Jax watched Jake Lyons stare at the empty space where his youngest son’s bike had been. When the man turned back to his kids, Jax wasn’t sure what had been said but saw the looks on both Eric and Sophie’s faces when they rushed past those from SAMCRO that were still lingering by the tables. Both looked relieved that they got to run off.
Looking back over to where Jake was standing with Jules and Dennis, he could see the abashed look on Jules’s face, like she had been told to do something and had blown it off. Then seeing the cel phone in Jake’s hand remembered that Jake had mentioned she had some calls to make.
As he lit a smoke, Ope leaned over. “What the fuck?” He looked over to see the smirk on his best friend’s face.
He shrugged. He really wasn’t sure. “No idea man.” He grinned over at Ope.
Ope shook his head with a light laugh. “Leave here last night and you were mooning over Tara. Get back this morning…”
He knew how out of character it was for him to be like this with anyone other than Tara, but he couldn’t deny that this whatever was going on with Jules, and by extension, Sophie, felt good. He looked over to see Jules handing Jake back his cel phone. “I know bro, and if I had a real answer for you, I’d give it to ya. But…”
Ope clapped him on the back. “Yeah. I get it bro.” Ope looked over at Jules and then back to the clubhouse where Soph was. “Sometimes things just sneak up on ya.” Then Ope laughed. “But I have to admit; it’s a whole lot of fun watching you get led around by your nose by a toddler. I always knew you were a sucker for women, but this is a whole new extreme, man.”
“Laugh it up.” He glanced over to his best friend who was certainly enjoying all of this.
Noticing that his Mom had snuck off to the T-M office, he followed her in. As she was lookin’ at some paperwork, she glanced up. “What do you need darlin’?”
He reached into his jean’s pocket and pulled out his cash roll. Peeling off a hundred in twenties, he handed them to his Mom. “This is for Sophie’s dress.” Then sat down on the couch in the office knowing that with this, along with everything else this morning, he was going to have to talk to his mother.
Gemma sat down in her office chair, laying the money on the desk. “The dress won’t cost a hundred dollars Jackson.”
“She might want some other things.” He wasn’t entirely sure what else would go with a princess dress, but he was sure in this day and age there would be accessories.
His Mom nodded with a knowing smile. “She might.” Tapping her index fingernail on the cash. “Am I supposed to tell her Mama about who is really buying the dress?” First fishing line cast. Point to his mother.
He shook his head. “No.” Then rolled his eyes. “This isn’t about gettin’ into Jules’s pants…” He shot his mother a look before she could open her mouth. “It isn’t.” He didn’t hide much from his mother; it was too much work. “I just want to do it.”
His mother gave him a good, hard, long look. When she saw whatever it was she was looking for, she smiled. “You like them.” He must have looked confused for a second because she rolled her eyes. “Jackson, for all of the love you claim to have for Tara, I’ve never seen much like in all of it.”
He thought about that. His mother wasn’t really wrong. Oh, when they were younger he and Tara had liked each other and had been friends as well as lovers. Now, he was pretty sure that even though she loved him, Tara didn’t like him much, and he hadn’t thought of whether or not he liked her still, just that he had loved her and she was back.
“Yeah.” His Mom must have had some sort of inkling of what was going through his head. “But it seems to me that you actually like Jules.” His Mom smiled. “So do I. She’s a good girl.”
He could hear the unspoken ‘for you’ at the end of his mother’s sentence. And as much as he wanted to, he didn’t roll his eyes, mostly because he didn’t want to deal with the Gemma fallout. He smiled a little. “Yeah. She is.” He knew he sounded as gone for them as he felt. And it was ‘them’. Jules had been very clear about the fact that her and Sophie were a total package deal and how someone felt about her daughter was more important than how they felt about her.
Just like with this dress. He really didn’t care if Jules ever knew he bought Soph’s princess dress for her. It was enough for him to know that he had. He looked at his Mom. “It’s not about Jules. It’s about making Sophie happy.” He blinked a little as he voiced that thought and looked at his mother. “What the fuck happened to my dick?!”
“It grew the fuck up.” His mother snickered, then shook her head. “Yeah, you have somethin’ with her Mama, but you’re figuring out that all that shit takes a backseat when you’ve got a kid. Sophie should be more important, because she is.” The smile on his Mom’s face was almost sweet, but there was a sadness in her eyes that he knew was Thomas related. “Jules knows that.” Then his Mom’s eyes went a little hard as she looked at him. “She wants a partner, not a fuck buddy Jax. You need to be sure.” The look softened some. “I don’t want anyone, especially three-year-old anyones, to get hurt.” Then leaned back in her chair. “You feel me?” His Mom lit a cigarette and inhaled the first drag as she waited for him to answer her.
He had thought about it. He’d thought of little else since Jules had cuffed him on the back of his head for giving Soph candy last night. He was in the same boat as Jules. He wanted a partner, not a fuck buddy. He was tired of fucking faceless, nameless women. Sure, it got him off physically; but it didn’t do much for his heart or his soul. He’d made the mistake of marrying a fuck buddy and look how that worked out. And the more that he thought about it, he and Tara getting back together would probably end in disaster.
“Yeah, I feel you.” He stood up from the couch. Walking over to the desk, he leaned down and gave his mother a kiss on the cheek. “Whatever she wants.” Tapping the money on the desk. “I’m gonna get a last cup of coffee before we get goin’.”
“Love you, baby.” His mother’s voice was smug behind him. “Talk to you later.”
Leaving the office, he noticed that Jules was no longer in the lot. When he walked over to Jake and Clay the two nodded at him. “We’ll take off in about fifteen minutes.” Clay smirked. “Apparently Red isn’t allowed to leave quite yet.”
