I disclaim. I own nothing.
AN: So this is it, the end. I had so much fun writing this fic. I really want to thank everyone who reviewed and alerted this fic. A big thank you to everyone who stuck with me and this fic when it wasn't going well for our couple. It wasn't an easy ride and I just want to thank everyone for continuing to read.
A special thanks, as always, to Eve Levine. She was such a big help, especially with chapter 23, and great sounding board for this fic.
Jax was not happy, which wasn't a state he was use to being in around Tara. They were so very far from where they'd been when this thing between them started up. Far from afraid of the way they felt about one another. Far from keeping things from one another, far from stepping lightly for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. They were solid. So solid she thought it was okay to go out with another guy.
"I'm not going out with another guy." Tara called as if she heard his thoughts. They'd grown so close Jax thought maybe she had.
This was all his fault, he could admit that even if it was only to himself. He'd been distracted which made him sloppy which got him caught. It never occurred to him that she'd get so pissed off though. Tara had come to see him at TM. Opie and Lowell had been the only other people working so Jax wasted no time getting her into the clubhouse apartment.
Before he could get her shirt off she started talking about some school dance that Hale invited her to. They didn't fight about it, as far as Jax had been concerned there was nothing to fight about. He told her he thought it was a bad idea and then proceeded to change the subject by slipping his hand into her jeans. She brought it up again after, while she was drifting off to sleep, so Jax decided to kiss her until her breathing became slow and deep.
When she woke up, and because it was Tara of course she didn't forget, she asked why he didn't trust her. She had asked while climbing out of bed in search of the pair of jeans he knew she wouldn't find. So he was able to enjoy the sight she made as she searched for them, all the while assuring her that it was Hale he didn't trust. Maybe it was wrong to act hurt, when he was actually furious, but he hadn't felt bad about it when she kissed him and told him she wouldn't go. Especially when she allowed him to tuck her body beneath his and slide between her legs again.
He planned on finding Hale and ramming his fist into that stupid gapped tooth smile. Asking another guy's Old Lady out was a bitch move if ever there was one and Jax fully intended on letting Hale know that. And because his thoughts were filled with beating the shit out of David Hale, he wasn't listening out for Tara. And because he wasn't listening out for her, he climbed on the bed and pulled her jeans out of the overhead compartment at the exact moment she stepped out of the bathroom.
It was Tara, so she almost immediately connected his actions to all the times he used her not being able to find her jeans as an excuse to pull her back into bed. Which more often than not resulted in her being late for work. He tried to explain, tried to tell her that it had never been his intention to make her late for work. That he was only hiding her jeans so he could spend more time with her. But Tara wasn't trying to hear it, had only stayed in the apartment long enough to dress and inform him that she'd be going to the dance with Hale.
Now here he was, propped up against her headboard and completely unhappy while she was in the bathroom preparing to go out with someone else. "I don't understand why you just have to go. You don't even like school dances."
"Well, I'm not going to prom so this is really the last dance I'll ever attend at Charming High."
Tara wasn't one for school dances, Jax definitely wasn't one for them especially considering he'd left in the middle of junior year. He knew, because Lowell told him, that Hale had offered to take Tara to the senior prom. Which had set Jax off until Lowell went on to explain that Tara let Hale know that even if she wanted to go to prom, she'd only go with Jax. Now he worried that maybe she did want to go and it was his aversion that was holding her up. "Why can't you go with Lowell or Candy?"
"They'll be there. And for the hundredth time, I'm not going with Hale. We're just riding in together."
Jax knew she couldn't be that blind. There was no way Hale was looking at this as just the two of them riding in together. The preppy fuck saw this as an opportunity. It was the same opportunity he himself seized two years ago at Opie's New Year's Eve party. She had shown up with Hale, had left with Hale, but as far as Jax was concerned that was the night she became his. "It's going to suck."
Pushing out of the bed he walked over to the closed bathroom door. It was cracked and it only took a nudge of his toe to have it creeping open. Tara was standing in front of the mirror in nothing but her bra and panties. Jax thought she was trying to kill him. "You're going to hate every minute of it and wish you'd just come to the clubhouse with me."
Eyeliner in hand, Tara cut her eyes toward Jax momentarily. "Or I'll enjoy being a high school senior for a few hours."
