Chapter Twenty Three
“We need to establish some rule before we go if we are indeed taking you,” Lucas announced. Layn nodded as he glanced at Paige and the others keeping his posture defensive.
“First of all we need one person to be in charge of Layn so we can concentrate on other things,” Paige said looking at them all to find agreement. Layn huffed and rolled his eyes watching them. Paige would have made a good kindergarten teacher he would bet. That is if she didn’t put them all in a binding spell to keep them quiet all day.
“I agree, Lucas have fun,” Savannah smiled before she turned towards the door. Adam shrugged and followed her. Lucas opened his mouth but then shut it and nodded resigned. Layn grinned and looked at Lucas with a raised eyebrow. The sorcerer’s mouth tightened.
“Well, that was easy,” Layn smirked. He had gotten his way and with any luck Noah would be rescued by the end of the day. As he was walking past Lucas though the man grabbed his arm and told him to sit down.
“We don’t have time for this,” Layn said yanking his arm back. He had started feeling the stress and anger of the whole situation crash into him like a wave seconds after he convinced them, more like forced them, to take him along.
“We do.” Layn forced himself to close his mouth and obey. The longer he argued the longer they would be stuck here. If Lucas was anything like Elena they would be here for a long time. He sat and waited.
“Rules, you listen to me in everything and stay by my side. You don’t get into fights and if I tell you to hide or run you do that, understand?” Layn looked at him like he was nuts which he assumed he might be.
“Listen sorcerer, I’ve probably been in more fights than you have ever seen and been through more shit than you could even imagine. Certainly more than a spoiled rich guy could contemplate. So, you might want to think twice about ordering me to do things. I should be the one protecting you.”
Lucas raised an eyebrow and Paige snorted. Behind them Savannah looked open mouthed at them. “Listen you little brat!” she started but Lucas held up a hand. Brat? Layn wasn’t much younger than the witch.
“We’re only a few years apart Savannah.”
Lucas gave Savannah a look before she could retaliate and turned to Layn again. “Layn, I do not have time to prove my more than adequate fighting skills with you. Please, accept the terms.” Layn was the one to look open mouthed this time. Finally, he nodded and stood.
“Fine, can we go?”
“Do you accept the terms?” Lucas asked again. Layn looked up sharply at his tone. He thought Nick had walked back in the door for a second.
“Yes, terms accepted, sir. Can we please go now?” Layn asked gritting his teeth and not able to stifle his anger anymore. Savannah took a step forward but Paige and Adam both grabbed for her and propelled her towards the door.
Lucas nodded to this and left as well and Layn followed. When he got to the door Paige turned and looked up at him. “If you ever talk to my husband like that again you will be dealing with me.” Layn gave a curt nod to this, unsurprised, as she turned. In his mind he mentally rolled his eyes and followed. Yeah, he was really afraid of a witch. He had witch blood too apparently so he was sure he could hold his own with her. In the future that would be a very painful lesson he was sure but not for him.
Layn piled into Lucas and Paige’s blue Audi with Aaron while Adam and Savannah followed in Adam’s jeep. “Will you write down the rest of the directions?” Lucas asked. Layn cocked an eyebrow at him.
“Again, not stupid,” Layn said casually. Lucas sighed lowly and Paige reached over and set a hand on his.
“Layn, they aren’t out to get you,” Aaron supplied buckling his belt. It wasn’t as if a vampire needed it but it must be habit.
“No, they’re out to leave me somewhere so they don’t need to take me along. You won’t be doing the pack any favors by leaving me. The pack won’t owe you any more or less.”
“Is that what this is to you? We are going to help our friends not because the pack will owe us. Do you understand the concept?” Paige asked completely serious turning in her seat to face him. Layn felt his anger fizzle again. Of course he understood the concept of…no…not really. You did things to get chits or get out of them. Friends and family never lasted so there was no point in doing a favor for nothing.
