College beckons for Dylan and the pack, giving each of them the chance to start afresh. However, when a professor is drowned at a party, they soon realise that their old life may not be so easy to escape. What do Yasmin's increasingly vivid visions mean? How will Sammi and Jeremy cope at school alone?
With college beginning, the pack settle in to their new accommodation, though Dylan finds it difficult to adjust to his new surroundings. Jono attempts to help Dylan settle, but will he succeed? Meanwhile, Freddie struggles to move on from Sammi, and Sammi herself faces an unexpected problem at school.
Desperate to find the girl from the party, Freddie enlists Josh to help search. When a professor is found dead among a flooded restaurant, Yasmin's visions could provide a clue to the killer. Dylan finds the transition to college overwhelming, while Jeremy takes a huge step to trusting Felix, against Sammi's better judgement.
Courses begin for the pack, but there's immediate trouble when Lily finds a dead body in the lecture theatre. Dylan leads the investigation, hoping to find a link. Yasmin struggles with her increasingly vivid visions, while Josh spots strange behaviour in Freddie. Felix asks Sammi on a date, but what's his ulterior motive?
When Freddie vanishes, Dylan enlists the entire pack to help search, and an old memory unlocks a clue. Jono and Lily face their own demons in the form of their parents, Oscar makes a new friend, and Josh persuades Yasmin to try an alternative method of searching. Meanwhile, Sammi makes a crucial decision.
Stuck in a vision, Yasmin finds herself in more danger while trying to save Josh and Oscar. Freddie attempts to outrun Summer, but can Dylan reach him in time? Meanwhile, Sammi makes a decision on who she truly loves.
Using Yasmin's powers, Dylan takes Jono to see a long-lost familiar face, but it's not as easy as he thought. Freddie adjusts to life back in the dorm, convincing Oscar to take a leap. Sammi and Jeremy realise the worst case scenario has happened at school.
Taking advice and heading out on his first date, Oscar is blindsided by a new threat. Dylan and Lily notice strange behaviour in Jono, while Yasmin's enhanced visions catch up with her. Jeremy attempts to prove himself when school turns violent.
With Jono's life in the balance, Dylan takes matters into his own hands as he probes Summer for answers. Yasmin's visions intensify and Sammi is surprised when Jeremy asks for advice on romance.
Fighting a battle against the clock to save Jono's life, Dylan, Lily and Freddie devise a risky plan. Sammi looks for advice while Jeremy takes a stand. Yasmin pieces the information together - will she be able to help out in time? Can Jono be saved?
1: Clean Slate Written by MarthaJonesFan
The big day had finally come. So much planning had gone into making this the huge event it deserved to be, and Dylan felt so excited. It wasn’t often that he had the opportunity to give something back to his mum, but this day was all about her, and he felt so proud to be her son.
Caroline looked incredible, too. Her dress was perfect and suited her completely. The most important part was the smile on her face, though. It was wide, almost uncontrollable. Dylan recalled a time where he thought he may never have seen that smile again. Dylan’s dad remained a gigantic hole in both his and Caroline’s lives, but she deserved to find happiness again.
“Do you think he’d be upset?” Caroline questioned as they waited patiently behind the wooden doors. Evidently, she was thinking of the exact same thing. Proof that he could never be replaced.
“I think he’d be proud of you, mom. Just like I am,” Dylan nodded. His dad would have asked for nothing more than their happiness, and both of them had certainly found just that.
“My precious boy,” Caroline smiled, “I couldn’t be prouder of you if I tried.”
The music began. That was their cue. The wooden doors in front of them swung open dramatically, exposing the aisles of guests waiting patiently inside. To the familiar tune of the ‘Bridal Chorus,’ Dylan escorted his mum down the aisle. Glancing left and right, Dylan was so pleased to see so many familiar faces in attendance. Many of Caroline’s colleagues, and Ed’s deputies of course. Helen and Steve were there, as was George, but most pleasingly, the entire pack were sat right at the front. Jono’s beautiful face was waiting patiently for him on the front row. He looked so dashing in his suit. Dylan was so lucky.
Also looking dashing was Ed, wearing the finest suit Crystalshaw town had to offer as he watched in awe from the altar. Dylan took his place on the front row, in between Jono and Josh. The atmosphere among them was electric and powerful. The happiness was contagious.
Suddenly, it felt like Dylan’s entire journey up to that point had been worthwhile – every second of it.
Glancing around, taking in the sights, Dylan felt strange. The room was near-enough empty, completely lacking in homely warmth and character. It was strange to think it was basically going to be home for a while.
The only decorations the room had were a select few furnishings, most of which came in pairs: two ready-made beds, two wardrobes, two desks, and a single bedside table in the middle. All were necessary of course, but there was nothing Dylan found inspiring. It needed sprucing up.
“I cannot wait to stick some posters up on these walls,” Jono commented. Of course, he had come prepared with a stash of pictures and posters to add flavour to their new space. Naturally, they were sharing a room together, and it was so exciting. In fact, their entire living situation was pretty awesome, when Freddie, Josh, Lily, Alex, Yasmin and Oscar were the other occupants of this dorm.
“Shame the beds are separate,” Dylan coyly mentioned. He and Jono were more than a little used to sharing at night – single beds against opposing walls simply wasn’t good enough.
“Straight down to business, Mr. Drummond. I approve,” Jono smirked playfully. Instantly, Jono slid the bedside table out, while Dylan pushed the left bed towards the middle. Jono took charge of the bed on the right, and both beds slid together directly in the middle. Instantly, the room felt much cosier.
“Maybe we’ll have to try these beds out,” Jono teased.
“They’re gonna hear us,” Dylan thought practically, even though he was just as keen as Jono.
“You think they’re all gonna be celibate?” Jono debated. He had a fair point – college was no time for naivety. They deserved a little one-to-one time after the effort of dragging their suitcases around the ridiculously huge campus.
“Well I suppose a test run of the beds won’t be such a bad thing,” Dylan smirked, pressing his lips lovingly against Jono’s. He could never get bored of that sensation; it was so special. They climbed on top of their now-double bed, without breaking the kiss, grappling to remove each other’s t-shirts.
“Hey, I was wondering,” Yasmin strolled in. Dylan quickly broke away, trying and failing to look natural. An awkward silence ensued – Yasmin obviously knew what they were up to, and it wasn’t often she was left speechless, “…You know what, it’s not important.” She quickly backed up out of the room and pulled the door firmly shut behind her.
Dylan caught eyes with Jono as the awkward silence resumed. As if on cue, they burst out laughing, collapsing next to each other on the bed. There was no way to style out a moment like that. Embarrassing, but very funny.
“I think we need a knocking rule,” Jono giggled. Dylan caught eyes with him again, the laughter fizzling out as if it had run out of petrol. After a few seconds, Dylan resumed the kiss. After all, they definitely wouldn’t have been disturbed any time soon after that.
Blu-tacking a couple of photos of his family by the side of his bed, Oscar was keen to settle in to his new bedroom as quickly as possible. College was yet another huge change in his life, in what had been the busiest year ever. Moving school during senior year was one thing, becoming a werewolf was another. He was ready for some stability, but that wouldn’t come until he felt comfortable at college. Everything was new and strange, but at least he had his friends around him.
Wham! Yasmin rushed in; the door slamming way too hard behind her. She looked flustered, as if she’d seen something troubling.
“Where’s the fire?” Oscar queried, worried.
“No fire,” Yasmin replied, “But there’s a lot of heat next door.”
“Oh boy,” Oscar immediately knew what she meant. Dylan and Jono were clearly wasting no time in getting acquainted with their new beds, “I assume the beds have already been pushed together?”
“In record time,” Yasmin laughed, “I think I need brain bleach.”
Oscar knew he could laugh about anything with Yasmin. She was the first friend he made in Crystalshaw; she showed him the ropes at school, and now they could be there for each other at college.
“Look, are you sure you don’t mind sharing?” Oscar offered. Of course, it felt traditional for boys and girls to share with their own gender only.
“I mean, considering the two couples aren’t ever going to separate, my options are you or one of my two ex-boyfriends,” Yasmin playfully replied, “I trust you, Oscar, and I hope you’re comfortable trusting me.”
“Sure,” Oscar replied, “I guess you have nothing to worry about, you’re not exactly my type.” Yasmin laughed. They understood each other so clearly.
Without as much as a knock, Freddie breezed into the room. He looked flustered, as if he was going through the most stressful ordeal of his life.
“I can’t find anything. My phone’s on six percent, and my charger’s gone AWOL,” Freddie vented.
“Don’t panic,” Yasmin instantly reassured him, “Use mine for now. It’ll be around somewhere.”
“What if I left it at home? I knew I’d forgotten something,” Freddie continued to worry.
“Sammi’s coming to visit this week, don’t stress she can bring anything we forget,” Yasmin reassured, “Besides, we’re only twenty minutes away.”
“I’m not sure Sammi’s going to want to do me any favours,” Freddie panicked, his mood visibly becoming glummer.
“You need to talk to her, dude,” Oscar advised, “Nobody abruptly ditches you for no reason.”
“Except Sammi, clearly,” Freddie sighed.
“Besides, there are gonna be so many girls around,” Oscar encouraged, “Fresh start. We’ll be each other’s wingmen, alright?” Freddie smiled, clearly appreciating the motivation. It was a new chapter for everyone, and they had to make the best of it.
Though the mundane corridors of Crystalshaw High were completely unchanged, Sammi knew her final year of school was going to be quite unlike any other. Most of her friends had moved on to college, and suddenly, school felt like a huge and lonely place.
Sammi had never really connected with most people from her own classes. It didn’t really help that she couldn’t share the greatest, most significant part of her life with them, either. She couldn’t discuss werewolves. She couldn’t mention the real reasons her long-lost twin died and came back to life. It caused a disconnect.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Jeremy complained. At least she had her brother with her. The last members of Dylan’s pack left to defend Crystalshaw High.
“What’s up?” Sammi was confused – why was he complaining?
“Math first lesson,” Jeremy sighed, “AP Calculus.”
“Why did you pick it?” Sammi laughed.
“I need it for college,” Jeremy groaned. It felt weird to be making such big decisions for the future already; Sammi had spent so long selecting her high school classes.
“Only one more year,” Sammi encouraged, “Then we’ll be off to college with the others.”
“You’re missing them already, right?” Jeremy acknowledged. Sammi wasn’t sure how much she believed in the connection twins apparently shared, but Jeremy always seemed to know what she was feeling. Perhaps there was some truth to it?
“It feels so empty here. The bench shouldn’t have been that quiet. I keep expecting to see Josh mucking about, or Yasmin with five textbooks in her arms,” Sammi opened up.
“Or Freddie,” Jeremy brought up.
“Meh,” Sammi side-lined the thought. She didn’t want to discuss him and had already made that crystal clear.
“You can’t ignore him forever, Sammi,” Jeremy refused to give up. However, Sammi was equally as stubborn. They had met their matches.
“Watch me,” she smirked, strolling into Miss Asahd’s classroom. Inside was a mix of faces she knew well, and some she’d never been in class with before. New year, new classes. Sammi headed for the best seat that hadn’t been taken yet – third row, second from the left. As far back as she could get.
Jeremy nabbed the seat directly to her left. To her right was an empty set, and no matter who sat there come start of class, it would have remained blank as far as Sammi was concerned. After all, the seat’s eventual occupant was bound to completely ignore her too.
“Okay class, finish your conversations please,” Miss Asahd strutted in, immediately carrying an air of authority. She made math classes bearable; it always used to be Sammi’s least favourite, but nobody had a way with words quite like Miss Asahd. Everything sounded easy when she explained it.
Rocking up casually just after Miss Asahd was Sammi’s eye candy. His name was Felix, and he was the new basketball team captain. There was no doubt about it – he was no Brett. Brett was a keen motivator, passionate yet kind in his approach. Felix was driven, but almost too driven; it came across as if he were an arsehole.
Felix only had one potential seat left in the room. The desk to Sammi’s right. Darn. There was no way she could sneak a quick peek at his gorgeous face without making it obvious. Naturally, Felix slammed his book on the desk without even looking at Sammi. He didn’t care.
“Good morning. I’ve taught many of you before but for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Miss Asahd and I will be teaching AP Calculus this year,” the introduction began. Her attention already drifting, Sammi noticed Felix in the corner of her eye, swigging a drink of water. His free hand ran through his blonde shaggy locks. Sammi loved what she saw, yet hated that he’d obviously never look twice at her.
“For your first assignment, I’m placing you in groups of three,” Miss Asahd continued. Oh boy. A group of three. Sammi just knew she was going to hate that.
“Our first group is Sammi, Jeremy and Felix,” Miss Asahd listed. Sammi had never felt such a mixed set of emotions. Though Felix audibly sighed next to her, she was thrilled to have the chance to chat to him. Maybe this was her moment?
Making a cup of tea, Josh was struggling to locate everything he needed in the new kitchen. There were so many cupboards both high and low, and there wasn’t a single mug in sight. He was strangely close to making his tea in a wine glass.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” Lily directed him to the mug tree on the counter behind him. Typical. Hidden in plain sight.
“Starting as I mean to go on,” Josh laughed, styling it out. As he grabbed a mug, Josh examined the full view of the communal area. The kitchen was open-plan, connected to the spacious living area. After all, it had to house eight people. At the far end of the room were three sofas, all positioned at sensible angles facing a television. A large dining table was in the centre, big enough to fit more than eight people for sure. Josh loved how huge the place was, and how modern in design it was. Living with all of his friends was going to be awesome.
“I guess it’s kinda weird to be starting from scratch,” Lily made conversation. He knew Lily’s first attempt at college hadn’t turned out so well. Even at a new place, those feelings must still have been lingering.
“It can’t be any worse,” Lily nervously laughed, “I’m relieved I’m not doing it alone this time.”
“If you ever need anyone to talk to, feel free to come in and see me, if you’re comfortable with that, of course,” Josh offered. The entire pack had been so helpful to him whenever he needed it. Repaying the favour was the absolute least he could do.
“Definitely,” Lily smiled back.
“How’s my beautiful girl doing?” Alex strolled over. He looked elated and chirpy, more than anyone else in fact. Instantly, Lily’s face lit up too. It was like his positivity was spreading.
“Just helping Mr. Rayner find what’s in front of his eyes,” Lily smirked playfully.
“Hey, there’s no need to expose me,” Josh played along, a smile painted widely across his face. Alex was chuckling too; Josh loved seeing spirits raised high. It was a far cry from where they were at the start of the year.
“I spoke to Sindy, she said all is good, but she still hates us for leaving her,” Alex kept the tone light.
“She’s got Misha there, they don’t need us,” Lily replied, “I do miss her though. Nobody makes a cup of tea like Sindy.”
“Erm, excuse me?” Josh interrupted, pretending to be offended, “I’ll just make one for myself, then.”
“Oh, well I’m open to persuasion,” Lily winked. Josh laughed; nothing could have brought his mood down. His only concern was that good moods always had an expiration date.
Jono immediately loved the hustle and bustle of college life. Groups of people walking all over the gorgeously designed campus, laughing with each other and enjoying themselves. It was a positive atmosphere all around, and it was difficult to resist sharing in the vibe.
Crystalshaw College was relatively new. As a result, every building looked very modern. There were small shops and cafés dotted around, as well as quiet side rooms to study with computer access. Jono’s favourite part, though, was the amount of green space. It was perfect for picnics, chilling out by the nearby lake, or even studying when the sun was in a favourable mood. He just knew he’d be spending so much time outside.
While Jono was wide-eyed at all he could see, Dylan seemed more reserved. Together, they had decided to spend the afternoon exploring and making the most of the free time they had before lectures began. Jono hated seeing Dylan feeling low. He wanted to do everything in his power to put his mood back on the right track.
“Something tells me you’re a million miles away,” Jono probed.
“No, not at all,” Dylan unconvincingly replied. He was the worst liar.
“And in reality?” Jono continued. He wasn’t giving up that easily.
“I feel strange, like I shouldn’t be here,” Dylan confessed.
“How do you mean?” Jono dug deeper, listening carefully to what Dylan had to say.
“So much happened at school. Werewolf stuff, you know? It was like a hotspot,” Dylan explained, “And we’re not there to stop it anymore.”
“Dyl, you can’t go and take another year of school,” Jono replied, half-jokingly.
“I know, but what if something happens? I know we’re not miles away, but it’ll still be too late by the time we get there,” Dylan continued, “I feel useless.”
“Sammi and Jeremy have school covered,” Jono assured, “Crystalshaw can’t rely on you forever. Dylan Drummond deserves to move on with his life. Crystalshaw will be fine.”
Jono could see Dylan was pondering on what he’d said. He couldn’t disagree. They had their own lives to live, and they deserved a fresh start.
“Hey, I know what will help,” Jono continued.
“Chocolate?” Dylan hopefully replied as they passed a snack shop.
“Well, duh,” Jono laughed, “But something else too. We should join a society. Find some people who share common interests with us.”
“Okay, but what?” Dylan seemed genuinely unsure. Their lives had been chaotic since they met; downtime was a rare treat.
“Big Brother?” Jono joked.
“Don’t deny it, that would actually be amazing,” Dylan smiled. Jono loved that his mood was already picking up. He was doing his job just right.
“You’d just want to discuss how hot Tyler is,” Jono sussed. Dylan nodded in agreement – he knew he was right. After all, long curly hair was Dylan’s weakness.
“That’s it,” Dylan realised, “LGBTQ+. They must have a society for that, right?”
“Almost definitely,” Jono looked enthusiastic, “I think someone else might be interested in that, too.”
“Oscar?” Dylan presumed, “Sure, it’d be great.” Dylan and Oscar had become very close friends over the summer, both through socialising and werewolf tips. Oscar’s wolf was well-controlled, and the full moons were getting easier and easier to manage. Jono loved to see it; it meant a lot that Dylan had made such an effort with him. The three musketeers.
The day was dragging. Lunchtime was never-ending. Sammi was bored. She missed having company at the bench. All of the laughter and banter that used to occur. It just wasn’t the same without the pack, not that Jeremy was bad company by any means. The Lunar Sanctum had taught her never to take her brother for granted.
Sammi just wasn’t feeling the motivation to learn. School felt like her last priority. She had seen so much that others her age couldn’t even comprehend. Not to mention what happened to Jamal. She had killed him, and there was no escaping that. He may have been evil and nasty, and surely seconds away from killing Freddie, she was still haunted by his face. It was like she was being punished.
“Sammi?” Jeremy grabbed her attention. She had drifted into her head, not for the first time that day.
“Sorry, what did you say?” Sammi zoned back in.
“Are you okay? You’re so distant today,” Jeremy realised.
“I don’t know. I feel weird,” Sammi sighed.
“What’s the matter?” Jeremy enquired, keen to help.
“Where to start?” Sammi sighed, “My friends have left, I’m single, and I’m being taunted by my own head with the ghost of the person I killed.”
“Shit,” Jeremy paused. Sammi could tell from his pensive facial expression that he was considering his response, “I guess, breaking up with Freddie…”
“Dude,” Sammi sighed. She didn’t know how to make her feelings about Freddie any clearer. Discussion was still off the table.
“I can’t help if I don’t know what’s happening,” Jeremy insisted.
“Alright, whatever,” Sammi caved in, hoping it would get him to leave the subject alone, “I can barely cope in my own head right now. It’s not good for Freddie to be around me. He deserves a fresh start.”
Jeremy paused again. Sammi took a deep breath. She was letting her emotions consume her, and that wasn’t good. The only problem was that control was getting tougher.
“Look, it’s your life, you’re in charge, but I’ve learnt first-hand that you can’t afford to take anything for granted, because it can be snatched away in an instant,” Jeremy advised. Sammi paused, thinking. He had a point, but it wasn’t fair to string Freddie along. He didn’t deserve that.
“What’s up nerds?” Felix slammed his bag on the bench and sat himself next to Jeremy. Sammi could have done without whatever he was going to say – eye candy was better kept silent.
“Hi,” Jeremy replied, putting on a friendly smile for Felix’s sake.
“So, when are we starting this math assignment shit?” Felix enquired. Sammi was taken aback; she wasn’t expecting any productivity out of him.
“Err, tonight, round ours,” Sammi found herself suggesting before she could stop herself, “You know where we live, right?”
“Yeah, big house, can’t miss it. I’ll see you there,” Felix smiled kindly. Sammi was actually impressed – perhaps there was more to Felix than she realised?
Feeling apprehensive, Dylan wasn’t sure what to expect from the LGBTQ+ society. He loved the idea, but what was it going to entail? He’d never been a part of a club or group like that before. Uncertainty always made him nervous, and college was a gigantic avalanche of uncertainty.
The club was taking place in one of the small study rooms. It had an array of chairs arranged in a circle, with tea, coffee and a selection of treats laid out. A small crowd of people were inside already, the total almost doubling with the arrival of Dylan, Jono and Oscar.
“This seems cosy,” Jono commented.
“Yeah,” Dylan concurred. He still felt nervous, but it was nice to see how casual everyone was. Nobody had dressed up for a special event, it was simply casual and relaxed, and Dylan was relieved.
“I’m gonna get some cookies,” Oscar mentioned, spying the snack table. Dylan couldn’t even think about snacks, though; his stomach was too busy performing somersaults.
“Hey, welcome,” one of the attendees approached. They were pretty, with long, flowing auburn hair straight down her back. The most comforting part about them, though, was their comforting and welcoming smile. It was kind and genuine, and Dylan felt better just for seeing it,” What are your names and pronouns?”
“I’m Jono, this is Dylan, and over there, that’s Oscar,” Jono took the lead, as he always did in a social situation. It happened like clockwork without Dylan ever having to ask, “Pronouns are he and him for all three of us.”
“Awesome. I’m Alora, pronouns they and them,” Alora introduced. Dylan loved how open everyone could be about their pronouns – inclusivity was important, and he wished it was more prevalent everywhere.
“Nice to meet you,” Jono smiled kindly.
“Let’s grab a seat, apparently there’s a lot of demand so we there may not be enough seats,” Alora explained. Dylan sat next to Jono, who was in between him and Alora. The chairs weren’t the most comfortable, but Dylan couldn’t complain, “How do you two know each other?”
“Dylan’s my boyfriend,” Jono answered proudly. That word still carried so much weight for Dylan. It made him feel so happy.
“Sweet, how long have you been together?” Alora queried.
“Almost three years,” Dylan replied, feeling comfortable enough to join the conversation.
“Aw, a high-school romance, I love that,” Alora gushed, “My girlfriend went to a different college. You’re really lucky to be here together.”
Dylan nodded, knowing it was true. He was so fortunate to have Jono. He made every situation five hundred times more bearable. He’d never take that for granted.
No matter how hard he tried, Freddie just couldn’t get into the party mood. Lily had insisted in them all attending the freshers' welcome party, hosted in what would usually be a communal restaurant area. It made for a perfect party space, with a large dancefloor, but Freddie wasn’t feeling it. The music was too loud and the dancefloor was too crowded, so he’d made himself comfortable at one of the side-tables. He wished he was curled up in bed.
It wasn’t that he didn’t like college so far. The dorm he shared with the pack was beautiful. It was well-worth hacking the system to ensure they were all placed together. The source of Freddie’s sadness was Sammi. He knew he’d be separated from her at college, but he at least assumed they’d remain a couple. Long-distance could have worked for a year until she joined them.
The truth was, Freddie could guess why Sammi dumped him, and he wasn’t annoyed. She’d been through a traumatic event with Jamal, and she hadn’t been the same after that. Freddie just wished he could have broken down her walls to help her, instead of being pushed out.
“Come on, dude, dance with me,” Josh attempted to persuade him.
“I’m not feeling it,” Freddie remained firm, preferring the comfort of his table.
“It’s a new start for all of us, don’t miss out,” Josh persevered. Annoyingly, he was right. There was no more perfect opportunity to start a clean slate. Sammi was old news, and she wasn’t there at college. Perhaps he had to take a step in the right direction?
“Alright, just for a little bit,” Freddie gave in, Josh already pulling him from his chair by the wrists. Together, they joined Lily in the middle of the dancefloor. Some mindless dance track was playing, pulsating synths blaring out any hope of conversation.
Freddie surprised himself, quickly getting into the groove. He, Josh and Yasmin danced together, and for a moment, all of his worries seemed to evaporate. All that mattered were his friends. Lily and Alex were dancing side-by-side, Dylan and Jono were awkwardly bopping on the outskirts, and Oscar had found a couple of boys to dance against. Everyone was enjoying themselves in just the way they wanted to.
In the corner of his eye, Freddie spotted a girl. Not just any girl, but one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She had long, flowing blonde hair all the way down to her waist. Her skin was flawless, and she was dressed in the most impeccable sea blue dress. What’s more was that she was looking directly at him, as if she were inviting him over. An invitation Freddie didn’t want to decline.
Carefully manoeuvring through the busy dancefloor, Freddie landed just in front of her. Instantly, she wrapped her arms around his waist, without a word being spoken between them. The electricity in the air said everything, anyway.
Freddie gazed into the girl’s eyes. They were a gorgeous bluey-green, and Freddie could have gotten lost in them forever. The room may as well have been empty in that moment; Freddie didn’t care about anyone else.
Suddenly, her eyes glowed. A gorgeous bright sea blue, much like Yasmin’s. Maybe she was a nix? Freddie glared his vibrant yellow eyes back, proving his trust. He had a good feeling about this. All of a sudden, he didn’t want the night to end.
Not having checked her phone in a while, Sammi was surprised to notice the time. The evening had gone very fast, which meant only one thing – she had actually enjoyed Felix’s company. The math project wasn’t especially strenuous, so they had spent most of the evening laughing with each other. It was a side of Felix she had never seen before.
For a while, too, Sammi had been able to brush her worries aside. She hadn’t thought about werewolves, or Jamal, or even Freddie at all. It was liberating to have a distraction, even if it was bound to be temporary.
“Mrs. Johnson totally caught me chewing gum,” Felix laughed.
“Oh boy, there’s nothing she hates more,” Sammi recalled.
“I bet she lost it,” Jeremy added.
“She flipped. I got detention that night and she made me scrape off everyone’s disgusting dried gum from underneath the tables,” Felix shared. Sammi winced at the thought; the underside of every table in the school was coated in gum, and it was rancid.
“No way,” Jeremy’s face curled up in disgust. The laughter fizzed out for a moment, silence filling the gap it left behind. Conversation had worn out.
“You know, you’re both cooler than I thought,” Felix complimented.
“Thanks, I think,” Sammi chuckled, “You too, for what it’s worth.”
“People talk a lot, not so much about you two, but about your friends,” Felix explained, “So much weird stuff happened with them. They missed so much school, and the rumours are wild.”
“Rumours?” Sammi played dumb. She knew the unspoken secrets of Crystalshaw High. Werewolves were hidden in plain sight. People talked, but with no proof, it could never escalate.
“Werewolves. People say they’ve seen glowing eyes and sharp fangs. It sounds stupid,” Felix continued.
“Very,” Jeremy agreed, keeping their cover. After all, he was the one at risk of being exposed. He had the most to lose.
“But I think I believe it,” Felix dropped the bombshell. Sammi’s heart sped up, stressing her out. Damage control was imperative.
“Really?” she tried deflecting. Jeremy looked worried. He wasn’t sure what to say.
“Yeah. Werewolves exist, I know it,” Felix remained firm. Sammi was speechless. She didn’t know what to do.
2: Safety Net Written by MarthaJonesFan
Wrapped up cosily in bed, Freddie didn’t want to get up. He was in no rush, and his mind was still processing the night before. It felt like a wild dream, as if it had come and gone within a second.
Before Freddie could find anything out about who the girl was, she had vanished. No goodbye, no introduction, nothing. He had no idea how to find her again, either, but Freddie was absolutely sure he would. Something as special as that couldn’t be so brief.
“Oi, lazy bones,” Josh threw a pillow at Freddie. He was already up and about, making full use of his werewolf healing powers to swerve the hangover.
“What? What’s the rush?” Freddie groaned.
“It’s a new day, I’m not wasting a second of this free time before lectures,” Josh harped on. Freddie didn’t care, though. He only had one thing on his mind.
“I’m not feeling it,” Freddie rolled over to face away from him.
“What? Come on, you were living your best life last night,” Josh encouraged, trying his best.
“Exactly, now today is one big bump back down to earth,” Freddie sighed.
“You didn’t get her number? Dude, that’s dating 101, I can’t believe it,” Josh replied, disappointed.
“She vanished, it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t even find out her name,” Freddie felt deflated.
“The thrill of the chase,” Josh excitedly plonked himself down at the foot of Freddie’s bed.
“She wants me to track her down?” Freddie was confused, “Why didn’t she just tell me her name? That would have been so easy.”
