maintained for each other, in spite of everything they’d both been through.
“Hey,” Brett greeted, “Thank you both for coming. It means the world.”
“We wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Jono smiled.
“Harry would never have forgiven me,” Dylan concurred.
“He’s here too. He’s with us, always,” Brett replied, “And he’s proud of you, Dylan. So am I, for what it’s worth. You changed my life and helped me to become who I am today.”
“I’ll miss you,” Dylan raised a smile.
“Hey, Yasmin will be so thrilled you’re both here,” Oscar remarked, joining the small group at the head of the room.
“I think she’s a little preoccupied,” Jono chuckled.
“Oh, so the plan worked? Great,” Brett smiled. They knew what Oscar had been planning for Yasmin, and it was wonderful to inject one last dose of happiness to the pack.
“Shame we won’t be here to see what unfolds,” Oscar laughed.
“You’ll be too busy living your best lives,” Dylan encouraged, “Don’t be strangers, please.”
“Of course not,” Oscar assured, “Come on, the car’s ready.”
Brett glanced around one last time at all their friends. They were the most special people in their life, but it was time for a fresh start, and with Oscar at their side, they were ready for anything.
Los Angeles, however, certainly wasn’t ready for Brett Sutton and Oscar Madden-Whelan.
Once his favourite place, the treehouse had felt like forbidden territory to Dylan for seven years. Forbidden by every inch of his body trying to protect Dylan from upsetting himself. It was the last place he saw Jono before they parted, and the memory of that night – and how he felt upon waking up the next morning – were forever imprinted on his brain. It was the worst night of his life, though that seemed to have a lot of competition all of a sudden.
“We don’t have to stay here,” Jono checked. It was his idea to sneak off up there after Brett an Oscar’s farewell, and it was music to Dylan’s ears. Much like the treehouse after Jono left, Dylan’s flat just didn’t feel right. It was his home with Harry. Their first step on the property ladder together. A symbol of their future together. A future that had vanished forever.
“No, I could stay here all night,” Dylan clarified, snuggling into Jono’s arms. They were lying together on the floor under a blanket, sharing a couple of cushions and watching the night sky. Jono had taken such good care of him since Harry died, and in some ways, it felt just like the old times, “The less time I spend in that place right now, the better. I still haven’t got round to clearing out his stuff.”
“Dyl, the funeral hasn’t even happened yet, you don’t have to do anything in a hurry,” Jono reminded, “When do Harry’s parents arrive?”
“In a couple of days,” Dylan sighed. Dealing with more people – people he didn’t really know that well, too – was the last thing he needed. Harry purposely didn’t want to live very near his parents, “And Josh was meant to be here by now but he’s been delayed.”
“You know Josh. If he says he’ll be here then he’ll be here,” Jono assured, “He wants to be at my dad’s funeral too so he’s got a couple more days.”
“True. Oh, by the way, did your mom decide on the music?” Dylan wondered. Helen had taken on the brunt of the planning, per her own request, but Jono and Lily weren’t straying far from her side.
“No, she keeps switching,” Jono shrugged, “She’s not been herself since dad passed. None of us have.”
“Yeah, I get that. You’re being so strong, but remember you don’t have to be strong around me, okay?” Dylan reminded.
“Noted,” Jono grinned, “Oh, I almost forgot. I wrote this for you earlier.” Jono reached over to his tote bag in the corner of the treehouse, trying his best not to slip out of their comfortable hug too much, and grabbed a postcard out of it. It was a London postcard, just like the many he’d sent Dylan during their time apart.
“What’s this?” Dylan was confused. They didn’t need to write postcards to each other anymore.
“My postcard was overdue. I didn’t know what to write in it because I didn’t want to admit that I was lonely in London, but I know now. One final postcard. Go on, read it,” Jono encouraged. Intrigued, Dylan turned it over to see a message written across the pack, squeezed onto the small card and taking up the address space; a longer message than postcards were usually intended for.
I can’t express in words how it feels to be back in your arms. The truth is that London was lonely, and a constant reminder of how much I love and need you. I never want to be apart from you for even a day ever again.
Every dollar my dad had has been left to Lily and I, so I was wondering how to put it to good use. Maybe, if you want, we could put a deposit down on our first home together? No pressure, but let me know. This is our future.
All my love,
Dylan was lost for words. The postcards were so valuable to him over their time apart. After all, it was the only way they’d allowed themselves to communicate. This, though, was the best one. Among the misery they were both still feeling, they had each other again, and that made Dylan feel like the luckiest man alive.
“Yes, yes, let’s do it,” Dylan wept, unable to stop the tears once again, but this time, they were happy tears.
“I promise, we can do it at your pace, no pressure,” Jono assured.
“I know. I can’t wait, the sooner the better,” Dylan beamed. He wanted his new future to start as soon as possible. His heart felt so full, “I love you.”
“And I love you too. Always,” Jono wrapped his arms around Dylan and kissed him, and Dylan had never felt more at home. How he’d been lucky enough to find a guy like Jono, who unconditionally adored and understood him, he wasn’t sure.
“Hey, Dylan, I know you’re up there,” a voice called from outside. The kiss broke and Dylan shared a confused look with Jono. Together, they peeped out of the treehouse window. On the pavement outside the Chadwick house gate was Josh. Finally, he’d made it back, but he was carrying two large suitcases – way more than he needed for a short trip back, “Got a spare room?”
Dylan didn’t know what to say. It was amazing to see his brother again, but what had he missed?