Layn backed up looking at the Alpha feeling the deep well of fear and anxiety cascade from his stomach. “It was easy after we saw your scars to figure out who you were and who were working for. We found pictures and evidence at Jay’s…excuse me, Joseph’s place in Toronto. Layn…Reuben whoever you really are you need to talk to me and tell me everything and then we’ll talk about your future.”
“What future?” Layn growled knowing he was now officially dead. He had just started liking here, just started feeling as if he fit in and like he belonged for once. He took a step back trying to remember the lay out of the room in his mind.
“You can have a future here Layn. You were obviously a tool, too young to resist when all of this started and I understand that. Cooperating is in your best interest.” She demanded and took another step forward. Layn backed up again. He was under no illusion that just because she was woman meant she could not best him. He was younger, not as powerful and much more inexperienced. She could most certainly kick his ass.
“You know what’s funny? I’ve been told my whole life what is best for me and the consequences are always the same. Move from foster home to foster home or die on the streets, side with Jay and Cain and do what they say or be beaten and starved even more than they already subjected me to, or tell the pack what they want to know or be killed. It kind of seems like I never really have a choice or one that will really benefit me, right? So, no, I think I’m done.” Elena listened and then frowned about to say something when Layn produced a small round object and said a word. She came forward fast but he had already set it off. Smoke filled the room quickly getting into every nook and crevice and cutting off the air supply. The disorder and confusion it would produce would buy him a few extra minutes.
He turned and ran to the open window two feet behind him and to the left. He heard Elena yell for the others and crawled out shutting it before jumping to the ground. He took off for the trees. He’s already planned where to hide and what escape route to use so it would be easier when this happened. He knew it was inevitable. He had two options. Use his bike and risk being caught or or go through the woods. He had thought about it for weeks and had instead decided to combine the two plans. He bought a second bike hiding it on the edge of the property closest to the road. He’d hopefully make a quick getaway.
Layn broke the treeline and circled around the house getting further and further away from the property and closer to his bike. He heard no one behind him and no wolves either but they were fast and would be silent. He had to be careful. When he did get away he wouldn’t go back to Jay, he was skipping the country and going to Europe to start over. They’d be able to track him through some of the pack credit cards he had taken but not once he hit the ground, took all the cash he could and disappeared into the European or Asian continent once and for all. He’d be off their radar for good.
Layn looked behind him and saw fog starting to creep up but no sign of anyone. His bike was covered and chained to a tree up ahead or at least it had been yesterday. When he got to the spot he saw the chain broken and a tarp uncovered. “Fuck!” he swore loudly and turned around thinking maybe it was nearby somehow. No, they must have found it and hidden it. What did he do now?
He stood and thought for a few moments that he couldn’t afford. He had to get to the road and hitch a ride or get to his own motorcycle back at the house. He deliberated for a few seconds longer and decided going back would be too risky. He’d go to the highway instead. He started that way only taking a few steps when he heard a growl. He stopped in his tracks and saw a dark coloured wolf with only three legs looping towards him. Karl.
Layn brushed this off and backed up judging how close the road was and how fast a three legged wolf could run. Elena must have known or assumed he would run and set up some pack wolves in the woods which meant Karl wasn’t alone. Now the fear came back and he crouched down slowly and scooped up some dirt carefully so Karl wouldn’t see. The wolf came closer and closer. When he was within a few steps Layn threw the dirt and Karl roared with agitation as it hit his eyes. Layn took off at break neck speed to reach the road.
He could hear it in the distance he just needed to…shit. He saw the tree line and he saw the car beyond it waiting. Reese and Morgan stood near the car leaning on it and waiting, watching the woods. Elena knew he would do this and she had blocked him in. No matter. All he had to do was go further down the road but the crashing in the woods behind him indicated Karl was close.
Layn back tracked a bit and took off to the side. Karl howled and Layn looked back to see Reese and Morgan on alert and now coming into the woods. He may be able to circle around and get to the car if they came in too far. He could hot wire a car; he’d learned as a little kid from an older foster brother who just wanted Layn out of his hair. He ran further making sure to spread his scent before he turned around and headed back to the car along the road.
