Title: These Angels
Word count: 7,996
Author notes: Part of the ...Made You King-series. Spoilers for season 7. Thanks to tanaqui for betaing.
Summary: He was a Son, a killer, and a thug. She was a dominatrix providing personal services to kinky clients. Normal didn't exist in the same universe as they did.
Venus might have thought she was just another way for Tig to live outside the box, but he'd told her the truth: he very much wanted to try and hook it up. He hadn't taken her out that night, after she confessed her love for him, though; their new understanding was too fragile to face the world inside the box. But she'd done as he'd asked: cleaned herself up, put on a pretty dress and flowers in her hair, while he ordered take-out pizza and laid the table as best he knew how. He'd even opened a bottle of her red wine, though he detested the stuff.
And they made love again that night in her bed. Not as frantically or desperately as the night before, after Bobby had died and Tig needed the release, but no less passionately. And afterward, Tig told her about the AB asshole he'd shot in the dick for the way he'd talked about her. Venus had giggled and again called him her angel, before she kissed him deeply, and Tig had felt... peace.
The day after Jax's funeral, Tig took her out in public for the first time, bringing her to the park in Charming. He was shirking his club responsibilities, though he'd promised Chibs he'd be there, that he'd be alright. And he knew they were gonna have to figure out soon where to go next, and how to keep Jax's dream alive and the club from imploding under the weight his death had placed on them. But Tig wasn't right yet. He couldn't bring himself to face those empty seats at the table: Jax's and Bobby's and everyone else they'd lost over the last years.
And the sun had been out early that morning, promising a lovely day. There was an ice cream truck at the park entrance serving vanilla and strawberry and chocolate, and Tig ordered big scoops for both of them, which they ate sitting side by side on a park bench, watching little kids feed bread crumbs to the ducks. It was all so painfully normal that it made the hurt and heartache sit like a lump in Tig's chest. He held Venus' hand in his, their fingers twined like they were teenagers, and scowled at everyone who dared glance their way twice, challenging them to say something.
Most people had enough sense of self-preservation to quickly look the other way and keep their opinions to themselves.
But from the mouths of babes...."Is that lady a man, Mommy?" a little boy sitting on a blanket on the grass with his mother asked in a stage-whisper, after he'd been staring at them for a good five minutes.
Venus' fingers tightened on Tig's, and he squeezed her hand back—how d'you wanna handle this?—and Venus had smiled sweetly at the kid, telling him, that lovely lilt full in play, "Honey, I'm a man who knows she's a woman."
The kid had goggled at her, wide-eyed, mouth open like a fish, while his mother had colored pink and quickly gathered up their things. Tig had leaned in to kiss his Venus then, proclaiming her his woman for all the world to see; when he opened his eyes again, both mother and kid were gone.
But while it was fun to go out in the world, it wasn't what truly mattered to Tig. Only once Chibs announced Lyla's plans for a party, it had dawned on him how badly he wanted Venus to be accepted by his real family. But the thought made him nervous. That was his box, and it mattered very much she found a place in it, or he'd never be able to hook it up.
The bond with his Samcro brothers was tight enough he was entirely confident they wouldn't blink an eye if he showed up at a club party with Venus on his arm. But the rest of the Sons? The guys from Samdino and Rogue River and Indian Hills...? They might not be as accepting of Tig claiming a girl like Venus as—. He swallowed, the sudden insight taking his breath away.
As his old lady.
No, that wouldn't go down well. The Nevada charter already weren't happy with how things had ended with Jax. They felt cheated of their due. And if Tig were completely honest, he didn't blame them.
Funny, he'd never given a flying fuck before if everyone considered him a pervert who fucked dead people and animals. Played up the rep, in fact. But with Venus? She was different. She was real. More real than most normal people—for whatever definition of normal you wanted to use.
Yet he couldn't go on shooting people in the groin any time they didn't like it, way he had that nazi pig. Especially when they were his brothers, his fellow patches.
Didn't mean he'd allow them to badmouth his girl, though. And Chibs needed to understand that. So Tig found himself signaling his president that he wanted a private word after church. Soon as the others had left, he came to the point. "Brother, I got an issue with this party."
Chibs cocked his head, corner of his mouth curving up slightly. "Bring 'er."
Tig blinked, shocked speechless. "How'd you—?"
"How did I know?" Chibs' grin widened. It was good to see him smile again. "C'mon Tigger. You disappear without a word, show up a couple hours later grinning like a big dafty and smellin' like—I don't know what the fuck that shite is, but it's definitely not Eau de Croweater."
Huh, and Tig had thought he'd been stealthy, slinking off when nobody was watching. Well, it was a president's job to pay attention. And Chibs had just proved he had the makings of a damned fine one. "You sure?" Tig didn't want to say it, but he'd not be doing his job if he didn't bring it up. "Could mean trouble...."
"Like we ain't seen that before," Chibs scoffed. "Between T.O. and Venus... Best we rip that bandage off all at once, yeah?"
