Banner by inanna_maat
Title: You and I Collide pt.3
Please see Master Post
for the rest of fic details.
Jensen pinched the bridge of his nose and swallowed back a sigh. He had figured this wasn’t going to go simply. It was actually easier to get his father to go along with something he wanted to do, and that usually meant graphs and spread sheets and long winded arguments, than it was to get Chris to do something when the reasoning behind it wasn’t completely clear. But he had hoped that just once, Chris would just do one thing for him without the twenty questions.
“Chris, I’m tired.” He muttered into the phone while staring, unseeing, down at the top of his desk. “Just, please do this for me okay?”
Chris’ sigh was loud on the other end of the line and Jensen chewed his bottom lip to keep himself for saying anything else. With his friend it was better to say only enough to get the point across then to needlessly expand on the explanation. It was a sure fire way to make him suspicious.
“Yeah, you did seem a little tired this morning when we met for coffee at Justin’s.” He started slow, “’Course running around all night long will do that to a person.”
Unease slid down his spine and Jensen had to remind himself that he had chosen the landline in his office, verses his cell to stop himself from pacing. If he started to pace, Chris was libel to pick up on the sound and there would be more questions.
“Like you haven’t ever had the urge to just run.” He muttered, trying for a decent mix of disdain and resignation.
“True.” He paused and Jensen could hear him settling into his own office chair a couple blocks away. “But it’s not usual for you is it? Especially when you throw in the fact that you’re supposed to be keeping an eye on the pack’s two guests. Can’t really do that if you’re distracted by, say, being overtired. Which I find funny considering the gossip around town is that you’ve been very attentive to your job.”
He had been under no illusion that his spending an inordinate amount of time with Jared had gone unnoticed but he didn’t think he would be called on it. Depending on his title as Pack Liaison to not be called on it. And if it had been anyone else other than Chris, his father, or Mackenzie who figured she had the right as his sister, nothing would have been said.
But it wasn’t anyone else, it was Chris and now he needed to come up with something fast before this blew up in his face.
“Something’s up Jensen and I want to know what it is.” Chris’ voice turned hard, “Is it the vamps? Has one of them done something, threatened you, threatened the pack?”
It didn’t surprise him that Chris’ thoughts would travel in that direction. If he couldn’t convince him that no, neither Jared or Chad had said or done anything to make Jensen leery, then there really would be trouble. Chris might not believe Jeffery’s tales any more than he did but he was a werewolf and like all werewolves he had a healthy distrust of vampires. Something that Jensen should have but couldn’t seem to hold on to around Jared.
“What? No.” He was quick to reassure, “Jesus Chris it’s nothing like that. I’m just tired is all. Am I going to have to start worrying that you’re finally starting to swallow all of Morgan’s crap?”
It got him the desired response.
“Oh fuck you Jen.” He growled, “Don’t make me come over there and shake some sense into you.”
He chuckled, more relieved than anything else. “Don’t let fear or common sense stop you.”
Chris snorted before he sighed. “Back to your request. I can’t take the blood over to the vamps for you tonight. I...uh...I’ve got...something to do that I can’t get out of.”
Jensen couldn’t stop the grin that spread across his face, “Something or someone?”
If he was considered too old to not have a mate than Chris was considered a failure in that particular department by the older werewolves of their community. Generally it was a shared joke between them but he knew that Chris’ parents had been at him to find a mate as of late and he knew that as much as his friend tried to hide it, he had been sniffing around a certain doctor.
“Something.” He grumbled and before Jensen could even start to formulate a comeback a tapping on his office door made him glance up.
“Come.” He called and inwardly groaned when the door opened and Jeffery appeared behind it.
“Chris I got to go. I’ll call you later.”
Jensen really needed to watch his tone of voice more carefully. “Nah, just town business.”
“Okay. But remember I’m only a phone call away if you need me.”
“See ya tomorrow morning Chris.”
He didn’t bother waiting for him to say goodbye before he settled the receiver back in the cradle and stared up at Jeffery. “Yes?”
Jeffery sighed like the weight of the world was on his shoulders and walked across the room to settle, uninvited, in the chair across the desk from Jensen. “What is it that I’ve done to earn your dislike of me Jensen?”
At least he was straightforward; Jensen really wasn’t in the mood for a round of word play. Still it wasn’t like he was going to be just as honest with the werewolf before him, he wasn’t that much of an idiot no matter that that particular sentiment could be called into question considering the whole Jared mess.
“What makes you think I don’t like you Jeffery?”
He shrugged one shoulder and Jensen would have laughed at the puppy dog eyes he was trying to use but he couldn’t be bothered calling him on that. Even with as tired as he was, he could sense a trap without much trouble and this seemed too much like one for him.
