Epilogue - Tough Goodbyes

Maddy hadn't felt so furious since…well, since her parents had kicked Rhydian out of the house. Which was ironic, because right now that fury was directed squarely at Rhydian.

The wolfblood teen leapt a fallen log and kept running, her heart pounding as anger pounded right along with it. He's a bloody idiot. He doesn't take care of himself. He doesn't care what I'm feeling. He's… There were many other names Maddy wanted to call Rhydian in her head, but she left it at that as she skidded to a stop. A thin waterfall hissed over the little cliff on her right. She was fifteen minutes' walk from school. Today was a Saturday, and no one was about. That's why, when Maddy heard a twig snap, she stiffened immediately.

"Who's there?"

"It's me," Jana called. The redhead was huffing as she staggered forward, her face nearly as red as her hair. "You're hard to keep up with, you know that?"

At any other time, Maddy would've smiled. For now she settled for a scowl. "What do you want?" As far as Maddy was concerned, Jana wasn't much better than Rhydian. She too belonged in the 'bloody idiots' category.

Jana came aside Maddy along the bank of the stream. She looked up at the waterfall, then back at Mads. "Look, I know you're angry. I understand why. But will you please listen?"

"Listen?" Maddy felt a surge of emotion. She turned to Jana and right then Jana saw the fear fueling all that anger.

"What's there to say, Jana? You and Rhydian are going to go traipsing into the woods because Alric's been spotted wandering aimlessly on the outskirts of Stoneybridge. You're going to try to reason with a wild wolfblood who tried to kill my boyfriend and worst of all, Rhydian's naïve enough to think that it's safe enough for him to go with you. So no, Jana…there's nothing to listen to. Rhydian's throwing himself into danger and he's ignored all my concerns. So just…" Maddy sighed. "Just go."

But the stubborn redhead couldn't be dissuaded that easily. She came up and hugged Maddy from behind. Maddy struggled, but it just made Jana hold onto her that much more tightly. Eventually the struggling became half-hearted—ceased altogether.

"Jana, stop." Yet Maddy's protest had lost any trace of conviction.

"Will you just listen to me, Mads?" Jana had never called Maddy by her slightly shortened nickname, but they'd grown closer since the night Jana had convinced Maddy to reveal her true feelings for Rhydian.

"Fine," Maddy surrendered. Slowly Jana released Maddy and together they sat on an oval-shaped rock which had a groove flat enough and long enough for two people. Jana turned to Maddy, her green eyes gingerly appraising.

"Look, I know you're not thrilled about Rhydian helping me reconcile with my dad. The truth is, I tried to talk him out of it. I knew you'd be upset, but Rhydian…he feels responsible. He feels like he helped send my dad over the edge, even if everything my dad's done can't be justified. He feels, I don't know, this obligation to help fix everything."

Maddy snorted. "After everything Alric's done, I can't believe Rhydian feels that way."

Jana flinched. After all, this was her dad they were talking about. Still, Maddy's comment wasn't out of line. Jana's own father had tried to use her as a tool of vengeance to get at Rhydian, so Jana felt that sense of betrayal. It was only through the hard process of overcoming that feeling of hurt that she was willing to try to help her dad, lost as he'd now become.

"I know, Maddy. I can't say you're wrong. All I can say…" Jana hesitated. She reached out her hand and took Maddy's with a gentle squeeze. "All I can say is that Rhydian's not trying to hurt you. He's doing this because he thinks it's the right thing to do."

Maddy sniffed and looked away. "And because what I say doesn't matter."

"No. That's not it at all," Jana cried. She tugged on Maddy's hand until the pretty brunette had no choice but to look at her. "You remember that night you came to my trailer, all upset. Your parents had just kicked Rhydian out of your house to go live with the Vaughans."

Maddy nodded quickly. "Of course I remember. It's only been just over a month, Jana."

"Well, you know I used to fancy Rhydian, right?"

Maddy nodded slowly, not seeing where this was headed…

"The reason I helped you recognize your true feelings for Rhydian wasn't just me being selfless. I felt so lost after losing my dad and my pack. I just wanted to belong somewhere, anywhere. I thought that if I helped you make your parents see Rhydian as part of their pack, no longer an outsider, then maybe…just maybe, down the road they would see me as part of their pack too." Now Jana sniffed a little, remembering that terrible feeling the moment her father disowned her. She looked at Maddy. Maddy had forgotten her anger. She looked at Jana seriously and put an arm around Jana's shoulders as the two friends just shared the silence together.

