Layn’s mother and father stood in front of him, both holding out their hands to him. When he reached for them he realized he was looking up at them and had hands the size of a toddler’s. His mother and father frowned and both bent down to his level to whisper something to him. Layn pushed himself closer to hear, but suddenly his mother grabbed the side of his face and started screaming. Layn tried to pull back as her face suddenly started to melt. He managed to jerk back and look at his father whose face had begun to melt as well.
Suddenly Layn jerked awake and tried to take a gasping breath, bringing a hand to his heart and feeling it pound a mile a minute. Sweat dripped down his face as he tried to orient himself. Beside him Noah shifted on the bed and groaned, but across the room the door opened and the man Antonio stood looking around the room. Reese sat up then meeting the man’s eyes and they both turned to look at Layn who coloured.
“Sorry,” he murmured and stood, stumbling towards the bathroom. He closed the door and turned on the cold water, splashing his face. He sighed and looked at himself in the mirror. His tanned skin and blue-green eyes stared out at him for a moment. His dark hair glinted in the bathroom light looking lighter before his face suddenly started to dissolve and melt like in his nightmare. Layn jumped back with a cry and then felt sick for the second time that day. He turned to the toilet just in time to get rid of whatever he hadn’t gotten rid of before.
Behind him he heard the door open and someone saying something but he couldn’t pay attention. He was nervous with unknown people so close and him being so weak, but there was nothing he could do. Finally he took a deep breath and flushed the toilet, wiping his mouth. He slowly stood and looked at the doorway where Antonio stood with crossed arms and behind him Noah and Reese looked sleepily in at him.
“Dreams about changing are common and brutal,” Antonio said. Layn nodded, not elaborating, and turned towards the sink to wash out his mouth and brush his teeth. Sleep would not be possible tonight. Dreams often chased away what little sleep he managed to get which was probably why he was so jumpy most of the time.
Layn was not comfortable with sleeping in a room filled with unfamiliar werewolves, especially ones who seemed to not like him that much, but he had no choice. It seemed like he didn’t have a lot of choice in his life now. Finishing at the sink, the young werewolf turned towards the main room again to see Reese and Noah had already gone back to bed. Antonio stood by the window and looked as if he was watching the woods. Without a word Layn left the room and headed down the hallway and downstairs. He hadn’t seen the kitchen when he came in, but he quickly found it by sniffing the way.
He looked around at the stainless steel surfaces and sighed. He wasn’t used to this kind of life. He’d grown up with everything barely working and everything new was second hand. What he heard about the pack was true. They had money. He was a tad bit resentful, but he pushed that aside and opened the fridge to find a variety of drinks. He chose a beer, popped the top and took a long gulp. Hopefully it would settle his nerves. In an instant he was able to relax. He wasn’t sure if he was allowed to be up and walking around, but he shrugged and passed barefoot from the room anyway, walking down the hallway and ending in the living room or study, depending on who was in it he supposed.
Layn looked around the room at some pictures and knickknacks before he walked towards the bookshelf and examined the books. A lot of them were in different languages. He passed those and picked up a history book, walking back to the couch and opening it up to get his mind off everything going on inside his head. He took another sip of beer and started flipping through the book, managing to read one sentence before he heard soft almost silent footsteps. Unsurprised he looked up to see Antonio in the doorway watching him.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t sleep,” Layn offered and took another large gulp of beer. The man nodded and walked into the room now, sitting on the couch opposite him. Layn nervously sat back on the couch and fingered his beer can looking at the wall across the way. He read the title of the book as this man continued to watch him. He didn’t dare speak first in case that was inappropriate. Who knew what was and wasn’t appropriate in the pack?
“So what have you heard about the pack?” Antonio asked, finally breaking the uncomfortable silence. Layn immediately felt a new wave of uneasiness break over him and he took another drink before answering.
