Jax was walking across his property from the shop to the clubhouse to get ready for church when he saw a silver jeep pull onto the lot around 8:30. He didn't recognize the Jeep and lately, with all the crap going on with his club and his family, he definitely had his guard up. He stood and watched as the jeep parked and the engine stopped. He watched as a beautiful woman, about 5,4' with long black, wavy hair, struggled to get out of the jeep. He rushed over to help her when he noticed that she had a cast on her left leg. "Hey Darlin, let me help you," he said. He held out his hand to help her and stopped dead in his tracks when he looked into her eyes. "Peyton?" he stated, giving her a once over, "Is that you?" She looked at him and smiled weakly. That's when he noticed that the entire left side of her face was horribly bruised. "Hey Jackson," she replied in a whisper. "My God, what happened to you?" he asked, the concern evident in his voice. "It's a long story buddy," she replied, "Can you help me? I've been driving since 9:30 last night and I am exhausted.
He couldn't believe that Peyton was back, but the fact that she was back and the fact that she red lined it all the way here in less than a day had him really concerned. He guessed it had something to do with her husband, whom he had hated from the very beginning, but she was so heartbroken after her divorce that she moved on to the next husband as fast as she could to take away the pain of the first one. Her uncle Bobby would be really happy to see her, but what's more, her parents would be over the moon to see her. On the down side of that though, so much had happened since she had been gone, and he was afraid to fill her in on the dirty details.
He helped her out of the jeep and helped her across the parking lot to a picnic table outside of the clubhouse and helped her sit. "Baby girl..." he said, looking at her curiously, "What brings you back to Charming?" He was so happy to see her. She had been his kid sister and he had absolutely adored her and still did and he knew that douche, Justin, was the reason why he hadn't seen one of his best friends in the last six years. "Is it bad that I came back?" she asked, looking over at the row of bikes. He knew exactly who she was looking for and her heart would break into a million little pieces when he filled her in. "No, God no," he replied, "It's just... you have been off the grid for 6 years. We have tried to contact you and your parents didn't have any idea how to contact you either. They had heard from you maybe once or twice every few months and then they would update the club. I just wish I could've talked to you myself. We have missed you around here baby girl." She smiled at him, wincing a little as she did so. "So what brings you home?" he asked. "Jax, I'm in trouble," she whispered as the tears began to fall down over her cheeks.
They were interrupted at that very moment when Tig stuck his head out the clubhouse door. "Hey buddy, time for church," he said before noticing that Jax was in the middle of something, "Damn it. Sorry for interrupting. Take your time man." "Tig, don't be rude," Jax said to him, "Say hi to your little girl." Tig stepped outside and stared at Peyton for a minute before a couple tears of happiness fell down his face. "My God Peyton," he stated excitedly, noticing her fragile state and pulling her gently into his arms, "It is so good to see you little girl." He gave Jackson a look that said, "what the fuck happened?" Jax just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "Come on, let's go see the other guys," Alex exclaimed as he picked Peyton up in his arms and carried her into the clubhouse. "Come on Tig," she said playfully, "Put me down. I'm not as fragile as I look." He refused to put her down until they were standing in front of the table in the chapel. "Look who I found outside talking with Jax," he exclaimed excitedly. Bobby jumped up instantly and they both burst into tears when they hugged each other. "Peyton, sweetheart, what are you doing here?" he asked with a smile on his face. Jax just watched the interaction between Peyton and her club family and he was happy to see that the love they all had for her was still there and likewise for her. She gave a very basic answer to Bobby's question and said that she would fill everyone in later.
Jax watched as Peyton pulled away from her uncle and looked around the table. She turned to me and asked, "Where is Opie and Juice?" Everyone looked at Jax and knew that church was going to be postponed. It was a question that had to be answered. Jax pulled an empty chair from out in the clubhouse into the chapel and put it beside Chibs' chair. They didn't normally allow outsiders, meaning people who weren't patched in, into their meetings, but this had to be done. "Have a seat," Chibs said, patting the empty chair beside him. She smiled at him nervously and then sat down. Jax sat down at the head of the table and looked seriously at Peyton. "Peyton, a lot of things have happened since you left," he said quietly, looking around the table, "We have tried repeatedly to get in contact with you, but your douchebag husband hasn't allowed you to keep in touch with any of us." At this, Peyton looked down at her hands and didn't say a word. "Peyton, Opie is gone," her Uncle Bobby said quietly, "Opie was killed in prison a year ago, about two years after his wife Donna was killed in a drive by shooting." Jax could see that Peyton was at a loss for words. Her head fell in her hands and her shoulders shook as the tears took over. "I'm so sorry..." was all Peyton could mutter, "I have tried to keep in contact..." "Shh shh," Chibs said, reaching over and running his hand through her hair, "We understand that life can just take over, or people can take over. We understand that it wasn't you that lost sight of what is important, but your idiot fucking husband." "As for Juice," Jax continued, "He had to do a favor for the club and he gave himself up. He is doing time in Stockton. He will be in there for a few months at least."
Jax watched as Peyton pulled herself up out of the chair and slowly made her way out of the chapel. The door closed behind her and then Jax looked around at the club. All their faces were sad and they still had no idea why she was there.
