I'm new and JUST NOW getting to this show. Sorry for being a late bloomer. Sons of Anarchy, the characters, the plotline, the spoilers, the tattoos, the Club and anything else you recognize obviously belong to the writers and producers of the show. I'm just having a little fun. No infringement intended, no profit is being made.

Blame luvrofink. She made me watch the show for research purposes and then held my hand after I woke up at 5am with these things in my brain. All errors are mine. Be gentle, it's my first SoA try.

With one last look in the mirror, she climbed out of her Cutlass and walked calmly up to his door, pizza and a 6-pack in hand.

"Tara, hey," he said when he answered the door.

"I hope this isn't a bad time. I just wanted to come say thank you for taking care of my little problem." He didn't need to know the problem had returned and invaded her house once more. He didn't need to know the problem had been permanently taken care of by another.

"Sure. Come on in." His hard eyes regarded her as he opened the door wider and showed her the way in. They made her feel safe in a completely different way than the soft eyes she'd left behind.

Tara looked around silently. It was a simple bachelor pad, characterized by a work-a-holic. She could get used to it. Anything was better than living in her father's clutter. She put on her sad eyes and turned to the man that was the complete contrast to the man she'd been with last night.

"Nice place you got here, Hale."

"Thanks. You ok?" the Deputy Sheriff asked as he took the items from her hands and set them on the coffee table.

"Yeah," she shook herself to break the eye contact she'd effectively made. She turned away slightly and hugged herself. "Just still a little freaked out, you know? I still feel him watching me."

Hale moved to comfort her with a gentle squeeze of her upper arm. Tara gave him a weak smile.

Opening two beers, he handed one to her and held his out to her. "Cheers?"

"Cheers," she replied. In a single move, she bumped the butt of her bottle to the head of his, causing it to erupt all over him. With a curse, she followed him to the kitchen sink and grabbed the paper towels near the stove, blotting whatever she could reach. "I'm so sorry."

"It's ok, Tara," he chuckled. He set the bottle in the sink so it could finish its tantrum. "Don't worry about it. I had to do laundry tonight anyway." He peeled off his shirt without thinking before noticing her eyes on him. He slipped past her and said, "Let me just go get started on that."

More contrast. Both men had chiseled features, but that was all they had in common. Hale's skin was paler and void of ink. No scars, no markings, no discolorations. No blemishes. No lies. No secrets.

Hale returned moments later in workout pants and a clean white tee. "Hungry?" he asked, eager to get back to the game on tv and the pizza on the table.

Hours later, the only thing left in the box was a couple gnawed on crusts. The beer was gone, the game was over and the man was sleepy. Tara was curled up at the end of the couch. He wasn't sure how she'd fallen asleep with his hollering at the tv. The Umpire was blind! With a stretch and an enormous yawn, Hale got up and quietly and went to the linen closet in the hall to retrieve a blanket.

Tara stirred when he returned. "Hey," he smiled at her. "Sorry I don't have a spare room to offer you. I've slept on the couch many a night. Feel free to stay here tonight if you're not comfortable at home yet."

Tara sat up quickly. "Or I could stay with you," she suggested.

Hale paused and looked at her. He'd been oblivious to her intentions all night, but he understood now. Completely.

"What about Jax? I thought you two were—"

"Ancient history," she cut in. "I can't live like that. On the wrong side of the law, worrying about where he is and what he's doing all the time..." she trailed off, looking at the floor and lost in thought.

Later that night, Hale was sleeping soundly beside her and snoring softly. Tara gently ran her hand over his head. His buzzed brown hair was prickly against her palm. Not like the long soft blond locks she'd held on to for dear life the night before. Hale's shaved face nuzzled her shoulder where Jax had left whisker burns.

She rolled to her side and was greeted by even more evidence that mocked her decision.

The pressed uniform draped over the chair in the corner was neatly adorned with right-angled patched and pins that represented order and right and law. The black cut it contrasted was well worn, adorned with the honor of brotherhood and chaos, and flung to the floor in the heat of passion.

The utility belt and tools of the law replaced the wallet chain and knife. The creased khakis took the place of low slung, baggy jeans.

Even their feet were polar opposites, these men in her life. Black, rigid duty boots conflicted with the comfortable, stark white sneakers.

Stuffing down the overwhelming sense of loss, Tara choked back her tears while resolving to be a big girl and put away the feelings she had for Jax. Gemma's words still rang in her ears.

"She's a friend of the Club," Gemma explained with a pointed look. "She can be trusted to do the right thing."

The right thing wasn't always the easy thing. The best thing for SAMCRO was for its Vice President to have his head on straight. He'd get killed otherwise. She wouldn't be able to function without his presence, even if he wasn't hers.

Better to break his heart now than visit his unmarked grave in the woods later.

Being a friend of SAMCRO meant giving up the dangerous, mysterious, passionate man she loved and accepting the predictable, transparent, safe man that would never leave her wondering.