“The usual,” Layn answered and got a look from the Italian man now. “That it’s best to steer clear of the psy…of Clay. That I should keep my mouth shut and do as I’m told and that I can’t break the rules. That the Alpha is one of the toughest the pack has had even if she is a woman. Most of all just to keep my mouth shut. Oh, and that you’re all as serious as balls so not to mess with anyone,” he said. Antonio looked at Layn for a moment seriousness written on every line of his face before he smiled and gave a small chuckle.
“We’re not going to eat you, kid. Yeah, lately it’s been…anyway,” he said, thinking better of telling Layn pack problems or secrets so soon. “You’re not exactly trusted, but we won’t bite either. Not unless you give us sufficient cause,” he said and Layn nodded. He didn’t plan on giving them sufficient cause.
“Ok,” Layn said, taking another sip of beer and finishing it off. Without thinking about it, he crushed the can and set it on the coffee table and then turned red when Antonio looked at him. “I’ll recycle it before bed,” he promised and the man nodded now.
“So, Rumancek? Is that a Romani name?” the older werewolf asked. Layn grinned then and chuckled himself.
“No one has ever been so polite when referring to me as a Gypsy,” he smiled. “Yeah, it’s a gypsy name but I’m half Italian too. That’s why I am so dark,” the younger werewolf mentioned, referring to his tanned skin, hair and eyes. The man nodded then and went silent again. Layn started speaking again without realizing it. This man seemed to pull things from people without even trying. “When I was younger they used to call me names like ‘no good gypsy’ or ‘stealing thief,’ but I never understood, not until I looked up what it meant. Not that I really understand what it means. No one ever taught me,” Layn said and then cursed himself for speaking so much.
“Um, it must have been…difficult,” Antonio said. Layn nodded and looked down at the can of beer. Silence descended again, but Layn refused to breach it now. Finally the older werewolf bade Layn goodnight and told him he should try and sleep again. Layn nodded and watched the man go, not intending to sleep. Instead he lay back on the couch and picked up the book again, figuring it was only a few hours before dawn and he could reasonably get up then.
A few minutes later Layn heard voices, specifically two children chattering quite close to him. When had they gotten here? Layn wondered but kept still.
“Who is he, momma?” a little boy’s voice asked. God dammit, he had fallen asleep on the couch.
“A new werewolf, you both need to be careful around him. Just like when Noah and Reese joined us. We don’t know him yet, ok?” Elena asked. Very motherly, Layn thought as he lay there listening to them get ready. Papers rustled and backpacks were zipped. A little girl reminded her mother she had singing practice after school followed by the boy who mentioned he had science club. Finally she was able to shuffle them and their belongings to the foyer and get them out the door for school Layn presumed.
After the door banged shut Layn unfroze but quickly refroze again with new voices. “Antonio. I thought the boys slept in the guest room,” a voice asked. He thought it was Jeremy’s but he wasn’t sure. The scent told him seconds later he was right though.
“Yeah, kid had a bad dream I think,” the man answered and relayed the conversation. The younger werewolf listened hoping he would hear some new information, but both wolves were very careful to keep their conversation contained. Either they knew he was awake or they were just being careful. Layn was hoping they would leave the room soon, but only Antonio left eventually to wake up the boys. Jeremy sat somewhere in the room and rustled some papers. Layn knew it was now or never so he sighed and rolled over, rubbing his eyes.
“Good morning. The couch is not a normal sleeping place, Layn. I trust you will find the bed from now on?” Jeremy asked. Layn looked over at him and nodded a bit sheepishly. He hadn’t meant to sleep there, especially if it was against the rules.
“Um, sorry, can I get some food?” he asked now. The man nodded and looked at the beer can on the coffee table. Quickly Layn stood and grabbed the garbage, hurrying from the room. He sighed in relief as he left the presence of this powerful man and headed towards the kitchen where he smelt food cooking. He hadn’t eaten since the afternoon before and he had thrown that up twice yesterday. Once Layn reached the doorway he froze again, watching Nick and Clay joke around with one another and cook food. Pancakes, bacon, hash browns and everything else considered to be part of a normal family breakfast. They didn’t notice the younger werewolf for a few moments until Layn accidently dropped the beer can and swore as both of the older wolves looked at him. He blushed again and reached for the can as Nick smiled slightly but Clay’s expression stayed neutral.
