A/N Thank you for the reviews, keep them coming. I really appreciate the feedback and the comments.
Disclaimer : I don't own Sons of Anarchy, I just play in Abel and Thomas's playground for fun... lol.
She shivered as the toxic medicine dripped into her veins. It was only her second time and she already hated the plastic, peach and tan colored chemo room. Weren't these places supposed to be comforting? Instead she felt like she was in a cheap hotel lobby.
Dixie sighed and looked around beside her. There was an old man dozing off and a woman knitting and another woman flipping through a magazine. She shifted uncomfortably and eyed the shadow of the prospect stationed outside of the Chemo room. Chip had been shadowing her for most of the week. Whatever the Club was going through was big enough to have her and Tara and the other main girls shadowed. Dixie learned that they had brought up two new hangarounds which meant that they felt the need to grow ranks. She knew the hangarounds vaguely, a young veteran named Elijah and a mechanic named Sid. She hadn't had any time with them but she knew that they hadn't been tasked with protection yet. The Club had learned the hard way a while back to have the Prospects prove their stuff before tasking them with protection. Tara was with Filthy Phil or one of the other guys at all times. She had stopped by earlier and Dixie had eyed Filthy Phil and Chip talking in the corner.
Whatever it was it would be okay. It always was. That's what Dixie told herself.
A girl had to have a little faith, right?
Chip loped into the room quietly and shifted uncomfortably from side to side. She had learned that the hospital made him uncomfortable. "Do you need anything?"
"I could use a blanket...could you ask the nurse?"
He nodded and turned to go when a raspy but strong female voice said. "Ask them for the white ones, the blue one's are rough on the skin."
Dixie turned and looked at the woman next to her. The one that had been previously flipping through the magazine. She had a bright pink scarf with polka dots wrapped around her head and upon closer inspection Dixie noticed she was flipping through a Playgirl magazine. Dixie smuggled a grin and nodded at Chip.
"I'll go find a nurse."
He loped off to the nurses station and she turned back to the women. "Thanks for the advice."
"Just paying it forward, baby." The woman flipped her magazine shut and turned in her seat. "How long have you been in treatment?"
"This is my second round."
"Third." The woman winked. "Well...third for this round of cancer. Can't seem to kick the bitch out of my womanly parts."
Amused by the woman Dixie perked up. Dixie carefully turned in the chair to face the woman in a more comfortable position. "That's rough. I'm stage two b in my tits."
"Damn, I read in an article once that it could hit pretty young. How old are you, anyway?"
"I'm hitting my later twenties." She shrugged.
Chip appeared a few moments later with a white blanket and nervously draped it on her.
He shifted his weight and nodded rapidly. "Need anything else?"
He disappeared into his former perch and the woman next to her grinned a wrinkly grin. She must have been in her sixties, Dixie figured.
"You got a nice one there."
"Oh...he's not mine. Just a friend." Dixie replied quickly.
She snuggled up underneath the blanket and let her needle-inserted arm rest comfortably on the arm chair. Her arm ached uncomfortably where the needle was inserted. She fucking hated needles.
"I wish I had a friend like that."
Dixie wondered where the woman was from. Most ladies didn't talk like that around cuts.
"My name is Dixie." She introduced. "I'd shake your hand but both our hands are pretty much tied."
"I'm Patty, baby." She shared, "It's pleasure to meet you and I'm sorry if this old broad is botherin' you. Talking is my way of occupying my time...not much of a knitter."
"Me neither." She returned. "And I don't mind...can I ask if you're from around here?"
"No and yes. I grew up here when I was a little girl. I came back to live with my sister while I make cancer my bitch."
Dixie laughed out loud and the sound startled.
"Laughter is the greatest medicine or something like that..." Patty informed factually. She picked up her Playgirl magazine and flipped it open for Dixie to see. "That and smokin' hot menfolk."
Patty finished before Dixie and gave her the Playgirl magazine with her number and address on it. "Don't be shy, I don't know nobody in this town anymore. It'll be nice to have a girlfriend outside of my sister. I love that old girl but she should have her own episode of that Hoarders show. Her walls are plastered with porcelain cats, it's damn unnerving."