“It’s just that you seem to make it your mission to avoid me and mine at all costs. And then there was the other morning, you wouldn’t even consider taking my advice. You would think that someone in your position would be more open to the experience of others and use it to learn.”
Really there was no surprise that this had circled back around to Jared and Chad. He had been expecting a confrontation from someone eventually, with Jeffery pulling the strings of the luckless werewolf in the background. But for it to be Jeffery, himself, it made his blood run cold. Questioning his decision was like questioning his father’s since he had to get his father’s okay. And it was one thing for Jeffery to say something directly to his father but to do it behind his back showed dissidence and a lack of loyalty to the pack that had accepted them.
“I appreciate voices of reason. I appreciate the shared knowledge.” He leaned forward and rested his bent arms on his desk. “What I don’t appreciate is the suggestion that we do anything that could quite possibly endanger our whole pack. This isn’t the dark ages Jeffery; we can’t just indiscriminately murder vampires or humans that cross us.”
The easy facade fell from his face, his eyes going hard and cold. “And what happens when they attack us first?”
“They are two, we are thirty.” Jensen shot back, “Who do you think would win?”
“You don’t know that.” He spat, throwing his arms in the air in frustration. “You don’t know that there aren’t more out there waiting to make their move. You don’t know that part of their plan isn’t to lull us into a false sense of security by cozying up to someone important to the pack and then attacking.”
Jensen narrowed his eyes and he curled his fingers around his own forearms to stop from clenching them into fists. He already knew that there was talk about him spending time with the vampires but for Jeffery to suggest that he was an idiot was suggesting that he wouldn’t make a good Alpha when the time came that his father stepped down. Or worse, he was questioning his loyalties and that was going too far. He ignored the fact that last night only proved that his loyalties weren’t exactly as they should be; he’d deal with that later, when he wasn’t being watched from the other side of his desk.
“My father may like you but you forget your place. You are not Alpha here Jeffery, you’re not even all that important in the grand scheme of our pack.” He sneered, “You can sulk around all you want and bend my father’s ear at every turn but you are and will always be an outsider here.”
“Now wait just a God damn minute...”
“And another thing,” he continued, not raising his voice, he didn’t need to. Jeffery had fallen silent as soon as he pushed away from his chair, slapped his palms down on his desk and leaned forward so that they were practically nose to nose. “There is no such thing as an advisor in this or any pack I know of so I suggest you find a way to make yourself useful. I won’t allow the pack to carry your sorry ass any longer.”
The muscle in his jaw jumped but he nodded once sharply.
“Good.” He stood back up and crossed his arms over his chest. “Now if there is nothing else, I do have a job to do.”
He slowly stood up and took a step away, “Actually your father wants to know if the vampires will be leaving soon. The pack doesn’t like them here and they are a distraction and a worry.”
This was the real reason he had shown up and everything before it had been a form of distraction. Try to piss him off and hope that he would let something slip in his anger. Too bad for Jeffery that he had just wasted his time because Jensen knew that ploy, used it against Chris when he wanted to keep something to himself, hell, he just had not twenty minutes earlier.
“Huh.” He mused, “Strange that he didn’t just pick up a phone and call me. He’s generally pretty much a hands on guy. It surprises me that he sent you in his stead.”
He caught the slight jerk as Jeffery’s straightened, Busted. His father hadn’t sent him, not that Jensen believed for one minute that he had. Jeffery had come because Jeffery wanted to know. The only thing that Jensen didn’t know was why although he could well guess.
“He’s a busy man.” He managed through clenched teeth.
Jensen lowered himself back into his chair and rolled it forward until he was comfortably seated back behind his desk. He pulled the top most file from his “In” box and flipped it open in front of him. “So am I.”
He glanced back up, “I’ll be sure to tell answer my father’s concerns about the vampires tonight at dinner.” He smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Until then, I’m afraid you’ll have to be satisfied with what little your friends can glean from sulking around outside of cabin fourteen. I mean, my father will have to be satisfied.”
“You’ll regret this Jensen.” He shook his head mournfully in an attempt to lessen the sharp edge of his words. “You can’t trust outsiders.”
He tightened his grip on the folder and refused to look back up at him, waiting until his office door had quietly closed before dropping the file and sitting back.
“You’re an outsider too Jeffery.” He muttered low, glaring at the door. “You and your whole damn pack.”
Jared had tried to spend the day constructively, in other words trying to sleep. Instead, he spent most of the day sitting in Chad’s room watching him slowly heal from his position in the corner of the room seated on a dining room chair he had dragged in. Only occasionally leaving to patrol the cabin, going from window to window making sure the drapes hadn’t been disturbed and that they were still closed by feel only.
He knew that there were people, werewolves, outside, not as many as that first day but enough that even if they were trying to keep quiet, they weren’t doing a very good job of it. Not that he really believed they were trying to be stealthy, guessing that they were more than happy to ensure that he and Chad knew they were out there, reminding them that they were in their territory.
