Tara laid back and looked at the exam room ceiling, still shook from what had happened earlier tonight. She still couldn’t believe she had shot Josh, that he had raped her. She raised a shaking hand to brush back the hair that had fallen in her face. She wondered how long they would shake.
Margaret, one of the hospital administrators, had come in after the exam, and her changing into some clothes that Jules had made sure had gotten packed and brought to the hospital. Margaret had let her know that the hospital was clearing her schedule for the next few days, giving her some time to recover. The administrator had been kind, telling her to let the hospital know if they could do anything to help with her recovery. She had just nodded along to whatever the older woman had said, barely paying attention.
Now, she was just waiting on the discharge paperwork. She had been examined, and other than giving her the morning-after pill, there were no signs of any tearing or bruising. Then again, while logically she knows that Josh raped her, a part of her feels like she had just given in.
She had also answered all of David’s questions about what happened. He assured her that she wouldn’t be facing charges; she had shot Josh in self-defense and that’s how he was writing it up; she had the restraining orders, she had literally moved half a country to get away from Josh. No judge was going to send her to jail.
There was a soft knock on the exam room door and then Jules limped in with her dad behind her. “Hey, the nurse said you’re just waiting on the paperwork and then we can all get out of here.”
“Yeah.” She raised an eyebrow at the cane Jules was using to help her limp around. “Apparently, there was something wrong with your knee.”
Jules shrugged, while her dad looked a little aggravated. “Twisted it when we heard the gunshot. Nothing torn, just strained. Just gotta take it easy for a few days and use this bad boy.” Waving the cane around like a sword. Jules’ dad just rolled his eyes.
She couldn’t help it, she laughed. “Are you five?”
Jules shrugged again with a slight smirk. “No. But, it made you laugh.” Jules motioned for her to move her legs, and then sat on the edge of the bed. “Douchebag is still in surgery. He’ll more than likely survive, unfortunately.”
She just nodded, not sure how she felt about whether he lived or died. Jules took her nod as a gesture to continue. That was fine, she wasn’t sure how much talking she was really up to at the moment.
“They wouldn’t tell us anything about what was going on with you.” Jules patted her ankle. “You holdin’ up okay?”
She looked to Jules and her dad, Jake. He seemed like a good guy, even if he was a biker. He’d been waiting at the emergency entrance to the hospital when they arrived, as gentle with her as he was with his own daughter.
“Physically, I guess.” She took a shaky breath. “The rest of it, I really don’t know.”
“That’s all right, sweetheart.” Jake’s voice was low and kind. “It’ll probably be a minute before you get your head back on straight.” He was about to say something else when a nurse popped her head in the slight space the open door made.
“You ready to get out of here?” She nodded, and the woman came in to give her the discharge paperwork.
After going over it quickly with the nurse, she shoved the papers into the bag that Jules had packed for her, and got down from the exam table. Jules had already gotten up and was heading towards the door.
Jake walked with her, keeping a light arm around her shoulders, as if to try and protect her from the pitying looks she was getting from the staff in the halls.
While not dislodging the arm from her shoulders, she nodded towards Jules who was limping along ahead of them. “Shouldn’t you be helping her?”
“Nah.” Jake gave her shoulders a slight squeeze as they continued on. “She’d just hit me with that damned thing.” He chuckled drolly. “This isn’t her first rodeo with a cane. She’s already called Lu to have the one her granddaddy made for her shipped out overnight.” He rolled his eyes. “Said Dennis isn’t as scared of the aluminum ones.”
A giggle escaped before she could reign it in. She’d heard of the siblings dynamics from Lu, and back in Chicago she thought the woman had been exaggerating a little, trying to be funny to cheer her up; but apparently ‘best friends who try to kill each other’ was an accurate description.
Jake squeezed her shoulders again. “Exactly.” A wry smile on his face, eyes lit with humor.
When they reached the car, she tried to convince Jules and her dad that she would be fine at her house, but quickly backed down at the twin looks of disapproval.
“Are you fucking nuts?!” Jules shook her head. “I get that you don’t really want to go to Camp SAMCRO, but fuck...” Jules looked frustrated, and a little worn out. “You can’t go back and stay in that house tonight. There is no reason to torture yourself like that.” Then a contrite look came over her face. “And I know seeing me and Jax together...”
