Warnings: Swearing, Sex
Spoilers: Will eventually spoil Season 1
Word Count: 4258
Disclaimer: We wouldn't be waiting until the fall if I owned SOA. Probably a good thing that I don't. Charlie would've never made out of his dressing room if I ran the show ;)
Summary: It's 1998 and at the age of 20 things are taking a better turn.
It took nearly three months for Tara to be able to fall asleep without Jax beside her after that god awful night in August. He opened the door too many early mornings to find Tara still awake on the couch watching infomercials. The kitchen acquired a few too many mostly useless appliances, odds and ends before Jax finally put her on the back of his back, drove her to the desert, and prodded her until she finally broke and let out all her pent-up emotion on him.
Standing there amongst the mostly quiet desert with nothing but her accusations, Jax was uneasy about whether he had made the right choice. The hissed, "I cleaned up your blood," that passed her lips was the clue Jax needed. Tara was full of bitterness and even if he had to stand and listen to things he didn't want to hear, he had to let her say them. Jax won't make her promises he doesn't know if he can keep, but he will fight with her for her.
All of Tara's bottled up emotions spilled over when Jax hopped off his bike and asked her why in the hell she stayed if she couldn't handle it. Her defenses broke and everything poured out including a few things she didn't know she had been holding in. When the yelling stopped and anger faltered Tara felt a calm that had been missing for months. The wind rushing past the bike gliding down the highway as Jax drove them home carried away the rest of her fear and apprehension. The next time Jax didn't come home she turned off the TV at midnight, crawled into bed, and managed to fall asleep after only an hour.
New Year's day found Tara waking up on the floor of Jax's old room above the Club. They rung in the New Year with SAMCRO the night before. While Jax easily moved throughout the Club, Tara sat at a table with Kyle and Opie's girlfriends, April and Jenn. A deck of cards was scrounged up and a few too many rounds of "Drink Bitch" later all three were hardly able to properly count down from ten at midnight.
Tara vaguely remembers dragging Jax up to his old room as soon as the Happy New Year kiss he landed on her ended. Hopefully it was the upstairs landing where Tara wrapped her legs around his waist while her fingers deftly undid the zipper on his jeans. She's not a prude, but a vague recollection of a forgotten door being left open and a few catcalls cause a blush that spreads all the way to her toes.
His green plaid shirt from the night before is haphazardly draped over her, but her boyfriend is not on the floor. Instead, he's naked sprawled across the end of the bed. Tara's somewhat sure she also started up there, but the manner in which she ended up on the floor is lost on her. The afternoon sun filtering through the lone window is too bright and she manages to pick herself up and drop herself to the bed that belongs to someone else now.
Curling up around one of the pillows she does her best to ignore the incessant pounding in her head and the light snores coming from Jax. Tara's unable to find her shirt when both are awake much later in the afternoon. She's mortified when Jax walks in the room grinning from ear to ear with it hanging off his finger telling her he found it near the stairs.
Three weeks into January she's promoted to assistant manager. It's nice making slightly more money, but in high school Tara hadn't pictured herself throwing on a Save-Mart polo and a pair of khakis to go to work in every morning.
Her boyfriend will be a mechanic… among other things… for the rest of his working life. Sure, he's destined to own it all one day. Gemma's worked too hard for Jax's future to end any other way, but Jax is still going to be putting on the grease stained t-shirts and jeans every morning. Tara dreamt of being a doctor in high school, but she never quite envisioned how the doctor ended up staying with the mechanic.
Showered and dressed for work, Tara finishes her morning routine with her jewelry. Clasping the gold chain around her neck she's still a little uncomfortable with the disappointment she felt when Jax presented her with the Christmas gift nearly a month ago. The small diamond pendant is beautiful on the chain, but on Christmas morning when she fingered the stone while watching the coffee drip she idly wondered why it couldn't have been on a ring.
"Hey babe," a wonderfully smooth voice breaks her out of her thoughts. Turning towards the doorway he's passing through Tara is absolutely content at the moment to just be living with him. Shirtless and wearing just his black boxer briefs. His hair is still wet and he smells like the Old Spice bar soap he uses.