Again Jax's thoughts drifted back to the prom it never occurred to him to ask if she wanted to go to. He didn't regret dropping out, he wasn't stupid but the structure of school never appealed to him. And once he was done with school, he was done with all school related activities. He didn't really do the parties, the games, or any other activities with the kids his age. He'd be eighteen soon and he could feel in his bones that it meant he'd be getting his prospect kutte. So the only parties he attended were the ones at the clubhouse which meant, by extension, they were the only parties Tara attended.
Stepping into the bathroom, Jax ran a finger up the length of her spine. "Since when did you enjoy anything about high school?"
"There's only a few months left, figured I should start." She gave a smile he didn't even pretend to return. "Tell me you trust me."
"I trust you, Tara." And he did. There was no doubt in Jax's mind that Tara loved him, loved only him. More, he owed her the same trust she gave him. He knew she didn't like the women around the clubhouse, knew it made her uncomfortable when he was around croweaters he fooled around with before they got together. But she never demanded he not go, never gave him shit about being there without her. How could he not trust her the same way. "I do. It's just…fucking Hale, he wants you."
"What does it matter if I don't want him."
"I don't like him getting ideas. And you going out with him tonight, it's going to give him ideas."
"You know," Turning from the sink, Tara leaned into him, fingers twisting in his hoodie to pull him closer. "I don't think I've seen you this jealous since you convinced yourself Opie and I were fooling around."
Jax winced, he really hoped they could go the rest of their lives without ever talking about that again. "It's not really-" Whatever he was going to say was cut off when Tara pressed her mouth to his.
"I love you, too."
Jax sighed, all the fight going out of him. He found it completely unfair when she ended arguments that way.
"Hey, bro. Where's Tara?"
At the bar, Jax was facing out at the clubhouse nursing a beer. The party and the scantily clad women roaming around didn't interest him. He wanted Tara. Now, being apart from her for the past hour or more, he realized it didn't matter to him if they'd been at that fucking school dance or here at the clubhouse. He just wanted to be with her. Wanted her close, always close, at his side. It should have embarrassed him and maybe it would have if he wasn't so consumed with missing her. "She went to some dance at school."
Opie laughed. "Tara? At a school dance?"
With an indifferent jerk of his shoulders, Jax brought his beer up to his lips. He wondered if she was currently as miserable as he was. It barely even occurred to him that he was no longer concerned about Hale trying something with her. He couldn't stop thinking about the way she looked. About the skintight skirt she wore hiked up to mid-thigh, the sweatshirt with the cutout collar so that it hung temptingly off her shoulders. Fuck she'd been hot. Now she was away from him, only a few miles but it felt so much fucking farther. "Yeah. Some last hurrah bullshit."
However funny he thought the idea of Tara at a school dance was, Opie was finding it difficult to laugh at the way Jax was acting. If he hadn't known better, he'd have thought Tara had moved to Istanbul or something. Opie had been so sure that time would have Jax and Tara cooling off, becoming more comfortable in their relationship. They seemed to only be getting worse. "I thought prom was the last hurrah."
"She's not going to prom." But again he couldn't help but wonder if she wanted to. And worried that he was holding her back from doing something she wanted and in doing so was only pushing her away.
"Oh," Opie thought about hanging with Jax for a bit and maybe he would have, despite how depressing being around him currently was, if the little brunette he invited hadn't just walked in the door. He didn't worry that he was being a bad friend as he understood the only thing that could make Jax happy at the moment was Tara.
The booming voice had Jax glancing up. It belonged to Quinn, recent president of the Sons of Anarchy Nomads. The guy was so fucking huge he made Piney seem small.
"My brother." Clay allowed himself to be pulled into a fierce hug. "It was good having you around the last few days."
"You guys need help and I'm here, brother." He crossed his arms, which Jax swore were the size of tree trunks, over a wide barrel chest. "Especially when helping SAMCRO comes with so many…" His eyes lit up, a shark like grin curling his lips when a practically topless croweater sauntered by. "Perks."
"Don't ever let it be said SAMCRO doesn't know how to treat it's guests." Wrapping an arm around Quinn's shoulder, Clay lead him to the bar. "See if you can do something with this guy, will you? Kick his ass if need be for bringing down your party."
