Previous: Series 7

Next: Series 9

With his pack assuming he's dead, Dylan's survival depends on himself as he's trapped within the dangerous Lunar Sanctum, but what is it that they want? With Jono slowly but surely moving on, and the pack distracted by a deadly new creature, Dylan teams up with Jeremy and a new friend to save himself. Will he escape? Will the pack reunite?

Claws Out is a spin-off of Teen Wolf.
Episode Name
New Normal
Living inside the Lunar Sanctum, Dylan's escape plans accelerate when a new arrival desperately needs his help. Brett takes a big step, and encourages Jono to do the same. Yasmin and Sammi struggle with their emotions, while Lily and Alex's bubble is burst at college.
Fire Alarm
Not losing sight of an opportunity, Dylan attempts to find his way out of the Lunar Sanctum. Jono's forced to confront his feelings with help from Brett and Lily. Freddie probes Josh over his whereabouts, while Yasmin struggles to cope.
Almost Home
Outside the Sanctum, Dylan takes a risk to protect Liam and Jeremy. Jono takes the next step with Oscar after much deliberation, while Josh tries to make amends with Yasmin. Lily tries to make a good impression on Jamal but is left worried by his response.
Jono's Choice
Confronted by an unexpected shock, Dylan's return to Crystalshaw hits a bumpy start, leaving Jono to figure out where his heart really lies. Lily panics as Jamal makes his position clear. Sammi and Nolan reunite with their loved ones. Yasmin finds herself working with Josh to investigate a new creature sighting.
Tasked with gaining access to the Lunar Sanctum USB, Freddie feels the pressure while Sammi is forced to handle a difficult situation. Back in Crystalshaw, Lily recruits Dylan, Jono and Yasmin to help investigate Jamal. Brett's forced to stage a recovery mission when Johnny is abducted.
Brett and Yasmin consult the Bestiary to learn more about the basilisk, but with a quick attack, it leaves Dylan a decision to make with one of his friend's lives in the balance. Without his daily medication, Freddie loses focus inside the Lunar Sanctum. Will Ed and Liam rescue Freddie, Sammi and Josh before they're found?
Desperate to help a friend, Dylan and Jono remember the difficulties of a brand new beta. Freddie confronts his demons when an unexpected ally shows up. Johnny leads the way in confronting the basilisk, while Nolan finds support in Lily when Monroe tracks him down.
Regrouping the pack, Dylan comes up with a plan that involves facing his biggest nightmare. Yasmin and Sindy discover a shared ability, while Freddie learns more about the history of the Lunar Sanctum and Sammi has to make an impossible decision.
The Power of Three
Dylan and Jono make a final stand against the Lunar Sanctum as their true intentions are revealed. As lives hang in the balance, Lily has to choose between the two people she loves most. Yasmin learns more about her powers, but will she use them before Monroe prevents her?

1: New Normal Written by MarthaJonesFan

Tossing and turning like crazy, Yasmin was having a rough sleep. It was one of those nights where the constant chit-chat in her mind turned into yelling, and visions flooded her brain. Any hope of rest was long since gone.

That said, Yasmin hadn’t slept properly in months. Five months, specifically. Ever since the worst day of her life. The pain she felt at the hands of her father was nothing compared to the gigantic sense of loss she simply couldn’t shake.

Places and people flashed through Yasmin’s mind. It was like a series of flashbacks, except Yasmin recognised none of them. Until one particular face.


He looked different – his hair was even longer, longer than she’d ever known it to be. He looked drained, like he hadn’t slept either. It felt so real.

It couldn’t have been, though. Dylan was dead, and Yasmin knew it. Her mind was playing tricks on her. Even if she knew her mind was never in the wrong.

Yasmin opened her eyes. Any chance of sleep was gone, so she may as well have been a little productive. She glanced to her companion in bed. His name was still a mystery, but he’d given her thirty minutes of relief and distraction earlier that night, so he’d served a purpose.

Creeping downstairs, Yasmin went to find her biology textbook. Exams were not far away – she had to take advantage of every moment for revision.

In the kitchen, she saw a figure. Somebody was there. She couldn’t make out who it was, but there was only one possible candidate. It must have been her mum.

“Can’t sleep either?” Yasmin asked, flicking the light on.

Yasmin jumped back. It wasn’t her mum. Stood in front of her was Dylan, looking just as he did in her vision. He looked knackered and drained, but how was he there? Yasmin knew she had a connection with the dead, but this was sick.

“Help me,” Dylan said. Yasmin shut her eyes. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t have been. Sure enough, when she reopened her eyes, nobody was there. Yasmin’s mind was the most confusing place to live. If it wasn’t already, sleep was firmly off the agenda now.

Intrusively and incessantly, the alarm clock startled Jono awake. The first thing he did was check the time – seven o’clock. Four hours sleep; the best night’s sleep he’d had in ages. Cuddling up to Tatty was a comfort, especially when he woke up startled in the middle of the night.

Tatty was Dylan’s old teddy bear. He’d been given to Dylan as a kid, and he always considered him to be his prize possession. Naturally, he was now Jono’s responsibility. One worn-out teddy bear, that had certainly earned its name, symbolising an entire person’s life.

Jono pulled himself out of bed to open the curtains. He was still sleeping in Dylan’s room – he didn’t want to leave it and return home as if nothing had changed. Everything was different, and Dylan’s bedroom remaining exactly the same with all of his belongings untouched was a slight comfort. Besides, he didn’t want to go back home. His brief visits had resulted in cold stares from his dad, and complete avoidance from his mum. They still hadn’t accepted that he was a werewolf, and it broke Jono’s heart.

“Hey,” Freddie cautiously poked his head around the ajar door. Jono felt so much more at ease staying at the Drummond household. Caroline clearly appreciated the distraction of having someone else around the house, not that she’d ever show a weak moment in front of Jono. Ed was keeping strong for all of them, but Jono had heard him crying in private more than once. Then there was Freddie – what a time for him to have moved in. Not only did he lose Dylan, but Sammi lost Jeremy. He had to be strong for so many people.

“Hey,” Jono raised a slight smile – it was the most he could muster up.

“Don’t forget we’re picking Oscar up today,” Freddie mentioned. Together, they had subconsciously decided to swerve the question of “how are you?” – the answer was always pretty obvious.

“Oh shit,” Jono had forgotten entirely. His mind was like a sieve – nothing seemed to stick any longer.

“I’ll text him to say we’re a little late,” Freddie chuckled. Somehow, he still had a little laughter in him. Jono admired that.

Oscar had been the one good thing about those few months of darkness. He only recently moved to Crystalshaw, and naturally, Yasmin was put in charge of showing him around. He sort-of became attached to their group, but Jono didn’t mind – Oscar was so sweet and naïve. Thank goodness he wasn’t corrupted by the world of werewolves and supernaturals.

“Okay, I’ll be down in a sec. I’m not hungry so I’ll be ready in ten,” Jono informed. His appetite came and went – he tried to eat even a small something for every meal, but his stomach simply wasn’t in the mood that morning.

Placing Tatty gently back on the bed, Jono pulled a t-shirt out of his suitcase. He refused to unpack – it was Dylan’s room after all – so he had been living out of the same suitcase for months. Jono didn’t care, though.

Anything was better than going back home.

Facing another day of mediocrity ahead, Dylan wasn’t feeling enthusiastic. It had been five months of an identical daily routine – up at eight, breakfast served to his lab room, a morning of testing, lunch. More tests, dinner, and then bed. There was never any variety, and he wasn’t given much downtime.

Despite this, the Lunar Sanctum staff – including the mysterious Mr. Leadsom who he hadn’t seen since the very first day – insisted he wasn’t a prisoner. It was an odd definition of the word, because in Dylan’s eyes, being locked up all day with no voluntary exit was exactly how a prisoner lived.

What hurt Dylan the most though was that all of his friends and family thought he was dead. Jono, Josh, Yasmin, Ed, and his mum – they’d have been grieving for someone who wasn’t dead. The Lunar Sanctum insisted they weren’t the enemy, but they didn’t allow him even one phone call to let them know he was okay. Their mission was more important, and Dylan thought that was nothing short of hideous.

“Breakfast,” one of the staff – the same young lady wearing a lab coat – carried Dylan’s usual plate of toast in. One positive was that he was allowed to order his food, and it always tasted amazing.

“Thanks,” Dylan forced a smile. It was the only time he ever bothered to raise a smile – nothing else deserved one.

“Another day of fun,” he heard his new favourite voice call over. Dylan saw Jeremy, about to tuck in to a large fried breakfast.

“I can hardly contain my excitement,” Dylan replied. Their sarcasm levels had reached new peaks inside the Sanctum.

“One day closer to the day we get out, just you wait,” Jeremy was optimistic. That was usually Dylan’s job, but he’d lost his optimism within a week of arriving there. All he could think about was his friends. Whether Freddie moved in. How Brett and Johnny were doing. Where Josh was at. Jono. Anything at all about Jono. Any time Dylan thought about Jono, he wanted to cry. They should be together. The fact that they’d spent five months apart broke Dylan’s heart, and there was no end in sight.

Constantly, Dylan asked the staff at the Lunar Sanctum for updates. How long they’d be needed for. When they could return home. The answers were always extremely vague, and Dylan had resigned himself to remaining there for the foreseeable. That was, unless, he found a way.

Both he and Jeremy had been vigilant. They were sensible, and knew that if they tried to rush an escape plan, the Sanctum would catch them, and they wouldn’t be so hospitable – by their definition, anyway. Instead, they had kept an eye out for details. Five months of building up their knowledge of the Lunar Sanctum. Mentally noting the staff rota. Nothing was an unimportant detail.

Dylan looked at the pretty ring on his finger. He wore it like a wedding ring, though of course it wasn’t one. It was the only possession he had left. The eternity ring from Jono. A constant reminder of what he was fighting for. The ultimate symbol of everything he had with Jono. He knew he’d be back with him, but Dylan wasn’t sure how much longer he could cope on his own.

Waking up and seeing Alex instantly was Lily’s favourite thing. He was an immediate calming influence on her day, and with him right next to her, she knew she’d always be safe. Of course, their two beds had been pushed together – that was the downside of single beds in college dorms.

Thankfully, nobody appeared to have noticed that Alex had spent five months sleeping in a girls’ dormitory. His own allocated bedroom was empty otherwise, but Lily needed all of the friendly faces she could get around her. Even miles away from home, nothing felt the same, especially when a tearful Jono called her every night. Uni felt so unimportant in comparison.

On the bright side, nobody had heard from or seen Nicolas since the café. No body was found, so there was a strong chance he found the cure, but he hadn’t returned. Lily didn’t care where he was as long as he was nowhere near her or her friends. She had won, and Nicolas should have been running scared.

“Good morning,” a voice sounded from outside, accompanied by three urgent knocks. Lily didn’t know who it was, but she couldn’t take any risks.

“Under the bed,” she directed Alex, keeping her voice low. Unfortunately, their cute morning greetings had to be skipped that day.

“Seriously?” Sindy responded from across the room, moving cautiously to the door. Lily pulled the beds back apart as quickly as she could. It wasn’t worth the hassle of the college finding out they had broken the rules.

“Okay, go,” Lily said, satisfied there was no evidence of Alex being there. Sindy opened the bedroom door to see Maria, the housekeeper, on the other side.

“Morning ladies, sorry to drop by so early, but we’ve got a new arrival and she’ll be sharing with you both,” Maria announced.

Shit, Lily thought. That complicated things.

A timid girl stepped inside. She had such a gorgeous face, without any obvious make-up coating it. Her hair was tied into perfect braids that continued halfway down her back. Lily already had a new girl crush.

“Hi, I’m Misha,” she introduced nervously.

“I trust you girls will make her feel welcome,” Maria directed, backing out of the room and closing the door behind her.

“I’m Lily,” Lily took the lead. She was putting on a front, trying to keep her cool while being very aware of Alex’s continued presence under the bed. She had no idea how she was supposed to wriggle out of that one.

“And I’m Sindy,” Sindy smiled, playing the role of the perfect hostess.

“And I’m Alex,” he interjected, popping out from underneath the bed, still only half-dressed from bedtime. Darn. Lily was hoping she’d get Misha outside and away from the room so he could make a quick getaway. Now she actually had to explain.

“Oh, and I interrupting? I’m sorry,” Misha sheepishly averted her eyes from Alex’s bare chest.

“No, no, Alex is my boyfriend, he stayed the night. I’m sorry,” Lily went into damage control mode, “He’s just going.”

“Which room are you in?” Misha queried.

“Room 122, I think,” Alex answered. He didn’t even try to sell that – nobody was supposed to know he hadn’t been there in months.

“My brother Jamal has moved in there,” she replied, “You’ll get on, I’m sure.”

Alex nodded, having flung a t-shirt over his head and pulled some comfortable jeans over his boxer shorts. Lily couldn’t help feeling disappointed – it wasn’t going to be easy to spend the night together now.

“Come on, better get back,” Lily pushed Alex out of the room, ensuring the door clicked shut behind her.

“Oops,” Alex chuckled, safely out of Misha’s earshot.

“I’ll never live that down,” Lily couldn’t help giggling too. It felt like a long time since she last properly laughed.

“I’ll be fine,” Alex smiled, “I’ll see you at our lecture.” Lily reluctantly released her grip on his hand. She had no doubts about Misha being sweet, but it felt so good having Alex by her side each night. She wasn’t ready for change.

Taking a deep breath, Brett wasn’t sure whether this was such a good idea. He and Johnny had planned it so meticulously for a while now, dropping hints into conversations and mentally preparing themselves. After all, it was what they both wanted, but Brett knew this could be an uphill battle and things were unlikely to be the same again.

“Are you sure you want this?” Johnny double checked as they stood at the front gate of the school.

“Absolutely,” Brett replied. All he could think about was Dylan. If he was brave enough to do what he did at the warehouse, Brett could absolutely do this.

He linked hands with Johnny and shot him his cutest smile. Together, they walked forward into school, holding hands, for the first time. Brett was only out to the pack, so this was his statement to everyone else. He wanted to be out and proud, because now he had Johnny, he had no reason to feel ashamed of who he was.

Naturally, they got a load of stares. People he didn’t know were gawping at them. It shouldn’t have been that way. Why did nobody care when straight couples did the same thing?

“Dudes,” Freddie smiled as they reached the end of their march, “That was awesome.” Brett and Johnny perched next to each other at a bench that felt like a very different place to what it used to be. Jono, Yasmin and Sammi were there as always, but with some faces missing, it just wasn’t the same.

Brett glanced at the plaque that had been added to the bench. ‘In memory of Dylan Drummond and Jeremy Chadwick.’ It was a small gesture from the school, but Brett had seen Jono’s face when Mrs. Harding first presented it. He loved it.

“Too right,” Jono raised him a smile, “I’m proud of you, buddy. Dylan would be too.”

That warmed Brett’s heart. He had so much respect for Dylan, and it was still Dylan’s pack, after all. Nobody else was the alpha, and nobody seemed bothered about changing that, either. Dylan was irreplaceable.

“Boss move,” Oscar smiled. Of course, Oscar was the new face at the bench. Quite why he had slotted in amongst a group of grieving teenagers, Brett wasn’t sure, but his innocence was appreciated. He was chirpy, funny and sweet, and clearly had the hots for Jono too. It was a shame Jono barely noticed; five months on from Dylan, and moving on didn’t seem to have crossed his mind.

To his left, Brett noticed Sammi staring aimlessly ahead. She had barely said a word to anyone since Jeremy’s death. Her family had been ripped apart, and Brett couldn’t begin to understand that. He placed a hand on her arm – a simple signal that he was thinking of her. She met eyes with him for the first time in a while and nodded. The bubbly, cutesy girl had gone, but he wasn’t leaving her side.

“I’ve said if anyone tries anything in the changing rooms, I’ll show them who they’re messing with,” Johnny chuckled.

“Welcome to Crystalshaw, where the scariest beasts you’ll find are the gays,” Freddie joked. He had his hand on Sammi’s other arm, like he did every day. He was always there for her.

“Absolutely,” Johnny laughed.

“No,” Sammi called out, “Why are you laughing? Jeremy’s dead. Dylan’s dead. Josh is missing. Nothing’s funny.”

“Nobody’s forgotten that,” Freddie soothingly consoled her, “We all cope differently, right?”

“I’ll say,” Yasmin muttered, catching the eye of a fit sophomore guy passing by.

“He’s a douche,” Brett warned, knowing him well from the basketball team.

“Who cares? I never said he had to be husband material,” Yasmin smirked. Though she spoke light-heartedly, Brett was a little worried about Yasmin. She’d shut her problems off from everyone and seemed keen to distract herself in any way she could.

Brett noticed Oscar glancing at Jono. The crush couldn’t be more obvious. If only he’d seen Dylan and Jono together, because it almost felt like a non-starter to be going there. Perhaps Brett needed to play cupid.

Morning testing done. Dylan was coping surprisingly well, all things considered. He had a variety of needles prodding out of him, pumping stuff in and out of his system. Much like anything at the Lunar Sanctum, he’d asked what they were doing and he didn’t ever get an answer. If Dylan wasn’t meant to worry, surely they’d have nothing to lose by cluing him in?

That said, Dylan had endured a lot over the past five months. He was constantly monitored, including regular health checks and measurements. He was still alive, so he was clearly of value. He just wished he knew the full story.

“Okay Dylan, we’re done for now,” the nice nurse announced. Hooray – lunchtime. Dylan sat up on his bed, examining the state of his arms. Of course, they had already healed. No evidence of any injections or incisions.

“Any chance of a day off tomorrow? It’s my birthday,” Dylan tried his luck. His eighteenth birthday. He so desperately wanted to spend it by Jono’s side. It was going to be pretty tough away from him.

“Not my call, sorry,” the nurse smiled, “You can celebrate when you get out. One day, I promise.”

The nurse was the sweetest person at the Sanctum, and the only person who bothered to engage in conversation with him. She made the procedures that little bit more tolerable.

“I just wish I could see Jono, for thirty seconds, you know? So he could tell my mom I’m alive,” Dylan sighed.

“I know, sweetie, but you can’t. Nobody can know where we are until we’ve finished our research, remember?” the nurse explained. Dylan nodded. As long as he kept co-operating, she could continue doing her job, and before he knew it, he’d be free.

Catching Dylan’s eye, a couple of guards pushed another lad into the lab room next to Dylan’s. A long window stretched across the wall separating the rooms, so Dylan had a clear view. After all, it was how he and Jeremy kept each other sane from across the corridor for five months.

Whoever the boy was, he was fighting back, but it wasn’t enough. He was thrown into the room with force and locked in before he could fight back. Nevertheless, he continued fighting, trying desperately to smash the windows and door. It was no good – Dylan knew that from experience.

“Who’s he?” Jeremy called over.

“No idea,” Dylan replied. He needed to find out. He approached the window, taking a look at the young lad. He must have been in his early twenties, and had shaggy dark hair.

“Hey,” Dylan tried to get his attention. Slowly, the boy glanced around, his bright yellow eyes subsiding.

“Sorry,” the lad replied, looking deflated.

“What’s your name?” Dylan questioned. In the Sanctum, an extra ally meant everything.

“Liam. Liam Dunbar,” he answered, “You?”

“Dylan Drummond. Nice to meet you, Liam,” Dylan smiled casually.

“Dylan?” Liam looked stunned, “I’ve heard of you. Scott’s told me all about you. I’m his beta.”

“Liam,” Dylan pondered. He remembered now – Scott gave some pretty great advice on how to deal with your first true beta, just after he had bitten Jono. He said Liam was his own. Of course, any friend of Scott’s was a friend of Dylan’s, “What are you doing here?”

“They caught me. I was with Nolan. They separated us. I tried to fight, I…,” Liam drifted off. He was still visibly annoyed.

“I know, I get it,” Dylan comforted.

“We have to get out. I’ve not got any of my medication,” Liam explained.

“Medication? I thought you were a werewolf,” Jeremy was confused. Dylan was too – why would he need medication?

“I have IED. Being a werewolf doesn’t cure everything. In fact, when I’m angry, it makes my IED worse,” Liam confessed, “The medication takes the edge off. I can’t stay.”

Dylan understood. Suddenly, his need for escape had accelerated. Maybe the time had come?

It felt weird to admit, but biology had become one of Jono’s favourite times of the week. A rare moment of light among the darkness that now seemed to follow him everywhere. It was all down to one person, as well. Ever since Oscar joined the school, Jono had found himself smiling just a little more often. In fact, they spent much of biology laughing together. It helped make the rest of the day a little more tolerable.

Jono was drawn to Oscar’s innocence and naivety. He didn’t know the truth about werewolves, and Jono wanted it to stay that way. It was for his own good. After all, the rest of the pack had been burnt by the supernatural world more than once. It was a collective decision not to involve Oscar.

Jono would exclude himself, too, if he could. The pack had a ridiculous amount of pressure on their shoulders, especially as it was approaching the end of senior year. They had college to think about, but it wasn’t easy to just side-line werewolf drama when it had defined their high school experience. He was a werewolf himself, and that wasn’t changing, but a little normality surely wasn’t too much to ask for.

“This is so tedious,” Oscar commented, glancing at the textbook in front of them. Mrs. Johnson never did a very good job of trying to jazz up the syllabus. She preferred one textbook activity after another. Jono was only really taking biology as a place-filler subject anyway, he knew what he wanted to do long-term, even if he couldn’t fulfil the dream with Dylan by his side.

“What’s new?” Jono chuckled. At least Oscar was singing from the same hymn sheet as he was. Not to mention his adorable, contagious smile. He was just the uplift Jono needed.

“Pst,” a voice summoned from behind. Brett, of course. Jono spun around while Mrs. Johnson peered at her computer, hoping she wouldn’t notice his distraction.

“What?” Jono whispered.

“You two look cosy,” Brett commended.

“Shut up,” Jono blushed. He was not looking for anybody. It would have felt like an insult to Dylan to move on so soon. The eternity ring on his finger caught his eye. Dylan was still with him, even if he wasn’t there physically.

“He obviously likes you, but he’s too scared to make a move knowing what’s happened,” Brett persuaded, “Dylan would want you to be happy, remember?”

Before Jono could muster up a defiant reply, the classroom door swung open violently. A distressed lad in his early twenties was there, complete with a cute face and a light brown mop of hair. Jono had never seen him before; he was surely too old to be a student? That said, he didn’t look old enough to be a member of staff either.

“I’m looking for Dylan Drummond,” he announced, “I need him.” Jono’s heart sunk. Whoever this was, he clearly didn’t receive the memo.

“Jono,” Mrs. Johnson called over, directing him to deal with the lad. Clearly, this was werewolf related.

“Be right back,” Jono uttered to Oscar, ensuring he stayed behind. Brett followed him for back-up. This had to be important, whatever it was.

“Where’s Dylan?” he asked again outside the classroom. He looked extremely agitated and unsettled. His eyes were red, like he’d been crying.

“I’m Jono, and this is Brett. Dylan’s…” Jono pondered, “…not here right now, but whatever it is, we can help. What’s your name?”

“Nolan Holloway,” he answered, “They took him. Liam. They’ve got him, and I remember Scott mentioned Dylan’s name. Please, help me find him.”

Jono glanced to Brett. Whether they’d help was never in doubt, but the normality he craved would have to wait a little longer.

Making herself comfortable in what had become her regular seat in the lecture theatre, Lily felt unusual arriving by herself. The walk from the dorm room, while short, felt very lonely without Alex to talk to. They’d basically been inseparable for months, which put Lily at ease – Alex distracted her from spiralling, thinking about Dylan, worrying about Jono and Sammi. He was her rock.

Being separated from Jono was hard. It was cruel that life still had to go on while he was struggling so much. Yasmin had told her he was keeping it together at school, but their nightly phone calls often ended in tears. All Lily could do was listen, because he had done the same for her so many times over the years. When she said she had his back, she truly meant it.

“Hey,” Alex smiled, bounding up the final step in the theatre, “Sorry I’m late.”

“I’ve missed you,” Lily smiled back as Alex planted a gentle peck on her lips.

“We’ve only been apart for an hour,” Alex chuckled, pulling his laptop out of his bag. Thankfully, he still remembered his earphones – one ear each with YouTube on the laptop was how Lily coped with a nine o’clock lecture.

“And?” Lily laughed. Their banter kept her going. He was far too good for her.

“Hey, Alex,” another lad stopped at the edge of their row. Someone Lily hadn’t seen before. He had short, cropped hair with shaved sides, and his muscular abs were clearly displayed through his tight t-shirt.

“Hey, Lily, this is Jamal. Jamal, this is Lily, Misha’s roommate and my girlfriend,” Alex introduced. Those words were so cute to hear.

“Mind if I join you both? First lecture and all that,” Jamal requested. He seemed nice, though Lily was enjoying her quality time with Alex. It was a little more limited now, after all.

“Not at all,” Alex smiled, but Lily caught eyes with him. They spoke volumes – Alex wasn’t so happy either.

As Jamal slid past Lily, one of his sheets sliced the skin on her finger. Being part-werewolf didn’t make her immune to papercuts, after all.

“Ow,” Lily reacted, immediately sucking it to conceal both the blood and the super-fast healing.

“I’m sorry, are you okay?” Jamal looked mortified.

“Yeah, it’s just a papercut,” Lily replied, checking on the small wound. As expected, it had already vanished without a trace.

“I can’t see anything,” Jamal nosily observed. Lily’s alarm bells began to ring. Why did he care so much? Alex was remaining awkwardly quiet – there was no need to blow this out of proportion.

“I guess it didn’t break the skin,” Lily smiled. After all, she was the queen of white lies. She grabbed an earphone and selected the first song on Alex’s laptop – “Say So” by Doja Cat. Good vibes only, but she made a mental note about Jamal.

She already knew there was no such thing as a coincidence.

The first to arrive back at the bench for lunchtime, Sammi was finding school especially tough that day. Some days were better than others, and Sammi hated that she couldn’t predict which days would be good and which would be bad. Everyone else seemed to be getting back to normal, or adjusting to their new normal in one way or another. Even Jono had come on so much.

Sammi couldn’t help thinking about how much her life had changed in just a year, though. Exactly twelve months ago, she had no idea werewolves existed. She and her dad lived reasonably happily; ignorance was bliss. Now her dad was dead. Her secret twin was dead. Her extended family had been ripped apart. Nothing was the same.

“Hey you,” Freddie smiled kindly, sitting down next to her. Freddie was the one constant she had. He was always the same, chirpy dork she adored so much. Without him, she didn’t know what she’d do, “How’s your day been?”

“Shit,” Sammi responded bluntly. They were long past the point of pretending.

“Cuddles and Netflix all evening then,” Freddie decided. That was always their go-to on a bad day. The Good Place on Netflix for some laughs, lots of snacks, and plenty of cuddle time.

“Oh my god,” Yasmin joined the bench, “That Anthony guy in junior year is gorgeous.”

Sammi looked at Freddie to see his expression. As expected, it was disapproving. They were both worried that Yasmin would come to regret her chosen method of distracting herself from her problems.

“We’re meeting after school. No strings,” Yasmin continued. Sammi didn’t know what to say. Perhaps she wasn’t the only one still struggling.

In the background, just outside the school gates, Sammi spotted someone. A face, watching them. Spying on them. A face she hadn’t seen in a long time.

“Josh,” she called out.

“What?” Freddie looked baffled. He hadn’t noticed.

“Over there,” Sammi directed. Josh had gone. Sammi knew how much both Freddie and Yasmin needed him around, and this was their first sighting of him in months.

“Come on,” Freddie led the way. The chase was on.

2: Fire Alarm Written by MarthaJonesFan

Another coach journey over. Josh was exhausted – he hadn’t slept properly in days. All he wanted to do was get as far away from Crystalshaw as possible. A few coach journeys had landed him in Wayhurst, several hours away from Crystalshaw, where nobody would find him. All he had to do was keep his head down.

There was no way he could face seeing his friends. He wasn’t a hero. He thought he was being brave, saving those he held dearest, but he ended up on the wrong side of a war. He should have saved Dylan. It shouldn’t have gotten that far.

Josh didn’t deserve the love of Ed and Caroline. One day, they would move on and forget the disappointment he was. They were better without him, as was Yasmin. He treated her like dirt when she deserved a prince.

Walking through the streets of Wayhurst, it seemed like a nice place. Josh saw neatly mowed lawns, kids playing soccer outside, and smiles all around. Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to settle here?

Suddenly, Josh tripped. He wasn’t looking where he was going and had collided with a skateboarder.

“Watch it, dumbass,” the girl yelled, “What the fuck?”

“I’m sorry,” Josh sheepishly replied. So much for a friendly neighbourhood.

“You will be,” she hissed.

“Move on,” a voice commanded from behind Josh. A voice he recognised. How, though? He was so far away from home.

Sure enough, Josh turned around to see Drew. He was glowing his eyes, threatening the girl. Without any argument, she scarpered.

“What are you doing here?” Drew immediately questioned, skipping the small talk. He hadn’t changed.

“Dylan’s dead,” Josh uttered those horrible words. Drew stared back in disbelief. Clearly, they had a lot of catching up to do.

Sprinting out of the school gates, Freddie desperately scanned the road. Left and right brought similarly bad luck. Josh had scarpered, but he couldn’t have gone far. Instead, Freddie paid attention to his nose. He knew Josh’s scent better than most, especially after the many search parties he’d participated in.

In a way, Freddie felt a slight relief. This was the first time he’d seen Josh since the explosion. It was good to know he was alive, but Freddie needed more. Josh was his friend, and they were all going through it. He had a support network ready and waiting.

“Where did he go?” Sammi questioned, her and Yasmin catching him up.

“This way,” Freddie identified. The scent trail was recent, so it was clear. Freddie led them left, keeping Josh’s scent at the forefront of his mind. Concentration was key.

Quickly, though, the scent petered out. Freddie immediately noted the house they were stood by. After all, that was the short walk he used to do at the end of every school day. It was his old house. The place he grew up in. His home for his whole life, until a few months ago.

“Oh boy,” Freddie took a deep breath. The scent definitely led there, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to face the house again. Caroline’s house was so homely, but he missed his own home so much.

“Are you okay? You don’t have to go in,” Sammi soothed. Freddie smiled. Though he had been strong for her so many times, she occasionally took the reins to help him out. She was the best.

“Yeah, I do. Josh needs me,” Freddie replied. This wasn’t about him. Besides, he wasn’t sure he was the one who needed the most support. Yasmin hadn’t said a word. In fact, she hadn’t discussed Josh at all, with anyone, at any point, “We got this.”

