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"I just don't think I can do it."

" Date me?"

" Date a werewolf."

" You knew?"

" Dude, it's Beacon Hills."

Ethan could still see Danny's dimples when he closed his eyes. Warm brown eyes and the sweetest smile he'd probably ever seen. Aiden had always said that Ethan was the soft one, and maybe he was right. It was hard to see how he could possibly function without Aiden. It was hard to see Aiden's face every time he walked past a mirror.

"Actually, I think I might leave town for a bit."

" Do you have somewhere to go?"

Ethan had nowhere to go. Nobody was waiting for him anymore. Who else have the two of you pissed off? They had killed what was left their pack to join the Alphas, but that had ended up being the losing side. Scott never really trusted them. Danny had broken up with him in the nicest way possible, and he could never blame him for that. We've pissed off everybody. All he had now was one name.

"I know it's probably not what you want to hear right now, but if you have nothing else to do..."

" You're asking me for a favor?"

Danny's smile. If Ethan had been soft before, it was nothing compared to what Danny had molded him into. Before Danny, he wasn't sure he could remember the last time he felt the urge to be nice, to help, to please other people. Even broken up, Ethan was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to handle losing Aiden if he had never had Danny.

"My best friend is living in London right now, he moved from Beacon Hills last year."

" A werewolf?"

" Something like that. Anyways, I was supposed to visit him this summer, but I got into Stanford, which starts pretty early so - "

" You want me to go and explain?"

" I want you to make sure he hasn't been murdered - he's kind of an asshole."

" Great. Can't wait to meet him."

He had a name. A name and an address of an apartment on Belvedere Road in London. Ethan didn't know where that was. The piece of paper Danny had written both of these things on was well worn by now. It wasn't that Danny and Ethan didn't keep in touch, but Danny seemed somehow to know that he needed that physical representation. The paper was worn smooth and perfectly creased from being folded, unfolded, pulled out of a pocket and slid carefully back in.

Ethan ran a finger over Danny's neat handwriting. Black as the blood dripping from Aiden's lips. The motel room was making him itch. Not his skin, but deep inside. There was a plane ticket tucked away in his bag, folded in with the three pairs of socks he owned. Ethan looked at the name.

Jackson Whittemore.

 

***

 

His parents thought that he needed space. First, he needed space away from Beacon Hills. His father claimed to have a promotion that took them all to London, but Jackson knew they were freaked. It's not every day your adoptive only child comes back from the dead seeming perfectly fine. He wasn't fine, for the record, not that he had necessarily been aware of it then. Now that he had started university, his parents decided that he would do "recover from his trauma" better living on his own. Jackson wasn't complaining if it meant he lived in his posh flat with a perfect view of Big Ben across the Thames.

But he hadn't needed space for a long time now. Reflecting on it, he'd had too much space all his life. His adoptive parents had always walked on eggshells around him. Danny was the first to reach deep into Jackson's heart and force him to be a person rather than an empty shell. Lydia was the only other one to see more in him - something he hadn't realized until just before he left Beacon Hills. The truth was, he needed people. He wasn't a shell anymore. He didn't want to be a kanima. He didn't want to be an omega. He wanted a pack.

It was almost a month since he had moved to London. It was a crowded city - so incredibly different from Beacon Hills - but he had never felt so alone. The last of his classes to start (a writing class that his advisor "strongly recommended", which he was not looking forward to) woke him up a little too early on a Wednesday morning.  He walked in about two minutes before the class started, and scanned his eyes over the other students. Mostly they looked like hipsters, and while Jackson liked to think that he had grown a lot in the past year, he still needed to maintain an image. He almost took a seat next to a girl who was sitting very straight and tapping her red fingernails in a way that reminded him ever so slightly of Lydia, but the sound of a familiar voice made him turn.

"Jackson? What are you doing here?"

"Close your mouth, Lahey. You're drooling." Jackson drawled. He slid into the seat next to Isaac. "What, you didn't know I was in London?"

"You know, I really hate to break it to you, but the world does not actually revolve around you." Isaac shot back with his classic side-eye. "So, what are you doing here?"

Jackson raised a dubious eyebrow. "Taking an English class, what does it look like?"

The professor called attention to the front of the room.

"You still play lacrosse?" Jackson asked.

Eyes glued to the front of the room, Isaac smirked.

Chapter Text

Aiden didn't have a funeral. There was nobody to say goodbye to him. Lydia stopped by briefly after Ethan finished filling the grave, bringing flowers and a watery smile. She stood next to him as he knelt at the grave for a while and then left, never saying a word. When she was gone, Ethan carved the symbol of their pack into the tree that towered over the fresh dirt. He stared at the angular corners of the shape, curling his claws into his palm.

He had never questioned his decision to join Deucalion's pack of alphas, and he knew Aiden hadn't either. In their old pack, they had struggled as betas - the weakest, slowest, the ones with the least control...they had been the absolute bottom rung, like omegas in real wolf packs. Other pack members used them to take out frustration and establish dominance. Deucalion had changed everything for them by teaching them to shift together and by giving them so much more of a family than they had had before.

It had been hard to lose their alpha shift. Like a piece of the puzzle was missing. Now it was more like Ethan was missing a limb. Maybe all of his limbs. He sat next to the grave until the moon was high in the sky. It was about a week from being full, but he turned his face towards it, basking in its light. His whole body felt numb, but he shifted his face and let a howl surge through his body and echo through the woods.

A long while after everything had fallen quiet again and his face had shifted back to human, he traced the symbol that he had carved into the tree with his finger and finally pulled himself to his feet. He brushed fruitlessly at the dirty knees of his pants and wiped his eyes. Beacon Hills hadn't been the worst place that he and Aiden had ever been to - it was probably the closest they'd come to someplace that almost felt like home in a while. But it was time for him to leave now. Maybe one day he'd be back, but he had a feeling it wouldn't be soon.

 

***

 

Isaac launched the lacrosse ball at Jackson, who caught it deftly before whipping it back across the field. They had been coming to the park most afternoons if neither of them had class, and Jackson had a number under Isaac Lahey in his contact list. It was weird. On the other hand, lacrosse wasn't the most popular sport in England, and it was almost impossible to find anyone who knew how to play, never mind keep up with him. He had never really noticed Lahey on the team in Beacon Hills until he had been Turned, but now he seemed somehow more ruthless and dexterous than he had those first few months of being a werewolf. Enough to at least match the combination of Jackson's supernatural power and natural, professional level skill.

"How did you get this good?" he asked, following the ball's momentum into an over the shoulder pass. "You used to suck way more."

Isaac nearly dropped the pass. "Picked up a few tricks in France," he shrugged, sending the ball back so hard Jackson could hear the laces of his stick nearly snap.

They played in silence for a while longer before moving into a scrimmage. It was fast and rough and Jackson could tell people were watching. They made their way to the middle of the field to faceoff, but Jackson paused as he touched his stick on the ground.

"One more point and we need to leave," he said quietly.

"The bench by the tree?" Jackson wasn't sure why he was so surprised that Isaac was just as aware of his surroundings as he was. He had been in Beacon Hills longer, and according to Danny some weird shit had been going down in that town lately - worse even than what Jackson had brought down on it.

Jackson nodded.

"Hunters. We'll need to stick together until we lose them, otherwise they'll pick us off."

Jackson stared at him in surprise, but Isaac just smirked and scooped the ball off the ground. He chased after him, ramming into him hard enough that any regular human would have fallen over, maybe with a dislocated shoulder, but Isaac pushed back, making Jackson stumble. Jackson glanced at him and saw a flash of red in his eyes as he flung the ball past the two trees they were using as a makeshift goal. The men on the bench by the tree seemed to notice it too, getting to their feet painfully casually.

"We need to go," he told Isaac, "Now. And then you're going to tell me exactly what the hell you've been up to."

Isaac nodded, smart enough not to look at the hunters, and jogged away to retrieve the ball.

Chapter Text

Ethan was riding his motorcycle south down the Pacific Coast Highway. After Beacon Hills, he had hopped on his bike and started in a random direction, but as he made his way down the coast, he felt like something was off - or more off than usual these days. By lunch time, he had stopped just outside of Santa Cruz at a beachside burger shack, and was starting to feel like something might really be wrong. He scanned his surroundings carefully, listening for raised pulses or anything out of the ordinary. A girl sitting at a table outside caught his eye. She was staring at him casually, occasionally flickering her eyes back down to her meal. He might have thought that she was checking him out, but the next time he looked, she was staring more intensely, looking almost as if she was about to say something. He looked around the restaurant again, more warily. Nobody seemed to be paying either of them any attention.

"Come here." The voice was soft, only picked up by werewolf ears, but commanding. Ethan whipped around to look at her again. She rolled her eyes.

He picked up his tray of food and moved over to her table. "Who are you?" he demanded.

"Relax. I'm just trying to give you a friendly word of advice."

"Well in that case," he subtly grew out his claws, "Why don't you tell me who you are and then I'll decide if I feel like killing you?"

The girl did not look impressed by the threat. "Yeah, whatever helps you sleep at night. Look, I just wanted to let you know that your plane's leaving soon, and you should probably be on it." She took a sip from her drink.

Ethan blinked at her. "My plane?"

"To London? You still think you haven't made up your mind, don't you?"

"How do you know -"

"I'm the emissary to a pack in London - well, I will be, anyways. But just so you know, Sacramento's gonna be like three hours from here and you're driving in the wrong direction."

He pulled the ticket out of his jacket pocket. She was right. He had about four hours until his flight left and just under three hours driving time back to Sacramento. Somehow, he didn't have time to make the choice anymore. He bit into his burger.

"Don't worry about it," she smiled. "You've already made up your mind. And it's not forever, anyways. Not unless you want it to be."

He hated to leave behind everything he had ever known, to leave Aiden behind, but...that was what he was already trying to do, wasn't it? And Danny somehow always knew everything, so maybe it was exactly what he needed.

"What's your name again?" he asked.

"Kaya. What's yours?"

"You know about the ticket but not my name?"

She shrugged and glanced down at it. "I know your name's not Danny," she said.

He smiled. "It's Ethan."

"See you in London, Ethan," she winked and stood up, leaving him alone at the table, pulling up directions on his phone.

 

***

 

"Did we lose them?" Jackson demanded.

"Not yet," Isaac scented the air, "They're trying to lure us into a false sense of security and attack when we let our guard down."

"So, what? We just wander around until they jump us? How do you know all this anyways? And why are you -"

"You know, I really think it would be better if we talked about this when the H-U-N-T-E-R's can't hear us."

Jackson snorted. "Pretty sure they can spell, dumbass."

Isaac grinned and they crossed the street. "Come on, there's a good Mexican place down this street."

Jackson raised his eyebrows and shook his head, but kept pace. The hunters seemed to have disappeared, but he was sure that didn't mean anything. Derek Hale had taught him the bare minimum about being a werewolf before he left for London, but hunters hadn't really made the top of the list. At least he had some experience with them, Jackson reflected darkly, and was smart enough to keep up. Isaac, as much as he hated to admit it, had some sort of insider knowledge that gave him a leg up. Even so, Jackson didn't think for a minute that he couldn't trust him.

Inside the restaurant, they were seated at a table in the front corner by the windows. Isaac sat with his back to the wall, looking as casual and apathetic as ever. Jackson scowled. Water and menus were placed in front of them and as soon as the waiter left, he leaned forward.

"Why don't you tell me where you got those red eyes, Lahey? Or this hunter thing you've got going on, hm? Cause last I heard, you were McCall's beta."

Isaac crossed his arms and tilted his head, smirking at Jackson. "I didn't kill Scott, if that's what you're asking," he said, and the you don't scare me anymore read loud and clear.

"Fine. Whatever. I don't give a shit about this new power trip you've got going, so why don't you just tell me how you're suddenly an alpha."

Isaac's eyes flickered towards the table and the corners of his mouth twitched down. It was hardly noticeable, but Jackson was kind of a pro at picking out insecurities and imperfections. "After Allison died," he met Jackson's eyes warily for a moment, making sure Jackson wasn't hearing it for the first time (he knew she was dead, if not exactly how it happened, but that didn't make it any easier), "after she died, her father took me to France. He has relatives there and I - I think we both needed to get away from Beacon Hills."

Jackson raised his eyebrows but said nothing.

"We were helping them to track down some omegas that had gone a bit..." he thought for a minute, "feral, I guess. We meant to stay on the sidelines, not get involved when it came to the actual hunting part of it."

"And clearly that didn't work out."

The waiter came back and Jackson ordered absently, his mind spinning.

"They weren't omegas?" he guessed when the waiter left again.

Isaac shook his head. "It was a pack, well kind of just the alpha, who had gone crazy. Argent and I weren't planning to be in the middle of it, but we were, and I killed her. The alpha."

Jackson was silent for a minute. "What about the pack?"

"The hunters got to some of them, and the rest scattered to other packs, pretty much all of which want to kill me now, so here I am." He said it so nonchalantly that Jackson couldn't help but be a little impressed. Just a little.

"So Argent took a sixteen year old to France and just left him there?"

Isaac shrugged. "We left at the same time, but he was on his way back to Beacon Hills. It's not the worst thing I've had happen to me, anyway."

Jackson felt like he'd been punched in the gut. Isaac didn't make eye contact, but he suddenly felt like maybe he should apologize for everything he'd done - or not done - to Isaac in the past.

"We should stay together tonight. My hall isn't too far from here."

"I'm not sleeping in a student hall." He didn't forget the shitty feeling deep in his stomach, but this, at least was familiar territory.

Chapter Text

Jackson followed Isaac up to his room in the student hall. It came as no surprise to him that the idea of living in one was completely disgusting to him.