"You got work today?" she asks as he moves in behind her and she relishes the sight they make in the mirror. His hair is dripping onto her red work polo, but she isn't ready to make him move. His body radiates the leftover heat from the shower and she nearly purrs when his hands settle at her hips and thumbs dig into her lower back with slow circles that he knows she likes.
"In an hour. You think we could go by Ma's tonight for dinner. She's been hasslin' me about it at work these past few days."
Tara can't imagine why her presence would be requested by Gemma, but she gives in easily as his hands move their circles up her back and she couldn't possibly feel any tension at this moment.
"Sure, that's fine. I get off at 6 and I'll just meet you there. I'd rather change first before dinner." It isn't really fine, but dinner with the parents isn't really optional.
Jax doesn't miss the falter in her smile as she consents to dinner and he whispers a, "Thank you," followed by a kiss on the top of her head. Tara's eyes track the image of the reaper watching her boyfriend disappear to the kitchen for coffee.
She almost grabs a late shift when one opens up at work, but stops herself. Gemma's still the most important woman in Jax's world and Tara isn't going to be able to avoid her forever. In high school, she'd nearly idolized the older woman. Tara's own mother had been dead for years and she adored the attention that Gemma paid to her. When she was 16 Tara thought she wouldn't mind being just like the leather-wearing, black convertible Sebring driving mother. Now at 20, she would just like to find a way to get along with her. Tara doesn't need to fix the relationship. She just needs to be able to get through a meal without feeling the need to run for the door.
At home, she dons a nicer green shirt than necessary and a pair of decent jeans. She's known Jax's parents for years now, but it's like she's back at square one trying to impress them. She grabs a change of clothes for Jax because he undoubtedly forgot to take any. Putting her leather jacket on she tries very hard to calm the nerves that are telling her to run for the hills.
The garage of the Morrow home is open and she walks in through the back door without knocking. She must be right on time because when she enters the kitchen, Clay walks in through the sliding glass door leading to the back porch and the grill with a platter of steaks in his hands.
Gemma turns from her spot at the kitchen sink and greets her with, "Jax is in the shower. You can set the table."
Clay looks up with a smile and a bit of a glimmer in his eye. "Been a while since we seen you 'round Tara."
It's true. Tara has avoided the Club and its members ever since New Year's. What may or may not have been seen has kept her home on the weekends. "Hi Clay, Gemma," she manages a greeting and hopes they don't notice the blush that she's sure is prominent on her cheeks.
"Don't you worry. Jax heard them boys tellin' some tales and he set 'em to rights," Clay reassures her.
There's nothing reassuring about knowing that Clay and more than likely Gemma know of her less than stellar moment, but there's little that can be done now. Plus, in the grand scheme of things it's fairly tame considering what goes on there.
"Now that your virtue is safe," Gemma rolls her eyes and gestures towards the stack of plates and condiments set out on the counter, "Table."
"Okay… I'm just gonna go set these clothes in- outside the bathroom for Jax." In high school Tara had spent the night in his bed with Gemma and Clay just down the hall. Now Tara won't even let him hold her hand if Gemma is in the vicinity. It's instinctual self-preservation that has her attempting to not remind Gemma of how close she and Jax are.
After setting the clothes in front of the door and cracking it just enough to tell him they're there, she quickly gets back to the kitchen to grab the stack of plates. Setting four spots at the end of the long table Tara briefly wonders if she'll ever be ready to inherit all of this. Not the table, the house, or any of that. The Club, the men, the garage, and the fallout from the real business that goes on behind closed doors around a carved table that Jax showed her once.
He startles her as she's setting the fourth spot and his hand under the plate saves it from crashing to the table. Turning to him with wide eyes, ready to scold him for the almost accident Jax swallows her lecture with his mouth covering hers. She briefly returns the gesture before pulling away and tossing him a wry grin.
