Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. All original characters, with the exception of Gillian belong to me. Gillian belongs to the amazing Superdani.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to two lovely people. First, I dedicate this story to Kenny Johnson who celebrates his birthday today. Without his portrayal of Kozik this story never would have happened. Secondly, I dedicate this to Superdaniwho is the biggest Koz fan I know and a wonderful friend. The title is another little something that was inspired by Dani. Irmão means brother in Portuguese and she knows why I chose it. Enjoy!
"Get out of the doorway, they'll be here soon!" Mom shouted as I stood in the middle of the doorway, inadvertently blocking the way for her croweater helpers of the day. I did as Mom asked and walked back into the expanse of the clubhouse.
"Sorry, I just want them to hurry up." I said petulantly and Mom smiled.
"Don't worry baby, they'll be back and I bet Kozik got you something cute." I grinned Koz was always buying me little, girlie things on runs. Things my Dad would never dream of picking up for me.
"Want me to help?" I asked Mom as I pointed to the food she was setting out and she shook her head.
"That's what they're for." She jerked her head to the croweaters, "Just go make sure your brother's not getting in too much trouble."
"He's probably on the roof smoking pot with Opie." I grumbled and Mom laughed.
"He probably is, go remind him that your Dad's on the way back and he was supposed to sweep up the shop before they got back." The thought of Jax getting in trouble made me perk up so I ran out of the clubhouse and climbed up to the roof where I saw that I was right. Ope and Jax were smoking pot and looking at those gross magazines that Tig usually hid whenever I entered the room or Dad would slap him upside the head. Now it was Opie's turn to hide them when he saw me.
"What are you doing up here squirt?" Jax asked as he and Opie put out their joints and stuffed the remainder in their pockets.
"You guys were supposed to sweep up the garage. Daddy's gonna mad at you." I said in a sing song voice and Jax cringed before he swore.
"Fuck, did you remember Ope?" He asked and Opie grinned.
"I swept yesterday and the day before. It's your turn. You said you'd cover today since I let you go off with Tara yesterday." I felt a grin split my face. Double trouble for Jackson. He was supposed to be studying for a history test yesterday, now I knew he was out with "that damn girl" as Mom called her. I liked Tara a whole heck of a lot but I was not above using her to get Jax in trouble. It was such a rare thing that I relished every opportunity I was given.
"Dude, the snitch is right there." Jax huffed and I felt my eyes narrow.
"Don't you ever call me a snitch!" I said angrily before I turned back to the ladder and got on the first rung. "I'm an informant and Mom's my handler."
I grinned and went down the ladder before I ran for the clubhouse door. I could hear Jax rushing down the ladder while Ope laughed and took his time, I wouldn't dare get Opie in trouble but Jax was a big enough brat that I liked to watch him twist in the wind. Just as I was close to the door I heard the first bike pull up and stopped in my tracks. Jax did the same only he immediately turned his heel and ran to the garage, grabbing a broom and furiously sweeping. He won this round, I was too happy that the guys were back to tell Mom about his bad behavior. I remained by the door while Mom, Precious and Lu came out. Lu put an arm around my shoulder and Precious ran her fingers through my hair. I smiled up at her, no one seemed to like Precious and I didn't understand it. She got in a lot of fights with Bobby and sometimes said bad stuff about the club but she was always good to me and would let me play with Tiki whenever I wanted. I didn't really like little kids but Tiki was special. She smiled back and we stood waiting while all the guys pulled up in the formation. Dad led followed by Otto, then Bobby, then Piney on and on until they rounded out with Koz. Once they all got off their bikes and stretched all the old ladies went to their men and I stood for a few minutes before Koz turned from the conversation he was having with Tig and gave me a smile. That was all I needed, I ran to him and wrapped my arms around his waist. He hugged me tightly in response.
"I missed you too kiddo." He grinned and ruffled my hair before he reached into his saddle bag and nudged me. "I got you a gift."
