As the pack experience a heap of fresh starts, including the start of senior year and Lily moving away for college, pressure rises high when an epidemic among supernaturals threatens their existence. In addition, Dylan comes face-to-face with another alpha - one that is not keen to share territory with an existing pack. When two packs collide, who will emerge victorious?
As Lily embarks on a new journey to college, the rest of the pack stumble upon a curious set of clues in Los Angeles. Dylan, Jono and George trace an out-of-control werewolf, while Freddie thinks on his feet to securely remove a dead werewolf from a shopping mall.
For their own safety, Dylan and Josh spend their first of two days in quarantine. Not satisfied with spending a day apart, Jono creatively finds a way to still spend time with Dylan. Yasmin, Sammi and Brett find out more answers about the virus, while Lily comes face-to-face with her own demons at college.
As Dylan's quarantine comes to an end, he and Jono reunite, but their world is rocked by an unexpected arrival. Lily struggles with the pressures of being apart from the pack, while Brett makes a confession and Freddie fears for his own safety.
Sammi is spooked when Uncle David arrives in Crystalshaw. Jono worries about his cousin, while Brett is reunited with an old friend. Lily makes a surprising revelation about Sindy when she asks for help. Realising the virus could affect anyone, Dylan comes up with a plan to raise awareness.
As Dylan, Jono and Josh find themselves in a life-threatening situation at the hands of David, Yasmin and Sammi uncover the mystery behind the boy from LA. Brett is confused by Johnny's actions and intentions. Nicolas declares war on Lily.
I'm Your Sister
When Lily comes home for a week, she's faced with the reality of what both she and her friends have been facing, as well as an important decision. Sammi comes to terms with a revelation, while Dylan demands answers after Yasmin and Josh find a corpse.
Deal with the Devil
Dylan confronts David and is shocked by his intentions. Under captivity, Josh makes a dangerous decision to save Yasmin and Freddie. Sammi gets answers from Jeremy, while Brett and Johnny plan their escape.
As Yasmin attempts to build up a plan, Jono finally faces his biggest secrets in front of his parents. Dylan struggles to hold himself together when faced with Josh. Sammi assists Jeremy through his first day of high school, but when they're used as bait to lure Brett and Johnny out, will they come running back? Meanwhile, Lily's delivered an ultimatum by Nicolas.
The Rainbow in Every Storm
Desperate for a way out to save his friends, Dylan is drawn to drastic measures. Lily confronts Nicolas with help from her friends. With Josh lost, Yasmin struggles to cope. Will the pack be able to come together to stop David?
1: The Getaway Written by MarthaJonesFan
Staring up blankly at the ceiling, Sammi was having a rough night. She was only a couple of days away from starting junior year, and she couldn’t have been less enthused if she tried. Slipping back into a mundane routine of schoolwork, homework and early mornings sounded bad enough, without factoring in how she still felt like the new girl in her classes. Nobody seemed interested in her.
Besides, she didn’t want summer to end. She’d spent a lot of time decorating her bedroom – the first permanent bedroom she’d had in a long time. Pictures of her mum were scattered, and one of her favourites – a picture with her mum holding two babies. Sammi and her twin, Jeremy, who died not long after. Sammi so badly wished she knew him growing up. She’d spent so much time feeling alone.
Now, for the first time in a long time, she felt settled. Sammi felt like a part of a solid friendship group for the first time ever, even though none of them were in her school year. Her relationship with Jono and Lily had never been stronger, and after a difficult start, she got on very well with Dylan too. He was family, after all.
there was Freddie. The dorkiest, goofiest, and cutest of them all. He had
Sammi’s back like nobody else, and she wasn’t sure what she did to deserve it.
Nevertheless, she cherished him for every second they spent together.
Sammi spun her body around to face Freddie. He was sleeping deeply and peacefully. She was envious, but watching him sleep was strangely calming. His soft blonde locks rested calmly against his cheeks, ruffled slightly from the pillow.
BANG! Sammi jumped out of her skin. The noise came from outside. Somehow, Freddie was still fast asleep – nothing could wake him up. Sammi was curious, though. She crept out of the room, taking more precautions than necessary considering how impenetrable Freddie’s slumber was.
Outside the room was Lily, shoving a gigantic suitcase out of her bedroom. Her flight to college was the following morning, and the entire gang was going to see her off from LAX.
“Sorry,” Lily looked exhausted, “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d get ahead for tomorrow.”
“It’s okay, I wasn’t sleeping anyway,” Sammi confessed, “Need a hand?”
“Please,” Lily smiled, relieved. Sammi lifted one handle of the incredibly heavy suitcase while Lily took the other, carefully negotiating the stairs.
“Are you excited?” Sammi questioned, making conversation.
“Yeah,” Lily responded, as if she were trying to convince herself, “A bit nervous, though. It’s all so new. Buying groceries on my own. Living on my own.”
“You’ll make friends easily. Even if you hate everyone you’re living with, you’ll meet people partying. Don’t say you’re not finding the nearest party on your first night,” Sammi sussed. She was getting to know Lily pretty well, and nobody threw a party like she did. Her leaving party was like nothing Sammi had ever been to before.
“You bet,” Lily grinned, knowing Sammi was bang on the money, “I just keep thinking. I’m going to miss so much. You, Jono, Dylan, and everyone. You’ll be up to so much without me.”
“Think of me in a year, everyone else will be going to college and it will just be me,” Sammi realised, a little terrified, “Don’t worry. We won’t leave you out. Besides, none of us ever seem to really avoid the supernatural.”
Lily nodded as they heaved the rucksack into the boot of Jono’s car. In the corner of her eye. Sammi noticed something in the bushes. The bushes that decorated the inside of the tall surrounding gates. Two tiny red lights. A familiar red. The red of an alpha’s eyes.
No, it couldn’t be. Dylan was upstairs, sleeping in Jono’s bed. Sammi blinked and rubbed her eyes in confusion. Sure enough, the lights had gone.
“Time for sleep,” Sammi told herself, heading back inside to the warmth with Lily.
It had been many years since Dylan last stepped foot inside an airport. For years, he and his mum couldn’t afford to take vacations, and the memories of his last trip away were brightened by the close relationship he had with his dad. Vacations wouldn’t be the same without him. It was a gaping hole that nobody could ever fill.
Nevertheless, Dylan loved the buzz of an airport, especially one as big as LAX. The hustle and bustle of everyone, unifying businesspeople and holidaymakers, was a feeling like no other. He didn’t have to be boarding a flight to share the excitement.
Lily had insisted on saying goodbye to her parents before leaving, but Jono wasn’t letting her jet off to college without a proper send-off. The whole pack had travelled out with them. One final adventure, before real life really took over.
“I guess this is it,” Lily took a deep breath just in front of the check-in desk. She looked terrified, and Dylan understood. The idea of travelling across the country to go to college petrified him. Thank god it was still a little while before he had to begin thinking about it.
“Text me when you get there,” Jono reminded, for at least the third time that day.
“Have a safe flight,” George kissed her softly on the lips. It looked so full of love, but packed with pain too. The knowledge that it was their last kiss for a while. It only made Dylan consider how he and Jono could ever part ways, even for a few months. He wasn’t sure he could do it.
“Bye everyone,” Lily waved, ready to leave. Dylan felt emotional. Not having Lily around was going to feel strange. She was the big sister he never had.
“Good luck,” Dylan smiled, keeping it together while he held the hand of a saddened Jono. His top lip was quivering. His eyes were watering. Watching Lily work her way through the queue was tough. Every step she took was one step away from Crystalshaw, “You’ll see her soon, we can visit,” Dylan reminded him.
“I know, it’s just weird,” Jono acknowledged. George looked similarly sad. At least they still all had each other.
“Hey, seeing as we’re here,” Josh piped up, “How about a little exploring?”
“Um,” Dylan pondered. He sure would have liked a little break before the drive back, but the decision relied on somebody else – Jono. Would he be okay with that? As if Jono could read his mind, he issued an approving nod. Dylan was ready to give the go-ahead, “Sure. Meet back here in two hours.”
The sad part was done. Now it was time to have some fun. Just like Lily would do.
In the driving seat. Yasmin knew exactly where to go. Her small car was full to the brim, with Josh in the passenger seat and Freddie, Sammi and Brett in the back. It was more than her car was used to carrying, and over a pretty significant distance too, but it was holding out well. With Lily dispatched, Yasmin was definitely hoping Jono’s car could share the load on the way back.
“Where are we?” Josh queried as Yasmin pulled in to the multi-storey car park.
“I’ve always wanted to come here,” Yasmin smiled, driving past a welcome sign.
“Santa Monica Place?” Sammi excitedly read, “Oh my god, I’m way too broke to be here.”
“Dope,” Freddie nodded. He was always happy to leave his notion of stereotypical masculinity at the door for a shopping trip.
“Okay, we’re all broke, why are we here?” Brett sighed.
“Have you never window-shopped?” Yasmin reasoned, “This is the coolest place.”
“Stay in the car if it hurts your masculinity too much,” Sammi taunted.
“Feminism for the win,” Freddie added, hammering the point home.
“No way,” Josh responded, “We like shopping too.”
“Do we?” Brett replied. The confusion in his voice made Yasmin chuckle uncontrollably, “Oh, yeah, of course we do.”
“Come on then, show some enthusiasm,” Yasmin nudged. She was going to milk this moment for all it was worth. Josh had never unbuckled his seatbelt so quickly. Yasmin glanced back to Sammi – this was comedy gold, and they were both loving every second of it.
“Where are the elevators?” Brett queried before Josh yanked him out of the car too.
“Lily will be gutted she’s missed this,” Yasmin commented to Sammi and Freddie. Winding Josh up had become one of her favourite pastimes, and she wasn’t ready to give in yet.
The sights at Manhattan Beach were among the prettiest Jono had ever seen. He had seen it on TV and on Instagram so many times, but never in person. It was well worth the wait, though. The weather was beautifully sunny and radiant, the later summer vibes truly glistening upon the golden sand and deep blue sea.
Watching the waves was so calming, too. The natural swishing backwards and forwards was gentle and uninterrupted, and the ambience of the waves crashing against the stilts of the pier was more relaxing than it should have been. It was the calming atmosphere that Jono so desperately needed.
He, Dylan and George were leaning against the railings on the pier. Below them was simply water – they had walked quite far down. Since leaving the airport, they hadn’t stopped sharing their memories of Lily. Jono felt like he was being overdramatic – Lily wasn’t dead, she was always on the end of her phone whenever Jono needed her. However, she was his best friend, alongside Dylan of course. She had been there his whole life, looking out for him. She was always there when he needed somebody to talk to, and not having her around would be a pretty weird thing to adjust to.
“She literally ignored my texts all day while she planned her leaving party,” George recalled, laughing, “She said I was a distraction.”
“That sounds just like her. No interrupting her creative flow,” Jono chuckled along, before pausing, watching the waves gently bobbing up and down, “She was the first person I came out to. The only person before you, Dyl.”
“You were my first,” Dylan recalled, “I remember how big that felt.” Jono wasn’t sure he knew this already – he found it very touching.
“She shipped us more than anyone,” Jono smiled, “She still does.”
“I hope it goes both ways,” George joked.
“Duh, of course,” Jono replied, “You’re the boyfriend she didn’t know she needed.”
“I think I knew that long before she did,” George reminisced fondly, “She basically friend-zoned me.”
“Good things happen when you least expect it,” Dylan offered a dose of his wisdom. Jono loved sayings like that, especially when Dylan said them. It summed up so much about their own relationship.
“Or when you’re about to be killed by a psycho werewolf,” George laughed, gazing across the pier, “Speaking of, please tell me those yellow eyes are just the sun reflecting?”
Jono focused intently further across the pier. George was right – he wasn’t seeing things. A werewolf was exposed in broad daylight – eyes, fangs, claws; the whole lot. It was out of control, running around in circles like it couldn’t stop. Something was up.
Without a second thought, Jono sprinted over, Dylan following by his side. The werewolf was a boy, and making no effort to conceal himself. Passers-by were staring, some even laughing, but perhaps they thought it was a costume?
“Stay back,” he growled at Dylan. He was a risk to anybody in the area, but if they couldn’t come nearer, they wouldn’t be able to offer assistance.
“We want to help,” Jono encouraged. However, it wasn’t enough. The boy sprinted away, threatened and scared. Jono was confused, but they had to catch him. It was imperative.
Trying to get comfortable in the little space she had, Lily was feeling antsy about the flight. She loved plane journeys – nothing had changed from the excitement she felt when going on holiday as a kid. Family holidays abroad every year brought some of her favourite memories, and they definitely included the lengthy flights spent causing mischief with Jono.
Now she was on her own, and this was no holiday. It was an adventure – one she had been anticipating for a long time. It felt so far away for months, ever since she received the news about her acceptance. The reality had only begun to hit her the day before. Suddenly, this new chapter in her life was beginning, and everything seemed to be hurtling along at five-hundred miles an hour.
“Sorry, don’t mind me,” a guy, roughly Lily’s own age, fumbled around while shoving his hand luggage on the shelf just above. He then took the window seat to her left, almost toppling onto her lap as he edged his way in.
“Don’t worry,” Lily smiled politely, hiding her bemusement of his clumsiness.
Many questions were rushing around Lily’s mind. What would her flat be like? She was sharing with three others, organised over the internet, so whilst she’d seen pictures of the flat, she hadn’t met her flatmates yet. New people didn’t concern her, though. Jono always called Lily a “social butterfly,” though Lily simply thought she had a knack for small talk. Perhaps college would be more of a breeze if that was the topic of her degree.
Popping her AirPods in, Lily selected her first song for the journey – “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. Her and George’s song. She was already missing his warm hugs and his adorably terrible jokes. It was going to be tough relying on social media and infrequent visits when she relied on George’s gentle, calm nature so much. Lily knew it would be tough, but she was determined to succeed.
The plan began to move. The journey was beginning. Not long to go before the adventure really kickstarted. At this point, the nerves were subsiding. She was on her way now – no time to back out.
It was difficult to disguise it – Brett hated shopping. He was far from sexist or misogynistic, he knew it wasn’t for girls only, but all he related shopping to was being dragged around the clothes shops by his mum. It was tedious, and quite frankly, he had better things to do. He only bought clothes he absolutely needed anyway.
Therefore, being dragged around shops on his only day out of town all summer was not ideal. He could have been hitting the beach, or grabbing dinner. Literally anything that wasn’t shopping. However, it was out of his hands. Yasmin was the designated driver, and she was a keen shopper.
On the bright side, he had Josh with him. Somebody like-minded who could share the tedium of examining a heap of identical jeans with him. Josh had become a good friend since Drew left. He’d found himself drawn into Dylan’s pack, intrigued more than anything about how they could possibly cope with everything they see, because Brett was finding it difficult. Once you learn that werewolves and supernatural creatures are real, you don’t forget.
That’s why he liked Josh. He had been through some tough shit, but it hadn’t bogged him down. He was stronger because of what he had been through, and Brett wanted to be like that. He wanted to be brave, because there was no way out of this now that he knew the truth.
“We need an escape plan,” Brett quietly muttered to Josh as the group swanned into yet another clothing store. Nobody had bought anything yet, making the entire concept redundant in Brett’s eyes. He couldn’t take any more.
“Dude, look at these trainers though,” Josh pointed towards a little section of the store to the right. He had a point – the trainers looked awesome.
“You know, we’ve got basketball tryouts first week back,” Brett mentioned. He wasn’t sure how interested Josh was in sport, but he seemed perfect material for the team.
“Yeah?” Josh seemed intrigued, “I’ve never stayed in one place long enough to be on a team.”
“You’re settled now though, right?” Brett queried, “I thought Dylan’s mom adopted you.”
“She did, it’s just weird. I got so used to moving around that I feel like this could all come crashing down one day,” Josh opened up.
“Join the team,” Brett encouraged, “It might help.” Josh nodded – he seemed to understand.
In the corner of his eye, Brett spotted something very alarming. Visible through the shelving unit was a body, lying down, collapsed onto the shop floor.
“Quick,” Brett commanded, taking charge. He checked the girl’s pulse – nothing. Alarmingly, she still had visible claws and fangs. She was a werewolf.
“We can’t just call an ambulance,” Josh worried. He was right – the authorities couldn’t see a body that looked like this. It would risk exposing werewolves to the world.
“She’s still warm. She’s not been dead long,” Brett identified. He knew his first aid rather well – the amount of basketball injuries he had witnessed (and experienced) were a learning curve.
“I know who we can call, but it might take a while. We need a diversion,” Josh suggested. Brett thought fast. The solution was staring him in the face. Brett leapt up and whacked the fire alarm. Immediately, the piercing alarm sounded, not just inside the shop but throughout the entire mall.
“What is going on?” Yasmin rushed over before noticing the dead body, “Who is she?”
Brett wasn’t sure, but he was alarmed. This was a major problem, and he was tangled up in the middle of it.
Keeping up the pace as best he could, Dylan was worried. The further they had to chase this werewolf, the greater chance there was of somebody realising it wasn’t some quirky costume. They had to catch him, and fast.
It wasn’t like anything Dylan had seen before. As it dashed along the beach, violently swishing sand upwards in his wake, he convulsed and shook. How he had the energy to keep running in spite of that was almost impressive.
Dylan was leading the charge, Jono just behind. He wasn’t sure where George had gotten to, but he wasn’t as fast – the downside of being human. They were doing a good job of keeping pace, though, and that was what mattered.
Reaching the end of the long stretch of gorgeously warm sand, the boy leapt up some concrete steps back to road level. A car swerved along – one that Dylan immediately recognised. He could never mistake the tiny, cosy red car he had travelled in so many times.
“Get in,” George yelled from the open driver side window. Dylan didn’t need to be told twice – he hopped in the back seat while Jono clambered into the passenger seat. Now they could outrun him.
George sped the car up, soaring along the beachside road, the distance between them rapidly decreasing. Swerving, the werewolf darted across the road and down an alleyway between buildings.
“Damn,” Dylan was frustrated. The car couldn’t follow him down there.
“Get out,” George instructed, not giving up. Dylan vacated the car and immediately pursued him down the alley while George drove off. The werewolf was rapidly approaching another road – if he escaped out there, he could get anywhere. Dylan wasn’t ready to let that happen, so he accelerated his speed up to eleven. He was ready to pounce.
The car screeched up, blocking the exit, just as Dylan leapt upwards. He landed perfectly, slamming the werewolf’s body against the ground. Immediately, Dylan secured his hands – there was no way he’d be letting him escape now. He was furiously trying to fight back, but Dylan wasn’t giving in. There was only one way he could truly assert his authority.
Inhaling deeply, Dylan growled the loudest howl he could. He was the alpha, and he was in charge. Sure enough, it worked. The werewolf below him began to shift back, calming itself down.
“Who are you?” Dylan demanded.
“I need your help, please,” he begged. He looked helpless. He needed Dylan.
It had been quite a while since Freddie last saw a dead body. Quite frankly, he was enjoying being a normal kid once again, especially now he had Sammi in his life. They had been dating for several months now, and Freddie felt overwhelmingly optimistic for the first time in a long time. Sammi understood him in a way few others did. He needed her.
Freddie also knew that he would never truly escape the werewolf world. Of course, he was a werewolf himself. However, the supernatural world was dangerous, and when it crossed paths with his own life, it always led to disaster.
“What’s taking so long?” Yasmin hissed to Josh, “You said she was nearby.” They were hiding in the now-empty car park of Santa Monica Place, the building fully evacuated. It was now a race against time to get the body out before the fire department arrived and it was discovered by the authorities. Help was on its way, but time was running out.
“If you want something done,” Freddie suggested, “Do it yourself.”
“How are we supposed to get a dead werewolf out of a mall with CCTV filming our every move?” Josh doubted.
“We have two options. We can get the body ourselves, or we can let somebody else find it, and we all know how risky that is,” Freddie reasoned. In his eyes, it was simply common sense.
“He’s right, we need to do this,” Sammi backed him. Freddie knew he could rely on her.
“I might be able to tap into the CCTV and turn it off, temporarily,” Freddie suggested, pulling his laptop out of the boot of Yasmin’s car. It was a walk in the park compared to what he had done before.
Freddie typed ferociously at the keyboard. It wasn’t difficult to remotely access the security panel; the firewalls were bog standard and he had spent more time than he cared to admit learning how to work around them.
“Okay, we’ve not got long, let’s go,” Freddie commanded, placing the laptop back in the car and sliding the door shut.
“That was pretty awesome,” Yasmin complimented, smiling kindly at him.
“I’ll feel a lot better once we’re out of here,” Freddie replied as they reached the body.
“Brett, take the legs,” Josh commanded, lifting the body at its armpits.
“Um, me?” Brett cowardly backed out.
“Oh, move out of the way,” Sammi intervened, not dithering for a second in grabbing the legs and heaving the bottom half of the body upwards, “Not bad for a human girl.” Freddie laughed. She was so awesome.
“There’s a rash on her neck,” Josh observed as they carried her back to the car. He was right – the rash covered the underside of her arms, too. It looked painful – red, and full of scratch marks.
That aside, things had been running amazingly smoothly. They reached the car without a hitch, and now all that was left was to make it back to Dylan. They needed to figure out what had happened to her.
“It’s a disease,” a commanding voice called out across the spacious car park, echoing brazenly against the concrete walls. Stood opposite the group was Mrs. Johnson. She was their back-up.
“You took your time,” Josh remarked.
“I’m not on holiday, I’m out here on business. The same business as you, by the look of the rash on her skin,” Mrs. Johnson explained, “You might not want to touch her, Josh.”
Freddie began to worry. There was something more going on, and it didn’t sound good.
Pushing the front door open softly, Lily had arrived at her accommodation. This was her home now, and immediately, it felt so different from her own home. The corridor was small, and lit using one solitary, dimly lit lightbulb. Two doors adorned each wall, as well as a staircase leading upwards to what must have been three further bedrooms. After all, there were going to be five of them living there, with a communal kitchen and living area. Lily was already dreading the mess.
The cackling of other voices could be heard clearly from one of the rooms, even without using her enhanced hearing. Clearly, she wasn’t the first to arrive – a slight relief, at least she could make some conversation.
Opening the far door on the right, Lily saw a group of three stood around the dining table, each holding a plain white mug. They were in the full flow of conversation – so far, so good.
“Hey,” Lily smiled, switching on her top socialising mode. This was easy for Lily – all she had to do was pretend she was at one of her parties.
“Hey, welcome. You must be Lily,” one of the girls held out her hand to shake, “I’m Sindy.”
“Violet,” another girl informed. Both were really pretty – the first wearing her straight, dark hair up in a stylish messy bun, the other allowing her tight curls to flow wildly.
“I’m Alejandro,” a cute lad greeted. He had a pretty cute smile, tousled blonde hair styled expertly, and an awkward demeanour, “But you can call me Alex.”
“Want a drink?” Sindy offered.
“Sure, tea, please,” Lily nodded.
“Oh, these aren’t hot drinks,” Sindy chuckled politely, “There aren’t any wine glasses. Or other glasses, so we’re just using mugs.”
“In that case, you’re talking my language,” Lily immediately knew she would have no trouble fitting in here.
The door clicked open again. Somebody else had arrived – perhaps their fifth and final housemate? Lily was keen to meet them. She spun around, meeting face-to-face with somebody she had seen before. Not too long ago, either.
“Hey, I’m Nicolas,” he greeted with a dashing smile. He was chiselled and undeniably good-looking; Lily hadn’t taken much notice when he stumbled over her on the plane.
Two years ago, Lily may have believed it was a coincidence. Now, she didn’t believe that coincidences were possible.
2: Quarantine Written by MarthaJonesFan
Hauling the final batch of mops and sprays down the step-ladder, Dylan was ready to begin the much-overdue spring clean. It must have been years since the bunker last received a good going-over, if Drew ever even bothered to spruce it up. Dylan wasn’t going to continue neglecting it like that when there were so many potentially important resources there.
He best thing was that he had three budding helpers – Yasmin had been a keen volunteer, and he hadn’t given Jono and Josh any chance to escape. After all, it was the perfect opportunity for some quality time together.
“This is the worst double date ever,” Josh groaned, begrudgingly picking up a cloth to wipe down the walls.
“Hey, I’m not the only one who uses this place, why is it all my responsibility?” Dylan justified.
“It’s your bunker,” Josh hit back with a cheeky smirk on his face.
“You’ll be doing it on your own if you’re not careful,” Dylan playfully threatened.
Clearing the shelving unit on the left, Dylan was met by a huge clump of dust around, on top of and underneath every single item. The only thing without a thick dust coating was the Bestiary – one of the pack’s most valuable tools – and even that had picked up a light scattering. It had been a few months since they had last used it, and Dylan wasn’t complaining. Life had been so much simpler.
The best part of readjusting to normality meant Dylan could actually spent time working on his grades. Yasmin had helped him revise for the PSATs, and for the first time in high school, he felt optimistic in advance of the results. However, Dylan wasn’t naïve; he knew things wouldn’t run this smoothly for long.
“Hey, what’s this?” Jono passed Dylan a glass jar.
“Um,” Dylan was a little alarmed at what he saw inside, “It looks like a tooth.” The more he examined it, the more evident it became. It was a severed, decaying werewolf fang.
“Do we have to keep that?” Jono wondered, scrunching his face in disgust.
“Hell no,” Dylan placed it on the floor, ready for the bin. He didn’t know the relevance of half the stuff Drew had kept in there, but some of it had to go. It was time for a fresh start, and Dylan couldn’t wait to see the end result.
Shoving everything off the brand-new central desk, Dylan wasn’t concerned about the tidiness of his bunker in that moment. Yasmin had carted a dead body back from LA in the boot of her car, and Dylan himself had dragged a terrified, helpless werewolf back with him. There had to be some correlation, because both of these happened within miles of each other. Mrs. Johnson was keen to help, but she needed somewhere to examine the body.
