Banner by inanna_maat
Title: You and I Collide pt.4
Please see Master Post
for all other fic details.
Watching Jensen strip down should have had his complete attention and it only pissed Jared off further at Chad that he couldn’t. But as much as he wanted to believe otherwise, he just didn’t trust Chad any longer and it wasn’t like it was a well-kept secret that werewolves were at their most vulnerable while shifting.
He got that Chad was pissed off, got that he felt betrayed that Jared had chosen to bond with a werewolf instead of another vampire or even a human but if he didn’t know better, he’d swear that he was jealous. But that couldn’t be it, they had been travelling together for over sixty years and never had there been any indication that Chad was interested in more than just being friends. It had to be because he was feeling pushed aside for Jensen and yes, basically that was what had happened but he could have stayed with them. It might have been hard at first but he had never had any intention of leaving him by the side of a road.
Really, he didn’t want to believe that Chad was capable of attacking Jensen or anyone, werewolf or human, unprovoked but he had never seen his friend look that angry before. Couldn’t take the chance that he might try something and not be there to stop it.
Jensen’s soft cough brought his head back around and he could feel his jaw drop. “Beautiful.” He whispered, closed the distance between them and brushed a hand down his naked chest. “Jesus.”
He grinned self-depreciatingly, “I’m not a chick.”
“Oh trust me, I know.” He ran a finger along Jensen’s semi-hard cock.
“Don’t.” He warned and grabbed his wrist, pulling his hand away. “This time of the month it’s harder to control my instincts. The fact that I haven’t thrown you to the ground and fucked you senseless yet is a fucking miracle.”
It wasn’t the smartest move but the thought of Jensen losing control turned him on so he didn’t second guess pushing up against the rough bark of the nearest tree. He wanted to see him lose it, wanted to test his resolve, push his limits until he snapped. The idea was more of a turn on then he would have ever suspected before he met Jensen, especially considering it would be him bottoming but it was what it was. He was actually looking forward to it, letting go and giving over control to Jensen. Accepting being bonded to someone was leading to more and more self-revelations.
Threading his fingers through Jared’s belt loops, he growled at him before nipping at his jaw. “Don’t push me Jared.”
It was time, he had been putting it off long enough but if Jensen was going to trust him with this then he could not not trust him by baring his throat. He dropped his head forward and to the side, grinning at Jensen’s sudden intake of breath.
“Jay...” he groaned.
Jared looked up at him from the corner of his eyes and smiled.
“You fucking tease.” He breathed against the skin of his throat before dragging his teeth along it.
Surprised but delighted by the shivers coursing through his body he groaned and leaned heavier into him. “Jen, please just...”
The snapping of a twig made him jump and twist his head around to try and see what had caused the noise.
Jensen chuckled, “Relax it’s just a Doe.”
He looked back at him as Jensen released one of his hips and tapped his own nose, “Can smell her.”
“Right.” He grinned, hoping it wasn’t as shaky as he felt inside. He hated feeling like that but he wouldn’t tell him the real reason he had insisted on coming but was beginning to wonder if Jensen wouldn’t know before him if Chad did decide to show up. “I suppose I should let you get to it, huh?”
He nodded slowly; his eyes slightly narrowed like he knew there was something going on but didn’t have time to delve into it. “Yeah, but...”
The only warning he got was Jensen’s eyes widening before something like a freight train hit him from the side, tossing him between the trees until he hit something hard with a sickening crunch. Before he could push through the sudden haze of pain radiating from his left shoulder, something solid, heavy with sharp, wickedly pointed teeth landed on his chest.
Instinct alone brought his right arm up to stop the werewolf from tearing out his throat. He snarled as it sunk its fangs into his forearm and just barely managed to curb the instinct to try to tear his arm out of its mouth. It was doing enough damage on its own and with his other arm laying unresponsive at his side; he couldn’t risk adding more injury himself.
“Get off!” He hissed and bared his own fangs up at it. All he needed was for it to let go long enough that he could get his hand on its throat. He wouldn’t be able to do much damage with only one hand but many he could cut off its airway long enough to throw it off of him. If he could get to his feet he’d have a better chance at fighting back.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that he was fighting someone from Jensen’s pack and he could only hope he would forgive him if he did manage to kill the werewolf. Because there was no way in hell he was going to let it kill him.
Of course that would only happen if he could get it off him and that wasn’t going to happen until it let go of his arm. But instead of releasing him, the werewolf was pushing down on his captured arm, slowly making its way closer and closer to his throat and with a sudden clarity, he knew exactly what it had planned. Get as close as possible while keeping him incapacitated until that last possible moment and then go for his throat.
If his left arm wasn’t useless, if he had had a proper feeding in the last five days, this wouldn’t be such a problem but as things stood, he was beginning to wonder if he had any chance at all.