I unwound my arms and he placed a wrapped package in my hands I tore it open and gaped at him. It was a leather bound journal with the picture of a crow tooled on it.
"I thought you'd like something special to write in." He grinned as I hugged him again. Sometimes I thought no one in the world knew me as well as Koz did.
"Stop fidgeting darlin'. I know you're nervous but we won't be here long." Dad said as I straightened my shirt for what had to be the dozenth time. I didn't know how I was supposed to be calm, I'd never been in a prison before.
"Sorry Daddy." Yeah I was nervous; I reverted to the "daddys".
Pretty soon the guard called us up and we were given a minor search, they had to call up a female guard to search me then we were taken to a meeting room with a few tables. Despite how nervous I was I couldn't keep the smile from my face when I saw Koz. He looked up and I was expecting a smile in response but that's not what I got, and the smile quickly left my face.
"What did you bring her here for Clay? I didn't want her to see me here." Koz said angry and Dad just raised his eyebrows.
"She wanted to see you and you know I don't refuse my babygirl when she wants something I can give her." I smiled at my Dad before I turned back to Koz and he sighed.
"I'm glad you're here Milla, I needed something happy and a visit from you fits the bill." He stood up from the table and gave me the briefest hug ever before he sat down quickly. Dad had warned me that only really brief touches were allowed so the guard would be sure no one was passing the prisoners things. It made sense.
"I miss you." I said softly and Koz smiled a weak version of his usual smile.
"I miss you too. How are things at home?" He asked and Dad smiled.
"This one here just made honor roll." I knew they couldn't talk about club business with me there but I still blushed at the pride in Dad's voice.
"That's great sweetheart. When I get out of here we've gotta go to the movies, maybe get a shake at Stumpy's. You deserve it." I smiled but I still felt like crying.
"I'm counting the days. Maybe we can have a Die Hard marathon." I suggested and he smiled wide.
"Sounds like a great idea kiddo. You helping Tiggy with Missy?" He asked and I nodded.
"Yeah, he pays me to walk her every day and take care of her on runs. Easy money." I smiled and he nodded.
"Good, Tig loves that damn dog." He went on to fill us in on how he was doing and despite the fact that I missed him and was happy for this opportunity to see him I wanted out. I discovered that I really did hate prisons, not just the idea of them.
"You're sure you want to do this?" Koz asked and I nodded. "You really sure cause once Hap gets started that shit's permanent."
"Yes, I've thought long and hard about this, I know exactly what I want and where I want it." Koz sighed in defeat before he led me to the pool table.
"You sure you want this girlie?" Happy asked as he cleaned off his needle and I nodded. "Clay, you ok with this man?"
I looked over to my Dad who was locked in a conversation with Tig.
"Yeah, Gem and I decided she was old enough for this. She's a hell of a lot more responsible than most of the little retards her age. Just don't make it too big Hap." He commanded and Happy nodded.
"Where you want it?" Hap asked and I took off my shoe and pointed to the top of my foot.
"That's gonna hurt doll, not enough fat to pad it." He motioned to one of the Tacoma prospects who brought a chair over and had me sit. While he examined my foot Koz put his hands on my shoulders.
"You're really sure about this?" He asked again and I nodded.
"Very sure." He squeezed my shoulders and nodded to Hap.
"So you want a clover with its stem wrapped around a bone key?" He asked and I nodded, I wanted to carry good luck with me. Hap just shrugged before he cleaned off the area and held it once he had the needle prepped.
I wasn't prepared for the first bit of pain but Koz held me to keep from jumping and I steadied my breathing. Eventually the pain gave way to a pleasant sensation and all I really felt were the vibrations. Koz rubbed my shoulders and kept me calm and before I knew it the tat was done and I had to smile. It was perfect and far larger than I'm sure Dad wanted.
"You did good kiddo." Koz said as he kissed the top of my head and Hap rubbed some ointment on it before he put the cling wrap on. Dad wandered over and examined my foot.