Dylan wasn’t sure how ready he felt to be launched back into the world of werewolves so soon. Senior year was around the corner, and he was in a good place at school finally. Supernatural drama did his education absolutely no good.
“Stay back,” Mrs. Johnson commanded as she and Sammi carried the dead girl’s body into the bunker.
“What happened to her?” Jono questioned. Dylan spotted the red rash covering her skin like an uncomfortable, painful rug.
“You need to keep your distance, it’s not safe for a werewolf to make contact, that’s how it’s passed on,” Mrs. Johnson warned.
“Tell us why,” Dylan demanded. This wasn’t the time for keeping secrets.
“I don’t know much, but this is spreading, and if you don’t keep your distance, it will be you next,” Mrs. Johnson warned, taking no prisoners, “Has anybody touched her?”
“Just me,” Josh worriedly confirmed.
“You’ll need to stay in quarantine for forty-eight hours,” Mrs. Johnson explained, “From what I’ve seen, that’s the incubation period, when symptoms begin to display themselves.”
“Dylan,” the lad quivered from behind. Dylan spun around to face him, immediately concerned. His face was blotted in red spots. He had an identical rash to the dead girl.
“I touched you,” Dylan panicked, “When we were chasing you.” He was scared – he was at risk. Whatever this disease was, it couldn’t have been good news.
“Go home, both of you. Stay there, don’t let any other werewolves in. Including Jono,” Mrs. Johnson detailed. Dylan started to worry intensely. This was really bad news.
“What about the rest of us?” Freddie wondered.
“If you follow the rules of the quarantine, you’ll be safe. For now. Please, I need space to operate. I don’t know enough about this yet. I can’t be more help until I do,” Mrs. Johnson explained.
Dylan caught eyes with Jono. The thought of having to spend two days apart from him was tough – they had barely spent any time apart at all in almost two years. However, it was going to be worth it – if Dylan could stop Jono from falling ill, it would be well worth two days on his own.
Sleeping anywhere other than her own bed made Lily feel uncomfortable. Her bed was her safe space, and knowing she was halfway across the country from it was an unnerving thought. She kept trying to remind herself that this was her new safe space, but it wasn’t quite that easy. The tools she learnt from her therapist were coming in extremely handy – grounding herself, using the stop-sign when she felt anxious, and texting George. He calmed her down like nobody else.
Despite her worries, though, Lily slept well. The day before had been hectic, draining and exhausting, both physically and emotionally, so her body needed the rest. Thankfully, her flatmates were easy to get along with. She had one single concern – she knew so much more than they did, how could she relate?
Notably, her concerns when seeing Nicolas again. Her mind was conditioned to doubt everything, because in the supernatural world – in Crystalshaw – she had to be sceptical to survive. College needed to be a fresh start. She couldn’t let her usual Crystalshaw concerns spill over into her new life. Nicolas seemed completely normal, and she had no solid proof otherwise.
Springing out of bed, the first thing Lily needed was a cup of tea. It was her morning routine, and she needed as much familiarity as possible. Sindy was already there, boiling the kettle and popping a teabag into a newly-rinsed, Prosecco-free mug.
“Perfect timing,” Lily commented as the kettle clicked off; a weirdly comforting sound when tea was such a sweet remedy. Sindy placed another mug on the counter ready for Lily.
“Nothing beats a cup of tea in the morning,” Sindy smiled kindly, “Where are you from?”
“Crystalshaw, it’s a small county in Cali,” Lily replied, downplaying it. Crystalshaw had way more significance than Sindy would ever know, but she couldn’t simply tell her that.
“Oh, I’ve heard of it. Lots of weird shit seems to happen there,” Sindy mentioned. Lily shouldn’t have been surprised, especially as she probably had the answers to most of those weird happenings, “I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist, you’ve probably heard all of those before though.”
“Probably,” Lily went along with it – it wasn’t a lie, after all, “Where are you from?”
“Torrance, not too far from you,” Sindy answered, “But way less exciting, I know.”
“Not at all,” Lily replied, “Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s pretty far from home.”
“Feeling homesick?” Sindy identified, “You’re not the only one, I promise. I’ve never been away from my parents for long before.”
“That’s the thing, I’m so used to my parents being away. They’re always away for work, and when they’re home, they’re still working,” Lily remembered, “It’s my brother I miss. He’s my best friend, and he always has been.”
“I’m the youngest of five, my parents kinda spoiled me,” Sindy revealed, “We’re sort of the opposite. My siblings annoy me.”
They laughed together. Sindy seemed pretty awesome; Lily was delighted to have found someone on the same wavelength as her. She still had hurdles to overcome, but having a friend nearby filled her with confidence. She could climb the mountain that was college.
Slouched down along the sofa, Dylan was already fed up. It was the last day of summer, and he had to spend it inside, away from his friends, because of some stupid virus that he might not even have. It felt lonely, even if he had his mum, Ed and Josh at home all day with him.
He and Josh had to adhere to the quarantine for two whole days, just to be safe. Though it was frustrating, he did understand it – keeping his friends safe was imperative, and the short-term boredom was worth it, even if every minute was starting to feel like an hour.
“Another?” Josh queried as their episode of One Day at a Time finished on Netflix.
“Dude, we’re watching the entire season today, we’ve got nothing better to do,” Dylan replied. It was basically a sick-day from school, and though it was far from his favourite place in the world, it was still better than being cooped up inside with no plans. Solitary confinement at home was no fun at all.
“Do you feel okay?” Josh wondered, concern present in his voice. Neither of them had to hide their worries from each other; they were going through the same stress.
“I feel fine, so far,” Dylan reported back. He had checked several times for any sign of a rash, but nothing was there. He was desperately hoping it was going to stay that way, too, “You?”
“Same,” Josh replied, much to Dylan’s relief, “Not getting my hopes up just yet though.”
“I’m sure we’ll be okay,” Dylan kept his usual level of optimism, but it was hard. The truth was that he didn’t know if they would be okay or not, and that scared him the most. It was his job to lead by example, but this time, he couldn’t do it. It was frustrating.
Dylan’s phone rang. The jovial ringtone contrasted massively with his mood. However, the sight of Jono’s name on the call screen was enough to perk him up.
“Hey,” Dylan answered the phone with a chirpy smile on his face.
“Look outside,” Jono instructed. Dylan went to the front window, taking a seat on the comfy cushions adorning the window bay. Outside, Jono had set up a small camp, with a foldable garden chair and a cool box for snacks.
“What’s this?” Dylan chuckled in amazement. The effort Jono had gone to was bordering on being extra, but Dylan completely loved it.
“Who said we couldn’t find a way to make this work?” Jono waved from the chair. He had positioned it directly next to the window so he could see inside, “As long as I stay out here, we can be together without breaking quarantine.”
Dylan’s heart melted. He was the absolute cutest – the fact he was committed to spending an entire day outside was unnecessary, but so very appreciated.
“Let me call you on Skype, then you can watch with us,” Dylan decided.
“You two make me sick,” Josh teased, “Yasmin would never do this for me.” Dylan laughed, but Josh was right. Jono was the best.
Though she was keen to start getting to the bottom of whatever this virus was, Sammi couldn’t help feeling guilty about leaving Freddie out. He couldn’t enter the bunker, which had temporarily become Mrs. Johnson’s operating theatre, for his own safety. There was no way Sammi was going to let Freddie compromise his own safety, so waiting outside was the only option.
“Why don’t you go and find Jono?” Sammi tried to suggest, hoping he could actually find something to do other than lurk outside bunkers.
“He’s literally finding any loophole he can to spend the day with Dylan,” Freddie fired back, “I’m many things, but I’m no gooseberry.”
“I could name a few of those things if you want,” Sammi teased. She loved to wind him up – it was why they worked so well together.
“Keep it,” Freddie smiled, “Leave the door open so I can listen.”
“Dude, you’re a werewolf,” Sammi reminded, “You can listen anyway.”
“Alright, so you can listen, then,” Freddie tried to dig for another reason, “I don’t want you to miss my contributions.”
“With a mouth as big as yours? We’ll be just fine,” Sammi teased, “But okay, I’ll leave it open, just a little.” Freddie was more of a hopeless romantic than Sammi first thought, and she loved it. All of the guys she had dated in the past were arrogant, self-obsessed douchebags. Freddie was a breath of fresh air.
“Are you done flirting?” Mrs. Johnson rudely barked as soon as Sammi pushed the door to, leaving a gap of about an inch for Freddie’s peace of mind. It was weird enough that her biology teacher was involved in this at all, let alone commenting on her love life.
“Why are we here?” Sammi ignored her, taking a spot in between Yasmin and Brett opposite her. Sat in the far corner was the lad they picked up in Los Angeles – she still didn’t know his name, but he looked extremely pale.
“I’ve been examining her all night,” Mrs. Johnson began, referring to the dead girl laid out on the desk between them, “Though the virus has killed her, it’s still present and alive in her body. It’s like an incubator for the pathogens.”
“Could we be carriers?” Yasmin questioned. Sammi immediately worried. She carried the body the night before, and proceeded to spend the night with Freddie. They even kissed. Could she have transmitted the disease?
“The pathogens don’t survive long in human bodies. They’re unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, almost like they’ve been engineered,” Mrs. Johnson continued.
“Somebody who wants every werewolf dead,” Sammi pondered.
“Hunters, we saw them before,” Brett contributed.
“This isn’t their style,” Yasmin rebutted, “They revel in the thrill of the chase, this cuts out the middle man in a way that removes their fun. Trust me, I’d know.”
“Who else could it be?” Sammi was confused. She was newer to this world than the rest of them. Werewolves weren’t a new concept to her, but everything this pack had experienced was. Everything she heard was yet another revelation.
“I don’t know, and that’s my concern,” Mrs. Johnson warned. Sammi felt nervous. Though she was safe, her family wasn’t. Freddie wasn’t.
“Hey, you!” she heard Freddie yell from outside. Immediately, Sammi sprinted out to check on him.
“What’s going on?” Sammi worriedly questioned.
“He was watching me,” Freddie explained, staring further down the tunnel.
“Let’s go,” Sammi decided. Whoever it was, perhaps they knew something?
Orientation complete, Lily was ready to destress. She hadn’t even fully started college yet, and she was already shattered. It had barely been twenty-four hours since her arrival, and it already felt like she had used up all of her energy.
However, Lily knew how to party. She could get up out of her death bed and start a party if she wanted to. Her flatmates were headed to the nearest bar for welcome drinks, and there was no way she was going to miss this. Age was no barrier.
“I’ll get first round,” Sindy immediately acted like the host – a girl after Lily’s heart. Sindy was undoubtedly the strongest bond she had made so far, but she was very keen to get to know her other roomies too.
“Watch me spend way too much money tonight,” Alex smiled. He seemed like a party animal too, as did Violet. Nicolas was acting a little more reserved so far, though. Bars weren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Lily knew that. No matter how hard she tried, she could never get Jono as interested in a rave as she was. At least he had Dylan, who also enjoyed the quiet life.
“My dad’s gonna hate me if we make this a regular thing,” Violet laughed with Alex, “Especially if he finds my fake ID.”
“You actually got one of those?” Lily was impressed. She had seen a few before, but this would be handy. What sort of students would they be without a little alcohol?
“I can hit you up if you want,” Violet suggested, “You’ll need one if you’re into the party scene.”
“Hey, I basically invented the house party,” Lily sold herself the best way she could. If there was one element of her reputation that followed her from Crystalshaw, it was absolutely going to be that.
“Now this is something I’ve got to see,” Alex sounded intrigued.
Suddenly, Lily’s attention diverted. A young man collapsed. He was shaking, convulsing violently on the floor. It looked like he was having a fit. Instinctively, Lily ran to his side. She focused on what she could see – notably a ferocious, painful rash. It was like nothing she’d seen before.
“Move back,” Lily yelled, everyone in the bar crowding around her like it was some sick form of entertainment, “Outside, now. Someone, call an ambulance.”
To make matters worse, Lily noticed something she shouldn’t have. The lad’s eyes glared a deep blue. He was a werewolf. Nobody else could see this. Lily couldn’t focus. She shouldn’t have to deal with this. This was her new life; it was meant to be a fresh start. The supernatural shouldn’t be there too.
Abruptly, he stopped. His body laid still on the cold, tiled floor of the bar. Lily checked his pulse – he was dead.
Amazingly, Dylan’s day hadn’t been a total disaster. He had kept the Skype link with Jono open the entire time, and it made everything feel so much better to still have him nearby. They had finished the full season of One Day at a Time, and the sun was starting to go down. Jono couldn’t stay much longer, and another lonely night was about to begin.
It took some convincing of both his mum and Jono’s parents to allow them to share a bed. His own mum was fairly easy to persuade – she settled on a promise of trust and the door always remaining open. Jono’s parents were more difficult, though. They were old-fashioned in their viewpoints, especially Steve. Jono seemed to chip away at them over time, and until the night before, they hadn’t spent a night apart in over a year. Ultimately, Steve’s biggest concern seemed to be Dylan being a werewolf.
Little did he know, though, that his own son was now a werewolf too. Jono still hadn’t told his parents about being a werewolf. It was a stress that Dylan remembered, and it was a big obstacle to overcome, even when they already knew about the existence of werewolves. They didn’t even know Lily was part-werewolf yet. It was going to severely rock the Chadwick boat when the truth eventually rears its ugly head.
For now, though, Dylan was enjoying their final calm evening. Senior year was one step away from starting, and Dylan couldn’t even attend the first day. It wasn’t going to look good, but at least he and Josh were in it together.
“Want me to write your initials for you?” Jono questioned.
“Huh?” Dylan was confused. Perhaps he was beginning to go stir crazy.
“Senior Scribe,” Jono explained.
“Oh, that’s tonight,” Dylan had completely forgotten. He felt a little downhearted to be missing Senior Scribe – he had heard of a few other schools doing it, but this was a first for Crystalshaw High. All of the seniors would write their initials somewhere around school, so they could leave their mark before they leave, “Yeah, please do mine.”
“Don’t forget me, dude,” Josh butted in. Neither of them had moved much all day, other than snack and loo breaks. The sofa was comfortable enough.
“You’d never let me forget, let’s be real for a second,” Jono chuckled cutely, “I’d better go. I’m gonna miss you tonight.”
“Not as much as I’ll miss you,” Dylan placed his hand on the glass window. Jono did the same on the other side. There was nothing Dylan wanted more than for the glass to shatter so he could feel Jono’s touch. Just another twenty-four hours until he got his wish.
With Jono gone, Dylan felt deflated again. He was grateful for the unexpected extra time with him, but he was selfish – he wanted to spend all day, every day with him.
“Hey, it’ll fly by, sweetie,” Caroline tried to encourage.
“No, it won’t,” Dylan replied honestly. It was going to be a long night, and no sugar-coating would change that.
“Listen, when I was a few years older than you, your dad had to go away on business for a couple of days,” Caroline told. Dylan loved to hear stories about his dad – it kept him alive and fresh in his memory, “It was the longest we had spent apart since we started dating, and I hated it. I missed him so much. However, he returned home with a bunch of flowers, a cute teddy bear, and a sparkling engagement ring.”
“You think Jono’s going to propose?” Josh blurted out, as if he couldn’t control himself.
“No,” Caroline laughed softly, “I think, when you both reunite, you’ll love each other even more. It’s a cliché, but absence really does make the heart grow fonder.”
“Yeah, I learnt that from dad himself,” Dylan confessed, a tear sliding down his cheek. Caroline perched next to him, pulling him in close for one of her cosiest, warmest hugs.
“Me too, baby,” Caroline concurred. Dylan felt like he should have been an expert at missing people, but it still hurt every time. At least this put things into perspective. He would see Jono again in less than a day.
He would kill for even five minutes with his dad.
Confused and a little concerned, Yasmin had no idea where Sammi had rushed off to. Wherever it was, it didn’t seem to spell good news – she had shot off in a hurry alongside Freddie. It was worrying when there was clearly something more going on. Someone had manufactured a virus to infect only werewolves – someone had a grudge, and Yasmin wanted to get to the bottom of it sooner rather than later.
“We gotta follow,” Brett sprung quickly into action – a little unnecessarily.
“No,” Yasmin sensibly thought, “They’ve got this. We can’t heal like Freddie can, so if they’re in danger, he won’t take any risks. Sammi’s too valuable to him.”
“I’m low key jealous,” Brett admitted, “Freddie’s a dork, but he cares. More than I have about anything.”
“He’s awesome,” Yasmin opened up, “You’ll find someone, Brett. It just takes time.”
“I guess. The guys on the team all take the piss cause I’m crap with girls,” Brett confessed. Yasmin had never heard him open up like this before. Buried inside this tall, stereotypical jock was a kind, vulnerable heart. Yasmin couldn’t deny that she vastly preferred this side of him.
“You should see my attempts at flirting,” Yasmin confessed, “Woeful isn’t the word.”
“At least you’ve got Josh,” Brett mentioned, “Must be weird, him being quarantined.”
“Yeah,” Yasmin sighed, checking her phone for any mew messages. Depressingly, all she had was a new Instagram follower – a spam account, at that. Josh must have been preoccupied.
“No news is good news,” Brett reminded her. He was right – Dylan would have let her know if something was up.
“A little help here,” Mrs. Johnson called over from across the bunker. In the corner, the lad had collapsed. He was completely still, and very pale behind the horrifying look of the rash.
“We need to get him to the hospital,” Brett suggested.
“Sure, if you want this to spread even further,” Mrs. Johnson was resistant to the idea.
“I think I know how we can deal with that,” Yasmin pondered, “You call 911, I’ll call in a favour.”
Channelling all of his energy into the chase, Freddie wasn’t giving up. In his view, anyone running away had something to hide, or they wouldn’t be running in the first place. They were being watched, almost definitely by someone who knew what they were doing. Someone who knew what the virus was.
Whether it was somebody who could offer help or not was still unknown, and Freddie was keen to catch up to them. He did not want to get ill, and was going to do all he could to protect himself, and others.
They approached the end of the run of tunnels, and there was only one way out. The ladder led into the forest, and from there, anywhere. He had to catch up, and quickly.
“Stop,” Freddie called out as the man leapt up the ladder. He was being too slow. Freddie followed, not even using the ladder as he sprung up. The derelict shed above ground was empty, no sign of the man he’d been following. Then he noticed him – through the window, several metres away. He wasn’t moving. In fact, he was staring straight back at Freddie. He was mid-forties, and didn’t look even slightly tired from all of the running. What concerned him most was his eyes – they were glowing a powerful, assertive red. He was an alpha.
Sammi caught up, panting behind him. She couldn’t run as fast, and Freddie often forgot that. He was so used to the company of supernaturals that human pacing was almost a distant memory.
“Look,” Freddie pointed at the man. He was still stood there, like he was waiting for a reaction.
“Oh my god,” Sammi sounded stunned. The man spun around and ran away as Sammi made eye contact, a smug grin present on his arrogant face.
“What? Do you know him?” Freddie was completely befuddled. He had never seen this man before – how was he linked?
“That’s my dad,” Sammi revealed. Freddie was stunned. They were drowning in the deep end all of a sudden.
3: Fresh Air Written by MarthaJonesFan
Starting high school was never one of Brett’s biggest worries. Many of his middle school friends were going to Crystalshaw High, and that made the transition feel pretty straight-forward in his mind. Being the class clown had paid off, and he got on with most people; those that mattered, anyway. He just had to hope it wouldn’t fade away at high school.
The one downside was that Johnny wasn’t joining him. Johnny had been his best friend from the very first day of elementary, but his dad had sent him across town to a different school. He wasn’t even allowed to see him at the weekend – his dad wasn’t keen on them spending time together. It felt strange, and it certainly hurt Brett’s feelings.
In spite of that, Brett was feeling eager. Crystalshaw High specialised in his favourite sport: basketball. Joining the team was the top of his priority list, and sign-ups were happening immediately.
“Okay, quiet everyone,” the basketball coach demanded, standing proudly at the head of the boys’ changing room. There were loads of other lads in the room, and the demand was clearly high. Brett immediately knew he had his work cut out, especially as a freshman competing against seniors for a spot on the tam. It was going to be hard, but Brett wanted to be the best, so he had to beat the best.
“For those of you who don’t know, I’m Coach Singh, welcome to basketball,” Coach continued, “Every night this week, we have basketball try-outs. If you want to make the team, you better bring your everything to one of these sessions. We don’t take any slackers.”
“He’s not lying,” the lad next to Brett whispered in his ear, “He punishes anyone who’s not putting the effort in.” Brett nodded. He had heard that Coach Singh took no prisoners, and he was ready to impress him.
“Play well, and you can get any girl you want,” Coach continued. Brett sighed. That wasn’t motivation to play, but the room erupted into a rapturous applause with ridiculously over-the-top cheers.
“Come on,” the lad nudged Brett, “Don’t want anyone thinking you’re a faggot.”
Brett begrudgingly applauded. The air in the room felt toxic. For now, he had to blend in, but Brett was absolutely not okay with this.
Arriving at school on his own, Jono felt lonely. Senior year was beginning, and it already wasn’t the way he envisioned it to be. Dylan should’ve been by his side – they were supposed to be in it together. It was already strange enough that they weren’t going to be in all of their lessons together – senior year was another ball game entirely – but at least they were still together on the same journey.
Parking up at the bench, Jono sat next to Sammi. She had spent the night with Freddie, but Jono was a little worried about her. The texts she had sent to him the night before were blunt and short – completely unlike Sammi. Everything she did was with a gigantic burst of enthusiasm, usually completed by about 500 kisses at the end of every message. ‘Extra’ wasn’t the word.
“This doesn’t feel right,” Freddie commented. He was perched between Yasmin and Brett on the other side of their usual bench. He was right – it felt empty. They were a few people down, and it wasn’t just Dylan and Josh.
“First day without Lily,” Yasmin reminded, “She starts lectures today.” Jono had been texting Lily all morning – she seemed okay, but he was missing having her around. It wasn’t the same at home.
“So much has changed,” Jono opened up, “I don’t like it. Drew’s gone, Lily’s at college, and Dylan and Josh should be here.”
“They’ll be here tomorrow, right?” Sammi tried to think optimistically – traditionally Dylan’s job.
“Unless they’re ill,” Brett unhelpfully reminded.
“But if they’re okay, it’s still not over,” Freddie seemed keen to point out. He was holding back.
“Do you know something?” Jono wondered. Any information could be useful, because he was more determined than ever not to be separated from Dylan. They needed to protect each other.
“We saw my dad. He was watching us, then ran away,” Sammi explained.
“Wait, Uncle David, the deadly, werewolf-slaughtering murderer, is here?” Jono was gobsmacked. He knew this day would come – Drew had warned them before he left, but Jono didn’t think there would be any link to the virus. After all, he was a werewolf himself – it was potential suicide.
“I expect we’ll see him again, too,” Sammi mentioned. She knew her dad better than any of them; the last time Jono saw him was surely at least five years ago.
“Well, you are his daughter,” Yasmin reminded, “You’re our guy on the inside. When he shows up, you need to keep your cool.”
“I hate to interrupt,” Brett mentioned, glancing to Jono, “But we’ve got a meeting with Coach, dude.”
“Shit,” Jono had completely forgotten. Basketball was one of the last things on his mind, but this meeting was important if he wanted to be on the team. He hadn’t put the effort in for the previous two years to miss out at the final hurdle.
“Go, we’ll talk later,” Sammi encouraged. Jono felt uneasy, especially knowing which cards were in play. All he had to do, for now, was to keep his composure. For Dylan’s sake.
Lounging in bed, not feeling any sense of urgency to get up, Dylan was counting down the last few hours of quarantine. By the time school had finished, he would be a free man, and he was planning to surprise Jono at his house after school. It was the least he could do after Jono spent an entire day outside Dylan’s house, just for him.
“I’m heading to work,” Ed poked his head around the door. He was fully geared up in his smart, polished sheriff attire, “How are you feeling?”
“Fine,” Dylan replied honestly. Much to his own relief, he hadn’t felt even slightly ropey. All was good, and this nightmare was close to being over.
“I’m off to the hospital now, the lad you met in LA collapsed. Yasmin asked me to keep a close eye on him, so it doesn’t spread,” Ed informed.
“Is he okay?” Dylan wondered. Forty-eight hours wasn’t up yet, and that niggling worry was still present in his mind – he could still fall ill. He needed to know what could lie ahead.
“He’s spark-out right now, but his breathing’s controlled and he’s stable,” Ed fed back, “I need you to keep yourself safe. Your mom can’t lose you, and neither can I.”
“You won’t, I promise,” Dylan was quick to say.
“I know I’m not your dad, I’ve never tried to be, but you and Josh, you’re basically my sons,” Ed opened up. He rarely did this – everyone had been in a permanent state of worry for two days, “I hope you’re okay with that?”
“Okay?” Dylan felt touched. He was right – Ed could never replace his dad, but he was the closest thing he had now, “I’m honoured to have you as my stepdad.”
Ed smiled proudly and modestly. He quietly shut the bedroom door behind him and perched at the end of Dylan’s bed.
“I was thinking,” Ed lowered his voice, “I was thinking of asking your mom to marry me.”
Dylan’s heart burst. His mum had struggled after losing his dad. She was a single mum in a new town working two jobs; it was tough. When Ed came into her life, things changed. The cloud seemed to lift. She never forgot his dad – nobody ever could – but just before he passed, he told her to find happiness again. Finally, she had.
“I think that would be incredible,” Dylan beamed.
“You know, I don’t really have any close family, so you are all I have. You, Josh, and your mom. I don’t want to lose it,” Ed continued. He had never spoken so candidly, but it meant a lot to Dylan.
