Series 8 Episode 9
"The Power of Three"
"The Power of Three"
Rolling over to check the time, Jono felt unsettled. It was only four in the morning, and his body had no more sleep left on offer. Perhaps it was the result of such a ridiculous day. In some ways, it had been messed up entirely, but in others, it was like his dreams had come to life.
Dylan was back. Of course, this was the best news of all. He was alive, and he had finally escaped captivity. Jono couldn’t express just how lucky he felt to have his special someone back. Nobody got that lucky. It was a fantasy from the depths of his imagination, yet now it was reality. It was incredible.
Jono couldn’t help feeling bad for Oscar, though. His feelings for Oscar were genuine, and it was important to him that Oscar knew that. Yet, there wasn’t any doubt in Jono’s mind. His future with Dylan seemed so bright and vivid. It was what he desperately wanted, and his absence had only reinforced that.
The way Oscar had reacted to the news was nothing short of admirable. He had such a kind heart, and a pure soul too. Jono never wanted to lose him, because above all, their friendship was so important. He needed Oscar, even with Dylan back. He needed the laughter, the banter and the kindness Oscar brought everywhere he went.
The truth was, he knew things couldn’t just snap back to normal. It wasn’t that easy. Jono had spent five months grieving. Losing the person he loved the most had taken so much energy out of him, and Dylan had been through so much too. The pack was changed forever, but perhaps Oscar was the light at the end of the tunnel? The sprinkling of glitter they all needed?
Nevertheless, Jono was relieved to roll over in bed to see Dylan lying beside him. There was no way anything was going to snatch him away again, and there was going to be hell to pay for the past five months if Jono ever came face-to-face with the monsters that go by the name of the Lunar Sanctum.
Pushing the cupboard door firmly shut, Dylan took a much-needed pause to catch his breath. Though they had escaped Leadsom, they still had a long way to go. In fact, they were yet to make it out of the basement, let alone the building. With Brett and Alex injured, it was difficult to get much further. They needed a plan of action, and that was easier said than done.
The storage cupboard they were in was small, with only just enough room for all of them to hide in. Most promisingly, though, was a small window at the top, leading directly outside to ground level. It looked just about big enough for each of them to get through one-at-a-time.
“Give me a leg up,” Dylan requested of Jono, who immediately held his hands out for Dylan’s foot. Lifted up to the window’s level, Dylan gave it a firm shove. Nothing. It was locked.
“Shit,” Johnny stressed. Brett was drifting in and out of consciousness. It didn’t look good.
“We’re not losing anyone today,” Dylan insisted.
“Keys,” Nurse Carver chirped up. She chucked up a hefty set of keys attached to a lanyard.
“Which one?” Dylan questioned, catching the keys expertly.
“Smallest one, I think. It opens the windows in my lab, so it may be universal,” she answered. Dylan knew my it was their only shot. He twisted the key into the lock with heaps of optimism. Sure enough, it worked. Dylan felt the biggest sense of relief wash over him.
“Johnny, go first,” Dylan directed, “Then we’ll help Brett and Alex out.” Johnny nodded as he and Dylan switched places.
The door began to rattle. They’d been found. Quickly, Dylan heaved his full weight behind it. Nobody would get inside until his friends were out. Without being asked, Oscar followed his lead. Dylan loved that he helped out without request. He was going to fit into the pack like a glove.
With Jono’s leg-up, Johnny made it out. Lily, Jono and Nurse Carver then helped to lift Brett up, Johnny reaching his hands from above.
“I’m sorry,” Oscar said to Dylan, taking his chance for a private chat.
“No,” Dylan insisted, “You don’t have to apologise. I’m sorry you ever got dragged into this.” He felt bad. Jono had successfully kept Oscar away from the supernatural world for months, yet Dylan was back for a week and in that time, Oscar became his beta. He felt guilty.
“It’s fine. I’d be dead without you, remember?” Oscar insisted. He was too sweet for his own good.
Alex, Lily and Nurse Carver were out. Only Jono remained. The door wasn’t going to hold much longer.
“Go,” Dylan directed to Oscar, who regretfully took Jono’s leg up.
“That door’s going to cave,” Jono realised. Everyone else was out. They had saved their friends.
“Which is why you need to go. I’ll lift you,” Dylan decided.
“No chance. Together, or not at all,” Jono firmly stated. Dylan was conflicted – he wanted Jono to be safe, but at the same time, he selfishly didn’t want to risk losing him again. Side-by-side was where they felt safest.
Against his better judgement, Dylan let go of the door. Two soldiers aimed their guns at he and Jono. They had been caught, but Dylan took all the comfort he could from the touch of Jono’s hand in his. They could conquer this.