"It's larger than I wanted but that's some damn fine work." He clapped Hap on the back before he turned to me, "No more til you're thirty and you are never getting a crow."
"Whatever you say Daddy." I said dutifully and he smiled before he tousled my hair. I looked at Koz and he grinned before he leaned down and whispered in my ear.
"I've got a friend in Lodi. You want more just say the word." I grinned, sometimes Koz just knew the perfect thing to do or say. He was such a good big brother, almost as good as Opie.
"No!" I shouted as I ran at Koz and hit him in the chest. "You're not leaving me!"
"Sweetheart I have to. You think Tig's ever gonna let it go?" He asked and I sobbed before I wrapped my arms around his waist.
"It wasn't your fault. Missy just got excited and broke the leash! If it was anyone's fault it was mine. I should have realized her leash had a weak spot. You shouldn't be punished for my mistake!" I shouted as I clung to him and he held me tightly.
"This isn't on you sweetheart. You're not the one that hit her, it was my bike she ran in front of. I was the one responsible for her while he was in, not you. This is all my fault and I'm taking the consequences. Tiggy wants me gone, doesn't trust me anymore so there's only one thing I can do and that's leave before the shit storm starts. I'm planning on patching into Tacoma with Hap, so you don't have to worry about me kiddo." He rambled as he moved so that he could run his hand over my head while I cried. "Stop cryin' Mills, I need you to buck up and act your age. As much as it kills me to say this you're not a little girl anymore and I need you to act like it."
"I'm still a teenager, I'm allowed to cry." I countered and he moved my arms from around him.
"Yeah you are, but don't babe. This isn't all bad I'll still be here for another couple of weeks while we wait for Harlan to send the letter and I have to get packed up. We can go to the movies, I'll take you for rides, hell we can even go to that douchey little restaurant you want. I'm not just going to abandon you." That was what I needed to hear, I wiped my eyes and Koz gave me a smile. "There, now I promised you a night of action movies and junk food. Let's head out."
I nodded and followed him out to his bike, taking a deep breath to chase away the last of the tears. This whole situation was fucked up. Koz, my Koz, was being forced out because of a dog. Admittedly, I loved Missy too, she was a good dog, but it was an accident and Koz was broken up about it. Tig had no right to force him out. I stopped that train of thought before I got to the bike and Koz handed me my helmet. Tonight was going to be a good night, we were going to watch action movies, pig out on junk food and completely ignore the fact that he was leaving. It was the only way to stay sane.
Miss U! Cum back! U need 2 C this new top I got.
I rolled my eyes at Carmen's text. I'd told her that I was going home for the mid-term break and would be gone all week but she kept on sending me these insistent little messages. Messages I promptly erased because I knew Mom checked my cell while I slept. I'd kept Carmen a secret from everyone, except for Donna, for two months now and I planned to keep her secret for longer if I could help it. Even so I decided to text back.
Miss you too. I can't come back, I'm home for break and they would be suspicious if I left. I'll see you when I get back.
Right before I hit send I felt a large presence behind me and almost jumped when it spoke.
"Who do you miss?" I quickly hit send and turned my head to see Koz standing with a brew in one hand and a bottle of Coke in the other. He handed me the Coke and took a pull of his brew as he raised his eyebrows.
"Just a friend." I said quickly as I ignored the buzzing telling me she'd texted back.
"Aren't you going to check it?" He asked as he took another pull.
"In a minute. I missed you." I said as I gave him a hug. He hugged me back tightly but once the embrace broke he gave me a crooked smile.
"What are you hiding Milla?" He asked before he quickly put down his beer and before I could even blink grabbed my arm and shoved the sleeve of my cardigan up. "No bruising, let's check the other one. "
He grabbed my other arm and did the same treatment before he took my chin between his thumb and forefinger and looked at my face. He nodded to himself before he picked up his brew again.