“Fuck.” He grunted and pushed back at the werewolf, using his arm trapped in its teeth. The sound of cloth tearing loud in his ears, catching his attention over the sounds of his grunting and the were’s growling. Fire snaked up his arm like quicksilver making him hiss and his fingers go numb.
He couldn’t do this alone, “Jen!”
A scream tore from his throat as the werewolf’s teeth ripped from his body. It took him a second to realize that the fangs buried in his forearm weren’t the only things missing.
The werewolf was no longer pressing down on him but he could still hear it snarling, answering snarls coming from a distinctly different werewolf.
Jared tried to push up to at least be able to sit but even his right arm wasn’t responding now. Instead he twisted his head and watched as a large black werewolf threw its self at a slightly smaller grey and tumbled them both to the ground. It almost looked like the wolves could be playing except Jared could smell blood in the air and it wasn’t just his own.
“Jensen.” He yelled as the grey managed to roll them until it was on top and snapped down at the other wolf.
“Shit! Stop! God damnit stop!”
He might as well be screaming at a brick wall for all the attention he got from the wolves as they tumbled again and then the black was on top. In a move almost too quick to see, he snapped his jaws closed on his opponent’s throat and the grey started to yip.
He didn’t know which one was which, hadn’t really noticed anything about the one that had attacked other than big fucking teeth and cold blue eyes. He struggled to get up, cursing as he rolled unto his side and up onto his knees. He was not going to lose Jensen now that he had finally found him and he’d be damned if he let the fact that both of his arms were hanging uselessly stop him.
The black wolf released the grey and slowly backed up towards Jared, growling a warning low in its throat, its hackles raised. The grey, for its part, slowly rolled to its side and then to its feet. It growled softly as it swung its head between the black and Jared before turning and disappearing into the shadows between the trees.
The black snorted before it turned and slowly padded forward. It stilled just outside of reach and whined at Jared.
It wasn’t the fact that it didn’t attack him that ensured that he realized that it was Jensen but the glowing green of his eyes. Those eyes, that glow, Jared could call up from his memory with perfect clarity, he’d been doing it since the first time Jensen’s eyes had shined like that, almost a week before. “Jensen.” He said softly and managed to move his right arm enough to convey that he wanted him to come closer. “You okay?”
Jensen dropped his head slightly and moved forward until he brushed against Jared’s arm. He whined low in his throat and his tongue darted out to lick between the strips of torn fabric.
Jared hissed in a breath but didn’t try to pull away. “I’m okay.”
Jensen dropped to sitting and continued to carefully lave at his wounded arm.
“Really, I’m okay.” He tried to reassure even though he knew that wasn’t anywhere near the truth. A human toddler could come at him with a machete aimed at his throat and there would be very little he could do about it. But he wasn’t going to admit it, especially since he had a sinking feeling that he knew where the other wolf had run off to. “You’ve got to stop him.”
He sat back and blinked up at him.
“The other wolf, he’s going to tell the pack.” He damn well knew that Jensen understood him but he didn’t seem to be nearly as worried about it as he was.
Jensen snorted, got up and walked around behind him. He felt him push against his back, trying to help him to stand.
“Jensen,” he grunted but gave in and pressed back against the big wolf, using their combined efforts to finally make it to his feet. “Go, stop him.”
Instead of doing as he hoped he would, Jensen gently grabbed at his jeans until he could get a piece of the cloth in his teeth and tugged him back towards the cabins.
“Jensen.” He groaned, “I’ll be okay. But if you don’t stop him we won’t be making it out of town quietly. Do you really want to try to fight off your whole pack because,” he gritted his teeth, what he was going to say wasn’t going to make Jensen willing to leave his side any sooner but it needed to be said. If only so that he would go, “I’m not going to be any good in a fight. I need time to heal and the blood back at the cabin is only going to take the edge off, not fix things.”
Jensen growled and tugged harder until Jared started moving forward.
“Fine!” He snarled, “Fucking fine, we’ll do it your way. But if shit hits the fan it is entirely your fault!”
It was nothing for him to run full tilt through the trees, he had been running these trails since he was a child almost sixty years before, and he could do it blind folded. It made it easy for him not to really pay attention to where he put his feet as he kept lifting his snout to follow the faint scent of blood still lingering in the air.
It was endearing that Jared had been so worried about what would happen when the wolf that had attacked him got to the pack meeting place and Jensen would have been more inclined to worry along with him if it had been anyone else. But it wasn’t anyone else, it was Chris and not matter how confused or how pissed off his friend was, he was still his best friend and he would wait for an explanation from Jensen before he told anyone about what he had seen.
He wasn’t entirely certain why he had attacked Jared but he had a pretty good idea. He guessed that if the roles had been reversed and he had come upon Chris pressed up against a tree and Jared leaning against him, he might have attacked first and asked questions later. Chris couldn’t know that Jensen had invited him, had allowed Jared to be there when he was going to shift. Didn’t know that what he had stumbled across was something mutual.