Dixie wondered if that was a good thing or not. Patty seemed like an easy going enough woman who hopefully wouldn't run away screaming once she figured out who exactly Dixie was associated with in this town. Dixie sort of needed a friend who had been through this rodeo before. She had been eying fliers in the hospital bulletin board for breast cancer groups. And that was great and all but it really wasn't her style. And she wasn't sure she was up to getting slammed with stuffy old broads clamming up around the SAMCRO Old Lady.
Tara came back down to visit her but it wasn't just a normal visit. She looked worried but she smoothed it away when she looked at Dixie.
"What's going on?" Dixie asked quietly, making sure no one over hear her before she spoke.
Tara shifted her gaze to the other patients and Dixie fell silent. Tara sat on a chair and scooted up next to Dixie and said quietly. "I don't know if you know this or not, Dixie, but the Club has been catching some heat. One of the crow-eaters got roughed up last night."
"Oh my God." Dixie breathed, she sat up quickly and Tara gently pushed her back down.
"Don't get upset, she's fine."
"Which one?" Dixie asked, wondering which one of her friends.
"Her name was Reanna and she's going to be okay." Tara assured. "She's going to crash at Bobby's house while she mends. The important thing is that Jax wants the family close right now. Now we have two options...one you go move into the Clubhouse until the heat blows over or you stay with Jax and me. It's...a situation that will take more than one solution and that means time. Especially with Tig inside the boys want to make sure this goes down without a hitch." Tara paused and leaned closer as a nurse walked past. "I would like to recommend that you stay with Jax and me for the time being. It'll be a whole lot cleaner and you'll be able to rest. We can put you in Abel's room and move him into Thomas's nursery for now. But it's up to you, I don't want to put you in a uncomfortable position. It's important that you stay rested and relaxed during your treatment."
Dixie didn't feel very relaxed or rested. No..not one bit. Her previous happiness of finding a friend in Chemo was long gone and replaced with a biting worry that wound in her stomach. She recognized the name of the sweetbutt in a instant. Reanna had done her time with the Club before Dixie had come back. She had two kids who were most likely kids of the Club. She was a crazy drunk but she was loyal and she was part of their world. She was part of the background like Dixie had been but she was had been around so long that everyone (except maybe Tara) knew who she was. She sighed heavily, running through the situation in her head. It was nice that Tara was giving her a choice and even more nicer that she was offering to open her home up to Dixie. She wondered why she wasn't being stashed at Gemma's place and realized quietly that maybe Gemma wasn't inside the circle as much as she let on. It was just speculation and there was no way to know because Dixie wasn't around or as close as she used to be since Tig had gone inside. That's how it was, if you're man was inside then it was almost like you were inside too...when it came to certain things. Or maybe it was just the damn cancer. Dixie didn't care. She knew she really didn't have a choice where she stayed because she also knew that Tig would kill her if she went against Doc's advise.
"If it's no trouble I think I'll follow your advice, Doc." She echoed her own thoughts.
Tara smiled and smoothed Dixie's blanket. "That's good, I'll have the room made up. It should be ready when you're done for the day. I can take you back if you want, then we can share our cut and free up one of the guys for the Club."
What she really meant was free up one of the guys to watch Jax's back. But that was okay because that's how Dixie would think for Tig.
"Sounds like a plan, boss lady." She winked, trying to hide that she was inwardly stressing out.
"I'll see you in an hour." Tara said, "Let the nurses know if you need anything."
Tara said a couple of soft words to the nurses and then left the Chemo room. Dixie sighed deeply and was glad that Patty hadn't been here for that. No one could have heard but it would have made it more awkward. Already the woman who was knitting was looking at her with curiosity. Between the cut outside and the doctor Queen of SAMCRO coming to check in on her she was pretty sure she was the hottest, gossipy piece in the Chemo room.
She had only been in the Teller home a handful of times. Tara wasn't exactly as into family dinners as her former predecessor. And Dixie couldn't blame her. She was a doctor and had two baby boys under the age of four. Between those two facts and the attention the Club demanded she didn't think that Tara had much time for herself. And now she was taking on a chemo patient house guest.
