I own nothing you recognize and all original characters and storylines are my own.
"Good morning beautiful." I smiled as I started to wake up and felt myself pressed tightly against my husband.
"Morning handsome." I leaned my face up for that sleepy good morning kiss and wasn't disappointed. Juice reluctantly pulled away and moved so that he was spooning me. I missed him holding me like this.
"Mmmm, I love holding you." He whispered as he nuzzled the back of my neck and I sighed contently.
"Do we have to go to the breakfast this morning?" I asked and he chuckled before he placed another kiss behind my ear.
"What do you think gorgeous?" His hand moved over my stomach and Espy started kicking, she evidently liked having her Daddy back.
"I think I wanna blow you." I said hopefully but pouted when I felt him shake his head.
"As much as I want those beautiful lips wrapped around my dick it ain't gonna happen. Didn't the doctor say no sexual excitement baby?" He asked as he placed another kiss and I found myself pouting again.
"Maybe we could hook up if we went slow…" I left it out there and he chuckled to himself.
"No, I want you just as much baby but not at risk to yourself or Espy. Now you stay here while I go take a shower." I perked up and he laughed again, "You can't join me, just rest here and I'll help you get dressed. Chantal's gonna stop by in a little bit to take you, I'll be taking my bike."
"Chantal's coming to the breakfast?" I knew she was ingratiating herself to the club but I never expected this.
"Phil's guest, also I would like someone to watch you since this is Neeta's day off and your other nurse won't be here til tonight. I have to shower baby." He kissed my cheek before he got off the other side of the bed and moved out of the room. I watched him walk out in only his boxers and mourned the fact that the next time I saw him he'd be fully clothed. With a sigh I lay back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. I had this nagging thought at the back of my head that something was in the air, something big stirring up and I hoped I was wrong because every time I had that feeling bad things happened.
"Millipede!" Jax shouted as he enveloped me in a hug while I sat at a central table with Lyla and Ellie.
"Jax, god it's so good to see you." I said as I hugged him as tight as I was able. Tara came up behind him and once he stood up handed Abel to him before she leaned down to hug me. "God, Tara, I'm so happy you're here in one piece."
"Me too, sweetheart. I have to make the rounds here but we are talking later." She put her hand in mine and squeezed while I nodded. God seeing her there and in good spirits took a huge weight off my shoulders.
"We need to talk squirt, once things calm down around here." Jax said before he moved away and I nodded.
The breakfast was in full swing. Ellie had abandoned me to play with Angie and Piper while Lyla was cuddling with Opie on one of the couches. Koz was sitting with me while Chantal made the rounds getting to know other Old Ladies and Sons. Juice stayed with me, rubbing my back, getting me food, just being there and I appreciated his attentiveness. I could tell that something was up, this definitely wasn't a "glad to be a family" gathering, there was tension. I decided to leave my feelings to myself and just enjoy having my family together and whole for however long it would be.
"Hey Milla." I looked up from my recently filled plate into the face of Unser. I was still stung by his betrayal but since he'd been bitten in the ass I could let it pass so I smiled at him.
"Why, hello Chief. Did you get some of Mom's cinnamon rolls? They're like iced heaven." I smiled wider and Juice chuckled at my side.
"Oh I ate my share. How are you feeling? How's the baby?" I placed my hand on my stomach and was almost lost in thought for a moment.
"As long as I keep my emotions and heart in check I'll be good and Esperanza's a jewel. Best thing in my life right now, well one of the two best things in my life." I said before I turned to Juice who gave me a gentle kiss.
"I'm happy to hear that darlin', we good now?" Unser was never one to beat around the bush. Neither was I.
"You with us?" I asked and Juice started massaging my neck.
"Always shoulda been sweetheart." I nodded and he nodded back. We were on sure footing again.
"Would you like to sit with us Uncle Wayne?" He smiled as I used the old moniker but shook his head.
"That's nice sweetheart but I need to talk to your Dad a bit. Be good." He leaned down and kissed my forehead before he went to talk to my Dad.
"I gota go talk to Ope about something baby." Juice said as he used the hand on my neck to guide me into a kiss before he got up and moved to the couch where Opie and Lyla were still cuddling.
"You ok?" I looked up and saw Koz watching me, I knew that look, he was worried. Something must have shown on my face and I had to shake my head.
