Chapter Twenty Two
“If it were my son we would be trying to find him with as much urgency as we have been trying to find Noah,” Clay growled lowly. “I say the pup goes home now.” Elena considered and shook her head and Layn breathed a sigh of relief letting his shoulders relax after the ‘pup’ comment.
“We don’t have the time or man power to get him anywhere. He stays but, Layn,” she said walking over and crouching down. Clay still had a hard grip on his shoulders and he was letting up anytime soon. “If you question me again, even on a small matter or if you ever decide to take matters into your own hands again, you’ll be tied up in this room until this is over,” she warned. Layn swallowed and nodded. He’d gotten off easy because there wasn’t much choice. He had been getting off easy because of this as well. He had also been using this to his advantage.
Clay gave a warning growl and finally let him go. Layn looked up at Reese shaking his head which didn’t escape the Alpha’s notice. “You too Reese, I won’t warn you again. You’re old enough to know better.” Reese nodded and glared at Layn who looked away. He and Reese were never going to be best buddies. With Noah, the easy to get along with guy, around who would want to be best buddies with him anyway? Layn growled at himself and shook off the pity party, now was not the time.
“You’re lucky you’re so young,” Nick murmured. Reese snorted and looked at his hands. Layn got up and sat on the bed again not daring to look up and face them. He was a coward. Maybe there would be a day where he would not screw up royally. That may be the day the apocalypse came though. Preferably it would be a zombie apocalypse so he could use his hunting skills and claws to their full ability.
“Let’s go interrogate a mutt darlin’,” Clay said. The look in his eyes made Layn’s heart skip a beat. Ice cold like all his emotions were locked in a chest. Elena nodded and glanced at Layn and Reese once more before telling Nick they needed to talk. As soon as the door shut and they were alone Reese got up and started prowling. Layn watching him. When he opened his mouth to speak Reese let out a low warning growl.
“Fine, but I’m not staying here and missing this. I helped catch that mutt so I want to hear what he has to say.” Layn stood and walked to the door opening it to see Elena talking to Nick lowly a few feet away. He took a deep breath and walked over until he was standing a few feet from them. After a few seconds they both looked up. Elena raised an eyebrow and Nick rolled his eyes annoyed.
“Go…,” Nick started to say.
“No, I know things you guys don’t. I should be there to help with the interrogation and to decipher some of the information. It makes sense,” he said crossing his arms, Elena watching him for a few minutes. He dutifully looked away. Nick started to speak first but Elena cut him off.
“Fine Layn.” He looked up surprised. He shouldn’t have been. He was pleased that she felt he was mature enough to be there. He didn’t realize until half way through she was trying to make him grow up by being there. Maybe seeing this would make him realize this wasn’t a joke. He didn’t think it was but he had a feeling Elena felt he was just a kid who didn’t get it.
Reese stood beside him watching carefully even if it was hard to see. He was training to be an enforcer so he had to learn. Layn took the liberty of closing his eyes a lot more. They had taken the mutt out into a faraway patch of woods with an abandoned barn where his screams could not be heard. He was gagged anyway but there would be no explaining this away if a human saw them.
“I will ask you one more time,” Elena said in a low voice, “where is Joseph and Noah?” The mutt looked up with his one good eye; the other one had swollen shut an hour ago. Clay grabbed the gag and pulled it down and blood dribbled from his mouth due to the missing teeth and split lip.
“I left them. I have no idea,” the mutt wheezed.
“Wrong answer,” Clay growled and back fisted him hard in the jaw. Layn heard the crack and winced. He shuffled his feet across the barn floor moving rotten straw and hearing the floor board’s creek. He had to stop this. It was getting nowhere.
“It’s probably true,” Layn spoke up trying to freeze his shaking muscles, “if he left them or Jay left him behind then he doesn’t know anything. I am more surprised that they left him alive but maybe he ran from them.”
The mutt moved his jaw a bit before he spoke. “I didn’t run boy but you will be when he finds you again. I heard him mention evisceration and hanging last time he talked about it,” the mutt smiled. Layn’s git went even colder and he had to crouch down for a minute to get the dizziness to go away. Clay lifted his hand to punch again but Elena stopped him.
