Tara looked at her watch and realized that it was already midnight. She sighed and reached for the remote and turned off the TV. She had not anticipated being here for eight hours and yet here she sat waiting for Opie to return home. She sighed glad to have the house quiet. She just focused on the pouring rain outside.
Opie's wife Donna had died a few months back in a botched hit that was meant for Opie. This left Opie alone with his two young children Kenny and Ellie. Kenny was a lot like his dad…rough around the edges and not adept at expressing his emotions. This had led to Kenny getting into a couple of fights a week at school.
Ellie on the other hand was melancholy all the time. She refused to talk about Donna's death and she was distant from her father. To make matters worse Opie's flaky mother, Mary, had been staying with him to look after the kids but she had unceremoniously taken off leaving him to fend for himself.
Opie couldn't take care of the emotional needs of his kids he couldn't even bring himself to sleep in the bedroom that he shared with his wife. Tara knew how difficult it was to lose a mother at a very young age. Tara's mother died when she was nine years old. So for the past month Tara had been acting as surrogate mom. She picked the kids up from school, helped them with their homework, fixed them dinner, and then got them to bed before Opie came in for the night. He was usually drunk. But he was usually home by 9:00. Tonight he was very late.
Tara was ready to head home, but she didn't exactly have anything to go home to anymore. Tara and Jax had called it quits not long after Donna's funeral. The 'road' had been the final nail in their relationship's coffin. The road was a curious perk afforded to the men in the club. Even if they had an 'old lady' when they went on road trips they were allowed to partake in the bounties of whatever beauties were willing and there were a lot of beauties that were willing. One of Jax's conquests from one of his trips showed up in town. Tara was humiliated and after a heated fight with Jax the two of them decided to call it quits. Someone once said that the third time was the charm. Tara was more inclined to believe that the third time was just your third stupid mistake. She was determined not to go a fourth round. She and Jax made better friends than lovers.
As 12:00 turned to 1:00 in the morning Tara drifted off on the living room couch still waiting for Opie.
Opie staggered into his house two hours later. He reeked of beer and whiskey and his face was bloodied like he had just gotten into a fist fight. He fumbled with the door trying to lock it behind him. He was soaking wet from being caught in the rain. The thunder rolled across the sky as a bolt of lightning lit up the dark living room illuminating his large figure briefly.
Tara was startled out of her sleep. She sat up on the couch and turned on a lamp that was sitting on the side table. She winced seeing Opie's face. "My god…Opie what happened to you?" asked Tara getting up from the couch. She walked over to him and the smell of the beer and whiskey nearly sent her back a foot. "Come sit down I have my medical bag with me. I need to clean your face up." Tara took his hand and pulled him to the couch.
Opie flopped down on the couch making the silent living room rattle a bit. Opie was a solid man over six feet tall, broad shoulders, and muscular. People often joked that Opie was the gentle giant. But tonight he was just a depressed drunk. "I don't need you to fix my face."
Tara ignored him and grabbed her bag and brought it over. "I am a doctor this is what I do." "Try not to breathe in my face." Tara looked at his bloody face and shook her head. She got out the peroxide and started cleaning his face. "What the hell happened Opie?"
"I got into a fight." said Opie thinking is was pretty obvious.
"No, I meant why did you get into a fight?" asked Tara as she cleaned his face and started to put a few bandages on him. She checked out his hands next and winced. He had on heavy rings that spelled out Sons of Anarchy. There was blood caught in between the letters. "Well, at least you kicked the other guy's ass." said Tara. She slipped the rings off of his fingers and cleaned his hands.
"I was at a bar and the juke box was playing Donna's song…and some jerk unplugged it because…he said I had played it too many times." said Opie. "So I punched him and used his face to break the glass on the jukebox." "And he had two friends with him…"
"Spare me the rest of the details." said Tara stopping him before he told her about the rest of the carnage. "You are going to get yourself killed Opie. It is like you are walking round with a death wish."
"Maybe I do want to die. Death has to be a hell of a lot better than living." quipped Opie.
"What about your kids Opie? What about them…what are they supposed to do without their mother or father? Are you expecting Mary to dedicate her life to taking care of them?"demanded Tara feeling her temper rising.
Opie pushed her hands away from tending to his wounds. "Why don't you mind your own business?" hissed Opie. "You don't know what I am going through!"
"Mind my own damn business? You don't think this concerns me? When you are out drinking every night who do you think is here taking care of your children! I am your friend Opie Winston and don't you forget it." "I care about what happens to you but more importantly I care about what happens to your kids." said Tara.
"My kids are fine!" said Opie.
"Are they Opie…when is the last time you've said anything to your children?" "Kenny is fighting in school every chance he gets. Ellie is sad all of the time…she doesn't talk to anyone. Your kids are anything but fine. But you are so busy grieving that you are ignoring them!"
Opie grabbed the lamp that was sitting next to him and he yanked it pulling the cord from the wall. Opie threw the lamp at the wall to silence Tara. Even in his drunken state he knew that there was truth in the words that Tara spoke. "Get out!" growled Opie.
"Kicking me out isn't going to change what the truth is." "And I'll be back yet again tomorrow to pick up your slack." said Tara shaking her head. "You are my friend Opie…and more than anything I want to help you through this. But you've got to want the help." said Tara her tone softening. "I know you love your kids Opie…but they are just kids. They need you…they need you to show them that love." "They need to know that it is going to be alright."
"How can I tell them that it is going to be alright…when I am not even sure." asked Opie in a solemn voice.
"You have so many people who love you Opie. We would do anything for you. Jax, Gemma, Clay, Bobby, Chibs, Juice…even Happy…though he creeps me out sometimes." said Tara. "Not to mention Piney…you know how much your father loves you." Piney was Opie's father and one of the two founding members of SAMCRO. Tara said "Just know we are here if you need the help." "Goodnight Opie." said Tara. She picked up her medical bag and purse and headed for the door. As she did lightning struck again.
Opie stood up and walked over to her and gently grabbed her hand. His large hand covered hers completely. "Don't leave. It is storming…I wouldn't forgive myself if something happened to you." "Stay the night…well whatever is left of it."
Tara thought about turning him down but looked out the window seeing the rain pouring down. "Thank you for offering..it looks pretty bad out there. I'll stay the night."
"I don't really have an extra room so you can take the couch." said Opie.
Tara nodded and said "Thank you." She walked over to the couch and set her bags down. Tara kicked off her shoes tiredly and got settled on the couch.
Opie disappeared and returned with a pillow and blanket for her. "Here you go." said Opie. He tossed a pillow on the floor and laid down on the floor next to the couch. He put his arms behind his head and stared up at the ceiling.