"Thanks," he says motioning to the shirt before swaggering off to the kitchen shouting, "Ma! Dinner ready yet or what?"
The conversation over the steaks and baked potatoes is mostly between Clay, Gemma, and Jax. Clay does make a point to address them both when he asks if they're sure they don't need anything else for the apartment. Tara laughs when Jax shares another story of the bottle-job redhead that keeps bringing her perfectly fine Jeep to Teller Morrow insisting it's making a "funny noise."
"Next time I'll just beat the engine with a hammer and then she'll hear a funny fuckin' noise." At Jax's exasperation Tara snickers. There's no jealousy rising in her watching Jax roll his eyes while Clay and Gemma laugh at his obvious displeasure with the whole affair. The redhead's been coming to the garage every few weeks for the past six months and has yet to get the hint that Jax is very much not interested.
The plates get carried into the kitchen by Tara and Jax. Gemma pulls two beers out of the fridge and shoos the men to the backyard while her and Tara take care of the dishes. Jax throws Tara a glance to be sure she's alright if he leaves her. He isn't blind to the strain between his mother and girlfriend, but he doesn't even know why it started let alone how to fix it. At Tara's slight nod he follows his step-father.
Gemma pulls two more out of the fridge and Tara gratefully takes a long pull of her beer. It's disconcerting to listen to the clink of the plates and silverware as Gemma loads the dishwasher while Tara washes the pans and cooking utensils in the sink. Silence reigns amongst the two women as they work.
"Aww, don't tell me I missed it," Tig comments upon his sudden entrance into the kitchen.
"Who the hell said you were invited," Gemma answers with none of the harshness the statement could imply. She opens the oven and pulls out a plate of food, handing it off to the biker. Tara's eyebrows raise when Tig accepts it with a loud smacking kiss on Gemma's cheek.
"They're outside," Gemma gestures to the door. Tig grabs a beer from the fridge and Gemma places silverware on top of his plate.
"Tara," he acknowledges her with a nod as he slips out the door before she can answer in kind.
It's just as well. Tara almost never speaks to Tig. The few occasions he stops by the supermarket Tara always manages a polite smile and hello, but nothing more. She feels mostly comfortable around the rest of Jax's brothers-in-arms, but not Tig… never around Tig.
"Those will wait," Gemma stops her, holding out a towel to dry her hands. Following the older woman back to her bedroom Tara speculates on whether or not she's being lead to her doom.
"About a week ago," Gemma starts as Tara watches her open a drawer in the large carved dresser, "Jax was askin' after these. Wanted to know if I still had 'em." A small, red velvet box is produced and Tara cautiously accepts it.
Opening it to find two gold bands, Tara looks up to Gemma with astonishment. At the nod of approval from Jax's mother she lifts one out to inspect it closer. An inscription on the inside of the band catches her eye. "Dilseacht," she attempts to pronounce the foreign word knowing she's slaughtered it.
"Means loyalty. These," Gemma lifts out the other band and slides it down her ring finger admiring it for a moment, "were mine and John's. The inscription was a surprise from him on our wedding day." Gemma smirks as she watches the younger girl fumble to hold onto the ring that nearly falls from her hand in surprise.
"Christ girl, I didn't pry it from his cold hand. John lost his ring a few months before he died. He was always removing it when he was workin' and I found it behind the dresser when we moved the furniture."
For the life of her, Tara cannot figure out why Gemma would show her these or inform her of Jax's inquiry. She only has a few brief memories of Jax's father around Charming. She and Jax didn't start dating until just after John Teller's horrific accident.
"Did Jax say why… or did he ask to-" Gemma cuts off Tara's stuttered questions and Tara's actually grateful.
"Look, I don't know what Jax has planned or if any of that had anything to do with you," Gemma takes the box and ring from her and places both bands back inside, "All I want to know is if you've got an answer for him if he does." The velvet box loudly snaps shut, abruptly sealing the rings back up.
"We haven't even talked about it. Jax never -"
"An answer Tara?" Gemma asks again impatiently.