He just wished there had been some way to communicate to Jared that the situation wasn’t as dire as it appeared. It would have gone a long way to convincing his mate to go back to the cabin and wait for him. Then he wouldn’t be trying to track Chris using a faint scent instead of a fresher one.
If it had been anyone else then Jensen would have gone straight to the clearing the pack was meeting in but it wasn’t anyone else and with something like this Chris would want to take time to try to sort through his thoughts. He would want to try to bury as much of his turmoil as possible so that the rest of the pack wouldn’t be alerted to something going on. And it really had nothing to do with Jensen, or their friendship, he had always been that way, only Jensen was could get near him when he was like that. Or, at least, he used to be able to, somehow finding Jensen in the arms of a vampire and then Jensen attacking him might have changed that dynamic.
Jensen had to almost completely circle around the town and then cut through several yards before he came to the end of Chris’ trail. Carefully he slid between two houses, both of them homes for humans, and peered into the backyard.
At first glance it seemed empty until he glanced towards the deck and spotted Chris, human once again and wrapped up in a bathrobe, sitting in a deck chair staring back at him.
It wasn’t a warning nor a welcoming, the word empty of any emotion at all and that scared him more than anything else.
Slowly he moved out into the open and sniffed the air, picking out the distinct scents of Chris, his blood and Dr. Carlson. He glanced at the house finally taking the time to take in his surroundings. He knew the little light grey stucco house, had been there more times than not in both official terms and as casual friends.
It kind of hurt to know that Chris had gone to Steve but what could he expect? He had chosen Jared over his pack, had attacked Chris to protect him, it wasn’t like he would turn around and hunt him out to help him work through his thoughts. It was what he deserved but it didn’t hurt any less knowing the truth.
Steve appeared at the patio doors, another robe in one hand and a beer in another. “I told Chris he shouldn’t be drinking when he’s lost blood but you know what he’s like.”
Jensen watched him set the beer down on the patio table, across from Chris and hung the robe over the empty chair. “You hurt too?”
He hadn’t felt anything physical for the last half hour. First he had to get Jared back to the relative safety of the cabin and then he had to concentrate on trying to find Chris. But now that the question had been posed he took a minute to take stock of himself. There was the distinct burning of scratches running the length of his chest and stomach and a nip to the shoulder that had long since stopped bleeding but basically okay. None of those small injuries would still be there when he shifted back.
But Steve had asked if he had been hurt too, meaning that he had inflicted more damage on Chris than he realized. His eyes shifted to his friend and finally noticed the fading red marks on his throat. Unbidden, a soft whine escaped his throat and Chris’ hand automatically reached up to rub at his neck.
His voice was still toneless, his face devoid of any emotion as he took another swig of beer.
He wasn’t going to be able to do anything about it until he shifted back, maybe not even then. But he wasn’t going to shift until Steve was back in his house. He glanced back over at him and slowly shook his head back and forth three times to get his point across.
“Okay.” He nodded and started to back towards the open patio doors, “Holler if you need anything.”
Jensen divided his gaze between Chris sitting still and silent on the deck chair and Steve walking back into the house. After one last parting glace at Chris, the human disappeared inside and Jensen could hear him moving further into the house.
“Well go on.” Chris muttered low, “Not like you’re gonna get attacked here.”
He blinked over at him for a long moment, uneasy at shifting in Steve’s backyard. It felt too open, even as he moved under the covered deck and away from any prying eyes of the neighbors, but if Chris could shift there then so could he. He’d be damned if Chris was going to one up him in this especially since he knew that was exactly what he was trying to do, just in spite of him.
He sat down on the chilly wood deck and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and shutting his eyes.
It took a minute to find the human part of him inside of this form but he grasped onto it and let the feeling wash over him. Let the feeling of being a two legged animal with opposable thumbs slide through him and only flinched a little at the first pop of bones shifting.
It didn’t hurt per se, to shift from one form to another but it wasn’t comfortable either. It was disconcerting feeling his body contracting and muscles and bones rearranging themselves.
When he opened his eyes he was staring down at his hands splayed over the deck, his skin looking almost translucent against the dark stain of the wood.
Drawing a breath, Jensen pushed up off the deck and made his way over to where Chris was sitting and the robe waiting for him.
He held up his free hand and watched silently until Jensen had pulled the robe over his shoulders and settled in the chair across from him.
“Just tell me how long it’s been going on.”
There was the option to play dumb but what was the point? Chris most certainly knew what he had seen now and Jensen defending Jared pretty much settled the question as to why he would allow Jared with him at his most vulnerable time.
“The draw was there from day one.” He took a swallow of his own beer, the taste of hops exceptionally bitter on his tongue, as it took longer for his senses to readjust to being human again and not wolf. “Things started happening a couple days later.”