Gobsmacked. Freddie was frozen still. He wasn’t quite sure what had happened. A gunshot sounded, and Jamal was slumped down on the floor next to him. Was he dead? Who shot him? Freddie’s mind was spinning too much to pick up on the details.
Gathering himself together, Freddie checked Jamal’s pulse. Nothing. He wasn’t sure how to feel. Was this good or bad? Jamal was surely going to kill him, so it was a relief to be somewhat safe, but nobody deserved death. Dylan was always keen to find a better way, and Freddie shared that ethos. To make it worse, Jamal was young. Corrupted by his mum’s sadistic agenda. Freddie couldn’t help feeling a little sympathetic.
Looking up, Freddie caught eyes with the shooter. Holding the gun in her right hand, frozen to the spot in pure shock. Sammi. It was obvious that she didn’t know what to do or how to react, and it broke Freddie’s heart.
He lifted himself back onto his feet and immediately ran to embrace her in a calm, comforting hug. She had been through so much, and it had only just started to feel like the old Sammi was back. She was strong, though. She could cope with this.
Jeremy joined the hug, while everyone else stood silently, not knowing what to say. Josh, George, Liam and Nolan looked on blankly, as well as another girl who Freddie assumed was Misha. He noticed her facial expression in particular. It was completely vacant. Jamal was her twin. Her brother was dead.
“He was going to kill you,” Sammi whimpered, her voice quivering, “I couldn’t lose you.”
“I know,” Freddie simply said, not losing grip on the hug.
“Where are the others?” George wondered.
“Yasmin and Sindy,” Josh remembered, “We lost them.”
“Go find them, we’ll phone Ed,” Freddie took charge. He needed Sammi to be okay, but they had to do the right thing. Josh, George, Liam and Nolan rushed off, but Misha remained where she was. Frozen. Freddie didn’t know what to say to her – there was no sugar-coating what had happened.
“I killed him,” Sammi began to weep uncontrollably, “I’m going to jail.”
“No, listen, Ed would never let that happen, okay?” Freddie insisted. He had known Ed for long enough to know the lengths he’d go to to protect the pack.
In the corner of his eye, Freddie noticed Misha sitting down next to Jamal’s body. His heart broke. All of their lives had changed forever in just one second.
Stood outside an apartment door at the elderly people’s home, Yasmin wasn’t quite sure why she was there or what was going to happen next. The nix inside her had given her directions, and in typical fashion, it didn’t bother to tell her the reasoning.
On the bright side, she wasn’t alone. Sindy was by her side, and she was just as in-the-dark as Yasmin was. Every route followed since leaving the school was a mystery to them both, and Yasmin was desperate to figure it out.
The door opened from the inside. Behind it was an old lady, with kind eyes that Yasmin was immediately drawn to. Interestingly, she didn’t seem even slightly surprised to see two complete strangers outside her room.
“Yasmin, Sindy, please come in,” she invited. Against her better judgement, Yasmin proceeded. The apartment was well-furnished, with pretty ornaments and loads of photos decorating the place to make it feel homely. One particular photo caught her eye, and Yasmin had to do a double take. She recognised the young boy cuddling up to this lady. Jeremy.
“Are you Margaret?” Yasmin put two and two together, recalling Jeremy’s story.
“Margaret Gardner,” she introduced, “I met your friends earlier. Freddie, your ex-boyfriend, he was very sweet.”
“How do you know this?” Yasmin was confused. Nothing that had happened since she and Sindy touched hands made a single bit of sense.
“We’re connected,” Margaret explained, “This rarely happens. Harbingers of death are so rare, but the power of three can bring us together, and we can channel the deceased.”
“Marcus,” Yasmin realised.
“You want to channel him again? Didn’t he try to kill you all?” Sindy was baffled.
“The basilisk did, but Marcus wanted to help. If we can use him to help Dylan, this could be how we end the Lunar Sanctum. For good,” Yasmin theorised.
“Does that sound like something you want?” a voice came from the doorway. Monroe, armed in each hand, “Well let me tell you, you’ll never get it.”
“Behind me,” Margaret instructed, “The famous Tamora Monroe, I presume.”
“I’m sorry, but I have to do this,” Monroe held both guns up, pointing directly at Margaret. Yasmin was trying to think fast. Her powers weren’t fast or ferocious enough. She felt helpless.
Monroe collapsed, revealing a casual Josh stood behind her. Yasmin couldn’t believe how pleased she was to see him. At this point, she could hardly care about what happened between them before.
“You saved my life,” she exhaled, trying to calm down.
“She won’t be out for long,” George commented. He, Liam and Nolan were stood behind Josh in the corridor. Just the back-up Yasmin needed.
“We’ll keep watch,” Liam suggested, an anxious Nolan nodding in agreement.
“I’ll stay too, I know this place like the back of my hand,” George mentioned.
