Title: Another Dream
Rating: PG (one bad word)
Disclaimers: None of these characters or this show belong to me.
As Eric entered the house he took a deep breath and looked around. Turning down the job at TMU was one of the most difficult things he'd ever done. He had to, though, now that he finally realized that his dreams were coming true in Dillon, Texas. Of course the town was crazy, football crazy, but that's what made it home. That and the fact that Tami and Julie wanted to stay there. Tami may not have said as much, not until earlier that morning when she woke him up.
He was so lost in thought he didn't hear her call his name. "What?" he asked.
"Are you okay, babe? I've been trying to get your attention for the past five minutes."
He nodded. "Yeah, just thinking' is all."
Tami pulled him into a hug. "So what happened?"
"I..." Eric trailed off as he returned her hug. He was about to admit it aloud that he turned down his dream. Okay he had made that decision but it was still hard to process. "They needed an answer today. I told 'em I couldn't."
"It's for the best, hon. My dreams are here in Dillon with my girls, with this town."
He could see tears in her eyes and she smiled. "I love you, Eric Taylor."
"So, Mom, how did that meeting at TMU go for Dad?"
Tami looked up from the book she was reading. Eric had left earlier than usual for work and she couldn't get back to sleep. "Sweetheart, your Dad turned down the offer."
"What? Why did he do that? I thought he was going to accept it whether or not we wanted him to."
"Jules, that's not fair. He's wanted this for a long time. He just chose our dream over his," Tami explained. She did not need Julie acting like this in front of Eric. He was sacrificing a lot here, which made her extremely guilty of course.
Julie nodded. "I'm sorry. I know he really wanted that job. Maybe we should do something to show him how much we appreciate him. Make his favorite dinner? And I can sit and watch game films with him a few nights this week."
Tami stood up to give her daughter a hug. "We'll help him with whatever he needs to get ready for the big game. You are brilliant! Remember you got that from me!"
"I'll remember," Julie said with a laugh.
Of course Eric wasn't able to avoid the questioning that came up. He had hoped it would stay out of the press but they were pretty good about digging up dirt especially where football was concerned. "So Coach, how true is the rumor of you accepting an offer from TMU?"
He stared at the reporter for a minute before realizing that not only were the presses' eyes on him but so were that of his team. "Well now I will admit that TMU has offered me a position but I've decided to stay here in Dillon."
Cheers erupted but the reporter would not let the line of questioning go. "Is it true that you were very close to considering the position?"
"You know I thought y'all came out here to talk about State. I don't know what me not accepting an offer from TMU has to do with anything. Y'all have a good day now."
Eric removed his hat, running a hand through his hair, as he headed back inside. He could still feel all eyes on him. Right now he had a headache and just wanted to take some aspirin.
"Coach! Eric!" He turned to see Mac coming up to him. "Why didn't you say anything about TMU?"
"I didn't want to say anything until I had made my decision, Mac. It was a lot to think about and very tempting I'll tell you that!"
Mac nodded. "Eric, I've known you for years. I know that you would have bent over backwards to say yes to that. What happened?"
Before he replied he took the aspirin with a swig of coffee. "I had a talk with Tami and right now I think its best we stay here. I've been selfish lately, Mac. She and Julie are settled and I don't want to pull the rug out from under their feet after only a year. I've been doing that since I married Tami."
"You don t have to convince me, Eric," Mac replied.
"Yeah," Eric said distractedly. "Let's get practice started."
The Dillon Panthers had made it to State. They had taken a tour of the Cowboys Stadium where they d be playing so he knew his team was wired. He made sure each of them where safely ensconced in their rooms (if they were otherwise it would be better for him... and them if he didn't know about it) before heading back to his own.
There he found Julie sitting on one of the beds typing away at her laptop. "Where's your mom?" He asked.
"She went out on the balcony," Julie replied then looked up at him. "You didn't do anything wrong did you?"
Eric gave her daughter a look. "No. What? Why did you ask me that? Is she upset?"
Julie shrugged. "I don't know she seems happy, I guess, but very quiet and secretive."
"That's helpful. I should probably go see with this is all about," Eric said hoping he wasn't in trouble for anything.
