Banner by inanna_maat
Title: You and I Collide pt.5
Please see Master Post for the rest of fic details.
Vampires rarely dreamed but when they did they were usually fairly intense. Usually it was memories of the life they had before the change, sometimes pivotal moments after, and on the very rare occasion, those that they had chosen to bond with.
So it was understandable that dreaming about Jensen or more specifically dreaming about feeding from Jensen was enough to pull Jared almost completely from unconsciousness. But he didn’t want to wake, he had been thinking about this particular moment since they had decided to come together and the dream was vivid enough that he didn’t want to lose it just yet. Maybe, if he could keep the phantom taste of Jensen’s blood in his mind, it would ease the ache of being stuck waiting until his bond was ready to leave.
Generally, Jared was a patient man, it was hard not to be and still survive in the world as a vampire, but he was drawing close to the end of his rope. He kind of understood that Jensen felt the need to tie up as many loose ends as possible before he left the pack. Got that it was important to him to leave his unfinished work and outline as to how to do his job and run the town as translucent as possible so that whoever would fill his absence had very little trouble. Could understand wanting just one more pack hunt with his family because, although they had never spoken about it, they both knew that there was a chance he would never set foot on Ackles pack land again.
But by God he wanted.
Jensen called him his mate. Jared thought of him as his bond. No matter what they called it, it wasn’t much of anything as long as they were still there, still hiding and barely touching and not completing their commitment.
So this had to hold him for at least a few more days. It wasn’t much longer now, only until the night of the first full moon and they would be gone.
Something struck him as wrong with that. Hadn’t they already gotten to the first night of the full moon?
Voices raised in anger echoed through his mind and flashes of wolves and angry humans cut through him. There had been pain and he had been certain that Jensen was dead and he was going to follow soon.
And he damn well knew it hadn’t been a dream.
Jared’s eyes fluttered as he tried to force his way past his fatigue to consciousness. He needed to know what was going on. Where he was. Where Jensen was.
“That’s it Jay.” Warm breath tickled his ear, “Come on mate open your eyes for me.”
The room was in semi-darkness, the only light coming from a lamp on the nightstand, half hidden behind Jensen.
“Hey.” He smiled down at him.
He had to clear his dry throat a couple times and tasted copper and a taste that he always associated with the heavy smell of ozone just before a rain storm, before he could speak. “Jen? What happened?”
Jensen lifted his right wrist to his mouth and licked across it a couple times. “What do you remember?”
He squinted and tried to recall the images that had plagued him just before he woke up. “There was a fight, I think. Werewolves came for me. I thought you were dead.”
He shifted a little until he was leaning against the headboard and Jared had to twist to see him clearly. “My dad’s dead.”
Jensen stared across the room, “It looks like he was attacked while he was shifting. Jeffery Morgan, I told you about him, the vampire hater, he...uh...he started spouting off and got the pack believing it was vampires.” He glanced down at him, “You and Chad.”
The memories were getting clearer, going with Jensen, getting attacked by a were in the forest, coming back to the cabin worried that Jensen was wasting time with him when he should be stopping the were from telling the pack what he had seen. Then not much after Jensen had finally left to go hunting for the werewolf, except for weres, in both wolf and human form, breaking into the cabin and him quickly losing the fight.
“They were going to kill me because they thought I had murdered your dad not because of what the werewolf that caught us last night saw?” It seemed so surreal and didn’t really make any sense. Why would anyone think that he would attack Jensen’s dad, the pack Alpha, when he had given him and Chad sanctuary when he could have turned them away. You didn’t bite the hand that fed you, everyone knew that.
“That was Chris,” Jensen worked his fingers through Jared’s hair, the occasional tug not lessening the pleasant tingling it caused. “You met him the first day I brought you blood from the clinic. He’s the head Warden and is, was, my best friend.”
“Jen...” he wanted to apologize and try to ease the pain in his bond’s voice.
“We knew it was going to happen Jay.” He smiled sadly down at him, “Anyway, he didn’t go to the pack just like I knew he wouldn’t. He gave me a chance to explain and then my sister showed up at Steve’s and told me about my dad and then said that Jeffery was going to make you pay.” He shuddered, “I thought you would be dead by the time I got here. I’ll never forget the way you looked, all battered and bloody and more unconscious than not. I never want to see you like that again.”