"Kid," Quinn reached across the bar to grab a beer before sitting down next to Jax. "There is way too much pussy running around here for you to look this put out."
Jax gave a jerk of his shoulders. Though he could appreciate the women around the club, he wasn't interested.
"This have something to do with that tasty little treat I've seen you attached to the last couple of days."
It took a moment, his jaw automatically clenching at hearing Tara described that way, before he could answer. And when he spoke his voice was slow and controlled. "Tara. My girl's name is Tara."
Quinn flashed that shark like grin. "Tara. You tag her yet."
Jax felt his heart lurch. "I'm not patched, not even prospecting." But the thought of Tara with his crow, it had all his blood rushing south.
"Then you got a set of balls kid. Bringing something nice and fresh like that around here."
He didn't know why it wasn't until now, with Tara some place else, that he realized just how much she stood out. She didn't dress like a puritan. But as compared to the other women, Tara's tight jeans and tanks may as well been a habit. He was always so quick to find some dark corner to press her into that he never stopped to see if anyone else noticed her. Which apparently someone else had. "She's seventeen. Jailbait for anyone who isn't me." She was off limits to anyone who wasn't him.
"Ass like hers, the kind just begging to be bitten into, has guys hearing seventeen and thinking about eighteen being just around the corner." A redhead sauntered by, Quinn made no attempt to hide the fact that he was watching her, though he continued talking to Jax. "Until you tag her, I'd keep her away from this clubhouse if I were you, little brother. And until you can bring her around, find another woman, take her in the back, close your eyes and imagine she's that sweet little thing you got waiting on you."
Tara left the dance. Was ready to go fifteen minutes after she walked in. Hadn't even realized just how disconnected she was from all of it until she was right in the middle of it. It wouldn't have been so bad if Jax had been there. Actually she knew she'd have been having fun if Jax had been there. She was missing him. As absolutely ridiculous as it was, she was missing him.
They'd barely been apart an hour and the missing of him was like a physical thing. It wasn't like they hadn't spent time apart before. The hours she was in school or they were at work, but for some reason this felt different. She hated when he dropped out, hated that she wouldn't be able to see him during those hours of the day. But it wasn't so bad, not any harder then the time they couldn't see each other when their schedules had them working at the same time. She couldn't figure out why tonight was different, why being away from him the last few hours was so fucking hard.
When she left the dance Hale offered to drive her home, she waved him off by telling him she didn't want him to have to leave. Truth was she wasn't going home. When Tara left the gym it was with every intention of getting to Jax. It wasn't until she was a half a block away from the school that she realized walking was not the greatest idea- the heeled booties were just not conducive to walking, the skirt didn't help much either. By the time she started on block two she heard the rumble of the bike, which wasn't uncommon in Charming. But Tara knew without looking that it was Jax.
"What kind of an asshole lets a pretty thing like you walk alone at night?"
Just seeing him eased that something inside of her that felt off all night. It should have scared her, should have set off an alarm that something about all of this was wrong. But she was too happy to see him to be worried. "Cocky little biker prince. May have seen him riding around like he's the shit."
Jax grinned. "Guy sounds like a dick."
"No argument here." Playing the game out would have been fun, but Tara found herself walking the few steps toward his bike. "But he does have some uses."
When she stepped towards him it was on his mind to kiss her. When he left the clubhouse he wanted to get her somewhere alone so he could strip her naked. When she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his neck, he wondered why he hadn't thought to do this first. This is what was missing. This was exactly what he was missing. "How was the dance?"
"Lacking." He laughed and she couldn't stop her lips from curling against his neck. "How was the party at the clubhouse?"
His arms tightened around her. "Severely lacking. I missed you."
She wanted to climb in front of him on the bike, to wrap her legs around his waist, keep her arms around his neck, and hold on while he took her for a ride. "I missed you, too."
Starting at her shoulder he ran his hand down the length of her back, cupping her ass to bring her just a little closer. When he had her like this, it didn't matter that Hale was clearly still trying to get with her. It didn't matter that fucking Quinn thought he could ride into town and have her. She was wrapped around him like her life depended on it and it was more than enough to quiet the noise that chased him out of the clubhouse. Well, most of the noise. "If I asked you to do something, would you?"