“Okay, come on, let’s go,” Josh held out his hand. Yasmin grabbed it, ready to sort this mess out.
Taking shelter out of sight around the back of the warehouse, Lily felt exhausted. Alex could barely walk, and he was still bleeding. Naturally, she was very concerned. Losing Alex wasn’t something she was prepared to do.
Brett was in much the same position as Alex, too. Johnny looked helpless, even if he had tried to put a brave face on. Even now, his calm composure hadn’t slipped. Lily, on the other hand, was nervous, because she was starting to run out of tears to cry.
“Shouldn’t the bleeding have stopped by now?” Lily enquired. If Nurse Carver wanted to prove her title, shouldn’t she be helping them both get better?
“Keep applying pressure,” she simply directed. She seemed just as helpless as the rest of them.
“Why are you helping us?” Oscar questioned.
“Because I don’t agree with what’s become of the Sanctum. It used to be a research facility, it was harmless, but it turned ugly. It’s why I helped your friends escape, and it’s why I helped again this time,” Nurse Carver explained calmly.
“We have to help Dylan and Jono,” Oscar sighed.
“We can’t just leave them,” Lily firmly reminded.
“Go, help your brother,” Alex croaked.
“I’m not leaving you,” Lily insisted, “Don’t try to talk.”
“Take his hand, Lily,” Johnny guided. Lily did as instructed. To her amazement, Alex’s veins seemed to turn black, as if they were filtering something bad out.
“What’s that?” Lily was confused.
“You took his pain. He’s not healed, but he’s not feeling it anymore,” Johnny explained. Lily felt the tears returning. It was amazing to know she had helped Alex to feel better in some small way.
“I’ll call the ambulance. Go and save your friends,” Nurse Carver directed, handing her the ID card to get back inside. Lily nodded. Alex was important, but so was Jono. She wasn’t losing anybody.
No matter how hard he tried to struggle, Dylan simply couldn’t break free. He had been strapped to a hospital bed, restraints tightly securing his arms and legs to the bed. Usually, he would have been able to break Velcro seals like that with ease. The Lunar Sanctum were no strangers to werewolves, though. The straps were lined with mountain ash, irritating Dylan’s skin and ensuring he remained completely trapped.
At least, this time, he had Jono by his side, even if Jono was in the exact same predicament. The Sanctum scared Dylan, but if he had to be there, he was so relieved Jono was with him. Dylan was certain that he would never forget the worry and anxiety of his first stay at the Sanctum. The uncertainty over whether he’d ever see Jono again or not. He was convinced he’d remember how that felt until he died.
“Don’t panic, Dylan,” Leadsom casually sauntered into the room. Two guards had been watching over them since they were captured. Even if they weren’t restrained, it would be a difficult battle to win, “In fact, I’d suggest letting go of all your problems, because I may just have the solution to each and every one of them.”
“You’re resigning?” Jono chuckled. Dylan couldn’t help raising a smile – trust Jono to make light of even the most terrifying situations.
“You always wanted to know what we were working on, Dylan. That day has finally come,” Leadsom continued, ignoring Jono’s remarks. A guard approached Dylan, pulling a syringe out of his pocket. Like a reflex had awoken in his body, Dylan started to struggle. Scott had broken through mountain ash before, maybe he could manage it too?
“There’s no point struggling, Dylan,” Leadsom patronised, “This can change your life. This will give you normality.”
“What is it?” Dylan cautiously queried.
“The cure. The cure for lycanthropy,” Leadsom announced. Dylan couldn’t think of what to say. His mind was spinning. How could there be a cure for werewolves?
“That’s impossible,” Jono commented, mouth wide open in shock.
“Yet, our hard work paid off. We perfected a serum to change werewolves back to humans. All it needs now is a trial run. Two test subjects. Two people who can return to normal life before the end of the day. You can’t tell me that’s not a tempting offer.”
Dylan’s mind was racing. He didn’t know what to think. Of course, he had dreamt many times about a life away from being a werewolf. He and Jono could live together in peace. It was food for thought.
“Please, let us talk about this,” Dylan begged as the guard primed the syringe, “It’s a big decision, and we have to discuss together.”
“Five minutes,” Leadsom agreed, signalling to the guards to leave the room. Just the two of them.
“Any thoughts? I have so many but I’m confused,” Dylan probed. Jono always helped him to see clearly. He needed that insight so desperately.
“I mean, it really would solve all our problems,” Jono considered, “But it might not work. Besides, what about the others? We can’t take that cure and abandon the pack. They’re relying on us. Oscar needs his alpha.”
Jono was, as always, on point. Dylan couldn’t afford to be selfish. He had his friends to consider. His new beta. His brother. The pack was always bigger than just him.
