A/N: So here is the alternate ending/epilogue for Inferno. This would take place after chapter 17. If you haven't read Inferno this will make no sense at all. Let me know what you guys think of this ending, I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.
Playlist: Forever Young – Audra Mae
Lax leaned down just in time to catch the small boy heading for him at full speed. He grabbed him snuggly under the arms and twirled him around through the air, laughing when the small boy giggled hysterically. He rotated the child until he was hanging upside down and walked over to his smiling wife who was watching the pair with a wide smile.
She shook her head fondly at the pair, "If you keep spinning him like that you're going to make him sick. You have to be careful."
Lax set down the squirming now red faced five year old and watched as he ran over and dropped down to play with his three year old brother on the other side of the yard. "Tish you have to relax, he's fine."
She placed her hands on her hips and tilted her head. "I know, I know. I just worry, comes with being a mom I guess."
He smiled and grabbed her around the waist before leaning down and placing a soft kiss on her lips, "It's good you worry, means you're a good mom." He glanced over at the playing boys and shouted at them. "Stone, be nice to JJ. Stop pushing him."
The older boy rolled his eyes before turning back to his brother, "Whatever you say dad."
Tish shook her head and smiled, "See that attitude? Just like his daddy."
Lax released a bark of laughter, "God I know, we don't stand a chance." He checked his watch before looking back at his wife, "What time are your parents coming over?"
Tish removed herself from his grasp and walked over to the table to grab her glass of iced tea that she had set down earlier, "Soon."
Lax nodded at her answer. When he and Tish had gotten together Brian seemed to be anything but thrilled, not that he could blame him he was five years older than Tish and a drug dealer. It had taken time and a lot of patience but eventually Brian accepted that he was a part of Tish's life now and even gave his blessing when Lax told him he was going to propose to Tish. Knowing he had to learn to make an honest living now that people depended on him he had stopped dealing before they got married. The wedding had been small and simple and Tish had looked beyond beautiful.
She smiled softly when Lax just stared at her a moment with a small smile, "What?"
He shook his head, "Nothing, you're just beautiful. I love you." Even after having two boys she still looked stunning, the only difference in her body was her slightly curvier figure, which only added to her allure.
"I love you too."
Lax turned away from her and sat down in a chair and watched Tish walk over to play with the busy boys. His chest tightened as guilt weighed heavily on his heart. No matter how much time passed he still felt like this wasn't his life, this shouldn't be his.
Priestly. God did he miss his best friend, his brother. He had only been gone three months when they found out he was gone forever. Lax had tried valiantly to find him using every available channel he had and when someone finally came forward with information it was the worst news he could get. Priestly had died. It had been devastating to hear, barely nineteen years old and his life was over. He always said he'd die young. Details were hazy but from what they could piece together he had shot himself in the head alone in a Nevada hotel room, alcohol and heroin in his blood. It shouldn't have come as such a shock but it still was. The chevelle had shown up two weeks later on a tow bed, apparently Priestly had paid to have it sent to Lax with all his belongings in the trunk. They had dug through all his belongings for a note, a clue, anything to try to understand why he had chosen death as an out. The only thing they got was 'I'm sorry' scribbled on the back of a Nevada gas receipt and stuck in between The Devine Comedy's pages.
Everyone could only hope that Priestly was finally at peace, that his journey had come to an end and for the first time in his short hard life he could rest. He deserved that much, after the loss of his mother and years of hateful abuse he deserved to rest.
Lax remembered a conversation he and Priestly had one day about the afterlife. While Priestly was convinced he was going to hell Lax had argued that if anyone was going to heaven it was him. Priestly had finally stopped talking about hell with Lax and spoke about his perfect heaven. It pretty much amounted to weekdays with his mom and weekends filled with beautiful women and awesome beer. Lax had to agree with that and promised that when they both died they'd have the most killer parties heaven had ever seen.
In the months that followed Priestly's permanent absence the only thing that got Lax through the immense pain he felt at losing his friend was Tish, and vice versa. They had relied on each other for strength and a strong friendship had quickly formed. It was over a year after Priestly had passed that they became involved and even then they both had taken in slowly.
Lax looked up when a beer suddenly appeared in front of his face and saw that it was his father-in-law holding it. "Hey Brian."
Brian smiled in greeting but frowned when he took in Lax's far away expression and glassy eyes. "Rough day?"
The younger man nodded and took a sip of his beer as Brian dropped down into the chair next to him. "I miss him too, he was quite a guy."