Dixie had always respected Tara – they came from the same neighborhood, she was the President's wife, and despite the class difference Tara extended a sense of dignity to the girls. But, Tara was also kind of stuck up. Just a enough to make Dixie a little uncomfortable getting close to her. She made assumptions that weren't true and it wasn't like she was judgmental...she just operated in a different world than most of the ladies in the SAMCRO world. And not because who her old man was but because...she left and became a freaking doctor. Dixie had left and become a stripper. She never had any shame about it but there still a difference between the two of them that she was careful about. Despite that, when she entered the Teller home she felt like part SAMCRO, accepted her as natural as accepting any member into their home.
"Maggie brought over some things you can stomach after Chemo." Tara shared opening the fridge so that she could see the organic array that Maggie had stuffed into their fridge. Only Maggie would have the audacity to stuff the King of SAMCRO's refrigerator with vegan, organic food...and get away with it.
Dixie looked at the array and felt her stomach curl up in it's self. She nodded weakly and Tara shut the door quickly.
"You'll be staying in here." Tara walked into the hallway and Dixie followed slowly behind. The room a little boy's room except for a single bed that had obviously just been put together. She recognized it as one of the spares form the clubhouse. "Bathroom is just through there and Maggie also brought over some of your things. I told her she can come by during the day to stay with you."
"Thanks, Tara. I really appreciate this." She said, sitting on the bed and breathing deep through her nose.
"Elyda will be around too if you need anything. Don't hesitate to ask."
Tara left her to rest in her make-shift room and Dixie heard the sound of Jax and a couple of other Sons pull up. She closed the door to shut out the activity, pulled a trash can next to the bed, and curled up hoping to sleep. Her sleep was restless and she woke up sweating, vomiting the empty contents of her stomach into the trashcan. Her limbs felt heavy and her head pounded and raged inside her skin.
The room was dim and it was night time. She couldn't tell if anyone was around because she was too busy throwing up. Panting softly she leaned back and grabbed tissue from beside the bed and wiped her mouth slowly. She had to dump the trash can or it'd stink up the room. Dixie forced herself up and wrapped a cardigan around her to fight off the chills. When she turned to get the trash can she stopped short.
Even though the room was dark she could still see. And on the pillow that she had just been laying on was a clump of brown hair. Her brown hair. Stunned she carefully felt the back of her head, her fingers catching on her strands, and pulled out too much hair to be natural.
Her hair was falling out.
Dixie clapped her hands over her mouth to keep her cry from being too loud. The reality of her situation pummeled her.
It wasn't like she didn't know, hadn't fought and wrestled with the whole having cancer thing. But...this was making it so damn real. More real than all the vomiting and the chemo treatments could ever make it. She was going to bald, her hair was going to be gone.
Dixie didn't know how long she stayed there, staring at the pillow. She remembered turning on the light and painstakingly examining the back of her head. She didn't see any bald patches but it was only a matter of time. With trembling hands she carefully pulled her hair back gently. Even more strands came out.
She looked at the sweater she had worn to treatment and saw hair on the back...she hadn't even noticed. How long had her hair been slowly shedding? This was the first clump...this was the first time she had noticed it so...how long did she have until it was gone? Until she had to start shopping for head scarfs.
A knock on her door made her jump.
"Dixie, I'm comin' in." Jax's voice echoed through. The door opened and Jax entered with a phone in his hand. "It's Tig, we got him a phone call."
She didn't know how they had gotten him a phone call this late at night but figured he must have made some pretty loud sounds to get it. She took the phone and pressed it to her ear giving Jax a thankful look.
"Hey, baby." She said into the phone.
Jax paused at the doorway and looked past her, at her pillow. She froze as he took in the clump of hair. For a fraction of a second their eyes met and he gave her an understanding nod before closing the door behind him.
"Hey, sweetheart." Tig said, his voice sounding distant. "How you feeling? I got word you had treatment today, right?"
"Yea, I did." She replied quietly relishing the sound of his voice, of the connection to him.
"How you feeling? Gemma said it was hitting you pretty hard."
She wanted to know what Gemma was doing, tell him that...she ignored the reaction and tried to assure her old man that she was fine. She didn't tell him that there was clumps of her hair falling out or that she could barely keep anything down or that she was achy and cold all the time. Instead she told him about her new friend Patty. Including the Playgirl magazine and it seemed to relax him. And that was what she needed. She needed him relaxed so he could be alert and safe inside.
"I don't want you to worry about staying at Jax and Tara's." He said cryptically. "You just focus on getting you better. I'm gonna get out soon, I promise baby."
