Jack awoke with a startled yelp and fell off of his bed. He could already hear both his mother and Charlie rushing to his room to see if he was okay, so he took a moment to check himself over mentally. It must have been one hell of a dream he was having, but was it really a dream? He remembered hearing everyone talking at some point or another, and he remembered being tortured and all the pain and death he went through but slowly it was fading away. He started to forget several things about the dream he had been having until finally it seemed like nothing but distant thoughts. His door opened to a concerned mother and brother barreling down on him.

"Are you alright Jack?" His mother looked like she was ready to call an ambulance but he shook his head quickly.

"I'm fine, mom. I should be getting ready for school." He stood but his mother's hand on his shoulder almost felt like a vice.

"You're not going anywhere just yet, kiddo, until you let me look you over. After all, you have to make your appeal to the principal to let you continue in school. Charlie has to do the same for college." She looked even more stressed out than before, and that made Jack worried. What concerned him more was what she was talking about.

"What happened?" She frowned.

"Now I know something's wrong. You hit your head, didn't you?" Jack was about to speak when Charlie beat him to it.

"Even if he had, he'd recover pretty quick…" Jack waved him off and asked his mother to explain what was going on.

"Ever since your little escapades in the night near the college there have been people talking. Everyone heard those howls, including me. There's no denying it now, bud. People know." She looked like she was going to cry any second now. Jack could smell the worry in the air, a sort of acrid and sharp scent wafting from her, and that made his wolf cringe slightly. He was about to ask her about it when that last reaction came back to mind and stopped him mid-thought. His wolf had reacted with sympathy for someone other than himself.

"Rumors have been going around our schools." Charlie broke Jack's reverie. "That you and I have been killing people alongside Matt and his little clique. Apparently we haven't been as covert as we like to think we were, and people have seen us in our forms. They haven't said anything until now because… well, I suppose because people don't tend to believe until it's undeniable." Jack sighed softly.

"Mom, Charlie, I'm sorry. I got us involved in this. If I hadn't gotten bit –" their mother cut him off with a finger to the lips.

"Don't give me that, Jackson Lee Markosa. It doesn't matter what's happened in the past, what matters now is that we handle this the best we can. I am proud of you no matter what happens, hon. You've changed so much since last summer. You've gotten stronger, not just in body but in heart." He smirked in spite of himself. The way she said it was just so corny. It was just like his mother to rally her boys in just about the wordiest way she could.

The family spoke with each other for a while on how they were going to face their collective music. It seemed like the more they planned the worse it sounded. They knew people would be less than enthused about the prospect of living with or near werewolves, much less letting their kids go to school with one. A lot of what they spoke of came down to simply answering questions as truthfully as they could. They knew they weren't going to be believed, but then something else came to mind. They weren't the only ones that had the difficult decision to make.

It started off as a tickling doubt in the back of Jack's mind but slowly it made itself ever present. There was something he was forgetting about regarding the Travis family when it struck him out of the blue.

"Is Mrs. Travis resigning?" He asked his mother with concern in his voice.

"… That I don't know. I hadn't heard anything about it." The day just didn't seem to be offering him a break as far as obscure information was concerned. He gave up trying to figure anything else out at that point and made a decision. If he was going to have to deal with the revelation of what he was to the rest of the city, he was going to have to get it done sooner rather than later. He quickly prepared for classes and slid into the back seat of his mother's car when they were all ready to go.

Jack walked through the doors to his high school to a host of people staring expectantly at him. The principal, guidance counselor, and even a couple of people from the board including the superintendent were all standing in the hall. He obediently walked up to the men and women and then into the school office, not waiting for them to ask him. They followed through the doors, and Jack was introduced to his first glimpse of police officers that were waiting within the office. Matt was already seated alongside the other werewolves of the high school.

"Take a seat, Mr. Markosa." One of the officers offered in an official tone. It rubbed the teenager the wrong way but he complied, sitting right next to Matt who looked like he was ready to punch someone. Alice and Brian looked like the last thing they wanted to deal with was the police, and Jace and Brick were looking to him for guidance, as if waiting for him to give the command. He honestly didn't know what to tell them. The room was oppressively quiet for a few moments before one of the other officers in the room spoke up.

"S-Sir…" it was a woman who looked like she was in her mid-twenties. She had her blond hair pulled back in a high ponytail, which kept her face open to the werewolves who could smell the fear on her. She wasn't the only one. It seemed like everyone except the principal and the chief of police were the only two humans in the room that were truly unshaken. The chief looked to the woman officer and nodded his head curtly before regarding the children sitting before him.