Jared slid his hand across the small space separating them and rested his hand on his thigh. He gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Long story short, I stopped Jeffery from ripping your head off, literally, and Chris stopped the majority of the pack from attacking us with the threat of shooting everyone with silver bullets. Dr. Carlson, Steve, is doing an autopsy on my father’s body as we speak because I think maybe it was a werewolf that took my father’s life and Jeffery and the werewolves that attacked you are in those special cells I told you about in the basement of Chris’ office.”
It was a lot to process even as the short version and he knew eventually he was going to have to hear the longer version but for now it was enough. So Jensen had saved him. Chris had saved them. And Jeffery had probably murdered Jensen’s father. And he thought nest politics were fucked.
But there was something missing, he knew he had been damn near close to death and yet he felt remarkably well. He took quick stock of his body. He was achy and knew exactly which bones had been broken and where the break occurred in each, including his jaw but they were close to be completely healed. He didn’t feel the nauseous gnawing in his stomach from not having enough blood in his system and he was fairly confident that if the urge struck, other than a little wobbling, he would be able to get out of the bed.
The thick taste of copper and ozone flickered through his thoughts as he saw, in his mind’s eye, Jensen licking at his wrist.
“You fed me.”
Jensen shrugged a shoulder, “Of course I did. I wasn’t going to leave you like that Jared, I couldn’t. But I wasn’t going to let anyone else near you. Not the few werewolves I still hold a little trust in or the humans of town.”
“You could have kept me on the blood from the clinic.” It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate what had been done for him but it would have taken a lot of blood for him to feel like he did now, fresh or not. And the idea of taking that much from Jensen, at any time but especially now, made him sick to his stomach. Jensen wanted to protect him but the same rang true for him, even if it meant protecting Jensen from him.
Shadows appeared on his face and in his eyes, “No, I really couldn’t. You’re my mate Jared; I had to do everything I could to help. It was only a little blood. It’s not like my body won’t replenish it.”
He shook his head, instantly regretting it when white star bursts flashed behind his eyes but he continued on. “Jensen you are my bond, or mate if you rather, not my personal blood bank.”
“But I am your mate.” He leaned down and brushed their lips together, “And you can’t say you wouldn’t have done the same for me if I was the vampire.”
He narrowed his eyes but kept his mouth shut. Jensen was right but it didn’t mean he had to like it.
“So what happens now?” He asked as Jensen sat back up.
He blew out a breath, “Well as of right now, I’m pack Alpha and I will be until I call my brother to come take my place. If it comes back that it was Jeffery that killed my father, I’ll show the results to the whole pack at a pack meeting and put it to a pack vote to decide what happens to those that attacked you.”
It didn’t miss his attention that Jensen hadn’t said what would happen to Jeffery.
“And Jeffery? What happens to him?”
Jensen narrowed his eyes and his smile turned feral, “I kill him.”
Jensen glanced away from the infomercial he had been staring at for the last half hour, although if asked, he wouldn’t be able to say what the perky blonde was trying to sell, and over towards the door when soft rapping caught his attention. He had been trying to work up the courage to call his brother and let him in on all that was happening now that he had finally convinced Jared to sleep for a few hours. Although it hadn’t taken much arguing for his vampire to give in but given the circumstances, he wasn’t really all that surprised.
He hadn’t been thinking straight when he had picked Jared up and carried him back into cabin fourteen, all that had mattered had been to get him off the ground and away from any prying eyes that may still be lingering nearby. It wasn’t until after he had fed Jared the first time and his sensitive ears picked up the distinct sounds of bones knitting together that it occurred to him that they couldn’t stay there. It wasn’t so much out of fear of another attack, no one was going to be stupid enough to try, especially with Jeffery locked away, but it had been where Jared had been attacked. What was left of the door was barely hanging on by the bent top hinge and the living room was a shambles of broken furniture and smeared blood.
In the end, once he was fairly certain that he wouldn’t have to feel or hear the sounds of Jared’s broken bones grinding together and that leaving him alone for a couple minutes didn’t make his heart pound so badly that he thought he was having a heart attack, he had gone to the office and procured a key for a new cabin. For all intents and purposes it looked exactly the same as the first one except, of course, it didn’t look like a tornado had torn through it. It was a little thing and they were only a handful of feet away from the original cabin but it settled him enough that he no longer had to fight the urge to just bundle Jared in his truck and drive as fast as possible out of town.
