I own nothing you recognize. Only original characters and storylines are my own.

Pater Familias

Milla stood outside the window watching the room that housed her father. She couldn't bring herself to go in. She watched the machines blink and the oxygen he was attached to go up and down, only glancing at the man in the bed every now and then. Every time she got a long look the tears would start again and she'd just gotten them under control. Eventually her eyes got tired of the monotony and she forced herself to look at her father. Milla felt the emotion close her throat, but she willed away the tears. He didn't need tears and he didn't need pity. What he needed was his little girl and she straightened her shoulders and stood as tall and as proud as she could and strode into the room, stopping at the foot of his bed to look at him.

There he was, the man whose blood ran through her veins. The man who taught her to be strong and proud. Now he lay in the sterile bed...dying... No! He wasn't dying, she couldn't think that. He never gave up on her when their roles were reversed and she owed it to him to show the same faith. With a glance up and a quick prayer to that god that she only called to in times of distress, she went to the bed and took his hand only to drop it when she felt how fragile it was. This wasn't the Clay Morrow everyone feared and respected. The man in this bed was old, injured and frail. That was the thought that caused the dam to burst and Milla found her way to the chair next to the bed and practically collapsed. How could this happen to him?

The thought caused her to sit up and dry her eyes. She knew how this happened. He'd gotten greedy, made bad decisions and endangered not just himself, but everyone else. She knew the Cartel shit was bad, but she never dreamed that it would be this bad. She knew that even though the shooter was most likely a Niner the bad blood came from dealing with the Cartel. Everything bad that had happened since they got back could be linked to the Cartel in some way and it made her sick. The thought was almost enough to make her leave the room, but a glance at her father made her change her mind. He may have been a greedy heartless bastard but he didn't deserve this...he didn't deserve to die alone. With a nod of her head she stood and went to the bed. She leaned against the railing and took his hand in hers. This time she wasn't going to let go. He needed to know there was someone who wouldn't bail on him. No matter how far he went down that rabbit hole.

Clay's eyes blinked open and slowly focused. Shit, everything hurt and the world was still a little blurry. He felt a light pressure in his hand and looked over. If he could have he would have smiled. There was his angel, looking like her nickname with the light around her head. He should've known that she'd be with him. She was loyal, more loyal than that bitch of a mother she had. He still loved Gemma, but he couldn't forget the fact that she'd turned on him. Didn't she understand that he did everything for them to keep them afloat and in the lifestyle they'd grown accustomed to? That didn't matter; right now what mattered was his daughter by his side. He tried to talk but wound up coughing and her dark eyes turned to him. He could see the tears in them and felt a perverse pride. She cried over him, she cared enough to stay when everyone else turned their back on him.

"Don't talk Daddy, you've got the mask on and tubes everywhere. They'll find who did this. Tig's on it." He flexed his fingers and she squeezed them tighter. His angel...the one thing on earth that was his. He never had to share her with Gemma, she was too into Jackson, or the Club and even the Moron's claim could be overwritten. The fact that she was here, at his side, was proof that she was his girl.

He reached up and removed the mask before she could stop him and looked his girl in the eyes.

"Stay..." He said quietly, knowing it was all he had to. With one word he had someone to watch over him, to care for him and even if Opie or someone else came back he'd never draw a gun on Milla, no one would hurt him with her around. Yeah, one word was all it would take to keep her with him and keep him safe when he was at his most vulnerable.

"Of course Daddy. Nothing's gonna budge me from your side." She squeezed his hand once and he settled deeper into the mattress. He knew she wouldn't leave him and with that he drifted off to sleep again and she watched him as she traced his hairline with her fingertips. He was her Daddy and nothing could take her from him now.

