A/N: Random fact- I have a stutter like Tara's. Never met another stutterer who did the whole closing eyes while struggling on a word thing. Also confidence is a major factor.

I do plan on updating this story weekly- this weekend I had a gig with my band for the first time in the city. Last weekend was the start of my other band's EP. Band practice bit into writing time, but the schedule should resume to normal over the next few gig-free weeks.

Onwards with the story~

Faith was smoking a cigarette and was learning on a power pole near the stairs that led up to the university's campus when Tara pulled up in her red hatchback.

Tara took a breath before opening the door and getting out of her car. Faith had stubbed out her cigarette and her expression changed instantly as soon as she saw Tara.

"What the hell happened?" she exclaimed, walking over to Tara and placed a hand on Tara's arm. Her eyes went straight to Tara's offending mark on her face.

"Donny" Tara stated. Faith looked confused. "My brother"

"Asshole" she hissed, her brown eyes narrowing in disgust. "C'mon, we'll get some ice on it" Faith took Tara's hand in her own and started to lead them to Faith's place.

"Faith. Stop" Tara stood dead in her tracks. What if Donny found out that her Faith held hands like this? An unreasonable fear washed over Tara.

"Huh?" Faith turned to face Tara, her face full of confusion. "What's up?"

"I can't… I can't do this with you. Donny and my Dad… T-they'll…" Tara's voice trailed off as tears started to leave her eyes, she looked away. She couldn't believe what she was saying. Tara felt closer to Faith than she had to anyone in her life, and that was within two days. She felt such an attraction, a pull towards her. Her smile, her way of talking but mostly and above all that Faith found her interesting. The brunette wanted to be friends with her and more, maybe even to be her girlfriend one day…

Faith frowned and crossed her arms in defence. It was like Tara could see the walls building up around her.

"You come around here to tell me that you can't see me?" her voice had dropped a few pitches.

"N-n-n… No" Was the only word Tara could get out before she buried her face in her hands and started to sob, emotion overwhelmed her.

"Hey…" Tara could feel Faith's arms pull her into a tight hug. Tara wrapped her arms around Faith's neck, rested her head in the nook of Faith's neck and tried her best to stop her tears.

"You're scared. I get that." Faith whispered. "What do you want me to do?"

"Hold me" Tara said the words without thinking.

She felt Faith's grip around her tighten slightly before releasing her. "Let's get you inside" she said softly.

Tara wiped the tears off her face and followed behind Faith. The pair went down a flight of stairs and were soon within the student village. Faith took a key out of her jean pocket and led them to the second closest building from the stairs.

"I'm lucky. I have no roommate" Faith said. "You've seen yourself, this place isn't too busy. Not many students live here. Not like other places. It's Sunnydale, quiet place" Faith explained.

Tara nodded numbly, but was grateful Faith had no house mate to see her cry.

Faith unlocked the door and led Tara inside. It was a small apartment. A single couch with a TV was in the living room and the next space was the kitchen area. Tara noticed a door next to the couch, assuming it led to the bathroom and bedrooms.

"It's not much, but it's home" Faith shrugged as she sat down on the couch, motioning for Tara to follow.

Tara took off her shoulder bag and placed it at the base of the couch. She sat next to Faith on the couch, looking at her hesitantly.

"I'm sorry" she said softly.

"For what?" Faith frowned. "You just got battered by your bro. Kinda normal to be a bit over the place"

Tara failed to hide her small smile. This girl understood her.

"Thanks… What am I going to do?" Tara said. "I mean… I want to keep seeing you."

Faith smiled and then sighed. "I don't wanna not see you Tare. But I don't wanna put you in danger either. Hang on, let me get that ice" Faith rose from the couch and headed to the kitchen, opening the small fridge freezer and pulled out a bag of peas.

"He's hit me before" Tara confessed. "More since Mom passed"

Faith walked back over and handed Tara the bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel for her face.

"He's an asshole. Your Dad know about it?" Faith frowned.

"Yeah. But he says nothing. He used to hit Mom…" Tara recalled the memories of her father losing her temper against his wife.

"I'm liking your family less and less the more you talk about 'em" Faith said darkly.

Tara held the make shift ice pack to her face. "They're all I have" she said simply.