Layn stayed silent and Paige gave him the sympathetic look he could not stand. “You don’t understand werewolves and you never will no matter how close Elena is to you. We aren’t fully human and you all need to remember that. No matter how cute the twins are or how hot Nick is we are not like you. We’d as soon rip you apart as help you.”
“I think you’re more human than you believe,” Lucas said.
Layn closed his eyes and laid his head back taking himself out of the conversation. He listened to their low voices contradicted their make shift plans as they spoke wondering how easy it would be to take off when they got there. No, he needed the extra help. He’d have to deal with them for now. After though he didn’t need to deal with any of them, the pack included.
Layn looked up at the dark grey sky sniffing. No pack scents. Not a surprise since they were not in the right spot. He’d led them there on foot from here and he’d keep a close eye. “What did they look like?” he suddenly heard from his left side.
He turned to see Savannah standing there with crossed arms. They were waiting for Lucas and Paige who had taken off to find a map of the area. The online versions were too old to use reliably. “Your parents? Don’t you know?” Layn asked. Adam sighed and gave Layn a look.
“Tell me what they looked like.” He glanced at Adam who gave him a ‘go on before she implodes look’.
“The woman looks like you but a bit older with a huge ass sword and your dad is blonde with your eyes, broad shoulders and a look to scare off almost all small children and the elderly.” Adam snorted and Savannah looked shocked. “Oh, and probably give them heart attacks too.”
“You could have seen a picture,” she said skeptically looking at Adam to see what he thought.
“Sure, you can think that Savannah. I don’t care anymore. All I know is what they told me. Accept it or don’t,” Layn said gesturing with his left hand. Adam who took Savannah’s shoulder and rubbed it quickly before letting go. Even that small gesture seemed too intimate with people who were not werewolves. Layn didn’t bother watching any further exchanges.
Layn glanced across the parking lot as Paige and Lucas approached. Aaron, who had been talking on his phone in the car, got out as they got closer. “What’s the plan?” They all turned and looked at Layn who gestured for one of the maps Lucas held. The sorcerer handed it over and Layn studied it but put it away before anyone could see.
“Follow me.” He started off and after a moment’s hesitation he heard the other’s following. The only way to control this was to stay in control. He’d lead them and there and then ditch them so he could go do what he needed. He couldn’t rescue Noah with five other people trying to tell him he should go play in the park down the road while the grownups played hero.
Layn led them on a forty minute long journey which almost ended in his death and or more brain damage a half dozen times. Savannah was seriously not impressed with him. They finally ended up at a warehouse curiously not abandoned and right on the water front where lots of traffic would have gone through throughout the day. He stopped and looked up at the windows. They were all dark. He sniffed and smelled an unfamiliar werewolf scent on the wind and stiffened. It was a few hours old but so far his only clue.
“So, are they here?” Paige asked. Layn shrugged and crouched sniffing unabashed. Some werewolves couldn’t stand this but it was part of his nature so he didn’t care. He moved on and walked a few feet before trying again, nothing. Was the pack even here yet? How could they not be? What happened?
“Having trouble?” Adam asked innocently. Layn took a deep breath to keep in a sarcastic reply.
“Maybe his nose is as damaged as his brain,” Savannah huffed moving a bit closer. Layn stiffened at her body language wondering if she even realized what she was doing.
“Give me a minute,” Layn snapped and moved on. He worked his way around the building seeing no pack cars, finding no more scents and wondering if he was going crazy. He stood at his full height sniffing the wind instead. Nothing. He growled and glared at the water front listening to the water lap at the docks with the slight breeze.
“I don’t understand. These were the coordinates and this is where he was supposed to be.” Layn rubbed his jaw feeling a few days old stubble he hadn’t bothering shaving. Shave or save Noah? It was obvious to him.
“Maybe they moved on after finding out that Noah communicated with you,” Lucas suggested.
“Maybe Noah calling you was a scam.” Layn turned at the sound of the voice to see Nick looking annoyed. “Layn, what the…why is he here?” Nick demanded. Layn held up both hands in a gesture of peace.