Chris rubbed at his forehead, “A vampire for a mate Jensen, Jesus!” He grumbled before pinning him with a glare. “The pack will never accept him. Not even if Jeffery hadn’t appeared and started spouting his shit.”
He had felt guilty for not telling his family and Chris about what he had had planned. It had eaten away at him for the last few days and on several occasions he had considered breaking down and telling them. Now he desperately wished he was anywhere else but seated across from Chris. “I know.”
He narrowed his eyes, “You’re leaving.”
There was no accusation or question in his tone, just reluctant acceptance.
He turned to stare out across the dark back yard.
He couldn’t take the silence or the sudden distance that had fallen between them, “Chris, he’s what I’ve been missing in my life. I love him.”
He nodded once, sharply, still staring out into the yard.
Bittersweet memories started to flash through his mind rapidly. He and Chris as little kids, no older than five or six and eight or nine, running through a sprinkler. Standing back to back in a field fighting against a bigger group of werewolf kids when they were only a little older, over something so insignificant that he couldn’t remember what it was any longer. His first shift after he hit puberty and running circles around Chris who had rolled his eyes before shifting and tumbling Jensen into a snow bank. First dates, first cars, first hunts, secrets, stories, adventures and pain shared. So much time spent together and now it was all gone.
He stood abruptly and brushed past him, “I’m going to skip the pack hunt tonight.”
He twisted his head around but didn’t stand. If Chris wanted to run from this then trying to stop him would only result in them getting into another fight, only this time with fists rather than teeth. “Chris, please.”
He jumped to his feet just as Mackenzie burst through the patio door. “Oh God Jensen!”
Only his quick reflexes saved her knees from impacting with the hard wood of the deck. He could hear her heart beating violently in her chest and she was shaking like a leaf, her skin ashen and tears running freely. “Mac, Mackenzie what is it?”
He had never seen her like that, upset yes, when she didn’t get her way she had a habit of using tears to try to turn the tables. But even when Josh had left she hadn’t reacted this badly and she had been too young to really remember when their mother had passed away from an aneurysm. Feeling her shake and tremble and seem so small in his arms scared the shit out of him.
Steve appeared behind her and draped a blanket over her shoulders, giving her a little modesty. He would appreciate it, later, once he knew who or what had reduced his sister to this and killed it.
“Dad,” she hiccupped into his shoulder. “L...late. Jeffery came with me to find him.” She shuddered, “Gone. Vamp...the fucking vampires atta...attacked him while he was sh...shifting.”
This time it was Chris who managed to catch both of them and, although, he couldn’t hold them up on his own, he did manage to make the impact with the deck a little less jarring.
His dad was dead? It wasn’t possible. The man was too strong to be taken down by anything. He had survived his mate’s death, his oldest son leaving the pack, the lean years. It couldn’t happen. And there was no way it was vampires, they would have known if there were vampires...in...town.
Mackenzie’s laugh was hard, “Sure that he’s d...de...dead? Or sure that the vampires did it?”
It wasn’t Jared, he knew that for sure but Chad was missing. They had just assumed that he had left town but what if he hadn’t? Was he cut from the same cloth as Jeffery; only in his case it was “the only good werewolf is a dead werewolf”? It explained why Jared had insisted on accompanying him when they both knew it wasn’t safe and how on edge he had been. “Mac.” His tone was hard, he should have been gentle, they had just lost their father and she had probably seen his body but this was important.
“The back yard was torn up...fight. Jeffery sa...said that dad fought h...hard.” She whispered and shuddered again, trying to tuck her face further into his shoulder. “A chunk...his throat...just gone.”
He shut his eyes and pressed his face against the top of her head. He had fought with something, something strong enough to take down a healthy pack Alpha. There were only two things that could do that, at least a couple vampires or another pack Alpha.
“I told you!” She suddenly pushed away from him and only Chris still at his back kept him from falling backwards. “I told you to make them leave. But you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t!”
“Mackenzie.” He impeached low.
She shook her head as she climbed to her feet. “No!” Heedless of the blanket falling from her shoulders, she started to back up. “Now it’s too late. But Jeffery will fix it.”
It was like ice water being dumped over his head, “What?” He sprang to his feet and made a grab for her, snarling when she danced out of his reach.
“He knew what would happen. He warned you and you didn’t listen.” She pointed an accusing finger in his direction as she jumped down from the deck. “He’ll make them pay and the pack will love him for it. He’ll run you off and be the Alpha we need.”
Jensen’s focus narrowed until all he could see was the murderous intent glowing in her eyes and her words ringing in his ears. He didn’t care about not becoming Alpha, he had come to terms with that days ago when he decided to take Jared as a mate. But he didn’t need any insight into Jeffery’s mind to know what was meant by making them pay. He didn’t know where Chad was, didn’t know if he was involved but Jared was back at the cabin. Back at the cabin with a broken left shoulder blade and damaged tendons in his right. He wouldn’t be able to defend himself against a murderous mob of bloodthirsty werewolves even if he had taken the blood that Jensen had brought over earlier.
