The first time it happens, they're in prison, Clay tells him that it's for his protection. Juice has seen the way that some of the other prisoners look at him, knows that, at least in part, it's true, Clay is protecting him from the prison-yard predators, but he's not stupid either. He knows that Clay has needs and Gemma's not allowed to visit him in 'that way'.
He tries to relax as best he can, knowing, instinctively, and from the time when one of his mother's 'friends ‘took a shine to him, that it won't hurt as much if he relaxes and allows things to take their natural course.
Men wouldn't do this if it wasn't pleasurable on some level, he thinks, biting his lower lip clean through to keep from crying out. He's unable to remain completely quiet, whimpers and grunted pants escape him in spite of his best efforts as Clay thickens inside him and then moves.
The in-out rhythm of the thrusts starts out slow, but then the speed increases, he's being torn apart, ridden to death, as Clay picks up the pace. He's a man in need, bent over Juice's back mouth pressed against his ear, breath hot and moist, whispered, grunted half-words panted against Juice's ear. Dick slicked with nothing bit pre-cum and a bit of spit, penetrating so deeply that Juice fears it'll get lost inside of him, but then Clay's hardened cock is brushing, pushing, pulsing against something inside of him that makes him explode on the inside.
All he can see are bright, colored lights. It feels like his body's on fire, electric impulses coming at odd intervals timed to Clay's erratic thrusts. His hips, naked and sweat-soaked, gripped so tight they bruise, buck beneath Clay, he's instinctively pushing up as Clay jerks his hips forward, his body welcoming his ad-hoc father's dick up his ass like they've always been this way, like it’s right.
Juice barley notices the watchful guard, doesn't hear the overweight man's bated breath, his guttural grunts as he fondles himself while he watches Clay fuck him. Free show for perverts.
Juice isn't prepared for the way that Clay stiffens inside of him, the fingers gripping his hips digging in harder, and the convulsive shudders that accompany Clay's orgasm as the older man climaxes and cums inside of him. His seed spilling into Juice’s ass and down the inside of his sweaty thighs.
Juice's orgasm follows soon after, and then the guard's. He stiffens when Clay kisses the back of his neck as the older man pulls out of him and they collapse in a post coital heap on the floor.
Clay's voice is low and breathy when he rolls off of him, saying, "I love you, son.”
Words that Juice has heard him say too many times to count, but never like this. Juice doesn't understand why he feels like crying when the man slides off of him and helps him with his pants, they scratch and chaff against his sensitive skin. It isn't until later, after their watchful guard has escorted them to back to their respective cells, via the shower room, and lights are out that Juice cries.
The second time it happens, Juice isn't prepared for it, Clay's horny, Gemma's not there, but he is. Clay tears into him like he hasn't been laid in years, and it's all Juice can do to keep his hands underneath him, to keep his elbows from buckling and the both of them from crashing to the unforgivably cold concrete of the prison floor.
The guard's there touching himself again, and this time Juice can hear him encouraging Clay to, “Take him, take that dirty whore and show him who's boss.”
It makes Juice sick to his stomach, and it's all he can do to stay conscious as Clay pounds into him. He can feel the blood trickling down the inside of his thighs and wonders if the sight of it is what pushes the perverse guard over the edge.
Juice can see the man's purpled erection, the spunk spewing forth from it as the man comes, some of it splashes on Juice's face, the back of his neck. Clay's orgasm fills him to bursting and then as soon as it started, it's over and Clay's kissing the back of his neck again, tongue flicking over the drying cum from their audience.
"I love you son," are Clay's parting words, and then, just like last time there's the shower and then the escort back to the cell.
Juice feels empty and like his life’s stuck on some sort of auto repeat. He doesn’t cry.
Will eventually deal with the aftermath.
Chapter 3: Part III - Again, Except Different
A trade's made.
Juice isn't fully awake when the guard ushers him from his cell. It's early, everyone is sleeping, and Juice is terrified. So far, other than Clay, he's been untouched. There's a sense of urgency and the guard pushes him ahead of him. Juice stumbles, but before he can fall, the guard catches him, pulling him steadily to his feet.
This time it isn't an out of the way corridor. There's a room with a small cot and Clay's there waiting for him. The guard sits in a chair, unzips and pulls out his penis, it's already erect. Juice looks away, his cheeks reddening with shame as he realizes that this must be some sort of deal that Clay made, for the benefit of Samcro
His mouth burns and aches, he feels like he's choking as he gags. His tongue slides over the thick, veiny surface, his fingers fumbling as he grasps the guard's dick so that he can slide his palm along the shaft as the entirety of it is too much to fit in his mouth.
He feels like he's pinioned, half floating, half grounded when Clay enters him. It's hard to establish a rhythm, making sure that he doesn't accidentally bite the guard when Clay thrusts and when his pseudo lover hits that sensitive bundle of nerves inside of him that make him see stars.
Both men come at the same time and Juice is filled, stomach and ass, with their spunk. Unprepared for the frontal assault, he convulsively swallows and gags. It's too salty and he wishes that he could rinse out his mouth.
Shower, mouthwash, sleep.
Chapter 4: When a Kiss is Not Just a Kiss
They're out, but Clay just can't seem to get enough of Juice.
Strangely enough, it's not the kissing, but the odd, intimate touch when no one else is watching them, that gets to him. Now that they're out of prison things are supposed to be different. Clay's got Gemma, he's got any girl he wants. Except, that isn't quite how it is.
It’s not that he doesn’t like girls; it’s that, what with everything going on with the sheriff and his secret, he’s finding it hard to concentrate on anything else, let alone get involved with a girl. With his life, quite literally on the line, Juice can’t seem to do anything other than worry.
And then, it happens and his life gets even more fucked up than it already is. First it's a brief, almost not there, squeeze, just at the base of his neck when no one else is looking. A bumping of shoulders when he’s least expecting it. Fingers lightly brushing against his wrist, closing around it and then letting go, almost as if it had never happened, except it had. Just when no one else is looking.
But then Clay asks him to stay behind one day when chapel's over, and he finds it hard to think, to breathe. He tries to dismiss his fear, because, this isn't prison and Clay hasn’t discovered his horrible secret, at least he prays that the president of the Sons hasn’t.
Clay has Gemma now, and he's got all these girls (if and when he wants them). The only thing he can think of when Clay grabs hold of his hips and pulls him close, hot and pulsing, grinding against him like an animal in heat, is, 'This is not happening.'
When Clay's hands move to either side of his face even as he presses him back against the table, his heart starts to hammer in his chest. It's a lopsided, ungainly kind of hammering that makes him feel sick and dizzy. He tries to push away, but Clay's legs are planted on either side of his, the man’s dick is hard and pressing into his thigh and Juice is trapped.
"Clay?" he doesn't mean for it to come out as a question, doesn't like how weak he sounds, nor the way it makes Clay look at him - eyes filled with lust and something primitive.
"Fuck, I've missed you," Clay says, and, though he's trying to pull away, Clay's lips are on his in a demanding kiss, his wordless protest going unheeded.
Juice pushes against Clay's chest, tries to break the kiss even as the man who's like a father to him deepens it. 'This isn't happening,' Juice thinks, 'This isn't happening, not here. Not now.'
His heart's galloping in his chest and Clay's hands are moving from his face, exploring. Juice's mind doesn't seem to have any control over how his body's responding as Clay's fingers grope and pinch and touch. The man's tongue, greedy and aggressive, bullies its way into every crevice of his mouth and Juice can't breathe.
Chapter 5: Worry
Chibs is worried about Juice because he hasn't been himself since his return from prison, and that thing with Miles.
Set during 4.07 – “Fruit for the Crows”
Chibs knows that something is up with Juice because the kid hasn’t been acting ‘right’ lately. He just doesn't know what it is that’s wrong with the kid and isn't sure that he'll be able to help him with it, whatever it is. The kid is uncharacteristically jumpy, always looking over his shoulder, and in a way that doing a stint in prison doesn't fully explain.
He’s determined to keep an eye on the younger man, which is why, instead of vacating the clubhouse as he, and the rest of the crew, were ordered to do when church came to an end, he sticks around, hovering just beyond the damaged door of the chapel, courtesy of the new sheriff in town. And that’s just a whole shitload of trouble for the club in and of itself, Juice’s troubles aside.
The fact that the shades on the windows have been drawn shut is not lost on Chibs. Clay had them added a fortnight ago, claiming that the windows – a new addition to the clubhouse, again, thanks to the new sheriff – made him uneasy, and took away from the privacy of their meetings.
He can’t see in, and no one can see out. He supposes that’s the point of them, but right now they’re a damn nuisance.
Something doesn’t sit quite right with him, and there’s a twisting in his gut that can’t be explained away by the copious amounts of whiskey he’d drunk the night before. He asked Clay to talk to Juice, see if the older man could help him sort out whatever the hell is going on in that thick head of his.
Instead of being excited or eager about talking with Clay, the kid had looked wary, sick even. Like he was walking to his death. And, as Chibs thinks back to other times that Clay has asked him to stay after or talk, he realizes that Juice’s reactions have gotten progressively worse.
The kid’s become skittish as a deer over the past several weeks, like he’s got some terrible secret that he’s trying to keep from everyone. The problem is that it’s eating him up from the inside out, whatever it is, and Chibs doesn’t like watching the kid deteriorate like that, and right in front of him.
As he’s pacing from one closed door to the other, Chibs makes the decision that tonight, once he can get Juice on his own, he’s going to confront the younger man about his atypical behavior – the nervousness and the fear that seems to linger and flash in his eyes when he doesn't think anyone is looking. It worries him, and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot that can worry him.
"Shit,” he whispers aloud, wondering when the kid had managed to worm his way into his heart.
Sure, the club had made them brothers, but the way his heart twists when he thinks about how Juice looked – lost and scared like a little kid – as the others trickled out of the meeting tonight tells him that it isn’t just a brotherly love he feels for Juice. Fuck it all, he feels like a god damn father to the younger man.
A noise coming from behind the closed door hits him in the gut like a fist. At first, he dismisses it because it’s so out of place, and so soft. He’s certain that he must have misheard, but then he hears it again, and he’s unable to chalk it up to parental, as warped as that is, worry.
He turns away from the door, his hand clenching into a fist, but he’s unable to walk the rest of the way out of the building, in spite of his desire to leave. On the other hand he can’t bring himself to open the door leading to the chapel, the sanctuary of their brotherhood, either.