Morgan and Reese were still in the woods and after a careful look around he dashed out and grabbed the handle, locked. He raced around the driver’s side and tried the door, it clicked open. Layn looked inside cursing again when he saw it was a newer model with the key fob. He would need to override the chip first and that would take too long. He looked under the steering wheel and saw some of the same wires hidden in the back though. Maybe he could…He heard a crashing and stood so fast he banged his head on the steering wheel.
“Layn, give it up.” Reese called coming from the woods fast. Morgan followed and he saw Karl and a blonde wolf on the edge watching him but not coming into the open. Layn looked both ways and knew the small woods leading to the school on the other side of the road was his only option. The one problem, there was suddenly heavy traffic from a diverted route up ahead and he’d have to play leap frog.
“Don’t do it!” Morgan called seeing the thought in his eyes.
“Layn, we can work this out!” Nick’s voice now but Layn ignored him. More voices called but Layn had made up his mind. He heard footsteps behind him and knew he would be grabbed at any moment. A split second decision propelled him into oncoming traffic. A big truck honked but didn’t stop. He took his chance when the truck sped by and ran under the large trailer on the end dashing out the other side and stumbling in the ditch. He shouted a victory at his near death escape racing into the woods feeling his adrenalin pumping fast. He felt invincible.
He looked behind him to see Nick staring wide eyed with hands on his head and Elena shouting over the sound of the traffic to them all. Reese and Nick headed for the car. More came from the woods but he didn’t have time to figure out who was there. He took off using his advantage and hoped he could find a bus station or could hitch a ride to the closest airport.
For now he just ran. He cleared the woods and was on the other side, the back yard to the Elementary school, in fifteen minutes. It was getting darker which would be his next great advantage. He crossed the large green space and circled around the school. He knew a little bit about the lay out of the town from driving around but not enough. He’d stick to back alleys and darker places in case they were driving around. They’d probably be looking for him at the bus station too so he’d avoid that. If he could find a map he could direct himself to the next town using the woods, maybe even wolf out for it, and get to a bus station there. The pack wouldn’t, couldn’t catch him.
Thirty minutes later he was slinking through yet another dark alley getting closer to the heart of downtown when a semi-truck passed, one that looked like the one he had run under earlier. Suddenly he knew how to get out of town. They had a local truck stop. All he had to do was get there and bum a ride. He’d probably have to do things he wasn’t proud of but his life would be worth it. With a plan in mind he felt rejuvenated and started to retrace his steps figuring out the best way to get there. He stopped in the open briefly to look at a map and orient himself but he ducked back into the shadows before anyone would have time to see him, he hoped anyway. He’d left his phone and all the important messages from Jay behind but he couldn’t help that. He was just lucky he had the foresight to grab the credit cards before he left for good, to know something was wrong in the nick of time.
The easiest way to the truck stop was through the football field at the middle school and then across a small construction sight. He could traverse around it but under the circumstances he should take the easier path. He didn’t have time to go slow anymore. Being exposed was not ideal but he could cope. He took a second to gather his breath before he ran across the field so fast he was surprised the laws of gravity didn’t collapse in on him.
Half way across he heard voices and he turned his head slightly to see Antonio, Nick and Clay hot on his trail and Elena running right beside them. He glanced ahead again gauging if he could make it. He might be able to. He had to try. He pushed himself even harder and was sure he’d make it, just a bit further. As he was nearing the end a large strobe light clicked on and started flashing. He forgot to account for the flashing lights of the drive in theatre that came alive around this time of night. He closed his eyes until he was past it so it wouldn’t affect him.
Second later he felt the spider crawl sensation on his cheek and the world seemed to freeze around him. He stumbled and fell to his knees breathing hard and trying to get his mind to work but he was utterly frozen like a bugged computer program. He felt a hand on his back and he heard voices but nothing was getting through. He remained still and unknowing for the next few minutes until his senses came to him and he blinked and fell forward feeling weak and like he’d be sick. Someone caught him and hauled him up.