“If you wanted my approval, you’ve got it. One hundred percent,” Dylan confirmed. Things were looking up, and Dylan felt extremely excited.
Not long to go until he could pass the good news on to Jono.
Bracing herself to enter the lecture theatre, Lily wasn’t sure she was ready for the day ahead. All she could think about was being in that bar, seeing that boy collapse, and trying to find a pulse – and failing. She couldn’t have saved him, and it made her feel uneasy.
What’s more was that he was a werewolf. The supernatural world was all around her, even when she was miles away from Crystalshaw. All Lily wanted to do was attend college in peace, but now she was fighting this alone, and she didn’t want to cause Jono any stress. He had his own worries, what with senior year starting that day. Worrying about Lily wouldn’t have been even slightly productive for him.
Now she had to switch her concerns off, somehow, for the sake of her education. If only it were as easy as flicking a switch to turn off those thoughts. Lily simply imagined a door closing in her mind, with those worries on the other side. How successful that idea would be, Lily wasn’t sure, but she had to try.
The lecture theatre was small and cosy, but the row of seats ascending in front of the screen looked domineering, and quite frankly, a little terrifying. Roughly a third of the seats were already occupied, and Lily wanted to space herself out, so she headed up the nearest staircase in search of an empty section.
An entire empty row caught Lily’s eye, roughly three-quarters of the way up. Lily plonked her bag on the second seat in, taking the aisle seat for herself – easy to make a quick getaway if needed. She set up her laptop and was all ready to go – worries pushed aside.
“Hey, Lily,” a voice came from her right. Glancing up, Lily locked eyes with Alex. Though he was definitely a friendly face, she was hoping for no faces at all. She needed to be alone, for her own peace of mind, “I didn’t realise we were on the same course.”
“Me neither,” Lily smiled pleasantly and politely, disguising her inner despair perfectly. Alex slid past Lily and took the third seat in the same row. Lily quietly sighed. The pressure was rising just as she’d calmed herself – she now had to keep herself together even more, because if she didn’t, she would look crazy in front of her housemate. It wasn’t the impression she wanted to make, but ironically, it only made her more stressed.
“It’s smaller than I thought it would be,” Alex commented, attempting to make conversation. Lily was panicking, though. What if there was something at her college, waiting for her? One werewolf had died, under circumstances that seemed more than a little strange. She was on her own.
Lily got up and sprinted down the stairs. She needed fresh air. She needed space. The walls were closing in on her. It was too much. The stress and anxiety levels were going through the roof.
The immediate burst of the open air upon Lily’s face when she stepped outside was a relief, like the removal of handcuffs from her wrists. It was cooler and less suffocating than the air inside the lecture theatre. Lily could think more clearly, but she was still uncomfortable for now.
“Are you okay?” Alex asked, joining her outside. So much for alone time.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I just need a moment,” Lily tried to shoo him away.
“You’re thinking about last night, aren’t you?” Alex identified perceptively – he clearly understood anxiety, “Talk to me, if you want. Or I can help you call somebody else.”
“No, I don’t want anyone else to worry,” Lily quickly defended, “I’ll tell you.” She braced herself – she wasn’t sure how Alex would react, but he was right – she needed someone to speak to.
“I’m part werewolf.”
The changing room had become something of a safe space for Brett over the years. It was familiar, and despite just about all of the team he played with at the start having left the school now, it still felt like a safe haven. New friends had been made, and he’d spend all day practising with them if he could.
This year, though, things really felt different. Brett was among the oldest on the tam. He was the role model for the freshmen hoping to sign up, and that was a big responsibility for him. He had to set the example.
He felt distant in another way, though. Werewolves weren’t a secret at Crystalshaw High – people had seen them first hand when hunters had been around – but Brett was on the inside now. He knew more than most, and he couldn’t discuss it with anyone. It was isolating, and quite how the rest of the pack coped, Brett didn’t understand.
“Okay, gather round,” Coach Singh called out effortlessly over the domineering chatter, “Welcome to basketball.”
Brett zoned out – he had heard this speech three times before. It was more of the same, but he could see the newbies watching on with excitement, as if they were signing up for the ride of their lives. Little did they know just how difficult Coach could be.
“Play well, and you can get any girl you want,” Coach repeated that fabled line. One that never got any easier on Brett’s ears.
“Or guy,” Jono chirped up, over the usual excited cheers from the disgustingly horny teenage boys.
“Sure, that too,” Coach nodded flippantly, not caring a great deal. Brett sighed for what was surely the fourth year running. Jono owned who he was – he joined the team when he was already out and proud. Brett felt the atmosphere to be suffocating, though. Not everyone had a story like Jono’s.
“He’s said that every year, I’ve never had any more luck,” Brett mentioned casually. He wanted to speak openly to Jono, but he was unusually shy and felt more comfortable dancing around the topic.
“Me neither,” Jono laughed, “Although, I’m okay with that.”
“Maybe,” Brett began to speak the line that could completely alter Jono’s view of him, “Maybe I’m okay with that too.”
“Living the single life? You do you, bro,” Jono completely misinterpreted. He wasn’t making it any easier, not that he knew about Brett’s predicament.
“No, not quite,” Brett lowered his voice.
“Oh,” Jono had a moment of realisation, “This sounds serious. Wanna talk in private?”
“Sure,” Brett felt sick. His stomach was a cocktail of nerves and anxiety, and it felt excruciating, as if he were about to throw up.
The walk outside to a bench overlooking the basketball pitch felt like a marathon. Never had a short walk taken so long. Brett couldn’t even make eye contact with Jono – it felt too difficult. This wasn’t something he had ever told anybody else.
“Is everything alright?” Jono wondered. In the corner of his eye, Brett could see the concerned expression on his face. There was no backing out now.
“I’m,” Brett paused, building up the willpower to continue, “I’m gay.”
“Dude,” Jono instantly said, “Good on you.” Brett felt weird, though. Jono knew his deepest secret, and there was no taking it back.
“Nobody else can know, please,” Brett begged.
“How long have you known?” Jono wondered.
“A few years, deep down,” Brett confessed, “Being around those idiots made me realise.”
“Enjoying the eye candy?” Jono smiled devilishly. He was being just as understanding as Brett had hoped.
“Duh,” Brett smiled back as a tear rolled down his cheek. It was the first time he had cried in years – not even his sporting injuries had provoked a reaction like that, “The boys in there, they don’t get it.”
“They’re okay with me,” Jono pondered.
“You’ve got a cute love story with Dylan. You’re everyone’s gay best friend. You’re out and proud already, it’s not the same, that’s all they know for you,” Brett explained.
“Oh,” Jono considered. Brett could see his mind thinking it over, “You’re right, I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I wish I was more like you,” Brett mentioned, “Thanks dude.” Jono smiled kindly. Brett knew this journey had only just begun, but it was good to know he was on the right track.
Keenly waiting for Miss Asahd to begin, Yasmin was raring to go for her first HP calculus class. She was pleasantly surprised to see Freddie next to her, though. Mathematics was never his strongest suit, and she had given her own seminars to Freddie, Dylan and Josh to boost their grades. Seeing him willingly choose to continue down the road of calculus was a shock.
Nevertheless, Yasmin was grateful for the company. She was ahead of her friends, having already taken some of her exams, so it was an isolating situation. Calculus kept her and Freddie connected.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Yasmin tried to bring it up in conversation.
“I’m just as surprised that I’m here as you are, trust me,” Freddie grinned, “I thought I’d back out, but I need a little math for the course I want at college.”
“Good on you,” Yasmin nodded, “I promise I wasn’t judging.”
“I’m low-key judging myself,” Freddie continued his unique brand of self-deprecating humour, “It’s not just to admire Miss Asahd either, I promise.”
“I will keep Sammi updated, you know,” Yasmin teased.
“She’s got nothing to worry about. I value my own safety too much,” Freddie chuckled. Yasmin cherished Freddie’s banter so much – she was convinced she would’ve gone insane long ago without him.
In the corner of her eye, Yasmin saw a girl coughing. She was being extremely conscious of anything related to illness. They didn’t yet know the full symptoms of the virus, so nobody could be too careful. She had to keep Freddie as far away from it all as possible, because out of the two cases Yasmin knew of, the virus had a fifty-fifty death rate – and it was dangerously close to one-hundred percent.
“Any news from the hospital?” Freddie wondered. They must have been riding the same train of thought.
“Ed says he’s stable. They’re just trying to track down who he is, but he’s out cold,” Yasmin fed back. She was relieved he was able to help her out, because for all she knew, anyone at that hospital could have been a werewolf too.
The coughing and spluttering across the room continued as Miss Asahd began to teach. Yasmin was trying her best to stay focused on her, but she was worried. Barely visible on her neck were a couple of spots. She had it. She had the virus.
“You need to get out of here,” Yasmin warned Freddie, “She’s got a rash. Just like we’ve seen.” Immediately, Freddie stood up to leave. He wasn’t talking any chances, and rightfully so.
“Mr. Ruben, are you going somewhere?” Miss Asahd interrupted.
“I’ve got to, I…” Freddie stalled.
THUMP! The limelight was snatched off Freddie as the girl collapsed. Yasmin glanced over to him – he had to go.
The sensation of fresh air brushing against his cheeks, slightly ruffling his messy locks, Dylan was delighted to be outside. He had taken the privilege of going out for granted, and an enforced quarantine had given Dylan so much perspective.
Waiting at the bottom of the treehouse, Jono was due to return from school any moment. Dylan simply couldn’t wait. He had missed the little things – holding his hands, stroking his cheek, playing with his curls, and kissing his lips. Jono was the most precious thing he had, and it was true – absence really did make the heart grow fonder.
“This is going to be a sickly-sweet rom-com reunion isn’t it?” Josh remarked as they waited at the bottom of the treehouse.
“Let’s hope,” Dylan smirked. Anything short of an over-the-top, lovey-dovey reunion would be a disappointment in his eyes, “Besides, you’re the one who chose to come.”
“Against my better judgement, yeah,” Josh rebutted, “Anything’s better than being stuck inside all day long.”
“True that,” Dylan concurred, just as Jono’s car pulled into the driveway. The immediate excitement in Jono’s eyes as he spotted Dylan made his heart melt. It was the cutest, most adorable moment ever.
The car had barely parked before Jono leapt out and sprinted over to Dylan. Instantly, they wrapped their hands tightly around each other, so tensely that not even a meteor could break them apart. The simple touch of Jono’s skin against his was insatiable. Their lips collided, like two magnets drawn so strongly together. Dylan had missed his touch so much. He never wanted to let go.
“Alright you two, break it up,” Josh irritatingly intervened.
“I’ve missed this,” Jono grinned like the cat that got the cream.
“We’re never spending time apart again,” Dylan concurred.
“Whose car is that?” Sammi wondered, pointing to a flashy, grey, expensive-looking vehicle, parked next to Steve and Helen’s own motors.
“I’ve never seen it before,” Jono looked confused, “Mom and dad are never usually home this early, either.”
“Shit’s going down,” Josh seemed way too excited at the prospect of a little drama. Jono led the group inside, following the chit-chat of several voices. Dylan was able to pinpoint three people – the familiar tones of Steve and Helen, and a third, unrecognisable male voice.
“Any ideas?” Dylan questioned as Jono placed his hand on the living room door handle.
“Yeah,” he replied gravely. Dylan began to worry. Jono was the best at keeping his composure, so if h was concerned, there must have been a damn good reason for it.
Pushing the door open, Dylan saw the back of a man’s head against the sofa. He was greying, surely within a few years of Steve’s age. He looked tall and a little domineering – if he were a teacher, Dylan would be terrified to see him on his timetable.
“Here they are,” Steve glanced over at the group, “Look who’s here.” The man turned around, a smug, confident grin adorning his chiselled face.
“Long time no see,” he gurned. Dylan was still confused – who was he?
“Dad,” Sammi uttered, as if she had seen a ghost. A shiver ran through Dylan’s spine. This was him. This was the alpha. The alpha that had slaughtered his own kind. The man he was hoping never to cross paths with.
“Hello darling, nice to see you, and you too Jono. Who are your friends?” he continued to beam as if he were father of the year. Dylan was already terrified.
Hovering her debit card above the reader, the payment for Lily’s coffee was approved. She needed a dose of caffeine before this chat with Alex. It was a discussion she was desperately trying to avoid for as long as possible, but things hadn’t gone to plan at all since she arrived at college. So much for that fresh start.
In the grand scheme of things, Lily was definitely expecting to have this chat one day. Perhaps with someone she trusted, after everyone had settled in. It was a heavy burden to carry alone, after all. She definitely did not expect this moment to arrive so soon, though. It felt like she had no control over it – something was happening, and Lily wasn’t equipped to handle it alone.
Carrying her coffee over to the table Alex had chosen, Lily was trying to rehearse what she was going to say. She had never had this chat with anyone before, she hadn’t been like this for very long, and the only people she really needed to tell were her parents – that was something she had been putting off for a long time.
“Alright, I’m all ears,” Alex said, gently blowing against his tea to cool it.
“I know it sounds unbelievable, but I promise everything I’m saying is true. I need you to hear me out before declaring me insane,” Lily set the ground rules.
“Deal,” Alex nodded. He wasn’t giving much away in his body language; Lily was yet to decide if that were a good thing or not.
“I’m part-werewolf. That boy who died, he was an actual werewolf,” Lily explained, “I’m a freak of nature, I’ve never met anyone else like me. Werewolves have glowing eyes, fangs, claws, the whole lot. I don’t have that.”
“What do you have?” Alex wondered.
“Improved sight, improved hearing, I can run faster, and I can heal way faster than any human,” Lily listed, “I’ll prove it.”
Lily scanned the room, looking for a conversation to listen in to. She focused on the lady at the till, placing her order, and fed back to Alex, “Okay, the lady over there ordered a cappuccino with skimmed milk, and a slice of lemon cake.” Sure enough, the red cap milk was tipped into the cappuccino cup, and a slice of the delicious-looking lemon cake was served up to her.
“Okay, that was pretty cool. Who else knows about this?” Alex queried.
“Not many, but my brother’s part of it. He’s a full werewolf, and his boyfriend is the alpha, which is the leader of the pack. There’s a group of us in Crystalshaw. They’re my friends.”
“Your whole family are werewolves?” Alex assumed.
“No, not at all. It’s a long story, I’ll tell you the whole thing one day,” Lily corrected.
“Alright. So, what’s bothering you? Last night, that was pretty serious, right?” Alex questioned.
“I think so. He looked seriously ill, and it made his eyes glow. It was like a warning symbol, and I’ve learnt not to believe in coincidences,” Lily justified.
“I think I know how we can find out more,” Alex pondered.
“We? You mean, you’re not scared off?” Lily checked. She was surprised at how well he had taken the news, and was cautious of putting pressure on him.
“You’re part-werewolf. I’m trans. We’ve all got secrets, right?” Alex mentioned casually. He was spot on – though they had very different secrets, they both wanted acceptance, and Lily admired how comfortable Alex seemed to be in himself.
“Right,” Lily nodded. They stood up, coffee in tow, ready for action. On the way out, Lily did a double-take. At the table next to her was a young lad – one she recognised. One who shouldn’t have heard everything she just said.
Surely it wasn’t? He didn’t say hello or interact with them in any way. Lily only saw the back of his head on a second glance, so she couldn’t be sure. Nevertheless, if it was indeed him, it was one coincidence too far.
4: Family Reunion Written by MarthaJonesFan
Packing up the last of her things into a cardboard box, Sammi felt frustrated at having to move again. It had been five years since she and her dad left Crystalshaw, and they hadn’t stayed anywhere for any significant duration. Now they were abandoning another house, and he refused to tell her where they were headed next. It was time for Sammi to get some answers.
It was easier said than done, though. Sammi used to be very close with her dad, but their relationship had become strained. He was always out, and he never gave an explanation as to where he had been. It was cause for concern, and not something Sammi wanted to deal with. She was in sophomore year now, she needed to concentrate on her studies.
Heaving the cardboard box on top of another gathered by the front door, Sammi took one last glance at the house. She felt nothing – no sense of home or comfort. Four months wasn’t long enough to develop a feeling like that. Her dad confidently carried the final box from the kitchen out. It was time to talk.
“Where are we headed?” Sammi questioned, innocently and inquisitively.
“Never you mind. We’ve got a new place ready and waiting for us. You’ll love it,” he replied, shedding no light.
“That didn’t answer my question,” Sammi wasn’t giving up, “I mean, I deserve to know my own address, dad.”
“I’ll tell you later, there’s no time now. I need you to help me load everything into the car,” he swerved again, “Please, sweetie.”
“You never tell me anything,” Sammi was like a dog with a bone – she wasn’t letting go of this. Enough was enough.
“Don’t you think there’s a good reason?” he yelled, startling Sammi. His eyes began to glow, in a way Sammi had never seen. Not on him, or anyone. They glared a bright red. The colour of danger. Sammi was terrified.
“What the hell?” Sammi quivered in fright. That wasn’t her dad. She needed to get away, and fast.
Stunned into silence, Sammi didn’t know how to react. She hadn’t seen her father since she moved in with Jono; no phone call, no text, not even a birthday card. Since she had seen those fearsome, nightmare-inducing eyes, her father ceased to be.
Therefore, the doting father act wasn’t working with her. She wasn’t going to join in with his ridiculous circus act; it was insulting to them both. However, Uncle Steve and Aunt Helen were in the room. They knew about werewolves, but not the full story. Clearly not anything involving their own flesh and blood.
“So, aren’t you going to introduce me?” he probed further. Sammi hated that she had to be civil around him Her blood was boiling, simmering overboard.
“This is Dylan, he’s my boyfriend,” Jono took the reins, as if he could sense her anger, “And this is his brother, Josh.”
“Your mom was just telling me you have a boyfriend, Jono. Good on you, nice to meet you both,” he continued. Sammi felt sick. How was anyone able to stomach this? “I hear you have a fella too, Sammi.”
That was the final straw. He didn’t get to ask about Freddie. He had lost the privilege of asking personal questions. She hurried out of the room, enable to cope in the toxic, suffocating atmosphere any longer. All she wanted to do was cocoon in her duvet and shut her problems away. Sammi pushed her bedroom door firmly shut and buried herself under the covers.
“Hey, Sammi, it’s Josh,” she heard from the other side of the door. She really wanted to be on her own, but Josh was a friendly face. Behind his jovial, sarcastic exterior was a sincere heart.
“Come in, but don’t expect elegance,” Sammi tried to perk up.
“Trust me, I’ve seen Jono first thing in the morning. Elegant is not the word,” Josh teased, closing the door softly behind him and placing himself at the end of the bed, “Wanna talk about it?”
“I can’t believe how brazen he’s being,” Sammi began to vent, though she wasn’t sure she’d be able to stop, “Walking in as if nothing’s happened. How dare he?”
“Parents, eh?” Josh commented. Sammi paused – Josh was adopted, but she didn’t know the situation with his birth parents. She may have just put her foot in it.
“I’m sorry, that was insensitive,” Sammi apologised.
“No, it’s fine. I never knew my birthday parents. Even my surname is from my first foster family,” Josh replied openly, “And I’ve not seen the Rayners since I was five. I know more than most that parents aren’t always what they crack up to be.”
“My dad wasn’t awful, though. He was the best. I guess he was living a double life,” Sammi thought aloud. Her phone buzzed. A new message from Yasmin – they had another patient, “I gotta go. New case of the virus. Could you tell the others for me?”
“Sure,” Josh accepted, “I’ll make an excuse for your dad, too.”
“Thanks,” Sammi smiled. He had been so kind to her – kinder than he needed to be.
Now for the distraction she so desperately needed.
His mind racing like a Formula 1 driver around the famous course, Dylan was desperate to think of an excuse to leave. This wasn’t how he expected his reunion with Jono to be. He wanted warm hugs, terrible jokes, and lots of kissing. Lots and lots of kissing. Instead, they were faced with a homicidal werewolf – one who was known for targeting his own kind as well as humans. It was beyond dangerous for them both to be there – family or not.
Dylan totally sympathised with Sammi. The sheer arrogance exuding off him was unbearable, and he wafted back in without even the hint of an apology. As far as first impressions went, he wasn’t making a very good one.
“I’m sure she’ll be back in a few minutes,” Helen commented on Sammi’s exit.
“It’s okay, it gives me a chance to catch up with my favourite nephew,” he continued the charm offensive. Dylan linked hands with Jono – a signal that they were a team, and they were in this together, “How long have you lovebirds been together?”
“Two years,” Jono kept a strong composure. Dylan was immensely proud of him – he wasn’t sure he had the bottle himself. It was better to stay quiet.
“That’s some going, Just, don’t be naïve by the time college comes around. High school romances never last,” he mouthed off. Dylan was getting agitated, and so was the wolf inside. How dare he make such offensive assumptions about their relationship?
“David, come on, there’s no need,” Helen defended. She always took Jono’s side in an argument – thankfully, this was no different.
“He’s got a point, honey,” Steve irritatingly interjected, “Young love isn’t forever.”
“Maybe it is,” Jono put his foot down, “Come on Dyl, I think I left my math book at yours.” Jono pulled Dylan out of the house. Of course, there was no math book – they just needed to get out. Dylan was pleased he hadn’t misinterpreted that.
“You were incredible,” Dylan told Jono. He needed to know just how awesome he was – it was important.
“I got defensive,” Jono was being hard on himself.
“Yeah, because they assassinated your character,” Dylan wasn’t letting this stand, “You stood up for yourself, and you stood up for me. I’m so proud of you, Jon.”
“I worry, though,” Jono opened up, “How will we cope during college? We couldn’t last forty-eight hours in quarantine.”
“It will work, because we love each other too much for it not to work, right?” Dylan encouraged. He was determined, and he knew Jono was too. They always had each other, and always would.
“Right,” Jono nodded, perking up.
“Besides, maybe we won’t need to worry,” Dylan thought aloud, “We both want the same course, all we’d need is the same college.”
“You’d be too big a distraction in my lectures,” Jono played about, gripping Dylan firmly around the waist.
“Yup, just the way it should be,” Dylan grinned, before embracing Jono in one of their heart-warming, stomach-tingling kisses.
“Hey, Romeo and Julien,” Josh yelled out, meeting them by Jono’s car, “Did you see Sammi?”
“I thought she was with you,” Jono mentioned.
“Yasmin messaged, they’ve got another case,” Josh relayed, “You must have just missed her.” Dylan panic levels began to rise again. This virus wasn’t one, and he couldn’t risk getting involved.
“We need to find out more,” Dylan decided, “Come on.”
Watching her classmate be examined, Yasmin was feeling a profound sense of worry. This virus was affecting people she never knew it could, and that scared her. Because the supernatural world was a place she was fully immersed in, she had forgotten that not everybody was the same. There were werewolves out there keeping their heads down, not making themselves known. After everything that went down with the hunters, in front of the school, Yasmin could hardly blame them. The lasting impact of Dami and Jake still lingered like a bad smell.
“How’s she doing?” Freddie passed Yasmin a cup of tea from the hospital machine.
“You shouldn’t be here, it’s not safe,” Yasmin warned. It was lovely that Freddie was so intent on helping out, but she didn’t want to put him in danger. Freddie was the closest thing she had to a brother, and losing him would break her.
“We’re behind the glass, it’s okay,” Freddie reassured, “Besides, I’m not sure anywhere is safe right now.”
“I know,” Yasmin replied, “It’s why I’m so worried. Sure, Dylan and Josh were fine after all, but next time…”
“Next time we might lose someone,” Freddie recognised, “I know. I guess this is why you’re avoiding Josh, right?”
“Huh? I’m not avoiding him,” Yasmin played up. She absolutely was avoiding Josh, and she felt guilty about it, but worry was beginning to consume her.
“You’re avoiding each other,” Freddie corrected, “I can read both of you like a book. You’re making excuses as to why you’re not talking, but you’re scared, right? Scared to lose him?”
“Aren’t you? We’re all scared, Freddie. He’s at risk, you’re at risk, Dylan, Jono, and god knows who else, and for once, I don’t know how I can help,” Yasmin let rip. Her eyes were starting to water, but she was holding the tears in. They weren’t going to solve anything.
“It’s not your responsibility,” Freddie reminded, “We’re all in this, and even if I can’t get too involved, you have Sammi and Brett. And Josh on the end of the phone. Don’t forget that.”
Yasmin nodded. Freddie was annoyingly on point. She had been carrying the burden on her own, when there was no need to.
“Hey,” Brett called over, jogging down the corridor, expertly swerving the nurses and visitors on the way, “What’s going on?”
“Look to your left,” Yasmin instructed. All the answers Brett needed were in that hospital bed, clinging on to life.
“Damn, that makes two, how’s the other kid?” Brett questioned.
“I spoke to Ed earlier, there’s no change,” Yasmin fed back.
“That’s gotta be good, right?” Brett was surprisingly optimistic. In the corner of her eye, as Brett spoke, Yasmin found herself distracted. Someone was watching them. Someone she had never seen before.
“Don’t turn around too quickly, but I think we’re being watched,” Yasmin lowered her voice just as Sammi joined the group.
“What are you doing here?” Sammi hissed to Freddie, “What’s going on?”
“Hey, you,” Brett yelled, spotting the spy. So much for being subtle. The chase was on.
Staring aimlessly at her cup of tea, Lily’s appetite had vanished. It was like an anxiety hangover from the day before; knowing Alex knew the whole story was playing on her mind. What made it even stranger was how everybody else was continuing as normal – Sindy, Nicolas and Violet didn’t know any different. They had no clue about the world they stood on the edge of.
“Come on, it’ll go cold,” Sindy urged, sitting at the opposite end of the round dining table.
“Sorry,” Lily apologised. She couldn’t explain to Sindy while she felt uneasy, and lying was out of the question.
