So this is a prequel to 'To Fly Where The Crows Fly', set during Eliza's first early days after arriving in Charming. I'm still working on TFWTCF currently, but this is kind of a breather for me and a chance to refresh my palate. I hope you like it :)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Sons Of Anarchy.
Chapter One: Patience
I been walking the streets at night
Just trying to get it right
Hard to see with so many around
You know I don't like being stuck in the crowd
~ Patience – Guns N Roses ~
"How did you sleep, honey?" It was my first morning waking up officially as a citizen of Charming. Just the night before my step-brother, Jackson, and his brothers from the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Bobby and Chibs, had collected me from the miserable little city I grew up in and delivered me to Charming to live with my father Clay. The question came from my step-mother, Gemma, who'd always been a better mother to me than my own.
"Okay," I answered a little shyly. Gemma placed a mug of coffee down in front of me.
"Good. You hungry?" I shook my head. Gemma watched me as I sipped the hot coffee. I knew what she was doing- she was taking me in, assessing my appearance. She'd been doing it since I was a little girl. "You're too thin," She decided finally, "And you could do with a haircut before you start school." My thick red locks were pretty out of control- hung down to my waist now.
"When do I go to school?" I questioned. Dad had mentioned it on the phone before but I wasn't sure.
"Next week. We thought you'd need time to settle in but Charming High are holding your place for you." I nodded. I'd been an avid attendee of high school back home, but not because I exactly loved classes- I just liked not being at home with my mother and her motley crew of assorted crackheads and petty criminals. I wasn't sure how I'd fare in school here, but at least I knew I'd been enrolled in some art classes. Art was the only thing I loved. When I didn't say anything out loud, Gemma leaned across the dining table to me.
"Eliza, I am real sorry about your mother. I know I didn't see eye to eye with her, and I know that you didn't either- but still." I swallowed. That was basically exactly how I felt. When I found her body, I wasn't surprised she was dead- even in the couple of weeks since it'd happened, I'd come round to the idea that it might even be for the best for all of us. But I was still sad.
"Thanks," I said.
"Your Dad and I are really glad you're here with us now. So is Jax- so are the whole club." I wasn't sure about that. When I was younger, I knew the club better. I knew Piney, and of course Jax and Opie, his best friend. I'd known Otto, too, and his wife Luann, but Otto was in jail now. I vaguely remembered John, too, Jax's father, but he was dead now. Last night when I'd been introduced to them all, there were new faces- people who'd patched in since I'd last visited Charming. And I remembered the curly haired man in the parking lot as Jax took me back here- Tig? I'd heard his name before from Dad but I'd somehow never actually met him. Those blue eyes had gone right through me. I wasn't so sure they'd all be happy to have me here. I didn't know what to think.
"What if I don't fit in?" It was a childish question. I had gotten hopeful on the ride here, on the back of Jax's bike, that maybe I could find a life here that I didn't hate, like the one I'd hated before. But in the cold light of day and off the road it all seemed strangely impossible. I felt like a tiny drop in a massive ocean.
"Sweetie, you'll fit in. You'll find your place here. It's in your blood- we're your family." Gemma seemed so confident and self-assured. I couldn't imagine ever feeling like that, not the motherless sixteen year old girl in a town I hardly knew.
"Will you help me?" I felt even more childish then, but Gemma didn't seem to look down on me for it.
"I'll show you everything you need to know. Just follow my lead. I promise- you'll feel like you've been here forever in no time."
Gemma had left me to my own devices during the afternoon as she had errands to run, but in the late afternoon I heard the rumble of a bike outside the house and went out and opened the door. Opie was the one who'd pulled up, and I broke out into a grin when I saw him. He hugged me once he'd reached the door, his lanky frame leaning down to embrace me. I hadn't seen him yesterday.
"Good to see you're well," He said, by way of greeting, "Clay sent me to come get you." I tried to be understanding that Clay, SAMCROs President, didn't come and collect me himself. I'd only seen him briefly last night and this morning.
"Where are we going?" I asked, eager to get out of the house.
"Clubhouse. There's a little shindig going on to welcome you." My jaw dropped at this. I hadn't been expecting that.
"Shit. I'm not sure I'm ready for that," I openly admitted. I'd never been to a SAMCRO party, being underage, but I knew they could get wild. Nothing was really hidden from me.
"Gemma said you're finding it awkward, sitting one on one. A busy room of occupied people might be better for you to get your head round." I hadn't thought of it that way, but I guessed he was right- well, Gemma was. Of course Gemma was right. She'd never been wrong about anything.
"Okay," I agreed. I grabbed a jacket and my helmet- Dad had always kept one for me. It beat sitting around here, moping and feeling like an intruder in someone else's house.
"You alright on the bike?" Opie questioned as I closed the door behind me and followed him outside. I rolled my eyes.
"I've been on and off the back of bikes all my life," I reminded him.
"Not with me." I laughed. I had to admit, he was right about that one.
"Okay. I'm gonna be fine, Ope. Let's just do this." It was now or never.
The ride over to TM and the clubhouse was short. The sun was just setting as we pulled in and my Dad was waiting for us. Opie backed his bike into the line of them and cut the engine, and Clay was already beside me, helping me off. He hugged me immediately.
"Sorry for springing this on you," He stated, "I haven't seen you enough since you got here, I know." I looked up at my Dad. He was by no means a perfect parent but I'd never doubted that he loved me. I'd felt distinctly unloved elsewhere, so it was easy to forgive him when he admitted that.
"Do I look okay?" I hadn't changed, but I'd been wearing a pair of black skinny jeans and a plaid shirt which hung off the figure that Gemma had rightfully pointed out was too thin. I'd always been too thin.
"You look beautiful. Now, I ordered you pizza. You can go sit in the kitchen in the clubhouse and eat. If you do a good job, I'll even turn a blind eye to a drink or two later- maybe," He added sternly. I laughed and linked my arm through his.
"Are you coming with me, Pop?" I questioned. He chuckled.
"Of course." There were a few people in the clubhouse, but not too many wearing kuttes yet. Mainly women- I knew they were probably a mix of old ladies and croweaters- and they were getting the place ready. I sat down and tucked into the pizza. Clay helped himself to a slice, but I was eating like I'd never eaten in my life. In fact, I had- Gemma had forced me to eat earlier on, regardless. Clay watched me for a while. Eventually, when I was slowing down on eating, he spoke: "How are you doing, Eliza?" I might get sick of that question. In fact, I was already beginning too. How did anybody think I was doing? I made a decision not to be a bratty teenager, though, and answered:
"Okay, you know. Coping." It wasn't a lie. Everybody had been waiting for me to go to pieces- from the cops who'd come when I found Mom's body to the counsellors at my old high school. But I hadn't.
"I'm proud of you," Clay told me out of nowhere. I looked up at him, surprised. "What? I'm your Dad. I'm meant to say shit like that. But I really mean it, Ellie. You're doing so well." I winced at the childhood nickname. I'd stopped people calling me Ellie back when I was ten. It reminded me too strongly of my mother, whose name was Ellen. I didn't want to be compared to her. Clay still slipped up every now and then, though.
"Don't speak too soon, Dad," I said weakly, trying to make a joke of it. I was done with the pizza.
"I believe in you. You're my daughter- you're made of strong stuff." Nobody was stronger than Clay Morrow, so I just nodded and agreed. Besides, even if I didn't always feel it lately, it was probably true.
A/N: So Eliza is a little shaky right now and not prepared for the world of the MC. Reviews are welcome!