Chapter 28

Eben answers the phone when Caleb's name lights up the screen. He shoulders his backpack and takes a cursory glance around. Everything is as it should be. He wouldn't be able to tell he'd been there at all, if he didn't know better. He brings the phone to his mouth and says, "Thanks, Caleb," before hanging up and pocketing it. Biting his lip, he returns to his original hiding place and pulls his cloaking spell more tightly around himself, then calms his nerves. He's got to wait on them to get there.

He doesn't actually have to wait long. It makes him wonder what could've happened to delay Caleb's phone call. It's maybe ten minutes, tops, when he hears feet stomping toward him. He presses his front against the tree, just to be sure he won't be seen, and waits.

They appear through the trees to his right. Drystan has blood on his shoulder from what was probably once a very nasty wound, naked as the day he was born and looking all the more pissed for it. Eben's heart pounds against his sternum when he sees the blood, sees that his lover has been caught, just as they expected. It doesn't make it any easier to see. He does notice blood on Sebastian's shirt, which is ripped and baring skin. It looks like Drystan wasn't the only one who was injured in the fight, although Sebastian's has obviously healed by now, too.

He shoves Drystan to the ground when they reach the silver circle, and Eben's eyes narrow. While he sets about strapping Drystan down with the chains, Eben raises one hand and whispers the incantation to complete the circle. He's got a strip of cloth wrapped around his forearm, which he'd cut to use the blood to mark the iron. All it needs is his magic now.

Sebastian feels it when the magic tightens around him. His movements falter, and he straightens to glance around the trees. Drystan takes that opportunity to yank the chains free and roll smoothly out of the circle. He hisses when the silver circle burns him, but he's away before it really has a chance to burn.

"What—?" Sebastian reaches out to stop him, but he draws up short when he reaches the edge of the iron. Drystan pulls the chains off his wrists and ankles—regular chain, replaced by yours truly. The silver ones are now in Eben's bag.

Eben steps out of the darkness and lets the cloaking spell fall away. Sebastian's eyes narrow when he sees him.

"What do you think you're doing?" He demands.

"Saving my boyfriend, for one," Eben replies. He drops his backpack and pulls out a pair of sweatpants. "Here you go."

"Oh, I didn't know that was part of the plan," Drystan says, voice light. "Thank you." He pulls them on.

"I didn't think you'd want to stand around in your birthday suit for this."

"Caleb and Madison?" Drystan asks.

"They're fine. They called."

Drystan looks relieved.

"What plan?" Sebastian hisses.

"Take a good look at the ground around you," Eben says, pointing.

Sebastian does, and when he realizes the earth has been upturned, he spits a curse. Eben had made sure the iron circle was buried right around the silver one. Burying it had been the only way to ensure Sebastian wouldn't see it and realize the trap before he could be caught in it.

"Perfectly sorcerer proof, my circle," Eben explains. "You're not going anywhere."

"And what are you going to do? Leave me here?" Sebastian sneers.

"Oh, no. I've got something special planned for you."

"Going to kill me, Eben? Do you think you can?"

Eben smiles patiently, reaches down into his bag, and pulls out the book. Sebastian's eyes zero in on it, but he doesn't seem to realize what Eben has planned yet. His expression remains guarded.

"You really should've stolen this back from me, you know," Eben says conversationally. "I'll be sure to burn it when I'm done."

"What do you plan to do?" Sebastian asks.

"No, no. I'm not an evil villain who monologues about his plans. I think I'll just get on with it." He opens to the appropriate page. Clearing his throat, he says, "You'll have to forgive the butchering of the Latin. I'm not exactly fluent."

And then he starts to chant. Sebastian hollers when he recognizes the words, thrashing against the magic trapping him within the circle. He raises his hands and tries to blast his way out, but his magic doesn't respond to his commands.

"No!" He screams. "No, you can't do this to me!"

Eben clenches his teeth and refuses to take his eyes away from the pages. Sebastian snarls, eyes glowing, but Eben isn't worried. He can't get out.

He can feel it when the magic starts to take effect. A heavy feeling settles over his middle, like a balloon that's been blown too full. He starts to shake, fine tremors making the book quake in his hands. Drystan takes a step toward him, but Eben stops him with a quick shake of his head. Things are still going according to plan. Sebastian is also shaking, clutching at his chest like he can physically stop the magic from leaving him. He looks shocked, like he hadn't expected Eben to be successful. But then, he'd probably underestimated his nephew.

Eben sees the magic from the edge of his periphery, taking physical shape before his eyes. He glances up briefly to get a better look. It's a wispy, translucent thing, writhing around them like sentient fog. It's a deep purple and twisted brown color; Eben wonders what his own magic's colors would be. Drystan is only glancing between the sorcerers, so it must only be visible to the magicians.

