Chapter 36 – Torches
I do not own SOA, youtube, X Ambassadors, or Halestorm. I claim all original characters and give no one permission to use them.
The following morning:
Ethan sat up and saw Abel patting the bed down. He was searching for something, but Ethan hadn’t a clue what.
“What’s up, lil dude?”
“I no can find Aunt Linny’s dragon.” The boy cried, and Ethan cut on the lamp and saw tears streaming down the boy’s face.
“I has to find him. He protects me and Aunt Linny from the monsters!”
“Hey…” Ethan softly called, and Abel lifted his head.
“First off… let’s take a deep breath.”
“Deep breath?” Abel questioned.
Ethan nodded and showed him by example. Abel mimicked Ethan then wiped his face with the back of his hand.
“A little,” Abel said with a quivery lip.
“We’ll find him,” Ethan reassured then went on to look on Abel’s side of the bed and beneath.
“Here we go!” Ethan announced after grabbing the dragon and handing it over.
“Thank you,” Abel said then hugged the dragon close.
“Bad dream?” Ethan questioned as he sat beside the boy.
Abel nodded, and Ethan wiped his tears away.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“They is new monsters now.”
“Yes, and they hurts my mommy, daddy, Uncle Chibs, and Aunt Linny. Then they come get me. Daddy say run, but I no run fast enough. They gets me. It was scary.”
Ethan narrowed his eyes on this.
“What do these monsters look like?”
“I no know. I no see their faces.”
“How bout we get a glass of milk and try to get some more sleep?”
“Okays,” Abel said, and Ethan helped him off the bed.
Abel took his hand and Ethan led the boy into the kitchen. They sat down at the attached bar and drank their milk. Happy was passed out on the couch, and the girls were sleeping in the bedroom.
“Does you have bad dreams too, Uncle Ethan?”
“Really bad ones?”
“What they about?”
Ethan cleared his throat on this.
“You has a son?!” Abel questioned in surprise.
“He no here no more?”
“Why? Did he go far away?”
“You could say that. His name was Liam, and he was about your age.”
“Did he die?” Abel sadly questioned.
“That why you have bad dreams? Cause you is sad?”
“I miss my Uncle Thomas and Grandpa too. Does you think they know Liam?”
“They just might!”
Abel managed to smile.
“That would be good.”
“It would, wouldn’t it?”
“My grandpa and Uncle Thomas will takes good care of him. They always takes care of me.”
“You is a Crow too now. Grandpa takes care of the Crows. Grandpa loves his family.”
“You’re a smart kid. You know that?”
“Yeah, I know,” Abel said but drank his milk in thought.
“Does you like being a Crow, Uncle Ethan?”
“Not so sure yet.” Ethan honestly replied.
“No be scared.”
“Who said I’m scared?” Ethan said with a playful nudge and smile.
“Kip say it scary.”
“Does he now?”
“Yeah. But he say it a good scare. Like being a pirate!”
“A pirate, huh?”
“Hmm, I’ll keep that in mind.”
Ethan finished his milk then looked to the boy.
“Did he really say it was scary?”
“When the monsters came to take me I hears him say it scary. Kip was sad, but he say you have to fight for what you want. So a Crow is like being a pirate. That’s why we play pirates all the time. Kip teaches me how to fight the monsters, just like daddy!”
“I see. That can be scary. I’m sure Kip wanted to keep you safe.”
Abel nodded, but his eyes were batting about something fierce. Ethan chuckled amongst himself then carried the boy back to bed.
“Happy!” Riona scolded as she peeked out from the shower and saw him peeing in the toilet.
“I knocked.” The Son said with a shrug.
“I’m in the shower!”
“It’s not like I can see you.” He said and went on to wash his hands.
“Why didn’t you use the other bathroom?!”
“Little man’s stinkin’ it up in there. Not my fault you didn’t hear me knock.”
Riona grabbed a bottle of shampoo and threw it at him.
“Sideboob!” Happy announced as he caught a glimpse of her ass and breast.
“HAPPY!” Riona shouted, and the man chuckled as he exited the bathroom.
“Are ya pervin’ on my sister?”
“If I was pervin’ on your sister I would’ve joined her in the shower.”
“And I would’ve sent Jax the pictures!” Aislinn teased, and Happy recoiled in thought.
“You’re no fun.”
“I’m plenty fun.”
“Nah, I don’t like you anymore.” He pouted, and Aislinn laughed when he left the room.
Aislinn reached over the nightstand as her sister’s cellphone rang. She saw that it was Jax and answered.
“Hey, loverboy!” She teased, and Jax chuckled.
“What ya up to?!”
“Having breakfast actually and you?”
“Keepin’ Happy from gettin’ into the shower with Riona!”
Aislinn died of laughter.
“Nothin’.” She said afterward.
“You’re a riot.”
“You think…?” Aislinn uttered but wasn’t about to mention the erection Happy had when he exited the bathroom.
Jax and Riona would kill him.
“Seriously. Where is my wife?”
“In the shower…”
“And where is Happy?” Jax questioned but in a playful tone.
“Are ya really concerned about that?!”
“Who ya talkin’ to?” Riona asked when she entered the bedroom in a towel.
“The hubby!” Aislinn said before handing the phone over.
“Hey, darlin’.” Jax greeted.
“You’re up early.”
“Yeah, gotta get an early start. Just wanted to check in and see how everyone was.”
“We’re good. Abel drank his first beer then faced Juice in the ring last night.”
“That’s fantastic! Couldn’t be prouder!”
“Aye,” Riona said behind a giggle.
Jax chuckled as well, but Riona cleared her throat and told him what happened at work yesterday. She told her husband about the unruly customer and what she did to Juice’s face. Riona left out the part about that being intended for her. Jax didn’t need that kind of stress right now. He needed to focus on the mission ahead.
“Damn. Is he alright?”
