All Celia was able to do after Ax took off was stare at one of the posters that decorated her bedroom’s beige walls. The image seemed to be mocking her. It was a painting of a young woman. Her eyes were shut in ecstasy while her mouth was wide open accepting the fingers of an unseen male. She observed the poster without paying any real attention to it, her mind was too focused in trying to forget the dreadful words he had uttered moments before she sent him away.
If only it were that simple.
If only his words didn’t fill her ears even minutes after he had thrown them at her.
Every word he had spat at her was tearing her to pieces but she wanted nothing more than his presence.
She cursed herself for being foolish enough to believe that they were making progress, that they were becoming something more. Nothing about that pair was normal, and nothing would ever be.
She was slowly losing all the hope she possessed in her small body.
All traces of Serotonin escaped from her brain, leaving her number, not realizing that she had previously felt happiness.
In the few weeks she had known him, he had been able to, unknowingly, heal some of her old wounds. He had cared for her, he wasn’t repulsed by the sight of her few uncovered scars, he had been the only one she could trust fully. But she was still so broken.
Her pieces were being held together by a thin string of frayed rope and his words had been sharp enough to scatter them to the four winds.
Ax would never apologise for the hurt he had caused and even if he did it wouldn’t be because he truly understood that his words were knives. She couldn’t blame him for the way he had learned to live his life. He wanted something and he managed to possess it, no matter what the cost.
He had wanted her and, eventually, took her.
Inside that stubborn head of his there was the notion that he had nothing to apologise for. He was just defending himself.
It was plain to see that he was used to being defensive.
He only knew how to defend himself from those who cared for him.
It must have been a talent.
And to think that she had almost swallowed her pride and run downstairs so that she could catch him before he was able to walk out the door. She wanted to push him against the door, screaming at him for being such an inconsiderable asshole. If she was lucky the doorknob would jab him on his ribs and perhaps even leave a celebratory bruise.
But she didn’t move.
She remained on the bed, exactly as he had left her. She sat still and waited. The front door opened and closed with an audible thud. After that, there had been the sound of his bike roaring to life until that too faded, leaving her in a state even Erebos would have been jealous of.
She got up from the bed with the tangled sheets, practically running towards the ivory tiled bathroom. The scene she found her self in had become oddly familiar those last few days. She knew exactly what followed, it was a choreography she had been following with ease. In just seconds she was emptying the contents of her stomach until all that was left in her body were the tears that had not yet managed to stain her cheeks.
Her body fell on the floor, seemingly weightless. Her arms wrapped themselves around her stomach, rubbing the area soothingly.
She had known for a few weeks that what was happening to her body was not a product of a stomach bug or the common flu, however, she had been too afraid to recognise it for what it truly was.
The granite flooring shot arrows that pieced her skin with no hesitation. Her hazel eyes opened reluctantly, taking in her position and cursing her self for being so weak. She lifted herself up, hating the way her knees trembled, afraid that they would betray her the moment she decided to take a step.
Even if her body was Judas at that specific moment, Celia kept her faith in it intact. She managed to get to the cabinet where she kept all of her toiletries. With a shaky breath and a mental pat on the back she retrieved the stick Mina had left at her home about a month ago, when she had a pregnancy scare.
Celia gazed at the offending object for several minutes. It seemed to be toying with her mind, provoking her into making a decision that would put an end to any illusions she might have had.
But wasn’t it better of she simply stopped torturing herself?
She called Mina, her voice raspy from the tears she had shed. The blonde had been furious at the young woman for not calling her earlier, especially after what had occurred with Brian. Truth be told, Mina had felt so unbelievably guilty. She had been, after all, the one who suggested that Celia should go out with him and why? Because she had been to busy screwing Erik’s brains to care.
Once Celia had managed to get the information she sought, she thanked Mina and hang up on her, before dropping the phone back on the bed and pacing back and forth from her room to the ensuite bathroom. She paced until she thought her feet would fail her.