“Morning,” Alex strolled in, his dressing gown doing a poor job of covering his bare chest. The surgery scars below his nipples were visible in plain view, and Lily loved just how little he cared about that. He examined the room, before pushing the door shut behind him. He wanted privacy. Lily felt a wave of anxiety, rushing over her all of a sudden.
“Just the people I needed to speak to,” Alex lowered his voice, “You know I said I had an idea?”
Lily nodded. Their conversation the day before concluded with Alex saying he wanted to help, but he was coy on how.
“Sindy, we need your help. It’s a long story, but you said your mum works at the hospital, right?”
“Yeah, in Torrance, why?” Sindy seemed confused yet intrigued.
“We need to see the records of the guy who died at the bar the other night,” Alex explained without any supernatural details. Lily was amazed at how well he was handling the secrecy.
“What? How am I supposed to get those?” Sindy was baffled.
“Use your initiative,” Lily advised, “Please. There’s something going on. Above the police.”
“Tell me. Don’t keep secrets. If you need me this much, you’ll tell me everything,” Sindy urged.
Lily glanced towards Alex. He was remaining sensibly quiet. She was on her own with this one. It was her story to tell.
“Okay. What I’m about to say will sound stupid. I promise you it’s the truth,” Lily began.
“I’m listening,” Sindy sat intently. Lily took a deep breath. This felt so casual for such a huge moment.
“I’m…,” Lily took a deep breath, “I’m part-werewolf.”
“Oh,” Sindy didn’t really react. Her face gave nothing away. How she felt was cloaked, making these brief moments drag out for what felt like ages.
“Huh?” Lily was baffled. What did that mean? Her mind was working overtime attempting to figure it out.
“I’m a banshee, Lily,” Sindy revealed. Lily’s mind was blown. She had so many questions, and didn’t know where to begin.
Checking his phone for new notifications for what must have been the twentieth time since they arrived, Jono was nervous. The Chadwick family had a huge bombshell dropped on them, and he needed to know Sammi was okay. She was naturally the one who was going to be the most affected. He needed a reply from her, to make sure she was okay. On the bright side, no response meant she was likely distracted, meaning her mind was focused elsewhere.
“She’s strong, she’ll be okay,” Dylan briefly paused from scrolling through Ed’s database. It was like he could read Jono’s mind – he knew exactly what he was thinking.
“I’m not okay, though,” Jono admitted, “How can I expect her to be?”
“I got you,” Dylan rubbed his knee soothingly, “And Sammi has Freddie. She’s got all the people she needs.”
“Parents suck, what’s new,” Josh chimed in.
“Not all of them,” Dylan reminded. He was lucky – his mum was the warmest, most loving person Jono knew. It was easy to see why Dylan was so gentle.
“Fair point,” Josh acknowledged, “But still, not everyone has Caroline and Ed. I didn’t for years.”
“Yeah, and look what happened there,” Jono teased. Josh was candid and open about his past – Jono knew jokes were fair game.
“Ouch, dude,” Josh laughed, “You’re not wrong, I’ll give you that.”
“Ah, the tried and tested way to raise a smile on our faces,” Dylan added, “Taking the piss out of Josh.”
Jono felt good to be laughing. Both Dylan and Josh always knew how to cheer him up when he needed it, even in his darkest moments. Silence resumed afterwards as all three of them returned to their search. Ed was used to Dylan ransacking his office by now, and even though it broke protocol, Ed knew it was for the benefit of the town.
Jono had the coolest job of them all. He was examining the CCTV cameras of the lad at the hospital, finding the clearest picture he could to plug into the facial recognition software. If they could find out exactly who he was, they could begin to trace the virus and link the potential other cases that Dylan and Josh were looking for.
This made Jono feel excited. It was his favourite part of the job – investigative journalism. Though he and Dylan had similar aspirations, Dylan preferred to write the articles and publish them. They made an excellent team, and Jono knew this would go beyond the school newspaper.
“I got a case,” Josh announced, throwing a paper file into the middle of Ed’s desk “Female, twenty-three years old, found dead in a bar after coughing her guts up. Literally.”
“Yikes,” Jono was grossed out at the mere description.
“Eye-witness reports of glowing eyes,” Josh continued, “This was in public, guys.”
“There are loads of other werewolves in Crystalshaw that we won’t know,” Dylan added, “If we shield to keep ourselves safe, that could still happen to someone else. Maybe it’ll be worse. Everyone has cameras these days.”
“Maybe we need to get a message out there in some way?” Jono considered while watching the facial recognition software beaver away.
“We can’t exactly broadcast it on the news, dude,” Josh had to rain on his parade.
“There’s one signal that every werewolf can recognise, though,” Dylan thought. Jono was intrigued – finally, it seemed like they had a breakthrough, “Come on, let’s go.”
Left baffled and speechless, Lily was waiting for Sindy to make the next move. She had a vague understanding about what a banshee was – she’d met Lydia Martin after all – but had never considered that any of her flatmates could be immersed in the supernatural world too. She couldn’t help thinking it was a huge oversight on her part. There was never a time to take down her guard.
“Please, someone fill me in. What the hell is a banshee?” Alex was even more befuddled than Lily was. She had to remember he was entirely new to this world, and she was his tour guide.
“Oh come on dude, you must have heard of a banshee,” Sindy was less gentle in her reply, “Best known for screaming.”
“Scream like a banshee? Yeah, I’ve heard that,” Alex considered, “That’s your special skill? Screaming? Even I can do that.”
“Trust me, you’ve heard nothing,” Lily could never forget the ear-piercing wail of Lydia. It wasn’t a cry for help like screaming usually was, it was a weapon. One of the most powerful weapons Lily had seen, “Banshees are harbingers of death, like my friend Yasmin, remember?”
“Oh, the nix? Sure,” Alex recalled. Lily had filled Alex in on the details of her friends. If he was going to be involved, he needed the full story, “So, you have a connection with the dead?”
“Sort of,” Sindy corrected, “It’s kinda freaky. I end up finding dead bodies without trying to.”
“That night, at the bar,” Lily realised, “We could have gone to any bar, there’s loads around, but you chose that one.” The fact they ended up in that specific bar where a werewolf died simply couldn’t have been a coincidence.
“You think there’s something more to that?” Sindy seemed a little more interested to help out.
“From my experience, there’s no smoke without fire,” Lily explained.
“Alright, I’ll ring my mom, see if she can help at all,” Sindy gave in. Lily was relieved. She could do this. She could figure this out.
“I owe you,” Lily smiled. Alex shared the same grin. They had each other’s backs, and if they wanted to stay safe, they needed each other.
In the corner of her eye, Lily spotted someone listening just behind the open door. She couldn’t see who it was, but it could only be one of two people. Besides, the cologne gave it away. Nicolas was listening, and he had heard their entire conversation.
Brett had learnt many things while being among the supernatural, but the most important was that nothing was insignificant. Any details could be a relevant piece of the puzzle, so if they were being watched, it wasn’t by a random nobody.
He was being led deeper into the hospital, towards the stairway and elevator. All Brett could tell so far was that it was a boy – surely within a year or two of his age. He was dressed casually, hardly the best attire for spying. He was clearly an amateur.
The gap was increasing between them. The boy had speed that Brett didn’t. He must have been supernatural, but Brett wasn’t going to let that deter him. He hadn’t trained all year to come second, and speed was a key skill in basketball.
Impressively, Freddie shot past. He was almost a blur, rapidly closing the gap. Brett’s training suddenly felt pointless when being a werewolf gave you all that speed and more for free. Nevertheless, Freddie latched onto the boy’s hook, yanking him down to the floor in a flash just in front of the elevator.
“Hold him, I can’t risk touching,” Freddie commanded as Brett caught up.
“Who are you?” Yasmin interrogated, her and Sammi bringing up the rear.
Brett saw his face for the first time as he pinned the lad’s arms against the ground. He had to blink to check he wasn’t seeing things. It couldn’t have been. It shouldn’t have been. The face he had longed to see again for so long.
“Johnny?” Brett was gobsmacked.
“Hey Brett,” he smiled back. He’d barely changed. His skin was flawless, his smile was perfect, and his hair was tamed expertly, “Miss me?”
If there were one unsolved mystery that Dylan could discover the truth about, he would undoubtedly choose the Nemeton. A mystical tree that had power over every supernatural being in the world? It shouldn’t have been real – the concept alone sounded ridiculous. However, there it was. Towering over him as if it knew its own importance. The golden, autumnal leaves were graciously descending to the ground, decorating the grass and mud in a way only nature could.
“Did we have to come all this way?” Josh complained, just as he usually did.
“Where better to summon every werewolf in Crystalshaw?” Dylan reasoned, “Nobody else can find us. The Nemeton has to want to be found, remember?”
“Let’s just hope it works,” Jono looked on the bright side. That was what he was best at – he was basically Dylan’s personal hype-man.
“On the count of three,” Dylan gave the order, glancing to Jono on his left and Josh on his right, “1…2…3!”
In unison, all three of them let rip. Unleashing a collective howl that would undoubtedly be heard all over Crystalshaw. Dylan kept going until he ran out of breath, giving every ounce of power he could. Now all they had to do was wait.
“How long do you think it will take?” Jono queried.
“Not long at all,” Josh replied promptly, spotting a couple of arrivals already. A couple soon turned into ten, all crowding around Dylan underneath the shade of the Nemeton branches.
Observing the crowd, Dylan saw a few familiar faces. A shop assistant, even one of the bus drivers – people Dylan never would have considered to be a part of this bubble. However, one familiar face freaked him out. It was a face he should have anticipated, stood firmly at the back, keeping his distance.
5: Johnny Written by MarthaJonesFan
Scanning the area, Dylan was amazed at just how many people there were. He knew Crystalshaw had more werewolves than he’d ever come into contact with, but there must have been at least a hundred stood in front of him. He wasn’t prepared to speak in front of so many people. In fact, it made him feel super nervous. Public speaking was always his greatest fear.
Thankfully, he had his guardian angel on his shoulder. Jono linked hands with him, urging him on, reminding him that they were in it together. Anything could be accomplished when Jono was by his side.
“Everyone, can I have your attention please?” Dylan raised his voice over the ambient, patient chatter, “Sorry to drag you out here, but our community is under attack. A virus is infecting werewolves, and we’re all at risk. I wanted to warn you all. My pack is looking into where it came from, and how to cure it.”
“How can we trust you?” one called out.
“Who even are you? You’re just a kid,” another yelled. Dylan wasn’t sure what to say. They had no reason to trust him, after all.
“His name is Dylan Drummond,” Josh intervened, “You’ve heard of that name, haven’t you? He’s the one who’s saved your asses time and time again. I know he’s saved mine. We didn’t have to give you a heads-up. It’s time for a little gratitude.”
Approaching the front, clapping slowly and loudly, David joined them at the foot of the Nemeton. He was smirking, his demeanour reeking of arrogance. He knew more than he was letting on.
“Inspiring speech, boys. I’m almost proud to call you family, honestly. However, I’m afraid your little plan isn’t quite as easy as you thought,” David spoke, turning towards the crowd, “In fact, you’ve been rather helpful, but not to them. You’ve been helpful to me.”
“What is going on? Uncle David?” Jono’s voice quivered. Dylan was scared, too. They had suddenly entered unknown territory where they were no longer in control.
“All your new friends here are currently being infected by your virus, thanks to a couple of super-spreaders among the crowd,” David casually explained, “I say your virus, it’s actually mine.”
Panic hit everyone in the face – Dylan included. His stomach dropped. He knew the virus was highly contagious. Any of them could have it by now. It was too late to avoid it.
Brett’s emotions were running wild across his mind, scattering themselves everywhere in a frantic frenzy as he attempted to process what was going on. It had been over three years since he last saw Johnny, and those three years had been pretty monumental for him. He had achieved so much, and most importantly, discovered an awful lot about himself. He wasn’t the same kid who was banned from seeing his closest friend because occasionally they got a little too close.
It was obvious that so much had changed with Johnny, too. There was no way he could’ve been a werewolf when they last saw each other – they told each other everything, something that big would never have been kept from him.
“Who is he?” Yasmin impatiently queried.
“An old friend,” Brett replied, keeping mum on any further details.
“Friend? Come on, dude,” Johnny protested.
“Shut up,” Brett demanded. Johnny wasn’t allowed to waft back into his life and start spilling his secrets.
“Can you get off me? I’m not trying to hurt you, I promise,” Johnny begged. Brett caved in and released his grip.
“That’s some level of trust,” Freddie observed, “For someone who was spying on us.”
“Calm it pretty boy,” Johnny’s mannerisms hadn’t changed at all. He remained borderline cocky, and easily the most upfront of the two of them. Undoubtedly, it was part of his appeal, “I wasn’t spying on you, I was spying on him. The kid from LA.”
“For who?” Yasmin demanded, “I mean, you’re clearly not the brains of this operation.”
“Wow Brett, your new friends are so sweet,” Johnny commented, “Annoyingly though, she’s right. My alpha sent me to check he’s okay.”
“Why? What’s so special about him?” Freddie questioned.
“He’s…he’s a friend. And my alpha asked me to,” Johnny protested.
your alpha?” a worried Sammi questioned. She sounded extremely concerned – as
if she knew something nobody else did.
“David,” Johnny replied, “He said people would be familiar with him, so I needed to keep my distance from, well, anyone really.”
“He’s infiltrating,” Sammi realised, “My dad. He’s plotting, and he’s using you.”
Brett’s heart sunk. He knew this reunion was far too good to be true. Johnny was their opposition.
Breaking up the interrogation, a rip-roaring howl soared through Brett’s ears. He didn’t have to be a werewolf to know that this was urgent.
“That’s Dylan,” Freddie immediately identified.
“Go, we got this,” Sammi urged, placing a cute peck on his lips.
“What about me?” Johnny couldn’t stop himself butting in. Brett had gone from overjoyed to frustrated in a heartbeat.
“You’re with me,” Brett held his hand out to haul Johnny off the ground, “I think we need to talk.”
Feeling productive, Lily had kept herself busy over the afternoon. Her bedroom wall had become a crime board, much like the one in Ed’s office back home. She had organised all of the information they had found out so far, and Lily was taking great pride in how efficient it was. It helped to take her mind off the Nicolas drama, at the very least.
“Wait, your boyfriend is human?” Alex questioned, lying on top of her bed while Lily pinned another post-it-note up. He had been asking her questions the entire time, keen to know more, which was no bad thing in Lily’s eyes. The more knowledge he had, the better chance he had of surviving in the supernatural world, “What if you bite him by accident?”
“Biting? What do you think we do?” Lily winked, “Don’t worry, only alphas can turn people, and I’m not even a full beta.”
“Does he care that you’re part-werewolf?” Alex continued.
“George is the most easy-going guy I’ve ever met. He’s really understanding. Besides, his brother’s a werewolf too, he’s not really got a choice,” Lily detailed.
“Lucky him,” Alex chuckled. There was something so effortlessly sweet about Alex – they seemed to have a mutual understanding of each other.
“Tell me more about yourself, then,” Lily requested, “After all, you know all of my deepest and darkest secrets.”
“There’s not much to tell. I come from a typical conservative family, cute childhood, but it went downhill the second I came out as trans,” Alex revealed, “It’s still an obstacle. They refuse to call me Alex, I still get called my birth name.”
“I’m so sorry,” Lily’s heart broke. For all the criticisms she had of her own parents, at least they were loving and accepting – of both her and Jono.
“It’s okay,” Alex replied. He looked like he was trying desperately to keep himself together, “It’s hard, but I’ve got hope. Hope that one day, they’ll accept me for who I really am.”
Lily wiped a tear from her cheek. She felt so moved by Alex’s story. He was so strong and courageous. Her admiration for him grew by the day.
“Hey, why don’t I make us both a cup of tea? I think we need a break,” she offered. Somehow, persevering with the detective work felt inappropriate for a short while.
With a nod of approval from Alex in tow, Lily popped next door to the kitchen. Nicolas was already there – she had been swerving him since he listened in on their chat earlier. It wasn’t the first time she had caught him listening. It must have been him in the café. He was spying on her, and she had to say something.
“Saw you at the door earlier,” Lily initiated the interrogation, skipping the pleasantries, “How long were you there for?”
“Lily, I live here too, don’t act surprised,” Nicolas rudely replied.
“Don’t play dumb,” Lily wasn’t standing for it. He knew stuff, and she needed to find out why he was so interested, “Tell me what you know and this will all blow over.”
“But what if I don’t want it to blow over?” Nicolas hit back, “Face it, Lily, you lost because you made a dumb mistake and now, I know who you really are. Now you have to trust an unknown quantity. Crystalshaw will seem easy in comparison.
Nicolas left the room, blocking Lily’s chance to probe further. She felt shaken and worried – who was he? She knew something about him didn’t add up, but what did he want?
There was one sound Freddie could always identify, no matter how far away it was. Dylan’s howl was embedded in him, lodged at the forefront of his brain, like it was part of his biology. It was like his brain was programmed to recognise the howl of every pack member, even if he’d never heard it before.
The howl gave directions, too. Hearing it once was enough for Freddie to be able to track the howl, and find exactly where Dylan was. Either Dylan was in trouble, or he was summoning Freddie. The howl was a hugely important tool.
Freddie traced it through the forest he had come to be so familiar with in recent years. He knew most of the forest by heart now, it was bread and butter to him. He reached a clearing, one that was instantly familiar. The realisation of where he was sent a shiver straight through Freddie’s body. He was uncomfortable.
Visible through the clearing was the Nemeton – the supernatural beacon that drew so many dangerous creatures to their town. As long as the Nemeton was active, Crystalshaw was unsafe.
Before stepping through the clearing, Freddie spotted Dylan, flanked by Jono and Josh at the foot of the tree. A large crowd surrounded them both, and it seemed like chaos. Shouting. Screaming. Dylan looked helpless.
“Don’t come any nearer,” one woman warned Freddie just as he was about to step through. He paused. What was happening?
“What’s going on?” Freddie queried, but it was too late – she had moved away to yell at another woman. This was bedlam, and Freddie had no idea what he’d missed. He needed to speak to Dylan. WHAM! Freddie smacked against… thin air. He couldn’t get inside the clearing. Instinctively, Freddie pulled out his phone.
“Hey,” Freddie blocked one ear as he held his phone to the other. Dylan was on the other end of the line, and he needed to focus.
“Freddie, I can see you,” Dylan waved in Freddie’s direction, “You need to get out of here, it’s not safe. David spread the virus, we’re all risk of infection. I think the Nemeton’s quarantined everybody inside.”
Instantly, Freddie’s heart dropped. He backed away from the clearing without a second thought.
“What do you need?” Freddie queried. If there was any way he could help out, he had to take it.
“We can’t go anywhere, so at least it’s contained. Find out everything you can from the kid we found in LA, the fact he’s still alive must mean something and I think he’s the key to this,” Dylan directed.
“Sure. Be careful,” Freddie warned.
“We’ll try,” Dylan replied before ending the call. Freddie couldn’t help feeling guilty. He was the lucky one, and now the lives of his friends were on his shoulders.
Passing Johnny his coffee over the hospital canteen table, Brett was ready for some answers. The kid he knew and adored was still there, but things had changed. He was on the wrong side, but still divulged information. Brett had to figure out exactly where he stood.
“I’ve missed that face,” Johnny smiled, “Haring your voice, playing with your hair, all of it.”
Brett didn’t know what to say. He was so unprepared for this moment, even if he had dreamt of being able to see Johnny again for so long.
“I looked for you. First day of high school finished and I went to your house to try and sneak in, but you’d left. The house was empty,” Brett recalled.
“You know what my dad was like. Ever since he caught us, you know, he barely spoke to me. He moved us away and signed me up for conversion therapy,” Johnny recalled.
“I’m sorry,” Brett’s heart broke. If only they had been a little more careful. He couldn’t bear to think how that experience felt for Johnny.
“It’s alright. I mean, I’m okay now that I’m out the other end, and David helped me,” Johnny explained.
“David’s dangerous, Johnny,” Brett protested. He had never forgotten the stories Drew told him. David sounded nothing short of vicious.
“Is he? A werewolf killed my dad last year. David saved me from almost dying too by biting me,” Johnny reasoned, “I owe him my life. For real.”
“Yet you spilled everything to us at the first chance you got,” Brett reminded.
“I spilled to you,” Johnny corrected, “I told David that I needed to get back to you, he said he’d help. That’s why I’m here. It was the plan all along. You’re still my number one, B.”
Brett’s heart melted. Johnny always called him B – nobody else got that honour. He had missed it so much.
“I’m just so glad to have you back,” Brett justified, “I don’t want to risk losing you.”
“You won’t, I promise,” Johnny held out his pinky finger. Brett linked his own pinky with Johnny’s, just as they always did to secure a promise. They had each other forever, “So, I’m guessing with all the secrecy that you’re not dating anyone else?”
“It’s not exactly easy when you’re the captain of the basketball team,” Brett opened up.
“Maybe they need to see you with a super cute boyfriend on your arm?” Johnny smirked cheekily, “No pressure. In your own time, I’m here for you either way.”
Brett nodded. The thought of Johnny on his arm made things feel a little easier.
“About the boyfriend thing,” Brett picked up on Johnny’s word choice. After all, they had never made it official.
“Oh, did you like the sound of that?” Johnny smirked playfully.
“I mean, if you’re sticking around,” Brett toyed.
“I suppose you’re probably the best I’ll get,” Johnny teased, “Come over here, pretty boy.” Brett didn’t need to be asked twice. He went and sat on Johnny’s lap, immediately embracing him in a gentle kiss. This was it. This was what he had longed for. It was the best.
Feeling repurposed as a babysitter, Yasmin was keeping a close eye on the lad they found in LA. Ed had called her to give an update – the facial recognition software failed to bring up any matches. He was still an unknown entity, but David appeared to be more than a little protective over him. He had to be involved somehow, and Yasmin was feeling impatient waiting for answers.
Inadvertently, she had also ended up babysitting Sammi. Of course, she knew Sammi well by now – though she was naïve, she was one of the most determined people Yasmin had ever met. In spite of everything she had been through, Sammi was kind, strong-willed, and a keen fighter for what she believed in. A woman after Yasmin’s heart.
“How long do you think it will be before he wakes up?” Sammi questioned, also watching the lad as he peacefully laid flat on the hospital bed.
“The doctors don’t know. I guess they’ve never had to deal with a virus like this before,” Yasmin explained, “We just need to hope that he does actually wake up.”
“This is him, it has to be, right?” Sammi thought. Yasmin immediately knew who she was talking about – he was bound to be the only thing that’s really on her mind.
“That depends on whether or not you believe in coincidences,” Yasmin swerved giving her a direct answer. Family matters were complex, after all.
“Do you?” Sammi enquired.
“I prefer to look at the facts and apply logic,” Yasmin justified, “As for your dad, his timing is undoubtedly suspicious, and the virus? Well, he has form.”
“I should have known,” Sammi sighed, burying her face in her hands. Yasmin stood up and perched on the side of her armchair to comfort her.
“You could never have known. Never expect the impossible of yourself,” Yasmin advised. Sammi felt like the little sister she never had. She needed protection and guidance.
“Um, where am I?” a deeper, distinctively male voice interrupted. In amazement, Yasmin spun around to see the lad awake and making eye contact with her.
“Hey, you’re in hospital, take it easy,” Yasmin got back up to reassure him.
“You’re one of Dylan’s friends, right?” he mentioned. That was one positive – he recognised her, despite them only briefly meeting before.
“Yes, that’s right. I’m Yasmin and this is Sammi,” Yasmin spoke gently, “Do you remember what happened?”
“I remember feeling like shit,” he replied, “Wait, what was your name again?” He was looking at Sammi like he’d seen a ghost.
“Sammi,” she confirmed.
“Short for what?” he queried. Yasmin was confused, and unsure of where this was going.
“Samantha. Samantha Chadwick,” Sammi replied, sounding just as baffled as Yasmin was.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t recognise you before, but it’s just clicked,” he oddly continued, “My name is Jeremy. Jeremy Chadwick. I’m your brother.”
Both Sammi and Yasmin were stunned into silence. This posed more questions than it answered. Yasmin could tell Sammi was going to need her a whole lot more.
No matter how hard he tried to deny it, Josh simply couldn’t ignore how he felt. David hadn’t even been gone an hour, but he was already beginning to feel unwell. His throat was sore, his head was foggy, and the wolf inside was becoming more and more difficult to keep down.
Scattered around the clearing, it looked like all of the other werewolves felt the same. The arguing and blaming had stopped – nobody had the energy for it any longer. The Nemeton had sealed the clearing, protecting every other werewolf in the world. All they had to do now was die, and Josh was starting to accept that. If he was going to die, he’d have preferred a heroic, honourable death, but Josh couldn’t stop the inevitable.
“Hey, sit down,” Josh called over to Dylan, who was nervously pacing around the trunk of the Nemeton. He wasn’t taking this so well, and even with Freddie on the case, Dylan felt helpless.
“I can’t, not when we’re all dying. I feel like shit,” Dylan’s voice quivered. He was on the verge of tears.
“And we can’t do anything about it. Sit down dude, please,” Josh requested. If there was one thing he could do, it was to make this time a little easier for Dylan to process.
“How are you so calm?” Dylan sat cross-legged next to him. Jono sat on the other side of Dylan, which pleased Josh. If this was the end, they needed to spend it together.
“I’ve swerved death more than once. After a while, you start to accept that what will be, will be,” Josh reasoned, “Freddie’s doing all he can, but if he can’t, we’ve got each other.”
“I feel okay,” Jono mentioned, “By the looks of things, I’m the only one who feels okay.”
“Lucky you,” Josh smiled. Dylan’s phone rang before Josh got to ask any more questions. This could be their beacon of hope. Dylan answered it, putting it on speakerphone for everyone to hear.
