It was always meant to end in that way, in the exact same way every story ends.
There needs to be a crescendo, a final battle, something to give the audience chills before they said farewell to the characters standing on the stage of the cabaret.
For some reason every one who finds himself in such cases knows exactly how he reached the climax, knows how the story will end but for the life of him, he can’t remember how it all began.
“Oh, Alexander, so nice of you to be here.” Bruce’s baritone voice boomed through the main room of the clubhouse. There was no one in that damned house of bricks, not even those fucking prospects. Ax walked through the bare hallway, needing desperately to reach the room where Bruce had Celia.
“Bruce, cut that bullshit. You have something that belongs to me and I came to take it back.” He said, rather loudly, certain that he would hear the threat in his voice.
His footsteps seemed incredibly loud when, in fact, they produced regular noise. Perhaps, he was focusing on that so that he could forget the fact that his breathing had turned shallow and his heart seemed to be speaking, screaming really. “Come here and take it then.” The older man taunted.
He didn’t stop to look at the newest addition on the wall, he didn’t need to, he knew exactly what it was. He didn’t want to look at Mick’s cut, he didn’t want to see the blood that was still on the VP patch, the one with the bullet hole in it. Well, that’s a lie, he did steal a glance and it was enough to make him feel anger running through his scorching veins.
After that, Ax didn’t stop for anything, he was out for blood.
His Beretta was clenched tightly in his left hand, the trigger itching to be pressed, to do was it was created to do: kill, maim, torture.
Once he reached the wrenched main room, he instinctively looked to his left, his eyes glued to the ground. There were splutters of blood still staining the marble but not all the blood was Mick’s, some belonged to his father who Ax had beaten to a pulp after his best friend had lost his senses never to regain them again.
The motherfucker had let him do it but in the end, it hadn’t helped.
He regretted mixing their blood together.
“She’s very strong-willed, your woman.” Bruce casually mentioned, forcing the younger man to gaze up at him. “When they found her in the parking lot and held a knife to her stomach, she slapped one of the prospects. She fucking slapped him. Unbelievable.” He smiled as if the incident was nothing but a fond memory, like he hadn’t kidnapped her a few hours ago. “I had a woman like that once.” He smiled because she reminded him of someone.
The mechanic didn’t like that.
He didn’t like that at all.
Ax forced himself to look at the man who was capable to steal the throne of Hell from the Devil himself. He looked the same as always, salt and pepper hair tied back in a bun at the top of his head, his beard neatly trimmed and his toned body adorned in black, his cut sitting proudly on his sternum. “We were always meant to end up in this situation.” He proclaimed, perhaps, seeing some profound metaphorical meaning in the moment. The drugs did that, they made you think you were experiencing divinity with every conversation that escaped the bounds of polite ‘Hellos’ and muttered ‘goodbyes’.
“You truly think so?” Celia was nowhere in sight.
The room was completely empty, had it been a hoax? Ax rejected the thought the moment it came to him. He had underestimated Bruce once, he wasn’t about to do it again especially not where his little dove was concerned.
“I do. You and I were the creators of this game from the beginning.” Bruce took a step closer to the mechanic, looking as self-assured as always. “You remember the first time you came to my house, boy? I knew what you would become that day, I saw it in your eyes.” Ax did not speak. “I had such high hopes for you, you know. You weren’t like the little fuckers I raised, especially Mick.” The mechanic winched at the last sentence, anger stirring in his veins. “You were strong, a born leader. You know, I, actually, planned on giving you the reigns of this shithole but you had to go and fuck everything up, didn’t you? Just like your daddy.” The last phrase almost felt like a slap, the sting burning his skin but it was all in his mind and he knew it. “Now, drop the gun and let’s finally have a conversation like adults.”
“Not before you tell me where Celia is.” Ax raised the gun provocatively, aiming directly at the older man’s chest, right where he had shot Mick.
An eye for an eye, a heart for a heart and a life for a life.
Ax planned to take all three from his opponent.
Bruce raised his hands slowly, showing the mechanic that he was no threat before bringing two wrinkled fingers to his lips, wetting them with his tongue before moving them further into his mouth. The sound that escaped from that rather peculiar action was crystal clear and strong, showing that he had a good pair of lungs in him.
Not even that could save him, though, for everything else inside of him was rotten.
He whistled once more, this time the sound came out more forceful but it had played its part perfectly, the little bird he was calling revealed itself, replying to his song with one it had composed itself. It involved a young woman and a pair of handcuffs.
Much like her car, the first time he had seen it, she had seen better days.