She stopped moving. She read the instructions to the test and followed them, acting like it was another part of her routine and nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that could destroy whatever balances there were in her life.
All she could do was wait.
The guidelines had been etched into her brain.
In all honesty, Celia was not ready to become a mother, she wasn’t sure if she would ever be ready. In her mind, there was no place for a baby in her life, not at least until she had managed to leave her past behind and had someone to share her future with. But what If Ax couldn’t be what she needed?
It had been a few months since she had first met him but he had proven to be so much more than what she had initially believed.
Yet there was another side inside her, one that smiled greedily at the possibility of having a baby. That side was aching to hold a little black haired baby in her arms. She could already see his eyes, a dark rich blue that held a permanent glint of arrogance. That part was strong, it almost prevailed over the other side, the reason all one who knew that she could never be a good mother, not after the childhood she had. Her inadequacies chose to abandon her, at least for the time being it seemed.
She could see it all clearly. Ax’s strong arms being wrapped around a chubby infant and him trying his hardest to be gentle, always afraid of hurting it, crashing it under his weight. The image made her heart flutter against her chest, like a dove preparing itself to fly far away. That image was enough for her to stop being angry at him, as odd as that might have sounded. Even if she wasn’t pregnant at the moment, she knew that it would haunt her forever until she got to sing that black haired infant to sleep.
Two minutes to go.
Perhaps it was all part of some master plan. Celia had never been much of a believer, she had always believed that if God did exist he would never allow wars to happen or let innocent children be treated as collateral damage to a war that had no ending and no true meaning. As a child, she used to be the one talking back to the Religions teacher, she used to ask questions the teacher could not possibly answer with anything other than one word. Faith. And she used that word a lot.
It had taken years but Celia was finally beginning to understand the meaning of the word. She had faith in Ax and the man she knew he was. It might as well have been the closest thing she could ever get to a religious kind of faith. He was the only drug she would ever take. One so addictive that in the end you don’t know if you are going to get out unscathed or even alive. But that never matters, you don’t care if that addiction is going to end up killing you because you chose it.
She chose him.
One minute to go.
Celia rubbed her sweaty hands on the edges of her dress repeatedly, but to no avail it took only seconds for them to get into the same situation. Yet she continued in the same vicious circle. The familiar layer of wetness would surround her palms and she would use the hem as a rug.
The seconds that passed her by felt like eternities, her years were leaving her.
She was living on borrowed time.
It was time.
Isn’t it funny how something so small could hold so much power over someone?
It could change your whole life and you don’t even get a say.
She looked at the little screen and gasped, dropping the offending object to the floor without a word.
Another cigarette was crushed on the side of the road.
He blew out the last remnants of smoke and got on his Harley, leaving half a dozen burned out cigarettes in his path. He fired the engine and took off, running in circles, knowing there was nowhere he wanted to be except with Celia, even though that wasn’t an option at the moment.
The streets were deserted. For one stupid second, Ax thought about letting go of his hold on the bike and letting it crash against a tree or a cement wall. At least then, nobody else could be held responsible, no innocent passer-by would be taken in for questioning. The cops would find his mangled body the next morning and they would shake their heads, muttering some bullshit about knowing that he would have had such an ending.
He was close at doing it too. Real close. His fingers inched further and further away from the bike’s handles but he managed to stop them in time. He didn’t want to die, he didn’t want to leave all the people he loved unprotected.
He didn’t want to leave Celia.
The road brought him outside of the clubhouse and dread filled his senses as he parked his bike and moved towards the inside of the house of stones and bricks. It was a damn shame that it was only figuratively made of glass.
Inside the mockery of a clubhouse he found a flock of members. Some were drinking, laughing obnoxiously at some idiotic remark their drinking pal had made. Others were playing The Doctor with the club whores. The whole scene disgusted Ax, it reminded him too much of who he used to be and he really hated that naive fucker.