“Won’t hurt me at all.” She mustered up a smile for Jules, who seemed intent on taking care of her at the moment. “I came back here because my dad died and it was nearly two thousand miles from Josh. I knew that Jax would do whatever he could to keep me safe.” Her smile turned sad, because for all of Jax’s good intentions, the horrible had happened anyway. Unfortunately. “And I think you and Jax make more sense together than he and I do.” Again, she mustered up a smile. “Really.”
Jules just nodded, as Jake opened up the driver’s door. “Let’s get back to the clubhouse, girls.” Pushing the driver’s seat up so that she could slide into the backseat, sitting next to Sophie’s car seat. “It’s been a long night and both of you could use some sleep.” As Jules got in the passenger seat.
Her throat tightened at the parental, caring tone in his voice. Her own father had been distant, and then drunk since her mother had died when she was seven. She wondered if that lack of family is what had drawn her to Jax when they were younger. The deaths of Thomas and then John Teller had just pulled Jax and Gemma closer, with the club at their back; the complete opposite of her life.
“And food, Pop. Don’t forget food.” Jules yawned from the front seat. “Jax said Bobby would make me pancakes for letting them give me a cortisone shot.” Jules turned and looked at her. “I know they help, but they still suck.”
She nodded. Jules was right, as much as they would help, they did kind of suck. Jules would be getting ‘cortisone flares’ for about the next twenty-four hours. They would be painful and all you can really do for them is ice the area where the shot was given.
“I’ve been told that I’m off work for the next few days, so if you need help with anything, let me know.” She offered, thinking of how Jules had come limping into her bedroom as Josh was needling her about ruining her life, and Jules had just taken charge, doing what needed to be done without a second thought, and that all the angles were covered.
As Jules simultaneously thanked and warned her about her offer, she bit back a smile.
Jules was a far better old lady than she could ever had hoped to be.
With that knowledge, she leaned back against the seat with closed eyes, enjoying the silence before reaching the chaos she knew the clubhouse would be.
Sitting at a table with Tig and Clay, Jax looked at his cell phone. The last he had heard from anyone, Jake had texted him stating that Tara was being examined and all the other shit she was gonna have to deal with, and Jules had been taken to x-ray for her knee.
Dennis was holed up with Chibs, Eric, and Juice working on Cam Hayes. At first he couldn’t even begin to understand why the fuck Juice was in with them, until he noticed Juice was working a video camera that was hooked up to Dennis’ laptop. He overheard Dennis explain to Juice that his mother was going to oversee this procedure, then closed the doors.
So the rest of them were all stuck playing the waiting game. After he had explained what they had walked into at Tara’s, his mother had gone upstairs and was getting clean sheets on the bed in the room the girls were semi-using. Eric was going to suck it up and crash with Dennis, grudgingly.
His cell rang, Jules’ number. “Hey, babe.” Getting up and walking outside to Tig’s displeasure. Since he had reported that Jules was now limping for real, Tig had been a little amped up, even more so than the SAA already was after the attempted hit on Clay.
“Nothing torn, just strained.” Jules sounded profoundly unhappy. “They want to give me a cortisone shot for the inflammation.” He could hear her pout. “I don’t want one. I hate them.” There was a little bit of a whine in her voice.
He had never had one, but knew that they helped Clay’s hands a lot. “If that’s what the doc thinks you need, you gotta get one, babe.”
“I can just take it easy and take ibuprofen. Cortisone flares suck and usually last about a day or so.” Trying to wheedle her way out of it.
He wanted to laugh at her, but tried to make his voice as commanding as he could with her. “I think you’ll take it easy as much as I think Tig will be a normal human tomorrow. So, not at all.” He sighed. “And as much as those flare things may suck, I think in the end, you’ll feel better sooner than later if you get the damn shot.”
“Tell you what; if you get the shot, I’ll get Bobby to make you some pancakes when you get back here.” Dennis had informed him earlier in the day that bribery would almost always work with Jules. “You didn’t eat much at dinner.” She hadn’t, citing that paint fumes had killed her appetite.
“I could eat pancakes.” He smiled. Looked like Dennis was right. He heard her release a dramatic sigh. “Fine. I’ll get the shot. If there aren’t pancakes when we get back. I’m hitting you with the cane that they’ll end up giving me.”
He laughed. He had noticed that while she constantly threatened violence against him, it had yet to happen. In fact, the only person other than Dougie and Kohn, he had seen her beat on at all was Dennis, and Dennis gave as good as he got. And the other two completely deserved it. “Yeah, yeah.” Then sighed again. “Any word on Tara?”