“Seriously?” Jackson asked, “Why couldn’t we go to my flat?”

“They can’t do anything to us here,” Isaac closed the door on his tiny room. “Too many people.”

It made sense even if it didn’t make Jackson any happier. “Yeah,” he scoffed, “Even without all the smells, it’s claustrophobic.”

Isaac slammed the door to his closet closed and threw the bundle of pillows and blankets on the floor. “You can sleep on the floor.” He said and locked himself in the bathroom.

Jackson was well aware that they didn’t have the best history. Seeing each other randomly in Europe had been reassuring, almost. Like Beacon Hills hadn’t just been some dream halfway around the world. In the surprise of seeing a familiar face, they seemed to have forgotten that they had always been more enemies than friends, but now that they were actually facing coexisting, everything was coming back to the surface. He knew that he had never done anything to make Isaac like him, but he didn’t get why Isaac was suddenly getting so pissy about it.

A few minutes later, he reemerged in pajamas, still scowling at Jackson.

“What, you’re actually going to make me sleep on the floor in my dirty lacrosse clothes?” Jackson asked incredulously as Isaac went around getting ready to sleep.

“I gave you a pillow,” he said, “besides, you being happy really isn’t a big priority of mine.”

“Okay, what is your deal, Lahey?” Jackson snapped. “Are you mad because I stopped playing with you in third grade? Or is it about your dad? Because I never said anything? I’m sorry about that, okay? I am sorry!”

“You think I care about your apologies?” Isaac roared. “Sorry doesn’t change anything! I don’t give a shit that you stopped playing with me. You stopped having a soul when your parents told you that you were adopted. That wasn’t shit for me, that was all you. But just because your parents lied to you a little doesn’t give you the right to just-“ He turned away, fuming.

“Oh, you think that I had to say something? I was a kid!”

“So was I!” Isaac’s eyes burned bright red when he turned back around. “How was I supposed to handle my mom dying and my brother missing and my dad locking me in a freezer half the nights of the week?! The least you could have done was just not treat me like shit! The least you could have done!” Jackson opened his mouth to argue, but Isaac bowled right over him, “You couldn’t have told your douchebag friends to lay off? A decent human might have said something. But you…you always just watched us from your mansion like we were freaks. It’s too late for I’m sorry. My childhood was living hell because of you. You don’t get to change that now.”

Jackson stared. “I didn’t get it,” he said finally, “We both had pretty great families. I found out mine was a sham and you lost half of yours and your dad started…I didn’t get how something so great could turn bad so fast.”

“Yeah,” Isaac snorted, “Me neither.” His eyes were still glowing red, but most of the fight had drained out of him and he looked tired and sad. He pulled himself up to sit on his bed with his back against the wall. “But I don’t think yours ever really went bad. You just got in your head.”

Jackson sighed and sat on the bed too, surprising both of them. “Yeah. I pretty much always do that. That’s how I get to be perfect.”

“You are so not perfect,” Isaac laughed.

Jackson rolled his eyes. “Okay, well clearly you don’t care, but I’m gonna say it again anyways: I’m really sorry I never told anyone about your dad…and how I treated you, I guess.”

You guess? What the hell kind of apology is that?”

“Yeah, don’t push it. So do I get the bed now or what?”

“No, you idiot!” Isaac pushed him off the bed.

“God, it’s like Matt’s sixth birthday party all over again,” Jackson groaned from the floor

Isaac threw another pillow at him. “Don’t bring that up. You started it,” he said with a huff that kind of sounded like a laugh.

 

***

 

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. It is currently 5:25 in the evening, Pacific Time, and we are looking at a flight time of fourteen hours. The skies are looking pretty good today, with a forecast for cloudy weather when we arrive at London Heathrow. Our estimated arrival time is 3:25pm…”

Ethan closed his eyes and leaned his head back onto the headrest. He had never been on a plane before, but he was feeling a little giddy, unsure whether it was because he was about to start flying or because he was leaving everything behind to follow a scrap of paper. Maybe his heart was still racing from sprinting through the airport. He pulled the paper out of his pocket and smoothed it out. Jackson Whittemore. Danny didn’t exactly sing high praises about his best friend. It kind of made Ethan wonder what Danny had told Jackson about him…

The engines of the plane roared to life startling him, as the plane rolled once again into motion. They barreled along faster and faster, pure power, until Ethan felt suddenly weightless. A smile took over his face and he felt himself relax. It was out of his hands for now.

Chapter Text

“Anyways, Stanford’s great, but I wanted to give you a heads up...”

Jackson scowled. “One of these days you’re going to get your ass kicked for sticking your nose into everyone’s business.”

Danny rolled his eyes. “I’ve been okay so far.”

“Whatever. What happened this time?”

“I’m not coming to London.”

Jackson snorted. “Yeah, I figured. Just exchange the tickets. Or I’ll get you new ones.”

“It’s okay, I gave them to a friend.”

“Danny!“

“No, listen, Jackson. He’s going through a tough time right now and he needs to get away for a bit. You remember what that feels like, don’t you?“ Danny’s voice was stern in a way that even Jackson knew not to argue with.

He ignored the question. “I’m not babysitting for you.”

“I’m not asking you to,” Danny said earnestly, “His twin just died. I want to know he’s okay.”

“And you’re not doing this because…”

“We broke up. I can’t date werewolves.” Danny grinned. “I guess that makes you definitely not my type.”

“You hate your exes. And FYI: I’m everyone’s type”

Danny shrugged, disregarding the second part. “He’s different.”

He smiled and Jackson gave in. “Alright, fine. What’s his name?”

Ethan. Jackson froze when he glanced at the calendar on his wall. Danny’s – well, Ethan’s flight was getting in today – had already gotten in, he realized, when he looked at the time. Was he supposed to pick him up from the airport? He shrugged and continued into the kitchen to make himself coffee. Ethan wasn’t Danny. Let him figure it out.

 

***

 

Ethan fell asleep on the train and nearly missed his stop. A flight attendant had taken pity on him about halfway through the flight and explained that most people slept on red-eyes, but he just couldn’t do it. He came up from underground to a spectacular view of Big Ben and the Thames and tapped the address into his phone.

The directions took him to a building on the other side of the street from the Thames, tall and expensive looking. Ethan was pretty sure that he still looked and smelled like he had been travelling for days without any real sleep, but if he had retained anything from being an Alpha, it was a nearly self-destructive level of confidence. He slipped a cocky grin onto his face and sauntered into the building. It was even more impressive inside, complete with a water feature and snooty looking concierge.

“May I help you?” the man said dismissively.

Ethan smiled his most charming smile. “I’m here to see Jackson Whittemore.”

“And who may I tell him is calling?” He continued dismissively, picking up a black phone and beginning to dial.

“Ethan.”

The man gave him a once over while he waited and then spoke into the phone. “Mr. Whittemore, I have an Ethan in the lobby for you, sir.”

“Send him up.” The voice was harsh and the phone was hung up immediately after those words.

The concierge didn’t seem to mind the brusque manners, but smiled faintly and looked at Ethan. “If you will follow me, sir,” he said primly and led the way to a set of golden elevator doors. He inserted a key into a lock below the button which he the pressed. The door slid open. “Mr. Whittemore is in the penthouse.”

Ethan nodded and pressed the button. He wondered again about Danny’s choice in friends. From what he had seen of where he lived and the three words he had heard him speak, he could hardly believe that this guy was someone Danny could be friends with. Then again, Danny was friends with Lydia Martin. And Ethan.

The elevator doors opened to a small hallway and a thick door with a heavy lock. Ethan cleared his throat and wondered if he had to knock. He was just raising a hand when the door swung open and Ethan’s eyebrows jumped up. Leave it to Danny to be best friends with a model.

“You’re Ethan?” Jackson asked.

“Yeah. I’m guessing you’re Jackson. You gonna let me in?”

Jackson smirked and stood back from the door. “Welcome to London,” he said, voice dripping in sarcasm.

“Thanks. Just so you know, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Danny.”

Jackson crossed his arms. “No, you wouldn’t,” he said pointedly.

“Glad we’re on the same page,” Ethan muttered.

 

***

 

Jackson watched Ethan warily as he gazed wordlessly around the apartment. Danny had great taste in guys physically – he always had, but when it came to douchebags, he sure knew how to pick them. Look at who he had for a best friend. He didn’t care how much Danny liked this guy, he didn’t trust him. Coming all the way to London for no reason? Yeah, that wasn’t suspicious at all.

“Where are you staying?” Jackson leaned against the wall leading into the kitchen, keeping his arms crossed.

“Uh, a hotel, I guess?” Ethan seemed unconcerned. “I haven’t really thought about it.”

Jackson scowled. There was no way he was letting this guy in his space. Danny’s voice wormed its way into the back of his head just like it always did. He’s going through a tough time right now and needs to get away for a bit. Sound like someone you know? Don’t be a jerk. I told you to look out for him.

“Okay,” he huffed, “You look like shit. I’ll show you the guest bedroom and you can get some sleep.” He wrinkled his nose. “And a shower.”

Ethan raised an eyebrow. “Okay.”

 

***

 

Ethan was pretty sure Jackson didn’t like him. He was almost positive that he didn’t want him in his apartment, so he wasn’t sure why he was still there, using the nicest shower he’d ever seen before crawling into a king-sized bed. Jackson was loaded. Or his parents were. Maybe that was why everyone just seemed to accept his douchebag attitude like it was only to be expected. Granted, Danny had known him for a long time, and the concierge was both just as snooty as Jackson and probably making a pretty good amount of money off of him. Somehow none of this seemed to bother Ethan as much as it should have. Never in his life, besides Danny, had people who actually knew him treated him with politeness. Maybe Jackson was an asshole, but his motives were pretty easy to understand, as far as Ethan could tell. With that comforting thought, he surprised himself by drifting off to sleep more easily than he had since Aiden had died.

Chapter Text

A few hours later, Jackson had just finished ordering Chinese food and was texting Isaac about the latest American werewolf in London (like that’s not going to be a disaster) when his nose picked up a hint of sweat and the sharp tang of fear, muddled by sadness. Not sadness…grief. He paused as he walked by the guest bedroom. The door had been left open a crack but he couldn’t see the bed. He nudged it a bit with his shoulder and peeked in.

Ethan was tossing and turning, tangled up in the sheets, muttering to himself.

“No…no…Aiden………”

His twin just died, Danny had told him. Jackson stared, frozen and unsure what to do.

“It hurts,” Ethan said softly. Jackson bolted into the room, but stopped abruptly when he saw that Ethan was still asleep. “It hurts me too,” Ethan repeated. Jackson was sure that his supernatural hearing was the only reason he could hear him so clearly. The thrashing grew more vigorous, and he stumbled backwards, pressing one on speed dial. “It’s me, get here now!”

“I’m in Camden, be there in ten.”

He hung up and moved back to Ethan’s side. “Ethan,” he started tentatively, “Hey, Ethan! Wake up!”

Ethan’s claws were out, tearing into his duvet, but Jackson grabbed his shoulders and shook him. “Ethan, come on! It’s just a dream-“

Ethan swiped at him, but Jackson caught his wrist, kneeling onto the side of the bed for a better angle. “Hey, man. You need to wake up!”

He jerked his head towards Jackson, his face reflecting the light from the doorway, wet with tears. Jackson clenched his jaw. This was so out of his comfort zone. He wished Lydia were there, not for the first time. As much as he hated to admit it, she always knew what to do.

“Ethan,” he tried again, shaking him. He shifted the color of his eyes and put his face close to Ethan’s disregarding the flailing claws and gnashing fangs. This time, he roared.

“ETHAN!”

Electric blue eyes flew open and Jackson backed away as the tension drained from Ethan’s body. He was still breathing heavily, but he seemed to realize that it had been a dream.

“You were having a nightmare.” Jackson realized that was redundant, but he had no idea what to do. He wished Isaac would get there. He exhaled unsteadily.

Ethan closed his eyes and opened them a minute later, dark brown instead of bright blue. “Yeah. I get them a lot.”

“Because of your brother?” Jackson was aware he was overstepping his boundaries, but he had never empathized much anyways. The more he could figure out about Ethan the sooner he could prove to Danny that this was so not his problem.

Ethan glared. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

The door flew open and Isaac rushed in. “What’s happening?”

“That was fast.” Jackson stood up and Ethan pushed himself to sitting.

Isaac leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms. “Please tell me you didn’t call me here so you could get off on some weird exhibition thing,” he smirked.

Jackson stared at him. “Do we look like we’re having sex?”

“Well I don’t want to look too closely, so – Ethan?” Isaac dropped his attitude and gaped at them. “You two know each other?”

“No.” They said at the same time.

“Do you?” Jackson asked, pointing between the two of them.

Isaac shrugged. “Beacon Hills,” he explained.

 

***

 

Ethan was surprised to see Isaac in London, but at the same time he wasn’t. He definitely wasn’t surprised that he and Jackson seemed to be friends – they both had a similar sense of aggression. He was still rattled by the nightmare by the time the three of them had caught up over Chinese food, but he had calmed down significantly. Every time he tried to sleep, he woke up screaming Aiden’s name. In real life it had all happened too quickly, but his dreams stretched it out until he was watching his twin die for what felt like eternity.

“How long are you gonna be here?” Isaac asked, lounging in one of Jackson’s leather chairs. Ethan recognized the sadness in his eyes, but he also seemed more truly at ease and confident than Ethan had ever seen him in Beacon Hills. He knew where that feeling came from, even without seeing Isaac’s glowing red eyes or hearing the story of how he came to be in London. An alpha with a pack, whether Jackson admitted to being his beta or not, Ethan recognized it.

