By: Every Me Every You
Summary: After Clayton bites Elena, Jeremy is forced to banish him from Stonehaven. Jeremy's POV.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own a single character in this piece, although I wish I did. I don't own Jeremy and Clayton Danvers, Elena Michaels, any of the werewolf pack or any of the ideas Kelley Armstrong created in her Women of the Otherworld novels. All props go to her and her incredibly creative mind.
Pairings: Clayton/Elena, I guess…although that's pretty dodgy at this point.
Spoilers: Just for Bitten.
A/N: Reviews make me happy. They are sustenance for the hungry writer. Please oblige. Thanks!
I look down at this human woman, this Elena, laying in a bed in Stonehaven, and I want to be angry with her. Until last night, things had been going well. In walks Elena, and life turns upside down. So, anger seems like an appropriate reaction.
What I feel, instead, is pity.
When I should be concerned about the security of the Pack, about exposure risks, about mutiny from within, what I'm actually thinking about is her life. Her world. And how it's about to come crashing down around her. I don't know her. I don't even understand what it's like to be human and not know that werewolves exist. But I heard her speaking earlier. I know she loves Clayton, trusts him. And I understand what it's like to have the one person in the world you're supposed to be able to trust pull the rug out from under you. So, in a way, Elena and I are kindred spirits in this experience. I'm concerned for her physical safety, yes. But I'm more concerned for her mental state. It's a side note that if I can't keep her calm and help her deal with this, I may have to kill her to stop her from exposing us.
That only matters if I can help her survive this. I soak another cloth in icy water and apply it to her forehead, hoping to bring down her fever.
That 'if' wasn't looking like it would be turning into a 'when' any time soon.
It is hours before I feel confident leaving her alone for a moment, and hours more before I actually do.
I find Clayton sitting in the study, his head in his hands. He doesn't look up, even as he senses my entrance. He just mumbles through his hands. "Is she okay?"
"For now," I answer and my voice is calm despite the rage that is building up within me at his nerve. "I can't promise any miracles. I will keep trying. But the one thing I can not do is reverse what you've done." The words come out sharp.
Clayton looks up just as sharply. His eyes are red-rimmed and wide, like he's living in a waking nightmare. I know the feeling. I still can't figure out how this happened. One minute I was reading a medical journal, the next minute there was a girl in my house. A day later, I was nursing a bitten werewolf. Not a bit of this was expected. Not a bit of it welcomed.
"I panicked," he says, and his voice is shaking. "I didn't mean to. I-I-I panicked."
I have never seen him like this. My heart is slamming around in my chest, a steady percussion that beats in time with the headache that won't seem to go away. I take a deep breath to keep myself steady, to try to reign in my emotions. People rarely got to see what was going on inside - I was not about to start with Clayton. Not right now.
I couldn't feel anger towards Elena. I couldn't feel anything but anger towards Clay.
I clear my throat. "May I speak to you as an equal for a moment?" I ask, and the words come out almost prim. Like I'm asking him if he'd like a spot of tea. It's so absurd, it's nearly laughable, and I wonder how I will explain this mess to 'Tonio and Peter, after all is said and done.
There is a look of alarm on his face that, even to another werewolf, would be extreme. "Um...I don't think that - "
I cut him off. "You seem to believe you can make choices for everyone as though you're my equal, why stop behaving that way now?" The words come out louder than I meant, and more harsh, and I realize that I'm tipping my hand here. Nobody will accuse me of my usual stoic unflappable nature.
"Jeremy, I'm sorry," Clay implores, holding his hands out, palms up, as if granting me an offering of some kind. "I know you said I couldn't tell her, but I thought, if she just saw me, she'd recognize me."
I lower myself into my chair, and my hand comes up to rub at the bridge of my nose. There was only one way this day could end, and it wasn't with a hearty apology. "As usual you found your way around my rules. Never quite disobeying, but always managing to completely skirt around them as though they do not exist. I'll ask again. May I speak to you as an equal?"
Clayton swallows hard and nods jerkily. There is a look of terror in his eyes and I realize he knows exactly where this is going.
"The minute you showed up with this girl I should have known how this was going to end. And even after I told you she needed to go, I should have know you would have tried to find a way around it, like you always do," I tell him, but the words are difficult to push out, the words sticking to my throat. I'm not used to admitting my own doubts, my own weaknesses, but somehow, despite everything he has put me through, will put me through, I feel like I owe him this. "I knew this part of you. I never wanted to acknowledge it, but I know what you are capable of when pushed and I pushed. But I was still reeling from the first indiscretion, so much so that I never quite grasped onto what I should have seen coming. Never could I believe that you were capable of telling so many lies to me, to your Pack brothers. And I truly hope you lied to them, Clayton. I do not want to find out that they disobeyed me too."
