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YOU STILL WANT ME

Chapter Text

She confessed it ALL-every sordid, unpalatable, shameful detail. The abuse
of alcohol (and the blackouts), the dabbling in cocaine, the loss of just about
all of her money (and her car) because of gambling losses, the early sexual abuse
(and the promiscuity it spawned). All he'd said was: BE BETTER.

Probably eight out of ten people on the planet would have been sickened by her tales, her
"truth"-NOT Edgar Reade. He'd said: We'll be better together...

The thought echoes in the Latina Agent's mind, over and over... WE'LL be better
together...

Does she dare hope that he's being sincere? That he loves her anyway, flaws and all.

" I'M TOO BROKEN, and I'll break you TOO!", she'd cried. He'd taken her into his big,
muscle-ridged arms and whispered, "So be it."

"If you really, truly mean what you say, look me in the eyes, and promise that no matter what, that if
I fall, or slip, or some stinking rotten shit re-appears from my past-YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME, Reade-
YOU JUST CAN'T. I know that I'll disappoint you sooner or later: today, tomorrow, or in twenty years...
you'll KEEP LOVING me...right? You'll never, ever stop-OK? PLEASE, READE...I need that."

I'll be disappointed if you DON'T fuck up now and again-if you slip, I'll help you up; FALL-
the SAME. I can promise you this-you get out of bed every day, striving to do better-and I'm
yours for LIFE."

I LOVE YOU, she'd said. I don't know why I couldn't admit it, but I DO. I always have.

"You said it NOW," was his reply.

Chapter Text

*Your Hands Reach For Me In The Night
Hold Me Closer, I Need Your Touch
Heaven In Your Arms*

Zapata: Tell me again how much you you love me.

Reade: Not how much I WANT you?

Zapata: I can see THAT in your eyes...her eyes (drop down to his crotch)...and THERE. TELL ME.

Reade (teasingly): How 'bout-I SHOW you.

Zapata (hissing): THE WORDS, Reade. I need the WORDS.

Reade: More than I can ever express in words. You make me consider Family...Children...for the first time ever.
There's no DEPTH, or BREATH to it. It's why I never gave up on us. Somehow...the only way that I can explain it,
is: when I was playin' ball, the Coaches used to drill this one thing into us, this one philosophy: 'KEEP GRINDING';
good things can happen if you ignore the scoreboard and keep GRINDING-you always have a chance."

"Should that be 'KEEP STALKING?", maybe?, Or 'KEEP HAUNTING?'?Tasha cracks.

"KEEP PESTERING THE SHIT OUT OF PEOPLE?" SIGUE MOLESTANDO A LA GENTE
COMO UN PINCHE SANCUDO?"...giggling wildly, she tries to run, but Reade is on her within less than
a dozen steps, tackling her to the carpet...he stuffs his hand inside her shorts and scrubs his knuckles rapidly against her
womanhood..."AY, NOOO!", she cries, wriggling and thrashing about..."READE...ahhhhh!-QUES HACES!!?, she cries
her blood beginning to boil from the incessant masturbating of her dampening vaginal trench.

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TZapata: How did you know? How did you know that I'd respond to you the way
that I have? I rejected you TWICE...I waited until you were engaged to Meg before
that 'I'm In Love With You Hail Mary'...

EReade: I didn't know, exactly. That first time, that first kiss-that was a weak-ass rejection.
The second one, in the locker-room-weaker still. You were wearing down.

TZ: I've always let 'thugs' into my life. I'm programmed that way-even my GrandMother thought
so-that I'd follow the path that my Ma followed. I'm asking how did YOU know that there's a Tasha
worthy of love, of being the part of life, of not falling into a deep hole and paved over?

ER:"I see you, Tash. We use the same coping mechanisms, you and I, to deal with the pain of our pasts. We
indulge in too much alcohol, sketchy relationships, just-acting out.

TZ: HELP...we both need help, Eddie...therapy. OK?

ER: I'll set it up.

TZ: We do it FOR US.