“No. Reese,” she ordered. Layn glanced over at the older werewolf who nodded and walked forward.
“Hitting him more won’t help. You may as well kill him,” Layn said standing again and staring at the Alpha. Elena looked at him and then at Reese nodding. He grabbed the mutt’s head with both hands and snapped his neck to the side with a sickening crack that churned Layn’s stomach again.
Layn looked away as the mutt slumped in the chair. He felt sick. Maybe he had seen more violence then normal but it still turned his stomach to see anyone beaten. Even if the person was a mutt and working with Jay. When he looked again Nick had a hand on Reese’s shoulder talking to him softly. “Reese, I want this mutt buried with no trace we were there. Layn go with him and Nick stay nearby in case they needed help but don’t interfere with the burial. I want the boys to do this themselves. Look over their work and tell them what they did right or wrong.” Nick nodded and stood there waiting.
Nick was as good as the order and he stayed silent as Reese gave the order to untie the mutt and move him to the trunk again where the tarp was already laid out waiting. Nick got into the back as Rese got into the driver’s seat. He was just a silent observer. “How many different locations do we need and why?” Rese asked as he pulled onto the road.
Layn glanced over to make sure he wasn’t asking Nick before he answered. “Um, why does it matter when I won’t be staying with the pack?” he questioned.
“You still need to know how to bury a mutt. If you’re not with the pack you need to be even more careful. No one will able to help you. How many locations?”
“Three, one to burn the mutt’s I.D., on to burn the mutt’s clothes and one to bury the mutt,” Layn answered. “Before you bury him you need to check for any identifying marks such as finger prints from snapping their necks. You look for any of your blood or any blood on their body. You throw some lye in the hole to help it decompose so no one can test the blood. You make sure both piles of clothes and I.D. burn. I know what I am doing Reese.” Layn crossed his arms and lifted his chin enjoying the feeling of superiority for just a moment.
“Which is exactly why Antonio knew instantly when you buried the mutt on their property, you need more practice so until you can do it 100% a hundred times to my satisfaction or Nick’s or a pack member then you keep doing it again and again, got it?”
“Whose satisfaction do I need to do it to when I’m on my own?” Layn asked sarcastically.
“You’re own or your dead,” Reese replied. “We see your burying mutts without precautions that leading to exposure threats and you can bet Elena won’t give you another chance.” Layn swallowed thinking about this. Would he be able to go out and kill a mutt on his own and for his own protection? He’d probably end up the dead mutt being buried. He wanted to be back on his own badly but the thought terrified him. Could he do it on his own? He wasn’t so sure.
They took longer to bury the mutt than they would have if they had had the pack’s help. By midnight they were back in the hotel room. Nick had been satisfied. He had made one correction to Reese’s work and Reese made multiple corrections to Layn’s. Layn paid attention to every detail for once afraid of being on his own and what that would mean if he screwed up.
That night he dreamt of the burial but it was him they were burying alive.
Layn woke up in a cold sweat for the second time near dawn. He had been sitting on the hood of the car ever since drinking a bottle of pop he had gotten from their cooler and watching the sky light up with the sun. He used to do this when he was younger and couldn’t sleep. He’d climb up on the roof of the house he shared with Jay and waited for the sun to come up. It reminded him he was alive and he mattered. He had a purpose. Today the sun was telling him his purpose was to find Noah and after that it didn’t matter.
He crushed his second can of pop and threw it on the ground before he heard the hotel room door open. It had opened a few times but it was other people from other rooms. Squabbling kids or people talking about where they were going that day. They may have glanced at him but most didn’t pay attention and he gave them the same courtesy. This time he heard familiar footsteps.
“Hey, Layn, I thought maybe you had taken off again. You gave me a scare.” Layn said nothing as he walked over, stood for a moment and then got on the hood and sat beside him. Layn was sitting with his legs casually pulled up and his arms dangling over them.
“I’m not that stupid.”
“No, you’re scared,” Nick said lowly.
For once he did not open his mouth to argue and instead he considered this for a moment. Was the anxiety eating his stomach fear or shame? “I’m scared Noah will die and I’m scared I will have to live with that forever. It will always be my fault and I just don’t think I can live with that Nick,” Layn swallowed and looked over at him.