Tears formed in Yasmin’s eyes. Freddie knew she had put this off for a long time. This was hard for all of them. After all, they were still teenagers in high school, yet they’d seen things that were heavier than most adults would ever experience.

“I got you,” Freddie pulled her in for a tight hug, “Do you want to stay outside?”

“No,” Yasmin wiped her tears, “Like you said.”

United, they approached the front door. Freddie no longer owned a key, so he had to do it the old-fashioned way. Three knocks on the door. No answer.

“Josh, come on, it’s me,” Freddie pleaded. Still nothing. Josh really didn’t want to be found. Freddie needed a better tactic. One that gave Josh what he wanted.

“I forgive you,” Freddie called out. The lock on the door clicked open instantly, revealing a frail-looking Josh inside. They locked eyes for the first time in months. Instantly, Josh broke down in tears, collapsing into Freddie’s arms. It was good to have him back, but they had a lot to talk about.

Another set of tests done; Dylan was relieved. His day of being poked and prodded was over, not that he could let his hair down. He was only one sleep away from the process restarting. The nurse tidied herself up again and prepared to leave.

“What the heck was that?” Liam called over from the adjacent room. Dylan had persuaded him to co-operate – they were in no immediate danger, and it wasn’t worth resisting. Jeremy had told him about how they tamed him on day one – tasers weren’t used conservatively around there.

“You’ll find out soon enough, Mr. Dunbar,” the nurse replied. She turned to Dylan again, “I’ve been thinking about what you said, about your birthday.” Dylan’s ears picked up. He didn’t want to get his hopes up, but this sounded vaguely promising.

“I found this,” she slid a blank key card to him, “It works, I’ve tested it. You’re sweet, Dylan. Get your friends out tonight. Turn right here and head out the back, then keep running.”

Dylan was amazed. Was this a trap? It seemed too good to be true, but surely it wasn’t. The nurse had been so nice to him. She was the only person in that place that seemed to have a heart.

“What’s changed?” Dylan wondered.

“You’re better off not knowing,” the nurse diverted, “Hide the card and wait until lights are out tonight.”

Dylan nodded. He felt a fire lit inside him for the first time in months. There was hope all of a sudden. He slid the card into the white jogging trousers he had been given for night-time.

“What was that about?” Jeremy enquired.

“A way out,” Dylan informed, “Act normal. We can’t let them think anything’s up.” Dylan knew they could talk freely – the security cameras couldn’t have had microphones. He’d sussed that out when the nurse asked how Dylan and Jeremy knew each other, as if Jono and Sammi hadn’t been all they’d talked about most days.

“Scott said you were good,” Liam smiled, “He was right.”

“How long have you known Scott?” Dylan questioned. In calming Liam down, they had missed their chance to get to know each other. Now they had some time to kill.

“Since sophomore year,” Liam replied, “We were on the lacrosse team together. He bit me that same day.”

“This Scott sounds ruthless,” Jeremy commented. Dylan forgot that he had never met Scott – hopefully that would change one day.

“Yeah, at times, but he bit me to save me. That’s what he’s all about. I would have died without him,” Liam explained.

“Like me with Jono,” Dylan pondered. He thought back to the toughest decision he had to make. Jono on that hospital bed was a horrible sight.

“You miss him, huh?” Liam cottoned on, “I get it. I’ve only been here a few hours and I really miss Nolan.”

“Is he a werewolf?” Dylan wondered. He’d never heard of Nolan, but Liam’s face brightened up every time he mentioned his name.

“No, that’s a long story though,” Liam chuckled.

“We’ll help you find him,” Dylan assured. He truly meant that – he knew how it felt to be apart from the one he held dearest.

“I’ve never had a girlfriend,” Jeremy spoke up. Dylan felt so incredibly sad whenever Jeremy opened up about his past – David was beyond cruel to keep him locked away. He deserved a better start to life.

“Your dream girl is out there, Jeremy,” Dylan encouraged. Jeremy was so sweet, he only deserved the best, “Tonight, we’ll be out there too. Just wait.”

Dylan smiled at both boys. This escape plan had to work. He couldn’t spend any longer away from Jono.

The arrival of Nolan had sent Jono’s mind spinning. He had learnt how to put on a brave face at school – life really did have to go on, whether Dylan was there or not. However, whoever this Nolan guy was, he was expecting Dylan. The alpha. Jono couldn’t be that – he had no alpha now, but he seemed to be the next best thing.

Jono ushered Nolan to his car. They had to get away from Oscar’s ears – this was bound to be werewolf-related, and Jono wasn’t letting him hear their truths. Brett joined in the backseat – it was good to know he wasn’t tackling this alone.

“I’m sorry, I just need help so badly. It’s an emergency,” Nolan flustered in the passenger seat.

“It’s okay, we want to help you, but you need to tell us everything. Please,” Jono requested. Step one: be the journalist. Find out the facts from his primary witness.

“Liam and I were on our way home from college for a week off. We pass through Crystalshaw each time,” Nolan explained. His face displayed just how hard his brain was working to figure out the sequence of events.

“Who’s Liam?” Brett jumped in with just the right question.

“My boyfriend. Scott’s his alpha, I’m just human,” Nolan clarified, “We got jumped just out of town. They took him.”

“Who did? Who took him?” Jono continued probing. This was the most vital part.

“The Lunar Sanctum,” Nolan replied. Jono’s stomach dropped. He had heard that name before. They owned the warehouse. He had no idea they were still operational, considering the abandoned state of that place.

“Do you know who they are?” Jono queried.

“Not really, we were following a couple of leads,” Nolan answered. He didn’t make eye contact with Jono at any point. He seemed so nervous and timid.

“Show us where it happened,” Jono started the car up, “Brett, call Ed. I think we may need some back-up.”

Jono knew he was channelling Dylan. He wouldn’t have given up on Liam and Nolan, so neither would Jono.

Josh’s contact with Drew since he left Crystalshaw had been minimal. Drew was never one for chit-chat, which made staying in touch pretty tough. Josh had no idea where Drew had even settled, if anywhere. Bumping into him in Wayhurst was a pretty big coincidence.

Waiting for the right moment to ask the many questions on his mind, Josh followed Drew back out of town. Drew undoubtedly had many questions too, but sensibly, he wasn’t going to ask them in public. Josh trusted his instinct – he didn’t know the area like Drew clearly did.

Drew led him to a small bungalow on the outskirts of town. On the outside, it looked unimpressive and unremarkable. Just another typical house. Just the intention, Josh assumed. The inside was cosy, furnished stylishly, though little on space. How this was the home of five people, Josh couldn’t imagine, though he supposed only three bedrooms were needed.

“Hey Josh,” a delightfully familiar voice sounded. It was the chirpy tone of Noah. If there was anyone else who had been through a lot, it was Noah, and he’d come out the other end in brilliant fashion.

“I didn’t know we were expecting visitors,” a less welcoming Monty mentioned.

“Hey, shut it,” Allyn immediately defended, “Hey Josh, welcome. What brings you here?”

“Oh my god, you’re bleeding,” Kamilah spotted, giving Josh the chance to swerve discussion for a little longer. Josh had hurt himself from the shock of the explosion. For some reason, the cuts on his face hadn’t yet healed. Kamilah dabbed a cloth against it, cleaning the wounds.

“I’m fine,” Josh insisted.

“What’s going on?” Drew impatiently demanded. Of course, he knew that extra crucial fact that the others were yet to find out.

“You were right. David arrived, and he wanted a pack,” Josh recalled, “I did bad stuff, Drew. I joined him, to save Yasmin and Freddie, but it wasn’t enough. He wanted everyone, so…”

Josh stopped. He hated thinking about what happened, even if his mind hadn’t allowed thoughts about anything else.

“…so, Dylan blew the warehouse up, with David inside. Dylan’s dead,” Josh uttered those dreadful words again.

“And you’re here?” Allyn was confused.

“I can’t face them. Caroline, Ed, Jono. I can’t do it,” Josh tried to justify, “I should have done more.”

“Look,” Drew sat down on the small couch. Josh was too anxious to sit, so he was pacing back and forth by the door, “Dylan and I disagreed on a lot, but that kid had balls. He did what he had to, and he’d do it again for you.” A surprisingly good take from Drew, who never exactly had a way with words.

“If I didn’t bite him, he’d still be alive. My bad decisions fucked him up. I don’t deserve to be a part of his family any longer,” Josh continued on his train journey of self-shame.

“Where would you be, then?” Allyn simply questioned, “Dylan forgave you when nobody else would.”

Allyn had a point. Without Dylan, Josh had no idea where he’d be. Dead, probably.

“How did you find me?” Josh changed the subject.

“Coincidence,” Drew replied, “This town has a high amount of unexplained deaths, so we set up camp. I was going to message Dylan to let him know.” Just visible, behind that tough exterior layer, was a devastated ally of Dylan’s. Drew clearly had so much respect for Dylan, “Dude, go home. Look after everyone. Please.”

Josh nodded. Perhaps they were right?

Taking deep breaths in and out, Yasmin wasn’t sure how to react to seeing Josh again. Of course, she had imagined this scenario, over and over again. Would she hug him? Would she unleash her anger at him? He almost killed her, and spoke to her just like she was a piece of gum on his shoe. Instead, though, Yasmin just stood still. She had no idea what she was supposed to feel.

Josh led them inside Freddie’s old house. It was strange to see somebody else’s family photos on display. Yasmin had spent many a night in this house, and it had an instant calming vibe, much like Freddie himself. Sammi kept close to Yasmin, sitting next to her on the couch. It was like she could mind-read. This wasn’t easy for anyone.

“Where have you been?” Freddie took the lead on the questioning, keeping his tone calm.

“Here,” Josh replied timidly, “Most of the time, anyway.”

“Why didn’t you come and see us? We needed you. I needed you,” Freddie continued. Sammi gently placed her hand on Yasmin’s. The support was very much appreciated.

“Because I couldn’t. I was going to come back, but I’m a chicken,” Josh confessed.

“So ignoring us is better?” Yasmin hit out. She had no intentions of holding back.

“No,” Josh replied, more confidently, “I’m embarrassed. You all deserve better than me. I’m sorry for everything I put you through. So much for trying to be the hero.”

Yasmin heard the apology, but she wasn’t ready to accept it. Josh had a long way to go before he was absolved of his sins.

“I miss him too,” Josh added.

“We all do,” Freddie concurred. Dylan was still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and rightfully so.

“I’ve been watching you guys. From afar. I had to know you were okay,” Josh continued.

“Okay? None of us have been okay in months,” Yasmin unleashed.

“We’d have been a little closer to okay if we didn’t have to worry about you,” Sammi concurred.

“You’re still going, though. All of you. You’re so strong. I’m envious of that,” Josh explained.

“I think there’s someone else who might need you more than us, though,” Freddie mentioned.

“I can’t. I don’t deserve that,” Josh realised.

“Too right,” Yasmin agreed, “But she loves you, Josh, and she’s already lost one kid.”

Josh paused. Yasmin could see the old Josh shining through again, but it was going to take a lot more grovelling to bring him out.

It had felt like a long time coming, but the night had finally arrived. Beyond half-hourly patrols from the security guards, Dylan knew they would be left alone for the best night’s sleep possible.

So far, Jeremy and Liam had done a great job keeping the act up. Nobody else at the Lunar Sanctum could catch wind of what they were doing, because this was their only shot. If they didn’t get out, the Sanctum’s treatment of all three of them would surely get so much worse.

Dylan thought back to his first day after waking up. His chat with Mr. Leadsom on the first day. He so desperately wanted to probe him for answers. How was he so sure that Dylan wouldn’t voluntarily help out if he knew the truth? Clearly, there was something bad going on, and Dylan needed to get out. He only wished he could get out with some answers in his back pocket.

Half past eight. The security guard filtered through as always. Dylan met eyes with Liam – a knowing look that their moment was coming. Dylan had the key card ready in his pocket. He felt sick with nerves, because so much could go wrong.

The guard passed into the next corridor, to Dylan’s left. The coast was clear. Dylan nodded to Jeremy and Liam. This was it. Dylan swiped the key card and sure enough, the door clicked open. For the first time in months, Dylan stepped outside of the lab room he’d been forced to call home. It felt weird and unusual, but liberating at the same time.

Dylan swiped the key card on Jeremy and Liam’s doors too. It felt so good to hug Jeremy – going for months without physical contact was strange, but getting to know Jeremy was such a positive. After all, he was basically family – that was how he considered the Chadwicks anyway.

“Where now?” Liam questioned.

“This way,” Dylan turned to his right. A door blocked the end of the corridor, but that was easily opened once again with the key card. They really did have access all areas.

Dylan was keeping a close eye on his senses as they passed into the next corridor. The scent of coffee filled Dylan’s nostrils. It was an office area. Thankfully, he couldn’t hear any heartbeats. For now, they were safe.

Nobody dared speak a word, though. Too much noise would give the game away, and it wasn’t worth the risk. Dylan was curious, though. He so badly wanted to explore the Sanctum and gather evidence, but it wasn’t the time. They needed back-up first. Alpha or not, Dylan wasn’t sure he’d win in a fight with the Sanctum’s security – they had surely been trained in fighting werewolves.

That said, Dylan poked his head around the open door of the first office – signposted “Mr. Leadsom.” The lights were off, but the computer monitor glared brightly. Dylan couldn’t lose this opportunity to grab some dirt.

“Dude, no,” Liam whispered as Dylan proceeded into the office.

“Ten seconds,” Dylan assured. He didn’t want to take risks, but he couldn’t resist this opportunity to snoop around. On top of the desk was a USB with Leadsom’s name attached on a label. Perhaps it would be useful? Dylan grabbed it and headed back out of the office.

Now they had to find the exit.

With Nolan directing Ed to the scene of the crime in the front of the car, Brett had a rare moment alone with Jono in the back. This was a chance to ask questions while nobody else was listening. No Johnny, no Sammi, no-one.

“So, Oscar,” Brett smirked.

“No, I told you,” Jono immediately batted the topic away.

“You can’t shut romance away forever,” Brett encouraged.

“Like you did when Johnny moved away?” Jono hit out. Ouch. Things had turned surprisingly sour. Jono immediately seemed to regret it, though. The look of embarrassment on his face said it all, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”

“I know,” Brett smiled, “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have pushed you.”

“Oscar’s cute. Really cute, and he’s been the only good part of the past few months,” Jono opened up, “Maybe you’re right, but I don’t want to forget Dylan.”

“You’ll never forget him,” Brett reinforced, “But he wanted you to be happy, remember what Freddie said?”

Jono nodded. In a roundabout way, Brett’s role as cupid had seemingly worked.

“Besides,” Brett continued, “Losing Johnny ruined me. I hated myself and what I was, and it took me two years to open up. Don’t be like me.”

Jono smiled, rubbing Brett’s hand calmly. He knew the best ways of soothing people. It was clear what Dylan and Oscar both saw in him.

“Right here,” Nolan pointed, “They jumped Liam and bundled him into a van.” Nolan seemed sweet and unassuming, but his worry over Liam was clearly consuming him. Brett understood that feeling.

They pulled over at the side of the road. It was mainly empty – very little was in sight beyond barren land and speckles of grass. They were just twenty minutes out of the centre of Crystalshaw town – Brett remembered this route from the journey to the hut. He sort-of missed staying there. He and Johnny had already decided it was where they were spending their summer.

“And you were driving?” Ed clarified, trying to paint the picture.

“We stopped for a quick break. We took this,” Nolan showed them all his phone background. Sure enough, it was a selfie of him and Liam in that exact spot. Brett found it such a cute photo – it was obvious that Liam and Nolan truly cared for each other, their faces said it all.

“Hey, what’s that?” Jono pointed to the background of the photo. A building was there – the only building in the area. Brett spun around. Sure enough, there it was. It was white and looked pretty futuristic, but had no signage to identify what it was.

“Maybe there’s someone there who could help?” Brett pondered.

“Worth a shot,” Ed nodded, ducking back into the driver’s seat. Brett loved how determined they were to find Liam – nobody needed a reminder of the loss each one of them had felt.

Emotions had been running high through the entire pack for a while, and Sammi knew that better than most. She hated being miserable, but it was the only emotion she had left. Though her relationship with her dad had strained, she still had to mourn the father he used to be. Not to mention the discovery and subsequent loss of her twin brother happening in such a short space of time.

Things at home weren’t great, either. Jono had moved out, and Aunt Helen and Uncle Steve weren’t making any effort to reconcile with him or Lily. It was so sad – they clearly had no concept of how short life was. Jeremy taught them nothing.

Therefore, Sammi knew how Yasmin felt seeing Josh again for the first time. She had to face her trauma head on, and Yasmin was the best out of anyone at keeping herself bottled up. She was still doing just that, having escaped to Freddie’s old bedroom to get some space. Sammi needed to be there for Yasmin, just the way everyone had been for herself.

“Hey,” Sammi poked her head around the door. Quickly, a tearful Yasmin dried her eyes, “You don’t have to pretend around me, you know.”

“I was brought up to keep a strong face on in front of people,” Yasmin admitted, “My dad had no time for tears, and my mom, well, she wasn’t around for half of my childhood.”

“That’s wrong,” Sammi wasn’t holding back, “I think we could probably compare notes on bad fathers, but never bottle up how you feel. Let it out. Scream, shout, yell. God knows I have.”

“Josh isn’t dead, though. He’s downstairs, slotting back in as if he didn’t dump me. As if he didn’t almost kill me,” Yasmin sighed.

“I’m not saying you have to be okay with him, but he’s sorry. Don’t lose the chance to make amends, even if things won’t ever be the same as they used to be,” Sammi advised.

“You’re amazing,” Yasmin smiled at her, tears forming in her eyes, “How do you keep being you, despite everything?”

“This is the most I’ve said to anyone except Freddie in months,” Sammi shrugged, “Talking felt pointless. Small talk is a waste of time. Life’s too short.”

Yasmin pulled Sammi in for a hug. They were both sobbing like mad, but Sammi didn’t care. After all, it was so important to let loose and unleash the sadness.

Finally, they were at the fire exit. Dylan wasn’t getting excited yet, though – they still weren’t safe until they were miles away from the Lunar Sanctum. That said, he felt more and more hopeful with every step the three of them took towards the exit.

There was one slight problem, though. The fire door was locked. Dylan was sure that must have been a safety hazard, but more irritatingly, it was the only obstacle between them and the outside world. Dylan refused to be defeated at the final hurdle. He could practically feel the touch of Jono’s hand. It was spurring him on. One last glance at the eternity ring. That was the final burst of motivation that Dylan needed.

“How do we get out?” Liam panicked. He was due his tablet, and was obviously stressing like crazy.

“There must be an override,” Jeremy kept his usual calm exterior.

“God, I miss Freddie,” Dylan sighed, looking at the control panel next to the door. None of it meant anything to him.

“There’s one obvious option,” Jeremy realised.

“Hurry up, I think someone’s coming,” Liam warned, “Like, now.”

Dylan listened. He was right. The stomping of security guard boots was nearby and getting nearer still. This wasn’t on the rota. Had they been noticed?

“What is it?” Dylan frantically asked Jeremy. They needed to act immediately.

“Fire alarm. By the time they filter outside, we’ll be long gone,” Jeremy reasoned, “And they can’t outrun us.”

It was a risky plan, but Dylan knew it was the only one they had. He nodded at Jeremy, before smashing the fire alarm. Alarms instantly sounded, pulsating throughout the building. Thankfully, to Dylan’s relief, the fire door clicked open.

Dylan wasted no time in rushing outside. The waft of fresh air slapped against Dylan’s skin, in the best possible way. It was the first time he had inhaled fresh air in five months, and it was so good.

“Hey!” an angry voice yelled out from behind. The guard had caught up to them. They’d been found.

“Now,” Dylan commanded. He began to sprint, on all fours, with Jeremy and Liam following suit. The three boys powered out of the compound and onto the open road. Now Dylan could begin to calm down. Next stop: Crystalshaw.

Feelings of confusion flooded Jono’s mind as Ed’s car pulled up outside the building. Crowds of staff were gathering outside, and an alarm was sounding loudly and abrasively. It was a fire alarm. Perfect time to ask a few questions, without the risk of a door being slammed in their faces.

“I suppose there’s little point in asking you boys to stay here,” Ed sighed.

“You know us well,” Brett laughed. Jono admired Brett – he’d been the one piece of stability and normality since Dylan’s death.

All four of them approached the group of thirty-or-so workers. Some were dressed smartly in suits, others wore lab coats. Clearly, this was some sort of scientific establishment, but there was no identifying logo anywhere across the front of the building.

One nurse looked panicked. She was being held back by a guard, as if she wanted to go back in. Someone was trapped inside.

“Are you okay?” Jono approached.

“My patients are in there,” the nurse cried. Clearly, she was dedicated to her job.

“Can I help, young man?” a suited white man approached. He was tall and greying, surely in his fifties.

“Hi, I’m here with Sheriff Taylor,” Jono put on his best journalistic front, “I was wondering if you’d heard anything about a young man called Liam Dunbar.”

“And who might you be?” the man asked.

“Jono Chadwick. Please answer my question, Mr…” Jono left a gap for him to fill in his name.

“Jono,” the nurse looked horrified, as if she’d seen a ghost.

“Thank you, Nurse Carver, I’ve got this,” the man continued, leading Jono away, “I’m Mr. Leadsom, owner of this establishment. Unfortunately, I’ve not heard anything about a Liam Dunbar, but I’ll be sure to call Sheriff Taylor if I hear of anything.” Jono sighed. This was no good. Then he caught sight of Leadsom’s key card. The logo was clear – it read “Lunar Sanctum.”

In a hurry, Jono rounded the others up.

“What’s up? Did you find anything?” Nolan nervously queried.

“This is the Lunar Sanctum. This must be their base,” Jono revealed.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Ed sensibly commanded.

“They might still have Liam in there,” Nolan protested.

“I know, but I have procedure to follow. We can get inside the correct way, to avoid ruffling feathers,” Ed reasoned. He was right – they had to do it properly.

Jono caught eyes again with Nurse Carver. She was looking at him still, as if she knew who he was. Jono was so confused, but they had no more time to ask questions. Whatever the Lunar Sanctum was, he knew it wasn’t good. They needed to get away.

Cosying up in bed, Lily was feeling unusual. Alex had just departed for his bedroom, and it felt lonely. Misha and Sindy were taking at the opposite end of the room, but Lily wasn’t in the mood. All she wanted was some alone time.

“Hey,” Sindy called over, “How was your lecture?”

“It was fine,” Lily smiled, not moving from the comfort of her own bed, “I met your brother, Misha.”

“I told him to look after Alex,” Misha smiled, “Don’t worry, he’s easy to get on with.”

“I know, he seemed nice,” Lily recalled. She wasn’t planning to mention the odd papercut moment. Hopefully Jamal wouldn’t have thought anything more of it, “Thanks.” She smiled at Misha. She seemed so nice. Lily just wasn’t ready for change. She wished Alex could still be there with her, but that wasn’t Misha’s fault.

Lily’s phone rang. Of course, it was eight o’clock. It rang at that same time every single night. Her daily phone call with Jono.

“Hey, what’s up?” Lily began, manoeuvring her body away from the other girls. This required her full attention and a little bit of privacy.

“Hey, how are you?” Jono’s voice sounded a little chirpier than usual. That was a small positive.

“I’ve been better. Alex has to sleep in his own room. I shouldn’t be so upset about that really, I know it was pushing it, but I got so used to it,” Lily opened up. She and Jono had promised to be transparent with each other at all times, so they needed to know every detail of each other’s lives.

“Aw, what? I’m sorry,” Jono understood. In fact, he knew exactly how she felt. He’d spent months now sleeping on his own. At least she had Alex only down the hallway.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get used to it. It just feels like everyone’s deserting me, one by one. George moved away, mom and dad still haven’t returned my calls, Dylan, well…” Lily tailed off, “Anyway, how was your day?”

“Um, weird,” Jono replied, “We found the Lunar Sanctum.”

“Wait, what? Where is it?” Lily was startled. That place had bad news written all over it from the little she knew about it.

“Just outside town,” Jono explained, “One of Scott’s friends showed up. His boyfriend got kidnapped, we went to help.”

“Did you find him?” Lily wondered. She missed being involved in the pack’s action, even if it was both physically and mentally exhausting.

“No, but we’re going to,” Jono sounded determined. He had a motivation that he hadn’t had for ages, and it pleased Lily, “Also, I wanted to confess something.”

“Alright, what is it?” Lily was concerned suddenly. Was this going to be bad?

“You know the boy I told you about. Oscar?” Jono began, “I think I, err…” Jono couldn’t quite get the words out.

“You’ve got a crush,” Lily identified. This was huge progress – the first time he’d shown interest in any guy since Dylan.

“Yeah, but I feel dirty. Like I’m cheating on Dylan. I can’t shake that,” Jono opened up.

“Remember what Freddie said. Dylan wanted you to move on. He’ll be watching you, cheering you on, because this Oscar guy sounds sweet, and you deserve someone who adores you,” Lily encouraged. She was so keen for Jono to be happy.

“Brett thinks he fancies me,” Jono added, “I like him, but I’m scared I’ll hold back.”

“He knows what you’ve been through. He’ll understand,” Lily advised, “If you want my advice, I think you should go for it. Totally.”

All Lily could think about was herself and Alex. She took a leap of faith with him, and it worked. It was about time Jono had a dose of that same luck.

3: Almost Home Written by MarthaJonesFan

Sick with nerves, Josh was both excited and anxious in the same capacity. He had been thinking about this moment for months, putting it off like a coward. He’d even requested one more night from Freddie before he faced the music, not that it really mattered. He still felt just as terrified after a night’s sleep.

Freddie had spent the night with him, at his old house. What he did to deserve Freddie’s trust was unknown, but he appreciated it. He anticipated reactions more akin to Yasmin’s. Josh knew earning her trust back was going to be tough, but he wanted to prove himself all over again. Would she ever take him back? Doubtful, but it was her friendship that he really missed. That was his goal.

Approaching the front door, Josh felt a wave of emotion consuming him. It was almost nostalgic, reminding him of when everything felt so much better. So much had changed since he last stepped foot inside that house. Returning meant he had to face up to reality.

“Hey, Freddie, is that you?” a comfortingly familiar voice called out as they entered inside. Josh’s vision was being blurred by the tears in his eyes. Freddie urged him forward into the kitchen. He had to take this step on his own.

There she was. Making breakfast, just as she did every morning, except things had changed. The cheerful smile that always adorned her face had faded. She’d lost something so precious.

“Hey,” Josh tearfully uttered. She put the plate she was holding gently down on the work surface, taking in a deep breath as she did so. Slowly, she spun around. Her expression was much like his – they were both already crying like crazy.

“Come here,” Caroline insisted calmly. She smiled – they were happy tears. Josh sprinted into her arms, unleashing the tidal wave of tears he had saved up. He had missed the warmth of her hugs so much.

“I’m sorry,” Josh confessed.

“I know,” Caroline caressed his hair, “Welcome home, my precious boy.”

Josh’s heart wanted to burst. There was no way he deserved this treatment, but he cherished it.

“I just woke Jono, he’s on his way down,” Ed strolled in obliviously. He stopped suddenly in his tracks, meeting eyes with Josh, “Oh my god.”

“Hi,” Josh sheepishly greeted. He caught a glimpse of Freddie’s proud smile behind Ed.

Jono followed Ed inside. He paused, gobsmacked and expressionless. Without saying a word, Jono wrapped his arms around Josh. This was his family, and it was the most important reminder of how desperately he needed them.

Stirring from a rough night’s sleep, Dylan’s eyes slowly adjusted to his surroundings. He couldn’t quite believe he finally had different sights to wake up to. The harsh lab lighting was gone, replaced by the sunlight making its way through the cracks in the wooden boards covering the window.

For the night, the boys had found an empty, abandoned shop to hide out in. None of them had their phones, so they were on their own. Liam said they weren’t too far from Crystalshaw, but how could they get back there without being caught? The Sanctum wasn’t far away. They weren’t out of the oven yet.

“Morning,” Jeremy smiled over. Still the same friendly face greeting him, and Dylan wasn’t mad at that. Jeremy had been his rock for months. They had dreamt of this day for so long, and it was surreal that they were soon going to be home, “Happy birthday.”

Dylan had almost forgotten it was his birthday. All he’d thought about was seeing Jono’s face again. What would be the first thing they’d say to each other? Dylan couldn’t even imagine, but he was so excited – it would’ve been the best birthday present ever.

“Thanks,” he smiled back to Jeremy. He looked how Dylan felt – buzzing with excitement. Dylan knew how badly he wanted to see Sammi again, and now he could.

“Nolan,” Liam called out suddenly, jolting awake. He looked around frantically, realising where he was.

“Bad dream?” Dylan presumed. He’d have enough of those in five months to last him a lifetime.

“Yeah, sorry,” Liam explained, “I know it’s only been a day, but damn, I miss him.”

“How did you meet?” Jeremy wondered.

“He hunted me,” Liam raised a smile, “He got manipulated by this woman, Monroe, but he fought back. I mean, I never called this happening, but it made sense.”

“Is he your first?” Dylan queried. He was curious about people’s stories – Jono was his first, and he could only envisage Jono being his last too.

“My first was a girl called Hayden. She moved away, but we still talk occasionally. I didn’t think I was into guys until Nolan. He’s the only guy I want,” Liam detailed. Dylan was engrossed in his story, because of how different it was to his own. Nevertheless, they both had boyfriends that they cherished to get home to, so they had a common goal.

“Can you hear that?” Jeremy pointed out. Dylan listened carefully. Sure enough, the sounds of car engines were present, and they were close.

“They’ve found us,” Dylan worried. Now he needed an escape plan.

The mood at the bench was surprisingly positive for the first time in ages, and Jono was thrilled. He had no idea Josh was back – too wrapped up in his own dilemmas – but seeing him in the kitchen that morning was the most euphoric feeling. Josh had given the pack the lift they needed, and it had persuaded Jono that now was indeed the right time to move on with his life.

Brett’s words had been playing on his mind all night alongside Lily’s reassurance. If Oscar really was into him, he should be jumping at the chance to see how things go, because no matter how hard he tried to deny it, he liked Oscar too. There was only one downside – it was Dylan’s birthday. Of all the days for Jono to be thinking of taking such a step.

“Miss Pannu is going to give you so much computing work to do,” Freddie joked. Of course, Josh had missed a massive amount of senior year. If he wanted to graduate, he’d have to work his socks off.

“And just wait until you see Mrs. Johnson’s list of textbook work,” Oscar added. He’d never met Josh before, but was already joking around with him. He had such a cute charm. Of course, Jono had already warned Josh not to mention werewolves around Oscar, and he understood. All Oscar needed to know was that Josh was Dylan’s brother. No further details.