“Aye, just needs a little TLC. We’ll take care of him. We’re gonna pick up his prescription on the way to the shop.”
“Cover whatever his insurance doesn’t. I don’t want Juice spending a dime on this.”
“Understood, love. But ya know Mrs. Whitman will have to cover the damages done to the car and his face.” Riona said.
“Yeah, but in the meantime we cover it. Use the money I set aside, not what I gave you for the weekend. I mean it, babe. I better see you in new clothes and hell, get your hair done.”
“Are ya sayin’ ya don’t like my clothes and hair?!” She mockingly put, and Jax laughed.
“I think we both know what I’m saying. That money’s for you and you better not spend it on anyone else, not even Abel.”
“So bossy.” Riona teased.
“You know it. I love you.”
“Love ya too.”
“Let me talk to Abel.”
“Aye,” Riona said and got dressed before hunting him down.
“Look, mommy, I beats Happy and Uncle Ethan!” Abel said and pointed to the score on the game they were playing.
“That’s great, love!”
“It daddy?” The boy asked as his mother handed the phone over.
Abel smiled then handed his remote to Aislinn.
“Oh, I get to play?!” She exclaimed, and Ethan laughed as she had bed hair and was in the same clothes she wore yesterday.
“So what do I do?” She asked once Happy unpaused the game.
Ethan showed Aislinn what buttons to push and was telling her what to do. Happy laughed when a zombie bit down on her character’s throat and ripped her jugular out.
“WHAT THE…?!” She damn near shouted.
“Gotta pay attention to your surroundings,” Ethan said and pointed out all the hidden zombies.
“So they’re smart enough to hide and sneak up on ya? That doesn’t sound very logical! They’re zombies for cryin’ out loud!”
“Taking this a little personal, aren’t you?” Her brother teased.
Another zombie caught her off guard, and she died yet again.
“Oh, look at that one. Head like a bag of spuds (ugly person). And that one with the boss eyes (squinty eyes), he sure is rawny (thin). Must be starvin’ due to the apocalypse.” Aislinn went on and on about the characters she saw, and Ethan was having a field day with how into this she was.
“AH SHITE!” She hollered as a zombie nearly had her, and she managed to break free.
Happy raised his brows as she scooted up closer to the TV. Ethan and Happy were doing their best to keep her covered throughout the game as she walked through the building they were in.
“Three o’ clock,” Ethan said, and she was quick to fire that direction.
“Nice!” Happy said and gave her a high five as it was a headshot.
“Under the table!” Ethan warned, and Aislinn backed her character away from it then used her knife to stab it in the temple.
“There you go!” Happy congratulated as the three of them took out numerous zombies.
Ethan and Happy laughed off and on at the jump scares that got her.
“That is not a game for wee children!” She said while looking at her nephew.
“Nah, he’s fine. It’s you we have to worry about.” Ethan uttered, and Aislinn frowned.
“Yeah, maybe we should wait until you’re older.” Happy added and Aislinn socked him on the arm.
“Enough of that gobshite!” She said but shrieked out as a group of zombies attacked Happy’s character.
They could hear Jax asking his son if everything was alright as Jax picked up bits and pieces of this in the background.
“Yeah, Aunt Linny so silly. She scared of the zombies, daddy. They’s not even scary!”
“Yeah, we’s playing a game.”
“Game?! More like a horror movie!” Aislinn hollered, and Jax laughed.
“It no scary Aunt Linny. You is funny.”
“I’ll let you get back to your game Abel. Take care of your mother and Aunt Linny.”
“Love you too, daddy.”
“You should play this Riona!” Aislinn said, and Riona laughed in mockery.
“You know I hate those kinds of games and movies!”
“Aye. She acts all tough, but she’s really just a pew (a mess).”
Riona didn’t comment and went on to make everyone breakfast.
“Happy keeps his pans in there, mommy,” Abel said as he showed his mother around the kitchen.
Abel seemed well acquainted with this house. He was that way around the Sons in general. Riona opened that particular pantry and grabbed one of the pans.
“He has lots of eggs!” Abel remarked as he examined the fridge.
“And sausages! I love sausages!”
“Jax made me buy groceries…” Happy muttered like it were a punishment.
This had Aislinn and Riona laughing.
“YOU?!” Ethan scoffed.
“All you did was push the fucking cart! I picked everything out!”
“Aye, ya sound like an old married couple!” Riona provoked, and Ethan frowned.
Happy shrugged however and went on to kill another zombie.
“Yeah, yeah… We would’ve ended up with a lifetime supply of ramen and booze if he did the shopping!” Ethan explained.
“Ramen?” Aislinn questioned, and Ethan told his sister what ramen was.
“That doesn’t sound so bad.”
“Try eating that shit for a couple weeks. Then tell me how you feel about it.”
“I like ramen,” Abel said with a shrug.
“Alright, we’ll take back the chicken nuggets and get you a case of ramen instead.” Ethan teased.
“You has chicken nuggets?!”
“Yep, and frozen pizza. But we can take it all back and get lots of ramen.”
“No do that.” Abel sulked, and Ethan laughed.
“Yeah, cause I loves pizza and chicken nuggets. They is my favorite.”
“Oh, are they?!” Ethan asked with a wink Riona’s direction.
He asked Riona what Abel liked before they even headed for the store that day. Ethan had the boy and his sisters in mind when he filled that cart up.
“Hm… okay then.”
“Oh, I wanna to try that American roast!” Aislinn called, and Riona laughed.
“Then ya can make it!”
“I need a recipe for it.”
“I’ll find ya one.”
“Is American roast that much different from Irish?” Ethan genuinely questioned.
“A wee bit,” Riona uttered as she stirred the eggs and salted them.
“You two start cooking, and I won’t let you leave!” Happy said, and the girls laughed.