“To tell the truth I am scared too Layn. I love that kid…he is pretty much my son and I’m sitting here talking or sleeping. I feel like shit. If I lose him I’m not sure I can function. You’re not the only scared one but if you try and go it alone you won’t find Noah and, truthfully, I don’t want to lose you too. Please, not when I could lose Noah,” Nick said. Layn looked over surprised.
“You realize I’m not staying right?” Layn felt a pang of guilt when he said this but no matter how many times he said it they didn’t seem to get it. He had promised his parents he would stay with the pack but he just couldn’t. He had to leave. If his parents were really watching out for him then they could still watch him from somewhere else.
“Layn…,” Nick started to say but Layn waved him off. He hopped off the car and started walking towards the woods. “Layn!”
“I’ll be back Nick, just leave me alone for a bit,” Layn called without turning around. He shoved his hands in his pockets. Finally Nick stopped walking behind and he breathed a sigh of relief. He walked into the woods and down a path stopped a mile in to sit on a rock and hold his head in his hands.
“I can’t do this you know,” Layn said to the air. He looked up and around annoyed. “You’re not here anymore so why should I even care what you want? You’ve never done anything for me. YOU LEFT ME!” Layn growled. He was surprised to realize he was standing with his fists clenched. His anger and frustration going from 1 to 10 in seconds flat.
He looked around with a sigh. He was now talking to thin air, wonderful. He turned with both hands in his hair and almost jumped back when he saw an unfamiliar man and woman standing there. He sniffed but had no idea who they were. Humans it smelled like. Quickly he calmed down and racked a hand through his hair to straighten it up.
“Reuben? Or do you prefer Layn?” the woman asked. Layn froze watching her until the man made a move and Layn was on him in seconds. He tried to grab his arm but he went right through almost crashing into a nearby tree instead.
“Who?” Layn asked taking a step back quick. His mind ran a hundred scenarios but nothing made sense. He rubbed his hand feeling cold and tingly as he waited for an explanation. Was he a freaking necromancer too? Was that even possible?
“Kristof and Eve,” the woman said. Suddenly he remembered and he turned around quickly looking for his parents. Like in Harry Potter maybe they would surround him as he went to his death. Maybe he watched too many movies.
“They aren’t here, they can’t appear like we can and we have to pull a hell of a lot of strings to do even that.” Layn nodded feeling as if he was losing his mind, not a necromancer then, thank God.
“What…what do you want?” Layn stuttered cursing himself. He used to stutter a lot as a kid but Jay soon cured him of that. Under extreme stress he would do it again though.
“We know what you’re going to do Layn or Reuben, whatever. What you need to do is stay with the pack, help find Noah and then keep staying with the pack. You need to be with them. There are important things happening and you need to be there for them.”
“What do you care?” Layn growled.
“Our kids are involved Layn so, yeah we care. With you gone things will go drastically wrong for our kids and for the pack. We’ve seen it. You stay Layn,” Kristof ordered. Layn snorted and crossed his arms. He was not taking orders from a ghost no matter how tough he thought he was.
“Why? What’s in it for me?”
“Your life for one, you leave the pack you die no matter how many other different choices you make, Layn.”
“What do you…?”
“We’ve looked at the time lines. If you leave there is no other purpose for you in the world. Your reason for being alive right now is to help the pack and find Noah. Noah is very important to the future of supernaturals and he needs you to be here for that destiny to be fulfilled. Stay with the pack.”
“Oh.” Layn watched his feet and nodded. “Slave hood in the pack sounds like an awesome life. As usual I don’t have a choice, right?” No reply.
“Layn?” He looked up to see Reese. His eyes glanced to the side but Eve and Kristof were long gone. Instead he studied the bark on the tree just to the side of Reese. It was really rather interesting.
“Yeah, hey, I couldn’t sleep.” Reese nodded and looked in the direction Layn had glanced in as if sensing someone or discreetly sniffing to make sure Layn was not betraying them.
“Nick was worried so he sent you out, huh?” Layn asked. He looked anywhere but the other wolf’s eyes. Pine needles littered the ground and some well place rocks. One big one seemed like the perfect place to sit on or lie out and sleep but it was tagged with graffiti from the locals, Sarah and Bob forever and the like.