“Freddie, please tell me you’ve got good news,” Dylan began. Josh was hopeful, but ready for disappointment. Their odds felt low.
“Maybe,” Freddie replied, “He’s awake, and all symptoms have subsided.”
“Okay, what does that mean for us?” Jono queried.
“Here’s the tricky part,” Freddie explained, “He told us his name.”
“Yeah, and?” Josh was impatient. This seemed to be leading somewhere. Somewhere vaguely optimistic, too.
“His name is Jeremy Chadwick. He says he’s David’s son,” Freddie revealed.
“My cousin,” Jono looked stunned. His face gave no expression away. He was baffled, “Wait, I don’t feel ill at all. It’s not affecting me.”
“That was my question,” Yasmin’s voice replied over the phone, “I think your blood is the key. If David engineered this virus, he would’ve protected himself first and foremost. We tested it on the girl from our class and she’s healing too. Your blood is the cure, Jono.”
how? There’s at least a hundred wolves here, and it won’t take just one drop of
blood each, right?” Jono sounded worried. Josh felt hopeful, though. This was
their way out. There was a saving grace after all.
“The Nemeton,” Dylan realised, “The Nemeton is connected, somehow. It knew to quarantine us in here. Perhaps it can transmit the cure?”
“Best idea we’ve got,” Josh quickly concurred.
“Try it, call us back,” Yasmin suggested, “Good luck. See you on the other side. Josh, behave yourself.” Josh chuckled. He loved hearing her voice. It was the first time he’d heard from her since before quarantine. It was true – absence really did make the heart grow fonder. She had the voice of hope. The voice that persuaded him to keep going. To keep fighting. To keep living.
Using every ounce of strength to stand up, Josh led the way to the trunk. Jono looked terrified, but he was keeping it together. Dylan held Jono’s hand, proving they were in it together every step of the way. Josh could feel how determined Jono was. That was the kid he knew. The kid that fought for him in his darkest hours.
“Here goes nothing,” Jono bared his fangs and bit into his wrist, wincing as the pain shot back through him. Droplets of blood trickled down the trunk, settling on the roots.
Immediately, the leaves began to rustle. The branches shook violently, like a child trying to guess its Christmas present by the noise it made. Something was happening. Josh could feel it inside him, too. It was like he’d been topped up with petrol. He had energy again. He felt well.
“Did it work?” Jono nervously questioned as the branches becalmed once again. Josh looked around. The other werewolves were standing up, talking again. They were healed.
“You’re the best,” Dylan smiled at Jono, placing a proud kiss on his lips.
“He’s right,” Josh agreed, “But don’t worry, no kiss from me.” Jono laughed. Josh could feel the relief in the air. They had survived, but it wasn’t over yet.
“Okay, my mom just got back to me,” Sindy excitedly burst into Lily’s room. Lily was all ears. She had been nervously waiting all day for news from the hospital. This could piece everything together.
“Oh boy, I cannot wait for this,” Alex sat up on the bed like a child about to receive a chocolate bar.
Lily glanced at the crime board. She had a picture of the victim, and some notes she had made. It all felt circumstantial and flimsy so far. She needed some concrete evidence to tie it together, and if her suspicions were right, Nicolas was caught right in the middle.
“She had signs of a virus in her system, but not one that’s ever been recognised,” Sindy fed back.
“What does that mean?” Lily pondered. A virus that nobody knew about? That could only be bad news.
“It could be man-made,” Alex suggested.
“You read too many conspiracy theories,” Sindy rubbished the idea, “But here’s the weird part. That’s the only case outside of one hospital, a few hours away from here.”
“Don’t say it,” Lily could already tell what was coming.
“Crystalshaw,” Sindy revealed. Lily’s stomach dropped. No matter where she went, Crystalshaw was following, and that could only be bad news, “Lily, you need to speak to your brother. By the sounds of it, he’s dealing with this virus too.”
As much as Lily hated to admit it, Sindy was right. This was too much for her to handle alone.
“I’ll be right back,” Sindy abruptly added, leaving the room in a surprising hurry.
Lily turned her attention back to her crime board. Things were beginning to fit together, but she suspected Jono could provide the information she really needed.
“Hey, are you okay?” Alex checked. It was sweet of him to look out for her.
“Yeah,” Lily replied. She was coping surprisingly well, all things considered. She was proud of herself, “Thanks.”
Lily sat down next to Alex on the bed. She had been batting away everything she felt towards him for a few days now, but it was becoming more and more difficult. She couldn’t do that to George, though. It was tough, and the awkward silence ensuing was only making matters worse.
“Look, Lily,” Alex broke the silence. He sounded serious, “I know you have a boyfriend, but I have to say this. I’m crazy about you, and…”
Lily didn’t allow him to go any further. She made her decision, planting her lips on Alex’s. It felt so right, like everything had built up to this.
“Oh my god,” Sindy yelled, her voice piercing through the bedroom wall. Breaking up the kiss in an instant, Lily sprinted into the living room. There was a shocked and horrified Sindy, staring down at Violet’s dead body, “She just collapsed, I couldn’t do anything.”
Lily wasn’t stupid. She could smell the cologne in the air.
Nicolas had declared war.
6: I'm Your Sister Written by MarthaJonesFan
Stepping off the plane in LA, Lily felt bittersweet about being back so soon. The death of Violet had shaken all of them, so college had granted all students a week back at home while they investigated the few leads they had. Studying felt pointless when it had been made clear just how short life really was.
This time around, she wasn’t travelling alone. With the approval of her parents, Alex was coming to stay the week. Of course, she knew she had to play it carefully, and George was the first person she needed to speak to when she got back. However, Alex’s parents seemed less than thrilled at the concept of an early return home, and Lily didn’t want to leave him behind when Nicolas could so easily strike again.
Passing back into the main airport where she bade farewell before, Lily was overjoyed to see Jono and Dylan waiting for her. They had come to pick them both up, and it was amazing just to see their faces in person again, especially with everything that had gone on since they were last together.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Lily hugged Jono as tight as she could. She hadn’t been gone for long, but it was still the longest they had spent apart.
“Hey, mind the hair,” Jono joked as Lily accidentally tugged on his mop of curls, “And this must be Alex, right?”
Lily let go to allow for introductions. She was praying Alex made the best first impression ever on them both – she needed this to go smoothly.
“Yeah, Alex, this is my brother Jono, and his boyfriend Dylan,” Lily introduced. The boys both politely shook hands with Alex.
“You’re the alpha, right?” Alex said, looking at Dylan.
“He knows?” a confused Dylan shot a concerned look at Lily.
“I think we’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Lily casually mentioned. She was hoping it would be a little longer before they had to delve into supernatural sagas, but clearly, there was no time like the present.
It felt like her life had been flipped on its head several times over in the past year, but this had to be the most unbelievable shift Sammi had endured so far. Her mind hadn’t stopped all night, ferociously trying to work out exactly where Jeremy could fit into the timeline.
To do this, she needed some questions answered. Why didn’t she know Jeremy was alive? Did her mum know? She desperately wanted to know the answers, but Jeremy would only know some of them, and she didn’t want to interrogate him. First impressions mattered, and she’d hate to be seen as her father’s daughter. After all, Jeremy was innocent in all of this. He was a pawn in whatever sick game her dad was playing. If he really was her brother, it was vital that she made him feel welcome in the family home.
Sammi collected Jeremy from the hospital, Freddie had been preparing a bedroom
for him. There was one spare bedroom at the Chadwick house, and it surely had
Jeremy’s name on it. Explaining who he was to Uncle Steve and Aunt Helen would
be the tricky part.
“Hey, you don’t have to do this,” Jeremy insisted as Sammi pushed open the bedroom door. The stairs were tricky to negotiate, but he was getting stronger, and there was no way he’d have even managed one step even just a day earlier. The benefit of werewolf healing powers.
“I’m your sister, it’s what I’m here for,” Sammi insisted. It felt odd to say that sentence aloud. She always wanted a sibling when she was younger; gaining one at seventeen years old wasn’t quite what she envisioned.
“I always wanted to meet you,” Jeremy revealed, “Dad showed pictures of you all the time, but never told me why we couldn’t see each other.”
Sammi paused. He knew she existed, but she was kept in the dark. Why did he get the privilege?
“Sorry, I know this is a lot,” Jeremy must have realised. He was right – Sammi hadn’t quite come to terms with it yet, but she was powering through.
“It’s not your fault,” Sammi kept a brave face, “Go on in, this is your room.”
Jeremy looked on in awe at the size of his new room. A double bed, made perfectly without even a single crease in the duvet, was the centrepiece of the room. A dresser was situated to the left, with a full-length mirror attached to the wall. A small TV was perched on top of the chair opposite the bed.
“What do you think?” Freddie stood proudly at the foot of the bed.
“You aced it,” Sammi planted a grateful peck on his lips. He was surprisingly creative, considering his own bedroom was far from pristine.
“I wasn’t asking you, but thanks,” Freddie chuckled.
“Oh,” Sammi spun around to Jeremy. He was in awe. He seemed to amazed by just a simple bedroom, one that was specifically for him. It made her curious to learn about his upbringing.
“This is for me?” Jeremy questioned, genuinely taken aback.
“For as long as you want,” Sammi smiled. Jeremy wrapped his arms around her. She hadn’t expected a reaction this strong. It was so heart-warming.
“Hey, are you gonna be okay? I gotta meet George, he’s free today and says he needs to talk,” Freddie timidly interrupted.
“I’ll be fine,” Sammi nodded, “Tell him I say hi.”
She glanced at Jeremy again, who was sat on top of the bed, seeing how comfy it was. He was so pure. Sammi couldn’t wait to learn more.
Driving back towards home, Yasmin had caught a brief moment of calm among the craziness to spend with Josh. They hadn’t spent a great deal of time together since LA, what with quarantine and the drama David was causing. It was nice to simply be together for the morning, enjoying breakfast in town.
“Do we really have to listen to this?” Josh complained about Yasmin’s music choice. He should have known by now that there was no way she wouldn’t be spamming the new album by The 1975 that weekend.
“Call it education,” Yasmin chuckled, “Don’t pretend you’re in a position to judge.”
“Roddy Ricch has too many tunes to be hated on by you,” Josh bantered back. Oh, to be like Dylan and Jono with their near identical tastes in music.
“Awkward when not one of his songs has a tune,” Yasmin teased, taking a left turn.
“Hey, why did you turn?” Josh wondered. Yasmin looked around. She wasn’t sure either. This wasn’t the way home.
“I don’t know,” she replied truthfully, “Let’s keep going.” Yasmin’s instincts always meant something. She had to follow them.
The road led round to the other end of the river. Yasmin knew the river well at this point; it had helped her to hone her nix abilities. However, she had never ventured this far out. It was uncharted territory for her.
“Hey, look,” Josh immediately noticed as the car ground to a halt. He leapt out of the car and sprinted towards a dead body – of course, a staple of Yasmin’s powers.
It felt horrible to consider, but Yasmin felt immune to the sight of dead bodies. She had seen so many that the shock factor no longer existed. Even the sadness subsided after so long.
“Careful,” Yasmin warned. She didn’t want to risk Josh catching the virus again, even if they now knew the cure.
“No, this isn’t the virus,” Jono commented. Yasmin looked closer – he was right. The body had been mauled, ripped apart by an animal. Or a werewolf.
“Can you get a scent?” Yasmin questioned.
“Not one I recognise,” Josh fed back, “That doesn’t rule David out. He’s an alpha, he can mask his scent.”
“I know. We need to call Ed and Dylan, in that order,” Yasmin thought productively. Whoever did this was trying to make a point, and so far, they were winning.
On the home stretch through town, Jono felt good to have Lily back home, even if it were only for a week. It had been crazy in the small period of time he had been gone, and reliving it all for her in the car made him realise just how dangerous it had been.
Though being a werewolf wasn’t always a positive, Jono knew there was one perk – he could always protect Lily. He had healing powers that she didn’t, meaning he could afford to be just a little riskier if it meant saving her life. However, they had both been trying too hard to protect each other from afar. They were suffering in silence, when in reality, they were stronger together, and they had been their entire lives.
“You mean, you knew of a virus that infected werewolves and didn’t think it was worth mentioning? I’m literally part-werewolf, Jono,” Lily complained. She was sat directly behind Jono but still insisted on debating there and then.
“I figured you’d be safe out of town, and that you’d call me If you found anything like that. Besides, you’re immune, we both are,” Jono defended.
“Do they always bicker?” Alex queried to Dylan.
“Amazingly, no,” Dylan replied cheekily.
“Shut up you two,” Jono chuckled, “I’m sorry about your friend, Lil. We just wanted to protect you. I just wanted to protect you.”
“Same,” Lily confessed, “And I wanted to prove I am capable on my own.” Jono’s heart broke. Lily never had to prove her worth – Jono was always the first to remind her just how brightly her star shone.
“I know you’re capable, that’s the last thing you ever need to prove,” Jono reassured, “I just need you to be safe.”
“I’ve got some good people looking out for me,” Lily added. Jono spotted a shared smile between her and Alex. Something was definitely going on there, but that was a question for later.
“Enough about me, how long have you two been together?” Alex smartly diverted the subject.
“Two years,” Jono replied, “First two of many.” Dylan rubbed his leg. That never failed to make his heart flutter.
“They’re the most sickly-sweet romantic people ever,” Lily added unhelpfully.
“Guilty as charged,” Dylan laughed.
“Hey, we all need to make time for a little romance, right?” Jono agreed, pulling up in his usual parking space. Once the engine was off, Jono kissed Dylan – he had been craving that for the whole journey. It never ceased to fulfil his heart’s desires.
“Okay, we’ll leave you to it, come on Alex,” Lily teased as she shooed Alex out of the car.
Interrupting the love-in, Dylan’s phone buzzed. This never meant good news.
“Who is it?” Jono nosily enquired.
“Yasmin. They need me at Ed’s office,” Dylan begrudgingly replied.
“Go, I can cope with these two,” Jono encouraged. He had promised to spend the day with Lily, but the world kept turning. Dylan had bigger fish to fry.
“Alright. I love you,” Dylan kissed him once again. He could have stayed there all day.
“I love you too,” Jono smiled back after. How did he get so lucky?
As he arrived back at home, Freddie was wondering why George needed him so urgently. They had seen each other only that morning, so it must have been a recent development. Was rent becoming an issue? Freddie had been working any shift he could at the computer repair shop in town, so it wasn’t all on George any longer.
George was waiting patiently in the kitchen, a can of beer perched on the table in front of him. If he were drinking this early, it had to be really good news, or really bad news.
“Hey,” Freddie sat opposite him, “What’s all this?”
“Hey, um, it’s a bit of a long story,” George began. Freddie felt nervous. He didn’t seem overjoyed. This had to be bad news, “I’ve been offered the chance to study abroad.”
“Oh, okay,” Freddie didn’t know how to react, or how George wanted him to react. It should have been good news, but George still sounded despondent, “Where? How long for? I need the details.”
“London, for a year,” George answered. Freddie knew how much George cherished London. They went there with mum as kids – it remained the best time of Freddie’s life, “I don’t have to take it. I’ll have to quit my job, and you can’t pay for this place on your own.”
“Dude, you have to take it,” Freddie insisted.
“I don’t want to abandon you,” George was still doubtful, “Where will you stay?”
“We’ll work something out,” Freddie remained firm. He could tell George was holding back for him, and that wasn’t necessary any more. Freddie was eighteen, he didn’t need looking after, “I guess there’s one other person holding you back, right?”
“She’s back today, I need to talk to her first,” George assured. Any decision he made had to include Lily too, “We’ve not spoken much since she went to college.”
“Don’t worry, Jono’s not heard much from her either. She’ll get it, dude. She’ll be as happy for you as I am,” Freddie said. He was so proud of George. He had given up so much for Freddie’s sake. Now it was time for him to spread his own wings.
Ed’s office was its usual state of organised chaos when Dylan arrived. Paperwork was spilling all over the desk, the crime board was cluttered, and it would have been impossible for anyone to find anything in there. Yet, Ed could find anything he wanted in an instant. Dylan found it a shame that organised chaos wasn’t an acceptable state for his bedroom to be in.
“What’s going on? Is everyone okay?” Dylan was panicking a little as he burst through the door. Yasmin’s text was vague – she should have known better than to let Dylan’s mind invent its own theories.
“Everyone’s fine,” Ed insisted. Dylan noticed his mum was sat on the opposite side of Ed’s desk, while Yasmin and Josh were relegated to the wooden chairs in the corner.
“Are we interrupting?” Dylan was confused.
“I came to drop off lunch,” Caroline explained, “It’s nice to see you, too.”
“And I let your mom know that I’m cooking dinner for us all tonight. Just the four of us,” Ed added, winking at Dylan. Suddenly, it all made sense. The proposal was going to be that night, “But first, we’ve got a homicide, as found by your brother.”
“He wishes, I found it,” Yasmin corrected. Ever the sucker for detail.
“Nevertheless, it looks more like your territory than mine. I might have to add you to the payroll,” Ed handed the photographs over to Dylan.
“Hey, that’s not a bad idea,” Dylan teased.
“Don’t start,” Ed smiled back, “Take a look, kid.” Dylan examined the pictures. The body was hardly recognisable. It had been cruelly mauled, and could only have been done by an animal. Or a werewolf that shed its humanity years ago. It made Dylan feel sick.
“Any leads?” Dylan asked Yasmin and Josh. They had to be proactive.
“Nothing, I didn’t recognise the scent, but
this has to be him, right?” Josh suggested.
“David,” Dylan answered.
“Who the heck is David?” Ed was clearly a little behind on the updates.
“Sammi’s dad, right?” Caroline jumped in. At least someone had paid attention.
“He’s in town? My town? And you didn’t think I should know?” Ed felt left out.
“We’ve been sorta busy,” Josh defended, “You know, like trying not to die from a virus.”
“Alright, whatever, but you said you didn’t recognise the scent,” Ed was trying his best to understand.
“But we know David’s got others on his side,” Yasmin informed, “Jeremy. Johnny.”
“Have I missed all of this? Who the heck are they?” Ed was bemused. Dylan and Josh shared a smile – his frustration was quite funny.
“Jeremy is Sammi’s brother, Johnny is Brett’s friend,” Dylan informed, “They’re both connected to David. He could have more.”
“Hold on a second,” Ed started to search through his ridiculous mountain of paper on the desk. As expected, he knew exactly where to look for what he wanted, “Missing kids. Four this week, that’s way above the norm.”
Ed passed Dylan the papers. Nobody he recognised, but this couldn’t be a coincidence.
“Yasmin, Josh, check the addresses. If we can get through to them, we could break up his pack,” Dylan directed. A plan was forming in his head.
“What are you gonna do?” Yasmin wondered.
“I’m gonna speak to David himself,” Dylan replied firmly, “And I know exactly how to get his attention.”
Showing Alex up to the guest bedroom at the Chadwick house, Lily was excited to give him the grand tour. She’d missed the comfort of home so much. The space, her own bed; it had so many benefits over college accommodation.
“This will be your room,” Lily proudly opened the door, but Alex’s face was not one of amazement. In fact, he looked more confused than anything. Lily looked in to see Sammi sat on the bed, next to a boy she’d never met before.
“Lily, hey,” Sammi smiled her usual cutesy smile, “Welcome home.” Lily had missed Sammi and her innocence, but she was extremely confused.
“Who’s he?” Lily wondered.
“Ah,” Jono muttered, joining them upstairs, “I was going to tell you that later.”
“Tell me what? Hello?” Lily was getting frustrated. Why was nobody answering her?
“I’m Jeremy,” he introduced.
“He’s my twin brother,” Sammi added.
Lily was speechless. How did Jono leave the most important part of the past week out? Since when did they have another cousin?
“I was going to tell you,” Jono insisted, “He needs shelter. David’s on the lookout for him.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to get in the way,” Jeremy insisted. Lily understood. He seemed sweet, even if nothing about him made any sense at all.
“No, not at all,” Lily replied, turning to Alex, “I’m sorry about this.”
“I’m not one to judge,” Alex smiled. He was far too sweet. She wanted to hug him tight, but it was too early for that. Nobody knew the truth yet.
“You can have my bed,” Jono offered, “I’ll stay at Dylan’s. Unless…”
“Oh my god,” Sammi picked up on it too. Drat, “Come in, I need to hear everything.”
Lily sighed, glancing disapprovingly to Alex. She couldn’t reveal all yet. She had to speak to somebody else first.
“Give me an hour,” Lily requested. Jono nodded. Lily knew she had his approval regardless.
“For what it’s worth,” Jono whispered, “He seems nice.”
“Thanks,” Lily grinned. It was good to hear. She knew in her heart that she was doing the right thing.
Summoned by Dylan to the sheriff station, Brett felt like his bubble had been burst. He and Johnny hadn’t left each other’s side all day, and it felt good to finally be with him, the way they had both so desperately wanted for years. Brett was convinced this moment would never come; he had almost gotten over Johnny. It was a miracle.
The fact that Dylan needed them was an immediate vibe-killer, though. Whatever he needed couldn’t have been easy, or safe, but it was inevitable. Johnny’s ties to David were always going to prove useful. It just would’ve been nice to spend one day together before that time came.
“Hey, sorry to call you like this, but I need you,” Dylan greeted with a sense of urgency.
“Is it rude to say I have a bad feeling about this?” Brett mentioned aloud. He wasn’t going to cloud his anxiety.
“You get used to it,” Ed interjected. He and Dylan’s mum were also in the office.
“What’s going on?” Brett questioned. He needed to know for his own peace of mind.
“I need to speak to David,” Dylan informed, “And I need Johnny to direct him to me.”
“Has something happened?” Johnny wondered.
“He’s recruiting teenagers to join his pack, we think. He’s getting them to kill innocent people,” Ed detailed.
“Untrained werewolves who don’t know the extent of their powers,” Dylan added.
“I…I didn’t know,” Johnny protested.
“I’m not accusing, I promise,” Dylan assured, “I trust you. Both of you. That’s why I need you to help.”
Brett glanced at Johnny. This was entirely his call, but Brett was worried for Johnny’s safety. If David found out whose side he was actually on, things would get very ugly, very quickly.
“Sure. What do you need?” Johnny agreed without hesitation. Brett knew he would, but that didn’t calm his nerves.
“He’s never going to talk to me if he knows I’ll be there, but we’ve got our secret weapon,” Dylan began.
“Jeremy,” Brett realised. The kid Johnny had been told to watch. The secret son.
“Are you sure it’s sensible to use him as bait?” Caroline mentioned, sprinkling a dose of reality.
“I’ve already spoken to Jono, he’ll be there to protect him, and so will Sammi. No matter what side she’s on, he wouldn’t hurt his daughter,” Dylan justified.
“It’s too dangerous,” Brett remained unconvinced, “He’ll know Johnny set this up. He’ll kill him.”
“I’ll be okay, if this works out, maybe we’ll be able to live a normal life afterwards? It’s worth a try,” Johnny persuaded, gripping Brett’s hand. For the first time, Brett didn’t care who saw. In fact, it felt liberating.
“Alright, but I’m coming with you,” Brett impulsively decided. He wasn’t sure if that was a good idea or not, but being by Johnny’s side was the only place he wanted to be.
“What? You can’t,” Johnny warned, “Please, let me do this.” Brett sighed. This plan had too many risks, but Johnny was dead set.
“Okay,” Brett gave in. This had to work out, because he couldn’t lose Johnny again.
Stood on George’s doorstep, Lily paused to collect her thoughts together. She had attempted to rehearse what she’d say to George, but it was pointless. She couldn’t make this any easier. George was her best friend, and she still loved him. She knew she always would. The only problem was that she didn’t love him in the way she loved Alex.
Taking a deep breath, Lily went to ring the doorbell, but the door swung open before she got the chance.
“Oh, hey,” George seemed surprised to see her, “I was just coming to see you.”
“No need, here I am,” Lily awkwardly smiled. This was breaking her heart, but she was putting on a brave face.
“Come in, I’ll put the kettle on. I’ve got something to tell you,” George mentioned. This sounded important too. Lily closed the door behind her and followed George into the kitchen.
“Bit early, no?” Lily spotted the empty beer can on the table.
“Oh, I guess I’m kinda celebrating,” George justified, filling the kettle up, “That’s what I need to tell you.”
“Go on,” Lily was intrigued, but she so desperately wanted to say her part too. It was making her feel even worse knowing she was going to have to burst his bubble.
“I’ve been offered the chance to study in London. I spoke to Freddie, he said I should do it, but I don’t know,” George explained.
“Woah, George, that’s incredible,” Lily felt so proud of George. For a moment, she forgot what she had to tell him – celebrating his achievements was so much more important, “On your own?”
“Um, that’s what I wanted to tell you,” George brought Lily’s mug of tea over. Milky with three sugars – just how she liked it, “I’m going with Mia.”
“Mia,” Lily repeated, “Who’s Mia?”
“A girl I met. She’s pretty awesome,” George sheepishly told her, “That’s why I needed to speak to you. I wanted to tell you face-to-face. I owe you that much.”
“Oh,” Lily realised. In a weird way, she felt relieved. She wouldn’t be breaking George’s heart as much as she thought, even if she shared the burden now, “I met someone too. His name is Alex.”
“Is that why you were stood on the doormat for five minutes?” George chuckled, losing the fight against the tear that rolled down his cheek.
“Yeah,” Lily felt the same. Her eyes were cloudy. She couldn’t stop the tears coming, “You’re the first person I’ve told, I promise.”
“Same,” George admitted, “And I really want us to stay friends. Only if you’re okay with that. There’s one thing I know and it’s that I always want you in my life, Lily Chadwick.”
That was it. Lily was sobbing relentlessly. She felt like an emotional wreck, but that was George’s effect. He was the sweetest, loveliest person on the planet. Even their break-up was filled from start to finish with love.