"What are you hiding?" His voice took on a commanding tone and I shook my head.
"Nothing, I'm not hiding anything!" I insisted but I should have known better. Koz was one of the few I couldn't lie to. He was on par with Luann, Donna and Opie in that respect. Before I could do anything my phone buzzed and Koz took it from my hand.
"'Where are you? Is everything ok? I want you home.' The one you missed was 'Just leave, I need to see you, I want you home' both are from a Carmen. Wait isn't your roommate Carmen?" He asked and I grabbed the phone from him.
"No Carmen's my roommate's best friend but she might as well live with us, she's there all the time anyway." I looked at the texts, quickly typed "call me later", then turned off the phone and put it in my pocket.
"What's going on Milla? Why does this Carmen chick sound like a nervous girlfrie-" He set down his brew and looked at me. "Oh shit."
I said nothing as I walked out of the clubhouse and across the lot toward my car. I was getting out of there before I gave everything away. Koz followed close behind and with his long legs took several strides ahead of me and grabbed his helmet from his bike. He tossed it to me then climbed on.
"Get on." I took the command for what it was and as soon as I was on with the helmet in place, he kick started and we took off. Once we got to the park he parked and got off. "Come on."
I took off the helmet and hung it on the handle bars before I followed him to a secluded picnic table. Once there he sat down and gave me a look. I took it for what it was and sat quickly.
"Dating chicks now?" He asked and I wanted to hang my head at the accusation in his voice but couldn't because I wasn't ashamed of being with Carmen…I was scared. "Come on Milla, you can talk to me. Has there ever been a time when you couldn't?"
"I can't talk to any of you about this, you wouldn't understand." I felt tears in my eyes. I remembered quite clearly the first time I told my Mom that I really liked one of the girls at school, really liked. She looked me straight in the eye and told me that no daughter of hers ate pussy. If I wanted to experiment in college, go for it, but it had to stop there. I also remembered when Leelee wanted to prospect for the club. He was told no because a "faggot" had no place in our world. Lesson learned, I had to hide that part of myself from everyone and until now I was doing a damn fine job of it.
"What's not to understand? I saw the picture you texted to me. If she's that brownie that had her arm around you, then damn…you have good taste girl." I looked shocked and he smiled at me. "I'm not saying I condone this but if you want to have fun with a chick I'm not going to stop you. It's not serious is it?"
"It's getting there. I think I'm falling in love with her." As soon as I said the "L" word he flinched.
"Don't say that kiddo, playing around is one thing but love. Shit, Milla that's getting in deep. Promise me you'll think twice before you take the plunge, before you do anything stupid because we both know how your family's going to react." He pleaded and I could do nothing but nod. "Good, the last thing I want is for you to lose everything because of some little brownie dyke."
I was preparing to protest when he looked at me.
"Get used to that kind of language girl and be prepared for worse once your Dad finds out." He advised before he reached over and tousled my hair. "Remember, you can always come to Tacoma if things get too bad, because once they find out about this shit things are gonna go bad."
"I should just tell them shouldn't I, rip off that bandaid?" I asked and Koz nodded.
"Yeah, let's go back to the clubhouse, they're all there and I'll stand with you. No matter what happens, you'll always be my kiddo. Even if you have dykey tendencies." He tousled my hair again and got up from the picnic table. After I rolled my eyes at his retreating back I got off the table and followed him back to his bike where I slapped the helmet on my head and got on, preparing myself to meet my doom.
"Jesus Christ Pete!" I repeated for the dozenth time while I got the mop, brush and dustpan. "Clean the fuck up and don't make me tell you again."
I commanded the prospect and he did as he was told, mopping his mess and cleaning the glass. Yeah I was harsher than I should have been but the fucktard had interrupted my call from Juice. For the first time in forever we were apart and it was almost unbearable, made doubly so because some punk had blocked my number on his phone so we were unable to talk until just a few minutes ago. Now I had to deal with the prospect and I knew I wouldn't hear from Juice again for a while. I was not in the best of moods.
