I own nothing you recognize. All original characters and storylines are my own.
Author's Note: This story is a further exploration and reworking of events that I explored first in Changes. I wrote that story when I was still learning the finer nuances of writing fic and I felt that it could be further drawn out. Also, this scene was requested by a very faithful reader and I felt like she had a point, it needed to be further explored. I also felt that we needed insight into what was going through Clay's head, the look on his face during the confession was so heartbreaking, so devastating that he needed to voice those feelings. I hope you enjoy it dear readers.
Her world spun. Yeah it seemed like an over-used, melodramatic cliché but there was no other way to describe it. Her husband was in the hospital, Lu was dead, the Club was coming apart at the hinges and she was about to lose her brother. She wasn't lying to herself, she knew that Jax wasn't cut out for the Nomad life, he'd be swallowed whole and leave them all behind. Tara didn't deserve that and Abel certainly didn't, but what do you expect when the man in question never really had to think about the consequences of his actions. Her mother had made sure of that. Smoothing over any problems he had in school, intimidating women into leaving him be after he'd fucked and dumped them, essentially making sure he never had to answer for any wrong he'd done. It made Milla sick but she still loved her brother, would gladly give up her life for his. Even if she wasn't one hundred percent sure he'd do the same for her.
With a sigh she rubbed her forehead where a headache had taken up residence and went back to her work. There was an issue with one of Elliot's sites that required mountains of paper work done so she was trying to make a dent in that work. The one business class she had taken during the summer had given her an idea of what she was looking at but she still needed further training. Thank god Elliot liked her and was willing to put up with a hell of a lot. She also had enough understanding of Elliot to know that, while he still felt like he was held to the wall by Clay, he trusted her and hired her for her skills, not because of her dad. Her dad…shit she was so angry at him, so sickened by his complete lack of concern over Juice. He'd set him up as bait, not something she was that angry about. These men lived and died for the club so a little fake seduction wasn't the end of the world. Hell, even her dad couldn't have known that Juice would get shanked. Those were the things people assumed she was angry about, on the surface maybe but what really pissed her off was the fact that her dad didn't visit, not even as a courtesy from the King to one of his brothers, that stung, not even to mention that the brother in question was his son in law, the father of his grandchildren. She thought Juice should be worth something to her dad, because he was everything to her. With another deep breath and another shot of pain through her temples she resumed work, if for nothing else than to get the bitter, angry thoughts out of her head.
Soon enough she was stuck in a vortex of legalese and business language, filing all the insurance claims together and the worker's comp, finally she had one pile finished and was ready to begin on another when her phone rang. She ignored the first volley, not wanting to talk to her Mother, the enabler, who excused everything her dad and brother did under the all-encompassing banner of the club. A few seconds after the first volley of rings accosted her she heard a second volley and a feeling of panic gripped her, she needed to answer this call, she knew she had to.
"Hello." She answered calmly, not giving away her panic or any eagerness she felt talking to her mom.
"I need you to come to the house baby, there's something you need to know." There was a crack in Gemma's voice that frightened Milla to the core. This woman didn't break, she didn't cry. She yelled, she screamed, she fought but tears weren't something Milla knew how to deal with coming from Gemma.
"I just need to stash these files on the cabinet, then I'll be on my way." Milla said as she stuffed the files she could work on in her messenger bag.
"Hurry baby." Was all Gemma said before she hung up. Milla quickly went to the cabinet and placed the files in the unsorted drawer before she left the office and made sure all the doors locked behind her. Once she was on the road and in the direction of the house she allowed herself a chance to catch her breath as she thought of all the possible, potentially horrifying reasons for this meeting. Something horrible had obviously happened to her mom, that much was obvious, and Milla just knew that was the reason for the meeting and the dread that seemed to seep into her bones. With determination that came from the Morrow and Madoc blood that flowed in her veins she took a final deep breath, unbuckled and got out of her car. Her mom needed her and she would be there.
Once Milla put herself in order she walked into the house and saw that Jax and Tara were already there, she'd been so focused on psyching herself up that she hadn't noticed his bike or the Cutlass. Jax walked over and gave her a hug while Tara filled a teapot in an effort to keep herself busy and away from the tension that seemed to permeate the house. Once Jax let go he squeezed her hand and sat at the table while Gemma took his vacated spot in front of Milla and held her face in her hands. The look in her mom's eyes was a haunting mix of pain, fear and steel that was hardened further by that determination that so permeated everything Gemma Teller-Morrow was. A determination she'd passed on to her children. Milla brought her hand up to her mom's and caressed gently earning a small smile from her mom before those hands held tighter and she brought her lips down to Milla's in a gentle kiss. Once the kiss was done Gemma moved away from her daughter and went outside to wait for Clay while Milla took the seat next to the one Tara would sit in, she knew Tara's place was with Jax and wouldn't encroach on that.
