Author: ICanStopAnytime PM
Tami Taylor's always wanted to be able to tell her children a romantic tale of how their parents fell in love and of how their father proposed, but this isn't it. This is just Eric and Tami's reality. A Friday Night Lights fanfic featuring Eric Taylor, Tami Hayes, and Mo McArnold.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Tami T. & Eric T./Coach - Chapters: 24 - Words: 41,154 - Reviews: 84 - Favs: 4 - Updated: 10-18-12 - Published: 09-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8552784
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Note: I'm taking a break from editing, combining, and re-posting "Change Gonna Come" to focus on this new work. I just had a sudden urge to go even farther back in time, decades back. Comments welcome and desired (as always).
South Dillon High will shut down in three years, when the oil fields start producing less and people begin moving out of town. All of the remaining students will feed into a school in the town directly north: Dillon. But for now, South Dillon High is home of the Cougars, who are ranked number two in their division and who are, this very season, hoping to win the Texas State Championship for the first time in twelve years.
That's why Mo McArnold is wearing his lucky arrowhead necklace when he slaps his tray down next to Tami's on the long cafeteria table and says, "Hey, gorgeous." After kissing her, he nods to the quarterback, Eric Taylor, who's sitting across from Tami and between a linebacker named Carlos Fuentes and Tom McMann, the punter. All the guys are wearing matching olive green letter jackets. Eric nods back but keeps taking apart his sandwich. He proceeds to eat only the meat and cheese.
"Still trying to bulk up with double meat?" asks Carlos with a smirk.
Tom shakes his head. "Why do you even bother to put it on bread if you aren't going to eat the bread?"
"Because his mama packs his lunch for him." Mo says "mama" in a high, elongated, mocking way and Tami slaps him on the shoulder. She shoots a sympathetic glance at Eric. Eric's mom has been dead for eight years. Mo's not being an intentional jerk about the death. He's just forgotten and is ridiculing his friend in a general sort of way, but Tami's getting tired of that too.
Mo wasn't like this when she started dating him last year, but then he made a few pretty amazing touchdowns the first game of the current season, and ever since he's been a little full of himself. Tami's seen Mo giving Mary Beth the eye and wonders if he isn't already fooling around on the side. For now, though, she tolerates him, because they've had their good times together, and he's cute, and she doesn't want to break up with him before the final playoff game this Friday, because, if the Cougars lose, she knows any old scape goat will do.
Cindy Thompson, Eric's busty blonde rally girl, comes to the table behind him, puts her hands over his eyes, and says, "Guess whooooo" in the high, fake voice Tami can't tolerate.
Eric mutters, "Cindy," without much enthusiasm, and she giggles and tries to squeeze in between Tom and Eric. She's about to sit on Eric's lap when he puts a hand on her waist and pushes her away. She does a pretend pout and says, "Well, you know where to find me if you want me" and then practically skips off.
"You should totally boink her," Tom says. "She obviously wants you."
"Eric's a virgin," Mo snickers.
"Y'all know I have a girlfriend." Eric picks up his milk carton and takes a long swig. A little bit dribbles down his chin and he wipes it with the back of his hand and then wipes his hand on his napkin.
"Yeah, who's been in Germany for months," Carlos reminds him.
"She's coming back," Eric says. "Tomorrow, in fact."
Kim went on some "international study program" for "select high school leaders" that started in the summer but ran into the school year. Tami can't help but be a little impressed that Eric's made it this long: six months without sex, and not a single rumor that he's cheated. Of course, he's not as popular as Mo. Even though Eric's the quarterback, he has a reputation for being a bit of a stick in the mud. He doesn't know how to party the way Mo does. He's usually too busy working at the Whattaburger or studying or doing chores for his father. Eric's also a little on the thin side (though that'll change in less than a year), and he's not as muscular as most of the football players. He's still got a trace of acne, too, unlike Mo, whose skin is as smooth as a baby's bottom, and when he's just shaved, Tami loves to stroke Mo's cheeks. But even if Eric's not as popular as Mo is, he's still fairly cute, and he's still a quarterback, so naturally he still has girls interested in him – girls like Cindy Reynolds.
Eric's girlfriend Kim is sweet, maybe a little too sweet – the all American cheerleader. Tami can see why a girl like her might be seriously into Eric, but he's a little dull for Tami's taste. She can't imagine him ever just showing up on her doorstep the way Mo did this past summer, telling her to pack a bag and driving her all the way to South Padre island, where they laughed and fired shotguns into sand dunes before waiting for the sun to set so they could have sex on the shore, with the waves rolling in. (Tami told her mom she was on a youth retreat with a friend's church, an "approved Christian friend," and Abby, thank God, covered for her.)