Muffled cries of, "Stop,” interspersed with, "Please," and, "Not here,” reach his ears and Chibs is trying to parse it all, make some sense of it, except that he can't quite get a handle on his emotions, or wrap his mind around what he’s hearing. Denial is an alluring mistress, whispering what he wants to hear – that everything’s okay – what he needs to hear to make everything okay and right in his world.
He walks to the door, puts his hand on it, turns the knob, but backs away without opening the door. He knows that if he fucks this up, it won't only be his life and livelihood on the line. There's Juice, the club and his girls to consider.
But, if what he fears, as improbable as it is, is going on behind those closed doors, he’s got to do something.
Because, no matter what position Clay holds in the club, never mind that he's one of its founders, the man has no right to be taking advantage of anyone, let alone Juice who practically worships the ground the man walks on. Juice, whose innocence, in spite of some of the shit that he’s done, is oft displayed with an enthusiastic smile and an almost insatiable desire to please his elders, is someone worth protecting.
It's incomprehensible to Chibs that Clay would so callously use others under his authority, which is why he cannot, in all good conscience, consider the darkness at the back of his mind that is insisting is true. He won’t believe it, not without proof.
He wracks his mind to see if he can recall anyone else being asked to stay back after church closes, and it comes up blank. Juice is the only one. Chibs’ heart plummets when he hears a muffled cry from behind the closed doors and vows to get the truth from Juice, no matter what.
At the next muffled groan, accompanied by a strangled cut-off cry, Chibs is at the ruined door, knocking. He has no idea what he's going to say, what excuse he's going to come up with when Clay asks why he's knocking.
There's no answer, just the sound of shuffling and panting, and it makes him sick with worry. His mind is still courting denial, insisting that, until there is proof, what he’s hearing, what he fears, is not true. Clay is innocent until proven guilty.
Chibs would have thought that his knocking had gone unheard if it wasn't for the sudden hush that accompanies his third round of knocking. When an eternity's passed, Chibs knocks again, an insistent, clipped ringing sound designed to get an answer.
Chapter 6: Leader of the Pack
Clay needs Juice and Juice needs him. What they're doing isn't wrong.
References episode 4.07 – “Fruit for the Crows,” but is by no means an exact replication of the scene in that episode (by a long shot), though some of the dialogue is used (bastardized of course). Also, the events are somewhat skewed. This is, perhaps, a bit sexually graphic.
Clay isn't sure what it is about Juice that gets him going, his body thrumming in ways that doesn’t happen when he’s with Gemma. He loves his wife, her body. She’s beautiful. When they come together as man and wife, it's amazing, but, it isn't all that he wants. She isn’t nearly as submissive as he needs, and Juice, as much as the boy puts up a fight at times, is.
He wonders if Juice has bewitched him, because he can't seem to stop thinking of the boy. Even when he’s making love to his wife, sometimes it’s Juice he’s thinking about – of all of the things he can do with the young, nubile man that he can’t with Gemma.
First there’s the mouth – warm, wet, and cavernous. A supple tongue and wide, full lips. Teeth that can scrape and tease an orgasm within seconds.
Then there’re the hands ending in long, agile fingers with calloused pads. A talented thumb and rough, uneven skin that makes him hard even when he’s just thinking about Juice’s hands wrapped firmly around his dick. The way they move fast and sure over his hardened shaft, thumb and index finger bantering in foreplay, contriving to make him hard as a rock until he begs and screams for release.
And then, there’s the boy’s body- hot, tight, and writhing beneath his, an entrance slick with only blood, spit and pre-cum. And, oh fuck, the sounds, sounds he could never engender from his wife – guttural, animalistic, and pained – are like some kind of primeval music. It speaks to something primitive within him, calling forth bestial urges which are often his undoing.
When he's deep inside the boy, not quite old enough to be a man in Clay's book, he thinks he understands the Greeks and why they love men so much. Because, fuck all if he doesn’t love Juice in a way he could never love Gemma or any other woman for that matter.
Fucking Juice is Nirvana. It gets him high, and makes him want more. The kid's fucking addictive. Fuck, fuck, fuck. The kid, his ass, the way he moans at the back of his throat, his back arching, hips bucking, taking him inch by fucking inch until there's no more left for the kid to take, it's all so fucking beautiful. A god damn hot, sweaty masterpiece.
He knows that if he keeps seeking out the boy’s company, the guys are going to suspect that something’s up, but he needs this. He needs Juice. He hasn’t felt this alive in a long time. Fucking Juice gives him an adrenaline high that not even killing can produce.
Even pulling the blinds, shutting out the rest of the club, has become a part of it all. Something integral to the making of love. Darkness to keep out the light.
And tonight, it was Chibs’ idea for him to have a talk with Juice about everything that has been going on. He’ll have to figure out a way to assuage Chibs’ concerns, let him know that he has a handle on Juice.
Juice’s soft protest of, “Stop,” when he approaches the younger man almost gives him pause, but he moves forward, steady and sure of himself. He wants Juice. Juice wants him, even if he doesn’t realize it.
His need overrides everything else. He’s the leader of this ‘pack’; Juice is his in a manner of speaking. His to do with as he pleases. And this? This is what pleases him. It should please Juice as well, all of this attention from his leader.
"Please," Juice's voice is but a strangled whisper that stirs his dick.
Clay almost begs to hear the plea again. There’s something about the plaintively spoken word – a prayer of supplication that makes him feel like a god. His hands, aching, fall on Juice’s shoulders and he squeezes gently, demanding.
"Not here," Juice’s protest is perfunctory.
Juice isn’t saying ‘no’ when his hands travel down the boy’s arms and he rubs up against him.
Juice wants him, needs to feel him deep inside, pushing, thrusting, pouring his body, soul and seed into him. The kid just doesn’t understand it yet, but he’ll teach him. He’s got all the time in the world, and yet not enough time.
He cuts the younger man's further objections off with a kiss, swallowing the boy’s words in tongue and teeth. They haven’t kissed before. Not like this, and fuck it’s good. Nothing like kissing Gemma, or any of the other women he’s kissed over the years. No smooth, soft edges. The roughness of barely there stubble along Juice’s chin – like super-fine sandpaper – is stimulating on a number of different levels he would never have dreamed possible.
His fingers dig into Juice's hips. He needs this. Juice needs this. The kid's been aloof, spooked, unlike himself. Clay's going to remind him of who and what he is, not only to him, but also to the club.
"Love you, son," Clay murmurs against Juice's lips, reminding the boy that he belongs to him.
“I’m proud of you,” he says, and smiles at the look of confusion that crosses Juice’s face at his words.
Juice’s eyes darken, and he’s reminded that the boy’s had to kill someone, a traitor. Killing someone takes a toll on the body, the soul, and Clay will do anything to take the pain of that away from Juice, to ease his conscience. He’s never been good at words, though, has always relied on actions and the notion that the past is the past.
“You did what you had to,” Clay says, “with Miles,” he adds when it seems that Juice doesn’t understand what he means. “You’ve got to put it behind you now.”
Juice swallows, nods, and his eyes fill with tears. Clay doesn’t know what to do with crying women let alone a man. His heart skips a beat and the blood seems to go directly to his dick, stirring it with the need to offer comfort in a very practical, physical way.
He presses his forehead against the younger man’s, resting there, willing the boy to believe him, to trust him, to love him as a son his father, a lover his master. And then he kisses him again, chastely at first, but then roughly and demanding. He wants to erase the pain, the tears.
Clay ignores Juice’s grimace, the way he tries to pull away from him, and the comfort that he offers. The slight movement is ineffectual, weak, hardly a move at all. This is what Juice needs to pull him out of this funk, the reminder of how important he is to his family, to Clay.
“Need you," he says, and he works the zipper of Juice's jeans with palsied hands, overeager in their rush.
The half-sob that the boy utters makes his dick twitch in anticipation.
"Gonna fuck you raw," he says; his voice low and throaty.
It’s the only thing he can think of to do in this moment, the only way to reach Juice, and show him, teach him, that he loves him in a way that no one else does or can.
Juice's jeans are tight, and the boy's hands are in the way, but Clay is stronger, even with his arthritis, and soon Juice's ass is bared. The hard muscles twitch beneath his rough caress. It takes little effort to turn the boy around, bend him over the table, and pin him, arms over his head. Chest to back, Clay loosens his own zipper and his dick springs free.
There isn't much time, though they're out of prison and there aren't any guards around, Clay still feels the rush. Any one of the guys could return, there could be an emergency, either one of them could be needed for something. Time is of the essence. Clay feels like there’s never enough time.
He bends over Juice, presses his lips to the back of the kid's neck and then, whispers in his ear, "Shh," as he pushes himself inside. He relishes the initial resistance as Juice’s muscles tighten in an attempt to protect and to expel the intruder.
Juice's gasp, his moan of pain is almost his undoing, but he closes his eyes, breathes through his imminent orgasm, and concentrates on filling Juice as slowly and completely as he dares. The boy needs this, he needs this.
A sharp rap on the door causes him to start and he hisses at the interruption. His hips jerk in response, and he pounds hard and fast into Juice, heedless of the boy’s need to adjust to him. He knows that whoever is on the other side of the door can only be kept at bay for so long, and he can’t not finish this now that he’s started.
"Shh," he whispers, and there’s just the hint of warning in the command.
His hands on the back of Juice’s neck, holding the kid in place, are an unspoken threat. Juice whimpers, and wriggles, his hips jerk backward, inadvertently taking more of Clay's hardened length. His whimpers turn into harsh, uneven pants and then reluctant, throaty moans of pleasure when Clay hits his prostate. The resumed hammering at the door establishes their new, irregular rhythm as he tries to ignore whoever is attempting to disturb them.
Harsh and quick, he fucks Juice, feels the boy's muscles tense around him in a way Gemma's never could because, no matter how often he's asked, she's shot him down when it comes to the discussion of anal sex. With a final thrust and a grunt, he spasms and shoots into Juice, riding out his orgasm inside of the younger man, and then he pulls out, wiping himself on the inside of Juice’s bare thighs.
There's no time to clean up, the pounding on the door has gotten louder, more insistent, and whoever is on the other side of that door had better have a damn good excuse for interrupting them. He tugs at Juice, helps the boy pull his jeans up and straighten himself.
Clay feels a moment's remorse when Juice shakily brushes a stray tear from his cheek and avoids his gaze. But the boy takes a deep breath and musters a smile as he turns to face the door.
His step falters a little, and Clay knows that the boy’s sore from their quick fuck. It makes him smile, knowing that he’s the one who did that to Juice, that he is the one who caused the pain, and the only one who can comfort the boy.