“Yeah, let’s go back.” Layn glanced once more at where Kristof and Eve had been and then followed him.
“Did I hear you say salve hood?” Reese asked lowly. He almost sounded like he was joking and Layn looked up surprised. Reese’s expression hadn’t changed, still disapproving and sour. If he hadn’t seen Reese smile before he would have doubted the guy could.
Layn adjusted his toque. “No, you’re going crazy is all old man.” Reese glanced over and raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Reese was about seven years older than him and the almost a decade was enough to make the joke.
Once they got back Layn saw that Nick had moved from the car. “Thanks for trusting me.” Nick looked up at Layn’s sarcasm.
“Can you blame me, really?” Layn shrugged and looked at Nick. Apparently he was stuck with this guy for the rest of his life. He was tempted to try and leave and see what would happen but if they were right…Layn suddenly stopped. They could not be telling the truth. They just wanted Layn to keep an eye on their kids so they told him that. He was onto their game. He smiled satisfied.
“What?” Nick asked seeing Layn smile slightly. Nick got off the car and stood in front of him now looking down.
“What’s next?” Layn asked ignoring him.
“We keep going.” Layn nodded. He’d help find Noah and then leave but no one had to know. He didn’t quite believe Eve and Kristof and besides, maybe he didn’t have a real purpose. He was ok with that, maybe.
Layn’s phone rang sharply and jerked him from sleep. He groaned and reached for the phone answering with a grunt still mostly asleep. “Layn?” someone hissed down the line. The voice woke him up immediately. He sat up and looked around the room. He was alone.
“Noah, where are you?” Layn asked immediately.
“Shut up for a minute,” Noah growled, his voice was low and fearful. Layn’s stomach dropped. He recognized the desperation in the other boy’s voice immediately. What had Jay managed to do to Noah already? “I’m sending directions to your phone Layn. You need to…,” Noah sucked in a breath and the phone dropped from the other end, silence. Nothing like the dramatic scene in the movies where you hear someone getting beaten up or threatened, this was just nothing.
Layn looked down at his phone hoping the directions came through. He didn’t know where the pack was but he had to move. His phone beeped and he saw the location a good half day’s drive from here. In seconds he was up and dressed grabbing his stuff and heading to the door. He stopped by the door and looked out but no one was around. The pack cars were still there so they must be in a meeting. He had to go now.
He slipped out the door and dashed to the Mercedes taking another look around but still no one was there. Inside the car he reached under the steering wheel and hotwired the vehicle knowing he had little time, knowing if this didn’t work he would be dead. Elena would…the door was ripped open and someone grabbed him hard by the arm. “What the hell Layn?” Nick growled. Layn tried to speak but the man propelled him so fast out of the parking lot and into the hotel room that he lost his breath.
“Tie him up, I’m tired of this,” Elena ordered.
“No, Noah…,” Layn said trying to pull from Nick but the man growled and covered his mouth telling him to shut up. Layn struggled and tried to tell them about the phone call but he was tied up in the corner with a gag in his mouth in under a minute. Reese and Nick were good at tag teaming. He shouted around it glaring at Elena who crouched in front of him looking annoyed.
“I told you Layn, you stay here until Adam or Lucas and Paige can spare a minute.” Layn tried to argue but she turned away and started talking to the rest of them. Layn growled and kicked the nearby bed post angrily to get her attention. She ignored him like she would ignore a rare temper tantrum from Kate or Logan. He grunted and tried to push his phone from his pocket. He wiggled and moved and jerking around and they still ignored him assuming he was just trying to escape his bonds. When the phone finally clattered to the floor Clay was at the point of being so annoyed by him that he came over and got ready to back fist him. Layn grunted and gestured to his phone and Clay stopped and looked at it.
“The phone,” Reese asked and Layn nodded.
Clay sighed and picked it up throwing it to Elena who opened it looking disbelieving until she scrolled through some messages and glanced at Layn. “What is this?” Layn tried to speak but the gag got in the way. Clay impatiently pulled it out and Layn swallowed the foul taste.
“Noah, he called and sent me that. I was going to find him. It’s…bad, he sounded awful.” Elena went wide eyed and Nick jumped up and took the phone looking at it hopefully.
