Subtle wasn't Faith's best character trait. She tried, but there was only so far she could go and stop being true to herself. If she didn't have the subtle gene, then why pretend?
Gene. There was a word that wasn't in her vocab four years ago. But then along came Red. That girl was a damn dictionary, or encyclopaedia-another new word-of information. Faith thought of herself as pretty up on stuff, but when it came to stuff, as in actually stuff - science, and books and... well, stuff, Willow had her beat. The redhead had said her Mum had been a librarian-she'd grown up with books on everything (that was all she had gotten from the girl... Willow would start to say something about her parents, but then her face would change and she'd either stop talking and disappear into her head for the rest of the day, or change the topic). It wasn't just from before that Willow had books-heck no.
Faith had asked her, a few weeks after their pleasant (not so) first meeting, what she wanted to pinch first. They had gotten food and essentials, but Willow was yet to go after something she wanted. Faith expected to hear 'nice clothes', 'warmer clothes' or 'cigarettes'... no, she heard 'books.' So she and Red had pinched some books. After awhile, they would sneak into the Library (they had to sneak, their 'kind' wasn't very approved of) and sit for hours, with Willow sunk into some college grade text book, while Faith would find a trashy paperback and pretend she fount reading as easy as Willow.
Anyway-Faith paused on her walk down the street-where was she? Genes. Subtle. No, subtle was certainly not part of Faith's abilities. But she'd be damned if she wouldn't pull it off right now. She kept her eyes on the red hair about twenty steps ahead of her, making sure to not draw attention to herself. She was hoping Willow was heading to a book store to filch some new books on nuclear physics or biology or bird watching or whatever the hell the new interest was-not to go to where Faith was almost certain she was headed.
Willow continued her way down the footpath, her chest feeling heavy. She shouldn't be doing this. She felt resolved. This was the last time... though, she had said that last time. Willow paused on the footpath. She could end it, right now. Turn away, not go to this meet, and keep her promise to Faith. It was more then a promise to Faith, it had been to herself too. She had only broken it once before this. And she'd found she hadn't gone through with it - completely.
Maybe that had been step one, and now not turning up at all could be step two? Willow pulled in a deep breath - she had to make this choice. She looked at the corner up ahead.
Willow almost pissed her pants when she felt someone's hand fall onto her shoulder. She almost did a second time when she turned and saw Faith.
Faith almost smirked when she saw the look on Willows face.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
Willow shrugged Faith's hand off her shoulder, unable to look her in the eye, "Nothing. Walking. Smoking. That's all."
"Don't lie to me, of all people, Red."
Willow bought her eyes up from the ground and looked Faith in the eye, "I wasn't even sure if I was going to go. You saw me stop. I just-it's hard. And I've only been one other time. And I didn't take it myself, I swear. I just sold it, so there'd be some cash aside. And I know we said we wouldn't do either anymore, but I just-I'm so scared where gonna lose the place, and the thought of extra cash was so appealing, Faith. And-" Willow stopped, realising she was turning red from lack of air, "I'm sorry, Faith."
"You've been to Rack since we've said we'd stop?" Faiths eyes hardened.
"We weren't doing that shit anymore, Willow! None of it, not any part. And then you go off and do it behind my back?"
Willow felt her self getting angry, felt it boiling up, "Fuck, Faith, I wasn't taking any of the shit. I just wanted to make sure we were gonna be okay!"
"We will be, and we'll do it properly, Red. In it together, out of it together, what the fuck happened to that?"
Willow felt it snap, and knew she shouldn't, "Yeah, and who was the reason I was in it in the first place, huh Faith?" Willow regretted it instantly as she saw Faith reel backwards as though she'd been slapped.
They stared at each other for a few seconds, Willows eyes angry, but regret was creeping in at the edges, Faiths pissed off and hiding hurt, "Right, Red. Yeah... okay."
And Faith turned on her heel and walked away.
Willow stood and watched her go, "Shit."
Tara let herself be dragged out of the car, let Anya and Buffy grab her arms on either side and chatter away like birds. Let herself be dragged into Moshies, and felt dirty instantly. She did not like this place. It was like any burger place, only more commercial and 'upper class'; and more full of loud, show off boys. It was where the rich, well-off, spoilt kids hung out. They ordered their 'lean, roasted beef burgers' and drank their flavoured mineral water, and showed off. And they did all that to a personal DJ.