“What is it?" Clay growls when he throws the door open.
The moment’s been ruined, and he doesn’t even look at Juice, but can feel the boy standing just behind him. He finds it heartening.
It’s Chibs, but the man's not looking at him, his eyes are trained on Juice and all Clay can think is, Shit, and then, I’ve got to fix this.
“Need a word with Juice,” Chibs says, jutting a chin in the boy’s direction.
Clay can feel Juice tense behind him; the boy’s standing that close. He doesn’t like the way Chibs is looking at Juice, as though he can see what’s happened, as though he’s the boy’s father.
“In a minute,” Clay says, and he moves to shut the door, but Chibs stops him, and Clay sees red.
“It’s important,” Chibs says.
“So is this,” Clay says and he whirls around, almost knocking Juice over in his haste.
The boy steps back and Clay stalks over to the metal box where he keeps the patches. He pulls one out and slams it down on the table. He shoots a glare in Chibs’ direction, but immediately softens his look when he sees Juice flinch away from him.
“Here you go Juice,” he says, passing the patch over.
Juice eyes it warily, but doesn’t take it, and Clay frowns.
“Go ahead and take it,” he coaxes.
Juice fingers the patch, a peculiar look crosses his features, and then he turns away, looking at the floor as though ashamed.
“You’ve earned it,” he says, and then pulls Juice in for a hug.
This is the least he can do, hug the kid. It’s something that has always worked with Gemma, with any of the other boys. He wants it to take away the sorrow and pain that he sees lurking in Juice’s dark eyes.
“I love you son,” he says, and claps him on the back.
He can hear Juice swallow, feels the boy stiffen in his arms, and then the breath, hot on his neck when Juice says, “Love you too.”
His voice breaks, and Clay frowns, wondering if maybe he hasn’t done enough, but with Chibs hovering there isn’t much else he can do for Juice that won’t make the other man question him. So, he pulls Juice close, squeezes him tight once more and then releases him.
“Thank you,” Juice says and he gives him a brief smile before turning to leave. “I’ll talk to you later,” he casts over his shoulder at Chibs and then he’s out the door before either of them can stop him.
“What do you need to talk with Juice about?” Clay asks, but Chibs isn’t looking at him, he’s looking at the door as though trying to will the boy back through it.
“None of your business,” Chibs says.
Clay wants to argue that everything is his business, but the look on Chibs’ face when the man pulls his gaze from the door and looks at him quells him. There’s a cold fury within the man’s eyes and his jaw is clenched so tightly that Clay can almost hear it creak under the strain.
“Might want to give the boy some space,” Clay says.
Chibs nods, but turns away from him, and without another word, the man walks out the door. His gait reminds Clay of a prowling lion biding its time, waiting to make a kill, and he shakes himself to clear the image from his mind.
Chapter 7: Hanging by a Thread
Juice is suicidal, and it isn't just because of Miles. It's a combination of every shitty thing that has happened since he got home from prison.
This references events that happened in episodes 4.07 and 4.08: “Fruit for the Crows” and “Family Recipe”.
Juice can't, for the life of him, think straight. He hasn't been able to think straight since he's come home from prison.
His ass burns, aches. He can feel the traces of Clay inside him, and it makes him feel dirty, but not as dirty as killing Miles and betraying the club does. He deserves this, deserves to be used by Clay. He wants to say 'no,' but can't because Clay's like the father he never had, and he wants so desperately to please him, make the man love him.
He's so screwed in the head right now that it’s almost funny. There's no amount of scrubbing, no soap strong enough to wash away this kind of shame and filth.
He supposes that's why he lets Clay fuck him like he's some kind of two-bit, sweet ass whore. Why he chokes the man down, working him with his teeth and throat. Why he takes the man's dick in his hand and jerks him off when told to.
His guilt is so overwhelming that it's hard to breathe. He keeps picturing Miles' face: slack-jawed and forever silenced; dead, accusing eyes open and seeing all, even in death. He can feel the innocent man's blood on his face, and no matter how many times he washes, he can still see it there, red and angry, a constant reminder of his guilt.
The blood that's drying on his inner thighs – itchy and flaking – testifies on the dead man's behalf. Mixed with semen and cum, it's a sticky, uncomfortable reminder of what it felt like to have Clay moving inside of him. It hurt. He thinks that maybe, if he allows this, Miles might look down and approve. That maybe if he pays for his sins by allowing another man to sin against him, he will, in some perverse way, be forgiven, if not by God, then by Miles.
He fingers the patch that Clay gave him, Men of Mayhem, and wonders how he earned it - for allowing Clay to fuck him ‘til the man dies deep inside of him, or for killing Miles? Tradition, club rules, dictate that it should be the latter, but Juice isn’t so sure. He isn’t sure about much of anything anymore.
He wonders if Roosevelt can be coaxed into using his body in exchange for the leverage that the man has on him much as the guard was swayed by Clay’s loaning him out. He's willing to barter his body for a clean slate, but knows that it would always hound him, even if no one found out about it.
He'll never be at peace. He knows that once the club finds out what he did, and why he did it, he'll be a dead man whether he's sent to prison or not. Whoever Roosevelt’s working for has to know this too.
Juice feels a sense of peace steal over him when he's finished sewing the patch into his cut and he knows it's time. His final act on this earth is something that God will not forgive, no matter how many prayers he offers up in supplication, but he figures that it’s okay, that it’s his due for what he’s done.
He was taught from a very young age about what God will and will not forgive. Knows that God can forgive him for killing Miles, betraying his crew (as Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him three times), and for letting Clay fuck him, and sometimes feeling the pleasure, in spite of the pain, from it.
But, it's this final act of contrition on this earth that he knows God will never forgive, an act that will permanently seal his fate and sentence him irrevocably to Hell for all of eternity. He feels no remorse at the thought of taking his own life, and smiles, wondering if Miles will be there, watching him from the other side, beckoning him to his death and goading him on his way to Hell.
Has the prospect been watching him from beyond the grave with dark approval as Clay fucks him so hard that he cries? Is that pain enough to appease the angry spirit of the wronged man, or will it take the sacrifice of his life to do it?
It isn't cowardice which makes him wrap the heavy chain around the tree trunk. It isn't an unwillingness to come clean to the club about what he's done, or to tell Roosevelt to go fuck himself that makes him wrap the chain around his neck.
It's the combination of everything – Clay telling him that he loves him and calling him ‘son’ after he's fucked him senseless; Miles’ dead, hollow eyes forever watching him from beyond the grave; Roosevelt and his mystery man dogging his every step; and the constant, cowardly act of lying to his brothers – that gives him the strength let go and fall.
He remembers each time he's been with Clay in flashes of light and dark as he falls. The strange mixture of pride and shame he feels when Clay calls him son, when he tells him that he loves him, confuses him more than anything else.
He’s betrayed Clay and the others. He deserves this death, the death of a common criminal – Judas hanging from a tree, the thirty silver coins, Juice’s secrets, for which he’d betrayed Jesus, Clay, scattered below. All in all it’s a paltry exchange for a man’s soul. But his is dark and soiled, not fit for heaven.
The jerking of the chain, harsh and abrupt as it comes to the end of its length, jars him. A bizarre 'This is your life' tableau plays itself out in his head. It’s a pittance, his life boiled down to mere seconds of memory.
He'd have thought that there'd be more to his pathetic life than the scenes that flash though his mind. . These thoughts intensify as his fingers scrabble in vain to gain purchase on the thick chains around his neck. It’s choking him and he didn’t think that it would be like this.
His life amounts to little more than a few intense moments of fear, passion and madness. His body jerks at the end of the chain, like a fish on the end of a line, hooked by a sharp, tearing lure. And now all he can think about as his body thrashes of its own will – its desire to preserve life completely independent of the desires of its host – is breathing.
He can't breathe and it terrifies him even though he knew this would happen. He'd hoped, perhaps a bit selfishly, that his neck would break during his fall, sparing him this additional agony. Perhaps Miles' ghost is prolonging his pain, or maybe God himself is showing his disapproval.
It hurts and he feels dizzy, and God, he just wants this to end, but it seems to last an eternity. He wants to be free of these chains that are choking him - Clay, Miles, the club, Roosevelt’s tricks, the puppeteer behind the sheriff, and his own guilt.
He sends up a silent prayer when he hears a loud crack over the pounding of his heart and the rushing of blood in his ears. This is it, he thinks, knowing that the crack means his time is up and that his neck has finally broken.
He comes to seconds, minutes later. Time is irrelevant when you're dead. The pain in his neck and throat outrivals that which Clay drove home to him earlier that night, in the privacy of the chapel, blinds drawn shut.
He knows that he’s failed (and how much of a fuckup does he have to be to screw up his own damn hanging?) when he hears the telltale sound of motorcycles in the distance. They’re headed in his direction and he curses as he scrambles to hide the evidence of his failed crime. He doesn’t need their questions, knows he will cave if pressed, and he doesn’t want anyone to stop him from being successful the next time around. If there’s one thing he’s determined to do, it’s kill himself.
Chapter 8: Confrontation
Chibs confronts Juice about his suicide attempt.
Nothing particularly disturbing. References events in season four. A little too touchy-feely, and, well, possibly unrealistic. Hopefully not off-putting, though.
"Why'd you do it Juice?" Chibs asks. He hadn't really meant to hit the kid, but when he'd seen the chain wrapped around the broken tree limb it had struck a chord with him and he'd acted without thinking.
They're alone, back at the scene of the crime so to speak, the place where Juice tried to off himself. Chibs realizes how little time he has with the kid, he just hopes that he can get through to him, make him tell him whatever the hell is going on, what would cause him to want to off himself.
"Why'd you try to kill yourself?"
Juice is trembling, shaking his head, tears gathering in his eyes, and Chibs thinks, 'Shit, how the fuck am I going to handle this? The kid's gone over the edge.'
Juice just shakes his head and brushes at the few tears which have fallen down his cheeks.
"Can't tell you," he says, shaking his head and sniffing in an attempt to get his emotions under control.
"This about killing Miles?" Chibs knows that offing the other man is only part of what's going on, but he's not sure he wants to ask about the rest. He ain't a woman, all emotions and shit like that. All this touchy-feely crap is making him feel uncomfortable, and he shifts away from Juice who follows as though seeking the touch.
"Yeah," Juice says a little too eagerly, nodding to emphasize his agreement. It's an easy out and Chibs wondered why he offered it to the kid.