“Who told you girls were easy?” Josh laughed, “Neither of us have had much luck with girls, dude. Not even the same girl.” Of course; Freddie found it so strange that both he and Josh had dated Yasmin. Freddie and Yasmin as a couple felt like ancient history – their friendship was solely platonic, and it was all the better for it.
“So, how do I find her?” Freddie pondered, feeling lost.
“You’re a werewolf. Track her scent,” Josh suggested.
“You think I caught any sort of scent last night? There were hundreds in the room, and still all I could smell was alcohol,” Freddie felt exasperated. He was out of options.
“Well, lucky for you I haven’t actually decided what to do today,” Josh persisted, “Get ready. We’re finding your girl.”
Freddie wasn’t sure what to expect. Would they be able to find her? Was he getting his hopes up? Freddie knew he probably was, but he was going to try his best. He had nothing to lose.
There was nothing Lily enjoyed more than a quiet stroll first thing in the morning. Fresh air helped her gather her thoughts, and she had a load of crazy thoughts racing through her mind since restarting college. Arriving brought mixed emotions; a fresh start was exciting, and there was the potential for so many amazing things to happen. Not to mention how Lily was now surrounded by all of her friends, as well as Jono.
On the other hand, Lily’s only prior college experience hadn’t been so positive. Travelling far away was supposed to be her great moment of independence, where she truly got to be the person she wanted to be. Ultimately, she had jumped into the deep end and the current was too strong. It was true – packs were stronger together.
At least it hadn’t been a complete waste of time. She had made friends for life in Sindy and Misha, and they had spent the best summer together at the lakehouse. The mission had mainly been to distract Misha from everything that had happened with Monroe and Jamal, and it turned into the most brilliantly therapeutic couple of months. It felt slightly weird that they were continuing on at Washington while Lily had transferred.
Thankfully, she had Alex with her. The best part of her college experience had been meeting him, and now they were stronger than ever. Living together at the lakehouse had given her the dose of independence she so desperately wanted.
“It’s so pretty here,” Jono commented, examining the sights around campus. Lily had vowed to spend more time with Jono, seeing as they were living together for the first time in a year. Dylan had tagged along too, which Lily didn’t mind. He was family, and quite frankly, she was closer to him than most of her blood relatives.
“Just wait until the parties really start. Beer cans will decorate every sidewalk,” Lily reminisced, thinking about the state of Washington after freshers’ week.
“Probably from your parties,” Dylan called out. Lily blushed, knowing he was spot on. Their graduation party over the summer was the only event she’d hosted in ages. She missed hosting deeply; it was the time when she felt most at home.
“I hope it doesn’t end like this one,” Jono pointed ahead to the restaurant, which had served as the venue for the freshers’ party the night before. However, it didn’t inspire positive memories from the night before. Police tape guarded the entrance, and two deputies stood either side. Ed’s sheriff car was parked outside. Something bad had happened. A shiver travelled down Lily’s spine.
“What the hell?” Lily was gobsmacked.
“Can you smell that?” Jono wondered. Lily paid attention to her nose. There was a strange, damp scent in the air, quite unlike anything or anyone she’d met before.
“Something weird is going on. Come on, let’s speak to Ed,” Dylan suggested. Lily couldn’t deny it – she was intrigued.
Watching Sammi fret was making Jeremy anxious. She already had enough on her plate; Jamal had knocked her for six, and the break-up with Freddie was affecting her more than she was letting on. So much had changed, and Jeremy understood. Neither of them had experienced any level of normality in a long time.
Jeremy couldn’t lie – he really missed the pack, too. They weren’t far away, but when he had school and they had college, social visits weren’t going to be the priority. It was like a barrier had been raised between them, and he and Sammi were on their own.
“What if he tells people?” Sammi panicked. It was all they had discussed that day. Felix had left quite the impression on them, and it wasn’t a positive one.
“He doesn’t know what I am. We didn’t confirm anything,” Jeremy attempted to reassure her, but he was also trying to convince himself, “He’s just speculating, like most people do. He was right, there are rumours.”
“What if he tries to get proof, though? He thinks we’re the key, but we’re more than that. You’re more than that,” Sammi worried.
“Then we keep him close. He wanted to be friends, so let’s be friends. If we’re his friends, he won’t want to cause any harm,” Jeremy decided, “Perhaps he’s better off knowing my secret?”
“No way, are you for real? We don’t know this guy at all,” Sammi panicked further.
“Exactly. This way, we keep control, we tell him on our terms, and nothing more needs to be done,” Jeremy reasoned. It was the key skill he had learnt from Dylan during their time in the Lunar Sanctum – they had to remain optimistic.
“Hey guys,” Felix grinned excitedly, joining them at the bench, “What’s up?”
“Hey,” Jeremy smiled back. Already, he was putting his plan into action. Keeping Felix on their good side could be just the solution to containing the rumours.
“I spent last night doing loads of research,” Felix dived straight in, continuing the previous night’s discussion. He slid a folder out of his rucksack and shoved it down on the table. Jeremy flicked through it, seeing printouts of werewolf mythologies from various websites. Half of the myths were completely inaccurate, of course.
“What are you going to do with all that?” Sammi nervously queried. She still seemed tentative over the plan.
“Prepare ourselves. Knowledge is power, right?” Felix justified. In his eyes, it made perfect sense, but he only knew half the story. He had put two and two together to get five, and he needed to know most werewolves were not a threat to him.
“Maybe we don’t need to?” Jeremy found himself saying. This was it. This was the crucial moment.
“Why not?” Felix enquired. Sammi shot him a worried glance, but Jeremy knew he was doing the right thing. After all, it was his life, and he needed to be in control of it.
“Because I’m a werewolf,” Jeremy revealed, glowing his eyes. Felix’s face was a picture – pure confusion, shock, and strangely, a load of excitement. The secret was out, and Jeremy wasn’t sure how to feel. He was placing his trust in a stranger, and it could easily backfire.
Grabbing the carton of milk out of the now-packed fridge, Yasmin was surprised by how quiet the dorm was. It was part of a tall, wide building with various floors and dorm rooms, so she’d expected a lot of noise. She supposed it was the effect of a hangover from the freshers’ party, but even her own dorm was perfectly tranquil.
Most of the pack seemed to have gone out. A quick scout-around the house revealed Oscar and Alex were the only two at home, and Alex was still sleeping; the downsides of not having werewolf healing powers. Surprisingly, even Freddie and Josh seemed to have gone out. It wasn’t like them to be up and about so early when they didn’t need to be.
“Bathroom’s free,” Oscar notified. Each bedroom had an en suite, and Oscar was using it to get dressed, allowing each of them a level of privacy. So far, sharing with Oscar was going pretty well.
“Thanks, I’m not in a rush. Trying to enjoy not having to study or get up early for a few more days,” Yasmin informed.
“I thought you’d be raring to go,” Oscar chuckled.
“Sort of,” Yasmin tentatively answered, “I suppose I’m enjoying the relaxation. This is the most chilled I’ve been since…” She tailed off, not sure of the best way to phrase her sentence.
“Since you met Dylan?” Oscar understood. He got it in one – her life changed when she met Dylan, and at the time, she had no idea.
“Right,” Yasmin smiled knowingly, “I’m not complaining. My life is different in just about every way, except the bad luck in the dating department.” She laughed, and Oscar did too. Humour and self-deprecation were always the best ways to cope, Yasmin found, “Without Dylan, I’d probably never have spoken to Jono, or Lily, or Freddie, or Josh. My dad would have murdered so many more werewolves. Anything bad that’s happened to me, I can deal with, because I’ve gained so much from meeting Dylan. I’ve gained my best friends.”
“Same,” Oscar agreed, “I don’t know what I’d have done in Crystalshaw without you all. Becoming a werewolf? That’s a small price to pay.”
“Do you ever think about how normal life would look?” Yasmin wondered. It was something she thought about more often than she’d care to admit. Normality was a strange fantasy, and not something she ever envisioned she’d have.
“I don’t think I’ve ever known normality,” Oscar considered, “I had friends at my old school, but we were definitely the outsiders. Nobody would have called us normal.”
“Normality’s boring,” Yasmin affirmed, “That’s always what I’ve decided. Our lives are dangerous, but they’re exciting. We get to see what nobody else in the world sees. You can’t tell me that’s not awesome.”
Oscar smiled. Yasmin admired the kindness in his eyes. Even the supernatural world couldn’t take that away from him.
Suddenly, Yasmin was no longer in the room. In the blink of an eye, she found herself in the restaurant, where the party had taken place. This time, though, it was empty. The decorations were up, the food and drink were out, the music was playing, but not a guest in sight. Yasmin knew exactly what was going on. The nix was trying to tell her something, and it was important she paid attention.
Appearing directly in front of her, in the centre of the dancefloor, was an older man. He immediately looked wise, wearing round spectacles and, oddly, striped pyjamas. He must have been a professor at the college.
“Hello?” Yasmin nervously greeted. She knew how to treat a vision – probing for clues was the best skill she had.
“You’re a nix,” he simply said. His facial expression remained vacant. It was clear; he was dead.
“How is that relevant?” Yasmin made sure to ask the right questions. Visions weren’t meet-and-greets with the dead. Sympathy was a waste of time.
“You are similar,” he added. Nothing made sense. Similar to a nix? What did he mean?
“Who is?” Yasmin considered her next question.
“My killer,” he coldly answered. His mouth began to trickle water, followed by his nose. Quickly, water started to ooze out of every possible exit. It was a horrifying sight; Yasmin felt sick.
Back in the dorm. Oscar was staring worriedly at her, not sure what to do. Yasmin was shaken. Her premonitions were never unfounded, but were always so vague.
“What happened?” Oscar desperately questioned.
“Something bad,” Yasmin gravely answered. Something more was going on.
Half an hour down, Josh was getting sick of knocking on dorm doors asking about an unnamed girl with the vaguest description ever. It was tedious, and so far, they hadn’t even gotten close to finding her. However, this was for Freddie. A chance at giving back to his best friend. It was the least he could do.
After all, Freddie had gone so far to help Josh out. In the darkest hour, Freddie had never stopped fighting for him. He was the first to forgive the horrifying things Josh had done under David’s spell. He owed Freddie everything.
“Nothing,” Freddie rejoined Josh at the top of the staircase. They had exhausted all options. There were no more dorms left.
“Maybe she doesn’t study here? Anyone can get in,” Josh pondered. As much as he wanted to make the most of his free time, Freddie was priority. He deserved his full attention.
“It’s hopeless. I wish I’d never seen her. It got my hopes up. Just another disappointment,” Freddie was disheartened. It only made Josh more determined to succeed.
“Maybe we just need more details? Think, was there anything else?” Josh probed.
“Glowing eyes aside, no,” Freddie casually murmured. Way too casually for such an important piece of information.
“Glowing eyes? She’s a werewolf? Dude, this is important, all we had to do was howl,” Josh groaned. They could have saved so much hassle.
“No, they were light blue, like Yasmin’s. I think she was a nix,” Freddie pondered.
“I thought nixes were rare. Yasmin’s never met another like her before,” Josh recalled. In fact, even the Bestiary barely had any information on nixes.
“I know, but there she was, I’m sure of it,” Freddie confirmed.
“Does she know who you are?” Josh queried.
“I think so. I glowed my eyes back. She knows I’m not human at least,” Freddie explained.
“Okay, so it’s fair to assume she knows you know what she is,” Josh tried his best to piece the information together.
“Huh?” Freddie was lost. Josh couldn’t exactly blame him, either.
“She’ll be waiting somewhere she knows you’ll look,” Josh thought, “Where can you find a nix?”
“By water,” Freddie knew, “There’s a lake a couple of minutes away.”
“Come on then, Romeo,” Josh smiled. He was desperately hoping that his theory was correctly. Freddie deserved good news.
Being the stepson of Crystalshaw’s sheriff certainly carried its perks for Dylan. It meant that none of the deputies even thought about challenging him when entering a crime scene. In fact, a couple even said hello to him. It made investigating supernatural goings-on surprisingly easy.
The summer had been rather uneventful after the Lunar Sanctum closed down. Though Monroe threatened an army, none of them had showed up, and Dylan had enjoyed a quiet few months as a result. Adjusting to the end of high school was weird, so Dylan appreciated the time he spent with both friends and family, even if those lines had very much blurred.
One thing Dylan couldn’t forget was Caroline’s bittersweet facial expression from the day before. She and Ed had helped them move in, dropping Freddie and Josh while Jono drove Dylan down in his cosy little car. Though Caroline was undoubtedly proud, she looked so disappointed to be losing not just her sons, but Jono and Freddie too. They were a unit, and Dylan was grateful for each and every one of them.
“What’s happened?” Lily was horrified at the state of the restaurant. Dylan was taken aback, too. It looked a complete state, and not because of the littered plastic cups decorating the laminate floor. The room had been flooded with water, just a couple of centimetres high, but enough to be ruining Dylan’s new shoes. Most worryingly, though, was the dead body in the centre. A man, lying face down, with greying hair and long pyjamas.
“I saw him last night,” Jono recognised, gobsmacked, “He was supervising. He’s a professor.”
“Who would kill a professor?” Lily wondered.
“I think the bigger question is where did this water come from? This isn’t a leak, there’s too much for that,” Dylan considered. It wasn’t adding up.
“Look who it isn’t,” Ed walked in with a proud smile on his face. It had only been twenty-four hours since Dylan last saw him, but it felt amazing to be reunited. It had been an emotionally exhausting day, and familiarity was very much welcomed.
“Hey,” Dylan smiled back, hugging Ed tightly.
“How did I know you’d find your way here?” Ed remarked.
“Just checking you’re doing your job,” Dylan joked, “What’s happened?”
“Hard to say,” Ed replied, “The CCTV is bust, and there were no witnesses despite the freakin’ party.”
“This place was heaving, even when we left,” Lily added, “Surely someone saw something?”
“Look at his clothes,” the ever-observant Jono pointed out. His journalistic eye was second to none. He was right, too. The professor wasn’t wearing the evening suit Dylan remembered seeing him in. The pyjamas were quite the contrast – bright and stripy, with slippers on his feet.
“No wonder nobody saw. This can’t have happened during the party. He came back,” Dylan pieced it together.
“But why? We still don’t know what did this,” Lily queried. She was right – nothing made any sense.
“Guys,” Yasmin rushed in, Oscar trailing behind. She skidded to a halt, noticing the state of the room.
“You saw him, didn’t you?” Dylan identified. He knew a Yasmin vision when he saw one, “Who is he?”
“Yes, and I don’t know, but water trickled out of his body. He said the killer is similar to me,” Yasmin relayed.
“A nix?” Dylan wondered. Nixes weren’t usually killers – they predicted deaths, they didn’t cause them.
“No, similar. Not the same,” Oscar observed, “What’s like a nix?”
“I know how we can find out,” Dylan thought, whipping out his phone. The downside of living so far away from Crystalshaw.
Sammi had suspected it would only be a matter of time before Dylan called on her for help. Quite why he didn’t take the Bestiary with him, Sammi didn’t understand. All they needed to do was photocopy it – one for college and one for the lakehouse.
Though she was happy to help out, Sammi felt flustered. She didn’t think her day could be any crazier than the last, but it was certainly well on its way. Jeremy telling Felix the truth was such a risky move. They didn’t know how trustworthy he was, and now their greatest secret was in his hands.
No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t shake Felix off. He was like a dog with a bone, understandably considering Jeremy’s bombshell. However, they had a job to do, and they needed to reach the lakehouse. The Bestiary was kept there, and Sammi wasn’t sure she wanted Felix to know about it. After all, it was their only copy, and if anything happened to it, they were screwed.
“Is this where the pack lives?” Felix excitedly interrogated. Sammi had never seen him so giddy before; he was usually the most chilled-out person around.
“No, it’s where my cousin usually lives, when she’s not at college,” Sammi answered. The lakehouse was Lily’s domain, but she didn’t live alone. Of course, she had Alex, and George moved in when he returned from London alongside his girlfriend, Mia. It was the strangest living arrangement Sammi had ever heard of. The boyfriend, the ex, and his new girlfriend. All things considered, it was strangely harmonious, “Just…don’t say a word and let us get on with it.”
As if dealing with Felix wasn’t bad enough, Sammi hadn’t seen George since she broke up with Freddie, and Mia knew nothing of the supernatural world. This was going to be awkward as hell.
“Oh, hey,” George poked his head out from the living room as the front door clicked shut. He didn’t look so pleased to see Sammi, but she wasn’t getting into that. An awkward silence followed. Sammi didn’t know how to follow that.
“I’m Felix, by the way,” Felix broke the silence. So much for keeping quiet.
“Who’s he?” George interrogated.
“Nobody,” Sammi swerved.
“Oh, I thought I could hear voices,” Mia came downstairs. Sammi had met Mia a few times now and she was super nice, though extremely protective of George. She was a social butterfly, much like Lily in fact. George clearly had a type, “Hey guys.”
“Hi Mia,” Jeremy spoke up, noticing Sammi’s awkwardness, “We just need to find a textbook that we left behind over the summer. Mrs. Johnson will go crazy if we don’t give it back.”
Smart. Sammi admired Jeremy’s quick-thinking. She supposed he’d learnt that after years of being shrouded from the world by their dad. He needed quick-thinking to escape.
“Sure, take as long as you need,” Mia smiled, bouncing into the front room, taking George’s attention away from Sammi.
“Woah, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife,” Felix remarked.
“Dude, shut up,” Sammi groaned. However, she needed to put the animosity aside. Dylan needed her, and that was her only priority.
Nervously approaching the lake, Freddie had butterflies swarming around in his stomach. He so desperately wanted to get lucky and find the mystery girl he had fallen so quickly for. It was hard to explain why he felt how he did, but he could only describe it as electric. He hadn’t felt this way about anyone before.
It wasn’t that he didn’t care for Sammi any longer, but it was like he no longer cared about the end of their relationship. This sensation was new. Freddie had never felt more spellbound by anything or anyone.
The sun was reflecting off the gorgeous blue lake, surrounded by crisp green grass. It looked so beautiful, like a child’s painting. Freddie had never seen an area so gorgeous. It was the perfect setting.
“There she is,” Josh pointed. Sure enough, he was right. The same girl, bathing in the shallow lake, singing loudly yet delicately to a song Freddie didn’t recognise. Her beautiful golden locks were flowing down her back even when wet, and her natural bluey-green eyes shone brightly in the sunlight. She was just as breath-taking as Freddie remembered.
Turning around, her drenched hair flicking sprinkles of water behind her, she immediately fixed eyes on Freddie. She stopped singing and smiled invitingly, but Freddie was nervous. He didn’t want to mess it up.
“Go, you got this,” Josh encouraged. That was the push Freddie needed. Cautiously and sheepishly, he neared the girl, pausing at the head of the lake.
“Don’t be afraid,” she invited him into the water. This was the first time Freddie had heard her speak.
“I’ll get my clothes wet,” Freddie worried. Without saying anything more, the girl slowly moved her arms to the side, brushing them away from her body. Directly in sync, the water parted, like two invisible barriers had been built. Freddie was amazed. He jumped down onto the bone-dry sea bed, standing eye-to-eye with her.
“I’m Summer,” she introduced. At last, he knew her name.
“Freddie,” he replied.
“A cute name for a cute boy,” she replied, placing her damp hand on his cheek. Freddie had never experienced such elation before. This was exactly what he dreamed of.
“I thought I’d never find you again,” Freddie revealed.
“I told you all you needed to know to track me down,” Summer replied. She was immaculately spoken, and her voice was one of wisdom and experience, “And here you are. An intelligent beta is the strongest of its kind.”
“That’s what my alpha taught. Violence is a last resort,” Freddie mentioned, “And you’re a nix?”
“You’ve seen my kind before?” Summer looked surprised.
“My friend is one, though I’m not sure she can do this,” Freddie pointed at the impressive water barricades.
“It’s about learning. A nix can do so much,” she answered, “A bit like this.” Summer placed her calm, soothing lips on Freddie’s. It was the most magical kiss ever. Freddie had waited all day for this moment. It was everything.
Taking a breather outside the restaurant, Dylan was overwhelmed. He was certain that something bad was happening, and he’d only been at college for two days. It was like trouble had followed him away from Crystalshaw town and into the college. Was his mere presence enough to cause death? He felt cursed.
Though Dylan had seen so many different supernatural creatures, he felt more exposed at college. He knew the safe places at home. His bedroom, the treehouse, the lakehouse, the school, Jono’s house, and he could go on. College was new, and Dylan barely knew his way around. There was a lot to adapt to, and suddenly the pressure was on.
“Hey,” a comforting voice came from behind him. Lily had followed him out, “Getting a bit much, huh?”
“Was a couple of weeks to settle in too much to ask for?” Dylan sighed. He knew the supernatural world didn’t work to a schedule, but Dylan’s life couldn’t stop progressing. It was a lot in one go.
“I know exactly how you feel. One year ago, I was on my own, fighting a battle that was hours away from home,” Lily recalled, “At least you have us. Don’t forget that.”
“I won’t,” Dylan confirmed. Lily was right. He had all the people he needed around him, and that was the best safety net he could ask for, “Are you okay?”
“I think so. I wasn’t sure about starting over, but it was the right thing to do. I don’t care what comes our way now. Werezombies, vampires, whatever. I know we can handle it,” Lily assured.
“Werezombies?” Dylan chuckled.
“Shut up,” Lily laughed with him. Dylan saw Lily as the big sister he never had. She was always there for him, and Dylan was always keen to return the favour where he could.
Buzz! Dylan’s phone vibrated harshly. Sammi was calling back. With Lily’s words placed firmly in his mind, Dylan was motivated. He needed to know what this creature was. He answered the call and placed the phone on loudspeaker.
“Hey, so, we’ve found something,” Sammi launched straight into the explanation, “Water creatures are few and far between, but the one with the biggest Bestiary entry is the siren.”
“I’ve heard of that,” Dylan immediately thought of Doctor Who – one of his favourite shows to binge with Jono, “They live in water and sing to lure their victims to their deaths.”
“Pretty much, but I think there’s more to it than that,” Sammi informed, “Much like a nix, they can summon water, but they can also excrete it. They create water, Dylan.”
“No wonder it was flooded,” Lily thought.
“They’re bad news, Dylan. Sirens are cold-blooded killers. If there’s one in Crystalshaw, we’re all in danger,” Sammi warned. Dylan’s stomach dropped. This was serious, and lives were at stake.
3: Lectures Written by MarthaJonesFan
After a whole week at college, Yasmin had hoped her sleeping pattern would have settled down. Unfortunately, she had spent the night tossing and turning, doing everything she could think of to try and block out the increasingly noisy voices in her head. Nothing worked.
Strangely, Yasmin had adapted to sleeping with a lot of chatter in her mind. It was almost a comfort, in fact; quiet voices whispering to her, soothing her worries. However, for weeks, if not months, the voices had been yelling, and it was horrible. Yasmin couldn’t bear it any longer.
Yasmin jolted upright. The room was jam-packed all of a sudden. There was no space to move around. People had somehow made it into her room, and they were shouting. Shouting at her. Oscar was still sleeping, oblivious. He obviously couldn’t hear anything. They weren’t real.
No matter how hard she tried, Yasmin could barely make out what they were saying. Everyone was calling out different words, and it was overwhelming. Yasmin felt claustrophobic. She needed to get out.
“Enough!” an authoritative voice demanded, controlling the others. Instantly, the room emptied, people fading out of view entirely. Only one remained. The owner of that voice. A man in his early forties with dark, slicked-back hair and a kind smile.
“Who are you?” Yasmin questioned. She needed to get to the bottom of this.
“No time. Yasmin, you need to listen. You’re not safe, and if you’re not safe, neither is Dylan. Your mind is being flooded. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but they’re coming for you,” he warned. Yasmin had no idea who he was, but she would have been stupid to ignore a warning like that.
“How can I stop it?” Yasmin probed.
“I don’t know, but I’ll do what I can to help,” he explained.
“Yasmin? Everything okay?” Oscar stirred. He must have heard her. Yasmin looked back around to the man, but he had gone.“I don’t know,” Yasmin answered truthfully. She had no idea what was going on, but she was sure of one thing: she was terrified.
Walking into the lecture theatre was a strange feeling for Dylan. It was a world away from the classrooms he had become so used to. In fact, it made perfect sense as to why it was called a ‘theatre.’ Rows of seats ascended up the room, all facing a stage with a desk and computer. It was like he was about to begin watching a performance.
As always, Dylan’s saving grace was Jono. They had planned for so long to study journalism at college together, and that moment had finally come. It was strangely exciting – finally, Dylan could study something he was interested in.
“Okay, where to sit?” Dylan pondered. Naturally, he wanted to get there early; it allowed him time to prepare and adjust his mindset. As a result, they had a choice of any and every seat in the theatre.
“At the back,” Oscar insisted. Dylan loved how Oscar had joined their journalism crew – he just knew all three of them would be running their own company one day.
“Bagsy the aisle seat,” Dylan concurred. He needed the opportunity to make a quick getaway to the loo, after all.
Dylan led the way up the staircase, feeling like he was at the cinema, only without the pile of snacks. He took his seat and whipped out his laptop. They were expected to take notes, and Dylan was a far quicker typer than writer. Oscar had brought a tablet along, while Jono preferred a good-old-fashioned notebook. Of course, Jono sat in the middle – Dylan wanted him by his side.
Over the next ten minutes, the lecture theatre began to fill up. Everyone followed similar logic to the boys, heading for the back first before the lower rows were occupied, but the room wasn’t full. Everyone had their own space.
Nine o’clock. Time to start, but there was no sign of their professor. Dylan didn’t know who was meant to be taking their course beyond the initials of ‘RJ.’
Voices around the room began to whisper, creeping louder and louder in volume. They knew something Dylan didn’t. He focused on one particular voice, blocking out the others so he could get the gossip.
“No, they found him dead, maybe they’ll cancel our lectures?” the voice whispered. Dylan felt sucker-punched. Their course leader was the professor who drowned.
“When is this starting?” Jono wondered.
“Slight problem,” Dylan broke the news, “You know Professor Jenkins? He was our lecturer.”
“Shit,” Oscar was gobsmacked.
“Settle down please,” a young lady rushed in, flustered and panicking. She must have been the replacement, and it was already obvious that she hadn’t had long to prepare. Dylan was worried. This wasn’t how college was meant to start.
The sight of a lecture theatre was strangely surreal for Lily. Her mind associated it with so many bad memories from her first college experience. Nicolas. Jamal. Violet’s death. The memories of all of these had come flooding back, and it was more than a little overwhelming.
She had a pleasing support network in her first lecture, though. Alex was by her side, just as he always was. They made it through everything bad at Washington together, and they had earned this fresh start.
Within seconds of sitting down, Alex had set his laptop up. Lily provided the earphones; one ear each, of course. The best thing about Alex was that he could read her like a book. He knew when Lily needed her hand held. He respected when conversation wasn’t the first thing on her mind. He knew the right music to cheer her up on YouTube (Ed Sheeran, of course).
“Second time lucky,” Lily commented as the lecture began.
“Here’s to normality,” Alex concurred, raising his water bottle to toast.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Lily laughed. She had accepted that normality was a distant memory. All that mattered to her was safety.
“Alright, the Lily Chadwick version of normality,” Alex laughed, “Not gonna lie, I kinda prefer it.”
“Life’s never boring, at least,” Lily chuckled.
“I mean, it’s pretty cool. Dylan’s a bit of a legend, and I’m part of his pack, I suppose,” Alex pondered.
“Definitely,” Lily confirmed. Alex had more than earned his spot in the pack.
“I like it. It’s the first time I’ve ever been part of something, you know? People didn’t want to know me at school. I didn’t want to know me either, to be fair,” Alex opened up. Lily’s heart always broke when Alex spoke about his childhood. She had definitely taken her own for granted.
“I like to think everything happens for a reason. Otherwise, life feels pointless. We go through so much, it’s all got to lead somewhere, right?” Lily thought aloud.
“You’re so cute when you make no sense,” Alex laughed.
“Shut up,” Lily giggled, “The point is, everything you went through happened for a reason. It got you here, and that’s what matters.”
“Damn,” Alex reacted, looking impressed, “You’re great at pep talks.”
“That’s what therapy does to you,” Lily smiled, “Best decision I’ve ever made.” Before Alex could reply, Lily felt the uncomfortable sensation of her socks getting wet. Looking down, she saw her shoes immersed in a puddle. Someone must have spilt their drink.
“Gross,” Lily remarked.
“Um, Lil,” Alex’s good mood faded away, morphing into a look of horror and concern, “Look behind you.”
Nervously, Lily rotated around. Lying below the seats in the row behind was a body. A dead body. It was a young male, lying face down in the water – just like the professor.
“Shit,” Lily uttered. They had to do something, “Um, okay, we’ve got a dead body behind us and a theatre full of people. How do we handle this?”