"I..." Her voice broke despite her best efforts. Dixie's heart felt stretched to the max and so very tired. She didn't want to weigh him down but in one conversation she was feeling herself weaken. She closed her eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. "I miss you, baby."
"I miss you too, doll." He muttered, she heard the crackle of the distance between them and wiped her eyes so he wouldn't hear her cry. Tig breathed heavily and his voice came closer. "I love you so damn much, doll. Just the thought of you is getting me through. I ain't ever had a girl on the other side waiting for me like you. Those past bitches left before I got out."
She gave out a broken laugh. "We get through this, baby – the jail time, the chemo – I say we're as good as solid."
He cackled tiredly. "Yea, I say that's about right...you and me baby, Johnny and June."
"Sid and Nancy."
Tig withdrew from the phone for a beat and came back with a resigned sound. "I gotta go baby, my time is running up. Listen to the boys, they'll take care of you. You don't gotta worry about a thing, I took care of everything."
She didn't have time to ask about that last part before she was telling him that she loved him and to hang in there and that she'd try to make it up to see him soon.
Dixie would never get a chance to go up and see him even though the next day Tara appeared with new nausea medication she hammered Dixie's doctors to order. Between the weed and the meds her nausea was tamed down a little but she was still out of it. It didn't get better but she adjusted to it. Despite that her doctors and Tara insisted that she stay away from stressful activities...like going up to Stockton to see her old man in jail.
The heat with the Club didn't ebb away until a week later. She either stayed at Tara's or went to the Clubhouse to hang. Dixie learned how stretched the Club could get watching out for all of the family members in times of stress. She took Tara's lead and took to sticking around the Club as much as possible so they wouldn't have to assign someone to her. Dixie had Maggie and a couple of the other girls clean the dorm rooms out and keep the Clubhouse extra neat and organized. It was the least she could to help.
It was easy to forget the little details but she remembered. She remembered how it was starting out on the bottom, the most meaningless tasks could really add up to a lot. The little things – fresh pot of coffee on, clean sheets, a loaded refrigerator, plenty of beer on hand – was what made the Clubhouse's heart keep beating in the times that the family was too busy to pay attention to those things. Maybe it was her sweet-butt background or maybe it was because she wanted to feel useful. The little things helped her feel part of things too. So Dixie took charge of the day to day little things in an effort to keep her mind busy, to help out.
But nothing could distract her from the truth of her hair.
The morning after her talk with Tig she called Maggie and asked her to come over when the rest of the family was gone. The only one there at the house was Filthy Phil who was making himself at home with the television and a bag of potato chips. He didn't really notice what they were doing, which was better in Dixie's mind. Maggie was so sweet about it too. She was always sweet but she was sweet enough this time to not ramble too much about stars and destiny and fate and the things she liked to fill the silence with. Instead she just quietly let Dixie direct her.
Dixie had her shave her head.
It wasn't like in the movies where the heroine dramatically shaves her head in front of the mirror. It was actually incredibly unglamorous or dramatic. It required cutting, sweeping, then awkward bending over the sink, and a buzzing shaver uncomfortably close to one's sensitive scalp. It wasn't dramatic or liberating or even traumatizing. At least not until the end. Not until she looked into the mirror after Maggie washed the shavings off of her scalp and saw herself bald, thin, and solemn. Then it was traumatizing.
She wasn't the young, party-loving stripper anymore. That girl was long, long gone. She had been stripped down to the core and beat down until she ran.
The only thing that tied her image to who she really was was the crow inked on her chest. She touched it as traitorous tears filled her eyes. Maggie didn't hug her, she didn't say something comforting, but she did do the best thing anyone could have done for Dixie at that moment. She left her alone.
A half an hour later Dixie wrapped the scarf she had chosen around her shaved head. It was gray with dark, tiny blue flowers, it was neutral, which was what she needed. She didn't want to wear a bright red scarf or a loud and proud pink scarf screaming her state of baldness. When she out of the room Maggie was braiding her hair into tiny little braids and Phil was still watching cartoons.
Maggie looked up and asked gently. "Are you okay?"
"I'm good." She replied flatly.
Filthy Phil looked away from the cartoon and blinked at her for a sec. "Did you do something different, Dixie? You look different."