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The Crow and The Sparrow

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Belle hummed to herself as she wiped down another table. Things finally felt like they were coming together. She was most of the way through her probation period at the daycare centre and by all accounts things were going well there and Mrs Sanchez had said that she was happy with how she had settled in. Getting to know the children and working with them had been the easy part of the job. She loved the reading and working on projects with some of the older kids. When her duties had expanded to include greeting the parents and working on handover both in the morning and evening she had felt a lot more anxious. Talking to adults was not her strong suit but she had shadowed Mrs Sanchez for a week, she had taken notes and had even practiced in front of the mirror. The first couple of days she had smiled and stumbled her way through the routine and taken note of the tips that Mrs Sanchez had given her. Belle had gone to the local library and researched techniques she could use and one night she had come up with a couple of templates and some suggestions that she had taken to Mrs Sanchez to try and make things better. Mrs Sanchez had been pleased to see Belle taking the initiative and had loved a couple of the suggestions including a simple chart that would explain a little about any given child’s day and the fact that all children would be woken up before handover both into and out of the daycare. She had explained to Mrs Sanchez about what she had seen on the internet about how there was liability if something had happened before the child was checked in. It was now a part of the day to day process’ at the day care. Belle had loved that she had been listened to and that her ideas were making a difference.

A couple of weeks after she had started at the daycare Jill had let her know that the coffee shop would be staying open later at night from Thursday through Saturday and there would be a job there for Belle if she wanted. With her hours at the daycare she had agreed that she could manage from 6.30 through closing. It had taken a few shifts to get the hang of the actual coffee machine and some of the horribly complex orders that some of the customers had but she was getting there. Jill made sure that she was never left alone for a shift, because “Even though Charming is a good place there can be bad people”. Belle had quietly gone and opened a bank account. She kept the card hidden away inside her shoe when she was at home and she had found a running belt in a second hand store that she could wear under her top when she was out. She had asked the bank to not mail any correspondence and they had seemed happy enough to do a she requested. She kept a little of the money she earned on her person and the rest got deposited each cheque.

As badly as she felt about not sharing all of her wages with her family, things on the home front had not been going so well. Her mother continued to disappear most days and Belle knew what was happening. She was off getting high on what ever was her chosen poison, John had come home a couple more times with bruises on his body, and at least a couple of nights he didn’t come home at all. He had been better about leaving money at the end of the week, If Belle was about when he came in he would usually throw the bills at her before heading off to get beer. If she wasn’t then she would usually find it thrown on the dining table. There had been a few times where there’d been no money waiting for her and when she had asked John about it he had called her a liar and his frustrations had become physical. Luckily the bruises had not been anywhere that she coolant cover up.

Luckily Mr Darby had not been round again and she had been eternally grateful for that fact. She had been so uncomfortable when he had been there. The look in his eyes had said that he wanted to do unpleasant things to her and quite frankly she would be happy to never see him again. Other than her home life the only other thing that brought her down a little was the fact that she hadn’t seen Tig around town. It wasn’t like they had planned to but she wanted to buy him that coffee and to tell him about her jobs and show him that she was making efforts to get things sorted out. She had seen the blond son, Jax and the tubby one who’s name she didn’t know a time or too but she didn’t want to speak with them, they made her uncomfortable in the extreme.

The electronic bell above the door chimed, Belle knew that Toni was on break and would be out back texting with her boyfriend and as she turned to greet the customer she found herself faltering somewhat. It was the woman that had stopped her when she had gone to Teller Morrow and based on the the face that she was pulling she recognised her and wasn’t happy to see her again.

Gemma had been surprised when Jill Cooper had decided to open her cafe up for longer hours over the weekends, but she couldn’t deny that additional jobs was good for the city, and tonight she was doubly glad to see the lights still on as she headed home. It was tac season and getting the books ready was a long, tedious process that took a lot of hours and always gave her a headache. It seemed to annoy her more than usual this year as it kept her from spending time with sweet Able. Her grandson was the light of her life, and another opportunity for her to help raise the next generation of SAMCRO. What she hadn’t expected to see when she walked in was grocery girl. That little skank had caused all kinds of uproar the day she had come in to see Tig and frankly Gemma didn’t trust her, She was big Bambi eyes and feigned nervousness. No one could actually be that scared and survive, and if she thought for one moment that the Queen of SAMCRO would let her waltz in and mess up her boys, well she had another thing coming. It was time that this gash learnt to not underestimate the Queen.

Hands on her hips head titled slightly to the side Gemma smirked as she saw a hint of apprehension cross the girls face “Well well grocery girl fancy seeing you here. I would have thought you would have been off getting other poor unsuspecting men to buy you things. What happened, is business not so lucrative?”

Belle felt the blush rise and dropped her eyes for a second before looking back up with a small smile “ Good evening Ma’am, welcome to Devout Coffee, what can I get for you this evening. We have cakes, muffins and cookies still available” Belle moved behind the counter where she felt safer.

“I’m sure I told you before my name is Gemma and not Ma’am. I want a latte, you know how to do that?”

“Of course, Gemma” Belle stubbed over the woman name, She made her nervous and Belle couldn’t hide it. “It will just take 2 minutes. I’ll get right on it” Gemma watched as the girl moved about the coffee bar making her drink. She seemed competent enough and everything was out in the open so she knew the gash wouldn’t spit in her drink. Waiting by the register she wanted the girls every mood As nervous as she was the girl was focused on doing a good job. Before Belle could ring her up she held out a $5 bill and when Belle went to hand her the change she waved her away. “Keep it . You know Jill and the other people in this town, they all work hard for their money and I would hate to see someone try and take advantage of them. People here in Charming, well we look after each other, family means everything and we don’t take kindly to outsiders” Taking a sip of her drink Gemma could acknowledge that if nothing else this was a good cup of coffee.

