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Next: "Escape"

Series 10 Episode 9
"Together Forever"

With every ounce of power in his body, Dylan was fighting against his better judgement. Leaving Jono to be a sitting duck was the hardest thing he could do, but there was more at stake. Yasmin needed him too, and with Forsyth on the loose again, every supernatural in Crystalshaw needed him.

That was the driving force spurring him on. Dylan knew that being an alpha came with responsibility, and this was the clearest example. He’d seen what Forsyth could do, and whether he had any involvement in the murders or not, there was no evidence to suggest he was a reformed character.

Despite that, Jono was still at the forefront of Dylan’s mind, and he couldn’t help fearing the worst. Usually, he was the most optimistic around, but there wasn’t much positivity to see. Fireflies enclosed the animal clinic in a swarm and the result, if they got to Jono, was displayed clearly through the wolf on the counter: in two halves. Dylan wasn’t going to let that happen to Jono, but being separated made it harder to protect him.

“Be quick,” Scott directed as he prepared to slam the back door open. To get out, they had to make it past the swarm, and fast. Five of them had to squeeze out, and it wasn’t going to be easy. Dylan didn’t know how powerful even one firefly was – perhaps that was all it took? There was so way he was ready to take a risk.

“Hold on, my turn,” Yasmin took the lead. She closed her eyes and focused so intensely that Dylan could almost feel it against his skin. Immediately, Dylan knew what was coming. He’d seen it before, and it was just what they needed. Yasmin’s eyes began to glow their gorgeous sea blue colour; the nix had arrived.

“Open the door,” Yasmin commanded, priming herself. Already, Dylan could see water trickling across the floor towards her. It was the most impressive thing Dylan had ever seen – he could do so much as an alpha, but actively controlling one of the elements? Yasin had become even more of a badass, and the bar was high to begin with.

Cautiously, Scott opened the door. Yasmin wasted no time in firing a blast of water at the fireflies. It was like a mini tidal wave, all coming from Yasmin’s hands. Every firefly got wiped out like a firefighter easily extinguishing a fearsome flame.

Finally, the coast was clear, and Dylan wasn’t planning to waste a single second. The sooner they got out, the sooner they could get back.

Jono needed him.

Reflexes taking over, Sammi ducked for cover. Fireflies gushed through the open window at a terrifying pace, swarming around the hospital room like a depressing grey cloud that had somehow formed inside. Somehow, more and more fireflies kept flooding through, even when it looked like no more of the tiny, yet somehow scary bugs could fit inside.

In the rush of the moment, Sammi’s instincts told her to protect herself, but consequently, she’d almost forgotten Lily. She was still unconscious, lying unprotected on the bed Sammi had hidden herself behind. She was exposed. They had to get her out.

Behind her, Sammi heard the most concerning sound of all: jars smashing. More than one collapsed to the floor – Sammi couldn’t tell how many specifically, but all of the jars Melissa had were precious. The herbs were Lily’s only hope, and if they were lost, so was Lily.

“When I say go, wheel Lily out,” Melissa yelled over the unbearable, overwhelming noise surrounding them. Sammi stood up to try and gather her bearings, but it wasn’t easy. Through the crowd of fireflies, she could just about make out Alex. His body was laid gently over Lily’s, protecting her like a shield. He’d put her first, unquestionably, and Sammi adored how romantic it was. She knew she’d do the same for Freddie if she needed to.

Together, she and Alex slid into position at the back of the bed – Alex to the left, and Sammi to the right. Now, all they needed was Melissa’s command. It couldn’t come quickly enough.

“Now,” Melissa ordered. Using every bit of strength in her body, Sammi heaved the bed forward. Melissa held the door as the bed whizzed out into the safety of the corridor, almost slamming into a couple of confused nurses passing by. Rapidly, Melissa slammed the door behind them, ensuring a minimum of fireflies made it out. Sammi felt an immense wave of relief, but their task wasn’t over yet. Lily still needed them.

“The jars,” Alex observed, noticing Melissa’s now-empty tray. As Sammi had feared, all the jars – and their contents – were lying smashed inside the room.

“There’s a lot more where they came from. I’m no newbie. Come on, we need to take her to the morgue,” Melissa explained.

