I own nothing you recognize. All original characters and storylines are my own.
"Ok Mrs. Epps, I'll be sure that the song plays at the funeral. I am truly sorry for your loss. I loved him like a big brother. Yes I promise that the note you wrote will be read. I am so sorry, please get well and I'm sure Kip is watching over you, loving you as fiercely as you love him. Yes, ma'am god bless you too." I hung up with Kip's Mom and felt like I should be crying but there was just too much to do. I never really appreciated what my Mom went through every day. At the thought of my Mom I had to sit down, the headache this time was unbearable. I wanted to go to the doctor to find out why these headaches were hitting me so hard and so often but I couldn't bring myself to leave the planning to anyone else.
"Do you need help with anything Mrs. Ortiz?" I looked up to see Chuckie looking lost in the doorway to the office. I'd been splitting my time pretty evenly between TM and Elliot since everything started. Ironically having such an increased workload had made me a much better assistant.
"It's Milla, Chuckie and actually yes. If you could get Phil for me it would be great, he offered to type up the inserts for the memorial cards for me." I gave him a smile as I resisted rubbing my head.
"No problem Mrs.-um Milla." and he was out like a shot, I liked the well meaning man, even if his fingers freaked me out.
I rubbed my eyes as I tried in vain to work the pain out of my head like you'd work a sore muscle. I reached over and took my glass of water when the door opened and the big man appeared filling the doorway. I gave him a slightly pained smile and he took it for the invitation it was.
"You still need me to type up the inserts?" Phil asked and I nodded, wishing I hadn't, "Do you need me to call Juice, have him get you something?"
"No Phil I'm just in the midst of another headache. I have what I want in the inserts but the good fast printer is in the clubhouse, tell Piney you're working for me and he'll let you do the work on the club comp. I just need you to type what I have there and do some editing and make it look classy. The computer screen is kicking my ass right now." I looked over and saw the big man smiling. He'd been hanging out for a couple of months now and was a good guy. He could hack and do tech stuff, not to Juice's level but he could handle things if Juice was away from the fort. That was a big reason why he was being considered as a Prospect. He'd put his hat in the ring a week ago with Shepard and Miles and with the lack of bodies around the table it seemed like the Prospecting was imminent.
"No problem, I hope you feel better Milla." He rested a hand on my shoulder before he took the papers from me and went out the door.
"I hope so too." I whispered as I leaned back in the seat and picked up the time cards, didn't want the mechanics to go without their pay for this period. I continued working in the dark, over the last couple of days I'd become adept at it, the headaches had gotten worse.
My headache was starting to subside and I felt restless so I left the office and went to the clubhouse. Over the last couple of days the mood was somber at best, depressing and soul crushing seemed more appropriate. With the little prince taken and the queen in the wind we were unsure of our footing. Juice had said once that I was going to be queen. If what was happening now was any indication it was a pipe dream. I walked into the clubhouse and saw a sight which would have enraged me earlier, now it was just something happening. Juice was getting a back rub from a croweater. It didn't bother me because I trusted him and knew he was tense, if the back rub made him feel better I was all for it. He looked up from his laptop and the look of relief when he saw me was flattering. I walked up to him and the sweetbutt made to move away but I shook my head.
"Be careful with his lower back but the knots by his shoulder blades are the worst." She nodded and concentrated on his shoulder blades while I took the seat opposite him.
"Phil said you had another headache. You should go in or at least talk to Tara." Juice said before he hissed, she'd found a knot.
"Tara's going through enough shit right now and there's too much to do. We have the wake tomorrow night and the funeral the next morning, not to mention the backlog at the garage, and my duties for Elliot. There's too much to do and no one else to do it." A sharp pain shot through my head and I put my hand to it before I could stop myself.
"You're killing yourself and I can't watch that happen. I'll have Phil and one of the Old Ladies work on the funeral stuff and Lyla can work in the garage, she seemed to handle the paper work pretty well. I think you should quit working for Elliot. I know he's a nice guy and it pays well but it's not worth losing you or Espy." The sweetbutt had realized that we were discussing personal matters and left while Juice took my hand.
"I can't do any of that baby, I don't trust anyone else with this." I rubbed my eyes with my free hand and met Juice's scowl.
"Are you or are you not my Old Lady?" He asked and moved his hand to my wrist so I wouldn't bolt.
"It's not that easy baby, I'm also the president's daughter and queen in absentia. They need me to do this." My eyes stung and Juice took a deep breath.