But fuck all if Chibs doesn't feel relieved, even if something else about the whole thing is still bothering him. He knows the kid isn't telling him everything, shit, the kid hasn't actually told him anything. He'd had to pry that little bit about Miles out of him.
'One confession at a time,' he thinks, grateful that Juice didn't manage to succeed in killing himself. That would've crushed the club, him. No good ever came from suicide. Not that he himself had never felt suicidal, he'd just never acted on those feelings.
Cliche though it is, Chibs can't help but think that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Whatever Juice's problems are, certainly they can't be as bad as all that, where the only viable solution is suicide.
"Tell me what else is going on," Chibs says, clasping Juice's neck so that the boy can't get away. He's got a feeling that Clay is behind some of it.
"Can't," Juice says, shaking his head. He attempts to duck out of Chibs' hold on him, but Chibs just tightens his grip and squeezes.
"Can't or won't?" Chibs asks.
Juice considers the question and then shrugs.
"Can't," he reiterates, his voice thick with tears.
Chibs applies more pressure to the back of the kid's neck, wanting , in a brief moment of irrationality , to wring the truth out of Juice. He hates that Juice looks to be on the verge of tears, again. How he , of late, always looks to be on the verge of tears. It isn't right, not for a member of the SONS, and as far as he knows, Juice ain't one of those emo type kids, no matter that he spends the bulk of his time hunched over a computer playing some sort of war game.
"Ouch," Juice mutters, but the boy no longer sounds like he's about to cry so Chibs counts that as a win. "You can let go you know," he says, "not like I'm gonna try to off myself right now." Juice chuckles, but there's no humor in it, and there's still a hint of desperation in his voice.
"That isn't funny," Chibs says, because it isn't. There's nothing about this situation that is even remotely funny.
There's a lingering sense that, given the chance to be alone, Juice will make another attempt at suicide. Chibs doesn't think the boy will take the failed attempt as an omen that he's supposed to live and face whatever horrors life has for him. Something that the boy apparently has no desire to do.
Chibs knows that things usually have a way of working themselves out. But Juice is still young and naive in the ways of this world. It irks Chibs to know that the boy almost fucked up, that he almost succeeded in killing himself before he could learn that life had a way of setting things to right. A lesson learned, unfortunately for some, too late in life.
Chibs vows not to take his eyes off of Juice for the foreseeable future, and as loath as he is to do this, he knows that Jax has to be told. If for no other reason than he needs another set of eyes on Juice.
"We gotta tell ..."
"No," Juice interrupts, his eyes pleading, "you can't tell Clay."
Chibs nods and frowns.
"I was gonna say that we've got to tell Jax."
"C'mon man," Juice says, plastering a smile on his face, "can't we just keep this between ourselves? I promise it was a one off, I won't try to ...you know," in lieu of the words, he gestures at the tree he'd tried to hang himself from, "again."
As much as Chibs would like to believe him and give into Juice's wish, he can't. It wouldn't be right. The look the boy is giving him now is filled with such trust and hope that it damn near breaks his heart. But, he doesn't really have a choice. This isn't about Juice. It's about the welfare of the club. Someone who's ready to off himself might just as easily turn homicidal, he'd read or heard that somewhere. A suicidal brother would take stupid risks that could endanger, not only themselves, but everyone around them.
Also, Sons didn't try to off themselves, they were made of stronger mettle than that. If Jax didn't think that Juice could hack the life any longer, he'd have to go. Chibs doesn't want that to happen, and he's prepared to stick up for Juice, but it could go either way. He knows that Jax has a lot riding on his shoulders. The kid's the future of the club; every decision that he makes needs to take every possible future repercussion into consideration. A suicidal brother might be desperate to do just about anything, including turn on the club which would be detrimental to every one of his brothers.
"Sorry, but we really don't have a choice," Chibs says, squeezing the back of Juice's neck in an attempt to bolster the boy's spirits. Juice's flinch isn't lost on him, but he ignores it. "This is serious business, Juicy Boy."
"I know," he says, smiling sadly, "I know, but I was kinda hoping I could avoid all of this." He gestures behind them with one arm, and that's when Chibs knows with certainty that this isn't over and he really is doing the right thing for everyone involved, including Juice, though the boy ,like as not,won't see it that way.
"Avoid all of what?" Chibs asks, sensing that he's on very iffy ground and that if he presses too hard, too fast, he'll lose Juice and never get the truth out of the boy.
"I don't want to be kicked out of the club," he says in a whisper, and Chibs thinks he understands the boy's actions a little more now.
"Why'd you be kicked outta the club?" he asks.
Juice looks at him like he's lost his mind and shakes his head. He gives a bitter sort of half laugh that sounds like a snort.
"I ain't stupid Chibs, I know what this means. I tried to off myself. Jax is going to kick me out of the club," he says, and his voice is rising a little hysterically.
Tig's waiting for them by the tow truck, and if he hears their conversation, Juice won't have a chance in hell of staying in the club. Tig will bring the matter straight to Clay. Jax might be coaxed into giving Juice a second chance, but Clay will be immovable on the matter.
"Sh," Chibs hisses, "keep your voice down Juicy, we're not alone."
"What's it matter who hears?" Juice asks, his voice bleeding despair. "I'm as good as gone already, I was just hoping to do the club a favor. Jax isn't going to understand. Hell, you don't even understand."
"Then help me understand," Chibs pleads, "tell me what's going on so that I can help you."
He knows that Juice is feeling vulnerable right now, that he has to tread carefully or the boy's going to clam up on him and he'll be no closer to getting the answers that he needs from him. If he's going to help Juice and stick up for the kid, what he needs right now is the truth about what's going on and what made Juice choose death over facing the situation like a man.
Up until he saw what Juice had been trying to cover up, the real reason behind the dark bruising around his neck, he'd never thought of the kid as a coward, but right now, though he doesn't like it, that's all he can think of him.
"I," Juice says, looking down at his feet, "I just couldn't take it anymore."
"What? The shit going on with the club? That's going to pass, you and I both know that. Tell me what's really going on," Chibs, unable to keep the anger out of his voice, presses.
"I know, I know that," Juice says, meeting his gaze, "it's, I, ever since we left Stockton..."
"What the hell's taking you two so long?" Tig stumbles over a root as he makes his way into the clearing and he gives the both of them a calculating look.
Chibs closes his eyes and clenches his hand into a fist. He silently curses Tig when he opens his eyes. Juice's jaw is locked and it's clear to Chibs that Juice is clamping down on his emotions, getting them back under control. The window of opportunity, slim though it was, has closed. He'd almost finally gotten to the bottom of what has been bothering Juice and Tig had to walk into the thick of it and ruin it.
"What, you two having a lover's spat?" he asks, grinning like a madman. "Did I interrupt a make out session?"
Chibs flips him the bird and shakes his head.
"C'mon Juicy," Chibs says sighing, "it's time we got back to the club."
The conversation with Jax goes just as Chibs had thought it would, and he can tell that Juice is relieved and surprised.
"See, what did I tell you?" Chibs asks, playfully punching Juice in the arm.
Juice flinches and shimmies away. Chibs doesn't like it. Doesn't like the possible reasons for such an action on Juice's part. The kid had been that way back at the woods when he was confronting him, and he'd also noticed that Juice had been reacting that way toward everyone else in the club lately.
It could mean so many different things, and yet Chibs is afraid of only one possible interpretation for Juice's avoidance of physical contact with him and the others.
They've, all the Sons really, always had a close relationship. Touch has never been an issue. Before now, that is. Now it's like something has wedged itself between him and the kid and Chibs is willing to bet that it has something to do with Clay. He just wishes that he could prove it.
Chapter 9: War Games
Clay's thoughts about Juice, Jax, Gemma and the club.
This chapter’s set during 4.11, “Call of Duty,” and does feature one quote from that episode.
Clay curses beneath his breath when Kozik’s blown to bits right in front of him, Romero, and Juice, who thinks this is some fucking video game – what had he called it? Call of Duty?
He’s nothing more than a kid. A stupid, reckless kid. Idiot, Clay thinks and shakes his head as he watches Juice cower beneath what little cover they have available. The dry air sticks in his throat and he swallows thickly, wishing he had some water or whiskey. But, there’s none of that. There’re only bullets and god damn fucking mines.
It’s insane, and he’s the one who got them involved in all this shit. Not a single one of his brothers will be forgetting that anytime soon. He’ll just have to remind them that they’re all in this together, figure out a way to spin it so that it won’t all land on him.
His heart lodges itself into his throat when Juice props himself up on an elbow and takes a blind shot over the ridge of sand he’s situated behind. He holds his breath until Juice is ducking back beneath the insufficient cover. The boy is thankfully unharmed, but that just makes him angry. Angry that the boy would risk himself to take a potshot at the enemy. There’s no way that any of his shots, wide and blind as they were, hit anyone.
“Stay down!” he shouts at Juice, hoping that the boy will listen, that reinforcements are on their way, though he knows that there won’t be anyone else coming, that Jax won’t risk anyone else’s life on this.
He can’t blame his step-son, but damned if he doesn’t wish it was Jax and not Juice pinned down on this side of the minefield with him and Romero. He loves Jax in spite of all of the shit that goes down between them, but he doesn’t feel the same way toward his best friend’s son as he does Juice – like his world will fall apart if he loses the kid.
He could lose Jax, and yeah, it would hurt some, but he would get over it and coax Gemma through it – that’d be the hardest part. The club, though it would be devastated, would eventually move on. Leaders were lost – JT – and gained.
Sometimes, when Jax is in his business, asserting his God-given, birth born right to lead, he wishes that a stray bullet, or, fuck, even a wayward semi would take his step-son out of the picture. He knows he can’t do it himself, no matter how many times the thought has crossed his mind.
If he even so much as envisions it, he knows that Gemma will not hesitate to kill him herself, especially after the shit she pulled this morning. She loves her son more than she loves him, and if that isn’t more incentive for what he’s got going on with Juice, he doesn’t know what is.
It takes him a minute before it finally registers what’s happening when missiles are launched over their heads, and then he’s up and shooting, Romero and Juice doing likewise, and the rest of their combined forces press forward, eliminating the enemy.
When the shooting dies down, Jax calls over to them, asking if they’re alright and if they can retrace their steps. Clay’s done this shit before, knows that he has a fairly good chance of doing just that, tells Juice to follow behind him.
*“I got it,” the kid says, and then he turns, and before Clay can so much as protest, he starts walking. And fuck it all if he isn’t equal parts proud and pissed when Juice makes it out of the field and calls it safe. The rest of them walk away, safe, but there’s something about the kid that worries him, and he knows that he can’t let what happened slide. He’ll need to teach Juice who’s in charge, again.
