A/N: My first Jax/Tara/SoA fic. Its a short little something i dreamed up, taking place after June Wedding and the opening scene in NS.
Its humbly dedicted to the wonderful ladies in the Jax/Tara thread over at fanforum. We debate, we discuss, we swoon, we wade it the gutter. The commonality is our love of SoA and Jax and Tara. I submit this little fic as a testiment to that. Enjoy!
A MOMENT LIKE THIS
Tara walked into the bedroom and slowly placed her suitcase on the bed. She exhaled audibly as the bag touched the mattress. Everything looked just like it did the day she had stormed out. For a minute, she leaned on the old piece of luggage, emotions swirling. It had been a hellish few days. And she wasn't quite sure just how she felt yet.
Automatically her hand went to her barely rounded abdomen. A baby. Jax's baby. Even with her emotions in turmoil, she could not deny the basic, primal thrill that fluttered within. A piece of him forever. A baby they created. For a moment, Tara was lost in the miracle.
She heard a shuffle and Jax appeared, hovering just inside the bedroom door. "Abel's going down, babe."
Jax Teller, Prince of SAMCRO sounded unsure and out of his depth. Like he didn't know how to handle her. If Tara wasn't equally distressed, she would have found it amusing.
She nodded, fingers trailing over the suitcase, the dresser and the walls as she followed him into the nursery. She was home. The smell of a baby, sweet powder and lotions, overwhelmed her and boosted her frayed nerves. Gemma had already bathed him and he was wiggling and squirming contentedly, smiling as babies did when he saw her face appear above his crib. But Tara knew this smile. It was a smile for her. His mother.
Abel looked so healthy and happy, Tara wondered if somewhere in his psyche he would ever be able to understand where he had been, what had happened to him, and how much damage his kidnapping had caused to those who had come for him and those who had been left behind.
She touched his belly and ticked him lightly, her lips curving of their own volition. "Hey sweetheart. Hey Abel," she cooed softly. He wigged his arms in rapturous excitement. Tara chuckled and seemed as surprised as Abel was when a big, fat tear plopped onto his cheek. Tara wiped his cheek gently and then her eyes, surprised by her own emotions.
She leaned in and kissed him gently, breathing in his scent. "I love you," she whispered before straightening and staring at him for a moment longer.
Jax stood in the doorway, afraid to make a sound. He watched Tara with his kid, their kid, and his insides clenched at everything he could have lost. Of all the fucked up things he had done, walking out on Tara... that ranked as number one. A part of him would never forgive himself. And watching the weary way she skirted around him, there was a part of him that feared she never would be able to either.
He wasn't particularly comfortable with dealing with so many shitty emotions. But after having his kid ripped from him and his old lady almost killed, he acknowledged the need to become more comfortable with vulnerable. But becoming more comfortable was still wholly uncomfortable.
Jax pushed away from the door and walked up behind her, involuntarily trailing his hand down her back, coming to rest on the swell of her left butt cheek. Tara jumped slightly - just slightly. But Jax picked up on it.
"Why don't you get into the shower? I got him."
She looked at him and he saw the shimmer in her eyes. His fist clenched in the side of the crib. Tara rested her forehead on his shoulder for just a minute before nodding and leaving the room. Abel chortled and Jax looked down at his son.
"You gotta help me kid. Your old man has royally screwed things up with your mom."
Abel babbled on incoherently, as if he were dispensing the most important advice. Jax smiled, lifted him from his crib and settled him in the crook of his arm. Twenty minutes later, all he heard was Abel's soft breathing. Laying him down gently, he rolled his shoulders and took a deep breath. He didn't believe in old wives tales, but he was going to adopt one right now. Tara was hurt and angry. And he was not going to bed if she was angry.
Entering the bedroom she was unpacking her things. The same things she had packed hastily the last time they were in this room together. It was staggering the guilt he felt, pressing down on his chest like a dead weight.
Tara must have heard him enter but she didn't stop to look at him. Like an automaton, she efficiently opened and closed draws, neatly folding things back into place. Into their rightful place, he thought. Wearing an old SAMCRO T-Shirt, she looked soft and rosy and he could smell the barely dried lotion on her body. His own body tightened in reaction.
He almost missed her enquiry. "Yeah. Kid was out in twenty. Not a restless sleeper like his old man."
