Epilogue: The Crow Comes To Land
Tig was in the garage working on his old Dyna, which he kept proudly cleaned and in working condition even though he no longer rode it- though he still rode, even at his age. He still did everything he always had, the years seeming to have almost no effect on him. I was glad, because after twenty three years together, I would be lost without my husband. That was what I was thinking about as I sat at home working on a new piece for a client. In all the time that had passed, a lot had changed. SAMCRO may not have succeeded in staying completely legitimate but under Chibs' presidency, we'd all seen a much fairer club, one where there was less bloodshed, less trauma, though it wasn't totally devoid.
A couple of years ago, the Scotsman had stood down as President. He was still a member, though he sat at the other end of the table opposite Ratboy, who had earned his place there. Chibs felt SAMCRO needed new blood on the gavel and he was probably right, though Tig had maintained his Vice President's seat. Happy Lowman was as crazy and scary as ever, though he had chosen to return to Tacoma after his Mom died- he still visited often though, as he always had. T.O. still had a seat at the table, as did Montez and Quinn, though the latter was currently in county. And of course, there were new faces- Fingers, Stevie and Rico, with a couple of Prospects in Andy Sullivan and Jumping Jack Richardson. A few others had passed through the club in the meantime, but that was the shape of things now. Diosa was still miraculously going strong, as was the porn business. TM ticked over as ever.
And away from the club- well, as away as I could ever be- my tattoo business had thrived. When Happy took off, I'd hired a couple of other good artists and we drew in customers from all over San Joa these days. Somehow, after everything, I was considered a 'success'. I still saw a lot of Venus, CJ and Lyla, and I never would've been able to get through sometimes without them and Brooke- a contingency of strong women to match the men in our lives, I supposed.
Alex was a proud member of SAMCRO now, too. Tall, with chiselled features and wildly curling hair to match his bright blue eyes, he was the spitting image of his father just like when he was a child. His Tig-like appearance, though, was tempered by creativity he had apparently inherited from me, since he was also apprenticing with me on the side as a tattoo artist. Everywhere he went a line of girls followed, and though he didn't do badly in that department, he certainly didn't seem to make it his first priority. It was strange to see my son, all grown up. In my mind he was still my beautiful little boy- but I was careful to let him live his own life. One thing I stuck by to this day was a strong desire to be nothing like Gemma Teller.
And then there was Ruby. A nightmare teenager who was rapidly becoming an even worse adult. Yep, maybe she resembled me more, though with dark hair, she was every inch her father's daughter. And he doted on her, letting her get away with murder. Now, of course, she was eighteen and there was little I could do either.
On that quiet Sunday afternoon, I hadn't expected anything new. But, life is full of surprises and this one came in the form of the roaring of a Harley down our street, diminishing the sound of Ruby's loud music from upstairs. Maybe the sound of a bike approaching wasn't unusual, except that a glance out of the window told me that it wasn't one of the guys dropping by to see Tig for something, or Alex visiting from where he had his own apartment in town.
A knock at the door and I headed out there, opening it up. The rider removed his helmet and shook out a mane of golden blonde hair. And then my jaw dropped because I knew that face. For a second, it was like I was staring a young Jackson Teller in the face all over again, complete with cocky grin. But there were small differences, and of course, Jax was long dead now. No, I realised with shock- this was Abel.
"Hey Aunt Eliza. Hope you don't mind me dropping by," He grinned, swooping in to kiss me on the cheek. Although I'd never been strictly out of touch with Wendy and the boys, it'd been a few years since I actually saw them- Alex had still been at home then, and Ruby was just a teenybopper.
"Abel!" I greeted him, "No, no, come in," I let him into the house. "What brings you all this way?"
"This place is just like I remember it," Abel commented as he looked around my house. "Tig not around?"
"Tinkering in the garage," I answered vaguely, knowing he'd probably be out soon to see who had come by anyway. "You didn't answer my question." I knew there wasn't just no reason for Abel coming all this way. It wasn't exactly a casual distance from where he lived, and he hadn't called ahead or sent a message through Wendy. I gave him an x-ray vision look, which judging by his nervous habit of combing his fingers through his hair, went straight through him.
"I've been thinking a lot lately… about my childhood, you know. Family. Growin' up… Charming… My old man." Even though I'd had an inkling, I still felt a huge wave of deja vu hit me.
"Yeah?" I let him go on.
"Well… When I think back through my life, the shit that makes sense, the shit that doesn't. I uh… I always come back to Charming. Back to life back when my Dad and my M- uh, Tara- were alive… and the club. All my best memories are of you guys, and the club." I didn't say anything. Abel looked down at his feet for a second then looked back up. "Look, Wendy and Nero already told me that it ain't what my Dad wanted. He wanted me to choose a different life, a different path. And I've tried. But I can't be like Thomas. I can't go to college and live a happy-ever-after, it's not me. I've never fit anywhere except here. And I talk to Alex. I know he's a member now…"
"Abel," I interrupted. I'd always known this day would come. But it didn't erase my memory of one of the more pivotal moments in my life- the one where Jax had asked me to do him one last favour. "I know what you've come here to ask. And nobody is gonna stand in your way- least of all me. I just… you need to promise me something, okay? Something your Dad made me swear I would do if this day ever came..." But I didn't get a chance to go on. Because some stomping feet and a slamming door announced the dramatic arrival of Ruby into the living room.
"Mom, I'm gonna go-" And then she, for the first time in her entire life, stopped speaking. I turned and looked at her. Her eyes were locked on Abel, and a blush that was very familiar to me was rising up her cheeks. And then she had ducked behind her hair.