Sebastian is watching it cross the distance between them with an agonized expression. "No, please! Don't do this! You can't!"

Eben ignores him, stares back down at the book and begins to chant faster. It's almost over. He can see the purple-brown fog twisting in the air at the edge of his vision, and the weight across his middle grows stronger. His knees tremble, so he locks them and tries not to fall over. He locks his elbows at his sides to keep the book from rattling out of his hands and utters the final words of the spell in a hasty, ragged breath.

Sebastian cries out when the magic abruptly lunges toward Eben's chest. He gasps as it enters, convulses, and drops the book to the leafy ground. One hand goes to his chest, and he staggers. His legs finally buckle, like the weight inside him is finally too much for his muscles to withstand, and he tumbles down.

"Eben?" Drystan asks, kneeling at his side in an instant.

"I'm…" Eben stops, taking a deep, shuddery breath. It feels strange, like he's been filled too full with something. A tick with too much blood. Too much butter and not enough bread. He feels full to bursting in a way that he's never experienced before, like his very bones have expanded to make room for magic that feels distinctly different than his own, which is writhing in discomfort at the intrusion. "It'll pass," he hears himself say.

He doesn't know how long he sits there, focusing on what's happening inside him. It takes the magic a long time to settle, and when it does, he still feels different. He feels…more. There's more to him now than there ever has been. He has more—more magic. He can feel it, wrapping around his heart, his spine, his ribs, making a home for itself. It's an odd feeling, but not necessarily a bad one. One he can get used to.

When he looks up, Sebastian is staring at him. He looks so wretched and broken that Eben feels momentarily bad about what he's done. But then he remembers Cory's broken body out in the woods, and Christine looking so frightened to pass over into the next realm, and the beautiful man beside him who's lost everything to Sebastian's own selfish desires. No, he has nothing to feel bad about here.

"I'll kill you for this," Sebastian swears.

"No, you won't," Eben replies, "because you know how strong I am now. You won't be able to kill me, and you know it. I did this so that no one else had to die. So, you'll go home, and you'll never come back here again. Or I won't be so lenient next time."

"You'll regret this," he says.

"Is that a threat?"

Sebastian shakes his head, looking defeated. "No. It's an observation."

A chill runs down Eben's spine, but he ignores it. One problem at a time. He's not regretting it right now, and that's good enough.

"Maybe." Eben waves his hand, and the magic in the buried iron fades away. He'll come back and retrieve it later. For now, he just wants to leave. Drystan grabs his bag while Eben stands on shaky legs.

"You're just letting me go?" Sebastian asks.

"Yes. There are a lot of hunters in town out for your blood. I suggest you skip town pretty quick-like. Dad'll have to let them out of jail in the morning."

Sebastian looks curious at that, but he doesn't ask. He just watches Eben and Drystan turn their backs on him.

"Nice knowing you, Uncle Sebastian," Eben calls over his shoulder, hoping his voice sounds stronger than he thinks it does.

Once they're out of earshot of the werewolf, Drystan softly asks, "How do you feel?"

"I don't know how to explain it," Eben replies.

"Try?"

Eben bumps their shoulders together. "I feel like…my insides are wrapped up in silk. It doesn't hurt, or feel uncomfortable, but it does feel different, you know?"

"No."

Eben laughs, feeling high and carefree for the first time in weeks. They don't speak again until they get to the road. Eben jogs over to the general area where he remembers parking the car.

"I left the car somewhere right around—oomph! There." Eben rubs his the bruise blossoming on his hip, waves away the magic, and glares down at the passenger side mirror that he walked into.

Drystan snorts and opens the passenger door to toss the bag into the backseat. Eben folds his arms across his chest and grins at him. When the werewolf realizes he's being stared at, he stops and tilts his head to one side. "What?"

"We did it, Drystan," Eben says, excitement bubbling up in his chest. "It's over."

Drystan's grin is the biggest Eben's ever seen on him. "It's over."

Eben laughs, and Drystan yanks him close and crashes their mouths together. Eben is so happy he thinks he might cry, and he can't wait to tell the others—to get on with their lives. They can finally put this chapter to rest.

"Call your dad," Drystan says when they part, breathless. "We'll go back to the warehouse. Caleb and Madison are probably worried."

Eben drops down into the driver's seat and speed dials his dad. It only rings once before his dad picks up.

"Eben!" His dad greets. "Is everything okay? Are you okay?"

"I'm perfect!" Eben crows as he pulls out and heads toward the warehouse. "We did it!"