Once what he had done got out he would be run out of town but it didn’t matter, all that matter was saving Jared. “Mac you’ve got it wrong...”
She bared her teeth at him and he couldn’t mistake the challenge but before he could make another move towards her, she ran around the corner and disappeared from sight.
“Mackenzie!” He screamed and made to go after her but was pulled up short by Chris grabbing his arm and tugging him back.
“Wait!” Chris yelled, and then jerked back as Jensen spun and snapped at his throat. “God damnit Jensen, wait!”
Snarling he ripped his arm out of Christian’s hold before tearing the robe off and stilling only long enough so that he could concentrate on shifting. There was no way he was going to stand there and listen to Chris spout off some shit or another, distract him and giving the others time to kill Jared.
He snarled and snapped at Chris’ legs before turning and making for the cabins and Jared at a dead run. He never expected Chris to be happy about his decision, expected to lose his friendship over it but it burned to come to the realisation that Chris hated him enough to help those that wanted to kill his mate.
Stray thoughts filtered through his mind as he skidded in the grass in front of Steve’s before he caught himself and tore off across the road headed towards the house directly in front of him and the stand of trees behind it. Why had Chris come looking for him tonight? Had he suspected? Was he a part of some plan that Jeffery had concocted? And if so, what was the plan?
Everything hurt and Jared was having a hard time remembering why.
He could clearly remember being in the forest surrounding the cabins with Jensen and being attacked by a werewolf. But there was no way what he was feeling was a result from that, sure his shoulder blade had been shattered and the wolf biting him had torn tendons in his right arm but that pain wasn’t this pain.
It was like there were dozens of little fires burning across his body, each one a bright flare of pain. When he tried to move he could feel shards of bone grinding together and what little he could feel of his face felt puffy and distorted, but at least that explained why he couldn’t open his eyes.
Noise started filtering in through the haze,“...what we do to them.”
A chorus of snarling and cheers went up around him.
It was the snarling that tipped the scales and flashes of memory exploded across his mind’s eye. Jensen had left him in the cabin and he had just finished choking down the stale blood when the door had been kicked open. Werewolves in both human form and wolf form had burst into the room and he couldn’t mistake the hate radiating from all of them.
There had been a fight, though calling it a fight would be fairly optimistic considering his left arm was incapacitated and his right was barely useful, that had ended fairly quickly with them dragging him out of the cabin. After that it had been a free for all, there had been fists, kicking, claws and more than a few tearing bites.
If that was what they did to him because of him and Jensen bonding, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know what had happened to him. Because something had, maybe he couldn’t see but he could hear and, even though his sense of smell wasn’t as good, Jensen’s smell had imprinted it’s self on him. He would have been able to pick him out a crowd of hundreds; fifteen, twenty sweaty bodies would not be able to mask it.
He tried to scream in pain as he was pulled up off the ground by his arms but all that came out was a soft gurgling.
“Now we end it.”
He would have liked to meet the glare of the ring leader, prove to each and every werewolf there that he didn’t fear them or his own death. The only worry that he had was that Jensen had suffered the way he was. His only hope was that they had had a little compassion for one of their own and made it quick.
A hush fell over the crowd and for one brief second hope flared that maybe Jensen had somehow survived and had just shown up. It was dashed a moment later when his head was dragged back by his hair, exposing his throat and low growling reached his ears.
Stupidly, he wondered if they were as ill-informed as the rednecks he and Chad had ran into. That seemed like a lifetime ago now; it was hard to believe it was less than a week. If all the wounds, that he supposed were still freely bleeding, hadn’t killed him, tearing his throat out wouldn’t. Somehow he didn’t think that werewolves anywhere were that stupid though.
Hot, putrid breath slid across his exposed throat and he swallowed compulsively. Suddenly and completely confident that whoever had the pleasure of taking his life intended to chew his head off, literally. He wondered if his killer would go fast or draw it out as long as possible. How long it would take before he passed out from the pain or if he would remain conscious until he died.
Doesn’t matter. A few minutes or an hour, it would be over soon enough and he welcomed the oblivion. He didn’t want to be in a world where Jensen was gone, didn’t believe he could.
So this is what bonding is like.
Jared would have shut his eyes if they weren’t already swollen shut and pulled the memory of Jensen naked to the forefront of his mind. He had been gorgeous with stripes of moonlight and dark patches of shadow stippling his skin. He wished they would have had more time before the werewolf had attacked, he would have liked to have tasted his skin, found out if there was a difference between the light and dark.
A snarling tore him from his thoughts but still deep enough in his delusion that he thought it sounded a lot like Jensen.