Tara takes a moment to weigh her options to figure out what best would satisfy Jax's mother. "Yeah Gemma, I do," is all she admits. She doesn't have to tell the older woman what it would be.
"Good." The dresser drawer closes loudly and Tara flinches at the bang the connecting wood makes. Backing out of the room, Tara has the distinct impression that it's not good. As far as Tara's concerned Gemma doesn't have anything to worry about. Jax would have to ask her first and so far he hasn't shown any signs of getting down on one knee.
Back at the sink Tara resumes her work with the dishes. Looking out the window into the backyard she can see Jax at the patio table. Beer bottles littering the glass surface while Jax and Clay are full-blown laughing with their heads tilted back with Tig looking mildly abashed.
Tara's not all that concerned when Gemma emerges from the bedroom and blows out the door to join the men. Humming along to Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" playing on the classic rock station Clay has the radio set to she begins drying the dishes. From her vantage point at the window she see's Jax's eyes narrow at his mother's lone appearance and she doesn't miss the glare Gemma throws him at his questioning glance.
"She got you slavin' away in here?" he asks sliding the door closed behind him. With an easy grin and a swat at her behind he grabs a towel and helps her finish up.
"I didn't make the dinner. I don't mind cleaning up," she answers and continues to hum along to Clapton, the Stones, and CCR while they lazily clean up the kitchen and dining room. Jax flicks crumbs at her when he wipes down the counter and Tara swats him with the wet dishcloth in her hand.
Tara spent most of the day fretting over the evening, but it ended up turning out much better than she could have hoped.
Blearily cracking her eyes open far too early on a Sunday morning, Tara attempts to figure out what has caused her to awaken so early. Work isn't until the afternoon and her boyfriend is sound asleep next to her. It isn't until she becomes more aware of the stale air against her skin that Tara realizes her problem. Jax kicked the sheet to the end of the bed sometime during the night. For reasons she's never been able to explain Tara needs at least that much covering her while she sleeps.
The air conditioner is cranked up high to drive out as much of the intense July heat as possible, but the ancient box in the living room window is no match for the California sun.
Deciding that it's always better not to suffer alone Tara scoots to the end of the bed and starts with the lightest touch of her fingertips along the edge of Jax's foot. At first all she gets for her efforts is a twitch. Trailing up and down his ankle until she reaches the other side, this time she lightly drags her nails down the sole of his foot. This gets her results.
He immediately jerks his foot away from her assault as he turns on his side to face her. "Damn woman, do you want me to kick you?" he asks with one eye cracked open.
"Mornin' to you too… Jax I'm hot," she finishes with a whine and a pout from her position lying across the end of the bed.
He quirks an eyebrow and she knows exactly what he's about to say except he surprises her when his lecherous grin is followed by, "Nahhh, too easy… but fuck you're right it's hot," he pauses to glance at the alarm clock next to the bed. "Shit Tara it's only 7:45."
"Trust me, you're no more disappointed then I am." Stretching her arms over her head causes her tank top to ride up and Jax takes the opportunity to pounce on her. His fingertips dance over her ticklish sides until Tara's laughing and tears are rolling down her face begging him to stop and she'll do whatever he wants if he would please just stop. Even if it means she has to make him pancakes wearing only the corny "Don't Mess With the Chef" apron. It's a fantasy that she has yet to agree to fulfill.
"All right all right," he laughs blowing a kiss low on her stomach, "You don't have to beg. I already know you'll do whatever I want." His mouth moves up dipping his tongue into her navel.
"Un unh," she cradles his face in her palms to bring him back up her body, "I already feel all gross and sweaty. You can do whatever you want… alone… but I'm takin' a shower." Tara quickly slides out from under one arm and dashes to the bathroom before he has a chance to stop her.
Cool water runs from the showerhead and she leaves the temperature low for a moment before turning the knob for hot water. Jax lasts only moments longer than she thought he would.
"You said anything," he informs her pulling back the shower curtain and stepping in behind her.
