Chapter 20.

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Just a broken-hearted man.

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"What are you doing here?" I ask him, not knowing why he decided to show up, today out of any day. "It's been four years, Jax."

He lets out a long sigh and nods, "I know, and I made the biggest mistake of my life four years ago. I should've never let you guys leave without me. I should've came, and I should've realized you were mad when you said all of those things. I, it's ruining my life, and I just can't find a way to be happy again without you guys."

I look up at him and notice the dark bags under his eyes and his unkempt hair which is now to his shoulders. "You need a hair cut." I tell him, and he chuckles.

"Did you listen to anything I said?"

I reach for his hair and run a hand through it before wrapping my arms around his neck, pulling myself to him and sobbing into his neck. "I missed you so much." I feel all of the pain, guilt and exhaustion from inside pour out in my crying and I feel bad that I immediately turned into a mess upon Jax's arrival.

"I missed you more, so much. I'm so sorry that I stayed behind." He said, holding me tightly in his grasp. "Not a day has gone by where I haven't thought about you and the kid-"

"Mom? Who's that?" I turn around and see Abel standing there in his dirty jeans and Captain America t-shirt. "D-Dad?"

I let go of Jax and let them have their moment together, but it went exactly how I expected. Abel stands there staring at his father in absolute shock, not knowing what to say to the man who abandoned him four years ago. "Abel." Jax calls out to his son softly, and Abel shakes his head, tears welling up in his eyes.

"Don't." he says sternly, and I watch as Jax's heart shatters into a million of pieces. Jax walks over to his son and pulls him into a tight hug, ignoring Abel's disinterest. Jax holds Abel tightly in his arms as Abel cries into his sweater and Jax cries into Abel's hair. "Why'd you leave us? Why weren't we good enough?"

Jax's grip on his son tightens as Abel sobs to him. "I was just trying to protect you. You're the best thing in my life, you're more than good enough. I'm so sorry, son." He cries to him, rocking him in his arms. "I'm so, so sorry. I love you so much, Abel. I'm so proud of you for helping your mom, for helping with your brother and sister and being there for her when I wasn't." Jax looks at Abel and runs a hand through his combed back hair. "I'm proud of you, son."

Tears flood Abel's eyes and I can't help but silently cry at the experience. "I missed you so much, Dad, I wish you never stayed."

Jax nods, "I'm here now, and I won't leave again." Jax kisses Abel's forehead and gives him a reassuring squeeze. "Why don't you show me around? We'll see Melody and Thomas."

Abel looks over at me and I nod. Before taking Jax around the house, Abel walks over to me and wraps his arms around me. "Strong Mama." He says to me softly, kissing my cheek and hugging me. "You're a strong mama."

I smile down at him and kiss him quickly, "Thank you, baby." We walk out to the backyard and I see Thomas and Melody on the swing-set, playing with each other. I let out a heavy sigh and walk over to them and interrupting their play time. "Daddy's here." I tell them softly and Thomas' eyes light up as he looks back at the stranger with a name.

"Dad?" Thomas and Melody ask before rushing over to the blonde man, the spitting image of Thomas and Abel.

"My baby girl! Thomas!" Jax calls out to them, lifting them in his arms and hugging them tightly. "You're so big!" HE says, ruffling Melody's dark hair and Thomas' blonde hair. Jax sets them down and they continue hugging him and kissing him. My heart glows at the sight of my family being back together for once.

"I'm going to give Daddy a hair cut and then we can make dinner, yeah?" I tell the kids and they nod. "If you guys want to go swimming you can, just make sure Melody has her floaties!"

Abel nods, "Swimming! Let's go!" he grabs Thomas and Melody and drags them into the house to get changed so that they can play in the pool.

Jax smirks at me, "A haircut, eh?"

I nod, "This long hair reminds me of high-school, we gotta' get rid of it." I tease him before grabbing my scissors and a chair for him to sit on. Once we get started, Jax slips off his sweater and lets out a deep breath, finally relaxing.

"You have red hair again." He says, hinting to my new hair color.

"Yeah, guess I needed some change." I admit while I start cutting his hair, giving him his usual look. "How have you been?" I ask, knowing the answer won't exactly be the best.

"Like shit. Drinking every day, staying up all night, new girls in and out. Same shit, different day. I was a mess and miserable. Your dad was the one who told me to come up. How about you? The farm house seems to be doing you well."

My heart stings at the mention of other girls, but I can't say I'm completely surprised. I clear my throat before responding to him. "I've been okay. I don't really talk to anyone here, I just watch the kids and take care of the farm. I sell fruit and veggies at the farmers market and garden most of the time. I don't know, I was expecting this refreshing restart, and yeah, it's nice and all, but not what I expected." I take a deep breath, "I expected it to be with you." I admit.

Jax sighs, knowing that he planned it to be that way too. I finish his hair and he stands up, revealing his normal outfit of a white t-shirt and jeans. "I expected that too, but I guess things change." He says softly before pulling out a cigarette and lighting it as we stand in the backyard.

"So what's the plan now? Why did you just show up after four years?"

Jax sighs, "I couldn't keep doing it. I missed you guys too much, and I'm not strong enough to live without you. I, I just needed to be around you again."

I nod, "Does that mean you're moving out here, or are you staying in Charming?" Jax looks up at me with sad eyes, responding with his expression before being able to muster out the words. "I should've known better." I sigh.

"Come on, Al."

I shake my head, "No, you come up here to toy with us so that you can go back to Charming and screw whatever tart you want and live recklessly. What was the point? This was selfish of you, and now I'll be here picking up the pieces when you leave again."

"Al, I'm not leaving, I just have to figure my shit out."

I glare at him and sigh, "You should've done that before coming back here, Jax." I tell him, walking into the house and closing the door behind me, leaving him in the backyard before I slide down the wall and begin to cry.

---

I sigh, knowing that I fucked up with Al and the kids once already, and I should've figured this out before coming out here to see them. I run a hand through my newly cut hair. I walk to the house and open the door and notice Al bent over the couch, her hands clutched together as she prays. I look at her in shock as this is something she's never done.

I lean against the wall, trying not to disturb her but being interested in what she's saying.

"Please, Lord, let this work out. Let my children be happy and have their father in their lives, and for once, just give me a break. I'm begging you. I don't know how much longer I can go with this. Anything, I just need something, one small sign that I should push through this. I need this to work out for my children's sake, and Lord, I can't have him leave me again. Please, just one small reason, show me that this will work and I'll be forever thankful. Amen."

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