He must have nodded off because he was jerked awake when the door to the cell opened again scraping as it pushed against the cement floor. Layn blinked trying to discern the dark figure blocking the lights in the doorway. He sniffed and then tensed when Noah’s scent filled his nostrils. The other wolf walked into the area and watched him. Layn swallowed and looked at him, at his eyes. They were so filled with anger and hate that he flinched.
“I knew not to trust you but I listened to them instead. I was suspicious but they only told me to be careful. Now I know I should have convinced them you were rotten and a lying traitor,” Noah accused.
“Noah, I didn’t have a choice,” Layn protested vehemently.
“Neither do I.”
“Noah, please,” Layn pleaded annoyed with himself at the tone. He hated sounding like he was begging. The other wolf came forward and drew back punching him in the jaw hard making sure Layn saw what was coming. His head ripped back and the chair almost tipped but Noah put his foot on Layn’s crotch to stop it from going completely backwards. Layn gasped as Noah pushed down hard and finally backed off. Pain radiated up through his face and his groin. His thoughts were cloudy. He felt his head clear for a second before Noah hit him again causing the chair to rock and tip to the side before Noah could stop it. Layn smacked the side of his head with a crack and lost consciousness for a moment.
The next moment he was upright again and Noah’s fist was flying for his stomach. Layn gasped and sucked in air as he was hit again and again until he felt the spider web sensation crawling up the side of his face. He froze staring wide eyed at Noah who stopped his fist mid-flight confused. Layn’s brain sent multiple mixed messages and he lost focus on the real world trying to sort them out.
When his brain finally caught up again he blinked and saw Nick holding Noah by the shoulder. Antonio was bent over Layn trying to get his attention and Jeremy was just swinging into the jail cell looking concerned. “Layn!” Antonio said snapping his fingers in front of Layn’s face. Layn’s greenish blue eyes slid to Antonio’s brown ones and he sighed in relief just as Jeremy crouched in front of him.
“I’m o…ok…just an…episode,” Layn stuttered regaining his speech. He smelt the iron smell of blood and glanced at the floor seeing splotches of it. His blood. He wanted to puke.
“You could have killed him Noah Joseph. He is our prisoner and he is to be respected. Go to your room!” Antonio half barked/half roared. Noah jerked surprised as Nick pushed him towards the cell door. Noah sent a glare at Layn before he fled that Layn didn’t have the energy to send back.
He felt the bonds behind him and around his legs and chest loosen and both men helped him up. He stumbled with his legs still asleep and let them lead him upstairs and give him a warm wet washcloth to clean up with. “I provoked him. He had every right to hit me,” Layn He assured them. He still felt like he owed Noah for what he had done. Maybe he always would.
“Why was he down there in the first place?”
“He wanted to talk and I was being an idiot. It wasn’t his fault. Given the circumstances he has a right to lash out at me,” Layn sighed and held ice to his swollen jaw.
“Not without permission he didn’t,” Layn looked up to see the Alpha in the doorway. She had her arms crossed and looked unhappy, for once it was not directed at him but the rooms above their heads. Layn was sure Noah could feel it through the floors of the house.
“Layn, we’re sending you to see Adam and the council for a while. It seems best to keep you both apart,” Elena said looking at him again. Layn nodded feeling annoyed. He bit his lip and set the ice aside, “Remember, you will act like a pack member and stay where I tell you too Layn. No second chances,” She warned.
They went inside and were buzzed up the stairs and into their front office. Layn clutched his bag over his back and waited until a smiling Adam and Savannah came out followed by Lucas and Paige who greeted him as well. “I guess you’re staying with us for a while,” Adam said and set a large hand on his shoulder. Layn nodded not entirely happy about it but accepting all the same.
“Go so the grownups can talk,” Clay growled and pushed him towards the doorway. Layn sighed and rolled his eyes knowing Clay probably just wanted to kill him. He wondered why the man had left him alone, if only briefly, but when the door shut behind him he saw that he would not be getting out of this building without someone noticing. He didn’t want to go but his mind always went to escape routes and other plans.
