I own nothing you recognize. All original characters belong to me with the exception of Gillian who belongs to the wonderful Superdani. All storylines are my own as well.
Milla shook as she sat in her van. She needed to get away from it all, her pain, loneliness and suffering for a little while. She was no good for the kids in the state she was in and she needed to get her head straight so she could go home to them. There were times when she thought about sending them up north to Tacoma with Koz and Gillian for a while or Portland with Desiree and Looney but she couldn't do that. She couldn't ship them off because she was having a tough time, couldn't abandon them. She wasn't that kind of person. She dealt with her shit head on...it was the Morrow way. Her heart hurt as she thought about Clay, dead in an unmarked grave, covered in concrete while his ashes blended with her husband's permanently. She wasn't supposed to know the details but Phil pitied her and loved her family enough that he told her and even drove by the location so she could see. Tears filled her eyes as she looked at the temporary storage unit in front of her, a hastily constructed building made of corrugated tin and slats of plywood. Fittingly ramshackle to show their disdain for what was beneath.
After she took a deep breath Milla got out of the van and walked toward the structure, her feet getting slower as her heart got heavier. Once she stood at the door, which was nothing more than a long sheet of plywood with some hinges, she felt her heart beat a steady tattoo in her throat as it went dry. As she breathed heavily she opened the door and stepped inside. As the door closed behind her she stood still for a few torturous moments in the silence that seemed to echo screams she knew were just in her head. The screams of her father and the man that she'd pledged her heart, body and soul to, screams that she knew were long done before Happy and Chibs poured gas on their cold bodies and lit the match. She closed her eyes as she thought of the flames engulfing them. Juice's lightning bolts crackling and tearing as the heat of the flames split his skin then turning his flesh black, blotting out two vivid markers of his love for her. Clay's blue eyes popping from the furnace-like heat as he was immolated. The two most important men in her life taken from her forever in the cleansing fire, erasing them from her future, but still leaving them dominating her past.
Sobs ripped from her throat as she walked further into the small building, her legs taking her to the place where her heart heaved. She knew it was the spot where they were burned. She knew it was their final resting place. She stood in the spot and felt the strngth leave her legs. She managed to fall gracefully to the floor and lay there, sobbing as she pillowed her head in her hands.
"Why did you do it?" She asked the ashes of her former lover, best friend and husband, the father of her children and breaker of her heart. "Why did you go that far? We loved you, Jax loved you, Mom loved you. Why'd you throw it all away? We needed you and you turned away from us. We loved you!"
She shouted in a keening voice before she sat up and hit the floor, her sobbing giving way to anger. She continued to hit the floor until the skin on her hands split and her hands went numb. Soon Milla grew tired and collapsed to the floor again, this time pressing her head against the cold concrete.
"Did you love me...in the end?" She asked quietly, in a voice ravaged by pain and tears. "We drifted so far apart, there were so many secrets, so many lies. You could've told me anything baby. I would've forgiven you. I did forgive you for so much and you repaid me by becoming Clay's puppet, he held your strings and you danced for him. Did you think about what his plans would mean for us, our children? Robby will never know you and Espy will forget you, did you think about that? You were everything to me baby and I still love you. I know they say I should forget you, a rat and traitor but I can't. You were everything to me and I can't let that go. I love you baby."
She felt tears slip from her eyes and roll down her face as she closed her eyes. She had so much to say, her words tumbling together in her head, fighting for dominance. She realized she'd never be able to say everything in her mind, everything in her heart so she just laid there crying, the cold from the concrete seeping into her bones. The cold became soothing and she felt herself falling asleep but at the last moment before she lost consciousness her eyes opened wide and she sat up. She couldn't sleep, she had to get home and read to Espy. She needed to work on Ellie's costume for the play and cook dinner and feed Robby. As tempting as it would be to just lie there and let darkness come for her she couldn't do it. She couldn't abandon her kids.
On joints made sore by the cold she rose and stared down at the spot she rested, her tears were being absorbed into the concrete. She liked to think they'd bond with Juice's ashes. Taking a deep breath she turned and walked toward the door before a thought came to her and she turned back and stood at the final resting place again. She kissed her fingertips and knelt down.