“That was god timing.” Reese said and Layn looked towards him and the lights of the drive in theatres now off. It was Monday night when no movies played so they must have activated it hoping it would trigger an episode. Layn seethed and gritted his teeth as Elena walked around in front of him and folded her arms. Her eyes were frosty.
“I meant what I said Layn. I would have given you a bit of lee way and I still might but, don’t you dare try and get away from us again.” She warned. Layn said nothing, only watching as she moved forward and grabbed his jaw in her hand, hard. “Do. You. Understand?” she annunciated. Layn nodded as best he could and she let him go.
“Get him back to the car and for the love of god bash him over the head if he tries anything.”
Layn snorted and was guided forward. He glanced on either side and saw Antonio on one side and Nick on the other both holding an arm. Reese and Morgan trailed behind and Elena and Clay were murmuring directly behind them. He was a dead wolf. He shouldn’t have run but the adrenaline and the fear told him he had to run, had to get away from them. His addled brain was spinning and trying to figure out a way working his mind through the limited spells he knew, and they were very limited. He had discovered he could do things as a child but he had hidden it from everyone. He’d found some books, researched and figured it out. He was sure he could do more but he refused help which worked against him. Lucas and Paige probably knew a lot he would benefit from but he wouldn’t dare ask them.
They were almost to the edge of the field when he remembered. In childhood he used to turn the lights off and on by just thinking about it. That was a long time ago though so it couldn’t possibly…he closed his eyes for a second and pushed past the fog thinking hard. Off. Off. Off. When he opened them against the world was still bright. His luck had run out which wasn’t a surprise. Resigned he didn’t resist and he didn’t pay attention to Nicks words both said low and comforting. He was a good guy and even if Layn was a prisoner he would still try and keep him calm.
They were now on the pavement of the surrounding parking lot. He felt drained of energy and just wanted to sleep. He saw the car in the distance and stumbled a bit too tired to care when suddenly the light flickered once, he looked up curious. Twice, Nick and Antonio stopped looking around and sensing danger. Three times, Layn stiffened as the light suddenly flicked off for good sending everything into blackness and making both men slacken their grips in surprise.
Layn ripped his arms from them and bolted not paying attention to the shouting or the cursing, pushing past his weakness and exhaustion. He had done it. Now he had to get to the truck stop. This was his absolute last chance. His night vision kicked in knowing there’s would too and he turned and circled wide running again. “Layn. I mean it stay put!” Elena ordered. He saw her thirty feet from him. Yeah right. He took off again feeling enormously hungry and knowing he had done too much and hadn’t properly refueled. He could as soon as he was…thrown to the ground and he landed with a hard ‘oomph’. He tried to struggle up but Nick’s voice stopped him.
“I’m sorry Layn.” He said just as he back fisted him in the side of the head. Layn growled at the pain but fought back even harder and Nick cursed. He lifted his hand to repeat the process when someone grabbed him from behind, Antonio by the smell. The man lifted Layn off his feet and put an arm around his neck pushing hard and cutting off his air. Layn struggled even trying to bite the larger werewolf but it did no good. Finally his air was depleted and he stilled. Antonio let him down in time to pass out in the grass.
Antonio let Layn go and Nick caught him before he hit the ground and lowered him into the grass as he fell unconscious. The lights blinked back on seconds later. The kid put up one hell of a fight. “What the fuck is he?” Nick asked and he shifted his weight and picked the kid up again upon Elena’s command.
“Not sure but apparently he can do magic tricks.” Clay sighed, annoyance in every bearing and move.
“Karl did find a witch pouch in his room so maybe his mother was a witch.”
“He’s a guy though.” Reese pointed out as they walked back to the cars.
“Yeah, but has a werewolf father. Jeremy inherited his mother’s powers so maybe it’s possible for a duel supernatural child to inherit as well, even if he is male and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.” Antonio said and Nick nodded.
“I’m surprised he put up such a big fight. He really thinks you’ll order his death.” Morgan put in looking at Elena.