“Sorry. Jeremy said I could get some food. I can cook my own though…” Layn said, walking to the recycling bin and throwing in his can. Clay said nothing and turned to the frying pan again which Layn took to mean he was on his own, but Nick smiled and shook his head.
“No, this is for everyone,” Nick assured and gestured to a plate. The younger wolf smiled slightly, seeing that while Nick smiled it was a fake smile. He might be alright with Layn being here, but there was no trust at all. Not like the smile he turned on Noah and Reese when they came in. That made Layn feel like shit, but he said nothing and tried not to put too much feeling into it. These people were not friends or family and eventually he had to betray them. He best get that thought in his head before it was too late. There was no family here. No love. Nothing for him.
Layn nodded to the boys as they walked to the island counter sleepily and readied plates of food. Layn went after them and took a plate piling on some food neither boy had gotten to yet. In normal human society this would be typical, but Layn kept forgetting he wasn’t in human society anymore the move earned him a look from Reese who shrugged it off but a glare from Noah. Quickly Layn backed off and waited. Hierarchy here was all important.
He needed to be alert and on his guard here. Layn followed the boys to the dining room and studied the seating arrangements. Noah and Reese were further down the table and he knew he would need to sit down the table from them. He chose a seat one away from Noah and close to the end hoping this was ok. When no one said a word he looked around and waited for everyone else to begin first. Hierarchy was very important he knew.
Through the rest of the day he made sure to observe these hierarchy rituals and always let everyone go before him or waited for permission. From the looks Noah was giving him he knew he hadn’t won a friendship there, but Reese seemed ok with him at least. It was only when Layn was coming out of the bathroom later freshly showered and looking for clothes that Noah showed his true colours though. Layn stepped into the room and immediately noticed that the door was shut and Noah was sitting on the bed with crossed arms. Immediately he got up when he saw Layn and walked towards him. The other werewolf used his better instincts and backed into a corner with his head down, not wanting a fight.
“Don’t. Ever. Mention. Joseph. Again,” Noah hissed, annunciating every word. Layn, fairly cowed at that point, only nodded and waited to be let go. After a moment he looked up to see Noah had both arms braced on the walls on either side of Layn and was watching him. Noah was slightly taller than Layn and had a few more pounds of muscle than the other boy as well. He seemed to be waiting for a response so Layn nodded again.
“Ok. Sorry,” he said, looking at his eyes for one moment and then away again establishing that Noah was more dominant and in charge. Layn waited with baited breath and finally Noah pushed away from him just as the door opened and Nick walked in with Reese.
Both immediately felt the tension and looked from one boy to the other. Noah only grinned a secret grin and Layn looked away, turning from them and going for his clothes now. Nick and Reese looked at one another now, but Nick silently told Reese to wait for later. They could get anything out of Noah they knew, but Layn was a different story. They didn’t know the boy yet so caution was warranted.
“We’re going to do a little practice run, boys. Change into something appropriate,” Nick told them both. Noah smiled his approval at this and immediately went to the chest of drawers they kept there to get his workout clothes. Only Noah, Reese and Antonio kept their clothes in this room though. Nick took up the whole closet in Elena’s room which she willingly gave him finding her stuff barely filled a few feet of space anyway. This is what Layn learned as they teased Nick about this. The man did seem to like his clothes, Layn thought.
Layn nodded and dug out his usual jeans and t-shirt, pulling them on and turning to the older men. He ignored their disapproving looks and crossed his arms looking towards the window instead. He only had the one pair of jeans for pants and a few shirts. It’s not like he had many options. Not like rich pack members who could just buy anything, his mind hissed but he quickly clamped it shut. This was no time to be resentful. That wouldn’t get him anywhere.