The problem with not being able to sleep more than a few minutes at a time and watching over someone who was doing practically nothing but sleeping left him with too much time for self-inspection. Too much time to go over the events of the last few days and question every single look, word and move. Maybe it had all been in his head. Maybe Jared had been searching for something indefinable for so long that he had mistakenly believed that he had found it in Jensen.
But they fit together in a way that he never had with anyone else. Even when he had been human, he had never felt that kind of connection. And it was slipping through his fingers faster than he could try to catch it and there didn’t seem to be a way to stop it from happening.
To him, it had always been laughable when he heard the words, “from two different worlds” but he finally understood what it meant. If Jensen had been human, he would have marked him as his already.
But Jensen wasn’t human and there was no way around that fact.
It was going to tear him apart to leave him behind at nightfall but he couldn’t stick around any longer. Jensen had made his feelings clear, obviously he found Jared attractive but there was no deeper connection from his end, he was a werewolf and his pack came first and foremost.
Jared could appreciate that kind of loyalty even if he hated that it made Jensen chose something over him.
He walked into the practically disused second bedroom that was supposed to be his and did a quick scan to ensure that he had left nothing behind. Not that he would really miss a shirt or a stray sock but it gave him something to do until the sun dropped behind the mountains and he could throw his and Chad’s duffels into the SUV.
Then all that would be left would be to haul Chad’s semi-conscious ass to the passenger side and dumping him in.
Simple, all of it, straightforward and simple.
His mind refused to fill out his plan past that though. He couldn’t see himself guiding the SUV out of town and away from Jensen. So he’d ignore it, over the dozens and dozens of years he had gotten used to ignoring things, the loss of his family, having to get used to drinking blood to survive, being out in the open when he actually had preferred when vampires were nothing more than legend and myth. Leaving Jensen behind would just be another of those things.
He was just walking back down the hall from checking on Chad one more time when someone knocked on the door. He stilled for a moment and shut his eyes. Jensen never came until full nightfall; something that at first he had appreciated and now had planned to use to his advantage and risk a migraine by leaving town just after the sun fell behind the mountains. Somehow it didn’t really surprise him that Jensen, because it couldn’t be anyone else, was there before nightfall.
He wanted to believe the stories the bonded vampires of Chad’s nest had told him about just knowing when something was wrong with their significant other but it was too contrite. It made more sense that this was the way that God was punishing him for being what he was.
He took a steadying breath and forced himself to move to the door. This time when he stepped to the side to open it, it was more to stay out of the light than to protect himself from the chance of attack.
Jensen was staring down at the small cooler clutched in his hands. “Hey.”
Jared stepped back without a word. Either Jensen would come in or he wouldn’t, he wasn’t going to say a damn thing to sway him either way.
He tamped down the sudden fluttering in his stomach when Jensen slowly made his way into the cabin. He watched him scan the room before his eyes settled on the duffle bags by his feet.
He crossed his arms over his chest and raised his shoulders in a quick shrug, not noticing that Jensen had finally met his gaze. Nope, not at all. “Chad’s just about as close to well as he’s going to get drinking second hand blood. And I’m pretty sure we’ve outstayed our welcome.
He sucked in his bottom lip and nodded. “I...I see.”
No you really don’t.
“But it would be great if you could leave that for me.” He waved a hand in the direction of the cooler still clutched in Jensen’s hands. “It would go a long way keeping my hunger at bay so maybe we could make it somewhere a little more populated by morning.”
He startled and looked back down at the cooler like he had forgotten that it was still in his hands. He made an abortive move to step further into the room before he stilled and put it down beside the bags. Slowly he straightened and reached backwards to grasp the open door.
“Well it was nice meeting you.” Jensen’s lips turned up at the corners but the smile petered out before it could fully form. “I just wish...” his jaw clenched for a moment before he continued. “Wish that it had been under better circumstances.”
“Yeah.” He muttered.
He rubbed at the back of his neck with his free hand, “If you’re ever back this way...”
Jared shook his head, “I won’t be stopping by, so no worries.” The bitterness burned the back of his throat but he still had to bite his tongue from lashing out further. He had shown enough weakness, he should be, would be later, embarrassed for the way he had behaved. He wasn’t going to debase himself further by showing anything about how he really felt for the werewolf.
It took him a second to realize that Jensen had gone utterly still and his eyes had narrowed. By the time it occurred to him that he might have said something he shouldn’t have, Jensen had slammed the door shut and had him pressed up against it.
“Fuck you Jared.” He snarled and pressed up fully against him. “You don’t get to try to sneak out of town and then be a dick.”
He raised his eyebrows and curled his hands around Jensen’s biceps. “Get off.”