He was failing at suppressing a grin. “Really? Any particular reason why?” He really didn’t give a fuck, he just figured the answer would be amusing.
“Instead of a movie, Baby Princess talked him into one of her computer games.” Jake grinned. “She told him he had to finish ‘cause, and I quote, ‘Unca Manny is too bossy when we play this. You stay.’.” Jake shrugged like it was not an unusual occurrence. “Den is a little bit of prick when he gets into that game with her.” Jake smiled. “It’s some sort of learning game and he’s not good about letting her make mistakes, wants to get it for her if she doesn’t right away.” Jake gave a rueful head shake. “All because he doesn’t want her to feel bad, and all he does is piss her off. So she only plays with Jules and Eric. You’d think he’d learn; it was the same damn thing with his sister when they were kids.” The grin was back. “Although Soph hasn’t punched him in the nose for it.”
And there it was, he laughed. He could see a young Jules decking a young Dennis for something like that. “Okay. Think I’ll grab another cup of coffee while we’re waitin’.” Nodding to Jake and Clay before wandering into the clubhouse.
Getting inside, he could see that Jules was sitting at a table with a fresh cup of coffee, watching Sophie and her uncle, but also watching Tig, who was obviously fascinated by the ease at which Sophie navigated her game.
Quickly grabbing a cup of coffee for himself, he joined Jules at the table. She smiled at the cup in his hand. “Bobby makes great coffee.” Then grinned. “Food too.” The grin became wider and more teasing as Bobby walked into earshot. “If he cleans too, he’ll make a nice wife for someone someday.”
Bobby chuckled at her as he ambled by. “Nah, I ask too much for the bridal dowry.”
Jules’s laugh was long and genuine, and by the time she was done, he could tell that it was something that she had needed. She reached out and grabbed Bobby’s arm. “You’d be worth every penny.” The laughter faded but the smile remained. “Seriously, on the list of ‘Favorite Humans of Jules and Soph’.”
“Back at you sweetheart.” Bobby leaned down and gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head. Then shot him a wink. “Just because your kid is cute.”
Jules was nonplussed. “Well…yeah.” The grin was back as she looked over to Soph and Eric. “She is the very definition of awesome.”
Bobby nodded with a smile as he walked off and then outside. The game seemed to be done, because Soph had crawled off of her uncle’s lap and had scampered over to climb up into his. He looked over to Jules. If the game was done, then he had to go. There was business to be dealt with.
With an understanding smile, Jules got up and lifted Sophie from his lap. “Jax needs to go with Uncle Red and Grandpa Jake. They have to go do some big guy stuff.” And before her daughter could lodge the protest they could all see on her face. “And while they’re doin’ that, Uncle Den and Other Papa are gonna come with us to get your princess dress.”
Thank whatthefuckever the protest on the little girl’s face went away, because he wasn’t entirely sure he wouldn’t totally fucking cave to the whims of a toddler today. Soph looked at Jules and then to him and then back at her Mommy. “So I can ‘prise Jax? And Grampa and Unca Red?” That sounded like an idea that she could get on board with. He fought a smile.
Jules on the other hand, did not. In fact, she laughed. “Exactly.” Looking over at him and giving him a wink that he felt in a number of areas. “You have the best ideas.” Giving her daughter a kiss on the head. Sophie beamed at the praise.
The others leaving had already headed out of the clubhouse, and Tig and Dennis were being nice enough to give the three of them a little space. He smiled at the two. “Your Mommy’s right.” He leaned in and gave Sophie a kiss on the cheek. The one Dougie hadn’t messed up. “You can surprise us. I’ll see you later, okay?”
Sophie nodded with a smile. “’Kay, bye.” Then slithered out of Jules’s arms and sped her way over to Dennis who snatched her up and threw her in the air, to her delighted squeals.
Jules rolled her eyes affectionately at the spectacle, then turned to him. “Make sure somebody hits that little bastard for her would ya?” She gave him a cold smile. “Got mine in last night.”
“I can do that.” He nodded towards the door. “Although I’m pretty sure that’s already high on some people’s priority lists.”
“That wouldn’t surprise me in the least.” She sounded okay with that, too. Looking at him with a smile. “You need to get going. Clay doesn’t strike me as the world’s most patient dude and I can guarantee you Pop isn’t.”
That was a great point. “Yeah. I’ll see you later I guess.” He felt awkward in a way he hadn’t since his teens. He wasn’t sure if he was to kiss her good-bye, or if he was to just go, or…
She leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “Have fun with the Nazi. I’m sure Soph will have the entire shopping tale for you to enjoy later.” And with the cheekiest, as Chibs would say, grin on her face, popped him on the ass. “Now leave so we can go shopping.”
With every ounce of will power he ignored the cackles coming from Dennis and Tig so that he wouldn’t flip them off in front of Sophie. While the Lyons’ seemed to be a bit more free with their language and gestures around Sophie, he didn’t feel like he had quite earned that level of freedom around her. When he’d been young, he remembered that even though everyone around SAMCRO cussed, it was weird when adults he really didn’t know did.
Giving Sophie a final wave, he walked outside and towards his bike. Keeping in mind Jules request. Yeah, he’d make sure Dougie would hurt more than the prick had made Sophie hurt.
Clay looked at him in askance and he nodded his head. With a satisfied look, Clay swung a leg over his bike and started it. He and the others followed suit. He pulled into line behind Clay and Jake, he looked over to his left to see Red beside him. As they picked up speed Eric looked over at him with a grin as he looked around.
“Nice day to play ‘Beat the Nazi’.”
He laughed and shook his head. Red wasn’t wrong. It was a nice day. And a Nazi would be beat.