Tara continued to unpack until there was nothing left to pack somewhere. Then she started straightening the items strewn carelessly on the dresser. When that was done, she turned and looked desperately for something else to do. She could straighten the covers? But she couldn't bring herself to touch the bed. She took a step towards it and then halted, hovering indecisively before starting at Jax in shattering hopelessness.
His heart broke.
"Babe-" he began, stepping forward, every intention of taking her in his arms. But he was cut off by the brisk shake of her's head.
"I'm here Jax. I'm here in our home." Her head snapped up and she looked right at him. "Because that's what this is, isn't it? It's our home?"
"Tara, of course-"
"I'm here because I want to be here. I'm here because I love you, as much as I did the first moment I saw you." Her sentences ran into each other but she stood her ground. Routed to the spot. "But I can't do this if you're not right here with me."
He moved to touch her and she jumped back, hands held in front of her. "Please. Please don't touch me. Because when you touch me, I forget why I'm mad at you." She inhaled sharply. "And I'm…" she struggled a little before whispering ardently, "you hurt me, Jax."
He didn't say anything, his hands dropping to his sides, listless. Tara took a moment to compose her raging feelings.
"You left me here. You ran off to Ireland and you left me here feeling like the worst mother, like a failure as a parent , with... with images of you and that.. argh that slut! But I wasn't even here, in this home we've created. Because you ripped that from me too. You-" her voice hitched "-I was alone. And everything you did, it wasn't necessary Jax. I blamed me. I blamed myself for losing Abel."
Tears, cold and glistening cascaded silently down her cheeks, one racing to meet the other before diving off the end of her chin.
"Jesus Christ Tara, baby, please." His insides had turned to jelly.
"Either we're a family and I'm a part of this life or I'm out. But I can't do this anymore. "
She saw his eyes widen and panic race across his face.
"We have a baby on the way. And we have a baby we're raising now. But I cannot spend our lives wondering whether you're going to be fucking some bitch every time things get tough for us. Or pushing me out when some new danger comes around. I deserve better than that. And so do our kids."
She pushed up in his face.
"I grew up in this life. And I can take care of myself. I don't need you to protect me. And I don't need you to shelter me. I need you to tell me the truth. And I need you to be there for us, all of us. Abel, me, our baby, even when things are shitty."
He looked so pained, Tara forgot her no touching rule. She framed his face and peered into his eyes desperately. "You keep repeating old behaviours Jax. It needs to stop!"
He lowered his gaze but brought his hands up to touch hers. For a moment his eye-lids burned with suppressed misery.
"I love you, Tara. You and this family mean everything to me. I could apologise to you a million times. Or I could make a vow to be a better man, a better partner and a better father to our kids. I made a mistake by pushing you away. And the things I said, Jesus Tara, I'm sorry."
His eyes flicked up to meet hers and then danced away again. She saw the shadows.
"I know there are no excuses. But I believed that hurting you was the lesser of two evils. At least you'd be alive. I didn't blame you for losing Abel. I blamed me. I'd just lost Abel. Losing you too..." He met her gaze and held. "I couldn't deal with that. I wouldn't survive it. When Salazar had you, the only thing I kept thinking was that the last thing I said to you was bullshit."
"And next time Jax? Next time another scenario arrives where I'm in danger? Or the kids? What then?"
His eyes met hers and fairly scorched her with intensity.
"Tara. This is it for me. If anything, this idiotic move proves that I cannot live without you. I tried it ten years ago. Fucking empty beds and shitty relationships is all I have to show for it. I love you. And Christ knows, I need you. Even if I didn't know it, everyone else knew it. And our baby knew it too. He brought us back together."
Tara rested her forehead against his. "Promise me-"
Jax lifted her chin and met her gaze. Her beautiful eyes were damp, her lashes clumped together. He'd made her cry too many times. Enough.
"The truth. Always. I promise."
Jax thought about Stahl and the deal he had made with her. He had a lot to explain. But not yet. Now was for them. His arms wrapped around her, encasing her in the heat of his embrace. Her heart settled a little. They were going to be ok.
"He? This could be a girl you know."
He shrugged. It didn't matter. But he had a feeling. "I love you, babe. Forever."
She caressed his rough cheek before pulling his mouth close. "I love you too. Now welcome me home. Properly."
Jackson Teller smiled. A smile that Tara knew all too well. It was the same smile he's used on her the day she lost her virginity and every time they made love since.