Jensen saw all of them in a blink of an eye and filed the information away in the back of his head that pretty much seventy percent of the pack was standing in a rough semi-circle in front of Jared’s cabin. It was something he would deal with later but first he had to break through them and reach Jared, who had been forced to his knees and was being held up by his arms by a couple of male pack members.
Jared looked like hell; that pack having done a real number on him. Even before he had been within eyesight of him, he had scented Jared’s blood heavy in the air but it hadn’t prepared him for what he saw. His vampire, his mate, had been beaten past submission, past where any human could have survived. His clothes were torn and stained with dirt and blood. The pale skin of his face and peeking through his tattered clothes was smeared with blood and discolored.
But even that faded to the back of his mind, his rage already bordering on insanity, the extra stimulus both almost too much to bare and barely noticeable. His focus narrowed only to the large grey and white werewolf slowly widening his jaw and moving closer to Jared’s exposed throat. It almost looked playful, a twisted game of chicken, if he didn’t know better.
No one was expecting him to dart between a tawny wolf and a pair of human legs. Vaguely he heard a collective gasp go up but it wasn’t soon enough to warn Jeffery that he was barrelling directly for him.
With a snarl, he caught him in the side, much like he done to Chris earlier in the evening, and let his momentum tumble them across the small clearing. As soon as they impacted with some of the on lookers, he untangled himself from the older wolf and ran back to stand in front of Jared.
Baring his teeth, he let out a warning growl until Jeffery’s assistants released his arms and quickly stepped around and away from his fallen vampire and himself.
With deliberate slowness, he turned, keeping as much of Jared as possible behind him and lowered his head. He glared out at the amassed crowd until each and every one of them bowed and tilted their heads to the side, showing the sides of their throats.
Damn right! He growled silently, I’m Alpha.
He took one moment to focus on the slow beating of Jared’s heart beat and let it sooth him. As long as Jared lived, that was all that really mattered.
“What are you doing?”
Jensen let his eyes flicker to the side and spotted Mackenzie kneeling down beside Jeffery, who had shifted back to his human form.
“He killed our father!”
“No!” He barked back at her.
“Jensen don’t be a fool.” Jeffery called as he slowly rose to his feet, “He has to be punished for what he did.”
Jensen bared his teeth again, the threat obvious.
Jeffery shook his head before he laughed sadly. “See?” He called out to the werewolves silently watching, “He’s not worthy to lead us. He doesn’t even have the backbone to kill the animal that murdered his own father.”
He remained silent watching as some of the weres chanced looking at him before looking back at Jeffery.
“We would be within our rights. The government would understand and even if they didn’t who cares? We’re so far out that they would never have to be told and would never know.”
He could feel the waves of uncertainty slowly start to morph into murderous intent. He had hoped that the simple fact that he was pack Alpha would cool things down a bit but he had miscalculated just how much Jeffery must have whipped them into a frenzy before he got there. He should have known, between his father being murdered and the ichor that Jeffery had been spreading throughout the pack over the last year, that a title, that should command respect, might not be enough.
Jensen watch Jeffery’s face morph into a sharp smile, “Leave Jensen and we’ll let you pass. Don’t and...” he let the threat hang in the air for a moment before he continued. “But the vampire is ours.”
“Wait.” Mackenzie spoke softly, her small hand reaching out to touch Jeffery’s arm. “You said Jensen would be free to go.”
He turned hard eyes on her and she shrank back a step, “There is nothing I can do for him if he won’t move aside.”
“Please,” her voice broke and suddenly she was Jensen’s little sister again. “I can’t lose another member of my family tonight.”
He wanted to go to her and comfort her, lie and say that everything was going to be okay but he didn’t. She had chosen her side and even if she had realized the error of her ways, she had conspired to bring them to this and there was nothing he could do for her now.
Jeffery turned away from her and faced those surrounding them, “You have followed me this far, I only ask for a little further. End this. End the vampire who killed your Alpha.” He pinned Jensen with his glare, “And if Jensen refuses to move then he must be taken down. His protection of the vampire makes him a betrayer of the pack, of his father’s memory, of each and every one of you!”
“No!” Mackenzie threw herself at him but he shoved her aside barely acknowledging when she hit the hard ground and moaned.
“Stay there.” He snarled and Jensen barked the same at her.
“Jen.” She pleaded quietly.
He turned away from her to the pack and watched them slowly turn to look back at him, some with fury, some with fear. It wouldn’t matter if they were scared because they were questioning what Jeffery had told them to do, there would be no quarter there. There were too many who were completely under his sway and those that weren’t were more scared of them then him.
Jensen carefully stepped back until he felt Jared’s body against his back paws. He wasn’t leaving him behind and if it ended here because he had lost the pack’s loyalty then so be it but they would remember what it was like to fight with a pack Alpha.