Lax didn't respond just sucked in a steadying breath through his nose trying to force down the heavy emotions that were trying to surface. In a way it was nice to have people to talk to about Priestly but in another way it was torture. In the beginning Susan and Brian talked about Priestly all the time, their way of coping he guessed but he just couldn't do it. He avoided them for over a month because he just couldn't talk about something so fresh. Tish was the one who finally got a hold of him and forced him to deal with everything he didn't want to. She had been so strong through the entire thing, crying and grieving but also moving on and carrying on with her life. Speaking of she was making her way across the lawn towards them.
"Hi dad, will you go watch the boys please?"
Brian nodded happily and walked away to join his wife and grandsons leaving Tish alone with her husband. She promptly crawled on his lap and smiled sadly at him. "Today's supposed to be fun, you're going to get me going."
Sky blue eyes met deep brown, "I know, I know. I'm sorry. I just…"
"I know," she whispered softly, God did she know. After Lax had finally found Priestly she was sick, so sick in fact she was honestly surprised that she could even carry on. There were many days when she wanted to just lie in bed until she could die and see him again, but then she had finally gotten in touch with Lax. He had helped her more than she thought he realized. He hadn't been overbearing or a black hole of despair. He had just been a friend; a shoulder to cry on and that was exactly what she had needed. She thought back to when they had become more than friends and smiled softly to herself. It had been a bittersweet day and they both had realized that and supposed that was why they had remained just friends for so long. To get involved was the last step in moving on, it was the last thing that solidified that Priestly was gone and would never come back. She would never get to marry him, or see him as a father, or grow old. She would never get to see if he would go to college or what he would become with that massive brain of his.
Tish leaned her head down on Lax's shoulder and melted into him when he began softly rubbing her back. They sat quietly both lost in thought as they watched Brian and Susan laugh with the rambunctious little boys. Tish's hand grabbed his and gently ran her fingers over the tattoo Lax had gotten for his late friend. It was small and simple, just 'Forever Young' written on the back of his hand in Priestly's messy scrawl.
Tish thought about her and Lax's first night together and how she had quietly cried hysterically alone in the bathroom trying to hide her sobs from Lax. It didn't feel wrong being with him but it also didn't feel completely right. She was Priestly's and would be until the day she died. She had never pictured herself with anyone else, only him forever until they eventually grew old and died together. To realize that would never happen had brought her literally to her knees and she had cried for so long that she must have fallen asleep because when she woke up she was tucked into Lax's bed and he was gone. He hadn't ever spoken about it and for that she was thankful, what could she even say to him about it? How could she have told him that it almost felt like torture to see him sometimes, to have him touch her? In the dark he looked so much like Priestly and even in the day his touches and mannerisms were so similar that it brought tears to her eyes. For a long time she felt guilty that she was just using him because he was so similar but eventually she realized that wasn't true. She enjoyed Lax's company and learned to love him for being his own person, not an extension of a lost love.
Lax squeezed Tish tightly and took in her expression, hating that he had put a frown on her beautiful face. He knew she was thinking of Priestly now, of the one man that would always hold her heart. He knew that no matter how hard he tried he would always be second best and he was ok with that. Priestly left big shoes to fill and he did the best he could. There wasn't any doubt in his mind that Tish loved him as much as he loved her but he knew that he wasn't the preferred choice. He should be watching this from the sidelines not have a front row seat. He could only pray that Priestly would be ok with him being with Tish.
He startled out of his thoughts and focused on his wife when she stood and smiled down at him patting his knee affectionately, "Enough of that for today Johnny, be happy."
Hearing her use his real name lifted his spirits slightly. He had been done dealing for a while so everyone knew his birth name but after calling him Lax for so long it had just stuck which he was ok with. Still, it was nice to hear his real name on his wife's lips.
Lax returned her smile and rubbed the moisture out of his eyes, "Alright." He was going to stand and help Tish but paused when he heard a scream a few feet away and braced himself for impact when JJ launched himself into his arms at full speed. Twin sets of light blue eyes met each other happily when JJ excitedly spoke about what he had been doing with grandma and grandpa on the other side of the lawn, little hands and arms waving around excitedly. Lax knew Brian had sent him over to cheer him up and it definitely worked until a moment later when Stone also ran over. The older boy carefully climbed up onto his lap and stared his father in the eye, his small body trying to squeeze into the chair with him and JJ. "I love you daddy."
Lax stared into the strikingly familiar emerald green eyes and felt tears start to gather. Forcing them away he leaned forward and kissed the boys lightly freckled cheek, "I love you too buddy."