"Not really. Here we are at this big family breakfast and I feel like it's a sham. We aren't good, haven't been for so long and I'm so scared Koz, so fucking scared." I felt tears in my eyes, this was the first time I'd cried since Juice got back and it was a record. The longest I'd gone without tears since the memorial service. Koz got up and moved his chair right next to mine before he leaned over and put his arm around me.
"I'm not gonna lie sweetheart, you have reason to be scared. We all do but you're strong, you've been through more in the last two weeks than most people are through in their entire lives and you've made it through. I know you'll make it through this and you know what? You have me, no matter where I am just pick up that phone and I'll come runnin', it's what family's for." He grinned and I couldn't help but smile back as I leaned into the hug and he kissed the top of my head. No matter how old I got I'd always be a kid to Kozik.
"Thanks, I needed that." I grabbed a napkin from the table and wiped my eyes before I blew my nose and Koz moved back but kept his arm resting against the back of my chair.
"Anytime kiddo, now you finish that breakfast before Juice takes my balls for distracting you." I giggled before I attacked my plate. I was hungrier than I thought.
I sat in the corner with Ellie, disconcerted by the events that had just transpired. Opie had asked Lyla to marry him and she'd obviously said yes. As much as I loved both of them and liked how they were together I couldn't support this, it was too fucking soon. Ellie sat next to me and rested her head on my shoulder and I knew it was too soon for her too. She had just started getting along with Lyla and this was going to derail everything.
"Aunt Milla?" I looked down into Ellie's face before I tilted my head and brought our foreheads together.
"Yeah baby?" She sniffled a little and my heart broke.
"It's all going to change again, isn't it?" She asked as she moved so our heads weren't touching any more.
"That's the one thing you can count on Ellie doll, everything changes, and sometimes it's great. Before you ask, your Dad loved and still loves your Mom; he just let his heart grow for Lyla. She loves all of you and would die for you. In this life it's all you can ask for." I reached over with my good hand and she took it.
"Sometimes I hate this life." Ellie said and I had to smile.
"Me too baby but it's the life that we were given so we've gotta live it. We'll talk to your Dad later, see if you can stay with me for a little bit. Uncle Juice or Uncle Koz could take you to school. How does that sound?" I looked over and this time she smiled.
"Great! We can watch the Disney Channel, make cookies, do makeo-" She looked over at me and took in my sling and the portable heart monitor. "Sorry, I forgot you were hurt."
"Don't worry about it doll. Remember we have my nurses, Neeta, Chantal and Aunt Tara would probably love to come over and spend time with us. They would be glad to help with cookie baking and makeovers." This had the desired effect. Ellie grinned as she leaned over and kissed my cheek before she walked over to Tara and tapped her arm. Tara leaned down and talked to her in hushed tones before they both looked at me and we three shared a smile. Ellie would have us. Tara placed a hand on Ellie's shoulder and included her in the talk she was having with Bobby and Ellie looked prouder than a peacock to be there with her.
"Hey Millipede." I looked over and couldn't keep the smile off my face when I looked at my brother.
"Jax…" I leaned over and he hugged me before he moved away and slung his arm across my shoulders.
"I've missed you squirt." He kissed my head and I had to force myself not to cry.
"Missed you too bro. It's so good to have you back, not just physically but you. You aren't the same man who went to Belfast." I knew it was a heavy topic but he nodded and smiled.
"That's because I'm not. Damn, things were bad, weren't they?" He asked rhetorically but I nodded anyway, "I almost lost everything and that made me realize that all the sidestepping, indecisiveness, trying to be something I wasn't was hurting everyone. I almost lost Tara, my son, Mom, you… Shit Mills, it showed me that I had to fight for this, for our family. It also showed me that I have to start listening to people. Like my little sister who isn't afraid to tell me that my head's up my ass. Thank you Milla."
"I'm just glad you're back." He grinned as he pulled me tighter and kissed my forehead.
"So am I. Listen Koz told me a little bit about what's going on in your head and I want you to know that everything will work out. Please trust me with this Mills. We'll all come back to you." That was it, the waterworks had started and Jax held me while I cried.
"You said you wanted to talk to her, not make her cry." I looked up at Juice who was smiling at the sight of Jax holding me while tears poured down my face.
"She's pregnant, she cries. It's just one of those things." Jax smiled and squeezed me tight before he got off the couch and kissed my forehead again. Juice held out his hand and I took it before he hoisted me up and began walking me to the dorms. Once we got to one he opened the door and ushered me inside. I sat on the bed and looked expectantly at him.