"I get that. I mean… I have no one" Faith said. "I don't talk to any other family members either. But I get it, you know? The pull of family. You wanna be accepted. That's normal. But what isn't okay is that they keep beating up on you, especially since your Mom passed"

Tara felt a wave of sympathy. This girl had no family, yet had no grudge against though who do. Tara thought that Faith may have some resentment over those who have happy families. But realistically, hers wasn't.

"I'm sorry" was the only thing Tara thought to say.

"Ah, don't sweat it. I get by and it doesn't bother me. It's easier, you know?" Faith said casually. "Don't let me make you feel bad either, we're all different"

"Thanks" Tara gave a small smile, her face was feeling very cold with the ice pack. "Um, how long to I have to hold this for?" she said weakly.

Faith chuckled. "Cold enough huh? Give it a few more minutes. But it should do the job of not leaving a mark"

Tara noticed the distance between the pair. Faith sat, leaning against the sofa arm but mostly facing Tara. She longed for her touch, feeling slightly guilty especially with her run in with Donny. Faith was wearing a simple singlet and jeans, accompanied with her Doc Martin boots. Even with this simple outfit, she looked amazing.

"Wanna watch something on TV? I have a small collection of DVDs." Faith said lightly, breaking the silence.

"That sounds nice" agreed Tara, it would take her mind off the cold press against her face. "I don't mind what we watch though, you pick"

"Okay" Faith rose from the sofa and sifted through the DVDs that were stacked in a cupboard near the TV. She put the DVD in the player and turned on the TV.

Faith returned to the sofa and sat closely to Tara. Tara looked at the brunette, feeling the warmth of her body so close to her own. Faith gazed at her.

"Still want me to hold you?" she asked softly.

Tara nodded, and took up on Faith's cue to place her head against her chest, feeling Faith's arms wrap around her. It was like a warm cacoon. Tara took away her ice pack, breaking the hold, placing the ice pack on the floor then returning to Faith's embrace, not really noticing the advertisements appearing on screen on the DVD. She felt Faith's hands were somewhat rough as they caressed her bare skin on her arms. It felt like heaven.

"Comfortable?" Tara heard Faith say.

"Y-yes" she replied, not wanting this moment to end, then came back to reality as she saw the TV screen and wrinkled her nose.

"Die Hard?"

"What? It's an awesome movie" Faith said in defence.

Tara decided to have an open mind. Action movies weren't usually her forte. But then she realised something.

"I probably can't stay here for long… My Dad will be getting home from work…" Tara said.

"I know" Faith replied. "But you're welcome to stay here whenever, okay? Family shit sucks" Tara felt Faith's arms wrap tighter around her. Tara felt her heart beating quite heavily, she felt nervous around her, considering her lack of experience. Then something dawned on her.

"How old are you Faith?" Tara asked, realising that she never asked her age.

"23. And you?" Faith replied.

"21" Tara was 20 when her mother passed away.

"Really?" Faith drew back from Tara. Tara looked up to see Faith's brown eyes peer down at her in confusion. "I expected you to be a lot younger, like 18 or whatever"

"So you're calling me old?" Tara jibed.

"I walked straight into that one, huh?" Faith chuckled. "But seriously though, you don't look your age"

"It's all the not drinking and smoking" Tara replied innocently.

"So the opposite of me?" Faith said.

"Yes" Tara laughed, feeling herself relax. Joking around Faith was easy.

"Point taken." Faith resumed her tight embrace around Tara and placed her head on top of Tara's. Tara had placed her left arm around Faith's stomach, feeling quite safe in the brunette's arms.

"Do you still practice karate?" Tara asked, becoming more curious about Faith's life, completely disregarding the movie playing.

"Sometimes I do. But Jui Jitsu is my current favourite" Faith replied. "I'm only a white belt there though. I started last year."

"What's Jui Jistu?" Tara asked curiously, never hearing of it before.

"It's a Brazilian martial art. Lots of grappling, holds and throwing people around" Tara heard the joy in Faith's voice. "You practice choking people out. It's fun"

It sounded the exact opposite of fun for Tara. "And you like it?"

"Man, I love it. It's such a rush, ya know?"

"Not really" Tara said honestly.

Faith laughed. "It's not for everyone I guess. But hey, there's heaps you know. Self-defence is important"

"That I agree with" Tara said softly, thinking about the potential of next time Donny would beat up on her.