“Scream?” Alex suggested. Sure, it would be a normal reaction, but they didn’t need extra attention drawn to it.
“Fire alarm,” Lily spotted. There was one just a couple of metres away, along the side wall. Lily quickly ran and slammed her elbow into it, the alarm immediately sounding. Quickly, the lecture theatre began to empty, confused faces glaring at Lily wondering where the fire was supposed to be.
With the job done, Lily whipped out her phone. The dead body was Ed’s territory, but the siren was hers. Already, too many lives had been lost.
Firmly shoving her chemistry textbook back into her locker, Sammi was slowly getting into the swing of senior year. Everybody seemed surprisingly chilled, and free periods were an absolute blessing. Studying at her own pace with a cup of tea was the dream.
Oddly, Felix had been one of the best parts of the year too. His endless stream of questions kept Sammi occupied, and Jeremy’s ridiculous plan seemed to have worked – he was on their side, and seemed invested in their friendship on a personal level. Conversations had progressed beyond a werewolf question-and-answer session, and Felix seemed truly happy to hang out with them both.
“That is the tidiest locker I’ve ever seen,” Felix remarked, joining her. His locker was just a couple of columns along.
“I think I learnt how to be organised when I was with Freddie,” Sammi mentioned, “I didn’t mind, he couldn’t help it.” Of course, Sammi would never have chastised Freddie for something his ADHD held over him.
“I hate messiness,” Felix replied. It was the worst attempt at flirting ever, but she knew the angle he was going for.
“Yeah?” Sammi smiled. She wasn’t sure how much she believed him – his hair was completely unkempt and he probably didn’t own a comb. That said, she knew appearances could be deceiving; her dad taught her that. An awkward silence followed. Neither knew how to react.
“Look, I was wondering,” Felix tentatively broke the quiet, “Would you like to go for a coffee after school?” Sammi felt like all of her Christmases had come at once. The popular, hot guy was asking her on a date? It was a wild fantasy, but not any longer.
“Yes,” Sammi confidently said. Felix blushed. He was too adorable.
“Without Jeremy, no offence,” Felix clarified, as if his intentions weren’t clear.
“I got that,” Sammi grinned.
“Cool,” Felix smiled gleefully, “I’ve been wanting to ask that for ages.”
“Ages?” Sammi was intrigued. There’s surely no way he’d even thought about her before Miss Asahd’s pointless group task?
“Since you joined the school. I mean, you had a boyfriend, so I didn’t say anything,” Felix explained.
“I suppose every cloud has a silver lining,” Sammi playfully replied. Something felt so perfectly right about Felix. She was on cloud nine.
Though he preferred to pretend otherwise, Josh had been extremely nervous to make a start on his course. High school had been a slog in so many ways, and he had graduated by a whisker. Even then, Yasmin’s helping hand was his biggest driving force. College was another huge obstacle, and one Josh didn’t feel confident in jumping.
However, the lecture had been surprisingly enjoyable. Time had flown by, and the course was shaping up well. This time, he had to motivate himself. Yasmin wasn’t on his course. In fact, none of the pack were. He had to be his own motivation.
Everyone’s lectures had finished for the day, and Josh had joined most of the pack in one of the study rooms just opposite the dorms. Yasmin was next to him at their table, while Dylan, Jono and Oscar were opposite.
“At least yours went smoothly,” Jono groaned, “Turns out our lecturer was Professor Jenkins, who’s currently in the morgue.”
“Shit,” Josh was taken aback, “Have you told Ed?”
“He’s snowed under,” Dylan replied, “I mean, he can’t exactly write ‘psycho siren’ on the police report. There’s a full investigation and everything.”
“The CCTV’s bust, they’ve got no chance,” Jono mentioned.
“At the restaurant, yeah,” Oscar added.
“Wait, what do you mean?” Josh was confused.
“There’s CCTV all over this place. There’s bound to be footage outside the restaurant,” Oscar explained.
“Footage that could show a siren,” Dylan worried, “We need to get there first.”
“How? Ed’s not here, there’s no way we’re getting access-all-areas without him,” Josh reasoned.
“I think he might be,” Jono looked up from his phone, “Lily’s with him now. There’s another body. A student, this time.”
“Why?” Yasmin spoke up for the first time since Josh arrived. She looked distracted, distant even. Josh knew when things weren’t okay with her.
“Why what?” Dylan queried, confused.
“Why a student? A professor first, a student second, what’s the link?” Yasmin questioned. As always, she thought logically and sensibly, and she was right. Nothing happened for no reason.
“Then we split up,” Dylan decided, “Jono, Oscar and I will find Ed and Lily. Yasmin and Josh, find Freddie and do some research on Jenkins and this kid.”
“I’ve found Freddie already,” Josh sighed, looking to the far end of the room. Freddie was sat in one of the booths, snogging Summer’s face off. It was borderline grotesque, and it looked like he hadn’t stopped for breath in half an hour.
“Yikes,” Dylan’s face scrunched up, “They’ve been like that for days.”
“Tonsil tennis is too addictive, clearly,” Oscar frowned.
“Spoken from experience,” Josh teased. Oscar raised an eyebrow but couldn’t help laughing, “Okay, I’ll take one for the team, but you all owe me.”
Josh sauntered over to Freddie, turning his bravado level up to eleven. He needed his sense of humour to be easily accessible in this situation, “Alright lover boy, it’s time to get to work.”
Freddie paused the kiss momentarily, looking up at Josh, “Huh? My lecture’s over?” The snog resumed as if Josh wasn’t there.
“No, dude, we need you. Now,” Josh persisted, wishing the unpleasant sight of their PDA would cease.
“He’s busy, sorry,” Summer brushed him off. Josh was gobsmacked. This wasn’t the Freddie he’d known for so long. He was worried about him.
The café down town was a gorgeously tranquil place, and Sammi thought it was the perfect location for a date. It was quiet, pretty, and comfortable, and all of those mattered when it was Sammi’s first proper date. Her dad hadn’t allowed her to date, and with Freddie, things felt somewhat different among the pack environment. The traditional concept of dating felt new, and she was both nervous and excited to delve into it with Felix.
Felix was already waiting patiently for her at a table. He’d picked out a smart shirt, though his hair had been left traditionally untamed. He looked amazing in Sammi’s eyes.
“Hey,” Felix grinned chirpily at her, “Wow, you look incredible.”
“It’s nothing,” Sammi downplayed her effort, as if she hadn’t spent half an hour deciding on what outfit to wear, “You look great, though.”
“You’re too kind,” Felix looked like the cat that got the cream, “Sorry, I feel kinda awkward.”
“Don’t,” Sammi took her seat opposite him, “I don’t bite. I’m not a werewolf, remember?” Felix laughed, thankfully appreciating her joke.
“Would you ever want to be?” Felix wondered, “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Most of your friends are werewolves, or something else. What about you?”
“Starting with the big questions, I like it,” Sammi bought herself some thinking time, “I don’t know. It’s weird, I’m so immersed in all things supernatural, but I’ve never really thought about it. I just help my friends when they need it, because we’re privileged. Who else knows about werewolves? Almost no-one.”
“Nice answer,” Felix approved.
“Go on then, what about you?” Sammi probed. It was clear that this had been the only thing on his mind for days.
“At first, I thought no, definitely not. Werewolves seemed scary. Every time you see a werewolf on TV, it’s dangerous and people are killed. I thought I had to protect myself. I’ve realised that’s not the case, though,” Felix explained, “I was wrong.”
“You know, the first time I saw my dad’s eyes glow, I was horrified. I had good reason with him, but at the time, I knew nothing about werewolves. Jono and Dylan showed me that being a werewolf doesn’t mean you stop being human,” Sammi opened up. A week before, she would have scoffed at the idea of speaking so openly with Felix. It felt like a strange dream, “So what’s your answer?”
“It depends whether you’re cool dating a werewolf or not,” Felix winked. His charm was irresistible; Sammi loved it.
“Dude, I’ve been there and done that,” Sammi laughed, “Besides, most of my family are werewolves.”
“Well, yes, then. Being a werewolf would be awesome,” Felix confessed. Sammi smiled at him. She wasn’t sure whether Felix would ever get his wish, but he would definitely make a positive addition to the pack, “Can you do that? Can you make it happen?”
Sammi froze. There was a huge difference between wanting to be a werewolf, and taking steps towards it actually happening. She wasn’t sure what to do.
Dylan felt overcome by sadness. Seeing dead bodies never got any easier, particularly when they were so young. This boy was the same age as him. He came to college with the same hopes and dreams as Dylan, and everyone else for that matter. The siren had taken those opportunities from him.
Alongside Jono and Oscar, Dylan had reunited with a shaken Lily and Alex, and Ed had escorted them to view the CCTV footage. Dylan was concerned about what they would find. The murders were sloppy, which meant there was an ulterior motive. The siren wanted attention, and they were certainly getting it.
“What the heck is a siren?” Ed, as usual, was confused. His mind was logical and methodical, and the supernatural world required him to step outside that.
“Water-based creature,” Jono answered.
“I thought that was a nix,” Ed pondered. Dylan had to conceal an affectionate laugh. Ed never changed.
“Think of it as being like a doctor and a nurse. They’re similar, but not the same,” Dylan tried to assist.
“Which one’s which?” Ed tried to process.
“It doesn’t matter,” Dylan chuckled, “We’ll know it when we see it.”
“And if we see it, we need to make sure nobody else does,” Oscar added.
“It’s only a matter of time,” Lily mentioned, “These murders are happening in public places. Someone’s bound to see before long.”
“Why, though?” Alex wondered, “Why would they risk being exposed?”
“Maybe that’s the point,” Dylan worried. If someone was looking to get caught, it put all of them at risk.
“Or they’re just sloppy,” Jono hopefully added. Dylan certainly wanted him to be right.
“Here it is,” Ed paused the footage. A girl was lurking outside the lecture theatre, her back to the camera. The footage was so grainy and in black-and-white, making it near impossible to work out who it was.
“Can you enhance it?” Oscar enquired.
“This is the best we’ve got, sorry,” Ed answered, “About as much use as a chocolate teapot, I know.”
“Hold on,” Jono intervened. He paused the footage. The girl had turned her face to the side. They could see who it was.
“That looks like…” Oscar recognised.
“Like who?” Lily was confused, but Dylan knew. It hadn’t been that long since he last saw her.
“It is,” Dylan confirmed, “Come on.” It was a race against time.
Yasmin thought that a distraction was exactly what she needed. Her nights had been getting crazier and crazier, and it was beginning to consume her daytimes too. A redirection of her thoughts was just what Yasmin thought she needed, but she was wrong. She couldn’t focus her mind on anything.
Nevertheless, her research on Professor Jenkins wasn’t getting her anywhere. A name like Alan Jenkins was far too standard for Google to yield any relevant results, and they didn’t even know the name of the second victim yet. So much for finding a link.
“I can’t get in,” Josh sighed. He was trying to hack the college system with no luck. That was usually Freddie’s job.
“What’s up with him? He never turns us down,” Yasmin pondered. Freddie hadn’t been himself for a few days.
“A girl,” Josh replied quickly.
“Hey,” Yasmin interrupted, “Don’t be sexist.”
“I didn’t say all girls,” Josh defended playfully, “It began when he met Summer, though.”
“He’s attached to her hip,” Yasmin agreed.
“It’s grotesque,” Josh winced. Yasmin agreed, picturing the thought of Freddie and Summer snogging each other’s faces off, “Away from that, how are you?”
“Fine,” Yasmin lied.
“You’re not as good a liar as you think you are,” Josh sussed. Yasmin sighed. She didn’t want to get into it, but Josh was like a dog with a bone. He wasn’t going to let this go.
“I’ve been seeing things,” Yasmin began, “I know that’s not exactly news, but more than usual. So many people.”
“How long’s this been happening for?” Josh looked sincerely worried about her.
“A few months,” Yasmin answered, “And it’s getting worse.”
“Why didn’t you say?” Josh looked deeply saddened. Yasmin knew it wasn’t because he’d been left in the dark, but because he couldn’t have helped.
“I don’t know. I guess I thought it would go away,” Yasmin sighed, “They were shouting last night. That guy…”
“Guy? What guy?” Josh queried.
“I didn’t recognise him, but he controlled the voices. He said I’m in danger. He mentioned Dylan,” Yasmin recalled.
“And he’s…” Josh attempted to process everything coming his way.
“Dead, yeah, he must be,” Yasmin considered. She only ever saw dead people in her visions, but not like this. Not this many of them.
“Okay, who does Dylan know that’s dead?” Josh logically considered.
“More than most teenagers,” Yasmin realised, “It’s a man, so that narrows it down.”
“Leadsom,” Josh instantly thought.
“Not him,” Yasmin replied.
“David,” Josh guessed.
“No. I said I didn’t recognise him, dumbass,” Yasmin scolded.
“Oh shit,” Josh had a lightbulb moment. His confused expression turned into one of deep worry.
“What? Dude, come on?” Yasmin impatiently nagged. If something was up, she had to know.
“A dead man who Dylan knows but not us,” Josh clued her in, “Think, there’s only one person.”
“Oh my god,” Yasmin realised, “Dylan’s dad.”
Staring blankly back at Felix, Sammi was struggling to find the words to reply to his request. She didn’t anticipate that he would actively want to become a werewolf so instantly. It should have been a pipe dream, but instead, he’d put her in a tough situation.
Ultimately, Sammi knew it was Dylan’s decision. He was the only one who could administer the bite, making it his responsibility. Knowing Dylan, Sammi wasn’t convinced he would go for it. The only people he’d bitten were Noah, Jono and Oscar, all when he had no other choice to save their lives.
“What do you think?” Felix nagged.
“Um,” Sammi paused. She didn’t know how to answer, “It’s not really my decision.”
You know Dylan, you could ask him, right?” Felix didn’t take the hint. How could Sammi let him down gently?
“It’s not that easy,” Sammi attempted to explain.
“All it takes is one bite, it sounds pretty easy,” Felix considered.
“Yes,” Sammi confirmed, “But it’s complicated. The bite doesn’t always turn you.”
“Okay, I’m cool with that, but it’s worth a try, right?” Felix interrupted. His excitement was overbearing.
“Dude, let me finish,” Sammi firmly requested, “If the bite doesn’t change you, it takes your life. The bite can kill.”
“Oh,” Felix’s enthusiasm fizzed out quickly like air escaping a punctured balloon. Silence followed. Felix had been knocked for six.
“Sorry,” Sammi cut through the now-awkward atmosphere, “I know you wanted it.”
“It’s fine,” Felix sighed, “I just thought it would be cool, you know? I could be like Jono, he was always such a good basketball player. Now I know why.”
“Jono was a good player because he trained and worked hard. He never used his werewolf abilities on the court, even though he could have wiped the floor with anyone if he wanted to,” Sammi justified, “Being a werewolf isn’t about cheating to succeed. It’s about finding the right way to make use of your powers.”
“How can you do that, though?” Felix looked baffled, “There’s no handbook, is there? Maybe there is?”
“No,” Sammi assured, “The key is humanity. Being a werewolf doesn’t mean you stop being human. Those who forget, they go crazy. They become the psychos and killers.”
Felix nodded. Much to Sammi’s relief, he seemed to understand. She held a hand out to him across the table, and he placed his on top. There was something so special about him, and Sammi was allowing herself to fall head-over-heels for it.
Flustered, Dylan was the first back to the dorm. The study room they had gathered in earlier that day was empty, and there was no other place he could think of to look. Troublingly, the dorm was empty too. It looked just as they’d left it that morning.
Panic began to settle in. Freddie was nowhere to be seen, and he was in danger. Dylan cared for Freddie like a brother, and more importantly, Freddie was his beta. Dylan had a sense of responsibility, and if Freddie was in danger, it was his job to help him.
“Nothing? Jono followed, with Oscar, Lily, Alex and Ed in tow.
“What the hell is going on?” an impatient Lily demanded.
“The girl was Summer,” Dylan informed.
“Who the heck is Summer?” Ed queried, behind the times again.
“Freddie’s girlfriend, except she’s gone, and she’s taken him too,” Dylan confirmed.
“How do we know? They could have gone out, maybe they’ll be back tonight?” Oscar hoped. Dylan had met his match in Oscar when it came to optimism, but they had to face the facts.
“He’s not answering his phone,” Jono added, “And he’s turned off Snapchat location.”
“His stuff’s gone,” Lily reported, checking the bedroom, “No sign of Freddie ever being there.”
“What kidnapper stops to pack a suitcase?” Alex was clearly getting more and more confused, but Dylan understood. It sounded ridiculous, but there was only one solution he could think of.
“He’s not been kidnapped,” Dylan reasoned, “He’s been brainwashed. The siren must have mind control. She’s hypnotised him into trusting her, and if she’s got him…”
“…then she’s got us too,” Jono realised.
“Josh said he wasn’t himself earlier,” Oscar recalled, “And they’ve been together non-stop.”
“I’ll get an APB out,” Ed decided. As Ed stepped outside, Dylan looked at the pack, who were all staring back at him. They were waiting for an instruction.
“We need to get a head start,” Dylan decided, “We have one advantage on the deputies. We know about the siren. We’re Freddie’s best shot.”
“What if he’s already dead?” Lily worried.
“We can’t afford to think like that. We assume he’s alive. If the siren wanted to kill him, he’d be dead by now, right?” Dylan justified, “So, who’s in?”
Everyone nodded. They were a pack, and were stronger together. Dylan was going to bring Freddie home; he was sure of it. No other option would do.
4: Hypnosis Written by MarthaJonesFan
Gently rubbing his eyes, Freddie tried examining his surroundings. He wasn’t in the dorm. In fact, he didn’t know where he was. How did he get there? His mind was hazy. His thoughts were jumbled. His vision was blurry, though slowly coming around. He felt disorientated.
“Good morning,” a delightfully calm voice greeted. It was chirpy and melodic, like a song. Freddie started to remember. Collecting his stuff. Driving for what felt like ages. Spending the whole evening with Summer. It felt so comfortable. So easy.
“Hey,” Freddie smiled, rolling onto his side to match eyes with her. Freddie couldn’t believe his luck. Summer was the most gorgeous person he’d ever laid eyes on. He didn’t deserve someone so perfect.
“This is so cosy,” Summer smiled. The bed was quite small for a double, but it wasn’t exactly a big room either. Freddie had driven them to a small house outside Crystalshaw, one he knew was owned by Ed and used for witness protection. The same place Brett and Johnny stayed at to hide from David. It was the safest place Freddie could think of.
“I’ve never been here before,” Freddie commented, “There’s not much around. No supplies.”
“We’ll cross that bridge later. All we need is each other,” Summer assured, “No family, no friends.”
“Well,” Freddie paused. Nobody knew where they were. Dylan would undoubtedly be worrying, “Maybe I should tell George.”
“No need,” Summer stated, looking directly into his eyes. Instantly, Freddie’s cloud of worry lifted. George wasn’t his concern, and neither was Dylan. All he needed to think about was Summer. He wasn’t sure if he’d make it back to college, but Freddie didn’t care. Everything he needed was right in front of him.
Dylan hadn’t expected to be back at the
lakehouse so soon after starting college. He hadn’t seen Crystalshaw town since
moving into the dorms, so being back was a strange feeling. It was nostalgic,
in fact, despite not even being gone a couple of weeks, but so comforting to
see the familiar places and faces.
Freddie’s disappearance had spooked the entire pack, and Dylan had wasted no time in gathering everyone to help. Oscar, Yasmin and Josh were searching the campus and surrounding area, while everyone else was at the lakehouse, ready to be assigned roles.
Among the worry and discomfort, Dylan was pleased to see Caroline again. Though he’d spoken to her on the phone every night, he hadn’t seen her in person since move-in day. He only wished they were reunited under better circumstances.
Already, Caroline had searched the Drummond household. Freddie’s room there was completely untouched, ruling one place out. However, Dylan knew that if there was any hint remaining of the old Freddie, he would have gone somewhere he could be found by the pack.
“Are we all here?” Dylan checked. He was in charge, and they couldn’t afford to waste time.
“We are now,” Sammi poked her head round the door, Jeremy following sheepishly behind. Dylan caught eyes with an unimpressed George. The break-up between Sammi and Freddie was clearly still fresh in George’s mind, but Dylan didn’t care about the past. He was thrilled to see Sammi, because it meant she still cared. The pack was stronger together.
“Hey,” Mia smiled at Sammi. George was still intent on Mia not knowing the truth about supernaturals, which made Dylan’s job unnecessarily tougher. That said, Mia was an extra pair of eyes; one they couldn’t afford to turn down.
“Okay,” Dylan began, “We need to split up to cover everywhere we can. Mom and I will check Freddie’s old house. Jono, Lily and Alex, take the treehouse. Everyone else needs to stay here, because he might come back, and if he does, we don’t know what state he’ll be in.” Carefully, Dylan avoided mentioning the siren, but it was getting tougher to avoid details to protect Mia alone.
“Wait,” Sammi was confused, “Are you sure you want us here?” She was obviously not keen on spending time with George, but that was the point. Dylan wanted them to talk and hash it out.
“Yes. Come on, let’s go,” Dylan motivated, not giving her a chance to argue.
On his way out, Dylan glanced at George again. He looked sullen and wrecked. He and Freddie were extremely close; they were the only family each other had.
“We’ll find him,” Dylan assured. He wasn’t going to rest until Freddie was safe again. George simply nodded. Mia had her hand clasped tightly around his. The support network George had was second-to-none, and was surely somewhat reassuring. After all, Dylan knew exactly how it felt to be separated from his loved ones, and he would never have allowed it to happen to his friends too.
Three laps of the college campus had brought no luck, and Yasmin was starting to panic. She knew Freddie inside out, and there was no way he’d have run off with a girl like that. Not in his right mind, anyway.
Yasmin felt guilty, too. She’d been so wrapped up in herself that she’d hardly noticed Freddie’s unusual behaviour. She should have spotted it. She should have known the signs. She should have signed.
Though she had Josh and Oscar by her side, there had been little attempt at conversation. Josh was in full focus mode and he was teaching Oscar how to focus his senses, leaving Yasmin to wallow in her own mind, her guilt wiping out any desire for conversation. Nevertheless, they all had a common goal. They needed to find Freddie, and quickly.
“Let’s check the lake again,” Josh suggested.
“We’ve checked there five times now,” Oscar groaned.
“This is hopeless. He’s not at the lake, and he’s not on campus,” Yasmin sighed. They were wasting time, and Freddie’s life was on the line. Every second mattered.
“Do you have any better ideas?” Josh questioned bluntly. He wasn’t intending to be rude; emotions were running high and they all felt stressed. Yasmin appreciated that Josh was trying his best.
“Walking around aimlessly won’t solve anything. We need a break, it’ll give us time to think,” Yasmin considered. Josh sighed. He knew she was right, but Yasmin understood his frustration. He was so hands-on. Their approaches were polar opposites, but to find Freddie, they needed to find a middle ground first.
Yasmin led the way into the study room, stopping at the hot drink machine first. There was nothing a cup of tea wouldn’t solve, but Josh was getting antsy. Slowing down didn’t compute to him.
“I’ll be back,” Oscar mentioned. Yasmin looked up; he noticed someone waving at him across the room. Someone from the LGBTQ+ society, she assumed.
“I feel like we’re treading water,” Josh confessed, between the two of them, “I know Dylan’s doing so much, but I feel helpless. I want to be out searching everywhere. I owe that to him.”
“We all do,” Yasmin reassured, “We all want Freddie back as soon as possible. We just have to cover all bases.”
“Hold on,” Josh paused, “I think I’ve got an idea.”
“Okay,” Yasmin tentatively waited. Any idea was worth considering at this point.
“We could ask for help,” Josh said, “Well, when I say ‘we,’ I mean you.” Yasmin wasn’t sure she liked the sound of that. The pressure had landed on her.
Tensions had been running high between the pack, understandably, but Oscar needed a breather. Laps of the campus hadn’t proved even slightly fruitful, and the dorm remained empty every time they checked back in. It was difficult to remain motivated when they were obviously making no progress.
Naturally, college life had taken a pause. Freddie was their top priority, and Oscar wanted to help find him. After all, Freddie was one of the first friends he made in Crystalshaw. However, Oscar felt somewhat sad to have missed the LGBTQ+ society meeting. He’d been looking forward to it all week, partly to crush on all of the cute guys that attended the first meeting.
Therefore, when he noticed Alora waving at him from across the study room, he had to go and speak to them. They were a friendly face and a reminder of normal life, and Oscar appreciated that. They were sat with another lad, someone Oscar recognised from the meeting. Someone cute, too, but his name eluded Oscar.
“Fancy seeing you here,” Alora greeted, clearly in high spirits. They had a textbook open in front of them, but their notebook page was empty. Clearly, socialising was higher on the agenda.
“Hey, sorry for missing last night. There’s a lot going on,” Oscar vaguely replied, sitting down next to them.
“I heard about your friend. I hope you find him,” Alora assured. Oscar appreciated the thoughts, even if the details were clearly thin on the ground.
“Thanks,” Oscar smiled, “We’re just taking a break, gathering ourselves.”
“We’ll distract you,” Alora confirmed, “This is Cody, by the way, from the meeting.”
“Nice to properly meet you,” Oscar coyly smiled at him. Cody looked relaxed and calm, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He wasn’t even pretending to study, his phone being the only thing laid on the table in front of him.
“You too,” Cody raised a small smile, sweeping his loose, shoulder-length red waves out of his eyeline. As far as Oscar was concerned, the distraction had been a success.
Four episodes down, Freddie was settling into the Netflix-binging lifestyle. He didn’t have a care in the world. Summer was by his side, and she was the only thing he needed. Of course, though he thought about George and all of his friends, they weren’t a concern of his. College was equally unimportant. Only Summer mattered.
Freddie was snuggled up closely to Summer, resting his head on her shoulder. He’d never felt so comfortable before, and he’d be happy staying there forever. That was the only future he dreamed of.
“Hold on, I’ll be back,” Summer smiled, slipping off the couch from under Freddie’s resting head. Left alone momentarily, Freddie checked his phone for the first time that day. He had a flurry of notifications. Missed calls. Facebook messages. WhatsApp messages. Texts. Every social network had a ridiculous number of notifications, all from his friends trying to get in touch. Thirty missed calls from George. Twenty-two from Dylan. Even sixteen from Sammi.
Immediately, the comfort and ease in Freddie’s mind slipped away. It was replaced by concern. What had he done? Why had he abandoned his loved ones? Why did he not even care them? The more he thought about it, the more Freddie realised there was one common denominator: Summer.
Thinking fast, Freddie knew he had to alert Dylan. They were surely already looking for him, but without a location, Freddie was a sitting duck. Summer must have had some sort of effect on him, and he had to protect himself.
Calling someone would be too risky, Freddie thought. Summer wasn’t far away and the hut wasn’t big, so she would surely hear his conversation. Texting was the answer. Opening up the chat with Dylan, it felt ridiculous to see their message history. They usually sent each other memes and jokes, and it felt so flippant now. Times changed so quickly.
The message had to be vague. If Summer saw it, she would surely react badly, and the whole plan would be a bust. Freddie simply typed one word. “Hut.” That should have been enough for Dylan to know where he was.
Footsteps. Summer was coming back. Rapidly, Freddie hit send and shoved his phone back into his pocket.
“Hope you didn’t miss me too much,” Summer smirked playfully. Oddly, her face was wet, as if she’d splashed it all with water. Nevertheless, Freddie smiled back, but the magic wasn’t there. Nothing was the same, and Freddie needed to get out.
Approaching Freddie’s old house, Dylan’s mind immediately flooded with memories. The house looked just the same as it always did, paint chipping away from the outside wall and a few dead garden plants decorated the patio; he was fairly sure they were leftovers from George and Freddie.
So much had happened at that house. Most notably, it was the place Freddie was bitten at. Dylan could never forget the awful, stomach-churning sight of his bloodstained sheets from that night. It changed Freddie’s life forever, but perhaps Dylan would never have grown so close to him otherwise?
Dylan flashed back to the night Yasmin returned from New York. Naturally, she visited then-boyfriend Freddie first, but Dylan’s jot at her surprise return was second-to-none. That short time without Yasmin around was difficult. Dylan cherished her friendship so much. She was the first friend he made in Crystalshaw. Without her, the entire pack would be so different.
“Is the coast clear?” Caroline checked. Dylan wasn’t used to going on werewolf missions with his mum. He felt somewhat self-conscious. Unusually, he was the more experienced of the two.
“Not a peep,” Dylan listened carefully. There were no heartbeats coming from inside. The new owners weren’t home. Sensibly, though annoyingly, the front door was therefore locked. No easy way in.
“Need this?” Caroline held up a key. The front door key.