Chapter 10: Bathroom Confessional
Chibs confronts Juice in the bathroom.
This chapter's set during, "Call of Duty."
Chibs storms into the clubhouse, ignoring everyone in his aim to get to Juice. He should've known better, should've realized that the kid's head wasn't on straight even after they’d talked. Shit, after what he'd done today, walking through that minefield like he hadn't a care in the world, it'd be amazing if no one else cottoned onto the fact that he was suicidal.
He isn't even paying attention to where Juice is going, just follows him. It isn't until after he's confronted Juice that he sees he's followed the kid into the bathroom.
There're a million different things that either of them could say about being in the bathroom together, getting all emotional, yet neither of them says anything. Juice is so vulnerable, he looks like a goddamn kid. When the tears fall, Chibs is hard-pressed to do anything but comfort him as a father would a son.
"What the fuck was that out there today?" he asks when he's certain Juice's tears can be held at bay. "You trying to get yourself killed?"
Juice shakes his head, but the way he's avoiding eye-contact gives Chibs all the answer that he needs. Juice isn't out of the woods yet. May not be for some time.
Jax isn't going to like this, he thinks, but there's nothing anyone can do about it. What's done is done and wishing things were different isn’t going to make them so.
“Juice, you gotta tell me what’s going on,” Chibs says, hoping that, here, in the bathroom with no one to interrupt them, the kid will trust him enough to tell him what’s going on. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me.”
When Juice tells him about what’s going on with the sheriff, he knows that the kid isn’t telling him the whole truth, just the part of it that isn’t too hard for him to tell. He wants to shake the truth out of the boy, shake him until his teeth rattle in his skull and the truth falls out of him at his feet.
“What’s going on between you and Clay?” he asks, cutting straight to the chase before some idiot can come knock on the bathroom door and ruin the moment.
Juice’s eyes take on a guarded look and he turns away, picking at an invisible piece of lint on his sweatshirt.
“Nothing,” Juice says, shrugging, but his hands are tightly clenched fists and his jaw looks as if it’s about to break, there’s so much tension in it.
“So, what? He your fuck buddy? That it? You and Clay keeping the good times rolling?” Chibs asks, and by the way Juice pales and trembles, he knows that he’s hit the nail on the head, but he needs Juice to say the words before he can act on it.
But fuck if he doesn’t feel like a complete and utter ass for doing this to Juice, cornering the kid in the bathroom and laying it all out in black and white for him. Far from being happy that he’s all but confirmed what he’s thought has been going on all along, he feels sick to his stomach.
“Shit, Juicy, I...”
“It’s not what you think,” Juice says, and his voice is so low that Chibs almost doesn’t hear it.
When Juice finally raises his head to look at him, Chibs is taken aback. The boy is livid, but there are tears in his eyes. He looks broken and angry and resigned.
“It’s not what you think,” Juice repeats.
“So,” Chibs says, reaching out for Juice who backs away from him, “tell me what it is.”
“It’s,” Juice says, and then he sighs and bites his lip and looks away, fidgeting with the edge of his sweatshirt,“he’s...”
“Is he forcing you?” Chibs asks.
Juice stills, and he shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything.
“Juice,” Chibs places a hand on the kid’s arm, “just tell me, is he forcing you?”
“He,” Juice starts to say, but then he takes a deep breath and shakes his head, “look Chibs, I’m fine, you don’t have to worry about me anymore, okay. I’m fine. I’m not going to try to kill myself again.”
“That’s not what I asked,” Chibs says, pressing the issue. “Is he forcing you?”
Chibs watches Juice as the kid mulls the question over. Sees the different emotions flicker across the boy’s features - fear, anger, shame, hurt and doubt.
“He’s the club president,” Juice says in lieu of answering, and he looks away again. “It’s nothing like that; you’ve got it all wrong.”
“Fine, I’ve got it all wrong,” Chibs says, “then tell me what the fuck is going on between you and Clay and why you can’t look me in the eyes.”
Juice’s eyes flicker up to meet his, but then he looks off to the side. “I’m just, I’m doing things for him, you know, running errands and shit.”
Chibs shakes his head and grits his teeth. Part of him feels like knocking the truth out of Juice, hitting him until he comes clean. But that would be a hollow victory, and Juice would hate him for it. Hell, he’d hate himself.
“Whatever’s going on, you can trust me with it,” Chibs says, but he knows it’s a last ditch effort on his part, that Juice has clammed up and that he won’t tell him what he wants to hear.
“Look Chibs, I’m fine,” Juice says, and he meets Chib’s eyes for the first time since he’d followed him in the bathroom. When Chibs raises an eyebrow in response, because he knows the kid is full of shit, Juice adds, “I will be fine, I promise.”
“Yeah, alright,” Chibs says, and then he shrugs and turns to the door, “when you’re ready to talk, I’ll listen.”
He doesn’t let Juice say anything else, ignores the kid’s hand on his arm as he walks out the door and shuts it behind him. There’s no one in the hallway, and when he goes into the common room, the place looks deserted.
“I sent everyone home or up to bed,” Clay says, and he steps out of a dark corner, startling Chibs. “It’s been a long day.”
“Yeah,” Chibs agrees, and he doesn’t like the way Clay is looking at him, like he wants to tear him apart.
Chapter 11: Could Be Worse
Clay corners Juice in the bathroom.
Violence lies herein.
Clay gives Juice a wide berth once they get back to the clubhouse. He still can’t wrap his head around what the boy did. Juice is just a kid in terms of war. He could've died, his body could've been blown to bits like Kozik's had been.
Clay’s more than a little afraid of what he'll do to the kid if he doesn't, and he's not particularly keen on outing the both of them to the club at any rate. It might be his club, run under his authority at the moment, but with Bobby questioning his actions, he can't afford for any of the guys to realize that he feels more than just brotherly feelings for one of them in particular. Neither of them would be able to handle the flack if word got out that their little deal in Stockton had continued outside of prison walls.
Juice has been looking anything but his usual, carefree self of late, and the guys would no doubt make things worse for the kid if they learned of him and Juice. So, he stands in a corner, arms crossed over his chest and watches as Juice makes a beeline for the bathroom.
Seconds later, Chibs follows, and Clay gets a feeling in the pit of his stomach that doesn't sit right. It's not that he's jealous of Chibs, the man is a solid brother, and it's not like Clay and Juice have an exclusive relationship, or any relationship for that matter.
He pushes off from the corner of the wall and starts issuing orders, sending his men out to take care of business or go home to get some sleep, clearing out the place, leaving just him and Juice and Chibs. He doesn't want a confrontation with Chibs, and wonders how he can play things off so that the man won't be any more suspicious than he already is.
When Chibs finally leaves the bathroom and Juice behind, Clay is ready for him. Clay steps out of the dark corner he’s been waiting in. "I sent everyone home; it’s been a long day."
"Yeah," Chibs agrees, nodding, eyeing Clay as though he knows. “You know the kid’s been out of sorts since he came home, and I think it’s got something to do with you.” Chibs stabs a finger in his direction.
“Yeah, well, ain’t none of us been the same since we got out. Go on home, Chibs.”
Chibs leans against the counter. “Think’ll wait for Juice.”
Clay holds his hands out as though in surrender and offers Chibs his most innocent looking smile. “Look, it’s been a shitty day. I’m exhausted. I don’t know what you think I’ve done to the kid, but I’m just looking to close up shop tonight and hit the sack. I promise, I won’t lay a hand on the kid.”
Maybe it’s the look of utter exhaustion he’s sure is on his face, or the scrapes and bruises he’d gotten from Gemma, or maybe it’s a combination of the both of them, but whatever the case, Chibs seems to believe him, and he’s grateful.
“I’ll be calling to check up on Juice,” Chibs says as he walks out the door.
Clay watches in apprehension as Chibs leaves. Chibs has given him a warning, and Clay knows that it’s only a matter of time before he goes to the rest of the club with this, because it’s not something that Chibs will keep to himself for long. Especially not if Chibs feels that Juice is in any immediate danger.
He’ll be damned if the fallout for this is going to land on him. First thing, though, he’s got to make sure that Juice didn’t tell Chibs anything. He’s got to minimize any damage that the kid might’ve done just now. It’s all about protection and self-preservation.
Clay paces in front of the closed door, uncertainty gnawing at his gut as he wars with himself about what to do about Juice and his suicidal run through the minefield. It’s a sign that Juice is unraveling, and if he does, there’s no telling what he’ll spill to the rest of the club and that’s something Clay can’t afford to have happen so he needs to do some preemptive damage control here. There's also the matter of what the kid might've said to Chibs, if anything, about their 'extra-curricular' activities.
If Juice has told Chibs what they've been doing together they're both screwed, and that's not something that he can have happening. His position in the club means more to him than anything or anyone else. It was something he'd killed for, and he'd do it again, in a heartbeat, to hold onto it.
Resolved to do whatever it takes to secure Juice's silence and preserve his own position as president of the club, Clay knocks on the bathroom door and waits, his hand held aloft in a loose fist.
After a few seconds, Juice pulls the door open, an apologetic look on his face. The words, "I told you I’m--" freeze in the younger man's voice before he even has a fighting chance of getting them out. His smile falters as Clay pushes him backwards into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind them.
Clay doesn't want to do have to do this, but Juice's actions today have forced his hand. That, and seeing how relieved the boy, his boy had looked after Chibs had 'visited' him in the bathroom made what he was about to do to the boy a necessity.
Juice needs a reminder of just whose and what he was. He needs to be put in his place and shown what his role in the SONS is. And until he learns his lesson, Clay is going to limit his interaction with Chibs and some of the others who seem to be eyeing his boy. He isn't jealous; he’s just doesn’t care to share what is rightfully his.
"I told you I'm ..." Juice’s words come to an abrupt halt when he sees that it's Clay, not Chibs, standing in the door. Shit, he thinks. I can't handle this right now.
"You need the john?" he asks, trying to sidle out of the door, but Clay's blocking it, his arms on either side of the door frame. Juice contemplates his chances of being able to duck beneath Clay's left arm, but realizes that it wouldn't be wise.
"Going somewhere?" Clay asks, and though there's a smile on his face, it is far from pleasant and Juice knows he’s in deep shit.
"Just heading out of the bathroom." Juice hopes he doesn't sound as nervous as he feels. He gestures for Clay to move, but the man just stands there, blocking the way.
Clay gives him a strange look. "Why you in such a hurry? Chibs forget something?"