“Not until you tell me that I was imaging what is happening between us. That it’s all in my head.”
Jared swallowed hard, it would have been easier to walk away believing that it was all him, that Jensen felt nothing but lust for him but that wouldn’t explain his words or his reaction. “It doesn’t matter.” He growled back, “You’re a werewolf...”
“And you’re a vampire.” He snorted, “Doesn’t change things does it?”
“It changes everything.” He managed through clenched teeth and used the extra leverage of the door at his back to push Jensen off him. “Last night proved that. The minute, the exact minute, that that fucking howling started you bolted.”
“So?” He challenged, “I had a brief freak out. What did you expect?”
“I...” he snapped his mouth shut and took a steadying breath. He was not going to lose his temper, start yelling and risk any werewolves still stalking around outside to hear him and cause more shit for Jensen. Or, for that matter, have Chad overhear them and have to deal with the fallout there. “Nothing. I expect nothing. Pack is everything to werewolves, I get that but you can’t seriously expect me to stay here with you. It’s not like I’m welcome now, it sure as hell wouldn’t get any better when this,” he waved a hand between them, “whatever it is, got out.”
Jensen’s look was thunderous, “Maybe I don’t want to stay here.”
A harsh laugh was surprised out of him, “Yeah, sure.”
Clenching his teeth, he turned his head and stared towards one of the windows. Glaring at the pale grey drapes like they had personally insulted his mother and clenching his fists at his sides.
There had been a little hope that Jensen really did want to leave his pack but his response pretty much squished it. “Yeah,” he muttered, “That’s what I thought.”
Jared turned and made to move towards the duffels, “I need to get these to the truck and then feed Chad, so if you’ll excuse me...”
“The pack’s divided.”
The words were said barely above a whisper and he was pretty sure that if he had just been human he never would have heard them. He stumbled to a halt and looked back at him, awed and a little confused as to why Jensen was sharing something like that. For all intents and purposes he was the enemy and yet Jensen had practically handed him a key for taking his pack down.
If Jared was part of a nest and a very different vampire he could use that information to destroy the Ackles pack. But then again, if Jared were a different vampire, they wouldn’t be standing there.
He shut his eyes and let his head drop forward. “A year ago eight werewolves stumbled into Ackland. They were seeking sanctuary, protection from a nest of vampires that they claimed were hunting them after attacking them and killing most of them, unprovoked.”
Jared was shaking his head even though it was useless since Jensen still hadn’t opened his eyes. “No way. Far more vampires are like most werewolves as far as I’ve seen. They’d rather avoid each other than declare war. And it wouldn’t just be war against each other but against the government too.”
He moved slowly and collapsed onto the couch. “I know.” He looked up at him to ensure that he understood that Jensen wasn’t just saying it to shut him up but because he believed him. “The problem was that they were all beat to shit, looked like they really had been in a fight for their lives and some of the pack...”
“Believed them.” He finished before scrubbing his hands over his face. Well that, at least, explained the hostility from the girl in the office and the constant contingent of werewolves outside of the cabin. If the roles were reversed, he could see Chad’s nest doing the exact same thing.
“I’m tired of it Jared.” He whispered, and looked down at his tightly clasped hands hanging between his knees. “There’s this constant vibe of mistrust running through the pack. Sometimes it’s aimed towards the humans that have been here since the very beginning. Sometimes towards the tourists that we depend on for our town to survive. Sometimes between ourselves. And I just don’t see it ending as long as Jeffery and the rag tag survivors of his pack are allowed to stay.”
He followed his example, crossed the room and dropped on the opposite side of the couch. It might have been a better idea to sit across from Jensen in the chair but this was a conversation that he didn’t want anyone getting even a word of. “Why does your dad let them stay if it causes all this turmoil?”
He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. Because he feels bad for him losing his territory. Because until the government came to us with the proposition to buy our land and make it into a wildlife sanctuary and let us stay, we were pretty cut off from everyone else, humans, vampires, our own kind. And I think dad kind of likes meeting other packs and extending a helping hand. Or maybe it’s because a bigger pack is a stronger pack even if it’s only by an extra eight. It could be any of those reasons or none of them. All I know is that he turns a blind eye to what it’s doing to our pack but I can’t anymore.”
“So you’re willing to give up your home because of this?” Jared wasn’t sure he understood completely. If he had a home and the security of others of his kind to fall back on he didn’t know if he would be willing to leave even if it was for a chance at forever with someone else.
Then again. He had left it all behind for nothing more than a need to search out something that he felt was missing from his life so who was he to say?