Instead he walked to the small kitchen room and raiding the fridge making himself a sandwich while grabbing a coke. He sat on the barstool and put his feet onto the counter and ate feeling bold. Maybe it was not being with the pack that made him feel more arrogant. Werewolves were normally taught they were better than other supernaturals so maybe this is why he felt the pretense. At the same time he hefted a bag of frozen peas and covered his jaw with it. He looked like a mess and it probably didn’t escape anyone’s notice but they were too polite to say anything.
He waited munching on his food until Adam walked into the room and closed the door. Adam gave Layn a look and gesturing for him to divest himself of the furniture. Layn smirked but did as he was told. “The deal is you’re with us for a while. Clay and Tonio told us everything. You’ll help us around here and you’ll stay with Sav and I again. Same rules apply,” he warned.
“Yeah, sure,” Layn sat back with a sigh feeling like a refugee. He set the bag aside and took a drink of his coke. He felt millions of different things at once. He was angry, annoyed, arrogant and sad all in one. His head was all over the place. There didn’t seem to be a filter to process the last few days.
“You need to make it up to them, Layn. You can start by doing what they want now and by helping them take Joseph down. Then by doing what you can to gain their trust. Layn they are giving you a chance again, use it wisely,” Adam said and turned walking from the room as Layn played with the top of his can. He wanted to fix this. As confused and uncertain as he was he wanted to make things right. As angry as he was he knew he needed to try.
Layn finished his soda and walked to the recycling bin throwing it in and going to find Adam. The hallways of this place reminded him of a corporate office but some of the open door showed some personality inside the room at least. Layn knocked on the door of his office and stuck his head in seeing only Savannah who looked at him wearily. “I was looking for Adam,” he said glancing at the pictures of him and Savannah, and others, on the wall on various adventures around the world. Savannah stayed stone faced.
“Don’t mess with him Layn. We all know what you’ve done but make one wrong move here and I won’t be as nice as the pack has been to you, which believe me is weird. Nice is not the word usually applied to the pack. Just watch your step,” she warned.
“I know Savannah, I chose wrong but I want to fix that now. I‘ll do anything it takes to make everything right,” Savannah gave Layn a long look before she nodded.
“Don’t make me regret giving you a chance. I’m determined to do anything to protect Adam and everyone else.”
“I am too,” he said sincerely. Suddenly he didn’t feel so bold or arrogant. He felt pretty low on the totem pole. As he said the words he knew that he meant them and he had to do what was right. He had to find Cain and Joseph and take them down from the inside. He could effect change but he couldn’t do it from here. Outside he had seen Savannah’s motorcycle. He just needed to get to it and prove to them he could be trusted. He could change Joseph or the pack or take them down using the trust they had in him. He had to make it up to them. He would.
“Pass me that file,” Adam requested. Layn gave a huff and passed him the required file looking bored out of his mind but blushing at the same time. Adam wasn’t unaware that Layn liked him a bit too much but as with Savannah at first he neither encouraged nor discouraged this. It was natural. Soon he would send the poor kid home with Savannah, he did seem distracted. Adam looked at him watching out the window now and decided he was being foolish.
“Ok, Layn. Go find Savannah and go back to the apartment with her. I’ll be back within the hour. And it’s your turn to cook,” Adam reminded. Layn scrambled up like his ass was on fire and left the room just as quickly. Maybe they should give him a shot at some tougher work or something more important like some more investigation stuff. Adam shook his head of this thought; it wasn’t like he would be here long anyway. He’d be back with the pack soon and Adam wouldn’t have to worry about him.
He was just closing his laptop, calling to Savannah since he realized he hadn’t taken as long as he thought when he heard her shout something angrily and a motorcycle start up. He was out of his seat and at the window in seconds pushing it open and trying to make sense of the situation. On the ground Savannah sent a spell after spell at the escaping back on her bike. “Layn!” Adam roared angrily and grabbed the sill jumping out now. He hit the ground with an oomph and took a second to absorb the shock before turning to Savannah.
“What happened?” he growled. They both started running for the nearest car.