“You think I’m joking?!” Happy stated and thought back to the meals the girls cooked for them back in Ireland.
That was some of the best food he’d ever had. If Happy had his way, the sisters stay in his guest room and cook for him every day.
“Does you and Ethan have to go to work, Happy?”
“Not today. It’s Sunday, our day off.” He said as Juice and the prospects were running things today. They always closed early on Sundays.
“So we can play today?!”
“That’s right!” Happy said.
“Yay!” Abel celebrated by jumping up and down with his remote in hand.
“Then why’d we’d we get up so early?!” Aislinn groaned, and her sister laughed.
“Well, you and I gotta work tonight, but we close around midnight instead of two.” Ethan reminded.
“But that’s tonight…” Aislinn pouted, and Ethan laughed.
“I get that. But I have to be there by noon.”
“But I don’t start till seven!”
“Yeah well, you’re coming with me anyhow. You can help tend the bar or something.”
Aislinn sulked, and Ethan laughed.
“Under that one’s protection, remember?” Ethan said then gestured towards Happy.
“What about Riona and Abel?” Aislinn asked.
“Juice is coming by to keep an eye on things after we leave.” Happy muttered with a dismissive shrug.
The president lifted his eyes as the VP finally joined him and the others for breakfast. The Scot didn’t utter a word and sipped on a cup of coffee. The others kept quiet as well knowing not to fuck with Chibs when he was like this. He was a man that liked his space. The only exception was Aislinn. Jax was more than certain if she were here Chibs would be in a better mood and up for conversation. She had a way of taming the angry Scot within. Jax stole a glance as Chibs was watching one of the videos Happy sent. Jax cleared his throat.
“How’d she do?”
Chibs lifted his eyes and Jax swore the Scot would’ve shot his sorry ass if he had his gun in hand.
“Great, as always.” Chibs curtly put, and Bobby raised his brows.
“That’s cool.” Jax awkwardly replied.
Bobby couldn’t help but laugh at the tension between the two.
“Eh, just kiss and make up already!” The sergeant said, and this had Jax and Chibs shooting him daggers.
“Seriously. Since when do you two argue?”
“Since Jackie decides what’s best for everyone, without our consent.”
“He hadn’t a choice.” Bobby defended.
“Nah, he could’ve told Alvarez ta wait and see what we had ta say.”
“And what difference would that have made? You really think we could’ve changed his mind, as a whole?!” Jax questioned.
“I don’t know Jackie. But it was worth a shot.”
“Filip, we’ve been here, plenty of times.”
“Aye, with guns. We got out fur a reason.”
“You knew the plan…” Jax reminded.
“I did. But I didn’t know ye was givin’ away some of those bags. That’s puttin’ too much faith in the Mayans. If they wanted… They could take those bags and…”
“I know.” The president interrupted.
“Trust me. You’re not thinking anything I haven’t already. But we have to start somewhere. The Mayans need to earn our trust, and in return, we have to earn theirs. It’s a two-way street, and we can’t earn their trust if we don’t show any in return.”
“Guess we’ll find out pretty quick if they go and turn on us.”
Jax couldn’t believe the way Chibs was acting. This was a whole new side; one the Sons had never seen before. The president waited until the others were finished with breakfast before nodding their direction.
“Why don’t you boys head on out? Chibs and I won’t be long.”
Chibs didn’t comment, but there was no disguising the bitterness in the VP’s eyes when Jax sent the others on their way.
“Alright, now’s the time to get whatever this is off your chest. We can’t head to Reno like this. I need my VP.”
“And ye’ll have yer VP just as ye always have. I go through shite just like anyone else!”
“You think I don’t know that?!”
“I think ye forgot that when ye went and made that deal with Alvarez.”
“Jesus Christ, Filip! What do you want from me?!”
“Ta be more involved! We’re supposed ta decide these things tagether and I wasn’t given a choice, none of us were.”
“This is about Aislinn, isn’t it?”
Chibs didn’t respond, and Jax nodded amongst himself.
“I won’t let anything happen to your relationship.”
“Ye can’t promise me that Jackie boy.”
Jax thickly swallowed as Chibs stuffed a cigarette into his mouth. The Scot’s hands were unsteady as he used his SAMCRO zippo to light it.
“What’s going through your mind right now?” Jax genuinely asked, and Chibs pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Ma heid’s mince (my head’s a bit mixed up).”
“Then talk about it!”
“Yer right… it’s Ali.” Chibs regrettably uttered.
“The lass just found out she may never have children. Then ye go and pile up all the utter shite she’s been through. I can’t go ta prison Jackie. It would kill her. That’s not an exaggeration. I know me girl. That right there would be her breakin’ point. I can’t do that, not ta her. She needs me, and I never thought I’d say this about any woman, but I need her too.”
Jax nodded in understanding. He felt the same way when it came to his wife and son. But this was something Jax had grown accustomed to. Chibs, however… this was all new to him. The Scot had grown used to the bachelor way of life. He didn’t have anyone waiting for him back home. Fiona and Keri lived their own lives other than the letters and money Chibs sent. What Fiona and Chibs had wasn’t a marriage but more of a business arrangement; set up by Jimmy O’ himself.
“Look, if you need to sit this one out. I understand.”
“That’s not what I’m sayin Jackson.”
Chibs rarely used his full name like that.
“Ye know I’m with ye till the end. But let’s not turn our backs ta the ones that need us most.”
“We shouldn’t allow our hearts to be louder than our reason… You told me that, remember?!” The president reminded.
“And that still stands. Our reason is right here with us and back home. That’s why we do what we do.”
“I love ye boy. But don’t ye go and put me in a situation where I gotta phone me girl from prison. Next time, give me a say in how this goes, at least. I’m yer VP for a reason.”
The president gave a reluctant sigh.
“Filip, that’s always a risk. You know that.”