He tensed and tried to see in all directions at once, not sure if they would attack in twos or threes or all together. He wasn’t going to win this battle but he wasn’t going to lay down and wait to die. His only regret was that he knew that Jeffery wouldn’t dare get into the fray until he was too weak to fight back and he wouldn’t have a chance to go for his throat.
The retort of a gunshot made Jensen jump and most of them flinch and duck. He couldn’t stop the sneeze as his eyes watered with the sudden smell of sulphur and silver.
“Back the fuck up!”
He turned to watch Chris slowly move into the clearing, shotgun trained on Jeffery. Trailing behind him, the three werewolves that worked with him as Wardens, government issued revolvers drawn, and what looked to be the rest of the pack padding behind on four paws.
He couldn’t help the surge of gratitude and surprise. He hadn’t expected help from him and never even considered asking for it. Chris might hate that he had chosen a vampire for a mate and they may never call each other friend again but sometimes history was enough to offer assistance.
Werewolves slowly started dropping to their knees or bellies and bowing their heads. He suspected the ones who were more scared to be the first but soon all were following the lead of the first few. He glanced over at Jeffery and wanted to laugh at the expression of impotent rage and disbelief. Perhaps more werewolves had rallied at his war cry but faced with silver bullets, most werewolves backed down quickly, the crawling fear of a long and painful death from silver poisoning too much to bare for most.
“Get up Mackenzie.” Chris hissed, “There’s a robe in my Jeep. Get it.”
He watched his sister climb, shakily, to her feet and run off in the direction of the main entrance. He wanted to feel bad for her, she had made a mistake and let herself be swayed by a fanatic and not only had she lost his trust but by the look of Chris’ face, his too. No matter what happened in the pack now, she would never be looked at the same again by either her unofficial older brother or those that had clearly chosen Jensen’s side.
“Alpha? Who stays and who goes home for the night?”
He blinked and turned away from staring at the space where his sister had been. His eyes ran over the kneeling pack, he wouldn’t consider them his pack, even if he had intentions of staying, they would never be a part of his pack.
This would be so much easier if he was in his human form. Fuck it. He thought darkly and for the second time that night allowed the shift to take him.
“Who among you attacked Jared?” He snarled once he had his human voice back.
A few of them shuffled backwards on their knees, not daring to look up. He glanced over at Chris who shrugged at him. It could mean they had done it and were trying to hide or they hadn’t done it.
“I know his blood and his scent.” He warned low, “Don’t make me check each of you individually.”
Hesitantly four wolves and three humans stepped forward.
“They stay.” He waved a hand towards them as he turned back to Chris, “And of course Jeffery.” He turned cold eyes toward the rest of the pack, “The rest of you may return to your homes and stay there until you’re called for the pack meeting.”
“Alright dipshits you heard your Alpha. Disperse!”
It was like flipping a switch, one moment, the clearing had been cramped and the next practically empty. The only werewolves left besides Jensen, were Chris, the pack members he brought with him, Jeffery and his conspirators and Mackenzie jogging up to him.
“Here.” She stilled close enough to touch but not daring to even meet his eyes as she raised her arm, the robe clutched in her hand. “Jensen I...”
“Don’t.” He hissed and snagged the robe from her. “Just don’t.”
Mackenzie dropped her head and took a gulping breath.
Jensen was pretty sure the tears were real this time but he wasn’t feeling forgiving. Even if she didn’t know the truth about him and Jared she still sided with a were who had challenged the Alpha, her brother, for the right to run the pack. Add to that that she was an Ackles and he had to wonder how many of the pack had been swayed because she backed Jeffery and not because they completely stood behind him. She had been a fool and had led others to their ruin because of it, he wasn’t sure he could ever forgive that.
“Go home.” He muttered and turned his back to her as he pulled on the robe.
Distantly he registered her soft footfalls hesitantly moving away but it was unimportant to him. “Take them to the cells.”
It was funny, in a pathetic way, how cowed they were now that their back up was no longer there feeding their self-righteousness and anger. The mob mentality was a terrible and frightening thing to behold most of the time but when someone who knew how to use it to their own advantage, like Jeffery, managed to control it, it was downright terrifying.
“Alright assholes move.”
Jensen cleared his throat just as Chris motioned with his shotgun for Jeffery to start heading in the direction of the front area and his friend stilled. He raised an eyebrow but remained silent.
“Taylor.” He didn’t break eye contact with him as he called for one of the other wardens.
“Escort Morgan to Chris’ Jeep. If he tries to run or shift or even looks at you funny, shot him in the knee.” It wasn’t surprising to realize that he was hoping that Jeffery would do exactly one of those things.
“Of course Alpha.”
He couldn’t help but grin at his own hope echoed back at him from the other werewolf and saw an answering smile from Chris.