"Goodbye Juice, I'll always love you." She pressed her fingertips to the concrete before she stood and spit on the ground her eyes full of malice.
"Burn in hell Clay." She glared then took another deep breath before she walked out of the building.
"Hey." Milla greeted Chantal when she walked through the door. She'd been good enough to watch the kids while Milla had her alone time.
"Hey, Ellie's playing with Espy in the living room, Robby's napping and Kenny's playing video games in the bedroom downstairs. Phil set up a tv and XBox downstairs for him." Chantal gave her the status update before she stood and hugged her best friend. "How are you? Did you do what you needed to."
"Yeah, I think I can start to heal now. Thank you so much for watching the kids. Did you...did you clean out the bedroom?" Milla asked, her voice choked with fear as she pulled away from her best friend. She hadn't been in her bedroom since the night Chibs informed her her husband was a traitor. She couldn't sleep in sheets that held his scent or see his clothes folded neatly on the chair by his closet. It killed her to go in there.
"No, it's something you need to do. I'll spend the night here with you and we can do it together, after the kids go to sleep." She pulled Milla into her arms again and whispered in her ear. "You'll get through this. I'll be with you every step of the way."
"I love you." Milla whispered as she cried into Chantal's shoulder and Chantal held her closer.
"I love you too." She kissed Milla's head and continued to hold her, she'd meant every word.
Milla took a deep breath as she opened Juice's closet. His clothes and shoes were still there, hung and his shoes neatly placed on the floor. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw his stash box behind his shoes, filled with various kinds of weed and other goodies he'd taken up over the last year. She picked it up and without thinking went into the bathroom and emptied each baggy and packet into the toilet. She flushed whenever it looked like there was too much and didn't stop until the box was empty. Once that was done she breathed easier and walked into the bedroom where she stopped in her tracks.
"What are you doing here?" Milla asked the interloper who remained standing by the bed.
"Chanty said you were in 'ere. She needed to go do somethin fer Phil and didn wan' ya ta be alone. I just thought I'd keep ya company, help ya with shit." Chibs said and Milla just nodded and walked past him.
"There are boxes in the corner there. You can put the stuff I hand you in those." She directed and went to the closet where she stood stock still for a moment, frozen, she didn't know where to start. As she started shaking Chibs came up behind her and place his hands gently on her shoulders.
"Come on Milla, I'll do this. Jus' sit on the bed and put it in boxes." He guided her to the bed and sat her down on the edge. "Here ya are darlin'."
He placed a box in front of her and went to the closet. They worked together in silence, Chibs taking the clothes off their hangers and Milla placing the clothes in the boxes. It went smoothly until Chibs took out a black button-up shirt with sharp creases. When he handed it to Milla he heard her gasp then watched as tears came swiftly out of her eyes. He was afraid of this.
"Milla, wha's happening?" He asked and Milla took a shaky breath.
"Juice wore this at our wedding. The pinstripes matched my dress." She said quietly as she ran her hand over the fabric. "I didn't know he still had this."
"I remember that day. Only seen ya happier twice." Chibs said as he walked from the closet and knelt by Milla who looked at him with tearfilled eyes.
"I can't do this...Chibs I can't." Milla started to cry in earnest and he moved so he was sitting next to her on the bed and he took her in his arms.
"I know it's hard darlin' but yeh've gotta do it." He consoled her as he placed a kiss to the top of her head. "I'll be here every step o' the way."
Milla nodded and took several deep breaths as she composed herself. She knew this was going to be hard but she never realized that one shirt could reduce her to a blubbering mass. She wiped her eyes before she looked at Chibs and cleared her throat.
"Chibs?" She asked and he moved away as he looked at her.
"What darlin'?" He asked as he rested his head on hers.
"Did Juice say anything before...before you did it?" She asked, not thinking he'd answer but wishing
Chibs debated telling her the truth. Milla deserved to know that her husband's last thoughts were about her, at the same time he didn't want to bring her to a darker place. His decision was made when Milla gripped the collar of his cut and looked into his eyes.
"I need to know, please Chibs, I need this." Tears continued to pour from her eyes and Chibs put his hands over hers.