However, there was something odd about how he stared at her, he wasn’t focusing on her features just on her form, his eyes fogged. “Good, now let her go.” His eyes followed the prospect whose was holding her. The kid was nothing but a shadow in the background, a shadow that was holding his whole fucking world with its dirty hands.
“Drop the gun.” The mechanic obeyed without a second thought.
“Let her leave.” He repeated, his tone harsher than he intended.
“Oh, I will but first, tell him what a good host I was sweetheart. Tell him how I did not let my guys rough you up, even though they begged.” Celia had her mouth shut, her lips twitching stubbornly, never giving what was asked of her. Never surrendering, even when she knew someone else had the upper hand. “I told them she was precious cargo, should have tied a ‘fragile’ ribbon on her myself.”
Ax was fuming. “She’s not fragile.” The black haired woman in question was glaring at the villain, anger simmering in her own veins. She opened her mouth before she could think and spit in his face. It was a small act of rebellion, indeed, but the look on his face gave her immense pleasure.
Bruce looked at her with a patronising glimpse in his eyes as he used the sleeve of his flannel to wipe the remnants of her rebellion away. The vein in his temple was becoming more and more prominent by the second but Celia was not afraid of his reaction. For her it was enough that she saw Ax look at her with dark pride shinning across his equally dark eyes. “Not gonna talk, are you? Speak or I’ll tell him all about your little secret.” The threat echoed through her ears and she knew she should speak, she should protect them both for Hell hath no fury for a furious Alexander Vidal.
Celia gulped harshly, biting her inner cheek until she drew blood before allowing her hazel eyes to fall on Ax. “He was nice to me.” And it was true, he hadn’t physically harmed her but there had been something terrifying in his eyes as she had watched her, in his smile as he spoke to her. “He didn’t hurt me, Ax, really.” Ax didn’t believe her. His eyes scrutinised her body, looking as if he could see under her clothing. He was searching for injuries and if he found even a small nick or a barely there bruise he was going to lose the little self control he had left.
The fucker lost the game the moment the mechanic’s eyes fell on her lips. “Oh, yeah? And what’s that?”
Bruce smiled at bit of guilt marring his features. “I didn’t hurt her, that wasn’t my fault.”
“It’s never your fault, is it?”
“He didn’t do it, one of those guys did when I slapped him. I’m fine.” She tried to reassure him once more as her fear grew, pretty soon she would be the one who needed reassurance.
Bruce stared at the couple with amusement.
It was sickening, seeing him act as if they were nothing but family having a get together.
“You know, I might tell him either way.” He taunted her, his fingers grazing her cheek as if she was his daughter. It made her sick. “He deserves to know he’s going to be a father, don’t you think so?” Her gasp was the only thing audible in the room. Her eyes searched for Ax, even though they did not know what they were going to face. Would he be angry at her? Would he want nothing to do with her? Would he think she had tricked him?
Celia saw none of these accusations when she stared at his angular face.
She saw shock and anger but it wasn’t directed at her. “What,” Ax managed to say, “Did you say?”
“Why, she’s a pregnant little bird, didn’t you know? Of course you didn’t.” Bruce slapped his hand over his forehead. “Stupid me. But this is part of the truth you’ll get to hear.”
Ax’s smouldering gaze fell on her stomach, near the place where the prospect was touching her, absorbing the information. How could he have been so fucking blind? How could he not have known? More importantly, why hadn’t she told him?
Celia’s eyes were pleading with him, begging for mercy. There was some part of the twenty one grammars of her soul that hated itself for concealing the damn truth for so long, especially seeing where they had found themselves.
Once his hazy gaze turned its attention to her, she realised that nothing hid behind it. Maybe the shock had been too great, she didn’t know. Say something, she was telling him with her eyes, say something please.
“Is it true?” For one minute he forgot where they were, he forgot about the finality of the situation he was facing for it simply did not matter.
All that mattered was her and the changes in her body he had been too blind to notice.
“Yes, it’s true. I’m sorry, Ax.” He wanted to tell her that she had nothing to apologise for, but his brain didn’t let him. It didn’t allow him to show any weakness in front of Bruce and the prospect whose fucking grin could have made the Cheshire Cat jealous.
“We’ll talk about it at home, okay, little dove?” She managed to give him a brief nod but goddamn it, it was enough for him.
“Oh, come on.” The older man groaned. “Stop with these star-crossed lovers shit. Besides, we’re going to play a little game and the only way you get to go home is to win.” Bruce gave a hard look to the prospect before striding over to Ax’s side.