“I made them bring me Nick.”
“He withheld the exact coordinates unless we brought him,” Lucas explained. Nick sighed and took out his phone messaging someone. When he put his phone away and looked up at Layn he looked even less impressed. Layn stood his ground.
“Nick, I don’t care if you guys don’t want me here and I don’t care if no one ever believes me. We need to find Noah and help him. Now, can we go?” he demanded. Nick sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Fine, but you listen to my every word or I am knocking you out until this over. I am dead serious Layn.” Layn closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself before he nodded. That was fine. He got his way so that was all that mattered.
“Alright, we did find the mutt’s trail and they are close. They didn’t have much time to get away. We have them trapped and it’s a stale mate. I came back because we’re still monitoring the area and we saw someone was here. I figured it was just you guys,” Nick explained. As they turned the corner Reese appeared looking relieved until he saw who it was. He rolled his eyes and shook his head looking at Nick when he saw Layn. Nick waved him off and Reese nodded.
They started back and Layn couldn’t help but sniff and be hyper vigilant. The mutt’s scents seem to swirl around him making him tense with every other step. When Jay was added to the mix he growled lowly without meaning to. Nick gave him a warning look but again Layn stood his ground and refused to look away. He wasn’t pack anymore or he didn’t consider himself pack. They shouldn’t have any hold or sway over him.
“Thank you for getting him here without killing him,” Nick said looking at Lucas and Paige ignoring Layn’s attitude for now.
“It wasn’t for lack of trying,” Paige joked.
They were finally at the building. Now this one looked more like a place mutts would hole up. Nick took them straight to where Elena and Clay were keeping watch. As soon as she saw Layn she looked like she wanted to kill him but she closed her eyes and let it go. Later this could turn into quite the fight but now wasn’t the time. Instead she ignored him and spoke to Lucas and the group.
Layn looked up at the building studying it. Four stories high and old brick. Most of the windows were busted out but covered over. Half of the top left hand side was crumbled in like no one had taken care of it for a long time. He assumed the rest of it was the same. “Have you spoken with him yet?” Layn asked turning back to the Alpha and crossing his arms.
“Of course, they are not coming out and if any of us goes in…,” she said and took a photo from her pocket. Layn looked at it and saw Joseph holding a gun to a drugged out Noah’s head. Adam took the photo from him and passed it around.
“I’ll go in then. I can distract him and while I do that you can get Noah out,” Layn stated. Simple plan.
“No,” Elena said turning to Clay who was giving him a look to stop speaking and go jump in a lake. Lucas started speaking suggesting a plan as soon as Elena knocked Layn’s plan out of the water. Layn turned on them and walked around the corner angrily punching a wall. He growled when he heard a crack but his anger was enough to override his pain.
The side he had come out on was the back. He wasn’t lucky enough to find a door but a window was at his feet. He knelt and studied it. It was boarded up with some old rusted nails. Thinking of a plan he worked quickly on the boards. Elena was wrong and if she did not act fast Jay would get tired of the game and just get rid of Noah. Then he’d probably throw him down from the roof to prove some stupid point. He had to act now.
He pulled one board off and then the other stepped back to kick in the rest of the window. It was small and he had to wiggle in. The approaching footsteps made him wiggle faster but not fast enough. Nick grabbed his upper arm and hauled him back up pushing him ahead of him and then turning him around. “We don’t have time for this.” Layn opened his mouth to speak but someone grabbed him from behind using the same tactic as when they caught him before and the same person.
Layn kicked Antonio and struggled against his strength but the man had his mouth and covered. In minutes he blacked out. He awoke sometime later alone sitting against the wall but not retrained. He gulped air and tried to remember why he was here. When he saw the window he remembered.