The door swiped open, a key card granting access. Dylan was concerned. Leadsom promised five minutes, and that definitely had not been five minutes. However, much to his delight, it was Lily. She’d come back for them.
“Boy, am I glad to see you,” Jono smiled.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Lily began to work her magic on the straps. The benefit of only being part-werewolf was that mountain ash didn’t affect Lily.
“Hold on,” Dylan thought, “This has to end today. I’ve got an idea.”
Though she had been there many-a-time, the four walls of Ed’s office felt like they were closing in on Sammi. Her thoughts were jumbled. Her mind was racing. All she could think about was her future – behind bars for murder. Jamal’s face was ingrained into her mind. She had killed someone, and there was no escaping that for the rest of her life.
“Sammi?” Freddie called out. Sammi snapped back into the room. Freddie and Jeremy were sat either side of her, with Ed on the opposite side of his desk.
“Please Sammi, I can’t help you if I don’t know what happened,” Ed begged. He was always on their team, but he was also the sheriff. He had a job to do.
“He was attacking Freddie. He had two guns, but dropped both. He still overcame Freddie, though. He was reaching for a gun, and I was certain. I knew he was going to kill Freddie. I know how grief feels, and I couldn’t bear to feel that again. I had to protect him,” Sammi recalled as clearly as her hectic mind allowed.
“Is this true?” Ed looked to Freddie and Jeremy. The more matching accounts, the better.
“Yes,” Freddie replied firmly.
“Yup,” Jeremy concurred.
“Sammi, I need you to listen,” Ed focused back on her, “What you did was not cold-blooded murder. You did something unthinkable to stop something even worse happening. You’re brave, and you’re strong. Trust me, I’ve got this covered.”
“You’re not arresting me?” Sammi was shocked. She had convinced herself of the worst-case scenario.
“Of course not,” Ed smiled kindly, “Go home and get some rest.”
“About that,” Jeremy added, “Dylan’s still in trouble, isn’t he?”
“Where did he go?” Ed was clearly in the dark still.
“The Forsyth warehouse,” Freddie answered.
“We had a 911 call from there not long ago, asking for an ambulance,” Ed mentioned, “Okay, let’s go. I’m fed up of this Sanctum shit.”
As Ed led the way out, Freddie placed his hand in Sammi’s. He was so calm; the complete opposite of how she felt.
“Are you okay?” she asked. This wasn’t his burden to carry.
“Yeah,” Freddie replied, “Seeing George gave me just the boost I needed. Just in time, too.”
“I’m sorry. You don’t need me going through all this drama,” Sammi still felt bad.
“Stop it. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to help you,” Freddie reassured, “You saw me at my worst the other day. Off my medication. If you could deal with me on that day, you deserve every bit of attention I can possibly give you.”
Sammi raised a smile. He was the best. She really didn’t deserve somebody so understanding.
“Let’s go save our friends,” Sammi decided. A fire had been lit inside her. She needed to help out.
Even unconscious, Nolan couldn’t deny how scared he was of Monroe. Before she arrived, his life was somewhat normal. Not easy by any means, but it was manageable. Everything that had happened since came without a manual or user guide, and it was hard for Nolan to wrap his head around everything.
At least he still had Liam by his side. Monroe had unwittingly drawn them together, and Nolan was grateful for that at least. Without her, Liam would forever have remained that cute classmate he’d never spoken to. Perhaps Monroe was a small price to pay for the best reward he could have wished for?
“Who is this Monroe?” George questioned, he and Liam finishing tying her up to the leg of the dining table.
“The most famous hunter in the world,” Liam answered, “Formerly the guidance counsellor at our school.”
“That’s quite a career change,” George remarked, “I’ve seen hunters before. They scare me. Like, a lot. I know I’m human, but Freddie isn’t. I worry about him all the time.”
“I know how that feels,” Nolan confessed, glancing knowingly at Liam.
“I think we both worry about each other,” Liam added, “There’s no shame in that. It means we care.”
“I guess,” George sat down, reflecting, “It’s not easy when you’re in another country, and I know Freddie’s been struggling. I know everyone’s been struggling, in fact. The sooner I’m back, the better.”
“Oh boy, another arrogant teenager,” Monroe commented, already awake. Instantly, she tried to stand up. Nolan flinched at the mere movement, even though she was firmly restrained, “You’re going to want to let me go, Liam.”
“So you can kill me? I don’t think so,” Liam hit back. Nolan loved his confidence. He wished he had even a tiny amount of that bravado.
“If only Nolan had taken you out when he had the chance,” Monroe goaded, “Shame I placed my trust in a chicken.”
Nolan’s blood boiled. Monroe had done enough without attacking his character even further. She had caused him many a sleepless night, and many a panic attack. How dare she have this much of a negative impact on his life?