“How did you get that?” Dylan was impressed. His mum had clearly learnt a thing or two.
“Plant pot. Only stupid people leave a spare key in such an obvious place. I guess the new owners are a downgrade,” Caroline remarked with a cheeky smile. Dylan laughed – the sass levels were through the roof.
Inside the house, things were equally similar. Of course, the family pictures were gone, replaced by the new family’s special moments, but the beige walls remained untouched, and the carpet, fraying at the edges, was still in place.
“What are we looking for?” Caroline questioned.
“Anything from Freddie. He’s under mind control, but he’s still there underneath. I’m hoping he’s found a way to let us know where he is,” Dylan explained. His head told him it was a long shot, but his heart wasn’t letting him give up, “I’m out of better ideas.”
“You’re doing your best, sweetie. Nobody can ask for anything more from you, okay? Ed’s got every deputy out looking for him. He’s out there somewhere, and we’ll bring him home,” Caroline encouraged, “We all want to find Freddie. He’s family, and no-one knows that better than you. You’re the glue that holds everyone together.” Dylan had missed her wise words so much. She knew just how to make everything feel better.
“I’m worried, mom,” Dylan confessed. He was trying to stay strong, but there was so much pressure on him. It was hard.
“Worry means that you care,” Caroline reminded, hugging Dylan tightly, “Now let’s get to work.” Dylan nodded, refocusing his mind. The mission was ongoing. Dylan led the way up to Freddie’s old bedroom. In the past, that room would have been a chaotic jumble sale of clutter with no sense of organisation. Now, it was quite the opposite. A pink bedspread was the centrepiece of the room, and a series of toys adorned the edges, each one perfectly tidied away. All remnants of Freddie were gone.
“No luck?” Caroline commented. Sadly, it seemed Dylan’s wild theory was a waste of time after all.
“Wait,” Dylan froze, noticing a sheet of paper poking out from behind the dresser. It was a photo, in fact, and one Dylan hadn’t seen before. Freddie with Yasmin, Josh and Brett. It was super cute, and must have been left behind by accident when Freddie moved out.
Dylan’s phone vibrated harshly in his pocket. Much to his amazement, it was a text from Freddie. One simply word: “Hut.”
Then Dylan realised. He spotted Brett in the photo. Freddie was hiding. Brett and Johnny hid at Ed’s safehouse just outside town, and that was very much a hut. That’s where Freddie was, and he wanted to be found.
There was always an uneasy feeling in Jono’s gut every time he went back to the Chadwick house. Even at the best of times, that big house never felt very homely to him. He had everything a kid could wish for: toys, space and a huge garden. Perhaps the company made a difference, because Dylan’s smaller house always felt cosier. Jono was sure that was down to the atmosphere created by Caroline and Ed. Everyone was welcome, and family came first.
On the way in, Jono glanced up at his treehouse. His safe haven. It was the one part of this house that he truly missed. It was where he always felt at ease, after a bad day at school or an argument with his parents. Though college was going somewhat well, he could have done with a treehouse there to escape to for some peace and quiet.
Though Jono knew it was tough for him to return home, it was even harder for Lily. SO much had changed for her in a year, and facing her demons was an ongoing battle. Jono held her hand tightly, ensuring she knew he was there for her every step of the way. They’d both experienced the frayed relationships with their parents, making their own relationship more vital than ever.
“I love this place,” Alex commented, misreading the room, “The building, I mean.”
“Yeah,” Lily replied. She was quiet – far quieter than usual – and that was a giveaway sign for Jono.
“There’s no scent. He’s not been here,” Jono recognised. He didn’t want to spend any longer there than necessary.
“Jono! Lily!” an excited voice called from the doorstep. Jono sighed. He didn’t want to be spotted, but it was too late. Helen had seen them. Jono painted his best smile onto his face and approached sheepishly.
“Hey, mom,” Jono kept up appearances. To her credit, Helen had tried her best to make up for all the heartbreak and anger of the previous year. Jono had never known her to be so active and present in his life, and it meant a lot, even if the wounds were taking time to heal.
“I didn’t know you were coming home. Please, come in. Steve! The kids are home!” she called out, thrilled. Jono had never seen her so happy before.
“We can’t stay, sorry,” Jono felt bad. Freddie was his priority, but he didn’t want to let his mum down either.
“Not even a quick cup of tea?” Steve suggested, joining Helen at the door.
“Freddie’s missing,” Jono explained.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Helen realised, “I hope he shows up. Anything we can do?”
“Just keep an eye out if you could, please,” Jono requested. Lily’s grip on his hand was tightening. She felt anxious, and understandably so.
“Sure. Good luck,” Helen smiled, closing the door. Instantly, Jono checked in on Lily.
“All good?” he queried.
“It’s just hard,” Lily admitted, “Come on, let’s find Freddie.
“Hey, check your phones,” Alex advised, “Dylan’s got a location.”
Jono’s hopes immediately lifted. Freddie was one of his closest friends, and they had to find him as soon as possible.
There was nothing Sammi hated more than feeling useless. Though she may not have had the super-fast healing, or enhanced speed, she had time and time again proved her worth in the pack. Leaving her behind achieved nothing, especially when George and Mia obviously had the lakehouse covered.
Equally, Sammi knew Dylan wasn’t stupid. Even without a werewolf’s ability to sense emotion, the tense atmosphere between her and George was obvious. Dylan wanted them to heal the rift, but it wasn’t that easy.
Instead, Sammi and Jeremy sat side-by-side on the sofa, while George and Mia parked themselves on the dock. So much for healing the wounds. Sammi was more concerned about Freddie than his brother, anyway.
Keeping Sammi occupied was Felix, who keenly replied to every message she sent within seconds. She hadn’t told him what was going on, knowing it would be strange that she was so concerned about her ex, but he’d already sussed that something was up. There was no other reason for both her and Jeremy to be off school at the same time.
“You two have been cosy recently,” Jeremy commented. It was early days between her and Felix, so she hadn’t told Jeremy the details yet. Seemingly, it had already made itself apparent.
“I suppose,” Sammi coyly replied.
“You and Felix,” Jeremy laughed.
“Hey, what’s so funny?” Sammi playfully shoved Jeremy, “Besides, there is no me and Felix. Not yet, anyway.”
“It’s not funny as such,” Jeremy clarified, “But who would have called that a few weeks ago?”
“True,” Sammi blushed. Something about Felix was just so comforting. He was adorable.
“Yet you came here as soon as you heard about Freddie,” Jeremy mentioned. Darn. She’d been completely caught out. Though Sammi was enjoying her time with Felix, her mind was confused. She felt so worried about Freddie, and that told her one thing: she still cared for him, “You still have feelings for him, don’t you?”
Sammi fell silent. It was unusual for her to be speechless, but she truly didn’t know how to answer that. Her heart still fluttered when she thought of Freddie, but after all that had happened, did she have any right to love him?
“Go and tell George,” Jeremy advised, “I know how it feels to be away from my loved ones. You have a choice. I didn’t.” Jeremy spoke so wisely, and suddenly, everything made sense for Sammi. He was right, and even though she didn’t want to speak to George, she knew she had to.
Nervously, Sammi made her way outside. As soon as she spotted Sammi, Mia stood up and backed away. She knew they needed some private time. George looked less than pleased, though. He swerved eye contact and scrunched up his nose.
“I want to fight for him,” Sammi began. There was no point in small talk.
“Do you? You’ve got a funny way of showing it. Why weren’t you fighting for him before? Freddie needed you, and he wouldn’t be out there if you hadn’t given up on him,” George ranted.
Sammi was shocked. She’d never heard George speak like that before, but he was right. She’d been selfish. She was in the wrong.
“I’m sorry,” George calmed himself.
“No. I deserved it. I was thinking of myself only,” Sammi swallowed humble pie. She had to be honest with herself, after all, “I’m sorry it took me this long to realise.”
Sammi’s phone buzzed. Felix had messaged again, but Sammi wasn’t concerned. Freddie was all she cared about, and now was her chance to prove it. A second message arrived almost immediately after. Sammi sighed, expecting more from Felix, but it wasn’t. This time, it was Dylan.
“The hut,” George said aloud, examining his phone.
“Let’s go,” Sammi encouraged. They were a team now, for better or for worse.
Though Yasmin was usually the best person for coming up with a plan, Josh enjoyed his own outside-the-box approach too. Yasmin was right – they were getting nowhere, so they needed a change of tact. Would his plan work? Josh didn’t know, and Yasmin seemed uneasy about the entire prospect, but it was the best idea they had.
“Ghosts?” Oscar was taken aback. Josh had attempted to fill him in on the situation, but he was struggling to comprehend. The three of them were stood by the river, where Freddie and Summer first introduced themselves to each other.
“Sort of,” Yasmin corrected, “But it’s not exactly new. I see dead people all the time.”
“Not Dylan’s dad, though,” Josh mentioned. This wasn’t normal in any way, and he wasn’t happy to pretend.
“It sounds kinda creepy,” Oscar wondered, “Can you see him now?”
“No, but he shows up when I need him,” Yasmin replied.
“Being real, I think we need him now. This is life or death for Freddie,” Josh insisted.
“He agrees,” Yasmin said, looking over Josh’s shoulder. Josh spun around, but he couldn’t see anyone. Oscar was right – it was really darn creepy.
“He’s there, right?” Oscar presumed. He seemed nervous; after all, he wasn’t used to supernatural goings-on. It was still new to him.
“He says hi,” Yasmin relayed.
“How can we see him?” Josh probed.
“I don’t know,” Yasmin shrugged, before pausing. She was listening, to the voice Josh couldn’t hear. Seconds later, she took both Josh and Oscar by the hand. Instantly, Josh’s perception shifted. The colours were tinted a strange, uncomfortable yellow, and a man had appeared in front of him. A man Josh had seen in pictures so many times. He had a good head of hair – making it obvious where Dylan had got his genes from – and a kind smile. Josh suspected he would have guessed he was Dylan’s dad even if he didn’t already know.
“Hi,” Josh nervously spoke.
“Hi Josh,” he replied, “Nice to meet you at last. I know Caroline cherishes you.”
“Likewise,” Josh smiled, “This is Oscar, by the way.”
“Martin Drummond, nice to meet you,” he greeted, shaking Oscar’s hand, “I wish it were under better circumstances.”
“A ghost hand,” an awestruck Oscar commented.
“Do you know where Freddie is?” Josh cut to the chase.
“I’m afraid not, but the siren isn’t your only concern. Yasmin, this shouldn’t be happening. Something is using the vulnerability of the power of three to break back into this universe, and ghosts are seeping through,” Martin explained.
“What’s coming?” Yasmin nervously asked. It was the question on Josh’s lips, too. They had to be prepared.
“I wish I knew, but I can help as much as possible,” Martin detailed, “I’ve seen Dylan in action, and I’m so proud of him. I want to help.”
Rapidly, the yellow tint faded into black. It looked as if night had suddenly fallen around them. A rush of wind scraped harshly over Josh’s face. He felt uneasy. Something bad was on its way.
“Get out. Let go of their hands,” Martin instructed, yelling over the wind.
“I can’t,” Yasmin whimpered. She was frozen to the spot. Suddenly, Martin vanished. The draught grew stronger and faster. Materialising in front of them was a dark cloud, almost smoky, but pitch black in colour. It grew taller. Faster. More fearsome. It was trying to assert some sort of dominance.
Josh looked at Oscar. He was horrified, and Josh concurred. This was bad, and only getting worse. Yasmin had lost control. She was the gateway, and whatever was forming in front of them had jammed it wide open.
Freddie was sick and tired of clock-watching. Netflix wasn’t enticing anymore, when all Freddie really wanted to do was get home. Summer wasn’t who she said she was. She could hypnotise him, and that terrified Freddie. He wasn’t in control, and that was his worst nightmare. Summer could make him do anything and he’d have no say.
Since his realisation, Freddie had been desperately thinking of an escape route. On the bright side, he had his car outside, but he couldn’t afford to misfire. One failed attempt would screw his chances completely. If Dylan was coming, he had to grab this opportunity to reach him.
Glancing at Summer, who was resting on his chest, Freddie noticed something odd. Something unlike anything he’d ever seen before. The skin on her arms was dry, and getting drier with every passing second. It was spreading, like an out-of-control rash. Yasmin had never had that happen before. She couldn’t have been a nix. She was something else. Something more dangerous.
“I’ll be right back,” Summer smiled, sliding gracefully off Freddie’s chest and out of the room. Freddie kept listening, checking where she was going. The back door clicked open, and then shut immediately. He was on his own. Perfect chance to get out.
Freddie grabbed his bag from the bedroom, shoving his toothbrush in before zipping it up. He tried his best to ignore every impulse telling him he was scared. His heart was pounding and his stomach was packed full of butterflies. So much was riding on this moment.
Car keys. Freddie rummaged frantically through his bag, but there was no sign. Where had he left them. They couldn’t be far away, but it was a race against the clock. A race for Freddie’s life. He checked the bed. The bedside table. Under the bed. The sofa. The bathroom. No sign. Surely Summer hadn’t taken them? The worst-case scenario wasn’t worth thinking about, but rapidly, Freddie was thinking of plan B. He could outrun Summer, surely? He didn’t need the car.
There they were. Slipped underneath the coffee table. The car keys. Freddie swept them up and dashed out to the car. He tried to keep a clear, focused mind, but it was hard. Every part of his body wanted to panic.
Key in the ignition. The car started up. This was it. Freddie was almost on his way. The sooner he could get to Dylan, the better. Instantly, the car jolted. Staring directly at him, with her hands on the bonnet, was Summer. She’d found him. He was screwed.
5: The Siren Written by MarthaJonesFan
Frozen to the spot, Yasmin wasn’t sure what to do. She couldn’t let go of Josh and Oscar’s hands. They were all trapped inside her vision, and she didn’t know how to get out. Never before had she felt a vision so intense, so consuming, and it was draining every ounce of energy from inside her body. Yasmin felt tired, but she couldn’t rest. Not until everyone was safe.
In front of them, the black cloud grew darker and more defined. A large, tall, wide figure was forming, standing over them as if it were in charge. Two red, threatening lights began to glow near the top. The eyes.
“What the hell is that?” Oscar panicked.
“Red eyes,” Josh twigged, “We know what that means.”
“Alpha,” Yasmin realised. Whatever this beast was, it was a werewolf. One unlike any they had ever seen before. It was scarier, and undoubtedly tougher an opponent, “I can’t get us out.”
“Yes you can,” Oscar encouraged, “Remember when I first met you? You thought Dylan was dead. You were grieving, but you pulled through to help show me around. You overcame every bad feeling you had. You can do it again.”
Oscar was right. Yasmin could do anything if she tried, and she wasn’t going to be defeated so easily. She had to break free from that spot; there was no other option. This alpha couldn’t be allowed to materialise.
Focusing intently, Yasmin tried to release her grip. Something had to give if she tried hard enough, not that the supernatural world ever followed the laws of physics. Nonetheless, Yasmin gave everything she could to breaking the force. It was the only thing on her mind.
Both hands fell loose. The bond was broken, but the vision was ongoing, and both boys were still there. Yasmin was even more concerned – where was the exit? How could this stop?
“What happened?” Josh panicked.
“We need to hide,” Yasmin instructed, shouting against the full force of the draught. The creature in front was getting more and more defined. It was solidifying itself, and that was terrifying to Yasmin.
Together, the trio ran for the dorm. It was the safest place they knew, though Yasmin wasn’t going to be happy until this nightmare of a vision was over.
Every second in the car felt like dead, wasted time to Dylan. Though it was productive, and he was on his way to Freddie, Dylan didn’t feel like anything was being achieved. Freddie was in danger, and the wait could make all the difference.
Jono’s car was jam-packed. George, Sammi and Lily were squeezed into the back seat. Dylan loved how many people were keen to see Freddie found quickly and safely. He was the life and soul of the pack, never failing to cheer everyone up with a well-timed joke, mostly at Josh’s expense.
Of course, Dylan valued him on a personal level, too. Freddie had become a brother to him, and they had made it through the werewolf world together. After all, they were bitten only days apart. They had each other every step of the way, and that wasn’t going to change.
Dylan had never been to the hut before. He knew Brett was fond of it from his time on the run with Johnny, but Dylan expected things were somewhat different for Freddie. He couldn’t imagine how he must have been feeling.
“Here it is,” Lily pointed out, following the directions on her phone. Sure enough, standing alone along a quiet road decorated only by a few empty buildings, was a small, wooden house. It was ordinary; so ordinary that anyone driving past wouldn’t look twice at it. Dylan supposed that was the point.
Worryingly, just outside was Freddie’s car. The driver door was wide open, but nobody was in sight. The bonnet sported a large dent – something that would have required a lot of force. Dylan’s concerns were only growing. Where was Freddie?
“Hey,” Jono stopped the car, placing a hand on Dylan’s leg as the other three clambered out of the back, “We’re going to find him.”
“I’m responsible for this. I’m the alpha. I should have seen this coming,” Dylan vented. His mood had only sunk lower and lower.
“If you think that way, anyone could be responsible. Everyone you’ve ever met is responsible for what happens to you. It’s not fair on you, Dyl. We’ve all been so busy,” Jono reminded. He knew the best way to put Dylan’s mind at ease every time he panicked.
“I guess. I just…I could have stopped this. Freddie’s my beta. If anyone should be looking out for him, it’s me,” Dylan sighed.
“You’re amazing. You try so hard to look after everyone else, but you can’t forget yourself. You just moved away from home, Dyl. That’s hard for anyone,” Jono reassured, “You’re the alpha but you’re not psychic. Nobody knew what was happening with Freddie.”
Dylan nodded. Jono was right, and he felt better for talking to him. Dylan didn’t know what he’d do without Jono. Together, they stepped out of the car. Already, George and Lily were inspecting the state of Freddie’s abandoned vehicle.
“The door’s intact,” Lily observed, “He wasn’t dragged out.”
“The bonnet though,” George worried, “She’s got him. She must have.”
“He’s not here, we need to keep going,” Sammi stressed. She couldn’t stand still, pacing up and down the path impatiently.
“Where? We need to be smart about this. There’s no time to waste,” Dylan reminded. He wasn’t taking any chances.
“He was here not long ago,” Jono mentioned, “His scent is strong.”
“He must be nearby, let’s go,” Dylan concurred. The race was on, and none of them were prepared to slack.
Panting. Losing momentum. Freddie was growing tired. Even werewolves had a breaking point, and he was extremely close to his. He couldn’t give up, though. He knew Summer wasn’t far behind. She couldn’t outrun him, but she wasn’t giving up.
The small array of buildings around the hut provided very few hiding places. Freddie had to be smart. He dipped inside a boarded-up house, which couldn’t have been more than ten minutes down the road. Freddie checked behind him on his way in – no sign of Summer. The coast was clear, for now.
Inside, behind the rackety front door barely gripping onto its hinges, was a dilapidated front room. A solitary sofa sat facing the window, its arms sliced open and its exterior fabric rotting away, exposing the off-white padding underneath. The rest of the house wasn’t much more glamorous, either. Every surface was coated in dust, and Freddie didn’t want to touch anything. He couldn’t just stand around, though. He had to hide.
The best idea Freddie had was the basement. A wooden door with white paint chipping off its surface was just to his left. There had to be a hiding place down there.
Each stair on the way down creaked, no matter how lightly Freddie trod. Thankfully, Summer still didn’t appear to be near. Freddie kept his senses on high alert just in case, though. He couldn’t afford to miss a thing.
Downstairs was much the same. The basement had clearly been used for storage in the past; it was filled with furniture and appliances, some with plastic sheets over the top to attempt to preserve them. Freddie couldn’t pinpoint much else. The basement had little natural light coming through, and he wasn’t risking the lightbulb – that would have given his game away.
Quickly, Freddie ducked underneath the tatty sofa. He wasn’t convinced it was the best hiding place, but the plastic sheet helped hide him away. Now all Freddie had to do was wait. Dylan was on his way, but he had to find him, too. With Summer on the loose, that could have proven difficult. Freddie could have lured Dylan into a dangerous trap.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Freddie listened closely. Water was trickling its way into the basement. He could just about see a small puddle beginning to form on the hard flooring at the bottom of the stairs.
“Come out, Freddie,” Summer’s voice rang harshly through his ears, “It’s no use hiding.”
Slamming the dorm door shut behind him, Oscar was panicking. He had no idea what was happening, and every exit route seemed to be cruelly boarded up. If Yasmin couldn’t get them out of her vision, who could?
Oscar wasn’t sure whether it was a relief or not that Josh felt just the same as him. Josh had been doing this longer than him. Longer than any of the pack, in fact. He knew the most about the supernatural world, and yet, he was truly terrified as well. It was some tiny comfort to Oscar to know he wasn’t simply out of his depth as a newbie.
“What do we do now?” Oscar frantically queried. He couldn’t begin to think about a way out.
“I don’t know,” Yasmin yelled, pacing back and forth. She had her hands pressed firmly against her head. It was too much. It was hurting her.
“Hey, come on,” Oscar held her shoulders, “You can do this. You’re the smartest person I know.”
“Darn right,” Josh concurred, “But I think you might need to be smart a little quicker. It’s almost here.”
Josh was right. Oscar focused his hearing, but he didn’t need enhanced hearing to notice the loud, thudding footsteps on their way up.
“I can’t,” Yasmin closed her eyes, “My head hurts.”
“You can,” Oscar encouraged, “The Yasmin I met on one of the scariest days of my life would have moved mountains for her friends. You can do it, and we’re here for you.”
Yasmin opened her eyes. She looked like she was in pain, but there was a newfound determination in her eyes. She’d listened to Oscar. She’d found her last reserves of strength.
“Our bodies are still present in the real world,” Yasmin theorised, “And sometimes, my visions allow me to move. Maybe, just maybe, if we grab onto something real, we can get out.”
“How do we move our real bodies?” Josh panicked, still guarding the door.
“Connect with yourself. Use your mind. Make a conscious decision,” Yasmin guided.
“To do what?” Oscar wasn’t put at ease yet. This seemed so complicated.
“Visualise where we were stood. What could you feel? Touch something,” Yasmin clarified.
Oscar followed the instructions. He pictured where they were stood. They were outside, by the river, leaving very little in the open, grassy space for him to touch. Nonetheless, Oscar knelt down. He kept the image vivid in his mind, focusing as clearly as he could. His hand brushed against the ground. To his amazement, Oscar felt the gentle tickle of the blades of grass. He’d found reality.
Awestruck, Oscar looked around. He’d snapped out of the vision. He was back in the real world. He could see the gentle ripples of the river, and the dim sunlight peaking out from behind the clouds. He was safe.
“Woah,” Josh commented. He was out as well. They did it.
“One more to go,” Oscar turned his attention to Yasmin. She hadn’t moved yet. She knew what to do, but the connection hadn’t been made yet. Seconds passed, and still nothing. The worried glances Oscar and Josh were sharing said it all.
Yasmin was stuck in side, and she was on her own.
Sammi felt somewhat left out from tracking Freddie. She couldn’t follow a scent like Dylan, Jono or Lily could, and she didn’t have the brotherly instincts of George. That said, Sammi had her own super strength. She cared for Freddie in a way that nobody else did. She loved him. Above anyone and everyone.
She felt somewhat embarrassed that it had taken her so long to realise that Freddie was the only one she truly wanted. Everything that went on with Jamal had played with her mind. She had pushed away the one person she truly needed. Now he was in danger.
Dylan led the way through the small array of buildings that lined the road. There didn’t appear to be anyone else around. The atmosphere was eerily silent, in fact. Why was this place so horribly quiet? There had to be some interesting history to the place.
“Maybe we should split up? We’ll find him quicker,” Sammi pondered.
“No,” Dylan insisted, “We don’t know what we’re up against. None of us really know what Summer’s capable of. We have to stick together. I’m not losing anyone.”
Sammi couldn’t fault Dylan’s approach. He was the best alpha she could wish for, and she trusted him entirely. He would have done anything to bring Freddie home safe and sound.
“The scent’s getting stronger,” Jono observed. They were approaching a house, looking just as dilapidated as every other building. It didn’t take a werewolf to detect the uneasy, eerie vibes from their location. Sammi wanted to find Freddie and leave as soon as possible, but life was never that simple.
“The door’s unlocked,” George announced as the front door creaked open with a small push.
“Be careful,” Dylan advised. Sammi didn’t need to be asked twice. She knew her body couldn’t heal like a werewolf’s could. Getting herself killed wasn’t going to help Freddie.
Inside, the place looked like it had been turned upside down. Tatty furniture had toppled over, the top of the worn-out sofa colliding with the disgustingly dusty floor. The place had been completely ransacked. Someone had been there already.
“Sh,” Lily commanded.
“We didn’t say anything,” George was confused.
“No, listen. It’s coming from below,” Lily directed. Sammi couldn’t hear anything. The downside of not being a werewolf.
“Sounds like a bath running,” Jono observed.
“Who’s running a bath in this place?” George questioned.
“No,” Dylan interrupted, “That’s not the question. Why would there be running water in the basement of a place like this?”
“Good question, alpha,” another figure emerged from the back room. It was her. Summer. Sammi was enraged. She was ready to fight.
Water level rising. Panic setting in. Freddie regretted choosing a hiding place so low to the ground. It seemed genius at the time, too. If only he had hindsight. A Yasmin vision or two could have been really helpful.
The worst part was that any movement would instantly make a sound. Summer couldn’t know he was there for sure. She was trying to flush him out, and Freddie didn’t know what to do.
He knew he had two options. He could stay where he was and attempt to hold his breath, keeping his cover, but even a werewolf wasn’t immune from drowning. Alternatively, he could attempt to move, risking being heard and exposed. Freddie couldn’t decide if it were a risk worth taking. There were no good options.
The deceptively gentle drip-drop of the water ceased. Freddie paid extra attention to his ears, or rather, his left ear. It was the only one not submerged in water, after all. Why had it stopped? No sound was coming from the steps, and they would creak for an ant.
Perhaps this was Freddie’s chance to escape? Maybe Summer had given up, assuming he wasn’t down there? Freddie’s plan could actually have worked. He couldn’t miss the opportunity.
Moving very slowly, doing his best to minimise noise, Freddie slid his way out from under the settee. The water covered the underside of his body, his face just about remaining dry. Freddie glided cautiously to the bottom of the steps. He began to hear some noise from upstairs, though whether that was good or bad, he couldn’t make out yet.
So many theories were running around Freddie’s mind. The water in his right ear was blocking his hearing. He couldn’t figure out who was up there. He wanted to be optimistic; Dylan was on his way, so perhaps he had arrived? However, he couldn’t forget Summer. She could surely have found him.
Regardless, Freddie needed to know more. He slowly and carefully lifted himself out of the water and onto the first step. Immediately, he could hear the voices more clearly. Dylan. Freddie kept going up, one step at a time, though with a stronger sense of urgency. His friends were upstairs. Summer couldn’t get to them too – Freddie was not going to put them in danger.
The different voices filled Freddie with hope. Jono. Lily. Sammi. George. They had come for him, and it meant a lot. He wasn’t fighting this battle alone.
“I don’t know where your friend is,” Freddie heard the spine-tingling voice of Summer. A voice that previously filled him with excitement and joy. She was surely lying, too. She was just metres away from him. She must have known he was there.
“She’s lying,” Lily immediately detected. She and Freddie had learnt from the same book – Dylan was an excellent mentor, “Her heartbeat is all over the place.”
“The Drummond pack. I’ve heard so much about you all. You’re practically famous, Dylan. Famous for being the biggest party pooper around,” Summer harped on. Freddie had heard enough. He burst through the basement door, immediately catching eyes with Dylan. Oh, it was good to see him again.
“I don’t think so,” Summer interrupted, firing a blast of water at Freddie. He fell backwards, unable to grab a hold of anything. He tumbled back downstairs, feeling every single harsh bump on the way down.
Panic setting in. Yasmin had tried to hard to remain calm, but any hopes of that were long gone. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t connect with reality. Josh and Oscar had succeeded – they had faded from the vision just as Yasmin had hoped, but bow she was on her own, and she was scared.
Yasmin knew that the inside of her mind was a scary place at times. She was trapped inside her own vision, and it was a claustrophobic feeling.
The door slammed open. Yasmin was cornered. The black, smoky figure glided towards her, its shape slowly becoming more and more defined. It had short but wide legs, and long arms with sizeable claws. It looked more like a giant wolf, and that scared Yasmin more than anything – her two werewolf friends had made it back safely, and her powers were useless.
“This is just a vision,” Yasmin told herself, though she wasn’t convinced. She was trapped against the wall. All she had left was hope. Hope that reality would kick in eventually. Nope that nothing could actually hurt her in a vision.
The figure approached, stopping directly in Yasmin’s face. She looked into the bright red lights that must have been the creature’s eyes. She couldn’t tell anything from them – they were soulless, completely void of any and all emotion. Nothing about it was remotely reassuring.