“I still might.” She mused and Morgan swallowed but said nothing. Nick didn’t either. He didn’t have the heart to think about it. Layn was a messed up kid but did he deserve death? No. He was just a kid really at least compared to them. Not a child but young and impressionable. He’d been horrible used and tricked and Nick wanted to help but how did he help someone who kept running from them. He glanced at Reese and knew it was possible but not easy.
When they were in the car with Layn slumped over in the middle Nick’s thoughts went to Noah. He’d have to tell him and he had no idea what to say. Noah had trusted them to keep him safe and away from Joseph but he’d let Joseph get so close that he could have smelled Noah. He was a shitty guardian or father figure, whatever he was supposed to be. He had to fix this but his number one priority was Noah. He wanted to help Layn but Noah had to come first.
“You’re not failing.” Antonio said lowly and reached over to set a hand on his knee. Nick sighed when Reese seconded this. He was not 100% sure he believed them.
“I’ll need to tell Noah.” Nick said lowly as they pulled Layn from the car.
“I know.” Elena said giving her permission.
“I can help.” Reese put in but Nick shook his head.
“No, it’s something I’ll need to do with Elena I think. Let him know he’s safe and have the Alpha second that. Make sure he understands we won’t let anything happen to him. Maybe send him somewhere safe for a bit.” He looked at Elena who nodded to this.
“First I want Layn in the cage tied up. Use the zip ties Rhys gave us and bind him tightly. He won’t be able to get far like that. Lock the windows and door and alarm them too just in case. I also want a guard on him from now on.” Elena gave the order and they followed getting him to the cage, tying him as tightly as they dared and setting up a guard rotation.
Once everything was set up Nick left the area with his father guarding it working on his laptop to do some business. He went in search of Elena and Noah. She’d pulled him aside once they got in. Nick sniffed the trail and found them in his study. He knocked lightly and stepped inside seeing Noah sitting on the couch and Elena in front of him on the coffee table. Noah looked up angrily and he knew that Elena had done the easy part, telling him. Now they had to convince him he was safe.
Nick walked to the couch and sat beside him setting a hand on his leg. “I thought he was my friend.” Noah growled angrily and Nick nodded and glanced at Elena.
“We all trusted him to a certain degree Noah. He tricked all of us but luckily Elena saw through it and we got to him before he could hurt you or let Joseph in.” Noah stiffened at this.
“Your safe Noah, we’ve got a whole pack looking after you and nothing will happen.”
“I know.” Noah seethed and then stood. With an angry huff he left the room. His heavy footsteps could be heard across the hallway and the kitchen before the basement door slammed.
“At least he’s going to the training room now, before he would have lashed out.” Elena sighed and Nick nodded looking worriedly at the door. “He’ll be ok Nick as long as we prove that we’re ok, and we are.” She assured. She stood when Nick did and immediately hugged him. He sighed and hugged her back tightly breathing in her scent, thankful she was who she was.
Noah smashed his fists into the punching bag over and over again until his knuckles bled and he switched to kicking the bag furiously. He had trusted Layn…thwack, thwack. He thought he was helping him…thwack, thwack. Layn was just playing on the stupid unsuspecting pack kid who didn’t know anything…THWACK, THWACK. “I’m not stupid!” Noah growled and sent a kick so hard the punching bag flew from the wall.
“No, you’re not.”
Noah wiped a line of sweat from his brow and ignored Antonio standing behind him with crossed arms. “You’re not stupid Noah. We were all played by Layn, me, Nick and even the Alpha.”
“No, you’re wrong. Everyone at least suspected something but I was totally clueless like always. The stupid brain damaged kid. I hate this” Noah growled and crossed his arms glaring at the wall.
“Hey, I don’t want to hear that again. There’s nothing wrong with you brain and you’re not damaged.” He reprimanded. Noah coloured but disagreed privately with the man. He didn’t dare say it out loud though.
“It’s called experience Noah. We all were a bit suspicious and it’s understandable that you may not have seen this. It’s also acceptable because there’s no one here your own age. Reese is older and so is Morgan. Everyone else is much younger. Of course you reached out to Layn and became friends. Plus, don’t forget you were suspicious, remember?” the older man asked looking at the boy with pride.