"Where do I-" Pete started and I glared at him. "Right."
He scurried off and I resumed tending duties. Since most of the guys were gone that meant that the crowd was light so I just handled everything until Pete came back. Pretty soon my feet were killing me, trying to break in a new pair of Docs is not fun, so I had to sit down and once I did I took the opportunity to check my phone. My brow furrowed in confusion at the multitude of texts, mostly from Koz. They all had a variation of "call me" on them so, since I was taking a break, I did.
"Hey bro." I said as I slipped my boot off and gingerly rubbed my foot.
"When were you going to tell me?" He sounded put out and I was confused. I didn't keep anything from Koz.
"Tell you what?" I asked, trying to feel if the thing on the side of my foot was a blister or just a sore spot, god I hoped it was just a sore spot. I needed to break these babies in, not nurse a blister for days.
"That you're dating the prospect. Jesus Mills I thought you agreed to let me sign off on your guys from now on, since the whole Alex situation." I flinched; I hated being reminded of the worst year and a half of my life.
"Technically we're not dating." I rationalized then hissed, it was definitely a sore spot but there was a little, devil-blister on my little toe. Damn it.
"Yeah, this "getting to know each other shit". You still shoulda told me." I smiled, he was just looking out for me and overprotective as always.
"I'm sorry, how'd you find out?" I rubbed my toe for a few seconds before I put my sock on and pulled on the boot. I was already having a potentially uncomfortable situation, no reason my feet couldn't be uncomfortable too.
"Bobby told me. Don't worry I'm not mad at ya kiddo. In fact you made a good choice here. The kid's crazy about you and goes out of his way to protect you. He thought I was implying you were a whore and got in my face about it. It's nice to know you're with someone who will protect you and not hurt you." I smiled, he'd just essentially given his blessing.
"He's been protecting me from the start. When are you heading down to see me? It's been a while since we shared some quality time." I asked as the smile stayed on my face.
"I'm riding down with the guys when they head back, your Dad has some shit he wants me to help Hap with so I'll be comin'. Harlan already gave me leave. Besides I wanna see Juicyboy in action, see how he treats you." I chuckled at the thought before I looked over and sighed.
"I have to go Koz, this fuck up of a prospect is doing body shots while some dumbasses are raiding the bar. Hurry back, I'm not equipped to punish a man who's a foot taller than me and outweighs me by a good sixty pounds." I sighed again and it was Koz's turn to chuckle.
"Don't worry doll he'll be punished plenty when we get there. Give your Mom a kiss for me." I smiled again, things were looking up.
"Will do, make sure my man doesn't do anything too stupid." This time he full on laughed.
"No promises, I love you kiddo." I knew he meant every word.
"Love you too." We hung up and I stalked to the bar. One look at my face and the hang around who had the Stoli quickly stashed it under the bar and ran for it before I grabbed Pete's ear and twisted it. He yelped and I felt better, but not as good as I'd feel once the fellas got back.
"I'm ok, I'm ok…no need to wake Helen. Shit…" I felt the tears pouring out of my eyes. Everything was burning, my chest, my stomach…below my stomach, my head, my arm. I wasn't a human anymore I was sentient pain. They said the first couple of days off the morphine drip would be bad but I had no idea how bad they would be. God, I prayed my babygirl's chest didn't hurt this bad. I took a few deep breaths like I learned in the one Lamaze class I managed to drag Juice to before he decided that it made him feel "gay", but they weren't helping. I was trying to focus on something else when a searing pain in my abdomen made me cry out. Damn it, I didn't want to wake the fucking house up.
"Hey, what's wrong? I can hear you crying in the basement." I looked up to see Koz with sleep tousled hair dressed only in a wifebeater and a pair of boxers. He looked wide awake and completely concerned.
"I'm fine." I lied and he shook his head.
"Bullshit, where's Helen?" He asked, as he looked around. "The bitch is sleeping on the couch again isn't she?"
