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A Fighting Chance
The world around me was slowly coming back into focus. I could tell from the smell and the moisture in the air that I was somewhere underground. I tried to move from my position but I discovered that my hands were tied behind my back and my legs were tied at the ankles…shit. I closed my eyes and did an injury inventory, other than the fact that I was groggy and the back of my neck ached I was whole. I ran a mental hand over my stomach and was able to confirm that there was still a baby. I breathed a sigh of relief before I could stop myself. This brought a chuckle from somewhere in the shadows.
"Don't be so relief yet. I been watching you Ariel Singer, you make it hard to hunt." I looked over and saw "Pai" coming out of the shadows with a small furry thing with leathery wings and a large beak on its shoulder. It made a little "tick" noise as she scratched under what looked to be a chin.
"Why didn't you just kill me?" It was a fairly standard question. Why did these things always like to play with their food?
"Where's the fun in that? You not like the others, you strong, a huntress. You deserve dignity when you die, face it head on." I glared and it continued. "A lot of people looking for you, had to bring you to my lair. No use trying to get out, you be old and wrinkly and your baby a grown man by the time you get out."
My eyes went wide and she chuckled again.
"Oh yes, I know what you having. Little boy already growing strong, good blood in him. Can't wait to taste." It licked its lips and I started to panic. I pulled at my ropes and tried to kick out of my leg bindings while she stood and watched. The look in her eyes was eerily calm, like Sam's…
"Why me? There are many more pregnant women around here." I hated the edge of desperation that had come to my voice but if I could keep it talking maybe I could get out of here alive.
"They no fun, too easy, no chase, no challenge. You a hunter, trained to kill, fight. That why I so disappointed. You came so easily. I smell you when you perch on dumpster, just waited for you to lose patience. Tik bit you when you watched me in window." I glared at the little thing on her shoulder. The bite still hurt like a son of a bitch. "I think I leave you to think about everything you do. I'll be at work."
It walked back into the shadows and I groaned. If it was going to work that meant that I'd been here all night and Juice had to be a wreck. I needed to find a way out. I started feeling around with my hands and didn't find anything sharp on the ground. I could feel my knife biting into my ankle and cursed the aswang, it did that on purposed. As I tried to search the darkness for something, anything to get me out of the scrape I was in I rubbed my back against the wall. It had a rough, sandpaper quality. I grinned as I started to rub the rope against it. It would probably take me about an hour and rub my hands raw but I could get free. I started the process and attempted to find a position that didn't feel like my arms and legs were on fire. I decided that I could rub the soreness out later, getting free was the better idea. I lay on my side and rubbed my arms against the wall. I was right, this hurt a hell of a lot. I could feel blood already coming out of my hands but that was fine, as long as I didn't bleed out that's what mattered. What felt like hours later I finally felt the rope slack a bit. Giving one last grunt of effort and taking the last bit of strength in my arms I broke the rope apart. I felt tears in my eyes as I rolled onto my stomach and let my arms fall. I was getting rusty, these injuries were minor in the context of all the other injuries I sustained over the years but I was hurting.
I lay there for about twenty minutes as I felt the pain ebb out of my arms and my hands start to throb. Once I could move them I managed to push myself up and prop myself against the wall. Once I was securely in place I looked at my hands and took a deep breath. They were rubbed raw, but still functional. As soon as I got out of here I'd need a doctor to remove all the grit and sand from the wounds. With a shake to the head I found the knot on the rope binding my legs and worked it. It came out with surprising ease and proved that the aswang was confident that I couldn't escape. Once I got my legs free I pumped them a few times to get the circulation back before I took the knife out of my boot. It was still coated in ginger and salt and I took comfort in its light, fluid silver. Once I felt the pain leaving my muscles I used the wall for leverage and stood taking one careful step, followed by another until I'd walked the width of the tunnel I was in. I took a deep breath before I closed my eyes and sniffed the air of the tunnel. One side was dank and had a mildew-like smell, the other side smelled clean, light but there was a moisture there. I knew that was the way to go. My guess was that the one side led down into the earth while the other probably had an exit by the creek. Thank god for Uncle John's insane survival training. If it weren't for him I never would have learned that trick.
I started walking toward the smells when I came along a fork in the tunnel. This was why it said I'd never get out. I'd bet money that every tunnel forked. I clutched the knife and a breeze that didn't feel natural but offered me hope came from the right tunnel so I took it and knew I was heading the right way. At each fork the same thing happened and eventually I heard the sound of water running. I was almost free!