"Yeah...." Tig mulled it over. "Yeah."
Chibs put a hand on Tig's shoulder and squeezed. "Your call, brother. Whatever you decide, I'll back ye."
Tig watched Chibs walk out of the chapel at Red Woody. "Fuck it," he muttered, flipping open his phone to tell Venus she should keep her calendar free.
Music was thumping from the warehouse, and motorcycles roared along the street as patches from various charters showed off their latest bike modifications. Fires were burning in oil drums, adding their smoke to the heavy stench of exhaust fumes and burned rubber. Tig straddled his bike, enjoying a cigarette and watching the races. It was good to see so many reapers in one place again. Samcro had thrown some crazy wild parties at the old club house and he kinda missed those days. Used to be, he'd be in the thick of the action, buried neck deep in booze and pussy.
"Damn, you guys know how to whoop it up." T.O. walked toward Tig, asking to bum a smoke with a flick of his hand. "Good thing our closest neighbors are a meat packing plant and a pet food warehouse, huh?"
Tig grunted his agreement. Out here, nobody would be calling the cops on them. "How you doin'?" he asked, handing T.O. his pack of smokes.
T.O. cupped his hands around the lighter and lit up. "Well enough." He'd had to endure his share of odd looks and grumbled muttering until Packer had arrived and embraced everyone equally, making a statement as loud as any words. There'd still been rumblings from some of the more traditional charters, but nobody had dare speak their misgivings out loud. The Samdino president and the others had kept their word: supporting Samcro's decision to let that particular bylaw go the way of the gun business. "It's getting crazy in there." T.O. jerked a thumb across his shoulder at the warehouse.
Tig put his cigarettes away in his cut. "Guys came from all over the northwest," he reminded T.O. Every charter from Washington to Utah had sent some kind of delegation and Tacoma had ridden down full force, supporting Lee's hard-to-ignore if wordless endorsement of the new regime. Whether the high turn-out from the other charters was due to morbid curiosity about Samcro, the free booze and freshly-shot porn they were offering, or something else entirely, Tig wasn't sure. He didn't care, either; he was just glad things were going well. They needed to show everyone they were still in the game.
T.O. chuckled. "Ain't you glad we didn't invite the Mexicans and the brothers from Oakland too? Place woulda burst at the seams if we'd tried to cram their asses in there as well."
Tig snorted a laugh at the thought of Mayans and Niners hitting it up among dozens of Sons, even as he spotted a familiar Chevy rolling around the corner. "See you, bro." He hopped off his bike and ground out his smoke, before striding over to where Venus was cramming her black Tahoe into a tiny space between two hogs belonging to a couple Rogue River Sons.
Once she'd maneuvered the truck into the slot without incident and killed the engine, Tig opened her door for her. "Hey, baby."
He'd have preferred to pick her up at her place, bringing her in on the bitch seat of his bike like an old lady should, except she'd had a late afternoon session with a regular client and he hadn't wanted to leave Chibs to hold the fort on his own while the other charters were coming in. He might be a grouchy asshole and not the smartest cookie most of the time, but he was far from a fool. This so-called wrap party was just an excuse for something far more important: to set Chibs up as the rightful heir to the president's flash for the mother charter, and for Samcro to regain the respect that they'd lost.
Taking Venus' hand, he helped her step out of the car. He whistled softly. "Damn baby, you are beautiful." She was always beautiful to him, but it was clear even to his redneck eyes that she'd gone out of her way tonight to make herself look extra special. Meeting his brothers like this was as important to her as it was to him. Her dress was slinky, made of some kind of silvery material that flowed like water in the moonlight, and had a skin-tight top with a low neckline that provided a mouthwatering view of her cleavage. Her heels were high enough she'd gained an inch on him: something he'd have disliked with any other chick, but with her it just made him stand taller.
"Thank you, Alexander." She looked at the chaos spilling out of the warehouse. "Are you truly sure about this?" She didn't sound nervous or scared, merely giving him a last chance to back out if he wanted to.
Tig had no intention of doing so. "Absolutely." He took her hand and brought it to his lips, before tucking it under his elbow. Venus laughed lightly. "You are such a gentleman."
"Only with you, baby," he muttered, resisting the urge to roll his eyes, though whether at her or himself, he couldn't tell. "Only with you."
With Venus on his arm, he walked inside, proud as a peacock yet weirdly nervous all at once, even though he shouldn't give a fuck what anyone thought. Venus was his goddess, and he was so goddamn proud of her: his brave, loyal woman. Yet his mouth tightened at the sight of the shockwave going through the crowd when they spotted them and took in the way he was leading her. Heads turned, jaws dropped and eyes widened. Conversations fell away and the rock music seemed louder than before. He felt Venus tense, for his sake, before she leaned in, whispering "Uh oh," into his ear. Tig gritted his teeth. Fuckin' assholes. He wanted to pound some fuckin' respect for his old lady into the shitheads surrounding them.