“We were talking and we were about to go but he wanted to use the washroom so I waited. I didn’t think the window was big enough but apparently he’s smaller than he looks. I messed up,” she said angrily as she jammed the key in the ignition and zoomed from the driveway turning hard into traffic and ignoring the beeping. Layn was already two lanes ahead. They had to navigate traffic quickly to catch up. They were still a lane behind when he turned onto another street trying to get to a quicker route and out of the city but a car pulling front of him made him punch the breaks and come to a halting stop.
Adam jumped from the car to take advantage of this and reached Layn right before he could push the accelerator again. He grabbed a fist full of the young werewolves’ jacket and pulled him sideway along with the motorcycle. Savannah parked the car along the side of the road and rushed out as Adam pulled a struggling Layn off the bike and into the nearest ally way. Savannah quickly grabbed the bike as Adam pushed Layn against the wall with a werewolf like growl he had learned from Clay.
“I told you Layn!” he growled sounding more upset than angry.
“You don’t understand!” Layn yelled and struggled in the half demon’s hold. Suddenly he punched out getting an arm free and hitting Adam in the jaw. The punch was full strength but did not hurt as much as if Clay or one of the other werewolves had dealt it. Instantly Adam sent one back and Savannah sighed as they both went down kicking and punching. It didn’t take long for Adam to pin Layn and for him to demand the boy’s submission. When Layn refused trying desperately to explain his actions away, Savannah sighed and walked over, crouched down and hit the young werewolf hard enough in the temple to knock him out. His anger flashed seconds before he closed his eyes and went still.
“Nice going Sav,” Adam sighed and got up pulling Layn with him and throwing him over his shoulder.
“We do have a nice jail cell back at work…,” she suggested looking at Adam innocently. The half demon sighed but knew there was no other option unless they watched him like a hawk for the next few days. The jail cell was much easier but he knew Layn would not be very happy about this. Too bad. He wasn’t happy about any of this either.
They placed Layn in the back of the car and Savannah took her motorcycle back fuming about it being touched without her permission. When they got back Adam hauled him out of the car and carried him inside running into a concerned Paige and Lucas. While Savannah explained Adam took the young werewolf to the cell and set him inside. He backed away and locked the door using a key code lock and his fingerprint. Only the four who worked there were able to open the cell door to keep the area as secure as possible.
He turned away from opaque cage walls, reminding him of something from a sci-fi movie and walked back to the others. “Where was he going?” Paige asked and Savannah snorted.
“Who knows? He was probably going to find those mutts and bring them back in force. He knows he is screwed so of course he’ll run,” She shrugged and took her phone from her pocket to begin texting.
“No…,” Adam said uneasily thinking back on his conversation with him, “I spoke with him and I was sure he had changed. I think he was going somewhere else. Maybe he was running from all of this or maybe…, I don’t know…,” Adam said beyond frustrated and anger. He wanted to trust the kid and he wanted to like him because in Layn he saw some of himself. Layn felt like he was not good enough and like the world was against him. Adam had felt like that for years but covered it with jokes and pretending not to care. Really, he cared too much.
Layn woke up wanting to scream and felt his heart pounding so hard he could only be confused. He sat up quickly and placed his feet on the floor half standing before he realized he had no idea where he was. He looked around more cautious than upset now and finally saw the bed, the almost invisible wall he was behind and the small cameras mounted on a few different parts of the wall. Shit.
He angrily walked to the opaque wall and set a hand against it feeling a zing of magical energy and the coldness of the glass like structure. He hung his head then and reached a hand up to touch his temple; soreness met his touch as he tried to remember. Suddenly the door to the outside opened and Adam walked in along with Savannah. Oh right. He had fought with the half demon and then Savannah had hit him so hard he had blacked out.
Immediately he looked at them and began to talk, setting aside his anger and hoping he could get out of this. “It’s not what you think..,” he started but Adam waved a hand quickly.
“What I think is that you ran away and directly disobeyed again. I put my trust in you and again you preferred to act like a child instead of an almost grown man. No wonder Elena left you here. Now you’re in the cage until the pack comes back,” he announced with finality.
“But…,” he tried to protest. Adam ignored him and turned his back walking out. Layn felt suddenly hopeless glancing at Savannah. She watched him with crossed arms and shook her head before following him.
