Ch. 23 The Ring

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Kenny regretted his decision about going to a club party about half an hour into being inside the SAMCRO clubhouse. The party was going on in full force around him, but he felt incredibly out of place now that Piper had been ordered to bartend. For awhile, he'd sat at the bar with Piper, had even taken a couple of shots with him. Enough to make him feel a little tipsy but not enough for him to give in to the sweetbutts. A few of them tried to drape themselves on top of him, but he brushed them off with a quick 'no thank you'. They didn't bother him after that. He missed his girlfriend. He could practically picture Jazzy staring wide-eyed at all the party goers and asking him millions of questions. Now that would've been fun. He'd love her to see this. See the craziness he grew up in. He took a sip of his beer; he'd probably drank too much already, but he didn't care. The alcohol made being there easier, made him a little more relaxed. He didn't know what he'd been thinking when he'd agreed to go. Ellie had been wrong when she'd said this might be good for him; this was doing nothing for him except proving even more that he didn't belong in this life.

He looked around the clubhouse for a moment. As nice as the place looked all freshly remodeled inside; it still felt like some kind of strange mausoleum. Pictures of all the deceased members hung on the walls like a shrine. To his surprise, even Juice was up there. His picture had a black line threw it and was hanging upside down indicating he was a dead traitor. Kenny fought the urge to rip the picture off the wall or at least flip it over. Juice was no traitor. He refused to believe that. He moved his gaze to the picture of his biological father, trying to see some of himself in Opie. He certainly looked like him. There was no denying that. If he grew out his beard and hair, they'd look even more alike, but that's where the similarities stopped.

"Spittin' image of yer old man you are," Chibs stated, setting a heavy hand on his shoulder.

"Yeah," he agreed softly for lack of a better thing to say. He wasn't sure that was such a good thing.

"Just need the beard and a cut."

Kenny sighed heavily, shaking his head. "Not gonna happen."

"You belong on that wall over there. 's in your blood, boy," he insisted,  pointing to the wall with all the mugshots of the current SAMCRO members. "We could use a little more of that Winston stoicism around here. We need it."

"No, thanks. I'm goin' to college. Gonna get a degree and earn money straight."

Chibs smirked a bit. " 's what your Dad tried to do, once upon a time. Didn't fit in with all the school and shit. Ended up right back here with a cut."

"I didn't grow up like him," Kenny stated on a frown; though Chibs' words were giving voice to his biggest fears. Maybe once he was out from under Angela and Juice's watchful eyes, he'd slip right into the club life. He certainly was going to be close enough. But he was stronger than Opie. Had a better support system and better guardians. "Ope never pressured me to join the club, never even mentioned it to me. Not once. He didn't expect me to follow in his footsteps, and my birth mom sure as hell didn't want it. None of my parents do, and I got four of 'em."

"The Ortizes are not yer parents," Chibs said on a scowl.

Kenny grimaced; he did not want to have this conversation with him. Not again. "They are, though. They've given me everything I could ever I want. A perfect, normal life for the last three years. No bombs, no death, just a boring high school. And I've loved every moment of my normal ass life with my adorable little sister and amazing parents."

"Amazing parents," he scoffed, rolling his eyes. "I'll give you Angie. I always liked her. But Juice is a spineless rat. Ye woulda been better off without him."

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