“We can get there in time. We need to go,” Nick spurted before he regained his composure. Layn nodded and Reese stood pacing and pushing a hand through his hair looking both hopeful and worried in one.
“Please, Elena,” Layn begged and Elena sighed. “We need to get to him and you need me to deal with Joseph and the rest.”
“We don’t actually,” Nick informed pulling on his coat and checking the phone again.
“Yeah, you do. Who else are you going to use as a distraction so you can save him?” Elena looked at him thinking but shook her head. Layn started protesting but Clay quickly shoved the gag back in.
“Layn, I appreciate the directions but you’re not coming.” Layn went wide eyed thinking he misheard or misunderstood. This could not be happening. She was just going to leave him here? Like this? He pulled again at his bonds crashing around and struggling to get free but she ordered them to ignore him. They gathered up their things and left quickly putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. Before Elena left she looked back at him.
His gaze met hers imploringly and a flash of guilt crossed her eyes but it was quickly replaced with resolve. “I’m sorry Layn. We’ll talk about this later.” With that she was gone and locking the door behind her. Layn screamed but it came out as a grunt and furiously pulled at his wrists rubbing them raw. He kicked his legs hitting the bed and trying to make some sound. If someone heard they could come and let him out and he could escape. Hours later no one came for him.
Exhausted he sat limp letting his hands drop to the floor and lowering his head to his chest. Frustrated tears filled his eyes and he blinked them away. His thought fell to the past. It felt like an eternity later that the door opened and he was jerked back to the present. He blinked in the blinding early morning light as three a figure emerged followed by a few more. Adam walked towards him and pulled out the gag. “You ok?” he asked. Layn swallowed and nodded glancing at the others. Savannah, Lucas and Paige were standing in the middle of the room and Aaron was by the door closing it.
Adam pulled him forward and snapped the plastic binding his wrists. Layn brought his bloodied wrists in front of him rubbing them and wincing. When his legs were free he got up shakily and stumbled to the bathroom shutting the door hard. He took some water from the sink and splashed his face drinking some and cleaning his wrists. He also took a moment to compose himself and cool his anger about the situation. If he was not sure about not staying with the pack before this he was now.
When he came from the washroom he was grateful to see some food. “We need to go and help them,” Layn said not hoping for much. It seems Elena sent a guard of all of these people because apparently one was not enough. Should that make him feel better or worse?
“Do you remember where they went?” Aaron asked and Layn nodded. He remembered the general area but not the exact address. He was too caught up in getting to Noah to memorise it.
“We’d like you to write it down,” Lucas said taking a pad of yellow legal paper from his pocket and producing a pen. Layn took it and brought it to the desk in the corner writing down what he remembered but before he put the last part of it on he suddenly felt like this was a trap. Instead he wrote almost everything and handed it back. He crossed his arms and watched as they gathered around and read it.
“Thank you Layn,” Aaron said and came towards him quickly taking his arm. Layn stood still, “I’m sorry we have to honour Elena’s wishes. We’ll be back for you when this is over.” He took Layn’s wrists in his bigger hands and Layn smirked. Lucas looked at him and back at the paper and sighed.
“Aaron, let him go. He didn’t write them all down. We need to take him with us,” Lucas sighed. Layn smiled. He had watched enough movies to know exactly how this went.
“Guys, I’m not stupid. Don’t take me and don’t find them in time.”
“Don’t you care at all about what happens to them?” Savannah hissed balling her fists.
“Yes, I do and I need to be there.”
“No, you don’t your just being selfish,” Savannah countered sighing dramatically. Adam put a hand on her shoulder to calm her down and she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“No, I’m not. Look, I want to get out of here badly but…well, I got a visit Savannah. You’re not going to believe me but…,” Layn explained about his coma dream and then Savannah and Kristof in the woods. Savannah’s glare deepened and Adam pushed her onto the bed sitting with her. His eyes sparked with the demon’s anger when he looked at Layn next.
“It sounds like a childish lie, Layn. I’m sorry,” Paige said and Layn nodded.
“Or brain damage,” Savannah muttered. Layn’s chest tightened but he let that one go. There was no point in becoming angry over it because it might actually be the truth.
“I know but are you willing to take that chance?” They all glanced at one another exchanging silent communication and then back at Layn who smiled.