He glanced at his wrist, belatedly realizing that he wasn’t wearing his watch and wasn’t exactly sure where it was. But it felt like it was still too early for Steve to be through with his autopsy and, besides, the knock was too soft to be Chris’. He guessed it could have been one of the humans from town since they would have woken that morning to find a distinct lack of werewolves out and about, coming to see what was going on. It would be pretty gusty for them, since they generally left it up to Steve to find out what was going on when things seemed odd even to them but Jensen was fairly friendly with some of them. He guessed if they couldn’t find Steve then maybe one of them would come looking for him and it’s not like he had hidden where he was, Troy had given him the key for the cabin.
Honestly, he didn’t want to have to deal with any of the humans and sure as hell wasn’t ready to tell them any of what had gone on the night before but they had a right to know. This was their town, their home, just as much as any of the werewolves and they had just as much of a vested interest in it as his own kind.
Who he didn’t expect was for it to be Mackenzie on the other side of the door.
“What are you doing here?” He growled, everything was still too fresh, her betrayal of him still to new for him to feel particularly charitable towards her. “Everyone who was involved in that little get together last night is on house arrest and that includes you.”
She glanced up, met his eyes briefly before looking back down at her clasped hands before her. “I didn’t know.” She said softly and he caught the movement of her twisting and untwisting her fingers together from the corner of his eyes.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Now really isn’t the best time Mackenzie.” He stepped back and started to swing the door closed. She didn’t know about his and Jared’s relationship but it didn’t stop the flare of anger at seeing her. She had been a part of the weres who had tried to kill his mate and take his pack from him and until he got a little better control of himself, distance was the best option for both of them.
“I’m leaving the pack.”
Jensen stilled and narrowed his eyes. Mackenzie could be a little dramatic when she wanted something but you didn’t use something like that as a way of getting it. You just didn’t. There was no threatening to leave the pack, you either did or you didn’t. If you said it out loud you had to be prepared to follow through because from that moment on your loyalty would be in question if you changed your mind and tried to stay.
His arm snapped out and he grabbed her shoulder, “Get in here.” He snarled and tugged her inside before releasing her and slamming the door shut. He spun and stared down at her, “Come again?”
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise for her that he would react like that. Beyond the fact that a pack member had just told their Alpha that she were leaving, she was his sister, his younger sister, and yes he was livid with her but she was still his family. Had it not occurred to her that saying something like that would bring out his protective streak? Granted he was kind of surprised by it, himself, but it wasn’t like she had been the one to rally the pack against his mate. At least, as far as he knew and he could only hope like hell that she had only been a pawn not one of the ringleaders.
“Come on Jensen,” she sighed before shrugging. “I sided with Jeffery and he challenged you to the right to be pack Alpha. We all know what that means.”
He shook his head, of all the archaic... “Mackenzie, I’m not going to run you or any of the others out of town with your tails tucked between your legs. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t been done in any pack for centuries.”
She shrugged again and he really wished she would stop staring at her feet. “I should have sided with my family.” She finally glanced up, met his eyes and held them. “You. But I didn’t. No one in the pack is ever going to look at me the same again. You are never going to look at me the same way again.”
He ran a frustrated hand through his hair, now would probably be the opportune time to tell her that he was leaving so it would be a little easier on her to stay. But if he told her she would want to know why and he wasn’t ready to share that particular piece of information with her or anyone else just yet, if ever.
“Look,” he bit his lower lip trying to find the words to make her stay but not make her suspicious or mistakenly think he had forgiven her. “Just wait for a couple days, okay?”
“Why?” She didn’t sound suspicious, just curious and that was to be expected.
“Because as Alpha I’m telling you to.”
It wasn’t an answer and they both knew it but there was no way she was going to question him further, he could see it in her eyes. She hadn’t wanted to leave the pack, that much was obvious by the way her body marginally relaxed, but had thought it was the only option open to her. He had given her the reprieve she hadn’t dared to ask for.
Mackenzie took a couple quick steps forward and raised her arms as if to embrace him, “Thanks Jen. I’m sor...”
Shaking his head, Jensen stepped back out of her reach and opened the door.
It hurt to watch her face crumble but not as much as it would have if this had just been about backing a challenging werewolf.
He should have heard Chris coming long before he got to the door but then again he should have heard Mackenzie too. Though in his defence he was dealing with so much shit that it was almost too much work just to keep from losing it. Still that was no excuse; he was going to have to be more attentive, if not for himself, than for Jared.