“I don’t know. I still have the return ticket for a week from now, but…” There was no reason to go back. Jackson and Isaac knew that without him telling them.

“Either way, you’re still here for the full moon. We were planning on playing lacrosse in Regent Park.”

“I still don’t get why you won’t stay here instead,” Jackson frowned.

“It’s an Alpha thing,” Ethan said. “Full moon’s in two days.”

Isaac nodded. “I live in Islington. In the student halls.”

Neither Ethan nor Aiden had ever gone to college, but he knew that the living situations could be tough on werewolves and he could only imagine how it was for alphas.

“Which is exactly what I don’t understand,” Jackson complained.

“Alright, well, while you were getting pampered as a child, I was getting locked in a freezer, so excuse me if my style of living is not up to your standards,” Isaac said with a hint less of bitterness than Ethan would expect from a statement like that.

Jackson rolled his eyes. “Really Lahey? Are we still milking that?”

“Yeah, we’re still milking that,” he replied dryly.

Ethan watched the small pack bicker with raised eyebrows. Maybe he could give London a try after all.

Chapter Text

Jackson really wanted to hate Ethan. And he did, sometimes, but no matter how harsh Jackson got with him, he would just shrug it off or smile and carry on. He even seemed to get along with Isaac, who would occasionally remind him that he had killed Boyd, but also seemed to have mostly forgiven him. He hated the most that he had yet to make Ethan find a hotel or literally anywhere else to live, and that he was honestly getting used to it.

That wasn’t to say that Ethan was calm and gentle by any means. He was as aggressive as Jackson and even more aggressive than Isaac. He didn’t have any formal lacrosse training, only what Danny had taught him, but he picked it up quickly and was almost brutal with his strength.

About a week after the full moon, Jackson considered Ethan to be a permanent fixture in his apartment (not that he thought about it much) and Ethan and Isaac seemed to be bonding more than ever. Jackson was still wary, but it was more of an occasional reminder not to trust him than a constant urge to watch his back.

On Friday afternoon, Jackson and Isaac walked into his apartment as Ethan was making himself lunch. “We’re going out tonight,” Jackson announced, as Isaac went straight to his fridge.

“We?” Ethan asked.

Isaac thinks that we all have to use the buddy system,” he snorted.

“You really don’t think those hunters will mess with your drink?” Isaac asked over his shoulder.

“I can watch my drink,” Jackson insisted harshly.

“It’s not a bad idea,” Ethan agreed. He saw the look on Jackson’s face and added, “I guess Danny didn’t tell you about the black light party we helped him throw.”

Jackson looked to Isaac, who rolled his eyes and said, “Don’t worry about us cramping your style. Ethan can rage with the best of us.”

“Fine,” Jackson scowled, “But don’t even think about drinking that straight from the bottle.” Isaac froze with the bottle of milk halfway to his lips, looking slightly sheepish.

 

“You’re not wearing that,” Jackson said.

“I only brought one bag of clothes, what do you want me to do?” Ethan shot back.

Isaac watched from his position on Jackson’s couch, where he was sprawled out, sipping from a bottle of beer with wolfsbane petals floating around inside. He looked far too amused for Jackson’s liking.

“Come here,” he sighed, turning and going back into his room. He didn’t check to make sure he was following, but when he pulled the door to his closet open, he saw Ethan’s reflection behind him in the mirror.

“This was fine in California,” Ethan argued.

“Yeah, well, you’re in Europe now,” he pulled a shirt from a hanger and tossed it at Ethan, “Time to step it up.”

Ethan stripped off his shirt and Jackson watched shamelessly. “Okay?” he asked, as he pulled Jackson’s shirt on and started buttoning it up, sounding exasperated.

“Keep the jeans and wear your leather jacket instead,” he slapped him across the chest, not very lightly, as he left the room.

“Are we ready yet?” Isaac asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Don’t be an asshole,” Jackson told him.

“Huh, I don’t know…how about you try it first? Let me know what it’s like…”

 

***

 

Jackson was sometimes a raging douche and sometimes a regular level of douchebag, but Ethan found that he minded even less than he thought he would. Between Jackson and Isaac and himself, there was very little time spent trying to be polite, and a lot more of it spent being brutally honest, or just brutal in general. He was very surprised at how easily he felt comfortable with the fledgling pack, whether they were playing lacrosse in the park, hanging out in Jackson’s apartment, or sitting at a booth in a dimly lit bar in Soho.

“This place is dead. Let’s find somewhere with a better dance scene,” Jackson said, nodding to the moderate cluster of people on the dance floor.

“Shots first,” Isaac told him, “You’re buying.” He pulled a tube of powdered wolfsbane, rolling it between his fingers.

Jackson flipped him off and Isaac smiled angelically.

“You know you’re pack, right?” Ethan said, as he watched Jackson try to muscle his way up to the bar.

“With who?” he followed Ethan’s gaze. “Jackson?”

“He might not think he’s your beta, but he is,” Ethan continued, “I’m surprised you can’t feel how it makes you stronger.”

Isaac ducked his head. “I can,” he said firmly, looking back up, “But I’m not a leader, and Jackson will never accept me as his Alpha.”

Ethan shrugged. “He already has, probably without realizing it. It’s more instinctual than you would think.”

Jackson came back a minute later and slammed the shots onto the table. “Wolfsbane,” he demanded. Isaac was already sprinkling a pinch of powder into his glass and swirling it around as he passed the tube around the booth.

“On three,” Isaac said. They counted down and took the shots.

“Don’t get ahead of yourselves,” Jackson warned them, as they chased their shots. “You should have seen what happened at Lydia’s party last year. She was passing this shit out like water.”

Ethan nodded and they stood. “Where now?” he asked, as they pushed their way out of the club.

“There’s a good one two blocks down,” Isaac suggested. “Venomous?” he asked Jackson, who nodded.

“I’m surprised the hunters have left us alone this long,” Isaac muttered as they walked.

Jackson glared at him.

“It’s just strange.”

They had to wait in line for a good twenty minutes, which kind of pissed Ethan off, but Jackson assured him that it meant that it was a good club, and Isaac agreed that it was usually worth it. When they squeezed past the bouncers, and into the club, Jackson led the way into the middle of the crowd of dancers. Ethan somehow acquired a number of glow in the dark bracelets, and Isaac stuck close behind him, shouting at them not to get separated.

The loud thrumming of the music, flashing lights, and the effects of the wolfsbane drinks were making his head spin in the best possible way. Jackson eyed him as they danced, looking pleasantly surprised. He nodded when he caught Ethan’s eye and smirked. Ethan smirked back. Isaac bumped into them, and Jackson’s swearing got lost in the music, which didn’t matter much because Isaac was already turning to talk to the girl who had bumped into them, who he seemed to know. She shouted something at Jackson, who nodded, smirking, and winked at Isaac.

Jackson leaned closer and said in his ear, “Let’s get some more drinks.” Ethan nodded, and grabbed his hand to pull him towards the bar.

“I thought you said too much of this stuff was a bad idea,” he reminded him, staying close behind, nearly pressed against him, as Jackson pushed his way to the front of the crowd surrounding the bar.

“Not if we don’t drink it,” Jackson said, demanding four drinks as he pushed money into a bartender’s hand. “I’m just doing Lahey a favor.” He turned to partially face Ethan, pressing their bodies closer.

“Getting that girl drunk?” Ethan raised an eyebrow.

Jackson handed him two of the drinks and nudged him back towards the floor.

“Giving him time to make his move,” he shouted, “She’s in our English class and he’s been trying to hit on her for weeks.”

They found the pair again, just as the girl was pressing herself into a somewhat surprised (but pleased) Isaac for a kiss. “Looks like he didn’t have to,” Ethan observed.

They broke apart as Jackson and Ethan joined them, the girl staying pressed against Isaac as she accepted her drink. Isaac shouted Ethan’s name in her ear as an introduction, and she held out a hand, saying loudly, “Isabel.” He shook her hand and then pulled back closer to Jackson as she tilted her face up towards Isaac’s again.

“What about you?” Ethan asked, his hand brushing against Jackson’s side.

“What about me?” Jackson challenged.

Ethan closed in to speak in his ear, “Who are you going home with tonight?”

Jackson pulled back and looked at him, eyes flickering to his lips and then back to his eyes. “See if you can guess,” he said, before his lips were on Ethan’s and he was pulling him in roughly by the beltloops on his jeans.

When they came up for air long enough to be aware of their surroundings again, Isaac and Isabel were gone. “Good for them,” Ethan said, kissing under Jackson’s ear.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jackson said, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the door.

The fresh air hit them like a block of ice, and Ethan suddenly realized how not sober he was. He stumbled a little bit, but Jackson didn’t let go of him.

“We were supposed to…” Ethan paused, thinking. He wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do, but it was probably something.

Jackson kissed him sloppily on the sidewalk. “Take the tube back to mine, or do you want a cab?” he asked.

“It’s not that far, we can walk,” Ethan said, before diving back in for a kiss.

Jackson pressed up against him in just the right way so that Ethan could feel the hardness against his thigh. “Can we?” he asked.

Ethan swore. “Okay, the tube station’s right there,” he said, pulling him down the street.

They made out against the dirty wall of the tube station while they waited for their train, and sat close together, not saying a word as the train took them to Westminster Station. They stumbled up the stairs hand-in-hand into the sobering night, watching the lights illuminate the buildings of parliament as they passed. They made it about halfway across the bridge before they got sidetracked again, but this time they were broken apart suddenly by insistent hands.

“You’d think you would be more concerned that your alpha was just kidnapped,” Kaya frowned at them, with her arms crossed over her chest.

Chapter Text

Jackson stared at the girl standing between him and Ethan. He was still tripping a little from the wolfsbane, but he was pretty sure he hadn’t had enough to be hallucinating. He and Lydia had emailed back and forth for a while to figure out the right amount to get him into a state of like-drunkness without the nasty hallucinations. Jackson was not into that. But tripping or no, there was a girl in front of him, one who he didn’t recognize, who was telling him that his “alpha” had been kidnapped. Worse, Ethan seemed to know her.

“Who are you?” he growled. He looked past her at Ethan. “Do you know her?”

“We met,” he said vaguely, “I think she’s Isaac’s emissary.” He turned his attention to her. “Isaac was kidnapped by the hunters.”

The girl threw a black braid over her shoulder and rolled her eyes, as if to say, “Obviously”. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re finding a place in the pack,” she told Ethan, glancing at Jackson, “But you really need to be more aware of your surroundings. They took Isaac and that girl he was with while you two were sucking face,” her eyes rolled up as she pretended to think, “the first time.”

“They took Isabel too?” Jackson asked. “Why?”

The girl shrugged. “We better get your alpha back quickly though. I don’t like that they took a random human.”

“Do you know where they are?” Ethan asked.

“No, but you can probably still catch Isaac’s scent. Do you have something of his?”

“In my apartment,” Jackson suggested.

She nodded and shooed them along in front of her.

“How do you know her?” Jackson demanded as they crossed the bridge.

“She found me when I was still in California,” Ethan said, “I almost missed the plane, but she talked me into coming. Her name’s Kaya, by the way.”

“Great,” Jackson snorted, “I’m so glad you’re best friends.”

Ethan looked at him. “Let’s just find Isaac, okay?”

“And what’s this about him being our Alpha, anyways?” Jackson continued.

“If you haven’t figured that out yet, you’re not as smart as I gave you credit for.”

“I don’t want an alpha. I don’t need one.”

“Yes, you do,” Ethan said firmly. “You’ll die without one.”

“McCall didn’t.”

“Scott is an alpha. That only happens like once in a million years.”

They fell silent as Jackson led they way into his building and then unlocked the elevator. Kaya was searching through her coat pocket for something, and Ethan seemed lost in thought. Jackson caught himself watching him. He didn’t regret kissing him at all. He had only just figured out that his interest in guys extended farther than he thought it did, and he had minimal experience with them, but he wasn’t so compelled to leave it at a one-night stand as he usually was, whether boy or girl, since Lydia. He had been lusting after Ethan practically since the moment he saw him, but he hadn’t really gotten over it. He wondered vaguely if he would be over it if they actually got to spend the night together, assuming that they didn’t die before that. But he wasn’t so interested in the ending or the destination with Ethan. He wanted the now, the part where they made out and then rescued Isaac and then had sex, and then did it all over again the next day…although he wouldn’t mind skipping the Isaac part…

They got off the elevator and Jackson let them into his apartment.

“Ethan and I will take my room. Kaya, you –“

“Oh no,” Kaya crossed her arms, “I’m not leaving you two alone together.”

“Guys,” Ethan held up Isaac’s sweater, raising his eyebrows.

They nodded and evacuated the apartment. Jackson and Ethan took turns familiarizing themselves with the scent on the way back to the club.

“It’s starting to fade a bit, but it goes down into the tube,” Jackson said, as they followed the scent trail towards the station that he and Ethan had taken not too long ago.

“That’s going to be a pain in the ass,” Ethan muttered.

“Yeah, well, we don’t have much of a choice,” Kaya frowned. “I don’t know how well you’ll be able to smell down there…”

“Which is exactly why the hunters went that way,” Jackson said.

They lost the scent on the main platform where the mixture of unpleasant smells overwhelmed their sensitive noses. A train pulled into the station and Ethan walked on, looked around, and then rejoined them on the platform, shaking his head.

“I don’t know,” he said, “I can’t smell anything on the train either.”

“There are too many possibilities – too many trains, too many cars…” Kaya observed.

“What if they took a service passage?” Jackson suggested. Ethan and Kaya looked at him. “They get around suspiciously well and we would lose their scent if we ever tried to follow them, spend time looking on all of the trains until we were halfway across London.”