Then Lyla was there, acting as their hostess, and Chibs, too, reaching for Venus' free hand and clasping it in his. "Ye look lovely t'night, Miss Venus. A true sight for sore eyes."
"I'm so glad you could come." Lyla, dwarfed by the three much taller people around her, hugged Venus like a long-lost friend.
"Thank you, my lovelies," Venus answered in her melodic lilt, smiling. Tig could've kissed all of them, gratified by the public acceptance by both his president and one of Samcro's former old ladies.
Around them, talk gradually picked up again and Tig released a breath. Looked like he didn't need to go bashing heads in just yet.
"We ready?" Turning to Lyla, Chibs arched a brow in her direction. At her confirming nod, he muttered, "Let's do this."
Tig brought two fingers to his mouth and whistled sharply, easily cutting through the din. Chibs waited until the crowd had fallen quiet once again, and Rat had turned down the music, before he spoke.
"Thank ye all for bein' 'ere." His accent was more pronounced than usual, an unmistakable sign he wasn't as self-assured as he appeared. More a man of action than of words; smooth talk had been Jax's domain. "We ain't been 'aving a good time in Charmin' lately, and it means a lot to us to see so many of our brothers here." A muttering rose from the gathered patches. "I'm sure ye all want lengthy speechin' from me." A good-natured collective groan rose and Chibs smirked, evidently gaining confidence. "I'm also sure you muppets didn't ride all the way to Stockton to listen to my blather. So I'll hand ye over to our beautiful producer, the lass who's made Red Woody into the success it is today, and who's as lovely as she's brilliant: Lyla Winston."
Cheers and clapping threatened to lift the roof off the warehouse, while Lyla colored a pretty pink; she hadn't expected Chibs to put her on the spot like this. She quickly recovered, lifting her hands and raising her voice so she could be heard over the din as she announced, "Movie screening starts in ten."
If possible, the roar that went up at her news was even louder, and the crowd started scrambling for find seats from where they could watch the make-shift screen that Quinn and Happy had mounted on one of the walls. Lyla and her editors had worked late into the night to put together a first rough cut of RoboHooker in time for the party.
"C'mon, baby." Tig guided Venus to a pair of chairs where they'd have a good view. "You're gonna love this."
Thirty minutes later, the credits rolled and, amid loud applause and shrill whistles from the audience, the lights went on again. Venus whispered in Tig's ear she wanted to tell Lyla how much she'd appreciated the movie. Looking around, Tig located Lyla at the back of the room, standing next to Chibs. She was beaming up at him, saying something, and he grinned down at her, nodding his agreement before draping his arm over her shoulders and planting a kiss in her hair.
Leading Venus by the hand, Tig cut through the crowd of Sons now in search of booze and willing women—both of which were available in spades. Lyla's party prep would've done Gemma proud: she'd stocked up on enough food and booze to feed an army, talked her on-screen talent into making an appearance, and gotten the Diosa girls to add to the numbers. Who woulda thought Opie's little porn star had in it her? Not Tig, for sure. Diosa might take a short-term financial hit with so many of the girls busy elsewhere, but way Tig saw it, Samcro regaining the goodwill of the other charters would more than make up for the loss. Either way, it was all the club's money, so it didn't really matter.
"Darlin'," Venus spoke over Tig's shoulder as soon as they came within earshot of Lyla, "that was pure brilliance."
"Thank you." Lyla smiled, a little shyly. "It's only the rough cut, though."
"Oh, I know, darling. Still, this was—."
Catching a dark look flitting across Chibs' face, Tig tuned out the girls' chatter and directed his attention to where Chibs was looking. From across the room, Packer was signaling, with a faint questioning shrug in the direction of the temporary chapel, that he wanted to talk. Chibs' mouth tightened. "Tig?"
"I saw. What you wanna do?" Like they had any option; they could hardly refuse to talk to the Samdino president.
Chibs knew it, too. "Talk to 'im, I guess." He squared his shoulders a little. "Want you with me."
"All the way, brother." Both Clay in his final days and Jax, after, had played their cards close to their chests. Too close, in Tig's opinion. Some of the shit that'd happened could've been avoided by bringing decisions to the table earlier. Though he reckoned he was as guilty of holding secrets close as both his former presidents.
In any case, seemed Chibs was determined not to make the same mistake. And while the VP flash still felt strange on his chest, Tig wanted to live up to the responsibility that came with it. Whatever Chibs needed, he'd try to give it to him.
He leaned over toward Venus, who was still chatting with Lyla. "Gotta leave you for a few minutes, baby. Club business. You gonna be okay?" He didn't much like abandoning her in the middle of several dozen strange patches, but he had little choice: club came first.
"I will, my angel." Venus placed her hand on his chest. "Lyla and I have so much to talk about. Don't we, darlin'?" She addressed her final words to Lyla and, with a parting smile for Tig, she and Lyla wandered off in the direction of the bar.