Yasmin closed her eyes. Whatever happened next was out of her control, and it was bound to be unpleasant. Suddenly, its shape began to filter away again, back into the black smoke Yasmin first saw. It streamlined into a cloud and sucked itself into Yasmin’s mouth.
Blinking rapidly. Yasmin’s eyes were blinded by the sunlight. She was outside. Back in reality. She could see the river, and the grassy banks surrounding it. Josh and Oscar were looking worriedly back at her. She was home.
“What happened?” Yasmin’s heartbeat slowed again. She felt so relieved to have made it out.
“Err,” Oscar stuttered. He glanced at Josh, who wasn’t saying anything. Now Yasmin was worried again. What had happened?
“Guys, tell me,” Yasmin nagged.
“Your mouth,” Josh broke the news, “Whatever that thing in the vision was, it came through your mouth. It’s in this world.”
Yasmin was horrified. Her vision had made it into reality. It was real.
Cornered. No way out. Dylan’s brain was working overtime trying to figure out how to get away. It was easier said than done, though. Summer was strong, and she had the upper hand. Freddie was trapped in the basement, and none of them would be able to get down there quickly enough to retrieve him.
Dylan could see the range of emotions on everyone’s faces. Sammi was angry, furious in fact. George was much the same, but the scent of worry in the air was strong. Either side of Dylan were Jono and Lily, and all three of them were feeling horrified. They were terrified of Summer.
“What do you want?” Dylan questioned. He had to be brave. The pack were relying on him, and he needed all the information he could get. The one missing piece of the puzzle was the reasoning. Why was Summer targeting the pack? Everyone had a motive.
“I want…a pack,” Summer replied brazenly.
“You want what?” a gobsmacked Jono blurted out. Dylan agreed with his sentiment. It was an unusual way of getting their attention, to say the least.
“There are whispers everywhere. Something terrible is coming. I’m surprised you don’t know already, everything around here seems to revolve around the Drummond pack. Something’s coming, and it’s going to devour everything in its path,” Summer explained, “I’m sure you understand the strength in numbers.”
“Why didn’t you just ask?” George angrily questioned, “Instead of tormenting my brother.”
“I’m not stupid, your pack has a reputation. Dylan Drummond’s elite pack, only taking the best. You destroy everything that doesn’t fit your ideal. Making the world more boring with every day,” Summer hit out.
“This is your pitch?” Dylan was appalled. Her words were hurtful.
“I had to take drastic action. Allow me into your pack, Dylan, and Freddie will be just fine. He’s so sweet, isn’t he?” Summer bargained.
“And what’s in it for us?” Lily stood form.
“Loyalty. You’ll get a siren on your side, and I’ll fight whatever comes your way. All I ask is for the same in return. We’ll be on the same team,” Summer explained.
Dylan looked at Jono. He wasn’t sure what to do. His morals told him it was a terrible idea – Summer wouldn’t gel with the pack; her intentions were all wrong. However, her offer was surprisingly tempting. It would spell an end to the threats and killing, and it would be a safety net for the whole pack. Jono simply smiled at him. A reassurance that whatever he decided would be okay. Whatever he decided would work.
“You have once chance,” Dylan decided, “We work as a team here. If you’re serious about that, you’ll do the same.”
“What?” Lily glanced at Dylan in shock. Evidently, that wasn’t the response she had anticipated, but Dylan felt confident. This was, at least, the lesser of two evils.
Head pounding, Freddie was in a daze. He couldn’t remember what had happened. His vision was blurry. Where even was he? The only colours he could make out were all dark.
Strangely, his hair was drenched. His clothes were soaking wet. He was half-submerged in water, or at least, he assumed it was water. Freddie began to remember. Summer. Hiding out. Seeing Dylan. He was so close to safety.
Carefully, Freddie tried to push himself up, but he couldn’t quite manage it. He had little strength left inside him. It took a lot to wear a werewolf down, but Summer had succeeded. His body took quite a knock on the way down. The good news was that the pack were upstairs. George. Sammi. Freddie hadn’t realised how much he’d missed the sight of Sammi’s face. Summer had been so all-consuming that Freddie had forgotten who he really loved. It had always been Sammi.
“Freddie,” a voice called from above. Light flickered through. The door at the top of the basement stairs flung open. George. As soon as he noticed Freddie lying at the bottom, George sprinted down, barely touching each step on the way, “Hey, Freddie, are you alright? Are you hurt?”
“A few bumps and bruises,” Freddie downplayed, “I’ll be okay.”
“I’m sorry. This shouldn’t have happened,” George looked glum.
“This isn’t your fault. You were miles away, how could you have known?” Freddie refused to let him take responsibility. George had taken care of him for years, but Freddie was an adult now.
“I knew you were distant. You weren’t returning my calls, I just assumed you were busy with college,” George sighed.
“I’m okay now. That’s what matters,” Freddie insisted, “Where are the others?”
“Look, Dylan struck a deal with Summer, and you’re not gonna like it,” George began. Freddie immediately felt concerned. What deal could possibly have been made with someone like her?
“He’s keeping us safe. He’s keeping you safe,” George insisted, but the lack of details was only unsettling Freddie more.
“Tell me, please,” Freddie pushed.
“Summer said something bad is coming, and she needs safety in numbers. In return, she’ll fight for us,” George summarised. A shiver shot uncomfortably through Freddie’s spine. The last thing he wanted was the lingering scent of Summer around him and his friends.
“What the hell?” Freddie couldn’t hide his annoyance.
“Save your energy. Let’s get out of here first. Don’t be mad at him,” George advised. Freddie sighed. He didn’t know what to think. He always trusted in Dylan, but somehow, this felt a step too far.
It was a relief to get back to the dorm for Dylan. Though he hadn’t lived there long, he was amazed at how quickly it began to feel like home. He had his friends around him, and Dylan had realised that home wasn’t the building, it was the people, and he lived with some of the best people he’d ever known.
The journey home wasn’t long, but it was tiring. Dylan wasn’t sure whether his decision about Summer was the right one or not. Freddie had barely even looked at him when George helped him up from the basement, and he’d been quiet the whole way home. Dylan always knew something was up when Freddie was quiet.
George and Sammi had taken Freddie home to Crystalshaw for the night. Understandably, college wasn’t the first thing on his mind. Dylan knew he was in a tight spot – he loved Freddie like a brother, and Summer made Freddie uncomfortable. However, he had a whole pack to consider. This way, everyone could be safe.
“Did I do the right thing?” Dylan pondered. Everyone else had filtered back into the dorm, but Dylan paused in the doorway. Only Jono remained.
“I don’t know,” Jono shrugged, “It’s too early to say. What I do know, though, is that you’re trying to do the right thing, and I think that’s what counts.”
“Yeah,” Dylan raised a slight smile. As always, Jono had put his mind right at ease.
“Hey, Dylan,” Josh called out from inside. Dylan felt relieved to hear the comfortingly familiar sounds of his brother’s voice. He ushered Jono inside and closed the door, ready to settle down as quickly as possible.
“He’s safe, he’s with George and Sammi,” Dylan relayed. He knew Josh, Yasmin and Oscar would be keen to hear how Freddie was doing.
“That’s great, but there’s another problem,” Oscar revealed. Dylan’s mood immediately dropped. They were spiralling from one issue to another, and it was the last thing he needed.
“What’s the deal?” Jono interrogated.
“You remember the power of three, right?” Yasmin began. She looked tired, exhausted even. Yasmin was never tired – she kept the most sensible, rigorous sleeping pattern, “I’ve been seeing things since. It’s like a lingering effect that won’t fade.”
“Seeing what?” Dylan was worried. Yasmin’s visions weren’t anything new, but if something had changed, that could only be a bad thing.
“Ghosts,” Yasmin uttered. Dylan’s mind was frazzled. Ghosts existed? Since when? It made no sense.
“Woah,” Jono spoke Dylan’s mind. Just when the supernatural world seemed familiar, something had to remind Dylan that he knew almost nothing still.
“How long has this been going on for?” Dylan was concerned. Why had Yasmin not shared this with them?
“A while,” Yasmin sighed, “But that’s not all. Most of the ghosts, I’ve never seen before, but one of them, well…”
“Someone we know?” Dylan’s mind began to race. Who could she have seen?
“Someone you know,” Yasmin corrected, “Dylan, I saw your dad.”
Dylan’s heart dropped. How could Yasmin have seen his dad? An old wound just re-opened and his heart began to ache. He missed his dad every day, but over the years, things had become slightly easier. Within seconds, every bit of progress seemed to fall away.
“Can I see him too?” Dylan immediately asked. Suddenly, it was the only thing he wanted.
“I’ll see you tomorrow morning, text me if you need me,” George assured, fist-bumping Freddie through the driver’s window of his car. Sammi loved watching them; she’d never seen brotherly love quite like theirs before. Growing up an only child and being deprived of her twin was something she’d never be able to forgive.
Freddie was spending the night at the Chadwick house with Sammi. She didn’t want to let him leave her sight, not after she’d fought so hard to get him back. First, though, she had some grovelling to do.
“Look, Freddie,” Sammi turned to him as the Chadwick house gates parted, taking as long to open as they always did.
“No,” Freddie paused her, “I know what you’re going to say, and it’s okay, I forgive you.”
“I need to say it, please, because it’s taken me a stupidly long time to realise what I had in front of me was all I needed,” Sammi pleaded, “I’m sorry I pushed you away. I was stupid, and selfish. Jamal got inside my head, and it shouldn’t have taken me this long to figure it out, but you’re the one I want, Freddie. I don’t deserve you, but all I’m asking for is a chance.”
“Sammi,” Freddie took her hands, “I was there for you the whole time. You didn’t need to push me away, because I understood. I’ve never cared for someone as much as you.”
“Is that a yes to the chance?” Sammi anxiously waited. She wanted to hear him say it, because this was her final step. This was the forgiveness.
“I’d be stupid to say no,” Freddie smiled uncontrollably, “Samantha Chadwick, I love you.”
“I love you too, Frederick,” Sammi smiled back, pressing her lips firmly against his for the first time in way too long. For that moment, nothing and no-one else mattered. Freddie was the person she wanted and needed. She broke the kiss, feeling a chill against her skin, “Go on, it’s cold here, I’ll close the gates and follow you in.”
“Sure. I’ll put the kettle on,” Freddie nodded, dashing off. Sammi pressed the button to close the gates back up. As they slid back to their usual position, a figure approached the gates. Felix. Darn. Sammi had forgotten to reply to him entirely.
“You’re okay, then,” Felix simply stated. He was visibly annoyed. Sammi felt bad – he needed the truth, and she hadn’t been fair on him.
“I’m sorry, I got caught up. Look, we need to talk,” Sammi fretted. Had he seen her and Freddie kissing?
“Save it. See you at school,” Felix skulked off. Sammi sighed. She needed to know more. Felix had information that could expose not just her, but Jeremy too. Things could go seriously wrong.
6: Dad Written by MarthaJonesFan
The lakehouse. One of the only places Dylan could guarantee some privacy. George and Mia were at college, leaving the place completely empty for a few hours. That was all they needed, and nobody could afford to interrupt this.
Yasmin and Jono were the only people with him. Dylan’s best friend and his boyfriend. The two people who knew him the best. The only people he was willing to share the most intimate moment of his life with. He wasn’t sure what to expect, and he was extremely nervous, but Dylan couldn’t back out. He didn’t want to, either. This was incredibly important to him. He’d be a fool to back out.
They’d settled for the spacious living room as their location, but it didn’t matter quite where they were. The company and the ability to safely zone out was all Dylan needed. All that he needed now was to calm himself down – his mind had been doing somersaults all night. He’d barely slept.
“Before we begin,” Yasmin laid the ground rules, “You’re entering my vision. Nobody outside the three of us is real. That includes him, Dylan. The ghosts are projections.”
“I know,” Dylan nodded. He was aware that this wasn’t a genuine meeting, but it was close enough. A projection still embodied everything he was.
“And if something goes wrong,” Yasmin warned.
“Grab onto something real,” Jono finished. They’d both listened to Yasmin’s recount of her previous vision. This time, if something went wrong, they were prepared. Whatever had come through, they could face it later.
“Okay, take my hand,” she held her left hand out to Dylan and her right to Jono. Confidently, Dylan took it. He knew exactly what he wanted. Jono did the same. Dylan couldn’t have stood there alone. He needed Jono by his side, just like he always did.
“What happens now?” Dylan was eager. He felt like he was swimming against the current of nerves, pushing forward, knowing that this was the right thing to do.
“Look behind you,” Yasmin directed. Butterflies swimming in every direction in his stomach, Dylan swivelled around to face the far end of the room. As he did, the colouring of the room seemed to tint a dull yellow. He was inside the vision.
“Oh my god,” Dylan was gobsmacked. There he was. He looked exactly the same as Dylan remembered. His slightly greying hair. His kind eyes. His infectious smile. He couldn’t believe he was actually stood there on front of him.
Returning to school was one unusual bump back to reality for Sammi. Often, it felt like she was living a double life: one at school like any other teenager, and one in the world of the supernatural, where she saw things most people couldn’t possibly dream of. It was like going from one extreme to another, and the transition near enough gave her whiplash.
School was by far the less interesting of the two extremes, too. The thrill and excitement of the supernatural made school so depressingly mundane, and it wasn’t much of a high even before she knew of werewolves.
“Are you getting that feeling that everybody’s staring at us?” Jeremy enquired. Sammi was glad she still had Jeremy by her side. She hadn’t been able to speak to Felix yet, but she assumed it’d be back to just her and her twin getting each other through the school day, and Sammi was cool with that.
“No, you’re probably being paranoid,” Sammi was more focused on navigating the crowded corridors than giving any attention to her peers.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Jeremy persisted, following closely behind.
“Dude, come on, we’ve not even had first period yet,” Sammi brushed him off as they reached their lockers. Neither of them wanted to be in school, but Sammi was powering through. She was trying to hide how anxious she was about seeing Felix again. He had been on her mind all night – he must have seen her kissing Freddie, there was simply no other explanation. She felt guilty for not talking to him first, but she had no regrets about her decision. Saying goodbye to Freddie that morning was tough.
“Sammi, I’m being serious. Look around,” Jeremy demanded. Sammi closed her locker to notice Jeremy was right. Everyone was staring at them. Walking past with a glaring side-eye. They were used to being outsiders, but this was something else. Nobody gave them this much attention.
“What the hell?” Sammi wasn’t sure what to do. Something had happened, evidently, but what? Gossip went around the school daily, never lasting for very long, but nothing caught people’s attention like this.
“Can we just get to class? Please?” Jeremy begged. Sammi agreed with him. It was important that they acted normal. The last thing either of them needed was more attention being drawn their way.
Head down, Sammi led the way to Miss Asahd’s room. The crowd parted as she made her way through. Nobody seemed to want to be anywhere near them. What was going on?
“Good morning,” Miss Asahd smiled her usual friendly smile as they reached their classroom. Sammi felt an immediate relief. No matter what her feelings on school were, she always felt comfortable in Miss Asahd’s lessons.
“Hi,” Sammi smiled back, sliding towards her usual seat near the back. Around half of her classmates were already seated, and each and every one of them was staring at her.
“Am I missing something?” Miss Asahd wondered.
“He’s a monster,” one girl shouted out. Alicia was her name. Sammi had never spoken to her before, but she was pointing at Jeremy.
“Hey, don’t speak to him like that,” Sammi immediately spoke up. Jeremy was too polite to defend himself, but Sammi didn’t care. Her brother was the most important thing she had, and she’d lost him twice to know she’d do anything to protect him.
“He’s a werewolf,” Alicia yelled, “And Sammi’s covering it up.” Sammi was gobsmacked. Their secret was out. She looked around the room desperately, but nobody felt any sympathy. Then she noticed. Felix was stood in the doorway. His face said it all. He’d spilled the secret. There was nowhere to hide.
Stepping back into the dorm felt like returning home to Freddie. He supposed it was his home now – the first real home he’d had since moving out of his own house with George. The house he grew up in with his parents. Caroline had been so kind letting him stay at the Drummond household, but it always felt like a stop-gap in between the house going up for sale and moving to college. Now he could settle, and although he hadn’t been there long, it felt comforting and homely.
That said, Freddie felt delighted to have spent a night with Sammi first. There was nothing he’d wanted more than to have her nearby again. She broke his heart, but that was in the past. He was ready to move forward.
There was just one issue. Summer was still lurking around. Freddie didn’t want to come face-to-face with her again. Not only did she effectively kidnap and try to kill him, but she brainwashed him too. She made him fall in love with her. It wasn’t real, and truly, Freddie felt violated.
Thankfully, ground rules had been laid on his behalf. Josh had insisted Summer couldn’t enter the dorm, and she had to keep her distance from Freddie, which felt like a huge relief at least. If anybody was going to fight his corner, it was going to be Josh.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Oscar was the first to greet Freddie. People like Oscar didn’t come around very often – he was sweet and kind, and never anything other than lovely to be around.
“I’m okay,” Freddie nodded, “I just needed to dry off and get a good night’s sleep.”
“Before you have to share with Josh again?” Lily chuckled before wrapping him in her arms. Lily’s hugs were among the best Freddie had received. You always knew she meant every single hug she gave out, “I know he’s the loudest snorer here.”
“You can talk, right Alex?” Josh defended himself playfully.
“I’m not at liberty to say,” Alex sheepishly replied.
“You’re meant to defend me, some boyfriend,” Lily joked, “Cup of tea, Freddie?”
“Please,” Freddie smiled. It felt so good to be among his favourite people again, though he noticed a few were missing, “Where’s Dylan?”
“He’s with Jono and Yasmin, they’re, err, ghost hunting,” Josh answered vaguely. Freddie had more questions now than he did before, but they could wait for later. Instead, he made himself comfortable on the sofa.
“Oh god,” Freddie groaned. A realisation had just hit him.
“What? Is everything okay?” Oscar sat by his side, looking concerned.
“Yeah, it’s just that I’ve not been to my lectures in a few days now. I’ll have loads to catch up on,” Freddie sighed. So much for hitting the ground running – one week in and he was already miles behind.
“You’ll be fine, I’m sure of it,” Oscar assured.
“It can’t be any worse than my first year at college,” Lily mentioned.
“It’s well on its way,” Freddie groaned, “I can’t believe Dylan allowed Summer into the pack just like that.”
“He must have had his reasons,” Lily justified.
“Dylan’s intentions are always good,” Josh agreed, “But something tells me this was a bad decision. Please, don’t tell him I said that.”
“I can understand giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes, you hand someone a lifeline and they bite your arm off,” Oscar considered.
“Spoken from experience, huh?” Freddie realised.
“My mom,” Oscar revealed, “She’s an alcoholic. When I was young, I’d always catch her drunk when I got home from school. She apologised and said sorry, but sometimes, enough is enough.”
“Dude,” Josh reacted, “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, she’s been sober for eight years now, she’s amazing, but only because I told someone at school. She got the help she needed, but not necessarily the help she wanted,” Oscar told.
“I remember my ADHD diagnosis,” Freddie added, “I was out of control, but I didn’t want tablets. I didn’t want to be tamed like a wild animal, but my mom talked me into it. She said it was like a magic potion that gives me superpowers. Superpowers that help me get through school. Superpowers that make me successful.”
“I remember,” Josh recalled, “You were almost excluded.”
“You’re right, Oscar,” Freddie continued, “Sometimes, the help you want isn’t the help you need, but I hope Dylan’s right, because if he isn’t, we’re all in danger.”
Dylan couldn’t believe his eyes. He knew what to expect when he asked Yasmin if she could help, but the fact it was actually happening was the most surreal experience of his life. His dad was staring back at him. The dad he said goodbye to in a hospital bed. The dad he thought about every morning when he woke up. The dad he wished he could have confided in so many times.
Everything Dylan had experienced since he lost his dad rushed through his mind. Moving to Crystalshaw and leaving his childhood home behind. Coming to terms with his sexuality. Becoming a werewolf. Meeting Jono and falling in love. Gaining a brother in Josh. His mum getting married to Ed. So much had changed. Where would he start?
“You’ve grown,” his dad chuckled. Dylan raised a smile. That was such a typical thing to say. His dad always had a great sense of humour.
“Your hair’s grey,” Dylan observed. He looked different to before. It was like he’d aged since he passed.
“Thanks,” his dad laughed in shock, “And yours is a hell of a lot longer than when I last saw you.” He was right – Dylan hadn’t had a haircut since moving to Crystalshaw, and his hair had grown so much.
“It’s not the only part of me that’s changed,” Dylan manoeuvred to his big news. There was no point hiding anything. In fact, he didn’t want to.
“Well, you weren’t a werewolf the last time I saw you,” his dad identified. Dylan was gobsmacked. How did he know?
“Um,” Dylan wasn’t sure what to say. He’d planned out exactly what to tell his dad but he already knew.
“He’s linked to me, Dylan,” Yasmin added, “He knows what we are. He’s seen it.”
“I assume you know, well, everything else,” Dylan still couldn’t quite utter the words. His sexuality was a topic he found awkward to discuss even though he was comfortable in his own skin. Why did society have to make everything way more difficult if you weren’t straight?
“I’ve missed a lot,” his dad nodded, “Go on, introduce me.”
“Dad,” Dylan held his right hand out to his side, gesturing Jono forward. Of course, Jono took the hint, wrapped his own hand around Dylan’s and joined him by his side, “This is Jono.”
“Hi Mr. Drummond,” Jono politely greeted, oozing with his usual levels of charm.
“Please, call me Martin. I hope you’re taking care of my boy,” he greeted. It was instantly a better reaction than Jono’s dad had ever given him. Steve had never openly disapproved of their relationship, though he had often rubbished its chances of lasting. It only made Dylan more motivated to spend every remaining day of his life by Jono’s side.
“Trust me, he takes care of me,” Jono laughed.
“How long have you two been together?” Martin questioned.
“Three years,” Dylan proudly replied.
“That’s amazing, son. I’m so proud of you,” Martin beamed, “Look, I know this isn’t the real world, but can’t you give your dad a tour around your house here?” Dylan nodded, but he felt a little worried. One more bombshell was on its way, and Dylan didn’t know how to break it to his dad.
Furious, Sammi sprinted out of the classroom. She couldn’t face the lesson, not when Felix was going to be right there. His facial expression had guilt written all over it. He’d spilled their biggest secret. He knew the stakes were high. He knew he was putting Jeremy directly at risk. It was selfish, attention-seeking and downright childish.
However, Sammi couldn’t let her emotions get the better of her. The most important thing she could do was get Jeremy out of the classroom. He wasn’t safe around judgemental people. She’d heard about the last time the werewolf secret leaked. There was outrage and uproar. Werewolves were always rumoured at Crystalshaw High, but Felix had seen enough proof to give plenty of ammunition.
“In there,” Sammi escorted Jeremy into the newsroom, yet to have new owners since Dylan and Jono left. As a result, it was the perfect place for them to hide. Now all they needed was help, and there was only one person she could turn to, “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”
Doing her best to keep a clear mind, Sammi dashed further into the school, skidding to a halt outside a familiar classroom. Inside, Mrs. Johnson had a class full of sophomore students, but they weren’t Sammi’s concern. This was an emergency. She knocked on the door, peering through the window to grab Mrs. Johnson’s attention. Annoyingly, she held her index finger up, indicating to wait. Sammi had no patience left, though. She paced back and forth. Composure was important, but it was getting tougher to maintain as time went on.
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Johnson questioned, finally joining Sammi in the corridor. As always, Mrs. Johnson looked as if she had little time for any kerfuffle.
“The secret’s out. Jeremy’s in danger,” Sammi instantly relayed.
“How? What happened to being careful?” Mrs. Johnson scolded.
“It’s a long story,” Sammi swerved, “But please, we need you.”
“I need the full story. Give me some time, I’ll report back,” Mrs. Johnson informed, as efficiently as ever, “Where’s Jeremy now?”
“The newsroom,” Sammi informed.
“Stay there with him. You can work in there for today while I sort this,” Mrs. Johnson assertively ordered. Despite the cold exterior, she was obviously keen to do what she could to help, and Sammi appreciated that.
“Sammi,” a voice came from behind her. The voice she didn’t want to hear. The one person she couldn’t stomach. Sammi turned around, meeting eyes with Felix, “Please, we need to talk.”
Sammi sighed. She was too angry, but this conversation had to happen. They had to work things out.
It felt unusual to have a moment to breathe in the dorm. Oscar knew that life with the pack was hectic and crazy at the best of times, he’d heard plenty of the stories, but the first week of college was even busier than he thought it’d be. Taking the time to digest what had happened seemed like a rarity, but Oscar wasn’t complaining.
After all, his whole life had been a whirlwind since moving to Crystalshaw. Becoming a werewolf came with a surprising amount of baggage. He had worked on learning everything he could from Dylan. Hearing. Vision. Transforming. He’d mastered it all quite quickly, but that wasn’t it. His mum was still in the dark. He never kept secrets this big from his mum, but how could he explain being a werewolf? It would have sounded ridiculous. They had become slightly distant since moving house.
Therefore, Oscar threw his all into the pack. It was a positive distraction. He put smiles on people’s faces, and that gave him a role. After all, he was still the new kid. He had something to prove.
“Here you go,” Oscar passed the blanket to Freddie, who was getting pampered while remaining firmly planted on the sofa.
“Dude, you’re the best,” Freddie smiled gratefully.
“Duh,” Oscar chuckled playfully.
“Okay, tell me, what have I missed?” Freddie was perking up. Oscar loved seeing the old Freddie back. Summer’s hypnotic effect was wholly unflattering for him.
“You know, Yasmin’s visions coming to life, a terrifying alpha manifesting itself in our world, nothing serious,” Josh made light of the situation, but Oscar was still processing the events of the day before. The emotions he felt inside the vision were still so vivid in his mind. The mere thought made him uneasy.
“Why are we sat here then?” Freddie looked baffled.
“It’ll show itself,” Josh confidently replied, “These things always do. There’s no point chasing a black cloud of smoke.”
“You can’t even chase a girl,” Freddie smirked.
“Woah dude, low blow,” Josh laughed. He could take a joke about anything. Oscar had never seen anyone with as thick a skin as Josh, “Maybe I should be taking notes from Oscar.”
“What?” Oscar was taken aback. His love life was almost non-existent. He’d barely had a moment to even consider dating since becoming a werewolf.
“I saw you in the café with that boy yesterday,” Josh continued. Now Oscar understood. Cody.
“Hey, leave him alone, that’s his business,” Lily backed him up. Oscar admired Lily’s loyalty. She always stood up for what’s right.
“It’s okay,” Oscar spoke up. He had nothing to hide. He could own his crushes, “His name’s Cody, he’s from the LGBTQ+ society, he’s just a friend. Barely even that, he’s an acquaintance.”
“But you’d like more, right?” Josh squeezed him for answers.
“Maybe,” Oscar coyly answered, “I don’t really know him.”
“Then get to know him,” Freddie encouraged, “Don’t wait for a wake-up call like me.” Oscar nodded. Freddie’s advice was excellent. What did Oscar have to lose?
Walking back into his house felt somewhat unusual to Dylan. He’d been at college for over a week, but it had felt like a lot longer. What was even stranger was the fact it wasn’t real. The house was in Yasmin’s vision, but it looked so realistic. Every detail was perfect, from the furniture to the photographs on display. It was crazy.
Martin smiled as he entered the living room. He looked all around, collapsing onto the sofa in delight. Dylan was scared to burst his bubble, though. They hadn’t discussed Caroline yet, and Dylan had to be the one to mention her marriage to Ed. It would’ve been wrong not to tell him the full story.
“This place is beautiful,” Martin complimented, “It’s so cosy. Your mom’s done a fantastic job.”
“She spent about a month perfecting it when we arrived,” Dylan chuckled, remembering how much time Caroline spent rearranging the front room to make everything perfect.
“A month? I didn’t think she’d ever stopped,” Jono joked. He had a point – Caroline always had new interior design ideas. She never seemed satisfied with the way the house looked.
“Nothing’s changed,” Martin smiled fondly, “Do you all live here?”
“I live with my mom not far away,” Yasmin added.
“Jono moved in last year, that’s a long story,” Dylan informed. Of course, Jono had moved in while Dylan was kept prisoner in the Lunar Sanctum. The darkest days of both their lives, “Our friend Freddie lives here too, and Josh, my adoptive brother.”
“Brother? Wow, that’s amazing. Your mom was always amazing. Four teenage boys can’t be easy,” Martin beamed.
“She doesn’t do it alone,” Dylan mentioned. This was it. He had to tell Martin the truth, “Mom married again, dad. They got married not long ago, actually, but they’ve been together a few years.”