He stood a bit dizzy and walked over lowering himself to go inside again. If he had a guard he didn’t see them. He wiggled inside and dropped to the floor listening. Footsteps could be heard but by the time a shadow passed the broken window Layn was inside looking around. Nick’s face appeared looking beyond angry but if Layn had a hard time getting through then none of them besides Paige would be able to.
“Layn, get the fuck back here. I am so tired of this,” Nick growled.
“I’m tired of having no one listen to me. I’m going to save Noah. Stay outside and do nothing or come in and actually save the kid you say you love. He’ll be dead soon if he isn’t already.” Layn turned and started walking through the dusty floor of what looked like a storage room. Behind him Elena was speaking loudly but he ignored her.
He moved forward thinking of a plan but he knew nothing would work. The only thing he could do was confront them and hope they would take his life for Noah’s. Noah was important and he wasn’t and this was all his fault. He had to work it out somehow. “You wanted me here,” he said to the air, “now I am. Hope you’re happy.” He pushed through the swinging door and stepped into the hallway. Freezing he listened immediately hearing echoing voices. He moved towards them not caring about the noise he made. The voices were coming from the end of the hallway and it sounded like an argument.
As he was passing one of the side doors someone suddenly surged from the darkness and grabbed him throwing him against the wall and closing the door. Layn cried out surprised and surged forward but the person roughly took his arm and pinned him to the floor. “It’s me you idiot. What are doing in here alone?” Noah hissed sounding a bit slurred. He must still be under the effects of the drugs.
Layn stilled and sniffed smiling. Finally he found Noah and he could even easily get him out of here without a fight, or without anyone dying. Noah let him up and Layn turned over looking at him in the dark. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah…I’m…I’m ok. Are they here?” Noah asked and Layn nodded.
“Yeah, we can sneak out if we’re quick.” Layn thought Noah nodded. The door was opened and light shone in as Noah looked out into the hallway. Layn stood and looked out as well pushing Noah ahead of him when he didn’t go fast enough and grabbing his arm when he stumbled. They must have had him under a powerful dose of something. Noah growled at him and Layn grabbed his arm and propelled him towards the storage room.
“Layn,” Noah hissed but Layn told him to shut up. They hurried down the hallway and into the storage room but stopped abruptly seeing two unfamiliar mutts. Noah gasped and Layn backed up. They were huge and Layn had never seen them before.
“Where are you going little guy?” one of them asked. They were almost identical so they had to be brothers. Both had thick corded muscles and broad shoulders, dull green eyes and long black hair.
“Just to get some air,” Noah shrugged and pushed his hands in his pocket.
“There’s air in the other room, with your daddy,” the other one said. Suddenly one of them had Layn’s upper arm. He glanced at the window he had come through but no one was there. He wasn’t surprised. They had probably given up on him and gone to put their own plan into action now that they had more people.
The guy who had Layn propelled him out the door and down the hallway and he could do nothing about it. This guy was so strong. The other one had Noah behind him and soon they were inside the doors he was originally heading towards. The men threw them inside and they both landed on the floor. Noah winced and Layn hissed when his hands hit the concrete scrapping. His hurt hand flared painfully and he regretted his earlier bout of anger.
He looked over at Noah who was starting to stand and brushing off his bleeding knees and skinned hands. It looked like Noah had been pushed into the concrete many times before. Layn stood and glared around the room. All the main players were here but he only cared about Jay. “It seems you can’t take a hint.” Layn glared at Jay and then looked at Noah who had his arms crossed and was looking at the floor. He only noticed the bruises on his face now in the better light.
“Oh, I do take a hint. I’m here to make a trade. Me for him. When you let him go you can kill me or do whatever you want. I won’t run away and I won’t complain.” At this Jay laughed. Noah growled and said ‘no way in hell’ but they all ignored him.
“How could you think I would accept you, a worthless orphan mutt for my own son?”
“You raised me as your son not him. I am more your son than he is so let him go. He hates you. I’m willing to do whatever you tell me. You want pack secrets? I can give them to you. I brought this a peace offering,” Layn said taking off his backpack and opening it. The mutt who had brought him in moved to stop him but when he only pulled out the book the man stop looking confused. Noah gasped.