“You don’t know me at all. I was tormented and manipulated, and I came out the other end, but that was no thanks to you. Liam is my life, and I love him. I can’t wait until we put you behind bars,” Nolan unleashed.
“We’ll make a fighter out of you yet. Besides, you don’t think I’m on my own in this fight, do you? Jamal will find me,” Monroe hoped. For once, though, she didn’t have the upper hand.
“Jamal’s dead, Monroe,” Liam broke the news. Though she tried to keep a stern, serious face, it was clear that her confidence had instantly begun to crumble.
“That’s wrong. It must be,” Monroe stuttered, “But even then, I have others out there. They’ll come for you.”
“Let them try,” Nolan fired back. He was in control for the first time in a long time. Liam flashed him a proud smile. Nolan had won a battle he had been fighting for too long, and he felt proud of himself.
Feeling a fire lit inside him, Dylan was ready to get out of the clutches of the Lunar Sanctum for good. Lily had undone the mountain ash straps on his wrist, though expertly, she had tucked the straps underneath Dylan’s arms to make it look like they were still restrained. Leadsom wouldn’t know what had hit him.
Dylan wasn’t sure what he was actually going to do, though. Perhaps taking Leadsom directly to Ed would be the right idea? Cutting off the head of the snake. Sadly though, Dylan knew it would take a lot more than that to finish the Sanctum off for good. It wasn’t about any one person.
Either way, they were ready to strike. Jono had been freed by Lily too, and she was hiding under the worksurface by the door, keeping just out of view. Leadsom was expected back any time, and they had to time everything to perfection.
Right on cue. Five minutes had passed. Leadsom was escorted back in by the same guards. It was clear from his focused facial expression that he meant business, too. No more stalling.
“Ready?” Leadsom questioned, straight to the point.
“Yes,” Dylan lied as confidently as he could. One guard approached him while another went to Jono, each of them priming the syringes.
“Now,” Dylan gave the command. Freed of the straps, Dylan knocked the cure clean out of the guard’s hand. Jono did the exact same, both of them shifting into full wolf mode. They weren’t playing safe.
“Stop them, now!” Leadsom ordered. The guards simultaneously reached for their weapons, but they had vanished. As if on cue, Lily emerged, a gun in each hand. Dylan smiled. Who knew Lily had such strong pickpocketing skills?
“Stand still,” Lily commanded.
“You won’t use that,” Leadsom scoffed. Without a second thought, she fired the gun from her left hand into the ceiling. Leadsom suddenly seemed less composed. He was actually scared. Taking advantage of the moment, Dylan grabbed the syringe off the floor, indicating for Jono to do the same. He chucked the second syringe over to Dylan, who caught it perfectly. He wasn’t risking losing it.
“I’m assuming you haven’t made much of this yet,” Dylan presumed, holding both over the sink, “What with this being a trial.”
“We still have the recipe, you’ll never be able to get that,” Leadsom reasoned.
“Oh, I don’t see why not. We’ve got a computer genius who’s hacked into your system before,” Jono teased.
“That’s my life’s work,” Leadsom desperately pleaded, changing tactics.
“And my pack is mine. They need an alpha,” Dylan firmly replied. He squirted both syringes down the sink and ran the taps. Flushed away for good.
“Let’s go,” Lily suggested. Dylan didn’t need to be asked twice. Together, all three of them confidently breezed out of the lab room using Nurse Carver’s ID. Dylan felt liberated. They had the Sanctum cornered. Now it’s was Ed’s job to clean up the loose ends.
“Not so fast,” Leadsom threatened, following behind. He snatched a gun out of Lily’s hand and held it at Dylan’s head, “I can’t let you leave.”
“It’s over. Give it up,” Jono suggested surprisingly politely.
“You’ve lost,” Dylan added.
“If I’m going down, you’re going down with me,” Leadsom smirked a disgustingly evil grin. He was unhinged, and Dylan was scared of him. Leadsom had nothing to lose.
“Now,” a voice commanded from behind. A delightfully familiar voice. Josh, “Dylan get out of the way.”
Without needing to be told twice, Dylan led Jono and Lily out of the way as Yasmin and Sindy approached, linking hands with an elderly woman in the middle. Dylan had no idea what was happening, but it wasn’t the time to ask questions. A harsh shot of light beamed out from all three of them, shining down on Leadsom. Immediately, he cried out in pain, his skin beginning to scorch. Dylan now understood. That was the power of the basilisk, but how?
Leadsom erupted into flames. It was gruesome, and a horrible way to die, but now he knew what the many victims of the Lunar Sanctum felt like. Dylan felt a somewhat bittersweet rush engulf him as a result. It was over, but he wouldn’t have wished death on anyone. Not even Leadsom.