She sat quietly for a few minutes and observed her brother. Jax was tense and as worried as she was but he didn't fume, didn't fuss and she felt proud. For once it wasn't all about him. She mused on this new feeling of pride while Tara poured some of the tea she'd just brewed in mugs for everyone that would be present. Not out of any desire for the beverage but simply to give her something to do. When Tara was nervous she needed to work with her hands and being the drink server afforded her that opportunity. Soon Milla's musing was cut short when her mom entered the house with Clay in tow and Jax rose, starting the inevitable standoff. The tension was unbearable as they stared each other down and Milla was starting to feel that familiar pain in her head, a pain that had started the night she heard that Juice had gotten arrested. Just as she was gearing up to tell them to stop it, to focus on Gemma, the Queen herself looked between the two most important men in her life, son and husband. What she was about to say would heal this rift between them, make their bond and the Club stronger but she needed them to be in the right place to hear it.
"Sit down both of ya." She said as she moved toward the table then she looked at Tara, "You too sweetheart, sit, you know what it is I have ta tell them"
"What is this?" Clay asked, obviously voicing the question Jax and Milla had as well. Gemma looked at them sternly, commanding them in a silent way to be quiet and let her speak. It was a command that all three took to heart while Tara sat still as stone and allowed the events to unfold. Milla watched her mother, observing how her "ice queen" façade started to crack and vulnerabilities started to make their way to the surface. The subtle cracks, unlike the sudden breaks her mother had been experiencing lately, frightened Milla to the core. She stared at her mother, trying to figure out how to deal with the fact that this woman she put on a pedestal, an untouchable force, was actually allowing them to see her vulnerable. As she folded her hands in front of her, in a gesture her daughter had inherited, Gemma began her story.
"The night of Bobby's party. I didn't get into an accident driving home… I was attacked." She looked into the eyes of the people she loved more than anyone in the world and saw anger, fear and loyalty shining back. It was what she needed as she continued. "Minivan pulls up behind me, girl jumps out in a panic cause her baby's chokin'. The girl's very convincing, it was a goddamned doll in the carseat. Hit me over the head with a, ya know, a blackjack, somethin'. I came to handcuffed to a chainlink, utility house out by the access road."
Milla felt her heart beating at a rate that was too fast to be good and felt the blood coursing hotly through her veins. She knew, she fucking knew what was coming next and her brain refused to process it, refused to acknowledge that anyone could hurt the woman sitting in front of her. As tears started to form in her eyes she blinked them away. This was about her mother and her mother needed her strong.
" They wore masks, there were three of them. When he spoke I-I knew his voice, the tat on his throat, Zoebelle's right hand, Weston." Jax started, his anger starting to boil over, but he managed to reel himself in before Gemma continued. No one understood his temper better than she did so she paused to allow him to collect himself before she continued. "Told me to… deliver a message to you, stop selling guns to color. Said if I didn't tell ya that he'd find me and do it again… They raped me, all three of them more than once."
The look of devastation on Clay's face matched that of his daughter, horror and pain coursed through the both of them as they both tried to process what they'd just heard. Clay felt helpless, angry, disgusted with the filth that did this to his woman. Above all he hurt, hurt for the woman he loved more than anything else in the world, a woman he knew he would have done reckless things to protect, had done reckless things to protect.
The blood that had coursed violently through Milla's veins only seconds before stilled and she felt cold, a cold that went to her bones, a cold she'd only felt once before and this time she didn't have Juice to fix it. She stared blankly at her mother, not really seeing her as the numb took over.
Jax slammed his hand against the table and for once it wasn't a show of petulant rage. He had no other outlet for his feelings so he took out the rage on the safest target. The sound and vibration caused Milla to jerk momentarily out of her haze and she watched as Jax rose and walked to their mother, the woman whose blood tied them together.