"She has long days, she needs to sleep." I was pissed to but not enough for her to lose her job.
"Well her long days just got shorter. We're filing a report and getting you a new nurse. What can I do for you sweetheart?" He asked and I pointed over to the table.
"My pain meds are over there. I couldn't reach and it hurt too badly to try to move." He nodded as he picked up the pain meds, turned on the lamp and began reading the directions.
"Ok, when was the last time you had these?" He asked and I wracked my brain.
"It's on the log on the nightstand." He nodded and picked it up.
"Shit, you were supposed to have a new dose three hours ago, no wonder you're in pain." He quickly took out two pills and poured me a glass of water, holding the glass dutifully as I put the pills in my mouth before he gave me the cup. I gratefully swallowed and he took the cup back before he pulled the chair over to the bed and sat down.
"You don't have to stay Koz." I said and he shook his head.
"I'm just staying here until you fall asleep doll, then I'm going to fire the old bag in the living room, then I'm gonna call Gillian to see if she wants to earn some extra money. When she gets here I'm going back to bed. First though, I'm gonna make sure you're taken care of and that there's someone with you. The last thing I ever wanna see again is you alone and in pain." I smiled softly, he was gonna tan Helen's hide once I was asleep.
"Thank you for staying with me." I said and was relieved that the pain was already starting to subside somewhat, it was probably psychosomatic but it didn't matter. All that mattered was that I hurt a little less.
"Don't thank me darlin'. I'm here because I love you. Now try to get some sleep, Espy doesn't need a cranky Mama." I smiled and allowed my eyes to close. Knowing Koz was here and protecting me was all that I needed…well that and the drugs.
"Lost in thought?" I asked Koz as he sat on the porch with a brew and a cigarette. As soon as he heard my voice he dropped the cig, crushed it under his heel and turned around.
"Naw, just thought I'd come out here and enjoy the sun." I smiled, such a liar.
"I bet I can guess what's rattling in that head of yours. It's about 5'9", long dark hair with brown eyes that seem to shine. Am I about right?" My smile widened as his mouth opened and closed as he thought of something to say. Eventually his mouth set in defeat.
"She's amazing Mills." With those three words I knew he had it worse than I'd even realized.
"Yeah she is. What are you going to do about it?" I leaned against the railing for a few seconds before he quickly got up and led me to his vacated chair, then he was the one leaning.
"She's not a croweater or a bar slut. I'm completely out of my element here. I don't even know where to start." He looked mildly panicked and I decided to help him out a bit.
"You're right she's not a club whore or a bar slut. She's a nice, normal, good girl and that means that you've got to treat her like she's a nice, normal, good girl. You've gotta go slow, let her show you how she wants to be treated. I know you're SaA, an enforcer, used to leading chargers and taking what you want but with a girl like Gillian, a girl new to how things run in our world, you have to be more delicate, use finesse. Essentially, it's her show so let her run it, but don't be afraid to do little things to show how you feel. Getting her coffee during her shift, checking on her dog…fixing her shower…" Suddenly realization dawned in his eyes and he grinned, the smile lighting his face.
"You think you and Gemma will be fine here for about an hour while I go to the hardware store?" He asked and I grinned.
"We'll be fine, Miles is supposed to take the bird to the vet, so he'll be here any minute." Koz walked over and kissed the top of my head.
"I don't know what I'd do without you." He said before he stood and walked through the door.
"Ditto." I said softly as I sat back in the chair and breathed in the smells emanating from Ma's garden. I smiled softly to myself, he deserved to be happy and I hoped he could find that happiness with Gillian.
Author's Note: These oneshots will not stop and I'm happy about that, because it means I can stay sane. I discovered that today is Kenny Johnson's birthday so I'm super excited that I managed to finish this, especially since I've been working on bits and pieces for a few days now. Thank you all for reading and I hope you feel free to review. Thank you.