“It doesn’t hafta be. Ye say all this is for Ethan. Then let’s keep it that way. Let’s not succumb ta old habits.” Chibs said then lowered his shirt enough to reveal the bill tatted to his chest.
“We make the delivery, set those greasy scumbags up, and head on home. No more deals with the Mayans or anyone else. Drugs… we don’t want any part in that. I know yer father would agree.”
“Our cartel days are long since over and done. We’re only doing this to get those fuckers off the streets. If we don’t, Ethan’s as good as dead, and that… would kill both girls. They already lost their mother and their father in a roundabout way.”
“Aye,” Chibs uttered in agreement.
“So what is it about Ethan that gets under your skin?” Jax sincerely questioned.
“I don’t have a problem with Ethan. But the feelin’ isn’t mutual. I don’t think he’ll ever approve when it comes ta me and Ali. Not that I need his fuckin’ approval.”
“But you want it anyway.”
“Not fur me, Jackie, for Ali. I promised that lass a better life. I haven’t come close ta fullfillin’ that promise.”
“Give it some time. It’s going to work out. You’ll see.”
Chibs nodded but looked to be in thought.
“So we good now?” Jax questioned while looking to the time.
“I suppose.” The VP playfully muttered.
The president chuckled and threw the tip down before they left.
“I was kidding!” Ethan called as he caught his sister serving a few customers.
“I know. But ya could use the help!” She hollered in response as it was starting to fill up and it was only 12:30 pm.”
“Word of Piper Shay must’ve gotten out. It’s never like this, not on a Sunday!” Ethan said, and Aislinn blushed in response.
“Own it, sis! You deserve it!”
“Still, this feels a wee bit…”
“Don’t. Don’t sell yourself short, alright? Face it; you did this, no one else but you.” Ethan complimented.
“Big bro’s right.” Leia chimed in as she handed a customer a margarita.
Aislinn peered back after placing a beer on a napkin.
“Oh, love the hair!”
Aislinn remarked as Leia had put deep blue highlights in.
“Aye, it’s deadly!”
“Well thank you! We could play with yours sometime if you want!”
“Oh, that would be fun!”
“Yeah, the hair’s pretty killer.” Ethan flattered, and Aislinn giggled at Leia’s reaction to Ethan praising her.
Leia was quick to scamper off making the moment even funnier.
“I told ya… she’s got it bad.”
“But it’s Leia…” He uttered like her very name were a curse.
“All she does is give me hell. And AC… well…”
“You think I’m protective… No one touches Leia and I mean no one.” Ethan whispered, and Aislinn’s jaw dropped in surprise.
“A ladies man?”
“Hell, your guess is as good as mine but trust me. Leia isn’t an option. Besides, you forget I’m already dating someone.”
Aislinn waved Sam’s direction as she entered the bar. Sam clocked in then walked up and kissed Ethan. Aislinn frowned as there was something about that kiss. It felt so forced… like it was more for show than anything. Ethan, of course, was oblivious and caught up in the moment. A little too caught up… His sister thought as her brother’s hands were along Sam’s ass.
“Two days, Ethan…” Aislinn whispered amongst herself then shook her head in disbelief.
Then again, it had been a while for Ethan and Aislinn was doing her best to consider that. But she wasn’t the only one appalled by this. Leia was doing her best to ignore it. But that wasn’t easy as she had to walk around Sam and Ethan in order to serve a few customers. Sam took Ethan’s hands into her own after the kiss and smiled.
“I wanted to do that last night,” Sam admitted, and Ethan cocked a brow on this.
“Really?!” Ethan questioned but flinched on the surprise in his voice.
“You’re adorable! Guess I should get to work now, boss.”
Ethan nodded and watched as she walked away.
“Teller!” Jury called when the SAMCRO president climbed off his bike.
Jax smiled then marched on over. The two hugged it out, and Jury pecked him on the cheek.
“Let me get a good lookatcha boy!” Jury said and was looking Jax over.
“Lookin’ good for a kid fresh out of the slammer!”
Jax had a good laugh at this.
“Right?!” He sarcastically put, and Jury chuckled.
The Indian Hills president nodded Chibs’s direction.
“Wish I could say the same for you. What are you? Sixty? Seventy now?”
“Away and bile yer heid (don’t be daft).”
Jury laughed then made his way over. He greeted the Scot with a proper handshake and hug.
“How you been, Telford?”
“Not bad. Yourself?”
“Can’t complain too much.”
“But yer gonna anyway, right?!”
“You’re goddamn right I am.” Jury taunted in return and Chibs chuckled.
Jury went on to greet Kip, Bobby, and Tig as well. Gaines (the Indian Hills VP), Mickey, Rane, and Needles exited the Indian Hills clubhouse, and they welcomed everyone with handshakes and hugs as well. The two charters mingled for a bit and got reacquainted with everyone. Jury invited SAMCRO into the clubhouse, and they followed the Indian Hills charter into the chapel. SAMCRO remained standing as Indian Hills took their seats.
“So how was the trip?” Jury asked once he had the room quiet.
“Couple obstacles… but nothing we couldn’t handle.” Jax admitted.
“Oh?!” Jury curiously questioned.
Jax nodded then revealed the little bump they had with the Mayans.
“Damn… three bags?”
“Talk about an ass rapin’,” Gaines uttered, and the rest of Indian Hills nodded in agreement.
“I wasn’t aware you boys swapped cartels…” Jury rather hinted, and Jax sighed.
“It’s not a cartel. Well, not ours anyhow. Look, I’ll explain everything. But I need to be excused for a few minutes.” Jax said with this apologetic air about him.
“Of course.” Jury said with a gesture towards the chapel door.
“Thank you. I’ll be right back.” Jax uttered with a nod SAMCRO’s direction.
They nodded in return.
Jax and Sheriff Cole phone call:
“What do you mean missing?”