Tami turned when he stepped outside. "Hey babe, she said. The boys all tucked into their beds?"
"As far as I know and I'd like to keep it that way," he told her wrapping his arms around her. Her hair smelled of strawberry shampoo.
"What are you doing there, Coach?" she moaned as he kissed her along her neck. "You do know our daughter is sitting in that room."
Eric grinned as he gave her a very passionate kiss on the lips. "She knows we're out here so she won't bother us."
"Well there's something you should know before we get into anything," Tami said. She took a deep breath as Eric s face became serious. "It's nothing bad, hon. I'm just... Well, I'm pregnant."
Eric stared at her for a minute. He was stunned to say the least. He was about to faint. He heard Tami telling him to sit down and put his head between his knees. After a few minutes the shock wore off and gave way to happiness and excitement.
"We're gonna have a baby?" he asked grinning from ear to ear.
"We're gonna have a baby."
It was a week after they won State that Eric got a cryptic voicemail from his father. He had not been expecting that at all so it made him a bit jumpy and nervous. He just said that he heard about TMU then said goodbye. He had no idea what that even meant. Tami was just as confused and told him not to dwell on it too much. Eric wasn't sure how not to dwell on it. Football was over for the season and even though he would still be going over game film and creating new plays he couldn't concentrate on anything.
To make matters worse he had one heck of cold coming on. When he was doped up on cough medicine he always ended up having the craziest dreams. In fact they were so crazy that Eric refrained from telling Tami about any of them, especially the one where the giant football wanted to crush him.
Eric was cooking dinner when the phone rang. Julie was out with her friends and Tami had to run to the store for a few things so that left Eric to answer the phone. He nearly hung up when he heard the voice on the other end. "Dad," he said.
Eric just stood there in stunned silence as his father spoke. He hadn't heard from the man in 18 years and all of the sudden he was calling and a second time at that! Eric never really said much of anything as he listened to Jackson Taylor going on about TMU and why his son should have accepted the position among other things.
He inwardly winced as his father hung up. Eric wasn't sure how long he was standing there staring at the phone until Tami came in and said something about the chili boiling over. Eric blinked and rushed over to turn off the stove. He was secretly glad he burned it because he no longer had an appetite.
"Hon, are you okay?" she asked when he didn't move away from the stove.
He shook his head and walked past her to the couch. Eric sat down and took a deep breath as he felt Tami s hands on his shoulders. "What is going on with you, Babe?"
"My dad just called."
Tami gasped. "What did he want? Are you okay?"
"He just he wanted to yell at me about TMU. They didn't really want me. They wanted money from my dad and he wanted status from them. I guess just being an alumnus wasn't enough for Jackson Taylor."
Tami wrapped her arms around him and Eric just let himself melt into her arms. She had this amazing way of just being there without saying a word. It was so very comforting. After a few minutes they pulled apart and Tami gave him a kiss. He smiled at her then got up to clean up the mess he left with the chili. He dumped the ruined food into the trash can then practically threw the pot into the sink.
When Tami jumped, Eric realized what he did and sighed. "Sorry about that," he told her.
"I really wish you wouldn't let him do this to you."
"Do what? Let him reduce me to an angry teenager? I can't help it. He always seems to know when I screw up or make a really hard decision that's against what he wants and then calls me and treats me like I'm an idiot who doesn't know what he's doing. Like I'm disappointing him or something! I don't give a shit about what he thinks but then sometimes I do! Why can't I ever please him?"
Tami knew she had to think hard on what she could do to help Eric. He d been struggling with this for years. It was why he practically doted on her father so much. Because no matter what Eric did as long as his daughter was happy, as long as their family was happy, Michael Hayes was happy too.
"Hon, listen to me," Tami said taking Eric by the shoulders. "You can't help it because he's your father. When he does that to you I get angry too. And I just want you to know that you are an amazing husband and father. You gave up your dream for us. We love you for that even more than you can imagine," Tami said. "I think, deep down, Jackson knows that even if he won't admit it."
He nodded, pulling Tami close as he gave her a kiss and placing a hand on her stomach. "Babe, I didn't give up that dream, I just traded it in for a new one. I love you."
Tami smiled. "I love you too."