Clayton looks like he did that night when I finally kicked Malcolm out. When he told me he believed it was his fault that Malcolm had killed that woman. He looks like he did then, like a child, and my heart clenches at the image, my brain railing against what I know needs to be done.
That, coupled with his silence, however, make me sure that Nick and, likely, Logan knew everything that was going on here. There were going to be a great many disciplinary talks in my future. How could I know? Because I had left him the loophole. I had told him I did not want to find out that they disobeyed and therefore Clayton, far too intelligent for his own good and in that twisted way that he perceived everything, would read that as me asking him not to tell me. Damn him.
"I have made many excuses for your behavior in the past Clayton," I continue, and these words come out easier because there is no need to hide them. He and I both understand how our relationship is different from my relationship with any of the others. "I knew who I was taking in when I chose to bring you here and since, I have excused many actions with an explanation of your feral nature, how you're more wolf than the rest of us. But like any human child who needs to cope with a troubled childhood, there comes a point where excuses no longer protect such a person, and they need to be held responsible for their own actions lest they deal themselves their own destruction. I was wrong, Clayton." The words are spat out, and they feel like razors cutting into my tongue. I want to blame this sense of pride on being Alpha, but this was definitely just a part of who I was. I was rarely wrong. So I didn't appreciate having to admit when I was. "I wasn't strict enough with you. I didn't set nearly enough ground rules -"
"You set plenty of ground rules," Clay interrupts me, his voice desperate, and suddenly I realize that he's not trying to plead his own case. He's trying to absolve me of guilt. And that, somehow, makes this so much worse.
"Not enough!" I shout, and the sound rings in my ears and echoes through the walls of Stonehaven. "Not enough to keep me from having to clean up your messes! Not enough to protect her!" I jab my finger in the direction of the room I have left Elena in, suddenly filled with the insane worry that I may have woken her, as though that could possibly be the worst of her or my problems. I clear my throat, and when I speak again it is a low rumble. "If she survives this do you know what you've created? The only female werewolf. Do you know what that will make her to every single mutt out there? How could you have done this? What were you thinking?"
"I wasn't thinking," Clay answers with a harsh humorless laugh. "I wasn't thinking. I just...you were going to make her leave. And I couldn't...I couldn't be without her..."
I nodded, fighting for calm. "Then you should have taken her and left. I offered you the option."
The look in Clayton's eyes told me he was being torn in two. "I couldn't leave either. Jeremy, without the Pack, without her, without you...I don't know what...who I'm supposed to be."
Everything within me screamed to stop this. To help him. He was my son. In every way that mattered. And here I was, purposefully pulling him apart.
"If your reasons for the crime were that you couldn't leave here and you couldn't leave her...well, considering the fact that she is here now, it seems fitting that your punishment be -"
I don't even have to say it. "No."
"And we're still not obeying orders," I answer, and it comes off as far more flippant than I'm actually feeling.
"It's not an order yet. Please don't make it an order." His words come out in a whisper.
I want to be harsh. To demand that he leave in a storm of anger and fire, but he looks so broken, I'm surprised when I can't bring myself to do it.
Not that way. But it still needs to be done.
"She needs to heal," I tell him. "And when she does, how do you think she's going to see you? I can't have her running away from you, running into the street and trying to live this on her own. She'll die out there. Worse, she'll kill. And then we'll all be in danger. I can't risk that."
Clayton hears my words, but I'm not sure he's listening. His eyes are darting around the room. A caged animal metaphor seems appropriate here, but it wouldn't really be a metaphor would it?
For a moment, in my eyes he's that young wolf, trying to find purchase in a wild, confusing world. And I almost can't do it. I almost don't. My heart stutters in my chest, and I can barely breathe. And Clay is watching this, he can see that it isn't easy.
Because I love him. Which is why I have no choice. If I don't do this, if I continue to protect him, how can he ever learn the consequences of his actions?
"As of today, I order you to leave Stonehaven until such time as I request your return." It couldn't get much clearer than that. I was sure to leave no loopholes available.
His eyes meet mine, and they're more than wounded. There are tears there and he is struggling to keep them in.
I allow myself to soften for a moment, so I'm not all rage and bluster the last time he sees me, for I don't know how long. "I'm sorry Clayton. This time, I can't protect you."
He nods, gets up and walks out of the room and I listen carefully, making sure he is going to his own room instead of the one I have chosen for Elena. He packs a bag and heads out through the front door and the door slams behind him hard enough to rattle the house.
The door has just closed when I hear Elena begin to scream. I glance up in the direction of her room and I know it's a fever dream. I know she can't help what's happening to her.
I haul myself up from my chair and head towards her room, dread spreading through every fiber of me.
Yes, there are consequences for every action and inaction. And my consequences for ignoring Clayton's behavior are just beginning.