“It means exactly what I said. Someone ransacked Trager’s hotel room last night. Took everything he had, including the sleeping bags. Hell, I doubt they even knew what was in them…”
“You mean Tig Trager?”
Jax was using this as a bit of a test. He wanted to see if Tig would follow up on this story and keep his word when it came to his relationship with the sheriff.
“Yeah, Tig was in the shower when this took place.”
“You mean to tell me we got three sleeping bags filled with fucking meth just out there?”
“And I thought you boys were good at what you did.”
“That’s not very convincing…”
“Look, we got enough to finish this out.”
There was a long pause coming from the sheriff’s end.
“We can do this,” Jax reassured.
“I’m more concerned with the drugs you and your boys got floating around.”
“I get and can respect that. But my only concern is seeing this through and putting those fuckers in their place.”
“And what if a child gets ahold of one of those missing bags?!”
“Not sure what to tell you. Nothing I say is going to be comforting. Shit happens. I can’t and won’t take responsibility for some made up conclusion in that head of yours. I’m living in the now and moving forward. I’ll deal with the consequences if and when the time comes.”
“Hmm…” The sheriff hummed in mere amusement.
“Are we still on or not?” Jax impatiently questioned.
“You know we are. Just keep in mind what we discussed. I don’t play games, Mr. Teller.”
“Neither do I.”
“Then there shouldn’t be any problems. I expect a follow up here soon.” She said before hanging up.
Jax glanced towards the chapel doors. The president welcomed himself to the Indian Hills bar then poured himself a couple of shots. His nerves were shot as he could hear the doubt in the sheriff’s voice. Sheriff Cole knew the president was lying. He only hoped that didn’t come back to bite him in the ass later. He needed her on board, or this would backfire. Jax wouldn’t allow himself to even think on the possible scenarios. He had to trust the sheriff at her word and follow through as originally planned.
Jax was headed for the chapel when he heard a familiar voice calling out to him. The man spun back around then reared back in absolute shock.
“Jackson Teller, in the flesh!” The pretty blonde announced before making her way over and kissing him on the lips.
Jax was struck stupid as the woman circled her arms around his neck.
“You sure are a sight for sore eyes.” The young woman said.
“Susie!” She corrected with a giggle.
“…right…” He uttered as it had been awhile.
He hadn’t seen this girl since his last trip to Reno, and that was a little over three to four years ago, before his marriage to Tara. Susie was someone he’d picked up during a dispute; a dispute that took place between Susie and her boyfriend. This was the same jackass that sat on Jax’s Harley that day.
Jax left the man one hell of a reminder. That reminder being… Never sit on another man’s bike! Jax was downtown when he ran into the same asshole. The asshole was pissed about the shiner Jax left him and decided to take it out on his girlfriend. Jax witnessed this himself as the man was yelling and smacking the girl around. That ended in another beat down, and Jax took off with the asshole’s girl afterward. They had fun, but it was just for the one night. Jax never meant for it to be taken seriously. But Susie had high hopes of it becoming something more. Jax saw it written all over her face the morning after. She cried when they parted ways.
“You haven’t aged a day.” Jax complimented.
“Not so bad yourself.” She said in return.
“What are you doing here?” The president questioned with full on curiosity.
Susie hadn’t anything to do with Indian Hills, other than joining him that one night, at this very clubhouse. So he was baffled to find her here, after so many years.
“Waiting for you, silly!”
Jax thought she was joking. So he laughed, and she took offense. The young woman lowered her hands and Jax raised his brows.
“I was serious.” She said with a pouty lip.
“What?!” He said behind another awkward chuckle.
“I heard you were divorced. So I thought if I was patient enough…”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
The young woman smiled then ran her hand along his cut.
“Susie!” She irritably corrected.
“Are you telling me you became an Indian Hills entertainer?!” He whispered.
“Yes. I did it for you!” She said, and Jax could feel the bile rising within the back of his throat.
“For me?!” He questioned, and Susie nodded.
Fuck… Chibs and Riona were right… I attract the fucking nutcases! Jax did the math in his head and realized that Susie had been here for a little over three years, and all in hopes that he’d show up again. This was Ima and Wendy all over again, only he thought Susie was smarter and well “cleaner”. That’s what attracted Jax to Susie in the first place, that innocence.
“I don’t know what to tell you. I mean honestly… you sound a little mental.”
“MENTAL?!” Susie rather snipped, and Jax sighed.
“Come on… you whored yourself out to an entire MC and all in hopes of me returning one day?! Do you even realize how insane that sounds? It’s been three years, darlin’. What did you think would come of this day? That I’d be grateful? Sweep you off your feet even?”
Jax closed his eyes after the woman slapped him across the face. A low growl escaped him as this brought back everything he’d dealt with when it came to the crazy women in his life. Riona was the only exception. Jax was beginning to wonder how he snagged someone like Riona in the first place. It was more than obvious there was a type and… bat-shit-crazy was it.
Jax opened his eyes then backed the woman up against the chapel door. He grabbed her wrists, lifted her arms above her head then pinned her to the door as he spoke.
“Hit me again, and I’ll hit you like I would any man. This is the only warning you’re getting. Do we have an understanding?”
The young woman nodded but started to cry. Jax didn’t utter another word. He dragged her away from the door then shoved her toward one of the pool tables. The SAMCRO president entered the room and it took all will not to slam the fucking door. All eyes were on him as he cleared his throat. Chibs, however, narrowed his eyes then nodded his president’s direction. Chibs always knew… Jax gave a mere nod in return but went on like nothing even happened.
Like that of the Mayans, Jax let Indian Hills in on everything they needed to know. The entire MC looked to SAMCRO like they’d lost their minds.
“You want us to rat?!” Jury questioned in disbelief.
“That’s a death sentence!” The Indian Hills president added.
