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Written for [community profile] fic_promptly prompts or [personal profile] scribblesinink, who also betaed all the pieces. Lengths are 505, 225, 660 and 290 words.


Prompt: Any, Any, harm reduction

How did Tara and Margaret end up in league with each other when Tara is carrying out her plan to ensure Gemma would never get custody of her children?

Tangled Web

"We may get some trouble from the Hospital Board about keeping you on while you're under investigation," Margaret warned, as she watched Tara sign the various forms and statements for HR, "but I'll make sure they're fully aware of your record as a surgeon—and how much money you pull in for St Thomas."

Tara lifted her head and gave Margaret an anxious smile as she put her signature on the last document and pushed the papers back across the table. "Thank you."

Margaret tapped the documents together, wondering if keeping Tara on was such a good idea after all. For Tara as well as the hospital. "And how are you doing?" she asked impulsively, before Tara could get up.

Tara shot her a startled look. "I'm fine." She huffed a laugh. "A few sleepless nights." Not that Margaret wouldn't have been able to tell that herself from the dark circles under Tara's eyes; even carefully applied foundation couldn't quite hide them. "Not so much for me but... I'm worried about Gemma getting hold of the kids if I end up inside. They do not need their grandmother's influence in their lives."

Margaret tucked the papers into a folder. "Can't you put some kind of custody arrangement in place for someone else to take care of them?"

Tara snorted. "Like a piece of paper is going to stop that woman. Or anything, short of her being locked up herself."

Margaret nodded. In her few dealings with Gemma Teller-Morrow, she'd come to the conclusion the woman was a force of nature and a law unto herself. If she wanted Tara's children—and Margaret was pretty sure she would—she'd bully and browbeat her way into having them.

oOo


Margaret rapped on the half-open door to Tara's office. "Dr Knowles? May I have a word before you leave?"

Tara looked up from packing her bag. "Of course."

Margaret stepped inside and closed the door, leaning back against it. "I've been thinking about what you said. About wanting to keep your children out of their grandmother's custody."

"Yes?" Tara looked up at her, a brief flare of hope on her face that was quickly replaced by a frown.

"Back before... when I was younger...." Margaret unconsciously lifted a hand and gestured over her shoulder, toward her own back, toward the reminder on her skin of how she'd once been young and foolish, and how far she'd come and what a success she'd made of her life since then. Tara nodded to show she understood what Margaret meant and Margaret went on, "I had a friend once. Had a problem a bit like yours. Except she didn't want her own mother getting custody of her kids because her stepfather.... Well, she knew what he could do first hand, and she didn't want her daughters anywhere near him. But mom wasn't willing to listen—never had been—or willing to let go. So she came up with a plan that meant no judge in his right mind would give her mom custody of her kids...."

oOo



Prompt: Sons of Anarchy, Jax/Tara, She wanted a fairytale wedding but he had something different in mind.

All about the fairytale

As a little girl, no different to many other little girls, Tara imagined a future with a fairytale wedding. The puffy, white frock; the train of bridesmaids in matching pink; a handsome groom in a tux waiting for her as she walked slowly up the aisle, with flowers everywhere.

She grew up, of course. But even when she started dating Jax, even after she left Charming, all through med school and all through the fear that Josh brought into her life, a part of her was still twelve and still believed that, one day, she'd get it all: the frock, the bridesmaids, the handsome groom.

Even when she'd hooked up with Jax again, she thought there'd be a grand ceremony. She was the Vice-President's Old Lady, after all. And Opie and Lyla's wedding had been lovely, in its way: in the open air, with Lyla looking radiant, the focus of everyone's attention.

But here? In a brothel? Wanted for murder?

Her hesitation lasts only a second. This is what Old Ladies do. This is what Jax needs her to do, right now. Either she embraces this life, once and for all, or she walks away from it forever. There's a kind of fairytale in that.

And she still has her handsome groom and they'll still have their happy ever after. Isn't that what really matters?

oOo



Prompt: Dark Angel, Alec, Don't talk to me about Science!