It was because she trusted him to never do anything that would hurt her. Because she trusted and loved him. Because he still held her like he needed her as much as she needed him, that Tara was able to answer without hesitation. "What do you want me to do?"
"Are you going to stare at it all night?"
He'd stripped her down practically the moment they stepped into her bedroom. Didn't even wait for her to step out of her skirt before dropping to his knees and turning her away from him. Eventually he finished undressing her, though his eyes remained on her back the entire time. Now she lay on her stomach, arms crossed under the pillow where she rested her head. Jax had kicked off his shoes but was still in his jeans and T-shirt. Every now and then he'd changed position though he never strayed far from her lower back.
When he asked her to do something for him, she didn't think it would be getting a tattoo. Though maybe she should have realized it as he asked her to get the crow the same way he asked her to go with him when he got the tribute to his father on his forearm. She hadn't understood what the crow meant, not really, though she'd seen Gemma's and knew it had something to do with the club. As Jax explained, Tara's mind supplied the words he tiptoed around, words like tagged and branded. It didn't sit right with her. She didn't want to belong to the club. And she probably would have backed out if Jax didn't take his explanation further.
"Most Old Ladies get it where everyone can see." He had explained, then winced as if just remembering where his mother's crow was located. "But I don't want you to do that."
It confused her and though there was something in her that didn't like the thought of belonging to the club she found herself hurt that Jax wanted her to hide her tattoo. "Why?"
"Well, for one, I'm not suppose to have you get it until I'm patched." He admitted bashfully. "But that's just a formality. I'm already SAMCRO, all I need is the patch."
Something about the way he had said it, not the confidence but the hint of vulnerability. Like there was a part of him that was afraid that maybe they wouldn't patch him through, that had Tara bringing her hand up to his face so she could pull him in to a kiss.
"But…even if I was patched…I wouldn't want…" At this point he brought her palm up to his lips. "I don't want you to belong to the club, Tara. I want you to do this for me. Because you love me."
"So you want me to get it somewhere only for you." Tara finished. And suddenly the crow had a whole new appeal for her. "What about on my ankle?" It had seemed like a good idea. She didn't often wear shorts or skirts and she wouldn't have a problem keeping the tattoo covered until he was patched.
"That's an idea." She had still been standing between his legs at the time, her arms around his neck and his around her waist. So it was nothing for Jax to slip his hands under the hem of her sweatshirt. "But I was thinking maybe you could get it here." His fingers brushed lightly over the small of her back. "Please, Tara."
That had done it. She nodded and kissed him and was afraid of what all else he could talk her into with those words. When she pulled back he wore the largest grin, a grin that remained on his face as he drove them to the tattoo parlor. But as he sat beside her, one of his hands locked between hers as she straddled the chair, his other hand holding up her shirt because he balked at the idea of her being topless around anyone who wasn't him, there had been something else in his eyes.
His eyes had been so intense, almost as intense as they were when he was inside her. It near took her breath. And made her achy and needy in a way that did not seem wise given their location at the time. She thought Jax had felt it too, as she saw the heat in his eyes whenever they connected with hers.
Now, back in her bedroom, he had changed again. Gone was the nervous boy who wanted her to get a tattoo, so was her boyfriend that was so turned on his breathing had become thin and ragged. The boy beside her was almost reverent. He never stopped touching her. She could feel his fingers hovering over the still tender patch of skin, knew just how eager he was to run those fingers over it. Instead he ran his fingers up her spine, along her ribs. Had even pulled her panties half-way down her ass so that there was more skin available to him just below the tattoo.
"You know what this means, Tara?"
His head was resting in the middle of her back. She could feel his breath rolling down her spine, his fingers were absently brushing over the curve of her ass. It made her shiver, made her fist her hands in the pillow to keep from pushing her hips down into the bed. "What does it mean?"
Jax shifted again. Moving until his head was laying close to hers, throwing his leg across both of hers as his hand cupped her hips to pull her close. "It means we'll never be done."
That should have scared her, should have had her drawing back and regretting what she had done. But Tara only moved closer, lips curling as her mouth slanted over his. Because she liked what the ink on her back meant. Liked that she would be his. Always.