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The Beginning is the End is the Beginning
"Get out from under there, what if it drops on you?" I rolled my eyes as Juice attempted to get me to stop working. Ever since he discovered that he was going to be a father he was annoying me to no end.
"That's what the secure jack and my spotter are for. Jules! She on tight?" I yelled as I set down the screw driver I was using to peel off the grime.
"Tight as a mouse's ear honey!" He called back and I smiled.
"See, I'm safe." I continued my work before I felt hands on my ankles pulling me out from underneath, "Son of a bitch!"
I looked up to see Juice standing next to Clay. It apparently wasn't Juice who pulled me out from underneath the car. I held in my glare and counted to ten.
"Can I help you with something boss?" Juice held out his hand to help me up and I just stared at it before I used the car's door to haul myself up.
"No more going under the cars. I had a talk with your man and I agree there's too much risk. You can do tune ups and different things under the hood but if I see you under the car I will fire you. You hear me? We clear on this?" He took a drag of his cigar and it took everything in my power not to pout.
"Crystal, what is there on the work list that I can do?"I asked trying to rein in my sarcasm.
"Paperwork and some cleaning. Sack'll help you with the cleaning." He smiled and turned away and I couldn't keep in my temper anymore.
"Paperwork? Cleaning? Just because I have a parasitic lifeform growing inside me I'm the bitch now! Fuck this." I threw down my rag and stalked out to Stevie. I needed to clear my head and meet with one of Crowley's guys so this was perfect timing. As I got to my car Clay stood in front of me blocking my way.
"Was this your two week notice?" He asked as he leaned against Stevie and I stiffened.
"Want it to be?" I stood arms crossed over my chest when I felt Juice come behind me.
"Not sure, never had a problem with you obeying me before. You've always been a good little soldier." I took the compliment from the comment and ignored the condescension.
"You've never treated me as something other than one of the guys before." Damn it, that sounded pathetic.
"Things change and they've changed a lot in the last couple of months. No matter how much you wanna be one of the guys it just ain't possible anymore. You're pregnant with the dumbass' baby and an Old Lady; it puts you in a different light." He said so much while saying so little.
"I love this job Clay and I don't even have a bump yet. Hell I was working the salvage yard the last ti-" I stopped and looked into Clay's suddenly curious eyes.
"The last time what Ari?" He asked and I felt sick. I moved past him to a spot behind the garage and threw up. No one here knew, not even Juice and I wanted to keep it that way. I felt a warm hand on my neck and kept my eyes closed as Juice began to rub gently.
"Baby, we just want to take care of you." He was so sweet and so fucking dumb.
"I can take care of my fucking self. Just leave me alone, I'll be out of your hair soon enough." I stood up to see Juice's eyes wide and hurt. He must have thought I was leaving him or some other bullshit idea. "I'm going home for the day baby, I don't feel well."
The look of relief on his face would have been comical if I didn't feel so angry. I moved past him and went to the timecards, being sure to punch out before I went to my locker and put away my work shirt and threw on my coat, it was getting a little chilly and I wanted the extra cover. Crowley's minions didn't like the marks on my forearms.
"Ari, we still need to talk." Clay was still leaning against Stevie.
"I'll help Gemma in the office until we figure out a plan but right now I'm sick, a little angry and hurting. I need to head out for a while." He nodded but pulled me into a hug.
"I'm sorry things aren't working out the way you want Ari. We love you and want you safe. Go, do your business and we'll talk about everything tomorrow." He kissed the top of my head and it felt so paternal I almost cried.
"Yeah, see you tomorrow Clay." He moved away from Stevie and I got in, eager to get the hell out of there.
"What am I supposed to do with this, it's already got the sigil work done and it's practically thrumming with benign energy." I held the dagger out to the demon who shrugged.
"Crowley says there's some taint on the hilt that you have to take care of." I concentrated on the hilt and he was right, it was like a speck of dirt on a pure white handkerchief, barely noticeable but in a certain light it sticks out.
"Ok, I'll figure out a way to fix this then I'll bring it back tomorrow." The demon nodded and handed me the carrying case before he got in his car and drove off. I placed the ornate case into the passenger's seat and took off.
Later that afternoon I'd consulted my books and done purification rituals. I finally figured out a way to remove the mark and had just finished up when my phone rang. I looked at it and saw an unfamiliar number, eager to have something to fill my time now that I was done with the purification I answered.
"Ariel Singer." Most hunters were paranoid so it was a good idea to be upfront.
"Sam Winchester, good to hear your voice." Great, he was probably the last person I wanted to hear from that morning.
"What do you want Sam? I'm kinda busy here." I put the dagger back in the case and set it aside.
"I have a case and I want you to work on it with me. Don't worry; it's not that far from the Nexus so you can go back if demons are on your tail. "I guessed that he didn't know about my pact with the new King of Hell. I was off the demonic radar and could travel freely.