Suddenly I heard a faint ticking noise and cursed. Of course it would have its little minion guarding the place. I held my knife and said a prayer but the ticking continued. I held the knife tighter and prepared for a battle when I heard the most welcome sound in the world.
"Sam! The entrance is here in this cavern!" As soon as I heard Juice's voice I had tears in my eyes. I had never been so grateful to hear a voice in my life. I followed the sound of the water and saw sunlight pouring down, it was the cavern. I also noticed a leather winged demon creature perched above the sunlight. A rope was thrown down and before I could stop them I saw Juice's boots coming down the rope. I stayed off to the side and watched as Juice descended followed by Sam and the Tik Tik started to get ready for the attack.
Once the guys were down an aggressive ticking started and Sam took out a long pin while Juice took out this mean looking knife. As they prepared for the attack I saw the TikTik swoop and threw my knife in a Hail Mary play. The knife was true and the TikTik fell at Sam's feet incapacitated by the ginger and salt.
"What the fuck?" Juice said before he looked over and I staggered from the shadows. I didn't go far before he had me in his arms. "You stubborn, headstrong bitch. I was so fucking scared, so fucking scared."
He kissed me and I could feel the tears from his eyes hit my face. I loved him so much and he was one of the reasons I didn't, couldn't give up. He kept kissing me, on the lips, on the cheeks, on the eyes, pretty much anywhere he could before Sam coughed and Juice released me before he walked with me to Sam.
"That's the thing that's been causing this?" Juice asked as he wound an arm around me.
"No, this is its familiar the TikTik. You wanna do the honors?" Sam asked and I nodded as he handed me the long pin and held the creature, bellyside up. I looked at Juice before I knelt down with Sam and said a prayer and plunged the pin into its heart. It gave a sharp shriek before it started to liquefy and Juice helped me rise to my feet and move away from the growing puddle. Once it was liquefied I looked between Sam and Juice before I threw my arms around Juice, not even caring that my shoulders were two large balls of pain. Juice held tight before I let go.
"How?" I didn't even continue before Juice started.
"Sam told me how these things like to lair-up underground so I hacked the government's geological database and found this cave system under Folsom with an entrance near the creek. I showed it to Sam and he agreed it was the perfect place for an aswang. I knew you were alive, my gut told me you were." He kissed me again and Sam spoke.
"Besides Sephariel and Castiel probably would have come down if anything had happened to you. I think Sephariel was here anyway, you have her calling card on your shoulder." He pointed to my shoulder and I looked and saw a tiny grey moth and smiled. Sephariel was leading me out of the cavern with her animal and I didn't even realize it.
"Thank god…where are the others?" I asked and Juice looked sheepish while Sam shrugged.
"There was a funeral today, they had to be there. Bobby's at the clubhouse, he was too emotional and, for the good of the hunt, we decided it was best that he stay there." I nodded before I shook my head.
"Good, they're sticking to protocol. We'll need them later though." Juice and Sam nodded while I looked at the rope. "There's no way in hell I can climb out of here. My shoulders are jacked."
"Don't worry babe. Sam will climb up first then I'll tie the rope under your shoulders and he'll tug you up. Then he'll send the rope back down and I'll climb." I nodded, it was a good plan.
Soon enough Sam climbed the rope and true to the plan Juice secured it under my shoulders. I was hauled up and once I was outside on the grass I took in huge gulps of air. The sun had never felt so good. Juice hauled himself up a few minutes later and carried me to where they had the TM van parked. He settled with me in the back while Sam drove.
"Is the?" He asked, unsure how to phrase it, and I just nodded. He kissed me and held me as we continued to the clubhouse. We pulled into the lot and there was a huge crowd there, no doubt having a post funereal meal.
Once we stopped the doors were violently opened and I saw Gemma with a look of relief on her face with my Dad and Clay behind her. I gave a small wave and Juice helped me sit up before the members of SAMCRO formed a protective cluster around me and walked me into the clubhouse. Once inside I was taken to chapel and sat down next to the head of the table with Juice and my Dad at my back.
"Did you kill it?" I looked up and saw Pedro practically salivating. I felt bad for what I'd have to tell him.
"No." There was disappointment in the air but I held up a hand and this brought a tiny gasp from Gemma who whispered something to Jax who nodded and in turn whispered something to Sack who left the chapel. "I need your help to do it, everyone's help."
He and everyone else in the room nodded before I continued.