ER: FOR US

Chapter Text

Their life is much better now. Reade seems to have gotten the anxiety and PTSD,
and self loathing (with the genesis in the abuse suffered at the hands of his boyhood coach)
under control, through weekly visits to a therapist, and medication. Tasha also sees a therapist
who helps her deal with her own abusive past.

Their personal relationship improves, as does the relationship with their social group. Keaton is
campaigning (again) for Zapata to join CIA. In his mind, her current mind-set is perfect for his agency.
She politely informs him that the 'state of mind' he refers to is being dismantled, bit by bit, therapy visit by
therapy visit.

Before she declines his offer, though, she asks Reade his opinion. H tells her that he wants her close to him for
now. NEEDS her close to him.

Reade doesn't blame his lover for watching him closely; he's an addict and that's her job. They monitor one another's
alcohol intake, and moods. If she seems him, or he her, slipping into melancholy, they immediately insist on a walk,
a run, or a visit to the gym.

Both counselors suggest therapy dogs. she acquires KABUBY (a cartoon camel from her childhood); Reade's dog is
PHILO (from GIS childhood TV days). Both animals are based on characters who spent lots of time assisting others,
righting wrongs. They give themselves FULLY to one another, and for the first time in a long time, they see the bright
light of a FUTURE.

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At 509pm, a key scrapes in the front door; Tasha carefully places Ledos in his cradle,
slides off of the bed, and gingerly shuffles out to greet her man. NoNoNoNo!, he exclaims,
embracing her at once. He gently admonishes her for getting out of bed-Ledos weighed 9 lbs, 7 oz,
and since her birth canal is so narrow (and his shoulders so wide), she'd undergone an Episiotomy,
(a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture
of tissues)-isn't her stitches site still sore? She brushes this off, insisting on serving his dinner, which is in the warmer.
"Dr Chu said to get up and move around, so that they stitches don't get tight and 'pull' ", she tells him, orderin him to his seat
and serving his plate.

"Sit with me, he invites. No 'eatee' "?

"I ate earlier, before feeding El Cabezon (Big Head). Eat...I like watching you."

"Advise my Son that I'm going to need those (waving his fork at her larger breasts) after he's finished with them, please."

"Mira, Mira! Quitandole leche de su propio Hijo...Sinverguesnza! (Can U believe this!? Wanting to take milk away from his own
Son! Shameless!)

"All I'm saying is: he's on a clock. TU TAMBIEN...en...cuartro semanas, cinco dias, preparate para BUM BUM! (YOU TOO...in four weeks,
five days, get ready for BOOM BOOM!)

Tasha laughs, retorts, "I'm calling Dr. Chu for an extension!" Just then , Ledos makes his (dis)pleasure known. "Ahhppppap-stay there, I'll
get him."

When he comes back in, Tasha smiles delightedly at the way he cuddles and coos to his Son (Yuuuuyuuuyuuuyu! Bebito...Alo..Alo Papa!"

"Hey...(when he looks up, she says) I wanna be with you forever."

[I guess All I'm Really Trying To Say-
If I Kiss Your Lips And Stay In Your Eyes
I'll Gladly Stand And Testify
I Love You...I LOVE YOU...]

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[WAAA-WAAAAH-WAWA-WAAAAH!]

Wrenched from sleep, tasha carefully turns onto her left side, the side facing Ledo's cradle,
and sees immediately that his pacifer has slipped out of his mouth. The wailing ceases for a
few seconds, then his little tongue pushes it out, and this time the loud screeches cause his father
to stir and mutter "Sgethmm"...she assures him that she'll handle it, she carefully (mindful of her stiches)
brings him into bed with them and opens her top so that he can suckle.

"Sis'okay?" Reade mumbles.

"Quiere comer." (He's hungry)

For the remainder of the night, Ledos wakes every three hours or so to feed. To his credit, Reade does rise to give
to help out, (feeding him from a bottle), even though he's due at the office by 1000hr. At 730am, Tasha's cousin, Mirela,
arrives (recently down-sized by the City, Natasha imposes on Reade to hire her to cook the meals, clean the household-all the
things that Tasha would normally do, were she she not recovering from childbirth.) The new parents go out to greet her, and while
prepares for his day, the couins visit in the kitchin-Mirela prepares the morning meal, while Zapata sits with the baby.

