I just rewatched season one and I couldn't help but think about what happened just before the pilot, when Tara came back into town. Hope you enjoy. Can't wait for September! Please R&R.

I own nothing relating to SOA.

"Why the fuck are you all standing around me? Back off!"

Piney watched, confused, as the five nervous faces coming in and out of focus over his head exchanged relieved glances.

"You passed out old man." Jax said calmly, the affection he held for his father's best friend plain in his voice.

"Yeah, we thought you were dead."

Piney glared at Juice and tried to sit up, thinking the better of it the minute he did as his vision darkened and his head felt like it was floating. It still didn't stop him from growling out "Keep hovering over me and you'll be the one who's dead" before he lay back down on the clubhouse floor and closed his eyes.

It seemed that no time had passed when he realized he was being lifted into the air and he opened his eyes again to see that four paramedics were putting him on a gurney. Fleetingly he knew that he must have passed out again, but that didn't stop him from being pissed at what was obviously an over reaction. He was pushing 70 and had emphysema, a dizzy spell here and there came with the territory.

Cursing the whole way, the ambulance left with five motorcycles following behind it and the whole group made their way to St. Thomas. Jax rode next to Clay up front, finding it hard not to chuckle a bit through his worry. The old bastard was tough and he knew he'd be okay, he was too ornery not to be. As long as he was alright and he came through just fine Jax actually owed him a silent debt of gratitude. Shit in his world had been going pretty sideways lately and a distraction, any distraction, was welcome.

He'd known that getting back together with Wendy was a bullshit move but she had filled a hole for a while and he would always have some loyalty to her for that. She'd been clean, been so proud of her progress, and he was actually starting to believe that maybe they could settle into some sort of companionable relationship after all.

Then she'd gotten knocked up. Jax knew it took two to tango but he'd blamed and punished her for the whole thing. Sometimes, especially lately while he lay alone in his room at night in the clubhouse, he would wonder if he hadn't been looking for an excuse to break ties with her for good. To push her away so that he didn't have to try to make the pieces fit in a puzzle that they weren't designed for. Regardless of his motivation, he had done just that. Pushed her away until what was fractured was irrevocably broken and now they communicated primarily through doctor's bills and Gemma. He felt bad about it, but it was the way it had to be. He didn't love her, he never really had, and she deserved better than that.

The ambulance pulled into St. Thomas and the guys followed the gurney in. Piney glared at everyone responsible for forcing this indignity on him.

"We'll be out here if you need us old man."

Piney lifted one meaty hand and threw up his middle finger in response to Tig just as the doors to triage closed behind the gurney and he was gone.

With a grin he sat and the rest of the guys followed suit. At this point they all felt much better about the old man's odds of full recovery, but they settled in for the long haul anyway. Piney was a Son, was first nine and important to each and every one of them. They weren't leaving him here alone.

"You get ahold of Opie yet?"

Jax shook his head at Clay and pulled his phone out of his pocket to double check that he hadn't missed a call while he was on his bike. The display was clear.

"I'll leave him another message, let him know we're here in case he checks his phone on a break."

Clay gave a dismissive half shrug and looked away, leaving Jax to walk outside to make his call. Opie had been out of Stockton for just a couple of months and Clay was still pissed that he hadn't come back to the brotherhood, had chosen instead to work at the lumber yard as a means of earning money. Donna had laid down the law, she would leave him if he didn't earn straight, and Opie wouldn't risk losing his family.

Walking back through the doors into the fresh air outside of the emergency entrance Jax let himself dwell on how conflicted he was with Opie's decision for only a moment as it always ended up making his chest ache. He wanted his best friend back at the table, wanted to be able to ride with him again as if nothing had happened. But Opie and Donna were high school sweethearts and there wasn't a person on this earth Opie loved more except for his children. He'd do anything for her. Jax understood how that felt, had known that kind of love once in his life too and that was where he always had to cut himself off from this line of thinking. He didn't allow himself to drudge up old memories. What was done was done and there was no changing it.