They met Elena, Clay, Antonio and Jeremy outside in a cleared spot near the woods and away from the house. There were two new wolves, one with a missing arm and one who looked a bit sick, there as well but no one introduced them so Layn ignored them for now. It seemed everyone wanted to see how good or bad Layn was which made him uneasy. He was never very good with attention and he had been getting plenty the last week. First, when he had to find an Interracial Council member to get them to contact the pack and now being with the pack. Attention always made him feel as if everyone else disapproved.
“Layn, can you fight?” Elena asked now. Layn considered this question for half a heartbeat before he shook his head. He was actually a good fighter for his age and size, or so he was told, but it was best to downplay everything here. Jay’s advice, not his own, or he probably would have showed them how good he was, or he thought he was anyway. “Alright, Noah, you’re going to help us test out Layn’s abilities. Don’t go full power but don’t make it easy,” the Alpha commanded. Noah nodded and stepped into the middle of the circle. With more uneasiness Layn followed and watched Noah for any signs of when he would make his move. Layn knew not to move first but he also knew he couldn’t look totally stupid either.
In a flash Noah charged and Layn made himself stay still, feigning fear with wide eyes. Layn tried to duck out of the way at the last second, but Noah took him down. Both boys ended up beside one another where Layn took the advantage and rolled on top of Noah, throwing a weak punch which the other boy blocked. In a second Noah grabbed Layn’s arm and rolled with him, punching him in the jaw and kneeing him in the stomach.
Layn lay there breathing heavily and clutching the grass and dirt beneath him. When he struggled up he knew a good amount of that grass and dirt covered his cheek and the side of his face. Noah looked at Elena now who gestured for them to go on. Layn was the first one to charge this time, but Noah was able to move out of the way and grab Layn’s shirt, swinging him around and throwing him to the ground. Layn rolled, or tried to, but Noah had him easily pinned and threw another few punches. Layn tried to block unsuccessfully, finding it was much harder to pretend not to be able to fight than to actually fight.
Finally Layn saw an opening and punched Noah in his unprotected stomach, feeling the boy’s muscles resist, but it still took the air from him. Noah growled but kept going, not waiting for another opportunity, and suddenly Layn was the one who was breathless when Noah tried the same move with more success. Layn’s attack was automatic. His knee went up and caught Noah in the soft inner thigh area, very close to an area that would have hurt much more, and he fell back with a grunt.
Layn had one second to glimpse how the werewolves around him were reacting to this and what he saw fueled his urge to keep going on this track. He could tell Clay was thinking that Layn sucked and had a lot of work to accomplish and none of the rest of them looked impressed either. He was doing a good job pretending then. Or, on the other hand, they realized he was pretending and were not letting him know. He wished he could read thoughts right then.
He turned his attention back to the fight then and landed on top of Noah, grabbing his hair, remembering past school yard fights, and slamming his head into the ground but not hard enough to do any real damage. That would have given Layn away which he didn’t want. In seconds it seemed Noah was grabbing Layn’s shirt and pushing back. Layn didn’t remember turning as he fell, but suddenly he was on his stomach on the ground and Noah had landed on his back near his knees and a little further down from where he was originally aiming. Suddenly pain ripped through Layn’s knee and he cried out involuntarily as Noah put pressure on the wound and grabbed the other boy’s hair from behind, smashing his face into the ground as pay back.
“Enough,” Elena ordered and Noah immediately let go and got up. Layn lay there trying to catch his breath and smelling the tang of blood in the air. He spit out grass and dirt and brought his hand up to wipe his mouth, feeling a bit resentful. “Get him turned over,” he heard Elena order next, the pain made him a bit confused. He felt strong hands on him and suddenly he was on his back, looking up at the sky and coughing. Pretending not to know how to fight was definitely harder, Layn thought angrily.