Layn shouted in frustration and hit the wall in front of him with closed fists. Immediately he was shocked and fell back surprised falling to the floor. Magic, he really hated magic. He stayed there letting the cold seep into his jeans and thought about how he could get out of his latest screw up. Why did he always screw up? He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, how long he had sat before the door opened again. By this time he was sitting against the cement wall on the right side of the room and his limbs were stiff and cramped.
He looked up to see Lucas walking in along with Paige. They bore trays of food and steaming cups of tea or coffee plus water and pop. “Layn, I’m going to drop the wall. You will stay where you are and not try anything unadvisable, do you comprehend?” Lucas asked. Layn nodded to this and watched as Paige set her hand against the opaque wall and murmured something. Seconds later she and Lucas were sitting on the floor in front of him and pushing food towards him.
He held a hand up and tentatively moved it forward feeling no resistance. “Eat something, we need to talk,” Paige said and Layn’s attention went back to them but he didn’t touch the food. He wasn’t sure he should trust them. Elena could have…no, if Elena wanted to do something to him she would do it herself or have a trusted pack member do it. She wasn’t a dictator.
“Is this were I negotiate witch?” he asked letting some of his anger loose. Paige sucked in a breath and narrowed her eyes but it was Lucas who spoke seconds before she could.
“Apologize,” Lucas demanded. Layn looked at the man seeing he meant business just by the expression in his eyes and he turned to Paige murmuring an apology feeling suddenly ashamed.
“If you want to act like a child then so be it. We will treat you like one,” Paige’s gentle voice admonished but he could feel the razor wire there, the warning.
Layn snapped his head up shaking it. “No,” he began, “I’m sorry. I’m frustrated and stressed and I…I have no idea what I’m doing. I …need help,” he admitted knowing how hard it was for him and looking from one to the other.
“Ok,” Paige and pushed the food towards him again. His stomach had been rumbling since he woke up so he gratefully took the sandwich and water and ate fast taking another three before he was somewhat satisfied.
“What were you thinking when you took Savannah’s motorcycle?” Paige asked now. Layn looked at his water bottle watching the disappearing condensation there and tried to explain his thoughts. What if he could go back? What if he could help take Joseph and the others down from inside their small organization?
“It was an admirable plan Layn but, it would not have come to fruition,” Lucas began. Layn tensed as he said this narrowing his eyes but Lucas held up a hand, “please, let me explain. I am the son of a cabal leader and when I was your age I was confronted with my first look at the repugnant side of cabal life. I had been misled and immediately I began to consider leaving the organization. I, instead, decided I could effect change from the inside. As the heir I wielded an excess of power and I knew that I could use it to do good and change our cabal. This proved to be a false hope as the organization was rather large and I would not have been to make that difference before I was murdered and replaced…,”
“But Joseph doesn’t have that large a pack. There’s a few, yeah, but I’m not the heir and they won’t suspect me,” Layn protested.
“Even so, we’ll talk to Elena. She’s on her way,” Layn swallowed slowly looking sick. Elena would not give him another chance he was sure. Would she understand?
“Layn…,” Paige said quietly but he only shook his head.
“I…just need some time,” he said. He heard them gather the left overs, put the force field back up and close the door behind them. Slowly he stood and walked to the wall of the cage punching it hard and gasping when he felt pain zing through his hand and up his arm. He wanted to throw the bed against the wall and ruin the room but he didn’t. The pain cleared his head and his anger for the time being. Instead he sat with his face in his hands flustered. He should have told them earlier. He shouldn’t have come to the pack in the first place.
He stared at the ceiling growing more and more nervous as the day wore on. She wouldn’t give him another chance and she shouldn’t. He had disobeyed and he should accept the punishment for it. He would tell them everything he could before she passed her sentence. He passed the hours by monitoring the pain in his hand throb and dull. When the door to the room with the cage finally opened he blinked at the sudden light and sat up looking over reluctantly.
Elena and Adam stood just outside the cage. Layn glanced at her but his gaze barely had time to register her annoyance and anger before he had to look away. He heard the door open and the footsteps he knew to be Elena’s. She took his arm and yanked him up pushing him ahead of her and out of the area.