“The morgue?” Sammi was concerned.

“It’s where I keep my supplies. Don’t panic,” Melissa calmly justified. Sammi couldn’t lie – she was worried. What had caused the fireflies? As curious as she was, that was a question for later. Lily was her only focus moving forward.

The sooner Jeremy could get out of the sheriff station, the quicker he’d begin to feel comfortable. He knew it was only a matter of time until this messy mishap was fixed, but it was the last thing he needed on top of everything going on, and Jeremy was at boiling point.

In many ways, Jeremy felt out of his depth. He didn’t really know how he was supposed to act in such a strange situation. He’d missed years of social skills through the self-serving actions of his father, and most of the time, it wasn’t too noticeable – after all, Jeremy didn’t really interact with anyone outside of the pack – but unexpected situations led to rising anxiety that he’d say something strange.

Sheriff Stilinski’s office felt like one giant pressure cooker. The Sheriff himself seemed perfectly nice, and it certainly helped that he knew about the supernatural and Dylan’s pack, but Jeremy had never met him before, and that was enough to make him feel nervous.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, boys,” Stilinski sincerely apologised, “The call about vandalism was a dud, Isaac’s tracing it now.”

“Who did you call?” Felix wondered. They both knew someone was coming to verify their identities, but who?

“So sorry we’re late,” a new voice entered the room without so much as a knock, “Traffic was hell.” Jeremy felt his mood immediately lift and a smile form on his face as he saw Liam and Nolan slip into the office.

“Thank god,” Jeremy exhaled in relief. He’d not seen Liam since he left Crystalshaw, but they shared a connection quite unlike any other. Together, with Dylan, they had survived the Lunar Sanctum, and that was enough for Jeremy to always trust him implicitly.

“Good to see you, dude,” Liam smiled, “And, err, your friend.”

“Oh, this is Felix,” Jeremy proudly introduced. He’d forgotten that Liam and Nolan had never met him, “He’s my boyfriend.”

“Awesome,” Liam nodded, “Nice to meet you, Felix. I’m Liam, and this is my boyfriend Nolan.”

“Also dating a werewolf, huh?” Nolan chuckled, glancing at Felix in his usual awkward-yet-friendly way.

“It has its perks,” Felix laughed.

“Excuse me,” Isaac joined the room after a couple of polite knocks, “I’ve got a lead.”

“Please, tell us,” Stilinski approved.

“It was an anonymous tip-off, but the call traces back to Crystalshaw,” Isaac explained.

“My dad,” Jeremy instantly knew. David was always one step ahead. Even miles away, he was still making Jeremy’s life difficult, and it enraged him – there really was no escape.

There was obviously not enough space in Drew’s living room to comfortably fit everyone in, but Josh didn’t mind. He felt safe among the company of not only his friends, but his packmates, and Drew’s too. Just as he remembered, Drew’s pack were welcoming and friendly, and not even a little judgemental.

Inside the living room were nine people – Freddie, Brett, Oscar and Josh himself as guests, alongside Drew, Allyn, Monty, Noah and Kamilah. Everyone was looking at Drew and listening intently, because they were finally about to get some of the answers they needed. Honestly, Josh would have taken anything – solving even one of the pack’s problems would have been a weight off their shoulders.

“I knew Cody many years back,” Drew began, “Hunters were in control of Crystalshaw, and us werewolves had no choice but to band together. Strangers I saw on the street became the people I could trust the most. We were all we had. Cody was this kid from Crystalshaw High. I’d seen him around but never spoken to him. He was timid and nervous, but so much changed. All of us grew up, and Cody more than most.”

“He never told me any of this,” Oscar worriedly thought. Josh was intrigued – he knew almost nothing about this Cody guy, but the hold he had over Oscar was scary. All of them needed to be educated, just in case.

“Cody was a new werewolf when we met, and Forsyth killed his alpha not long after. Well, I say killed,” Drew continued, “She wasn’t quite dead yet. On her death bed, Cody took her power.”

“And finished her off,” Josh realised. This story suddenly sounded very familiar – all he could think about as Clarissa, and the position he ended up in himself.