“I’m actually leaving.” She bowed and tilted her head to the side, “Alpha.”
He inclined his head marginally and silently followed her with his eyes as she walked out the door and slipped past Chris with a quiet “Christian.”
Jensen watched Chris watch his sister walk down the stairs and head back towards the main area of the grounds. He wanted to be heartened that his friend didn’t turn back until his sister was lost from sight as she went around a bend in the road but couldn’t be bothered to try. After last night and Chris’ outright refusal to refer to him as anything but Alpha, he knew he was doing it as a loyal pack member keeping any eye on one that wasn’t so loyal not as a friend protecting a friend.
And it hurt when he did finally turn to meet his gaze and he could see the curiosity swirling in his eyes. Chris wanted to know what had just gone on but wasn’t about to ask even though Jensen wouldn’t have minded. But pack members didn’t question their Alpha about anything, simply waited to be informed and that’s all he saw himself as now.
“I have the results you requested Alpha.” He lifted a manila folder he had clutched in his hand.
Jensen clenched his teeth to stop from snapping at him. He hated the distance between them but he had done that, he had betrayed their friendship even if it felt like there had never been a choice, and there was nothing he could do to change that.
Not a single fucking thing.
He was pretty sure that Chris wasn’t trying to keep the folder from him on purpose but it took a moment to pull it from his white knuckled grasp. He didn’t allow himself to take that as a sign of either being right or wrong and Chris trying to protect him from the truth. He wasn’t like that, too straightforward in his belief that you dealt with things head on right away or got blindsided trying to deal with the consequences later. No, he was pretty sure it had everything to do with what he would find in the folder that had Chris so tense that he couldn’t even seem to make his fingers work.
It tipped the scales farther towards him believing that who had killed his father had been a werewolf not a vampire. And yes, there seemed to be a lot of evidence leading towards Jeffery being the one who had murdered his father. Little things he had said over the year, the look that had occasionally flickered across his face when his father had been dealing with pack problems, his use of “our pack” instead of “your pack”, like being pack Alpha had been something he had shared with his dad. Then there were the bigger things that seemed to scream he did it, the fact that a pack Alpha had been killed and only another pack Alpha or someone born to be a pack Alpha, usually were the only ones that could accomplish that, the fact that from the moment he had shown up in town he had always shifted with them during the entire three-day cycle of the full moon but the night his dad gets attacked he’s strangely absent, the way too organised and quick gathering of the pack to his side when he rallied them to attack Jared and challenge him. It reeked of planning, lots and lots of planning and Jensen just couldn’t get past that.
But on the other hand, his dad had been attacked during a shift and even a pack Alpha could be easily taken down during a shift. And Chad had conveniently gone missing just before it had happened. A single vampire with a chip on its shoulder could kill his dad. And more than just Jared’s words led him to believe that Chad was exactly that, a vampire with an axe to grind.
If it had been Chad though, why not just come after him? He was the one that had led his friend astray, not his father. But then again, it wasn’t like he could possibly understand the way the vampire’s mind worked. Hell he was still trying to wrap his own mind around the fact that not only had Jeffery convinced the pack that he would make the better Alpha but to kill Jensen if he didn’t back down and let them have Jared. If he couldn’t understand his own kind, then he couldn’t be faulted for not understanding a vampire.
He tried to ignore the way his hands were shaking as he opened the folder. This was it, either he was going to have to tell his mate that his friend had murdered his father and deal with the fallout or he was going to have to tell the pack that one of their own had betrayed them and deal with the fallout there. He let his eyes skim down the first page, ignoring most of the information.
There was only one thing he needed to know.
In that moment, the answer did nothing more than make him feel numb.
“Okay.” He muttered low, “Okay.”
Jensen stood on the little stage at the end of the gymnasium and stared out at the assembled pack, seated uncomfortably on hard plastic chairs but not daring to move and anger him further. In truth, he was pretty sure most of them were barely breathing and he took a moment to let that settle him.
They were petrified.
They damn well better be.
It really hadn’t come as a shock to him that once he told Chris to pass the word that he wanted the whole pack in the high school gymnasium in an hour that they had done it. Not because he was Alpha but because he was Alpha and he was pissed and the majority of them had probably spent the time between being told to return home and stay there and being summoned worrying about what he planned to do to them.