“Only if it were done with malicious intent and behind our backs…”
“Alright, so what’s the catch?” Gaines asked.
“There is no catch. All we need is for word to spread… but to the right people.”
“Dangerous game.” The Indian Hills VP said.
“Not if we play it right.”
“So let me get this straight… You’re counting on us and the Mayans to spread word, but only so this gets back to the Aryans?”
“And how do you expect us to go about this exactly?” It was on the tip of Jax’s tongue, but he refrained knowing that would lead to WWIII and that was the last thing he needed.
He hated how innocent Jury and the others were acting. He thought of this man like family, hell like an uncle even. Sure they weren’t as close as Jury and JT were or Jury and Bobby even. But Jax used to think a lot of Jury before he learned the truth.
“I know I’m asking a lot. But I also know you and your boys can do this. You have your ways just as we have ours. So please… find a way. That’s all I’m asking.”
“I’m guessing you need us to allow these Nazi loving fuckers into our territory?”
“Temporarily,” Jax admitted.
“That’s a tall order.”
Is it?! Jax bitterly thought. How can he sit here and play innocent?! Jax was fuming on the inside. It was taking all will to hold that anger back. He wanted to leap over that table and beat the shit out of Jury for sitting there, like nothing even happened.
“I know. But they won’t be around for long. Just help us set up the breadcrumbs. That’s all we need.”
My father not only saved your fucking ass but patched your sorry asses in. How dare you sit there and look me in the eyes! Once again Chibs must’ve been in tune with his president. Jax felt his VP’s hand along his shoulder. The Scot gave it a comforting squeeze as if he were reading his mind. Jax had his boys follow him out, so Indian Hills could discuss these matters in private.
Chibs poured everyone a shot but made Jax’s a double.
“Ye alright?” He asked after Jax downed his shot.
“Trying to be,” Jax uttered but rolled his eyes as he saw Susie through the corner of his eye.
She was crying at one of the tables, and an Indian Hills prospect was consoling her.
“Isn’t that…” Chibs uttered taking notice.
Jax raised his brows as he was surprised that Chibs would even remember that.
“…no way…” The Scot whispered once he got a better look.
“Yeah… Seems like my past always comes back to haunt me. Literally speaking that is.” Jax whispered in return.
“Ah shite, Jackie…”
Jax shrugged and decided to change the topic.
“You’re unusually quiet…” Jax remarked with a nod Half-Sack’s direction.
The Son had been this way the entire trip. Kip nodded but seemed rather distracted.
“You sure?” Jax further probed as something in his eyes didn’t seem right.
Kip nodded once again, and Chibs and Jax exchanged glances on this.
“What is it, kid?” Chibs whispered, and a single tear trickled down the young man’s face.
This gathered Tig and Bobby’s attention as well. Kip reached into his cut then handed his VP a newspaper. The Scot regarded it in question but said nothing as he looked to the page Kip had marked.
“Jaysus.” The Scot muttered and with that pitfall feeling.
This had the others looking over Chibs’s shoulder, and they too grimaced.
“Sack…” Jax called with a heavy heart.
“That was all I had left…” The young man sadly murmured and Chibs placed a soothing hand along Half-Sack’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry.” The Scot genuinely put.
“They say it’s arson… but why’d they have to dig her up?!”
“Dig her up?” The Scot questioned, and Kip took the paper from his hold.
He turned it to the back page and showed him a separate article from the arson. This one involved a body that was dug up at one of the local cemeteries back in Bangor, Maine.
“What the…” Jax muttered as a dead “raven” lying beside the body was mentioned in the article.
This had the president thinking back to the dream Aislinn had. That alone told him that was no raven. The journalist must’ve been mistaken. That was a fucking crow. Jax didn’t need to see it. He already knew. It was too coincidental. Kip, of course, thought nothing of it. Why would he? It said raven and Kip hadn’t a clue about the dream Aislinn and Abel had. Therefore, Kip hadn’t any reason to question the dead bird’s significance. The bird itself was mentioned just the one time then rather dismissed in the article.
Jax kept these thoughts to himself as Chibs led Kip outside the clubhouse. The others regarded one another in shock.
“Who would…” Bobby trailed off looking slightly ill himself.
“I haven’t a clue,” Jax said.
This wasn’t a Kip thing. No. It was a SAMCRO thing. But Jax couldn’t make that reveal, not until he knew who the fake crow was. He knew how crazy that sounded. But he truly believed his brother and father had reached out to his sister-in-law and son. Jax had his reasons. He hadn’t told a living soul about his own experiences when it came to that damn dragon. They’d lock him in a padded cell and throw away the key. He couldn’t deny there was a bit of comfort in knowing Aislinn had experienced these things as well. Not that he wanted her creeped out but knowing he and Abel weren’t the only ones… helped put his mind at ease. Jax thought he was losing his mind the first time. But was confident he had by the third.
“Think it was personal?” Tig naively remarked, and this had Bobby and Jax looking to him in disbelief.
“Of course it was personal, dumbass!” Bobby spat, and Tig reared back looking offended.
“But who? I mean… not only is that a lot of work… But that’s some messed up shit! You don’t mess with the granny!” Tig said as he read the article.
Jax shook his head when another realization hit. He tapped his index finger along the date.
“Sack’s been carrying this shit around for two fucking days!”
“What?!” Tig said, and Jax nodded.
“I wondered why he was so quiet!”
“I thought it was nerves… first big mission and all.” Bobby admitted with a shrug.
“Me too,” Tig uttered with that same look of shame.
“Why didn’t he tell us?! Jesus, he should’ve stayed home!” The president said.
“I guarantee that’s why he didn’t tell us!” Bobby defended, and Jax pinched his eyes shut.
“Fuck man. I feel like such an asshole. Two days and none of us knew shit!”
“Ye should’ve said somethin’, boy.” The Scot softly stated as he hugged the Son.