“Layn, no,” he growled. Layn looked down at the book and then over at Noah. The Legacy was the pack’s book, the only book that could incriminate the pack for being werewolves and the only one passed from Alpha to Alpha with histories, lore, genealogies and secrets.
“You can have it if you accept my offer. This is far more valuable than either of us.” Jay nodded eyeing the book. Every single werewolf knew how valuable the book was.
“The offer is declined,” Layn turned to see Elena and the others surrounding the men. Most of them had someone tied up that they threw on the floor to show the mutt’s numbers were dwindling. They looked fresh from a fight so Layn assumed they had taken the ambush approach. Layn swallowed and looked at Jay who smirked.
“Oh, come now. I think the boy has a…,” Jay started to say but stopped when Layn lowered the book and revealed the gun he had been hiding. He walked forward ignoring Elena and everyone else who tried to stop him unless they got to close but they backed off quickly when he swung the gun their way.
Layn’s hand shook as he held the gun to Jay’s head when he was near enough. He was two feet away. He could kill him in moments. The thing he had been dreaming about since he was young was finally in his grasp.
“Layn, give me the gun.” Nick instructed calmly off to the side of Layn but a few feet away. Layn had warned him back and Antonio had done the same sounding as close to panicked as he probably would ever be, only when his son’s life was in danger.
“You would deserve it you know. For the hell you put Noah through and me too. You hurt him. You stole my childhood. You made me afraid. I hate you and you would deserve this!” Layn growled. Jay eyed him unafraid. Jay never believed he could be capable of doing something like this but he would prove he was.
“Your childhood was stolen long before I got a hold of you boy. I wasn’t the one who murdered your parents and kicked you out of my home time after time when you fucked up over and over. I was the one who took you in finally. I’m as close to a family and a father as you have,” he smiled but then frowned, “Oh, wait. I was the one who ordered your parent’s dead wasn’t I?” Layn snarled but no words came out for a moment until he could gain composure.
“Shut up! You’re a liar. You took it all away from me. Birthday’s Christmas, ball games, movie theatres and friends, everything!” Layn screamed feeling his finger squeeze the trigger a bit. All his anger came rushing out at once and suddenly it was about him and not Noah.
His mind immediately went back to Jeremy’s house when he was there last. He was standing in front of a Christmas tree decorated by the twins and redecorated by Jeremy and Jaime later on. He walked around touching the ornaments and looking at the multitude of wrapped paper presents. All the pack members’ names had been found among the glittering red, gold, green and blue paper wrap
He had only remembered Christmas trees in the mall and in some of his foster parent’s houses growing up. As soon as he started living with Jay there was no more of that because Jay said it was stupid. Layn spent a lot of times in the malls at Christmas time waiting and wishing. He even sat on Santa’s lap when he was ten and asked for a real Christmas. The man didn’t know what he meant of course and that was the year Layn knew for real that no magic existed in the world and no Santa Claus, the year he grew up.
Layn had looked around to make sure he was alone before he bent and fingered one of the packages. He picked it up. It had his name on it and he stared surprised.
“Found it did you?” Layn dropped the gift surprised and folded his arms over his chest not looking at Antonio or the gift. He mumbled something unintelligible before leaving the room quickly. When he looked back Antonio was picking the package up and setting it back with a smile. The man certainly loved the holidays or at least everyone’s joy from the holidays.
“No, Layn listen. You have a family. You have a pack. You can forget about Joseph and everyone else. You have us now. Please, give me the gun,” Nick said bringing him back to the present where he was holding a gun to someone’s head.
Layn’s gaze went to Nick for a moment and the other pack members before he swung back to Jay again. “Go ahead. Be brave for once in your life miserable life.” Jay challenged.