To Jono’s right, one person wasn’t sharing the elation. Yasmin was burying herself in her textbooks, and Jono couldn’t blame her. Josh treated her like dirt, she had every right to expect him to grovel. Jono picked up her pen and wrote a note on the next page of her notebook.

‘I’m sorry.’

Yasmin looked up at him before writing a reply.

‘I’m OK, but thanks.’ She nodded to prove it. Jono wasn’t convinced, but as long as she knew he still had her back, that was what mattered.

“Hey,” Oscar tapped him on the shoulder, shaking his water bottle, “I need a refill, want to come?”

Jono couldn’t miss this chance. A moment alone with Oscar. These didn’t come very often. He accepted the invitation, leaving the good vibes of the bench behind.

“I wanted to ask something,” Oscar began. Jono listened keenly. He had butterflies in his stomach, anticipating where this could have been going.

“Go on,” Jono replied.

“I know my timing might be off, but I was wondering if you’d be up for grabbing a coffee after school. Just you and me,” Oscar suggested, “No pressure. I don’t want to rush you.”

“I know,” Jono smiled at just how worrisome he was being, “I’d love that.” This was it. His big step forward. Moving on, just like Dylan wanted him to.

A day off from lectures, Lily was enjoying a spot of relaxation. Of course, college took up a lot of her time, and studying had been a good way of keeping her mind off everything Jono was going through.

Good news had arrived that morning, though. Josh had been found, and Lily was delighted. The exclamation marks on Jono’s WhatsApp message said everything. Things were looking up for him, and that was what mattered.

To celebrate the good news in her own little way, Lily had taken Sindy and Misha for a picnic by the river. Of course, Alex was invited too, but he seemed to be running late – fashionably so.

“Who’s Josh again?” Misha was trying to grasp her head around everything. Lily had told her about her friends – Misha was a brilliant conversation starter and had so many questions to ask – but of course, some details were left out. Lily hoped she’d be able to do a better job of keeping her out of anything supernatural than with Alex and Sindy.

“My brother’s boyfriend’s brother,” Lily answered. That was more confusing than she realised.

“Where was he?” Misha queried. Darn. Lily had to think hard for a realistic white lie to answer that. Why would people vanish for months?

“We don’t know,” Sindy jumped in, saving the day. She and Lily made an excellent team, “But he’s safe, so we’re celebrating.”

“Don’t start without me,” Alex chuckled, jogging over with Jamal tagging along behind. Lily hadn’t specifically extended the invite to him, considering their slightly shaky start, but perhaps it was an opportunity to see if she really was just being paranoid about him.

“Of course not,” Lily smiled, getting a cute peck on the lips from Alex. Her favourite sensation, and she cherished it even more after a night without him by her side, “Sindy, this is Jamal, Misha’s brother.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Sindy flashed her most charming smile. Lily rolled her eyes – she knew exactly where Sindy was going with that.

“The pleasure is all mine,” Jamal flirted back, much to Sindy’s delight. Lily wasn’t sure how much more of their back-and-forth she could stomach.

“Oh god, you’re so embarrassing,” Misha cringed, hitting the nail on the head.

“Hey, Lily, can I have a word?” Jamal changed the subject. Lily’s good mood quickly dropped. What was this about?

“Hey, what’s up?” Lily calmly questioned as they moved out of hearing range.

“I know what you are,” Jamal simply stated.

“Huh?” Lily was gobsmacked, but she couldn’t allow herself to show it. Nevertheless, her gut instinct about him after the lecture wasn’t being proven wrong.

“You’re a werewolf,” Jamal added, “And I don’t like that.”

“Are you threatening me?” Lily wasn’t sympathetic to anyone who dared to talk to her like that. She’d seen enough bloodshed to last a lifetime.

“I’m saying I’ve got my eye on you,” Jamal replied, before returning to the group. Lily was feeling shaken. How dare he? Who even was he to be making threats like that?

Quickly catching Sammi between classes like he always tried to, Freddie was beginning to realise how much he relied on those brief moments with her. Even with all she had been through, Sammi was still his ray of sunshine. Somebody he didn’t have to pretend around. With Josh missing for months, Jono so wrapped up in losing Dylan, Yasmin avoiding her feelings, and George in London, Sammi really had become the one person Freddie could unwind around.

For so long, Freddie had tried to be the strong one. The person who brightened everyone else’s mood with a well-timed joke. Yet, he never spoke much about his own feelings to anyone. They had their own issues, after all. That was why he and Sammi worked so well. They could talk openly and freely with each other about anything, and Freddie really needed that.

“Hey,” Sammi smiled. She was chirpier than usual, much like most of the pack. Josh’s return had made such a difference to them all.

“Can we talk?” Freddie questioned.

“Sure,” Sammi looked concerned. She led him into the newsroom, which had barely been touched in ages. Jono hadn’t continued any work on the school newsletter since they lost Dylan, so the room was beginning to gather dust.

“Is everything okay?” Sammi wondered.

“Everyone’s celebrating Josh’s return, but things still feel so different. I wanted to tell George, but a video chat’s not really the same,” Freddie confessed, “And last night, being at the house, sleeping in my old bed, I’m really missing it. I know it’s stupid.”

“No,” Sammi took his hand, “You’re in the middle of everything. You’ve lost your friend, you’ve had to deal with me, that’s a lot for anyone,” Sammi instantly reassured. She’d become so good at giving out advice – the benefit of receiving so much unwelcome advice after losing her brother – “but you don’t have to be the strong one all day every day, Freddie. You’re allowed to cry. I can be strong for you.”

Freddie’s lips trembled. He wanted to cry so bad, and Sammi’s words were the final straw. Her support meant everything. She pulled him in for a tight, supportive hug.

“Hey, Caroline’s organising a little gathering tonight for Josh,” Freddie mentioned, “And because it’s Dylan’s birthday, so we want to celebrate. It’s been ages since we last had something to be happy about. Fancy coming?”

“I’m not missing it,” Sammi smiled her prettiest smile. She was the most phenomenal person he knew. He was so lucky.

Panic. That was all Dylan felt. The front exit had been blocked. The Lunar Sanctum had found them. Dylan knew he had to think fast, because there was no way he was going back to that place. The mere thought made him feel so upset, after the stress of making it out in the first place.

Dylan glanced at Jeremy and Liam. They were both as petrified as he was. For their sake if not his own, Dylan had to find a way out.

“The back door,” Dylan realised, “There’s no heartbeats out there.”

“But how far can we get? We can run fast, but they’ve got cars, and it took them no time to find us here,” Jeremy panicked. Dylan knew how much freedom meant to him, having spent so long hidden away.

“I’ve got an idea,” Liam thought, “But we need a distraction.”

“Leave it with me,” Dylan volunteered. It was the least he could do, as the alpha, “This plan better be good.”

Liam led Jeremy out the back while Dylan peered through the gaps in the wooden boards. Mr. Leadsom was stood examining the building as two guards approached the door.

“We know you’re in there, Mr. Drummond,” Leadsom threatened. Dylan was quickly trying to think of a distraction. Perhaps Leadsom simply needed a dose of what he was looking for?

Cautiously, Dylan approached the front door. This was such a gigantic risk; he’d have called it stupid in any other circumstance, but they were desperate.

“I’m here,” Dylan announced, stepping outside with his hands raised, “Just me.”

“Cuff him,” Leadsom demanded. Dylan allowed the guard to place the handcuffs on his wrists and escort him to the back seat of the car. Wherever Liam was, he was taking a worryingly long time.

Before anyone else could get into the vehicle, Dylan heard a thud. One guard sunk to the ground unconscious, and then another did the same. Liam was there – he’d gone over the roof. Jeremy jumped down to join him, and they rapidly jumped into the car, Liam in the driver’s seat and Jeremy in the back next to Dylan.

“Stop them,” Leadsom angrily demanded to the three remaining guards, but it was too late. Liam pulled out onto the road, making their getaway without a hitch.

“Alright, that was some plan,” Dylan breathed a sigh of relief as his view of Leadsom faded into the distance.

“Need a hand with those cuffs?” Jeremy queried.

“I got it,” Dylan replied, easily snapping them off, “I can’t believe they thought those would work.”

“Next stop: Crystalshaw,” Liam announced. This was it. They were almost home.

Butterflies in his tummy, Jono had forgotten how exciting a first date could be, whilst simultaneously being terrifying. He wasn’t sure why he was scared; he knew Oscar already and Oscar knew him, but this felt different. After all, it wasn’t a casual chat at the bench, it was a date in a coffee shop, and the stakes were higher. He really wanted it to go well.

They had each allowed themselves thirty minutes to freshen-up after school, and Jono was the first to arrive. He’d thrown on a cute shirt and jeans, before checking on his untamed curls in the mirror. He needed to look his best.

Of course, Jono couldn’t help thinking back to his first date with Dylan. They attended one of Lily’s parties together, and for most of the evening, it was great. That was until Josh crashed the party in his psycho-alpha phase and killed an innocent girl. Jono was relieved to have the Josh he knew and loved back.

“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Oscar dashed in, “Just gonna get a coffee.” Jono smiled back. He was the opposite of Dylan in that sense – Dylan was always ten minutes early, just to be sure he wouldn’t be late.

Jono waited patiently until Oscar smiled at the table with his latte. He’d also thrown on a cute shirt, though he’d left his traditionally shaggy mane untouched. Jono loved his style, though. One thing they had in common was that they weren’t afraid to be themselves.

“You look amazing,” Jono complimented.

“So do you, I love that shirt,” Oscar smiled his adorably cute smile, “So sorry I’m late, time got away from me.”

“You’re here now, that’s what matters,” Jono replied. An awkward silence followed as they both stirred their hot drinks. Jono’s mind had gone blank. The romantic setting had gotten to both their heads, “Look at us. Put us on a date and we can’t muster up a word to say.”

“I know, right?” Oscar chuckled, “This is my first date. I’m kinda nervous.”

“Hey, don’t be, I don’t bite,” Jono instantly reassured. Thank god Oscar wasn’t in-the-know to understand the unintentional werewolf pun, “This is the first date I’ve been on since Dylan…you know…” He still couldn’t bring himself to use the dreaded ‘D’ word.

“A big moment for us both,” Oscar nodded, “You still miss him, don’t you?”

“Every day. I always will, because he was my first love. We had everything planned out for the rest of our lives,” Jono opened up. Oscar needed to know how he felt, because his feelings for Dylan were never going to go away.

“I get it, sort of,” Oscar admitted, “When I was ten, my best friend got run over. She died, and I never got to say goodbye.”

“I’m sorry,” Jono felt sad for him. His cute face looked broken.

“It’s okay, I’ve never forgotten her, but I’ve learnt to live my life again. You’ll get there one day,” Oscar assured, “And I’ll be here, if you want that. We can do things at your pace.”

Jono felt emotional. Oscar understood so clearly. He was so considerate. He knew Dylan would approve of him.

Overwhelmed by the amount of work Mrs. Johnson expected him to catch up on, Josh was relieved his revision session after school had finished. It was a lot to take in, even if he knew it was essential if he wanted to graduate with the rest of the pack.

He never expected the warm welcome the pack had given him. Quite frankly, he didn’t deserve it, but Dylan’s death had put a lot of things into perspective for all of them. Now he had to prove himself.

As he walked towards the school gate, Josh spotted Yasmin on her way to the car. Yasmin was the person he had the most to prove to. Every day, he thought about how badly he treated her. He so desperately wanted to make things right, and he was prepared for that to take quite some time.

“Hey, Yasmin,” Josh jogged over. Yasmin didn’t reply – she continued towards her car as if she hadn’t heard him.

“Hey,” Josh repeated, catching up to her.

“What do you want, Josh?” she hit out. Not an unexpected reaction.

“I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” Josh began, “For everything. I know this can’t be easy on you, and I’m not expecting you to forgive me yet, but I really hope you’ll let me try to put things right.”

“Things won’t ever be right again. Dylan’s dead, and what did you do? You ran. You didn’t think about helping us. Helping me. I needed you, Josh,” Yasmin vented.

Josh paused. He hadn’t thought of it that way. He’d been so self-centred, and it broke him.

“I saw Drew,” Josh confessed, “I ran into him and he talked me down. He told me to come back, so I did. I just… I was a coward, and I was selfish.”

“Too right,” Yasmin bluntly responded, though her eyes were focused behind Josh.

“What are you looking at?” Josh queried.

“Can you see that?” Yasmin wondered. Instantly, Josh looked over, focusing with his wolf vision. A pair of eyes looked back at him, glowing pure white.

“Don’t look,” Yasmin pulled him back. What? Josh was confused. That was very contradictory.

“You told me to look,” Josh sought clarification.

“It’s dangerous, I feel it,” Yasmin explained. That was all Josh needed to know – Yasmin’s gut feelings were always correct.

“Come on, let’s investigate,” Josh smiled. Whether she had forgiven him or not, Yasmin must have known how good a team they made. They needed each other.

The picnic was a success, much to Lily’s relief. Laughter and joy had painted themselves across the day, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

That was, of course, excluding Lily herself. Though she had put on a brave face, Jamal’s words were playing on her mind. She so desperately wanted to confer with Sindy and Alex, but when Jamal was sat right there, the right moment hadn’t arrived. Besides, Misha was there too – Lily had no reason to suspect she was involved yet.

On the bright side, she’d had a whole day to spend with Alex. Their so-called “honeymoon phase” seemed to be never-ending, and Lily was okay with that. He made her smile constantly just by being his dorky self. He was the best.

“Hey, I’m gonna head to the bathroom,” Misha mentioned, “Where’s the nearest one?”

“I’ll show you,” Jamal offered. Lily felt a slight relief – she finally some time away from him.

“He is so hot,” Sindy remarked as soon as they were out of earshot, “And such a gentleman.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Lily quickly corrected. They needed to be aware of the situation, because it didn’t involve only Lily; Sindy was a banshee, and Alex was closely associated with them. They were both in danger too.

“What did he want to speak to you about earlier?” Alex wondered. She was pleased he hadn’t forgotten that.

“He knows I’m a werewolf,” Lily revealed, “Well, he didn’t mention the specifics, but I didn’t feel like correcting him.”

“How? What did you say? Maybe he knows about me?” Sindy fired questions at her, panicking already.

“I couldn’t deny it, he saw me heal yesterday. He didn’t mention you, but he’s pissed. He’ll find out sooner or later,” Lily warned.

“Pissed? Who even is he?” Alex considered.

“I don’t know, but we have to be careful. Not just with Jamal, but with Misha too, we don’t know how much she knows.”

“She seemed so sweet,” Sindy looked disappointed.

“Maybe I need to ask to be re-roomed,” Alex considered.

“No,” Lily quickly said, “Act normal. Pretend I’ve not told you anything, for your own safety. Act stupid if he brings it up.”

“Not difficult,” Sindy teased.

“Rude,” Alex laughed, “Okay, but I’m not happy about this. You’re not safe, Lily.”

“Guys,” Sindy interjected, “Look in the river.”

Lily glanced over as directed. Surfacing at the top was a body. A dead body. A familiar dead body, at that.

“Nicolas,” Lily recognised. A chill shot through her body. Things had suddenly taken a very dark turn.

Sweating all over, Brett was feeling pumped from basketball practice. They had a game coming up, and there was no way he was going to see their winning streak draw to a close. The team was one man down, though, but Brett wasn’t ever going to stop Jono from going on his date with Oscar. He’d waited five months to see a smile that big on Jono’s face. He deserved it.

On the topic of happiness, Brett was thrilled that Johnny had stayed behind to watch practice. Neither of them had anything left to hide, so Brett felt liberated. It was the best feeling to be out and proud.

“Alright, let’s call it a day,” Coach Singh called out. Brett was pleased; he desperately needed a glass of water, but he was also seriously craving a kiss from Johnny.

“Hope your lover-boy enjoyed the eye candy,” Anthony remarked, flexing his biceps.

“Excuse me?” Brett’s bubble was burst. Of course, he had anticipated remarks like that, but that didn’t make them any easier to hear.

“Hey babe, you smashed that,” Johnny jogged over, immediately planting that well-earnt kiss on Brett’s lips. Unfortunately, his timing couldn’t have been much worse.

“I’m happy for you both, but keep that for after school, boys,” Coach Singh disappointingly remarked.

“You can’t say that,” Johnny was outraged. Brett was, too – he expected it from his idiotic peers, but Coach Singh should have known better.

“Funny how you didn’t care when Anthony was playing tonsil tennis with his new chick yesterday,” Brett shoved the basketball he was holding to the ground, “I quit. Come and find me when you’re less homophobic.”

Taking Johnny’s hand, Brett stormed off the basketball court. He knew he was bound to regret that decision, but he had a point to prove. Being himself was more important than being team captain.

“That was awesome,” Johnny complimented, “Hey, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have breezed over like that.”

“Yes, you should have. In fact, do it more often, because I don’t give a shit what they think,” Brett vented, “I love you Johnny, and you’re worth more to me than anything.”

Johnny stopped walking, tugging on Brett’s hand, pulling him backwards for a kiss. A longer kiss. The kiss Brett really, truly wanted. It was so calming. Johnny was the most incredible kisser.

In the corner of his eye, near the bushes, Brett spotted something startling. It looked like a reptilian creature, but it was human-sized.

“Please tell me I’m hallucinating,” Brett pointed over, regretfully breaking the kiss.

“Nope,” Johnny annoyingly confirmed, “Come on, let’s follow.” Brett had low-key missed this sense of adventure, but he couldn’t deny the fear that pulsated through him in that moment either.

The familiar sights of Crystalshaw town brought such an incredible feeling to Dylan. It was like that sensation after a long journey back from holiday, tired and exhausted, but feeling comforted by the regular sights of your hometown after going away. It filled him with warmth and excitement to be home again.

They had ditched the car on their way, making it just that bit tougher to be tracked until they were among the safety net of the pack once again. Dylan knew the Lunar Sanctum wouldn’t give up the search, though. He had to warn his friends.

Already, Dylan was mentally planning what he’d say to everyone. He had five months to catch up on, after all. What was the gossip? He wanted to know where Brett was at with Johnny. Whether Jono’s parents had come round to who he was. Whether Yasmin had forgiven Josh. The answers were so close.

“Where are we going?” Liam questioned.

“My house,” Dylan explained, “You two don’t have to come. Go and find Sammi, Jeremy.”

“Good luck,” Jeremy nodded with the most enthusiastic smile he’d shown for a long time, before dashing off left towards the Chadwick house.

“I’ll go with him, maybe someone can point me to Nolan,” Liam caught Dylan’s vibes. He wanted to be alone for this. He needed to be alone for this.

For the rest of the walk home, Dylan’s nerves only intensified. He felt unavoidably sick, but he’d waited so long for this day. He was going to see his mum again, and he was in desperate need of one of her hugs. It would be the best birthday present ever.

As he neared the driveway, Dylan spotted two people stood facing each other on the doormat. To his delight, Jono was one of them. He looked amazing; Dylan could hardly believe he was so close again.

Next to him was somebody Dylan didn’t recognise. He had long, untamed hair and was dressed in a smart shirt. He was stood very closely to Jono. A new friend, perhaps?

Then it happened. The unthinkable. The lad pressed his lips against Jono’s. Dylan’s heart shattered. Jono had moved on.

Suddenly, Jono locked eyes with him. He backed off from the kiss, looking like he’d seen a ghost. Well, Dylan supposed he had.

“Dylan,” Jono uttered, completely gobsmacked.

Dylan didn’t know what to say. Nothing was the same any more.

4: Jono's Choice Written by MarthaJonesFan

Two weeks in. Dylan was slowly beginning to get used to life at the Lunar Sanctum. Though the testing wasn’t always pleasant, he wasn’t exactly treated badly. He had a comfy enough bed, food three times a day, and he was alive.

That didn’t mean Dylan wasn’t desperately trying to figure out an escape plan, though. In fact, that was what he spent most of his time thinking about. How to get home. How to reach his mum. How to reach Jono. It broke Dylan’s heart to consider what they must have been through in those two weeks. They’d have assumed he was dead. They’d have grieved for someone who was alive and breathing. All he needed was one quick phone call to put them at ease, but he wasn’t allowed.

“Injections don’t get any less painful, do they?” Jeremy remarked. Despite Jeremy being in a separate room with a corridor between them, Dylan still appreciated his company so much. He was what got him through each day.

“Never,” Dylan confirmed, “I was so scared of them as a kid.”

“They stopped scaring me so much when my dad was testing the virus on me,” Jeremy opened up. Wow. Dylan often forgot just how crazy an ordeal Jeremy had been through with David.

“I’m sorry,” Dylan felt very sympathetic to him.

“It’s fine. I got out. I escaped, and he’s gone now. I’m safe,” Jeremy was relieved, “I know this place isn’t ideal, but it’s better than the last few years of my life with him.”

“What changed?” Dylan noticed the specific mention of a time period.

“Margaret couldn’t look after me anymore. She got moved into a care home,” Jeremy explained, “My dad couldn’t cope with a double life so well without her.”

“You’re worth more than all of that,” Dylan assured, “I’ve got you, and when we get out, you’ve got a whole pack waiting for you.”

“Cool,” Jeremy smiled excitedly, “Jono’s lucky to have you, you know.” Dylan glanced down at the eternity ring sat snugly on his ring finger. Jono was always there by his side, in some way.

He’d have done anything to see him again.

Gobsmacked, Jono had no idea how he was supposed to feel. His night with Oscar had been amazing. In fact, it was pretty close to being perfect. Finally, he had taken a step towards moving on with his life, and he felt so proud of himself.

Yet, there he was. Dylan. Stood right in front of him. How could he have been there? Where had he been for five months? Jono was so confused. What was he supposed to do?

The look on Dylan’s face said it all. He looked genuinely gutted. He’d seen the kiss. Jono wanted to cry. He had Oscar to think about too, and there was no way out of this situation that didn’t upset either him or Dylan.

“I think I should let you two talk,” Oscar broke the silence, “Text me, yeah?” Jono appreciated his thoughtfulness, but he knew somebody’s heart was going to be broken at the end of the night. Whatever Dylan had been through, it wasn’t Oscar’s fault. Nevertheless, he paced away, giving them both space.

“Hi,” Dylan waved nervously, tears rolling down his cheeks. Jono couldn’t believe his eyes. He waked up to Dylan and gently placed his hand on his cheek. He was real. He was alive.

“Happy birthday,” Jono raised a smile, “Where have you been?” Dylan led him to the doorstep, sitting down side-by-side.

“The Lunar Sanctum,” Dylan explained, “They saved me, and Jeremy.”

“We were there yesterday,” Jono was amazed. He came so close to finding Dylan. If only he had known he was still alive, “One of Scott’s friends needed our help.”

“Nolan? He’s here? Good, because we got Liam out too,” Dylan replied, much to Jono’s relief. He’d seen how nervous Nolan was – he deserved to be reunited with the one he loved.

“How was it? Did they hurt you?” Jono needed to know. He wasn’t sure Dylan enduring five months of pain was a great deal more comforting.

“They were doing some sort of testing. They never told me the specifics, it’s classified, but it didn’t hurt too much. All things considered, it was surprisingly hospitable,” Dylan answered, “But I couldn’t contact anyone. I so desperately wanted to let you know I was okay.”

“Better late than never, I suppose,” Jono smiled. His heart was fluttering. He couldn’t believe he’d been reunited with Dylan.

“What have I missed?” Dylan queried. Such a big question. Jono had to think about where to start.

“Brett and Johnny came out at school yesterday,” Jono began with the good news, “It was awesome. Freddie moved in here, and so did I. My parents aren’t talking to me, or Lily.”

“I’m sorry,” Dylan replied sincerely, “How is Lily?”

“Coping, thanks to Alex,” Jono informed, “Better than some of us here. Yasmin’s been better. Sammi’s not been the same since she lost Jeremy. Josh, well, he’s been back a grand total of one day.”

“He was away for five months?” Dylan seemed surprised.

“There’s one more thing. The guy you saw. That’s Oscar, he’s our friend. He’s nice. He doesn’t know about werewolves,” Jono took a deep breath before continuing, “That was our first date.”

“I kinda guessed. I mean, I wanted you to move on,” Dylan acknowledged, “Do you like him?”

“Yes,” Jono confessed, “But I’m sat here with you, and it feels like you’ve never been away. It’s always you, Dyl. I’ve missed you so much,” Jono couldn’t help crying, but he wasn’t alone – Dylan was weeping too. They shared a tight hug. Their first in so long.

“I missed you too,” Dylan replied, “I thought of you every single day.”

“What do I do, Dyl? None of this is Oscar’s fault,” Jono worried. He knew he was making the right choice, but he had to let Oscar down as gently as possible.

“Talk to him. Please, if he’s as nice as you say, go and tell him. He deserves the truth,” Dylan advised, “And he deserves it now. Go on, I’ll be waiting for you here.”

Jono nodded. Dylan was right. Oscar needed some honestly, because Jono knew what he wanted, and he always had.

Complete with a pretty pink bow in her hair, Sammi felt proud of herself. She hadn’t dressed up nice in so long, because there hadn’t been anything to celebrate. Now there was, she was excited to be able to let her hair down and forget her worries for a change.

Two knocks on the door. Freddie entered, wearing a gorgeous blue shirt. He looked chirpier than he did that morning. It seemed like the idea of being able to relax was rubbing off well on them both.

“You look incredible,” Freddie smiled.

“And you look so dapper,” Sammi grinned back. For a moment, they felt just like any normal couple.

The doorbell rang. Sammi knew her aunt and uncle were still at work, so she had to do the honours. She bounded downstairs and flung open the front door, expecting to see a salesman or something. Immediately though, she slammed it shut again. It couldn’t have been. Her eyes were deceiving her. Wasn’t she allowed to forget for just one evening?

“Who was it?” Freddie questioned.

“Nobody,” Sammi brushed it off.

“There’s two heartbeats out there,” Freddie corrected. Sammi was confused. Who could it have been? Obviously, she was seeing things. Cautiously, she opened the door again. There he was. Still there. That impossible sight. Jeremy.

“No. I’m seeing things,” Sammi closed her eyes.

“If you are, then so am I,” Freddie confirmed. Sammi looked again. He was real. He was actually there.

“Hey sis,” Jeremy grinned, “I’m alive.”

Sammi jumped into his arms in glee. Her mind had so many questions, but they could wait. All that mattered was that Jeremy was miraculously alive.

“Welcome back,” Freddie smiled, “Who’s your friend?”

“This is my friend Liam,” Jeremy introduced.

“Liam? As in, Nolan’s Liam?” Freddie realised.

“Is he here?” Liam excitedly questioned.

“I’ll be right back,” Freddie grinned excitedly. Two reunions for the price of one – it made her heart flutter.

“How are you here?” Sammi wondered. She couldn’t get her head around it. Five whole months had passed. Where had he been?

“The Lunar Sanctum saved me. I’ve been there the whole time with Dylan,” Jeremy explained, “But we got out. I had to find you.”

“Dylan’s alive too? Where is he?” Sammi worried, noticing he wasn’t with them.

“He’s fine, he’s gone home,” Jeremy clarified, “Are you off out?”

“Dylan’s house,” Sammi replied coincidentally, “Go get cleaned up, we’ll wait for you.” Jeremy nodded before bouncing up the stairs, passing Freddie leading Nolan in the opposite direction.

“Oh my god,” Liam rushed inside, wrapping Nolan in the tightest, most comforting hug Sammi had seen. It was the cutest sight. Their adoration of each other was obvious.

“I’ve missed that smile,” Freddie commented, looking into Sammi’s eyes. He was right – she was beaming, for the first time in so long. Miracles could happen.

Still feeling a little shaken, Lily was pleased to finally be finished at the sheriff station. It wasn’t as cosy as the one at Crystalshaw, helped by how Ed was practically family of course. Though her interview was finished, she couldn’t stop thinking about the body she saw. Nicolas’ body. Somehow, she actually felt sorry for him, despite everything he had put her through.

There were so many questions going through her mind. How did he die? She couldn’t quite make it out. How long had he been in the river? Of course, she had theories, too. Nicolas was a werewolf, and a new hunter had shown up, but she needed proof. Accusing Jamal would serve nobody any benefit.

“How are you?” Alex questioned. He’d already been questioned and had waited behind for her.

“Eh,” Lily replied honestly, “Could be better.”

“He got what was coming to him,” Sindy remarked. She had stuck around too – a true team.

“You don’t mean that,” Lily was disappointed in her attitude. Nicolas made it quite clear where he stood, but Lily had learnt to see the good in people. That was definitely a quality Jono had taught her.

“I do,” Sindy maintained, “No. I don’t, but I haven’t forgiven him for what he did. That would be an insult to Violet.”

“Me neither,” Lily insisted, “But we need to think logically. We know nothing here is a coincidence, so why would someone kill Nicolas?”

“A hunter,” Alex immediately identified. She was pleased he had paid such good attention.

“There is no way Jamal did this,” Sindy defended.

“We can’t prove it either way,” Lily corrected, “But he’s made a threat already. It’s not that unlikely.”

The trio were nearing their dorm rooms – the sheriff station was only down the road. Lily felt so tired, but her mind was firing on all cylinders. She so badly wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Flicking the light on in her and Sindy’s room, Lily was horrified. The place had been trashed from top to bottom. Beds flipped over. Clothes scattered. Drawers hanging open.

“What the hell?” Sindy was just as shocked. Lily didn’t know what to say.

The worst part was the writing on the wall. “Werewolf Scum.” Written in blood.

“Do you still think he’s innocent?” Lily asked Sindy. There was only one suspect in her mind. It had to have been Jamal.

Yasmin wasn’t completely sure what she saw in the bushes, but whatever it was had to have been watching her. The second she and Josh went to pursue it, it vanished, clearly not wanting to be found. That meant it was smart and calculated, but it didn’t look human.

Having Josh by her side provided a surprising level of comfort. He was a strong fighter and would keep her safe, and he had proved that with David even if his later actions were severely questionable. Yasmin hoped it would be a chance for Josh to prove just how sorry he really is.

“Your face,” Yasmin spotted. He’d obtained a cut on his forehead that was now bleeding. Gently, she wiped the drip of blood away.

“It’s been there since the explosion,” Josh admitted, “I had more cuts, but they started healing only today.”

“You’re in a pack again,” Yasmin realised, “Packs make you strong, literally in the case of werewolves. Now you’re back, you’re healing faster.”

“I guess I’ve ticked alpha, beta and omega all off,” Josh chucked calmly. He was so chilled that Yasmin almost didn’t feel scared of whatever they were still approaching.