“You don’t get it.” He sighed, “Its dad’s job to run the pack, Dr. Carlson’s job to be the voice for the humans that live among us and my job to make sure that everything runs smoothly but it’s not. I get calls from Steve constantly complaining about the way Jeffery acts and treats the humans. I go to my dad and his response is “talk to Jeffery and smooth things over” and I have to try to work past my own dislike of the ex-Alpha. And I just don’t want to anymore. I kept hoping that I could keep things on an even keel until dad was willing to step down as Alpha and I took his place but I don’t think I can. Already things are getting farther out of control.”
He pinned him with his stare, his eyes a flood of anger and frustration. “They aren’t supposed to be out there.” He hooked his thumb over his shoulder towards one of the windows. “I told them that, told them the order came straight from dad even though my word should have been enough they are still there. Sure they fade into the trees when they hear my truck but they don’t leave. I don’t think even calling Chris to come and throw them into one of his custom cells for the evening would stop them. And it’s not just weres from Morgan’s pack, I scented Mackenzie yesterday when I got here. She’s my sister Jared, the daughter of the Alpha, and she’s breaking his rule.”
It was like cutting his own nose off in spite of his face but Jared couldn’t help but try to help sort the mess out. It was stupid because if they could figure out a way for Jensen to take control of the situation chances were that he wouldn’t leave with Jared but this was his family. And just because Jared hadn’t really had one since the night he had met his sire and had long since stopped craving one, didn’t mean that he didn’t know that family was important.
“Maybe if you pointed that out to your dad, that your sister isn’t following his rule, maybe that would be the kick in the ass he needed.”
Jensen raised an eyebrow, “What are you doing Jared?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why are you trying to offer solutions? I mean, I just said that I wanted to leave my pack and go with you and you’re,” he waved his hands around. “I don’t know, trying to come up with a way to make me stay.” His face suddenly closed off, only his eyes narrowing gave away any emotion. “Unless you never wanted me to come with you. Unless this was all just some sort of game.”
“No! No.” He leaned forward and caught Jensen’s hands in his own. “No. It’s just that, we’re talking about your pack Jensen, your family. I can see that you’re not just pissed off but hurt by what has happened.” He had to fight down the urge to take a hand back and run it nervously through his hair. “I’d rather leave you here knowing that you are happy than take you with me knowing that you were miserable.”
He smiled softly before blowing out a breath, “I’ve had a couple different opportunities to take a mate. I didn’t because there was something missing and these are people I’ve known my whole life. With you...well it...it’s just that it...”
“Feels right.” He answered for him, knowing what he meant.
“Yeah.” He twined their fingers together, “Even if, between us, we came up with some magical solution and my pack suddenly was all happy and shiny again I’d still be unhappy.”
That little spark was back in his stomach; slowly growing larger the longer they sat there. They could do this; they could be a they because they both wanted it, but...
“We’ll be shunned.” The words felt like jagged pieces of glass in his throat but they had to be said. “Not all vampires despise werewolves, I’m proof of that.”
“And not all werewolves despise vampires, I’m proof of that.”
“But us together?” He continued softly, “Even those that are tolerant aren’t going to be able to accept this.”
Jensen chewed on his bottom lip for a moment and Jared worried that he had finally convinced him, that even with the problems of his pack, that it was better to stay. It made him want to curl up and hide or try to take the words back but he wouldn’t. There was no hiding it from himself, he cared for Jensen, probably too damn much for the little amount of time that he had known him, and it was more important to him that Jensen was happy and safe then his own feelings.
This is what bonding does. He briefly wondered if it was worth it, worth the risk, the pain and ultimately the loss if Jensen decided to stay. But looking across at him, feeling his fingers tighten against his own, he decided that it was. Maybe he was about to lose him but, at least, he understood what it meant to care this much, to love someone so much, that their well-being was more important than his own.
“I don’t care.” He finally said, “We’ll find somewhere, live among the humans if we have too. I just want to be with you.”
Jared smiled as he felt a weight lift from his shoulders. There were going to be problems, a lot of them more immediate than steering clear of nests and packs for the rest of their lives, but he couldn’t help but feel like it would be okay. For the first time in his life, he didn’t feel like something more was maybe just around the next corner waiting for him to discover. He’d finally found what he had been searching for all along and now that he knew that Jensen was in this with him for the long haul, he’d fight to keep it.
Jared jumped at the sound of Chad’s voice and spun around to see him leaning against the doorframe leading back down the hall.
Shit! Had Chad seen them kissing before Jensen had opened and slipped out the door? He couldn’t have or he wouldn’t be acting like this would he? There was no way he was going to be so lucky that Chad was just going to accept Jensen without a fight. No way.
“So you gonna share him or what?”
He bit back the urge to bare his fangs at him; he doesn’t know Jensen’s my bond.
“One, we have never nor will we ever share and two, just no.”
He grinned but it was a pale comparison to his usual leer. “I’m pretty sure one and two are the same thing.”
“I just wanted to make sure I was being clear.”