“Ma’am, Gemma, I just want to work and earn my money and live quietly, I don’t want to cause any issues, I like this job and I need the money, My family and I moved here and we are just trying to make do”

Gemma grabbed a hold of Belle’s hand with still held her change and noticed the wince of pain the girl gave, She wasn’t holding her that tightly. Frowning slightly she leant forward “ Im trusting you, don’t let me down little girl” She glanced down quickly making it look as if she was picking up her keys, and could just see the edge of a bruise showing from under her sleeve. turning on her heel she headed out, pausing at the door to glance back “I don’t give second chances”

The door closed behind Gemma as she left and Belle found herself letting out a stuttering breath. That woman scared her nearly as much as Darby did, Everyone said how nice Charming was, but just like every other place that she had lived it seemed to have its fair share of less friendly folks. “Hey Belle, are you going to start clean down soon ?” Toni coming back in made Belle jump but she turned and nodded before moving to start the clean down routine.

Tig sat in his regular position to one side of Clay as they debated what the next step was in getting Darby and his ass hole thugs out of Charming, So far they hadn’t shown up at the garage drop off, and since the beatdown that they had given the guys of the lumber yard they seemed to have gone to ground. There were still drugs turning up in Charming and eventually people would be pissed enough that they wouldn’t turn a blind eye to some of the club business that happened in town

“Look brotha’ I’m not saying that we don’t need to get theses scumbags out of Charmin’ but we cant just head on out and start kicking on doors man. Don’t you all remember bullets before brains brotha’s I don’t see it doing anyone any good if we’re all inside”

“Chibs has a point” Jax blew smoke through his nose as he picked his next words carefully “We need get these assholes on their home turf. Take out where they’re cooking the shit. Remove the head of the dragon”

Tig watched as a few of his brothers nodded in agreement “Well VP I cant say you’re wrong” Clay agreed “but seeming as we don’t know where their cook house is I think we need some intel before we storm the castle” Jax rubbed his face in frustration. How could they not find where these racist fucks were!

Tig sat up a bit straighter and leaned forward his forearms resting on the table and he twisted one of the large rings he wore “ So what about the info that Juice got at the start of this BS. Isn’t there anything in that we can use?”

“If there was we would have used it” Opie sighed

“Actually’ Juice cut in “ We didn’t use all of it. I did a little more digging you know “ Juice’s eyes briefly met Tig’s “There are a couple of places these guys have liked to hang out in the past, we could look at them”

“So why the fuck are we sitting here if we have intel we could be looking at?” Clay barked. “Get the fuck out of here, I want you following up on this first thing. Juice pass on the info to Chibs and Tig and you guys see what you can find out” Clay lowered the gavel to the table and ended the meeting,

Tig left with the others to head into the clubhouse for a drink. He was tired and fed up and he was still no further forward with deciding what to do about Belle. Juice had done the digging he’d asked for, He knew about John and his discharge and the fact that Belle was his sister, There was nothing that showed Belle had anything to do with the dealing and what ever other BS her brother was involved in. But, and there was always a but, if she was involved and if something went down then he would be in the line of fire and while things were as tense as they were he couldn’t afford to loose sight of what mattered and what he needed to do for his club. A heavy hand on his shoulder pulled his attention back to the room and glancing to his side he found Chibs sitting with his own glass of Whisky, “Yah know brotha’ you from what you’ve said about the wee lass, its not likely that she’s tied up in this shit. If you want to see her then you should “
Turning to face in the same direction a Chibs, Tog took a swallow from his glass, “Nah man, she’s a good girl, too good for this” throwing a wink to the Scotsman he pushed himself off the stool and towards a busty red headed crow eater.

 

When Belle eventually made it home it was after midnight. Clean up had taken longer as Toni had to keep stopping to text with someone and then she had to leave early, Belle didn’t mind all that much she liked the quiet, but it didn’t mean she wasn’t tired. Tomorrow was the weekend so she would at least be able to have a bit of a lie in. Shutting the front door quietly she kicked offer shoes and figured she would grab a cold drink before heading to bed. Flicking on the kitchen light she let out of short screen when she found her brother sitting their staring at the doorway. “Jesus John you scared me” John just stared back at her. She waited for a moment to see if he would respond and when he didn’t she moved to the fridge. As she went to close the door, a bottle of water in hand she jumped again as the fridge door slammed and she felt her brothers warm, beer smelling breath blow over her neck as he stood slowly behind her “Mr Darby asked for you again today Belle. He wants to know why you’ve not visited. He’s my boss and its rude to not visit us Belle”

“Um well” Belle stood stiffly scared to move incase it upset him further in some way “I’ve been busy you know, working and looking after the house, and well I think with Mom and all it would be best of he didn’t have to deal with anything else from us” Her breath was coming out in pants by the time she was done and her hands shook around the bottle of water. She felt John move and step back. She started to relax and then all of a sudden she felt a searing pain in be scalp as John grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled hard. “If Mr Darby wants you there then you need to be there, do you hear me?”

“Y….yes” She stammered With a hard push John pushed her away and she fell to her knees the bottle or water rolling across the kitchen floor as tears rolled down her face.