“Really?” Martin looked taken aback, taking a few moments to gather his thoughts, “Who is he?”
“Ed Taylor, he’s the sheriff of Crystalshaw county,” Dylan informed, “He’s a great guy. Looks after me. Looks after all of us, actually. He treats mom like a queen.”
“That’s…wonderful,” Martin commented, “I told your mom to find someone else, because she deserves happiness. She changed my life, and I’m happy she’s happy.”
“She still loves you, dad,” Dylan added, “She mentioned you, just before she walked up the aisle. She’s happy with Ed, but she’s never forgotten you.”
“And I’ll always love her,” Martin nodded, “Come here, son.” Dylan obeyed, sitting next to him on the couch, “I’m so thankful for this time, and I’m so proud of everything you are. You’re smart, strong, and most of all, you’re yourself. Never forget that.”
“I miss you, dad,” Dylan couldn’t stop himself crying. This felt like a goodbye, and Dylan supposed it was. This was the goodbye he never got to say as a kid. Now, he understood the gravity of what was happening. Now, he could make the goodbye count.
“I’m always with you, Dylan. Every single day. Keep making me proud, by looking after your friends, and treating Jono with respect and kindness. He’s a keeper, remember that,” Martin advised.
“Of course,” Dylan nodded, wiping the tears away just in time for more to fall.
“I can’t sustain this much longer,” Yasmin informed.
“I love you,” Dylan uttered. He couldn’t go without saying that.
“I love you too,” Martin smiled proudly, “Bye, Dylan.”
“Bye dad,” Dylan replied. Martin faded, his living room morphing back into the lakehouse. He hadn’t moved from Yasmin’s side. It was a harsh bump back to reality.
“Are you okay?” Jono asked.
“Yeah,” Dylan nodded, convincing himself, “I will be. Thank you, both of you, for being there.” Dylan felt an uncontrollable sadness, but he was strangely happy at the same time. Nobody got a second chance to talk to their lost loved ones, and Dylan would cherish those moments forever.
Sammi had never felt so angry before. Simply looking at Felix’s face evoked so much anger in her. A face that, for a short while, brought her so much happiness. The boy she fancied actually liked her back. That felt like a dream come true.
Perhaps that was the problem? It was a dream. A fantasy. A harsh reminder that not everyone could be trusted. Sammi felt so stupid. She’d spilled her biggest secret to a guy she barely knew, just because he gave her some attention. As a result, she’d put Jeremy in danger. How could she have been so reckless?
Begrudgingly, Sammi led Felix into the newsroom. She wasn’t sure she wanted him anywhere near Jeremy, but she had little choice. It was the only place they’d get any privacy.
“What the hell is he doing here?” Jeremy was taken aback, “You’re the only one who knew the secret. It had to be you.”
“It’s okay, he wants to talk,” Sammi mentioned, “And he’s got one chance to explain himself before I call Dylan.”
“One chance,” Jeremy concurred. Sammi knew he’d want to hear him out.
“Go on then,” Sammi commanded. She wasn’t going to let their time be wasted.
“Firstly, I want to say I’m sorry. I’ve deleted the post, but I guess it’s too late,” Felix grovelled. He looked desperate, a vast change from his usual confident exterior, “Sammi, I was angry. You weren’t returning my texts, so I went round to yours.”
“And you saw me kissing Freddie,” Sammi completed the sentence. She knew it. This was his revenge.
“You hung me out to dry, Sammi,” Felix vented, “Put yourself in my shoes. How do you think I felt?”
“How do I think you felt? How do you think Jeremy feels right now?” Sammi corrected. In her eyes, there was only one person they needed to focus on, “This is between me and you, it should never have involved my brother.”
“I know,” Felix yelled, before taking a step back, collecting his thoughts, “Jeremy, I truly didn’t mean to hurt you. It was thoughtless, and I hope, in time, you can forgive me.”
Jeremy simply nodded. He looked like a bundle of anxiety. Sammi often forgot that social situations weren’t something Jeremy had much experience with, much less conflict. She needed to take it down a notch, for his sake.
“Felix,” Sammi composed herself, “I’m sorry, too. What I did was shitty. Truly. You deserved an explanation.”
“Did you mean what you said to me? Our time together, was it real?” Felix questioned.
“Yes,” Sammi confirmed, speaking honestly, “I care for you so much, but Freddie…he’s different. I almost lost him for good. I hope you can understand.”
“I…I’ll try,” Felix nodded.
“That doesn’t make what you did okay, though. It was beyond shitty, Felix. This won’t go away, so I hope you’re ready to help me when things get ugly,” Sammi explained. It was somewhat through gritted teeth – she was still so angry at Felix, but Jeremy couldn’t cope. She needed to protect him, and if that meant playing nice with Felix, she was game.
“I’m in. Whatever I can do, I promise,” Felix vowed, looking both of them in the eyes. This was going to be an uphill battle, to say the absolute least.
Arriving back at the dorm felt strangely bittersweet for Jono. He’d had a day like no other, but it wasn’t about him. It was about Dylan, and Jono felt so lucky that Dylan chose him to be a part of it. Meeting his dad was an honour, even if the situation wasn’t what any of them would have desired.
Dylan hadn’t spoken much on the drive back home. Jono understood – if he’d experienced such polarising emotions, Dylan’s must have been multiplied by ten. Jono was so fortunate that he had both of his parents around. In fact, it was something of a rarity among the pack. He couldn’t take that for granted.
That said, Jono still yearned for parents that truly invested in him, like Caroline and Martin. They both cherished Dylan, and even made Jono himself feel like one of their own. He was on better terms with his own parents than earlier that year, but things had always been somewhat frosty.
“Welcome home,” Lily warmly greeted, leaping off the sofa, “How was it?” Dylan slid past her and into their bedroom.
“Yeah, all good. Everything okay here?” Jono asked, though he didn’t want to hang around long. Dylan needed him.
“All fine. Go on, go and see him,” Lily read his mind. Jono nodded gratefully, following Dylan into their bedroom, swerving the rest of the pack.
Inside, Dylan laid across his half of the bed. In his hands were a selection of photos, and Jono didn’t need to use his journalist skills to deduce who was in them. Without saying anything, Jono rolled across the bed behind Dylan, looking over his shoulder and wrapping his arms around him, spooning him cosily.
“I could lay here all day,” Jono commented, breaking the silence.
“I’m okay,” Dylan said. Jono purposely hadn’t asked; he wanted Dylan to speak in his own time, “I promise. I just need some time to process, you know?”
“Of course,” Jono assured, “Thank you for sharing your day with me. Your dad’s amazing. I can’t pretend to know how you’re feeling, but I’m here whenever you want to talk about it.”
“I know,” Dylan raised a slight smile, “Please, stay with me?”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Jono affirmed.
“This was our last photo together,” Dylan held one up for Jono to see. It was a very youthful-looking Dylan, lying beside his dad in a hospital bed.
“You both look so happy,” Jono was surprised. The smiles on both of their faces said it all.
“Dad always made sure I was happy, right to the very end,” Dylan explained, “Today was amazing. I know how lucky I am to have seen him again. I just can’t help feeling like I’ve lost him all over again.”
“Feel what you need to feel, because it’s valid and okay,” Jono encouraged, “You know, you’re going to be a great dad one day.”
“We both will,” Dylan nodded.
“I’ve not really got the best role model,” Jono sighed.
“Then you’ll do everything your dad never did for you,” Dylan replied, “Trust me, you’ll be incredible. Any kid would be lucky to have you as their dad.” Dylan flipped around to face Jono, eye-to-eye.
“I can’t wait for that day,” Jono beamed, leaning in to kiss Dylan. He’d heard about the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ before couples stopped finding a relationship so thrilling, but after three years, Jono cared for Dylan more and more every single day. Nobody excited him like he did. They had each other, forever and always.
7: Territory Written by MarthaJonesFan
Feeling the bright sunlight shining on his face, Jono began to stir. He’d slept like a baby, and after the day he’d had, that was no surprise. Emotions ran high and he was emotionally and physically exhausted, but not half as much as Dylan.
The night they’d spent together was all kinds of wonderful, though. They’d snuggled for most of the night, talking about anything and everything. If Jono had his way, he’d spend every day just like that. Dylan was all he needed.
Dylan was still fast asleep. Jono gently twirled his finger around Dylan’s untamed locks of hair. It was the most relaxing thing to do, and after all, Dylan barely had his hands out of Jono’s curls usually. It was a surprisingly therapeutic thing to do, and it eased any of Jono’s concerns.
After all, he was somewhat concerned. Concerned about Dylan. He had so much on his plate. Not only the grief of losing his dad all over again, but the whole situation with Summer. Making sure Freddie was okay. College work. Anybody would find that overwhelming, and Dylan was no different. Jono couldn’t help being protective, and he knew Dylan would feel just the same in his shoes.
Jono glanced at the time on his phone. Eight o’clock. They had a lecture at nine. Unfortunately, he had to break Dylan’s slumber, but gently. Jono slid out of bed and glanced out of the window. They had a gorgeous view of the campus from their bedroom. He knew Freddie had hacked the system to ensure the pack had a dorm together, but whether he purposely picked such an idealistic location, Jono wasn’t sure. He had no complaints to make, though.
Cracking open a window, Jono enjoyed the gentle breeze against his skin. Fresh air did wonders for his mood. It immediately placed him into a better mindset, ready for the day ahead. However, it wasn’t just fresh air that wafted in. Black smoke found its way in, but it was no ordinary smoke. It moved into different shapes, as if it were travelling, with a clear direction planned.
Jono was freaked out. He backed off, but the smoke followed. It was following him. All Jono could think about was what Yasmin told him. Her vision. The alpha that began to form. It was in their world. It had found Jono.
Before he could act, the smoke zoomed up Jono’s nose, giving him no choice but to breathe it in. Immediately, his insides felt strange. His mind was shutting off. He was losing control.
His body wasn’t his any longer.
Nerves wrecked. Anxiety sky high. Paranoia up to the max. Jeremy was simply terrified. School was a dangerous place and he didn’t feel even slightly safe. Sammi was by his side, and she could win any argument she wanted, but she wasn’t a werewolf like he was. She couldn’t fight, and quite honestly, neither could he.
Sammi was convinced they didn’t need to fight, though. Mrs. Johnson had spoken to every class about the importance of not believing vicious rumours, and how bullying would not be tolerated, but Jeremy didn’t believe it would work. Not after the number of strange stares he received the morning before.
Ultimately, Sammi believed staying at home would be admitting defeat, and Jeremy understood the sentiment – he’d spent most of his lifetime in the shadows, and he wasn’t ever going back to that. However, being an open target had no sense of pride or strength. It was dangerous, and he was the one at risk, not Sammi.
“Remember, it’s all in the body language,” Sammi coached. Jeremy begrudgingly listened, because it was still preferable to the overbearing, inane chat around them as they slipped through the crowded corridors, “If you show weakness, they’ll suspect something.”
“Confidence, okay,” Jeremy went along with it. It was the best idea either of them had. He focused himself, got himself into the zone, but it was easier said than done. All he could hope for was that his anxiety wasn’t showing on the outside.
Reaching the biology lab, all Jeremy felt was déjà vu. Just twenty-four hours earlier, he’d rushed out of class and spent the day in the newsroom. He felt so tempted to do it again. Nevertheless, he sat on his usual seat, next to Sammi, and lugged the heavy textbook out of his bag. At least he had her, and Mrs. Johnson too.
“Settle down please,” Miss Asahd summoned. Hold on – Miss Asahd? Jeremy was baffled. This was biology, not maths. Mrs. Johnson was the one teacher who was in-the-know, “Mrs. Johnson’s sick but she’s left plenty of questions to answer. Please turn to page sixty-four of your textbooks.”
Confusion turned into panic. Jeremy felt somewhat at ease knowing Mrs. Johnson was around. She knew his secret, and she protected them. Not having Mrs. Johnson around was bad news.
“Looks like your mom’s not here,” Tommy turned around to tease. Tommy was the biggest guy in the classroom, never seen without a girl on his arm. From what Jeremy had overheard, he was also the biggest idiot in their grade. Arrogant, rude and narrow-minded.
“Leave him alone,” Sammi immediately defended.
“Yeah? Says who?” Tommy stood up.
“Says us,” Felix leapt up from his desk at the front of the room to stand beside Jeremy. Sammi followed suit, standing to the other side. Jeremy gulped, though. This couldn’t end well.
Dylan was really growing to hate early lectures. It was a big ask to expect him to be particularly attentive or focused so early in the morning. If he had his way, all lectures would happen from the late morning at least, if not early afternoon.
That said, the journalism course had been just what Dylan had hoped. He’d taken so many notes and kept on top of all assignments so far. He knew he’d be motivated when studying something he truly wanted. One step closer to his dream with Jono.
Speaking of Jono, he’d been strangely quiet that day. Barely a word since he woke up. Jono was never that quiet. He was much more of a morning person than Dylan. Comforting small talk, Facebook memes, anything to put a smile on Dylan’s face when he woke up. That morning – absolutely nothing. It was strange, and Dylan was immediately worried.
“He’s staring very intensely,” Oscar whispered to Dylan. For a change, Dylan was sat in the middle of Jono and Oscar, because Jono had nabbed the aisle seat. Jono knew Dylan preferred that seat and, in fact, always insisted he took it. Something was up.
“I know, he’s not been himself,” Dylan whispered back.
“Was he okay last night?” Oscar wondered.
“Fine,” Dylan answered truthfully, “Great, in fact. Something’s up.”
“Okay everyone,” Professor Turner summoned. Though she was only their short-term supply lecturer, Dylan had grown to enjoy her teaching style. She made things relevant to young people, perhaps helped by being pretty young herself, “Today we’re talking editing. Editing is one of the most important skills you can learn as a journalist. Creating content is one thing, but making it look professional and checking you’re actually making sense is vital. Otherwise, let’s be real, it’ll leave you looking like a complete turnip.”
Dylan raised a smile. Professor Turner was being her usual engaging self, but Jono seemed distant still. Not a smile raised. Not a glimmer in his eyes. Dylan was concerned.
“Hey, Jon,” Dylan whispered, keeping his voice low so he didn’t disturb any of his peers, “Everything okay?”
“Fine,” Jono replied. That was even stranger. He was never that blunt. Not even once had Jono been that blunt to Dylan. He was really concerned.
Freddie low-key hated the Bestiary. Though it was informative, it was an old-fashioned, long-winded mess of a book that contained way more words than he would ever have the time or attention to read.
Annoyingly, the Bestiary was actually a necessary tool, though. It had been compiled by hunters, and ironically, nobody knew more about the supernatural world than those who wanted it completely eradicated. It was comprehensive, and every time they were up against something new, the Bestiary would be their most valuable tool.
Freddie couldn’t help getting stuck on one particular page. They were looking for a particular type of alpha, but Freddie was reading something else. He wanted to know more about the siren. He was the only one who didn’t know what Summer really was. She was no nix like Yasmin. She was something else. Something worse, and she lied about it.
The fact that Summer was sat opposite Freddie in the café made him uneasy. She had wormed her way into the pack, using Freddie to get what she wanted. He could have died, and it would’ve been her fault. Freddie couldn’t help feeling somewhat resentful to Dylan as a result, either. He could’ve said no. He should’ve said no, or, at least, he should’ve asked Freddie’s opinion first. They were meant to be a pack, after all.
“I swear to god, I’m on page sixty-seven of this Google search and I’ve still yet to see anything worth reading,” Josh groaned, “I mean, these people think we break every bone in our body to transform every full moon, then go around eating rabbits. It’s a lost cause.”
“Don’t pretend you haven’t developed a taste for rabbits,” Freddie joked.
“Hey, that only happened once,” Josh played along.
“You’re disgusting,” Lily remarked. She had her head buried in a textbook, ignoring the supernatural drama they were facing.
“They are pretty tasty,” Summer casually chimed in. The whole group fell silent. Freddie began to feel sick. She wasn’t doing anything to win him over. A few moments of silence passed, “I’m joking, come on guys, don’t take me so seriously.”
“Oh,” Lily exaggerated a laugh, “Of course.”
“Oh my god,” Yasmin strutted in with purpose, slamming a pile of books down on the table, “I’ve never met a more uptight librarian. She looked me up and down and properly judged me for the books I was checking out.”
“Yasmin,” Josh observed, “You’ve literally checked out fifteen books about werewolves and the supernatural, and they all need to be returned within a week. I’m judging you too.”
“Coming from the boy who hasn’t read fifteen books in his life,” Yasmin smirked.
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Freddie interjected, “He’s not a boy anymore.”
“Oh, you’re both so funny,” Josh shook his head, a huge smile painted across his face, “Seriously, Yasmin, are you okay? You’re looking kinda pale.”
“I feel fine,” Yasmin insisted. Freddie raised an eyebrow. Yasmin never spoke about her feelings so openly. Her answer may as well have been silence for all it meant.
“He’s right,” Lily mentioned, “Take a seat.”
Almost on cue, Yasmin’s eyes snapped shut. Her balance was lost. She collapsed harshly to the ground. Freddie leapt out of his seat in worry. Yasmin was out cold, and he was worried. He lifted her hand, trying to take her pain, but it wasn’t working.
“Call an ambulance,” Freddie demanded, “Now!”
The moment had come. Oscar was excited. He’d been waiting for this moment for a couple of days. With all that had been going on among the pack, this was his ray of sunshine. The pack had given him some sound advice, and he had nervously but keenly followed it.
The truth was, Oscar had so little experience in the world of dating. He’d been too shy to pursue anyone before. Well, anyone except Jono. The one guy that actually seemed to like him back, too. Everything changed the minute Dylan returned. While Oscar wasn’t bitter, and he had so much time for Dylan and the amount of time he’d invested into teaching him werewolf skills, he couldn’t help wondering “what if?”.
Now Oscar wanted his own Dylan. That one guy that he’d just click with, like it’s destiny. Oscar wasn’t sure he believed in stuff like destiny, but he liked the idea of it enough to buy into it somewhat. That was another thing he’d learnt from Dylan – the importance of optimism.
Running just a couple of minutes late, Oscar finally arrived. He spotted the picnic blanket laid out a few metres back from the river. The sun was glistening and it was the perfect temperature too – hot, but not so hot that he’d be embarrassed by sweating. However, as lovely as the scenery was, there was only one thing catching Oscar’s eyes. His vibrant ginger hair radiating in the sunlight, his smile widening as Oscar approached. Cody was waiting for him.
“Hey,” Cody greeted confidently, tapping the picnic rug next to him, offering Oscar a seat.
“Hey, this is so lovely,” Oscar took him up on the offer.
“Well, I don’t like to do things by halves,” Cody smirked, opening a biscuit tin he’d brought along, “Help yourself.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” Oscar chuckled.
“Alora said you’d like these,” Cody mentioned.
“My visits to the snack table at the society meetings aren’t going unnoticed, oops,” Oscar blushed.
“It’s not the only thing, either,” Cody swerved to a new topic, “I saw you the other day. You and two of your friends.”
“Right?” Oscar wasn’t sure how to react. He’d been out most days since he arrived on campus. Being spotted with his friends, nine times out of ten, wasn’t anything unusual.
“Yeah, you were more-or-less in this very spot,” Cody continued. Darn. Oscar knew exactly what this was. He was with Yasmin and Josh. The day they got trapped in Yasmin’s vision.
“Oh, sure, I remember that,” Oscar tried to play it cool. After all, he had no other option.
“I tried calling your name but you were frozen solid, but I kept watching from afar. You just snapped back to life,” Cody recalled. Oscar was unsettled. There was no easy way to explain that. He had no reply, “I think you need to tell me what’s going on.”
“Trust me, you wouldn’t believe me,” Oscar brushed it off.
“I think I would,” Cody replied as his bright blue eyes glared into a harsh red. The eyes of an alpha. Oscar was taken aback. What was he meant to say?
Feeling extremely vulnerable, Jeremy didn’t know what to do. Though it was reassuring to have Sammi and Felix either side, there were twenty-five other people in that room. Too many people blocking the only way out. Though they meant well, Felix and Sammi wouldn’t be able to get him out safely, and using any werewolf skills would only confirm what he is. The flame had to be extinguished.
“What the hell is going on?” Miss Asahd demanded, storming over from the teacher desk.
Jeremy’s anxiety continued to rise. He squeezed Sammi’s hand so tightly. He had to remember that he had super strength, and Sammi didn’t have healing powers. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt the one person he definitely had on his team.
“Why don’t you ask the werewolf?” Tommy replied, not looking away from Jeremy. He was angry, furious in fact. It was like Tommy detested Jeremy’s mere existence.
“Sit down, Tommy, we’re leaving that cruel prank outside my classroom,” Miss Asahd continued. Her words weren’t resonating, though. Tommy didn’t move. That same glare, packed full of hatred, continued to stare Jeremy down.
“It’s not a prank,” Tommy spoke back, “And I’ll prove it. Stand up.”
“Don’t do it,” Felix whispered.
“It’s okay,” Jeremy took control. He was the one at risk, and he was the only one who could do something about it. He was fed up of other people taking stuff away from him. He stood up, looking Tommy directly eye-to-eye. What happened next was Tommy’s move, but Jeremy was ready. He wasn’t going to show weakness.
Tommy’s fist hurtled towards Jeremy’s face, slamming against his nose. It hurt like hell, but Jeremy wasn’t going to react. The wolf inside was raging and ready to fight, but Jeremy was in charge. He wasn’t going to react. He couldn’t afford to react.
Another punch came his way. This time, it flung into his jawbone. He was almost definitely bleeding, but Jeremy was focused more on keeping composure. He thought about his anchor, though he wasn’t sure what that anchor was anymore. His dad always taught him to think of home, but the shadows were hardly a comforting thought.
“Get the principal, now,” Miss Asahd yelled, but no students left the room. Nobody was fighting Jeremy’s corner, other than the tight grips in each hand. Sammi was as amazing as always, but Felix had really stepped up to the post too. He was living up to his promise, and Jeremy could only respect that.
Tommy primed another punch, but Miss Asahd stood in the middle, breaking it up. She was angry, like Jeremy had never seen before. She was always such a calm teacher, after all.
“Sammi, please escort Jeremy out,” Miss Asahd took back control, “Felix, please fetch Mrs. Harding. The rest of you, sit down on your own chairs unless you all want to be punished for being complicit.”
Sammi did as directed, and Jeremy managed to slide out of the room without any more violence. His face hurt in so many places, but he couldn’t help feeling proud of himself. He was determined to keep his composure, and he did just that. He’d succeeded. He’d won.
There was nowhere Dylan hated more than the hospital waiting room. Nothing positive ever happened there. Time seemed to move slower and every moment dragged out. It was dead time, but strangely, there was nowhere else Dylan would rather be.
Receiving the call from Josh about Yasmin’s collapse had put the frighteners into Dylan. She’d been overexerting herself the past couple of her days. Her visions weren’t supposed to be as vivid as they’d become. Ghosts and dead people shouldn’t have been able to come and go so easily. Yasmin’s connections were intensified, and it was obviously tiring her out.
The issue was that Dylan didn’t know of any solution. The abilities of a nix were already pretty difficult to suss out. Dylan wasn’t even sure whether Yasmin had conquered all of her abilities or not. Harbingers of death seemed like the black sheep of the supernatural world; the taboo subject that nobody wanted to talk about.
Most of the pack were waiting for an update. Oscar hadn’t answered his phone, and Dylan didn’t want to bother Sammi and Jeremy while they were at school, so this didn’t need to be their problem too. Autumn was by Yasmin’s bedside; only immediate family were allowed in, and Autumn was the only relative Yasmin had. Well, the only one not in jail, but Dylan wasn’t dwelling on Forsyth. Yasmin had more than done enough to shed the horrific history of her family name. Dylan was so proud of how far she’d come. She was strong, intelligent and loyal – the perfect ingredients of a best friend.
Beside Dylan was a slumped Freddie, gazing blankly ahead. He hadn’t said a word since they arrived. Dylan knew how close he and Yasmin were. Heck, they even dated once, but their friendship was what prevailed. It warmed Dylan’s heart, because interestingly, they were polar opposites. Yasmin was studious, reserved and organised, while Freddie was messy, a keen joker and more of a video-gamer than keen learner. Somehow, they gelled together perfectly.
Dylan sussed something more was up, though. Freddie hadn’t spoken to him since the rescue. The chemo-signals coming off him were obvious. He was furious, and Dylan knew why. After all, he’d made a deal with the siren that seduced and manipulated Freddie without actually asking him. Dylan understood how Freddie felt, but he needed to make his stance clear.
“Tell me how you’re feeling,” Dylan pleaded with him, keeping his voice low. This was between them and nobody else.
“I think you know,” Freddie brushed it off. He didn’t want to talk about it, but Dylan wasn’t letting this simmer any longer. Nothing good came of keeping quiet, he’d found that out himself.
“I want to hear you say it, talk to me Freddie,” Dylan encouraged.
“I’m angry,” Freddie replied harshly, though still keeping his voice low, “I’m angry that you made a deal with her. I’m angry that you didn’t ask me first. Did you not think I’d deserve to get a say? Now she’s sitting with my friends, pretending to get along when she’s not wanted.”
A moment of silence passed. Dylan was pleased Freddie had finally opened up, and he was careful not to turn it into a slanging match.
“I’m sorry,” Dylan admitted sincerely, “You’re right. You deserved a say. This is your pack as much as it is mine. However, I hope you can see it from my perspective. I’m the alpha, I’ve got to make tough decisions, and for all I know, an alliance with Summer could have saved lives. It could have saved your life, and for that, I’ll never apologise. You’re like a brother to me, Freddie. We’ve been through this whole journey together, at the same time.”
“I wouldn’t have made it this far without you,” Freddie smiled, “Please, just promise me that we’ll cut her at the first sign of trouble?”
“Without question,” Dylan nodded, “You’ve got my word.” Freddie nodded, much to Dylan’s relief. They were able to move on, and as a pack, they were always stronger together.
Though they were living under the same roof for the first time in months, Lily felt strangely distant from Jono since they moved to college. Perhaps it didn’t help that they lived with six others – Lily felt she was somewhat diluting herself to spend time with everyone – but she hated how little time she and Jono had spent together.
That said, she and Jono had been somewhat forced apart when she went to her first college the year before. At least they had an excuse to be talking less – Lily was a whole flight away, but now their rooms were side-by-side. Perhaps distance didn’t matter as much?
A hospital waiting room wasn’t the place Lily had in mind for some quality family time, either. Everything about a hospital was so mundane. The plain white walls. The atmosphere. The emotions she could sense from everyone around her. Being part-werewolf was both a blessing and a curse. Chemo-signals allowed her to read the room, but when there was so much misery and anxiety, it was hard to block it out. Her own anxiety levels were high enough.
“Hey, how was your lecture?” Lily made conversation. Anything to take her mind off Yasmin.
“Fine,” Jono replied bluntly, staring straight ahead. Lily was taken aback – that wasn’t like him. He was never that vacant. Jono was generally incapable of giving one-word answers. One thing they had in common was their ability to chat.
“Is something up?” Lily wondered. There had to be a reason he was acting so unusually.
“No,” Jono replied. He was clearly lying. This wasn’t right. Jono was never this quiet for no reason, and he never kept secrets from Lily. They trusted each other more than anyone else – that’s the way it was and that’s the way it’ll always be.
“Come on, tell me,” Lily encouraged.
“I said no,” Jono growled. His voice deepened, way more than what sounded natural. Dylan looked up from across the corridor, noticing Jono’s unusual behaviour.
“What’s up with him?” Lily queried to Dylan.
“I don’t know, he’s not been himself,” Dylan replied. Lily was growing more and more concerned. This wasn’t like Jono at all.
“Summer,” Jono mentioned, still growling, like the inner wolf had taken over.
“What about her?” Lily quickly interrogated.
“Where is she?” Jono questioned.
“Why do you need to know?” Dylan kept quiet.
“Tell me,” Jono yelled, his voice deepening by the second. Lily was growing from concerned to scared. Something was up. Something bad.
A dark smoke began to surround Jono. He stood up, baring his fangs, but most worryingly of all, his eyes were glowing. Without another word, Jono sprinted off. Lily didn’t know what to do, but she couldn’t forget the sight of his eyes.
They were glowing red.
Curled up against the far newsroom wall, Jeremy’s heart was pumping so fast. He couldn’t focus. His mind was racing like nothing he’d felt before. He was feeling such a mix of emotions that he couldn’t even begin to describe them. Was it a good or bad sensation? He truly had no idea.
After all, emotional support was what Margaret had taught him, and after she left, Jeremy’s dad was hardly a role model on managing emotions. All he knew was that emotion caused transformations, and Jeremy knew exactly how to harness that. The difference was, he couldn’t fight back in school. He had to control himself and take everything that came his way. His dad’s advice was useless.