"Okay. Let's find out what he wants." With Tig on his heels, Chibs carved a path through the throng until they reached Packer. The other presidents who'd made the ride had joined him outside the chapel by then. Tig eyed them warily: obviously, this was more than just Packer wanting a private word.
Chibs led them all in, waving the visitors into seats. As soon as everyone was inside, Tig shut the door, dimming the noise of the party, which was gearing up to a full-blown, old-style Samcro bash.
"Gentlemen." Chibs lowered himself into the chair at the head of the table.
Tig took his place at Chibs' left, slouching a little and pretending unconcern, one hand placed on the table and the other resting, out of sight, near the butt of the gun in his cut. He flexed his fingers, not really expecting any shit, but feeling it was better to be safe than sorry.
"Thank ye for coming," Chibs went on, absently fingering the gavel in front of him. He caught himself and laid his palms flat on the table. "As I said before, means a lot to Samcro."
Across from Tig, Gaines made a noise in the back of his throat. A loose thread dangled from his president's flash, sewn on in haste after Jury was killed. "What Jax did—," he began.
Tig tensed, but Packer held up a hand to cut Gaines off. "That shit's over and done with." Gaines snorted and Packer gave him a sharp look. "It's handled," he added in a tone that underscored the words. He looked around at the others. "We're all good, brothers."
Gaines puffed out a breath but lowered his gaze. Tig relaxed. Clearly that wound was still weeping. And probably would for some time to come. He couldn't entirely fault the Nevada charter for that.
Redirecting his gaze toward Chibs, Packer grinned and brought the conversation back to their presence at the party. "Hey, movie night at the docks. What's not to like?"
There were a few chuckles, but nobody said anything. Chibs lit a cigarette, his movements slow, as if he was stretching out the action to fill the lengthening silence. Tig recalled how Clay liked to light up his cigars in the chapel. Getting a stogie going properly could take minutes.
The silence was quickly getting to Tig, however, and he shifted. "So, what's this about?" Beyond the chapel doors, a hoot of raucous laughter went up, and he fought the urge to get up and take a look. Shit, he wanted this crap over and done with so he could get back to Venus. He wasn't much worried about her getting hurt—she could handle herself—but she wasn't wearing a crow and she was alone in a room full of half drunk Sons, where not everyone would've seen her come in with him or understand who she was.
"Just touchin' base," Packer replied. "Considerin' all the changes you guys got going around here, and all."
Chibs huffed while Tig grimaced. They both knew that Jax had forced some of those changes on Packer and the others, at the forum.
Monroe from Rogue River spoke next. "Jax cuttin' ties with the IRA, lot of us are takin' a real hit on that."
Tig wasn't surprised to hear it; quite a few of the charters had gotten a taste of the gun business: protection, storage, distribution. Losing that cash would hurt anyone. "Ain't exactly been easy out here, either." He gave a vague nod to indicate the cramped room serving as their make-shift chapel, its walls mostly bare. Christ, he missed the old club house, with the club's history soaked into its very walls.
"We're aware." Lee made a soothing gesture. "And we all knew the score on that end. We still voted to support Jax."
Unexpectedly, Tig's eyes stung at the memory of the meeting in Chester. Jax had announced his vision, his dreams of change, and of a new direction that would keep the Sons strong and whole, and everyone had hollered and banged the table when he was finished. It had been a fuckin' good day for Samcro.
Chibs cleared his throat, bringing Tig back to the here and now. "Samcro's offer to help anyone wants to move in a legitimate direction still stands." The quiver to his voice as he repeated Jax's promise was slight enough that Tig didn't think anyone else had picked up on it.
Hench scratched his neck. "Does that include back-up if shit hits the illegitimate fan, too?"
Tig sat up straighter, exchanging a quick look with Chibs. Did Reno actually need their help, or was this a roundabout way of testing Samcro's dedication to the Sons?
"Aye," Chibs confirmed, turning back to Hench and meeting his gaze steadily. "Always. As long as none of that shite blows back on Charming, ye can count on Samcro, brother."
"Somethin' we should know about?" Tig asked, shifting his hand to rest on his gun.
"Nah." Hench gave a shake of the head. "Just checkin' we're all on the same page."
A test, then. Tig felt Chibs relax a little as Hench assured them everything was fine. Evidently he was glad Reno wasn't wanting to cash in on that promise straight away and Tig understood his reaction. Chibs was no doubt as willing to stand by his word as Tig was—one charter's problem was every charter's problem—but Samcro needed time. They were still reeling from all the crap of the last six or so months: Clay's betrayal, Tara's murder, the war with the Chinese, and then Jax—.
"Your assurances will lay some concerns to rest," Packer confirmed. The others at the table nodded.
Tig sniffed. As if Samcro had ever let another charter down.
"Is there anything else we can do for you gentlemen?" Chibs asked. He smiled to take the sting out of his words. "Cause I think I hear a bottle of Jameson callin' me name."
"Nope." Packer chuckled. "Thank you for your time."