“The power of being an alpha is too much for some. You need to be extremely strong to deal with the pressure, and Cody was a new werewolf,” Drew detailed, “He didn’t know what to do. He wanted to make an impression, so he became vicious. He learnt how to fight, and when the hunters retreated, Cody became territorial. The few remaining werewolves all moved away out of fear, but I kept my head down.”

“It’s why we kept out of sight,” Allyn interjected, “Most werewolves in the area were the same.”

“Crystalshaw is his, and he’s so insecure that he’ll do anything to keep it that way.”

“I know how that feels,” Josh admitted. Everyone in the room knew about his past, so there was no point hiding, “I lost my mind when I became an alpha. I’d still be like Cody if it weren’t for you guys.”

“He spent months with me and didn’t change,” Oscar sighed.

“It’s not your responsibility to change him,” Josh assured, “I had things at stake. People at stake. Freddie and Jono had been my friends regardless, and I wasn’t going to sacrifice that.”

“But he’s willing to sacrifice me,” Oscar shrugged. Josh’s pep talk hadn’t worked as well as he’d hoped.

“Then he doesn’t deserve you anyway,” Josh tried to redeem himself. He knew what he was trying to say, but it wasn’t coming out the right way. His point was that it was important that Oscar wasn’t hard on himself.

“Cody is capable of killing whoever he wants. If he was going to kill the pack, he’d have done it by now,” Drew explained. Oscar nodded. Maybe he had made a difference? Josh wasn’t surprised; Oscar was the sweetest person he knew, and it was difficult for that not to rub off. Perhaps this Cody guy wasn’t such a big problem after all?

“Let’s hope he directs his attitude at David instead of Dylan, then,” Josh sighed. They weren’t out of the woods yet, and though he tried to cover it up, Josh couldn’t lie to himself. When it came to David, he was terrified.

Slumping to the floor against the many cupboards that decorated the walls of Deaton’s operating room, Jono felt helpless. Usually, between them, the pack would have devised a smooth plan to keep everyone safe, but this time, things felt bleak. Jono’s hopes were spiralling down the sink, and there was no plug to block it.

Since he first found out about werewolves, Jono knew that he was involved in something dangerous. It was obvious – he’d seen enough TV shows about the supernatural to know that not everyone made it out alive. It was like an imaginary contract that everyone signed before joining the pack. They all knew how it could end.

One thing never changed, though. Jono still had one hope left behind. Dylan was always the light at the end of the tunnel, and more than ever, Jono was relying on him to rescue him from the deep end.

“You’re not giving up, are you?” Malia relaxed next to him.

“Never,” Jono insisted, “But the prognosis isn’t exactly promising.”

“There’s always a way out,” Malia encouraged, “Scott and Stiles are the reason I’m still here and not running around the forest as a coyote.”

“I’ve got so many questions,” Jono chuckled. He was used to the supernatural world being unusual, to say the least, but there was a little part of Jono that enjoyed how he could still be surprised.

“I killed my mom and my sister,” Malia admitted. The tone instantly sank, and Jono didn’t have anything to say, “Not on purpose. I wasn’t in control. That doesn’t make it any easier, though.”

“I’m sorry,” Jono felt bad. He didn’t mean to make light of something so serious, “It’s not the same, I know, but my sister’s in the hospital right now because I hurt her. I didn’t mean to either, but if I lose her, I don’t know what I’d do.”

“Melissa’s saved our asses countless times, she’s in the best place,” Malia motivated, “You still have a chance. You still have hope. Don’t forget that.” Jono nodded. Malia was right. There was another way, and Jono wasn’t going down without a fight.

“Maybe there’s a little hope on its way,” Deaton said, pointing towards the windows that trailed around the top of the walls. Quickly, the room brightened. Light illuminated the bleak space. The fireflies fled, slowly but surely, as if the problem had been solved.

“Okay,” Jono took a deep breath, “Now I’m confused.”

With everything happening around her, Yasmin’s mind was struggling to focus on anything. Problems had stacked up like never before, and the pressure was intense. It was too much for any of them to handle, and it was obviously taking its toll on every member of the pack.

Dylan looked broken, more than Yasmin had ever seen before. It didn’t take a genius to see how much Jono meant to him, but Yasmin knew the extent of how deep their love went. Dylan didn’t know who he was without Jono. Since they’d met, Dylan had found his true self. Dylan without Jono was not a scenario anyone had prepared for, least of all Dylan.