Peyton leaned against the door of the chapel and took a deep breath as the tears began to fill her eyes. She slowly made her way to the couch against the wall behind the pool table and sat down. She took in her surroundings and smiled a little to herself. The place hadn't changed at all, it was exactly how she remembered it. Some of the people had changed. There were new prospects and new guys that she assumed had just recently been patched in. But it didn't seem right without Opie and Juice here. She couldn't believe that Opie had died and she had no idea about it. She could feel the anger boiling inside her and just when she didn't think she could hate Justin anymore, he had proved her wrong.
She got up and made her way to the wall of mug shots of all the club members. She started at the top of the wall and slowly made her way down, looking at each one carefully. Then her eyes stopped at Opie's picture. Her heart broke as she reached up and ran her hand over his picture. "I'm so sorry Opie," she whispered as the tears streamed down her face, "I should never have left. It was the worst mistake I ever made. I miss you so much big guy." "And you," she said as she moved on to Juice's picture, "Despite the fact that you ripped my heart out and pounced on it...I will never stop loving you. Even if my life turned to shit after you left." She pulled both their pictures off the wall and sunk to the floor and cried her eyes out.
Peyton looked up when she heard the chapel door open. Her Uncle Bobby and Jax were standing there looking at her and she knew they were concerned for her. Jax walked over to her and took the pictures from her and then carefully helped her up and sat her down at a table. He put the pictures on the table in front of her and him and Bobby both sat down beside her. She looked up at both of them and she knew that they were going to make her talk. She looked down at the pictures of her first love and her best friend and she wished that they were both there with her.
"You said you thought you were in trouble Peyton," Jax said, reaching for her hand, "Bobby and I need you to tell us what's going on." She sat there in silence, looking down at the pictures. She didn't even know where to start and she didn't know what to say. "Who did this to you?" Bobby asked, pointing to her leg and reaching for her face. "Justin did," she answered quietly, "Shortly after we got married he began to get verbally and mentally abusive, but he laid off for a little bit once our 4 year old was born. He continued a little while after that and then once our 3 year old was born he started to get physical. In the last 3 years he has put me in the hospital 10 times and 3 of those times, I was near death." Jax and Bobby looked at each other and she could see the anger in both their eyes. "Two weeks ago I was taken to the hospital by my neighbour," she continued quietly, looking back down at the pictures, "He had thrown me against a wall and then down the stairs because I told him that I didn't want anymore children. He had given me a concussion and broke my leg. That's when I started planning my escape."
Jax clenched his fists and she could see angry tears forming in his eyes. She let the tears fall down her face, but she didn't make a sound. Bobby pulled her into his arms and held her as she unleashed five years of painful, unshed tears. "I came to you guys for help," Peyton said after a couple minutes of silence, "I didn't know where else to go. He kept me from everyone and everything. I wasn't able to meet friends or be without him. He was constantly watching me. It's only a matter of time before he figures out where I ran to." Jax reached for her hand and looked into her eyes. "We won't let anything happen to you baby girl," Jax said, "We will help you take care of this problem. He will never hurt you again."
"Peyton, where are the kids?" Bobby asked. "Social Services took them away about two years ago," Peyton answered, "They have been in a foster home together ever since. I have been granted visitation rights to go and see them every week, but under no circumstances is Justin allowed to see them. Evander and Darcy are in a great home and they know who I am." "How easy will it be for you to get them back?" Jax asked. "The social worker just needs to know that I am leaving him and starting a new life elsewhere. Then there is some paper work and the children will be given back to me." "Would you be able to get them here?" he questioned, "If we sent someone with you to go get your kids and get the proper paper work done, would they be able to live in California?" "Because I have dual citizenship, it won't be difficult to get the boys one," she replied, "Also because of the situation, the court has already ordered that Justin isn't allowed to see the kids, so I won't have to get permission to take the kids into another country." "Next question," Bobby said, "Do you want to come back to California?" "Of course I do Uncle Bobby," she replied, "I never wanted to leave. Justin wanted to move me far enough away that it would be hard for anyone to get to me." "If you want to come back, then we will figure out a plan to make that happen," Bobby said, looking over at Jax. Jax nodded in agreement.
"I need to sleep guys," she said, "I don't know where to go though. I can't go to my parents' house tonight." "You can stay in one of the dorm rooms in the back," Bobby said. Peyton was very familiar with the dorm rooms. She spent many a drunken night in them either just sleeping or having some "one on one" time with Juice. "I don't want to be alone Uncle Bobby," she said quietly. "Don't worry, Chibs is staying here tonight," Jax stated, "He'll keep on eye on you. You can go to him if you need anything." "Thanks so much Jax, Uncle Bobby," she whispered with a small smile on her face, "I appreciate everything you are doing for me. I was scared that you wouldn't be happy to see me." "You're family baby girl," Jax stated, looking a little hurt, "You will always be family. You leaving wasn't your fault. You are always welcome here."
She smiled at them and kissed each of them on the cheek before slowly making her way to the dorm rooms. She opened the door to the room she spent most of her time in and it still looked exactly the same. She closed the door behind her and then laid on the bed and sleep quickly took over.