“Always,” Lily concurred. Almost simultaneously, they stood up to hug. It was one of the most meaningful hugs of Lily’s life. The hug that cemented their new chapter. Apart, but friends forever.
Pacing back and forth in the Chadwick living room, Dylan felt nervous. Johnny had gone to tell David where Jeremy was, so it was now just a matter of time until he arrived.
At least he had some element of security. Jono, Sammi and Brett were with him, as well as Jeremy who, though not at full strength, added an element of safety. David wasn’t going to cause his children any harm, after all. To top it off, Ed was parked outside the gates. His mum had insisted on joining Ed – Dylan wanted her as far away from trouble as possible, so hopefully they wouldn’t have to be involved.
“Can you hear anything?” Sammi nervously questioned. Dylan had been paying extra close attention to his hearing – David wasn’t going to ring the doorbell, after all.
“Nothing,” Dylan replied, “It’s almost too quiet. No birds, no dogs barking, no chatter in the street.”
“He’s close,” Jeremy identified.
“Okay, remember, I’m doing the talking. Alpha to alpha. I need to find out what he wants,” Dylan laid out the ground rules. All of them nodded, except Brett, who was anxiously checking his phone.
“He’ll be okay,” Dylan assured him. Brett raised a half-smile. He didn’t look convinced.
“Welcome to the family,” Jono smiled at Jeremy, “Not every day’s like this.”
“Well,” Sammi doubted.
“It’s okay. I didn’t think I’d ever meet my family, so I’ll take what I can get,” Jeremy seemed so calm. Dylan admired that about him. He was so gentle despite everything his father was. Just like Sammi.
“Hold on,” Dylan held a finger to his lips. Footsteps from the back of the house. David.
Dylan’s heart began to race. His nerves were wrecked. He was about to negotiate with a werewolf-killing alpha. This could go so badly.
“Hello kids,” a voice came from the doorway. David had swooped through the house in a flash. Damn, he was fast, “Daddy’s home.”
Dylan gulped. This was it.
7: Deal with the Devil Written by MarthaJonesFan
Three missing teenagers. Three houses to investigate. Yasmin wasn’t feeling optimistic as they approached the third and final location. The first two were completely empty – nobody answered the door, and the insides looked cleared out. Like any evidence of human activity had been eliminated entirely. In her eyes, that only made things seem even more unusual.
“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Freddie jogged up to the front of house number three, “Have I missed much?”
“Nope,” Josh answered, “Trust me, you’ve missed a whole lot of nothing. Both houses were deserted.”
Freddie’s face looked red, like he’d been crying. Freddie never cried. He made everything into a joke to cheer her up. He was the shoulder she had cried on so many times. Something was up.
“Everything okay?” Yasmin questioned. Freddie nodded, but Yasmin knew he was trying to put on a brave face. She raised her eyebrow in disapproval.
“George is going away to study abroad,” Freddie revealed.
“Good for him,” Yasmin tamed her reaction. There was clearly more to this story, “What’s the problem?”
“I told him it was great and that he should go, but I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I’ve always had him there,” Freddie opened up, “And we can’t keep the house. I can’t afford it on my own.”
“Dude, that’s easy, I’m sure you can stay with us. There’s no way Caroline and Ed would turn you away,” Josh instantly offered. That was what Yasmin loved about him. Below the sarcastic outer layer was a compassionate, loyal guy. She had so much respect for Josh.
“And we’re always here. Us two, Dylan, Jono, Sammi, Brett, even Lily on the phone. We’ve all got your back, Fred,” Yasmin reminded. Freddie smiled. He was there when she was figuring out what she was. The least she could do was return the favour in his hour of need.
Something swooped around them. It moved too fast – Yasmin couldn’t work out what it was. They weren’t safe.
“Get behind me,” Josh quickly acted. Yasmin was protected on one side by Josh and on the other by Freddie. At the least, they had healing powers that she didn’t
It swished past again. It was taunting them. Making them scared.
Then it lunged. A werewolf. A girl. She was untamed, and she was out for blood.
Emotions all over the place, Dylan didn’t know how to feel. On one hand, his plan had worked. David was stood in front of him. Johnny had played his part, and now Dylan had to play his. That was the scary part. He was facing a known murderer, of even his own people. What happened next could go really well, or really badly, and the uncertainty was what unsettled Dylan.
In the corner of his eye, he saw the looks on Jeremy and Sammi’s faces. They were petrified. David’s own flesh and blood couldn’t even look him in the eye. That told Dylan all he needed to know.
“Seems like you got to Johnny. It’s okay, I’ve got other betas. Fresh out the oven, so to speak,” David spoke with his usual sense of arrogance, “I’ll get them to track him down.”
“Don’t lay a finger on him,” Brett reacted, falling into his trap. Just what Dylan had warned against. So much for him doing the talking.
“This must be Brett. Johnny told me all about you. His cute little crush. Maybe I’ll have to crush his crush as well,” David threatened.
“Stop it,” Sammi called out, “These are my friends. They have my back.”
“Your friends have been very quiet so far,” David hit back, “Come on, clearly you needed me here for a reason. Why don’t we stop wasting my time and get to the point?”
“Tell us what you want,” Dylan demanded. He’d had enough of playing games and needed answers.
“That’s a very big question, Dylan. Yet it has a very simple answer,” David replied in the most patronising way possible, “I want you.”
“Me?” Dylan was confused. What did this mean?
“You. I want you, on my side, and your pack too. One team united,” David expanded.
“You infected us with your stupid virus, now you want us in your pack? What’s the catch?” Jono interjected. Dylan’s idea of nobody else speaking was long gone, so he appreciated Jono’s input.
“So cynical. You’re definitely Steven’s son,” David commented, “The virus was a little motivation. We’d be one team, with one alpha. Working together.”
alpha,” Dylan picked up on the key detail in that sentence, “You, I assume.”
“You’d have to surrender your alpha status to me,” David added, “A small price to pay for peace.”
Dylan looked around the room. Jono, Sammi and Jeremy were all terrified of this deal – not only did their faces say it all, but Dylan could feel their fear against his skin. Then there was Brett, whose boyfriend’s life was on the line, at David’s hands. This wasn’t peace. This was a dictatorship.
“The answer is no,” Dylan confidently said. Jono slipped his hand into Dylan’s, giving him that confidence boost.
“A bold move, Dylan, but ultimately a stupid one,” David warned, “So I’ll extend the offer to my family. Join me, and your friends could be saved.”
“Go to hell,” Jono rapidly decided. Dylan was so proud of him. This situation couldn’t be easy on him.
“What he said,” Sammi reiterated, standing firm. All eyes were now on Jeremy. Would he stand with them? This was where he showed his cards.
“No,” Jeremy simply stated. Dylan felt an electric sense of pride. David had been rejected, and his pack had never stood stronger.
“Okay, have it your way,” David replied, “Believe me when I say that this is only just the beginning. You might want to warn your boyfriend, Samantha, or perhaps it’s too late?”
David disappeared in a flash. Dylan still felt mixed. The pack had lit a fire inside of him, but the lines were drawn and David was more formidable than ever.
“I need to call Freddie,” Sammi immediately decided.
“Johnny’s out there,” Brett worried.
“Go. Take care of him,” Dylan directed without a second thought, “And dude, I’m proud of you.” Brett hadn’t officially come out, and he didn’t need Dylan’s approval, but kind words went so far. Brett smiled and nodded before rushing off.
“No answer,” Sammi reported. Dylan glanced to Jono. They had to get out and look.
Arriving back home after seeing George, Lily’s head was all over the place. She had built herself up for so much heartbreak, and none of it had arrived. In a way, that was a positive. All was good with George; in fact, she was so happy for him. However, the energy she built up had to go somewhere. She was on a cliff-edge, ready to fall at any moment.
“Psst,” someone summoned her. Lily looked all around – she couldn’t see anyone.
Continuing towards the door, Lily heard it again. It was coming from above. She tilted her head up to see Alex’s head poking out of Jono’s treehouse.
“What are you doing up there?” Lily called up.
“Dylan told me I’d be safer out here for a bit,” Alex justified. Lily climbed up to see him – no invitation needed. Alex was just the person she wanted to be with. Whatever Dylan and Jono were up to could wait.
“You went to see George, didn’t you?” Alex said as she made herself comfortable on the cold wooden floor, “How was it?”
“Surprisingly okay,” Lily reported, “He’s going to study abroad. With his new girl.”
“What, really?” Alex found the situation hilarious. It kind-of was – both he and Lily were worried about the exact same predicament. Except, Lily wasn’t laughing. She still felt sad. A part of her life had snapped shut. The security of a future with George had gone, “You don’t seem relieved.”
“I expected the worst-case scenario. Me being the homewrecking villain. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time,” Lily opened up.
“You’re not, though. You both moved on. All is okay, right?” Alex reminded. He placed his hand gently on top of her own. He was there for her, and he had her back. It meant the world.
“What about you? Have you ever had anyone else?” Lily questioned, diverting the topic off of herself.
“Not unless you count the guy I dated when I was ten,” Alex laughed, “We dated for a week, and still, he was my first kiss.”
“Oh, don’t, my first kiss was awful. Some soccer jerk who got kicked out of junior high,” Lily cringed at the mere thought.
“First kisses are overrated. Dating is overrated. Though I guess that’s easy for me to say. Honestly, some people thought I was a freakshow at school. I was proud of my identity and I always have been, but some people didn’t get it. To them, I was basically an alien,” Alex opened up. Lily’s heart broke hearing his story. She was learning so much – she could never have imagined how Alex felt, but she was doing her best to understand.
“You’re not an alien. You’re Alex, and you’re better than any of those assholes could ever dream of being,” Lily assured him. Alex smiled his adorably cute smile. Lily could tell just how long he had waited for this moment. She could only hope she was doing it justice, “Hey, you said boyfriend. Are you still into guys?” She wasn’t trying to pry, she just wanted to learn a little more.
“I’ve been known to dabble,” Alex grinned devilishly, “It doesn’t matter either way for me, I identify as pansexual.”
Lily nodded. She knew what pansexual meant, and was unconditionally accepting of Alex’s identity. She was proud of how open he was.
“What about you?” Alex wondered.
“I guess it’s been easy for me. I’ve never thought much about my sexuality,” Lily answered truthfully, “I’ve only dated boys. Most of them were self-serving idiots who wanted a plaything on their arm. George was my first love.”
“If it helps,” Alex replied cautiously, “I think you might be my first love.”
Lily’s heart warmed up. Hearing those words struck such a chord inside her. Everything he said only reassured her that she made the right decision. She didn’t know how to reply, but actions always spoke louder than words. Lily kissed Alex, and the rush of endorphins had never felt stronger. They had nothing to hide now.
“Lily,” Jono called up, interrupting their moment.
“What, dude?” Lily disapprovingly called back. This had to be important.
“David’s got Freddie, Josh and Yasmin,” Jono replied. Okay, it was important.
“Want to know what my life is really like? Let’s go,” Lily held out an inviting hand. This was her chance to really prove herself.
Vision blurry, Freddie wasn’t sure where he was. He couldn’t remember anything since speaking to George. He’d been asleep for… Freddie didn’t even know how long. As his senses adjusted to being awake, Freddie’s brain clicked into action. He wasn’t lying down. In fact, he was stood upright, his feet touching the floor, while his back was jammed against uncomfortable metal railings. His hands were tightly strapped down, and his ankles were restrained. Freddie began to panic.
The room came into focus. He saw two comfortingly familiar faces. Yasmin and Josh. He wasn’t on his own. That said, they were in no better position than he was. There was a desk in front of Freddie with a button connected to the railings situated directly by Yasmin. They were both restrained on the other side of the table to two very uncomfortable-looking wooden chairs. Wherever they were, whoever took them, they clearly had a plan, and Freddie didn’t like it.
“Hey, Freddie,” Yasmin called over, noticing he was now awake. She spoke gently and calmly; Freddie wasn’t sure he had such a capability in that moment.
“Where are we?” Freddie anxiously asked as he struggled to break free.
“We’ve been here before, remember? Look around,” Josh answered. Freddie paused to scan the vast space they were in. The windows were boarded up, so Freddie had to rely on the dim lighting to pick any details out. He could tell that it was an abandoned warehouse. Josh was right; Freddie recognised it.
“The bunker warehouse,” Freddie revealed. The flashbacks of Mr. Forsyth, Dami and Jake were flooding into his mind like an overflowing bath. They had no idea what it had been used for in the past, but it was linked to the tunnels, meaning that their scents couldn’t be tracked.
Another figure crept into view. A girl. A werewolf girl. The one that attacked them. Now he remembered. She was holding a bucket full of water.
“Oh god,” Freddie sighed. He knew what was coming. The girl tipped the entire bucket over Freddie’s bare chest.
“Thank you all for being patient,” a new, authoritative voice entered the room. A tall man in his late forties approached them, flanked my two werewolf teenage boys, “Hi Freddie. I hear you’re the apple of my daughter’s eye.”
“David,” Freddie recognised. His heart had never pumped faster. He was in so much danger.
“I understand you all have a preconceived idea of who I am. I’m here to tell you I mean none of you any harm,” David spoke with arrogance smothering every word like a soaking wet towel, “I’m simply here to invite you to join me. My pack is growing, and I want all three of you on board.”
“You’ve got a hell of a lot of audacity to ask us while we’re tied up,” Yasmin scoffed. His suggestion was indeed laughable – did he genuinely expect them to team up? Freddie would never betray Sammi like that.
“Okay, we’ll do this the hard way. You’ve got a choice to make, Ms. Forsyth,” David changed tactic, “Turn up the dial in front of you on your ex-lover, or I’ll kill your current sweetheart over here.”
Freddie’s eyes widened in horror. Yasmin looked over in despair. The choice was obvious, but she clearly needed approval first.
“Do it,” Freddie directed. He could take the pain. He could heal. It was on him to keep Josh alive.
Brett had never felt so nervous. Waiting for Johnny made him feel antsy, because there was no guarantee he was actually going to arrive. He had heard David’s threat. Johnny wasn’t safe. He put himself on the line to save the entire pack. Brett wasn’t sure if that was courageous or stupid. Or both.
Every minute was passing so slowly, and Brett could hardly stand it. He felt sick thinking about where Johnny could be. He could be dead by now. He could be lying in a ditch, or barely even in one piece. Brett knew it wasn’t healthy to think like that, though. He had to trust that Johnny would be there. He had to keep his optimism, because they were going to need it in spades.
Their meeting point was Mrs. Johnson’s lab – it was the weekend, so it was guaranteed to be empty. Not even workaholic Johnson went to school on a Sunday. Brett had come prepared with a small bag containing a few non-perishable tins of food, a couple of full water bottles, and his wallet, which consisted of no more than twenty dollars.
For a short while, Brett and Johnny had to go into hiding. Only until Dylan defeated David, and Brett was certain that was going to happen. He had seen Dylan in action before, and he was the best. Nothing ever got past him – he was the alpha for a reason.
The classroom door gently swung open. Brett ducked out of view, peeping to check who it was. His nerves were through the roof. To his relief, it was Johnny.
“This place has so many fucking classrooms,” Johnny commented with a cheeky grin as Brett wrapped his arms tightly around him. He was safe, and that was all that mattered.
“We need to go now, we can’t stay still, David will track us,” Brett reasoned.
“Wait, we can’t bring our phones. I know Ed has us covered, but David has contacts. He’d still trace us,” Johnny reasoned. Brett reluctantly left his phone next to Johnny’s on Mrs. Johnson’s desk. He knew he’d feel lost without his phone, but it wasn’t worth the risk.
“Come on, the car’s out front,” Brett directed, “Ed’s put the fake licence plate on and he’s given me an address we could use, it’s a few hours away.”
“That’ll do, but we’ll have to keep our heads down,” Johnny added, “Are you sure this is what you want? It’s not too late to back out. It’s my battle.”
“I’ve never been surer,” Brett replied. He didn’t hesitate for a single second, “I don’t have much money, though.”
“That’s why I was so late,” Johnny mentioned as they approached the car, “I maxed out David’s card. The guy’s rich, born into a wealthy family, that’s how he moves about so much. I’m sure he won’t miss a grand.”
That was music to Brett’s ears. It would easily tide them over for a short while. Long enough for Dylan to save their skin again.
Before Brett switched the engine on, a loud crash sounded on top of the car. Something had landed there. Something had found them.
“Stay quiet,” Johnny whispered. Brett’s heart was racing. They had no time to waste.
Sammi hated being left behind. Freddie needed her, and she was anxious waiting for an update from Dylan or Jono. However, Jeremy needed her too. He was still healing. There was no way he could help just yet. She needed to be with him.
“We’re not safe here anymore,” Sammi worried. David knew where they were, and they had nobody else around to protect them.
“He’s got other priorities, we’ll be okay for now,” Jeremy pointed out. He was lying down on the sofa – neither of them felt ready to attempt the stairs again just yet, “Maybe it’s time we talked history.”
“I’ve been trying to piece the timeline together in my mind, but honestly, I’m beat,” Sammi confessed, “Please, tell me everything.”
“Okay. Our mom became pregnant with twins, and she was so happy. Dad was, too. It was what they’d always wanted, but dad was in trouble with these people, the Lunar Sanctum. They demanded that he kill one of his own babies to absolve his sins,” Jeremy explained.
“Mom knew about all of this too?” Sammi was in shock.
“No, not at all. Dad made it out to be natural causes, but he raised me in secret. He knew mom always wanted a daughter. He didn’t want to deprive her of that,” Jeremy continued, “I was mostly raised by Margaret, one of his old friends. Dad was great, for a while, but he started acting strangely recently. He tested the virus on me. I escaped and ran to LA hoping he wouldn’t find me.”
did you become a werewolf?” Sammi wondered.
“I was born one. I inherited the gene. You got lucky I guess,” Jeremy detailed, “Look, I know you feel like you missed out on me growing up, and all the secrets, and I get that, but I missed out on mom. It’s too late for me to put that right.”
Sammi hadn’t thought of it that way. She missed her mum so much. She had all the time in the world to spend with Jeremy now. He couldn’t do that with her.
“What about you? How did you end up back here?” Jeremy queried.
“I had to get away from dad. That night, he showed me what he really was. He was angry, I was scared. Aunt Helen and Uncle Steve, they know about werewolves, but they don’t know what he is. They don’t even know about Jono or Lily. It’s hard to keep it secret when you just want to scream it from the rooftops. He gets away with everything when they’re around,” Sammi opened up, “Hold on, what the heck is the Lunar Sanctum?”
“No idea, dad never told me,” Jeremy replied. Whatever it was, it had screwed up her entire family. It sounded terrifying.
Carefully following his nose, Dylan could tell Josh’s scent a mile off. They were brothers – perhaps not by blood, but that hardly mattered; Dylan’s protective instincts were especially strong where his family was involved.
The trail led to a house just down the road from the school. Instantly, Dylan knew the address. He’d seen it earlier that day in Ed’s office. This was where one of David’s betas lived.
“Okay, where are they?” an exasperated Lily questioned. She didn’t have the increased speed that Dylan and Jono had, so she lagged behind a little with Alex. Dylan wasn’t sure bringing Alex was such a good idea, but four sets of eyes were better than three.
“Can you see them?” Jono sarcastically replied, “We’re on a wild goose chase.”
“Okay, so we can’t track their scents,” Lily thought aloud, “That must mean one thing, right?”
“The bunkers,” Dylan realised. The perfect place to hide somebody. So many pipes ran through those tunnels that it was impossible to trace a scent.
“Wait, can you hear that?” Alex jumped in, “I mean, if I can, I’m sure you all can too, but listen.”
Dylan focused. Sure enough, he could hear banging. Yelling. Fighting. Worst of all, one familiar voice was thrown into the mix.
“That’s Brett,” Dylan identified. No more had to be said. Dylan had to get there quick. He dashed down the street on all fours, keeping air-resistance to a minimum. He had a friend to save.
In the school car park, Johnny was being attacked. A werewolf girl was on top of him, slashing at his chest, while Brett helplessly pleaded for her to stop.
Dylan wasn’t taking any prisoners. His friends were in danger and this was never okay. Still on all fours, Dylan unleashed a rumbling growl. He was the alpha here, and he was in charge.
The girl looked over. She was angry, and not in control of her wolf. Any shred of humanity was buried underneath. He was fighting an animal. She lunged for him, forcing herself upwards, landing just in front of Dylan. She wanted to fight. Clearly, she had never fought an alpha.
“Get out of here,” Dylan yelled to Brett as Jono joined Dylan’s side. They were fighting this together.
The girl swung for Dylan, but he caught her arm, pushing her backwards. She got up immediately and swung for Jono, but again, he was too quick, catching her ankle and tripping her up. She collapsed to the floor with a harsh thud.
“Ouch,” she complained. That wasn’t a wolf’s reaction. The girl was back. Pain made her human.
“Take us to our friends,” Dylan demanded, just as Brett sped off in his car. He and Johnny were safe. Now they needed Josh, Freddie and Yasmin back.
Yasmin didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to hurt Freddie – nobody deserved pain less than he did. He was one of her closest friends, much like the brother she never had. However, she had to turn the dial on him. Of course she did – not turning it would have meant Josh dying. That would be even worse. There really was no other option.
“I’m sorry,” Yasmin gulped. Freddie raised her a nervous smile. He understood, but that didn’t make it any easier.
Yasmin twisted the dial the tiniest amount she could. A shock of electricity shot through Freddie’s body. If it weren’t for the restraints, he’d have leapt halfway across the room. Even that was horrible to see, and that was the lowest setting.
“Again,” David commanded. Yasmin felt a stream of droplets trickling down her cheeks. This was horrible. She regretfully turned the dial again, as low as possible.
“Again. Higher this time,” David continued. Yasmin was furious, but there was nothing she could do. She spun the dial again, choosing not to look at Freddie’s pain-stricken face. She couldn’t avoid the sound of his cries, though.
“Stop,” Josh called out, “No more.”
“Seems like Joshua wants to talk business,” David smiled gleefully.
“Whatever this is, don’t do it,” Yasmin warned. She didn’t want Josh to make a deal with the devil. The longer they could hold out, the better chance they had of Dylan finding them.
“Dude,” Freddie concurred.
“Take me. Let these two go, and I’ll join you,” Josh offered. Yasmin’s heart sunk, “You have to promise me my friends will be safe.”
“No,” Yasmin protested, but it was too late. The offer was on the table. He had given David what he wanted.
“In exchange for your loyalty?” David questioned.
“Yes. Loyal to the end,” Josh promised. He turned to Yasmin, mouthing a message without making a sound.
Yasmin’s hands were uncuffed, and Freddie was unchained. This couldn’t be it, though. Yasmin refused to accept this solution. This couldn’t be how they got out. Josh had fought his demons so hard. Now he was back to square one.
“Go,” Josh directed. Yasmin couldn’t look at him. This was ridiculous, but she had to run. She took Freddie’s hand and sprinted to the exit. The sooner they got away, the better, but she knew damn well she wasn’t abandoning Josh for good.
Following David’s beta through the tunnels, Dylan was remaining on high alert. His theory was right – this was where David had been hiding, but he still didn’t trust the girl. She seemed scared, on-edge, as if she knew nothing of the world she had arrived in. David was preying on the innocent, spinning them out of control for his own gain.
“This place is crazy,” Alex commented. He still had so much to learn. Dylan had noticed he and Lily were holding hands – it was cute, though it wasn’t his place to mention it without Lily bringing it up first.
“Hold on, stop,” Jono directed.
“What’s up?” Dylan queried. Jono looked worried, which always meant there was cause for concern.
“Someone’s coming,” Jono explained. He was right. Footsteps were frantically approaching. Two heartbeats. Dylan primed himself, ready for a fight.
Springing out of the shadows were a panicked Freddie and Yasmin. They looked terrified, but Dylan was so relieved to see them. They were safe.
“Boy, am I glad to see you,” he hugged Yasmin. Something wasn’t right, though. She still felt scared, even though they were both at safety.
“He’s got Josh. He made a deal,” Freddie replied. Yasmin rested a tearful head on Dylan’s shoulder.
“A deal? A deal with who?” Dylan was confused.
“He’s joined David’s pack,” Freddie added. Dylan was speechless. Josh had taken a bullet for the team, but in the process, he’d surely end up losing himself.
8: Sentimentality Written by MarthaJonesFan
The Drummond household was met with a more sombre tone than usual. Dylan had hoped it would fade, or that things would get back to normal, but how could they? It had been a whole week since he last saw Josh, and there hadn’t been hide nor hair of him in that entire time. He hadn’t been home, and search parties were fruitless. Ed even had all of his deputies on red alert, but nothing. Even the warehouse was completely empty. David was playing a game, and Josh was wrapped around his little finger.
What made the atmosphere even more pertinent was that it should have been a time for celebration. Though he’d missed it happening, Dylan was so pleased that Ed proposed to his mum that night. Naturally she said yes, but any dreams of planning for it were put on hold the second Dylan shared the bad news.
Freddie had started to relocate his stuff into Josh’s bedroom, just as Josh had requested before. Of course, Caroline and Ed would never have turned him away, and Dylan was so pleased he could be there for Freddie. It wasn’t his fault that all of this had happened at the worst possible time.
Grabbing his school bag, Dylan was not ready for another week of senior year. He had put in so much work, but he now felt out of his depth. There was no way he could focus on anything other than Josh, and whatever David was planning.
“You got this,” Jono reminded. He had slept over for the week while Alex had his bed – though he and Lily were no longer a secret, Helen and Steve were a separate matter entirely. On the topic of his parents, Jono had decided it was time they finally knew the whole truth. About David. About him being a werewolf. It was a huge decision.
Dylan smiled back at Jono. He forced it through the miserable mood he was in, because Jono always deserved him at his best.
“Let’s do this,” Dylan decided as he, Jono and Freddie marched to the car. They had each other through it all.