"Baby, we need to talk." Juice was bouncing on his feet while he stood by the door. When he ran his hand over his Mohawk and I knew he was nervous about something.
"Whatever you need." He turned around and sat on the bed next to me while I took his hand.
"We're going in soon baby and I have no idea when we'll be out." I could feel the color drain from my face and I started to get cold. This was the very last thing I wanted to talk about.
"I can't talk about this right now." My throat and my chest were tight but he just shook his head.
"We have to, I know you're getting Tribal Assistance and Lowen set it up so that you'll get spousal assistance once I get in and you have the Tribal insurance so I know you won't be hurting for money or medical care but I want you ok baby. I mean it, I know that you and I have this relationship where we depend on each other, maybe a little too much, but I need you to depend on yourself baby. I need you to go on without me because if you fall apart who's going to be there for Esperanza?" Tears were falling from my eyes as a steady stream by this time and he used his thumbs to wipe them away while he held my face in his hands. "I love you and our baby more than anything in the world and I need you to promise me that you'll be strong, that you'll be the rock she needs."
"I don't know if I can. You've been my everything since I met you in the office that afternoon and I'm not sure I can live without you." My tears stopped being silent as I started to sob.
"I know you can baby and I know that you're fucking terrified right now but you can do this. You know why?" I shook my head, "Because you're a tough, sexy bitch you won't let anything stand in the way of raising our baby right, not even your own neuroses. You'll be strong because Esperanza needs you strong. She'll be the only link you have to me on the outside and I know you'll love her and protect her or die trying. Today is gonna be tough baby and I need you ok, if not for me or yourself than for our daughter, our princess."
"You're going for retaliation aren't you? Jimmy O...the Irish…" I looked into his face and saw the truth there. Today was going to be big.
"Promise me that you'll stay out of this. Once breakfast is done go home, maybe go with Tara, Lyla, even Chantal. Just spend the day with the girls. I'll check in and I won't be leaving you, not when I have you in my arms again." I sniffled and stopped my tears. Juice was right I had to be strong for my daughter, for my family. I took a deep breath and he looked into my eyes. What he saw there must have been what he was looking for since he swooped in and gave me a gentle kiss. "I love you."
"I love you too." I whispered as his hands moved from my face and I moved in for another kiss. This kiss was deep and passionate as I started to move toward him. We both moaned as the kiss deepened and his hand found its way to my breast. I maneuvered and managed to get his pants unzipped and slipped my hand inside. I could tell he was getting too far gone to care and began to move even closer. I didn't know how far this would go or if it would even approach gentle but I needed to try. To quote Neeta, I was a "stubborn greedy child" and I needed this. His hand moved from my breast and found its way between my legs as I soundlessly encouraged him and he had just gotten to the outside of my panties when there was a loud knock at the door. Juice seemed to snap out of his trance and looked at me with glazed eyes as I settled next to him on the bed and tried to catch my breath.
"Juice, we need you out here man and Lyla's taking Milla to Tara's for some bonding." Opie's voice came clear and clean through the door, I just knew he'd been sent to check on us, we'd been in here way too long. Juice licked his lips and took a deep breath before he moved away from me and straightened his shirt and cut.
"Damn, Ope has good timing." Juice gave me a smile while I nodded. My heart was beating fast and I realized just why the doctor had said no sexual excitement. "You ok baby?"
"Yeah, just feeling stupid. I should have had better self-control than that." That made him laugh before he leaned over and kissed me, chastely this time.
"You have no self control baby, at least when it comes to sex. I love you; now go have a good day with your girls." I nodded and we both got off the bed. He got to the door first and opened it for me, Ope was leaning against the side with a knowing smile on his face so I stuck my tongue out at him and felt better. He just smiled and followed behind. I stopped at the table with Lyla and Tara while Juice kissed me soundly.
"I love you and no matter what happens today I'll always find my way home to you. You and Espy are my home." I didn't know where it came from but I nodded and kissed him again.
"I love you too, mi Corazon." He smiled and gave me one last kiss before he went out the door with Opie. The bad feeling I'd had all day intensified and I had to sit down.
"You ok?" Tara asked as she finished loading up Abel's diaper bag.
"Peachy, ready to go get some serious Old Lady bonding done?" Lyla laughed and helped me to my feet as we went out. Chantal had gotten called in to work but she promised to be back later, it was a huge relief to have her around. With Lyla's arm linked with mine we took her car while Tara took the cutlass and went to Jax's house, a place that didn't hold any more demons.
