Sorry for the delay in posting this on TWCS, was posted to FFN last night but TWCS wouldn't work from where I was.
I have never written anything like this, I don't know my feelings of the afterlife, I've never thought about it enough to make any decisions but here's a little thing that was holding my brain hostage.
The last thing he remembered was the huge silver grill of the truck heading straight towards him, then nothing. Blinking his eyes awake he has several long seconds of complete confusion. With the way he lived, any thoughts of the afterlife for him normally came with images of fire, brimstone, lava and the screams of those he'd killed, tortured and injured just by breathing. What Jackson Teller was not expecting was to be sitting upright in an office chair in a completely white office, even the ink in the pen he absentmindedly picked up seemed to be white.
A door slams behind him and a voice he hadn't expected to hear again, ever, reaches his ears "You owe me more than you know."
Spinning around his eyes land on the almost identical pair on a face the same age as his own "Dad?"
JT stalks around the desk, disbelief and annoyance radiating from every pore of his body towards his son "Yeah, and do you know how many favours I had to pull in to get your case. Let alone how many people I now owe in order to get you one shot at redemption."
Jax swallows, the emotions in his fathers' eyes are plainly readable, the love is there, but it's buried deeply under regret, sadness, horror and guilt. "Redemption? I'm a criminal who in my last days of life killed; or arranged the deaths of; a former police officer, my own mother, two gang land bosses, including one from the IRA, and multiple others. And I get a shot at redemption? Did you promise your first born sons soul."
JT chuckles softly "You are my first born and I'm fighting for your soul, not selling it. You have some people pulling strings for you up here son. And they're not just tugging lightly, they're throwing their whole beings behind getting you one chance at the future you so desperately wanted for yourself and your family."
JT looks down at the desk, seeming to read something on a page, before turning it over and continuing, his eyes darting from side to side over a white on white page. "Hmm. So you get to choose from any of the turning points in your life, a point where things could have gone either way. You get to go back to that time and change your mind."
Jax blinks in stunned disbelief. "But I killed myself?"
JT laughs, his breath coming in gasping inhalations by the time he stops, his face red under the beard that's neatly trimmed along his jawline. Lifting his hand he rests his chin on his fingers "And so because of that you should have eternal suffering." At his sons nod he chuckles again "It doesn't work like that. Don't believe everything you read. There is a system, yes." He sighs at the searching for information look that lands on Jax's face "You want to know?"
Jax nods, leaning back in the chair, not so much wanting the information, just the time to sit at look at his father. To hear the man who should have been around his whole life speak. To absorb the feeling of having his father impart knowledge onto him.
"The system really is very simple. In order for someone to be considered for access one person has to nominate them, a second has to agree and their admittance has to then be passed by a group of anywhere between 15 to 150 people. The more people consider you, the 'worst' your actions on earth are deemed to be."
Jax snorts "I bet I had 151 people."
JT shakes his head "Contrary to what you think right now you're actions are not as bad as some of those that have passed through our doors. Some don't even make it to the assessment point before they're sent to the never." JT shudders "That's what we call that which isn't here. It's nowhere. Darkness and blankness everywhere. After a while that nothingness drives people to the brink of insanity. That's when they're given one more chance, a chance to look at their lives, and if they feel sufficient remorse they're allowed to go to Limbo."
Jax's brain twists, his mind trying to comprehend that somehow in the craziness of his last few days, weeks, months, years , he's managed to get people who still love him. "Am allowed to ask who spoke up for me?"
JT shakes his head "No. There are messages for you though. Brief ones but here they are; 'I'm sorry baby.'" Jax knows instantly that Tara sent him that message. She'd be saying sorry for dying, sorry for not fighting more, sorry for lying about the baby, the letters, the deal, Kohn but those three words are all she said so Jax takes what he can from them.
"Your second message is 'Love you bro.' That came from two people."
Jax nods, the images of Opie's smiling face and Thomas when he was having a good day popping into his brain as he blinks.
"The last message is the longest and the one I second wholeheartedly. 'You did good son. You did what JT wanted and he's proud of you." JT shakes his head as Jax grins.
"Piney told me that I needed to follow your words." Jax tells his father "I'm not surprised he's here with you. I'm sorry about what happened to him."
JT shakes his head "Don't worry about it. Piney can breathe without help, he can drink as much Patron as he wants as long as his son is occupied. But we only have a specific amount of time here. You have about ten minutes before you have to decide so start thinking now where you'd like to go back to. If you can't think of a situation, I'll pick one. Either way when you get to the crossroads I will make one choice easier than the one you originally picked. You will be able to bypass it if you choose. With any luck you'll pick the right way and we won't meet again for another 50 years at least."
