Disclaimer: TC Williams High School and its environs belong to the City of Alexandria, VA. The original Titans belong to themselves, while fictitious characters from the movie Remember the Titans belong to Disney. Dean & Deluca and New York University also do not belong to me. The title of this story comes from the 1972 Al Green hit, while the title of the chapter is from the Gilbert O'Sullivan song from the same era. I only own Tamsin, Jonathan, their fictitious house and car, and Tamsin's mother.
Technical Notes: This story is set during the 1972-1973 academic year.
Introductory Remarks: I can't believe I'm writing this story! If you check out my author profile, you'll see that I mainly do Harry Potter fanfiction, but I finally got to see Remember the Titans recently and I just loved the movie; so, here is my little homage to a truly great film. Hope you'll enjoy it! ~ Ara Kane
YOU OUGHT TO BE WITH ME
Prologue — Alone Again
Tamsin Lee stretched her aching back, surveying the six big boxes scattered around her new bedroom. Now that they were all inside, she thought, all that was left was to unpack them. Tamsin groaned.
There was a gentle tap on the door, and it swung open slightly. "Tam?" a male voice asked. "Are you alright?"
She turned away from the window and its view of nighttime Alexandria to smile wanly at Jonathan Graham, her designated guardian, as he entered the room. "I'm fine, Uncle Jon. I just finished lugging in all my boxes."
"You should have waited until I was free to help you." He had been downstairs, stuffed headfirst into the kitchen cabinets, arranging the pots and pans.
"I was able to handle them myself."
Uncle Jon gave her an indulgent smile. "You're not in New York anymore, sweetie. You don't have to do everything yourself — I'm here to help you."
"I'll keep that in mind."
He looked at the boxes. "Some of those looked really heavy," he observed. "Couldn't bear to leave your books behind, huh?"
Tamsin grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. Mom wasn't too happy about that. She said three boxes only, but I needed two for books alone, so I wound up with more boxes."
"I guessed right, then, when I let you have the room with the floor-to-ceiling shelves."
"I won't be filling them all up, Uncle Jon. I'll only be living here for a year, after all."
He shrugged. "You never know; there might be a few good bookstores in town and with that allowance money your mother will be wiring you every week, you might just wind up leaving here with three boxes bursting with books."
"Mom will kill me."
"She'll understand, sweetie. Do you need help unpacking?"
She shook her head. "No, I'll be fine."
"I'll be starting dinner, then."
Tamsin smiled again and watched him leave before ripping the packing tape off the nearest box. At least she didn't have to cook dinner tonight. Uncle Jon said they would work out a cooking schedule between the two of them, but he assured her that she wouldn't have to do the cooking every night, like she did back in New York.
Not that she minded cooking. Growing up in Greenwich Village with an actress-mother who ran on coffee and cigarettes, Tamsin needed to learn to cook early on; but it had grown from a chore to a hobby. She enjoyed going to the store and looking for the best ingredients, occasionally bringing home a gourmet treat from Dean & Deluca when there was some extra money, and experimenting with new and unusual recipes. Inspiration about her cooking struck her almost as often as did inspiration about her writing.
She shook her head as she put away her clothes and books. Without her around to cook, her mother was probably going to live on takeout. And if Uncle Jon was right when he said her mother was going to be sending more of Tamsin's things later, it looked like she was going to be eating takeout for a long time.
The next day, Uncle Jon took her to TC Williams High School to register for the upcoming school year. He left Tamsin at the registrar's office while he went to see the principal.
The registrar, a plump, smiling older woman with a beehive hairdo, peered curiously at her through gold-rimmed bifocals. "Senior year, dear?" she chirped.
Tamsin nodded as she handed over her old school records. "Yes, ma'am."
The registrar flipped through her file. "New York City! My, Alexandria must seem like a one-horse town compared to the Big Apple."
"Well, Alexandria's a lot quieter than I'm used to," she admitted, "but it looks like a nice place."
"Oh, you'll love it here, dear. It's clean, and the people are nice. We're integrated now, you know — we're catching up to all them big cities."
"That's great news."
The plump woman looked at Tamsin more keenly. "So…Mr. Graham is your uncle?"
She nodded. Don't bother explaining that he's a friend of the family. Her mother had told her that more conservative folk might not take to the idea of her living with someone who was not a relative. Calling Jonathan Graham her uncle would simplify things.
Then, to her surprise, the registrar smiled. "Yes, you do look a bit like him around the eyes, even though yours look mighty different at first glance. Are you Chinese?"
Tamsin nodded. "My mother is. My father was white."
The plump woman caught the "was" and instantly looked sympathetic. "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear he's no longer with us, dear."
She shrugged uncomfortably. "I never really knew him." In fact, his being white was all she knew about him.
"Well, at least your uncle is doing right by you," the registrar said, cheering up again. "Mr. Graham seems like a very nice young man. What will he be teaching?"
"I don't quite cotton to his looks, though. Those granny glasses, all that hair…he's not one of those radical hippies, is he?"
"No, ma'am," Tamsin replied, carefully keeping her voice even. Uncle Jon had a full brown beard, untidy hair that fell well past his collar, and some fairly unconventional ideas; but he wasn't about to throw Molotov cocktails through windows or organize sit-ins. "He was teaching at New York University when he decided to take this job."
"Oh, a college professor! Well, that explains it. They don't have rules on grooming in colleges."
"He's a very good teacher," she said, a little more firmly than she had intended.
"I'm sure he is, dear."
Presently, voices outside distracted Tamsin and she looked out the window. There was a crowd gathered in the parking lot below, watching a group of well-dressed young men board a couple of buses. "What's going on down there?" she asked as a boy in a wheelchair was lifted onto one bus.
"Down there?" The registrar looked out the window and smiled. "Oh, that's the football team, leaving for training camp. You know the sign we've got on the border?"
She frowned thoughtfully. They had passed it on their way into the city. "Welcome to Alexandria — Home of the Titans?"
The plump woman nodded. "Well, those are the Titans."
"They're very nice boys. Maybe you'll have some of them in your classes this year."