“If you agree, I’ll even tell you a little story.” He held the gun out to him, swinging it teasingly in his hands as if it had been candy and Ax was nothing more than a damn child.
“You’ll let my woman go and I get a fairy tale? Lucky me.” He deadpanned.
“Don’t play with me, boy. You’ll want to hear this story.” He extended his hand again. “Take the gun Ax and put the fucking bullet in.” Deep inside of him, he knew he had no choice. Celia had to get out of there and he had to put an end to that fucking story, it was what he had been meant to do from the very beginning. Not Mick, not Xavier no one else but him.
“Ax don’t you fucking dare.” She begged, tears streaming down her pale cheeks. She looked at him with so much sorrow it was hard for him to remain focused on getting her out of there in one piece. He looked into her dark eyes and gave her a grin, his signature wolfish grin, to be precise.
She didn’t smile back.
Without a word, he grasped the Revolver in both of his hands, which for some peculiar reason were not trembling despite his growing restlessness, and then he took the bullet. Bruce gave him an encouraging smile and he looked so much like Mick, he felt his heart clench. He might not have wanted to admit it but Bruce looked like Mick, not like Ax did with Lorenzo but still enough to recognise the fact that they had they same blood running through their veins.
No, they don’t have the same fucking blood. He thought furiously, disgusted with himself for ever thinking such an atrocity.
Mick had Rosa’s blood. He had her kindness, her compassion, her empathy. He had all the things Bruce would never possess.
“I want Mick’s Jacket.” He stated as he looked at the hammer of the Revolver, making damn sure it wasn’t cocked or pulled back, he couldn’t afford to lose his one chance like that. “You don’t deserve to have any piece of him, you son of a bitch, not on your wall, not anywhere.” He paced his right hand on the grip of the Revolver, pointing the barrel in a safe direction. His other hand came to cup the body of the weapon.
He played with the gun the way he always did when he wasn’t using his Beretta.
“Now now, my mother was a lady, God rest her soul, no need to call her any names. Also, If you walk out of this alive, son, take everything you want. Burn the shithole to the ground if you want, I don’t care.”
“What exactly is stopping me from shooting you right now?” He inquired as the sound of the bullet finding its rightful place in the chamber registered in his static possessed ears. Two rough, calloused fingers came to rotate the cylinder. His eyes closed, not wanting to see where the bullet ended. Celia’s heart was hitting her ribcage, stabbing her with its anxiousness. She saw Ax give the cylinder another shove before he locked it in place.
“The truth, boy.” He told him seriously, his foot tapping nervously against the flooring. Bruce was thinking about how many chances there were that he had been wrong, that Ax had been a killer, after all. “I am the only one willing to tell you exactly what it was that sealed your fate. This is a truth you want to hear. Act smart, Ax.”
He nodded calmly, accepting the challenge officially. “I did as you asked, let her go.” The gun felt heavy in his sweat soaked palm. He knew exactly where Bruce was going with that little game of his.
One in six, his odds weren’t as bad as they seemed to be but at the end of the game one would walk away unharmed and the other would see his blood join Mick’s on the marble flooring. “Ax please don’t do this.”
“Celia.” His eyes were hard and reminded her of an endless abyss. “You’ll fucking go.”
Ax saw the prospect grasp Celia’s arm tighter, shoving her against his body so that she wouldn’t try to go to Ax, not that it would matter anyway, there was nothing they could do. “Gabriel is outside, tell him to take you home and to stay there with you while I’m gone.” Whatever sparkle of hope had bloomed in her eyes, faded quickly knowing Ax had always meant to face the villain alone and the only reason he had agreed to search for help was to calm her.
“Hey, Celia?” He questioned as the goon who was leading her out of the room moved closer to the door.
She inhaled sharply as her name slipped from his lips. She didn’t waste a moment before she turned to look at him, not caring that her cheeks were streaked with the trail her kohl black tears left. “Yes, Ax?”
“Do you think she has a good ending planned for us?” He didn’t have to clarify who she was, they both knew. The one who had taken Mick away from him, the one who couldn’t stop torturing him, the supposed author of his life. That fucking bitch. The black-haired woman gave him a shaky smile, tears burning her eyes. “I hope to fucking Hell she does.” The prospect had had enough of waiting for the Princess to stop wasting time and took matters into his own lanky hands. He wrapped his palm around her arm, jerking her forward. Ax felt anger stirring up in his veins and was ready to empty the bullet in the kid’s brain but Celia glared at him, her hazel eyes darkening, silently telling him not to act.