Sammi slammed the door shut behind her. It was just the two of them now. Jeremy didn’t have to hold back any longer. Sammi immediately came and sat next to him, placing her hand on Jeremy’s knee. She didn’t have to say anything for Jeremy to start feeling calmer – her presence was enough.
“This is what I was so worried about,” Sammi sighed, “I should never have trusted Felix.”
“Don’t you dare,” Jeremy instantly corrected, “You are not to blame here. Tommy is the idiot who deserves all the blame.”
“And Felix,” Sammi groaned. It was obvious she hadn’t forgiven him yet. Of course, if Felix hadn’t opened his big mouth, they wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place, but Jeremy didn’t want to play the blame game. Actions spoke louder than words.
“He stood up for me in there. He could have sided with literally everyone else, but he chose us. He chose me. I’d rather have him with us than not,” Jeremy reasoned.
“I just don’t want you to get burned, Jeremy,” Sammi justified, “Things are difficult enough as they are. I won’t let things get worse. You’re in danger.”
“I know, and I can protect myself. If there’s one thing dad taught me, it was control,” Jeremy explained.
“Okay, Mrs. Harding’s dealing with Tommy,” Felix breezed in casually, “She said it might be best for you to go home, Jeremy.”
“No,” Jeremy instantly said, like a reflex, “That’s what they want. I’m sticking around.”
“Nice one,” Felix smiled, “She got me to write a statement about hat happened. Evidence and all that. She asked me to send you next, Sammi.”
“Shout if you need me,” Sammi mentioned to Jeremy, before bouncing upwards and out of the newsroom. Felix took her place almost instantly.
“Dude,” Felix began, “I don’t know how I can make this up to you, but I swear, I will keep trying.”
“I know,” Jeremy assured, “You proved yourself today. Thank you.”
“I outed you, though. I’ve been thinking, if anyone did that to me, I’d never forgive them. You’re too kind,” Felix confessed.
“Outed?” Jeremy noticed his word choice.
“Exposed,” Felix clarified.
“No, I know what it means, but I don’t get why it applies,” Jeremy explained. An awkward silence followed. Jeremy had caused it unintentionally, “I’m sorry, that was so insensitive, ignore me.”
“No, not at all. I’ve not told anyone this. I’ve never needed to. I thought being with Sammi might mean I never have to talk about it,” Felix opened up, “I’m bisexual, Jeremy.”
Jeremy’s insides felt warm and fuzzy, like a radiator in December. Felix was cutely vulnerable, in a way Jeremy had never seen before, and he liked that. What he felt he didn’t know, but there was clearly a lot of good in Felix.
Oscar felt like he had been sucker-punched. Being so completely gobsmacked was becoming more of a regular occurrence since he became a werewolf, but this took the biscuit. Everything about Cody seemed so sweet and unassuming that he surely couldn’t have been corrupted by the world of werewolves.
That said, the werewolves Oscar knew best were his favourite people to be around. He looked up to Dylan and Jono. They were his role models, and they never forgot how to be kind.
Despite that, Oscar knew the way alphas were created. For most, they took the power from the previous alpha by killing them. Dylan’s situation was very much a loophole – not many would have avoided the inevitable.
“Tell me, what were you doing?” Cody continued to probe.
“It’s a long story,” Oscar sighed. Perhaps Cody was trustworthy, but he didn’t know for sure. Oscar wasn’t planning on taking any chances, “She was showing us a vision.”
“A harbinger of death,” Cody identified, “You’ve got quite the pack. I could tell you were a werewolf from our meeting in the café. I just had to follow you.”
“There’s a few of us, I’m quite new to all this,” Oscar shyly explained. The last thing he wanted to do was mess anything up for Dylan within months of knowing him.
“Where are you from?” Cody enquired.
“Portdown, but I moved to Crystalshaw town a few months ago,” Oscar replied truthfully.
“So you’re all away from home, then,” Cody mentioned. Oscar found it a strangely pointed thing to say. So far, he was finding Cody very difficult to read, “My pack and I are very local, this campus is practically on our doorstep.”
“How many of you are there?” Oscar wondered.
“Four including me. Trained fighters, every one of them,” Cody continued to big himself up, “And after what came out of your friend’s mouth that day, you’re going to need us.”
“What do you know?” Oscar was intrigued. This could answer every question the pack had.
“I’ll tell you, but nothing comes for free,” Cody held back, “I need something from you, too.”
“Tell me, I’ll try and sort it,” Oscar keenly offered. Surely this had to be worth anything?
“I want you all gone. This is my territory, and your pack isn’t welcome here,” Cody demanded.
That sucker-punch feeling returned to Oscar’s stomach. What kind of request was that? It was beyond unreasonable. However, before he could argue, Cody stood up and left. So much for that date.
8: Ranulf Written by MarthaJonesFan
Panic. Dylan’s heart rate zoomed up. He wasn’t sure what was going on. He couldn’t think straight. Yasmin was lying in a hospital bed, and now Jono had gone. He’d been acting strangely all day, and now his eyes were glowing red. Something was seriously wrong.
“Jono!” Dylan called after him, but it was no use. Jono turned the far corner and Dylan lost sight of him. Following his instincts, Dylan ran after him, but someone grabbed his arm to stop him.
“We don’t know what we’re getting into,” Josh explained, gripping his arm tightly.
“But it’s Jono,” Dylan protested, “He’s not safe. Whatever’s happening to him is bad, that’s all we need to know.”
“We need more information first,” Josh reasoned, “When do we ever fight blind?” Dylan glanced over to Lily. She looked horrified, just like he did, but she gave a gentle nod. Josh was right. They had to figure everything out first, but that didn’t stop Dylan’s anxiety. He wouldn’t stop until Jono was safe.
“Okay, so what do we know? Did we find anything out about that alpha from the vision?” Dylan attempted to pull his focus back. His determination didn’t dip for a second, but now was the time to be smart.
“Where is it?” Summer arrived. She looked panicked, flustered even, as if she’d been chasing something. Dylan had had enough. Summer said something bad was coming. Now it was time for answers.
“I think it’s time you start talking,” Dylan skipped the pleasantries. It was time for her to prove herself.
“It was here, wasn’t it?” Summer ignored the question. Dylan had had enough. He pushed her back, pinning her against the wall, exerting enough force to keep her there with ease.
“Tell me everything you know,” Dylan demanded, glaring his eyes. Enough was enough. The more Summer held back, the more Dylan was starting to agree with Freddie.
“Okay, okay, I’ll talk,” Summer admitted. Dylan was all ears. This had better be helpful, because as far as Jono was concerned, Dylan was cutting no corners.
Gently closing the door behind him, Josh felt overcome with concern. Though he was desperate to help track Jono down, Dylan insisted he kept guard over Yasmin while he sought answers. After all, none of them knew what the intentions of the alpha were.
Besides, Jono wasn’t the only one in need. Yasmin was lying in a hospital bed, still unconscious, and Josh felt helpless. Despite their bumpy history, he still cared so deeply for her. They had too huge a connection to be ignored, after all. Yasmin clearly felt differently, but Josh had never stopped loving her. He’d never forgive himself for what he did. For what David forced him to do. He’d done many shameful things before, but none more so than almost killing the person that mattered the most to him.
“Hey,” Yasmin slurred, slowly opening her eyes. She attempted to sit up, but didn’t have quite enough energy and slumped back down.
“Take it easy,” Josh encouraged, “It’s good to see you awake.”
“Were you worried about me?” Yasmin raised a cute smile.
“Who, me? Nah, I’m as cool as a cucumber,” Josh pretended. Yasmin chuckled. She knew what he was really like. She knew how vulnerable and insecure he could be, “How are you?”
“I feel great, I fancy a jog actually,” Yasmin laughed. Joking was a good sign, “I’m okay, I guess. My head hurts a little.”
“It’s the visions, isn’t it? They’re too much for you,” Josh sussed. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the root of this.
“It started with the power of three,” Yasmin explained, “It’s been getting worse since then. I didn’t want to worry anyone.”
“Getting worse so the alpha could make its way through,” Josh pieced it together, “That was the plan. You’re the key.”
“I was the gateway,” Yasmin concurred. Clearly, she had thought of this already. She was a genius, after all.
“So you can close the gateway too, you can take it back,” Josh realised.
“Which is why I need you to get me out of this hospital,” Yasmin tried getting up again. She winced, clearly in pain.
“Woah, you’re going nowhere,” Josh commanded, “You’re too weak, you need energy first.”
“I need to do this, Josh. That alpha could be out there right now,” Yasmin protested. Josh stayed silent – he didn’t want to burden Yasmin with the news about Jono, “What aren’t you telling me?”
“Nothing,” Josh lied. Thankfully, Yasmin didn’t have the werewolf abilities to suss out his mistruths, but her intelligence superseded the need for them.
“Jono’s going to die,” Yasmin coldly stated. Josh grew even more concerned. He knew a Yasmin premonition when he heard one.
And most of them came true.
Returning home to the dorm was supposed to spell some sort of relief for Oscar, but he just felt cold instead. Cody had left a bad taste in his mouth on what was supposed to be a really exciting and positive afternoon.
To make matters worse, he had eight missed calls from Dylan, and now he wouldn’t pick up, so Oscar couldn’t even pass Cody’s message on. Something was up, and he didn’t need Yasmin’s visions to realise that.
“Hi Dylan, it’s Oscar, please call me back, we need to talk. It’s urgent,” Oscar left a message, but it wasn’t much of a solution. He had no idea when Dylan would end up hearing it.
“Hey Oscar,” Alex greeted, lounging on the sofa with his laptop on top of his legs, “How was the date?”
“Terrible, you’ve got no idea,” Oscar sighed, “I need to talk to Dylan, do you know where he is?”
“Have you not heard?” Alex sat up, his casual smile dropping into the most serious expression.
“Yasmin’s in hospital, she collapsed,” Alex informed, “Lily said I should wait for you.”
“Oh shit,” Oscar worried. Yasmin seemed okay that morning, though he’d seen just how crazy her visions had become, “Can we visit?”
“Sure,” Alex grabbed his jacket and stood up.
“Nobody’s going anywhere,” a deep, terrifying voice growled from behind Oscar. The hairs on his neck stood to attention. Goosebumps scattered themselves along his arms. Gently, Oscar turned around to face who it was. The most horrifying sight stood in front of him.
“Jono,” Oscar uttered. It wasn’t just Jono, though. His eyes were glaring a dark red. A red Oscar had seen before. The red from Yasmin’s vision. The red from the alpha’s eyes.
“Are you okay, dude?” Alex queried, trying to keep calm. Jono closed the door after him and twisted the lock. Oscar gulped. This was bad news.
“Where’s the siren?” Jono growled. It wasn’t Jono’s voice, though. The real Jono was buried inside. Oscar felt so scared. Not just of the alpha, but for his best friend. Despite all they’d been through, Jono never gave up on caring for him. He could so easily have cut him off when Dylan returned from the Lunar Sanctum, or when Oscar became a werewolf, but Jono was still there for him.
“We’ll tell you, if you let Jono go,” Oscar bargained.
“I need a body,” the alpha explained, “I need a body to kill the siren.”
“What has she done?” Oscar let his journalistic instincts take over.
“She will pay,” the alpha threatened. Oscar was terrified. He didn’t know what to do. He had to try and think – how would Dylan keep everyone safe?
Statement written, Sammi was desperate to get back to Jeremy. She felt completely uneasy leaving him alone with Felix. It was insane how quickly her opinion of him had soured. It wasn’t that long since they were on a date together, and Felix felt like a fresh new start.
Sammi wasn’t sure she’d ever forgive herself for being that naïve. No matter how she looked at it, she blamed herself. What she did to Jamal. Cutting Freddie out. Rushing to win Freddie back and kissing him in front of Felix. Everything pieced together and pointed in her direction. She truly didn’t deserve Jeremy’s kind, forgiving nature.
In the newsroom, Felix had taken her spot by Jeremy’s side. They were giggling with each other, getting along as if nothing had happened. Though Sammi blamed herself for the series of events that put Jeremy in danger, it was Felix’s actions that caused all of this. Sammi promised she’d tolerate him for Jeremy’s sake, but she wasn’t going to be forgiving him so quickly.
“That’s all done,” she commented as she strolled in, “Mrs. Harding said we could work in here for as long as we want.”
“Thank you,” Jeremy smiled, “I’m so lucky to have you both.” Sammi rolled her eyes. She’d do anything for her brother, but Felix was not the same. Far from it.
“Okay, it can’t just be me,” Sammi spoke up, “But I can’t keep hiding out in here, and I’m not going to let you do that again either, Jeremy.”
“You saw what happens when he’s around people,” Felix debated.
“And I’m never going to allow that again. We need to fight back,” Sammi motivated.
“You’re right,” Jeremy nodded, “I’ve hidden for long enough. My dad’s gone, this is my life now.”
“Okay, fine, while you guys come up with a plan, I’m going to get some water,” Felix leapt up and bounded out of the newsroom. Sammi slumped back down in her original spot by Jeremy’s side. He was gazing longingly after Felix as he left. Things were beginning to slot into place.
“Tell me how you feel,” Sammi interviewed. She didn’t want to ask any leading questions – whatever Jeremy said, he had to say it on his own terms.
“Tired,” Jeremy chuckled, “My body’s using all my energy to heal.”
“Nothing else?” Sammi dug deeper.
“What’s this about?” Jeremy sussed her out. Darn – she was being completely unsubtle.
“I’m just…being protective,” Sammi considered.
“This is about Felix, isn’t it?” Jeremy realised.
“You two are very close all of a sudden,” Sammi mentioned.
“Because he’s on my side, Sammi, but you don’t seem to like that,” Jeremy hit out. It was unusual for him to react so strongly. He was usually the calmest person around.
“I’m sorry for looking out for you,” Sammi sarcastically replied. Silence followed. This was their first ever row. Not a moment Sammi wanted to repeat; she felt bad immediately after.
“Sammi,” Jeremy began again, much more calmly, “How do you know when you like someone?”
“You just…do,” Sammi answered truthfully. She’d forgotten that Jeremy had no experience at all in the world of romance. He had a lot of self-discovery to do, “The right person comes along and everything makes sense.”
“Was it that way with you and Freddie?” Jeremy wondered.
“Sort of,” Sammi admitted, “It wasn’t easy but we liked each other straight away, and that’s what mattered.”
“I don’t really know how I feel,” Jeremy sighed. Everything made sense to Sammi now. She had been insensitive and forgetting Jeremy’s understandable anxieties.
“You will,” Sammi smiled. Her support was what Jeremy truly needed.
Carefully shutting the door behind him, Dylan had ushered Summer into an empty hospital room. Freddie and Lily were still by his side, for emotional support just as much as physical. After all, he still knew very little about Summer, and despite their deal, Dylan didn’t trust her.
Dylan’s mind hadn’t settled down since Jono vanished, either. He was so worried for him. After being held captive in the Lunar Sanctum, Dylan had vowed never to let anything separate him from Jono ever again. The alpha had crept in behind Dylan’s back, and that was a low move.
Now it was time for answers. Summer knew a lot, and thus far, she had reaped the benefits of a pack without contributing much. Everyone pulled their weight in the pack without ever needing to be asked, so Dylan was getting frustrated.
“Keep calm,” Lily whispered in Dylan’s ear. She was right – Dylan couldn’t let his emotions get the better of him. They had to keep the upper hand where Summer was concerned. Dylan turned towards her, ready to begin the grilling.
“Start at the beginning,” Dylan began.
“I used to be part of a pack. A pack I grew up in. It was pompous as hell,” Summer detailed, “The alpha was a werewolf named Ranulf. I remember him being such a good leader, but he lost his way. Five-hundred years can do that to you.”
“Wait, werewolves can live for five-hundred years?” Freddie was gobsmacked.
“Some can,” Summer clarified, “But living too long can be bad. After a while, you’ve seen everyone you love die. It gets to you, and it got to him. He spiralled out of control. When you become numb to grief, life loses its value, and he took so many lives.”
Dylan’s eyes were opened. This story was fascinating. He was so used to his own pack made up of his friends, that it was easy to forget just how volatile some packs could be. He was certainly very lucky.
“People got annoyed. Nobody knew who was next, so the decision was unanimous. He couldn’t be the alpha any longer,” Summer continued, “Which was a disaster, and only caused more death. People eliminated their competition so they could be the one to strike and kill Ranulf for good.”
“And you survived that,” Lily mentioned.
“Nobody thought a siren could be an alpha, so nobody targeted me,” Summer explained, “But I heard a legend once. A hybrid between a siren and a werewolf.”
“A chimera,” Dylan noted. He remembered Scott’s story about the chimeras he encountered – the engineered, hybrid experiments created by psychotic scientists known as the Dread Doctors. It terrified him – the thought of being poked and prodded against his will was grotesque, but there had to be other cases of it happening out there.
“It is possible, so I let everyone else take each other out and I mopped up the rest. Nobody saw me coming,” Summer casually continued. Far too casually for Dylan’s liking, considering she had just confessed to murder, “But before I got to Ranulf, somebody else did. Have you ever heard of the power of three?”
“Three harbingers of death,” Dylan explained. That was the reason they were at the hospital in the first place – Yasmin hadn’t been herself since that stupid ritual.
“Together, three banshees banished Ranulf to an alternate realm. They separated his mind from his body, and trapped him on his own,” Summer continued.
“Clearly they didn’t do a very good job,” Freddie remarked.
“The power of three is a powerful ritual, but a very rare one too,” Summer clarified, “Ranulf has harnessed the power of the last one to contact Yasmin and resurface.”
“So Yasmin’s the key to sending Ranulf back,” Dylan sussed.
“He wants revenge. Revenge on me,” Summer confessed, “And if I’m dead, nobody can stop him.”
Dylan gulped. The answers made so much sense, but it only made him more worried for Jono. The sooner they rescued him, the better.
Yasmin truly hated being a sitting duck. Her brain was firing on all cylinders, but her body was weak. The visions were too much, and she knew it. She’d known it for a while, too. Every vision made her more exhausted. Nobody was supposed to see any ghosts, not even a nix like her. She couldn’t cope.
The problem was that Yasmin couldn’t figure out a solution. That was what she was usually best at. She always had a way out. The problem was, she still barely knew her own powers. She could summon and control water, and visions came to her unannounced, but there was little else that she knew about. The powers of a nix weren’t documented well in the Bestiary, after all.
Thankfully, Josh was by her side. Though they’d had their ups and downs, to say the least, his loyalty towards her was incredible. Yasmin remembered how she felt about him after what happened with David. That fury, angst and tension had fizzled away for the most part, though Yasmin couldn’t help keeping him at arm’s length.
The truth was, she still loved Josh. The Josh she’d spent time with, and laughed all night with, was back. Though David was gone forever, Yasmin couldn’t help feeling sceptical. Once bitten, twice shy.
“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you?” a voice called out. Yasmin sat up, startled. Josh was on the chair by the hospital bed and he’d nodded off to sleep. Nobody else was there.
“He’s not trustworthy, I tried to tell you,” the voice spoke again. It was definitely that of a female, and Yasmin was sure she recognised it, but she couldn’t quite place it.
“He’s a pathetic power-stealing rodent,” the girl ranted. Suddenly, she appeared out of nowhere. Staring Yasmin in the face. Leaning over the bed.
Clara. The daughter of Josh’s first alpha. The alpha he earned his status from.
“He took what was rightfully mine,” she continued, “And he took any chance of happiness away from you.”
Yasmin was freaked out. None of the ghosts she had seen before were people she knew, until now. The intensity was increasing. They felt so real.
“He doesn’t deserve a pathetic nix,” a suited man joined the room. The man who the power of three was used against. The man who tried to invent a cure for being a werewolf. Leadsom, “Though Dylan Drummond’s pack are entirely deserving of each other. The wet blankets of the supernatural world.”
“No,” Yasmin nervously replied, trying to block it out by covering her ears.
“You can’t hide, Yasmin,” a third voice said, “I made sure of that.” Chase. The troubled boy who lost his sister to the Téras, before losing himself too, but not before leaking the presence of supernaturals to the whole high school.
“Get out of my bed,” Yasmin started to cry. She was in pain. Her head was pounding, and her visions had turned on her.
“Nobody’s going anywhere,” another voice joined in. This was one Yasmin would never forget. The girl who shot Jono. The girl who aligned with her father. Dami.
“Yasmin,” Josh jolted awake, hearing her cries for help. She panicked, looking back around at the visions, but they’d gone. That didn’t help Yasmin calm down, though. She was shaken and scared. The visions wouldn’t be gone forever.
“I need to stop this,” Yasmin muttered, trying to get her words out between tears, “Because if I don’t, I think I’m going to die.”
The school day seemed to drag even more when Jeremy was working in the newsroom. Moving classrooms and changing teachers broke the day up. Completing worksheets that had been emailed to him was much more tedious.
On the bright side, Jeremy wasn’t alone. He had Sammi and Felix working in there too, and if the past few days had proven anything, it was that they were the only people he needed. After all, Jeremy had never had many people looking out for him before. Quality, not quantity, and he definitely had quality on his side.
Jeremy could tell how Sammi felt about Felix, though. He got why she was still so angry at him, but at the end of the day, Felix had a choice. He could have opted to leave, but he didn’t. He stayed by Jeremy’s side, and backed him in front of Tommy, too. If that wasn’t a clear display of his allegiance, Jeremy didn’t know what would be.
“Please tell me you’re just as bored as I am,” Felix whispered.
“I’m even more bored,” Jeremy winked.
“Is that even humanly possible?” Felix chuckled playfully.
“I’m not human, so duh,” Jeremy laughed. Felix definitely couldn’t argue with his mic-drop moment.
“Fuck you,” Felix giggled, accepting defeat. Jeremy felt so elated. Felix made him feel so cosy and warm. Sammi’s advice kept replaying over and over in his mind. Jeremy had been waiting so long for his love story, but he still wasn’t sure what he was feeling. Was he gay? Bisexual? Something else? He truly didn’t know. The world of love was so confusing.
“Look,” Felix changed the topic, keeping his voice low so Sammi couldn’t hear, “I just wanted to say I’m so glad I got to know you. You’re the most amazing guy, Jeremy.”
Jeremy’s tummy felt unusual. Not uncomfortable at all. In fact, it felt like excitement. Was this what butterflies were meant to feel like?
“Back at you,” Jeremy smiled. He looked at his hand placed on the desk, just a few centimetres away from Felix’s own. He dropped the pencil he was holding and slowly, gently, crept his hand over to the right, landing right next to Felix’s. A few silent moments passed – neither of them knew what to say. Felix’s hand then shuffled over to the left, slotting perfectly on top of Jeremy’s.
Jeremy felt the most enormous smile widen across his face. There was little doubt left in his mind now. He was in love.
Lily needed to take a break. There was so much to process, and her mind was racing. Her breathing was frantic. Her chest was tight. Her senses were blurred. None of this was new to her, but it had been a while since her last panic attack.
After all, she had been so satisfied and content with life for a while. Even starting college again didn’t feel so bad with Alex, Jono and her friends all with her. Lily had become so comfortable, and life had never been so good.
The thought of losing Jono changed that. Hearing Summer’s story only solidified how bad the situation was. What if Jono was dead? Being pushed out of his body couldn’t possibly be good, and even if he was still tucked away inside there, it was going to be a battle to bring him back.
“Lily?” she heard a comforting voice call out. Dylan had followed her outside. Lily cared so deeply for Dylan; they both valued Jono so much and losing him would wreck them both. At least they had each other.
“You know what to do,” Dylan reminded, “Start counting with me.” Lily could hear what Dylan was saying, but processing it was something else.
“One-hundred,” Dylan began, leading the way, “Ninety-nine.”
“Ninety-eight,” Lily squeezed out between breaths, but talking wasn’t easy.
“Ninety-seven, ninety-six” she diverted all her attention into counting.
“Ninety-five.” Lily started to focus on Dylan in front of her.
“Ninety-four.” Her breathing began to slow. Control was hers again. She was calming back down.
“What the hell do we do?” Lily questioned, regaining her composure. She felt sweaty and disgusting, but that wasn’t a priority. All she wanted to do was find Jono.
“We do everything we can,” Dylan assured, “I’m just as worried as you, believe me, but if we want Jono back, we need to turn our worry into motivation. We’ve done this before, Lil, we can do it again.”
“What if we can’t?” Lily worried, “We almost lost him before. I saw him on his death bed, Dylan. If you hadn’t been able to bite him…”
“But I did, and he survived. We found a way,” Dylan encouraged. He never lost his optimism, and Lily didn’t know how he managed it, but she sure as hell admired it.
“I’ve got an idea,” Freddie poked his head out of the room, looking surprisingly enthusiastic.
“Tell us,” Dylan had a glimmer in his eye. A glimmer of hope.
“Ranulf has Jono’s phone,” Freddie reminded, “Which means he’s on Snapchat.”
“He’s not going to update Jono’s snapstreaks, Freddie,” Dylan was confused.
“Location,” Lily realised. She always snooped on the Snap Map feature – she couldn’t help being nosey about where her friends were. They’d struck gold. They had a chance after all.
Terror rushing through his veins, Oscar was unsure of what to do. Thinking like Dylan was easier said than done, especially with a possessed Jono blocking the only exit. All Oscar could do was focus on protecting Alex, because he couldn’t heal like Oscar could.
That said, Oscar didn’t feel confident as the protector. He didn’t know how to fight. Dylan never saw violence as the answer, and always strived for an alternative method. Perhaps that was the inspiration that Oscar needed?
“Who are you?” Oscar interrogated. That was Dylan’s technique. Be the journalist. Find out all of the necessary information first.
“My name is Ranulf, and I demand to see the siren,” he demanded. Oscar was never going to get over the horrifying voice coming from Jono’s body. It was surreal, and it hurt his heart. No matter what, Oscar cared so much for Jono and always would.
“What do you want with her?” Alex joined in. He understood the technique; clearly Lily had trained him well. This was their chance at staying alive for longer.
“To kill her,” Ranulf replied. He wasn’t divulging many details, but Oscar didn’t mind. The longer he could delay, the better.
“Why?” Oscar continued.
“Because she will kill me. I will always be the alpha,” Ranulf angrily answered.
“Dude,” Alex whispered in Oscar’s ear, “If she kills him, in Jono’s body…”
“Oh my god,” Oscar realised, “Then Jono dies too.”
Four knocks at the door. Oscar’s interest was piqued. The rest of the pack all had a key, so why would anyone be knocking? Either they knew he was there, or it was a mystery guest. Either way, this could be their chance to escape, and Oscar wasn’t missing out.
“You might want to get that,” Alex advised, “Or people might suspect something.” Oscar had to conceal his smile – Alex was on the exact same wavelength. Ranulf obliged, opening the door, but nobody was there. Looking left and right, nobody seemed to be there. Oscar tried listening, but there weren’t any heartbeats other than their own. He was just as confused as Ranulf surely was.
Ranulf flung back across the apartment, slamming into Alex harshly. Oscar was gobsmacked and immediately ran to help Alex, but both of them had been knocked unconscious. Quickly, Oscar’s attention turned to himself. He was the last one standing. What was coming his way?
“You just can’t last five minutes without me,” Cody slid inside, a smug grin plastered across his face.
“What the hell, dude?” Oscar hissed, “Come on, we need to get Alex and go.”
“No time,” Cody warned, “Shit’s about to hit the fan. I’m saving you.” He grabbed Oscar’s hand and pulled him into his bedroom, closing the door behind. Almost on cue, four sets of footsteps arrived.
“Oh my god,” Lily’s voice was the first to speak. The pitter-patter of fast-paced footsteps against the dorm’s laminate flooring indicated she’d rushed over to Ranulf and Alex, “They’re alive, both of them.”
“Oh, this will be good,” Summer said, far too excitedly.
“Siren,” Ranulf croaked. He was awake, and he’d got what he wanted. Oscar gulped. Jono’s life was in the balance.
9: Displacement Written by MarthaJonesFan
Dylan had seen many things that had frightened him. He was only eighteen, yet he had seen the most ridiculous, unexplainable things – stuff most people wouldn’t see in their whole lifetimes.
However, nothing terrified him more than the blank, expressionless look of his boyfriend’s body being used as a vehicle for a destructive, threatening alpha. It looked like the person he loved. The person he’d spent years caring so deeply for, but he was gone. It was jarring, and it broke Dylan’s heart.
There was no time for worrying, though. Ranulf and Summer were stood just metres away in the dorm living room, and they were ready to fight. Dylan knew he had to stop it in some way, but how?
“Where did Oscar go? He was here too,” Freddie whispered in Dylan’s ear. Behind them, Lily was tending to an unconscious Alex. A quick getaway was out of the question.