“No. Pop has been trying, but since none of us are family to her, no info.” Jules sounded pissed at that. “Did find out that the douchebag is still in surgery. I guess they’re going to make sure he lives.” She sounded like she thought that was a terrible idea. He couldn’t disagree.
“I had to tell everyone about what happened, since you didn’t come back and asked for Jake to meet you at the hospital.” He took a breath, not knowing how this would go over. “Mom is changing the sheets in the room you and Sophie had been using.” Smiling a little at the thought of Soph asleep up in his room. “She said Tara could stay in there.”
“That’s what I was thinking.” He could hear a little humor in Jules’ voice. “I’d let Gemma break the sleeping arrangement news to Eric. He’s less likely to tell her to fuck right off.”
“Yeah, already taken care of.” He chuckled a little. “He might still be complaining about it, though.”
“Not shocked.” Jules sounded fond. “They’re coming back in with the shot I have been bribed into getting. Either me or Pop will send a text when we’re on our way back.” Hanging up before he could reply.
Tucking his cell phone back in his pocket, he went back inside, only to be immediately accosted by Tig and Bobby.
“What’d she say?” Tig was nearly bouncing on his toes.
“Strained, not torn.” He replied with the same look of relief that Tig was wearing. “But, I had to bribe her with pancakes to get her to let them give her a cortisone shot.” He finished, chuckling at Bobby.
Bobby shook his head with amusement. “Yeah, I can do that.” Bobby’s amusement faded. “Anything on Tara?”
He shook his head. “No, since neither Jake or Jules is family, they aren’t tellin’ them shit.” He sighed as he spotted his mother coming back from the dorms, and was making her way over to them.
As he was filling her in on what Jules had told him, the door to the chapel opened and Dennis, Eric, and Juice came out. Juice looking a little green around the gills. Apparently, filming a surgery will do that to a guy.
Clay looked up at the trio. “He taken care of?” Looking to where Cam Hayes was still stretched out on the redwood table.
Dennis nodded with a grim smile. “Yeah.” Looking back to the chapel. “Mom is calling in prescriptions for antibiotics and pain killers. We can pick them up in the morning.” Dennis glanced around room. “Mom did say that we should watch him for the rest of the night, make sure he doesn’t start to run a temp.”
“We got enough people around, we can do that in shifts.” Clay announced.
As everyone else nodded, Eric looked over to him. “You hear from Jules?”
“Strained, not torn. They were going to give her a cortisone shot.” He told her brothers.
“Wonder what Pop had to bribe her with to do that? She hates shots.” Dennis remarked to the room.
He smirked at the multi-talented man. “I had to bribe her with Bobby’s pancakes when she gets back.”
The two Lyons chuckled along with everyone else in the clubhouse.
“That would do it.” Dennis nodded, then looked down to see his clothes were blood-stained. “I’m gonna go get changed.” The man looked at Bobby hopefully. “Think I could get in on some of those pancakes? Between field surgery and my mother’s disappointment, I need a snack.”
Bobby chuckled a little. “Sure. Gotta pay your fee somehow.” The clubhouse chuckling along.
“Cool. Thanks.” Dennis flashed a quick smile and then was off, back to the dorms and clean clothes.
His mother looked at Eric with a roll of her eyes. “I realize he’s a bit...special, but why in the hell would any mother be disappointed with that kid? He’s a fuckin’ genius.” Gemma was feelin’ the Dennis love because it had taken him all of thirty minutes to streamline her computer to where it was, in his mother’s words, “so user friendly it nearly runs itself, that’s a little frightening, Jackson.”
Eric shrugged. “Dianne is on staff at Mass General. She teaches people how to be surgeons.” Eric’s voice had a guarded tone, like he was trying very hard to sound as calm and neutral as possible. “Den was supposed to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, not...”
“Dennis?” His mother finished.
Eric shrugged again. “I was going to say biker, but Dennis works too.” A sly smile crossing his face. “Dianne is a pretty serious lady.” Eric grinned. “And you’ve all met Den, well, he’s not.” Eric’s grin faded to a warm smile. “But for all of that, they’ll be fine in a couple of days. She may not understand him, but she loves him.”
“I get the feelin’ a lot of people say that about him.” Clay cracked from the table he was sitting at.
“You know it.” Eric replied, as he nodded to Claire, a brunette croweater that was covered in ink, who handed him a glass of whiskey. Taking a sip, Eric looked to him. “Jules happen to say how much longer she thought they’d be?”