They all looked at each other and then Kaya beckoned the boys back down the platform to a pair of metal service doors. A crowd of drunken lads stumbled past, and they slipped through the doors and into a dimly lit tunnel.

“Smell anything?” she asked after they had walked a few meters.

“Blood,” Ethan said, after a minute, “Not Isaac’s.”

Jackson looked at him. He didn’t smell anything aside from the foul smells of the tunnel.

“It’s very faint,” Ethan assured him.

“Worth following for now,” Kaya shrugged.

The next door that they came to took them into the main tunnel of the tube. Jackson scented the air. Something was there, underneath the damp air… “Isaac?” he asked Ethan.

“Could be,” Ethan nodded, “Can we follow it without getting run over by a train?”

“We’ll have to be quick,” Kaya said.

“If I die before we’ve had sex,” Jackson whispered to Ethan as they walked, “I’m going to kill someone.”

“Good luck with that,” he smirked back, “But it doesn’t matter. I’m not letting that happen.”

“I’m not sure if that’s really sweet or really hot.”

“It can’t be both?”

“Boys!” Kaya looked caught between amused and annoyed. “This is really not the time or the place.”

“There!” Ethan pointed suddenly at another service door and pulled Jackson through it, quickly followed by Kaya. A minute later, a train roared past.

“Must be Victoria,” Jackson guessed. He scented the air again and looked at Ethan. “It’s definitely Isaac.” Ethan nodded.

They walked the entire length of the service passage, but by the time they reached the other end, they had found nothing.

“The scent’s stronger here,” Ethan said, as Kaya pulled the door open.

The new tunnel looked similar to that of the Victoria line, but it was hushed, unexpectant, with bits of grass and weeds growing up through the rusting tracks. There was a rustle to their right, but it was just an oversized rat. The rat seemed perfectly unconcerned that it was sitting in the middle of a train track.

“I’m going to go ahead and guess this one’s not in use anymore,” Kaya said.

“How’d you figure that one out?” Jackson said, dryly.

“There are people around that bend down there,” Ethan pointed at where the tracks curved away, out of sight to their left, “I hear…five heartbeats. One of them is really weak.”

“We can’t just barge in,” Kaya said, “We need a plan.”

“We don’t have a lot of information,” Jackson reminded her.

“There are three hunters. Isaac will be restrained, somehow, and the girl will be hurt, unconscious, maybe, but probably out of the way. From what I’ve heard of the hunters around here, the crazy ones are gunning for total genocide, so they either took your alpha in to question him about his intentions or they’re using him as bait and then they’ll kill all three of you. Is that enough information?”

 

***

 

Their chances weren’t great. Ethan knew that. He listened as carefully as he could to the movement around the corner as Jackson and Kaya whispered about potential plans of action. The voices were faint and it was hard to tell who was speaking – if Isaac was speaking at all or if it was just the hunters. He crept down the tunnel towards the curve, still listening intently. There. He moved back to join Jackson and Kaya.

“Electricity,” he told them, “They’re trying to get him to say where we are, how many of us there are.”

“He’s not yelling though,” Kaya said.

Jackson shook his head. “He wouldn’t. They’re not waiting for us, then. They want to ambush us.”

“So we can take them by surprise,” Ethan said, “Or we can go in with our claws out.”

“You’re not just going to kill them, are you?” Kaya asked, appalled.

They looked at her and then each other in confusion. “They’re trying to kill us,” Ethan reminded her.

“Are you serious right now?” she hissed, “You can’t just go around killing people!”

“I have another way,” Jackson rolled his eyes, “Can the two of you incapacitate without killing? I could take all three-“

“I can do it,” Ethan nodded.

“Then we’re ready,” Kaya agreed. She pulled a taser from the waistband of her jeans.

“One thing first,” Ethan said, “Kaya, turn around.”

She looked at him questioningly, but turned. Ethan pulled Jackson close and kissed him roughly. “That’s to hold you over for later,” he panted over his lips when they broke apart.

“Is that a promise?” Jackson cocked an eyebrow.

“Let me know if this convinces you,” Ethan said, before licking into his mouth again.

“Oh my god!” Kaya hissed. “You have a problem. Both of you!”

Ethan shrugged, but pulled back from Jackson, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. “We just got together like an hour ago, and now we might die, what do you expect?”

She rolled her eyes. “Don’t be dramatic,” she said, “Can we go now?”

Ethan flashed his blue eyes at her and they slipped down the tunnel and around the curve. Jackson hung back, gesturing them forwards. Ethan stopped, but Kaya shook her head and motioned him forwards. He glanced back again, and Jackson was gone. He felt panic rise in his throat, but Kaya was already sprinting towards the abandoned station platform that the hunters had turned into a base of operations. He grew out his claws and quickly shifted the rest of the way, rushing in after her. She managed to taze one hunter and dodge around the others to put herself between them and Isaac, who was hanging limply off of a metal link fence in the middle of the platform. Ethan raked his claws across the back of one hunter, going deep enough to hurt, but not deep enough to cut into any vital organs. The other hunter rushed towards him as his injured colleague stumbled forwards, but he was suddenly lifted off his feet, dangling in the air by a scaly rope, which glistened slightly in the dim light. The hunter was dropped to the floor and the scaly rope darted back out, slashing across the back of his neck, leaving him motionless.

Ethan was totally lost, but the hunter that Kaya had taken out was struggling back to his feet, and she was holding her own well enough against the one that Ethan had been fighting with her tazer lying yards away, but he doubted that she would be able to take out both of them. He moved towards the stunned hunter and dug his claws deeply into his shoulder.

“Who are you?” he demanded, “Why did you take Isaac?”

The hunter gasped for breath and then spat at him. It wasn’t really anything new, but Ethan reeled back. The hunter made to stand, but the scaly rope darted down from the ceiling again, making a small cut on the back of his neck, and he collapsed, motionless, onto the floor. Ethan looked up just in time to see Jackson drop to his feet, eyes yellow and slitted, tail retracting. There was a thump and they looked around to see Kaya kneeling over an unconscious hunter.

“I just knocked him out,” she assured them, “Quick, we don’t have long before they start coming around again-“

“The other two have about an hour, give or take,” Jackson told her.

“What just happened?” Ethan asked him.

“I’m still half kanima,” he shrugged.

“Half – what?”

“Kanima,” Jackson moved to get Isaac down from the fence, while Kaya rushed over to the limp body that Ethan had only just seen, tied to one of the support beams.

“No, yeah, I got that part…” Ethan frowned, helping him to lower Isaac to the floor.

“Can we talk about this later?” Isaac grunted.

“Can I ask just one question first?”

Jackson rolled his eyes, but nodded, looping one of Isaac’s arms over his shoulder.

“Where does your tail go?” he grinned.

“Boys!” Kaya called. They looked over to see her holding an unconscious but untied Isabel “She’s not doing so great. We really need to get her out of here. I’m not even sure she has a pulse.”

“She does,” Ethan assured her, “It’s faint, though.” He looked Isabel over, noting first the bolt sticking out of her stomach, and then the thick matting of blood on the side of her head. “You’re an emissary, do you know much about medical stuff.”

Kaya glared at him. “I’m a nurse,” she said.

“Okay, how was I supposed to know that?” he glanced up at Jackson, who glared as well as he could while supporting Isaac.

“Yes,” Kaya sighed, “I know about this medical stuff, and I can tell you, she’s not going to last long if we can’t get her to a hospital. It’s been a long time since they were taken, she might not even make it that long if she has a lot of internal bleeding.”

“We have to try,” Isaac said, through gritted teeth, “Ethan, can you carry her by yourself?” Ethan nodded and scooped her up as gently as possible. “Okay, there’s a service tunnel that leads to the Victoria line-“

“We know,” Jackson said, more gently than usual. Ethan met his eyes and nodded. “We know the way back.”

“Then what are you waiting for?” Isaac demanded.

It was much slower work getting back through the tunnels. They waited at the service door to hear the train go past before risking the trek to the service door that they had entered through, giving themselves the full ten-minute window. They were about halfway through the final service tunnel when Ethan stopped.

“If she’s too heavy, we can switch,” Jackson said.

“She’s not breathing,” Isaac said, extracting himself from Jackson and stumbling over to Ethan, who was lowering Isabel to the ground.

“No heartbeat either,” Ethan agreed.

Kaya dropped to her knees next to them and took a pulse with her fingers. There was a very faint beat and she and Ethan looked at each other.

“You have to bite her,” Jackson said.

Isaac looked panicked. “No…I can’t.”

“Isaac, you have to do whatever you think is best, but I will tell you, this girl won’t live without the bite,” Kaya said.

“I don’t – I can’t –“ he blinked and a tear slid down his cheek. “What if she dies?”

“At least you will have tried,” Kaya told him earnestly, “But you need to make the decision now.”

Isaac looked at Ethan. “How do I do it?” he asked.

Ethan lifted Isabel’s wrist to his mouth, perfectly manicured fingers hanging limp. “You need to shift,” he said.

Isaac nodded, eyes glowing red, bones restructuring into his beta shift. He paused with his mouth open, hovering above her thin, ashy arm. Ethan returned the nod, and Isaac bit down.

Chapter Text

“Put her in your room,” Jackson directed, as they stumbled into his flat, he dropped Isaac onto the sofa, and Ethan carried Isabel through to his bed. “What do you need?” he asked Kaya.

“I have everything in my bag,” she said, rushing after Ethan.

“I’m fine,” Isaac panted, clutching his side, where the worst of the mutilation was, “I’m healing faster now.” He lifted his hand away for a minute. Jackson couldn’t see much under the blood and grime, but it looked better already. “Go and help the others.”

Jackson nodded, getting to his feet.

“Jackson,” Isaac called after him, “Let me know…immediately.”

Jackson nodded again, almost marveling at how easily he could take Isaac’s direction when he had to. He hated it.

In Ethan’s bedroom, Kaya was bent over a motionless Isabel as Ethan held her down by the shoulders. He looked up as Jackson entered, and said, “Hold her legs.”

“Don’t tell me what to do,” Jackson gritted out. Ethan looked like he had just been slapped

“I’m trying to bring her back to consciousness so that she can start healing if she’s going to turn. If the two of you hold her down, she won’t be able to hurt me and I won’t accidentally hurt her,” Kaya said quickly, glancing at Jackson, “Okay?”

“Okay,” he relented, coming to the end of the bed and wrapping his hands around Isabel’s ankles. He looked up to see Ethan still staring at him. “What?”

“What was that?” he demanded.

“Boys, later,” Kaya growled in frustration, flicking open a pocket knife and cutting a thin line down Isabel’s forearm. The blood glistened, but it didn’t heal.

“It doesn’t look like she’s turning,” Jackson frowned. He glanced back over his shoulder, but Isaac seemed to be in too much pain to eavesdrop.

“I know, I know,” she blew out a breath, and set the knife aside, hands shaking. “But she has to wake up to heal...”

“What if she’s not going to?” Ethan asked.

“Switch with me,” she commanded him, “No, wait. You stay. Jackson, if we switch, can you break her arm? It should trigger her healing.”

He recognized the fact that she had posed it as a question rather than a command, but he frowned, regardless. “So what? You’re just going to mutilate her trying to wake her up?”

“It’ll wake her up,” Kaya said, sounding unsure, “And if it doesn’t, there’s no hope anyways.” She tugged at one of her braids, a pleading expression on her face.

“It’ll work,” he agreed, leaving her feet to take Kaya’s place at her side. “Okay?” he asked, looking first at Kaya and then Ethan, both of whom nodded. He paused with his hands over the same arm, the one that had been cut but not bitten. He had never broken anyone’s arm before, at least, no that he had remembered. “Okay,” he said again, mostly to himself, “It’ll work.”

There was a snap and Isabel jerked up, teeth extending into points as her eyes went gold. She tilted her head back and roared. Kaya stumbled back, but quickly returned to her post.

A roar echoed from the living room in response, and Isaac appeared in the doorway, eyes glowing red.

“She’s fine,” Jackson told him.

“I am not fine!” Everyone’s eyes swept around to land on Isabel. Her teeth had retracted, but her eyes still glowed golden. “Does anyone want to tell me what the hell – did you break my arm?!” She gaped down at where her bone was threatening to puncture the skin. “You absolute Neanderthal! Take me to the hospital!” She demanded.

Isaac sagged against the door, eyes fading back to blue-grey. “She’ll be fine,” he said with an exhausted smirk.

“I will bloody well not be fine!” she practically shrieked, “What have you done to me? And what is that god-awful racket?”

Kaya looked around at them, stunned.

“I think it’s the fridge. That or the traffic.”

“It’s like 3am,” Kaya said, “I don’t hear any traffic.”

“Not on this street,” Ethan amended.

“Would you stop talking like lunatics and get me the phone so I can call the police on you?” Isabel demanded.

Isaac straightened up and walked into the room on mostly steady legs. “You two can get some sleep,” he told Ethan and Jackson. “Kaya will help me explain everything to Isabel.”

Jackson looked down at her arm. The cut had healed, and the bone was healing much faster than a human’s would. All werewolf, as far as they could tell.

“We’ll let you know the minute anything happens,” Kaya assured them.

Jackson nodded, and Ethan followed him back into his bedroom. “You want to tell me what’s going on with you?” He asked.

“No,” Jackson said. He went into the bathroom, but Ethan followed.

“That’s nice. How about you tell me anyways?”

“I used to be a kanima,” Jackson ground out. “What about that don’t you get?”

“Fine. I’ll be on the couch,” Ethan rolled his eyes.