They were about to stand when the ongoing rumble outside the room suddenly increased in volume. Loud bangs and crashes; men shouting; women screaming. The surge of noise brought them all up out of their chairs in a flash.
"What the fuck?" Tig blurted, his gun half out of his cut.
The next instant, the door slammed open and a couple of Stockton police officers pushed inside, weapons drawn.
"All of you, up against the wall!"
Tig could see that, behind the two cops, other uniforms were holding the crowd back. He hesitated. Venus was out there, somewhere in the middle of the ruckus. He craned his neck, trying to catch a glimpse of her, wanting to confirm she was okay. Then Chibs grunted a warning under his breath, and Tig slowly let go of his gun, pulling his hand out of his cut. Much as he wanted to, it'd be a monumentally stupid act to draw a weapon on the cops right now.
"Officers, how can we—?" Chibs started to ask. They didn't let him finish.
"Up against the fuckin' wall!" the cop barked a second time. Tig recognized him now: one of Barosky's dirty friends. Fuck. Suddenly he understood what this was about. It wasn't a coincidence the assholes had showed their faces right when Samcro was having a party.
Dammit, they shoulda seen this coming. Jax had hardly been discreet when dealing with Barosky; taking a page straight out of Tig's book, as matter of fact, of head-on, straightforward action. They shoulda known Barosky's crew wouldn't be happy about it but, with Jax dead, who would've expected the cops to still come after Samcro?
One of the cops grabbed Tig, who apparently wasn't moving fast enough for the bastard's liking. As Tig was swung around, he glimpsed Venus in the group outside, catching her eye for half a second before the cop slammed him against the wall hard enough to make his teeth clack. His gaze met Packer's. Not surprisingly, the Sandino president looked less than happy. Tig gave him a shrug and, aware that the cops were now busy with Hench and Monroe, twisted his head in the other direction, toward Chibs.
Chibs' expression was tight. Looking past Tig, he wiggled his eyebrows at Packer, wordlessly asking to co-operate for now and leave the rest to him. Packer must've understood: Tig heard him mutter to the others to stay cool.
Chibs turned his head further so he could look at the cops. "This about Barosky?"
"Shut up." One of the cops jabbed Chibs in the ribs with his gun and Chibs grunted. Tig snarled wordlessly, clenching his fists and fighting off the instinct that told him to come to his brother's aid.
"Ye do know he was a filthy rat, don't ye?" Chibs wasn't so easy to shut up; Tig's snarl shifted into a smirk.
"Told you to keep your trap shut." The cop yanked Chibs around and planted a fist in his gut. Chibs' breath escaped with a whoosh and he doubled over. Enough was enough, Tig decided; he wasn't gonna stand by while these pricks roughed up his president. He began to push away from the wall but, gasping, Chibs gestured for him to stay out of it. Reluctantly, Tig stayed where he was.
"Let him speak," the second cop ordered. Tig gave him a scowl. Must be the smarter of the pair.
Chibs sucked in a breath, getting his voice back. "Barosky sold us out to Lin," he rasped. "Killed one o' yer own guys when he was about to tell us."
The cop who'd been holding Chibs hauled back a fist for another swing, but the other one stopped him. "Quite an accusation," he remarked, sounding disbelieving. "Can you back it up?"
"Yeah, I can."
At a nod from the smarter cop, who seemed to be in charge, Chibs made his way over to the filing cabinet and brought out the phone Tully had given Jax, the one Juice had used to record Lin's final words. Tig wasn't much for irony, but it wasn't lost on him how the same confession that had sealed Jax's fate might now save the club.
As neither of the cops was paying them much attention, Tig and the visiting presidents turned around. Gaines looked eager, the others merely curious. Putting the phone down in the middle of the table, Chibs hit the button to play the recording.
"Shit," the smarter one muttered once it was done.
The other cop looked confused. "Is that even real?"
Tig scoffed. "Real as your mother's cunt." The dumb cop wheeled on him and Tig hunched his shoulders forward and brought his hands up, curling them into fists, grinning. Bring it on, asshole. Behind the cop, Chibs was rolling his eyes and muttering a "Jaysus."
"For Chrissakes, knock it off!" the lead cop barked. He gestured at the phone. "Play it again."
Chibs obliged. For a second time, Lin's damning words echoed tinnily from the small speaker. "I want that phone," Lead Cop said, once the recording had ended. "Got some folk may wanna hear it, too."
Chibs glanced across at Tig. The recording was their only evidence of Barosky's double-dealing. On the other hand, everyone it had affected was dead and Lead Cop seemed pissed enough he wasn't likely to make it disappear.
Tig shrugged; they didn't need Stockton's dirty cops on their case out of a misguided loyalty to their former boss. Too much of that going 'round already.
"Take it," Chibs told the cop.
The prick swept the phone off the table and it disappeared into somewhere in his utility belt. "Let's go," he told his buddy. He turned back to Chibs. "Sorry to've crashed your party, man."
