A.N. - All of the characters belong to Kurt Sutter. I own none of them. I thought Jax and Tara made a lot of emotional and philosophical decisions at the end of Season 3 that were glossed over in favor of plot twists and capers. Loved the twist but couldn't help feeling cheated by all of the missing scenes I waited half a season to watch. This is my first fan-fiction story ever.
The trunk is hot, the air heavy and stale, and each breath is a chore. The thirst is overwhelming, splitting her lips and threatening to crack her tongue. The thirst is her greatest adversary but the smell is bad too. In the crushing heat, Luisa's blood spoiled and dried leaving her clothes rank and stiff. The gag tastes like motor oil and the decaying blood. It reminds her of the shop which makes her think of Jax. Her hands and feet lost feeling ages ago and she's lying on the ribs Salazar kicked. Sometimes he stops the car to beat on the lid of the trunk, and she knows eventually he'll start beating her. Her head feels like it's doubled in size, and as her heartbeat kicks at her temples, her thoughts stretch and distort as if seen through a fun-house mirror.
She thinks about the Prospect Kip. How he rushed into Cameron's knife trying to save Abel, gurgling as he died, and how she whimpered for Cameron to wait and somehow take back the plunge of his weapon. Kip's eyes were empty before he slid to the ground. Days later, with bleach fumes burning her nose, she sobbed while she tried to scrub Kip off of Jax's kitchen floor. It turns out Crime Scene Units don't so much clean up murder sites as swab and sample them.
She remembers her first clean up, when she was picking pieces of Kohn's brain out of her carpet. How she knew she was cracking up when she found herself comparing the different lumps and wondering what facet of him she was holding. Was this the part of Joshua that brought her roses on their second date, or was it the part that climbed through her bedroom window and busted her lip because she smiled at another man?
Jax was there the first time to prop her up when the surging hysteria overcame her, but in the kitchen she was alone. Jax was face down in the nursery, inconsolable, catatonic, drunk, and when his eyes could focus on her, it was betrayal she saw there; betrayal for Abel.
Abel's little self fills the darkness of the trunk. She envisions both the first time she saw him, when he was tiny and broken, and the last time crying in Cameron's arms. She loves that she was the first person to ever hold Abel, and she loves that she's seen his heart. She helped fix him with her careful hands, back before she loved him, and she remembers he coded during the surgery. In that urgent moment her concern had been for Jax, but now Tara knows she wouldn't survive if Abel's fragile heart stopped beating again.
The new baby whispers along her insides, accusing her of forsaking it a few short days ago. Tara believes in choices and she knows all choices have consequences; some of them devastating. Every aching moment is a consequence of failing Abel. She thought she had no right to be a mother. She didn't realize the fierceness of her attachment to this new life until it was in danger. She feels like she could spring claws and shred any person trying to harm it. After he's dead and his body is cooling –because mercy got her nowhere but in this damn trunk- she'll thank Salazar for interrupting her life at a critical moment and helping her find her claws. That is, if she survives.
Tara knows her hands are soaked in blood. The sterile, abstract kind flowing through the patients she heals and the desperate, spattering kind pumping out of the people she loves and the people she's helped to end. In the searing blackness, when she is no longer lucid, it seems like the blood is pressing on her skin, looking for cracks, seeking entrance.
Everything fucking hurts. An EMT is checking his pupils while the cops ask their questions. They've already taken his sweatshirt for evidence and he's flat out refused to put on the neck brace they want him to wear. They are wrapping the stupid slice on his arm; his alibi for the police and for the club, because there was no way Salazar was walking out of the building. The Mayans have left but SAMCRO is still there, hovering. Clay, Chibs and Bobby are right behind the line of cops and the look Clay's giving him is intense. Jax can't decide if he looks proud or pissed. Maybe Clay can't decide either.
Tara's in a different ambulance with her own circle of officers, being watched over by Opie, Kozik and Tig. They won't let him see her yet, but he knows she's okay. One smart cop, sensing the panic rolling off Jax, radioed to get her status. He knows the blood covering her stomach and thighs isn't hers or their baby's. He also knows she's badly dehydrated and hasn't eaten in two days. They assure him her EMTs have her hooked up to an IV which is quicker than drinking. In the middle of the questioning, Jax sees Tig slip away on his bike and come back with a greasy paper bag. He passes it to one of the men surrounding Tara. Jax needs to remember to thank him.
Jax gives them the story they want, the one he has to spin to avoid charges. He leaves out a lot of the details. They don't need to know Jax recently took a special interest in humiliating Salazar, repeatedly kicking the little bitch's pride. They don't need to know how his vision narrowed down to the hand holding a blade over Tara's jumping pulse. Jax could tell how scared she was. Her breath came out in short, panicked bursts, but she was brave. His girl met Salazar's eyes and didn't cower, nor did she beg. They don't need to know he was pissed about the caretaker, but he's beyond proud of Tara for taking out Salazar's girl with surgical precision. They certainly don't need to know Jax, seeing the trapped, scurrying truth of Salazar, disarmed the rodent by offering him a path through the maze. He admits to stabbing Salazar, but doesn't confess to its intimacy. Jax pulling him in close -faces inches apart- relishing his shock. Jax digging under Salazar's ribcage, with the rat's own knife, searching for his heart.
Recounting the story, Jax can feel the vibrating rage re-building in his chest. It courses down his limbs and his fingertips won't stay still. Chibs must be paying close attention, because he tosses Jax his smokes and lighter over the heads of the cops. Jax lights one and salutes Chibs with it. Under the rage, something different is thrumming through his system, making him shake. He tells himself it is leftover adrenaline, but it has the clammy stink of fear to it. This time it was too close. He was almost too late. Half his family could have been erased with one flick of Salazar's wrist. He needs this interview to be over.