The injured werewolf sat up a bit then, bracing himself on his elbow to see Jeremy and Elena on the ground looking at his knee which had a large piece of sharp rock sticking in much further than it should have been. Antonio was by his head and had a hand on his arm, most likely unconsciously, Layn thought but he didn’t care. The comfort felt good at least. The stain of blood on his jeans was getting larger and half the fabric was torn in half.
“I need my medical kit. Let’s get him inside,” Jeremy said looking over at Layn now and studying his eyes. The young werewolf knew the man was studying him for signs of shock, but Layn only looked calmly back, trying to smoulder the anger in his eyes.
“Can you walk?” Elena asked. Layn nodded, but Jeremy interrupted with an order for Tonio. Layn ignored him and tried to struggle up but grimaced in pain as soon as he even tried to use the leg. Before Layn knew what was happening, the man had pulled him up and was fully carrying him. Layn immediately wanted to resist but he stayed still. Jeremy had ordered the man to carry him after all to make sure he didn’t bleed any more than necessary. He still felt like this was unnecessary though.
Behind them Layn glimpsed Noah looking not much the worse for wear talking to Nick animatedly as Nick gestured to Layn. Maybe the other boy was in trouble, but Layn didn’t see how. No one saw the rock. The pack would have chosen a new place if they had.
“Almost there,” Antonio said encouragingly and Layn nodded surprised. None of them had really been nice to him but maybe they felt bad. Not that they had been mean to him, but it was more like they wanted to keep him a distance, be kind but not warm just in case they had to dispose of him or if he was lying. They were right to be cautious, Layn knew but he also knew it was his job to make them trust him. Maybe his injury would help. Maybe it wouldn’t. The pain was better now that no pressure was on it, but he had a high tolerance and his head was clear. He knew as soon as he walked that clearness would go away though.
They made it into the house and the bathroom where the man set Layn down and then backed up, letting Elena and Jeremy take over. Layn knew Jeremy was the pack doctor of sorts so this made sense. Minutes later the man had cut Layn’s jeans off on one leg and had cleaned the wound, making Layn hiss, more like a cat than a wolf, when he applied disinfectant. The worst part was of course the stiches, but like any good doctor Jeremy distracted the young werewolf with a story about the time he himself needed stiches and Elena had to give them to him but she hadn’t really known how. That made Layn smile his first real smile there unawares as he watched the man bandage the wound as well, taking all precautious.
“I’m sorry, Layn. I didn’t know the rock was there,” Elena apologized. Layne shrugged then, knowing none of them meant to kill him by rock stabbing. Neck breaking was much more effective with much less blood. That was how they preferred to do it anyway.
“I’ll get you another pair of pants,” Antonio said then but stopped when Layn mentioned he had no more while looking at the man’s eyes. He refused to be ashamed of this fact. He’d always been a kid who only had a few second hand things and just how it was. Some were born to gold and others to gutters. He wouldn’t let them feel sorry for him. He wasn’t five years old anymore.
“He’s Noah’s size just about” They heard from outside and a pair of sweat pants was thrown into the bathroom. Layn hesitated knowing Noah wouldn’t like this, but he had no other choice. When faced with a difficulty he knew he had to just do whatever it was that needed done. That was the best way. It was a struggle to get them on but once he had, with unwanted help, he felt more tired than he had in a long time.
“Did I do ok?” Layn finally asked, ignoring his tiredness and his throbbing knee. He couldn’t look weak and he knew as a werewolf his body was capable of much more than a human. It was a flesh wound. Elena looked like she was about to lie before she shook her head. Layn was grateful for that. He hated people who lied to him, but wasn’t he lying to everyone around him? It was a paradox he supposed. He thought back for a moment to the fight and when he thought they could be lying to him. Maybe she was lying now to him? He wasn’t sure and the pain was now driving clear thoughts from his mind.