“What the hell was that?” an amazed Lily asked the question on Dylan’s lips.
“I don’t really know,” Yasmin spun around, her eyes back to normal now the job was done, “The power of three. Three harbingers of death working together. We channelled the dead.”
“The supernatural world is surprising,” the lady smiled, “Margaret Gardner, by the way. You must be Dylan Drummond. The pleasure is all mine.”
Dylan smiled as she shook his hand. Of course, she had been Jeremy’s guardian.
“Thank you,” Dylan smiled back at her. However, he could still feel the fire burning, the heat brushing past his skin, “Yasmin, think you could put that fire out?”
“Easy,” she smiled. A quick swish of her hands was enough for a trickle of water to dribble out of the lab and begin extinguishing the fierce flames. That was it. Leadsom had gone. The Sanctum was over.
Quietly sat in the hospital waiting room, Lily was praying for good news. It was difficult to think about anything other than how Alex was doing, but she really needed him to pull through. She couldn’t wait to tell him about what happened in the warehouse, because he’d be totally impressed. However, she had one job to do first. She had news for Alex, and news that he may not be so keen on.
“Have you told Alex?” Jono asked, noticing the email she had open on her phone.
“It’s only just arrived, I’ve not had a chance. I don’t know how to,” Lily sighed.
“Look, you saved us. The Sanctum’s gone, Nurse Carver helped Ed to identify the rest of the staff, and they’re all locked up for good. Freddie deleted all traces of the recipe for that stupid cure. We couldn’t have done any of this without you,” Dylan reminded, “You can do anything you want to.” Lily smiled. She knew he was right. She could be brave again.
“Hi all,” a nurse arrived to speak to them. Everybody was waiting – the whole pack. Yasmin was resting her head on Josh’s shoulder; it was miraculous how far their relationship had come, even if they were now only friends. Johnny was sat nervously much like Lily. Alex and Brett meant a lot to all of them. They desperately needed good news, “Both boys are stable. You can see them now, but not all at once.”
Lily breathed a huge sigh of relief. Losing Alex would have been disastrous, but he was safe, and that meant the world to her. Together with Johnny, Lily raced into the ward. There he was, right in front of her. Alex was sat up, smiling yet weary, but excited to see her face.
“You missed me?” Alex chuckled.
“Duh,” Lily wiped a happy tear from her cheek as she wrapped her arms warmly around him, “You should have seen me in there. Gun in each hand. I was a total badass.”
“That sounds hot,” Alex smiled cheekily, “I didn’t doubt you for a second.” A moment of silence followed. Lily knew she had to tell him now.
“Look, I’ve got some news for you,” she began, anticipating their happy little bubble bursting, “I’m transferring to Crystalshaw County College. I need to be nearer home, nearer the pack. I thought I could cope on my own, but it’s hard. I need my friends.”
“Oh,” Alex looked disappointed, taking a few seconds to process the news.
“I’m sorry,” Lily felt bad. She didn’t want to abandon Alex, quite the opposite in fact. However, her own state of mind came first.
“No, don’t be,” Alex replied, “Because it looks like I’m moving to Crystalshaw County too.” Lily’s heart could have burst. That was an even better response than she could have dreamed of. She hugged him again, her heart feeling full and warm.
“Mind the stitches,” Alex laughed. Lily chuckled. She cared for him so much. She didn’t deserve him.
It was a weight off Dylan’s shoulders to know Brett and Alex were okay. Nobody was prepared to lose anybody else, and Dylan wouldn’t have been able to cope seeing Johnny and Lily losing their loved ones. He knew how it felt, and he wouldn’t have inflicted it on anyone.
Joining the pack in the waiting room, Liam and Nolan took the two empty seats to Dylan’s left. They had been working with Ed to nail Monroe and provide enough evidence, without any trace of the word “werewolf.”
“Please tell me it’s good news,” Dylan skipped the greetings.
“Suspicion of murdering Nicolas, and they’re going to look for others too. We did it,” Liam replied proudly.
“You must be relieved,” Jono smiled. Nolan nodded calmly. He looked more relaxed than he had since he arrived. It was obvious how much anxiety Monroe caused him, and Dylan understood. Knowing Leadsom was out of his life for good was the biggest relief.
“Yeah,” Nolan raised a small smile. He was still adorably awkward, but Dylan admired his innocence. It reminded him of himself, before the bite.
“Look, we should probably head home now. It’s been a blast getting to know you guys, but my mom’s already annoyed we’ve delayed our visit for so long,” Liam chuckled.
“Thank you,” Dylan beamed at them both. They had been such a helping hand. He’d never forget the bond he created with Liam inside the Sanctum. Every cloud really did have a silver lining.
“No, thank you. It’s easy to see why Scott admires you so much,” Liam replied. Nolan simply hugged him; a man of few words, as always.