"It's been brought to our attention that the six of you are people of interest in several mysterious cases in our area. Deaths, disappearances, and now we have witnesses that place you and a few others at the scene of a few high-sensitivity scenes. What do you have to say for yourselves?" Jack scoffed under his breath. He was very rapidly losing patience. He didn't know if it had something to do with all of the werewolves being in one room or if it was the poor start he got in his day but he wanted nothing more than to get this entire ordeal over with.

"You haven't got the slightest idea what we've been put through, do you?" He could feel the anger welling up in him. His wolf was stirring within and his blood was starting to boil. He could feel the instinct within dragging at him but told it to wait just a moment as he continued. "You don't even want to know what we've been put through – you just want to know whether you need to be afraid of us, and you damn well should be." Matt looked over at him with concern on his face, mirrored by the rest of both his and Jack's packs.

"I was bitten by a psychotic drifter of an Alpha and thrown face-first into the world of werewolves! I had to deal with – no – we have had to deal with a Burning Man, a psychotic Alpha werewolf, a demon, and…" His memories started coming back to him. Jacob and his episode of grief-driven insanity, the torture he was forced to endure, and finally he spoke once again. "Death itself! We have protected this town more times than you would imagine, officers. Humans like you guys don't scare us." The chief of police puffed up at this, an angry red color coming to his face.

"Now you listen here, son, I am the authority here and you will speak to me respectfully!" Jack's patience had hit its breaking point. Fur started growing out of his arms and exposed skin, ears lengthening and teeth jutting out while his claws grew into place.

"You are a funny little man, officer." His wolf was in control, and Matt and the rest could hear it. They all tensed up and matt jumped to his feet, only to meet eyes with Jack's body who only shook his head, turning his attention back to the chief of police.

"Have you seen what a Burning Man can do? Their bodies are made of pure flame. They can burn the skin right off of your arm in a heartbeat, and we made sure it killed almost nobody. That demon was poised to destroy the entire city if we hadn't come along and stop it! Your guns do nothing to scare me. Instead let me tell you something a little different." Matt looked confused at this point. Jace and Brick looked somewhat hopeful when Jack started to drop his wolf form, letting the wolf within retreat back to its safe confines.

"We can hurt people, but we chose to help the town and protect not only ourselves but everyone here. We aren't here to cause problems at the high school. We're here to learn. Because underneath all this we're still children and still human. We're just… a little more now." The man in charge shot a furtive glance to the principal who seemed to be deep in thought.

"That man on the school track…" Jack nodded and answered beore the rest of the question was asked.

"That was my Alpha Reymond. The guy apparently just wandered in from the distance from what I understand. He probably bit me because he was bored and wanted a new plaything. I know he wanted me to kill people, and that's why with Matt and his uncle's help we got rid of him." The principal sighed lightly.

"You know your abilities are no small matter to attend to, Mr. Markosa." He nodded swiftly in response. "We have to think of student safety here! Werewolves on the school grounds, it just doesn't scream parent confidence!" Jack threw his hands up in exasperation and was about to speak when the principal interrupted him. "That having been said… I cannot deny any students who wish to learn as long as they are being provided for in terms of tuition. I can however ask that you not use your abilities as werewolves to harm other people. Do I make myself clear?" Jack's face lit up with a grin.

The conversation went on for a while longer, giving testimonies to the issues that had befallen the town. They spoke truthfully, although there were moments where Matt hesitated to comment. Heavy restrictions were implied, the police were mortified to hear some of the things that happened behind their backs, and it was true that there were far-reaching consequences for what they had done but Jack couldn't find it within himself to care. He was starting to get that positive feeling that life was finally going to calm down a bit for him. People knew the secret and there were people that were okay with it. This was something that he couldn't have expected in his wildest dreams.

Jack walked out of the doors to the office a while later to the overhead bell ringing and echoing through his oversensitive ears. Usually he would flinch or cringe but today it almost felt like music to him. He was about to have a normal day at long last! He turned to the side to continue down the hallway towards his next class when he ran face-first into Officer Henderson.

"Whoa there, buddy." The officer said with a smirk. "Just got done talking with my son. Sounds like life is going to be getting a little more interesting in this city, hm?" Jack chuckled in response.

"I'll have to speak with you and the rest of the officers sometime. You all have a bit to learn about… well… the hidden side of the world!" He laughed and continued down the hall for a few steps. "I have classes to get to now, but I'll speak with you later, I promise. After all that intimidation I owe you guys that much." The officer gave him a puzzled look until he heard the chief of police ushering him inside quickly. Jack rushed down the hall now that he wasn't being spoken to and reached for the door of the room that had closed just moments before. The second bell had gone off and he was technically late. Pushing the door open he started in on his apology at once.