Chibs shrugged. "No hard feelings."
The cops headed back out into the main room. The instant the door swung closed behind them, Gaines whirled around and demanded, "What the fuck was that?"
Tig rolled a shoulder. "Fuckin' dirty cops measurin' their dicks."
"You get a lot of that?" Hench asked dryly. Monroe laughed and Lee, lighting a smoke, chuckled around it.
Chibs grinned. "We got our moments, yeh."
Outside, in the main room, someone was turning the music back up and Lyla was yelling something about another round of drinks.
"C'mon, brothers. This shit's made me thirsty." Trailing smoke, Lee was first out the door, Monroe and Hench close on his heels. Gaines gave Chibs and Tig another wary glance before following them. Packer stopped at the door and turned back.
"I'm sorry about Jax." He kept his voice low so nobody outside could overhear. "That kinda shit—." He shook his head. "Can break a charter." He held Chibs' gaze. "Lemme know if you need anything, alright?" At Chibs' nod, Packer joined the party as well, leaving Chibs and Tig alone in the chapel.
"That went well," Tig remarked. He wouldn't have been surprised if Packer had asked for a blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to Jax's 'shooting' of Happy and his 'escape' from mayhem, or for Gaines to demand a blood sacrifice or some such shit.
Chibs snorted a laugh. "Better 'n expected," he admitted. "C'mon, brother," he slapped Tig on the shoulder, "let's see how the party's goin'."
The booze flowed thick and fast, the women were hot and pliant, and soon the cops' visit was an irrelevant incident in the rear view mirror. The Sons were growing rowdier by the minute and Tig was having a great time, even though it was weird to be waving off the girls angling for his company. Damn, he couldn't remember the last time he'd turned down so much willing pussy.
Then again, he had everything he needed right at his side. "Hey baby." He leaned closer, lowering his voice. "How 'bout you and me find a more quiet place? Have ourselves a private party?"
Venus tittered. "Thought you'd never ask, honey." She'd had more to drink than Tig would've liked, considering she'd driven herself over. On the other hand, her car would be fine out here; as long as she wasn't so drunk she'd fall off his bike, he could take her home safe. She rested a palm over his heart for a moment. "Just let me say my farewells to Miss Lyla over there, and thank her for her hospitality. And then I'm all yours, angel."
"Anything you want, baby." He patted her on the ass as she sashayed off to where Lyla was sitting with Chibs, Packer and Quinn. From the way Lyla was waving her hands about, Tig reckoned she was explaining the workings of the porn industry to the Samdino president. Tig chuckled. Looked like they might have competition from that part of the state soon.
He finished his drink, not paying much attention to the craziness going on around him. Until a few choice words, spoken behind him, reached his ears.
"Samcro's fuckin' done for, man," someone was saying. Whoever was speaking was louder than they should've been, considering where they were. "Look at 'em: niggers wearin' reapers and now that tranny walkin' around like T-girl fuckin' owns the place."
Tig's back went rigid and he clenched his jaw as he set down his glass and slowly turned toward the speaker. "Wanna repeat that to my face, asshole?" He took some pleasure from the way the pair of Sons with the shithead who was trash-talking his club and his girl blanched when they recognized him. "Gotta warn you, though," Tig went on, his voice low and sharp-edged, "last man did that got his dick shot off."
The cocky idiot failed to heed the warning. "You wouldn't shoot a brother," he sneered, puffing out his chest. His patches, still mostly white and not yet grimy with years of road dust, proclaimed him Indian Hills. His gaze took in the Redwood Original patches on Tig's left chest. "Or wait, maybe you would, you bein' fuckin' Samcro and all."
Tig gritted his teeth, his anger boiling over. He kinda did want to shoot the little prick. "Maybe I won't do that. But I can still smash your fuckin' face in." He cracked his knuckles.
One of the other men was tugging on the guy's elbow, trying to dissuade him, but the dumb kid from Nevada was having none of it. "Oh really?" He squared his shoulders, facing off against Tig. "Think you can take me?" He had to be at least two decades younger and a few dozen pounds heavier, and all muscle, too. Kid must've been pumping iron for hours.
But none of that meant shit in the ring. Tig sniffed derisively. "Even your momma won't let you in the door when I'm done."
By now, they were starting to draw the attention of the rest of the room, and an excited whisper at the prospect of a fight raced through the crowd.
Again, the guy's friend leaned toward him, whispering something in his ear. Tig couldn't hear what he said, but he recognized the shape of his own name on the man's lips, and it finally seemed to dawn on the Nevada Son what shit he'd stepped in. Blind as well as stupid, then, considering the VP patch proudly displayed on the right of Tig's chest.
"Hey man, I di'n mean to—."
"Yeah, you did," Tig scoffed, cutting him off, and the little shit paled under his road tan.
Tig almost—almost—felt sorry for what he was about to do. The kid had clearly had more drink that he could handle. But dammit, Tig needed this. Hell, after the past month, they all needed this. They couldn't let the other charters think they were pussies, ready to be shoved aside. Presidents be damned: the real heart of the Sons were his patched brothers. And this particular one could do with a good pounding.