During the morning, Patterson, Rich, the Wellers, and Allison Knight phone to inquire about Ledos. All promise to stop by after the
day's business is concluded. Once Edgar leaves, Tasha retires to the bedroom with the baby, while Mirela starts the washer and dryer.
Once she's fed him again, and he's sleeping soundly, She and her Cousin sit in the living room, gossiping and catching up on Zapata Family
'happenings'.

Mirela: Prima! Tu cress que me Mama me quiere dar problemas porque quieria salir con un conocido de Color, de me ex-trabajo?"
(Cousin-can you believe that my Mom is making problems because I agreed to a date with a Black Man I know from where I used to work?)

Tasha: Mi Tia Rosy? Wau! Pues, tu tienes 24años-tu sabes bien, que tu puedes salir con quien sea. La quiero mucho, mi Tia, pero ella no paga
tus gastos, so no puede meterse en tu haces." (My Aunt Rosy? Wow! Well, your're 24 yeras old, and you can date whomever you please. She
doesn't pay your bills, and she can't insert herself into what you do)

Mirela: Gracias, Prima...oyes...pudeo invitar al Damon AQUI? Tu y Edgar lo pueden conocer, y verificar que es muy amable y bueno.
(Thanks, Cousin..hey..could I invite him HERE? You and Edgar could meet him, verify that he's nice, that he's good.

Tasha: Deja hablar con Edgar-me va a decir que si." (Let me talk to Edgar-he'll say yes."

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Tasha: Mire (Mirela, her cousin) wants us to meet her Man-at dinner, whenever you say.

Edgar: Are you up to it? I'm fine with whenever you feel ready.

Tasha: Probably...next weekend? The Wellers wanted to come then, and Pattersin and Rich, too.

Edgar: As I say, Ma-it's up to you.

Tasha: What's new at the office?

Edgar: Scully and Mulder are in from DC-also Alex Parrish, from the Terrorist task Force. And Nas. And NO I'm
not trying to figure out a way to join them in the field...you asked me not to, and I'm not.

Tasha (with a BIG GRIN): Muy amable, Usted. (So thoughtful of you.)

Edgar: Ohohohohohohoho....no llorre, Papa...no-no llorre.....Ah-se MOJO...OK...deja le cambio....sisisisi..." (No crying,
ah-you're WET...alright, I'll change you, yesyesyesyes)

Tasha, moving slowly and carefully, finishes her current task (wiping down the counter-top), filled with a sense of peace, and
JOY, at the turn her life has taken in just a few years. Just three years ago, none of what she has now was even a remote DREAM
for her, nowhere in the realm of possibility: A GOOD, LOVING MAN, A BABY, a career in law enforcement, and the respect of
friends and peers. NOT worthless, or stupid, or sleazy, fit only to steal away that her Mother's husband or boyfriend-a Woman her
newborn needs and loves, without condition. NEVER will she send him to the corner store for cigarettes and gin ('tell the owner Mami
will be by to pay him later' [wink-wink], or after spending the food and rent money on 'Mami's medicine' have the balls to remark 'You're
too fat anyway, you'll eat tomorrow.'

SO MANY YEARS running from this Good Man, from her destiny...and he waited...he kept the faith...and her faith in HIM has been
rewarded with LEDITOS...'life is a funny old dog', one of her FBI Training Officers, used to say...and it IS...IT SURELY IS...

The freshly-diapered Baby in question has his Father's nose clasped between his tiny thumb and forefinger, busily sucking away at the
ready-made bottle Edgar took from the refrigerator and warmed for him. Tasha decides to memorialize the scene in video: using her iPhone,
she videos Father and Son, so happy at the sight of them that she has to wipe away tears. When he announces that he must leave for the office
her impulse is to ask him to stay, though she knows it's not possible. Mirela's arriving as Ed's leaving, anyway...

END