A/N: I noticed that Tami was particularly concerned with the potential for inappropriate relationships between adults and teenagers (Shelley with Riggins, Mr. Barnett with Julie), and I started to ask myself why that was. This is one idea. The first chapter takes place in the present/season 2, and then will flashback to high school for Tami and Eric.
Tami Taylor sat at the kitchen table with her legs crossed, one leg moving restlessly as she half-heartedly thumbed through a novel. She had a glass of white wine poured, but she'd barely touched it. Her stomach was too busy tying itself in knots, her mind too wrapped up in an impending sense of dread.
She heard a key turn in the lock, and snapped the book shut. She saw her husband come around the corner, smiling when he saw her.
"Hey," He said, taking his hat off and ruffling his dark black hair, "I wasn't sure you'd still be up." He made his way over to her and kissed her on the cheek.
"Hey, hon." She returned, smiling lightly. "Can you sit down for a minute? I think we need to have a conversation." She pushed the chair next to her out with her foot.
Eric Taylor's face fell, and he ran his hand through his hair again, leaving it sticking up in various directions. Eric tossed his hat on the table and slid into the chair, looking at his wife, he knew she had something serious on her mind.
"Sure," He said, pressing his back into the chair, "Everything okay?" He raised his eyebrows.
Tami cleared her throat, "Yeah, yeah. Well…" She brought her hand under her chin, resting her elbow on the table, "I'm not sure. I know you've been so busy, and I've been so busy, and I tried to tell you the other day, but I don't think you really heard me…"
"I've been busy, Tami." He said, never one to enjoy being accused of not listening to his wife when she talked, even if she talked a lot, and sometimes the not listening part happened to be true.
She nodded, "I know that. I said that, I just…" Tami's voice was measured, "I need to talk to you about something, and I need you to hear me… to really hear me about it."
Eric felt nervousness shoot through his body, "Okay…"
"We need to have a conversation about Julie," Tami lowered her voice slightly, trying to keep the calm tone she'd adopted, "And Mr. Barnett."
Eric squinted, "Mr. Barnett?"
Tami nodded her head, "Mr. Barnett." She confirmed.
"Mr. Barnett the English teacher Mr. Barnett?"
"That's the one." Tami said, leaning back in her chair and folding her arms over her chest.
Eric's face was a mixture of confusion and trepidation; obviously he wasn't clear what direction this conversation needed to take. "Okay…" Eric shook his head slightly, "What about him?"
"Well…" Tami started, realizing she had to choose her words carefully, "I've noticed some… behavior recently that's gotten me real concerned."
Eric narrowed his eyes, still trying to suss out her meaning, "Behavior?"
"Yeah, hon, behavior." Her eyes widened a bit, "And it's just got me concerned."
Eric leaned forward in his chair, "Behavior… between our daughter, Julie… and Mr. Barnett… her English teacher?" Eric was staring at her now.
Tami swallowed and nodded, "Yes, she was in there at lunch the other day, and it felt a little bit like I walked in on something, and it seemed real flirty, so I just…" She looked at Eric, "I'm concerned."
Eric felt himself starting to get angry, and he let out a little laugh before he spoke, "You think our daughter, Julie, is sleeping with her English teacher?"
Tami shook her head, "I didn't say that, I didn't say she was sleeping with him. What I said was that I'm concerned about this relationship that's developing, and I need you to hear me say that to you."
Eric shook his head, "Oh, I hear you, Tami, I hear you." He brought a hand up to his hair and tugged on it, "I definitely hear you." He stood up and started pacing behind the couch.
"Hon, I need you to calm down, we just need to figure out how to go about talking to her about this." Tami sighed, "I think she's in real dangerous territory and I think maybe she doesn't even realize it."
"So you want to talk to her about it?" Eric stopped pacing to stare at Tami, his hands on his hips, "You want to talk to her about it?" His gaze was hard.
"Eric…" Her tone held a warning.
"This is great," Eric tapped his foot, "This is just great. Our daughter is flirting with her teacher, and you want to talk to her about it… what are you going to say, Tami?"
"I know this is distressing, Eric, but you…"
"You going to give her pointers?" He asked, his voice low and quiet.
"How dare you?" Tami asked, pushing herself up from the table, still keeping her voice down so Julie wouldn't hear them. "That is not fair, Eric. I'm coming to you because I see a potential problem, and I understand it's upsetting because she's our little girl and he's a grown man, but you do not need to talk to me like that." She fixed him with a hard stare, "This is not my fault."
Eric knew, in his heart, that she was right. Of course it wasn't her fault, how could something like this be Tami's fault? But the past had a strange way of still hurting, even when you thought it might not anymore, and so he found himself angry and taking it out on Tami.
"So what? You want to sit her down, and say what, Tami? What are you gonna say to our daughter about this? Don't sleep with your teacher, Julie? That what you're gonna say to her?" He leaned in, "Don't make the same mistake I did? That what you're gonna tell her?" Eric's voice was a whisper, but Tami felt it reverberate around the room.
She put her hand to her stomach, and her mouth fell open. She tried to speak, but nothing came out.
"That'll be really great, Tami, that'll be a really great story for her to hear." Eric said, his hand on the back of the couch gripping the fabric.
Tami felt her anger rise, and when she spoke it was in a whisper-yell, "She doesn't have to hear the story, Eric! But I do think I can offer her a unique perspective on this, and I think we need to have a conversation with our daughter!"
Eric shook his head, "I can't believe this."
Tami stared at him, "Neither can I." Her voice made it clear she wasn't talking about the Julie situation, "I know I made a mistake, okay? What do you want me to say that I didn't say to you or to myself pretty much every single day 23 years ago? Do you want me to say I'm sorry it ever happened? Because of course I am! Do you want me to say that I was an idiot? Because of course I was! What do you want me to say, Eric?" Her voice was quiet, full of pain.
Eric couldn't look in her eyes, "I want to know what you're going to tell our daughter," He said, "That's what I want to know."