“I’m just tired of it Tonio. I’m always being used and never able to take care of myself. I feel like such a drain on everyone all the time. I never contribute anything and I just stress out everyone.” He put his head in his hands annoyed with himself.
“Noah, your eighteen and I don’t think you understand how young you are. You are a kid and the pack is supposed to take care of you. You’re naïve because you’re so young but it doesn’t cause trouble. You’ll become experienced over time and someday you’ll be in a position to be a mentor with the twins and Nita and, if Layn comes back, you can bet you’ll be a big part of aiding him.” Antonio said.
“No!” Noah growled and got up making a slicing gesture with his hand. “I won’t stay in a pack where he is. If he comes back I’m leaving and yes, you can feel free to make sure Nick knows that too.” He said angry before he turned and left. Antonio stared after him torn between reprimanding him for disrespect and agreeing with him. Noah was here first so he had the right to stay but where did they put Layn? At least the kid knew that he would be telling Nick everything. He was smarter than he gave himself credit for.
He woke up with the most incredible pain on the side of his head and in his arms going down to his hands. He groaned and tried to move his hands up but it ended up yanking his other arm a millimetre before his wrists protested. His legs were asleep and his lower body felt like it was on fire. Layn opened his eyes and wasn’t surprised to see bars. He blinked and looked down to see he was tied to a chair tightly by his arms, legs and chest. He tried to move but a limb but was stuck fast. The ropes were so tight.
He growled in irritation and pain and tried to move the chair but only ended up tipping sideways a bit and righting himself just before he fell completely over. Shit, he didn’t have long to live. Nothing mattered now. He’d have to either tell them everything and die peacefully or die screaming. Jay wasn’t worth the pain.
Layn closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing in and out until he heard a door open. He kept thinking about his breath and calming himself down until the cage door squeaked open. Finally he looked up and saw Elena standing there watching him closely. He was resigned and accepted her cold eyes staring indifferently at him. She seemed to have resigned herself to not feeling anything about him to make it easier.
“I know you’re going to kill me.”
Elena nodded and Layn sighed hoping she would deny it or give him another chance but that was incredibly stupid of him to think. He had multiple chances and he didn’t deserve another one. He had screwed up enough times.
“Tell me everything I want to know and Clay won’t be involved.” Layn nodded. He ignored the pain in his bladder, in his stomach and head. He ignored the pulsing under his skin where the wolf tried to claw his way out. He wanted to fight, to rip and rage and not submit to death but Layn was tired of it all. He was tired of being used. He wanted a life of his own.
“You may want to tell us what we want to know Layn or Reuben, what name did you go by before you came to the pack?” Elena asked.
He didn’t even hesitate now. “Layn since I was ten so I’d prefer that.” Layn said picking up on Elena’s original question and deciding that at this point he really did need to tell them everything since there was nothing else to do if he was really honest with himself.
“Ok, when did you suspect Joseph had recruited you for…whatever he is planning?”
Layn launched into his story now telling her and the pack everything he knew and everything he suspected. He had only really been let in on this life when he was fifteen and had started changing and oh yeah, he had lied and been changing for years. He had only really been let in on the plan about a year ago. Until then it just seemed like a reluctant guy taking him because he owed his parents a favor or something. Did they intend to attack soon? No idea. Did they intent to kill anyone or take anyone? They’d kill as many as they could and the only hostage they wanted was Noah. What did they plan to do with Noah once they had him? Lock him in a room inside Layn’s room and keep him there until he came around to the right way of thinking.
“What did they tell you about us?” Elena asked once she had gotten the detail about how much danger they may be in at the moment.
That one caught him by surprise and Layn looked up to see if she was joking. “That you’re all arrogant stuck-up werewolves who don’t know the meaning of the word and don’t deserve the title. Jay…Joseph didn’t want Noah to become like that. He wants Noah out as soon as possible. No more free cars, private schools or expensive clothes and food. To be a werewolf means taking the hard road and anyone who doesn’t isn’t. Joseph is very resentful of the packs money and it’s a driving force behind his ambitions I think.”