“Noticed any scents?” Yasmin wondered.

“There’s nothing. How can it not have a scent?” Josh replied.

“Something that shouldn’t exist,” Yasmin theorised.

“Wait, I can hear heartbeats,” Josh replied.

“Heartbeats?” Yasmin noticed Josh’s plural. More than one creature? That felt even more concerning.

Suddenly, two figures appeared out of the bushy area ahead. Two humanoid figures. Two people Yasmin instantly recognised.

“Hold on,” Yasmin stopped Josh, who was ready to pounce, “It’s Brett and Johnny, you dumbass.”

“Did you see it?” Brett questioned.

“You saw it too?” Josh was surprised.

“Big scaly thing,” Johnny explained, “We thought we were following it.”

“So did we,” Yasmin mentioned, “I think it’s trying to get our attention.”

“Ugh,” Brett complained, looking at his shoes. He’d stepped in some sort of odd goo-type substance. He went to wipe it off, but Yasmin blocked his hand.

“Stop,” Yasmin commanded, “You don’t know what that is.” She crumpled up a folded sheet of revision from her pocket and scooped a little of the thick, clear liquid up, “Let’s find out what this is.”

Despite a rocky start, Dylan couldn’t have been more thrilled about how his chat with Jono had gone. Finally, he had reunited with the love of his life, and it was the best feeling ever. Dylan never wanted to be apart from Jono for even a second again.

However, Jono had some business to attend to on his own. He needed to speak to Oscar, because he was innocent in this mess. Though Dylan’s heart momentarily broke when he saw Jono and Oscar kiss, he was so happy that Jono chose him all over again. He felt bad for Oscar, though. He was collateral damage caused by the Sanctum, and Dylan wasn’t okay with that. He deserved to be let down gently.

That meant Dylan had to face another big moment on his own, and he felt so excited. He was sure to put a gigantic smile on his mum’s face, yet he felt so sad knowing what she must have endured. At least she’d had Jono and Freddie to look out for her at home.

Even the comforting sight of his house meant so much to Dylan. He felt safe there, knowing nobody could get to him without dealing with his mum and the sheriff first.

“Who is it? Jono?” she called out from the lounge, “Everything’s ready for your friends, they’re welcome to come at any time.”

“What about me?” Dylan questioned from the doorway. He watched on as her relaxed posture tensed up. She glanced up, locking eyes with him in both awe and bafflement.

“Dylan? Is that really you?” Caroline questioned hopefully yet nervously.

“It’s me, mom. I’m alive,” Dylan smiled, feeling tears already running a race down his cheeks.

“Come here,” Caroline commanded. Dylan didn’t need to be told twice. He ran into Caroline’s open arms for the warm hug he had been so desperate for, “Both you and your brother back on the same day. I thought you were meant to be getting presents on your birthday, not giving them.”

“I’m sorry,” Dylan wept as they sat down next to each other on the sofa, “It’s a long story, and I’m still not sure I’m totally safe, but I’m home.”

“It’s okay, my baby. We’ll tackle it together, just like we always have,” Caroline didn’t let go of his hands, “I can’t believe you’re here. Have you seen Jono?”

“Yeah, just now, we had a talk. He’ll be back soon,” Dylan replied, “What’s happening tonight?”

“A little celebration. Josh gave us something to be happy about,” Caroline replied, “Now it’s a double celebration. Or triple, seeing as it’s somebody’s eighteenth.”

“Oh my god,” the familiar voice of Freddie called out as a group of guests filtered in through the door. Freddie bundled onto Dylan, with Sammi just behind. Oh, it was so good to see them both again, “Jeremy said you were back.”

“I’ve missed you guys,” Dylan grinned. He caught eyes with Jeremy stood in the doorway. He had the biggest smile on his face, like a proud brother. He’d very much felt like one when all they really had was each other.

“Dylan, meet Nolan,” Liam introduced, stepping forward. Next to him was an adorably cute young man, with perfectly styled hair and pretty freckles scattered across his cheeks.

“I’ve heard a lot of stuff about you,” Dylan shook his hand. Nolan flashed an awkward yet kind smile back to him.

“Hold on, do the others know yet?” Freddie queried.

“Only Jono,” Dylan explained, “They still have my phone.” Without hesitation, Freddie chucked his phone over. Dylan had to get the message out somehow, after all.

Never had Jono felt such a crazy rollercoaster of emotions in one night. He was on such a high with Oscar, and though Dylan had filled him with even more joy and excitement, he also felt gutted about what that meant for Oscar. Jono knew with absolute certainty that he was making the right decision, but breaking it to Oscar wasn’t going to be easy.

He’d texted him asking if they could meet at Jono’s treehouse. He hadn’t seen much of the treehouse in a while – it was a little too close to his parents when they weren’t working – but it was definitely the best place for a private chat.

“Sorry I’m late,” Oscar heaved himself up the ladder. He was making a habit of tardiness, not that Jono minded, “How are you?”

“All over the place,” Jono replied honestly, “I mean, I’m not really sure on the protocol for how to feel when my dead boyfriend isn’t dead after all.”

“I get it,” Oscar commented, “I mean, I don’t understand anything that’s happened tonight, but I sympathise, and I know what you’re going to say next. I saw the way you looked at Dylan, and I know what everyone at school says about the both of you.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” a tearful Jono took Oscar’s hand, “Dylan gets me like nobody else. He makes me feel so happy without saying a word. I still really like you, Oscar. You’re funny, kind, and so supportive, and if it’s okay, I really want to keep being your friend.”

“You’re my best friend, dude,” Oscar took the news amazingly well. Though he looked disappointed, he was trying to put on a brave face, “Nothing’s going to change that. I just want you to be happy.”

Jono smiled. He still felt so guilty, but this situation had caught everyone off-guard. Oscar deserved the world, and Jono was always going to cheer in his corner.

“Hey, Dylan’s mom is hosting a little celebration tonight,” Jono mentioned, “You know, you’re still our friend, and I’d really like you to come. No pressure.”

“Will Dylan mind?” Oscar worried.

“I think you and Dylan will be amazing friends,” Jono persuaded. After all, nobody was kinder than Dylan or Oscar.

“Alright,” Oscar smiled, “I’ll meet you there. Go get your guy.”

Jono hugged Oscar. He really was a better friend than he deserved, but Dylan was waiting, and Jono could hardly wait to see him again.

Josh wasn’t ready to face Mrs. Johnson again just yet. He was still reeling from the amount of biology catch-up work he’d been given. Perhaps he needn’t have been surprised – it was his own fault for not attempting to keep up with school – but at the same time, most absentees didn’t have to go through what he’d endured.

He felt motivated, though. Josh wasn’t keen on seeing all of his friends progress past high school while he had to repeat the year. Whether college was his aim or not, he was ready to move on and achieve something.

For a moment, things felt strangely normal, though. Yasmin, Brett and Johnny by his side as they investigated the supernatural. Josh wasn’t stupid. He knew he had further to go before he got Yasmin’s forgiveness, but for a moment, he was able to pretend.

“I don’t recognise it,” Mrs. Johnson commented, examining the small blob of thick, clear liquid from outside, “I think we need to do some tests.”

“We think it came from a reptilian creature,” Brett mentioned.

“Kanima?” Josh thought aloud.

“Possibly, but I wouldn’t be so sure until I’ve tested this venom. There are multiple venomous creatures in the supernatural world, but I’ve not encountered many. All I know is that extreme caution is needed,” Mrs. Johnson sensibly informed, “You may be quicker using the Bestiary.”

“The bunker’s sealed off, it has been since the explosion,” Yasmin mentioned, “It’s not safe down there.”

“You’d better be careful, then,” Mrs. Johnson warned, turning her back as she began her tests. Yasmin’s eyes widened. She was no huge fan of Mrs. Johnson – none of them particularly enjoyed involving their biology teacher, but her bluntness made things even less ideal.

Josh’s phone buzzed. Weirdly, so did Yasmin, Brett and Johnny’s phones. This could only have been one of a select few people, considering David had taken Josh’s old phone and he’d been using a new number for all of one day.

They had received a WhatsApp message from Freddie. A picture was attached. An impossible picture. Dylan. A photo Josh hadn’t seen before. He looked different. His hair was longer than Josh had known.

“Is this an old picture?” Johnny looked confused.

“No, it’s brand new,” Josh identified, the excitement immediately rushing through his body. A smile adorned his face; the biggest smile he had enjoyed in ages.

“How can it not be old?” Brett was a little slower. Josh caught eyes with Yasmin, briefly taking her eyes off the picture, before staring at it again and smiling. They both knew what it meant, and it made him feel so good, like being wrapped in the cosiest blanket ever.

“Dylan’s alive,” Josh grinned, “Come on, we’ve got a party to go to.”

Flustered, Lily wasn’t sure what to do. Her space had been trashed, her life had been threatened, and her anxiety levels were the highest they had been in so long. Her breathing was heavy and restricted, and she couldn’t focus on what was in front of her.

“Lily?” Sindy called out.

“Sit her down,” Alex directed. The sound of his voice usually comforted her, but Lily’s mind was spiralling. Imagining the worst. What if Jamal hurt him at night? He was at risk. Any of them could die. Just like Jeremy. Just like Dylan.

“Lily, I need you to look at me,” Alex knelt down in front of her, “Look into my eyes. Focus on something you can see.”

Lily tried her best. Alex’s green eyes were enchanting. She focused on the vibrant colour and glassy reflection. It was a gorgeously calm sight.

“Deep breaths,” Alex directed, “In…and out.” Lily followed his instructions. Her heart was beating so fast, but her mind was slowing down. She was coming out the other the end.

“I’m okay,” Lily confirmed. She knew what a panic attack felt like. Sindy passed her a towel to wipe the sweat that now disgustingly covered her forehead. She looked at Alex again, “You are incredible.”

“I’m no stranger to panic attacks,” Alex replied, “I had to help out.”

“This isn’t going away, though. That’s going to be the first of many if we stay here,” Lily argued.

“What happened to acting normal?” Sindy was confused.

“I think playing fair went out the window when he trashed our room,” Lily reasoned, “And if he did kill Nicolas, I don’t…I don’t want to risk one of us being next.”

“Yeah, I get it, but Alex is human? He’ll be safe, right?” Sindy noted.

“Let’s just say collateral damage isn’t a new concept to me,” Lily justified, “We need to get somewhere safe. College isn’t worth our lives.”

“Alright, so where do we go?” Alex thought practically. She was pleased he was on board with her, though she didn’t doubt him for a second.

“Home,” Lily stated, “Crystalshaw’s the safest place, because of my pack. Strength in numbers.”

Her phone buzzed, interrupting the chat. It was a WhatsApp message from Freddie. A picture. A single picture that sent shockwaves of excitement through Lily’s body.

“And if you need any more convincing,” Lily showed them both the picture.

“Dylan,” Alex recognised, looking confused.

“Wait, I thought he was dead?” Sindy blurted out. Lily understood her confusion – she was baffled enough herself – but perhaps she lacked the faith in Dylan that Lily had in bucketloads. After all, Sindy hadn’t met him before.

“He’s Dylan Drummond. He’s the alpha. His name matters, because he goes against the grain. He fights hate with love. He tries to see the good in everything. He’s my family, because he’s the only guy my brother deserves,” Lily explained, “Come on, get packed. We’re getting the first flight out.”

For one night, Dylan forgot all of his problems. In the back of his mind, he was well aware that the Lunar Sanctum would still be looking for him. They were stood at the beginning of a war, and Dylan was ready to fight to win. The lives of his pack depended on it, and the Sanctum had given him the opportunity to reflect on just how much he cherished each and every one of his friends.

However, for that night, Dylan just wanted to enjoy himself. The rest of the group had arrived at his house – Yasmin, Josh, Brett and Jeremy. It was amazing to see them again. Dylan had dreamed of the day they’d all be reunited, but part of him considered that the day may never come. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt this overjoyed.

His mum played the role of the hostess perfectly. She had spent the day baking a birthday cake, while decorating the house with “welcome home” and “happy birthday” banners. Of course, it started as a party for Josh, but Dylan was more than happy to share the occasion with his brother. Meanwhile, Ed was helping to dish out drinks – a rare treat of wine, underage or not. After all, he was the sheriff.

Upon his return, Jono hadn’t left Dylan’s side, and Dylan couldn’t have been happier about that. They had five months of time to catch up on, and knowing how they usually were, that meant a lot of hugs.

“I made this playlist for you,” Jono mentioned. He had picked the music for the evening, of course. There was nobody better to take on DJ duties.

“Me?” Dylan was intrigued. He hadn’t recognised an of the songs played, but he was thoroughly enjoying the playlist nonetheless.

“It sounds stupid,” Jono blushed, “But any time I heard a new song that you’d like, I added it to this playlist.”

Dylan felt so touched. Jono had been thinking of Dylan just as much as he’d been thinking of Jono. He was ridiculously lucky, and after so long apart, he needed no reminder of that. Though it was a cliché, Dylan had learnt that absence really did make the heart grow fonder.

“I love it,” Dylan replied, cuddling up under Jono’s chin, “I could stay here all night.”

“Then let’s do that,” Jono agreed, playing with his hair, “But I need a favour from you first.”

Dylan sat up. Immediately, he could suss out what Jono meant. In the corner of the room was Yasmin, not making any eye contact with anyone. In one hand was her phone, taking all of her attention away from the room, and in the other was a glass of wine – not her first of the night.

“She’s struggled, more than most of us. Go and talk to her. She needs you,” Jono encouraged. Of course, Dylan didn’t need to be asked twice. Yasmin’s slumped posture was so far away from what he was used to from her. He’d missed his best friend so much.

“Hey,” Dylan smiled, positioning himself on the arm of the couch, next to her.

“Sorry, I’m not much fun,” Yasmin sighed.

“I don’t mind,” Dylan replied, “I’m just pleased you’re here.”

“It’s been hard,” Yasmin opened up, “So much changed, and I’ve never really known how to deal with it.”

“I know,” Dylan understood. He knew Yasmin better than most. Yasmin was Dylan’s first friend in Crystalshaw, after all. They had a bond like no other, “Talk or don’t talk, I don’t mind, but I’m here for you either way, and I’m not going away again.”

“I’m glad,” Yasmin rested her head against Dylan’s arm. They always had each other.

“Everyone,” Caroline called out, tapping her wine glass to quieten the chit-chat. Jono paused the music just as Dylan slipped back into his cosy spot by his side. Dylan spotted Oscar slipping into the room, sending a smile over. Dylan was pleased to see him. He wanted to get to know him, because Jono cared for him, and that mattered, “Thank you all for coming. Of course, I threw this party to officially welcome my beautiful Josh back home. We’re so thrilled to have him back safely. It’s turned into more than that, though,” Caroline was tearing up. It warmed Dylan’s heart to see Ed with his arm around her, consoling her every step of the way, “My Dylan is alive. And Jeremy. And Liam. We’ve all found our loved ones again, so I think we deserve to relax and celebrate life. We all know now just how short it is. Welcome home boys, and happy birthday to Dylan, my strong, intelligent and gorgeous son.” She raised her glass, everyone following suit.

Dylan looked up at Jono. This was what he had longed for. He was so happy to be back.

5: USB Written by MarthaJonesFan

Tossing and turning, Dylan was struggling to sleep. That wasn’t a new feeling for him – he’d spent the best part of a week trying to cope on two or three hours of sleep. He was exhausted, mentally and physically, but his racing mind wasn’t letting him rest.

For the most part, his life had snapped back to normal. He was back at school, being met by a ridiculous amount of catch-up work, and his “mom time” after school had resumed, with Josh, Jono and Freddie in tow. Caroline seemed to enjoy the extra company of four teenage boys around the house, and Dylan certainly did too. They were the perfect distraction.

After all, Dylan knew he wasn’t out of the woods yet. In fact, he was surprised that he hadn’t seen the Lunar Sanctum again already. It wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to track him down, which meant they were biding their time, and it was seemingly having its desired effect on Dylan. He felt permanently restless, and he was sick of it.

On the bright side, the pack was ready. Both Dylan and Jeremy were never left alone, and Liam had stuck around with Nolan so that when the attack came, they could present a strong, united front. Dylan felt confident when he had the pack around him. He knew he could win.

“Come here,” Jono commanded. That was one good thing about his nights. Jono moving in had meant they’d barely spent a second apart, even overnight. Dylan had really missed sleeping by his side. Without needing to be told twice, Dylan snuggled closer to Jono, resuming his usual position as the little spoon.

“Did I wake you?” Dylan felt bad. It wouldn’t have been the first time his tossing and turning had jolted Jono awake.

“No, don’t worry,” Jono lied, trying to spare Dylan’s feelings. He appreciated the gesture, “I’ve got you, baby.” Dylan felt so safe in his arms. Perhaps he would be able to sleep after all?

“Hold on,” Dylan’s mind sped up again, “What time are we meeting Lily?”

Lily had suddenly arrived back from college with Sindy and Alex in tow, because of a hunter. That was the last thing Dylan need, but of course, he was going to everything he could to help out.

“Not early, don’t worry,” Jono replied, “Come on, try to sleep, it’ll help.”

Jono was right. Dylan at least had to try. He closed his eyes and tried his best to shut out all distractions. Hopefully he could push for four hours of sleep that night.

The sights from the lakehouse master bedroom first thing in the morning were so beautiful. It had become Lily’s favourite way to spend much of her day, in fact. The lake was so gentle and calming to watch over – a huge contrast to the hectic college lifestyle she had become accustomed to.

That same lakehouse had been the home of some amazing memories from her childhood, too. The expeditions she and Jono found themselves on during their summer vacations were so much fun, and it was the only real time they’d spent together as a family without work looming over them. Things used to be so easy.

On the bright side, the lakehouse provided the perfect place for Lily to hide out for the time being. There was plenty of space for her, Alex and Sindy to take shelter, and it meant she could continue to give her parents a wide berth for the time being. Eventually, she was going to have to speak to them, but she was very keen to delay that as much as possible.

“I could get used to this,” Alex commented. Of course, he’d been by her side for almost the entire week. Just the way they both loved.

“What, being on the run?” Sindy ruined the atmosphere, bringing them a cup of tea each onto the balcony.

“We’re not on the run, we’re ten minutes from my house,” Lily was quick to point out.

“Feels like it,” Sindy complained.

“I mean, it could be worse,” Alex backed Lily, “This place is beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Lily replied, “Next time, Ed can find us a dingy squalor to stay in.”

“Alright, point taken,” Sindy conceded, “It’d help if we knew how long we’d need to be here, though.”

“Until we have a plan,” Lily answered decisively. The plan of action was clear as far as she was concerned – they weren’t safe at college until they knew more about Jamal.

The door creaked open. Lily instantly knew who it was by the sound of the comforting chit-chat that arrived with them.

“And here comes that plan,” she smiled.

“Morning,” Jono grinned, pulling up a chair to the balcony. Dylan and Yasmin followed him over – the dream team as far as Lily was concerned.

“You’re early,” Lily remarked, “If I didn’t already know you were back, Dylan, this would have given the game away.” Dylan laughed, but he looked shattered. Lily couldn’t imagine how anxious he must have been feeling; Jono had told her the full story, and even for someone as brave as Dylan, his ordeal sounded terrifying.

“Any word from Misha?” Yasmin questioned. She didn’t look so great either, but knowing how Yasmin bottled up her feelings, Lily figured she’d appreciate the distraction.

“Not a word. She’s clearly not missing us that much,” Lily answered.

“She seemed so innocent,” Sindy sighed.

“Assuming she and Jamal are working together, then,” Yasmin continued, “Where did they learn about werewolves?”

“If they’re hunters, it could be a family thing,” Dylan suggested, “Scott’s told me about the Argents, from Beacon Hills. They passed it down through the generations.”

“Do we know anything about their family?” Jono wondered.

“They’re from Readcastle, it’s a couple of hours away. Their mom raised them on her own,” Sindy informed, “Had a pretty long chat with Misha the night she arrived.”

“I’m sure we can do some digging,” Dylan seemed positive. Lily hadn’t realised how much she missed his unique brand of optimism – it rubbed off on everyone around him.

“I’ve got an idea,” Sindy mentioned. Lily was thrilled they were all so keen to help. They needed all the dirt they could get.

It wasn’t often that something outsmarted Freddie’s computer skills. The pack relied on him for anything technical, but he was struggling a lot with his latest task, and it was making him frustrated.

Dylan had given him a USB from the Lunar Sanctum. He had no idea what was on it, but whatever it was could have given them some insight into what was going on in there. After all, they were still very much a threat, and Freddie felt the pressure of protecting the pack on his shoulders.

“Not exactly the best way to spend a Saturday,” Sammi remarked. Freddie had her and Josh for company, but neither of them were much help. In fact, they were more off-putting than anything.

“Hey, what’s so wrong with my bedroom?” Josh commented.

“The fact my boyfriend has to share this tip,” Sammi replied. Sharing a bedroom wasn’t ideal, but Freddie didn’t mind it so much – Josh was his best friend, and he appreciated having a roof over his head.

“I think we can both take credit for the mess,” Josh continued the back-and-forth.

“That’s enough,” Freddie yelled, “I can’t focus. The room isn’t important, and I think we all know organisation isn’t my strong suit.”

“I’m sorry,” Sammi instantly cuddled up to him. Of course, he could never be truly mad at her, or Josh for that matter. They both made him so happy, most of the time anyway.

“Any luck?” Josh questioned.

“There’s so many layers of encryption, and I don’t have the username or password, so getting in is taking some time,” Freddie reported back, “But I can do it, I just need to focus. Adderall only gets me so far.”

The coding was complicated for what seemed like a basic USB. This told Freddie that whatever was on there really wasn’t meant to fall into the wrong hands, and that only spurred him on further. He had to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Another layer of encryption removed. Freddie was making progress, but he’d done so at a snail’s pace. He’d been working on it most of a week and the end still wasn’t upon him.

The doorbell rang. Another distraction.

“Are we expecting anyone?” Josh wondered.

“Red alert,” Sammi warned, peeping out of the window, “Soldiers at door.”

“Lunar Sanctum,” Freddie’s panic levels rose. This was bad news all round.

The bunker had never been Brett’s favourite place to visit. Under Drew’s ownership, it was basically derelict; the various items of tat left to gather dust on their own. Thankfully, Dylan had cleared much of it out, but it couldn’t change the dark, muggy atmosphere of the small, concrete room.

It didn’t help that Brett’s lasting memories of that room came from the day of the explosion, either. A day that brought out every negative emotion in a way Brett had never experienced before. It was an unwelcome reminder of just what he’d signed up for by agreeing to be a part of Dylan’s pack.

He couldn’t make complaints, though. After everything, Dylan was alive. The supernatural world had given him the strangest surprises, and he was stood next to one of them: Johnny. Brett didn’t believe in silly stuff like destiny, but finding Johnny again was the closest he had ever come to changing his mind.

The bunker entrance was cordoned off above ground. Nobody had been down there in months while the structure was inspected, and it still wasn’t completely safe, so they had all steered clear. Sadly, Brett had drawn the short straw in investigating whatever that creature lurking by the basketball court was. He and Johnny were the only ones who saw it fully, so unfortunately, they were the ones chancing the tunnels.

“Is it just me who has a really bad feeling about this?” Brett commented, moving the barriers out of the way.

“I’d be worried if you felt okay about this,” Johnny replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll go first.”

Johnny had this amazing way with words. He never seemed fazed by anything or anyone, and it was contagiously calming for Brett. He was used to burying his problems, feeling the burden of being a stereotypical team captain. Johnny brought out the best in him.

Brett navigated the ladder carefully, jumping the last step. The tunnel looked just the same as it always did – dim lightbulbs showed the way forward with pipes trailing along the walls. Dylan’s bunker was directly to his right. Johnny heaved the heavy door open surprisingly easily, exposing the bunker just as it had been left.

“Let’s find that book and get out of here,” Brett suggested. Thankfully, Dylan was brilliant at organisation and order, so it wasn’t difficult to find the old and dusty, yet annoyingly helpful Bestiary.

“Hold on, what’s that?” Johnny paused. Brett was confused. What was he talking about? Brett couldn’t see or hear anything.

“What?” he queried.

“Heartbeat. Outside,” Johnny answered.

“Dude, I’m not a werewolf,” Brett chuckled. Nevertheless, they both crept back to the door, Johnny taking the lead. Brett felt nervous. He knew they weren’t safe anywhere. A creature was on the loose. The Lunar Sanctum could appear from anywhere. They had to be on their guard the entire time, and the door was still open.

Suddenly, Johnny was fiercely yanked out of the room. Rushing ahead in panic, Brett saw him being dragged down the tunnels by a grotesque-looking, dark, reptilian creature. That same one. It had found them, and Johnny couldn’t wiggle free from its grip.

Brett sprinted after it, but he was losing pace. He was terrified and needed back-up. He couldn’t fight the creature alone, and Johnny’s life depended on it. Brett couldn’t lose him again.

Following Sindy’s lead, Jono felt good to be busy. He knew just how bad Dylan’s nights had been since his return, and they were both extremely concerned about when the Lunar Sanctum would eventually show up. Neither of them were willing to risk Dylan being taken again.

Dylan was throwing himself into the mission, too. When Lily needed help, Dylan didn’t need to think twice. They were family, whether their parents approved or not. Jono himself was enjoying the distraction for that very reason – anything to continue avoiding the fact that his parents hadn’t spoken to him in over five months was good as far as he was concerned.

Strutting past the hospital reception desk, Sindy grabbed a spare lab coat from the empty desk. She jingled an ID card attached to a lanyard that she pulled out of its pocket. For someone who hadn’t been doing this for very long, she had an admirable amount of bravado.

“Let’s find somewhere a little more private,” she suggested.

“In here,” Yasmin spotted an open office door. Quickly, all of them filtered inside. A group of six was hardly subtle, but Sindy had kept tight-lipped on what her plan was. Jono was too nosey to wait outside.

“What are we actually doing?” Lily impatiently wondered.

“You know my mom works at a hospital? I figured we’d probably need her help, so I procured her login details. It’s the same system,” Sindy explained. Jono was impressed. Lily had trained her well.

“We'll keep watch,” Jono decided, nudging Dylan. The perfect chance for a quiet chat while they waited.

“I’m okay, you know,” Dylan assured him as they pressed their shoulders against the door. He’d sussed Jono’s plan out.

“It’s my job to worry,” Jono justified. It was all he ever really did, and he knew Dylan did the same back.

“I know,” Dylan acknowledged, “I don’t really want to think about, you know, them. It’s like, that first day back was so happy. Everyone was on cloud nine, but the next day, reality hit. None of us are safe.”

Jono felt so bad for him. He truly couldn’t imagine how Dylan had coped inside the Lunar Sanctum. He enjoyed routine, familiarity and friendly faces, and that would have been so far out of his comfort zone.

“I didn’t think you were dead at first,” Jono recalled, “When they didn’t find a body, I thought you’d definitely be alive, but a week passed and you didn’t show up. I figured you’d have come back by then. I didn’t even consider any other option. I should have found you.”

“How could you have known? You had no reason to suspect anything like that,” Dylan reassured, “It’s my fault anyway, I was the one who blew up that place.”

“I get why you did it, don’t get me wrong, but I remember that moment so clearly. Freddie pushing me outside. I realised what was happening, and then the blast happened. My world collapsed,” Jono thought back. It still made him feel sick to think about.

“I’m sorry,” a tear slipped down Dylan’s cheek, “My heart sunk too. I couldn’t watch you leave. It broke my heart, and I thought that was going to be my last thought.”

Wow, Jono thought. That hit him in the feels. He was full-on weeping now.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Jono replied, “Please never leave me again.”

“Never,” Dylan pointed to his eternity ring. Jono flashed his own, too. They were a promise to each other, and Jono knew they would always stick to it.

“Got him,” Sindy was thrilled, “Jamal Monroe. One sister, Misha. Father unknown, mother called Tamora.”

“Monroe,” Dylan realised. He spoke as if he’d heard that name before.

“Ring a bell?” Yasmin queried.

“Come on. I think we need to speak to Liam,” Dylan suggested. Jono started to feel worried. There was something bigger going on here.

Panicked, Sammi wasn’t sure what to do. Josh and Freddie shared the same exasperated look of concern. Different scenarios were playing inside his mind. Perhaps they were doing a door-to-door search? They may not have known Dylan’s address. Alternatively, they knew exactly where to come, and exactly who they would find.

“What do we do?” Sammi worriedly questioned.

“Don’t say anything. They might think nobody’s home,” Freddie reasoned.

BASH! The front door had been kicked in. So much for hiding.

“Okay, we need a plan,” Freddie quickly changed course.

“I’ve got one,” Josh piped up, “But you’re not going to like it, Sammi.” Sammi sighed, but she was listening, “Only one of us is human. If you go downstairs and shoo them away, we’ll be safe up here.”

Sammi felt nervous. She didn’t know how good she would be at such a distraction, but it really was their only option.

“Okay,” Sammi stood up, straightening her back, ready for business. She left the boys’ room and headed downstairs. Instantly, she saw guards lining up the hallways. It was a terrifying thing, especially in a house that was usually so calm and happy.

“Excuse me,” Sammi put on her best angry voice, “What do you think you’re doing? Get out of my house.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m going to need you to identify yourself,” one guard said.

“Not when you’ve busted my front door. Get out, and I will be contacting your superiors,” Sammi swerved the difficult questions. Just like her dad used to. In a way, she’d learnt from the expert.

The soldiers begrudgingly left the house, but Sammi sensed they weren’t done yet.

“Ma’am, I still need your name,” the guard requested, this time from the doorstep. Darn. Sammi couldn’t tell him her real name.

“Tracy,” Sammi lied, “Tracy Barlow.” Jono’s interest in British pop culture had, against all odds, proven useful.

“We’re very sorry Ms. Barlow, we’ve had reported of four dangerous individuals in this area. If you see any of these,” the guard handed her a piece of paper with pictures of Dylan, Jeremy and Liam on, “Please call us.”

“Yes sir,” Sammi nodded, pushing the now-dodgy door shut. Caroline was going to be furious.

Sammi rushed back upstairs to reunite with the boys. Of course, Freddie embraced her in a tight hug immediately – it was so reassuring to be in his arms.

“They’ve gone.” Sammi revealed, “Come on, we need to get into that USB. I’m over this shit.”

Sprinting across town, Brett was trying his best to keep a clear head. He knew how easy it would have been to panic and lose his mind, but that wasn’t going to help Johnny. He had to think sensibly and rationally. Of course, there was no way his human legs could catch up to the basilisk. Even before the end of the tunnels, the basilisk was out of sight. Johnny was out of sight. Brett had to think logically. Where could he find help?