It was horrible. Anya and Buffy ordered for her, and Tara scanned the room, hoping not to see Graham anywhere. She breathed a sigh of relief-there was no sign of him, or his friends. As she turned back to the counter, Buffy came up next to her with a tray piled high with food, "If you're looking for him, it's okay, I just text Riley and they're all coming straight here."
Tara glared daggers at her best friends back as they made their way to a table.
Just as Tara was going to make some sort of excuse to escape, the front door opened and the crowd of boys that made all the private school girls go 'gah gah' walked in. With Graham at its head. He looked around and saw her, smiled a huge, puppy dog grin and came loping over.
"Tare, hey babe!" He slid into the seat next to her and leaned over to kiss her cheek. She grimaced as she felt stubble, but hid it with a smile.
"Hey, Graham. How was your bio test yesterday?"
Graham leant forward and stole some of Buffy's fries while she was distracted being mauled by Riley, "Yeah, it was fine. Aced it. Guess what?"
Tara tried to act interested, "What's that?"
"I heard back from the Admin Officer this morning, and-"
Tara tuned out as he started on his talk of the army, and how he and Riley were a sure thing in being admitted to the academy. Tara reached for a fry and dragged it through a blob of sauce. She liked Graham-but something about him was so-so mediocre. She should LIKE him, not just like him. He was smart, and athletic and she guessed he was kind of funny, sometimes. He was every father's (her father's) dream stud for their daughter - respectful, courteous. What was wrong with her that she felt nothing?
She new what was wrong.
Tara sighed and pulled her head around to look back at Graham. She'd exorcised those Demons.
Just ask her father.
After putting up with Graham's kissing in the car, Tara made the excuse that her Father was expecting her. And Graham being the poster boy for Good, he pulled back and walked her to the door.
"Night, Tare. I wish we got to see each other more?"
"Night Graham." She kissed his cheek, and thanked God their school wasn't a Co-Ed.
Once Tara had said hello to Sophie, and let the woman fuss over her and make her tea, Tara dragged herself up the stairs and went to her bedroom. Sitting on her pillow, was a letter. Tara picked it up, realising Sophie must have left it there. She opened it, knowing what it would be about.
Tara couldn't help it - what, no love from?
She sighed heavily and threw herself backwards onto the bed.
Her life hadn't been so complicated, two years ago. She was quiet; she did what she could to please her Father by going to church and keeping her grades excellent. She didn't date and she never, ever misbehaved. It was Donny that had been the issue. Until he found God, again, of course.
Then came Grace.
Grace, with her dark brown hair and dancing eyes. Grace with her lilting, soft voice in the choir. Her hands had been what Tara first noticed, as she had been handed the new hymn book, she saw it was been passed by someone with the palest, longest fingers she'd ever seen - piano fingers, her mother had called them. Tara had looked up to see this girl, this amazing, smiling girl holding out the book. Tara took it and felt her self get dizzy as their skin touched.
Tara had felt that touch for hours afterwards.
They had started to bible study together. Then to study for school together-Grace was new, just starting and Tara was helping her to catch up. Her Father approved-Grace's family was from 'good' Catholic descent.
Soon Grace was over every few nights. She was in the guest room at first, but they would stay up so late most nights, Grace would end up in her bed. They'd wake up tangled in each other and try and hide their embarrassment by pretending they didn't notice.
Then, one night Grace kissed her. Or she kissed Grace. She was never sure how that happened. One thing she was sure of was that they had a lot of trouble stopping kissing, too.
After a few moths, they got brave, and so very stupid. They stole kisses in the toilets at school, and at Church. They would forget, and touch hands in the hallways, of the house and at school.
Then everything went bad.
Someone saw them, in the school toilets or when they purposefully brushed passed each other in the corridor; or someone guessed. They were never told who it was and when they were seen.
The guilt on the girls' faces said it all.
Her father was called. Grace's parents were called.
Her last sight of Grace for a long time was of her been pulled by the hand out of the school office by her crying mother and stern father. They moved after that. She wasn't told where.
And Tara... Tara had received the worst beating of her life. She was made to read certain passages from the Bible. She was made to say what she had done was a sin. Was dirty. Was evil. Was an abomination. She wasn't allowed to leave the house for a week.
She was made to take Grace back, which was the worst part.
She got a letter from Grace, months later, smuggled to her by Sophie.
Grace had told her it was a mistake, they had gotten too close.
She saw Grace, at a convention for a combination of Churches, two months ago. She hadn't even looked at Tara.
So Tara swallowed it all. She pretended it didn't happen-she no longer had that Demon in her. The consequences for its existence were just too much.
So she would live the lie her father wished upon her.