“And do you share the same belief?”
Layn and sat forward a bit or as much as he could with being tied so tightly. He had to think about how he really felt before he could answer. “No. I’m not sure how I really feel but I don’t think like they do.”
She considered this for a moment before speaking again. “Is there anything else you want us to know? Be as truthful as possible.” She ordered. As they spoke she had leaned against the bars with crossed arms and hadn’t moved from the position. Layn hadn’t taken his eyes off of her because looking at her was far better than looking at the blood stained cement floor or the drain in the middle of the cage.
Layn thought for a few moments before he inclined his head ignoring the numbing feeling penetrating his shoulders and crawling up his neck. “I’m only a distraction, I’m fairly certain. I’m not 100% sure how Jay…Joseph wanted to use me or why really, but his ideas and orders never made sense. How was I supposed to come here and convince a whole pack I was trustworthy and then kidnap someone to take back? It was never going to work.”
Elena nodded whole heartedly agreeing with the young werewolf. “I know you’re going to kill me so it doesn’t matter but I need you to know…you can’t trust me.” Elena raised an eyebrow but said nothing, “As much as I hate Joseph I can’t seem to disobey him or be disloyal to him. I’m not sure why because I am sure as hell tried and I am sorry for that.”
“He’s your Alpha, or your wolf’s Alpha.” Someone said and Jeremy stepped from the shadow of the door alcove. Layn watched him walk forward and the two exchanged a look before she nodded.
“A wolf needs an Alpha to follow. Even lone wolves often have dreams of running towards their masters and being in their natural hierarchy. Joseph is your Alpha and he had been from the day he kidnapped you.” Layn took this information in realized that for the first time in a long time things made a lot more sense. It all made sense to him. He couldn’t seem to get out from under Josephs orders and his shadow.
Elena walked forward and Layn closed his eyes waiting. Now was the moment when she would break his neck but it would be quick and clean and he would finally be free. If there was a life after this he would be able to move on and do what he wanted but if not nothingness was acceptable.
He felt her cold hands on his shoulders and he swallowed and took a deep breath waiting. The wolf clawed and howled inside his mind but he ignored the dark presence and pushed him back. Waiting. How long had he been waiting?
Layn opened his eyes and looked up at the Alpha’s blue eyes. “Are you willing to accept me and your Alpha now, and only me?” she asked. Layn opened his eyes staring dumbfounded. She was giving him another chance. How was this even possible?
“I…why? Why are you giving me another chance?” he blurted out.
“Will you?” she asked again tightening her hand.
Layn could not lift his gaze from hers. It was if he was locked in place and not able to move unless he answered. He did. “I accept you as my Alpha Elena Michaels.” He broke his gaze with her and looked at the floor submitting. Immediately he felt like chains were lifted from his shoulder and he was lighter. He felt better than he had in a long time and more hopeful. Living seemed possible now.
“You will obey me Layn and we will work on your integration into the pack if and when you help us capture Joseph.” She stipulated. Layn nodded wondering at how easy it was. No thinking required and no worrying about ulterior motives. His wolf had instantly calmed when he accepted her and inside he felt peace. A peace like he hadn’t known in his lifetime.
“You made the right decision Layn. For now I’m keeping you down here until I can trust you though.”
“But I accepted you…” Layn protested looking at her but quickly looking away again afraid of her wrath still.
“Yes, but trust has been an issue between us. It is not as simple as just accepting me. You will prove yourself.” Layn gaped at her for a moment and then nodded knowing this was right. To just be suddenly freed and in this pack with no strings required wasn’t right and it made his wolf nervous. He had to earn his place from the very bottom up and he would.
“Ok.” He said just letting himself accept her words and not fighting them or her. He felt like he’d been fighting all his life and now it was time to give in.
“This is much easier.” Jeremy said and Layn nodded with a small smile. They left him alone and he sagged against the roped trying to squirm a bit or find some more room but he was held so tightly it was impossible. Instead he closed his eyes and thought about being elsewhere, what he would do after this was all over, consumed with thoughts of his new chance.