A different kind of chemistry

The slightly dilapidated building that served as Terminal City's seat of government was buzzing when Alec got back after one of his nightly forays outside the fence. He sidestepped a couple of transgenics pushing a trolley of crates toward him at some speed in the main corridor, rounded a small group clustered in a doorway who were engaged in an intense debate about whether they needed to open a second hospital facility, and wove his way through a third group gearing up with bags and packs, before he found Max and Logan poring over the map of Terminal City that was permanently spread out on a table in the middle of the room that formed a cross between council chamber and ops center.

"What's up?" He leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed.

Max glanced up from tracing her finger in a line across the map. "Bastards poisoned the water coming in on the east side." She returned her attention to the map.

Alec pushed upright, dropping his casual air, and moved closer to the table. "What with?" He didn't need to ask who she was talking about: the authorities outside the fence had been harassing the residents of Terminal City in one way or another, big or small, for weeks.

"We don't know yet." Logan was the one who answered, though he kept his attention on whatever patterns Max was tracing, noting down her murmured comments in a notebook. "Not everyone's affected, even if they drank the same water. We're trying to figure out who, and pick up anyone who needs medical attention, and get clean supplies to the affected areas."

"What can I do?" Alec would much rather slink off to bed and crash out, but he didn't really need the sleep and he'd learned the past few months that it was better—for him as well everyone else—if he pitched in. Besides, it saved him from being on the receiving end of one of Max's looks. Which shouldn't bother him, but somehow they did.

Neither Max nor Logan replied for a few seconds, still with their attention on the map. Then Max spoke. "Figure out what they used."

"Huh?" The request was so off base from what he'd expected her to say that he didn't understand for a few seconds what she was asking.

"Find out what they put in the water and how to counteract it and treat the effects." Max straightened and gave him a direct look, daring him to turn down the assignment.

"Me?" Alec was still bemused. "Haven't you got anyone more... qualified? What do I know about that stuff?"

Max folded her arms. "Nothing? But there's a laptop and a whole internet out there, and you've got a genius IQ and a few hours before I need an answer. I know Manticore gave you a lot less time to prep for a lot more complex assignments...." She quirked an eyebrow, waiting for a response.

"Okay, okay." He rolled his eyes. Crossing to the laptop, he linked his fingers together and flexed them. "Do we have a list of symptoms yet?"

Twenty four hours later, the affected transgenics were being successfully treated, with only a half dozen who'd been the first or worst affected who weren't going to make it, while a filtration and treatment system had been rigged up to neutralize the ongoing contamination—and Alec was finally ready for sleep. His head was buzzing with all the knowledge he'd stuffed in and the effort of putting it together to extract the answers he needed.

He felt Max's hand land on his shoulder. "Good work. So, now you're our scientific go-to guy—."

He raised a couple of fingers to cut her off. "Don't talk to me about science!" He'd had a bellyful.

At least for today. As he strode away, it struck him he'd kinda enjoyed solving a different type of problem to usual. Maybe he'd ask Max tomorrow what she wanted next.

oOo



Prompt: Author's choice, author's choice, false documentation

Undocumented

Alec's had a lot of false documents in his hands over the years, back when he was X5-494. Not fake ones, exactly: most of them were pretty high-class, designed to pass the most stringent tests and to get him into places where security was tight. Places he usually wasn't supposed to be, even if whichever guy he was impersonating that day had had every right to be there—while he was still alive.

Out here, among the ordinaries, it's amazing how much you don't need documents. You can find a place to stay, food to eat and another body to keep you warm without photo IDs and swipe cards and any of that other shit. The only identification you need is a handful of ready cash, and it's never been hard for Alec to rustle that up, by one means or another.

But getting between sectors? That's one time when the right documentation may still not be strictly necessary, but damn, does it make life so much easier. Funny thing is, though, his Jam Pony all-sector pass feels like the most fake thing Alec's ever been given: he knows a job and a pass would be the last thing Normal would have offered him if he knew the truth about 'Monty Cora'. And the first time through a checkpoint, he half expected to get busted.

Showing the pass yet again as he heads into a new sector, he can't help reaching up to touch the spot on his jacket collar that hides his barcode. That's his real documentation—X5-494—and yet Max has helped him learn it's the most unreal of all. It may mark him indelibly with his designation, but it doesn't say a thing about who he is, or who he's becoming.

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