"What are you trying to say?" Maddy said, suddenly sounding tired.

"Everyone deserves a chance to belong somewhere," Jana said. "Rhydian wants that…even for Alric. I want that, for my dad…even if he has disappointed me and abandoned me." Jana wiped a stray tear before it could slide down her cheek. "This isn't about him not caring about your feelings, Mads. This is about Rhydian having a big heart. Maybe too big," Jana said with a sad smile as Maddy scowled again, "but you have to recognize—it's the truth. So please, don't hold it against him. Be the supportive girlfriend. It would mean the world to him. I know it would." Jana shrugged. "By this time tomorrow, Rhydian will be back, we'll have sorted out my dad, and we'll have one less wild wolfblood prowling around Stoneybridge."

Maddy stood up and kicked at a loose stone. It tumbled down the bank and vanished with a splash into the rushing waters. "I hope you're right, Jana." Maddy's face softened. "And thank you for…for helping me understand."

"Does this mean you're not furious with me and Rhydian anymore?"

Maddy's eyebrows arched. "I wouldn't go that far."

Suddenly the petite wolfblood girl sniffed the air, sensing the scent of another wolfblood. The wolfblood intruder hugged her from behind and picked her up as she squealed.

"Rhydian!"

The blonde boy twirled her around as Maddy's eyes flashed a lustrous yellow. "You were listening in, weren't ya?" she accused.

Rhydian nodded. "I was hoping Jana might disarm you so I could say goodbye before we go find Alric. Not that it matters much since I'm sure we'll be back before you know it," he lied. Rhydian looked seriously into Maddy's eyes as Jana drifted away to give them some privacy. Maddy looked at Rhydian fiercely. She so wanted to stay mad at him. It was just so hard to stay mad at the cute boy in front of her, looking so hopefully into her eyes, and with such love.

"Maddy," Rhydian said. He stroked the side of her face as she tried to glare at him. "You know that I wouldn't do this if I didn't feel compelled, if I didn't feel deep inside that this was the right thing to do." Rhydian spoke more and more eloquently, the more Maddy glared at him. "I'm not doing this for Alric. I'm not even doing it because he deserves it. I'm doing this for me. For us. If Alric knows I don't hate him and that I view him as a fellow wolfblood, then the grudge between us can finally die. I don't want him languishing in the wilderness and nursing a new grudge against me or you or any of us."

Maddy started retreating, wanting to run away, but Rhydian advanced for every step she took. The short brunette found herself backed up against a tree. Rhydian's arms locked her in with his hands pressed against the tree trunk on either side.

"It would mean a lot to me if…if you could understand that and not be angry with me."

Maddy thought of all the risks she'd taken with Rhydian. About changing into her wolf for the first time on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. About sneaking to the lab when they tried to steal back their blood samples at the local hospital. About all of the misadventures they'd shared together. Danger was just part of what it meant to be a wolfblood. Now that she'd fallen in love with another wolfblood, she had to get used to that idea. She forced herself to. Maddy Smith took a deep breath. She felt a new surge of emotion. She lost herself in Rhydian's tender gaze.

"Okay," she said softly. Barely a whisper. Rhydian kissed her, a slow burn that suddenly caught fire. As his hands slipped down below her waist, she smiled against his mouth. Her hands cupped his face as his breath tickled her ear.

"Still mad at me?"

"Shut up and kiss me," she said. Two seconds later she obliterated Rhydian's smile with a savage kiss of her own as their wolves made up.

"Promise to come back to me in one piece," Maddy said, breathless, between one kiss and the next.

"I promise," said the blue-eyed wolfblood. And as he gathered her into his arms, to Maddy's surprise, she actually believed in him.

A/N - Hey wolfblood brothers and sisters. In writing this story I wanted to explore not only Jana and Maddy having more of a friendship, but also Maddy sorting out her feelings about Rhydian's decision to put himself in danger helping Alric (S2, E12).

One thing that I always admired about Maddy during the show was how she had the bigger heart, at least in the end, and she always showed this optimism in trying to do the right thing. But in the case of Alric (and Jana), it was Rhydian who saw the need for compassion before Maddy. To me that's what makes Rhydian and Maddy this OTP - one of my favorite couples. Neither one is perfect, but they help shore up each other's weaknesses. They help each other see when one of them is blinded. For me that's a big part of what love is all about. All right, wolfblood fans. Until next time… you all are the best! Please comment, review, or just say hello and what you want me to write next :)