"Mmhmm… anything," she murmurs as his hands slip under her arms and gently with a feather light touch move over her breasts and down her sides. Their path made slick by first the water and then her when his right hand dips lower.
Tara folds her arms around the one he wraps around her waist. When she tightens her hold and nails dig into his skin Jax slips in a third digit. Her name drawn out against her ear and a flick of his thumb at just the right moment makes the sparks blissfully ignite.
He gives her a few needed moments to come back down until gently turning her in his arms to firmly place his lips against hers. Tara pours all her heat into his kiss and slips her tongue in to taste him. She places her hands on his chest to firmly push him back until he hits the shower wall. Jax closes his eyes, runs a hand down his face, and leans his head back as she places open mouth kisses down his chest, stomach, and traces her tongue along the defined lines at his hips.
His fingers tangle in her hair when she takes him in her mouth. Jax doesn't guide her. Just rests his hands at the back of her head as she first licks up and down before closing her lips over him. Tara works him exactly the way she knows he wants and when his fingers pull at her hair and a, "God Tara," breathes past his lips she digs her fingers into his thighs and takes him just that much further until Jax comes apart.
"Damn Tara," Jax exclaims while leaning down to lift her up and set her on her feet. He grabs her shampoo bottle off the shelf and guides her under the water. His fingers knead her scalp while he works the apple-scented shampoo into her hair. Tara will continue to invite him into all her showers from now until eternity if he promises to always massage shampoo and conditioner into her hair like that.
Once Jax is equally clean Tara turns the water off that's probably run for far too long. He barely rubs a towel over himself before throwing on an old pair of sweats and striding out of the bathroom. Tara takes her time and towels as much water out of her hair as she can. Tying the belt of her blue bathrobe she hopes Jax has already started the coffee.
She's a little startled upon entering the bedroom to find her boyfriend seated at the end of the bed. He looks too serious with his elbows on his knees, chin resting on top of his closed fists. Tossing him a curious look she continues to the dresser for her hairbrush. The dresser faces the bed and the mirror on top gives her a perfect view of Jax who's still sitting there watching her. He does give her a smile when her eyes catch his blue ones in the reflection, but he says nothing.
After a few pulls of the brush she can't take it anymore. "Jax what are-"
"Tara," he pauses all too dramatically with a wicked smile and holds out his hand. Between his forefinger and thumb a sparkle catches her eye and steals her breath. "Be my wife?" he asks with so much ease that Tara isn't sure she heard him right.
"Wife?.... As in your-"
"Yes, as in my wife," he chuckles at her clear surprise. Besides the obvious "yes" response, he had hoped for a reaction like this. Closing the short distance between them he pries away the left hand that is covering her mouth in shock and doesn't wait for her answer before slipping the ring onto her finger.
Jax carried around the round-cut diamond ring for all of one week before deciding that whatever he was waiting for wasn't worth it. The only real plan he had was to catch his normally organized, very structured girlfriend off guard and he had certainly achieved his goal.
"Baby a guy kinda wants an answer after askin' somethin' like that," he says before first placing his lips over the ring and then against hers to coax her out of her silence.
"Yeah- yes!" she breaks into a wide smile and Jax, absolutely pleased with her enthusiasm, leans back in to capture her bottom lip between his as he pulls at the tie of her robe. Reaching under her bottom he easily lifts her onto the dresser. Her thumbs hook into his sweats to slide them off his hips and her toes finish the job when she can't reach. Jax grabs her left hand and she squeezes tight feeling the new metal press into her skin while he rocks into her.
There's no fancy dinner or long speech. Tara doesn't need Jax to stand in front of her listing all the reasons why she should marry him. The most important ones can't be put into words. It's just him, her, a Sunday morning and it's everything that Tara didn't know she was waiting for.
AN: On a bizarre side not that has nothing to do with this fic; I watched Abandon and I swear I wouldn't have recognized him as the same guy playing Jax if I didn't know it beforehand. Just thought I'd share. So if you're a fan of his and haven't seen it, definitely give it a try.