"Sorry I'm la-"

"Jackson Lee Markosa. I do understand that you had to speak with a few people, but I will not tolerate tardiness in my class." The sharp voice of Mrs. Travis rebounded towards him like a coiled viper. It was almost like she was waiting for him to come in late, like she was anticipating being able to make the speech. "Since it's your first offence I will not be giving you a detention, but you had better not let it happen again." He looked up from the chiding to see her with a warm smile on her face, which he dared to return before finding his seat next to Brian, who seemed shocked at first that he would choose to sit that close.

"Why are you sitting here? There's a spot next to that girl over there…" He pointed to a random red headed girl who indeed had a seat open next to her. Jack simply smiled and shook his head.

"Our packs aren't enemies, are we?" Brian shook his head softly. "Then why not?" He chuckled and was about to start up some conversation before he started to overhear catches of a whispered conversation. People were gossiping in the middle of class about him and Brian, and the conversations they were having were not helping his good mood any. He looked over at Brian who seemed ready to punch someone, but before he could try to calm the other wolf down a rather strict voice issued from the front of the room.

"Honestly class, if you think I'm that deaf you need more than my class to help you." Jack's jaw dropped. "I can hear you all no matter how much I'm trying to ignore you and I'm trying pretty hard. So instead of making my class all about Markosa and his friends, let's try to focus on English shall we?" she turned around and continued writing on the board for a few more moments until she could no longer take the whispering. "Alright, that is enough of this. Class! Now is not the time to be talking about werewolves, now is the time to be talking about The Things They Carried. So here's what we're going to do." She slammed her hands down on her desk and regarded the entire class with a passing glance.

"I am a werewolf hunter." The class erupted into conversation all at once. Utterings of 'that's so cool' and 'oh yeah, prove it' ran the gamut of responses that met her ears and she sighed. "Anyway!" she yelled to silence the class. "I am going to answer any questions you have, with the help of Jack and Brian in the back there. Sound fair?" The class began to murmur once more but it seemed that people were accepting of the idea.

The rest of the English class was spent answering questions. A lot of them were posed to the teacher and what she did to werewolves and for her part she tried to keep the details to a minimum. What surprised Jack was the absolute range of questions that were being asked. Some of them were asking the obviously negative questions of course and thankfully getting no good answers. Others still were asking questions about the rumors that surrounded werewolves, and a few even asked their origins. The real shock came when one of the more timid girls in the class raised her hand slowly. Being called on she turned to Jack and Brian, the boy sitting next to her miming her gesture in solidarity.

"I… uh… we were wondering… um… h-how does it… what does it feel like?" Jack looked to her, wondering just who 'we' was, until his eyes locked with the boy sitting next to her. The stranger's heart leapt a little when their eyes met and he looked away quickly. He was one of Jack's classmates in the same year, and he remembered the boy from the track team. He was just like the girl, a timid and non-talkative individual, which got Jack thinking.

"What're your names?" The girl tripped over her words for a second, not expecting the response she got.


"Tom…" Jack smiled softly.

"Look at me, both of you." Brian cocked his head to one side, but Jack just continued to keep that smirk on his face. The two humans did as they were told and kept their eyes trained on the Alpha whose smirk became a playful grin. His eyes flashed purple and the two of them tensed up for a split second while he chuckled.

"There's a feeling of strength, being a werewolf. You're faster, stronger, can see father, hear better, smell the slightest things… For example I know both of you are really nervous to be around me and Brian. I'd bet you're going to be nervous around every one of the werewolves but I'm here to tell you we're not here to hurt you. If we had wanted to I really don't think there's much that anyone could have done, save for Mrs. Travis here. As a matter of fact she's been here since she transferred in as our English teacher protecting all of you from more than us." He took a deep breath and continued.

"Being a werewolf, I can't lie, it is fun at times. Being able to run fast, do all these things a normal human can't… but it has come with a price. Part of it being the gossip you've been throwing around all class until we started taking questions. You think it was bad that Mrs. Travis heard it? She was just hearing whispering. We heard everything you guys said. All of it." The class atmosphere grew heavy. Several students looked down at the ground in shame but Jack shook his head.

"It's not like you could have known better, honestly. Still doesn't make it nice. No, we're not here to eat you all, honestly the taste of blood makes me feel sick. We're here to be students and classmates. We're still Jack and Brian, we just have some new little piece of ourselves that… well… makes us unique, yes, but not something to be feared." The girl nodded with a small smile and then asked a question Jack wasn't expecting.