“You have no technique at all, but we can talk about that later. You need to lie down,” she ordered. Layn didn’t protest even if he wanted to. He would be fine and he preferred to be awake and alert anyway. As they came from the washroom Layn saw the two newer wolves and threw a questioning look at the Alpha, wondering if she would explain them. She looked at them and then Layn, shaking her head. Her eyes said later and he obeyed. He was finding it extremely easy to obey an Alpha’s words, much easier than he would have believed or than he was comfortable with. Maybe it was his wolf instinct, his wolf wanting a pack and a leader so he could relax. Maybe this little lie would work out better than he hoped for his wolf at least, and for a little while only, but still.
Layn ignored them then and limped towards the stairs, brushing off the help that Reese offered him. “I’m fine,” the young werewolf said and walked forward, starting up the stairs. Layn grimaced with every step but tried not to show it. Reese still followed him but didn’t try and help as the boy limped to the bedroom.
“You don’t need to act like a hero,” Reese said to him. Layn turned and glared at him, but it was only for a second until he remembered he shouldn’t do this. Quickly he turned away and didn’t answer. Finally the bedroom, which felt like it was hundreds of miles away, was there and he was lying down with a soft sigh. Layn knew the other werewolf was watching him as he lied down and got comfortable, though Reese walked up and took Layn’s leg, pulling the pant leg up on his sweatpants and looking at the wound.
It wasn’t the first time Layn noticed the other man’s missing fingers. He wondered for a moment how it happened and what went wrong. Wasn’t the pack there to save him? He shook this thought off though, as a throb of pain went through his knee and he grimaced.
“Didn’t seem to pop any stitches,” he said and Layn nodded and watched as Reese backed up and then looked around the room. He got the feeling that Reese wanted to say something, but in the end he only nodded and walked to the bathroom. He came out with a wet washcloth and told Layn to get cleaned up. He already changed his pants and now he took off his shirt and watched as Reese left. Soon his arms, face, neck and hair were a bit cleaner. A shower would have been nice but he’d have to wait for that.
Layn got up again after he’d washed up and limping to the washroom he threw the washcloth in the bathroom sink before turning and going to his book bag. He pulled out his phone and a small, dwindling, bottle of pills. He picked up his bag as well walked back to the bed flipping through his contacts and finding Jay.
He sent him a message yesterday that Layn missed. Jay said one word that said in? Layn bit his lip for a moment, an old habit, and thought about what to say. Every conversation he had with Jay was deleted after but he should have checked last night. The phone could get him killed but it’s the only access they had to one another. Jay knew that werewolf’s could communicate telepathically, because he used to be part of the pack as well, but even with experimenting to it he hadn’t gotten far. They decided to communicate the normal way.
I’m in. Everything going normal. Wait for me to contact you. Layn wrote and waited for it to send before deleting his words and setting his phone aside. He then turned to pills and took two. There were two more left after that. As a werewolf he should not have contracted any type of malfunction in his body but this was an anomaly. He should have been healthier, better, faster than humans and he was except for this.
Quickly he threw the bottle back in the bag. He hated this but his choices were limited. The thought crossed his mind that his choices were almost always limited for one reason or another. That wasn’t slightly annoying or anything. With a sigh Lyn set his bag on the floor and lay back trying to catch up on the extra sleep he needed. It wasn’t easy but he knew he was safe so he had to convince himself that sleeping would be ok. Nothing would happen.
As soon as Layn woke up again covered in sweat, he made his way to the washroom intent on a shower despite his wound. He shed his clothes and unwrapped the bandages around his leg so he could shower. Looking down at the tiny neat switches he wondered if he’d have another scar. Another story. How much should he tell the pack? Should he keep pretending or should he just come clean? Layn wasn’t sure of anything, but he did know that in order to get to the truth and to get the help he needed he would need to stick with Jay’s plan. It didn’t feel right, but it felt like the only way right then.
Layn once heard someone say that everyone has both good and bad in them or both black and white no one sees in just grey. Layn disagreed. He saw the world in a grey tone most of the time, or he felt he did anyway. There was only a good or bad choice and he was only a good or bad person. He couldn’t be both.