Jackson fumed and got into the shower. By the time he had washed all of the dirt and blood off of himself, he had calmed down. He pulled on a pair of clean sweatpants and went out into the living room. Ethan was lying on his back with his eyes closed, but he wasn’t asleep.

“Come to bed with me,” he said, before he realized he was being hypocritical. “Please?”

Ethan opened an eye. “Can I shower first?”

“I would appreciate that,” Jackson said dryly.

They went back into his room, and Ethan paused in the doorway to the bathroom. “Are we going to talk about this tonight?”

“No,” Jackson answered, falling back onto his bed.

“Good to know,” Ethan nodded, and disappeared behind the door.

Jackson was mostly asleep by the time he felt the other side of the bed dip. Ethan curled towards him, and kissed him.

“I get that you don’t want to be told what to do, but just so you know, I’m not averse to you bossing me around a little,” he said, when he pulled back.

Jackson opened his eyes to see Ethan smirking. “Good to know,” Jackson smirked back, kissing him a few more times before rolling over to force himself back into Ethan’s chest.

 

***

 

Ethan woke up around midday, still somewhat hungover, tangled in the sheets with Jackson. He was still wearing his sweatpants, which was a shame. Actually, they were Jackson’s, as he had been kicked out of his own room last night – the guest room. He thought about it as he rolled over to look at Jackson. He had called it “your room” last night when he had been telling him what to do with Isabel. Ethan smiled. Jackson looked much more tame when he slept. In waking, he sometimes seemed to hold so much aggression and tension that Ethan thought he might explode. Not all the time. Rarely, even. But definitely last night when Ethan had made the mistake of trying to tell him what to do. I used to be a kanima. Clearly Ethan had some research to do.

He pulled himself away from Jackson and rolled out of bed, padding into the kitchen to start the coffee. He could just see Kaya sitting on the couch in the living room, tapping at her phone.

“Coffee?” he asked.

She looked up, more alert than he would think anyone would be, having stayed up until dawn. “Yes,” she said, standing up and stretching, “Please.” Her black braids were messy now and her clothes rumpled and dirty, but she didn’t seem to mind too much. 

“How is Isabel?” he asked.

She came to join him, leaning against the counter in the kitchen. “She’s stable,” she said, “Physically and mentally now, I think. Isaac explained everything to her. She picked it up faster than you would think.”

Ethan smiled. “And Isaac’s still alive?”

She shot him a withering glare. “You think I would let things get that out of hand?”

“No,” he replied easily. “You’re new to this, though.”

“That obvious?” she sighed.

“You know what you’re doing,” he assured her, “You just need more confidence. That comes with experience.”

“What do you want?” she asked, crossing her arms.

“What do you know about Jackson from when he was a kanima?”

Kaya looked at him carefully. “Kanimas have masters. Normally their masters use them to kill people. Jackson is no different. He spent the worst point of his life being forced to take orders from psychopathic murderers. Don’t blame him if he reacts negatively to things that come across as orders now.”

“He doesn’t when Isaac orders him.”

“Maybe not outright,” she shrugged, “But he’s his alpha, you know? He’s hardwired.”

“Doesn’t that make it worse? A bad alpha can come across like a psychotic kanima master.”

“It’s instinct. He has no control over that part of his brain.”

At that moment, Jackson appeared in the doorway, sleep-rumpled and delicious. “How’s Isabel?” he asked.

“She’s fine. She survived the whole werewolf explanation. Isaac stayed in there with her, but I’m pretty sure they both fell asleep.” She craned her head over her shoulder to try to see into Ethan’s room.

“Good thing we have a few weeks until the next full moon,” Ethan said. He looked at Jackson, “Are you going to making breakfast?”

“You can,” Jackson yawned, handing Kaya a cup of coffee.

“I’m going to go check on them,” Kaya said, slipping out of the kitchen.

Ethan was rummaging through the fridge, but he could feel Jackson shamelessly watching his bare torso as he sipped his coffee.

“What?” Ethan asked, looking over his shoulder.

“Coffee?” Jackson smirked over his mug.

Ethan grinned and let the refrigerator door fall shut. He walked up to Jackson, crowding him against the counter, and reaching around him to set down the carton of eggs. “Yeah,” he breathed into Jackson’s space.

Jackson surged forwards and captured his lips in a hungry, coffee-flavored kiss. His hands slid between them, running over his firm chest and tweaking one of Ethan’s bare nipples. Ethan laughed into his mouth, wrapping his arms around him, hands squeezing his ass before lifting him onto the counter, sending the eggs crashing to the floor. Jackson wrapped his legs around his waist and pulled him in so that they were flush against each other. Ethan’s hands were pulling at his hair and then dipping into the back of the waistband on his sweatpants. Jackson’s hands wove tightly into Ethan’s hair and he used that to pull them even closer, trying to get them as close as possible.

A cough from the doorway into the living room broke them apart. “I was kidding about the exhibitionism thing, you know,” Isaac said, smirking. He looked a bit worse for wear, clothes ripped and filthy, golden curls matted with blood and dirt, and dark circles smudged under his eyes. “But if it counts for anything, I’m glad you finally figured it out.”

Jackson frowned. “Yeah, well, between you and Kaya we haven’t been doing a whole lot of figuring things out, so if you want to give us a little space…” Even as he said it, he dropped his legs from Ethan’s waist and Ethan stepped back. There were noticeable bulges in both of their pants, but nobody seemed to care.

Jackson slid down from the counter, nearly stepping in egg yolk. Ethan grinned and said, “Maybe we should order in…”

Jackson looked at the mess on the floor in disgust, but Isaac just rolled his eyes and left the kitchen to order take out.

Isabel entered the kitchen a little while later as Ethan was cleaning up the floor.

“It’s alright,” he told her, as she dropped to the floor next to him, “It was kind of my fault anyways.”

“Please,” she said, “Messy make-out sessions are practically my specialty…anyways, I just want to do something normal, if that’s alright.”

Ethan glanced up at her, as she tucked her freshly washed curls behind an ear and mopped up egg yolk. She looked tired and confused and maybe a little sad.

“It will be okay,” he told her.

“I know,” she sighed, “It has to be. That doesn’t mean it makes any sense.”

“You’ve got me there,” Ethan agreed.

She looked up as she discarded one paper towel and ripped off another. “With you and Jackson,” she said slowly, “Have you been werewolves the whole time you’ve been together?”

“We just got together last night, so yeah,” he looked at her, “But my last ex. He’s human. He found out about werewolves, but he couldn’t date one. It’s why we broke up. Usually it’s better when people who are important to you know. It’s even better if they can get on board with it.”

“Oh my god! All of my friends and family –“ Isabel looked perfectly distraught.

“Hey, they’ll be fine. Danny’s still Jackson’s best friend. And one of mine. But we were in Beacon Hills. Being a werewolf there is definitely more dangerous than being a werewolf in London.”

This seemed to ease Isabel’s nerves somewhat for now. She smiled. “Thanks, Ethan.”

“Any time.”

Chapter Text

Isabel did pretty well in the weeks leading up to the next full moon, all things considered. Jackson had evidence that the first month or two of being a werewolf were always included being a raging douchebag. Isabel wasn’t talking to Isaac, and he and Ethan had had to redirect him from clubs and coffee shops where she was hanging out with other guys. This wasn’t much of a new power rush for her. From what Jackson knew of her, Isabel was incredibly similar to Lydia and had practically everyone under her thumb. Jackson and Ethan had decided that Isabel felt Isaac to be a weakness of hers and so decided to exert every power she could over him. It was certainly effective, but also incredibly annoying to the rest of them.

Kaya found a flat in Islington, near Isaac’s student hall, but more often than not, Isaac insisted on crashing on Jackson and Ethan’s couch, which meant that he slept in Ethan’s bed, and Ethan slept with Jackson, but not as in having sex because with Isaac came a ban on sex until he left the apartment. Jackson was all for tossing this rule out the window and doing it anyways the third night in a row that Isaac came over after Isabel was turned, but Ethan pointed out that his place in the pack wasn’t exactly rock solid either. This started a new conversation, which Jackson wasn’t sure he was ready to have.

Things with Ethan had been good, disregarding the fact that it took them almost a week to be alone in the flat at the same time, which resulted in a mad, demanding rush of torn clothing and mind-blowing orgasms. Jackson wanted him to stay. Not just in the pack or in London, but in his house and in his bed. He hadn’t been ready to say that the first time that Ethan threw him on the bed and stripped him naked with his teeth, but laying side by side, not touching and incredibly hard, Ethan refusing to have sex with him while their Alpha was a room away, it came out. Simple first, the word “stay”, gradually crescendoing to “stay with me”. A small change in words, but Jackson meant them, and the look on Ethan’s face told him that he knew. That, Jackson thought, would have been a good time to have sex, but instead they laced their fingers together, laying their bodies too far apart to touch, and fell asleep.

The week of the full moon, Ethan and Jackson were making out on the sofa when Isaac let himself in. He went straight for the fridge, which he usually did, but he seemed in more of a huff than usual. Ethan broke away from Jackson, pushing up onto his forearms to look over the back of the sofa. Jackson curled his hand up into his hair trying to bring him back down into another kiss, but Ethan moved his head away.

“Is everything okay?” he called over to Isaac.

“I saw Isabel out with the same guy from last week. She just smirked at me,” Isaac complained. Jackson heard the door of the refrigerator swing closed and just knew that Isaac was about to drink the orange juice straight out of the bottle.

“Get a glass!” He yelled, and then reached down and squeezed Ethan’s cock through his pants. He opened his mouth in a silent gasp and then glared down at Jackson, who grinned and reached up to kiss him again.

“Get a room,” Isaac retorted, sitting in what had become his armchair with a glass of orange juice.

Much to Jackson’s frustration, Ethan climbed off of him, dropping Jackson’s legs off of the sofa to give himself a place to sit.

“This is my flat, in case you forgot,” Jackson snapped.

Isaac ignored him, in favor of more complaining. “What do I do? She told me she won’t play lacrosse with us on Saturday. We need to bond as a pack. All four of us. Do you think it would be better if Kaya comes too?”

“Probably,” Ethan said, seemingly perfectly fine with helping Isaac with his annoying Alpha problems rather than fucking Jackson into the sofa or vice-versa (Jackson wasn’t picky, and neither was Ethan). Jackson put his feet in Ethan’s lap with an innocent expression in reply to his raised eyebrows.

“What can the four of us do together, though?” Isaac frowned, “It should be something that Isabel likes, right?”

“You’re the Alpha, Isaac,” Ethan told him, “All betas have power-trips when they’re first turned, but you can’t let her boss you around just because you like her. You have to be the Alpha. What do you think we should do?”

Jackson smirked. Ethan was kind of hot when he talked about werewolves, like he knew exactly what he was doing. Although, it was possible that he was just finding Ethan incredibly hot in general at the moment. He propped his foot up on Ethan’s thigh, Ethan automatically grabbing his ankle to steady him.

“Well,” Isaac looked thoughtful, “I always thought we should be in the woods during the full moon…maybe we could go camping this weekend?”

Ethan nodded. “It’s kind of short notice, but probably a good idea with a new werewolf.”

Jackson dug his toes into Ethan’s crotch, smirking again when he pulled back firmly on Jackson’s ankle giving a look that said “do you want Isaac to kick me out of the pack?”.

“Okay,” Isaac nodded, “First thing tomorrow I’m going to tell Isabel we’re going camping this weekend…we’re going to need supplies.”

“I have a black card,” Jackson said, “We’ll go shopping tomorrow. And I know a place in Epping Forest that we can go to.”

“Cool,” Isaac yawned, “Is Graham Norton on tonight?”

 

***

 

Jackson’s car was only a little bigger than the Porsche that he had wistfully told Ethan about, but clearly just as expensive. He had also told Ethan about the new Aston Martin that his parents had bought him when they moved to England, something that was supposed to make him like this new country. Jackson talked about it sometimes, but he had never seen him drive it. They had to tie the two tents to the roof of the car, but eventually the five of them and all of their gear was crammed inside and they headed out of London. Ethan realized that it had been almost two months since he had been in the woods, and he was looking forwards to it immensely.

Isabel had not been happy at first to be forced to give up her weekend to camping with people who were still more or less strangers to her, but she and Kaya commandeered the aux cord and were playing the Spice Girls and singing along very enthusiastically, which had been a problem for Ethan at first, seeing as he had somehow ended up stuck in the backseat between the two, but eventually he gave in and joined their ridiculous dancing, earning a fond eyeroll from Jackson in the rearview mirror. It had been over a year since Ethan had truly been a part of a pack, and back then it had been the Alpha pack. The pack that he and Aiden had been in before that had never exactly taken them on camping trips and rocked out to the Spice Girls in a small car with the windows down. Ethan felt lighter than he had since Aiden had died.

And we know that you could go and find some other

Take it or leave it cause we’ve always got each other

Isabel’s arms were looped loosely around Isaac’s neck, her face pressed against the side of the headrest. Ethan and Kaya were singing into their water bottles like microphones, smacking their hands on the roof of Jackson’s car, while he tried very hard not to smile. Isaac was filming it all on his phone.

Don’t you know you’re going too fast

Racing so hard you know it won’t last

Don’t you know what can’t you see

Slow it down, read the sign, so you know just where you’re going

To everyone’s surprise, Jackson joined in as they made the turn into Epping Forest, shouting along with all the rest of them as they sped through the woods, cold air breezing through the car, Isaac’s phone catching it all on video.

Stop right now

Thank you very much

I need somebody with a human touch

Hey you always on the run

Gotta slow it down baby gotta have some fun –

That was when the first arrow took off the side mirror. Jackson swerved, swearing heavily, as Isaac commanded everyone to get down.