Jax leans back in his chair, thinking of the forks in the road of his life. Going backwards he can see the most obvious ones. Killing Marks, Barosky, Roarke, Unser, his own mother in the last 48 hours of his life. The battles with the Chinese, the Cartels, Zobelle, Darby. The blood that drips of his hands at the thought of the lives he's taken for the sake of his club. But then he stumbles onto something that makes his heart stop. His family and their destruction because of the patch. His brothers that have lost their lives. The innocent ones; Opie, Otto, Bobby, Piney, Filthy Phil, West, Kozik. Then the ones that he thought deserved it; Juice, Miles, Clay, Gogo, Greg the Peg, Frankie, Hobart. Looking over the desk his thoughts stop at the death that started it all, his own father.
Jax swallows, his mind made up when JT looks up, his eyes cloudy. "As much as I'd love to be able to say we can go back then we can't." Jax opens his mouth to protest but JT shakes his head and lifts a hand "I'd like to be able to go back to the day I died and start again, but it's one choice you can't make. It was my death and I did have the chance to redo my life, to see how things would have gone differently but I didn't want to."
Jax feels a crushing weight of disappointment but before he can open his mouth JT comes around the desk, dragging his chair "It wasn't that I didn't want to be with you, but Thomas was here, he needed me more than you did. And you can't pick your brother dying. Nothing you would have done, or could have done, would have changed that. He died because of his heart, that wasn't fixable. I'm sorry son, but you have to pick something else."
Jax nods, his knee pressed against his father's seems to ground him and his brain searches further back Donna's death, bringing Abel back from Ireland, marrying Wendy, the hundreds of other women he slept with, patching in, prospecting, dropping out of school. His eyes close and when he opens them again he nods "I know which fork I want, and I know how I want to change it."
JT nods, a huge smile on his face "Good luck." Standing up he turns towards the door and moves his fingers towards a bright red button that appeared as he stood up halting suddenly when Jax jumps to his feet.
"What happens to everyone that's died since I made that decision?" He asks, a lump in his throat "And what about those that have been born."
JT drops his hand "Those that have been born get put back into the 'cue' so to speak. They will still be born, it may not be to the same parents, or in the same country, but they will still be born right on their soul's schedule. Those that have died come back to the place they were when your choice was made. Yes, this does make many alternate realities, but we up need something to occupy ourselves with between meetings like this."
Jax frowns once more "Meetings like this one happen once every few weeks, with the amount of people who die that's still dozens of alternate realities for us to watch. It's like our own TV shows which never end."
Nodding Jax shuffles his feet "What do I do?"
JT smiles and hugs his son tightly "You do nothing. I push this button and you end up at your crossroads. You won't remember any of this but I will be watching you son. I'm proud of you."
Jax throws his arms around his father "I know you do. I'm sorry I couldn't do what you wanted sooner."
JT laughs "You did it though. Now you get another chance." A huge gonging sound echoes through the room and JT sighs "That's our time up. I'll see you again."
His fingers caress the button "I love you son." His fingers depress the button and all Jax sees for a split second is a blinding white light.
Almost 18 year old Jackson Teller stretched in his bed, his mother's voice having woken him "Jax, breakfast is ready and you're meant to be at TM in an hour."
Sighing he pulls himself from his bed, the goatee he'd decided to grow itching slightly but his girlfriend seemed to love it so he stuck with it. A smile crosses his face at the thought of the good-girl Tara Knowles and that the first man (and only man he swears viciously to himself) she'd chosen to be with was as far from good as black was from white. A soon–to-be leather wearing prospect for the Sons of Anarchy Redwood Original motorcycle club. Glancing at his clock he swears under his breath "They won't let me prospect if I'm late."
His stepfather had laid down ironclad rules for him, be at TM every day from the day he dropped out of school till he turned 18 then he'd be given the prospect patch, provided he earned it. His 18 months earning the privilege to be considered for the patch had been hard. Up at 5am every morning to be at TM by 6, not home till well after 1am every morning had been hard, but between his best friend, Opie, and himself they'd managed it. Now they were both 3 days from their prospect votes and Jax couldn't wait. He knew that the prospecting would be just as hard as the proving himself, but he was looking forward to it. Now if only Tara would calm down about it.
Throwing the blankets off his leg he stands up and scratches his stomach absently searching for clean jeans.
For some reason that afternoon he and Opie are given the evening free of anything, both told to vanish at 4pm Jax barely takes a second before pulling his work shirt off and heading out of the garage.
Throwing his leg over his bike as he fires it up he grins, the feeling he gets every time he does this will never get old. His brain compares it to sex, that first morning cigarette and coffee combination, waking up after a good night's sleep, the high from top quality weed that his mother always leaves around. Starting his bike he takes the familiar roads to his girlfriends' house, stopping in her driveway as the door slams open.
Tara runs across the grass, her hair flying behind her, the tiny shorts and singlet she's wearing sending a jolt of lust straight from his brain to his crotch as he turns the bike off "Hi." He barely manages to get the words out before Tara's arms are around his neck, her legs around his waist and her lips glued to his.