As soon as Layn stepped down the stairs after showering, telling himself a bath would have been easier, and redressing in Noah’s sweatpants but a clean shirt of his own, Layn heard two young kids talking loudly and over one another as they raced to speak to whoever was listening about their day. Layn froze at the bottom step wondering if he should walk in. Kids were ok but they sometimes made him nervous. It wasn’t that he was bad with them but maybe he just wasn’t used to being around them. Taking what seemed like the millionth deep breath that day, Layn walked towards the study and stood in the doorway. The kids looked to be about six or seven and both had different blue eyes and blonde hair, telling Layn they were most likely Clay and Elena’s kids. The boy had straight hair with lighter eyes and the girl more curly hair with darker eyes. They were speaking to Antonio, Jeremy, Elena and one of the men whom Layn hadn’t officially met yet, the one missing an arm.
Layn quietly walked in and sat down on the opposite side of the room seeing Nick and Noah come in shortly after him and sit down as well. “Ms. Tate says if I practice I can try out for the lead in the musical,” the girl grinned and the boy quickly raised his voice wanting to be heard as well.
“I’m almost done my science project and Mr. Sawyer says I might just win,” he smiled. Jeremy opened his mouth to reply, but the girl interrupted and glared at her brother with her hands on her hips.
“I was talking, Logan,” she said, emphasizing his name and glaring. Logan rolled his eyes and glared as well.
“So was I, Katherine,” he sighed and looked at his mother like Kate was the younger sibling. Maybe she was, but the children looked to be about the same age.
“Both of you should learn to listen,” Nick smiled and quickly he swooped in and scooped both kids up, putting each one on a shoulder and pretending to throw them over his back while he hung onto them. Both kids laughed and shrieked now and hung where he left them. That’s when they saw Layn. Kate went wide eyed while Logan screwed up his eyes as if studying the unfamiliar werewolf.
“Who are you?” Logan asked, staying still and crossing his arms. Layn knew for a fact the kids saw him that morning, but they had not officially met him yet. He figured that’s what they meant by the question. Even if their mother did explain who he was and what his name was.
“Why are you here?” Kate followed, squirming to get down. Nick walked over to the side of the couch Layn didn’t take up and dropped the twins. Kate bounced up right away and came to stand in front of him while Logan sat up and watched Layn curiously but wearily.
Layn saw Elena and Nick both start to explain, but Layn answered first. “I’m Layn. I’m staying here for a bit. I’m a werewolf like you guys,” he explained. Kate nodded now and sniffed to see if Layn was telling the truth. He doubted the little girl could smell him yet, but if both of her parents were werewolves then she may have early abilities.
“Remember guys, we don’t know Layn that well so don’t bother him too much, ok?” Antonio put in. Neither kid looked at him but Kate tipped her head a bit looking as if she was thinking and studying Layn.
“He’s ok, we can trust him. He’s got some good…” Kate said but stopped not quite sure of the word she wanted. “Like what you mean to do,” Kate said, looking at Logan who nodded.
“Intentions, he has some good intentions,” Logan said and Kate nodded now, looking back at Layn who gave them both curious looks. These were definitely not like any kids Layn had ever met. These two were more like teenagers trapped in a kid’s body. The fact that she said Layn had good intentions was odd too. He wanted to believe he was a good person, but the fact that he was here to betray them meant he wasn’t. Maybe her body language skills were off a bit. Maybe she was just a kid guessing or maybe because he pretended to have good intentions and didn’t think about the bad ones she saw this as having good intentions. Layn had no idea. i
“Where are you from? You look like Uncle Nick and Uncle Tonio. Are you European?” Logan asked now. Layn smiled slightly and nodded.
“Once upon a time,” Layn answered but didn’t elaborate. Logan looked annoyed at this, but before he could interrogate him anymore Jeremy told the kids that their snacks were ready. Behaving more like werewolves now, both of them shot one last look at Layn before rushing from the room. Layn relaxed then and looked over at the others, trying to get a sense if he said the right thing.