"What's the case?" If I could have an excuse to leave town for a few days it could give me the peace I needed.
"Four women, all between the ages of eighteen and thirty five killed in Folsom, California. All experienced hemorrhaging and evidence of vaginal penetration. One had evidence of abuse prior to death. All were also missing their hearts and livers, no evidence of surgical extraction or animal attack." There was something in his voice; he was keeping something from me.
"Are you already in Folsom?" I had gotten up and started packing. I'd find out what he was keeping from me on my own.
"Yeah, researching right now, so does that mean you're helping me?" He sounded smug and self assured not the Sam I knew.
"I'm packing right now; get me a room at the motel you're staying at." He laughed and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
"I have an extra bed, we might not even need it." That stopped me dead in my tracks. If I was alone with him for an extended period of time would I do that? Could I do that? Would I cheat on Juice just because I was mad and Sam was Sam?
"Just get me the room. I should be there in about three hours. I'll call if there's a change of plans." I didn't give him a chance to respond and hung up. I had just zipped my bag shut when my phone rang again. I said I was coming, damn impatient man.
"What?" I asked harshly, not even caring who was on the other end.
"Baby I need you to come to the clubhouse, something came up." I was suddenly on alert, his tone sounded like trouble. I'd be late meeting Sam that much I knew.
"On my way." I hung up and hoisted my duffel. Stevie was already filled with my weapons and amulets so I didn't have to worry about going in the crawlspace. I loaded the duffel in the trunk and got in, making it to the clubhouse in record time. When I got there I noticed there were fewer bikes in the rows, something really was up. I parked and made my way in the clubhouse. Juice was sitting at the bar talking quietly to Clay when I walked in, they both looked up and Juice waved me over.
"Hey baby." I nodded and stayed out of reach.
"What's going on?" Things felt off.
"We have to go on a run, going to be gone for a few days." I nodded; I'd be gone for a few days too. "Another charter needs our help."
"Where are you off to?" I wasn't going to fight him, he had to go and right now I needed a break.
"Folsom, the charter President just lost his daughter. We need to show support, do a little investigating." Clay said and I schooled my face. Fuck, that's why Sam needed me; the crow on my neck was as good as a backstage pass in the SoA world.
"What do you need me to do?" I hoped it wasn't take care of the garage because that wasn't happening, as soon as this conversation was over I was out.
"Nothin' honey, Jules and Emmett are gonna run the garage for a few days. I just need you to stay out and do your docs. Can you stay out of the way?" Oh yeah, I was out of the way.
"Done, I'm going out of town anyway, got a call about an emergency." I looked at Juice and he knew I meant a hunt.
"Nope, you're staying here. A good Old Lady does as she's told." Juice stood up and tried to intimidate me, it wasn't going to work.
"Guess I'm a bad Old Lady. My Dad needs me, he threw out his back doing something stupid and I volunteered to help. Dad has no one else." I made it sound pitiable and Clay pulled Juice aside but I could still hear some of the conversation.
"No!" Juice shouted and Clay shook his head.
"He's got no one else and as long as she heads through club territory it'll be fine. Unless there's something you're not telling me that could put her in danger." Good, Clay understood.
"No, nothing." His voice sounded defeated. Clay clapped him on the shoulder and they turned back to me.
"Keep us informed about where you are and check in with the charters as you go through." I nodded and he squeezed my shoulder. He gave a look to Juice and walked outside while Juice looked at me.
"Where are you really off to? Who are you hunting with?" He whispered as he got off the stool and led me to the storage room.
"You'll learn soon enough. I'm on a tight schedule so I need to go."I was still angry with him and too stubborn to give him an inch.
"Sam, you're hunting with Sam." Oh the thought pissed him off. "If you fuck him, he's dead. For real this time."
"I am hunting with Sam but nothing's going to happen, he's probably the only person I dislike more than you right now." I folded my arms over my chest and he pulled me into a hug.
"I'm sorry baby, I'm just scared that you'll die on me. Every woman I love seems to die on me." I uncrossed my arms and wrapped them around his waist.
"You tell me about this anxiety when I get back and I'll try to explain why I'm such a stubborn bitch. I love you." I put my face up and he kissed me slowly and with purpose.
"You may be a bitch but you're my bitch. If it gets too hot get out of there. Make Sam clean up the mess. Tell everyone I let you go ok? I don't want the guys thinking I'm a pussy." The request made me giggle.
"Baby they already think you're a pussy but I promise to sit at Gemma's feet for Old Lady 101 when I get back. You deserve better than what I'm doing and I wanna deserve you." He kissed me again.
"I don't want that and you'd go crazy just washing my clothes, making my food and sucking my dick. I knew what I was getting into when I started this with you, well maybe not all of it but I'm learning. Just promise me that you'll take care of yourself and our baby. I don't wanna lose either of you." He hugged me again but I moved away.