Of course, Snapchat was his best friend. Dylan and Jono were at the hospital according to the Snapchat map, so that’s where Brett had run to. It was the biggest comfort to know Dylan was around again, because he never gave up on the ones he loved. They were going to find Johnny, whatever it took.

Suddenly, Brett’s phone screen went black. No battery. He’d have to trawl the entire hospital to find them. Now he was on his own. Brett sprinted through reception, scanning the corridors and side rooms as he passed through the building. It was no good, though. He couldn’t track a scent. He was a headless chicken, but he wasn’t giving up. Johnny was relying on him.

There he was. The lift doors slammed shut, but Brett knew who he saw. Johnny. However, the creature wasn’t there. Instead, a young man had Johnny captured by the wrist. Brett sprinted, but it was too late – the lift had already started descending. Johnny knew exactly where it would be going, too. The part of the hospital that nobody knew about. The part that needed a lift key to access. The scientists’ lab.

Brett didn’t have the key to hand. The pack’s key was located in the bunker, where he’d just come from, and there was no time to get there. He had to act quickly, not delay himself longer than necessary. There had to be a staircase to the basement, from when the hospital was built – such a fire hazard would never be left unfixed.

Wasting no more time, Brett sprinted down the staircase to the morgue. The stairs didn’t continue any lower. He had to think. Where could a staircase be? Then it clicked. Hidden in plain sight. A conspicuously placed rug next to the stairs. Yanking it up, Brett spotted a hatch in the floor. That was it. That was his way down.

Carefully lifting the lid, Brett saw a wooden, noticeably flimsier staircase down even further. Without another thought, he climbed downwards, the harsh white lighting of the corridors causing Brett to squint as he reached the bottom. Looking around, he knew exactly where he was. He was just along from the lift. Of course, Brett followed the corridor – worryingly, a trail of blood was by his side. He was desperately hoping it wasn’t Johnny’s.

Reaching the lab, Brett peeped around the corner. He made instant eye contact with Johnny, who was sat against the wall a couple of metres in. A small pool of blood surrounded his arms, which looked as if they’d been badly burnt. Across the room was that young man, facing away.

“Get out,” Johnny mouthed, but Brett wasn’t leaving without him.

“I’ll ask again,” the man spoke to Johnny, “What is the cure?”

“I don’t know, please, if you let me go, I’ll ask my friends, they’ll help you,” Johnny begged. He looked terrified.

The man opened his eyes. A bright glare shone out, and Johnny cried out in pain. It was burning him. Brett had to think first. He eyed up the hospital bed in the centre of the room – it was on wheels. Rapidly, Brett ran inside and shoved the bed forward, blocking the man from moving.

“Run,” Brett commanded to Johnny, taking his hand. Together, they sprinted away. They were safe, but not for long.

Though the Lunar Sanctum guards had gone, Freddie felt far from comfortable. In fact, he understood Dylan’s anxieties completely. They had no understanding of the humanity werewolves still faced. Freddie knew he was no monster; he buried his animalistic instincts every day. The Sanctum clearly didn’t care about that, though.

As a result, Freddie only felt more determined to get into the USB. They needed dirt to take them down, because he was not willing to live his life in fear. He saw how terrified Sammi looked, and if they could instil that fear in a human, Freddie felt no shame in being a terrified werewolf.

“I keep thinking,” Josh commented, “What if they’d found Dylan? It’s his house too, he could have been here. They could have taken him again.”

“Don’t think like that,” Freddie didn’t need any more pessimism – he had enough in his own head without Josh dosing him up further.

“But we don’t know that they haven’t found him since,” Josh worried.

“Jono would call us, no news is good news,” Freddie reassured.

“At least this time, we’d know where they’d be taking him,” Sammi mentioned. It was a good point. They wouldn’t have to fear the worst. This time, they knew their enemy.

“Oh my god,” Freddie let out an excited gasp. His laptop had given him good news. The final layer was cracked. He was inside the USB, “I’ve done it.”

Sammi and Josh quickly crowded around Freddie as he started to inspect the long list of files. Documents and spreadsheets made up the vast majority of them – he was in no doubt that he’d be spending his evening trawling through each one – but Freddie was most intrigued by the string of JPEG files at the bottom.

Freddie clicked on the first one. Instantly, he winced, and looked away. The sight was disgusting and gruesome. The picture was of a werewolf. A dead, male werewolf, lying on a hospital bed, with his body completely shrivelled. His blood had been fully drained out. Freddie closed it, noticing Sammi and Josh similarly freaked out. Nervously, he tried a second picture. This time, it was a female werewolf, baring her fangs with unhealed burn marks coating her skin. Freddie couldn’t look at any more. It was too horrible.

“That’s what we’re fighting,” Freddie muttered, “Come on. Ed needs to see this.”

He unplugged the USB and grabbed his car key. They had to put an end to this, or one of them would be next. Dylan and Jeremy had a lucky escape.

Rushing downstairs and outside, Josh and Sammi following behind him, Freddie immediately grinded to a halt. Waiting in front of his car were those same Lunar Sanctum guards. This was bad news. They’d been caught out.

“Ms. Barlow,” the head guard addressed, “Or should I say, Miss Samantha Chadwick.”

“Move,” Josh threatened, glowing his eyes. Freddie was ready too – if he had to fight his way out, he would.

Before he could shift, Freddie felt a stinging sensation in his neck. Tranquiliser. Unable to stop himself, Freddie collapsed to the ground, dropping the USB as he fell. They were trapped.

Dashing to the Chadwick house, Dylan was worried. He was sure he had heard the name ‘Monroe’ before. Liam told him about her hunting him, and the rest of Scott’s pack. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that this Jamal kid had the same surname and was also a hunter.

Jono was, of course, by his side the whole way there, both of them racing ahead of the others. They’d barely spent any time apart since Dylan got back; neither of them could stomach the thought of being separated again, and Dylan was keen to make up for every hug, every kiss and every moment that had been stolen from them.

However, Jono skidded to a halt outside the grand gates. He paused, looking on anxiously. Dylan hadn’t even considered that returning home would have been difficult for him. The concept of his mum not speaking to him, out of choice, for months on end, felt alien. Dylan couldn’t imagine how Jono felt.

“You don’t have to come inside,” Dylan assured. There was no way he was putting Jono through anything that could cause him anxiety.

“I’ll be okay. I don’t want to see them, but at the same time, I really do,” Jono confessed, “I shouldn’t have to make the first move here.”

“We got this,” Dylan held out his hand. They were unstoppable together. Jono had always given Dylan the best support when he needed it, and it was time to return the favour.

Together, hand-in-hand, they walked confidently inside, just as the others caught them up. Dylan noticed Jono also linking hands with Lily. It was hard for her too. For Dylan, it was a necessary reminder of just how lucky he was that his mum came around to her son being a werewolf relatively quickly. That said, he never once forgot how scared he was to lose her. He understood Jono and Lily’s sadness so clearly.

Once inside, Dylan followed his nose. It was directing him upstairs, to Jono’s old bedroom. Dylan was still gripping onto Jono’s hand. The anxiety in the air was strong, and Jono needed his support. This was hard for him.

Three gentle knocks on the bedroom door. Liam answered, dressed casually in a t-shirt that Jono had obviously left behind.

“Hey,” Liam greeted casually, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any spare clothes here, Sammi said I could borrow yours.”

“It’s fine,” Jono nodded. Dylan listened to his heartbeat – he actually meant it. Of course, Jono hadn’t lost his kindness.

“Hey, I wanted to ask you something,” Dylan mentioned, filtering inside the room. Nolan was sat on the bed, looking a little freaked out by the number of guests that had just arrived.

“Go for it, anything I can help with?” Liam smiled.

“You mentioned Monroe,” Dylan continued, “The hunter.” Nolan shuddered at the mere mention of her name. Whoever she was, it was clear she was someone to fear.

“What about her?” Nolan anxiously questioned.

“What was her first name?” Dylan queried.

“Why?” Nolan’s anxiety levels were intensifying.

“Tamora,” Liam replied, “Is everything okay?”

“Her son’s trying to kill me,” Lily responded, way too casually.

“Who is she?” Sindy was confused.

“A hunter. A werewolf hunter. The most famous werewolf hunter around,” Liam answered, “If she’s coming here, we’re all screwed, because she’s got a vengeance. We defeated her before, but she wasn’t happy about it.”

Dylan’s heart was racing. This was a huge problem, and every single one of them was at risk.

6: Venom Written by MarthaJonesFan

Surrounded by a circle of mountain ash, Freddie felt claustrophobic. He was at least given the courtesy of a chair, but the mountain ash locked him in like a prison cell. That was before he considered the irritation of the mountain ash near his skin. It was like an itch he couldn’t scratch.

Freddie’s mind was racing. He’d been asleep for an unknown amount of time, and he was surely due his next dose of Adderall. He was regimented in taking each dose. Missing one was far from ideal, for himself or those around him.

Freddie was in an empty laboratory, but he couldn’t see anything else. Blinds were pulled down across the large windows and the door was shut. Sammi and Josh were either side of him, in the exact same predicament.

Stood at the head of the room was a man in a suit, his hair greying and his body language conveying instant authority. It looked like he’d been waiting for them to wake up, and Freddie was the last one.

“Good morning,” he greeted smugly. Immediately, Freddie took a dislike to him. Nothing about this situation was friendly, and to make it worse, the man looked like he was enjoying himself. Freddie’s guard was up, and it was staying up until he was home.

“Ssh,” Josh commanded. The silent treatment. Freddie could get on board with that.

“I suppose I’m doing the talking. Joshua, Samantha and Frederick, the pleasure is mine. I’ve heard so much about you all, from your alpha of course. The courageous and plucky Dylan. I’m Mr. Leadsom, and I’m in charge,” he spoke.

Freddie recalled Dylan mentioning Leadsom, though he had fewer details. Freddie had found out more of his own accord – those disgusting photos from the USB were printed onto his mind, as much as he wanted to forget them.

“The good news is that we don’t need to test you all. You’re from Dylan’s pack, and packs are remarkably similar in so many ways. It fascinates me, and it fascinated your father, Samantha,” Leadsom continued. Freddie looked at Sammi, offering her support with a simple slight smile.

“Yes, your father really screwed up our research all those years ago. So interesting to know both of his children ultimately survived,” Leadsom was goading Sammi, as if he knew exactly which buttons to press.

“Now,” Josh commanded. Sammi stood up, kicking all three circles of mountain ash apart. Of course, she was human – the mountain ash didn’t affect her, and the Sanctum had no idea. Freddie knew Josh would have had a plan, and it was genius.

Now all three of them were free, and both Freddie and Josh were ready to fight. Leadsom scarpered, but Josh caught the door before it could be locked.

“Let him go,” Freddie said, stopping Josh following Leadsom, “Let’s get out of here. Where now?”

“No idea, but let’s have a little snoop,” Josh suggested. Freddie felt so nervous, and he could barely control his train of thought, let alone his wolf. He was terrified.

It had been a night of very little sleep for Liam. Dylan had confirmed his worst nightmare; Monroe was onto them, and Liam was not keen to see a rematch. The first time he went up against her, he was lucky to get out alive. His entire pack was lucky to get out alive. She lost the battle, but the war wasn’t over.

Nolan had taken the news even worse, though. Liam could hardly blame him – Monroe put him through some terrible stuff. The expectations and the pressure to kill, as if Nolan didn’t have his own problems and demons to battle. She used him. His restless, sleepless night was a surprisingly tame response, all things considered.

“I can’t just sit here and wait for her to find me,” Nolan paced. He’d switched between fidgeting in bed and pacing the room for most of the night, trying to control his anxieties in one way or another. Liam knew him well – he had learnt control of his darkest thoughts in a similar way to how Liam controlled the wolf, but occasionally, things bubbled over.

“She doesn’t know we’re here,” Liam reminded, “And if she did, she’d have to get through me first.”

“It’s only a matter of time,” Nolan continued worrying.

“Sit down,” Liam commanded, pulling the duvet up so Nolan could slot back into bed next to him. Begrudgingly, Nolan complied, though sitting still was proving to be difficult for his bobbing leg.

“What happened last time is in the past. It’s different now, remember?” Liam did his best to comfort Nolan, “You’ve got me, and we both have Dylan’s pack. We wanted to help them, so let’s help them now. We know more about Monroe than anyone, right?”

Nolan nodded. He relaxed just a little, showing that Liam’s words had sunk in. He pulled Nolan in for a warm, comforting hug. He was Liam’s world, and he knew he’d fight harder than ever to save him.

“Guys,” Jeremy burst in without so much as a knock.

“Morning,” Liam raised an eyebrow at his sudden intrusion.

“Sorry,” Jeremy realised, “Have either of you seen Sammi today?”

“No, is she not at Freddie’s?” Liam wondered. There had to be a logical explanation, and he was getting to grips with who was dating who at last.

“Jono’s not seen either of them since yesterday morning. Them and Josh aren’t answering their phones, and the Lunar Sanctum USB was found outside Dylan’s house, abandoned,” Jeremy explained.

“Shit,” Liam realised. It wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist to figure out who had taken them. In a strange way, this was just the distraction he and Nolan needed.

The scent was clear. Dylan could tell it from a mile off. It had lingered around his house all night. The terrifying scent of the Lunar Sanctum, just outside his home. They knew where he lived, and now his brother and friends had gone missing. This was no coincidence.

There was also no way Freddie would have abandoned that USB. Dylan had entrusted it to him, and they all knew how important it was. Whether Freddie had had any luck breaking into it, Dylan didn’t know, but he was certainly hopeful.

“Did anybody see them after yesterday morning?” Ed questioned. He was dressed in his uniform, ready for work, though he hadn’t made it past the driveway yet. First thing on Monday morning had managed to be even worse than usual.

“We went to see Lily quite early,” Jono answered, “And we were out for most of the day.”

“They were gone by the time I got home,” Caroline added, “About four o’clock.” Sunday was always Caroline’s day to go grocery shopping – it happened like clockwork and had since Dylan was little.

“And you’re certain of the scent?” Ed sought clarification.

“I’ve never been surer,” Dylan replied. He couldn’t forget it when it surrounded him for five months.

“Alright. This is my job now, it’s not safe for you,” Ed took control.

“But I know that place,” Dylan didn’t want to be left out.

“Exactly,” Caroline added, “That’s why you have to stay away. Besides, you have so much school to catch up on.” Dylan couldn’t argue with that. He wanted his friends to be safe, but it was a risk for him. For once, being selfish made sense.

“We’ll help,” a voice came from behind. It was Jeremy, with Liam and Nolan stood either side.

“No,” Ed corrected, “Everyone who needs to go to school will be going to school. I promise I won’t be coming home without your sister.”

“Liam, they know you too,” Dylan mentioned.

“I’m an adult, I can make my own decisions,” Liam firmly mentioned, “I’ll be careful, I promise.”

“I’ll call Lily,” Jono mentioned, “I’m sure she’ll want to help, and she’s got werewolf abilities.”

“Alright. The rest of you, school. Now,” Ed commanded. Dylan knew it was the right thing to do, but he didn’t feel so happy about it.

“Is it alright if we pick Oscar up?” Jono checked, climbing into his cosy car.

“Fine by me,” Dylan confirmed. Now he’d had a chance to get to know him, Dylan knew Jono was right – Oscar was lovely, even if Dylan felt somewhat awkward around him. Still, he couldn’t complain; Jono had chosen him, and that was what mattered.

Arriving at the bench unusually early, Brett felt strange. Typically, he would have been shooting some hoops at that time in the morning, getting every second of practice he could manage to squeeze in. Not any more, though. His days as the captain of the basketball team were over, and it brought a bittersweet feeling with it.

As a result of his early arrival, only Yasmin was already at the bench. She had her usual pile of textbooks with her, and a pretty cool set of gel pens that she used for her revision. She never once seemed worried about exams. Brett admired her work ethic; it was the complete opposite of his own.

“Okay, so I’ve been reading this all night,” Brett skipped the small talk, slamming the Bestiary onto the table.

“Careful, we’ve only got one of those,” Yasmin scolded.

“It’s no good. I barely got anywhere. It’s so long and my attention span isn’t that good,” Brett sighed.

“Whatever that thing is, it must be in there,” Yasmin replied, “And you’ve seen it more clearly than anyone else.”

“I can’t exactly forget,” Brett thought back to the hospital the day before. The panic he felt when rescuing Johnny. They both made it out okay, but it had occupied Brett’s mind since.

“How is he?” Yasmin enquired.

“He’s okay. You know Johnny, nothing seems to faze him,” Brett answered. He was amazed at just how calm Johnny was that night, in fact, “The scorch marks on his skin healed, but they looked so painful.”

“Hold on, scorch marks? What?” Yasmin picked up the Bestiary and began clicking through it, as if she knew what she was looking for.

“Does that ring a bell?” Brett questioned, confused.

“I’ve read about it before,” Yasmin replied, showing him the page she had landed on, “The basilisk.”

“That’s it,” Brett grabbed the book to read what it had to say, “The basilisk is a reptilian shapeshifter. Unlike many creatures, it is deadly as both human and animal. The glow of its eyes burns, and a single drop of its venom can kill.”

“We need to find out what he wants,” Yasmin thought logically.

“Without letting it fry us with a single look,” Brett pessimistically added. He didn’t feel even slightly convinced.

“Oscar alert,” Yasmin warned. Brett quickly shoved the Bestiary back into his rucksack. They were well used to a quick change of subject for the sake of Oscar. Though leaving him in the dark was Jono’s idea, nobody had any objections.

“Morning,” Yasmin beamed as Dylan, Jono and Jeremy arrived alongside Oscar.

“Check your phone,” Dylan warned. Brett guessed this would be something he needed to keep secret. Sure enough, he had a new text from Dylan.

‘Sammi, Freddie and Josh kidnapped by Sanctum. Ed’s on it.’

Brett was immediately worried. It was like they leapt from one problem to another constantly.

“What the heck is this?” Oscar remarked. Brett looked up, noticing he’d placed his foot in a puddle of sticky clear liquid.

“Oscar, has it touched your skin?” Yasmin calmly but urgently asked.

“Yeah, it soaked through my sock,” Oscar replied in disgust.

“Newsroom. Now,” Brett commanded. Dylan looked at him in confusion, but there was no time to explain. The basilisk had been there, and Oscar was in so much danger.

Lily felt uneasy to be heading into the Sanctum. Of course, helping out her friends was something she would never refuse to do, but it didn’t calm her anxieties in any way to be heading into the place Dylan feared so much. She desperately hoped it would run as smoothly as possible so they would get back out unscathed.

It was some comfort to know she had Ed by her side. He was a trained fighter, and carried authority as the sheriff. He wasn’t going to take any risks, and if they did get captured, he was in a position to rescue them.

“Alright, this is how it’s going to work,” Ed turned around in the front seat, having parked the car as far away from the front door as possible, “Caroline, Lily and Nolan will take the front door. Provide a distraction. Liam and I will take the back exit and rescue the others. We’ll let you know when we’re safely out.”

“What if they recognise me?” Lily worried, “I mean, they clearly knew the others.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take the lead,” Caroline assured, “You two don’t need to say a word.”

Lily nodded. She felt somewhat safer knowing she wasn’t on her own. Though she trusted Alex and Sindy implicitly, she knew she had to take charge at college. After all, she had the most experience in the supernatural world, but it was a lot of pressure.

“Good luck,” Liam kissed a worried Nolan, before he and Ed quickly vacated the car.

“Okay, let’s do this,” Caroline motivated, leading the way into the posh reception area. The logo and branding looked futuristic and slick, though it was simply named “Crystalshaw Laboratories.” The real name was clearly something they needed to keep secret – they had a reputation.

“Can I help you, ma’am?” the receptionist smiled at Caroline.

“Hi, my name is Marissa Roberts, I work for Crystalshaw Weekly,” Caroline lied expertly, “These are my two apprentices, Nina and Matthew.”

Lily checked on Nolan. He was avoiding eye contact with anyone. He was clearly brave, because he didn’t have to tag along, but he needed a modicum of extra support.

“Oh, I don’t see you on the calendar,” the receptionist replied.

“Really? We booked weeks ago, there must be some mistake,” Caroline continued.

“I’ll just check, please excuse me for two minutes,” the receptionist said, heading through a door labelled ‘staff only’ behind her desk.

“All okay?” Lily asked Nolan, away from the beady eyes of the Sanctum staff.

“Yeah,” Nolan answered, “The Monroe stuff kinda shook me up, that’s all.”

“It’s okay,” she took his hand, “We’re in this one together. It’s a worry for later, okay?” He nodded like a cute puppy. The plan was working so far, but it wasn’t over yet.

Concerned by the lack of signposting, Sammi’s hopes of finding the exit were rapidly being dashed. The Lunar Sanctum was huge, and every turn they took seemed to lead them deeper inside the building. To make matters worse, they were definitely being followed. They couldn’t turn back.

Freddie hadn’t let go of her hand for even a second. They were both petrified, but they had each other. She knew Freddie was increasingly more on-edge than she was, though. He hadn’t taken his medication that morning – it was still at home. For a scientific organisation, their understanding of ADHD clearly lacked somewhat.

“In here,” Josh led them both into a side lab, shutting the door behind them. The lights were off and the blinds were drawn across the wide windows. With any luck, they’d be safe there. Sammi and Josh ducked down out of sight, but Freddie paced the room. He couldn’t focus.

“Freddie, they’ll see you, that door’s got a window,” Sammi warned. Begrudgingly, Freddie sat down, but he was fidgety. He was usually religious in taking his medication. In fact, Sammi hadn’t seen him off it before.

“Hey, come and take a look at this,” Josh called him over, spotting a computer in the corner, “Think you can get in?”

“I saw the login on the USB when I got in,” Freddie recalled. Sammi was impressed. Josh knew exactly how to focus his mind. Freddie tapped away at the keypad, easily logging them in.

“What’s on there?” Sammi enquired.

“A map,” Freddie replied, “We’re here.” He pointed to a lab in the centre of the building. There was no clear route out – the main exit and fire exits were all equidistantly far.

“Alright, so how do we get out?” Sammi posed. That was the only thing she wanted to do.

“I’ve got an idea,” Freddie answered, opening Outlook and logging in.

“You’re sending an email?” Josh was bemused.

“Dude, it’s the twenty-first century, everyone has emails on their phone,” Freddie answered, “If we howl, the Sanctum will find us before the pack, and they took our own phones. Somebody will see this, and they’ll find us.”

Sammi couldn’t deny it – she was impressed. Freddie was saving their asses again. She was so lucky to have him.

Clearing a desk in the newsroom, Dylan was worried. He knew so little about whatever this mystery creature was – being wrapped up in the Lunar Sanctum and hunter dramas was pretty all-consuming. However, he trusted Yasmin and Brett. If they said Oscar was in danger, then he truly was, and they needed all the help they could get. So much for Oscar being in the dark.

“I feel tired,” Oscar commented as Jono led him into the room, assisting him onto the desk. Brett closed the door, shutting the blind across the window to ensure privacy.

Jono looked so worried. Dylan had seen just how close a bond he’d formed with Oscar, and even if it wasn’t romantic, it was a friendship that Jono deserved. Besides, Dylan had had a week to get to know Oscar himself, and Jono was right – he was so nice. He didn’t deserve this.

“Take it easy,” Jono assured him, before turning back to the pack, “Okay, what do we do?”

“Clean it up,” Yasmin instructed. Jeremy, nearest to the sink, quickly soaked a paper towel and dabbed Oscar’s ankle. The tiniest amount of venom must have made contact – how could that have been enough to cause such a reaction in Oscar?

“Look at this,” Jeremy pointed out. There was a small but noticeable area of Oscar’s skin that had been completely scorched.

“It burns the skin,” Yasmin identified, “It’s in his bloodstream now, attacking his body.”

“But what can we do?” Jono looked distraught, “We can save him, right?”

“There’s nothing in here,” Brett snapped the Bestiary shut in despair.

“What’s happening?” Oscar slurred. He was still awake, but it was clear his energy had been drained. Jono crouched down in front of him, Dylan doing the same. The truth couldn’t be hidden from him any longer. He needed the full story.

“Tell him,” Dylan urged, rubbing Jono’s leg to soothe his worries.

“There’s something we’ve not told you, Oscar,” Jono began, “I’m a werewolf. So is Dylan, and Jeremy, and Josh, Freddie and Johnny too.”

“Werewolf? What?” Oscar was naturally taken aback, though his voice was monotonous and quiet, as if talking was an effort.

“The werewolf world is dangerous,” Jono continued, “We didn’t want to hurt you, but we’re here now, and I’m sorry.”

“The venom is from a reptilian shapeshifter called a basilisk,” Yasmin explained.

“It kidnapped Johnny yesterday,” Brett added.

“The venom is fatal,” Yasmin clarified. Dylan’s heart skipped a beat. No wonder Oscar seemed so drained. His heart broke.

“Maybe it doesn’t have to be,” Jono had a brainwave. Dylan was all-ears, because he hated seeing Oscar like that. Any avenue had to be preferable, right?

“Go on,” Dylan listened intently.

“Bite him,” Jono suggested, “It could heal him.”

“Or kill him,” Dylan felt the need to point out. He couldn’t ignore the risks to such a suggestion.

“He’s dying already,” Jono reminded. Dylan looked at Oscar. He needed to save him, but this was massive.

Heart racing like crazy, Liam wasn’t enjoying the sight of the Lunar Sanctum corridors again. He hadn’t spent long there, but the feeling of panic and fear was unmatched. He’d seen so much that had scared him, but being trapped, away from his friends, away from Nolan, in an unknown place, scared him more than anything else.

At least he had Ed by his side. Ed was level-headed and calm; characteristics Liam was undoubtedly jealous of. He admired how willing Ed was to help Dylan’s pack, too. Perhaps that was the paternal instinct he had for Dylan and Josh. It reminded him of Sheriff Stilinski, and how he’d have done anything for Stiles, or Scott for that matter. The perks of having a sheriff in the family.

“Are you feeling okay?” Ed questioned, keeping his voice low. Thankfully, the coast had been clear, but neither of them wanted to risk being found.

“Not really,” Liam replied honestly, “This was where they put me.” He pointed to the lab room on their left.

“Woah, so Dylan was here too,” Ed seemed startled.

“Next lab,” Liam signalled ahead to the next room on their left.

“I can’t believe he was so close the whole time,” Ed reflected. His confident posture slumped slightly, “I don’t have any family left. I never had kids of my own, so Dylan and Josh, I cherish them just as if I were their birth dad. I watched Caroline grieve for two kids, and putting on a brave face isn’t as easy as you think.”

“I’m sorry,” Liam felt awful hearing Ed’s story. He lived away from home, so his own mum barely knew he was gone.

“It’s alright. They’re home safely now, and I’m ready to kick the asses of the people who thought they could mess with my family,” Ed’s posture resumed. He was motivated, and it was contagious.

Ed’s phone buzzed, breaking the atmosphere. Liam felt a shockwave of worry pulsate through his body. Did this mean Nolan was in trouble?

“Email from Freddie. They’re here,” Ed showed him the map attached.

“Not far either,” Liam identified based on the red circle around a central lab. In fact, the room they needed was just ahead on the left.

“Be ready, this could be a trap,” Ed warned.

“Three heartbeats, three familiar scents,” Liam wasn’t concerned. They were there, and he was certain of it. He opened the door and was immediately met by a hostile Josh. Quickly though, he relaxed, realising who had arrived. He gave Ed an adorable hug of relief.

“Nice plan,” Liam smiled at Freddie.

“Can we get out of here? I’ve not had my Adderall,” Freddie quickly asked.

“You don’t need to ask me twice,” Liam turned around, spotting a staff-only door directly opposite. An odd scent was coming from it, almost like rotting meat, but worse. For a moment, his curiosity was getting the better of him, “After a quick peep, I suppose.”

Lurking inside, Liam couldn’t see a thing, but the stench intensified. He wanted to throw up. Flicking the light switch on, Liam was aghast at what he’d seen. It was a pile of dead bodies. Dead werewolf bodies. Mutilated, torn apart, and heartlessly shoved on top of each other.

“Oh god,” Sammi was just as horrified.

“You guys get out, I’ve got some sheriff business to attend to,” Ed mentioned, taking a snapshot of the disgusting sights in front. Liam nodded. They had succeeded, even if his discovery had cast a dark cloud over their good luck.

The anxiety was overbearing. Lily was desperate for the all-clear signal. Every second that she sat in reception felt like an hour. All she wanted to do was leave, but the need to help her friends was just as important. After all, that’s why she agreed in the first place. She was always a part of the pack, even if college took her miles away from them most of the time.

“Where are you from? What’s your story?” Lily asked Nolan, trying to him his mind occupied. She knew what anxiety felt like; she was sure Nolan would appreciate any distraction.

“I’ve lived in Beacon Hills my whole life,” Nolan replied, “Just with my dad, but we’ve never been close.”

“Where did you meet Liam?” Lily continued.

“We went to high school together, but we didn’t really speak for a while. Then I almost killed him,” Nolan bluntly said.

“Oh shit,” Lily was taken aback. That had escalated quickly.

“Monroe tried to get me to kill him, but I couldn’t,” Nolan added. Oops. So much for that distraction.

“She lost,” Lily reminded, “And she’ll lose again.”

“I hope so,” Nolan made eye contact with her for the first time. He was shy, but a passionate fire burned inside him. She admired that.

“Ms Roberts,” an older man approached the waiting area. Instantly, Lily recognised him. Dylan’s description was pretty vivid. It was Leadsom.

“Hello,” Caroline stood up and smiled politely.

“Nice to meet you,” he shook her hand, “Though, I was rather more hoping for your son, Caroline Drummond."

Shit, Lily thought. They’d been caught out.

“You bastard,” Caroline’s act dropped. She had nothing to hide, and she was facing the man that held her son prisoner for five months. Lily found her response quite tame all things considered.

“Take them in,” he clicked his fingers, summoning for back-up, but none came. Leadsom clicked his fingers again. Still nothing.

“Hands in the air,” Ed arrived from the staff-only door, priming his gun at Leadsom.

“You won’t succeed, you know. You can’t take the Lunar Sanctum down that easily,” Leadsom threatened.

“Oh, I can. I’m shutting this place down and opening a formal investigation,” Ed corrected. Lily watched on, holding Nolan’s hand for comfort, “Get out, the Lunar Sanctum is closed.”

Lily felt so relieved, particularly for Dylan and Jeremy. None of them could bear another loss.