All Juice can think is shit.
"He just came to check on me," Juice says. "He didn't even come in the room, just stood outside the door and asked if I was okay."
Clay doesn't say anything at first, just chews his bottom lip and raises an eyebrow. Juice feels the palms of his hands getting sweaty, and he wipes them off on his jeans. He knows what’s coming next. He remembers back to when he was a kid and had been caught in a lie by his step-father, and it didn’t even matter how big or small the lie was, the beating was always the same, always left him unable to sit for days afterwards, and led to a ‘vacation’ from school.
Clay folds his arms over his chest and leans against the doorframe. "You’re lying. I was watching. What'd you tell him?"
“I told him I was fine," Juice says, swallowing his fear, hoping that Clay can't hear the hammering of his heart which feels like it's about to jump out of his chest.
"That so?" Clay doesn't sound convinced. "He seemed a little upset when he left a moment ago. Thinks that I've got something to do with, how did he put it?" Clay cocks his head to the side and scratches his chin as though mulling the question over.
Juice holds his breath, knowing that this won't end well, no matter what he says to Clay. The man's already made up his mind, and it's not like he's all that far off-base anyway. Juice is a traitor, and as it turns out after his talk with Chibs, it was all for nothing.
"Something to do with you being 'out of sorts since we came back from Stockton.' What'd you tell him Juice?"
The man's hand shoots out quicker than Juice believes should be humanly possible when he doesn’t answer right away, and before he can fully register what's happening, Clay's got his arm twisted up and behind his back in an ironclad grip and he's being shoved face-first against the far wall of the bathroom.
Clay pulls the door shut behind him and slides the lock into place. It makes a resounding click that is all too reminiscent of prison, especially given their close proximity and the unpleasant smells of urine and sweat.
Clay wrenches Juice's arm up behind his back – bones grating against each other – and then he shoves him up against the wall beside the toilet, and Juice can actually hear his shoulder ‘pop’. He bites down on his tongue, but a strangled cry comes from him, and it fucking hurts. Feels like his arm’s being torn right off his body.
Juice’s vision tunnels, and he can’t breathe, and he can feel the walls pressing in on him, like in, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Clay’s never hurt him like this before. "Clay, stop, you're hurting me."
Instead of stopping, Clay pushes Juice until his cheek is pressed flush against the peeling paint of the wall.
"What'd you tell Chibs about us?" Clay's mouth is right next to his ear; his hot breath makes Juice shiver.
"Nothing," Juice says, and he struggles against Clay's hold on him, trying to get his arm to work so that he can get the man off of him. "I didn't say anything to him about us, I swear. He just wanted to know if I was okay after what happened in the minefield, crazy Scot thought I was suicidal or something." Juice tries to laugh, but it comes out more like a garbled sob.
It's a partial truth, but Juice can't tell Clay the rest, that he'd confessed to Chibs that the new sheriff had been blackmailing him because he had some dirt on him. He couldn't tell Clay what he told Chibs, that his real father, not the one listed on his birth certificate, was a black man. Juice knew that the least of his worries would be getting kicked out of the club if Clay found out about his real heritage. There was no doubt in his mind that the older man, his mentor, would kill him if he found out that he'd been fucking a half Puerto Rican, half black man.
Clay eases his hold a little. "Are you?"
The floor feels like it's buckling beneath Juice, or maybe it's his knees that are buckling. Juice can't seem to breathe and spots of white light dance before his eyes before it registers that Clay isn't asking him if he's black, he's asking if he's suicidal. He almost sags in relief, but Clay's grip on him makes it impossible for him to move much.
"No," he manages to say around the lump in his throat. He shakes his head to emphasize his denial.
Clay, like his step-son, Jax, would have reservations about keeping a possibly suicidal person in the club, whether he was using that individual as a fuck buddy or not.
"You sure about that?"
Juice isn't sure, but he thinks he detects a hint of concern in Clay's voice."Yeah," he says, relieved that Clay seems to have bought his half-truth.
"Then why'd you make that mad dash through the minefield?" Clay asks, and this time Juice doesn't even have to lie.
Feeling a little self-conscious, he laughs and shrugs as much as he's able to. “I had to protect you and Romeo" he says. "You're the club president and he’s one of our allies. If anything happened to either of you, we’d all be screwed. If something happened to me, well," he shrugs, smiling a little, "I figure I'm expendable." Juice’s face is still pressed up against the wall, his arm feels like it’s ready to fall off, and he can feel Clay breathing at the back of his neck.
He isn't expecting Clay's reaction to this confession and is confused at first as to why he's seeing stars, but then, through a fog of pain, he realizes that Clay slammed his head into the bathroom wall. He gazes in shocked fascination at the crumbling plaster, the small dent his forehead has made in the wall.
Only Clay's hold on him is keeping him upright as dizziness makes his stomach rebel. He's grateful in an out-of-body sort of way that he hasn't had anything to eat since breakfast or he'd be losing it right now.
"You're not expendable," Clay says. "And if you ever pull a stunt like that again ..." he trails off and runs a hand down his face. "I'll kill you myself," he finishes in a haggard whisper, which takes Juice by surprise, because that's not at all what he'd expected from the club's president.
Such an open display of emotions is not something he readily associates with Clay. Chibs, sure, but to hear such raw emotion in his leader's voice floors him.
"I would've been fine," Clay says, letting go of Juice's arm and backing away just far enough for Juice to straighten himself and turn around. "You shouldn't have taken that kind of risk for me or Romeo."
Unsure of what to say, Juice just shrugs, and starts to relax a little. What's happened, happened, and there's no going back. Much as he wish he could, he can't turn back time. If he could, he'd change not only his deal with the sheriff, but also what was going on between Clay and him. Hell, he'd change a lot more than just that.
Juice’s heart is starting to beat at an almost normal rate, his breathing too. His arm’s numb, and his shoulder burns, but he thinks that maybe the worst of it is over. Clay’s had his say, put him in his place, and Juice thinks that, all in all, things could’ve been much, much worse.
"You still don't get it, do you?" Clay's voice is rough, angry, and Juice's heart jumps right up into his throat again.
It's a rhetorical question, one that Clay apparently thinks he already knows the answer to, so Juice doesn't bother with trying to answer it.
"Fuck," Clay says, and he scrubs his face with his hand and then sets his jaw.
The angry glint in Clay's eyes makes his stomach clench painfully. He's expecting another blow, hell, he's expecting Clay to go ape shit on him, and he wonders what he'll tell everyone, how he'll explain the split lip, the swollen eye and the broken nose. How he'll explain to the guys why he didn't fight back, without being marked weak or a coward.
Clay shifts his weight and flexes his hands. Juice flinches, preparing himself for the first blow.
The strike never comes, but Juice is struck with a new horror as the man forces him around and pushes him face-first into the wall once again.
Juice attempts to gain some leverage, to get his hands in a position where he'll be able to push away from the wall so that maybe he'll be able to face Clay and talk some sense into him, let him know that he does understand what the older man was getting at, and that Clay doesn't need to do this. But, his head’s spinning, and his shoulder is screaming in pain, and he can’t seem to find purchase on the wall.
As the hand Clay’s not using to pin Juice's cheek to the bathroom wall moves to the front of his jeans, Juice pushes back, trying to push Clay off of him, but the other man is stronger and uses his body to keep Juice in place.
"Don't do this," Juice says, his voice breaking. "Please," he adds, hating how desperate it makes him sound. "Please, Clay," he says as Clay's fingers make quick work of his zipper and button.
"Shut up," Clay growls, his lips brushing against Juice's ear as he presses his chest flat against Juice's back so that he can free his other hand and keep Juice in place.
Juice can feel the man's dick pressing against his thigh, and he panics. He doesn't want this, not right now, not ever again. He has to get away.
Unable to think about anything other than escape, he slams the back of his head into Clay's face. It causes Clay to back up a little. Now able to move his hands to a better position, Juice places them against the wall and pushes away from it, ignoring Clay's cursing as he fights to free himself. His unbuttoned jeans are slipping from his waist, he's lost too much weight over the past few weeks that none of his clothes seem to fit him properly anymore. He grapples with Clay, trying to get the man's hands off of him.
"Let me go!"
He shoves at Clay, but the other man's grip is solid and Juice wonders why the fuck Clay's arthritis doesn't kick in right now. He does the only other thing he can think of when Clay manages to keep an iron grip on him, he kicks out at the man. Unfortunately, his jeans slide further down his body until they're at his knees.
He moves to back away from Clay, hoping that the move will cause the other man to lose his hold on him. He doesn't even realize his mistake until it's far too late, and he's sprawled out on the tiled floor, his head fitting to split from knocking it hard against the sink when he tripped over his own jeans and fell. He reaches a shaky hand up to the back of his head.
He pulls his hand back, looking at his fingers in mute, confused fascination. They’re coated red with blood. He blinks when the light cuts off and looks up to find Clay looming over him. A look of pure anger makes the man's face look ugly and distorted. Juice scrambles back, away from Clay, slamming his head into the pipe of the sink. The room swims in and out of focus, and he fights to stay conscious. He can hear ringing in his ears. He wedges himself between the sink and the wall in an attempt to stay out of Clay’s reach.
Juice makes himself as small as possible, but Clay manages to pull him from his hiding place. His head is throbbing, keeping perfect time with the frantic beating of his heart, but his body and his mind are sluggish by comparison. He's unable to fight back when Clay drags him out of the corner by the front of his shirt. His arms and legs aren't cooperating with his need to get away.
Clay backhands him. Juice’s tongue darts out between his lips and he tastes blood. It’s coppery, like a penny. He remembers swallowing one when he was a kid, choking on it, coughing it up into the toilet while his mother slapped his back to dislodge it. It had cut his throat, tinted the toilet water pink. He could taste the blood for days afterwards every time he swallowed. His lip feels like it’s doubled in size, and Juice knows that he’s going to be a mess when Clay’s done with him.
Clay's kneeling on the tile in front of him. He twists Juice’s tee-shirt in his hand. The fabric cuts into Juice’s neck, choking him. He watches with numb fascination as Clay winds up to backhand him a second and then a third time.
Clay's breathing hard, there's spittle on his lips and one of the rings on his right hand is spotted with red. Juice knows that he should understand the significance of that, but his head is spinning, or maybe it's the bathroom that's spinning and he can't seem to think straight.
Chapter 12: The Mouse and the Spider
As Juice is assaulted by Clay, his mind goes to a safer place.