Though her heart broke for him, Yasmin’s own heart was aching too, albeit in a different way. Anything involving her dad accelerated her heartrate tenfold, and news that he’d escaped was the worst possible phone call Yasmin could have received.

Many different scenarios were running through Yasmin’s head. How did he get out? Why? What did he expect to achieve? Already, he could have hurt someone. He could have killed someone. Her dad was ruthless and had a heart of stone. No matter how hard she tried, Yasmin couldn’t put a positive spin on the situation.

Strangely, though, Beacon Hills felt like the right place to be. Yasmin trusted that Ed would have Crystalshaw under control, giving Yasmin the opportunity to look for answers. Scott seemed to know a lot about hunters, so any tips would have been gratefully received. When it came to her dad, she needed all the help she could get.

“Where are we heading?” Dylan wondered as they speed-walked to the edge of town. His impatience was clear as day. Every second was precious – that had never been clearer.

“To speak to someone with more than enough expertise on hunting,” Lydia answered.

“Someone who hunted me, once upon a time,” Scott added.

“Not just because you dated his daughter,” Stiles remarked.

“Why am I not feeling reassured?” Yasmin nervously chuckled.

“Don’t worry. I’d trust him with my life,” Scott insisted, “In fact, I have, more than once.”

The group halted outside a large warehouse, plain on the outside and surrounded by large green spaces. Yasmin was expecting a covert base to be shrouded inside, or something equally cool and secretive; after all, it was the perfect place to hide.

Scott led the way inside, and Yasmin was sorely disappointed. This time, the warehouse actually was a warehouse. By the looks of it, whoever they had come to see was trading in firearms. Stacks of weapons lined the large space, and it wasn’t a comforting sight for Yasmin. Such a place would unsettle her no matter how much she trusted the company she was keeping.

“You could have called,” a voice boomed from across the large space. Yasmin saw a slim man, in great shape for someone surely in his fifties, strolling casually over.

“Sorry, it’s an emergency,” Scott cut the chit-chat, “Dylan, Yasmin, this is Chris Argent.”

“Argent,” Yasmin realised. She’d heard that name before. He wasn’t just anyone, he was part of the most famous family of hunters in history.

“Whatever you’ve heard, I apologise,” Argent smiled, “I’ve heard a lot about you both. The pleasure is mine.”

“We need your help,” Dylan mentioned.

“The fireflies,” Argent replied, “I’ve seen them myself, they’ve been getting worse for a couple of weeks. I called Scott to bring him and the pack home, but we’ve not been able to figure anything out yet.”

“They’re coming for my boyfriend,” Dylan’s voice quivered, “But he’s safe, for now, I think.”

“It’s about something else,” Lydia clarified.

“My dad,” Yasmin gulped, building up the courage to talk about the most complex figure in his life.”

“I’m aware of Forsyth,” Argent explained, “I never met him personally, but some of the hunters I worked with were very familiar with his work. Even they were scared of how far he’d go.”

“He’s escaped prison, and we need to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone else. Please, any advice would be helpful,” Yasmin begged.

“Though I’ve not met your father, I have some experience with outplaying a hunter. My own father never knew when to stop, so it was down to me. Gerard was always one stop ahead, so we had to be two, or three steps further on. Outplay him at his own game, Yasmin, and you’ll bring him down for good,” Argent detailed.

“Thank you,” Yasmin smiled. That was exactly what she needed to hear – there was a way she could win, “Come on, we need to get back to Jono.”

“I’ll drive you back,” Argent suggested, “But we’re going prepared.” Argent confidently grabbed one of the guns on the nearest shelf, not even needing to check the model. Yasmin felt reassured – Argent knew what he was doing, and he meant business. He was the person they needed on their team.

The morgue was just as depressing as Sammi expected it to be. Though she never imagined it to be the liveliest room in the hospital, it somehow managed to exceed her expectations in how glum it was. The walls were lined with metallic drawers – it didn’t take a genius to figure out what was inside them all – and any ambient noise was blocked out by the thick double doors the second they abruptly swung shut behind them.

