A/N: Again, this one shot is set pre-series and during the time after Tara graduated from high school/Jax quit, got his GED, and joined the club. In my mind, the events of this story would take place just before her arrests in 1996. While it has never been stated, given how close Jax and Tara were before she left town, I would imagine this (her status with the club) could have been possible. It's just supposition, but I found it interesting to imagine how Tara might have come to the decision to have a symbol of the MC tattooed upon her back. Once more, keep in mind that I have yet to watch S6 of SOA. (Soon. Not soon enough.) Finally, I've started working on a full-length Jax/Tara story. Look for this soon.
A Sons of Anarchy One Shot
As soon as Tara stepped out of the precinct, she could tell that something was different. Word traveled fast in a small, insulated town like Charming, so she wasn't surprised that, not even minutes released, and everyone knew about her arrest the night before. But it wasn't that. She wasn't being met with curious glances, or disapproving frowns, or even anger – all things that were expected. It didn't matter that she had just been along for the ride – literally, Jax having tried and failed to outrun the cops the night before while on his bike with her holding on tight behind him, like always. She was Tara Knowles – town sweetheart, the prodigal daughter, the girl who was supposed to get out of Charming and make something of herself. But maybe it did matter; maybe the long, appraising looks of respect had everything to do with who she had been along on that ride with.
Everyone knew she was Jax Teller's girlfriend. They made no secret about their relationship. Why should they? And Jax wasn't the type of guy for casual dating. He had two speeds: all or nothing. If it meant nothing, then it wasn't dating. It was fucking. And, since they had gotten together when they were both sixteen, it had been everything. They started out as high school sweethearts – the unlikeliest of pairings that worked better together than even they could have imagined in the beginning. At that point, she had just been the good girl attracted to the bad boy in the eyes of the town – the naïve, sweet girl who thought she'd be able to tame John and Gemma Teller's wild boy.
Then, when Jax turned eighteen, he quit school, got his GED, and immediately joined the club as a prospect. Obviously, their relationship changed. He wasn't in school with her anymore, and he was working – off running errands and performing all the worst tasks the club could offer a prospect. It meant long hours, and there were days when they barely had a chance to talk, let alone see each other. Those patronizing glances turned into pity and disgust, because everyone knew what it was like to be a woman attached to the club but one not afforded the respect that came with being a member's wife – infidelity and the expectation of being passed around and shared coming in at the top of the horror's list. Only... Jax's year as a prospect hadn't been like that for Tara. Whether everyone realized it or not, Jax had been faithful to her, and, as the son of one of the founding members of The Sons of Anarchy, he garnered more respect than the average prospect. It had only taken one verbal tirade accompanied by one beating to warn everyone else associated with the club away from her. Tara had never even been approached.
But now that was passed them as well. Jax was no longer a prospect, and she had graduated. Between shifts as a bottom level tech at the hospital, Tara spent her days sleeping and her nights with Jax. Parties at Teller-Morrow were common, but so, too, was the two of them going off to be alone – riding into the night or sneaking into her bedroom at home. Jax had his bunk room at the club, but it wasn't private, and it sure as hell wasn't quiet. He loved his club and his brothers, and Tara could admit that dating a member of Samcro was like a constant shot of pure adrenaline, but Jax also loved her, and nothing felt better than being surrounded by just him and the night. Even jail, with Jax beside her, had been more of an adventure than a trial.
Unser helped. Knowing it was a friend of the club that had taken them in had reassured Tara that they'd be out by morning. Oh, he had read them the riot act, but the bluster had been for show, and, after an appropriate scene had been made for his deputies, he had locked them up in the same cell together with promises of shitty coffee for breakfast. The small cot had been less than comfortable, but Tara had practically curled herself up on top of Jax, and, everything considered, she had spent worse nights in worse places. True to his promise, Unser had been there bright and early to release them, Jax having to stay behind for a little club business conversation with the chief. For a brief moment, Tara had been worried about the arrest, afraid that it would end up on her permanent record. After all, she still had dreams of college and medical school – an entire stack of acceptance letters tossed in the bottom drawer of her desk at home. But college meant leaving, and she couldn't even fathom the idea of life without Jax, without friends like Unser, without the camaraderie and respect she suddenly felt directed towards her as she made her way across the precinct's lot to where her dad's old Cutlass was parked.
While they sat drinking coffee with Unser in his office that morning, Jax had made a call, waking up the club's latest prospect to pick up and deliver her car for her. As Tara turned the engine over, just letting it run for several minutes while she sat in quiet contemplation, she had to admit that this latest wrinkle in her relationship with Samcro was intriguing – the club doing for her instead of constantly being called upon to give to the club. It was a welcome change to the year of sacrifice Jax had just endured, that she, too, alongside him, had experienced. Plus, with a smirk, she had to admit that it didn't hurt that she knew such errands on her behalf would just piss Gemma right off.