"I want this baby just as much as you do and I know my body's limits. I give you my word that I won't go on the actual hunt, I'll leave any killing to Sam. I need to do this though baby, I need to get away." I let go and moved away while I grabbed his hand. "I love you but I need to go."
"Call me when you get wherever you're going. I love you." He kissed me and I relished it.
"Walk me to my car?" Now that I wasn't mad at him I wanted to spend all the time with him I could. He nodded and placed his hand to the small of my back as he led me through the clubhouse. I waved to the other Old Ladies and the guys who were seated around the clubhouse before I went through the door with Juice. I was glad I parked close to the entrance.
"Juice we gotta go!" Clay yelled as soon as he saw Juice.
"Comin!" Juice yelled back before he turned to me and gave me a kiss so deep, so intense that I felt my toes curl. "Remember that when you're with Sam. Love you baby."
"Love you." I whispered and watched him walk to his bike. I continued to watch as he slung his leg over and put his helmet on his head. I loved that man. He and Clay took off followed by the van and I got in Stevie. I had a lot of thinking to do in the three hours it would take me to get to Folsom.
I pulled into the parking lot at "Margie's Retreat", the motel Sam had told me about and sighed. This was one thing I didn't miss about hunting, the gross, cheap "no-tell motels" with the thread bare sheets and uncomfortable mattresses. I saw the black sportscar and parked next to it. Not the least bit surprised to see Sam get out of the room it was parked in front of and give me a smile.
"Took you long enough." He said as I got out of Stevie and retrieved my duffle from the trunk.
"Get me a room?" I asked as I made an honest effort not to look at his stupidly handsome face and the muscles that were straining the t-shirt he wore.
"It's better to have one room. Less conspicuous that way. You know that. Now come inside we have to talk." Damn him for being logical. What I was feeling this moment was anything but logical. I wanted him to pull me in his arms like he used to. I wanted to climb him like a tree. Damn hormones and damn Sam I had to keep reminding myself that he abandoned me twice. He fucked a demon, he pushed me away so many times that I never should have gone back but I always did. Thinking like that wasn't working so I took out my cell and called the one person that would get my mind off this. I dumped my duffle on the bed and waited for him to answer.
"Hey baby, you safe?" Juice asked and I smiled. He never bailed; he never did anything but love me.
"Safe and in one piece. I'm meeting up with Sam and we're going over the case. How's the Charter Pres?" Anything I could find out from him would help with the investigation.
"Devastated, found out his daughter was one of four killed the same way. This is bad baby, really bad, we're on lockdown here. No one in or out unless they're patched. The only exceptions are Old Ladies, kids and Prospects. I'm so fucking glad you aren't here baby." Well that feeling would soon be shot to hell. The motel wasn't far from the clubhouse and Stevie always drew attention.
"Any particular reason?" He had the Sam tone Sam did earlier, he was hiding something.
"All the women were pregnant baby." Just like that, the real reason I was here popped into place. I was seeing red. I glanced back and saw Sam giving me a blank look, he knew I knew and didn't care.
"I have to go baby. I'll call you back." I hung up and rounded on Sam, getting a right hook in before he grabbed my arms and pinned me to his chest.
"Hold up, yes all the victims are pregnant but he didn't tell you the most interesting piece of the puzzle, the reason we're here." He wanted me to ask so I did.
"What piece?" I was breathing heavily and my hand hurt. I forgot every part of Sam was hard especially that handsome face.
"All of the fetuses were gone, taken out and there was no evidence of trauma on the umbilical cord." Suddenly all the fight left me and I sagged in his arms.
"Aswang." I knew what we were dealing with and it would be a bitch to find the monster.
"Aswang." He agreed, "I needed a pregnant woman to draw it out and thought it would be better to have a pregnant woman who knows how to destroy these things on my team. Don't think of yourself as bait think of yourself as a hunter with an advantage to attracting the monster."
"I still wanna bash your face in. Where do we start?" He let me go and walked over to the table where his laptop was set up, he gestured to the seat across from him and I sat down
"Talk to the families. One is super religious we could do the priest and nun thing." I nodded and he continued, "For two we could use FBI aliases it's the last victim that's the difficult one, daughter of the President of the Sons of Anarchy Folsom Charter. They wouldn't even open the door for me."
"Still won't, they're on lockdown. The only people they'll let in their clubhouse will be Old Ladies and the members of other charters. Most of SAMCRO's here. As soon as it's safe to let Juice know I'm here I'll go, do the Old Lady thing. People will talk to me when they see the crow. I thought that was the reason you wanted me here." I raised my eyebrows and saw him shrug.
"I actually forgot about that. I knew your guy was one of them but I didn't put two and two together." He shrugged again and typed some things in his laptop. There must have been something wrong with the computer because I suddenly heard a ticking noise, then realization dawned and I sat up straight.
"Sam?" I grabbed the silver knife from my boot top and held it in a loose grip while Sam looked at me expectantly. "I've been marked."