“It’s still daylight,” Ethan shouted over the wind and the now somewhat distorted-sounding music. Somebody pulled the jack out of the phone, leaving a buzzing sound in place of the Spice Girls.

“And we just got into the forest – are we sure they’re shooting at us?” Kaya shouted back. Another arrow went through the windshield, leaving Jackson swearing up a storm, eyes flashing yellow.

The sudden appearance of sirens brought Jackson skidding to a stop.

“Who are they here for?” Isabel whispered.

Isaac looked over his shoulder. “I’m not sure,” he said, “Be prepared to defend yourselves, but if we can pass ourselves off as humans, that would probably be best.”

Chapter Text

The police cars pulled up around them, and just like that, most of the officers were off into the woods. One officer and a park ranger approached the driver’s side of the car.

“You kids alright?” the officer asked.

Jackson nodded, and the others slowly straightened up from where they were crouched on the floor of the car.

“Why were they shooting at us?” Isaac asked nervously, looking entirely innocent and confused.

“We were hoping you could tell us that,” the officer sighed, “If you wouldn’t mind stepping out of the car, I’d like to take your statements and maybe we can get this all sorted.”

They all glanced subtly at Isaac, who seemed to hesitate for just a minute before popping his door open and climbing out. The rest of them quickly followed, forming a defensive cluster, backing Isaac.

“We were just going camping,” Isaac said, “We drove into the woods and next thing I knew we were getting shot at.”

Tension radiated through their small group, as they stood shoulder to shoulder. The officer glanced at Jackson, who nodded firmly. They waited for the threat to reveal itself, but the officer nodded and carried on. It took a few hours, but in that time, somebody came to replace Jackson’s windshield, and they were on their way again, a warning to be careful from both the officer and the ranger, as the sun was just beginning to set.

“Let’s get the tents set up before the moon comes out,” Isaac said, rolling one of the tents off the roof of the car. Jackson pulled the other one out and had it set up in under a minute, while Kaya tried to help Isaac with his Jackson snorted at the sight, and then caught Ethan’s eye.

“You’re good at that,” he said, coming to stand very close to Jackson.

“I’m very talented,” Jackson assured him.

“Hey,” Isabel dumped a load of supplies on the ground at their feet, “We’re not going to get shot at tonight, are we?”

Ethan shrugged noncommittally.

“It’s October,” Kaya said, joining them, “hunters’ moon.”

“Perfect,” Jackson frowned at her, “So we have a brand-new beta in a forest full of hunters.”

“Maybe the police caught up to them,” Isabel suggested hopefully.

“Unlikely,” Ethan said, glancing at the moon, “But they might not attack again tonight.”

“Why – “ Isabel cut herself of with a cry of agony and doubled over.

“Isabel!” Isaac came towards her, but Kaya held him back.

“She’s fine,” she told him, “She’s just shifting.”

Isabel flung her head up, hair flipping back dramatically, and snarled at Isaac. Her eyes were golden, face scrunched into a beta shift with fangs glinting in her mouth. “You did this to me,” she growled.

Jackson glanced at Ethan, whose eyes were shining blue. “You’re in control, right?”

“I’m showing my loyalty to Isaac.”

“Does that mean we can actually have sex in my apartment when we get back?” Jackson asked dryly. Ethan smirked at him, but Isaac was glaring.

“Is now really the time?”

“Maybe if you would –“

“Don’t argue right now,” Ethan hissed.

Isabel was still growling and snarling.

“We have to show her that we defer to Isaac –“

“I can hear you!” she shouted, “I don’t care! I thought you were alright, but you, you turned me into a monster!” she roared and then lunged at Isaac.

Jackson pulled Kaya out of the way while Ethan shifted.

“Isabel, you need to find an anchor,” Isaac tried, eyes burning red, “You need to learn control.”

“Do I learn control by ripping the teeth out of your head?” she snarled, “Because I have no problem with that.” She swung at him, forcing him to duck, and they danced farther towards the edge of the small clearing that they had set themselves up in.

“We can just let him handle it, right?” Jackson asked Kaya doubtfully. He may have gotten a crash course from Derek, but the ins and outs of being in a pack were still spotty.

Kaya gave him a very condescending side-eye. “Do you know anything about real wolves?” she asked.

“I know werewolves aren’t exactly like them,” he retorted.

She rolled her eyes. “Werewolves, like real wolves, have alphas, betas, and omegas,” she explained, watching Isaac and Isabel struggle with a concerning lack of empathy.

“Yeah, we all know that,” Jackson said, “I also know that it’s not the same thing.”

“There’s still a hierarchy. The alpha has to establish their dominance, especially with a newly bitten wolf.”

“Where I came from it was always more of a fight or die thing,” Jackson shrugged.

“Well now you have the time to do it right. Let’s start dinner. You’ll know if Isaac needs you.”

Kaya had a fire going in record time, faster than Jackson and Ethan were able to put away the rest of their supplies. Isaac and a defeated, but still seething Isabel joined them, Isabel muttering something under her breath.

“Alpha. Beta…Omega…”

“That one work for you?” Jackson asked Isaac skeptically.

“It usually works better with born wolves,” Ethan said, taking a careful seat next to Isabel. Her eyes snapped over to him, and she bared her teeth.

“Three things cannot long be hidden,” he told her, “The sun, the moon, and the truth. We are what we are, and we always will be. No use hiding.” She stared at him. “You’re not a wolf sometimes and a person other times. You’re always both. The sooner you wrap your head around that, the sooner you gain control.”

She continued to stare. “The sun, the moon, and the truth?” she asked.

“It’s Buddhist. An old alpha called Satomi used it. She has a huge pack back in California.” Ethan was staring into the fire now, looking a little lost. Jackson sat down next to him, and soon Isaac and Kaya had joined them around the fire, passing around literal hotdogs on sticks. It wasn’t what Jackson was used to, but he was starving. “It’s more accessible to turned wolves than the Hale family motto. Alpha, beta, omega. That’s kind of a foreign concept if you weren’t born into that world.”

“Were you born or bitten?” Isabel asked. Jackson looked across Ethan to see her watching him with a similar sadness.

“We were born. Me and my brother. Aiden. Our parents died, so our pack took care of us, but they weren’t…great.”

“So what happened?” Isabel pressed. Jackson was getting nervous. They didn’t usually talk like this. Ethan never talked about his time before Beacon Hills, and he rarely talked about his time there either. “An alpha – a powerful alpha – called Deucalion came to offer us a place in his pack of alphas. We killed our whole pack and he taught us the rest.”

Isaac’s eyes looked dark, but Isabel seemed ready to press on. “Think fast, Isabel,” Jackson said, carelessly tossing a hotdog bun in her direction. She caught it, seeming to catch on to the diversion as well.

“Somebody’s going to need to keep watch,” Isaac said suddenly, “We’ll rotate. Wake everyone up at the first sign of trouble.”

They all nodded grimly. “I’ll start,” Kaya offered.

 

***

 

Ethan felt drained by the time that he crawled into the tent after Jackson. He hadn’t actually talked about anything in such a long time. Maybe ever. He climbed out of his jeans and tossed them with his jacket into the corner. Jackson had just finished zipping two of the sleeping bags together, and was standing in his underwear, watching Ethan, totally casual (as usual) about his lack of clothing.

“What?” Ethan smirked.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re really hot when you know what you’re doing?”

Ethan snorted and climbed into the sleeping bag, letting it pool invitingly around his hips as he leaned back onto his elbows. “Has anyone ever told you that you have a competency kink?”

Jackson raised an eyebrow and climbed in next to him. “Is that so?”

“Mhmm…I’ve met Lydia,” Ethan grinned, grabbing Jackson’s hips and pulling him partially on top of him.

Jackson was barely listening, already leaning down to capture his lips in a slow but seductive kiss. Ethan kissed him back eagerly for a minute or two before Jackson jerked his head away. “Isaac –“

Ethan listened to the ambient noise of the forest around them. Kaya was on the far side of the camp fire, sharpening one of her knives. Isaac and Isabel were in the other tent… “He and Isabel are making out.”

“Well if he can do it,” Jackson smirked, leaning in again.

“Wait,” Ethan stopped him, “Is he mad at me?”

“Who?” Jackson deflated onto his chest, giving up on making out for the moment. They had come a long way. “Isaac?”

“Yeah…I…killed some of his friends. I don’t think he’s too happy about that.”

Jackson snorted. “Apparently I ruined his childhood, but I’m still in the pack, so – “

“I don’t know how to be in a functional pack,” he admitted.

“I don’t think any of us do.”

Ethan had to agree with that. He smiled warmly at Jackson. “Look at you, having feelings,” he murmured, stroking his hands up and down his back.

“It happens,” Jackson frowned, “Sometimes.”

“Danny said you secretly have a lot of them,” he smirked, pulling Jackson up his body for another kiss.

“Please don’t talk to me about my best friend when your finger’s over my asshole,” Jackson groaned.

Ethan laughed into his mouth and brought his hands back up to his shoulders.

“Not what I meant,” he growled, grabbing Ethan’s hand and pulling it back to slide down the waistband of his underwear.

“I feel bad for Kaya,” Ethan said thoughtfully, while Jackson sucked at his neck.

“Ethan, I swear –“ Jackson cut himself off with a gasp as Ethan slipped one finger shallowly into him.

“Hm?” he smiled, pushing it just a tiny bit further in before pulling it out completely.

“Asshole,” he breathed, pushing Ethan’s underwear down his thighs and taking his dick in hand with a firm grip. “She can’t hear us.”

“No,” Ethan agreed with a gasp as Jackson stroked him once and then released him.

“Did you bring anything?”

Ethan reached over his head, dragging his jacked closer to him to check the pockets, when he heard a whistle. In the glow from the fire, he could see the silhouette of Kaya standing, knife in hand. He pulled his underwear up quickly and pulled his jacket on. “I think something’s wrong.”

“No shit,” Jackson hissed back, grabbing the nearest pair of pants and pulling them on. They crept to the edge of the tent and unzippered it, looking around their campsite cautiously. Isabel and Isaac were already tumbling out of the other tent, backing Kaya.

“Let’s go,” Jackson pushed at his back, but Ethan shushed him, thrusting out an arm to hold him back.

“I think Isaac wants us to hold back,” he breathed. They watched the other three an Isaac nodded once, very deliberately.

“Why?” Jackson asked, just as quietly, “If it’s the hunters, they already know we’re here.”

Ethan could feel Jackson looking at him, but he wasn’t sure he had a good answer. “Trust Isaac,” he said instead, “He knows hunters better than we do.”

Jackson didn’t reply, but he didn’t protest either. They watched through the small crack in the zipper as half a dozen hunters emerged from the woods. Isaac didn’t put up much of a fight, but Isabel did, and raging werewolf or no, she was knocked unconscious and carried away. Isaac followed soon after, leaving Kaya in the clearing with two hunters. One of them asked her to come quietly, but she swung her knife at him, putting up a longer fight than either of the werewolves, until the second one tazed her.

“This is bullshit,” he could hear Jackson fuming behind him.

“Isaac has a plan,” he said, “I think.” He zipped the tent back up. “He just didn’t tell us what Plan A was.”’

“Do I want to know if there’s a Plan B?” Jackson asked.

“We’re Plan B. It’s what we thought was Plan A. We try to find the hunters. They gather information, I guess, and try to get away from the hunters. Everyone hopes that nobody dies.”

“That’s a terrible plan,” Jackson grunted.

“Yeah, but unless Isaac’s dick vibrates, I think he stuck he phone in his underwear, so we might be okay.”

Chapter Text

 Jackson was furious with Ethan. They were already edging their way into November, and they hadn’t found the others. They had ransacked a number of hunters’ hideouts, usually finding them empty or booby-trapped. Isaac and Isabel’s teachers easily believed that they both had mono, and Jackson was proud of himself for only taking his anger out on Ethan passive-aggressively by making him do their assignments. Their friends, mostly Isabel’s were harder to fool, but both Jackson and Ethan were assholes enough to brush them off until they gave up.

For the first time in almost a month, they had found a hunter base before the hunters could run, and had a number of them immobilized and ready for interrogation. Jackson pulled Ethan around the corner into the hallway, where they could still keep an eye on their hostages while they talked.

“What’s our plan?” Jackson asked in a low voice.

“I listen, you talk. See if we can get something out of them,” Ethan suggested.

“Listen?”

“To their heartbeats? I hear better than you, so –“

Jackson scoffed. “I hate to break it to you, but you’re not an Alpha anymore,” he bit out.

Ethan rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, you’ve been a werewolf how long? Exactly. You talk, I listen.”

Jackson fumed, but followed him back into the dim room. They were both stressed and frustrated. He felt terrible that they hadn’t been able to find the others yet, and he couldn’t help but feel like Ethan probably did too. Their relationship, or whatever it was, was very new, and so far it looked like neither of them were going to bother trying to talk things out. Jackson definitely wasn’t going to start. Whatever. They still had sex almost every day. Besides that…somehow Jackson hated thinking about not having Ethan by his side. Would he leave Jackson’s apartment if they stopped…whatever this was? Would he leave the pack? Maybe even England?

He pulled himself from that depressing spiral of thought, and crouched down in front of the woman who seemed to be the leader of the hunters. He pulled the duct tape off of her mouth. “Where are the werewolves your hunters took in October?” he demanded.

“They’re dead,” she said, matter of fact-ly.

Jackson glanced at Ethan, who shook his head minutely.

“Nice try,” he said to her, “Where are they?”

“We didn’t take them,” she insisted.

Another shake of the head.

“Let me tell you a story, Lady,” Jackson said, shifting into a slightly more comfortable position, “And you can tell me what you think of it.” She opened her mouth, but he cut her off. “Ah-ah-ah. Not yet. At the end.