"What's this, then?" Chibs was cutting his way through the crowd with Gaines and Happy on his heels. He wore a look that Tig had seen on a few presidents' features in the past, when they'd accepted what was gonna happen had to happen and were already calculating the cost of property damage in their head. It was an odd expression to see on Chibs' face, one Tig had never seen there before, and he almost called the whole thing off.
"Angel?" Venus popped up at Tig's other shoulder. "What is going on?"
"Nothin' to worry about, baby," Tig spoke from the corner of his mouth, his gaze still firmly fixed on the kid's face. "Just gonna teach our young brother here," he infused the word with all the contempt he felt, "a lesson in respectin' our ladies."
"Oh, Mother of Jezus." That was Chibs again, the soft curse uttered on an exhale. Briefly taking his eyes off of the kid, Tig gave him a look that was half an apology and half a plea.
Sorry, bro, that look said. You know I ain't got no choice.
Chibs heaved another sigh. "Alrighty, then. Clear the floor. Rings off." A loud cheer went up, and while Lyla scrambled with her crew to carry some of the more expensive equipment out of harm's way, people starting placing bets on the outcome. Within moments, Hap and Quinn had created a wide circle in the middle of the warehouse floor, the mob of Sons and women jostling at the perimeter for the best view.
"Alexander?" For the first time since he'd known her, Venus looked uncertain about what to say or do.
"Don't worry 'bout me, baby. This needs to happen." He took off his rings and held them out to her. "Keep these safe for me, darlin'?" She still looked worried as she hid his rings in her cleavage, but she also gave him a smile.
The fight was over in less than ten minutes. The kid from Nevada was young and big, but he was all brawn and drunk muscle, and proved no match for Tig's much vaster experience or willingness to fight dirty. Didn't mean Tig came through the fight entirely unscathed: his knuckles were bleeding; one of his ribs was bruised; and he'd taken a lucky hit to his left eye, which was already swelling. But he was standing straight and barely out of breath when Chibs called it, signaling to a couple of his brothers to carry his opponent out of the circle and into the chapel, where he could be patched up by Chibs and a Samdino brother who'd worked as an EMT.
With the excitement over, the crowd spread out again, money changing hands from those who lost their bets to those who'd won. Tig's closest brothers surrounded him, slapping his back or squeezing his shoulder as they celebrated his victory and relived the fight punch for punch.
They parted to let Venus through, though. "My savior." She was smiling broadly.
"Always, darlin'." He grinned back, the adrenaline gradually leaving him. "Nobody's gonna dump on my old lady unchallenged." He sensed the shock going through the guys surrounding him before his brain caught up with what his mouth had just said. Dammit, had he said that out loud? Where everyone could hear? It was true, he reminded himself, but perhaps not the best way to tell her.
Venus didn't react to his pronouncement, however, merely offering him a small bundled that was wet and cold. "Here, I think you might want this."
He gave her a sharp look as he accepted the bundle, which turned out to be a dish towel folded around a stack of ice cubes. Had she heard what he'd said? Did she even understand the significance? Or did she think it was simply another endearment?
Juggling the ice pack from hand to hand, he soothed his knuckles, before holding it briefly against his eye. He had no idea where she'd gotten it from so quickly, but he reckoned Lyla might've had a hand in it, as well. "Thanks, baby." He gestured for her to hold on to his rings a while longer. He didn't think he could fit them over his swollen knuckles right now.
Mercifully, none of the guys were giving him any shit yet about what he'd just said, so he had some time to figure out the potential blowback and how to deal with it. Maybe he'd get lucky, and there wouldn't be any. Either way, though, he wasn't going to take the words back.
Chibs now joined the cluster around Tig, having left the injured kid in the chapel in the Samdino Son's care. "Sorry 'bout this," Tig muttered.
"Nah." Chibs threw an arm around his shoulders. "Had to happen, brother." He laughed, giving Tig a shake. "Ain't a real bash without someone gettin' bloodied, yeah?"
Tig smirked. Chibs had a point, and it could've been a lot worse. "Kid okay?" His anger had worked itself out, and he didn't want his face-off over Venus to cause any further trouble or give the Nevada charter another reason for a beef with Samcro.
Chibs snickered. "He'll be fine. Might remember you every time he takes a piss for a while, but that ain't necessarily a bad thing."
"And Gaines?" Tig had seen the Indian Hills president slip into the chapel shortly after they'd carried his guy inside.
"Don't worry 'bout that bastard." Chibs gave an eyeroll. "He'll get over it."
"Good." With that worry laid to rest, Tig allowed Venus to lead him to a stool at the bar, where she proceeded to fuss over his injuries in a way that left very little doubt how she felt about him. Tig let her tend to him; no matter what, he didn't regret claiming her as his old lady—even if she didn't seem to be fully aware yet of what he'd done.