He was well within his right to banish the lot of them but that would be cutting his own nose off despite his face. It would effectively kill the town; the humans could handle things on their own for a day or two, maybe a week tops, but the werewolf to human ratio was pretty one-sided in favor of the weres. Really, they should all have thought of that but looking out at them, even if they had tried to be logical while they sweated out the night wondering what would happen, it appeared not to have comforted them much.
There were other punishments, some older than time, that hadn’t been considered in centuries, like keeping the children and banishing the parents or cutting them with a silver knife so that only enough silver entered the bloodstream to cause an ache for the rest of their lives but wouldn’t kill them to newer ways. Fines, restrictions on free time or shifts, adding extra work. Of course he could contact the government and let them deal with them but again that would be only bite him and the town in the ass. It was an iffy thing, dealing with the government, you never knew when they would decide to make an example of someone, or several someones, and they could lose the town altogether.
He rubbed his index finger along the manila file folder clutched in his right hand, besides he already had the perfect punishment.
“Good morning.” He nodded to Chris and the werewolves who had sided with him the night before, sitting off to the side before turning back to glare out at the others staring back at him.
“Good morning Alpha.”
It wasn’t said as one, not that he ever heard a single group of people say anything in complete sync, other than maybe the military, and fairly quiet considering just how many people were there.
Jensen could drag this out, rehash everything that had gone on the night before but he really wasn’t interested in doing so. He had reluctantly left Jared on his own because he had no choice but that didn’t mean that he was going to take more time than necessary before he got back to him.
“The vampire, Jared Padalecki, will survive his injuries.” He smiled but the gesture held no mirth. Referring to Jared as “the vampire” twisted inside him and tasted bitter on his tongue. Jared wasn’t “the vampire”, he was Jensen’s vampire but that was something he was not about to share with the assembled pack. “Which, considering that killing a vampire would be looked upon as an act of war to both the vampire society and the government, I’d say we got off lucky.”
He tapped the file against his thigh, “Of course, he could lodge a complaint against the Ackles pack to the government.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Chris raise a hand and rub at his mouth, hiding the smirk as several of the others starting looking between themselves, varying degrees of panic flashing back and forth. He wished that he felt the same smug satisfaction that Chris did but Jared could lodge a complaint with the government if he chose too. Granted, he would try to talk him out of it, not so much for those of the pack that had gone against them, but for those that hadn’t but, in the end, it would be his mate’s choice. But Chris didn’t know that and if he wanted to take some pleasure from watching most of the pack squirm, he wasn’t going to say or do anything to deter him, especially considering how things were between them now. He was pissed at Jensen, would probably never forgive him for mating with a vampire but, at least, he trusted him enough to believe that Jensen would do everything within his power to protect the pack.
“Especially when he learns the contents of this file.” He raised it above his head and waited until all eyes were back on him. “I asked Dr. Carlson to do an autopsy on my father’s body and Christian to assist to ensure that the findings were correct.”
He let his arm drop back to his side, ignoring the urge to toss it out into the crowd in a petty show of anger and waited for the quiet grumbling to settle down. It was to be expected, when a werewolf died the body was cremated and the ashes spread on the wind. What they didn’t do was allow a human to desecrate a pack member’s body. But he had a damn good reason and enough anger to circumvent that.
“It appears that my father wasn’t attack by vampires.” He said low, “The claw marks and bite wounds could only have been made by a werewolf.”
There was no satisfaction from listening to them erupt in denial and outrage but he let it continue until some of them dared to jump up from their seats.
“Sit down!” He barely waited until everyone was settled before he started again. “You want to know who among us would attack and kill our pack Alpha?” He stalked from one end of the stage to the other, not particularly caring or listening to what was being yelled back at him. It didn’t matter if some of them or all of them wanted to live in denial, they would learn the truth if he had to choke them with it. “Who amongst us had motive and means? Who was it that demanded the heads of the vampires? Who led you to Jared Padalecki?”
It was like someone had flipped a switch, the silence in the gym was instant and deafening.
Soft sobbing started somewhere near the back of the room before there was a scrape of chair legs and Mackenzie appeared from behind those in front.
“Jeffery Morgan, Alpha. It was Jeffery who showed up after most of us were in the clearing asking after dad last night.” She swiped angrily at the tears streaming down her face, “It was Jeffery who led me to dad and then claimed he recognized the bite marks as vampire bites. It was Jeffery who told the others, said we should hunt them down for what they had done.”