“See, a new pack starts forming in London. A group of hunters decides that they don’t want any werewolves in London. At all. So when this pack – very responsibly – goes into the woods for the full moon, the hunters surround them when they’re least expecting it, kidnap as much of the pack as they can find, and decide to use them as bait for the rest of the werewolves. How does that sound so far?”

She sneered. “You’re not going to find them,” she said.

“Then what’s the point of using them as bait?”

“Who says we’re using them as bait?”

“You did,” Ethan said, easily. “And they’re still in the woods, aren’t they?”

She glared, starting to form an answer that wasn’t a lie, but gave nothing away. Ethan straightened up and looked at Jackson. “We got what we came for. Do you want the honors?”

Jackson stood and crossed his arms. “Go for it,” he said, not blinking as Ethan knocked her fully unconscious.

They left the building and called a cab. Blood didn’t go over well on the tube, but cabbies could be paid off. Jackson snuggled close to Ethan in the backseat despite the mess.

“Do you know where they are?” he asked quietly.

“They never took them out of the forest. Her heartbeat gave it away,” he looked at Jackson. “We’ll find them.”

“I know,” Jackson sighed, letting himself lean into Ethan a bit. “I’m just tired,” he admitted. Of everything. Of not knowing where his pack was, of doubting everything that his quasi-boyfriend did. Of just constantly being stressed.

When he glanced at Ethan, he found him already watching him, a sort of complicated expression on his face. “Me too,” Ethan agreed. It may not seem like much, but for two people who never wanted to back down, it was admitting a weakness, admitting to being vulnerable.

“You’re not going to passive-agressively kick me to Isaac’s room tonight, are you?” Ethan asked, when they walked into the flat.

“I’m not passive aggressive,” Jackson grunted.

“Uh-huh,” Ethan said, noncommittally.

Jackson scowled at him. “What would you do if we weren’t sleeping together?” he blurted out, wishing he could take it back almost immediately. They didn’t do feelings. They did not do feelings. But he stuck to his guns anyways, because that was one thing they did do.

Ethan stared at him. “Why do you think I’m asking about Isaac’s room?” he asked, sounding a little unsure.

“I mean,” Jackson tried, “What if we decided to stop having sex…like…to not do whatever it is that we’re doing?” Ethan looked even more confused. “Would you leave?”

His face was mostly expressionless, but he seemed almost hurt. “Do you want to stop?” he asked.

“No,” Jackson said, maybe too quickly, “Just – never mind. Let’s go to bed.” He started towards the bedroom, but Ethan grabbed his hand as he walked past.

“No. If we’re talking about this, then we’re talking about this.” Ethan looked determined. “What do you mean would I leave?”

“This apartment? This pack? London?” he exploded, “I don’t know, Ethan! You tell me! If we just stopped, what would you do?”

Ethan’s eyes flashed blue. “I don’t know!” he yelled back, “I wouldn’t – I can’t think about that! I don’t want to ever think about not being with you!”

Silence fell except for their harsh breaths, and Ethan’s eyes continued to glow blue in the dark apartment. They hadn’t gotten around to turning the lights on. It didn’t matter. Jackson didn’t think he could look anywhere except for Ethan. Big Ben chimed midnight, and still, neither of them moved.

“What?” Jackson said, quietly, long after the bells had stopped ringing.

Ethan shut his eyes. “Never mind.”

 

***

 

Ethan was pretty sure he had made a mistake. Jackson was looking at him like he had just told him that the floor he was standing on didn’t exist. This, he supposed, was what he got when he tried not to think about his feelings. He didn’t know how Jackson felt, but Ethan was beginning to realize that he liked him. Like, a lot.

“You can’t just never mind me,” Jackson snapped. It was probably weird that Ethan got turned on when Jackson got pushy. “You made me talk. Now you talk…” Ethan said nothing. “You -” Jackson’s voice was infinitely softer now, almost pleading. If Jackson would ever plead in his life. “You wouldn’t…”

“I don’t want to leave,” Ethan admitted, realizing that if emotions were ever going to happen, now would be the time, “I don’t ever want to leave you.”

Jackson looked like he wasn’t quite sure what to believe. “Is this because –“

“It’s because of you,” Ethan insisted, “I love having sex with you, and I’ll do it for-“ he hesitated at the forever. That was kind of a lot of feelings at once. “For as long as you’ll let me. I love being in the same pack with you. And I’ll do that whether you’ll let me or not –“

Jackson shrugged, starting to smile a little now. “It’s your pack too.”

“And if you want,” Ethan couldn’t help smiling back, “If you want a relationship or something, I’m good with that too.”

He realized, somewhat surprised, that they had gravitated back together. “Forget a relationship,” Jackson said, taking his hand with a smirk, “Let’s make a partnership and build an empire.”

Ethan tugged him forwards, into a bruising kiss with smiles on both their lips. “So I’m going to take that as a no to me sleeping in Isaac’s room tonight?” Ethan said, when they broke apart.

My boyfriend sleeps in my bed, with me,” Jackson said against his lips.

“Hm,” Ethan smiled, “Maybe I should take you out first.”

“At midnight?” Jackson snorted.

“Yeah, I sound this place while you were at school the other day,” Ethan grinned, pulling away to grab his jacket, “You’re going to hate it.”

“Lucky me,” Jackson rolled his eyes fondly.

 

The fish and chip shop closed in the early hours of the morning, probably for the express purpose of depriving stoners of their cash. They took their newspaper-wrapped meals to the edge of the Thames and cuddled on the bench.

“I don’t talk about feelings with people,” Jackson admitted, “Not even with Danny. Not even that much with Lydia.”

“Me neither,” Ethan agreed, “I’m glad we did, though.”

“Yeah,” Jackson said, hesitantly.

“What?”

“This is just us, right?” Jackson looked at him, “I don’t want to –“

“Hey,” Ethan said quickly, “Me too. We don’t need to be Isaac and Isabel. We can keep this to ourselves. The whole,” he waved his hand around vaguely, “Feelings thing.”

“Yeah,” Jackson agreed, “Sorry for blaming them being missing on you.”

Ethan watched him closely. He knew exactly what Jackson had thought. He had thought it himself a few times too. But Isaac wasn’t an Alpha for nothing. “We just have to trust him,” he sighed.

“Isaac and I used to be friends when we were little. It’s weird to think that he’s responsible enough to be an Alpha now,” Jackson sighed.

“The bite changes people in more ways than one,” Ethan snorted, biting into a couple of French-fries.

“Yeah…” Jackson agreed quietly.

Ethan watched him as he ate. Jackson stared out across the Thames, where the lights of the city reflected on the calm waves. His face was a dichotomy of light and shadow. Each feature was as perfect as it had been when Ethan had first met him, but they were deepened, sharpened, softened by familiarity. He was still a stubborn asshole, still knew exactly what he looked like and exactly what other people thought of him, but Ethan knew more now. Somehow, a little piece had been moved around to welcome him in, against all odds. Jackson’s eyes turned on him, a little yellow in the dim light.

“What?” he raised an eyebrow.

“Just thinking about how much I like you,” Ethan smirked.

“Oh, you like me, do you?” Jackson smirked back.

“Sometimes,” Ethan admitted, already leaning in. Jackson met his lips in a smiling kiss.

Chapter Text

Within a week, Jackson and Ethan were driving back to the forest. This trip was much more subdued than the last one, but the quiet was comfortable, if still tense. Jackson pulled his car into the clearing that they had camped in nearly a month ago. He and Ethan got out and looked around. It looked almost exactly the same as it had when they were trying to set up their tents, except maybe with less leaves on the trees and more leaves on the ground. Jackson pulled his coat tighter around him, remembering how warm it used to be in Beacon Hills.

“Jackson,” Ethan called, from where he was crouching a couple of meters away.

“Find something?” Jackson asked, crossing over to him.

“Yeah…maybe…I don’t know if we’ll be able to find a trail of it, but…I think Kaya had some pretty strong wolfsbane on her.”

Jackson frowned. “How did we not notice that?”

“I think she can mask it,” Ethan shrugged, “You can smell it now, though, right?”

“Yeah…” Jackson trailed off as he caught the scent, nose wrinkling. “That’s awful.”

“Yeah,” Ethan agreed, taking his hand, “Let’s see how far we can follow it.”

It was impressive, actually. After a month, Kaya’s wolfsbane still left a faint scent that threaded through the woods, only coming to a stop where the ground dropped off suddenly.

“Looks like we’re going rock climbing,” Ethan frowned.

Jackson peered over the edge of the cliff. “I don’t think it’s that far down,” he said, “Is there a trail –“

“Looks like someone’s been this way recently,” Ethan pointed along one edge of the cliff, where the trees started growing closer together again. There were no footprints or broken branches, but the leaves seemed arranged almost too perfectly on the ground, and one of the bushes was growing oddly, as if it was being pushed out of the way so constantly that it had given up on its original direction of growth.

Jackson nodded, and he and Ethan carefully followed the vague path, curving around to a steep, but manageable slope at the end of the cliff. He froze at the bottom of the path, scenting the air. “What does that smell like to you?” Jackson asked.

Ethan sniffed, but Jackson knew he could smell it. “Death,” Ethan breathed. They walked a few more meters and recoiled.

“Oh god,” Ethan clapped a hand over his nose and mouth, “Something’s rotting.”

Jackson, nose and mouth similarly covered, looked around. By the base of the cliff, a few more meters down, rocks were piled up into a nearly suspicious mound. Jackson approached cautiously, with Ethan close behind.

The rocks were piled up in front of a pit, almost rectangular, and looking like it was waiting to be filled. Next to the pit, was another pile, made of something much more gruesome than rocks.

“They’re werewolves,” Ethan said, pressing in close to Jackson’s back. He reached back to take Ethan’s hand, and then pulled him a little closer to the bodies.

“It’s not…it’s not…it doesn’t smell like Isaac or –“

“No,” Ethan frowned, “This was a whole other pack. They –“ He released Jackson’s hand and knelt close to the bodies. Gingerly, he picked up a hand, and showed it to Jackson. “Missing a fingernail.”

Jackson frowned, keeping his ears open as he joined Ethan on the ground. The job clearly wasn’t finished, but from the smell of the bodies, it was clear that they had been dead for a while. He had no idea if someone would be on their way back or not. He and Ethan looked over the rest of the bodies and then stood back.

“All werewolves,” Ethan said.

“And all missing a fingernail,” Jackson agreed. “But why?”

Ethan shrugged. “We better find the others. Maybe they’ll know something.”

Jackson nodded, but neither of them voiced the one thought they both shared: if we don’t find them like this.

They walked along the base of the cliff a little while longer. There was no scent trail to follow anymore, but Jackson managed to spot a shadowy opening in the rockface, almost entirely hidden from view. It was tight trying to get through – they both had to turn sideways, but a few meters in, the walls opened into a wide room with electric lanterns fixed to the walls, but not turned on.

“Is it too soon to hope that there aren’t any hunters here?” Ethan asked, eyes glowing blue as he looked around the dark room.

“Probably. It doesn’t look like it, though,” Jackson told him, dropping his eyes into their wolf shift to look around too. A tunnel extended to their left with more unlit lanterns, and he couldn’t feel or hear anything alive and human-sized nearby.

“At least we’ll know they’re coming,” Ethan said, turning back to Jackson, “I haven’t seen that color on you.”

Jackson frowned, but let his eyes continue to glow blue. Snakes didn’t have great eyes – they saw in other ways.

“You can’t judge me,” he spat, “Yours are the same color.”

Ethan stepped in close, taking his hands, balled up into fists, and forcing them to relax. “I’m not judging,” he gave Jackson a long kiss, “Trust me.”

Jackson felt himself relax and touched their foreheads together softly before allowing Ethan to lead him down the tunnel, still holding his hand.

There were any number of smaller tunnels and caverns shooting off of the main one that they were walking down and Jackson got the feeling that if they had been human, they would have gotten hopelessly lost, but a combination of scents and vague sounds kept them on track, only needing to double back once or twice.

“Why isn’t anybody here?” he whispered just loud enough for Ethan to hear.

“Maybe they abandoned this hide out,” Ethan suggested.

“Along with the unburied pile of bodies outside?” he asked doubtfully.

“Maybe.” He sounded unsure.

 

***

 

In the end, it really wasn’t so hard to find after all. The cavern was large and the lanterns around the edges were burning bright. Jackson took out the two hunters who were keeping watch with a single small cut to the back of each neck. A large metal cell on the opposite side of the cavern housed three familiar people, only one of whom was standing up.

“Jackson?” Isaac asked, “Ethan?” There was broken hope in his voice, like he wanted to try, but had spent so long without any reason too that he just couldn’t do it anymore.

“Isaac!” Jackson ran to him, but Isaac stopped him before he could reach the bars.

“There’s an electrical current that runs through them at all times,” he warned, “Not quite enough to kill us, but still.”

Jackson stopped short as Ethan joined him. “Are there any other guards here?” he asked Isaac.

Isaac shook his head. “They’re out on another raid. It’s lucky you came today. They’ve been in here planning for days at a time.”

Jackson and Ethan looked at each other. “What do you mean?” Ethan asked.

“Let’s get them out of here first, Ethan,” Jackson told him, moving around to inspect the cell.

Ethan shrugged and looked over Isaac. He looked very much the worse for wear, but still alive, which, considering everything he’d been through was pretty good. Then he looked past him at the two girls lying on the ground.

“They’re still alive, right?” he asked.