Layn squeezed off a shot and Jay jumped a bit. The bullet shot the cement floor leaving a grove and scaring the werewolf but not harming him. Jay began to laugh then and Layn coloured and levelled the gun at him again.
“Layn, no,” Nick growled and he saw him step towards him. Layn glanced at the man wanting so badly to ignore him but he couldn’t deny the pack mentality was already driving him to obey older pack members. He tried to say he wasn’t pack but it was so hard to ignore them and the pull. Slowly he lowered the weapon and let Nick grab his arm and then his hand taking the gun in his hand.
“Coward,” Jay growled making Layn jerk the gun away from Nick and shoot Jay before he could stop him. Jay tried to twist but the bullet hit him in the side and made him fly back. Chaos erupted as Nick started to go for Layn but Elena told him to focus on the mutts. Layn was in shock for a few moments before he came back to reality. He still had the gun clutched in his hand. He turned towards Noah and saw Reese was shoving Noah towards the nearest door. He followed them and rang off another shot. Reese jumped and covered Noah glaring at Layn until he went wide eyed and charged forward. Layn was sure Reese was finally going to kill him and he dodged to the side but Reese ran past him and charged into a mutt directly behind him.
“Reese!” Noah shouted rushing forward. Layn grabbed him and propelled him towards the exit instead.
“He can’t fight if he’s worried about you,” Layn told him pushing him in front of him and holding the gun up. Noah looked at the scene regretfully but Nick yelled for him to go and finally he let Layn push him along. Noah opened the door and Layn saw stairs going up. They rushed up them closing the door behind them.
The stairs went up three flights before he heard footsteps behind them. Layn swore and ordered Noah to hurry up when he stopped to open another door. The last light of the sun shone in and they burst onto the roof. “Shit!” Layn growled looking around. They were trapped. Layn turned and shut the door looking around for something bar it shut but there was nothing up here.
“We can climb down,” Noah called from across the roof, “Or we can jump into the water,” he suggested. Layn turned and made his way there tripping over a lose tile and dropping the gun. He fell on his knees and swore as the weapon skidded across the roof towards the door. Swiftly Layn got up annoyed and walked to Noah looking down. Part of the warehouse was bordered by a dock and water that he hadn’t noticed on the way in.
“It’s way too far,” Layn said as a noise made him jump. He turned and eyed the gun too far away. Jay appeared pale faced but determined. His jaw looked a bit detached and his arm was crooked. He had blood everywhere. Layn glanced at the gun again at the same time as Jay. He moved as fast as possible but Jay was faster even with an injury. He grabbed the gun and pointed it at Noah as Layn backed up.
“Now, you’ll both listen to me,” he growled as the door clanged open behind him and Elena appeared along with Reese, Nick and Antonio. They were all covered in blood with various injuries as well. They stopped when they saw Jay had the gun and what he was about to do.
“Move and they both die,” Jay threatened. Elena held up a hand to hold Nick back. He was more scared than angry now. Layn glanced at Noah out of the corner of his eye. When he turned back he saw everything in pictures like he had before. Antonio was closest so he moved forward an inch. Jay noticed and squeezed the trigger. A crack rang out.
Everything slowed from there. Jay held up the gun and squeezed off another shot. He didn’t think. He just did what he knew what was right. He stepped to the side quickly and pushed Noah out of the way hearing two more loud shots and feeling pain. His leg. His arm. His chest. All these points exploded with pain seconds after one another but he didn’t feel the pain for a few seconds. When he did he screamed.
Someone said something but it was garbled. Layn gritted his teeth looking down at his chest and seeing blood. He was beyond confused. Maybe in shock. “Layn!” Noah cried along with someone else. He saw Noah’s hand come out to grab him and Nick and Reese behind him coming forward fast. Someone was tackling Jay but he couldn’t see who. Layn stumbled back disoriented and felt only air. He couldn’t step forward again because he couldn’t control his body anymore. His eye’s met Elena’s a fear filled second before he fell backwards. Blackness.