“I hope to fucking Hell she does.” She repeated, determination hurting her features. He took one good hard look at her face, knowing that it might have been the last time he was given the chance. So, he studied her. Studied her long, soft inky hair, the one he loved to grasp around his fist as he fucked her. After longing returned along with memories he moved to her face, the dominating features of course being the sad eyes and the lush lips that were complimented by a small, upturned nose and dark brows.
He didn’t have the power to stare at her body again. He didn’t have the power to face the changes it had undergone, knowing that there was a possibility that he wouldn’t be there to see the ones that would soon follow. He had never thought about being a father but the idea was becoming more and more appealing as the mocking idea of time carried on laughing at the face of every living creature on the planet.
“I hope so too.” He muttered as the goon led her out of the room. “If I die, don’t even think about spilling a single tear for me. If I die, you’ll live and you’ll do it for me.” He wasn’t even sure she had heard him.
He didn’t know what possessed him to say the next words, perhaps Mick’s end had made him realise what a flimsy, fragile thing life was.
It had been about damn time.
Or perhaps, he had just wanted to say them, no hidden agenda, no pain underneath the surface. That’s a lie. Of course there was pain laced through them.
The words were a product of pain but they came out stronger than any threat that bad ever left his mouth. “If it’s a girl, call her Lyla. Alright, little dove?” Even thinking that it could be the last time he uttered the endearment tore him to pieces.
The only reply he got was a chocked sob and the sound of the front door shutting, the thud echoing through the empty clubhouse.
Ax would have been lying if he said that he had fallen in love with Celia that first day they met. Love, he would be the first to tell you, doesn’t work like that. People who claim she does, are bloody fools who have not faced the world and spend their days reading novels, dreaming about the Prince that will do everything in his power to save them from those boring lives they lead.
No, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was carnal lust and it was real, as real as it can get. They both recognised that they had chemistry, he wanted to make her submit to his will but had never anticipated that more would come out of that and yet, it happened.
He never anticipated that she wouldn’t go out without a fight and as much as he’d love to claim otherwise, her character appealed to him much more than it irritated him.
The gun was still grasped in his hand, heavy even though only one chamber was filled.
So he put on a brave mask, one he had gotten used to wearing around Bruce since he had been a teenager. “Well Bruce, are we going to stare at each other all day? I have other things to do.”
“No, of course, not. Let’s play, son.” He mechanically made the movement to show Ax where to place the gun.
“I’ll go first? And what if I die? Won’t your plan have failed then?”
Bruce contemplated the comment made by the dark haired mechanic. “What are the odds of dying from the first try?”
Ax didn’t answer. He placed the gun against the left temple of his stubborn head and pulled the trigger.
If he died, he died.
Let’s rephrase this, he said to himself in a voiceless whisper, If the writer wants me to die, I’ll die. Just like Mick.
But, as it was expected, the bullet decided not to rest in his brain. As soon as he realised it wasn’t his time to leave the world just yet, he moved the gun away and passed it on to Bruce.
The middle-aged man grinned manically at him, accepting the revolver. “Tell me your story.” Ax commanded while he took a long breath in, treasuring the feeling of the air feeding his lungs.
“Should I start with what happened between your father and I?” Ax felt his eyes spark with interest. He had known that once upon a time, years before he was born Lorenzo and Bruce had been best friends, just like Mick and him. For some unknown reason, the two friends stopped speaking to each other and no matter how hard he pressed not a single member of the M.C. would tell him the truth.
“Lorenzo was my best fucking friend, he was the only family I had in the world before he went and fucked everything up.” Bruce placed the gun under his chin, confident that the wouldn’t find the bullet, at least not yet. “Until she came and fucked everything up.” The pull of the trigger came and went, the only reaction it had elicited was a choked breath that neither of them could admit who it had come from.
“I fell in love with her in days.” He said, without missing a beat, moving towards a cabinet and taking out a bottle of vodka. The top had already been opened, making it easier for Bruce to take a long gulp. Ax heard the sound the liquid toxin made as it descended down his throat towards his stomach. “She became my whole fucking world. I could see nothing but her. The way she laughed when she spoke of that fucking band of hers, the way she rolled her eyes at me.” The older man smiled, this time a genuine grin found its way on his face but it left as soon as the next words came tumbling out of his mouth. “Lorenzo had been with the former Prez, dealing with some shipments that had gone wrong. He was out of town but then he came back, earlier than planned.” Bruce took another swing at the vodka before handing the weapon back to Ax.
The mechanic didn’t nothing but stare at the weapon, wanting to hear more. “You’re talking about my mom, aren’t you?”
“Fire the gun and I’ll tell you.” He obeyed and for some unknown reason nothing happened. He had decided to let fate choose the ending of his story, he had locked away Celia and their baby, his siblings name his parents.