Panicking as Oscar drifted in and out of consciousness, Dylan felt terrified. The idea of biting somebody still terrified him – he had done it twice before, once to Noah who seemed to experience one problem after another as a result, and once to Jono, who he couldn’t even get approval from in advance. It felt like a pretty bad track record.

However, it was the only option. Dylan had no doubt that it was the right thing to do; he wasn’t going to let Oscar die. Despite his anxiety over the bite, Dylan was preparing himself mentally for what he had to do.

“What’s happening?” Oscar slurred. He had deteriorated so quickly.

“Dylan, if you’re doing this, it needs to be now,” Yasmin nudged. She was right. They had no time to waste.

“I’m saving your life,” Dylan answered Oscar’s question, “This is going to hurt. I’m sorry.” Jono grabbed Oscar’s hand, ready to help him endure the familiar, unthinkable agony that was coming. They made the perfect team.

Taking a deep breath, Dylan sunk his teeth into Oscar’s left arm. He didn’t want to bite his leg – he’d need to be able to walk, and the healing process didn’t arrive immediately. Oscar didn’t make a single sound, but Dylan noticed the intensity with which he was grabbing Jono’s hand.

Dylan released and immediately rinsed his mouth. Oscar’s blood was not a taste he enjoyed, but he’d done his part. Oscar was lying still, just as he was before. There was nothing more they could do.

Three knocks came from the door. A lady entered the newsroom, dressed smartly without any make-up, looking confused and baffled. Dylan had never seen her before; she must have been a new member of staff.

“What’s going on?” she questioned impatiently. Jono slid in front of Oscar’s injured arm, hiding it from view.

“He’s not feeling well,” Brett quickly lied, “We’re just waiting for the nurse.”

“Alright. Make sure you head back to class after,” she demanded, turning around to leave the room.

“Excuse me miss, what’s your name?” Yasmin questioned. Dylan recognised her interrogative facial expression – she smelt a rat.

“Miss Monroe,” she answered, leaving the room and shutting the door behind her.

“Shit,” Dylan was horrified. The hunter Monroe? What if she had seen Oscar’s bitten wrist?

They were exposed.

7: Recruitment Written by MarthaJonesFan

Gazing up at the domineering building in front of him, Oscar was terrified. He’d been so settled at his old high school. He had friends, memories and a feeling of comfort there, and not even a full year left of high school anyway. Why did his mum have to go jobhunting at such an important time of his life? He couldn’t understand it.

He’d never moved house before, either, so he felt pretty anxious all over. A new school was the worst part, though. He knew nobody. Would he settle in? Would he even have time to make new friends? Oscar was preparing himself for a lonely few months.

“Oscar Madden-Whelan?” a suited lady greeted him at the front gate. Oscar had seen a picture of her before – she was Mrs. Harding, the principal.

“Yes, that’s me,” Oscar smiled nervously.

“Welcome to Crystalshaw High, I hope you’ll enjoy your time here,” she began, leading Oscar around the side of the building, “I’ve arranged for a student in one of your classes to show you around, I’m sure you’d rather talk to someone your own age.”

She led him over to a picnic bench, populated by three students. One was a girl – pretty, with a gorgeous shade of auburn tinting her hair. The other two were boys – both pretty darn cute in Oscar’s eyes. The first had floppy blonde hair resting around his shoulders, while the second had shaggy dark curls of a similar length. He was the cutest of the two, Oscar thought.

“Yasmin, Jono, Freddie, this is Oscar Madden-Whelan. He’ll be joining some of your classes,” Mrs. Harding introduced, “Yasmin, I was hoping you could show him around.”

“Sure,” Yasmin smiled, shifting her bag so Oscar could sit next to her. He plonked himself down trying to keep his cool, but Jono was directly opposite. He was even cuter up close.

“Nice to meet you,” Freddie broke the slightly awkward silence. He was clearly the chirpiest of the group.

“And you,” Oscar smiled back, “Sorry, I’m kinda nervous.”

“Don’t be,” Yasmin reassured, “We don’t bite.”

“Who are these?” Oscar noticed a gold plaque fixed onto the table top, commemorating two people – Dylan Drummond and Jeremy Chadwick.

“My boyfriend and my cousin. They died,” Jono replied. Oops. Oscar had put his foot in it.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to pry,” he quickly apologised.

“No need, you weren’t to know,” Jono reassured kindly, “What about that tour, then?”

Despite the rocky start, Oscar already felt more settled than he’d anticipated. He got the sense that Jono, Freddie and Yasmin were happy to have him around. Just the friends he wanted.

­­­ Sat nervously outside his own bedroom door, Dylan felt emotionally drained. He’d spent the entire night sleeping in shifts with Jono, making sure Oscar was okay sleeping in their bed. He remembered how strange he felt on his own first day. His senses were all over the place, and he had no concept of control. Oscar was going to have to learn from scratch, and it was Dylan’s responsibility to help him.

In good news, the bite had definitely healed Oscar, rather than the unthinkable alternative. His wounds had healed completely, and his breathing was healthy. He’d slept like a baby for the night, much to both Dylan and Jono’s relief.

Stirring, Jono woke up from his two-hour power nap. Thankfully, it was morning now – no more shifts were needed, even if both of them could have done with a proper sleep. Jono sat up from using Dylan’s shoulder as his pillow, smiling as he rubbed his eyes.

“All good?” Jono queried.

“Still sleeping,” Dylan reported back. Oscar’s heartbeat was steady, and no other sounds had come from the bedroom, “But we’re going to have to wake him.”

“He can’t go to school, surely?” Jono was concerned, and rightfully so. It was extremely risky.

“One of us is in each of his classes, and with the Sanctum closed, we can swap the surveillance from Jeremy and I to Oscar,” Dylan reasoned. It was a huge weight off his shoulders to hear how Ed closed the Lunar Sanctum for good. Freddie had shown him the USB files too – it was grotesque to say the least. Dylan knew he was right to have a bad feeling about that place.

“Freddie, visitor,” Caroline yelled up. Freddie poked his head out of his bedroom door, clearly just awake.

“I’m not expecting anyone,” Freddie looked baffled. Nevertheless, he jumped over Dylan and Jono’s legs, still wearing his dressing gown, and bounded downstairs.

“One man down,” Jono remarked, “And Josh went out early, didn’t tell me where.”

“Alert, he’s awake,” Dylan added, hearing Oscar sit up on the creaky bed. Standing up, Dylan shared a concerned glance with Jono. Nether of them knew what was about to happen. Nevertheless, Dylan cautiously opened the door. Oscar was sat up on the bed. He had far more colour in his cheeks than the night before, but he looked so confused.

“Why am I in your bed?” he immediately questioned, skipping the pleasantries.

“Remember last night,” Dylan gently nudged. It must have been such a blur for him.

“Wait, you’re both…,” he realised, “…and you…”

“Yes,” Dylan confirmed.

“I’m getting out of here,” Oscar slid off the bed.

“Oscar, we want to help, your body is changing,” Jono tried to reason, “You’re noticing it already, aren’t you?”

Oscar paused, knowing Jono was correct. Then his eyes glared. It was strange seeing that bright yellow colour on him. He bared his brand-new fangs and claws and charged through Dylan and Jono, pushing them cleanly aside as if it were nothing.

“Shit,” Dylan sighed. The chase was on.

Racking his brain to try and figure out who was visiting him so early in the morning, on a school day no less, Freddie was out of options. He’d be seeing all of his friends at school within the hour, and Sammi always texted ahead before dropping round. It wasn’t like he had anybody else.

At least he was having a more restful morning than the one before. Waking up inside the Sanctum and being off his medication wasn’t fun. He was so meticulous about taking his meds, too. The last time he went off them was when his mum died. George, Jono and Josh were his saving graces.

The door had been left slightly ajar by Caroline. Freddie pulled it open curiously. Rapidly, his nerves turned to amazement when he locked eyes with his visitor. Someone he wasn’t expecting, but was so glad to see.

“George,” Freddie grinned. Immediately, Freddie launched into a tight hug with George, “What are you doing here?”

“Yasmin told me what happened. She thought you’d need some brotherly love,” George explained, “I got the first flight over.”

Freddie was awestruck. He hadn’t seen George in person since the funeral, and he had missed him so much. For years, he’d taken George for granted. Living together became the norm, but Freddie finally understood just what George had given up for him once he’d gone.

Opening the door for George to enter, Freddie felt a sense of strangeness wash over him. Living separately to George was more than a little unusual. The Drummond house felt so homely to him though, and it felt great to be living under the same roof as three of his best friends. It was almost like a rehearsal for college.

“How’s London?” Freddie questioned. He’d spoken to George over the phone most days, but catching up in person had such an exciting buzz to it. Phone calls just weren’t the same.

“It’s great,” George replied, making himself comfortable on the sofa, “I mean, studying is studying, but I get to be a tourist too. I got you this.”

George handed Freddie a medium-sized paper bag, the adorable head of a teddy bear poking out the top. Freddie slid it out of the bag, admiring its red “London” t-shirt.

“Thanks, it’s so cute,” Freddie smiled.

“How have you been holding up?” George changed the subject. Freddie averted his eyes. George had been doing so well on his own – he didn’t want to make him worry.

“Fine,” Freddie lied, “Same as always, you know me.”

“Dude, come on, it’s me,” George wasn’t buying it. Darn.

“I know, I can see you,” Freddie swerved. He was doing his best to avoid the question, but George raised his eyebrow. There was no way out, “I couldn’t have my Adderall in the Sanctum yesterday. First day in years that I had to miss out. I hated it. I don’t know who I am off medication.”

“I never thought you’d become so self-sufficient,” George opened up, “It was so big a battle after mom died.”

“I know, that’s why I never forget, but it was out of my control, and I hated that. I can tame a whole fucking werewolf inside me, but ADHD makes human Freddie impossible. Why can’t being a werewolf cure stuff like ADHD as well as physical injuries?” Freddie ranted. He’d been keeping himself bottled up for so long.

“Freddie, you’ve conquered it before. You’ve been through worse, and look at you now. You’re the kindest, most badass guy I know. One day off medication doesn’t change that,” George assured, “That’s not all, though, is it?”

Freddie barely knew where to begin. He was the best at acting – he put on smiles for everyone, but only Sammi had seen a glimpse into how he really felt. How could he help George understand what he’d been going through for months?

“Come with me,” Freddie stood up. George needed to see for himself.

Sat alone on the dock overlooking the lake, Lily was immersed in her thoughts. She could have stayed at the lakehouse forever – it was the perfect place to de-stress and offload, and she truly needed that with everything going on around her.

It was a relief to have helped Ed close the Lunar Sanctum down. The staff were being watched like hawks while Ed tried to find evidence that could implicate them without exposing the supernatural world, and that made Lily so glad. Dylan and Jono were both safe, and that mattered to her more than anything.

That said, Lily knew it wasn’t time to rest yet. Jono said he saw Monroe at the school. She was in Crystalshaw, no doubt with Jamal in tow. It wasn’t going to be long before they showed their faces.

“Hey,” a voice joined Lily. A male voice, but it wasn’t Alex. Lily spun around to see Nolan stood a couple of metres back.

“Hi, come and sit,” she suggested, “All okay?”

“Yeah,” Nolan replied, dipping his toes into the lake, “No, they’re not. Dylan told us about Monroe.”

“I heard too,” Lily replied, “It’s okay, we’re all in this together. She can’t hurt you without getting through all of us too.”

“That’s what Liam said. He’s inside right now,” Nolan informed, “I wanted to check you were okay. Sammi drove us over, she’s so nice.”

“Thanks,” Lily smiled, “I’m okay, sort of. I know it’s only a matter of time until Jamal finds us, so I’m trying to stay calm.”

“What’s he like?” Nolan worriedly asked.

“Stubborn and ruthless,” Lily replied honestly. She still couldn’t shake the gut-wrenching vision of Nicolas’ dead body. It was horrific, even after all he had done to her.

“Like his mom, then,” Nolan noted.

“We’ve got each other,” Lily reminded, “Don’t forget that.” Lily smiled. Nolan was so innocent. He didn’t deserve this.

“There you are,” Liam jogged over, Alex and Sammi following behind.

“Just getting a moment of quiet,” Nolan smiled at him, putting a brave face on. Liam perched next to him, dipping his own toes in the lake as well.

“All okay?” Alex sat next to Lily, planting a cute peck on her cheek.

“I think so. For now, anyway,” Lily admitted, “Where’s Sindy?”

“Having one of her shower concerts,” Alex laughed, “Trust me, we’re better off out here.” Lily chuckled. She loved how easy it as for Alex to put a gigantic smile on her face.

“I feel like a fifth wheel out here,” Sammi remarked, crouching down behind Lily.

“Fifth wheel? I thought it was third wheel,” Lily was confused.

“Yeah, but there’s four of you,” Sammi justified. Lily couldn’t help laughing, even if she was still baffled by the logic behind Sammi’s misquote.

“This looks cosy,” a dreadfully familiar tone came from nearby. Lily knew exactly who it was before even seeing them. Nervously, she spun around to see Jamal, stood by an older lady in her late thirties. Worryingly, she was holding a gun at them.

“Hello Nolan,” the lady smiled devilishly. Monroe. Nolan looked petrified. She’d found him.

Tagging along with Johnny’s idea, Brett felt nervous. The hospital was the last place he wanted to be; it felt like he was approaching the lion’s den, and heading straight for a mauling. That wasn’t stopping Johnny, though. He was determined to approach the basilisk and attempt to get through to him. Would it be that easy? Brett sure hoped so, but his expectations were low.

Brett called Yasmin and Josh for back-up – the brains and the brawn. Yasmin had brought the lift key to access the basement, and the lift journey felt like it had taken hours; anxiety really slowed time down in Brett’s mind.

The lift doors slid open as casually as always. Brett looked at Johnny. He could read him like a book. He was putting on a brave face, but underneath, he was just as scared. Offering support, Brett linked his pinky finger with Johnny’s. Just like last time, they had each other.

“Did you get out without him seeing?” Yasmin queried.

“Yeah, he was asleep, Jono was on Oscar watch,” Josh replied. None of them wanted to burden Dylan with this when he had so much to deal with already. Brett agreed, though he wasn’t sure it inspired any confidence in him. It was obvious why Dylan was the leader of the pack – he was strong and logical, yet also empathetic. Just the person Brett wanted on his side.

“They’ll be okay, right?” Johnny looked guilty, “I feel like Oscar should be everyone’s priority right now.”

“We’ll all be dead if we don’t do this,” Yasmin reasoned, “Besides, they’ve got Freddie to help too. They’ll be okay.” Brett surprisingly found himself agreeing. They had to deal with this before it got worse, and it was bound to, based on past form within the supernatural world.

Together, they cautiously traipsed down the corridor. Flashbacks from his last visit dashed through Brett’s mind. He couldn’t shake the image of the burns on Johnny’s skin, or the fear that pulsated through him. Coming back was difficult.

“Can you hear anything?” Brett wondered, trying to keep focused.

“Yeah, one heartbeat,” Josh reported back.

“No scent,” Johnny added, “Just like the other day.”

“How can something have no scent?” Brett was baffled.

“Let’s find out,” Yasmin motivated. They had reached the end of the corridor. Around the corner was the lab. All four of them peeped around, keeping themselves out of view. There he was. The basilisk, in human form, looking back at them. Their hiding wasn’t good enough.

“Hey,” Johnny held his hands out, “We’re not here to hurt you, I promise. We just want to talk.”

“You were there,” the man spoke for the first time, staring directly at Brett. Where was he? Was he talking about the other day?

“Where?” Brett queried, confused.

“The Lunar Sanctum,” he continued. Of course. Brett was there with Ed, Jono and Nolan when they went looking for Liam.

“Saving our friends,” Brett replied, “The Sanctum is shut down now, it’s gone.”

“It’s never gone. They’ll regroup and find a way,” he seemed doubtful.

“Then let us help out,” Johnny interjected, “But you need to stop hurting us. Can you do that?”

“I’ll try,” he nodded. Brett felt relieved – perhaps this would go to plan after all?

Frustrated and scared, Jono should have seen this coming. He remembered how he felt after he was bitten. It was the strangest, most disorientating time of his life, and it changed so much. His life just a few years ago was miles away from how it was now.

Most of those changes happened for the better, of course. Saving people was such a thrill, and he’d made some of his best friends along the way. That was before he even considered Dylan, who was undoubtedly the best thing to ever happen to him. The pros outweighed the cons, and they just needed to help Oscar see that. Before he caused chaos outside.

Just outside Dylan’s house was the forest – a minefield for a newly converted, out-of-control werewolf. Oscar’s animalistic instincts would have been right at home in the vast, mysterious forest. However, buried inside was the human Oscar, who was bound to be terrified. Jono had to help him out.

“I’m sorry, I know this can’t be easy,” Dylan mentioned as they skipped over a collapsed tree trunk.

“We’ve both been there and got the t-shirt,” Jono reminisced, “Not my finest moment, but I got through it, thanks to you. Now we both have to make sure Oscar gets through it too.”

“You were right, you know,” Dylan added, “He is sweet. I can see the appeal.”

“Yes,” Jono playfully smiled.

“Yes what?” Dylan looked back at him with the cutest look of pure confusion he’d ever seen.

“I do know I was right,” Jono winked. Dylan couldn’t help laughing, even if he was obviously trying not to.

“That was awful,” Dylan giggled. He was so cute when he laughed, helped by his beautiful smile. The amount of hours Jono had spent gazing at photos of Dylan in his absence was crazy, but he would never regret adoring somebody so special.

“It’s why you love me,” Jono teased.

“Too right,” Dylan kissed him. Jono had learnt never to take that feeling for granted ever again, “Come on, we’ve got a werewolf to find.”

Dylan was right. It was important that they didn’t lose sight of the goal. Oscar needed both of them urgently, and Jono felt a sense of responsibility for what happened to him. It was up to him to find him safely.

“I thought I was keeping him safe,” Jono confessed, “By not telling him about werewolves. He sat with us, hung out with us, and it was great. Oscar got to be normal, and so did we, for a bit.”

“I know,” Dylan nodded, listening as intently as he always did.

“How did we end up here? We’re cursed, Dylan. We tried to keep one person safe, just one person, and now he’s roaming the woods on his own,” Jono ranted.

“We will keep Oscar safe. Remember, being a werewolf isn’t a death sentence, we’re doing alright, aren’t we?” Dylan suggested.

“If you take away the hunters, maybe,” Jono was far less convinced, but he appreciated Dylan’s optimistic take nonetheless.

“He’s got all of us, don’t worry,” Dylan reassured.

WHAM! Something collided with Jono, smacking him to the ground with a harsh thud. Jono could barely pay attention to who his enemy was, but the blonde, shaggy hair gave it away. It was Oscar, fully shifted, out of control. Jono could hardly believe this animal was the same Oscar he cared for so much.

Taking deep breaths as they neared their destination, Freddie was feeling very anxious. It was the first time he had been there in five months, and the emotions and memories had already been triggered. The final glimpse of Dylan in the control room. Jono’s exasperated, despairing face when he realised what was happening. Sammi’s pure silence. It was horrible.

“Do you know where we are?” Freddie asked George. His arms were folded, and he felt unusually insular. He’d rather have been anywhere but there. Of course, he had taken George deep into the forest. A place that he hadn’t been in months, but had dreamt of every night.

“The warehouse. The explosion,” George identified.

“Our lives changed right here. When I had to stop Jono rushing back into an explosion to save his dead boyfriend,” Freddie explained.

“But Dylan’s alive? I saw the WhatsApp picture,” George replied.

“Yeah, that’s great, honestly, but we all still grieved for him. Jono grieved for his boyfriend. Sammi grieved for her brother. Dylan and Jeremy being alive doesn’t rewrite how we felt for five months,” Freddie opened up. It felt good to talk to George. He hadn’t been that open with anyone, not even Sammi.

“I get it,” George replied, listening intently.

“But do you? How would you know?” Freddie lashed out. Immediately, he regretted it. None of this was George’s fault.

“Come here,” George commanded, opening his arms. Freddie obliged, collapsing into the warm hug he desperately needed from his big brother, “Listen. When mom died, I had to be the strong one, and it was hard. I ended up confiding in Mrs. Gardner at the care home when I started work. Well, Margaret as she made me call her when I left. Anyway, she gave me the best advice, and I felt so much better just for talking to someone. Don’t bottle anything up, Freddie. There are no prizes for being the strong one.”

“Got it,” a teary Freddie replied. Then it clicked. George said it so casually that he almost missed it. Freddie ungripped from the hug, ensuring he was thinking along the right lines, “Wait, reverse a second. Mrs. Gardner. What did you say her name was?”

“Margaret, why?” George didn’t make the link.

“Jeremy’s carer was called Margaret, and he said she went into a care home,” Freddie realised. Immediately, he began to sprint. This was major.

Meeting eyes with Jamal immediately sent vibrations of terror through Lily’s body. His smug arrogant smile stank of hatred, and it was clear that he got it from his mum, too. She looked like she was enjoying her reunion with Nolan, who seemed more on-edge than ever before. The anxiety in the air had never been stronger.

Slowly, Alex slipped his hand around Lily’s. It was the simplest of gestures, but Lily instantly felt more at ease remembering he was right there beside her. In the corner of her eye, she noticed Liam had done the same with Nolan, too. They had each other’s backs.

“What do you want?” Nolan asked, with both fury and terror in his voice.

“Can’t an old teacher drop by on one of her top ex-students?” Monroe smirked.

“There’s probably safeguarding protocols about that,” Alex piped up, leaping to Nolan’s defence.

“And there’s three new faces,” Monroe turned her attention to Lily, Sammi and Alex, “Miss Lily Chadwick, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you. You’re a unique specimen, after all.”

“Glad your lapdog has spoken so highly of me,” Lily remarked. She refused to let Jamal get the upper hand on her.

“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Jamal grinned. His face was so punch-able. Lily felt sick.

“Of course, we’ve come to make an offer. Nolan, Alex, Sammi, you don’t have to be part of this,” Monroe began her pitch, “Join the right side. Protect yourselves.”

Lily knew what Monroe was doing. She was forming an army, and only inviting humans. Her intentions were crystal clear, and Lily was furious.

“Shove it,” Sammi quickly replied, much to Lily’s relief.

“Agreed,” Alex concurred. Of course, she didn’t doubt either of them, but she knew it was a risk for them to stand against hunters on team supernatural.

“Nolan?” Monroe’s softly spoken voice remained calm as she piled the pressure onto poor Nolan. He looked like he was about to crumble.

“Fuck off,” Nolan responded, an unusual coating of confidence draped over his words.

“Well, in that case, you’ll be hearing from us later,” Monroe turned around, heading back away from the lakehouse, “Sooner than you think.”

“Wait,” Lily called out, “Where’s Misha?” It was the only piece of the puzzle that didn’t make any sense.

“Of course. My daughter. You would think she’d have listened to her mother, but no. The Lunar Sanctum are taking care of her, after you and your banshee friend poisoned her mind,” Monroe announced. Lily was disgusted. There was no maternal instinct in Monroe.

“The Lunar Sanctum’s shut down,” Sammi mentioned. Lily almost missed that detail. Why were the Sanctum involved?

“And if you believe that, you really do deserve what’s coming,” Jamal laughed. They sauntered away, as if neither had a care in the world. Liam went to attack, but Nolan pulled him back. He needed support, not defence.

“What did I miss?” Sindy strolled out, her hair wrapped in a towel while another preserved her modesty. Lily couldn’t help chuckle – if she didn’t laugh, she’d probably cry.

“We need to help Misha,” Alex was quick to say.

“But where is she? The Lunar Sanctum building is shut down, they’re operating elsewhere,” Lily thought.

“Ed,” Sammi thought, “He’s been tracking the staff. He might have some sort of clue.”

“Best idea we’ve got. Come on,” Lily took the lead. They were motivated and fired up, so they had to put it to good use. Misha needed them.

Impressed at how well Johnny was handling the situation, Yasmin was all-ears. She was desperate to know more about the basilisk. Everyone had a story, especially in the supernatural world. His was bound to be interesting.

Josh stood side-by-side with her. In some ways, she was pleased that things had slotted into some sort of normality with him. Holding grudges was exhausting, but at the same time, he deserved it. Yasmin had no more tears or anger left inside her, though she wasn’t ready to forgive and forget yet.

“Who are you?” Johnny led the questioning. The basilisk had captured him – it made perfect sense for Johnny to extend the olive branch.

“Marcus. Marcus Deegan,” he replied. In human form, the basilisk was a terrified young man. He was surely only a few years older than they were, and his posture indicated he was worlds away from the creature he became.

“Do you know what you are?” Yasmin questioned. Of course, not everyone was fortunate enough to have a bestiary lying around.

“No,” he replied, still scared, “I know I’m a monster, and I can’t control what it does. Please, help me.”

“You’re a basilisk,” Johnny explained gently. He was doing the most amazing job of being kind and approachable.

“I don’t know what that means,” Marcus cried, “I just woke up one day, naked, in here. There were two scientists examining me.”

“The scientists,” Josh realised. Of course. Now it was beginning to make sense.

Unexpectedly, Marcus collapsed. He looked like he was in immense pain. His breathing grew heavy, and he had his hand over his heart. He was struggling.

“What’s happening?” Yasmin panicked.

“My body’s rejecting it. I’ve been ill for months, and it’s starting to give up,” Marcus explained, forcing himself to sit up against the wall, “They changed me. They made me this. I waited for them to change me back, but they’re gone.”

“Is that possible? Can you be changed back?” Brett wondered, glancing around the room for a solution.

“I don’t think so,” Yasmin replied nervously, but she couldn’t have known for sure. The supernatural world surprised her every day – being open-minded was important.

“The Lunar Sanctum,” Marcus continued, struggling to speak, “They caught me. Experimented on me. I got out during a fire drill, but they’re looking for me.”

“You’re the fourth person. Dylan, Jeremy, Liam, and you,” Josh realised, speaking gently, “Listen, my brother is Dylan Drummond. He’s an alpha, and he was in the Sanctum too. He’s not going to let anyone hurt you.”

Marcus nodded, wincing as the pain continued. His skin was pale and his movements were slowing down. He was slipping away.

“Text from Sammi,” Brett interrupted, “He says the Sanctum’s still operational.”

“You need to take them out for good. I can help,” Marcus muttered, but his words were becoming harder to understand. His movements ceased. His eyes slid shut. His body fell lifelessly against the floor. A silence followed. Nobody knew what to say.

“What now?” Josh nervously asked.

“Now we fight,” Yasmin confidently replied, “That’s enough death.” Nobody was going to take the pack down.

Thinking quickly, Dylan knew he had no time to waste. Oscar was seconds away from tearing Jono apart, limb from limb. Dylan knew exactly what was going through Oscar’s mind; his humanity had been sidelined entirely in favour of a new, fearsome beast that was desperate to assert its dominance. There was no element of control; Oscar hadn’t had time to learn yet.

Jono was doing his best to keep Oscar at bay, but it wasn’t easy work. Something had to give. This was on Dylan. He needed to be the alpha. Oscar was his beta. His responsibility.

“Oscar,” Dylan commanded, giving permission to his inner wolf to shift. The mere command wasn’t enough, though. Dylan had to speak in the only language the animal understood. Thankfully, it was as easy as flicking a switch. Dylan unleashed the loudest roar he could. He was in charge, and this beta had no choice but to accept that.

To Dylan’s relief, it worked. Oscar stopped attacking and stood up, offering a helping hand to Jono. His posture slumped and he was avoiding eye contact. He was mortified.

“Thanks,” Jono broke the silence, smiling at Dylan. It was clear that Oscar didn’t know how to react. Dylan felt so sorry for him – he was new to this, it couldn’t possibly have been his fault, but he could have caused so much damage.

“I can hurt people,” Oscar said, still averting his eyes.

“Yes,” Dylan replied. There was no use in lying to him. He had to know the reality of what his life now was.

“Will I kill people?” Oscar queried.

“Not if we can help it,” Jono assured.

“I’m scared,” Oscar glanced up, looking each of them in the eye. His usually pale cheeks were an embarrassed red, and a trail of tears trickled down to his jawline.

“Good,” Dylan replied, “Emotions keep you human. That’s how you control the wolf. That’s how you stop yourself from hurting someone.”

“Thank you,” Oscar managed to raise a smile, “For not giving up on me. You’ve had every right to.”

“You’re my friend, Oscar. We’re a pack. We’re all family. That includes you, too,” Dylan explained. He caught Jono smiling proudly. Dylan knew how much Oscar meant to him. He owed him this.

Whoosh! Dylan caught a tranquiliser dart in his hand. Someone was attacking them.

“Get down,” he commanded. Immediately, he crouched behind a fallen tree trunk. More darts fired, all whizzing over his head. Jono ducked next to him, but Oscar was too slow. He’d slumped to the floor, a dart proudly sticking out of his neck.

“Oscar!” Jono cried out.

“No, they’ll get you too,” Dylan commanded. Whoever this was, they knew exactly who they were targeting. Dylan felt scared. This felt all too familiar. He knew what hunters did.

Two guards emerged, collecting Oscar’s body. They had the Lunar Sanctum logo on their uniform. Now they had to fight back.

Dylan gave Jono a nod of approval. Together, they stood up, fully shifted. They had a friend to save. The guards were unfazed, though. Whoosh! Two darts came their way, but neither of them dodged in time. Dylan felt his eyes snapping shut with a massive sense of urgency. He couldn’t fight. They had won. They had Oscar.

8: Margaret Written by MarthaJonesFan

The Crystalshaw elderly people’s home felt like the land that time forgot. Freddie had been there before, to visit George at his previous place of work, and it felt the same every time. Completely lacking in cheer and good vibes. It wasn’t his favourite place to be.

This time, though, Freddie was keeping his eyes on Jeremy. He was sandwiched between himself and George, and so far, he had taken the news about Margaret’s whereabouts well. However, Freddie also knew Jeremy’s upbringing hadn’t been so easy. Margaret seemed to be the one positive element, but that wasn’t saying much.

“Ready?” Freddie checked.

“Yeah,” Jeremy replied nervously. Together, the trio strolled inside the grand, depressing building. Thankfully, Freddie felt a cosier atmosphere inside. Everybody inside, whether it be staff or residents, was always super kind. That wasn’t something Freddie ever forgot.

“George, long time no see,” a lady approached. She must have been a member of staff, dressed smartly in a grey suit with her hair pinned back, and was obviously much too young to be a resident, “How’s London?”

“Yeah, great, thank you,” George smiled. It was no shock to see just how popular George was with his former colleagues, “Just a few more months left now.”