Despite that, it was the room that brought a tiny glimmer of hope. As soon as they were inside, Melissa got to work. She didn’t need to be reminded that time was of the essence. Lily was in desperate need of their help, and Sammi’s stomach had tied itself in knots. If this didn’t work, they had no back-up.

With Alex holding Lily’s hand intimately, Sammi decided to make herself useful. Melissa seemed to know what she was doing, but an extra pair of hands was never a bad thing. One by one, Sammi and Melissa carried all ten large jars – like before, each containing a different ingredient – from one of the morgue drawers to the central worktop.

“Could you turn the lights on, please?” Melissa requested, “I have to get this spot on.”

“What happens if you don’t?” Sammi worriedly asked as she obeyed Melissa’s command.

“You don’t want to know,” Melissa avoided eye contact, “And you don’t need to know, because we’re not going to get to that point.” Melissa seemed flustered – it was clear how much pressure was weighing her down. She was remarkably composed, all things considered.

“Anything I can do?” Sammi offered as Melissa concocted the remedy.

“Hold her hand,” Melissa advised, “This is going to burn whatever’s injured her straight out of her body. It’s gonna hurt like a bitch.” Sammi nodded and got into position while Melissa filled a syringe with the newly created mixture. It was dark green in colour and looked oddly gross – it seemed far too thick and mushy for use in a syringe.

“Hold her down,” Melissa ordered of Alex.

“She’s unconscious,” Alex was confused.

“Not for long,” Melissa warned. With everyone in position, Melissa quickly shot the needle into Lily’s chest next to the wound. Immediately, her body began to convulse. It was violent and harsh, and Sammi was beginning to panic.

Abruptly, Lily’s eyes shot open. Simultaneously, the shaking ceased. A moment of calm followed, but it was only brief. Lily started to shriek, as if she were experiencing the worst pain imaginable; for all Sammi knew, she actually could have been. Sammi shared a worried glance with Alex and Melissa – it wasn’t a comforting sight to see even Melissa so anxious.

Then it stopped. Just as abruptly as it started. Lily’s eyes were closed once again, and her entire body was frozen still. Sammi watched on, desperately hoping her eyes would snap back open, but nothing came. Seconds dragged along, as if each one refused to leave. Sammi felt sick. This couldn’t be the end, could it? She couldn’t lose Lily.

A deep intake of breath. A tidal wave of relief engulfed Sammi as Lily coughed and spluttered awake. Immediately, the wound on her stomach started to visibly heal. It had worked. She was safe.

“Oh my god,” Alex exhaled. He’d never looked so overwhelmed. Sammi glanced at Melissa, who had modestly stepped back to allow them space. She mouthed ‘thank you’, to which Melissa nodded. Clearly, for her, it was just another day. Sammi was in awe.

“What happened? Where’s Jono?” Lily questioned, still catching her breath. Sammi shared an awkward look with Alex. They were out of danger, but her ordeal was far from done.

Finally, Jeremy felt like he could breathe again. Innocent or not, he’d feared the worst and realised how little trust he had in people he didn’t know. He wasn’t sure how Felix managed to be so calm in such a strange situation – there wasn’t a guidebook for handling sticky moments, but some people seemed to know what do without even thinking. Jeremy wished that could be him.

Sitting outside the sheriff station gave Jeremy a chance to take in the fresh air. The night was arriving, and the sky was gorgeously clear, the crescent moon shining its protective beam like it were Jeremy’s guardian. It was beautifully calming, and so many years hidden inside ensured he’d never take moments like that for granted.

With Felix cuddled up by his side, resting his head under Jeremy’s shoulder like the perfect lock and key, Jeremy was feeling more peaceful than he had in ages. It was just what he needed, and as long as he had Felix and his freedom, Jeremy knew nothing else mattered.

“How are you holding up?” Felix questioned, interrupting the blissful silence.

“Fine,” Jeremy replied simply. He wasn’t completely lying – he was okay in a general sense, but he was definitely shaken up.

“You don’t have to pretend around me,” Felix urged, “You panicked, right?”