Putting the car into gear, she reversed out of her parking spot, watching in awe as, her entire way home, everyone yielded to her passing with nods and waves of recognition and deference. The arrest had been for nothing but a joyride that had gotten out of hand. There was no reason for it to inspire such a reaction from the entire town. Yet it had. And Tara had no idea what was going on.
The clubhouse was loud – it always was, and all Tara wanted to do was leave. She wanted to stand up, grab Jax by the hand, and then lead them both outside to where his bike was waiting, climbing on behind him so he could take her home... and stay there with her. But she knew they couldn't leave yet. As a member, there were certain things expected of Jax now, and she respected that. She didn't always like it, but she accepted it. It meant that there were things he couldn't tell her for her own protection, that he sometimes had to leave on runs without notice or warning, and that the majority of their nights were going to be spent at club parties.
Relaxed and slouched against the couch, Jax sat in quiet conversation with Opie – a half empty bottle of beer casually clutched in his right hand, his left splayed low and possessively against her stomach, holding onto her where she was perched upon his lap. It was their usual position on nights such as that one. Luckily, Tara was pretty sure Jax had finally finished having to regale all of his club brothers and friends on the antics of their high speed chase the night before, and they were once more left to their somewhat private oasis. Everyone else was too wrapped up in their own debauchery to notice their apathy. It was moments like these that Tara didn't mind spending time at the clubhouse.
She and Opie weren't necessarily friends, but she had known him just as long as she had known Jax. After all, Charming only had one school system, and the three of them had moved up through elementary, middle, and high school together. Opie was a quiet guy – introspective. He also liked to blow things up, apparently, but everyone had a dark side... or so she justified it. And, really, who was she to judge? He was nice to her, respectful, and he, unlike Jax's family, supported Tara's relationship with his best friend. Because of this, she had hope that, maybe someday soon, he'd find his own nice girl who didn't quite fit the Samcro mold to settle down with. It'd be nice to have a female friend inside of the club.
Letting her gaze flicker over the rest of the room, Tara took in all the other women present... or at least the ones who weren't off in dark corners earning their status as Cro-eaters. She hated them. She hated their lack of respect for themselves, their desperation, their disregard that these men they panted after might have women at home who loved them, who raised their children, who worried about them. The world of a motorcycle club was already misogynistic enough without their willingness to ignore decades of feministic progress. She spent so much of her free time with them, but they were still separate. Always would be. Everything about their appearances, their contrasting behaviors, their status levels in the club kept them apart, and, while it could be lonely, she wouldn't want it any other way. Best of all, she knew that Jax felt the same way.
As the step-son of the club's president, of the son of Gemma Teller-Morrow, Jax had never needed to be a prospect, or a member, or even of-age to attract the attention of the Cro-eaters. Yet, he hadn't wanted those women who got willingly passed around from one man to another; he had wanted her – quiet, smart, always just a little pissed off at the world Tara Knowles, and no short skirt or plunging top could ever be as much of a confidence booster as Jax's love and respect.
"Hey," an unknown voice off to Tara's left and from behind her said, making her slowly swivel her neck around to face the other woman. In the process, she realized that, while distracted with her own thoughts, she had been softly tracing the lines of the tattoo on Jax's right arm – her fingers stilling momentarily in awareness before resuming their idle task. She didn't need to see the ink to know its lines. Jax had gotten the tattoo the day he turned eighteen to honor his deceased father. Tara had skipped school and gone with him. It had been a busy day.
Once she was looking behind her shoulder, Tara's suspicions were confirmed. She didn't know the woman who had approached her. Cro-eaters came and went – sometimes riding in with Nomads or other charters; sometimes just passing through on their own in the hopes that something, this time, might finally stick with one of the bikers. It never did. So, she never took the time or made the effort to learn their names. With a brow raised in confused inquiry, she said, "yes?"
"I was just wondering if you needed anything," the woman volunteered, nodding towards Jax's beer bottle in an insinuation of offering to get Tara a drink as well.
For several seconds, she just stared at the stranger in bafflement. But then she heard Jax chuckle and from her right say, "nah, we're good. Thanks," before the older woman finally walked away.
When she turned back around to curl into him once again, she was surprised to find the lingering amusement not only in Jax's gaze but in Opie's as well. "What," she questioned, but that only seemed to heighten their mirth. Tara wasn't complaining; she liked seeing Jax and his best friend so light and carefree, but she had no idea what was so funny.
"What's going on," she insisted, perking up slightly to once more look around the room. What she found was much like what had greeted her upon stepping outside of the precinct that morning. "Am I missing something, because it has been like this all day – cars stopping to give me the right of way, people looking at me like..."
"Like what, babe," Jax prompted, a half-grin still in place.