He shook his head. “No, but said her or your dad would text someone when they were on their way back.”
Eric nodded and looked over to Tig. “Wanna play a game while we wait?” Nodding at the pool table. “Twenty a game?” Smart move by his Chicago counterpart. It was pretty obvious that Tig was more than a little wound.
“Sure.” Tig slid his chair back, standing up. “Sounds good.”
As Tig headed towards the pool table, he went back to the dorms to check on Sophie.
Reaching his room, he noticed that the door was cracked open. Curious, he carefully stepped to the door. Looking in, he saw Dennis sitting on the floor at the side of the bed Sophie was sleeping on, chin resting on the bed, just watching her sleep and breathe.
He stole back, hoping Dennis didn’t see or hear him. Dennis was still in the blood-stained clothing. Seemed like maybe Dennis had to wrap his head around some shit, and watching Sophie helped him do that.
Hearing rustling from his room, he took a few quick steps back, nearly to the dorm entrance, biting back a smile as Dennis emerged, giving him a bit of a startled look.
He held up his hands. “Just came back to check on her myself.”
Dennis gave him a chagrined look. “Just needed a minute, you know?”
He nodded. He did get it. “Yeah, no worries, brother.” He nodded towards the room. “She still sleepin’?”
“Yeah.” Dennis answered, and then nodded his head towards the room that he and Eric would be sharing later. “I should go change before they get back.” The snarkiness that usually surrounded Dennis Lyons like a shroud, was gone, leaving the real Dennis behind, and now he could see what Jules and the rest of the Lyons already knew; Dennis’ outward silliness masked a seriously smart, eclectic man who, if pressed, could do whatever the hell he wanted, but had chosen this life, because this life was family, and anything else would be lesser.
He felt a fierce wave of affection towards his future brother-in-law. He was now understanding the defensiveness that both Jules and Eric have shown at times regarding the middle Lyons son.
“Yeah, you probably should.” He grinned at the other man, trying to get Dennis back to himself. “Otherwise your sister will probably eat all the pancakes. She didn’t eat much earlier.”
Dennis let out a tired laugh. “Yeah.” He laughed again. “I’ll be out in a few.” The man took off, disappearing into the room at the end of the hall.
After checking on Sophie again, he made his way outside. It was quiet out, everyone still inside. He sat down on one of the picnic tables, his feet on the bench. Lighting a joint, he inhaled and held it for a minute before letting a stream of smoke from his lips.
He sat there for a couple of minutes, smoking and trying hard not to think, when his mother came out and sat next to him.
“You okay, baby?” His mom wrapped an arm around his waist and gave him a quick squeeze.
“Yeah, just waiting for Jules to text that they’re on their way back.” He nodded his head towards the clubhouse. “Hayes is gonna have to stay here for a little bit, you think we can have the girls in the house by tomorrow? I don’t want them to spend another night here.”
“Yeah, if we put up the second coat of paint first thing in the morning. Sophie may have to bunk in Abel’s room tomorrow night, but the rest of the house should be fine.” His mother smirked. “Jules wants to paint the kitchen and bathrooms, too. But said they could wait until we had more hands and it could be done in record time.” His mother shook her head. “Sounds like a fuckin’ caravan is headed here.”
He could hear the unsaid implications in his mother’s voice. There was a whole group of people he was going to have to convince that he was worthy of Jules and Sophie. He probably wasn’t, but he wasn’t going to let that stand in his way.
“Whatever she wants to do is fine by me, I don’t care.” He smirked. “It’s not like interior design is a strength of mine.”
His mom chuckled. “No son, it’s really not.” She took the joint from his fingers and took a hit as she stood. “I’m gonna go help Bobby.” She rolled her eyes a little, albeit with a fond smile on her face. “Seems like more than Dennis and Jules feel the need for late night comfort food.”
“Yeah.” He grinned at his mom. “I could probably eat some myself.” Taking the joint back. “I don’t know what strain this is, but it definitely gives you the munchies.”
“Yeah, yeah.” His mother waved a hand as she walked back into the clubhouse, leaving him alone again.
Jake looked in the rearview mirror to where Tara was sitting in the back seat with her eyes closed, head leaned back. Then shot a side glance at his daughter, who was leaning with her forehead against the passenger window, watching the streets go by.
“It’s really quiet here.” His daughter remarked, keeping her voice low, so she wouldn’t disturb Tara.