Bruce was sitting on a brown coloured leather armchair, which could be found next to the bike he had placed on one of the walls. One of the girls was on her knees in front of him, her mouth on his cock. The others paid no attention to them, having witnessed the same scene a few hundred times in the past. Only a few prospects managed to steal a glance, their faces turning redder as the seconds went by.
Unfortunately, the black haired man was not able to escape without being seen.
Bruce motioned him closer and there was nothing he could do but obey.
That's when he really noticed his plaything.
She appeared artificial. Everything about her looked plastic. From her platinum blonde hair, which had been achieved by countless bleaching sessions to her unnaturally tan skin, which terrified him more than it repulsed him and let’s not get started on her silicon filled breasts. It couldn’t have been healthy for her to undergo so many procedures so that she could look like just another nameless Barbie.
These days you couldn’t tell the girls apart.
Ax moved closer to the pair, reluctance filling his every step. He saw Bruce drag her to his lap, leaving his pants unzipped.
Ax resisted the urge to gag.
“Ax, how nice of you to join us.” He said before taking a swing from the bottle of Whiskey he had been holding.
“Bruce.” He nodded at the man. “Are we having a meeting? I wasn’t aware.”
“It’s a very special occasion. Mick didn’t tell you?” He rolled his eyes. “Oh, well. I can’t go back in time and have different children.” His eyes seemed strangely wistful the moment he uttered the words. He gave Ax a long look before closing his eyes and shaking his head repeatedly. When he opened them again he was back to his usual self. “Would you like to spend time with one of the girls before we begin? You can have Destiny if you’d like, she’s a very talented little cocksucker.”
Ax looked around, seeing that some of the prospects were glaring at him, envy written all over their youthful faces. Fucking the same woman as the Prez was considered a great honor around these parts of the country. Ax’s newly found conscience snarled at them. “Thank you, but I’ll have to pass.” The older man’s eyebrows shot up in disbelief.
“Are my ears deceiving me?” He asked the Barbie who only pouted at him in response. “Don’t tell me you’ve settled down, son.”
“I did, actually.” Never reveal any names, his conscience snapped at him.
Bruce took another gulp from his Whiskey, slumping back in his chair with the expression of a disappointed father on his bearded face. “I never thought the day would come. I thought you were like me but you’re like your father, after all.” The admission caused the ears of everyone within hearing radius to tune in to their conversation.
Let’s just say that Lorenzo Vidal was rather infamous where it concerned the club.
He clenched his hand in a tight fist, not willing to give Bruce any reaction. “What kind of a special occasion?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
“I can’t wait.”
"Oh, and Ax? Give my regards to your mother, it's been a long time since we've seen each other."
He found Mick sitting next to broken bottles and passed out Barbies. One of them, a brunette, was sitting on his lap while he was playing with her hair.
Ax walked over to him, disgust rolling off his body in waves as he smelt the alcohol. He could almost feel the Whiskey burning his throat, tasting like pure rubbing alcohol but, at least, numbing the pain.
Mick did not acknowledge his presence. Instead, he pushed the brunette away, after fondling her for a few moments, yelling at her that she was nothing like Aurelia, to which she replied that she could be anything he wanted her to be.
It was painful to watch.
“Mick.” Ax called out.
“Mick.” The man in question simply did not wish to deal with anything at that specific moment. However, he did turn his head around to look at the intruder causing the commotion. A lazy grin had settled on his clean-shaven face and his eyes were hazy.
Not again, you fucker, not again.
Ax took a few breaths just to try and keep himself steady before facing Mick’s condition head on.
But the memories resurfaced.
It was oddly convenient that none showed him on the floor with bits of a powdery white substance running from his nostrils. None showed how pathetic he had become. Only the euphoria remained, no matter how fleeing it had been,
It had been the sweetest torture he had gone through before meeting Celia. The substance that gave him power as easily as it took it away from him. Ax was ashamed to admit that seeing Mick’s expression had made him miss the feeling it offered.