Before she could respond, before she could puzzle out what was going on, Opie spoke up. "Word about your arrest with Jax last night spread fast, Tara."
"Yeah. I know. This is Charming, after all."
Undaunted, Opie continued. "Everyone's always known that you were different, that you weren't just some club hanger-on or a Cro-eater; you were Jax's woman." She should have bristled over the proprietorial description, but she didn't, because that status also meant that Jax was her man. "But now he's a full-fledged member, he's earned his patches, and, because of who he is, his word and opinion carry more weight than the average new member's. He's respected. And, after last night, you proved that you're not going anywhere, that you're here to stay, so you've earned your respect as well. You're not just Jax's girlfriend anymore," Opie finished with a quick quirk of his brows up towards his trademark beanie, a smile, and a long pull from his own bottle of beer.
Where his best friend left off, Jax picked up. His left hand rubbed gentle circles against her stomach, and his forehead came to rest against her own. With a shit-eating grin, he told her, "you're my old lady now."
Tara felt her cheeks immediately flame – in pleasure, in embarrassment, in humor, in joy, in indignity, in an entire maelstrom of emotions – some of which she couldn't even put a name to, and she laughed, dropping her face down into the crook between Jax's left shoulder and his neck. Beneath her, she could feel his chest rumble with restrained humor. Regaining control once more, she lifted her head only to shake it from side to side in disbelief. "They're looking at me like they look at Gemma." And then she groaned, plucked Jax's beer bottle from his loose grip, and downed the rest of its contents in one gulp.
Afterwards, while Tara returned to her silent ruminations, Jax and Opie went back to their own conversation. Occasionally, she could feel Jax's gaze light upon her, but it was in amusement and delight, in triumph and pride. The club still scared her, still intimidated her. Underneath the brotherhood, there lurked a dark streak of greed and hubris that made her worry about Jax's future... and that wasn't even taking into account his mother and step-father's influence. While it always felt like the one thing that could take Jax away from her was the club, Tara was suddenly wondering if she could use the very thing she feared the most to hold onto him.
She was accepted now – a part of the other thing in Jax's life that he loved so much. If she embraced the Sons, if she could somehow reconcile her own dreams with the lifestyle that came with being a biker's old lady, then she wouldn't just be the girl he loved despite everything standing in their way; she'd be the woman who united the two things Jax loved the most. While she didn't know if she could do it – if she was brave enough, strong enough, foolish enough to always stay, she knew that she needed to try – for herself, for Jax, and for them as a couple.
Lifting her head, she aligned it so that she could whisper in Jax's ear. He was somewhere motor-deep in a discussion about bikes with Opie, but she hadn't been following what they were saying, and Tara knew he wouldn't mind the interruption, especially not after she told him what she had in mind. "Can we get out of here?"
Jax paused mid-sentence, and Opie just laughed, standing up and shaking his head. "That would be my cue," Jax's best friend said without resentment or acrimony. "I'll catch you tomorrow, man."
With that, Opie left, heading off to where his father was at the bar and leaving the two of them alone in the small sitting area. Jax turned to her inquisitively. "What are you thinking?"
Tara didn't answer him right away. Instead, she stood, and, much like she had imagined doing earlier, she grabbed him by the hand and led them both outside of the clubhouse into the refreshingly clean night air. It was a relief after being trapped inside of the smoky haze of the balmy clubhouse for so long. Once they were outside, Jax came up closer behind her, slung an arm around the small of her back, and pulled her in tight against him. As they walked towards his bike, she confessed, "I think I want to get a tattoo."
"Really," he questioned. She could hear the surprise – not displeasure just wonder – in his tone. "Why?"
They stopped beside his bike, and she moved around to fit herself in the circle of his arms so that they were facing one another. His hands hooked together just above the curved flair of her ass. "I don't know," she admitted slowly. Yet, she did. "It's just... this change, it's big for us. Big for me." Shrugging, Tara added, "it feels like it should somehow be acknowledged."
Against the darkness, Jax's smug grin shined brighter than the garage's lights, the moon, or the stars above. His blue eyes raked over her. "Where?"
For a moment, Tara thought. She thought about all the places Jax liked to touch her, all the places she liked to feel his touch the most. She thought about how he kissed her, about how he'd hold her hand until the last second and their fingers were forced to slide away from each other, how they both slept the best when he was wrapped around her. And then she thought about, when they weren't touching, how he would always reach for her – curling his hand around her hip, the heat of his forearm resting in the small of her back. It was there that she would have his mark forever inked upon her skin.
"I think I know where," was all she would reveal. His hold around her, however, seemed to tighten... as if he, too, had come up with the same answer.
There was just one question left remaining. "And what are you going to get?"
Leaning up on her toes, she kissed him softly, not pulling away when she breathed the answer against his mouth. "A crow."