“Thought it was supposed to be me who could sense emotions,” Jeremy chuckled, “I waited so long for freedom, and for a moment, I thought I was going to lose it again. I don’t think I could go through it again, Felix. My dad, the Lunar Sanctum, they stole enough of my life. Now, I’m in control.”

“You damn well are,” Felix replied, “I was never going to let you get locked up. I’ll keep you safe, forever, you can rely on that.”

Jeremy’s heart was warm, as if it had a soft blanket tenderly snuggling it. For years, Jeremy had seen couples on the television and in movies, and he’d wanted something like that so desperately. He never imagined it would actually happen, and for that, if nothing else, he knew he’d never let Felix go.

“Here you are,” Liam intruded. He and Nolan took a seat beside them, “I thought you’d left without saying goodbye.”

“I’m sorry, I just needed some fresh air,” Jeremy felt bad. He had a lot of time for Liam, and he appreciated the favour he’d done them both.

“No need to apologise. I’m just glad you’re okay. Us Lunar Sanctum buddies gotta stick together,” Liam chuckled.

“Buddies?” Felix playfully scoffed.

“So cringe,” Nolan teased. Jeremy raised a smile – he couldn’t not. These were his people. Finally, he’d found others he could relate to, and it meant so much.

“Nice to see a smile on your face,” Liam continued, ignoring the mockery, “I’m glad you’re happy, Jeremy.”

“Likewise,” Jeremy nodded, “Hey, come and see Dylan. I think he needs all the help he can get.”

“Sure,” Liam nodded, “I’ll drive us.” Jeremy felt relieved – finally, they could do what they came to do, without any further interruptions.

There was something immediately homely about Drew’s house, and it made Freddie feel instantly at ease. Perhaps it was the company – he’d not seen Drew or his pack in a long time, but the familiarity never faded. When Freddie first got to know Drew, he seemed like a moody, unfriendly jock, but that was far from the truth. Drew was kind-hearted and determined, and nobody was more loyal to their friends than he was.

It had been a productive visit, though not in the way Freddie had expected. He’d been able to momentarily switch off from his own family drama, and in the process, they’d learnt more about Cody. As a pack, they knew David’s tricks inside out, but Cody was an unknown entity. If Oscar was in danger, it concerned the whole pack, and they had to stick together.

“I trust in you guys,” Drew said, walking between Josh and Freddie back to the car. As much as Freddie wished he could stay in the calm and bliss for longer, he knew they needed to get back to Crystalshaw as soon as possible. People were relying on them, whether they knew it or not, “You’ve beaten David before. I know you can do it again.”

“We literally had to blow him up last time,” Freddie recalled. His optimism was low.

“And it still didn’t work,” Josh reminded.

“David’s strong, but he’s not indestructible. The Lunar Sanctum found his weakness, remember? Do what they did. Sammi and Jeremy almost brought him down before they were even born. They’re the key. He’s their father, and they’re his kids,” Drew advised.

“Huh,” Freddie scoffed. No matter what had changed, faith in his dad remained low.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think,” Drew issued a rare apology.

“It’s okay,” Freddie mentioned, “It’s a long story. We’re working through it.”

“Good for you,” Drew nodded as Freddie opened the driver door, “Hey, don’t be a stranger.” Freddie smiled – part of him wanted to stay longer, but he knew he couldn’t. Crystalshaw needed him.

With one gentle wave to Drew and his pack, Freddie hopped into the car. Josh slid into the passenger seat, immediately connecting his phone to the car’s Bluetooth for DJ duties, while Brett and Oscar resumed their spots in the back; Freddie couldn’t help noticing how close their legs seemed to be, but he couldn’t jump to conclusions.

Nevertheless, it was about time for the light at the end of the tunnel to rear its head, and Freddie was going to take any ray of light he could reach.

No more than ten minutes must have passed since they left the warehouse, but Dylan was convinced he’d never known a car journey to drag so much. He felt physically sick with nerves, fearing the worst had happened in the time he’d left Jono. For all he knew, his worst nightmare could have come true.

Usually, Dylan was the most optimistic person around. He preferred to tell himself that everything was going to be okay, and that became his goal. It was something to strive for. Something to achieve. This time was different, though. All Dylan could think about was the horrifying vision of the worst-case scenario. It was unbearable to even consider it.