Thanks to spacebabe for the beta work; sorry it took me so long to do the final editing. This was not an easy chapter to write. Hope that you enjoy reading, and leave some feedback. Thanks
Something tells Juice that he needs to get away, escape, that something really bad is about to happen, but he can't string his thoughts together, and he can't even feel his legs. His arms are like lead, his head is getting too heavy for him to continue holding up, and he thinks that it's a good thing Clay is there to keep him upright or he'd be lying on the bathroom floor.
He wonders what happened and focuses on Clay's face, hoping to gain some answers from the man. He opens his mouth to speak; sees that Clay is livid and hopes the man's fury isn't directed at him, but at whoever it was that beat the shit out of him.
"Wha' happen'?" Juice's tongue is dry and much too big for his mouth. He’s confused and scared.
Clay says something in response, his lips moving rapidly, but Juice can't hear him. Juice doesn't understand what's going on, why Clay seems to be so angry. He thinks the man is shouting, can feel spit landing on his cheeks, and even though the man is close enough for Juice to see his nostrils flaring in anger, he still can't hear whatever it is that Clay is saying and hopes that whatever it is isn't important.
His eyes are drooping, but a hard slap from Clay forces his eyes open, and then the man is flipping him over, pressing his face against the cool, cracked tile. Juice is too stunned, too confused, and his mind and body are no longer working in concert with one another. He has no time to prepare for what happens next, the building pressure and then the breach. His body's unfeeling, and yet on fire at the same time.
Juice spies something out of the corner of his eye, maybe it's a water stain or a mouse hole. He can't tell which it is from where he's bent over, knees digging into the patterned tile - there'll be lines left behind in his flesh, indentations matching the crisscross nature of the tile.
He doesn't really feel Clay inside of him, focuses his attention on the water-stained entrance to the mouse's house, wonders if the mouse has a family, maybe a wife and kids, if he knows what's going on one house over, or if he's turning a blind eye to what's happening just outside his door. Like if he pretends it's not happening, that it isn't happening.
His head is pounding, his knees are aching, and he can hear Clay's grunts and moans, the man's not quite shouted comments that make Juice feel sick to his stomach, things he's said to his girlfriends in the past.
And all he can think is 'make it stop', but he isn't sure what it is that he wants to stop, because nothing's happening to him and he's sitting on the other side of that water-stained hole, joining the mouse for a beer.
They're sitting on a small ratty old couch that sinks in the middle, and the mouse is making the moves on him, except it isn't the mouse, and he's ten years old again, sitting on the living room couch with his mother's latest boyfriend. He can't remember the man's name now, just remembers that nothing happened while they sat on that couch, watching some late night movie while his mom was at work. Nothing happened.
He tries explaining that to the mouse, but Clay's pushing him into the floor, the tiles bite into his cheek, and he can't catch his breath. He can't find the words to reassure the mouse that everything's fine, and he focuses on the water-stain above the hole in the wall, concentrates on it until he works out the figure of it in his head.
It's shaped like a lion, wild mane thick and coarse. He wonders if maybe the mouse had it put there to keep danger away. It's what he would've done. It’s what he should do.
He remembers back, to earlier in the night when it was Chibs who'd followed him into the bathroom, and how the man had paced the room like a caged lion, how Juice wishes he would've told him everything and not just about his real father, a man he never knew, being black.
He wishes that he'd told Chibs about his deceptive acts, his cold-blooded murder of Miles and about Clay. But it is too late now, Chibs is gone and there is only Clay and a timid mouse living beneath the water-stain replica of a lion.
Juice isn't even sure that he's really there, he can swear he's been transported back in time to a ratty, old couch that's sunken in the middle, and he's watching some cheesy horror movie with his mom's latest boyfriend. He hurts, but doesn't understand why. The water-stain lion is staring at him with wild, fiery eyes that remind him of Chibs, his mother's boyfriend is touching him, and he can't say no, he can't say no, he can't say ...
"No.” The word, little louder than a whisper, startles him and he's aware once more.
Clay is pushing inside of him and then he moves, he pulls out, pushes in, hitting the bundle of nerves inside of Juice that blinds him and makes him want to cry because it hurts. Juice is jerked backward and forward by Clay's frantic movements as the man builds toward his climax. It’s violent and it hurts, but he can’t find his voice to make it stop.
Juice doesn’t feel it as his chin is dragged across the jagged tile, and then Clay stiffens inside of him, pulls out, and then slams back home, spasms inside of Juice, filling him with his seed.
Juice can't move even after he feels the absence of Clay and hears water running.
He sluggishly follows Clay's movements in the bathroom with eyes that are half-closed in pain and fear. The man putters about, cleaning himself in the bathroom sink. When Clay kneels next to him, he flinches, but is unable to keep Clay from touching him.
The words sound far away, and Juice is finding it hard to keep his eyes open. He wonders if the mouse is finally paying attention, or if maybe the little bugger had been paying attention the whole time and had enjoyed the show.
"I said, get up."
Juice can hear the anger in Clay's voice, and he wants to ask the man if he can sleep a little longer, because he’s so tired, and he thinks that he might be sick or hurt, or maybe both.
"T'rd," he says, and he laughs because that doesn't even sound like a real word.
Apparently Clay doesn't find it as funny, because the next thing Juice knows, he's being hauled to his feet, and fuck it hurts, but Clay isn't being merciful, he's being efficient, and his lips are moving, which means he's telling Juice something, and judging by the serious look on the man's face, whatever he's trying to tell Juice is important.
His lips feel huge and he thinks that maybe he swallowed some sand or glass, or something, because his mouth is so dry and his throat hurts. "C'nt h'r you."
Clay slaps him, and his ears ring, but then things become a lot clearer. He realizes that the reason Clay seems to be towering over him is because he's sitting, completely clothed, on top of the toilet. He wonders when Clay entered the room and why the hell it feels like he's gone half a dozen rounds with the Hulk and how the fuck he survived it.
Clay kneels until he's eye-level with Juice, and for some reason it strikes him as funny so he laughs only to sober up when Clay slaps him again. He puts a hand up to his cheek and frowns at Clay.
"You with me now?" Clay asks, and Juice nods, thinking, 'When haven't I been with you?'
"Good., I'm gonna get you home, you're gonna clean yourself up, and you're gonna steer clear of Chibs," he says, jabbing a finger into Juice's chest on the last four words.
Juice nods mutely, wondering why he's supposed to avoid Chibs. The man's a good friend of, not only him, but everyone in the club, including Clay.
"What happened here," Clay pauses, runs a hand through his hair, "between us…"
He gestures between them, thumping Juice's chest with the back of his hand, but not hard enough to hurt.
"We needed this," he says.
Juice wants to ask what Clay's talking about, because all he remembers about tonight is Chibs confronting him about what Chibs thought was another suicide attempt, and then waking up on the toilet with Clay talking to him about going home and cleaning up.
It strikes him as slightly ironic that Clay's ordering him to clean up when he's already in a bathroom, but he wisely keeps that thought to himself and holds in his laughter. He doesn't want Clay to slap him again. A sudden thought, perhaps a memory, hits him and he asks, "Did you see the mouse?"
"He lives there." Juice points and Clay follows his finger toward the corner where Juice had focused his attention while ...while... He can't remember what had happened and stares at the tiny hole in the wall with the mouse and the ratty, old couch that dipped in the middle. Must be missing a spring, he thinks, confused by the look of concern on Clay's face.
"I'd better keep an eye on you," Clay says, and his face is much too close to Juice's, but he doesn't push Clay away because it wouldn't be right and Clay might get mad.
"You must've hit your head harder than I thought."
Juice rubs the back of his head and winces at the pain when his fingers come into contact with a lump at the base of his skull.
"Don't touch it." Clay slaps his hands away, and Juice feels like a two-year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He scowls at Clay and then looks at his hand in fascination.
There's drying, sticky blood on his fingers and he doesn't know how it got there. Has he killed someone else? Is that blood from Kozik? Or are his hands still bloody from the mess he made of Miles? He doesn't think he'll ever quite wash that blood off. Maybe that's what Clay meant when he'd told him to clean himself up. He feels an urgent need to take a shower.
“Let's get you into bed," Clay says, and, exhausted, Juice nods. Bed sounds like a great place to be.
He tries to stand, but he can't get his legs to work. He stares in confusion at them, wondering what's wrong, why they won't cooperate.
"Here," Clay says, hauling him to his feet for the second time that night.
Juice wavers on his feet once Clay releases him.
He mutters an embarrassed, "Thanks," when Clay puts an arm around his waist and leads him to the door.
It's as Clay pauses to unlock the bathroom door that warning bells go off in Juice’s head, but then his mind becomes a blank, and he refuses to think past that darkness. Something’s lurking in the corner of his mind, but he pushes it aside and follows Clay outside of the bathroom.
Shivering, Juice sticks close to Clay, holding tight to the man as they make their way down the corridor. The walk isn’t long, and Juice wonders where everyone has gotten off to. He leans heavily against Clay, and there's a sense of wrongness, like a spider's web cast in a dark, ill-used corner of his mind.
The spider turns to look at Juice, hisses, 'Poison,' and then turns her back on him as he hobbles forward on shaky legs. The world tilts precariously, and it's only Clay's hold on him that's keeping him upright.
He owes the man more than just a simple thanks and wonders how he's going to pay Clay back for all that he's done for him tonight. If it wasn't for Clay, he'd probably have spent the rest of the night lying on the bathroom floor. With a head injury that he still can’t remember how he'd gotten, that could've been deadly. He owes Clay his life. Just like in prison when he'd owed the man for keeping him safe.
"Thank you," Juice says when Clay helps him lie down on the bed and helps him take his boots off.
Clay’s hands still and he fumbles with the zipper on Juice’s jeans. He isn't meeting Juice's eyes and Juice wonders why.
“Just lie still,” Clay says.
"'Kay," Juice says, his eyes falling shut of their own accord. He can hear Clay moving around in the small room, the sound of the man's boots clip-clopping over to the bathroom fills him with a sense of unease, but he drifts off into a state of semi-consciousness that isn't quite sleep.
Strange, half-formed images dance around in his head, and always at the edge of them is darkness and Clay. Clay with gleaming, sadistic eyes, touching him, tearing him apart with long, talons and gnawing at him with razor-sharp shark's teeth.
He can feel the man's breath at the base of his neck, and it makes his stomach churn. The scent of Clay is stuck in his nostrils, cloying and thick; he fears it will choke him. He can't reconcile these feelings with the image he has of Clay picking him up off the bathroom floor, helping him. That Clay was almost tender with him, well, as tender as Clay can be. But the Clay of his subconscious is vicious and violent. Terrifying. A monster. He knows that his dreams, if that's what these are, are not reality. Clay is not a monster.
