Disclaimer: I don't own Sons of Anarchy.
Summary: The reverse of a coin...
Rain. So much rain. Thick and heavy with the bite of electricity in the air from a far off storm.
Roosevelt cursed under his breath as he got out of his truck. The downpour had begun after he left his house clad only in a shirt and slacks and he was soaked to the skin in the time it took to cross the street. He stopped on the kerb, looking down the road. He'd parked a good ways up from the bar, as if distancing his car would also distance himself from this place, but it didn't feel far enough. No law man, no decent man, could safely set foot here.
And yet here he was.
Rivulets of water streamed down his face as he hurried towards the bar. The thick curtain of rain reduced his visibility to mere feet in front of him and he almost walked straight into the man who had summoned him here.
Juan Carlos Ortiz.
The young man was hunched on the sidewalk; black hoodie pulled up over his Mohawk, and he cradled his right arm to his chest.
Roosevelt knelt down. Juice looked up at him and Roosevelt could see in the grimy fluorescence of a nearby streetlamp that the streams of water running down his cheeks were stained red. His lip was badly split and a mess of congealing blood coated his right eyebrow.
"Who did this?"
"No-one." The kid must have caught his look because he clarified. "Just a guy. Nothing to do with the club." He said.
Roosevelt noted the lack of a kutte and looked around for Juice's bike, but it was either concealed, hidden by the rain or… Roosevelt spotted the yellow-brown pick up that Juice owned parked a few metres down the road. So it was "or" then, Juice was here under the radar.
He frowned. Was Jax aware that his members crossed over to Galt?
"I'm not even wearing my kutte." Juice said, still attempting to convince Roosevelt.
Roosevelt decided it was best to keep what he'd guessed to himself and played the suspicious cop routine. "You're on probation." He pointed out and pushed a hand under Juice's right armpit and hauled him up without warning. Juice stifled a moan but found his feet. "Can you walk?"
"Yeah." The reply was ragged.
He supported the young man as he led him towards his truck. "So this just-a-guy…he just started beating on you?"
"I might have mentioned his mother when he spilled my beer."
Roosevelt allowed himself a single snort of laughter, but felt no humour. He looked back at the bar. It wasn't affiliated with any MC's but its poor reputation was well earned. Why would Juice come here?
At Roosevelt's truck, he manhandled Juice into the passenger seat, pushing back the hoodie and grabbing the t-shirt from his gym kit to wipe the blood from the young man's face. The smell of stale sweat rose up to mix with the scent of alcohol and blood.
Juice flinched as the fabric touched him and he hissed, "shit," softly to himself.
"You didn't reach out to one of your buddies?"
"Tried." His words were flat, as if he knew he wouldn't be believed so wasn't making the effort. "Phone's dead."
"This would be the phone that you used to call me?"
Juice ignored the comment and pushed the shirt away. "That stinks."
"I had a good workout." Roosevelt could see his face better now, cleaned of blood and rain and in the dim interior light of his truck, saw that underneath the new cuts and bruises there were slightly older ones. Dirty butterfly closures, stained red, marked his cheekbone. "Looks like tonight isn't the first workout you've had this month."
"I'm a popular guy." Same flat tone.
"And you make lots of smart comments about people's mothers."
Roosevelt closed the passenger door and hurried around to the driver's seat. He started up the truck and pushed the heating up to full blast. They sat in silence for a couple of blocks until Roosevelt felt compelled to end it.
"Why call me?" He asked.
"Because." Juice looked out the window. That flat quality to his voice was gone. He spoke like that was an answer. Maybe it was.
Outside of the club, Ortiz had no friends, no family and no ties… No ties, that is, save one. Roosevelt. A tenuous tie, forged out of secrecy and shame and guilt…but it bound them nonetheless.
Sounds reigned. The wipers shushed back and forth, rain pelted on the roof, the engine hummed, the slick sound of wet tyres against a soaking road…
"Why did you come?" Juice asked eventually.
The words that rose up "brothers gotta stick together" stuck in his throat. He remembered, with a sharp jab of guilt and disgust, when the bruises on Juice had not marred his face but had instead circled his neck. His fingers flexed on the steering wheel. He looked over at Juice, gave him a bitter, half smile. "Because."
They rode the rest of the way in silence.
It was almost 2:30 in the morning by the time they pulled up at Juice's house. The rain had finally stopped. The young man got out, still cradling his arm. Roosevelt wondered if it was broken.
Juice hovered beside the open passenger door a moment. "Thanks." He said finally.
He turned to go.
"Juan Carlos!" Roosevelt called out. "Juice!"
He looked back.
"Back there… What was that about?" He didn't expect an answer.
"Just…" Juice's head moved in a slight shaking motion. "Thinking out loud."
It sounded like he had been right, that he hadn't got an answer, but he'd been a cop too long not to know what truth was when he heard it. He just didn't understand it.
"Best keep your thoughts to yourself." He replied. "And anything you want to say about people's mothers."
Something dark passed across the young man's eyes and Roosevelt knew he'd said the wrong thing.
But then it was gone. The kid was blank and flat again. "Yeah."
Then the passenger door slammed shut between them and Juice limped into his house.