"No way is that Little Ruby Trager," Abel sounded amazed. I glanced at him. His blue eyes were glimmering in a look I also recognised.
"Ruby," I said, "You remember Abel?" She nodded and squeaked something unintelligible that might have been a greeting. I was almost laughing. But then, to make matters worse, Tig walked in at that exact moment. His still dark but mostly grey hair was as wild as ever, and those beautiful blue eyes had never changed. His eyebrows raised when he saw Abel.
"Holy shit. There's a face I couldn't forget," He said, going over to hug Abel. In the corner of my eye I saw Ruby scurry away, back upstairs, while Tig and Abel had a quick catch up. "The boys are gonna be dying to see you. I gotta make a call, get you over to the clubhouse..." Tig was already getting on the phone.
Abel turned back to me.
"So… that was really Ruby, huh? She's all grown up..."
"Abel," I admonished, "You were raised as cousins."
"Yeah, but not blood cousins," He winked. I sighed. I already knew I was powerless to stop it. I knew Ruby and more importantly, I was just as bad when it came to Tig.
"Just… cool it. She's still only eighteen," I warned him. He just nodded and gave me the 'okay' sign. I couldn't do much but roll my eyes. "Maybe you don't listen to me but you should be careful of Tig. He's still very capable of hurting you, especially for his little girl," I warned.
"I believe it," Abel told me hastily. But now we were alone again. "What was it you were saying? A promise you made to my Dad?"
"Wait here." I headed up the stairs, to our attic bedroom. At some time over the years we'd added a safe in the corner, though it was disguised with a nice cloth and acted as a little side table. I lifted the cloth, opened the safe, and amongst the money and a few valuables we kept inside, I removed the envelope- the thick one containing everything, the notes from Jax that he'd had printed, John Teller's manuscript, the remaining letters from Maureen Ashby. Everything Jax had made me promise I'd show his boys before I allowed them to make the decision to prospect for SAMCRO. Even being who he was, Abel would still have to prospect, just like Alex had. But I knew really that Jax had been right. Tig and I had never hid anything from Alex, as soon as he was mature enough to really understand, we'd told him the good and the bad. No parent could allow their child to sign up to life as an outlaw without the good conscience of knowing they were fully informed about how messy, dangerous and sometimes futile that life could be. It seems our predictions had been right about Thomas- Jax had gotten his wish with his youngest son. But Abel… He'd always been a chip off the old block.
I returned downstairs and handed the paperwork over to a quizzical looking Abel. I'd read over the papers myself many times over the years, as had Tig and Chibs, though the contents wasn't widely known to the rest of the club.
"Once you've read this all, and thought about it, if you still want to prospect," I told him, "Tig will be more than happy to speak up for you to Ratboy. But please, Abel. All of this… it's not just stories. It's life- potentially your life. And know that it really wasn't what your Dad wanted. He loved his club Abel, but he loved you more. Remember that."
Abel looked moved for a minute as he looked at me. I knew that he had really heard what I had to say. As I stood in my family home, the one Tig and I had built and maintained with love through thick and thin, amongst photos of my husband and children and the various pets we'd kept, face to face with the spitting image of my step-brother, I couldn't help but feel a certain sense of duty fulfilled. All those oaths and promises had been fulfilled. The club as in a good place, none of us were hurt, and there was a future in front of all of us in the shape of my son, in Abel, in my daughter Ruby and the other kids that had become legacy children just like Jax and Opie and I had been in the very beginning.
A couple of weeks later, after much thought, all of us would stand in the 'new' clubhouse as Abel Teller pulled on his brand new kutte with the prospect rocker emblazoned across the bottom, being warmly embraced by all, but no more so than the ones who had been there to see his father sit at the head of the table, or in Tig's case, even Jax's father before him.
Alex was more than overjoyed to have his childhood friend back. He stood side-by-side with his father, two more mirror images, down to the last inch in height. Ruby was on his other side, her cheeks permanently pink as ever since Abel was in the vicinity. Then everybody drank a shot in honour of their new prospect, made fun of one another, and all of a sudden it became a party, full of raucous noise, too much alcohol, and plenty of eager croweaters. Taking that as my cue to leave, I walked out with a smile on my face.
A/N: OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S OVER. 2 years, bazillions of words and 183 long chapters later, I'm so emotional to have finally completed this story. At times during the past couple of years, thinking of Eliza and Tig and the whole gang was all that got me through in my dark moments, and I spent many late nights working my ass off to get this out to you. I stalled near the end because I really never wanted to stop telling this story, but everything comes to a natural end eventually. You guys have all been amazingly supportive and kind this entire time, and continue to be, and I can't thank every single reader enough, and I love you for every review or message I've ever gotten and every friend I've ever made through this story. All I ever wanted to do was make Eliza feel like an organic part of the Sons of Anarchy world and somehow I think I did an okay job (Or at least I hope so!).
Thanks so much again. I hope this epilogue didn't let anybody down. And please, even if you're somehow reading this story ages after it was finished and published, your feedback will always be welcome for it. ALWAYS. And don't forget, or in case you didn't know, this isn't the last and only place you can hear from Eliza; I am still working on the prequel to this story, 'Taking Flight With The Crows' which you can find through my authors page. Who knows, maybe I'll revisit or even rewrite and improve this story one day. It will always hold a dear and important place in my heart. I also can't wait to write more new SOA fanfiction too, and especially continue to add to the frankly lacking Tig fanfiction contingent. Anyway, enough rambling!
Special thanks to CJ, Luka, KittenofAnarchy, SliverofMelody, cujoo, Emmettluver2010, Porzelinchen, otte1976 and anyone else who ever read this, ever, you guys are owed so much.