It was instantaneous, the explosion of sound, some werewolves were jumping to their feet again and calling for Jeffery’s head, others were sobbing and yet others were begging for forgiveness. He let it go on until it looked like he was going to lose control of the pack and Christian and his loyal werewolves were shooting him nervous looks. There weren’t a lot of those who had stood by him the night before and one of the only things that had given Jensen the upper hand last night had been the fact that he was Alpha and weres were predisposed to bow down to him. It didn’t mean that he couldn’t lose control now.
“Shut! Up!” He growled, “And sit down!”
The gymnasium hadn’t been chosen only because it was the only place that could hold them all, comfortably, but also for the acoustics. He knew what would happen when he told them who had actually killed their Alpha and he needed for them to hear him even in their rage.
“Jeffery Morgan will be dealt with soon.” He smiled darkly, “Make no mistake but first there is business to finish. Christian has informed me that, with the exception of two, the werewolves that physically attacked the vampire, Jared Padalecki, were original members of the Morgan pack. I don’t claim to know with any certainty but I question their lack of foreknowledge and I do not trust them nor want them in the pack. That being said, I leave it to you to decide if they can stay or go. And yes that includes the two members from our own pack.”
He looked from them over to Chris who was standing, impassive by the doors out. He already knew what his opinion was; he had heard it loud and long when the dam finally broke after he had read the file for himself. Chris wanted them all dead or banished or preferably both, though he never quite explained how Jensen was supposed to accomplish that one.
It was the sounds of little ones crying that brought his attention back to the problem at hand. He let it go a little bit longer before he raised a hand for quiet and everyone began to settle once again. This was where it was going to get tricky, three of the Morgan pack had taken mates and two of the weres were born Ackles pack members. Out of the five men and two women, three had cubs.
Snarls and growls of assent rent the air, almost loud enough to drown out the sounds of crying and begging for a second chance.
The noise level was a little bit louder; apparently most of the pack had lost their taste for blood.
A petit, brunette werewolf named Alexis stood up and ran to the front of the room, a baby held in her arms. “Please, I was born in this pack, you all know me, know my three cubs. Please don’t make us leave.”
“No one said you or yours had to leave Alexis.”
Jensen scanned the crowd until he spotted Justin close to where Mackenzie was seated.
“Scott is my mate.” She hugged her youngest closer to her and glared defiantly at the others.
“Kerr is mine.”
“Riley is my mate.”
“I’m mated to Jason.”
All four women were standing now; making the others look at them, accept that there was more at stake than just banishing seven pack mates. Jensen knew they would go if they were forced to, he understood them far better than anyone in the room could know and that was why he was leaving the decision of their fates to the pack. Let them look into the eyes of pack mates, women they had watched grow or grown up with, and tell them they had to leave.
It was fast becoming a standoff, people had gone back to looking at each other, the walls, the floor, anywhere but at the women and the women refused to sit back down and be forgotten.
“Half of their possessions,” He suggested, “and lower standing within the pack.”
He really didn’t expect an answer either way so it wasn’t a surprise when small arguments broke out here and there. “You have twenty-four hours to, individually, come to your decision regarding their fates. For now,” he smiled and could feel just how twisted it was, “I claim right as pack Alpha to avenge my father’s death. In two hours, Jeffery Morgan will be escorted, unharmed, to our clearing out in the forest. Attendance is not mandatory.”
Jensen really didn’t care if they all came or none of them did. This wasn’t for them, this was for him.
It was the sound of voices that woke him.
Jared wasn’t sure how long he had slept for but a quick glance at the fine halo of bright light around the heavy drapes covering the window indicated that it couldn’t have been more than a few hours. Briefly, he considered going back to sleep, it was too early and he still felt like he had been hit by a bus, but he could clearly hear the agitation in Jensen’s voice, even if he couldn’t make out the words. If there was something going on, something more, he needed to be out there by his bond’s side, even if he wasn’t sure what kind of help he would be.
Resolute, he pushed himself up and off the bed, ignoring the pain that flared across his body. If the only side effect he was suffering at that point was sore muscles and aching bones, he’d considered it a win.
Grasping the knob of the bedroom door, he stilled for a moment and shut his eyes. If he went out there looking like death warmed over, limping and staggering and wincing, he was going to be more of a liability to Jensen then he already was by being hurt. He was going to have to pull his shit together and appear to be, at least, mostly healed to be seriously taken as any kind of a threat.