As the boys left, Jono wrapped his hand around Dylan’s. They had made it, and they’d made it together. The best team in the world. Now Dylan had to focus on school; he wasn’t missing graduation for anyone.
Wearing the red gown he had seen on TV so many times was a slightly strange experience for Jono. He wasn’t sure he was much of a fan of the look, and the hat was absolutely ruining his hair, but it was only for a short while. Besides, graduation was a special day. He’d been so excited about it ever since high school ended. This was what they’d worked for.
Jono was waiting patiently in line for Mrs. Harding to begin the ceremony. Students were going to be announced in alphabetical order by surname, meaning Jono was quite close to the start, and the first of the pack in line.
Glancing behind, Jono caught eyes with Dylan. He was a few places behind, though Jono wishes they would be side by side. It was so strange to think that they were graduating together after all, because Jono had only just adapted to the idea of having to do it without him. Even in the months since the Lunar Sanctum was closed for good, Jono always remembered just how lucky he was to get Dylan back in his life. Months of hard work meant he was able to graduate on time, and they could both go off to college together. The future was bright, and it was so exciting.
“Good morning,” Mrs. Harding began, the chit-chat from both the students and their relatives in the audience immediately fizzling out, “What a year it’s been. It’s my pleasure to celebrate our departing twelfth grade students with you all today, and I’m sure you’re all just as proud as I am. Without further ado, let’s begin.”
Jono continued to wait patiently as the number of people in front of him slowly decreased. His turn was getting closer and closer. He shot one more glance back to a nervous Dylan, who smiled the cutest, most encouraging smile ever. That was all he needed.
“Jonathan Chadwick,” Mrs. Harding announced. This was it. Jono stepped up on stage and shook hands with Mrs. Harding, who flashed a proud smile. He looked down at the audience, trying to spot as many familiar faces as possible. Sammi and Jeremy were cheering the loudest, of course, while Caroline and Ed beamed proudly next to them. Lily looked like she was about to cry, which warmed Jono’s heart. She was always his biggest supporter.
Then he spotted a couple of extra faces at the very back. Clapping. Cheering. Supporting him.
His parents. The first time he had seen them in so long. Jono wasn’t sure how to feel, but his insides felt warm and cuddly. Perhaps he was happy to see them?
Jono took his seat in the audience, leaving a space so Dylan could sneak in next to him. The next couple of students passed, but Jono was only watching Dylan. He looked so dashing in his gown, and was clearly suffering the same hair qualms as Jono with the hat.
“Dylan Drummond,” Mrs. Harding continued. The crowd seemed to cheer extra loudly for Dylan – he was some sort of local celebrity after his return from the “dead.” Caroline was crying at the sight of Dylan shaking hands with Mrs. Harding. Jono loved the bond they both had, it was the most warm and homely thing ever. Of course, Jono made sure he was cheering as loudly as possible. Dylan deserved it more than anyone.
Making his way down from the stage, Dylan took his seat next to Jono. He looked overwhelmed, and a little relieved it was over, but he was clearly thrilled.
“I wish dad was here to see that,” Dylan confessed. Jono’s heart broke. He knew how much Dylan missed his dad, and even though he’d never met him before, Jono was sure he’d be so proud of his son. There was no reason not to be.
“He is. He’s watching over you and smiling, I bet,” Jono encouraged. Dylan nodded, resting his head on Jono’s shoulder. They had each other, above all else.
“Johnny Elliott,” Mrs. Harding announced. Johnny had no family of his own, so Jono and Dylan both made the effort to cheer extra loudly for him. They were his family.
“Yasmin Forsyth.” Jono spun around to spot Autumn. In typical form, Autumn kept her sunglasses on and remained dignified at all times, but the smile on her face said it all. He was so pleased Yasmin had finally settled at home; she had been through too much for anyone, let alone a teenager.
“Oscar Madden-Whelan.” Of course, Jono felt so proud to see Oscar on stage. He had made such huge progress in so many ways, notably adapting to his new werewolf life, and seeing Dylan watching him with the same pride warmed Jono’s heart.
“Joshua Rayner.” Caroline cried again. Josh had managed the same incredible turnaround as Dylan. They were so keen to begin the college experience together, as a pack, and Josh’s hard work had paid off. He’d succeeded.
“Frederick Ruben.” It wasn’t hard for Jono to spot George, who seemed to tower above much of the audience. He was sat next to Lily, and they were both so happy for him. Freddie himself looked chuffed too – Jono recalled a time where nobody knew if Freddie would ever settle into mainstream education, with the loss of his mum and his reluctance to take his medication. This was an insane achievement for him.