It was almost overwhelming, to feel his freedom and doom once again. It almost made him want to throw five years of sobriety down the drain.
But he missed Celia more. It was truly an uneven fight in his opinion. Who would put two highly addictive things to compete against each other and not expect that the one that condemns his whole existence would be the one to win? He would never bet against her for he knew that beneath her softness and the generally fragile exterior she was tough, a warrior. She was exactly like him in that way, a survivor.
Even if he was not aware of her past he knew that it wasn’t easy and his woman was courageous enough to face it. Even if it broke her in a way, she put herself back piece by piece, she didn’t wait for somebody else to fix her. He, on the other hand, had never truly tried to make himself better. As he realized he had been waiting for her to come and save whatever was left of his soul all along.
And she had.
He was never going back there again, he owed that to her.
“Yes, Ax? How may I assist you this fine evening?” He slurred, a lazy smile on his lips.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Mick offered no reply. He stopped smiling but offered no reply. Not a single word left his mouth.
Ax scrounged down and grabbed him by the arm. It was a bit of a task but Ax managed to place him into a standing position. Mick did not resist, in fact, he acted like a Ragdoll, letting the mechanic drag him wherever he pleased. Ax walked with confidence, not letting the curious eyes, which were burning his back, bother him. He stopped outside of the bathroom, helping Mick steady himself before opening the door and driving him inside.
Mick offered no resistance, even when Ax’s strong arms placed his upper body in the bathtub. He was gazing at the walls in a trance-like state, muttering something about the colours of the tiles reminding him of a kaleidoscope. The tiles were ivory in colour and didn’t even have any smudges on them.
So, he was hallucinating, that was comforting.
With a exasperated huff and an eye roll that went completely unnoticed by the brown haired man, Ax turned the faucet on, causing mildly hot water to cascade on his friend’s clothed form.
To say he enjoyed seeing Mick jump like a frightened cat, when the water came in contact with his body, would be an understatement. “I don’t know why I’m friends with you, asshole.” He yelled, angrily dragging his body away from the porcelain bathtub. Mick hated the feeling of the wet clothes on his skin. He took off his jacket, knowing all too well that the leather would never dry properly and sat there, next to Ax, in a soaking wet long sleeved olive shirt. “Or how your girl stands you for that matter.”
“You’re friends with me because I saved your scrawny ass when we were five. I was practically your knight in shining armour.” He replied. “Also, she’s not talking to me right now.”
“Didn’t I tell you to keep your foot fetish from her until after she married you?” The asshole had actually managed to draw a laugh from the brute. “You never fucking listen. Also, you’re losing your touch, you’re getting too old.”
He was getting too old to be playing around with Celia, he knew that.
He planned on fixing that small technicality real soon, actually.
“If you’re looking like this we must be suffering from the same thing.” Beneath that idiotic smile there was a grim expression on his face. His eyes were serious, not a glint of light in them.
“Oh, no, my friend.” He argued. “My disease is terminal and she’s never coming back. Not to me, anyway.” He didn’t bother wiping away a stray traitorous tear that was creating a path along his cheek, towards his jaw. “And she’s quite pregnant. So, one more disease I won’t be catching.”
Ax’s eyes widened significantly.
Mick was just coming down from his high, he wasn’t supposed to be making sense, yet, oddly enough Ax understood each and every word that had left his lips. “I called Salvo a few days back. Asked him to help.” He mentioned, with a nonchalant shrug.
The man with the scotch coloured eyes stepped away from his best friend heading for the door. “Don’t get Salvo into this. You already owe too much to him.” His steps resembled those of a baby deer’s. He cursed himself every time he felt his body sway. "He will, eventually, come to collect." He only smiled once he had managed to turn the doorknob and exit.
Without looking back he told Ax to follow him.
“I believe there is a traitor among us.” Bruce’s voice boomed through the main room of the clubhouse. The same one in which Ax had received his cut back. The pretentious one.
At the sound of Bruce’s voice, Ax felt his blood run cold and for a second he stopped breathing.