"Juice, wake up," Clay orders, and he’s only just fallen asleep.
"Tired. Head hurts," he says.
"I'm sorry," Clay says, sighing, and the bed sags as the man sits beside him, "but you need to get cleaned up.”
“Don’t wanna,” Juice says, turning away from the man.
"Open your eyes Juice," Clay orders, and Juice complies, fearful of what might happen if he doesn't listen to the other man when he’s using that voice.
"Hurts," he says again, blinking in the dim light of the bedroom. He can see Clay’s shadow on the wall. It’s dark and foreboding.
Chapter 13: Hiding from the Monsters
There's nothing wrong with him that a beer and some pain killers can't fix.
Warning: This chapter contains some imagery which readers might find disturbing, and which might be triggering to some. There are allusions to sexual assault and child abuse, and there is a depiction of cruelty to animals.
A/N: I know that it has been a long time. I won't insult anyone by saying that life was busy, etc., especially since I have been writing and posting other stories. The truth is, I was kind of wiped out by that last bit, and needed a break from this story.
The disjointed nature of this chapter is intentional (Juice does have a head injury), as are the use of repetition and fragmented sentences. I was flexible, and liberal with conventions of grammar as I was experimenting with form in an attempt to provoke an emotional response from the reader. This, as opposed to concerns of grammar, is what I would prefer any feedback to reflect, should you choose to offer any (for which I would be grateful).
"Open your eyes, honey," a soft, kind voice says.
Juice obeys, forcing his much too heavy eyelids open.
He didn't realize that his eyes were closed in the first place.
Darkness is comforting.
Darkness keeps the monsters away.
Or, maybe Juice has that backwards, and the darkness just hides the monsters, making it easier for them to get at him, and tear him apart.
The light hurts.
"Can you open your eyes for me?"
The repeated words remind Juice that he's real, that this is real.
It's a trippy word, the way it rolls off his tongue, even when he's just hearing the word in his head and he's only thinking it, and his tongue isn't even speaking the word - it sounds…good, in his mind, the way that he says it.
Real. Real. Real.
He can roll his r's.
He can make the word, real, sound Spanish. Rrrrrreal.
He opens his mouth to try the word out, to see if it really sounds like Spanish when he says it, or if it will come out sounding like one of those lame YouTube videos that people post of their 'talking' cats.
Juice had one of those, a talking cat, once, when he was a kid.
Thing never shut up, howled and scratched and clawed and bit, and just never shut the fuck up, no matter how many times Juice begged it to.
That's why one of his mother's boyfriends – Paul or Phil, or Rico – killed it.
Shoved it into a pillowcase, one of Juice's prized Batman ones, tied a knot at the top of the pillowcase, so the cat couldn't escape, and then just kept hitting the pillowcase over and over and over again with a baseball bat until, finally, finally, the damn thing just stopped 'talking.'
Juice remembers the last sound that the cat ever made. A muffled, pathetic sounding long, drawn-out meow. Sometimes it haunts him.
He remembers the blood, staining his pillowcase, the floor, his hands.
He remembers the soft, squelching thud that the pillowcase made when he'd lobbed it up over the lip of the dumpster, and it landed, in the midst of the other garbage with a dull splat.
He remembers crying, sobbing his eyes out, and Paul-Phil-Rico whaling on him for being a sissy. He doesn't remember anything else about the rest of that summer.
Before Juice can get the word, real, out, though, to test its Spanish-ness, something's shoved into his mouth, and it presses on his tongue. It feels like wood, tastes like wood, and Juice wonders if it'll leave splinters in his mouth.
He's gagging. Choking. He can't breathe.
He can't breathe, and it hurts, and he wants it out of this mouth, doesn't want it shoved down his throat. Doesn't want to swallow.
'Swallow.' It's a dirty word.
Juice has done dirty things with it.
Done dirty things because of it.
Be a good boy, Juice, and swallow. That's it. Fuck, fuck, fuck, yeah, that's it. Fuck.
"Sweetie, can you open your eyes for me?" so kind, the voice.
The monsters lurk in the corners at the edge of the darkness in his mind, biding their time.
Juice opens his eyes. The monsters can't get him when he's in the light, even if the light hurts. They – the monsters with their claws, and too-sharp teeth – can hurt him far worse than the light, with its stabbing, brain-poking pain, can.
He winces and tries to jerk away from the overly bright light that some unseen assailant shines into his eyes. He scowls and closes his eyes, risking the monsters, as he ignores the next, kindly spoken command to open his eyes.
He's tired, and doesn't want to be here. He wants to go home, crawl into bed and sleep all the way through until late Sunday afternoon, or maybe until Monday morning.
He isn't needed right now, anyway. Least, he doesn't think he's needed now. Clay hasn't come around lately.
Juice can't remember the last time that Clay's come to him, and it kind of scares him, not knowing, because maybe Clay doesn't need him anymore, and if Clay doesn't need him, then what use is he to the club?
He doesn't matter to anyone else, not really. Chibs only pretends to like him half of the time. Juice knows the truth though, that Chibs doesn't trust him, and only acts like his friend so that he can keep an eye on him, and make sure that he doesn't fuck things up.
At least with Clay around, Juice knows that he has a purpose, a reason for being. Even if that reason isn't exactly pretty, and can't be broadcast to the rest of the club.
Without Clay, Juice has nothing.
Juice is nothing.
Floating on the wind.
A feather floating aimlessly from place to place, nowhere to belong, nowhere to rest, nowhere to be.
Maybe Juice should be the one to go to Clay. Remind the man of the reason why he keeps Juice around. What he can do with his mouth, his hands, how good he can beg.
"Can you lay back for me, son?" a tired, grandfatherly voice asks, and Juice jerks backward when the man's soft, leathery hand touches him, coaxing him down, down, down, until his back hits cold metal.
Though Juice is afraid that obedience will just cause him more pain, like the stabbing light, he complies.
Disobedience might cause him far greater pain.
He's learned that the hard way – Clay's hands, rough and demanding, fingers pinching bruises into his skin when Juice so much as thinks of telling the man, 'no'; his mother's ham-fisted boyfriends, quick with a backhand and a belt when he doesn't want to do as he's been asked.
Juice can hear people moving around him– the hustle-bustle of a busy hospital – tries to ignore the warm-cool, impersonal hands on his skin.
It has nothing to do with him. None of this has anything to do with him. If he concentrates hard enough, he won't even really be here.
He's only at the hospital, because Chibs had drug him out of bed earlier that morning, and brought him here. Juice hadn't wanted to come. There's nothing wrong with him that a beer and some painkillers won't be able to fix.
"I need an SAE kit in exam room one," the kindly voice from earlier says, a touch of pity coloring her words.
Chibs' voice wafts over him, and Juice knows that, once again, the words aren't meant for him, but for someone else that he can't see because Chibs is blocking the way, and the doctor with the soft leather hand is touching Juice's leg. It makes his skin itch and crawl and he wants to get away.
To go away.
To float away.
Juice thinks that maybe, he shouldn't have taken that tiny, white pill that had been lying on the dresser. The pill that hadn't taken away his pain, but had made things a thousand times worse –amplifying sound and thought and that prickly sensation on the hairs of his arms, that made it feel like there were spiders crawling all along his skin even when there weren't any spiders.
"It's just…he's a guy." Chib's voice trails off, and Juice doesn't understand what, or who, Chibs is talking about, or who he's talking to.
"He's not…he isn't…"
Chibs' hand falls heavily on Juice's shoulder, and Juice flinches away from the touch.
"He's not gay."
Unable, and unwilling to keep track of the conversation that's going on around him Juice retreats into himself, where it's safe. It isn't the darkness, and it's not the too-bright light. It's a safe place; one that Juice had found that summer when Paul or Phil, or Rico had killed his cat.
"Sir, it's standard procedure under these circumstances. He's bleeding…" that soft, kindly voice gets lost in the lights that are boring into Juice's eyes, so he closes them, thinking that maybe, without the interference of the light, he can hear better.
The words swirl around Juice's head, buzz in his ears. He can't seem to make sense of them, though he knows that he's heard them before – maybe in a TV show, or, maybe when he was a little boy, sitting very still and quiet, holding his mother's hand, listening to her crying, shouting at the doctors and police in broken English.
The kindly voice is speaking, saying something else to someone else, not him, and Juice finds that he doesn't much care who it is that she's talking to.
When he opens his eyes, all he can see is the white and blue of the bottom half of hospital gowns, the feet of the nurses and doctors that move and work around him. The light isn't as bright anymore, and he's happy about that.
The doctors and nurses are busy, rushing around like headless chickens. The thought makes Juice laugh, the sound gets stuck in his throat, and he feels like he's choking.
He can't think, can't remember correctly where he's heard those words before: …SAE kit in exam room one. Bleeding. Gay.
Doesn't know if the words matter anyway.
Chibs is holding Juice's hand, squeezing it, and talking to him.
Juice feels sick, and hot, and Chibs' hand feels too hard, too tight, too…heavy – Juice can't yank his own hand free, and he can't hear what the man's saying, just knows that Chibs is talking, because Juice can feel the man's voice coursing through his veins.
Juice can't remember how he got to the hospital, can't remember when Chibs got there. There's an entire blank spot in his mind when he tries to recall it, even though he thinks that he knew it just a moment ago. It's hard. Remembering.
Has Chibs been holding his hand the whole time?
Sons don't hold hands like Girl Scouts going door-to-door, selling cookies, even if they are in a bustling hospital, one of them lying on an exam table, covered in little more than a flimsy gown, naked ass splayed for the entire world to see.
Though Chibs' lips are moving, and he's looking right at him, Juice can't hear the man's words over the droning sound in his ears; it feels like there're a million bees swarming around inside of his head.
All of them have angry voices that buzz, buzz, buzz, making him dizzy and ill with their raspy zzzz…z…zzz's.
His head hurts – feels like it's splitting in two, and Juice knows that if he isn't careful, his brains are going to fall out of it at any moment. He can't keep them in, his thoughts, his brains. Can't keep the secrets within them from spilling forth and ruining him.
Killing them both.
Juice is glad when the doctors and nurses stop touching him, and when, Chibs, with his overly large hand isn't weighing him down anymore, anchoring him in place. And, he doesn't miss the feel of leather hands slip-sliding over and across his thigh, even if they did remind him, briefly, of Clay.