"I need you to be healthy and calm and bring our baby to term. You think this stress is only getting to you babe?" He took my hand and placed it on my stomach. "Esperanza needs you to be healthy and calm. If I lost either of you it would fuck with me, you know that. I'm going to take you home, put you to bed and have people who aren't you take care of things. Do this tonight and I'll back off."
"I'll go home, I just don't know how I can stop this. I don't feel like my feet are on the ground anymore baby." He moved his hand from my stomach to my neck and pulled my mouth to his.
"That's why I'm here, to keep you on the ground." He said as we pulled apart.
"I love you and I listen to you I just don't know what to do right now." I took a deep breath and Juice pressed his forehead to mine.
He kissed me again and brought me home. As he slowly made love to me I began to feel more like myself and I didn't have any more headaches for the rest of the night.
"When will Looney and Desiree be here baby?" I asked Juice as I looked through the list for the wake RSVPs, we had people coming all the way from Newark for the wake and the funeral. Juice had called Tara without my knowledge and told her my symptoms so now I was monitored and had to work in short shifts.
"Anytime baby. Fuck!" He was on the laptop while I was on my IPhone, just checking off lists of names.
"Still nothing? No contact from SAMBEL yet?" Since Hayes was True IRA it made sense to put our feelers out in Belfast.
"A fucking brick wall, fuck." He was upset so I got down from my perch and wrapped my arms around his neck, He pressed his face to my chest and inhaled and I felt him calm down, we worked like that for each other and that was one of the reasons we simply worked. I held him as I looked at the wall.
"Shit! I've gotta go baby, talk to the mortuary. Paco and Chick from Thief River are going with me." He nodded and I gave him a quick peck before I went out the door. Today was a busy day and I needed to get what I could done.
As I made my way to the funeral home I passed by Jax' house and I couldn't resist I had to see my big brother, see Tara. What I'd heard hadn't been good and I needed to let him know that no matter what I was there. With a quick signal to Paco and Chick I did a U'y and pulled into the driveway. The guys stayed with their bikes and I knocked softly on the door. I waited sbout a minute before Tara answered.
"Tara, I…" I started and she grabbed me in a hug. I hugged her tighter and we just held each other. Before she let me go and dabbed at her eyes.
"He's in the nursery if you wanna see him." She moved away from the door and let me in. I stopped her after she shut the door.
"Before I see him I have to let you know. This wasn't your fault, none of it. Your death would have accomplished nothing." She shook her head and I took her hand.
"I think you're alone in that sentiment." She took a deep breath and took her hand away.
"No I'm not. I'm gonna go check on Jax, then I have to run some errands. Just know that I love you Tara." I pulled her into a hug before I moved to the nursery. There was Jax, laying down on the floor by the crib, so lost. I didn't have the heart to talk to him so I walked back out and waved at Tara as I moved to the front door. So much to do, never enough time.
"I'm glad you could make it. Thank you." I hugged Desiree as she kissed my head.
"We're saying goodbye to a Son, of course I'm here." She hugged me back and Juice put a hand to my shoulder.
"I'm gonna go with the boys, love you baby." He kissed the top of my head and went to the knot at the entrance.
"Love you." I grabbed his hand and we shared a squeeze.
"Gonna go say goodbye darlin'?" Desiree asked and I shook my head.
"I've said my goodbyes. As soon as I can I'm heading outside, it's too thick to breathe in here." She nodded and hugged me again before she moved away.
Juice came through the crowd again with the guys and gave me a sympathetic look. My Dad passed soon after and stopped to give me a quick hug.
"I'm proud of you baby." He kissed my forehead before he went with the rest of the guys to say their goodbyes.
Soon the knot of guys went toward the door and Juice took my hand and walked me outside, he knew I needed fresh air. I walked with him on one side and Dad on the other and leaned my head on his shoulder. I needed eau de Juice to get me right and he continued talking to my Dad and Hap. I noticed Chuckie standing, looking lost like he always did and moved ahead of the group and out of the safety of Juice's arms to talk to him. Then time slowed down.
As I walked to Chuckie the air was filled with the sound of gunshots. I saw people going down, either shot or protecting themselves. I didn't know which and didn't have time to think about it when I felt something hit my chest, then my arm. I fell to the ground and barely had time to register the cold heat that had seeped into my body. The world was getting dark around the edges when I saw Juice's and Piney's faces above me.
"Don't leave me baby, don't you fucking leave me!" He shouted and the world started getting darker. "We have to stop the fucking bleeding."
As his voice got more desperate I was finally pulled under. Then I was floating in the endless dark.