“Come on Jay.” He whined, “I’m hungry. I feel like I haven’t fed in a week. Just this once, share.”
“It’s because you haven’t fed properly in almost a week.” He sighed, “That’s what happens when you attach yourself to someone using themselves as bait to lure dumbass vampires to their circle of fanatic buddies.”
He rolled his eyes, “Exactly, so you really need to share so we can get back on the road and get the hell out of here.” He glanced around the living area, “And where exactly is here anyway?”
This was it; Chad had given him an opening so he might as well take it. They were leaving the next day after Jensen had run with the pack for a final time and it was already going to be awkward, better to kill some of it now.
“By the time I got to you that night you had already practically bled out. I stuffed you into my truck and took off. Admittedly I may have panicked but I didn’t and still don’t think I could have taken on a bunch of fanatics and protected your mostly dead ass at the same time. So I ended up taking a couple back roads and ended up stumbling on pack land.”
Chad’s eyes narrowed, “Pack land?” He muttered low.
“Yes. This town, Ackland, and the surrounding area are pack land and the guy you saw leaving is the pack liaison and,” he braced himself for the inevitable blow-out, “my bond.”
He shook his head, his features twisted in disgust. “You bonded with a werewolf?”
It wasn’t like he wasn’t expecting it but it hurt to see his friend, the only one he had chosen to have, look at him like that. “Yes.”
“Are you fucking insane?” He yelled.
“Shhh.” He hissed and patted at the air. “Shut-up. No one here knows that and this particular pack isn’t real keen on vampires.”
“Yeah, well I’m not real keen on werewolves so we’re even.” He snapped back but at least he had lowered his voice. “Seriously a fucking werewolf?”
“Yes Chad, a werewolf.”
“But,” he spluttered, “You can’t. In case you’ve forgotten you’re a vampire. Vampires and werewolves don’t mix.”
“Well obviously they do.” He snapped back, “And you’d better get used to the idea because he’s coming with us tomorrow night.”
“Oh no.” He shook his head violently and had to grab onto the doorframe to steady himself. “No. No fucking way am I going to go anywhere on purpose with a were.”
“Yeah, you kind of are.” He shot back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Jensen is my bond and if you intend to continue to travel with me then you travel with him.”
He opened his mouth before snapping it shut. Carefully he turned on his heel and started back down the hall.
“Where are you going?” It felt weird to be fighting, actually fighting, with Chad. Sure they had their disagreements before, who wouldn’t when you were together practically twenty-four seven but he never felt so far away from his friend as he did now. But what was more unsettling seemed to be that he had just given up when Jared knew he had more to say. He wouldn’t be Chad if he hadn’t talked something to death, generally meaning being at it for at least two hours. He didn’t want to remember the twelve hours Chad had spent lamenting the fact that he couldn’t get drunk.
“Bed.” He called over his shoulder, “I’m worn out and if we’re leaving tomorrow I want all the strength I can get to deal with your bond.”
Jared clenched his teeth to stop from saying anything more. It had gone better than he had thought it would and if Chad was saying that he needed sleep because he needed strength to deal with Jensen while they were traveling then he’d consider it a win.
He could only hope he’d feel the same way at this time tomorrow.
It had been hard as hell not to take Jared up on his offer to take off that night but even if Jensen was looking at abandoning his pack he still had a few things he wanted to set straight first. His files on the town needed to be straightened up and long, detailed notes needed to be left behind for whoever got saddled with his responsibilities. Then there was his friends and family that he would probably never see or speak to again.
Yes, he was willing to leave everything and everyone behind to go with Jared, his mate, well not exactly but that small detail would be taken care of as soon as they found a safe place to spend a couple days away from the pack, but he just wanted a few more days with them. His dad, sister, Chris and Steve may not know what he had planned but he did and he wanted the opportunity to have just a few more hours with each of them before he disappeared for good.
There was a huge part of him that was worried sick for those he was leaving behind. Maybe not so much Chris or Steve but when he let himself think too closely on it, the idea of abandoning his family almost made him sick to his stomach. His father had come to depend on him, trusted him with so much and had taught him how to be a good Alpha for the pack when his time came and it was going to all be for naught. But maybe that would bring Josh home, their dad had never been happy that Jensen’s older brother had chosen to live in Washington than to commute back and forth and had outright told their father that he had no desire to take his rightful place as pack Alpha. It was the reason Jensen had been chosen, but with him gone, Josh would have no choice. Mackenzie was the only Ackles child that wasn’t an alpha, not in terms of being able to run a pack; she was too easily swayed by a good looking face or some well-placed words. Their dad knew it, their older brother knew it and Mackenzie knew it. So he wasn’t really worried there. Josh might have left the pack for a time but he was just as loyal as Jensen had been before Jeffery had arrived, and with the bonus of not being around to see the bullshit sway that Jeffery held over some of their pack and their father and the added benefit of having worked closely with the government department maybe he could sort out the problems the pack now faced. He knew, intimately, all the laws that governed werewolves and vampires, and the penalties associated with breaking those laws. Maybe, because he was the one that had seen those penalties enforced personally, the pack would put more credence in his word.