Passing Johnny his usual mid-morning cup of tea, Brett was settling into his brand-new routine nicely. He’d spent the entire week keeping his head down, which was a pretty easy task when the road their hideout was situated on was quiet already. No nosey neighbours, and very little to draw anybody to the outskirts of the nearby town.
“Perfect, thanks beautiful,” Johnny smiled, flicking the TV on. Brett collapsed on the sofa next to him. They didn’t have much room to spread out – they only had a small, single-storey hut anyway – but Brett didn’t care. He had three years of cuddles to make up for. He was thrilled to be glued to Johnny’s hip.
“Is it bad that I’m getting sorta used to this?” Brett thought aloud. He couldn’t deny that he was on red alert twenty-four-seven, but that aside, this really was the life he always dreamed of having with Johnny.
“I am too,” Johnny admitted, “I’m not mad about it, either.” They both paused.
“How do we know that David’s not gone?” Brett pondered. He’d figured that Dylan would get in touch somehow, but what if he hadn’t?
“We don’t know I guess, but I thought you trusted your friends?” Johnny mentioned.
“I do, honestly Johnny, Dylan’s insane. Trusting him with my life was easy, because he’s saved it more than once,” Brett gushed. He found it odd to think there was a time where he and Dylan were less than chummy. He directed a lot of internalised homophobia to Dylan and Jono to look cool among the basketball team, but that wasn’t okay. Somehow, Dylan had found it in him to look past that. Brett’s respect for Dylan was unending.
“Well, don’t worry then, we’re safe here, and Ed knows where we are. He’ll come and get us,” Johnny calmed Brett down, wrapping a comforting arm around him. Brett snuggled up, resting his head on Johnny’s shoulder. In that moment, Brett knew he’d be quite happy hiding out there forever. All he needed was Johnny.
“Maybe we should make good use of this free time, then?” Brett devilishly suggested. He and Johnny had already been making good use of their extra privacy. After all, they had three years to make up for.
“Only if you can beat yesterday, because that was quite something,” Johnny toyed.
“Oh, you know I like a challenge,” Brett pulled Johnny in for a snog. There was no point in dilly-dallying. He had a job to do.
This was it. The moment Jono had been dreading. The time for his dad to learn just what his brother really was. This wasn’t going to be easy – Jono knew what his dad could be like. Stubborn. Defensive. He was the worst listener ever.
He had Sammi and Jeremy either side, taking up the sofa while his parents sat in their usual armchairs. Somehow, they had successfully managed to spin the concept of Jeremy being Sammi’s friend, in need of a place to stay while his dad’s away at work. Well, there was some truth.
What made Jono extra nervous, though, was that this had to be the moment he told his parents that he was a werewolf too. He had been putting it off so long, because he knew Dylan would be blamed. He knew they’d look at him differently.
“What’s this about, Jonathan? Your mom and I have to go to work,” Steve impatiently queried. Story of Jono’s life.
“There’s stuff you need to know. Really important stuff,” Jono began. His heart was beating so fast, and so loud. His nerves were shattered.
“About my dad,” Sammi jumped in to help. She had really stepped up to help, even though she was relatively new to the supernatural world. He was proud of her, “He’s a werewolf. An alpha. He’s a killer.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Steve laughed. Jono knew that was coming – a typical reaction.
“It does sound silly, Sammi. I thought Dylan was the alpha?” Helen added.
“There can be more than one alpha. Each pack has one,” Jono educated, “Sammi’s right, I promise this is the truth. He’s killed other werewolves, his own kind. He’s threatened us.”
“And by ‘us’, you mean Dylan?” Steve attempted to deflect. He was too quick to throw Dylan under the bus for Jono’s liking. Nevertheless, this was his moment.
“No, me too,” Jono corrected, “I’m a werewolf.” He glowed his eyes to prove it. It was oddly liberating – he’d tried so hard to keep his eyes out of view from his parents for so long.
“Oh, honey,” Helen looked mortified.
“Wait ‘til I find that so-called alpha,” Steve ranted, “I’ll kill him for what he’s done to my son.”
“No, you won’t,” Jono called out, “Remember when I got shot, and I almost died? It wasn’t a miracle that saved me, it was Dylan. If he didn’t bite me, I’d be dead. He saved my life, and this? Well, it’s a darn sight better than being dead.”
“What about Lily?” Steve paced up and down the room. He couldn’t focus.
“She’s part-werewolf. Not quite the same as me, it’s a long story,” Jono continued, wheeling out the line everyone always used to swerve the explanation of how Lily became what she was.
“Jeremy’s hearing all of this,” a tearful Helen finally spoke up, noticing the elephant in the room, “Come on Jono, there’s more to this story, please tell us the rest.”
“He’s my brother,” Sammi jumped in, “Jeremy. He’s my twin, and yes, before you ask, he’s a werewolf too. A werewolf that saw what my dad did.”
“Is this true?” Helen questioned.
“He experimented on me, testing his virus to see if we were immune, except it took me ages to heal,” Jeremy replied, “I almost died.”
It was too much for Steve. He stormed out of the room. Jono knew it was information overload, but his heart had broken. His dad couldn’t face him, and his mum looked mortified.
“Um, okay, I think we need to continue this later, once everyone’s calmed down,” Helen organised, “Kids, you need to get to school. Now, please.”
Jono couldn’t think of anything he’d like to do less, but on the bright side, he’d be reunited with Dylan. The one person who he knew would never, ever judge him for who he was.
Despite a full week away, Lily immediately felt like she had never left campus. Everything was the exact same as it was when she left. The hustle and bustle was unchanged by Violet’s death. Nobody else knew her, so nobody else cared. It filled Lily with an immense sadness. Violet deserved better.
On a lighter note, one thing had definitely changed. She was able to walk onto campus with Alex on her arm. She could flaunt him, show him off, because she was so happy. The happiest she had been in ages, in spite of everything.
“Hey you two,” Sindy rushed over, not commenting on their hand-holding. She looked flustered and hurried; unusual when Sindy was always so calm and collected.
“Hey, how was your week off?” Lily made polite conversation.
“The flat got torched,” Sindy simply stated. Lily’s jaw dropped. Their flat? Up in flames? So many questions.
“Um, what?” Alex took the words out of her mouth.
“It’s being treated as suspicious apparently,” Sindy explained, leading the way as they speed-walked to their accommodation, “I told the sheriff none of us have been there in a week.”
“Oh, you think?” Lily had her doubts. A week away wasn’t long enough to forget Nicolas’ threats, especially when she had a pretty good idea of who put him up to all of this.
“He wouldn’t, surely,” Sindy immediately knew who she was referring to, “Wait, your crime board.”
“Don’t worry,” Lily wasn’t concerned, “Trust me, I know so much more after going home. Jono was one step ahead.”
“That’s good, because the virus has hit the college,” Sindy added, “If you can help, there’s no time to waste.”
“Go,” Alex directed, “I’ll find out where we’re staying. Go save lives.”
Lily smiled, enjoying a comforting kiss from his perfect lips. Alex then departed, and it felt odd to think of how much she already missed him.
“You and Alex, hey?” Sindy smirked. She had so much gossip to catch up on, and the short walk to medical felt like the right opportunity.
“You can’t be surprised,” Lily downplayed it.
“I’m surprised because you have a boyfriend,” Sindy was clearly very behind the times.
“George and I broke up. Don’t worry, I made it my priority when I got back. Turns out we were both singing from the same hymn sheet,” Lily informed.
“Huh, really?” Sindy smiled, “I’m happy for you, honestly. Alex is cool.” Lily smiled back. Sindy had become a great friend in the short time they’d known each other. She appreciated being able to talk so openly.
“Anyway, there’s been ten cases of the virus this weekend. Same symptoms as the guy at the bar, but the nurse doesn’t know that. I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground,” Sindy detailed.
Sure enough, the medical centre looked like a quarantine zone. The nurse was nowhere in sight, only ten, clearly very poorly werewolves.
“I think this is how it’s meant to work,” Lily picked up a knife from behind the desk and gently sliced the skin on her arm. She knew she would heal quickly, so she squeezed a few droplets of blood into a plastic cup from the water cooler, before handing it over to the first girl on her right, “Drink this.”
“What?” Sindy was baffled.
“My blood is the cure,” Lily replied, “The perks of being a Chadwick.”
The bench had started to feel unusually empty over the week, and there was no greater example of this than Yasmin’s latest briefing. Of course, Lily could no longer join them, Brett was on the run, and Josh, well, he was the reason she called these daily briefings. That morning saw Jono and Sammi missing too, even though it was Jeremy’s first day of school.
This left her with her two most trusted allies: Dylan and Freddie. Her two best friends. The people she always knew she could count on in her hour of need.
She had put a lot of effort into preparing these briefings. Before school, she visited Ed to gather any new evidence on the search for Josh. All of this was necessary, to build up a plan.
“God, this bench feels so big,” Freddie remarked, also noticing the large number of absentees.
“Jono will be here, he just has something important to do first,” an antsy Dylan added. Yasmin could tell something was bothering him; it was hardly surprising with his brother missing.
“Right, anyway, I’ll update you two,” Yasmin was keen to press on. They didn’t have all day, “Two more bodies found across town. All mauled, sharing the same injuries.”
“Trying to make us scared,” Dylan identified.
“Still no sign of David or his betas,” Yasmin continued, “It’s like they’ve purposely chosen places with as few security cameras as possible. He doesn’t want to be seen.”
“Yet he’s killing to get his voice heard,” Freddie disapproved. They were all on the same page so far.
“There’s one more thing. The most interesting part,” Yasmin slid a piece of paper across the bench, “This is from the nearest camera to one of the bodies. Look at who it is.”
“Josh,” Dylan observed. This was their first glimpse of Josh in a week. He was alive, “He wants us to know he’s okay.”
“His hands, though,” Freddie added, “That looks like blood.”
“Oh god,” Dylan panicked. Though it was good to know Josh was alive, this was an unwelcome reminder of his deal with David. He’d worked to improve himself, and now he was back to square one.
“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Jono jogged over. His eyes were red and his cheeks were puffy. He’d obviously been crying, but Yasmin didn’t want to say anything – he was obviously trying not to discuss whatever was bothering him. Instantly, he spotted something was up with Dylan. It was like a sixth sense, “What’s the matter, babe? Tell me.”
“Josh killed someone,” Dylan’s lips trembled. He was trying so badly not to cry. Yasmin knew the feeling – she had done such a good job of keeping the tears at bay all week. Staying busy really worked.
“It was my job,” a voice came from behind. A usually comforting tone that Yasmin now hated to hear.
The look on Jeremy’s face said it all – he was terrified of school. Sammi didn’t need supernatural abilities to be able to sense his fear; it was painted onto his face, clear as daylight. She knew exactly how he felt, too. It wasn’t that long ago that she was the new kid. High school was daunting.
It was tougher for Jeremy, though. He had been hidden away for so long. He wasn’t even meant to exist, so school had never been on the agenda. Whoever this Margaret woman was, she had taught him everything he knew from home. It was pretty impressive that he came across so well rounded, all things considered.
“This is your locker, I managed to grab the one next to mine,” Sammi persevered with her little introductory tour, but Jeremy seemed distant. He had a lot on his plate, even without the anxieties of school.
“Hey,” Sammi grabbed his attention, “You’ll be okay, we’re in all the same classes today.”
“I know, I’m just nervous,” Jeremy spoke for the first time since he entered the building, “I’m not used to busy places.”
“Don’t worry, I’m here the whole time,” Sammi reassured. She had no intentions of leaving him alone for even a single second.
“Hey Sammi, who’s your boyfriend?” the mean-girl voice of Sumi rose above the constant chatter in the corridor. Sumi was the most stuck-up person in her year. Clearly one of the popular crowd, with little time for anyone outside of her clique.
“He’s my twin,” Sammi defiantly replied without bothering to make eye contact. Jibes towards her were one thing, but involving Jeremy was where she drew the line.
“That’s gross, Sammi, even by your standards,” Sumi grossly remarked. Jeremy was shielding his face. Something was up. Sammi pushed him away from Sumi and into the girls’ toilets.
“Get out,” she commanded to the group of freshmen pretty girls who were applying their make-up in front of the huge mirror. This was more important.
“Jeremy, look at me,” Sammi demanded. Jeremy looked up, as instructed. His eyes were flaring yellow. His sharp fangs were primed. He had no control, “Find your anchor.”
Nothing changed, though. Jeremy had lost it, and couldn’t get it back. He didn’t know control. Seventeen years without an anchor. Just when Sammi thought her father couldn’t disgust her any more.
Sammi was thinking fast. She needed to find an anchor for Jeremy, but what? Dylan and Jono had each other, but Jeremy wasn’t in love. Freddie had George, but Jeremy was already on the verge of attacking his own sibling. Their bond was too new.
Then there was Josh. Their conversation about parents had stuck with Sammi. His anchor was pain, and Sammi knew David had caused both of his kids enough of that.
“You know, mom would be proud of you,” Sammi called out. Jeremy paused. This was working, “She always wondered what you’d be doing if you were around. She never stopped loving you, Jeremy.”
turned his back. Sammi knew the thought of their mum played heavily on his
mind. David had robbed him of knowing her, and it hurt.
“I’m sorry,” Jeremy wept as his eyes dimmed to normality.
“It’s okay,” Sammi pulled him in tightly for a hug. She was relieved to have succeeded, but this was far from over.
A growl sounded behind them. Someone had joined them. Someone who wasn’t human. Sammi met the girl’s glowing blue eyes. Before she could talk her down, the wolf pounced.
Returning from a jog, Brett was feeling pumped. He was an expert by now at avoiding the busiest places around, ensuring as few people saw him as possible, so he could keep training with that extra dose of fresh air in peace.
Though he and Johnny were loving all of their time spent together, Brett occasionally needed some alone time. A few moments to spend with himself, to process everything that had happened over the previous couple of weeks. It was a lot to digest, after all.
Brett always came back to how much his life had changed in that time. It had only been a couple of weeks since LA. Everyone was high on life, having fun, until it quickly crashed down. The rest of the pack seemed used to this, but it was taking Brett some adjustment. Being on the run didn’t exactly help, either.
Arriving back at the hut, Brett did a quick scan around him. He had to check he hadn’t been followed before he went inside. If he had been found, he couldn’t risk Johnny’s safety too. Nevertheless, the coast was clear. Brett undid all three locks on the front door to gain entry.
“Hey babe, I’m back,” Brett called out.
“I’m in here,” Johnny called back from the living room. He sounded notably less cheery than he usually did. Brett was worried – he always got an enthusiastic greeting.
“What’s up?” Brett questioned, resuming his usual spot on the sofa.
“Take a look,” Johnny handed him his phone. They had invested in a couple of cheap burner phones when they arrived; nothing fancy, just so they could contact each other in an emergency. Of course, nobody else had their numbers.
The phone had been texted a photo from an unknown number. A photo of Sammi and Jeremy, battered and bruised, in the Crystalshaw tunnels.
“They’re tempting us out,” Brett immediately knew.
“If they have this number, they probably know where we are too,” Johnny added.
“What do we do?” Brett worried. He wasn’t sure where they were supposed to go from here.
“Two options,” Johnny answered, “We move on and keep running, or we go back.”
“Sammi’s my friend,” Brett considered. He hadn’t known her long, but she was so brave. He knew she’d save him without question.
“Jeremy’s basically my brother,” Johnny added, “We were raised together. We spent a lot of time with each other.”
“I think that decides it,” Brett realised, placing his hand on top of Johnny’s. Next stop: Crystalshaw.
Staring Josh straight in the eye, Dylan had no idea how to feel. Was he relieved? Happy? Overjoyed? Or was he concerned? Anxious? Worried? He wasn’t sure. Perhaps it was even a weird cocktail of all of the above. He was pleased Josh was alive and safe, but his visit was only going to spell bad news.
Dylan glanced at Yasmin. She was in the same position. Her face looked numb, as if it hadn’t yet decided which expression to use. Freddie and Jono completed the set. Josh’s brother, girlfriend and best friends, all horrified by his mere presence.
“What are you doing here?” Dylan interrogated, trying to keep his emotions together.
“Am I not allowed to see my friends?” Josh hit back, sitting with them at the bench.
“Please tell me you escaped,” Yasmin wasn’t holding herself together so well. Her voice quivered and her cheeks were red. Dylan understood – he was on the edge of that cliff himself.
“Escaped? Yasmin, I stayed to protect you. I wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for you,” Josh let rip. Dylan was disgusted. This wasn’t Josh. He cherished Yasmin. She was a queen in his eyes, and that’s the treatment she deserved. Yasmin was the best girl any guy could be lucky enough to date. What’s more is that Josh – the version Dylan knew – was already familiar with that.
“You really think that lowly of me,” Yasmin scoffed, wiping tears from her eyes, “I know you’re still there, Josh. Come on, we can fight this together.”
“I didn’t come for help. I came to issue a warning,” Josh held his phone out. Sammi and Jeremy were there, on a live link, being marched through the bunker tunnels, “You know where you can find them. You’re all welcome to come.”
“They’re your friends, dude. You don’t have to do this,” Freddie reminded. He was keeping it together impressively well considering his girlfriend was in danger – that was Freddie all over.
“I’ve got a job to do, and I can do it far better without worrying about a bunch of sentimental teenagers,” Josh condescendingly hit out. Dylan was speechless.
“How about this for sentimentality?” Yasmin stood up just as Josh tried to walk off, “It’s over. We’re done.”
“Whatever,” Josh nonchalantly yelled, without turning back around. He didn’t flinch. It was like his humanity had been filtered out.
“Fuck that,” Yasmin cursed, no longer bothering to hold back the tears. Instantly, both Dylan and Freddie wrapped their arms around Yasmin, ready to soothe her concerns. Dylan was doing his best to keep it together for her sake, but it was hard. Josh was his brother. He hated seeing him like that.
Sensing a hand on his knee, Dylan immediately began to feel at ease. He knew it was Jono, comforting him in a small yet very much appreciated manner.
“We have to get Sammi back,” a worried Freddie mentioned.
“I know,” Dylan replied, “But we can’t go in there without a plan.”
“Library. Now. We need a computer,” Yasmin jumped in, wiping her tears away. Dylan admired her bravery. She was so strong. Josh really didn’t deserve her.
Much to her relief, only a small amount of Lily’s blood was needed for each sick werewolf in medical. The downside, for a change, was her healing power. Each cut healed within seconds of being made, meaning she had created ten different incisions. Healing or not, each one hurt – more so when she knew what was coming each time.
The first nine werewolves had all showed quick signs of improvement, which was another benefit. In fact, it was all going surprisingly smoothly so far. Something had to go wrong – it was just her luck.
“What are you?” the final girl asked. She looked beyond drowsy, barely able to muster the energy to speak.
“Part-werewolf,” Lily replied, “Long story.” It had almost become a running joke to swerve an explanation of how Lily came to be what she was.
“Tell me,” the girl begged. The blood was taking its time to heal her, so perhaps a story would distract her.
“I was injured, I was going to die at the hands of a creature called a Fenrir,” Lily recalled, “A blood transfusion saved me. Werewolf blood.”
“That’s cool,” the girl coughed. Her voice was louder that time, though. She had a little more strength. Finally, she was starting to heal. Lily smiled. Though she had succeeded in healing these werewolves, she didn’t expect that to be the end of her problems.
“Lily,” Sindy called out from behind. She sounded nervous – a feeling that immediately transferred onto Lily. Gently spinning around to face the door, Lily saw Nicolas restraining Sindy around the neck.
“I was wondering when you’d show up,” Lily tried to keep her cool, “How’s life as a murderer?”
“I’m only completing my mission,” Nicolas defended, “And you’re the final piece of the puzzle.”
“How?” Lily knew what was coming. Nicolas was one of David’s betas, sent to track Lily. His mission would be no different to David’s own.
“I was told to build up a pack. A werewolf, a banshee, a human, and you, the freak of nature,” Nicolas explained, “A pack to join the greater cause. The fight against the Lunar Sanctum.”
“You killed one of your pack already,” Lily reminded. She wasn’t allowing Violet to be side-lined.
“It was necessary. The virus wasn’t enough, you weren’t going to listen. Join us, Lily,” Nicolas begged.
“You know the answer to that already,” Lily replied as calmly as possible, trying to conceal her disgust. Nevertheless, Nicolas wasn’t stupid. He surely wasn’t expecting her to roll over.
“Then you leave me with no choice,” Nicolas ominously stated, “I’ll give you until twelve midday today. Join the pack, or I’ll unleash a new strain of the virus. Your blood won’t reach their veins in time for them to be saved.”
He released Sindy from his grip and rushed away. Claw marks were present in Sindy’s neck – not very deep, but he was clearly applying an unnecessary level of force.
“Are you okay? Lily quickly asked.
“I’m fine,” Sindy assured, catching her breath, “What now?”
“Let’s play him at his own game,” Lily decided. Her brain was already whirring, thinking of a plan. She wasn’t losing this battle.
9: The Rainbow in Every Storm Written by MarthaJonesFan
Sat shrouded in darkness, Sammi didn’t know where she was. She’d been pushed through the bunker tunnels into what felt like a vast space, but she couldn’t see a thing. It could’ve been anywhere. She desperately wanted to escape, but her hands were tied with some pretty strong rope. If her werewolf twin couldn’t break free, she stood no chance.
One of David’s betas had jumped them both in the toilets and dragged them to wherever they were. Sammi had heard already that her dad’s lair was situated through the tunnels, so she could make an educated guess about where she was. The room smelt damp and dirty, as if nobody had bothered to sweep the floor in years.
Footsteps sounded. Sammi couldn’t tell who it was – if only she had the ability to track scents. She could ask Jeremy, but she didn’t want to make a sound. Even her breathing felt noisy in the silence, though, and whoever was approaching them was probably capable of tracking their heartbeats. Either way, Sammi was screwed.
“Stop struggling,” a familiar voice demanded. Josh. Sammi froze. She never thought she’d be so terrified of someone she considered a friend, but she couldn’t even look at his face – the little of it she could see in the terrible lighting, anyway.
“Let us out,” Jeremy called out. He didn’t know Josh like Sammi did. The old Josh, anyway. Before he succumbed to their father.
“Let him go, you can keep me,” Sammi tried her best to reason. She needed to look after Jeremy. He was wrapped up in this because of what David put him through. He didn’t deserve whatever this was.
“No chance. I’ve got orders, and I need to follow them if I want to live,” Josh replied, “I’m reuniting the family.”
“You forgot someone,” an extra voice came from behind Josh. Johnny. What was he doing here? It was far too dangerous.
“I knew it was only a matter of time until you showed up,” Josh glared his bright blue eyes. Freddie had told Sammi what the blue colour meant. She knew Josh had changed, but he had past form. There was nothing left in him to stop history repeating itself.
Josh lunged for Johnny, but each attack was swerved expertly. Sammi tried to wriggle free while Josh was distracted, but the ties were still too strong.
All of a sudden, Josh collapsed with a thud to the floor. Sliding into view was Brett, carrying a tranquiliser gun. Josh surely could have caught that, but Johnny was the perfect distraction.
“Where the heck did you get that?” Sammi was impressed.
“You think Ed left us without protection?” Brett smiled, looking proud of himself.
“Come on, get us out,” Sammi demanded. Johnny primed his claws, slashing the ropes with absolute ease. Sammi immediately checked Jeremy was okay.
“I’m fine, we just need to get out of here,” Jeremy read her mind, “None of us are safe.”
“Come on. If we get above ground before he wakes up, he won’t be able to track our scents,” Johnny reminded. Sammi wasn’t hanging around. Johnny was right – they had to get out, sharpish.
The library was its usual state of busy when Dylan filtered in. It wasn’t loud – much to his relief – but most computers and tables were taken up by studious kids, or those who had forgotten to do their biology homework before first period. He had been in that position more than once, and Mrs. Johnson’s wrath wasn’t worth it.
Yasmin rapidly secured the final free computer while Freddie pulled up an extra chair. Dylan, meanwhile, perched at the sole empty table a couple of metres away. He needed a bit of quiet time. Of course, Jono followed him. He was the only person Dylan wanted to be around.
“Hey,” Jono wiped a tear that escaped down Dylan’s cheek, “It’s okay, I’m here.”
“Josh is gone, isn’t he?” Dylan could barely speak – the lump in his throat was uncomfortable.
“For now, yes, but we’ll get him back. That’s what we do,” Jono reminded, “Don’t lose focus, we’re not out of the game yet.”
“What if this is the day we don’t win? What if we lose someone?” Dylan worried. His anxieties were building, his mind spiralling out of control to the worst-case scenario.
“What’s brought this on?” Jono queried. He was the best agony aunt. He listened to Dylan’s worries and his advice was second-to-none.
“Something Scott said, a while ago,” Dylan opened up, “He said he lost a girl. Allison. He loved her, Jon, and she died.”
“Hey, listen,” Jono took Dylan’s hands, “You’re not losing me. We’re in this together, we have been since the start and we will be until the end.”
“I couldn’t cope without you,” Dylan cried. The flood barriers had caved in. He worried so much about losing Jono, and all of his friends.
“Same. No matter what, Dyl, you’ve always got me, I promise,” Jono was tearing up too. Neither of them cared what the people around them would think – they had no idea what they were facing, after all.
“Shit, how did your parents take everything? I’ve been so wrapped up in myself, I forgot completely,” Dylan had an immediate sinking feeling. He should have checked on Jono before unleashing his own feelings.
“No, don’t apologise. It could’ve gone better, I can’t lie,” Jono admitted, “Dad’s stubborn as always, mom’s not said much. Things are gonna be different.”