"I was stupid and reckless and made this personal. I could have been killed and my baby killed. I also put this club and people I love at risk and that's inexcusable but I lucked out by having the bravest, smartest and most loyal Old Man I could ever hope for. Without him you would probably be fishing my body out of the creek. Oh yeah, Sam helped too." I added and it made Gemma smirk. "Now I need your help if we're going to destroy this thing once and for all."
"What do you need us to do?" Jax asked before Pedro could and I smiled.
"First I need to know if the butcher in town is a friend to the club." I heard my Dad curse and saw a look of pure murder in Pedro's eyes. "He's not the aswang, his assistant is and we need it cornered."
"Yeah, he's a friend to the club. Twenty years ago we got him his business he owes us everything." I nodded this was good.
"That's great news. Have him close up shop early today but make sure he doesn't tell the assistant. Tell him that she hurt the club and that the retribution won't fall on him. Remember no body, no crime and once it's taken care of there won't be a body." They nodded.
"What else do we need to do?" Pedro asked and I ticked off the list in my head.
"Everyone needs to be armed with the pouches of ginger and salt, rifles with salt rounds, long pins and knives. It would also be good to have pieces of raw ginger sliced and strung from your neck." I nodded to myself before I continued, "And if you can all have ginger dusted dildos it would be fantastic."
I sat on the back of Juice's bike with my sawed off, filled with salt rounds, in a bag slung across my back with a machete and pins lining the side. I also had a large, angry looking dildo in the bag and had to chuckle at the thought that every man included in this hunt had a fake phallus of some kind. When Pedro said he'd do anything to take out his daughter's killer he meant it. The procession stopped down the street in front of the funeral home as arranged and I got off the back. It was starting to get cold and I was pissed that the aswang had my favorite jacket. It had been a gift from Dean and had some emotional significance. Some went into the funeral home to keep watch from the roof while Juice, myself, Pedro, Jax and Tig took the front of the shop. Dad, Sack, Hap and Sam took the back with other members of SAMFOL blocking in the sides and keeping watch on other buildings nearby. I grabbed Juice's hand and he gave it a quick squeeze before we made our way into the shop. I took a deep breath when I saw it slicing some beef. It looked up with that calm expression and nodded.
"I knew you escaped, felt little Tik die. That's so naughty, it take years to train them right." I reached in my bag and took out the dildo, holding it behind my back while Juice did the same. Jax looked reluctant but he did what was needed. Tig, being the contradictory ass that he was took out a knife but Pedro held his dildo defiantly behind his back, he knew the plan and was sticking with it.
"Well "little Tik" was just the beginning." I said as I tightened my grip on the phallus.
"You think you can kill me? Catch me first." It made a dash and we followed, almost forgetting what was in our hands. There were some shouts and we watched as the alley group herded it into the prep room with dildos held out. If I wouldn't have been so intent on the hunt I would have laughed out loud at the image of Hap with a plastic pink penis in his hand and a look of murderous joy on his face. The aswang turned, saw that we held the same objects but lunged at Tig who was much better at this than I expected. He lifted his hand and blew something in its face. From the shriek I realized that it was the ginger and salt. It clutched at its face while Sam stabbed it in the shoulder and Jax stepped forward and stabbed it in the side with his K-Bar. It shrieked but lost some of its fight and Happy joined Sam as they threw it on the butcher's block. Once it was situated they nodded and I took out the longest, most brutal looking pin and handed it to Pedro who looked shocked.
"For Maria." I said softly and he nodded before he walked over to the table. The aswang freaked out and tried to transform but Pedro was focused on the task at hand. He plunged the needle into the thing's heart and it shrieked loud enough that we had to cover our ears but he kept his hand on the needle and the aswang started to liquefy. Soon enough there was nothing but a puddle of sludge and clothes on the block while Pedro still held the pin. I walked up to him and gently placed a hand on his arm.
"It's over." I whispered as he shook his head.
"Maria's still gone." He said tearfully and I removed his hand from the sludge and took it as I guided him to the front of the shop and had him sit down in the customer's chair.
"Yes she is but it wasn't in vain. Thanks to you no one else will ever be hurt by this thing again. Thanks to you my baby is safe." He looked up and the strength was back.
"Thank you." With those words he stood up and walked out, still clutching the pin. As I watched him leave the others started filing out of the back and Juice rubbed my back.
"Do we need to do anything else?" Jax asked as Sam and Happy shook their heads, they knew the score.
"The prospects should clean up, that's one hell of a mess." Jax and Juice grinned while everyone burst out laughing, relieved that everything worked out for once.
"When are you leaving?" I asked Sam as he helped me load up Stevie for the trip back tomorrow. I was grateful to be going back to the world of Old Lady-dom and the occasional quick hunt.