“You are very lucky you have a good excuse, a stupid excuse, but a good one,” Elena hissed in his ear angrily. Layn nodded and went along with them walking upstairs and to one of the meeting rooms where Jeremy waited. Layn smelt the others but didn’t see them yet. They must be talking about the plan that Elena had probably already revealed to them.
“Let me see,” Jeremy said gently.
Layn obediently held out his injury, whatever Elena’s idea was he wasn’t planning on following it. Yes, he would help them but afterwards maybe he would disappear. He could try living a normal life and, yes, hide and change. It had always seemed the most boring thing possible but now it felt like the best future for him. Like paradise.
He sucked in a breath as Jeremy examined the injury and pushed down on certain points making Layn pulled back annoyed. “You need to learn to control your temper and emotions Layn. You broke your hand. Even a werewolf can’t punch through concrete and steel. I’ll bind it for you,” he admonished and took his hand again apologizing for the oncoming pain. He quickly bent Layn’s hand trying to place the bones properly and Layn bit his tongue not to cry out and curse him. Again, Jeremy murmured his apologies and grabbed a bandage to wrap it tightly.
An hour later Layn’s hand had stopped its intensive throbbing and the painkillers were making him feel better than he had in a while. They were making plans and he was sitting back and listening. Noah was not there. He could just see the younger wolf fuming at home and wanting both a piece of Layn and the action. Like hell they would let him. If Layn was not involved they would keep him under lock and key as well.
He stood in the doorway of the room watching the young werewolf on the couch asleep. He wanted to like the guy. He wanted to change his life like he changed Noah’s but he had no idea if he could actually trust him. Layn was clearly mixed up but every time he seemed like he would do the right thing he turned around and did the exact opposite.
“Can we trust you?” Nick whispered and sighed. He hated the feeling that he was failing this kid. It wasn’t like it was easy with Noah or Reese or Morgan but at least he hadn’t failed any of them. He was literally failing Layn and he had no idea how to be a positive force for him. No idea how to convince him that he should trust in the pack and help them. He didn’t want to have to stand by while they…no, while Elena issued a death warrant. He had betrayed them and if he didn’t help them, if he screwed up once more Elena would be done with him. She may give him some extra lives because he was a young but her protection and patience was exhaustible and she was very nearly done.
Nick turned away when his phone buzzed and tapped the screen, Noah. Nick took a moment to decide whether to answer or not before he shut the door, he couldn’t ignore the boys when they called. Most likely Noah was calling to beg to come on the mission again or it could be as frivolous as him asking if he could go out with his friends. The one time he didn’t answer would be the time Noah was in trouble.
“Hey,” Nick greeted walking down the hallway.
“Nick, did you talk to Elena yet? Can I join you guys?” Nick mulled over his answer for a moment. Noah was more mature than he had been a year ago and he was making better decisions and keeping his temper. Yet, he still looked like a sixteen year old, he still had trouble remembering to take things with him and his fighting, while it had improved, was not good enough to pit him against mutts. He pictured Noah’s young unshaven face and his quick easy grin and he knew he couldn’t risk it. He hadn’t even brought it up with Elena because he didn’t want to endanger a kid who he had started considering a son.
“Noah, the answer is still no. I’m sorry but this is too…,” Nick started.
“Dangerous, I know,” Noah muttered annoyed.
“Someday you’ll be coming on them all Noah,” Nick said trying to cheer him up. He remembered the days when he was stuck at home while Clay went off to be the brave white knight. It sucked. He understood now but at the time…
“Someday I’ll be saying your too old to go on missions because their too dangerous,” Noah growled annoyed before he hung up the phone. Nick took it from his ear and glanced at the room where his charge lay sleeping. Someone else was too young to be going on this mission as well but he was the only one who knew enough to get them through.
It wasn’t that Nick considered Noah and Layn children but they were young and inexperienced and in the field that could get you killed. They had the power but none of the control like a teenager behind the wheel of a sports car for the first time. Control was as important as experience and these two had none, well Layn had more than Noah in some ways and Noah had more in others. The fact remained that they were apt to get themselves killed out there and Nick was not going to let that happen.