"How do you become a werewolf?" He looked past the girl to Mrs. Travis who had a curious look on her face. It seemed like she was conflicted between two decisions, whether or not to tell him not to reveal the secret. He grimaced and cleared his throat to answer the question.

"That's not something to be done lightly. I know I made it sound so glamorous and all that jazz, but we've all come close to dying many times. I don't think it's wise to just jump in without knowing a bit more about what goes on. Instead… talk to me again sometime. I'll tell you guys the stories and you can make your choice then." The teacher's face changed from one of concern to one of grim acceptance. It appeared that she was starting to come around as well, which was comforting.

Jack was waiting for the end of the day, and it came pretty quickly considering the rest of the day had devolved from normal classes to questions about werewolves related to as many class subjects as possible. It was interesting to see everyone so interested but he was sure he'd seen annoyed looks on the faces of each teacher he sat with that day. Their curriculums were already stretched thin and they needed all the time they could get, but nobody was listening to that and instead asking about the history, biology, and psychology of werewolves.

He ran into Specs at last at the end of the school day waiting for him in the commons. Matt, Brick, Alice, Jace, and Brian were all standing around him as well, along with the girl and boy from English class.

"I hope you don't mind…" The girl started.

"We were just going to walk with you all… listen in…" Jack chuckled and nodded while Matt gave him a strange look. He explained the situation, how they were interested in being turned, and his demeanor changed almost instantly. Both the new arrivals to the group were timid and slow to warm up, but over a few moments of their walk to the park they started to learn more about the couple.

They truly were a couple, boyfriend and girlfriend for a couple of years. He was in track and she was in art club. Both of them were on the higher edge of the grades spectrum, all sorts of the small talk issues, but then the truth came out. Both of them were dealing with problems at home. His mother was sick and fading, and her father was an alcoholic. Jack cringed and gave off a small sigh.

"This past year my family has had to deal with… well, my dad was beating my mother…" Maria and Tom both uttered their apologies. "It's alright! No I'm not trying to compete, but I'm just saying something here. We aren't the answer to making things change in your life. You are. I just don't want you to think that becoming a werewolf will get you away from that stuff." Maria shook her head.

"Honest! We want to be werewolves because we want to be, it's not because of our parents, it's not because we think it's going to be easy or for glory or anything like that! We just don't feel like anything when we're like this!" Maria seemed frenzied, and Tom was nodding behind her. Jack grimaced.

"That's all fine and all… but it's not a decision we make so fast. An Alpha has to bite you in order for you to turn. Once they do, you become part of their pack, you're looked after, but your mind changes in ways. You become nearly family. Instinct drives several things you do unless you can understand and control it. There's a lot I haven't told you about being a werewolf because there's so much that's different once it happens."

The group walked around the park and talked. Time passed them by and soon night was falling. The moon started rising high in the sky, and the werewolves all looked in unison along with Specs and the two guests. Jack had lost track of time, and his eyes caught sight of the full moon in all its glory. His eyes started shining purple, and looking around at the rest of the wolves he started to see patches of silver, red, and gold joining in. Maria, Tom, and Specs all looked on in silence while the group of wolves tilted their heads back and howled. Free at last.

Life in Flambeau Falls was the same as any small town really. There was a proud, bustling college, a park that housed many children's play and many adults adoration, and a revelation that shook the community to its core. Werewolves protected this town, and continued to do so for quite some time. The West Manor was rebuilt and now serves as a safe haven for the populace that find themselves involved in a werewolf matter. Dignitaries and representatives of several wolf families found their way to the city to see the pair of Alphas who worked together to keep their land free of all things evil and malicious. Jack and Matt had their entire lives ahead of them. Indeed, everyone in the city looked forward to a time of happiness and peace. However, true to the nature of the world that peace could end at any moment.

A Note From The Author To The Readers

Hello everyone, I just wanted to thank those of you that have read this entire beast of a fiction from beginning to end (if you'll pardon the pun). I have run into a lot of interesting things over the ages that it took me (literally like a year) to write this from beginning to end, and so now I share with you some of my feelings on the end result.

A lot of things actually changed as I was writing them, truth be told. It might be obvious in some cases more than others, and I may have done some accidental ret-con here and there, but I hope it was still enjoyable for you all.

That having been said, I am going to probably take a break from constant or scheduled posting of stories or chapters since I'm in the middle of some pretty heavy stuff just having graduated from college. I'll be having days of "I want to play games!" or "I want to just relax!" and sticking to a schedule for posting in this regard is kind of taxing as time goes on.

Just to tick readers off even more, I do have an idea for a next set of stories that recently came to me near the end of this, and I will try to develop it as best as I can. If you want to see it please please subscribe to me as an author and the story when it shows up so you can follow that one too!