"Tomorrow morning. Brandy said that she had three friends who wanted to show me a good time. How could I pass that up." How, indeed?
"Thank you for working with Juice on this. I know he isn't easy to work with when he's all overprotective." I put in the last gun before I secured the false bottom and closed it up.
"Actually he's got good instincts, he should be a hunter full time. When you disappeared he knew exactly what you'd done and became super-hunter trying to find you. I doubt Ash could hack with as much skill as he did as he tried to figure out how to find you. You have a good man." He leaned on the trunk and I did the same, struck by how familiar and alien this was all at once. I smiled at his last comment and chuckled when I saw one of the Folsom croweaters standing with a small group of friends looking at Sam like he was a Porterhouse and they were starving.
"Go ahead stud. I'll be fine." He nodded and went to the girls who crowded around him and went into the clubhouse. I sighed and sat on the trunk staring out into the street. Juice was still kind of pissed off at me for being reckless but I knew it would pass, especially when I finally got around to telling him he was going to have a son. That brought a grin to my face and I finally noticed someone leaning next to me.
"What's the smile for? Finally realizing you're a hero." I looked over and saw Jax with a cigarette in his mouth taking a puff.
"I'm not a hero; I'm just a pain in the ass that's good at what I do." He laughed before he looked at me with eyes that sparkled.
"You're a hero; you hunt these evil things and kill them without any thought or concern for yourself. You're fucking unbelievable. I'm kinda jealous that Juice got to you first." He gave me a grin and I shook my head.
"It's not as cut and dried as all that Jax. If you're a hunter you don't have a family, a hometown. Sam has been on the road since he was six months old, his brother Dean was four. No Christmas trees or Easter baskets. Hell, no birthday parties even. They never attended any school for longer than a month. Now me, "I took a deep breath before I continued, "Like them I didn't have a mother. The difference is that mine was a hunter who didn't want a kid dragging her down so she left me in a hospital and took off two days after I was born. Luckily my Dad is a responsible and loving man who dropped everything the moment he knew I existed. I was bounced around from home to home while he hunted until I could fend for myself then I became his hunting companion. This life isn't something I chose but it's what and who I am. Could you do it Jax? Could you leave Abel with Gemma and go around the country, knowing that you might never see them again? Could you give up SAMCRO? Could you give up the Doc?"
He stared thoughtfully at the ground before he looked at me again, his face pensive.
"No, I couldn't do that to Abel, to Tara, the club. Shit, it seems so…" He ran a hand through his hair.
"Romantic?" He nodded, understanding. "It is we're the modern day cowboys. Riding around righting wrongs and handling shit, but there's a cost and often that cost is happiness. Wanna know somethin' Jax?"
He nodded and took another cigarette out of his pack and lit up before he met my eyes again.
"I wasn't happy until I set foot in Charming. I was that special kind of miserable that tricks you into thinking everything's ok, then when you see things that are actually good it hurts that much more. You guys gave me a home, a family, a place to call mine. That's more important than being a modern cowboy. Speaking of family, I think we're being paged." I nodded over to where Gemma and Juice were giving us expectant looks and I climbed off the trunk. Before I could move past him he pulled me into a hug and I responded by hugging him just as tight. He had become a big brother somewhere along the line and I savored it.
"Can I help from time to time?" He gave me his crooked grin and I nodded.
"Sure, I have plenty of brains, sometimes I need the brawn." He laughed and put me in a headlock before he let me go and I walked to Juice and plastered myself to his side. Gemma kissed Jax's cheek before she gave me a smile and motioned to someone off to the side. Dad came up and joined us. Now was the time to share my news.
"I have something to tell you all." Juice looked concerned until he saw the grin on my face and the others nodded. "We're having a boy!"
Gemma grinned and pulled me into a hug while Juice just stared. Suddenly a grin split his face and he pulled me back from Gemma and crushed me in a hug before he fused his mouth with mine. I didn't have to ask if he was happy.
"Well I'll be…a grandson…" Dad said before he pulled me from Juice and kissed my forehead.
Things were sure to be rough in the future, but for now I was happier than I'd ever been in my life. Juice took my hand and led me into the clubhouse. He had a special celebration in mind and I couldn't be happier about it.
Author's Note: There we are, the end of Unearthed. A special thank you to all my readers and those that reviewed. I've enjoyed blending Supernatural and SoA and will continue to do so with the next installment. I promise there will be some Dean and maybe an appearance by Grandpa Winchester. Please let me know what you thought of Unearthed and again thank you.