It was for the best, that’s what Jensen just had to keep telling himself, that Josh was the better choice.
Taking a deep breath, he mentally shook off the guilt that had been lurking at the edges of his mind for days as he slid out of his truck. He was going to do this. He was going to be leaving tonight while everyone was out for the pack run of the first night of the three day lunar cycle and there wasn’t anything that could stop him, not even himself.
He opened the back door, pulled out the cooler and hip checked the door back closed. He didn’t need to look through the office window to know that the young man behind the counter wasn’t someone who usually worked here or a were but appearances had to be maintained. It probably didn’t really matter; by the time word could spread back to the pack he should be long gone. But there was always a chance that the kid would notice that he wasn’t carrying the cooler and maybe it would raise his suspicion. It wasn’t like the humans didn’t know there were vampires in town and he knew that some of them were closer to some of the weres than simple friendship so they would know what he was doing there and why. He didn’t need him calling a friend or a friend of a “friend” of one of his pack and somebody contacting a were before they all left to meet at the clearing a mile outside of town.
Jensen kept his pace even as he walked past the office, glancing through the closest window and giving a slight nod to the kid smiling out at him. Just another day, like any other. Doing my job, nothing to see here.
He kept to his normal walk all the way back to cabin fourteen, ignoring the need to get there sooner, get this part of the charade over with so that he could get to the clearing for the start of the run and get that part done with too. The less chances he took for drawing attention to himself because he wasn’t acting like he normally did, the better.
Shifting his hold on the cooler, he rested it against one hip and rapped quickly on the door.
“Come on, come on.” He mumbled softly as he shifted the cooler back in front of himself.
“Hey...” the smile on his face faded away at the look of anger Jared was sporting.
Jared reached out and snagged the sleeve over his long sleeved t-shirt and dragged him into the cabin. Smoothly he kicked the door closed and pushed him up against it.
“How long are you expecting to be?”
He swallowed down the snarl caught in his throat. Jared wasn’t a werewolf and he wasn’t used to how easily it was to set an alpha off by trying to manhandle one. Besides there was a part of him, granted a very small part that kind of liked it. Not because he wanted to be manhandled but because of who was doing it, his mate, his Jared.
“Couple hours.” He said slowly, “What the hell is wrong with you? Did someone show up here and threaten you?”
It was a possibility, a very real possibility. Jared and Chad had been there for almost a week and for a lot of the werewolves in his pack that was five days too many. He was kind of surprised that it had taken as long as it had, especially considering Jeffery’s thinly veiled threat a couple days earlier.
He fought back the urge to shift and hunt down whoever it was; no one went after his mate, no one.
“Chad,” he mumbled before leaning down and pressing his lips against Jensen’s in a swift but possessive kiss.
“Chad, what?” He demanded, now more completely lost than before. Did someone threaten Chad? Was some of the blood that Jensen had given them been bad and it had somehow made Chad take a turn for the worse? Or had Chad finally woken up, found out where they were staying and threatened the pack? Jensen really didn’t know anything about Chad other than he was the closest and it seemed the only friend Jared had and that he had almost been killed. Maybe he was like Jeffery only in vampire form. Maybe he hated werewolves as much as Jeffery hated vampires.
The idea twisted his stomach into knots; he was supposed to be leaving with Jared and Chad. How in the hell was that supposed to work if Chad hated his kind?
“He caught a glimpse of you as you were leaving last night and everything kind of came out. To say that he took it badly would be an understatement.” He pushed himself back and ran an agitated hand through his hair. “I knew that werewolves weren’t high on his list but I didn’t expect him to take it that badly.”
Ice was slowly worming through his system, Jared hadn’t asked him to make a choice between his pack and him and there was no way in hell that Jensen would do it to him. But the idea that he had finally found everything he wanted and was about to lose it sliced through him.
“How badly?” He asked softly, glad that he still had the door at his back for the reassurance that he would be able to lean against it when the blow came.
“I finally managed to sleep well for the first time in days.” Jared smiled but it barely flickered before dying out. “I wanted to be as well rested as possible for tonight and was pretty happy with five hours. But when I went to check on Chad, he was gone.”
Jensen blinked and tilted his head to the side, “Gone? You mean he left, during the daylight?”
“Yeah.” He snapped, “Contrary to popular belief we can survive the sun...”
“Hey!” He snarled back, “I’m not stupid, I do know that.”