"And Sebastian?"

"Still a werewolf, but we took care of it. He won't hurt anyone else."

"You're sure?"

"Yep! I took his magic away."

"You… How did you do that?"

"Oh, it's a long story. I found a spell. But the point is, it's over. I told Sebastian to leave town."

"And you trust him to?"

"Sure, what with the hunters on the prowl for him. He's just a regular werewolf now."

"So, you're okay? Everyone is okay?"

"Everyone is fine. We're headed back to the warehouse now. How was your night?"

"Pretty interesting. The jail has never been so full. We'll probably release them all in the morning, but we'll have no choice but to get rid of all the unregistered guns. I'm doing paperwork for it all right now."

Eben laughs. "That's too bad. I'll see you in the morning, okay?"

"Okay. I'm proud of you, son. And I'm so happy everyone's safe."

Eben sighs. "Me, too."

They hang up, and Eben turns to grin at Drystan, who frowns when their eyes meet just as they pass under a streetlight.

"What?" Eben asks, blood running cold.

"Nothing. It's just…your eyes…"

Eben slams on the brakes, and Drystan curses when the seatbelt tightens. "What do you mean 'my eyes'?" Eben asks, pulling at the rearview mirror until he can see for himself.

"I couldn't see it when we were in the forest, but now that there are lights nearby… Is your eyesight better?" Drystan asks carefully.

Eben leans forward, peering at his reflection, and sees exactly what Drystan is talking about. There's another streetlight not too far ahead of them, shining just enough into the car for Eben to see how the light reflects against his pupils.

"Oh, my God, I'm a werewolf!" Eben shrieks. His hands fly to his face, and he's literally two seconds from a panic attack when Drystan grabs his wrists and forcefully turns Eben to face him.

"You're not a werewolf. I would be able to tell, I swear. Your scent hasn't changed. You're still human."

"Then what the hell is this?" He flails at his own face.

"Maybe a side effect?"

"A side effect? A side effect? There are side effects?!" Eben screeches, so loudly that Drystan winces.

"Obviously. You did say this has never been done on a werewolf before. You must've…gotten a little more than just his magic."

"What does that mean?" Eben asks, voice small.

"I don't know. We'll figure it out. Just don't freak out; you knew things would be different after this."

"Yeah, but I didn't think I'd be part werewolf." Eben sits back, rubs his face with one hand, and then cuts the headlights off.

"What are you doing?" Drystan asks.

"Checking to see if my eyesight is better. I didn't notice when we were in the woods. I'd been out there for so long that my eyes adjusted."

It's still really dark without the headlights, even with the intermittent streetlights. Eben starts driving again, going slowly just in case. He whines when he realizes he can see through the trees on the edge of the road and make out the cracks in the sidewalk. With a grumble, he turns the headlights back on.

"Well?"

"I'll say this: the only reason I turned the headlights back on is because I don't want to get pulled over."

"Ah."

"Well, I'm not letting this ruin my good mood. We defeated Sebastian. It's time to celebrate. We should get cake in the morning. Ask them to write 'Congrats on Stopping Your Psychotic Uncle from Killing Your Boyfriend and Achieving His Maniacal Plans' on it."

"It would need to be a pretty big cake, then."

"Exactly." Eben grins. Weirdo eyes aside, it's still a pretty good night.

When they get to the warehouse, Caleb and Madison are both howling at the sky, prancing about the parking lot without a care in the world. Drystan visibly relaxes at the sight of them, and Eben parks crookedly and throws himself out of the car.

"We did it!" He cheers, throwing both fists into the air.

When he turns around, Drystan is in wolf form, his sweatpants folded on the hood of the car. The wolves roll and tumble in the parking lot for a minute, and then they all turn to go inside.

"Hey, guys!" Eben says, scuffing his shoe on the pavement.

The werewolves collectively turn to cock their heads at him.

"The hunters are in jail, and Sebastian is taken care of. Why do you want to go inside?" He grins, and then takes off for the forest. "First one to catch me gets to decide the cake flavor I buy tomorrow!"

He hears the wolves grumble and growl happily, followed by claws tick-tick-ticking across the pavement, just as he launches himself through the tree line. Eben laughs wildly, surrounded by the smells of the forest, and if he uses the occasional cloaking spell to give him an edge, well—he's only using what he's got to work with.


AN: Ah, the joy of finishing long stories. No joke, this is about 300 pages in Microsoft word, total. And as soon as I'm done posting this, I'll be posting the first chapter to the sequel (most likely titled New Night Sequel, because I lack the capacity for inventive sequel names lately) so go check out my profile when you're done here for Part Two!