His embrace was like that of a father’s.
“I was going to after the mission.”
“This isn’t somethin’ ye wait on.”
“Jax would’ve made me stay home!”
“Aye, and for a good reason. Ye need sometime…”
“No, I need this Chibs. Please, don’t let him send me home! I need to be here. I’ll go insane if I go back to piddling at that fucking shop. I need this!”
The VP sighed but kissed the Son’s forehead.
“Alright, but next time somethin’ like this occurs ye need ta tell us. It isn’t right; ye dealin’ with this on your lonesome. We are yer family kid. We’re here for you. Don’t ye ever forget that!”
The Son lost all composure, and Chibs hugged him once again.
“Are we allowed to play tonsil hockey at work?” Leia teased as Ethan and Sam were kissing, yet again.
Aislinn glanced her brother and Sam’s direction and died of laughter.
“Sounds fun, doesn’t it?” Aislinn said, and Leia smiled.
“Depends on the partner.”
“Ya got that right,” Aislinn said then grabbed her guitar.
“Oh, is it that time already?” Leia excitably put.
“Nice! What are you going to play first?”
Aislinn drew back a hesitant breath then made a gesture Sam’s direction.
“I don’t play Britney or Jessica, but I have somethin’ she might be happy with. This is a one-time deal though, so hope she’s listenin’.”
Leia observed with curiosity as Aislinn walked onto the stage. Aislinn adjusted the mic, and a single note was all it took to get everyone’s attention. The entire room grew quiet and listened as Aislinn went on to play Halestorm’s version of Bad Romance. Sam’s jaw dropped, and Aislinn gave the young woman a mere nod. Leia laughed and sang along.
“Well shit. Is there anything that girl can’t pull off?!” AC called from the bar, and Ethan laughed.
“She slays that stage, every time!”
“I believe it.”
Leia whistled out as Aislinn went straight from Bad Romance to Shoot To Thrill.
Ethan laughed as his sister even had that Angus Young dance going.
“Fuck,” AC uttered with a nod towards the door.
There as a line going outside.
“Another long night,” Ethan said but with a wide grin.
“Thanks to your sister.” AC sincerely put.
“Hell, we might have to hire more help!”
“And get a bigger place,” Ethan added and AC looked to be in thought.
“How’s the face?” Riona questioned as she and Juice were kicked back on the couch and Abel was playing one of Happy’s video games with Rat.
“It stings off and on,” Juice admitted with a shrug.
“Pills not workin’?”
“They do just not for very long.”
“Mommy?” Abel called during one of his video games.
“Can we has those cookies and milk now like you said?”
“Sure thing. Just let me get the oven ready.”
“Thank you, mommy!”
“You’re quite welcome, love.”
“Need help?” Juice offered as she headed for the kitchen.
“Nah, I got it.”
Riona knew Juice was bored out of his mind. Not that she could blame him. He was basically there to babysit her and Abel. Rat, however, made himself right at home with those video games. Juice didn’t seem as into them as Rat and Abel were.
“How bout a drink?” Riona offered once she saw where Happy hid his hard liquor.
Juice seemed to perk up on this and Riona giggled as she waved him over. She didn’t see the harm in having a couple shots apiece. There was some beer in the fridge to go with those.
“Do I get cookies too?” Juice rather jested, and Riona laughed.
“Don’t see why not!”
They downed those shots, and Riona grabbed a couple beers.
“Thanks,” Juice said, and Riona nodded as she went on to get the ingredients for the cookies.
“Oh shit. You’re making them from scratch?!” Juice exclaimed, and Riona laughed.
“Aye, that’s the best way!”
“Man, I’ve never had cookies that didn’t come out of a tube before.”
“Well, you’re in for a treat. I’ll make extra, so everyone can have plenty.”
“Am I too old to adopt?”
“If ya wanna call Jackson daddy.”
Juice frowned in thought, and Riona snorted.
“Please don’t say that shit again. I’ll have nightmares.” Juice uttered.
“Hey, they’re ready for us,” Jax called as he poked his head outside the Indian Hills clubhouse.
“Aye, we’ll be right there,” Chibs said in return, and the president nodded before heading off.
“Ye gonna be alright?”
“Alright then. But if ye decide otherwise, ye best let me know. We need ye focused.”
“I’m focused,” Half-Sack vowed, and Chibs placed his hand along the nape of Kip’s neck then steered him back inside.
“You have got to be kidding!” Jax yelled just as Kip and Chibs entered the chapel.
The SAMCRO president had his hands along the table where Jury was sitting. The two presidents were staring one another down.
“…oi…” Chibs whispered amongst himself.
He saw this coming. But like that of Jax, he hoped it would’ve been after they set the Aryans up.
“Come on Jax. It’s a win-win. This way we get them off your backs and get that hit taken off your brother-in-law.”
“Not happening. We’re going through with the plan, with or without your help.”
“In all fairness, that isn’t your decision to make.” Jury challenged, and Jax gave an amused laugh.
“Is that so? And did you or did you not say you didn’t want these Nazi fuckers in your town?! Yet you’re willing to do business with them?! Explain that shit!”
“What’s goin’ on?” Chibs questioned feeling lost.
“These assholes want us to forgo the plans and let them take over!”
“Let’s just say we were right about Clay and Jury.”
Jury raised his brows on this.
“Oh, don’t even. I know all about Clay’s proposition. He was offering you this cartel in exchange of joining your charter! He knew we wouldn’t want him around, not after his betrayal. So he was going to propose a vote and switch charters instead. And you’re the idiot that took the bait. I can’t believe you Jury. I thought you were smarter than that. He fucking played you! That’s all this is… you’re all pissed because you were counting on that cartel. But the wrong man is sitting at the gavel now.”