“Lovely. What brings you back here, sweetie?” the lady enquired.

“I was wondering if we could speak to Mrs. Gardner, please?” George requested politely.

“Of course, you know where she is. She always talks about you, she’ll be thrilled,” the lady replied enthusiastically.

“Thank you,” George smiled. He led Freddie and Jeremy to the old lift; Freddie was low-key amazed it was even still running. It had been on its last legs for years.

“Get you, eye candy,” Freddie teased as George pressed the third-floor button.

“Shut up,” George laughed. Ding! The lift had arrived and they were miraculously still in one piece. George knew exactly where to go from there so Freddie followed closely. He continued to check on Jeremy every couple of minutes – whatever he was feeling, he was hiding it well.

Room 310. George knocked gently before pressing down on the door handle.

“Mrs. Gardner?” George called out.

“Well I never, that’s a voice I wasn’t expecting to hear,” Mrs. Gardner replied, “Welcome back George, my dear.”

“Nice to see you Mrs. G,” George smiled, greeting her with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. The first thing Freddie noticed about her was her kind smile, instantly calming any worries he had, “I’ve brought a couple of people with me, if that’s okay. This is my brother, Freddie, and…”

“Jeremy,” she instantly identified, “You’re out. How can you be here?” The Lunar Sanctum will find you.”

“Hello,” Jeremy simply smiled at her. He looked so happy to be with her again, “Dad’s dead, Margaret. I’m free. I’ve met Sammi, and her pack is keeping me safe.”

“But we need your help,” Freddie added, “The Sanctum is still out there.”

“You’d better sit down. I’ll tell you all I know,” Margaret replied confidently. Freddie was all-ears – family was on the line.

Slowly stirring, Dylan was immediately concerned. He wasn’t waking up in bed. He saw the crystal blue sky towering above him, and the treetops leaning over as if they were inspecting him. Why was he here? Dylan rolled from his left side to his right, spotting Jono by his side, still asleep.

Then he remembered. Oscar. The Lunar Sanctum. Dylan instantly began to panic. The Sanctum had taken Oscar. This was really bad news.

“Jono,” Dylan nudged gently yet with urgency.

“What’s up?” Jono slurred before realising where he was, “Oh shit, where’s Oscar?”

“They took him, remember? The Sanctum,” Dylan explained.

“Oh god. Where did they go?” Jono stood up in a panic, carefully adjusting his balance.

“We’ve both been spark out, your guess is as good as mine,” Dylan reminded, “What do we do, Jon?”

“We stay calm,” Jono took control, immediately knowing the best way to put Dylan’s mind at ease, “We need to use our brains, or we’ll never find him. Let’s think, what do we know about the Lunar Sanctum? Pool our knowledge.”

“Not much,” Dylan replied, defeated. He was right, though. They still knew so little about the Lunar Sanctum. The USB evidence was revealing, but what was the reason?

“We know they’re targeting werewolves,” Jono started off. It may have been obvious, but every detail was vital.

“And they know about our pack. They’re targeting us, specifically,” Dylan added, “Why didn’t they take me? They had me right there.”

“They want us to find them,” Jono realised, “They want all of us there.”

“And they know we’ll go. We can’t leave Oscar,” Dylan insisted. They had him exactly where they wanted him, and it was uncomfortable, “What do I do?”

“We,” Jono corrected, “You’re not on your own. You’ll never be on your own again.” Dylan’s heart felt so warm. Jono knew what to say at just the right moment. Dylan wished he had that skill.

“I don’t know how I got by without you,” Dylan smiled.

“I bet Jeremy helped. It’s that Chadwick charm,” Jono laughed, “Come on, let’s round everyone up. We’ve pooled our knowledge, now let’s pool our resources.”

“’Pool’ now sounds strange,” Dylan observed, “Treehouse?”

“No,” Jono corrected, “Lakehouse. New centre of operations.” Dylan nodded. He knew the treehouse wasn’t the easiest place for Jono to visit. Now he had to make sure he kept a cool head, because the pack needed him. A pack that included Oscar.

Feeling relieved, Lily was pleased Jono was on the way to the lakehouse. She still felt shaken from Monroe and Jamal – they were a terrifying duo, and they didn’t seem remotely bothered about the anxiety they caused Nolan. Though they were werewolf hunters, it was a human who was the most scared of them. Something had clearly gone wrong with their branding.

Nonetheless, they all knew how real the threat of hunters was. Lily remembered facing them before, and it terrified her. Hunters typically were ruthless, and in a war between werewolves and hunters, nobody won. If Drew had taught her anything, it was that.

From the back door of the lakehouse, Lily watched Liam consoling Nolan at the dock. He was shaken up, and in Lily’s opinion, for no good reason. Monroe didn’t seem stupid. She couldn’t have expected Nolan to agree to her deal. All she wanted to do was put the frighteners on him. It was plain cruel.

“He’ll be okay,” Alex reassured. Naturally, he hadn’t left her side.

“I wish we could say that for sure,” Lily sighed.

“He will,” Sammi insisted, “Dylan’s coming. He always knows what to do.”

“The last time Dylan had an idea, he almost died,” Lily felt pessimistic. She trusted Dylan more than anyone, but she was wary of history repeating itself.

“Then do better this time,” Sindy piped up, “Look, I know I’m quite new to this, but it’s obvious. You know what went wrong last time, so don’t let it happen twice. You have a second chance with Dylan. Don’t fuck it up.”

Lily was impressed. Sindy was an incredible pep-talker, and she was right. This time, they had to do better.

“Where’s the fire?” Yasmin came rushing around the back of the lakehouse, bringing Josh, Brett and Johnny with her.

“No idea, Dylan and Jono haven’t arrived yet,” Lily replied, “But I think shit’s about to get real.”

“You can say that again,” Jono commented, joining the crowd with Dylan, “Is everyone here?”

“Freddie and Jeremy aren’t,” Sammi quickly pointed out, “Neither of them has responded to my texts in a while.”

“We can’t wait. We’ll catch them up,” Dylan took the lead, “The Sanctum’s taken Oscar, and they’re waiting for us to rescue him.”

“They have Misha too,” Lily added, “She’s not a hunter, she’s bait.”

“Where are they? We can’t rescue them if we don’t know where they are,” Brett reminded.

“Probably in more than one place. Two mission. Divide and conquer,” Yasmin thought.

“And we have the basilisk on the loose,” Jono added.

“Um, about that,” Josh piped up, “Problem solved. Sort of.”

“What? What happened?” Dylan was confused.

“It was dying already,” Yasmin explained, “He was a product of the scientists. His body couldn’t cope. He died.”

“Shit,” Dylan looked saddened. Even the death of a creature that dangerous made him feel sad. He was admirably empathetic.

“So, we split up?” Brett suggested, “Oscar and Misha. We can do this, can’t we?”

“Together,” Dylan nodded, “Ed’s been tracking the staff. He’s sent me the most commonly visited locations.”

“What are we waiting for?” Lily was keen to get going. This situation felt like ripping a plaster off – it was best to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

As he waited for Margaret to begin sharing her story, Freddie glanced around at her apartment. It was undeniably pretty and well-decorated, with pictures and ornaments documenting an eventful life. In one of the photos, Freddie noticed a younger Margaret cradling a young baby. Whether it was Jeremy or not, Freddie didn’t know, but he was keen to learn a lot more about exactly who she was.

“You’ve grown up into such a handsome young man,” Margaret beamed proudly, her hands caressing Jeremy’s cheeks.

“I’ve missed you,” Jeremy replied, looking just as proudly back at her, “Things weren’t the same after you left. Dad went crazy.”

“Your father had a habit of making his presence known in ways that were less than desirable,” Margaret explained, “His methods were brutal, but he felt they were justified to prove his status. I always tried to convince him otherwise.”

“He was going to kill my friends,” Jeremy nodded regretfully. Freddie flashed back to that night in the warehouse. He would never forget that. The situation David put them in was horrific. Josh being seconds away from killing Yasmin at his request. It was unforgiveable.

“Yet here you are,” Margaret smiled, “How did you win?”

“Explosion,” Freddie answered, “Of the abandoned Lunar Sanctum warehouse.”

“That warehouse used to be a hive of activity. The Lunar Sanctum would capture supernatural creatures and keep them there, to experiment on,” Margaret explained.

“But why? This is what nobody knows. What’s the point of the experiments?” Freddie asked the big question.

“We never found out, but David tried. In fact, he tried sabotaging their work before you were born, Jeremy. They caught him, and as a punishment, he was ordered to kill one of his unborn twins,” Margaret detailed. The gaps in the story were finally making some sense.

“Enter you,” George noted.

“I had known David for many years, before either of us knew what the other was,” Margaret continued.

“You’re a werewolf too?” George was gobsmacked, as if he’d missed a gigantic detail.

“Banshee,” Margaret corrected, “We made a good team, but David lost control after he separated you from your family, Jeremy. He got tangled up in the lies and found it hard to live a double life. He started acting brutally even towards his own pack, who ended up dead, or if they were lucky, hundreds of miles away.”

“Okay, so how do we stop the Lunar Sanctum?” Freddie questioned. This was his priority. This couldn’t go on.

“I don’t know, but I wish you the best of luck. Future generations will owe you everything if you take the Sanctum down,” Margaret encouraged. Freddie felt worried. He had little confidence, but now they had more knowledge. They had to use it to win.

Though Yasmin was no stranger to studying late after school, it always felt strange to be there as it was getting dark. What felt even stranger still was that her days at school were numbered. High school had flown by and the next chapter of her life was approaching: college. She felt both excited and nervous; studying medicine wasn’t going to be easy, but it was what she wanted, and if all went to plan, she’d have the pack nearby at all times too. It was a team experience.

By her side, Yasmin had Liam and Josh. Two werewolves, keeping a close eye on their senses, while Nolan, Sammi and Sindy followed behind. Quite what Yasmin was expecting to find, she didn’t know. Oscar? Misha? The Lunar Sanctum? Perhaps it was a dead end? Yasmin needed to be prepared for anything, but it was difficult to get ready for so many scenarios.

“Ed said they only emerged outside of school hours,” Josh mentioned.

“So they’re hiding through the school day,” Sammi added.

“The days of bunking lessons,” Liam chuckled.

“I know right? I don’t think I attended a single chemistry lesson in sophomore year,” Sindy reminisced.

“Missing lessons? I don’t even have time to think about doing that if I want to graduate,” Josh sighed.

“You’ll manage it,” Yasmin found herself encouraging him like a reflex. Like she’d subconsciously forgiven him.

“Hold up,” Liam paused, holding his finger up to request silence.

“What?” Sindy impatiently hissed.

“Downstairs. Yelling,” Liam replied.

“Basement, come on,” Yasmin motivated.

“Death,” Sindy said, bleakly and bluntly. The boys and Sammi were already on their way, not hearing what Sindy had said, but Yasmin paused. Sindy had frozen to the spot. She was having a vision.

“Sindy, come on,” Yasmin encouraged, holding her hand out.

“Someone’s going to die,” Sindy warned.

“Not if we can help it. Let’s go,” Yasmin tried to stay calm. She understood visions better than anyone else. They were in the same boat.

Sindy grabbed Yasmin’s hand, snapping out of the vision. Instantly, it felt like a lightning bolt had struck them both. Yasmin felt zapped of all her energy, collapsing to the floor. Something had connected them, but Yasmin’s eyes forced themselves shut before she could figure out what.

The idea of running into Leadsom again terrified Dylan. All he could picture was that lab room that doubled as his cell. Leadsom’s smug face as he introduced himself. The fury on his face when Dylan escaped in the Sanctum’s car. He was a beacon of hatred, and Dylan wasn’t ashamed to admit he was terrified of him.

Despite that, he was leading his friends to what could have been his new centre of operations. The Lunar Sanctum was still active, and Dylan knew he was their target, but if they thought he was going down without a fight, they were very much mistaken.

“Where are we?” Brett wondered as they approached an abandoned warehouse. Dylan forgot that he wouldn’t have recognised it, but it was depressingly familiar to him, Jono and Lily.

“The former hub of Crystalshaw’s most famous hunter,” Jono made it sound oddly exciting.

“Yasmin’s dad, right?” Alex guessed.

“He learnt from the best,” Lily joked about Alex’s top werewolf knowledge.

“Not to rain on your parade, but this almost feels too obvious,” Brett sighed.

“That’s the point. They want us to find them, remember?” Dylan replied. That was what made him the most nervous. They were expected, and were walking straight into the trap the Sanctum had laid for them. It was on them to switch the power in their favour.

“Won’t lie, I can see why this place is so terrifying. It’s giving me the creeps,” Johnny commented as Dylan heaved the wooden boards covering the fire exit out of the way. Inside, the warehouse was just as Dylan remembered. Jono flicked the dim lights on, revealing the empty, beige corridors. Dylan instantly thought back to Forsyth’s reign of terror. That same warehouse was the place he had become an alpha, too. It had a lot of significance, both good and bad.

Dylan led the way to the basement, where Mr. Forsyth used to hide anything werewolf-related. The closer he got to the central room, the louder the mumbling voices got. Familiar voices. One of which was embedded in Dylan’s nightmares. Leadsom.

Pausing outside the closed door, Dylan took a deep breath. He needed every ounce of courage to be able to do this.

“I’m here,” Jono reminded, clasping his hand, “You’re not alone this time.” It was just the support Dylan needed. With the support of Jono and his pack behind him, Dylan charged through the door. Ahead was only Leadsom at the far end of the room. Who was he talking to?

“Ah, Dylan, welcome to our new home,” Leadsom smirked, obviously planning his words carefully, “I’d say it’s a surprise, but I think we both know it’s not. Your new beta’s been keeping me company.”

Two thuds sounded behind Dylan. Spinning round, he saw Alex and Brett collapsed on the floor, at the feet of a feral Oscar in full wolf form. He’d sliced their throats on Leadsom’s command, his animal instincts in full flow.

“No,” Lily immediately leapt to Alex’s aide, Johnny following her lead to help Brett, “Stop the bleeding.” Johnny did as instructed, applying pressure to the wound.

“What do you want?” Dylan furiously questioned Leadsom.

“Your co-operation, as you know. None of this is new to you, Dylan,” Leadsom explained.

“The answer is no, it always was,” Dylan yelled. He couldn’t have made his feelings any clearer.

Rapidly, Oscar gripped onto Jono, his claws primed against his neck. The terrified look on Jono’s face said it all – nobody had been more glowing about Oscar, but now, he was scared.

“I know your lover can heal, unlike the two boys on the floor,” Leadsom threatened, “So how about a deeper incision?” Dylan was horrified. He had no idea what to do.

The school basement was a place Sammi had never dared to venture before. She had presumed it wasn’t very exciting anyway – it was bound to be full of storage boxes and stationery supplies. She wasn’t wrong, either. Cardboard boxes lined the walls of the dimly lit basement. At least there was a clear pathway through, towards another storeroom at the far end.

Liam had taken charge, keeping Nolan close by for protection. Sammi thought they were such a cute couple, having seem them up close at the Chadwick house. Of course, she thought it best to conceal Liam’s werewolf identity from Uncle Steve and Aunt Helen. No matter how often Sammi name dropped Jono or Lily, they still stood firm in their ignorance. Sammi only felt disappointed – she couldn’t imagine doing that to her future kids.

Thankfully, Sammi had Josh by her side. She trusted him fully, because he had been there for her at the moments when it mattered most. Freddie had always spoken so highly of Josh too – they had been friends for a long time after all, and they clearly knew each other inside out. No wonder sharing a room was so easy for them.

Freddie. Sammi still hadn’t heard from him. It was her natural instinct to worry, even when there weren’t so many threats lurking around Crystalshaw. The lack of contact from both him and Jeremy was fair reason for concern.

“The land that teachers forgot,” Josh commented, swiping a thick layer of dust off a cardboard box with his finger.

“Ssh,” Liam called back. Sammi paused. Even she could hear the voices ahead. They had to be extremely careful not to be caught out.

“That’s her,” Nolan worried, “Monroe.”

“Come on, we’ve got this. Calm and collected,” Sammi motivated. She wasn’t just trying to spur the group on, but herself too. Monroe was darn scary.

“Time for a diversion,” Josh decided, “Liam, fancy a jog?” Nolan looked at him nervously, not wanting to be left alone.

“I got you,” Sammi smiled at him. Nolan gave an approving nod to Liam, who passed it on to Josh. A plan was coming together.

“Hold on,” Sammi paused, “Where are Yasmin and Sindy? I thought they were behind us.”

“We’ll take a look. Just focus on helping Misha,” Josh decided. Sammi nodded. They had a job to do. Josh opened the door to the storage room at the end of the basement, looking around inside, while Sammi and Nolan took shelter behind the stationery boxes.

“Oh shit,” he exclaimed. Josh’s acting skills were on point. Rapidly, he and Liam dashed back out towards the staircase. Jamal followed them in hot pursuit, firmly clutching a gun in each hand. Monroe followed immediately after, acting noticeably more casual. Nolan shot Sammi a terrified look. This could go wrong in so many ways.

“Now,” Sammi gave the command, still keeping her voice low. She and Nolan filtered into the storeroom to see Misha tied to a chair, her arms and legs both secured with ropes and her mouth taped shut, “Untie her, quickly.”

“Thank you,” Misha breathed a sigh of relief as Sammi carefully removed the tape.

“Come on,” Sammi released the tough ropes on her wrists, while Nolan had worked his magic on those around her ankles, “Let’s go.”

“Not so fast,” a terrifying voice came from the doorway. Monroe. She had caught them red-handed. Now they were screwed.

Bolt upright, Yasmin was disorientated. She quickly examined her surroundings. The last thing she remembered was being at school, but the harsh lighting was far too bright to be the mundane corridors. What had happened? When did she move?

Worryingly, the new location was eerily familiar. It was the scientists’ laboratory in the hospital basement. Thankfully, Sindy was still by her side – that was some level of comfort.

That was it. Yasmin remembered. Sindy had a vision. She had frozen still. Yasmin touched her hand. That was the last thing they did, but it only asked more questions. Why did a mere touch cause them to black out?

“Where are we?” Sindy slurred, waking up as well.

“The hospital. The basement,” Yasmin replied.

“We were at the school,” Sindy was baffled. Neither of them knew what to do.

“I know. There must be a reason we’re here,” Yasmin thought. Everything had a logical explanation, even in the supernatural world.

Suddenly, a man appeared ahead of them. A young man, who wasn’t there before. Yasmin recognised him, but this was impossible. How could Marcus have been there?

“Who are you?” Sindy queried. She hadn’t met him before, but clearly, he had been able to channel them. It was slowly slotting into place.

“Marcus,” Yasmin replied, “The basilisk. But you’re dead?”

“Yes,” Marcus confirmed, “But I can help. You both share a connection, but it’s not complete. You need one more.”

“One more what?” Sindy was becoming more and more confused.

“Harbinger of death,” Yasmin figured it out. It made perfect sense to her. She and Sindy were completely different, but they shared one aspect of their powers. They were both linked to the dead, “We’re still at the school. This isn’t real.”

“It can be. I want to help. Find the third, and take out the Sanctum,” Marcus explained.

“Where? We don’t know another,” Yasmin asked. Her only thought was Lydia, who was too far away when the battle was happening in real time.

“You’ll find them. Wake up, you haven’t got much time,” Marcus encouraged.

Yasmin jolted awake. She was back in the school corridor, as if nothing had happened. Marcus had gone. They were on their own.

“Where now?” Sindy desperately questioned.

“No idea,” Yasmin replied, sighing, “But maybe if we start walking, Marcus will guide us.” It was a long shot, but it was Yasmin’s best idea. This could be the only way to save their friends.

Jono had felt a rollercoaster of emotions over Oscar in the few months they had known each other, but one he didn’t expect to experience was fear. Sadly, that was his overriding feeling as Oscar stood with his claws to Jono’s neck, ready to slice upon command.

The months of keeping Oscar firmly away from anything werewolf related felt somewhat pointless. It hadn’t benefited him in any way, and now he was an out of control beta being manipulated by someone who knew exactly which buttons to press. Oscar didn’t deserve this, and Jono felt like he had let him down.

“What do you say, Dylan?” Leadsom probed further. Jono caught the concerned look in Dylan’s eyes. He didn’t know what to do. Jono knew nothing scared him more than the thought of being locked up in that horrible facility again, but at the same time, Jono’s life was in the balance. Jono needed to help him out. If anyone could get through to Oscar, it was him.

“Oscar, I know you’re in there, listen to me,” Jono began, “Remember our date? Remember we were so awkward with each other that we could barely even talk? I know things didn’t work out in the end, but I had so much fun that night, because of you. When you shared your stories with me. When you opened up about the friend you lost. Remember how you felt.”

“Stop it,” Leadsom commanded, “Oscar, do it, now.” Oscar didn’t listen, though. He released his grip on Jono. His plan had worked, but Leadsom wasn’t giving up. He pulled out a gun, aiming it at all three of them. Jono was scared, because he knew he wasn’t too scared to use it.

“Final chance boys,” Leadsom offered.

“Go to hell,” Dylan affirmed, much to Jono’s relief.

“You need us,” Johnny called out, still using his hand to stop Brett bleeding, “You won’t shoot.”

“Did I do that?” Oscar was horrified at the sight of Alex and Brett’s injuries.

“Don’t think about it,” Jono diverted his attention, “Getting out is the priority, okay?” Oscar nodded. He understood.

“You think?” Leadsom smugly replied to Johnny, priming the gun.

“Everybody out!” a new voice burst into the room. Jono recognised her from the Sanctum. It was Nurse Carver. Rapidly, Jono pulled both Dylan and Oscar out, while Johnny carried Brett and Lily assisted Alex. They needed to hide – neither of them would be able to get very far.

“Thank you. Again,” Dylan called out to Nurse Carver as they ran side-by-side.

“Thank me when you’re out,” Nurse Carver replied. This wasn’t over yet.

Matching eyes with Monroe, Sammi wasn’t backing down. In fact, it only riled her up further. She wasn’t going down without a fight, and nor were her friends. Nobody deserved to be hunted for who they were.

Sammi gently linked hands with Nolan. She knew this was his worst nightmare, but she couldn’t allow him to think he was on his own. They were in there together, and it was Sammi’s job to ensure they got out together too.

“It’s a shame you’re so resistant to the cause,” Monroe paced back and forth, never leaving the door unlocked, “We could be allies, on the same side.”

“Never,” Sammi affirmed. She could never betray her friends nor her family.

“It’s okay, your precious friends will come back. Josh and lover boy Liam. He’s so sweet, isn’t he, Nolan?” Monroe goaded. Nolan didn’t reply, but he was squeezing Sammi’s hand tightly. That was his way of communicating, “Where are the others? Your alpha, Dylan. We’ve not been formally introduced yet, though I found him just after biting the new beta. Caught in the act, shall we say? I assume he’s gone to find Oscar now. What about the nix?”

“Good question,” Sammi muttered under her breath. She didn’t know the answer to that – Yasmin and Sindy still hadn’t been found.

“Two harbingers of death,” Monroe kept talking, “How depressing. How… interesting.” Sammi was confused. She was talking as if she knew something. Something nobody else knew.

“What about them?” Sammi took her chance. She wanted answers.

“There are many rumours about harbingers of death, and the power of three,” Monroe explained, “Two cannot become three.” Monroe dashed off, as if she had found something more important. That wasn’t a relief to Sammi, though. This spelt bad news.

“Come on,” she said to Nolan and Misha, “We need to follow her.”

Sammi led the way, pursuing Monroe out into the car park. She had vanished, though. They’d lost her. On the other hand, approaching from the far end of the car park were Freddie, Jeremy and George; one saving grace was that they were safe.

“Where were you?” Sammi furiously interrogated, “Did you see her? Monroe?”

“Long story, and no,” Freddie replied, “What’s going on?”

“Also a long story,” Sammi answered. Explaining would take too long. She needed to find her friends.

“Get down,” Jeremy commanded, looking behind. Just as Sammi ducked, a bullet swerved, narrowly passing over Freddie’s head. Turning around, she saw Jamal, priming a gun in each hand.

“I don’t think so,” Freddie bared his fangs, ready to fight. Before Jamal could react, both guns were on the floor and Freddie had pinned him to the ground. Jamal was showing remarkable strength, though. He was fighting back, gaining the upper hand. He’d flipped Freddie over while reaching for a gun, strangling him with the other hand.

Thinking fast, Sammi grabbed the gun, taking a stand. She didn’t want to use it, but he was killing Freddie. He was going to kill him.


9: The Power of Three Written by MarthaJonesFan

Rolling over to check the time, Jono felt unsettled. It was only four in the morning, and his body had no more sleep left on offer. Perhaps it was the result of such a ridiculous day. In some ways, it had been messed up entirely, but in others, it was like his dreams had come to life.

Dylan was back. Of course, this was the best news of all. He was alive, and he had finally escaped captivity. Jono couldn’t express just how lucky he felt to have his special someone back. Nobody got that lucky. It was a fantasy from the depths of his imagination, yet now it was reality. It was incredible.

Jono couldn’t help feeling bad for Oscar, though. His feelings for Oscar were genuine, and it was important to him that Oscar knew that. Yet, there wasn’t any doubt in Jono’s mind. His future with Dylan seemed so bright and vivid. It was what he desperately wanted, and his absence had only reinforced that.

The way Oscar had reacted to the news was nothing short of admirable. He had such a kind heart, and a pure soul too. Jono never wanted to lose him, because above all, their friendship was so important. He needed Oscar, even with Dylan back. He needed the laughter, the banter and the kindness Oscar brought everywhere he went.

The truth was, he knew things couldn’t just snap back to normal. It wasn’t that easy. Jono had spent five months grieving. Losing the person he loved the most had taken so much energy out of him, and Dylan had been through so much too. The pack was changed forever, but perhaps Oscar was the light at the end of the tunnel? The sprinkling of glitter they all needed?

Nevertheless, Jono was relieved to roll over in bed to see Dylan lying beside him. There was no way anything was going to snatch him away again, and there was going to be hell to pay for the past five months if Jono ever came face-to-face with the monsters that go by the name of the Lunar Sanctum.

Pushing the cupboard door firmly shut, Dylan took a much-needed pause to catch his breath. Though they had escaped Leadsom, they still had a long way to go. In fact, they were yet to make it out of the basement, let alone the building. With Brett and Alex injured, it was difficult to get much further. They needed a plan of action, and that was easier said than done.

The storage cupboard they were in was small, with only just enough room for all of them to hide in. Most promisingly, though, was a small window at the top, leading directly outside to ground level. It looked just about big enough for each of them to get through one-at-a-time.

“Give me a leg up,” Dylan requested of Jono, who immediately held his hands out for Dylan’s foot. Lifted up to the window’s level, Dylan gave it a firm shove. Nothing. It was locked.

“Shit,” Johnny stressed. Brett was drifting in and out of consciousness. It didn’t look good.

“We’re not losing anyone today,” Dylan insisted.

“Keys,” Nurse Carver chirped up. She chucked up a hefty set of keys attached to a lanyard.

“Which one?” Dylan questioned, catching the keys expertly.

“Smallest one, I think. It opens the windows in my lab, so it may be universal,” she answered. Dylan knew my it was their only shot. He twisted the key into the lock with heaps of optimism. Sure enough, it worked. Dylan felt the biggest sense of relief wash over him.

“Johnny, go first,” Dylan directed, “Then we’ll help Brett and Alex out.” Johnny nodded as he and Dylan switched places.

The door began to rattle. They’d been found. Quickly, Dylan heaved his full weight behind it. Nobody would get inside until his friends were out. Without being asked, Oscar followed his lead. Dylan loved that he helped out without request. He was going to fit into the pack like a glove.

With Jono’s leg-up, Johnny made it out. Lily, Jono and Nurse Carver then helped to lift Brett up, Johnny reaching his hands from above.

“I’m sorry,” Oscar said to Dylan, taking his chance for a private chat.

“No,” Dylan insisted, “You don’t have to apologise. I’m sorry you ever got dragged into this.” He felt bad. Jono had successfully kept Oscar away from the supernatural world for months, yet Dylan was back for a week and in that time, Oscar became his beta. He felt guilty.

“It’s fine. I’d be dead without you, remember?” Oscar insisted. He was too sweet for his own good.

Alex, Lily and Nurse Carver were out. Only Jono remained. The door wasn’t going to hold much longer.

“Go,” Dylan directed to Oscar, who regretfully took Jono’s leg up.

“That door’s going to cave,” Jono realised. Everyone else was out. They had saved their friends.

“Which is why you need to go. I’ll lift you,” Dylan decided.

“No chance. Together, or not at all,” Jono firmly stated. Dylan was conflicted – he wanted Jono to be safe, but at the same time, he selfishly didn’t want to risk losing him again. Side-by-side was where they felt safest.

Against his better judgement, Dylan let go of the door. Two soldiers aimed their guns at he and Jono. They had been caught, but Dylan took all the comfort he could from the touch of Jono’s hand in his. They could conquer this.

Gobsmacked. Freddie was frozen still. He wasn’t quite sure what had happened. A gunshot sounded, and Jamal was slumped down on the floor next to him. Was he dead? Who shot him? Freddie’s mind was spinning too much to pick up on the details.

Gathering himself together, Freddie checked Jamal’s pulse. Nothing. He wasn’t sure how to feel. Was this good or bad? Jamal was surely going to kill him, so it was a relief to be somewhat safe, but nobody deserved death. Dylan was always keen to find a better way, and Freddie shared that ethos. To make it worse, Jamal was young. Corrupted by his mum’s sadistic agenda. Freddie couldn’t help feeling a little sympathetic.

Looking up, Freddie caught eyes with the shooter. Holding the gun in her right hand, frozen to the spot in pure shock. Sammi. It was obvious that she didn’t know what to do or how to react, and it broke Freddie’s heart.

He lifted himself back onto his feet and immediately ran to embrace her in a calm, comforting hug. She had been through so much, and it had only just started to feel like the old Sammi was back. She was strong, though. She could cope with this.

Jeremy joined the hug, while everyone else stood silently, not knowing what to say. Josh, George, Liam and Nolan looked on blankly, as well as another girl who Freddie assumed was Misha. He noticed her facial expression in particular. It was completely vacant. Jamal was her twin. Her brother was dead.

“He was going to kill you,” Sammi whimpered, her voice quivering, “I couldn’t lose you.”

“I know,” Freddie simply said, not losing grip on the hug.

“Where are the others?” George wondered.

“Yasmin and Sindy,” Josh remembered, “We lost them.”