“It’s almost one in the mornin’, sis.” He shook his head. “The only reason you think it’s quiet is because you lived in downtown Chicago.” Acknowledging that his daughter would no longer be residing there.
“Yeah, that makes sense.” He could see how tired she was, and how much she really was hurting.
“Where you at, sis?” The tone of his voice letting his kid know this wasn’t an idle question.
“About a seven.” His daughter’s forehead still pressed against the car window.
He sighed. “Maybe someone at the clubhouse will have some pain pills.” He shook his head. “No idea why they just didn’t fill the damn prescription while we were still at the hospital.”
“I didn’t want to wait. They said it would be another thirty minutes to an hour.” Jules was starting to sound a little whiny. He knew that she was on the last of her reserves. Maybe hurting her knee was a blessing in disguise. Make her rest and take it easy for a couple of days.
“You should have waited.” Tara’s voice was soft from the backseat, like she wasn’t quite sure if she should be chiming in. “It’s better for you to take the pain pills before the pain is that bad.”
“Tara’s right, you know.” He patted his daughter’s arm. “It’ll take an hour before the pain is to a tolerable level.”
“Yeah. I know.” Jules’ voice was tight. He knew the tone. She was getting a flare and he’d say that her pain levels were probably hovering around a nine right now. His daughter turned back to Tara. “But, you were done and I didn’t want you to have to wait around for some stupid pills.”
“Considering the pain you’re in, I wouldn’t say they’re stupid.” Tara shot back. “I wouldn’t have minded waiting.”
“Well, I would have.” His daughter was starting to sound a little surly. “I don’t like hospitals. I figured ice and ibuprofen would get me through the night.”
“Well, you figured wrong, sis.” Growing frustrated with his daughter, like he almost always did when she was hurt and not following doctor’s orders. “When we get there, you are going to eat somethin’, we’re gonna find you a pain pill or somethin’ close, and you are going to bed.” He pulled the car into the T-M lot, and parked in an open space next to Gemma’s Caddy. Putting the car in park and turning off the ignition, he turned and looked at Jules and Tara, putting all the dad he could into his voice. “You hear me?” Satisfied when his daughter nodded. He then turned to Tara.
“And you.” He nearly smiled at the surprised, but almost pleased look on Tara’s face. He understood now why Jules had really wanted him at the hospital. If it had been solely for her, she would have asked for Eric, he didn’t hover as much. His daughter knew that what Tara needed was family, a parent to look after her. He gave the young doctor a warm smile. “You are going to eat somethin’, too. And you’re also goin’ to bed.” He looked at both girls. “You need rest, too.”
He hid a smile behind his hand when Tara went to argue and Jules just put a hand on Tara’s arm. “Don’t even bother. You can’t win.” His kid rolled her eyes affectionately. “He’s used the official ‘I am your father’ voice.” Doing a terrible imitation of Darth Vader. “You don’t get to argue with that voice.”
“Do as I say, you will.” He laughed at the shocked look on Tara’s face. “Four kids. One grandkid. I know who the fuck Yoda is.”
Tara blinked for a minute and then started to laugh. By the time she was done, she had to wipe her eyes. “Oh, I think I needed that.” Taking a deep breath and letting it out. “I think food and sleep sounds like a good idea.”
“Good.” He looked up to see Jax coming out to the car, followed closely by Trager.
His daughter opened the passenger door as Jax reached it. Jax took her hand and helped her out. “You look like you’re in some pain, babe.” Then the young man looked over to Tara. “You okay?”
Tara just nodded and then looked to Jules. “Physically I’m in way better shape than she is.” Tara looked to Tig. “Do you have any pain killers?” Nodding to Jules. “She needs one after she eats.”
“Yeah, we found some for Hayes.” Tig nodded. Then headed back into the clubhouse, he supposed to make sure a pill was waiting for Jules as soon as she walked in.
Jax looked at his daughter with a frown. “They didn’t give you meds?”
He sighed, catching Jax’s attention. “She didn’t want to wait for them to be filled. They’ll be ready to pick up at seven at the hospital pharmacy.”
With the look Jax gave his daughter, he gently took Tara’s arm. “I think maybe we should give these two a minute.” His voice low.
Tara nodded her agreement and the two of them slunk away to the clubhouse.
He’d let Jax handle bitching Jules out for being too stubborn for her own good. After all, he supposed, Jax should get used to it. The young man would be doing it for years to come.