"How you doin' Tara?" I asked as I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of tea. Lyla was in the living room getting things set up for the kids, she knew I needed some alone time with Tara.
"I'm fine, you have more to deal with. You were the one that was shot." Classic Tara, trying to draw the attention away from herself.
"You were the one who was kidnapped and assaulted. You know you don't have to be like Ma right?" She gave me a puzzled look and I continued, "You don't have to be all stoic and silently nurse the pain. You can be strong without being cold. Tara I have total faith in you and love you. I'm here to help you work through everything."
"Thank you." She said quietly as she leaned over and kissed my cheek. I knew that she wouldn't talk now but when the time was right she would open up. My fears were unfounded, she was nothing like Ma.
"I love you." I said quietly as Juice held me.
"So damn much baby." He kissed me gently for what had to be the dozenth time since he had gotten off his bike and crossed the lot to where I was standing with Ma.
He hugged me tight and refused to let go. I held him the best that I could and tried to beat down the feeling in the pit of my stomach which told me something big was coming, bigger than anything yet. He leaned in for another kiss when our attention was brought to the entrance to the lot where my brother's bike pulled in followed by two dark sedans and a paddywagon.
"What's going on baby?" I was suddenly more afraid than I'd ever been and he kissed my forehead.
"I don't know, go over to Lyla. We'll find out." I nodded and threw my good arm around his neck for a tight hug. He held me tight before he gave me one last kiss and nudged me over to Lyla.
Lyla wrapped her arm around my waist and we watched while the cuntfaced bitch started harassing my father. I couldn't hear what was said but everyone was tense. Dad said something and Juice and Tig opened the garage up and got into the cutlass' trunk, ah, they'd asked for Jimmy. Lyla and I watched as Juice and Tig pulled him out while an agent checked to make sure he was unharmed. Lyla tugged me and we walked over to the row of bikes. Now I was close enough that I could hear bits of what was being said.
"…luck of the Irish though, yeah?" Jimmy said and I wanted to put a bullet between his eyes. By all counts he should have been dead but he wasn't and now he was walking out with the bitch as she smugly surveyed what was going on around her.
Dad said something and Stahl looked around her, a smug triumphant look on her face as she looked at my brother. She said something and Jax sprang into action.
"Son of a bitch!" He yelled as he launched himself at her and the agents kept him away. The guys were asking questions and Jax looked apologetic before Bobby launched himself and pushed Jax.
"You ratted!" Suddenly the blood was rushing through my ears and it was all I could hear. My brother was a rat…no, no, no this couldn't be. The last person in the world to fucking rat would be Jax, then I looked at the bitch and saw the folders in her hand. No fucking way, I couldn't believe it, wouldn't believe it. The rushing slowed down and I heard my father as he pointed at Jax. Jax was a dead man, if Dad didn't do it one of the others would. Tears streamed down my face as Mom went up to them and was held back as agents started taking the men away.
"NO!" I shouted as I broke from Lyla and ran to Juice. I threw my arm around his neck but the agent tried to pull him away.
"Let the princess say goodbye to her outlaw." She said and the agent stopped as Juice pulled me into his arms and started whispering in my ear.
"It'll be ok baby, go to your Mom, she needs you. Remember you and Espy are my home, I love you baby." He kissed me and squeezed again before the agent tugged him away and I went to Mom who was sobbing as much as I was.
I stood by her, not seeing anything but my husband being led into the back of the wagon. He glanced out and nodded at me, the nod simply meant "everything will be ok" and I didn't believe it for a second. He turned around and I lost strength in my legs as I sunk to the ground. I watched as the wagon pulled out and was starting to get numb. It was old friend and bitter enemy all at once and as it started to seep into my bones Esperanza kicked and it snapped me out of it. Lyla moved over to me and helped me up while I stopped the tears. Espy needed her Mommy and needed her strong. I could be strong for her.
"He's so beautiful." I whispered as I stared down at Abel as we sat in her bed. Mom and I needed each other and there was no denying it.
"Esperanza will be just as beautiful." Mom gave me a guarded smile and I nodded, my baby would be half of her father, of course she'd be beautiful. I rested my head on Mom's shoulder and she kissed my forehead. We sat there just watching Abel sleep for a long while before there was a knock at the door. We both looked up and Lyla was standing with Phil and Miles.
"They need to see you." she said and Mom simply nodded her head as they came in.