“I got a call earlier this evening telling me that the shipment we had ordered was missing. Apparently, someone had been planning on creating a feud between the Bandidos and us, isn’t that amusing?” He asked his loyal servants. “Now, you all know I can’t let the man who did this get away with it. When someone tries to fuck me over he needs to handle the consequences.” Some cheered while others kept quiet, not even daring to stare at the man speaking. It made Ax wonder just how many people beside Mick and him had tried to screw him over.
They all knew how his theatrical side would direct their movements, they knew what he expected of them. All the men formed a line and Ax had to bite his tongue from applauding Bruce for being such an excellent trainer. His feet carried him towards the end of the line, a courtesy to Bruce, so that he wouldn’t have to drag his body far after he had filled him with holes.
Mick stood right next to him, all traces of his earlier intoxication had been completely washed away. He leaned in towards Ax, whispering softly in his ear. “Death is death. Nothing more and nothing less. Remember that.” His voice was steady, calm even which was unnerving. After he had uttered the words he returned back to his original position and didn’t not even glance at his best friend’s direction.
Death is death, the mechanic whispered to himself, nothing more and nothing less.
The two men had come up with that phrase when they had been kids. Inspiration had hit them at an impossibly bad time. Andromeda had just miscarried and the whole family had been devastated but the woman in question did everything in her power to be there for her kids, not allowing grief to take any pieces of her strength.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed. All living creatures are made of energy and so, death as most people perceive it, does not exist. You can’t die because you haven’t been born. Your energy has existed for millions of years and will continue to exist long after you depart from your earthly body. You are a part of the universe. Ninety three percent of your body is made by stardust and let’s not get started on your soul. You are eternal and you are far more than just a body.
Of course, back then they didn’t know all those details themselves. Mrs. Doyle had offered them all the details they needed and gave them books that would help them build this theory and turn it into a shelter for their minds to rest.
Ax realised the meaning behind Mick’s words and felt the need to disappear.
This is our goodbye.
Bruce had managed to creep up them without anyone noticing. Fear did that to people. Made them inexcusably blind to any possible threats.
“Take a good hard look around you boys, one of you isn’t going to see the fucking sun again.” And so the sheep cheered and laughed, young and inexperienced as they were. Who could blame them? They were as naive as Ax himself had once been, he couldn’t hold that against them. They were just children. He just hoped they learned to grow up fast.
Ax would have loved to have claimed that his final thoughts involved prayers to foreign Gods, philosophical ideas about the afterlife or even the act of death itself.
But they didn’t.
His thoughts were focused on his little dove.
He thought about how he had chosen not to listen to her when she had warned him about getting hurt.
He thought about how the last memory he had of her was her teary eyes. He thought about her on his bed, naked and completely exhausted, holding onto him. She would subconsciously cling to him because she believed he could send the monsters that haunted her away.
What would she hold onto now?
I love her. The thought echoed through his brain, travelling around his whole body. And she will never hear me say it.
Strangely enough, not one thought danced around the fact that holes would be decorating his body in mere seconds. He only thought of Celia and his family.
His mother would cry for days, even weeks, knowing her but that didn’t feel as comforting as it should have. His father would remain stoic around the others, comforting Andromeda and only allowing himself to cry when nobody could see him. Everyone else would eventually accept the truth.
They would visit his grave and leave flowers, maybe they would even talk to his headstone as if he was really there under the dirt.
Death is death, he reminded himself, nothing more and nothing less.
Ax did not offer any reaction as he saw Bruce pace back and forth in front of the line of sheep, waiting to be slaughtered. Minutes had to have passed before he stopped in front of his son and the mechanic, staring at them with a disturbingly malicious glint in his dirt brown eyes. With a swift movement he raised his gun, never letting Ax out of his sight.
He gave him a smile to which he did not respond and the tyrant shook his head slightly.
At that specific moment Bruce aimed the pistol and fired.