After a rather enthusiastic good morning kiss Tara sets her feet on the ground with a faint blush "Sorry about that, I heard you arrive and felt like I hadn't seen you in months."
Jax chuckles, throwing his arm around her neck and tugging her towards the house "No need to say sorry about that welcome. You can do that every day when we have our own place."
Tara chuckles, the sound becoming strange in the middle of the noise "About that."
Jax lifts one eyebrow as she pours coffee into two cups, handing him one as she drops bread into the toaster "What, are you having second thoughts about getting a place?"
Tara shakes her head, her eyes wide and shining "No. That's not it at all. I have something I have to tell you."
Pulling a thick letter from behind the bread bin she turns towards him, her teeth grabbing her bottom lip nervously "I got accepted to medical school." She pauses "In Chicago."
"Chicago, as in Chicago Illinois?" Tara nods and he frowns "That' s over 30 hours away babe. I wouldn't be able to see you, not once I prospect."
Tara nods again and pushes the letter towards him "I want you to come with me. Leave Charming and everything behind. I know you can't see it but Charming is poison baby."
Jax shakes his head "I can't. I can't leave the club, my mom, Opie."
Tara's eyes flash dangerously "But you can leave me?"
Jax narrows his eyes, his voice rising as he speaks "It's not me leaving, it's you."
Tara grabs his hands before he can leave and lifts them to her chest "Please Jax. Please come with me. I'm leaving at 10pm in two days. Think about it, please?"
Jax nods, spins on his heel and leaves, all thoughts of a quite ride and a burger with his girlfriend escaping his head in favour for the anger that Tara could leave so easily.
48 hours passed incredibly slowly for Jax. He was irritable at TM, snapping at everyone, everyone noticed but it was Opie who told him to pull his head out before he got fired, and refused the patch. Jax considered telling him his troubles but decided at the last minute not to. As the minutes ticked down towards the time Tara had said she was leaving Jax's mind was split in two, half of him wanting to stay right where he was in Charming. TM and the Sons in his future like a prewritten destiny while the other half wanted to leave with Tara, see what Chicago had to offer and how his life would turn out. At 8pm Clay finally had enough and snapped at him and Opie to get out of his sight before he used their heads as toilet brushes.
Riding home he pauses at the intersection where he could turn left to go to Tara's or right to go home, back to his mothers and the dinner she would have made. To listen to her talk about JT and how proud he would be of Jax and the patch he'll soon have. Blinking slowly a series of images that make no sense to Jax burn into his eyelids with each blink. Short videos of people he knows dying start playing behind his eyelids. Donna being shot by Tig. Opie dying in prison blue. Otto being shot by corrections officers. Himself holding a smoking gun over the corpses of Unser, Clay and his mother. A man he's never seen before standing behind Bobby with a gun in his hand, Bobby missing the fingers on one hand and an eye. The last image burns deeply into his retina's, blinking rapidly the image of his mother standing over Tara's body refuses to be moved. Shaking his head to clear the images he feels a sense of dread and fear flood his veins. The people whose pale ghostly faces he'd seen all have others with them. All bar one. Making up his mind he turns towards Tara's house, choosing her over everyone else he'd seen.
She's walking towards her Cutlass with a suitcase in her hand and looks up as he pulls in behind it. A soft smile flicks across her face but refuses to stay "Are you okay Jax?"
He nods and turns his bike off, crossing to her and pulling the suitcase from her hand. Setting it down on the ground he cups her hands between his palms and kisses her lips softly. "I love you."
Tara nods "I know. I love you too. Did you come to say goodbye?"
Jax shakes his head, wrapping his arms around her waist "You know that since I was five all I wanted was a Harley and a kutte."
Tara chuckles "Yeah I know. You told me that."
Jax nuzzles his nose into her hair "Well I want you more. I'm coming with you. Are you ready to go?"
Tara stills in her arms "You mean it?" At his nod she looks around "What about your stuff?"
Jax shakes his head "Half my clothes are already in your room, knowing you you've boxed them up?" Tara nods and he chuckles "Well then I'm fine. What's at Ma's can stay there. The bike can stay here. I don't need it. I'll ring Ope and get him to come pick it up. He can have it as a spare, or sell it."
The sight of Tara's battered and bloody body had shaken Jax to a place he didn't know existed. Grabbing her suitcase he jams it in the boot and slams it closed "What else is there?"
Tara points towards the door "Your stuff and my backpack."
Jax follows her to collect the mentioned items, pushing them into the backseat before hugging Tara again, kissing her till she's breathless. "Lets go."
Tara nods "Yep. Time to leave this toxic little town in the rear view. Thank you Jax."
Jax laughs as he starts the car, grabbing her hand and kissing her fingers "There was never a question babe. I want you more than I want a Harley, more than I want a Kutte. I need you as much as oxygen, and I need that to survive; just like I need you."