“Not with me. I’m still here, and if you want to stay around mine for a bit, you know mom and Ed won’t have a problem,” Dylan offered. It was like a reflex – he was unconditionally supportive.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Jono raised a small smile, “Look, I was going to keep this for Christmas, but I picked it up this morning, and I think we both need a little boost now.”
Jono picked a cute box out of his bag. It looked like the kind you’d see at marriage proposals with an engagement ring positioned cutely inside. Jono popped it open – Dylan's guess wasn’t far off. Inside was a cute, shiny silver ring.
“I’m not proposing, don’t panic, you know I’d do that in a far more romantic place than school,” Jono laughed, “It’s an eternity ring. If you ever feel down, you’ll have me with you in some way, even if I’m not with you physically.”
The tears didn’t stop, but Dylan felt an uncontrollable rush of endorphins throughout his body all of a sudden. They were happy tears. The ring was perfect, and Dylan already knew he’d never take it off.
“I love it,” Dylan was in awe, “Please don’t tell me it was expensive.” He didn’t want Jono spending a silly amount of money on him.
“Only the best for you,” Jono smiled cheekily, “It was the cheapest one they had.” Dylan chuckled, sliding the ring onto his finger. The price didn’t matter, it was the sentiment and the meaning. It was just the boost he needed.
“Now we get Josh back,” Dylan nodded firmly.
Watching Yasmin scroll up and down through Google was tough for Freddie. She had immersed herself into the mission so intensely that any chance of processing what just happened with Josh was long gone. He knew how unhealthy that was, because he had been doing the same. With both Yasmin and Dylan struggling because of Josh, and with George gearing up to move away, and the house on the verge of being sold, and now Sammi missing, it was on Freddie to be strong, no matter how hard it was.
“Why is nothing coming up?” Yasmin angrily complained, slamming the keyboard away with a little too much force.
“Hey, don’t rush it. Take a breath,” Freddie encouraged.
“There’s no time. We need to get a plan together,” Yasmin refused to make eye contact.
“Yasmin, stop,” Freddie commanded. She paused, but still didn’t face him, “Face me, please.”
“If I face you, I’ll cry. I’m not crying, not yet,” Yasmin replied, as determined and headstrong as always.
“Take it from me, keeping it together does nobody any favours,” Freddie warned. He so desperately wanted to make Yasmin laugh, but humour wasn’t on the cards. Sometimes, laughter wasn’t the solution, especially when Freddie himself could barely muster up a smile.
“Found it,” Yasmin changed the subject, clicking on a result from Google. The website wasn’t one Freddie recognised, but it looked professional. Yasmin read it aloud, “Crystalshaw’s abandoned underground warehouse was owned by the Lunar Sanctum, until operations ceased in 2013.”
“What the hell is the Lunar Sanctum?” Freddie was baffled. Sammi said Jeremy had mentioned it, but nobody had any clue what it was. Regardless, they were proving annoyingly significant.
“It was decommissioned, but all equipment remains installed in the event of a crisis,” Yasmin continued to read.
“Crisis?” Freddie was still stumped. Whatever this website was, it was talking in riddles.
“Maybe if we can get in, we can reboot the system, find out what it’s about, gain control?” Yasmin suggested.
“You’re talking my language,” Freddie smiled. Whatever that place was, it could be the key to saving his girl and his best friend.
Entering her new accommodation for the first time, Lily saw a dorm room with three single beds, spread equidistantly apart. It was a lot less spacious than her previous shared living situation, but it would do for now.
Lily collapsed onto the bed farthest from the door. She was emotionally drained. She hadn’t even been back a full day and she’d not had a single moment to rest yet. It was far from over, too. She had just an hour to decide how she was going to deal with Nicolas. She couldn’t allow the virus to get any worse. No more death. However, there was no way she was joining that pack.
“They’re expecting me to share with Nicolas,” Alex sighed. Of course – they wouldn’t allow boys and girls to share bedrooms.
“We’ve got an extra bed. What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” Lily smirked. There was no way she was letting him anywhere near Nicolas. He was human – easier to hurt, and easier to kill.
“If we’re even alive by bedtime,” Sindy sighed, claiming the bed nearest the door. This gave Alex the middle bed – right next to Lily, thankfully.
“I hope that’s not a premonition,” Alex half-joked. His face looked so worried, and Lily felt the same. This situation felt impossible.
“You should have seen him,” Sindy opened up, “He was unhinged. He would have killed me.”
“That rules out negotiation,” Lily added. She had met unhinged people so many times – words never worked on them. They needed action, “Unless…”
“Unless what?” Alex impatiently wondered.
“We don’t know how he got involved with David. He’s manipulative, he coerced Johnny into his pack. Who’s to say Nicolas isn’t the same? We can unlock a part of his humanity that’s been buried,” Lily thought aloud, “We need to do some digging.”
“Or it makes him angrier and he kills us sooner,” Sindy played devil’s advocate, “We need a plan B.”
“I think I have an idea,” Alex piped up, “Sindy, do you know where they took Violet’s body?”
“Yeah, it’s at the undertaker’s, her funeral’s in a few days,” Sindy replied cautiously, “Why?”
“Plan B,” Alex vaguely replied. Lily wasn’t sure where he was going with his idea, but they needed a back-up and it was surely better than nothing. This ended today.
Anxiously looking behind while he ran, Brett felt nervous. They had only been running for a couple of minutes, but the bunker tunnels covered most of Crystalshaw. The end was still far away, and none of them were safe until they got far, far away.
For Brett, it wasn’t a question that he had to return to help Sammi. She hadn’t been immersed in the supernatural world for long, much like Brett himself. There was still a lot to learn about it, and they needed each other’s backs.
Johnny was bringing up the rear, while Jeremy and Sammi sprinted ahead. Even now, when his life was in more danger than anyone’s, he was still selfless. Borderline stupid, but absolutely heroic.
A glimmer of light appeared ahead. The way out was near. They were so close. Brett’s legs were tiring, but he couldn’t allow himself to think about that. He imagined the basketball net ahead, and he was just about to slam-dunk the winning shot.
Suddenly, a shadowed figure shot down the ladder. All Brett could see was two threatening, glowing blue eyes. Josh had caught them up, taking the scenic above-ground route.
“In here,” Brett directed, yanking open Dylan’s bunker. Sammi and Jeremy filtered in, but Johnny was too slow. Josh caught him by the shirt.
“Close the door,” Johnny yelled. Brett was torn. He wanted to save Johnny, but doing so put Sammi and Jeremy at risk.
rescue you,” Brett promised, regretfully yanking the door shut. Josh couldn’t
get inside – the walls and door were lined with mountain ash, making it the
“Johnny,” Jeremy called out. Brett forgot that they were essentially brothers. Johnny had spoken a lot about their years apart during their time at the hut. David had treated him like one of his own.
“We’ll rescue him,” Brett assured Jeremy, and himself too. He just wasn’t sure how. He was all out of ideas.
“David’s going to know exactly where we are before long. You think he’ll leave that door unguarded? We’re sitting ducks if we don’t move now,” Sammi reasoned. She was right. They were safe inside, but it wasn’t practical.
“Okay, so Josh was on his own. He’ll need to take Johnny to David. We’ve got a window now,” Brett processed as a lightbulb flickered on inside his head, “Let’s play Josh at his own game. We can navigate the forest, right?”
“I know the way,” Jeremy added. He had escaped David before. He knew the route.
let’s go,” Brett yanked the door open. As expected, nobody was there. This was
his chance to return Johnny’s favour.
Dylan could never forget the last time he was at the warehouse; it was the most confusing time of his life. Jono had only just become a werewolf, and it was the most stressful experience he’d been through. Seeing Jono suffer the way Dylan himself once had was awful.
Now he had another level of stress. Josh was in danger this time – not just from David, but from himself. Dylan had to get him back, and rescue Sammi and Jeremy in the process. They were his family, after all.
The vast space hadn’t changed at all. The lighting was terrible, and it stank of damp. It wasn’t hard to tell that it hadn’t properly been used in years.
“Now,” Dylan whispered to Freddie and Yasmin. They needed to reach the control room, situated in a side passage, and seeing as nobody was in sight, this was the perfect time to slip away.
“Ah, Dylan, I was wondering when you’d be arriving,” David approached from the far end, just as Yasmin and Freddie slipped out of sight. Phew.
“Where are they?” Dylan asked. Jono stayed firmly by his side. No matter what happened, he always had back-up.
“Nothing comes for free, Dylan,” David bargained, “You know what it will cost you.”
Before Dylan could reply, the door behind them burst open. Josh had arrived, and he was shoving a restrained Johnny forward. What was he doing back? This wasn’t remotely safe for him.
“Ah, my incentive. Not the one I had intended, but this one will do,” David smirked, “It’s simple, Dylan. Join me, or Johnny dies.”
“No,” Jono called out. The roles had switched – Dylan was now Jono’s back-up.
“No?” David scoffed.
“No,” Jono reiterated, “You won’t kill him.”
“I won’t? Do you want to bet on that?” David kept the upper hand.
“He’s your son, to all intents and purposes anyway. He’s family. Just like Sammi. Just like Jeremy. Just like me,” Jono explained, “You kept us all safe from the virus for a reason.”
“Gold star,” David smiled, looking impressed, “Though I suppose some family members are of more value than others.”
Almost on cue, the door burst open again. Two of David’s betas pushed Sammi, Jeremy and Brett inside. They were all reunited, but this situation wasn’t ideal at all. The fate of the pack rested on Dylan’s shoulders – at least until Freddie worked his magic.
“The Drummond pack back together, what a lovely reunion. Come on out, Mr. Ruben and Ms. Forsyth,” David yelled. Damn. He knew the plan. Another beta followed Freddie and Yasmin as they re-emerged. Now they really were stuffed.
The on-site coffee shop was the perfect place for a private chat, Lily thought. It was never very busy, and most of its customers were students trying to rush-complete their assignment due in the next day. If they kept their voices down, nobody would bat an eyelid at their conversation.
Lily and Sindy sat next to each other at one of the booths. They had come prepared with some evidence they managed to collect – the perks of having Ed on speed dial. This was their trump card, and Lily was strangely excited to play it.
Nicolas hadn’t actually specified a location to meet at, but Lily assumed he wouldn’t be far away regardless. He seemed to have nothing better to do, and he’d developed a habit of stalking her. If only she knew who he was when she saw him on her first flight over. He played the role of the bumbling idiot well.
Glancing around, Lily almost had a heart attack. Nicolas was sat opposite the coffee shop table, quietly creeping up on her. His facial expression was blank. He meant business.
“I’m here to talk,” Lily skipped the greetings. This wasn’t a social gathering. She wasn’t going to pretend.
“Don’t waste my time,” Nicolas muttered, still not giving any emotions away.
“He saved you, right? David. My uncle. He was there for you when you had nobody, wasn’t he?” Lily spoke. Slowly, Nicolas’ expression began to change. The tough exterior showed signs of cracking. His top lip quivered. Yet, Nicolas still remained silent.
“What happened?” Sindy probed.
“My parents were killed. David saved me. He turned me, to save my life. I owe him everything,” Nicolas answered.
“Or, he manipulated you,” Sindy served back, “Have a look at this.” She pushed the file of paperwork over. Lily watched as Nicolas’ composure dropped further. A tear trickled from his eye.
Inside the file was the coroner’s report on his parents’ deaths. Evidence that Ed had dug up and emailed over, and not all of it was lining up with Nicolas’ account.
“He killed your parents, Nicolas. He manipulated you and Johnny, and kept Jeremy a secret for years. My own cousin, and I didn’t get to know him, because of David,” Lily did her best to persuade him. Any sane person would surely be able to understand her angle.
“No,” Nicolas was annoyingly defiant.
“Please, listen, I want to help you. Nobody has to die. My pack. Dylan Drummond’s pack. We can help you,” Lily continued. She knew Dylan’s name carried some weight.
Nicolas paused. He actually seemed to be considering the offer. Lily was very impatient for the answer – this was genuinely a matter of life or death. The fact he even had to consider it was a cause for concern.
Suddenly, Nicolas erupted into laughter. A small cackle initially, but it ascended into a full-on belly laugh. He was mocking them both.
“He said you’d do this. Try to use my humanity. Don’t worry, my conscience left the room a long time ago,” Nicolas glared his terrifying blue eyes, exposing his sick pride in that shameful colour, “I’ve killed so many, why stop now?”
Right on cue, the fire alarm sounded. The café began to evacuate. Lily concealed her own laughter. That was Alex’s plan B at work.
Nicolas spun around, confused as to what was going on. This was Lily’s moment. Without a single second of hesitation, Lily jammed a syringe into Nicolas’ neck, releasing the blood inside into his system.
“What have you done?” a horrified Nicolas scrunched his face in anger.
“This is for Violet,” Lily smirked, “A little dose of her blood. Blood that you infected with your little virus.”
Nicolas was gobsmacked. They’d played him at his own game, and he knew it.
“You wouldn’t leave me to die,” Nicolas yelled.
“Of course not. Somewhere in this café is a dose of my blood. Good luck finding it in time,” Lily explained confidently, sliding herself out of the booth with Sindy in tow.
Alex was waiting for her at the main entrance. Plan B had worked, and it was all down to him.
“Come on, let’s go home,” Lily smiled, wrapping one arm around each of them. Even if Nicolas found the blood, he wouldn’t mess with them again. Not if he knew what was good for him.
Well and truly cornered, Dylan’s mind was racing. He couldn’t waste a second in thinking up a way out for the pack. Time was valuable, and their lives were on the line. If there was one thing he knew about David, it was that he was ruthless and unpredictable; David’s family still weren’t safe either.
“I’ll play nicely, to give you all some choice in the matter,” David confidently circled the centre of the room, scanning everybody’s faces, “I’ll let you decide between you two dies first. Any volunteers?”
Dylan felt sick. He couldn’t believe what was happening. Desperately, he hoped it was just a dream, or a nightmare. This was the worst-case scenario.
“Me,” Yasmin bravely volunteered. Dylan’s stomach dropped. This couldn’t be happening. This shouldn’t be happening.
“No,” Dylan intervened.
“Yes,” Yasmin nodded, her eyes widening in Dylan’s direction. She had a plan. Of course she did, that was Yasmin Forsyth all over. Dylan would’ve been dead ages ago without her.
“Kneel,” David demanded as Yasmin approached the centre of the room. She obeyed, placing her hands behind her head, “I’ll let Joshua have this honour.”
Dylan glanced to Josh. His tough-guy act fell away in an instant. That was all the reassurance he needed to know that the Josh he knew was still inside. He still loved Yasmin. He still cared for her.
“You said she’d be safe,” Josh protested.
“From me, yes. From you? That’s another matter,” David grinned.
“I’m sorry,” Josh muttered, a tear slipping down his cheek as he begrudgingly positioning himself behind Yasmin.
“Me too,” Yasmin hit back. The tear failed to reach the ground. It suspended itself a few inches above – stopped in mid-air. Dylan smiled. Yasmin knew her abilities inside out. The nix was their key.
The teardrop grew in size. Bigger and bigger, in just a matter of seconds. Yasmin took aim. She swiped it at Josh, crashing him into David as the flood forced him backwards.
“Freddie, go,” Yasmin demanded. They were in control again. Freddie had a mission to complete.
“Get ready to fight,” Dylan warned the others, scanning the room to witness the three betas fully shifted. They weren’t getting out without a fight, and Dylan was ready.
“Oh, I hate teenagers,” David groaned, picking himself up. He’d already shifted. It was alpha to alpha, but Dylan had numbers on his side. His entire pack were there, and that was David’s fault.
“We don’t like you much either,” Sammi yelled out. Dylan was so proud of how she stood her ground.
“This is for mom,” Jeremy added, ramming towards David and collapsing them both to the floor. The battle had begun.
“Dylan!” Freddie called out. He needed help.
“Go, we’ve got this,” Jono encouraged. Dylan felt bad to be leaving them, but without Freddie, they had no plan.
Dylan darted off down the short tunnel to the control room.
“What’s up?” Dylan questioned, a sense of urgency pulsating through his veins.
“The system’s rebooted. This was a detention facility, Dylan. Creatures the Lunar Sanctum found dangerous were put in here,” Freddie explained.
“What does the Lunar Sanctum do, though? Why would they need to do that?” Dylan was getting irritated. The Lunar Sanctum were cropping up incessantly, but there was still little indication as to who or what they were.
“It doesn’t matter, but they had a precaution installed. A bomb, made of mountain ash, certain to kill anything left inside,” Freddie explained.
“Okay, let’s do it, we can get out in time, right?” Dylan optimistically commanded. It didn’t sound like a difficult decision.
“That’s the thing,” Freddie regretfully mentioned, “There’s no timer. The bomb was only deemed appropriate in the worst-case scenario. Immediate destruction as a final resort.”
Dylan’s heart dropped. The hope filtered out of his body. He could hear the screams from the pack coming from the main arena. They were giving everything to the fight, but they needed a solution.
“Get everyone out. When the coast is clear, howl,” Dylan decided. This was his chance to be the alpha. To prove himself, for once and for all.
“No,” Freddie argued, “You can’t. I won’t let you.”
“Don’t leave Josh behind. Make sure mom allows you to move in, she’ll need you around. Tell her I love her, and Jono too. He’ll need you more than ever, okay?” Dylan’s voice quivered. This was so hard, but it had to be done. It was the only way out, “Make sure he moves on. He deserves someone amazing. I want him to be happy.”
Freddie nodded regretfully. He handed Dylan a button, attached by a short lead to the control panel, “Press this when you hear me.” Dylan nodded. He hugged Freddie – he didn’t deserve a friend like him.
Dylan followed Freddie halfway down the corridor, as far as the lead would let him go. Freddie did as directed – he pulled the pack away from the fight, pushing them towards the exit.
“Where’s Dylan?” a panicked Jono yelled. Dylan couldn’t help crying. This broke his heart. It was horrible.
The pack had been rounded up, and three betas laid unconscious on the floor, but Jeremy was still fighting David, pinning him to the floor. The fight wasn’t over yet.
“Jeremy, stop, I’m your father,” David tried his manipulation.
“You used me. Experimented on me. You deserve everything you get,” Jeremy hit back. He locked eyes with Dylan, giving him a nod. He knew what was about to happen.
“Jeremy, now,” Sammi called out. She was still in the dark. If Jeremy gave up, David could escape, and the lead of Dylan’s remote didn’t stretch that far. Dylan couldn’t save him.
Then it came. Freddie’s howl. The all-clear.
“For Jono,” Dylan simply said, slamming his hand against the button. Fire erupted all around Dylan. He collapsed to the floor immediately, his skin irritated by the mountain ash scattered around. Feeling weak, his eyes snapped shut.
The last one up the ladder, Freddie had done his part – he’d seen the rest of the pack to safety. They exited the tunnels through the far hatch, nearby the warehouse, leading them up into the shed in the middle of the forest. The walls were strong enough to contain the blast, but above ground, the damage was clear. Mud sprayed everywhere, leaving the ground unstable. They had to keep their distance.
The entire pack was silent. Brett was cuddling Johnny – he’d lost a brother, of sorts. Sammi gripped onto Freddie, but he felt lost. He didn’t know how to ease her pain. Josh had already scarpered – too ashamed, clearly. Yasmin and Jono stood side-by-side, both looking numb. There was no sugar coating what had just happened.
“We can find them, right?” Jono broke the silence.
“He was at the centre of the blast, Jono,” Yasmin replied, “He took David and the betas out.”
“He could be buried alive, we need to find him,” Jono ran across the forest, but Freddie pulled him back. The ground wasn’t safe to walk on.
“Come on,” Freddie pulled him in for a hug, “He saved us. He saved you. He loved you, Jono.” There was no way Freddie wasn’t going to uphold Dylan’s wishes.
Jono broke down. He gripped Freddie so tight as he unleashed the uncontrollable wave of tears. Freddie was trying to be strong, but he’d been doing that for days already. The flood barriers gave in. His eyes trickled teardrops for the first time in a long time.
“What now?” Brett wondered.
“We keep going. It’s what Dylan would want,” Yasmin assured. Freddie agreed. They all had each other, and they’d get each other through it.
The day had come at last, and Jono was dreading it. He hadn’t slept much overnight, or much at all for a week. Sleeping alone gave him and instant reminder the second he woke up that nothing was the same any more.
Adjusting to life without Dylan was impossible. They had been inseparable for over two years – and both of them knew it would have been many more. Jono’s entire future completely blinked out of existence. It was horrible, and it was all he could think about.
He hadn’t left Dylan’s bedroom for the whole week. He wanted to be surrounded by his belongings, his clothes, his keepsakes, so he could feel close to him. It was comforting to know that he had Caroline and Ed nearby, too – they were going through everything he was. Lily visited every day – she came home from college as soon as he heard the news, of course. Everyone felt broken, and Jono wasn’t sure how to build himself back up.
Now it was the big day. The one he had been anticipating with anxiety and worry. This was where he finally had to face up to the facts. Dylan was gone, and Jono owed him a proper goodbye. He and Sammi were going to need each other, too. It was a celebration of Jeremy as well. The brother she barely knew, but so desperately wanted.
The chapel was decorated beautifully. Photos were scattered around. Dylan as a kid. Dylan as a teenager. Dylan with Caroline. Dylan with his dad. Dylan with Jono – lots of those in particular. Dylan always said he was unphotogenic, but Jono thought he was gorgeous in every single one. His beautiful man.
There were no coffins for either lad – that was the toughest part. The only bodies found in the wreckage belonged to David’s betas. It gave Jono some degree of hope, even if everyone thought he was refusing to admit the truth. That said, it had been a week. If Dylan were alive, he’d have returned in that time. Jono was slowly but surely coming to terms with reality.
The front row was populated by Caroline, Jono, Lily, Sammi and Ed. Family stuck together – except Josh, of course. Nobody had seen him since the explosion. Ed had sent search parties out, to no avail. It was the last thing Caroline needed – her family was broken.
It was time for Jono to speak. He had spent the entire week worrying about what to say, but it was no good. Perhaps an improvised speech would be better anyway – that was Dylan to a T. He looked down at his eternity ring for a final boost. Dylan was still with him, in some capacity, and he was never taking that ring off.
“I met Dylan on his first day of high school,” Jono addressed the crowd. The chapel was packed – the whole pack was there, including Johnny, George, and even Yasmin’s mum. His own parents were there, not that they had reached out to him. Even the death of his boyfriend wasn’t enough for his parents to accept a werewolf son. Teachers like Mrs. Johnson, Miss Asahd, and even Mrs. Harding, the headteacher, were there, alongside many students. So many people wanted to pay their respects. It warmed Jono’s heart.
“We didn’t really talk at first, though,” Jono continued, “But he caught my eye from day one. A few weeks later, we were in detention together. The rest is history.”
Jono paused, spotting a figure slipping in at the back. Josh. He was shrouded inside his hoodie, but he smiled at Jono. A simple gesture to show he was safe.
“Dylan brightened up my life. He saw me for who I was inside, and made me feel happy every time we were together,” Jono continued. His voice was shaking, and the lump in his throat made talking difficult, but he powered through. This was the least he owed Dylan.
“He overcame his insecurities daily, and I was so proud of him. I still am, and I always will be. I’ll cherish the music we loved, the places we visited, and all of the memories we made forever. In the words of one of our favourite songs, he taught me to look for the rainbow in every storm. He’ll always be my baby. Goodbye, my gorgeous Dyl.”
Jono wiped the heavy stream of tears from his eyes as the next song played – “Goodbye” by the Spice Girls. Lily and Caroline both wrapped their arms around him. Dylan was gone, and he didn’t know how he’d ever get over it.
Stirring from what felt like the sleep of a lifetime, Dylan tried opening his eyes. It wasn’t very easy at first – the room he was in was lit very brightly. However, his vision soon adjusted to give him an idea of where he was.
Confusingly, Dylan appeared to be in some sort of lab. The bed he was on was like a hospital bed, and he was wearing a gown like a patient typically would. Those gowns always made him think of his dad. They carried a peculiar scent of sadness as a result.
The lab was otherwise mostly empty – worktops ran around the perimeter of the room but nothing was on them, except a sink with plastic cups piled next to them. A toilet was situated at the far end of the room, and large windows ran the entire length and width of the room, exposing similar labs both in front and next to the one Dylan was in. In the room directly in front, Dylan spotted Jeremy. He was alive too; that was a relief.
Dylan remembered it all. The warehouse. David. Seeing Jono ushered out for his own safety. Dylan should have been dead. Why wasn’t he? He was relieved to be alive, but he wanted to be at home. He felt so uncomfortable and panicked.
He spotted the eternity ring on his finger. The only thing that belonged to him in the room. A reminder that Jono was still out there. He must have been grieving. It broke Dylan’s heart.
“Jeremy,” Dylan slammed his hands against the window. He tried opening the door, but it was locked and coated in mountain ash. He couldn’t even go near it without feeling sore.
“Dylan, you’re awake,” Jeremy sat up, “I’m so glad to see you/”
“Where are we?” Dylan queried desperately.
“They’re coming. Remain calm. It won’t be nice if you don’t,” Jeremy warned. Dylan quickly laid back down, just as a suited white man in his forties entered. Dylan had never seen him before, but he looked important.
“Good morning Dylan,” he smiled.
“Where am I?” Dylan questioned.
“All in good time. You’ve been out for a while,” the man replied vaguely.
“How long?” Dylan probed. He needed more answers, because nothing made any sense.
“A week,” He responded, “The mountain ash was almost fatal, but the doctors have been very helpful in pumping it out of your lungs. Even for an alpha, that explosion was dangerous.”
“David,” Dylan remembered. Was he dead? Did he escape too? All of this could have been for nothing.
“David’s body was collected by us. You and Jeremy were salvaged,” the man informed, “Welcome to the Lunar Sanctum.”
Dylan’s eyes widened. Whatever the Lunar Sanctum was, it was dangerous. He needed his pack back.