To keep this short, Ax had locked away his life, moving mechanically, accepting death if he wanted to take him.
In fact, he’d welcome him like an old friend.
“Yes, I’m talking about your mother.” He admitted, the vodka burning his throat as he kept on swallowing mouthfuls of it. “The only woman I ever loved.”
“Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?”
Bruce ignored the younger man’s articulated inquiry. “If Lorenzo hadn’t shown up, she would have been completely mine.” He whispered, taking the gun from Ax’s hands. “But he didn’t take all of her, a part of me stayed with her.”
“This is beyond pathetic.” Ax spat. “If that’s all you wanted to tell me, then great, now you’ve told me. Pull the fucking trigger.” Bruce, once again, ignored him. His brown eyes had turned glassier, his cheeks were just a bit flushed and his mouth had a smile carved on it. He looked almost human, but it was too damn late.
“You were supposed to be my kid, my flesh and blood. Not his. Never his.”
“You used me as collateral, Bruce. That’s hardly a fatherly action.”
“Don’t you get it? Everything I’ve done has been a test. I knew you would survive prison and I needed you clean. In truth, I did you a favour.”
A humourless chuckle managed to crawl out to the surface. “A favour?”
“You'd be dead by now if you kept living like that.” There was some truth to his words but not nearly enough to make the dark haired man sympathise with him.
“Yet here you are, ready to sacrifice me, yet again.” He chuckled but it tasted bitter. “You get how fucked up this is, right?”
“I know.” It was getting ridiculous, the bullet still hadn’t decided to make an appearance and end that fucking game once and for all, “I have one thing left to say though, son. Be patient.”
Ax came into this world like a hurricane, screaming and hitting everything that got close to him but he would leave this world like a lightning, powerful but silent. Even if the day of his departure wasn’t near, the truth would remain the same.
When he did die, the sky would weep, just like it wept for Mick.
But it would be silent.
He was on the fifth try, his third and final one. “Death is death.” He whispered, taking the revolcer, his hand shaking slightly. The metal felt cold against the skin of his face. “Nothing more and nothing less.” He expected to hear a bang, to see blood flying off of him. He expected something but all he got was the sound of Bruce's hand colliding with the Revolver, knocking it out of the way before he could fully press the trigger.
The bullet that was meant for his skull kissed the nearby wall.
He wasn’t going to die today.
Bruce had actually saved him.
What are the fucking odds? He thought to himself, relief flooding his entire being.
He was going home in one piece, something Bruce wouldn’t have the luxury of saying.
He wasn't letting the fucker walk out of it.
Bruce took the gun from Ax’s barely trembling hand properly and lifted it to his right temple before lowering it again and placing its mouth under his strong jaw. He removed it, taking a single bullet out of the pockets of his acid-washed jeans. Bruce inserted the bullet slowly with grace that suggested experience. “I just can’t decide how I want to die.” He commented incredibly, the vodka making its presence known. “Stop trembling so much son, you’ll go home, it’s my blood they’ll have to clean.” Ax chose not to question his actions. He just accepted them.
“It’s quicker if you hit the brain directly and, not to mention, it will leave a smaller mess.”
“You don’t care if it’s quicker or cleaner, Ax.”
He nodded his head, a small smirk playing at the corners of his lips. He wasn’t about to feel sorry for the fucker.
You reap what you sow.
“That’s true, I don’t. In fact, if it was up to me you would die every single day for the rest of your life and you know what? It still wouldn’t be fucking enough.” He told him with an air of hatred. “Now, say what it was that you wanted to say and stop this fucking game.”
Bruce took in a deep breath, shaking his head slightly. A few stray hairs fell from his bun and framed his face, making him look a whole decade younger. “I know I keep on telling you that you were supposed to be my son but-” He cut himself off, finishing the vodka, before taking a step closer to Ax, his breath fanning his ear.
His mouth moved, saying the words he had been waiting to say for years but Ax didn’t respond. He stood frozen as the four words crossed the threshold of his mouth and entered his ears.
After that, he removed his body again, a self-righteous smirk on his features.
There was nothing Ax desired more than to be that bullet, only for a few seconds, just enough to feel the metal collide with his brain and to see pieces satter around.
Placing the gun, for what seemed like the millionth time, against his temple, he gave Ax a nod. One that the younger man responded to with a nod of his own.
Ax wasn’t sure but he thought he saw relief in his enemy’s eyes, just a moment before he closed them, accepting his defeat.
Without a second thought, he pulled the trigger.