“Go find them, we’ll phone Ed,” Freddie took charge. He needed Sammi to be okay, but they had to do the right thing. Josh, George, Liam and Nolan rushed off, but Misha remained where she was. Frozen. Freddie didn’t know what to say to her – there was no sugar-coating what had happened.

“I killed him,” Sammi began to weep uncontrollably, “I’m going to jail.”

“No, listen, Ed would never let that happen, okay?” Freddie insisted. He had known Ed for long enough to know the lengths he’d go to to protect the pack.

In the corner of his eye, Freddie noticed Misha sitting down next to Jamal’s body. His heart broke. All of their lives had changed forever in just one second.

Stood outside an apartment door at the elderly people’s home, Yasmin wasn’t quite sure why she was there or what was going to happen next. The nix inside her had given her directions, and in typical fashion, it didn’t bother to tell her the reasoning.

On the bright side, she wasn’t alone. Sindy was by her side, and she was just as in-the-dark as Yasmin was. Every route followed since leaving the school was a mystery to them both, and Yasmin was desperate to figure it out.

The door opened from the inside. Behind it was an old lady, with kind eyes that Yasmin was immediately drawn to. Interestingly, she didn’t seem even slightly surprised to see two complete strangers outside her room.

“Yasmin, Sindy, please come in,” she invited. Against her better judgement, Yasmin proceeded. The apartment was well-furnished, with pretty ornaments and loads of photos decorating the place to make it feel homely. One particular photo caught her eye, and Yasmin had to do a double take. She recognised the young boy cuddling up to this lady. Jeremy.

“Are you Margaret?” Yasmin put two and two together, recalling Jeremy’s story.

“Margaret Gardner,” she introduced, “I met your friends earlier. Freddie, your ex-boyfriend, he was very sweet.”

“How do you know this?” Yasmin was confused. Nothing that had happened since she and Sindy touched hands made a single bit of sense.

“We’re connected,” Margaret explained, “This rarely happens. Harbingers of death are so rare, but the power of three can bring us together, and we can channel the deceased.”

“Marcus,” Yasmin realised.

“You want to channel him again? Didn’t he try to kill you all?” Sindy was baffled.

“The basilisk did, but Marcus wanted to help. If we can use him to help Dylan, this could be how we end the Lunar Sanctum. For good,” Yasmin theorised.

“Does that sound like something you want?” a voice came from the doorway. Monroe, armed in each hand, “Well let me tell you, you’ll never get it.”

“Behind me,” Margaret instructed, “The famous Tamora Monroe, I presume.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to do this,” Monroe held both guns up, pointing directly at Margaret. Yasmin was trying to think fast. Her powers weren’t fast or ferocious enough. She felt helpless.


Monroe collapsed, revealing a casual Josh stood behind her. Yasmin couldn’t believe how pleased she was to see him. At this point, she could hardly care about what happened between them before.

“You saved my life,” she exhaled, trying to calm down.

“She won’t be out for long,” George commented. He, Liam and Nolan were stood behind Josh in the corridor. Just the back-up Yasmin needed.

“We’ll keep watch,” Liam suggested, an anxious Nolan nodding in agreement.

“I’ll stay too, I know this place like the back of my hand,” George mentioned.

“Okay, come on, let’s go,” Josh held out his hand. Yasmin grabbed it, ready to sort this mess out.

Taking shelter out of sight around the back of the warehouse, Lily felt exhausted. Alex could barely walk, and he was still bleeding. Naturally, she was very concerned. Losing Alex wasn’t something she was prepared to do.

Brett was in much the same position as Alex, too. Johnny looked helpless, even if he had tried to put a brave face on. Even now, his calm composure hadn’t slipped. Lily, on the other hand, was nervous, because she was starting to run out of tears to cry.

“Shouldn’t the bleeding have stopped by now?” Lily enquired. If Nurse Carver wanted to prove her title, shouldn’t she be helping them both get better?

“Keep applying pressure,” she simply directed. She seemed just as helpless as the rest of them.

“Why are you helping us?” Oscar questioned.

“Because I don’t agree with what’s become of the Sanctum. It used to be a research facility, it was harmless, but it turned ugly. It’s why I helped your friends escape, and it’s why I helped again this time,” Nurse Carver explained calmly.

“We have to help Dylan and Jono,” Oscar sighed.

“We can’t just leave them,” Lily firmly reminded.

“Go, help your brother,” Alex croaked.

“I’m not leaving you,” Lily insisted, “Don’t try to talk.”

“Take his hand, Lily,” Johnny guided. Lily did as instructed. To her amazement, Alex’s veins seemed to turn black, as if they were filtering something bad out.

“What’s that?” Lily was confused.

“You took his pain. He’s not healed, but he’s not feeling it anymore,” Johnny explained. Lily felt the tears returning. It was amazing to know she had helped Alex to feel better in some small way.

“I’ll call the ambulance. Go and save your friends,” Nurse Carver directed, handing her the ID card to get back inside. Lily nodded. Alex was important, but so was Jono. She wasn’t losing anybody.

No matter how hard he tried to struggle, Dylan simply couldn’t break free. He had been strapped to a hospital bed, restraints tightly securing his arms and legs to the bed. Usually, he would have been able to break Velcro seals like that with ease. The Lunar Sanctum were no strangers to werewolves, though. The straps were lined with mountain ash, irritating Dylan’s skin and ensuring he remained completely trapped.

At least, this time, he had Jono by his side, even if Jono was in the exact same predicament. The Sanctum scared Dylan, but if he had to be there, he was so relieved Jono was with him. Dylan was certain that he would never forget the worry and anxiety of his first stay at the Sanctum. The uncertainty over whether he’d ever see Jono again or not. He was convinced he’d remember how that felt until he died.

“Don’t panic, Dylan,” Leadsom casually sauntered into the room. Two guards had been watching over them since they were captured. Even if they weren’t restrained, it would be a difficult battle to win, “In fact, I’d suggest letting go of all your problems, because I may just have the solution to each and every one of them.”

“You’re resigning?” Jono chuckled. Dylan couldn’t help raising a smile – trust Jono to make light of even the most terrifying situations.

“You always wanted to know what we were working on, Dylan. That day has finally come,” Leadsom continued, ignoring Jono’s remarks. A guard approached Dylan, pulling a syringe out of his pocket. Like a reflex had awoken in his body, Dylan started to struggle. Scott had broken through mountain ash before, maybe he could manage it too?

“There’s no point struggling, Dylan,” Leadsom patronised, “This can change your life. This will give you normality.”

“What is it?” Dylan cautiously queried.

“The cure. The cure for lycanthropy,” Leadsom announced. Dylan couldn’t think of what to say. His mind was spinning. How could there be a cure for werewolves?

“That’s impossible,” Jono commented, mouth wide open in shock.

“Yet, our hard work paid off. We perfected a serum to change werewolves back to humans. All it needs now is a trial run. Two test subjects. Two people who can return to normal life before the end of the day. You can’t tell me that’s not a tempting offer.”

Dylan’s mind was racing. He didn’t know what to think. Of course, he had dreamt many times about a life away from being a werewolf. He and Jono could live together in peace. It was food for thought.

“Please, let us talk about this,” Dylan begged as the guard primed the syringe, “It’s a big decision, and we have to discuss together.”

“Five minutes,” Leadsom agreed, signalling to the guards to leave the room. Just the two of them.

“Any thoughts? I have so many but I’m confused,” Dylan probed. Jono always helped him to see clearly. He needed that insight so desperately.

“I mean, it really would solve all our problems,” Jono considered, “But it might not work. Besides, what about the others? We can’t take that cure and abandon the pack. They’re relying on us. Oscar needs his alpha.”

Jono was, as always, on point. Dylan couldn’t afford to be selfish. He had his friends to consider. His new beta. His brother. The pack was always bigger than just him.

The door swiped open, a key card granting access. Dylan was concerned. Leadsom promised five minutes, and that definitely had not been five minutes. However, much to his delight, it was Lily. She’d come back for them.

“Boy, am I glad to see you,” Jono smiled.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Lily began to work her magic on the straps. The benefit of only being part-werewolf was that mountain ash didn’t affect Lily.

“Hold on,” Dylan thought, “This has to end today. I’ve got an idea.”

Though she had been there many-a-time, the four walls of Ed’s office felt like they were closing in on Sammi. Her thoughts were jumbled. Her mind was racing. All she could think about was her future – behind bars for murder. Jamal’s face was ingrained into her mind. She had killed someone, and there was no escaping that for the rest of her life.

“Sammi?” Freddie called out. Sammi snapped back into the room. Freddie and Jeremy were sat either side of her, with Ed on the opposite side of his desk.

“Please Sammi, I can’t help you if I don’t know what happened,” Ed begged. He was always on their team, but he was also the sheriff. He had a job to do.

“He was attacking Freddie. He had two guns, but dropped both. He still overcame Freddie, though. He was reaching for a gun, and I was certain. I knew he was going to kill Freddie. I know how grief feels, and I couldn’t bear to feel that again. I had to protect him,” Sammi recalled as clearly as her hectic mind allowed.

“Is this true?” Ed looked to Freddie and Jeremy. The more matching accounts, the better.

“Yes,” Freddie replied firmly.

“Yup,” Jeremy concurred.

“Sammi, I need you to listen,” Ed focused back on her, “What you did was not cold-blooded murder. You did something unthinkable to stop something even worse happening. You’re brave, and you’re strong. Trust me, I’ve got this covered.”

“You’re not arresting me?” Sammi was shocked. She had convinced herself of the worst-case scenario.

“Of course not,” Ed smiled kindly, “Go home and get some rest.”

“About that,” Jeremy added, “Dylan’s still in trouble, isn’t he?”

“Where did he go?” Ed was clearly in the dark still.

“The Forsyth warehouse,” Freddie answered.

“We had a 911 call from there not long ago, asking for an ambulance,” Ed mentioned, “Okay, let’s go. I’m fed up of this Sanctum shit.”

As Ed led the way out, Freddie placed his hand in Sammi’s. He was so calm; the complete opposite of how she felt.

“Are you okay?” she asked. This wasn’t his burden to carry.

“Yeah,” Freddie replied, “Seeing George gave me just the boost I needed. Just in time, too.”

“I’m sorry. You don’t need me going through all this drama,” Sammi still felt bad.

“Stop it. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to help you,” Freddie reassured, “You saw me at my worst the other day. Off my medication. If you could deal with me on that day, you deserve every bit of attention I can possibly give you.”

Sammi raised a smile. He was the best. She really didn’t deserve somebody so understanding.

“Let’s go save our friends,” Sammi decided. A fire had been lit inside her. She needed to help out.

Even unconscious, Nolan couldn’t deny how scared he was of Monroe. Before she arrived, his life was somewhat normal. Not easy by any means, but it was manageable. Everything that had happened since came without a manual or user guide, and it was hard for Nolan to wrap his head around everything.

At least he still had Liam by his side. Monroe had unwittingly drawn them together, and Nolan was grateful for that at least. Without her, Liam would forever have remained that cute classmate he’d never spoken to. Perhaps Monroe was a small price to pay for the best reward he could have wished for?

“Who is this Monroe?” George questioned, he and Liam finishing tying her up to the leg of the dining table.

“The most famous hunter in the world,” Liam answered, “Formerly the guidance counsellor at our school.”

“That’s quite a career change,” George remarked, “I’ve seen hunters before. They scare me. Like, a lot. I know I’m human, but Freddie isn’t. I worry about him all the time.”

“I know how that feels,” Nolan confessed, glancing knowingly at Liam.

“I think we both worry about each other,” Liam added, “There’s no shame in that. It means we care.”

“I guess,” George sat down, reflecting, “It’s not easy when you’re in another country, and I know Freddie’s been struggling. I know everyone’s been struggling, in fact. The sooner I’m back, the better.”

“Oh boy, another arrogant teenager,” Monroe commented, already awake. Instantly, she tried to stand up. Nolan flinched at the mere movement, even though she was firmly restrained, “You’re going to want to let me go, Liam.”

“So you can kill me? I don’t think so,” Liam hit back. Nolan loved his confidence. He wished he had even a tiny amount of that bravado.

“If only Nolan had taken you out when he had the chance,” Monroe goaded, “Shame I placed my trust in a chicken.”

Nolan’s blood boiled. Monroe had done enough without attacking his character even further. She had caused him many a sleepless night, and many a panic attack. How dare she have this much of a negative impact on his life?

“You don’t know me at all. I was tormented and manipulated, and I came out the other end, but that was no thanks to you. Liam is my life, and I love him. I can’t wait until we put you behind bars,” Nolan unleashed.

“We’ll make a fighter out of you yet. Besides, you don’t think I’m on my own in this fight, do you? Jamal will find me,” Monroe hoped. For once, though, she didn’t have the upper hand.

“Jamal’s dead, Monroe,” Liam broke the news. Though she tried to keep a stern, serious face, it was clear that her confidence had instantly begun to crumble.

“That’s wrong. It must be,” Monroe stuttered, “But even then, I have others out there. They’ll come for you.”

“Let them try,” Nolan fired back. He was in control for the first time in a long time. Liam flashed him a proud smile. Nolan had won a battle he had been fighting for too long, and he felt proud of himself.

Feeling a fire lit inside him, Dylan was ready to get out of the clutches of the Lunar Sanctum for good. Lily had undone the mountain ash straps on his wrist, though expertly, she had tucked the straps underneath Dylan’s arms to make it look like they were still restrained. Leadsom wouldn’t know what had hit him.

Dylan wasn’t sure what he was actually going to do, though. Perhaps taking Leadsom directly to Ed would be the right idea? Cutting off the head of the snake. Sadly though, Dylan knew it would take a lot more than that to finish the Sanctum off for good. It wasn’t about any one person.

Either way, they were ready to strike. Jono had been freed by Lily too, and she was hiding under the worksurface by the door, keeping just out of view. Leadsom was expected back any time, and they had to time everything to perfection.

Right on cue. Five minutes had passed. Leadsom was escorted back in by the same guards. It was clear from his focused facial expression that he meant business, too. No more stalling.

“Ready?” Leadsom questioned, straight to the point.

“Yes,” Dylan lied as confidently as he could. One guard approached him while another went to Jono, each of them priming the syringes.

“Now,” Dylan gave the command. Freed of the straps, Dylan knocked the cure clean out of the guard’s hand. Jono did the exact same, both of them shifting into full wolf mode. They weren’t playing safe.

“Stop them, now!” Leadsom ordered. The guards simultaneously reached for their weapons, but they had vanished. As if on cue, Lily emerged, a gun in each hand. Dylan smiled. Who knew Lily had such strong pickpocketing skills?

“Stand still,” Lily commanded.

“You won’t use that,” Leadsom scoffed. Without a second thought, she fired the gun from her left hand into the ceiling. Leadsom suddenly seemed less composed. He was actually scared. Taking advantage of the moment, Dylan grabbed the syringe off the floor, indicating for Jono to do the same. He chucked the second syringe over to Dylan, who caught it perfectly. He wasn’t risking losing it.

“I’m assuming you haven’t made much of this yet,” Dylan presumed, holding both over the sink, “What with this being a trial.”

“We still have the recipe, you’ll never be able to get that,” Leadsom reasoned.

“Oh, I don’t see why not. We’ve got a computer genius who’s hacked into your system before,” Jono teased.

“That’s my life’s work,” Leadsom desperately pleaded, changing tactics.

“And my pack is mine. They need an alpha,” Dylan firmly replied. He squirted both syringes down the sink and ran the taps. Flushed away for good.

“Let’s go,” Lily suggested. Dylan didn’t need to be asked twice. Together, all three of them confidently breezed out of the lab room using Nurse Carver’s ID. Dylan felt liberated. They had the Sanctum cornered. Now it’s was Ed’s job to clean up the loose ends.

“Not so fast,” Leadsom threatened, following behind. He snatched a gun out of Lily’s hand and held it at Dylan’s head, “I can’t let you leave.”

“It’s over. Give it up,” Jono suggested surprisingly politely.

“You’ve lost,” Dylan added.

“If I’m going down, you’re going down with me,” Leadsom smirked a disgustingly evil grin. He was unhinged, and Dylan was scared of him. Leadsom had nothing to lose.

“Now,” a voice commanded from behind. A delightfully familiar voice. Josh, “Dylan get out of the way.”

Without needing to be told twice, Dylan led Jono and Lily out of the way as Yasmin and Sindy approached, linking hands with an elderly woman in the middle. Dylan had no idea what was happening, but it wasn’t the time to ask questions. A harsh shot of light beamed out from all three of them, shining down on Leadsom. Immediately, he cried out in pain, his skin beginning to scorch. Dylan now understood. That was the power of the basilisk, but how?

Leadsom erupted into flames. It was gruesome, and a horrible way to die, but now he knew what the many victims of the Lunar Sanctum felt like. Dylan felt a somewhat bittersweet rush engulf him as a result. It was over, but he wouldn’t have wished death on anyone. Not even Leadsom.

“What the hell was that?” an amazed Lily asked the question on Dylan’s lips.

“I don’t really know,” Yasmin spun around, her eyes back to normal now the job was done, “The power of three. Three harbingers of death working together. We channelled the dead.”

“The supernatural world is surprising,” the lady smiled, “Margaret Gardner, by the way. You must be Dylan Drummond. The pleasure is all mine.”

Dylan smiled as she shook his hand. Of course, she had been Jeremy’s guardian.

“Thank you,” Dylan smiled back at her. However, he could still feel the fire burning, the heat brushing past his skin, “Yasmin, think you could put that fire out?”

“Easy,” she smiled. A quick swish of her hands was enough for a trickle of water to dribble out of the lab and begin extinguishing the fierce flames. That was it. Leadsom had gone. The Sanctum was over.

Quietly sat in the hospital waiting room, Lily was praying for good news. It was difficult to think about anything other than how Alex was doing, but she really needed him to pull through. She couldn’t wait to tell him about what happened in the warehouse, because he’d be totally impressed. However, she had one job to do first. She had news for Alex, and news that he may not be so keen on.

“Have you told Alex?” Jono asked, noticing the email she had open on her phone.

“It’s only just arrived, I’ve not had a chance. I don’t know how to,” Lily sighed.

“Look, you saved us. The Sanctum’s gone, Nurse Carver helped Ed to identify the rest of the staff, and they’re all locked up for good. Freddie deleted all traces of the recipe for that stupid cure. We couldn’t have done any of this without you,” Dylan reminded, “You can do anything you want to.” Lily smiled. She knew he was right. She could be brave again.

“Hi all,” a nurse arrived to speak to them. Everybody was waiting – the whole pack. Yasmin was resting her head on Josh’s shoulder; it was miraculous how far their relationship had come, even if they were now only friends. Johnny was sat nervously much like Lily. Alex and Brett meant a lot to all of them. They desperately needed good news, “Both boys are stable. You can see them now, but not all at once.”

Lily breathed a huge sigh of relief. Losing Alex would have been disastrous, but he was safe, and that meant the world to her. Together with Johnny, Lily raced into the ward. There he was, right in front of her. Alex was sat up, smiling yet weary, but excited to see her face.

“You missed me?” Alex chuckled.

“Duh,” Lily wiped a happy tear from her cheek as she wrapped her arms warmly around him, “You should have seen me in there. Gun in each hand. I was a total badass.”

“That sounds hot,” Alex smiled cheekily, “I didn’t doubt you for a second.” A moment of silence followed. Lily knew she had to tell him now.

“Look, I’ve got some news for you,” she began, anticipating their happy little bubble bursting, “I’m transferring to Crystalshaw County College. I need to be nearer home, nearer the pack. I thought I could cope on my own, but it’s hard. I need my friends.”

“Oh,” Alex looked disappointed, taking a few seconds to process the news.

“I’m sorry,” Lily felt bad. She didn’t want to abandon Alex, quite the opposite in fact. However, her own state of mind came first.

“No, don’t be,” Alex replied, “Because it looks like I’m moving to Crystalshaw County too.” Lily’s heart could have burst. That was an even better response than she could have dreamed of. She hugged him again, her heart feeling full and warm.

“Mind the stitches,” Alex laughed. Lily chuckled. She cared for him so much. She didn’t deserve him.

It was a weight off Dylan’s shoulders to know Brett and Alex were okay. Nobody was prepared to lose anybody else, and Dylan wouldn’t have been able to cope seeing Johnny and Lily losing their loved ones. He knew how it felt, and he wouldn’t have inflicted it on anyone.

Joining the pack in the waiting room, Liam and Nolan took the two empty seats to Dylan’s left. They had been working with Ed to nail Monroe and provide enough evidence, without any trace of the word “werewolf.”

“Please tell me it’s good news,” Dylan skipped the greetings.

“Suspicion of murdering Nicolas, and they’re going to look for others too. We did it,” Liam replied proudly.

“You must be relieved,” Jono smiled. Nolan nodded calmly. He looked more relaxed than he had since he arrived. It was obvious how much anxiety Monroe caused him, and Dylan understood. Knowing Leadsom was out of his life for good was the biggest relief.

“Yeah,” Nolan raised a small smile. He was still adorably awkward, but Dylan admired his innocence. It reminded him of himself, before the bite.

“Look, we should probably head home now. It’s been a blast getting to know you guys, but my mom’s already annoyed we’ve delayed our visit for so long,” Liam chuckled.

“Thank you,” Dylan beamed at them both. They had been such a helping hand. He’d never forget the bond he created with Liam inside the Sanctum. Every cloud really did have a silver lining.

“No, thank you. It’s easy to see why Scott admires you so much,” Liam replied. Nolan simply hugged him; a man of few words, as always.

As the boys left, Jono wrapped his hand around Dylan’s. They had made it, and they’d made it together. The best team in the world. Now Dylan had to focus on school; he wasn’t missing graduation for anyone.

Wearing the red gown he had seen on TV so many times was a slightly strange experience for Jono. He wasn’t sure he was much of a fan of the look, and the hat was absolutely ruining his hair, but it was only for a short while. Besides, graduation was a special day. He’d been so excited about it ever since high school ended. This was what they’d worked for.

Jono was waiting patiently in line for Mrs. Harding to begin the ceremony. Students were going to be announced in alphabetical order by surname, meaning Jono was quite close to the start, and the first of the pack in line.

Glancing behind, Jono caught eyes with Dylan. He was a few places behind, though Jono wishes they would be side by side. It was so strange to think that they were graduating together after all, because Jono had only just adapted to the idea of having to do it without him. Even in the months since the Lunar Sanctum was closed for good, Jono always remembered just how lucky he was to get Dylan back in his life. Months of hard work meant he was able to graduate on time, and they could both go off to college together. The future was bright, and it was so exciting.

“Good morning,” Mrs. Harding began, the chit-chat from both the students and their relatives in the audience immediately fizzling out, “What a year it’s been. It’s my pleasure to celebrate our departing twelfth grade students with you all today, and I’m sure you’re all just as proud as I am. Without further ado, let’s begin.”

Jono continued to wait patiently as the number of people in front of him slowly decreased. His turn was getting closer and closer. He shot one more glance back to a nervous Dylan, who smiled the cutest, most encouraging smile ever. That was all he needed.

“Jonathan Chadwick,” Mrs. Harding announced. This was it. Jono stepped up on stage and shook hands with Mrs. Harding, who flashed a proud smile. He looked down at the audience, trying to spot as many familiar faces as possible. Sammi and Jeremy were cheering the loudest, of course, while Caroline and Ed beamed proudly next to them. Lily looked like she was about to cry, which warmed Jono’s heart. She was always his biggest supporter.

Then he spotted a couple of extra faces at the very back. Clapping. Cheering. Supporting him.

His parents. The first time he had seen them in so long. Jono wasn’t sure how to feel, but his insides felt warm and cuddly. Perhaps he was happy to see them?

Jono took his seat in the audience, leaving a space so Dylan could sneak in next to him. The next couple of students passed, but Jono was only watching Dylan. He looked so dashing in his gown, and was clearly suffering the same hair qualms as Jono with the hat.

“Dylan Drummond,” Mrs. Harding continued. The crowd seemed to cheer extra loudly for Dylan – he was some sort of local celebrity after his return from the “dead.” Caroline was crying at the sight of Dylan shaking hands with Mrs. Harding. Jono loved the bond they both had, it was the most warm and homely thing ever. Of course, Jono made sure he was cheering as loudly as possible. Dylan deserved it more than anyone.

Making his way down from the stage, Dylan took his seat next to Jono. He looked overwhelmed, and a little relieved it was over, but he was clearly thrilled.

“I wish dad was here to see that,” Dylan confessed. Jono’s heart broke. He knew how much Dylan missed his dad, and even though he’d never met him before, Jono was sure he’d be so proud of his son. There was no reason not to be.

“He is. He’s watching over you and smiling, I bet,” Jono encouraged. Dylan nodded, resting his head on Jono’s shoulder. They had each other, above all else.

“Johnny Elliott,” Mrs. Harding announced. Johnny had no family of his own, so Jono and Dylan both made the effort to cheer extra loudly for him. They were his family.

“Yasmin Forsyth.” Jono spun around to spot Autumn. In typical form, Autumn kept her sunglasses on and remained dignified at all times, but the smile on her face said it all. He was so pleased Yasmin had finally settled at home; she had been through too much for anyone, let alone a teenager.

“Oscar Madden-Whelan.” Of course, Jono felt so proud to see Oscar on stage. He had made such huge progress in so many ways, notably adapting to his new werewolf life, and seeing Dylan watching him with the same pride warmed Jono’s heart.

“Joshua Rayner.” Caroline cried again. Josh had managed the same incredible turnaround as Dylan. They were so keen to begin the college experience together, as a pack, and Josh’s hard work had paid off. He’d succeeded.

“Frederick Ruben.” It wasn’t hard for Jono to spot George, who seemed to tower above much of the audience. He was sat next to Lily, and they were both so happy for him. Freddie himself looked chuffed too – Jono recalled a time where nobody knew if Freddie would ever settle into mainstream education, with the loss of his mum and his reluctance to take his medication. This was an insane achievement for him.

“Brett Sutton.” The last of the pack, but by no means the least. Johnny was of course the biggest supporter, and together, they were about to embark on a new journey. Brett wasn’t attending Crystalshaw County College like the rest of them. Jono was gutted he was veering away from the pack, but so pleased he’d found a true comfort in himself. Also among Brett’s supporters was Coach Singh and the rest of the basketball team. With a few stern words from Jono, Coach Singh had offered Brett an apology. Brett was the captain they deserved.

As the ceremony drew to a close, the pack huddled together. Everybody was in good spirits: those who had graduated as well as those who hadn’t. The atmosphere was unlike anything Jono had ever felt.

“I’m so proud of us,” Dylan beamed, “We did it. All of us.”

“The question is, is Crystalshaw County ready for the pack?” Josh laughed.

“We’re branching out, don’t forget,” Brett mentioned, “The real question is, is the world ready for the pack?” Jono laughed, but quickly, the mood lowered. Brett looked reflective and pensive. He was sad to be leaving them.

“Hey, you’re going to be near Drew,” Lily encouraged, noticing the vibe, “I’m sure he’ll keep you busy.” Brett nodded, taking it in his stride.

Jono was in such good spirits, but he couldn’t take his eyes off his parents. They were watching the pack, but keeping a distance. He tapped Lily on the shoulder – he wanted to talk to them, and he knew that deep down, she would too.

Sheepishly, Jono led the way over. He didn’t know what to say; it was so awkward. He’d spent so long thinking about what he’d say to them, but nothing felt right in the moment.

“Hi,” Helen smiled, tears already dripping down her cheeks. Whether they were happy or sad tears, Jono wasn’t sure.

“Hi,” Jono said back. Lily remained silent, not knowing what to say. Silence followed.

“Look, we’re here to say sorry, and to tell you both how proud you are of us,” Steve found the words, “And if you’ll let us, we’d like to make it up to you.”

“I thought we disgusted you,” Lily fired back.

“It’s not your fault,” Helen insisted, “We were wrong. You’re our kids, always.”

“What about Dylan? I thought you said it was his fault?” Jono asked the million-dollar question. He and Dylan were a package deal, and he wasn’t prepared for any animosity towards him.

“The same goes for Dylan. He’s family,” Steve affirmed, much to Jono’s delight.

“Okay,” Jono agreed, “I’m in.”

“Me too, for now,” Lily tentatively replied, taking Jono’s lead, “But I’m staying at the lakehouse.”

“Yeah, and I’m staying with Dylan,” Jono concurred. He’d become very fond of his new living situation.

“Okay, deal,” Helen smiled. It felt good to begin healing that wound. Somehow, everything felt right.

Though he was exhausted, Dylan couldn’t get over just how amazing his day had been. The graduation was incredible, even with the intense wave of emotions it brought with it. Seeing everybody together was so rewarding, especially as he was once prepared for graduation day to never come.

The icing on the cake was Jono’s reunion with his parents. Of course, forgiveness was going to take time, but Dylan knew it was a pressing issue on his mind. The smallest step towards resolution was amazing.

The rest of the day had been spent at the lakehouse for the after-party, of course curated and hosted by Lily. As the night approached, Dylan had crept outside to the dock for a little reflection. With high school over and college still a few weeks away, he finally had a chance to process his emotions and slow down.

There was so much to process, too. The past year had been insane. Lily spent much of it at college was strange at first – the pack had lost a member, even though she was only on the end of the phone. George had moved abroad to study, and Freddie had moved in with Dylan, making the household very busy, but Dylan would never have changed it. Yasmin and Josh were still separated, but they were friends again, much to Dylan’s relief. Sammi had struggled after Jamal, but seeing her and Jeremy get to know each other as twins at long last was rewarding after everything that had happened in the Sanctum. Brett had found himself, and overcome a whole heap of resistance from his peers, and Oscar was almost fully in control of his powers. Dylan was so proud of them all – he had the best friends ever.

“Hey,” Jono jogged over, “Gathering your thoughts?”

“How did you know?” Dylan chuckled. Jono took his shoes and socks off and dipped his toes into the lake.

“Psychic powers, duh,” Jono laughed, “Are you ready for college?”

“I’m trying not to think about it,” Dylan replied honestly, “I’m anxious, but sort-of excited I guess.”

“I’ll be there the whole way. I mean, we’re all living together on campus, that’s got to be cool,” Jono reassured in the kind, loving way he always did.

“Yeah, it’ll just take some getting used to,” Dylan admitted. Change was difficult.

“I get it,” Jono nodded, “Anyway, let’s live in the moment. It’s just you and me now, and that’s all we need, right?”

“Right,” Dylan confirmed, “Forever.” His lips met Jono’s, and Dylan felt at home. The future was on its way, and he couldn’t have been happier to be sharing it all with the man he loved more than anyone.

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