“If he’s not here, he’s safer than we are,” Dylan quietly replied. He was more focused on the pure hatred in Summer’s face, and the glaring red eyes of Ranulf shining harshly from Jono’s body.
“It’s been a long time, Ranulf,” Summer grimaced.
“You won’t kill me,” Ranulf growled. The voice was deep and gravelly; the compete opposite of Jono’s soft tone. Dylan missed him so much.
“Oh, I will,” Summer smirked, “I’ve already killed your son, and your grandchild.”
Suddenly, everything clicked for Dylan. The professor that drowned. The student that was murdered. They were Ranulf’s descendants. Summer had killed the bloodline.
“Summer, that’s Jono, we need to save him,” Dylan reminded. He couldn’t let Jono get caught in the crossfire.
“Sorry Dylan, your precious boy isn’t my concern,” Summer bluntly said, before firing a huge blast of water at Ranulf. Dylan winced as Jono’s body flung violently backwards against the door.
“No,” Dylan was furious. Freddie was eight. Summer was trouble. He had to intervene. Abruptly, Summer shot a blast at Dylan, sending him flying harshly backwards. The full force of the far wall shot across Dylan’s back before he collapsed down onto the floor.
Dylan glanced up. He felt weak, and his back hurt like hell. He needed time to heal. Ranulf had vanished, and Summer dashed out of the dorm after him. They needed to follow, but Dylan was struggling to get up.
“Dylan,” Freddie panicked, kneeling down next to him, “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”
“I’ll heal,” Dylan assured, “I’m sorry, dude, I should have believed you. Summer is just as bad as Ranulf.”
“It’s okay,” Freddie nodded, raising a kind smile, “Can you stand?”
“I think so,” Dylan attempted to heave himself upwards, “We need to stop them. Both of them.”
Oscar felt disorientated. He wasn’t sure what was going on. The living room had gone silent, and that couldn’t have been good. He’d heard Summer and Ranulf attacking each other. He’d heard Dylan’s body slam cruelly against the wall. Now he heard nothing. The coast was clear.
Cody wasn’t convinced, though. Every time Oscar tried to open the door, Cody grabbed his arm to stop him. Oscar was confused as to what his intentions were. He could have actually cared for Oscar and wanted to protect him. It was the best-case scenario, but Cody’s threats earlier that day said otherwise. Oscar knew he was likely a pawn in whatever game Cody was playing.
“What’s the deal?” Oscar finally broke the silence.
“Keep your voice down,” Cody hissed, putting his finger on his lips.
“Nobody’s there, remember I’ve got wolf hearing too,” Oscar felt a little insulted. Cody was acting like a snob about any werewolf not in his own pack, and it wasn’t a cute look.
“Excuse me for keeping you safe,” Cody hit back.
“You can’t blame me for being sceptical after our so-called date,” Oscar couldn’t hide his frustration any longer.
“Okay, it’s true. I’ve got a pack to protect, Oscar. They depend on me. If I risk their lives, I am letting them down. Do you understand?” Cody defiantly justified.
“Yes,” Oscar insisted, “My pack saved my life. Literally. I know how it feels to be protective too. I owe them.”
“Then you understand why I need you to leave,” Cody wasn’t giving up. Oscar appreciated his reasons, but there was no element of fairness there.
“You can’t live like that, Cody,” Oscar picked his words carefully, “Other packs exist, and not all of them are dangerous. My alpha is Dylan Drummond, I assume you’ve heard of him.”
“The Dylan Drummond?” Cody looked awestruck.
“He’s the alpha that bit me, and he’s not the werewolf you or your pack need to worry about,” Oscar persisted.
“He’s a legend. They talk about him all over the country, you know. He’s up there with alphas like Scott McCall and Deucalion, for better or for worse,” Cody was amazed.
“So, please, reconsider?” Oscar pulled his best innocent puppy face. Cody paused, clearly thinking it through. All Oscar could do was hope.
“On one condition,” Cody proposed.
“Anything,” Oscar replied. He was all-ears to whatever Cody had to say.
“You leave Dylan and join my pack,” Cody bargained. Stunned into silence, Oscar wasn’t sure what to say. That wasn’t the deal he anticipated. What was he supposed to say?
Barely being able to stand up wasn’t going to be a barrier for Yasmin. Nothing was going to stop her getting out of that hospital. Sitting around wasn’t doing her any good, and it was time to take matters into her own hands. It really was a case of life or death.
Her arm was around Josh’s shoulders, propping herself up. She wanted to look convincing in case any of the doctors or nurses questioned whether she should be leaving. With Josh’s help, Yasmin had shed that disgusting hospital gown and changed back into her own clothes, perfect for blending in.
No matter how hard Yasmin tried, though, she was finding it difficult to act normal. She had so little strength in her body. Her mind was foggy. She’d never felt so weak before. She was struggling to keep going.
“Keep going,” Josh encouraged, “You’ve fought demons worse than this, Yasmin Forsyth. If anyone can get through this, you can.”
Josh was right, too. Yasmin could get through this. Losing hope wouldn’t do her any favours, and she could be the solution to save the whole pack. Whatever it took.
“Yasmin,” a voice called out. A voice that wasn’t Josh, but one she recognised. One that made her feel comfort and dread at the same time.
“Did you hear that?” Yasmin questioned as she looked frantically around the busy hospital corridor.
“No. Another vision?” Josh immediately knew. Yasmin wasn’t sure she was ready for another vision. Not this vision. Her body was still shaken from the last one, and she already knew what this vision meant. That voice was bad news.
“Yasmin,” the voice called out again. Yasmin stopped moving and spun around. There he was. Directly behind her.
“Jono,” Yasmin was gobsmacked.
“What?” Josh heard. Yasmin grabbed his hand, bringing him into her vision. The people in the corridors vanished out of sight. It was just them.
“The vision was right,” Yasmin felt numb. The only people she’d seen in her visions were dead. Her premonition had come true.
“No,” Josh was in disbelief. Yasmin’s grip on his hand was just as much for support as it was to maintain the link.
“The alpha, Ranulf, is in my body,” Jono looked scared, understandably so, “And while he’s in there, I’m in here.”
“We can help, can’t we?” Josh was tearful. Not much moved him, but his bond with Jono had always been tight. They’d always had each other.
“Yes,” Yasmin decided, “Jono, don’t worry. We’ll get you out. I promise.”
“Thank you,” Jono raised a worried smile, “Go on, I’ll be okay. Don’t waste your energy. Tell Dylan I love him.” Yasmin nodded as the vision faded. That was the last bit of motivation she needed. She had to figure out what to do, and fast. It wasn’t just her life on the line.
Locking the cubicle door, Sammi needed some privacy. The school day still wasn’t over, but the newsroom was getting to her head. A white lie about a bathroom break had given her the chance to slip out, and she needed some advice.
There was one problem. She hadn’t actually told Dylan, Freddie or any of the pack that this had happened. She felt embarrassed to have let the side down. She couldn’t turn to them now. Furthermore, Crystalshaw town had diminishingly few people for her to turn to. Thankfully, Sammi still had two people she could easily turn to. Two people who would understand.
Of course, Sammi could see how Jeremy felt about Felix. The only thing missing was Cupid’s arrow. It warmed her heart to know Jeremy was falling in love for the first time. After all, she remembered how she felt about Freddie when she met him. How she still felt about him. That love never goes away.
Despite that, she was finding it so difficult to get past what Felix did. She couldn’t help thinking that Jeremy deserved better than the idiot who outed him just to spite Sammi. It was the lowest of low blows and it was going to take time for Sammi to get over what he did.
“Sammi, hey.” George greeted through the phone. It felt so good to hear his voice, just for some level of comfort among the madness of her day, “Is everything okay?”
“I…I don’t know,” Sammi felt flustered.
“Hold on,” George fell silent for a couple of seconds, “Okay, you’re on speaker.”
“Hey Sammi,” Mia joined in, “What can we do?”
“It’s about Jeremy,” Sammi began.
“Is he okay?” George worried.
“He’s in love,” Sammi replied.
“That doesn’t sound bad,” a confused George replied.
“Shut it,” Mia scolded, “Who’s the lucky girl?”
“Oh, it’s a he,” Summer corrected, “I probably shouldn’t have said that, he should have told you himself.”
“I didn’t know he was gay,” George thought aloud.
“I don’t actually know that he is,” Sammi said, “I’m not sure he’s anything, not yet anyway. He’s still figuring himself out.”
“We won’t say anything to him, promise,” Mia assured, “Who’s the lucky guy, then?”
“Felix,” Sammi regretfully stated.
“Wait, Felix as in…the guy you dated?” Mia spotted. She was an amazingly attentive listener. Just the right person to get advice from.
“Just the same,” Sammi confirmed, “He’s trouble, and I worry Jeremy’s going to get burned.”
“He’s got to make his own mistakes, Sammi,” George advised, “It’s his life. He needs to learn what being let down feels like. I know you want to protect him, but he won’t learn if he doesn’t experience it himself. I learnt early when my dad left. Freddie doesn’t remember him, but he still felt the loss of his dad, and he had to get through that himself.”
“George is right,” Mia concurred, “If Felix is trouble, Jeremy will learn one or way or another. In the meantime, all you can do is show support.”
Sammi paused for thought. They were right, and she knew it. Jeremy needed her acceptance at every stage, and anything less would be a let-down. She couldn’t do that to the person she was closest to in the whole world.
Looking around the campus, Dylan didn’t know what to do. The usual hustle and bustle of students filled the college street, making it difficult to see or even catch a scent. Summer and Ranulf had vanished. Jono’s Snapchat location had disappeared. Ranulf was onto their plan.
Dylan’s optimism was starting to fade. He didn’t know where to start. They could be anywhere by now, and even if he, Lily and Freddie split up, they still wouldn’t necessarily find them on campus. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but with a ticking time-bomb ready to blow for good measure.
“Where did they go?” Freddie followed Dylan out.
“No idea,” Dylan panicked, “Can you get any scents?”
“Nothing,” Freddie sighed, “They can’t have gotten far.”
“But in which direction?” Dylan stressed. He was out of ideas.
“Guys,” Lily called out, following them outside.
“Is Alex okay?” Dylan checked. He wouldn’t forgive himself if Alex ended up in danger as well.
“He’s fine, he’s awake,” Lily said, “Look down there.” Dylan followed her direction as she pointed to the ground. There was a distinct water trail leading out of the apartment.
“That could be anything,” Dylan replied pessimistically. The water could have come from anything or anywhere.
“It’s been nearly ninety degrees all week, Dyl,” Freddie mentioned, “That’s got to be new. We can’t ignore it.” Dylan knew Freddie was right. This was the only lead they had.
“Okay,” Dylan conceded, “This has to work.” Together, the trio proceeded along the narrow trail of water, heading further into the campus. Dylan didn’t take his eyes off the trail for a single second, instead using his hearing to navigate successfully through the busy crowds. He was clinging on to every little piece of hope that he could find, but the worst-case scenario still flooded into his mind. What if that was it? What if he had lost Jono for good? Stopping Ranulf wasn’t a guarantee that Jono would come back. The unknown terrified him.
The lead continued for a couple of minutes, taking them into the most central area of the campus. Dylan’s lecture theatre was directly ahead, with a small shop and café to the right. Terrifyingly, this was where the lead stopped.
“No,” Dylan cried out, equally in both anger and despair. Not even a single drop of water was visible in any direction. Quickly, Dylan was losing hope.
“Hey, Dylan, are you okay?” a familiar voice approached. Alora. Dylan took a deep breath, composing himself. The last thing he wanted was for Alora to ask questions – they were best kept out of it.
“Yeah, all good,” Dylan lied, putting on a brave face. He was sure his cheeks were as red as his wolf eyes, but he had to remain focused. This was the perfect opportunity to get some intel, “Have you seen Jono?”
“He just passed through,” Alora explained, “I said hi but he ignored me. He went in there.” They pointed to the right. Dylan would recognise that place any day. It was the restaurant. The location of the freshers’ party. The night Summer killed Ranulf’s son.
“Thanks,” Dylan smiled at Alora before dashing straight off towards the restaurant.
“Dylan, wait,” Lily called out after him, “You can’t just go straight in there.”
“Watch me,” Dylan defiantly shouted. He was ready to fight.
“I’ve got a better idea,” Freddie suggested. Dylan stopped in his tracks. He was all-ears, but this had to be a guaranteed success.
Pacing back and forth, Oscar was conflicted. Cody had given him the most impossible decision to make, and he wasn’t sure how to feel. He was angry that Cody has pushed him into such an impossible position. There was no good result here.
After all Dylan had done for him, leaving his pack would be the biggest kick in the teeth. Oscar felt safe with Dylan, and most importantly, he trusted him. Already, he had several reasons not to trust Cody.
On the other hand, perhaps leaving was the best thing to for Dylan’s sake? He knew little about Cody and even less about his pack, but he was clearly sneaky, and he knew how to get his way. Dylan’s life could be in danger, and Oscar wasn’t going to risk it.
“So?” Cody broke the silence. Clearly, he wasn’t used to being kept waiting.
“Tell me one thing,” Oscar pondered, “Why me? What’s in this for you?”
“Are you serious? Oscar, I’m mad about you. Sure, you’re Dylan Drummond’s beta, and that would work wonders for our pack’s status, but that’s completely secondary,” Cody opened up.
“What?” Oscar was taken aback. He wasn’t aware Cody actually felt any particular way about him. In fact, he thought quite the opposite after their date turned into a disaster.
“You’re special, Oscar. I don’t want to lose you,” Cody continued. For the first time, Oscar felt like he was talking to Cody the human, rather than Cody the alpha. Emotion made the difference, and somewhere along the way, Cody had forgotten that.
“So, the date,” Oscar thought back.
“Was genuine,” Cody explained. Oscar wasn’t sure what to think. This could be an easy bluff, “I hope you can consider giving me a chance, Oscar.”
“No. I can’t leave the pack, they’re my friends,” Oscar decided, “And if you care for me like you say, you’ll respect that.”
“My pack won’t be happy, you know,” Cody insisted, “They’ll expect action, and I can’t protect you or your friends.” Oscar couldn’t help reconsidering. He didn’t want to join the pack, but he had to protect his friends. Putting them in danger wasn’t an option.
“Promise you’ll protect them if I join,” Oscar demanded.
“I promise,” Cody approached, standing just a few inches away. Oscar could see his beautiful blue eyes up close, contrasting perfectly with the bright red curls that perched on his shoulders. He felt warm inside, though he wasn’t sure he wanted to feel that way, “And I’ll protect you.”
Cody leaned in slowly but brazenly, his lips gently colliding with Oscar’s. Oscar reciprocated. His gut told him to keep going. He wanted it. He wanted Cody.
His decision got a whole lot harder.
The piercing ring of the school bell came as more of a delight than Jeremy expected. It had been the day from hell, and he couldn’t wait to get home and collapse on the sofa. A relaxing evening of Netflix and music was all Jeremy wanted.
Firstly, though, he had to get out of the building. Everyone crowded out of the school as soon as the bell rang, as if they had a rocket up their backside, so all Jeremy had to do was wait a few minutes for the coast to be clear. That way, he’d have a clear route out.
“Are you going home?” Felix queried as they packed their books away.
“I guess,” Jeremy replied sheepishly. He didn’t really feel like doing anything else.
“I could, you know, come with you?” Felix suggested, “Sorry, I just invited myself round to your house. I’d ask you round mine, but I don’t think my mom would approve.”
“No, that sounds great,” Jeremy smiled. Felix actually wanted to spend more time with him. He felt excited and nervous in equal doses, “We can use the treehouse.”
“Sammi said that was Jono’s,” Felix recalled.
“It is, but he’s at college, so we can make it our own,” Jeremy thought. It was the perfect space, allowing for just the right amount of privacy, “Hey, the coast sounds clear. Let’s get out of here.”
“After you,” Felix grabbed the door with a playful grin, chauffeuring Jeremy out. Jeremy felt like royalty; he could get used to that treatment. He grabbed his bag and strolled out, feeling like he was on cloud nine.
“Here he is,” the loud, terrifying voice of Tommy boomed. He’d been waiting to the side of the newsroom door. Waiting to finish what he started, “The little werewolf.”
“Leave it, Tommy,” Felix immediately leapt to Jeremy’s defence. Sammi hadn’t returned from the bathroom yet, so they were a man down. Felix felt more exposed than ever.
“What are you going to do?” Tommy scoffed.
“Whatever it takes,” Felix stood firm. Tommy wasn’t intimidated, though. He threw the first punch, wiping Felix sideways with one hit to his face. Blood splattered to the floor just before Felix crashed down himself.
“Just you and me, wolf boy,” Tommy grinned.
“Do your worst,” Jeremy had conquered this bully before, and he could do it again, but it was time for a new approach. He was sick of hiding in the shadows. This was his chance to write his own story.
Jeremy scanned Tommy’s posse. A crowd was watching them, and it was growing in size. A load of over-excited teenagers that were desperate for drama. This was the sink or swim moment.
“But first, I need to help my friend.”
Jeremy knelt down next to Felix, who hadn’t moved since the punch. His mouth was swelling. His cheeks were pure red. The pain was obvious even before looking into his eyes.
“Where does it hurt?” Jeremy asked.
“Hurt? I feel great,” Felix still managed to joke, but Jeremy knew he was putting on a brave face. Decisively, Jeremy took Felix’s hand, and let his instincts do the rest. He watched on as his veins ran black; an unusual sight for the kindest act he could perform.
“What was that?” Tommy impatiently yelled. It was obvious he was losing control.
“You took my pain,” Felix was awestruck, “My cheek feels fine.”
“Yeah,” Jeremy smiled. He was sure his own cheeks were blushing. Without another word, Felix leaned forward and locked lips with Jeremy. He wasn’t sure how to react, but he knew he enjoyed it. The gentle, soothing sensation of Felix’s lips on his was the best feeling he’d ever experienced.
Behind them, the baying audience erupted into applause. Their allegiance had shifted. Tommy’s supporters were no more. Jeremy had won, and he felt so relieved. Regretfully breaking the kiss, Jeremy looked around. Tommy had skulked off, but Sammi had arrived, and she was cheering the loudest. She smiled proudly at him, mouthing “I love you.” That was all Jeremy needed. She had seen him win, and she accepted him. He was on cloud nine.
Heart pounding like never before, Freddie was dreading coming face-to-face with Summer. He’d tried to have as little to do with her as possible since she kidnapped him. Being alone with her was his worst nightmare, and he was about to face it head-on.
Freddie felt somewhat relieved that Summer had shown her true colours to Dylan. He was right all along, but bragging wasn’t on his mind. He was pleased because it meant the pack wasn’t going to trust her any longer. It was dangerous for all of them, and Dylan realising that was the final straw.
The restaurant had an incredibly eerie vibe to it. His first visit there remained so vivid in his memories. The party. The break-up with Sammi. The first time he saw Summer. Freddie knew he couldn’t let himself get reeled back in by those memories; Summer’s powers were strong, and even his memories were tainted by her influence.
“I knew you’d follow me,” Summer voice called out. The restaurant’s lights were out and it was almost pitch-black inside, so Freddie couldn’t see Summer. Of course, he could use his wolf eyes, but they were basically glow-in-the-dark targets. The lack of light could be played to his advantage as long as he remained smart.
“Give it up, Summer,” Freddie called back.
“Too late, sorry. I know Ranulf is here, and it’s time to get what I came for,” Summer explained. Freddie listened intently to her voice, or more specifically, the direction it was coming from. He could track her before she found him if he paid enough attention.
“You came for death? What do you get out of that?” Freddie interrogated.
“Status. I want to be the alpha. I deserve to be the alpha,” Summer continued, “Nothing else matters.”
“Did I matter to you?” Freddie asked. He knew the answer, but keeping Summer talking was the plan. One question at a time.
“You were just the pawn. The first move in my plan,” Summer revealed. Every word she said was adding some more detail to her location. Freddie carefully swerved the dining tables to move further inside, certain he was getting closer.
“Do you do that often? Manipulate people into falling in love with you?” Freddie kept going.
“You’re not my first,” Summer bragged.
BANG! Something landed on the table behind Freddie with the almightiest thud. The scent was obvious without being able to see who it was. Summer had found him.
“Sorry Freddie,” she taunted, the bright sea blue glare of her eyes lighting up harshly against the dark background, “Dylan and Lily, you can show yourselves, too.”
Darn. The plan was a bust. Summer had found them all. Sheepishly, Dylan and Lily emerged from the entrance.
The lights flickered on. Freddie’s eyes quickly adjusted to the intense lighting change. Stood proudly in the centre of the room was Ranulf, and he was baring his fangs.
He was ready to fight.
Glaring his eyes, Dylan was ready to get his boyfriend back. Freddie’s plan, whilst good, hadn’t worked, so there was only one option left, and that was to fight. Freddie and Lily knew the drill – proceed with caution because no matter how strong Ranulf was, he was using Jono’s body, and they had to be extra careful.
Naturally, Summer was the first to launch an attack. She shot a blast of water at Ranulf, who dodged it with absolute ease. Both of them had to be stopped, and it was time for plan B. After all, Dylan knew better than to come without a back-up.
“Now,” Dylan signalled to Lily. She ran forward, sprinkling a handful of mountain ash over Ranulf, locking him in a round, closed cell. His reaction could hardly have been more furious. He banged on each side, desperate to get out, but it was impossible.
There was only one problem: Ranulf was now vulnerable to Summer. This was where Dylan came in. He pounced onto a desk, blocking the front exit from Summer while Freddie brought up the rear. She was cornered.
“You can’t win, Dylan,” Summer still wasn’t giving in.
“I think he can,” a new voice entered the room. Dylan couldn’t help smiling, because he knew that voice anywhere. Yasmin had arrived. Whether she should’ve been out of hospital or not, Dylan wasn’t sure, but that wasn’t important. Yasmin could have been the key.
“Oh, this will be fun,” Summer grinned. Josh bared his fang by Yasmin’s side. They were joining the fight. Josh led the way forward, swinging at Summer, but she swerved impeccably out of the way. She remained focused on Ranulf, landing right next to the mountain ash cell he remained trapped in.
Yasmin ran forward, preparing her own blast of water, but Summer was too fast. She grabbed Yasmin by the wrist with one hand and wrapped her other arm around Yasmin’s throat.
“Nixes and sirens are remarkably similar, you know,” Summer threatened, “I know just how to block your powers. Now, if anybody moves, I will slit her throat, and I don’t need claws to do that.”
“Listen to her,” Josh suggested. Dylan felt uneasy. This was Summer’s opportunity for an open shot against Ranulf. She couldn’t penetrate the mountain ash, but her blast of water could.
“You might want to reconsider holding my hand,” Yasmin mentioned. Her voice sounded weak, but her tone was confident. Dylan should have known. Yasmin had a plan. She always had a plan. She never let him down.
“What?” Summer looked furious. Before she could let go, Yasmin grabbed Ranulf’s hand too. Of course – mountain ash didn’t stop harbingers of death.
“If you want to fight, I’ve got somewhere you can fight, and you don’t need to ruin other people’s lives to do it,” Yasmin said. Dylan understood – she was taking them into her visions, and leaving them there.
A flash of lighting blasted out of the trio, sending a shockwave through the room. Dylan shielded his eyes from the painfully bright light.
A few seconds passed. Carefully, Dylan opened his eyes. Yasmin, Summer and Ranulf had all collapsed. Panicked, Dylan ran over to check on them.
“Lily, break the barrier,” Dylan commanded. He needed Jono’s body out of that cell. While he waited, he checked Yasmin’s pulse. To his relief, she was alive. Summer, on the other hand, had no pulse at all. The plan had worked.
Lily swept the mountain ash aside and Dylan immediately crawled over to Jono, pressing two fingers against his wrist. No pulse. Petrified, Dylan tried the other wrist. Nothing.
“No,” he cried, “This can’t be it.”
“Don’t say it,” Lily stood behind, her voice quivering.
“No,” Dylan couldn’t and wouldn’t accept it, “Not without saying goodbye.” He checked the pulse again, and again, and again. Jono had to come back. He simply had to.
Then it came. Dylan’s prayers were answered. The pulse returned.
“Did I miss anything?” Jono muttered, opening his eyes as if he’d just been in a deep sleep. Dylan could only laugh. Jono was alive, and he’d never felt so relieved.
Feet up, drink topped up, Yasmin felt better than she had in so long. Her mind wasn’t foggy any longer. She could think clearly and process her thoughts. Physically, she felt stronger and had more energy. She’d forgotten how good it felt to be normal – by her own definition, anyway.
Not only had she succeeded in banishing both Summer and Ranulf, and rescuing Jono, the intense visions had slipped away entirely. The doorway had gone. Her mind was free from the ghosts and deranged alphas, and she hoped it’d stay that way forever.
Though Yasmin never wanted to feel that week ever again, she was enjoying being waited on hand and foot by the rest of the pack. The sofa had been her best friend for the evening, and she could get used to that easy life.
“Oh, this episode is the best,” Josh laughed. They were watching their seventh episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that night, and it wasn’t getting even a little boring.
“This one? Really?” Freddie frowned. The three of them had spent the evening together, and Yasmin truly appreciated the company, “I mean, it’s good, but there are better ones.”
“I wouldn’t know, you two keep talking over it,” Yasmin interrupted.
“I think this pampering is going to her head,” Freddie joked.
“Hey, I’m not completely powerless. I’ll just be praying, for a forecast of your death,” Yasmin jested.
“Harsh,” Freddie chuckled.
“Deserved,” Josh winked. Silence followed for a few seconds.
“You know,” Yasmin thought, “It’s been a while since I last laughed like this.”
“Same,” Freddie concurred, “I don’t think I’ve laughed much since we got here.”
“College hasn’t been up to much yet,” Josh added. He was right – they’d been so consumed in themselves that the college experience had been neglected.
“Then let’s change that,” Yasmin decided, “Let’s make college what we want it to be.”
“You’re right,” Josh nodded, “Let’s go out. Get drunk. Meet girls.”
“Or no girls,” Freddie corrected.
“Don’t inflict your relationship on me,” Josh joked. Yasmin laughed. She felt so comfortable. She’d forgotten how good laughter felt. How much she loved spending time with her friends. Now, she had the brain capacity to make herself the priority again, with no strings attached.
“Hey,” Yasmin changed the subject, “Has anyone seen Oscar?”
“Nope, I’ve not heard from him since this morning,” Freddie replied.
“Me neither,” Josh shared a worried look. Maybe it wasn’t time to relax just yet.
Since he returned, Dylan hadn’t left Jono alone for a single second. He’d experienced what it felt like to lose him before. For a few seconds, he truly believed Jono was dead, and that small amount of time was enough for a reality check.
Dylan had never made a secret of how much he adored Jono. He told him daily and proved it in any possible way, but he still didn’t feel like it was enough. He was prepared for decades more by his side, and when that vanished in the blink of an eye, Dylan felt empty. His entire life plan disappeared. Losing Jono would have meant losing himself.
Now, it was important to make every second count. Make plans. Make memories. Take steps towards their shared future, because although life was short, Dylan wasn’t going to risk spending a lifetime without his greatest love.
“Are you sure there’s nothing else you need?” Lily stood up from the bed. She and Dylan had been keeping Jono company all evening, but now it was time to settle down.
“I’m sure. Go on, go check on Alex. I think his head aches more than mine,” Jono insisted. Lily smiled and left the room. Now it was just the two of them – the only company Dylan needed. He snugged up by Jono’s side, making himself comfortable with his head on Jono’s chest.
“I could lay like this forever,” Dylan reflected. He wasn’t exaggerating, either. As long as he was in Jono’s arms, Dylan would never ask for anything more.
“I think my arm would go stiff,” Jono laughed. Dylan chucked too, before a few moments of silence passed. That was one of the best things about their relationship. They didn’t need to talk to each other all the time, they could just exist in each other’s company, and it felt so beautifully comforting.
“What was it like?” Dylan questioned. For all their time spent together that day, they hadn’t talked about Ranulf, or Jono being pushed out of his own body.
“It didn’t hurt. It felt empty, in the vision world. The only people I saw were Yasmin and Josh, and it took me ages to find them,” Jono explained.
“Yasmin said she saw loads of ghosts. People we knew,” Dylan mentioned.
“More than your dad?” Jono wondered.
“Worse. She saw Leadsom, Clara, Dami…” Dylan explained. Names he’d hoped never to hear again.
“David?” Jono added.
“She didn’t mention him, but probably, I guess,” Dylan thought, “Let’s forget about them. The visions are gone. All I want to think about is you and me.”
“That sounds good to me,” Jono grinned, “Thank you, for saving me. I was so worried that, you know, that I’d never see you again.”
“Me too,” Dylan snuggled in closer, “Don’t leave me again, please.
“Deal,” Jono chuckled. As long as they were together, Dylan knew they could conquer anything.