Elena was studying him. Layn looked away quickly but was unsurprised at the next question. “Your file states you were from Canada. No mention of Europe,” Jeremy said. Layn nodded then, letting his mind spin to think of a credibly lie. Make it simple, Jay always told him so he did.
“Before Canada, I was a baby when I came here, or to Canada, so it wasn’t really worth mentioning,” Layn shrugged, looking at Jeremy for a bit longer than he should have but he looked away before it became a challenge.
“Is there anything else you ‘forgot’ to tell us?” Elena asked now with crossed arms. Layn considered this for a moment before shaking his head. The Alpha gave him a critical look but said nothing. Layn was thankful for that. He’s wasn’t that great at interrogation, which was another reason he was hoping he wouldn’t get caught, because the pack were master interrogators, specifically Clay. The thought made him shiver slightly.
Layn didn’t encounter the kids again until supper at which time they were busy eating and being distracted by the pack. After supper though and after he’d fulfilled his obligation to ask if he could help, Layn decided to head out side for some fresh air. He shrugged on his jacket and shoes and limped out the back door, seeing he wasn’t alone in this idea. Outside Jeremy had the twins gathered and they were practicing shooting a bow and arrow at a target. Jeremy had offered him a crutch and a walking stick, but Layn wanted neither. He might look weak but it would be on his own terms. The pain was reduced now, thankfully werewolf healing kicked in, and Jeremy had only asked him to be careful to not make the wound open or bleed again.
The young werewolf was surprised at this since most werewolves shied away from weapons. All the talk that he had ever heard about Jeremy Danvers though, told him that this man was different than other werewolves. To tell the truth not a lot of mutts spoke well of him and words such as ‘weakling’ and ‘not fit to be a werewolf’ were tossed around a lot. Layn didn’t listen to them however; obviously a man who had managed to be pack Alpha for so long and to change the pack and curb it as well was not a weakling.
Layn sat down with a grimace and watched them for a bit seeing the twins had very good aim. That wasn’t unusual he figured. If they were both full werewolves they would be very good at pretty much anything they did. They were like super humans if he thought about it.
After he had watched for a few moments Jeremy looked over at him and gestured for him to walk over. Layn hesitated a moment but got up and walked forward anyway. Obey. He always needed to obey here if he wanted to make it through unscathed.
“Would you like to try?” Jeremy asked. Layn was more than a little surprised about this. Why would they give an untrusted person a weapon? It hit him a second later though. This was a test. One Layn would pass. The young werewolf nodded and stepped up to the spot Jeremy and the twins were using to shoot. Layn accepted the bow after Jeremy asked if he knew how to safely use it and notched an arrow, aiming it expertly at the target. For a second he considered if he should show them he was good at this, but he’d already gotten into form and had his hands in position. All this would give him away anyway so he ignored his thoughts and shot, hitting just shy of the bulls eye.
“He’s not so bad,” Kate said. Layn snorted at this and stepped aside handing the weapon back now.
“I do know some things,” Layn said, smirking at her. Logan rolled his eyes then and took the bow, getting ready to take another turn. “I’m going for a walk,” he announced now, looking at Jeremy. The man glanced at this leg for a moment but said nothing. Layn knew that maybe he should be resting, but he felt like he was suffocating a bit here. He wasn’t used to being around so many people and it was a lot to handle, especially with tensions running high with the whole hierarchy business.
Layn took off then, limping towards the forest and feeling as if he could take a breath for the first time since he got here. Behind him he heard the twins asking questions and Jeremy answering ever patient. He’d have to be patient he supposed if he was the leader or former leader and therefore Elena had to be patient as well. Layn hoped she was patient anyway.
As he entered the forest starting off on a path he glanced back to see who he had been thinking of. Elena stood with Jeremy now talking to the twins, but he didn’t miss the fact that she glanced his way and kept eye contact for a few moments.