He took Gemma's hands in his own and kissed them with tender reverence in a gesture meant to show his love for her, to show that he thought no less of her. Gemma held in her tears while Clay broke down little by little. Seeing Clay's misery Jax placed a comforting hand on his shoulder which Clay accepted and in one moment all was forgiven, the bond was reestablished. Before Jax moved further he went to his sister and knelt in front of her. He knew that look in her eyes and knew he had to do something to snap her back. He grabbed her hair and tugged enough to cause a bit of pain and it was exactly what she needed, her eyes moved from her Mother and focused on her brother, lucid and filled with pain, but at least they focused. Jax brought his forehead to hers and the tears started to fall. In that moment he knew she'd be ok so he moved his face up and kissed her forehead before he placed his hand on her stomach, reminding her that she couldn't go to the bad place. She nodded in comprehension before he kissed her forehead one last time and moved to Tara. Milla's eyes tracked her brother and she felt a sudden rush of anger when she saw Tara. Tara had known and said nothing. Logically she understood that Tara couldn't say anything, but this situation didn't hold to logic. She felt a blind rage as she watched them walk to the door. Before they made it out she tore her eyes away from the doctor and saw her father pull Gemma into an intimate gesture. It was so tender, so very, very intimate that she rose and followed her brother out the door, once outside she took one deep breath after another, the panic attack that had been threatening finally taking hold. Jax pulled her into his arms and held her while the hyperventilating changed to sobs and continued to hold her as those subsided to sniffles.
"Are you ok?" He asked as he held her face in his hands she nodded dumbly and Tara came to her side subtly taking her wrist with two fingers.
"Would you like me to take you to St. Thomas? To see Juice?" Tara asked and Milla shook her head, she couldn't go, she'd tell him everything and she just knew that her Dad would want to address this in church. Also, she didn't want to be close to this traitor. She thought Tara was her friend, her sister and keeping this from her was unforgivable.
"If we leave you alone will you be fine?" Jax asked and Milla knew he needed to leave, to digest this in his own time and space so she nodded, knowing that she couldn't be alone for long but needing it just the same.
"I won't let the numb get me." She said quietly and he nodded once before he kissed her forehead and went to his bike. Tara knew better than to go for a hug so she simply gave a sympathetic nod and walked to the Cutlass. In a few moments both had pulled out and Milla was graced with silence, except for the voices in her head screaming over one another to be heard. Soon the voices got to be too much and Milla felt herself start to sway, that was her cue to find a seat and she did, sinking into one of the rocking chairs her mom had sitting on the porch. Once in the chair she felt herself crack and the tears poured again. How could this have happened? Gemma Teller-Morrow was the epitome of the tough bitch, she was the one other tough bitches aspired to but could never get right. If this could happen to her then anything impossible could happen. With a sob Milla doubled over and clutched her stomach, she would not throw up, she would not and thankfully she didn't. Above everything else she didn't want her mom or Kip cleaning up her vomit. As she fought to keep herself from being swallowed by her misery the door opened and she saw her dad watching her by the glow of the porch light and without thinking she was out of the chair and clutching him for dear life. He held her just as tightly. She wasn't angry with him anymore; her mother's confession had healed more than one rift.
Clay held his little girl in his arms as she fought back sobs and he held in his own tears. He'd already cried with Gemma and that was enough, his angel needed his strength, needed him to be her rock and that's what he'd be. It had been so long since he'd had any contact with Milla at all that he quietly relished holding her in his arms again, in spite of the circumstances. He understood why she cut him off, why she kept her distance. He'd failed her as much as he'd failed Juice. He'd allowed harm to come to his brother and that was unforgiveable. Not to mention that the boy was his son, not "in law", his fucking son and he'd put him in a position where anything from rape to murder could have happened. His failure was the reason he couldn't stand to even look at Juice. Knowing the boy forgave him when he couldn't forgive himself. As these thoughts swirled into his head other thoughts joined. He hadn't just failed Juice, he'd failed his Queen. This never should have happened, their women were supposed to be safe, protected and lately he couldn't even get that right.
"Daddy." Milla said quietly and he rested his head on top of hers.
"Yeah angel?" He heard his voice cracked and she squeezed him tighter.
"I'm sorry." He knew why she was apologizing and he felt a tear escape. She was sorry she froze him out and he shook his head.
"No reason to be darlin'" He kissed the top of her head before the sound of the door opening brought his attention over, there was his Gemma, his Queen watching them. He extended a hand to her and she came to them, enveloping Milla just as Clay enveloped her. As he held both of his girls, the two women who meant more to him than anything else in the world he made a vow. They'd never know this pain again and if they did the person who caused it would know what hell was before the end. Ethan Zoebelle and A.J. Weston were going to be the first to find out just how hot that hell burned.