"Hey kid." Milla looked up from the book she was reading and nodded at Tig. He was the only visitor her Dad had since he was brought in other than herself. Even her Mother hadn't stayed and Milla couldn't really blame her. What her Dad had done was wrong, disgustingly so, and part of her would never forgive him for laying hands on her Mother like that. The larger part of her felt that it was just another facet of his downward spiral, now that he'd hit rock bottom he could be fixed all the damage could be contained and he'd learn from it. She just had to talk to her Mom, get her to see that, this was going to be a new beginning. She shook her head to get her thinking on track and looked at Tig, whose eyes had taken on a look of concern.

"Hey Tig, he's still goin' in and out." She nodded to her Father and stood. When she got to Tig he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her hair.

"It'll work out kid, you'll see. All this shit'll even out and your Dad'll be fine. I'm so sorry, so sorry. I shoulda..." He shook his head and kissed her hair again while Milla hugged him tighter.

"This isn't your fault Tig. It's the Niner scum that did it." She moved away and wiped her eyes. "I'm glad you're here."

"Nowhere else I'd be." Tig nodded for her to sit and Milla shook her head.

"I'll give you some time alone. I think I'll head to the cafeteria, call Neeta and check on Espy. There's no one else I'd leave him alone with." She wiped her eyes and grabbed her purse. "Thank you for being here."

"Nowhere else Doll, nowhere else." Milla nodded and went to the doors, pausing to glance back at her Father, the one man in her life that had never bailed on her.

Clay stared at the ceiling, utterly defeated. He'd had his patch taken, been abandoned by nearly everyone he loved and been told he was living on borrowed time. He had never sunk so low... To make matters worse he'd pushed out the one person who did give a damn. He glanced out the window and saw Milla still standing there despite her dismissal, her eyes black balls of malice that he knew were directed at her brother. In her mind Jax had kicked him while he was down and he was grateful for that. It meant that when the time was right he could use her to his advantage. So many brothers loved her, trusted her that a few whispers could change hearts and minds. Suddenly he didn't feel so defeated, he still had cards to play and he would hold them to his chest until the time was right.

"Baby..." Milla practically jumped when she heard his voice, she wanted to turn and look but she kept her eyes on the one man who mattered at the moment.

"I needed you." She took a sip of her coffee that she'd had Phil get her from the coffee shop down the street, so much better than the hospital crap, and kept her eyes on the room. "I needed you and you weren't here. You haven't been here..."

She let her words linger and she could feel his helplessness coming off in waves. He had things that he wanted to tell her, but he never could. She needed him to tell her, needed them to be what they were, but a part of her knew that wasn't possible. Her impulsive, Madoc, half wanted to tell him to fuck off, that what they had wasn't worth it anymore that she couldn't do it. Her Morrow half told her to keep him at arm's length, but keep him nonetheless. It was that half that won when she turned to her husband when he spoke.

"I'm sorry, for everything. I should've found a way to call, to get the message out. I won't leave you again baby." He looked in her eyes and silently begged her to believe him. She shook her head.

"You could've talked to me, hell you could've sent a message through Chibs. I needed to know where you were. I needed to know you were ok." Her hand drifted up to his neck and he flinched but didn't pull away. "I love you."

She said the last quietly and before she even realized what she was doing she kissed his lips gently before she broke the kiss and wrapped her arms around his waist. He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. They weren't good, probably wouldn't be for a while but she'd be damned if she'd abandon the man she loved. There was no crime he could commit that would push her away entirely. She loved him too much to throw what they had away, no matter how hurt and scared she was. She couldn't leave him like the man on the hospital bed, broken and alone.

Author's Note: Wow, it feels really good to get something original up. This is another story that will be explored in Dissension. It also has a bit of an AU flavor to it. I know that Clay is essentially the Devil right now but I think that with Milla knowing nothing at all about JT she wouldn't understand all that's going on and he's her Daddy, he's been there for her in ways her mother never could be. Be expecting more from me in the weeks to come. I'm finally done with classes for the semester and fic is my therapy. It's been long overdue. Thank you all for reading and reviewing.