Punching in Opie's cell number he let the phone ring, and wasn't surprised when he got voicemail again. "Hey Ope, your old man's at St. Thomas. We don't know anything yet but it doesn't seem serious. I'll have my cell, call me when you get this."

Jax pulled the phone away from his ear and looked down at it to hit the end button, not noticing a man in uniform come up to stand beside him.

"Piney okay?"

Jax looked up at the voice, his expression remaining impassive when he saw that it belonged to Hale. Stuffing the phone in his pocket Jax decided now was as good a time as any to sneak a smoke before he went back inside. He took his time lighting it before he got around to answering his question. "He's fine. Passed out at the clubhouse. Nothing Charming PD needs to concern themselves with."

The arrogance in his tone brought a humorless smirk to Hale's face and the two men stood in silence next to each other, neither wanting to be the first to walk away. They'd known each other since they were kids and though now one of them wore a badge and the other a kutte, they were still the same two boys who'd thought the other was a huge prick from the moment they'd laid eyes on each other.

"Well, I would be remiss if I didn't make sure that the residents of my town were all healthy and happy, both old residents and new." Jax took a drag of his smoke and looked slowly at the other man. The tone of his voice had changed and Jax was suddenly on alert as Hale's expression went from humorless and annoyed to smug and self satisfied.

"For example, isn't it great that she's coming back?"

Jax's eyebrows knit together slightly and the smugness in the deputy chief's face grew. The outlaw had no idea what he was talking about, which Hale had suspected, but being able to actually be the one to drop the bomb was a pleasure he had only been able to hope that he would have. Rarely was he able to have one up on the SOA. This was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless and Hale wanted to relish it so he mercilessly turned the screws.

"Wow, you two had been so close. I just assumed you would have been on the top of her list to call when she decided to come back to town. I guess the list was shorter than I thought."

A realization hit Jax and he had to work to keep his face a blank slate while his heart began to pound. He didn't want to give Hale the satisfaction of seeing his surprise, but it seemed that Hale knew he'd blindsided him anyway and his face looked like a cat that'd gotten the cream.

"Yeah, seems as though she decided to take a surgical resident position in the pediatric department, move into her old man's house since he left it to her in the will and all."

Jax stared at Hale. He wanted to ask 100 questions and would allow his mouth to voice none of them. Throwing one last saccharine smile at the biker, Hale strode toward the parking lot to get into his jeep. "It will be nice to have Tara back again. I can't wait to see her tomorrow."

Jax's feet were rooted in place as he watched the cop go. Not until he heard the engine on the jeep turn over and watched him drive away did Jax realize that his smoke had burned down to the filter and he threw it impatiently on the ground. Every nerve in his body was on fire and he suddenly didn't know what to do. Running a hand over his face he began to stalk blindly toward his Dyna, throwing his leg over and starting it up before he even knew what he was doing. He had to ride, had to move, had to do something with the torrent of energy rolling through him like waves of electrical current.

He aimed his bike for the street and rode through Charming, waiting until he'd reached the highway to open her up and shoot like an arrow down the road.


It was rarely that he allowed himself to say her name. He saw her face constantly in his head, heard her voice or her laugh. Those things he couldn't control, couldn't stop from shooting through him on some errant synapse on an almost daily basis. But he kept her name locked away, wouldn't let himself say it except for rarely over the last ten years since she'd left Charming. Left him.

Now it was like the box he'd locked it away in was ripped open and he couldn't stop his mind from saying it over and over again, like a prayer.

Tara, Tara, Tara….

He pulled the throttle back further, letting the wind upbraid his flesh. He was surprised at the strength of his reaction to the thought that Tara was coming back, that he would see her again. She was like a phantom, a ghost who lived in the memories that his heart refused to forget and suddenly he felt like she was coming back from the dead.

Unbidden, memories began flooding into his mind of her. He wondered if she would smell the same, wear her makeup the same. Would she still like irish whiskey and would she still love to look up at the stars at night, talking about the universe and their places in it?

That's what they'd been doing the first time he'd kissed her. The first night that he felt his heart starting to slip away. The memory came washing over him and this time he let himself drown in it as his bike raced toward the empty desert.