Jared closed his eyes, “Sorry, sorry. The point is that he took off and he’s not ready to be on his own. If he runs into those fanatics again he’s not going to be able to get out of it on his own.” He stared to pace the room, “Fucking idiot.” He growled low.
He bit back his response, somehow he didn’t think telling Jared that it was Chad’s choice to leave so whatever happened to him was his own fault was going to go over well. He forced himself to think past his own selfish needs and tried to keep his body as relaxed as possible. “Go after him.”
Stilling, he turned and narrowed his eyes, “What?”
“Jared, go.” He was proud of how even he managed to keep his voice. “He’s weak, be weaker because of his injuries, he won’t have gotten far on foot. Just go after him.”
“What about you? About what we planned?” His voice was soft but it couldn’t hide the edge in it.
“He’s your best friend. You’re worried about him. I could be a deaf and blind human and I would still be able to tell.” He let his back rest against the door, letting it take most of his weight since his legs were starting to shake.
He crossed the room in three quick strides and grabbed Jensen’s hands that he hadn’t noticed he’d curled into fists. “No.” He murmured, “Yes I’m worried but I’m more pissed off. He made his choice Jensen and I made mine. I’m not choosing him over you, especially if this is how he reacts to me finally being happy.”
Jensen hadn’t noticed just how hard it had gotten to breathe until Jared made it very clear who was more important to him. Still it wasn’t right to just accept Chad out there on his own, not the way he was. “Maybe we could look for him...”
He shook his head, “No. I’m not chasing him because his nose is out of joint. If he wants help he knows my cell number. Besides,” he shrugged his shoulders. “He’s probably boosted a car and is long gone by now.”
Why couldn’t he just let it go? Because he’s Jared’s pack. His mind helpfully supplied and he snarled silently at the truth of it. He wanted to be Jared’s pack but Chad had been there first and you didn’t just let something like that go, even if it only was friendship. “Not from town, I would have heard something if a car had been stolen from town.” He curled his hands around Jared’s hips and squeezed, “I could probably track him.”
“Jen, I’m not chasing him.” He rested their foreheads together, “And I’m sure as hell not using you as a tracking dog. Let it go.”
He searched Jared’s gaze just in case there was a hint of uncertainty. He wasn’t going to allow Jared to do this simply because he was angry and hurt by Chad’s actions and it was a knee jerk reaction. If there was even the slightest chance that he could end up regretting not going after him then Jensen was going to push the issue. He wouldn’t allow this to eat at him for however long into their future, he just wouldn’t.
There was nothing to be seen but a hint of anger flickering around a harder resolution. Jared had made his choice and nothing Jensen was going to say was going to change his mind.
“Okay.” He allowed quietly, “In this, you know better than I do.”
Smiling he tilted his head and brushed their lips together. “Thank you.”
Jensen shuddered at the brief touch; it was getting harder and harder to control himself around Jared. Their brief touches and controlled kisses not nearly enough to satisfy him. But it was going to have to suffice until they got out of town, there was no way that they could risk being more intimate with members of the pack milling around. Even now he didn’t put it past some of them to miss the pack run just to keep an eye on the cabin and maybe finally drive Jared into confronting them.
He forced himself to push Jared back, “I’ve got to go.” He panted, “I’ve been gone longer than I meant to be and the sooner I go, the sooner I’ll get back.”
Jared’s face darkened briefly and his eyes flashed with something too quick to interpret. “Let me come with you.”
“What?” He spluttered, “Are you insane? There is no way I’m walking you into the centre of the pack, especially when they’ve all shifted.”
“Not all the way to your meeting place but just to wherever it is that you intend to shift. I...” he swallowed and seemed to be searching for the right words. “It’s a part of who you are and I want to be there.”
There was something else going on he could smell it, Jared was nervous and he didn’t think it had much to do with his request. But he really didn’t have time to try to figure it out, he really had been there longer than he had originally intended. Could feel it in his bones and the way his skin suddenly felt way too tight. It was always like this during the lunar cycle and longer he put off giving into the pull the worse it was going to get.
“I usually shift out back of my home with my father, sister and Chris.” He forced himself not to fidget, what Jared was asking was for Jensen to trust him completely. Shifting was intimate, more intimate that sex could ever be but not only that, to do so in front of someone that wasn’t part of the pack was like showing his throat. It was when he was at his weakest, there was no way he could defend himself during a shift and Jared wanted to be a part of that.
But he was going to have to start to depend on Jared during his shifting. He was going to need someone to watch his back and Jared was all he was going to have. Better to start now while he was still in familiar surroundings and hopefully it would be less jarring.
“Just let me make sure that there isn’t anyone else around and we’ll go back in behind the cabins.” He allowed slowly, nerves and excitement rushing through him.
Jared smiled and relaxed back into him for a moment, “Okay.”Part Four