Dylan still felt motivated, though. This time, he didn’t have a goal to work towards, but a scenario to prevent. He was ready to do everything in his power to protect Jono – everything and anything.

Argent’s oversized but surprisingly smooth black car had almost enough room to carry everyone, but they were one seat short. Somehow, Scott had sprinted the whole way and arrived before them; even Dylan wasn’t convinced he could keep up a pace like that, and he was damn well impressed.

Just moments later, another car pulled up. This time, much to his delight, it was a car Dylan had seen before. He hadn’t seen Liam and Nolan since the Lunar Sanctum finally bit the dust, but this wasn’t a social occasion. They had work to do.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Jeremy immediately questioned as he and Felix slid out of the back seats.

“Jono’s in danger,” Dylan relayed. He had no time to waste, “Good to see you both. Thanks for coming.”

“I owe you one,” Liam smiled kindly.

“Wait, stop,” Yasmin called out, stopping Dylan in his tracks, “Where are the fireflies?” Everyone froze to pay close attention to their ears. Yasmin was right – Dylan couldn’t pinpoint a single sound. No buzzing. No humming. Absolutely nothing. Whether that was good or bad, Dylan wasn’t sure – he had to see for himself.

Dylan almost heaved the door off its hinges on his way inside. His heart couldn’t take another second of waiting. Though he could see the clinic lobby was just as he’d left it, hearing remained Dylan’s most valuable sense. He focused from the moment the door granted him access, paying attention to each and every detail his ears could pick up. There, he found out what he needed to know. Three heartbeats, just as there were when he left: Deaton, Malia, and Jono. They were alive. Jono was safe.

“Dyl?” a voice called out. Just the voice Dylan had been so desperate to hear. Dylan rushed into the operating room to see Jono waiting for him. A second thought wasn’t needed – Dylan wrapped Jono in his arms, holding him as tightly as he could. They were only apart for an hour, maximum, but it was still far too long.

“Are you okay?” Dylan checked. Jono looked just fine, but the absence of the fireflies continued to make no sense to Dylan. Clearly, something had happened, but what?

“Fine, don’t worry,” Jono assured, “Sammi just texted. Lily’s safe, too. Did you get the help we needed?”

“Yeah, and now we’re helping you. All of us,” Dylan gestured to the ever-increasing number of people inside the animal clinic. Each and every one of them shared the same goal. Two packs, united, “What happened to the fireflies?”

“They just…went,” Jono vaguely answered.

“Not long after you left,” Malia added.

“But why? Where did they go? It makes no sense,” Dylan pondered. Nothing happened for no reason.

“Because you left,” Lydia bluntly replied. Her face was pale and her expression blank – the key signs Dylan was used to seeing on Yasmin. His stomach sank. This was a premonition, “The fireflies are coming back.”

“What?” Dylan was baffled. What did he have to do with the fireflies?

“Two alphas of one pack,” Deaton realised.

“What does that have to do with anything? We’ve seen a whole pack of alphas before,” Scott seemed just as bewildered.

“The supernatural world goes beyond our understanding of science, but it still has rules. The alpha pack was made up of five alphas who willingly killed their own betas. They earned their place in a new pack. As we discussed, Jono’s alpha status is already a freak of nature, and the Nemeton knows that it has upset the balance in the pack. The balance has been upset,” Deaton explained. Dylan’s jaw dropped. Why did the answers he needed only pose more questions? How was he supposed to react? He didn’t know where to start.

“But we’re safe in Crystalshaw, right? We had no fireflies there. You said your Nemeton was broken,” Dylan scrambled to find a solution.

“For now, but your Nemeton has already tried to act. It’s only a matter of time until it tries to separate you both for good,” Deaton warned. Dylan felt sick. This was wrong in every way imaginable. What could be so bad about him and Jono being together? To Dylan, it was the most natural thing in the whole world.

“We need to go,” Dylan decided, “Thank you all, for everything. We’ll figure this out.”

“Stay in touch,” Scott requested.

“Of course,” Dylan raised as much of a smile as he could. Confidently, he took Jono’s hand, intertwined his fingers with his own, and led the way to the car. The world may have been against them, but Dylan was confident of one thing: he wasn’t giving Jono up for anything.

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