"Jax wanted you to read this then burn it." Phil said as he handed Mom a letter. She gave me a look and I nodded, this was private so I kissed her cheek and moved around the bed until I could stand alongside Lyla.
"What is this?" Mom asked as she took the letter out of the envelope and began unfolding it. Phil looked uncomfortable but answered her anyway.
"I don't know." He shrugged and moved slightly toward the door. Miles moved forward, respectfully.
"Is Tara here?" He asked and Mom looked at him coolly.
"No she's at Jax's." I almost flinched at her tone, I knew she wanted Tara here with us and considered it bad form that she wasn't.
"Ok have a good night." Miles said and he and Phil moved out the door while Lyla and I stood by the door and waited for Mom to dismiss us. She took the letter and reached to the nightstand to get her reading glasses. She started to unfold them before she looked over at us and gave a small smile with a nod. We were dismissed. I waved at Mom before I went outside with Lyla and she helped me down the stairs. Once I got down the stairs I felt exhausted, today had been physically and emotionally draining. Lyla took me to the den and I almost started to cry when I saw Koz sitting in the recliner smoking while Opie sat in the other chair staring at the wall. Both men got up and took turns hugging me and Lyla. When Opie hugged me I felt a change in him and I held his bicep as he tried to move away.
"What did you do Ope?" I asked and he leaned down to kiss my cheek.
"I righted a wrong." That was all he said and I hugged him again. I'd get the story in time so for now I could be patient.
"Ready to go home little momma?" Koz asked as he placed his arm across my shoulders and kissed the top of my head.
"So ready." I said as I snuggled closer to Koz. He was my big brother in every way but blood and I needed him. Before we went out the door I stopped in front of Lyla.
"Keep an eye on Ma, let me know how she's doing." She nodded before she hugged me and kissed my cheek.
As soon as I got in the car I felt my bones turn to jelly, it wouldn't surprise me if Koz had to carry me in the house. I was grateful Koz had borrowed the caddy from Piney, there was no chance of being caught off guard by Juice's scent in here. Koz got in soon after me and I looked over and smiled.
"Thank you for everything Koz." He smiled back before he reached over and tousled my hair.
"No problem." He started the car and backed us out the driveway before he started driving us toward my house, only instead of going straight he took a right and drove to the park here he drove to a corner spot and stopped the car.
"What's going on Koz?" I asked and sat straight while Koz ran his fingers through his hair and looked at me.
"Juice and Clay wanted me to deliver a message to you." I nodded, I was actually expecting this, only I was expecting Phil to be the messenger. "Jax isn't a rat. We had this planned from the beginning but we felt it was better to keep all the ladies out of it."
There were tears in my eyes, tears of joy, my brother wasn't a rat. He wouldn't be killed and I'd be getting him back with the others.
"Everything we did had a purpose and it worked out, the guys get out in fourteen months barring killing anyone and they'll get weekly visitation, including family visitation, it was part of the deal. That means you can see Juicy boy once a week and he'll get to meet Esperanza right away. You see sweetheart? It worked out for the best." I nodded as I continued to cry tears of joy. My daughter would know her father and I'd get to see my man once a week.
"Thank you." I whispered and he smiled before he put the car into drive and we were on our way home. "Koz?"
"Yeah sweetheart?" Koz asked as we moved onto the street.
"I know you don't wanna be voted in under the wire, but I need you and Espy needs you." He reached over and ruffled my hair.
"I already talked to Clay. I'm being voted in as a temporary member of SAMCRO while the guys are in, then once they're out it gets put to vote again. I wouldn't abandon you Milla, not when you need me the most." I looked over and smiled.
They were in prison and would be for a while longer but I didn't feel as bad as I thought I would. I'd get to see Juice once a week and Esperanza could come with me. She'd know her Daddy and her grandpa and all her uncles. With that positive thought I felt my eyes drift shut and I was out like a light, content that my world hadn't stopped spinning.
Author's Note: There we are, the end of By Any Means, it was a long hard road but I feel like I accomplished something with this story. This is by no means the end and another story will be started soon. I need to show Esperanza being brought into the world and how Juice responds to having a baby now. The guys will still be in prison but I decided to add the visitation thing. It was part of Gemma's deal so I thought it would work out well for the guys. I wish they could have conjugal visits ;) but Federal Prisons don't allow such visitations. The new story will also be working collaboratively with Superdani, since I'll be including a character from her fic The Nurse and the Son and we'll have to sync up our timelines. Anyway, thank you all for reading and reviewing I truly do love and appreciate all my readers.