Isaac turned to look at them. “Yeah,” he confirmed, “They’ve been really harsh with Isabel since she still can’t control her shift yet, but she’s alive for now. I don’t think Kaya’s been getting enough to eat, and she sleeps more often than not, but she still has a pulse, so…”

“Hey, Isaac, how did they get you in here?” Jackson called from the other side of the cell.

“I don’t know,” Isaac shrugged, “We were unconscious when they brought us in. If you can turn the power off, then I can try to break out.”

Ethan was already crossing the room to the motionless guards. “Hey, Jax!” he called over his shoulder as he knelt over one of them. He smiled, knowing that Jackson was about to pitch one of his little prima donna hissy fits.

“What did you just call me?” Jackson shouted back.

Ethan looked back at him to see Isaac stifling laughter. “I’m sorry,” he said, “perfect and handsome Jackson?”

He should probably be more careful. If looks could kill, Jackson’s yellow, slitted eyes would be the ones to do it. He came over to Ethan anyways, not bothering to ask what he was thinking before taking over the interrogation.

“Are there more of you?” The hunter’s mouth remained tightly shut, but his heart blipped with fear. If there were more of them, there weren’t many. Definitely not enough to take on Ethan and Jackson. Why did they always think that not talking would give nothing away? He shook his head slightly at Jackson’s questioning look, and he continued. “Where do we turn of the electricity on – “

Jackson was still talking, but Ethan stood. He didn’t need to listen to the man’s heartbeat, his eyes had subconsciously flickered towards the doorway that they had come in through. It wouldn’t be easy to connect that much electricity through the caves, and Ethan found the controls in the first room that he came across, a crevice which he had thought at first was maybe a storage closet of some sort. He considered playing around with the switches until he found the right one, but all of them except for Kaya could see in the dark, and Ethan had a feeling that Kaya would be carried out anyways.

“Ethan?” Jackson asked from the other room as he lights went out.

“That was me,” he assured him, coming back into the room, “Let’s get them out of here.”

Isaac was already pulling at the bars, but he was apparently in worse shape than they had thought. Between the three of them, they broke enough bars for Isaac to get out and for Jackson and Ethan to go in and carry the girls out.

They followed Isaac out of the caves, pausing behind him as he blinked in the sunlight and then stared at the pile of rocks. “Over there?” he asked, pointing towards them. Ethan nodded. He and Jackson looked at each other as Isaac crossed behind the rocks to the pile of bodies. He knelt behind the rocks and then emerged a few minutes later, face grim.

“They were trying to get information out of us,” he told them as they climbed the steep incline, “I think they’re trying to track down every werewolf in the UK.”

“To kill them?” Jackson asked.

Isaac nodded.

“We should try to build up our pack, or at least make some alliances,” Ethan advised, letting out a breath at having made it to the top of the hill, Kaya still dead weight in his arms.

“I agree,” Isaac said, “Or warn as many as we can, at the very least.”

“Why don’t they have Tinder for werewolves?” Jackson complained.

“Trouble in paradise?” Isaac snorted.

“Yeah,” Jackson retorted, “He calls me Jax and it makes me want to rip his throat out.”

“That’s violent,” Ethan said mildly.

“He seems to respond to ‘handsome and perfect Jackson’,” Isaac instigated.

“Assholes,” Jackson muttered darkly as they both laughed.

It was dark by the time they made it back to Jackson’s car, but Isabel had come to her senses and insisted on walking, even if she had to be assisted by both Isaac and Jackson. They put Kaya in the back with Isaac and Isabel to watch over her, and Ethan slid into the passenger seat.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive?” he asked, as Jackson passed a hand across his tired face.

“All you have is a motorcycle license from California,” Jackson reminded him.

“So?”

“So I don’t trust you not to get pulled over, and I don’t trust you not to get pulled over and I don’t trust the cop that pulls you over not to be a hunter,” Jackson explained, starting the car.

Ethan rested his hand on top of Jackson’s on the gear shift. “Okay,” he said easily, “Take us home, then.”

Jackson glanced at him, quirked a smile, and put the car into drive.

Chapter Text

The rain on the window might have slowly woken Jackson up if his alarm hadn’t gone off. Ethan was still asleep, contoured by shadows and the dim light from the windows. It was the perfect rainy morning, everything in the flat hushed and dimmed, the tangle of covers soft around Jackson, but regardless of how badly he wanted to lay in bed curled around Ethan, he still had classes to attend. It was really pretty bad. Looking for the rest of their pack had distracted him for a while, but now that everyone was back, the reality was hitting him that he was still at university, and some of his finals were only a week away.

Isaac was already up, looking slightly better – well rested and clean, cuts and bruises mostly faded – when Jackson went into the kitchen. Isaac grunted at him, shoving a cup of coffee in his direction. Jackson grunted back, taking a sip before dumping it in the sink.

“You suck at making coffee,” he informed his alpha, “Let’s go to Starbucks on the way to campus and I’ll get you breakfast.”

Isaac nodded, stifling a yawn as he pulled on his raincoat and backpack. He would never say it out loud, but Jackson was pretty sure that the only person who was allowed to make him coffee at home anymore was Ethan, who seemed to have perfected the art.

London was, as usual, grey and rainy, even as they edged into December. The floor of the underground platforms were wet, and everyone’s raincoats were dripping onto the seats on the tube.  Jackson and Isaac ducked into the Starbucks around the corner from campus and smiled at each other with the familiar smell. Costa’s was great, but Starbucks still felt a little more like home. To think he would ever find himself missing the hellhole that was Beacon Hills.

“It’s almost Christmas,” Isaac observed as they sat at a table by the front window with their breakfasts.

“Yeah,” Jackson agreed. He still wasn’t sure what he was going to do about that, he was pretty sure that his parents would insist on him coming home to visit, and he did miss them, but –

“Are you going to bring Ethan home for Christmas with you?” Isaac didn’t meet his eyes, stirring his coffee instead.

Jackson stared at him. Did Isaac want to come home for Christmas with him? When he thought of it, he realized that Isaac didn’t have anywhere else to go. He could possibly go home with Isabel, but that was so new, still. If he had had anyone to go back to in France, that was apparently no longer an option.

“Actually,” he said slowly, hardly believing that he was saying it at all, “I was going to bring the whole pack. I mean, whoever wanted to come, obviously.”

Isaac’s eyes snapped up to meet his, assessing. “Really?” he asked, evidently not convinced in the least.

“Why not?” he shrugged casually, “It could be good for us, right? My parents won’t care.” His parents would probably care. They would be annoyed about him brining four friends home last minute, and then happy that Jackson actually wanted to bring anybody home at all. “Plus, then they won’t ask any questions about me and Ethan.”

Isaac snorted, eyeing the hickey that was poking out from under Jackson’s scarf as he sipped his coffee. “Yeah, cause you two are so subtle.”

“Shut up,” he rolled his eyes, “Do you think Isabel will go home?”

“Probably,” Isaac shrugged, trying to look like he didn’t care, “It would be good for her, I think. As long as we make sure her control’s good enough.”

“We’ll all be back in London by New Year’s eve,” Jackson promised him.

Isaac nodded, and they stood, depositing their trash in the bin on their way out the door. “What are you getting Ethan for Christmas?” he asked.

That was another thing that Jackson probably should have been thinking about. “I’ll figure that out after finals,” he grumbled.

Isaac’s grin lit up his whole face. “He knows what he’s getting you,” he practically sang.

Jackson gaped at him. “What? How do you know?”

“He told me about it. I think it’s a great idea, really. You’ll love it. He knows you too well.” That shit-eating grin could not be a good thing.

“Oh, really? So, what are you getting Isabel?” he shot back, instantly shutting Isaac up. It wasn’t the most mature response, but Jackson had been realizing more and more recently that that was just how he and Isaac functioned.

They walked in silence for a bit longer until Isaac realized that his class actually started ten minutes before Jackson’s, sending him sprinting off towards his building.

“I hope you fail!” Jackson shouted after him good-naturedly.

 

Ethan was still in bed when Jackson got home just before noon. “Get up, you lazy asshole,” he said, dropping his bag on the floor, “Where are the girls?”

“Kaya went home to get take out and sleep some more, and Isabel went to class,” Ethan recited, “And I have a better idea. Why don’t you get in bed and then we’ll just stay here until tomorrow.”

Jackson crossed his arms against the temptation. “Get up,” he insisted, “We need to go Christmas shopping. Also, I need to call my parents and tell them that I’m inviting four people home for Christmas.”

Ethan pushed himself up onto his forearms and stared at him. “You’re inviting the whole pack to your house for Christmas?”

“Yes –“

“Do your parents know – “

“They know about werewolves.”

“What about us?”

Jackson sat on the bed next to Ethan and looked at him. “I guess they’ll know about that soon too.”

“You guess?” Ethan raised an eyebrow.

“I mean,” Jackson smirked, leaning over Ethan, “Isaac says we’re not very subtle.” He kissed him with a lot of tongue.

“He may have a point,” Ethan panted when they broke apart, pulling Jackson down to lay on top of him as they dove into another kiss.

Jackson pulled back, trying to rein himself in. “Okay,” he breathed, “Okay, go take a shower so I can call my parents and we can go Christmas shopping.”

“You’re seriously thinking about calling your parents right now?” Ethan asked, kissing over the bruise he had left the night before.

“Maybe if you would stop – “ he gasped as teeth scraped tender skin, and a feather-light kiss chased the pain.

“Stop what? This?” Ethan gabbed his ass, using it as leverage to grind their hips together.

“Fuck,” Jackson breathed, “Okay, yeah. Let’s do this first.”

 

***

 

It felt so normal to be walking hand in hand with Jackson down Oxford Street, almost as if he was a normal guy on a shopping date with his normal, if stupidly rich, boyfriend. It was fun to watch Jackson as he tutted over everything that didn’t meet his approval and made salty comments about the people they passed in the street. They both got a lot of attention from boys and girls, and Jackson definitely preened at the attention.

“Could that guy have been checking you out any more blatantly?” Ethan snorted.

Jackson shot him a cocky smirk. “Jealous?” he asked.

“It’s not like I can blame him,” Ethan shrugged, “And anyways, you can check out whoever you want as long as you don’t sleep with them.”

“Oh, really?” Jackson challenged.

Ethan rolled his eyes. “Yes, babe,” he said, “I think we’re both mature enough adults – “

“Hey,” Jackson pulled him to a stop next to a large poster at a bus stop. He looked at Ethan, “Have you ever been to a symphony?”

Ethan looked at the poster. London Symphony Orchestra. It looked fancy and expensive, something that Ethan had had no taste for before meeting Jackson, but in the past few months he had found himself appreciating the penthouse apartment, well made clothes, and new cars that seemed to make up his boyfriend’s life. He could live without them, he knew, and sometimes if was hard to remind himself that he wasn’t on the run anymore, floating aimlessly or following blindly. Maybe he was allowed to step into an Armani store, and maybe he could have a lavish night out with his boyfriend. Without warning, he pulled Jackson into him and kissed him.

“What?” Jackson asked, when they pulled away.

“The only concert I’ve ever been to was at Beacon Hills High School,” he explained, “Aiden and I were never very musically inclined.”

Jackson raised an eyebrow. “Is that a no to the symphony?”

“I’d like to try it if you want to go,” Ethan kissed the corner of his mouth.

Jackson smirked. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said, and continued to pull Ethan down the street, “Now help me find a gift for my mom that isn’t totally shit.”

 

Ethan was nervous. Like, incredibly nervous, and he wasn’t really sure why. He had a bag of clothes and toiletries in the trunk of Jackson’s car, in between two of Jackson’s bags and Kaya’s backpack. If anything, he decided, Isaac was even more nervous than he was, not even having started packing when Ethan, Jackson, and Kaya showed up. Predictably, Jackson was vocally expressing his disappointment. Ethan watched in amusement as Kaya packed for Isaac, who mostly darted around his room looking distracted and harassed by all of Jackson’s yelling.

Ethan hadn’t really celebrated Christmas for the past few years, and this was his first one ever without Aiden, which was already hard enough. Meeting Jackson’s parents on top of that…well, it had only been about four months since they had first started hooking up, and Ethan…didn’t really know how to interact with a boyfriend’s parents. That was another first for him. He was eternally grateful that Isaac and Kaya were coming too, even if it made him sound like a bad boyfriend and resulted in this shitshow.

“Okay, that’s it, we’re getting in the car,” Jackson decided, manhandling Ethan through the doorway. “If you’re not in the car in five minutes, we’re leaving without you.”

Isaac looked thoroughly distressed when Ethan caught sight of him over his shoulder.

“Maybe you should ease up on him a little,” he suggested, knowing exactly how well it was about to go over with Jackson.

“Are you serious?” he raised his eyebrows.

Ethan shrugged. “Sometimes people need a bit of a reprieve at Christmas. It can be just as much of a bad time of year for some as it is happy for others.”

Jackson looked at him but didn’t say anything until they were in the car. “Is it going to be hard for you?” he asked, not making eye contact, “To spend Christmas with someone else’s family?”

“It would be harder to spend it alone,” he took Jackson’s hand, “Seriously. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for being with me.”

“You don’t have to thank me,” Jackson met his eyes with a burning intensity, “You’re…important to me.”

“You’re important to me too,” Ethan whispered, making Jackson smile. He closed the space between them, kissing him slowly and passionately. In that moment, Jackson took up his entire world. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else existed until the trunk slammed shut and they pulled slowly apart, exchanging a few more parting kisses on the way. Ethan smiled.

“Thanks for keeping him distracted for me, Ethan,” Isaac grinned as he and Kaya slid into the back seat.

“Any time,” Ethan said, kissing under Jackson’s ear. Jackson tried to look annoyed, but Ethan saw right through him.