After Chibs had fixed up Tig's eye and Venus had taken care of his hands, Tig took Venus back to her place. Thankfully it wasn't far, since she was hardly dressed for a bike ride.
The fight had left him worked up, and the feel of her behind him as they rode, her breasts pressed against his back, got him rock hard. By the time they finally reached her apartment, all he could think about was getting her out of that slinky dress, rubbing his face against those luscious tits of hers, and claiming her with more than words.
A while later, sated and exhausted, they lay spooned among the sheets in a tangle of sweaty limbs, Tig struggling to get his breath back. His bruised rib was aching and his hands were still sore.
Venus laced her fingers through his, bringing his hand to her mouth and kissing his raw knuckles gently. "Thank you, Alexander. I had a wonderful time today," she muttered, her breath wafting over his thumb. "Your friends are all very nice boys." She kissed his next finger. "Nobody said a bad word to me."
"They didn't, huh?" Tig lightly nipped at her neck, glad she hadn't overheard that dipshit from Nevada—though she would know the fight had been about her. "That's good, baby."
"And Miss Lyla and I—," Venus moved on to his middle finger, sucking on the knuckle for a second until he moaned at the sweet sting of it, "—we talked through a few ideas for me to help her expand her range of movies. There's a big market for quality performative BDSM." She let go of his hand entirely and turned around in his arms far enough to be able to look at him. "Would that be okay with you, darling?"
Huh? Tig pulled his head back so he could meet her gaze properly. Was she asking his permission? "Whatever you want to do, baby, is fine with me."
She smiled. "Good. I wouldn't want to upset you; you've been so good to me." She turned back, relaxing in his embrace.
Tig tapdanced his fingers lightly over her arm, running his hand up and down it idly. This was as good a time as any, he reckoned. "What I said, earlier...." He trailed off, collecting his thoughts. In the old days, he'd have pawned the explanation off on another member's old lady. Someone like Gemma, or even Tara. Now, though, there was nobody left to help Venus understand. Quinn had a wife stashed somewhere, but Tig had yet to see her, and he could hardly send his girl her way without vetting the woman first. Maybe Lyla could help? She'd been with Ope long enough to understand what it meant to be with a Son, and she and Venus seemed to get along well.
"It's okay," Venus said, when he was quiet for too long. "You don't need to explain. I understand: it's just words."
"What?" Tig pushed up on his elbow. "No, baby, no." Shit, she was getting it all wrong. He couldn't afford to wait until he'd talked to Lyla. "No, baby, it's more than words. It's—." He took a breath, suddenly knowing what he should say. "This is me, hooking it up. You and me. Us."
He felt her tense in his arms, before she turned to face him again. Her eyes were wide.
"You're Samcro now," he went on, holding her gaze and trying to convey what he couldn't put in words. "Family. Not like those assholes," he flapped his free hand loosely in the air.
"I—I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me." Venus' voice was husky, the lilt he loved so much absent for once.
"There's more to it." He brushed some strands of hair from her face and she shivered under his touch. "You'll be protected. You get in trouble, or someone gives you shit, you call me. If you can't reach me, talk to Chibs or one of the other guys. They'll help you. Think you can do that, baby?"
She sniffled and nodded. "I can, angel. I will."
"Good." He rolled her onto her back and lowered his head to kiss her. One less worry for him to fret over. With her line of work, and her being an independent operator, he'd always feared that one day she'd run into someone who'd want more than she was willing to offer. At least now he knew she'd have Samcro to back her up if that kind of crap ever came up. "I haven't had an old lady in... in a very long time." His hand stroked the underside of her breasts and his cock twitched, getting ready for another round. Best he not tell her that bitch had died after he'd laid down his bike with her on the back. "But you.... You're the best thing ever happened to me, baby." He sucked on a nipple and she arched her back, tangling her fingers in his hair, and he sent up a thankyou that whoever had done her surgery had made sure she could still feel.
"My beautiful Venus," he murmured, his hands stroking her flanks, once again filled with wonder that she wanted to be with him. He was an old bastard, an asshole who'd done enough shit he didn't deserve any kind of happiness. But here he was: his club, though torn, was healing and he was holding the most amazing woman in his arms. It wasn't quite enough to make up for the family he'd lost: Dawn to Pope's thugs, and Fawn cutting all ties with him after Dawnie had died. But it helped, a lot.
Tig pulled Venus closer against him so he could wrap his arms more tightly around her and nuzzle her throat, swearing silently that he'd do his damnedest to hold on to all of it. Yeah, he might not deserve any of it, but it was making him happier than he'd been for a long time: this new club he and Chibs were building together, and Venus, his beautiful, complicated, amazing girl. His old lady.
Disclaimer: this story is a transformative work based on the Fox 21/FX Productions/Linson Entertainment/Sutter Ink television series Sons of Anarchy. It was written for entertainment only; the author does not profit from it. Please do not redistribute elsewhere without author attribution.