Jensen was practically vibrating by the time it was just them and Jared in the clearing but he didn’t want anything getting back to those that had stood against him initially. He knew things were only under his control because of Chris’ timely arrival and anything could tip the scales back the other way. Still it felt like hours passed, not minutes, until the clearing was devoid of witnesses and he spun as he dropped to his knees.
“Jay?” He said softly, palm of one hand slipping between his cheek and the cold ground, the other resting against his chest. “Jay can you hear me?”
Jared shifted a little bit and a wet noise gurgled through his chest.
It was enough; it was going to have to be for now. He leaned down, ignoring the stink of unwelcome hands covering his mate’s body. “Hold on for just a second, please. I swear I’ll take care of you.”
A couple of Jared’s fingers on his left hand twitched and he gently curled his own around them and squeezed.
“Chris,” he lifted his head and met his eyes, trying to convey exactly how grateful he was. “Thanks. I didn’t expect you to help and...”
He shook his head, “Don’t Alpha.”
“You don’t have to call me Alpha.” He tried softly,
“Yeah,” he sighed and rested the barrel of the shotgun on his shoulder. “I kind of do.”
Jensen resisted the urge to close his eyes but let his sigh of resignation slide through. History only went so far apparently but pack loyalty lasted, at least with Chris and as long as Jensen stayed, he was pack Alpha to Chris. “Okay.”
“I may have over stepped my bounds Alpha, but I sent a couple of weres and Dr. Carlson to your home to collect...well...yeah.”
It would take more than Chris making the call to have his father’s body taken care of for Jensen to say he was out of bounds. Scant hours before this wouldn’t even be an issue and it only reinforced how far apart they were now.
“How squeamish are you Chris?”
He raised an eyebrow, “I’m sorry?”
Now that he wasn’t just thinking a moment at a time, something odd about the night had finally sunk into his brain. It was pretty obvious that Chris had no part of any plan that may have been played out but he was pretty sure somebody had. Generally, family units, parents and non-mated children, shifted together during the lunar cycle, it wasn’t so much tradition as habit carried forward from the very beginning. Once upon a time the children shifted first and then one parent before the other. It was a way to protect the family during the shift and even though it wasn’t really necessary now, it continued. But not only had he, himself, been absent but so had Chris and it apparently, Mackenzie. Why?
“Why were you not at my place for the shift tonight?” He asked low, he had a theory but didn’t want to reveal anything until he had a better idea.
“I was but you weren’t there and your dad sent me to fetch you. He was already pissed because Mac had opted to shift at a friend’s place.” He shrugged, “Figured you’d be with the vamp...with Jared and I just followed your scent from here to where I came across you. Why?”
His stomach was starting to twist it’s self into knotes and he wasn’t sure what he wanted the answer to his next question to be. “Was anyone else at the house?”
“Morgan.” He spat, “Just like always. Like to know where the fuck he was when your father was attacked.”
Pretty sure I do know. He kept the words locked behind his clenched teeth. Chris would figure out what he was thinking soon enough but now, more than ever, he had to let him get to the conclusion on his own. “I want Dr. Carlson to do an autopsy on dad and I want you in the room. Have Dr. Carlson point out any bites to you and check them closely. I want to know if they were made by vampire teeth or werewolf.”
He paled and took a step back, “You think Jeffery...” He shook his head, “No. He’s not gutsy enough to try that.”
“Why not?” He shot back, “He was a pack Alpha and only an Alpha can take down another pack Alpha without help.”
“Vampires can kill a pack Alpha.” He tried desperately.
Obviously it was one thing for Chris to deal with Jeffery trying to kill off Jared and forcefully take the title of pack Alpha from Jensen. Another thing entirely for him to believe that he would attack the pack Alpha that had given him shelter in his time of need.
“Plural, Chris.” He pointed out quietly, “And we both know where Jared was earlier tonight.”
Something that was not quite disgust flickered over his features before they settled into almost disbelief. “Where is the other one?” He glanced around the clearing like it just occurred to him that Chad or Chad’s body wasn’t in sight.
“I’ll explain later. For now, get Dr. Carlson and get to it. I want the results by mid-morning.”
He could still read Chris and knew he wanted to argue. Maybe he would have if the facts weren’t what they were but that was something Jensen would never know. Finally he clenched his jaw closed, nodded once and walked away.
Jensen sighed but pushed away the hurt that flared up. He had made his decision and Chris had made his, they were both going to have to live with it.
He carefully worked his arms under Jared’s body and hefted him up as he stood. He had to swallow heavily to stop from heaving at the feeling and sound of bones grinding together.
Jared gurgled again and dark blood slid out from between his parted lips.
“Hang on mate.” He pressed his temple against Jared’s forehead, “I’ll take care of you.”
As gently as he possibly could, so not to jostle him more than necessary, Jensen carried Jared up the three steps and through the broken door of the cabin.