Jax let out a dark laugh as he thought back to the Nordics and the Mayans and now here he was dealing with the potential cartel of the Aryans and Indian Hills. What were the odds?! Fucking Clay… He’d plans of starting not one but TWO cartels. Both involving racist motherfuckers and both involving SAMCRO allies. SAMCRO would’ve been put right in the middle of it all. The president punched the Indian Hills chapel table, and Chibs recoiled knowing Jax damn near broke his hand doing that. His knuckles were bleeding, and Jax trembled in absolute fury. He looked to the members of Indian Hills one, by one, starting with Needles. He moved on to Rane and Mickey then Gaines. He saved Jury White for last.
“I was here when my father patched you in. So were Bobby, Tig, and Chibs. It isn’t every day we Redwoods’ patch in an entire MC. Now you sit here and have the nerve to tell me that you’re going to go against my father’s wishes, against your own oath, and fuck us over by getting into the cartel fucking Clay Morrow promised you. Newsflash. I’m. Not. Clay!”
“And where is Clay?” Jury had the nerve to ask, and Chibs curled his lip on this.
“Don’t ye go and play that game. Ye done know where he is or ye would’ve asked that when we first arrived. Ye haven’t asked about Clay or Opie. Hell, ye haven’t even asked why Jackie and I are back in office.”
This had Jury looking to his VP.
“You told me Bobby called you.”
“He did,” Gaines said, and Bobby chuckled on this.
“Nah, I never called. So don’t you go and throw me under the bus. I was going to but figured something like this would be better in person. I just never got around to it. But I’m here now and don’t appreciate the little game you’re playing.”
Gaines shook his head, and Jury waited for an explanation.
“Well?!” He said after a solid two minutes passed and the room was eerily quiet.
“I’m at a loss. Because I know he called. How else would I know about Clay walking the plank and Opie being in Stockton?” Gaines said.
“I didn’t call.” Bobby made clear, and Jax nodded.
“I believe my sergeant. I don’t think he ever called. I think you’re up to something shady. Something Jury isn’t even aware of.”
“Oh, we’re gonna make those kind of accusations now?!” Gaines fired back.
“Yeah, we are!” Jax said in response and Chibs placed a hand along his president’s shoulder.
“Get your MC straight. Then we’ll talk about the plans me, and MY boys have made. The cartel… isn’t happening. This is non-negotiable! SAMCRO will and always has final say in these matters.”
“That requires a vote.” Jury said.
“Not this time. You broke your vow. If I wanted… I could strip each and every one of you of your patches. You seem to forget everything you and JT agreed to. But I didn’t. I was there. I remember it like it was yesterday. You and I go way back. The Whites and the Tellers… That’s what keeps me from putting a bullet in you right now. I love you Jury. But I’ve never hated you more than I do at this very moment. You succumbed to greed, just as Clay did. He put my family and my son, at risk. And now here you are suggesting I do the same, all over again. You and Clay were my father’s best friends. Dad always said that you might as well be blood. That’s why he saved you.” Jax closed his eyes as Opie came to mind.
Chibs gave his president’s shoulder a bit of a squeeze as he knew it was taking all will for Jax not to lose it.
“This… This is how you repay my father? By using the patches, HE gave you to get into a cartel and with the fucking Aryans of all people?! I came to you thinking you’d understand. Thinking you’d want what SAMCRO wanted. These motherfuckers don’t belong on the streets. They belong in prison. This isn’t your typical gang we’re talking about. You don’t want this in Reno! You don’t want this anywhere near your MC. But what do I know? Right?! I only watched my brother and father die over the same bullshit only it was through the Irish! And before you even go there… Guns, drugs… it doesn’t matter. It always ends the same. You will lose everyone you’ve ever loved. But at least you’ll have a nice house to go home to. Empty and quiet, but nice. But maybe that’s the way you prefer it, loaded and alone.” Jax said his peace then walked out of the room.
Indian Hills and SAMCRO exchanged uncomfortable glances.
“Jackson?” Riona called for the second time as she got no answer when she first picked up the phone.
“Are ya alright, love?” She questioned as he sounded so sad.
“Yeah. Just wanted to hear your voice.”
The man felt as though he were drowning and at this very moment… she was his only lifeline. He had to get his head out of that meeting and off all the BS. It was one thing after another, and he was beginning to wonder if he was going to see this through after all. If Indian Hills didn’t follow through with the original plan… He’d have to find someone else to do the dirty work. He hadn’t a clue who, not in fucking Reno.
“Abel still up?”
“Nah, I put him to bed a little over an hour ago. He was all tuckered out from those video games.”
“You’re like the coolest mom ever! My mother would never let me do that shit!”
“Oh yeah, Gem only allowed Tommy and I a couple hours a day. If we went over, she’d yanked the cord out from the socket.”
“But we were smoking by the time we were thirteen so explain that logic…”
“Guess she was more concerned about your brains than your lungs?!”
Jax had a good laugh at this.
“Something babe. With that woman… Hell, who knows.”
“Aye, but the gamin’ was just for today. I’ll have him doin’ somethin’ a little more productive tomorrow.”
“You know I trust you.”
“Did somethin’ happen Jackson?”
“Let’s just say we might be even longer than expected… We’ve run into a few obstacles.”
“Yeah, but I don’t want you worryin’ on it, alright? I’m handling it. Just one of those things you know.”
“Ya sound beat.”
“I am,” Jax admitted.
Jax could hear Juice laughing at something in the background.
“Boys treatin’ you alright?”
“Oh, they’re perfectly fine. I fed them cookies and milk!” Riona clowned, and Jax chuckled.
“Hell, I want cookies and milk.”
“I’ll make ya some when ya get back.”
“I’m holding you to that. I love you Riona.”
“I love you too Jackson.”
“Guess it’s time to face the wolves again.”
“You can do this. You’re the alpha!” Riona encouraged.
“And you’re my strength baby. Thank you.” He said before hanging up.