“Brett Sutton.” The last of the pack, but by no means the least. Johnny was of course the biggest supporter, and together, they were about to embark on a new journey. Brett wasn’t attending Crystalshaw County College like the rest of them. Jono was gutted he was veering away from the pack, but so pleased he’d found a true comfort in himself. Also among Brett’s supporters was Coach Singh and the rest of the basketball team. With a few stern words from Jono, Coach Singh had offered Brett an apology. Brett was the captain they deserved.
As the ceremony drew to a close, the pack huddled together. Everybody was in good spirits: those who had graduated as well as those who hadn’t. The atmosphere was unlike anything Jono had ever felt.
“I’m so proud of us,” Dylan beamed, “We did it. All of us.”
“The question is, is Crystalshaw County ready for the pack?” Josh laughed.
“We’re branching out, don’t forget,” Brett mentioned, “The real question is, is the world ready for the pack?” Jono laughed, but quickly, the mood lowered. Brett looked reflective and pensive. He was sad to be leaving them.
“Hey, you’re going to be near Drew,” Lily encouraged, noticing the vibe, “I’m sure he’ll keep you busy.” Brett nodded, taking it in his stride.
Jono was in such good spirits, but he couldn’t take his eyes off his parents. They were watching the pack, but keeping a distance. He tapped Lily on the shoulder – he wanted to talk to them, and he knew that deep down, she would too.
Sheepishly, Jono led the way over. He didn’t know what to say; it was so awkward. He’d spent so long thinking about what he’d say to them, but nothing felt right in the moment.
“Hi,” Helen smiled, tears already dripping down her cheeks. Whether they were happy or sad tears, Jono wasn’t sure.
“Hi,” Jono said back. Lily remained silent, not knowing what to say. Silence followed.
“Look, we’re here to say sorry, and to tell you both how proud you are of us,” Steve found the words, “And if you’ll let us, we’d like to make it up to you.”
“I thought we disgusted you,” Lily fired back.
“It’s not your fault,” Helen insisted, “We were wrong. You’re our kids, always.”
“What about Dylan? I thought you said it was his fault?” Jono asked the million-dollar question. He and Dylan were a package deal, and he wasn’t prepared for any animosity towards him.
“The same goes for Dylan. He’s family,” Steve affirmed, much to Jono’s delight.
“Okay,” Jono agreed, “I’m in.”
“Me too, for now,” Lily tentatively replied, taking Jono’s lead, “But I’m staying at the lakehouse.”
“Yeah, and I’m staying with Dylan,” Jono concurred. He’d become very fond of his new living situation.
“Okay, deal,” Helen smiled. It felt good to begin healing that wound. Somehow, everything felt right.
Though he was exhausted, Dylan couldn’t get over just how amazing his day had been. The graduation was incredible, even with the intense wave of emotions it brought with it. Seeing everybody together was so rewarding, especially as he was once prepared for graduation day to never come.
The icing on the cake was Jono’s reunion with his parents. Of course, forgiveness was going to take time, but Dylan knew it was a pressing issue on his mind. The smallest step towards resolution was amazing.
The rest of the day had been spent at the lakehouse for the after-party, of course curated and hosted by Lily. As the night approached, Dylan had crept outside to the dock for a little reflection. With high school over and college still a few weeks away, he finally had a chance to process his emotions and slow down.
There was so much to process, too. The past year had been insane. Lily spent much of it at college was strange at first – the pack had lost a member, even though she was only on the end of the phone. George had moved abroad to study, and Freddie had moved in with Dylan, making the household very busy, but Dylan would never have changed it. Yasmin and Josh were still separated, but they were friends again, much to Dylan’s relief. Sammi had struggled after Jamal, but seeing her and Jeremy get to know each other as twins at long last was rewarding after everything that had happened in the Sanctum. Brett had found himself, and overcome a whole heap of resistance from his peers, and Oscar was almost fully in control of his powers. Dylan was so proud of them all – he had the best friends ever.
“Hey,” Jono jogged over, “Gathering your thoughts?”
“How did you know?” Dylan chuckled. Jono took his shoes and socks off and dipped his toes into the lake.
“Psychic powers, duh,” Jono laughed, “Are you ready for college?”
“I’m trying not to think about it,” Dylan replied honestly, “I’m anxious, but sort-of excited I guess.”
“I’ll be there the whole way. I mean, we’re all living together on campus, that’s got to be cool,” Jono reassured in the kind, loving way he always did.
“Yeah, it’ll just take some getting used to,” Dylan admitted. Change was difficult.
“I get it,” Jono nodded, “Anyway, let’s live in the moment. It’s just you and me now, and that’s all we need, right?”
“Right,” Dylan confirmed, “Forever.” His lips met Jono’s, and Dylan felt at home. The future was on its way, and he couldn’t have been happier to be sharing it all with the man he loved more than anyone.