This is me.

By: Tara Fenix

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 1st Dec 2021

… Spin-off …
Tara

Tara was kneeling down in front of Edward, her youngest son, still trying to adjust his bowtie while Jennie began scurrying toward the fruit punch. Tara’s eyes lingered on her for a moment before she rolled her eyes much to the dismay of her son.

“Why are you being mean to Aunt Jennie?” Edward asked.

Tara turned her full attention back to Edward, and raised her eyebrows with a sudden confusion, “Hmm?”

“You’re being mean to Aunt Jennie.” Edward repeated a bit more sternly, even more stern for an ordinary eight-year-old.

“I… I–“ Tara stuttered before letting out a heavy sigh, “I’m just trying to look out for her, Eddy.” Tara gave a weak smile, “She’s my sister. She’s your auntie, and I love her with all of my heart, but…” Tara let out another sigh. She wasn’t ready to explain how cruel the world could be; how you needed to constantly be looking out for yourself because it was hard for Tara to ever trust anyone to have her back… And Jennie seemed to openly accept everyone, and always thought the best of them. People weren’t what they pretended to be.

Tara let out a nervous chuckle under her breath before the words came to her; a way to dismiss the question for the time being. “I love your auntie very much, and you know what I do, right?”

Edward nodded.

“I train people to be strong. I trained Seth, I trained Jessé, I trained Shouta, I trained your brother, and I trained your auntie… I trained all of them to be strong. I just– I need to make sure that she is… that she can take care of herself. Do you know what I mean?” 

“I guess… She just seems upset.” Edward said and shrugged his shoulders; he dropped his eyes from his mother, and Tara wrapped her arms around him before pulling him in and kissing him on the forehead.

“I promise you it’s for her own good.” Tara said before finally standing up. “Now where is your aunt?” Tara asked rhetorically while scanning the crowd to see if she could spot her; she could see between the crowd that she seemed to be having a conversation with Dickie Watson. She held one of Edward’s hands and just as she was about to push off her heel to catch up with Jennie, she heard someone say something that caught her ear.

Ashlynn Cassidy had been a bit of a wallflower at the event. She couldn’t help but notice and overhear Tara’s little search party. “You know she’s an adult right? Despite…” Ashlynn gestured slightly vaguely towards her hair “…you know.”

“Umm… Edward,” Tara scanned the room for a familiar face, and when she set her sights on Druscilla, “Can you go talk to Dru for a moment? I’m sure she would love to see you.”

“Sure!” Edward replied a bit more enthusiastically as he began to run away.

Tara watched him momentarily then turned her attention back to Ashlynn. She was concerned she may not be able to bite her tongue with anything she had to say in regards to Jennie. “I’m actually surprised you indicated the hair, rather than the whole… well, her.” Tara said with a shrug, “But that’s part of the thing. She’s too trusting of people. She’s an adult, but she still hasn’t learned how this world works. How many times have you been stabbed in the back?” Tara asked and cocked her head to the side while crossing her arms over her stomach, her eyes studying any visual cue that Ashlynn may give off.

Ashlynn had her arms crossed, clearly not in the highest of Christmas spirits. “Well I mean, you said it, not me. But I mean I still think she’ll learn by herself. I did. I didn’t handle the outcome well at Venom, like at all. But I learned. Everyone wants to be partying with the winners, and sometimes,  no one will be there to console the loser. You gotta be ready to stand alone. I’m getting that, and she will too. 

 ALONE.”

Tara scoffed over the comment, but the smirk on her face indicated that she didn’t necessarily disagree with Ashlynn in that regard; however, when she looked back to where she had last spotted Jennie with Dickie and she was no longer there… There was a brief look of concern over Tara’s face, as if it were her own child that she had lost; she had tried to mask it the best she could, but had lost sight of Jennie until she spotted her talking with Sahara and Ricky… and a sigh of relief. Tara had looked after Jennie during her teenage years, when Tara was only twenty-two-years old, so she felt like she needed to protect her, but she knew that what Ashlynn said had also made sense. 

“That was my life…” Tara said with remorse; she recalled how there was nobody that was there for her while she was moving up the ranks in the industry, only people that were stabbing her in the back, or wanting to see her fall when she became bigger than them. She snickered before continuing, “That’s not a life that Jennie needs to have. I’m her sister, and I know she thinks that I’m being tough on her… I know people think that I’m being tough on her, but she doesn’t need to go through this alone.” Tara stated boldly, despite the remembrance of what the deal she had made with Jennie upon signing with FIGHT during the cruise.

Ashlynn had been watching all of Tara’s movements and expressions. Tara wasn’t exactly hard to read. This wasn’t to say Ash couldn’t sympathize. She could. The way she devoted herself to her profession, just allowing custody to be awarded to her son’s father was like she lost her son and just…stopped looking. She shook her head, she couldn’t think about him too long. 

She straightened up, off of the wall she’d been leaning against. She held Tara by the shoulder, as if to bring her back and grounded. “So I know you seem to love charities and charity cases but you know you were signed here as a FIGHTER, right? And not a babysitter? Why don’t you look at me, and tell me what YOU’RE up to? What do YOU need to look out for?”

Tara scoffed at Ashlynn; there was a bit of resentment she felt from her telling her what she already knew, but she couldn’t help but try to be protective of her sister, but… she was right. Tara came to FIGHT to fight for herself; not for her sister. She came to cement her legacy. Who, or what, did Tara need to look out for? The smirk that was still sporting on her face radiated the ego that she had. “I don’t need to look out for a damn thing,” Tara answered with no attempt at masking the ego that she had, “I know who I am. I know what I can do, and if there is anyone at any time that wants to challenge me, then I have no problem knocking them down a peg. Don’t let the Tara you knew on the cruise fool you: this is me.” 

Ashlynn rolled her eyes. “When no one was there to console me. They were there to console her.  Maybe it’s a YOU problem. Maybe Jennie’s just more likeable than you. Maybe everything happened to you because you deserve it. Believe it or not? I was trying to be-“ Ashlynn cuts herself off and brushed past, making a beeline for the drinks table.

Tara rolled her eyes over Ashlynn’s comment; she had handled everything in her life on her own, and she didn’t start to really need anyone right now, but Ashlynn seemed to have left just in time… Just as Ashlynn had walked away, Jennie had finally arrived back on the scene with Edward walking right beside her.

“What was that all about?” Jennie asked, seeming to have picked up on a bad vibe.

Tara merely shook her head to dismiss it, “Just talking business.”

“Stop talking business for the night!” Jennie insisted, as she handed Tara the punch that had originally been intended for Edward, “Enjoy the party!” Edward gave Jennie an eye that said “how dare you” which Jennie immediately picked up on. “They told me there was alcohol in there, kiddo. We’re going to find you a Capri Sun!” Jennie put her now free arm around her nephew leaving Tara with her drink. Tara mumbled under her breath while drinking down the punch with one swig.