"He said a lot of things Milla, he apologized for what he did an' he made me promise ta take care of ya', ta make ya mine." He saw a look of disbelief enter her eyes but he continued. "He wanted ta make sure ya were gonna be fine. He wanted ya ta have help an' I agreed. I promised him I'd take care a' ya an that's what I'm doin. I'm not goin' anywhere."
"Is that the only reason you're here?" She asked in a quiet voice.
"Ya know better than that darlin'," He told her, his eyes hard and serious, before he took her hands from his cut and held them.
"Will you help me finish this?" Milla asked, not wanting to think about the promises Chibs made and what they meant for her.
"O' course." Chibs let go of her hands and stood. He walked over to the closet and resumed packing it up. He took out one of Juice's work shirts and placed it in a box before Milla could see. She was holding on by a thread and it was now his job to make sure the thread didn't snap.
"Tha's it, the room's clean." Chibs announced as he taped the last box closed and Milla sat on her chair in the corner, staring at a picture.
"Thanks." She ran her fingertips over the picture and Chibs wandered over. When he saw the image he grimaced. He couldn't let her keep it.
"Milla-" He started but she quickly clutched the picture to her chest and shook her head.
"No! You can't take this! This is the first picture we ever took as a family!" Her voice was high and panicked and Chibs knelt in front of her.
"He's wearin' his cut darlin. You know all those pictures have ta be burnt, he was a traitor and a rat." He said kindly and Milla gave him a desperate look.
"He was my husband! I can't just throw him away, I can't get rid of him!" Her eyes turned wide and crazy while Chibs placed his hand on her leg.
"Alright darlin', we'll talk about it later." He watched some of the craziness leak from her eyes and she nodded.
"Thank you." She whispered as she looked at the picture and ran her fingertip along her husband's face.
Chibs took a deep breath and stood, cracking his back and groaning. He'd worked too hard that day and he was exhausted.
"You can sleep on the couch if you want. I think I'm going to try to sleep here tonight." Milla said absently as she kept her eyes trained on the picture. Chibs just nodded and looked at her sadly.
"Alright, get some rest and I'll see ya in the mornin'." Chibs said quietly before he walked to Milla and kissed her forehead. "Don't forget that I love ya, that's why I agreed ta take care a' ya an' that's not gonna change."
Milla looked at him and swallowed the lump in her throat before she spoke.
"I don't know how I feel about you anymore." Her voice was quiet and Chibs ran a hand through her hair as he stood.
"I reckon it'll be like that fer a while, but it doesn' change how I feel. Get some sleep. We'll talk in tha' mornin'." He told Milla and she nodded as he walked out the door.
While Chibs slept Milla took a marker to the picture and blacked out Juice's cut and Ink, leaving nothing in the picture that referenced the Club. She understood Chibs' reasons and even sympathized with him as the new President of a fractured Club. He couldn't make any exceptions to the rules so she took a risk defying him, but she couldn't allow the picture to be destroyed. It was the last truly good thing that came from her relationship with Juice and she couldn't lose it. Once the ink dried Milla kissed the picture then placed the picture on her nightstand. He may have been a traitor and a rat but he'd also been her man and she would never forget that. She just hoped Chibs would understand.
The next morning Chibs woke up before Milla and entered the bedroom, intent on taking the picture while she slept. He crept to the bed and was surprised to find the picture out in the open, but was even more surprised to find Juice's ink and cut blacked out. It made him smile, his girl was always so smart and understood the Club so well she knew just what to do to preserve the picture. At the thought he started, "his girl" when did she become that? He set the picture back down and watched Milla sleep for a few minutes before he brushed some hair out of her face. He didn't know when he started thinking of her as his girl but he sure as hell knew it was right. She was his now and he was going to do whatever he could for her.
Author's Note: I've decided to continue these AU's. I know that many of you can't imagine Milla with anyone but Juice and I have to agree with your assessment. I love Juice too much but that's the reason I have to explore these 'what ifs', I need to stay fresh and work outside of my comfort zone. It's because I want to be the best writer I can. That desire keeps these stories churning in my head. This collection won't be a long one but I know I have to continue on in order to push myself to new boundaries and take my characters to places I haven't taken them before. Thank you all for reading and reviewing. I appreciate it more than you know.