Forcing his spine straight and his shoulders back, he pulled open the door and stepped out into the small hall.
“Alpha you can’t do this, please.”
“Stop fucking calling me that!”
He couldn’t see anyone from his vantage point in the hall which was both reassuring and not. A clear line of sight to the main cabin door told him that there weren’t that many bodies in the main room but it didn’t tell him how many. He already knew there were two, one of them Jensen, but that didn’t mean there weren’t more. But he couldn’t hear any struggling and his bond sounded pissed off but not angry like he was being held against his will so he chose to walk calmly into the room.
The last thing either of them needed was for him to go barging in and either escalate the situation or fall flat on his face from being weak.
“But you are Alpha. It’s your Goddamn birthright.”
Jensen laughed, the sound cold, unforgiving, “No, it’s Josh’s birthright. I’m just the spare who got the job because big brother wanted to be big man in Washington.”
“All the more reason to stay. Josh doesn’t want to be Alpha of our pack. We need you.”
Jared recognized the werewolf standing toe to toe with his bond. He was the one that had come with Jensen that first day and, according to Jensen, had been the one that had attacked him in the woods. Jensen had called him his friend or had been until he had found out about them, and he wondered if any of that friendship still remained. He only hoped something of it did or whatever was going on between them could turn bloody.
Chris’ fists were clenched at his side and his was vibrating with his anger. Jared couldn’t really see more of Jensen than his back but he looked to be doing the same.
He bit his lower lip, caught between sliding back down the hall and staying out of the way and making his presence known. Somehow he figured that letting them know that he was there was only going to escalate things. But he didn’t want to leave Jensen. Not that he didn’t think that his bond couldn’t take care of himself but he was his bond and just like Jensen had given his blood to heal him, he would give his support in whatever this battle was, if nothing else.
Chris’ head snapped to the side and he pinned Jared with his glare. “You.”
Well that pretty much decided if he was going to stay or not.
The smaller werewolf started stalking towards him, “This is all your fault. If you hadn’t shown up in our town, none of this would have...”
Jensen moved quicker than either of them expected. Chris had only managed a couple feet before Jensen had him by the arm and yanked him backwards. The other werewolf didn’t fall but it was a near thing and he was a lot closer to the far wall than he had been when Jared had first entered the room.
“None of this is his fault.” Jensen snarled, moving so that he was standing between them. “Jeffery wanted the pack and Jared and Chad were just convenient scapegoats. I’m choosing to leave the pack and yes, Jared is my mate, but do you really think I would have stayed after last night? Three quarters of the pack, my own sister, turned against me. I want nothing to do with them!”
Chris’ face crumpled, there weren’t any tears but it seemed to be a close thing. “What if Josh won’t come home? I can’t do this Jensen. I’m not a pack Alpha.”
He ran a hand through his hair, “But you are an Alpha in your own right. I wouldn’t have given you the job of caring for the pack until Josh’s return unless I believed you could do it.”
He backed up until he was standing beside Jared, “He is my mate Chris and if you can’t accept that, how in the hell is the whole pack supposed too? I’m not giving him up for a pack that betrayed me.” He shook his head, “I won’t.”
His jaw clenched and his eyes, once again, turned hard. “Fine. Fucking fine! Abandon your family, your pack, if that’s what you really want to do for a vampire. But as my first official command as pack Alpha, I’m telling you to get the hell out my town. Vampires and werewolves do not mix and I won’t have your mate stirring things up around here anymore than they already are.”
He felt him stiffen further, “Understood.” Jensen hissed through clenched teeth.
Storming past, he shot a final glare at them before he suddenly stopped at the door. “You have until nightfall.”
It was spoken quietly, so quiet that Jared wasn’t sure he was supposed to hear it but knew that Jensen had.
Without another word, he calmly opened the door, slipped outside and shut it behind him. Only then did Jared tentatively wrap his arms around him and pull him back against his chest.
His laugh was hollow, “My father is dead, most of my pack moved against me and my best friend hates me. So no, I’m really not.”
It didn’t escape his notice that Jensen had said nothing about giving up on the pack and leaving. He supposed he should feel guilty about being pleased but couldn’t find the urge to be. Yes, he was sorry that Jensen was losing his family, his pack, but he was Jared’s bond and, although he could live without him, he didn’t think he would. He wanted, needed, Jensen by his side and Chris’ reaction was proof enough that that wouldn’t be possible if they stayed.