Eric's not spontaneous like that. Tami wonders if he does anything without a plan and without saving up for months in advance. She supposes she'd call Eric a friend. They do talk, quite a bit, over the wood fence that separates their backyards. She likes to run out back, slamming the door, every time she fights with her mom, and often he's out there to avoid his dad's constant advice and criticism, either throwing a football through a tire or doing yardwork. Yes, they're friends. At least, she thinks they are. What else do you call a guy who convinced you not to drop out of high school your junior year? Tami seriously considered it because school bores her and her family has no money for college anyway. Besides, Tami makes good tips cutting hair at the Clippery. But Eric told her she has a brain and she should stop hiding it, and if she wanted to go to college, all she had to do was completely ace the SAT's and get a merit scholarship.
"Like it's that easy," she snorted, and he told her, "For you? If you study? Tami, I've seen you pick up stuff like that." He snapped his fingers. "You can walk into a job with no experience at all, and by the end of the week, you've got it down." She'd done that her sophomore year at a car dealership and her junior year at the Clippery.
Eric's words worked on Tami, and she started studying like mad. She did ace the SAT's at the end of her junior year, but she had to retake the test this fall, with a proctor breathing down her neck, because everyone thought she'd cheated. She got ten points better the second time around.
"Good thing Kim's coming back on Thursday, because you have got to relax before Friday's game," Mo says. "You know what I mean." Eric nods but doesn't look at Mo. "I mean man you are up-tight, man."
"Yeah," Tom agrees, "But he's always been that way. It'll take more than a little boinking to get him loose."
Boinking is Tom's favorite euphemism. No one bothers to ridicule him for it anymore.
Carlos chimes in next. "Can't believe you've waited for her this whole time."
"Eric's in loooooooove," Mo says sarcastically.
"Why do you say it like that? Aren't you?" Eric nods pointedly to Tami.
Mo gives Eric a look that reads, Shut up, man but he says, "Sure" and stands up behind Tami and starts rubbing her shoulders. "I love you, gorgeous." He kisses the top of Tami's head. "But I'm not about to shackle myself at seventeen like you're planning to do." He raises an eyebrow at Eric. "Right? Am I right?" He stops rubbing Tami's shoulders and does a fake boxing faint, and then says, "Red light."
Mo does this anytime he's getting ready to pretend tackle anyone, including Tami. Tami thought it was funny once. It just annoys her now. "Red light," Mo says again, his smile growing, and then he shouts, "Green light," and races around the table. Eric's standing up by now, but it's too late to get away. Mo's got one arm around his waist and is digging in his jacket pocket.
"Give it back!" Eric shouts, and lunges as Mo races back to the other side of the table holding the little jewelry box. Eric steadies himself with Tom's chair and doesn't run after Mo, because everyone knows Mo is fast. He waits until McArnold is on the other side and then tries to grab the box back from across the table, but Mo steps back just as Eric's hand seizes it.
Mo opens the box, looks at the ring, and laughs. "God but that's a puny diamond. Did you have to pull a lot of extra shifts at the Whattaburger to afford that tiny beauty?"
Eric's jaw is clenched so hard Tami's amazed he can get these words out of his mouth: "Give it back."
Tami stands up abruptly, plucks the ring box from Mo's hand, and hands it to Eric. "Stop being an ass," she says to Mo. "And aren't you late for class?"
"Aren't we all?" Mo asks and grabs his tray. Tom and Carlos also clear out but Tami lingers as Eric closes the ring box and slips it into his pocket.
When Eric sits back down in his cafeteria chair, so does Tami in hers.
"Why are you still dating that jerk?" he asks from across the table. "You deserve better than that. You could have any guy."
Tami's not sure she could. She could screw almost any guy, but she doesn't think she could hold onto any. Her first high school boyfriend broke up with her as soon as they had sex, and she only put out in the first place to keep him. Oh, the irony. Mo is probably cheating on her. Her Dad left her too. Guys don't stick around for Tami Hayes.
Eric feels in his pocket, like he's afraid he'll lose the ring if he doesn't hold onto it. "I know it's not my place to say, but I think he's cheating on you with Mary Beth."
"So do I."
Eric's mouth falls open a little before he closes it. "I don't get you sometimes, Tami. You could have something like Kim and I have. Something good. Something that's gonna last."
"Eric, don't you think you're a little young to get married? Seventeen?"
"We'll wait 'til we graduate. We'll be eighteen then."
She rolls her eyes. "How can you even know who you are at eighteen?"
"I've always known who I am." She laughs because she thinks there's some truth to it. Eric's simple. Dependable. An unchanging rock. A dull rock that's happy just hanging out in one spot, serving its purpose, a rock that might have the ambition to grow into a bigger rock over time, but that's certainly not looking to become a tree.
"Well I think it's ridiculous for anyone to get engaged in high school," she says.
"I'll get a scholarship for football. We'll have family housing covered. I've saved up a little money from my work. We'll both get part-time jobs at school. I've got it all planned out."
"I bet you do," Tami says, and shakes her head and stands up. "Get my tray for me, will you?" She grabs her backpack, slings it over her shoulder, and tosses her long hair aside as she heads off, ten minutes late, to class.