“You know what the real bite to the ass is?” Jensen didn’t sound angry any longer, just resigned, “My suspicious were correct, Jeffery did kill dad and blamed you and Chad for it.”
He didn’t bother to point out that he had figured that out on his own from what Jensen had said earlier. Jensen was venting, probably his way of dealing with everything and Jared wouldn’t take that away from him.
“I invoked my right as pack Alpha to challenge him to a fight during the pack meeting this morning.”
Shock coursed through him, not so much because Jensen had thrown down the proverbial glove but because he had left him and Jared had had no idea. A part of him was pissed, the last time they had been separated, Jared had been attacked because he was a pawn in someone else’s power play and he wasn’t arrogant enough to believe that he could have fought off another attack. But he swallowed it down, if Jensen had been confident enough to believe that nothing would happen, and nothing did, then he needed to get over it. It wasn’t just him anymore and he had to learn to depend on and trust someone else.
“And?” He asked low as he started moving them towards the couch. Now that everything was over with, he was beginning to realize that he wasn’t nearly as healed as he had led himself to believe. He wasn’t going to be dropping dead anytime soon but if they didn’t sit down soon there was the chance that he was going to embarrass himself by hitting the floor and probably take Jensen with him.
He snorted, “He chose to bite through his own wrists and bleed to death rather than facing any kind of punishment. When Chris got back to his office and checked the cells, he found him on the floor already dead.”
Jared could feel anger tighten Jensen’s body again as he lowered them to the couch and let himself be manhandled until they were stretched out on it, Jensen’s chest now pressed to his back. He wouldn’t admit that he was a little relieved that his bond wasn’t facing a fight in the near future. Not that he didn’t believe that Jensen couldn’t win but it was going to be hard enough with him hurt, they didn’t need both of them wounded. Not when they would still be leaving town and he didn’t think that Chris would give them any more time than he already had.
Still Jensen had deserved his revenge, not just because Jeffery had killed his father but also because he had misled the pack into turning against him. “Sorry.”
“And as a bonus I still have to call my older brother and fill him in on everything. Dad, me leaving, the non-decision I made towards those that attacked you.”
Leaning farther into the warm body behind him, trying to convey his support, he let his eyes slip closed. If Jensen didn’t want to talk about his disappointment, he wasn’t going to force the issue. “What do you mean?”
“Well,” he started quietly, “technically you can drag them before the government review board for attacking you.”
His eyes snapped open, it wasn’t that he hadn’t considered it, he just never thought about it but now that Jensen had brought it up, the thought drifted around in his mind. On one hand it was completely within his right but on the other, these were members of Jensen’s pack and did he really want to deal with the fallout from that? Personally, he had never had a run in with the government but he had heard stories, it wasn’t just the offenders that were investigated but their whole nest or in Jensen’s case, his whole pack. Did he really want to be the instigator of that? Sure he had faced practically nothing but animosity since he had arrived but amid it all, he had met his bond. That had to be worth more than the beating he took.
Jared curled his fingers with Jensen’s; he was worth taking a thousand beatings if it meant that he got to keep him.
Besides, no matter how pissed or betrayed Jensen was feeling, eventually he’d calm down and Jared didn’t want to do anything that would hurt him in the long run. And being a bitch and notifying the authorities would hurt him.
“What did you tell the pack?”
If he told him that he believed that Jared would be in contact with the government, he’d make him call Chris and let him know that that wasn’t happening.
“Basically, that if you remained silent that their punishments were up to the pack.”
“Huh.” He wasn’t sure how to take that considering that most of the pack had gone against Jensen in the first place.
“Don’t worry,” he tightened his fingers against his, “they won’t be getting off easy.”
There was more there, a hell of a lot more and he wanted to know exactly what but his eyelids were getting heavy and he was comfortable for the first time in days. They didn’t have to worry about Chad suddenly getting a boost of energy, coming out of his room and catching them. They didn’t have to worry about any werewolf trying to see around the drapes or bursting in. For the first time since this thing started between them, they were pretty much free to do what they wanted.
Well maybe not exactly what they wanted since there was no way he was in any condition to do that, but they could lay there until nightfall if they damn well wanted too.
To Jared, that sounded like the best kind of freedom ever.