"I've dabbled in a few others. I can show you sometime. If ya want?" Faith said.

Tara moved her head away from Faith's chest and looked at her. "You'd do that?"

"Of course. I can show you some stuff now" Faith grinned.

"Maybe tomorrow?" Tara replied, thinking that she should head home soon anyway.

"Yeah, I'm free. Text me when you wanna do it" Faith said.

"I will" Tara promised. She didn't remove her eyes from Faith. Being in such close proximity to her was intoxicating. There was only a small gap between them both. Tara's eyes darted from Faith's eyes to her lips, feeling so tempted to make a repeat of last night. Her heart started to beat harder at the thought.

Faith picked up on this immediately. "Tara…. Don't get me wrong, I wanna kiss you. When you first came here you were pretty upset. I don't wanna take advantage of that, you know?" Faith's voice was hushed, but her grip on Tara never faltered.

"I-I-I just don't want my Dad or Donny to f-f-find out" Tara said, trying to not feel rejected.

"If it makes you feel any better, I don't have any security cameras here" Faith joked.

Tara raised her arm from Faith's stomach and lightly placed her hand against Faith's cheek. Faith closed her eyes and pressed her face harder against Tara's hand, clearly wanting the physical affection.

"No security cameras?" Tara repeated.

Faith's eyes opened. "None at all" she assured her.

Tara gazed deep into Faith's eyes, feeling a new wave of nervousness. Which was stupid, she had already kissed her last night.

Faith returned the intense gaze but then instead slowly started to lean in and her eyes went from Tara's eyes to her lips.

Tara closed her eyes to feel Faith's lips on hers. She moved her hand from Faith's face to the back of her head. At first Faith kissed her slowly, full of innocence. Compared to last night, it felt incredible. Possibly due to being completely sober.

She then felt Faith's tongue darting at the entrance of her own lips. Tara figured that she should mirror Faith's movements and used her own tongue to meet Faith's. Faith moaned at the feeling of Tara's tongue and she gently pushed Tara, making her sit straight on the sofa. Without breaking the kiss, Faith straddled Tara and continued kissing her passionately.

Tara felt like she was on fire and waves of pleasure that she never knew existed hit her. Now she could see what all the fuss about making out was about. It was amazing. Her hands had automatically starting to caress Faith's back and Faith had placed one hand on Tara's jaw and the other against the sofa above the pair to keep her balance.

Tara started to feel a little over whelmed as the minutes ticked by and pulled away, but not before placing one short innocent kiss on Faith's lips as they parted.

"I have to go soon" Tara murmured, opening her eyes to see Faith's beautiful face looking back at her.

"I know" Faith replied softly, she started to pull away from Tara to un-straddle herself from the taller girl. "So now what?" she said, sitting down the opposite end of the sofa, placing a hand over Tara's.

Now what indeed… Tara looked at Faith's hand and intertwined her fingers with Faith's.

"I don't know" Tara said lamely.

Faith gave a reassuring smile. "It's alright. First thing first… Get yourself home and tomorrow I'll teach you how to defend a punch" Faith stood up leading Tara to follow her, their hands still intertwined.

Tara followed Faith outside, only to break their grip on their hands when Faith locked up her apartment. The pair walked up the stairs in silence and held hands. Darkness had set in. Even though recently the weather had been warmer, the sun was still setting early. The moon illuminated the car park for the pair.

"Text me when you get home, so I know you're safe" Faith said concerned before letting go of Tara's hand so the blonde could get her keys.

"I will. Thank you for tonight. B-being here I mean" Tara stammered.

"It is partially my fault T, so it's the least I can do" Faith replied.

Tara gazed at Faith, stepping in to close the gap between the two… It was traditional, right? A good night kiss?

"Um… There are actually security cameras here" Faith said guiltily, nodding over to one of the streetlights, a small white camera was pointed over to the other group of cars outside the uni stair way.

"But they're not pointed here" Tara reasoned. "Right?"

Faith smiled slyly. "You're driving the ship here Captain"

Tara leaned in to the shorter girl and placed her lips against Faith's briefly.

"Good night Faith" Tara said, opening her car door.

"See you soon" Faith replied, standing to watch Tara drive off.

Tara pulled in the garage to see her father's car was parked, but thankfully Donny's was gone. She took a deep breath before exiting the car and entering the house.

"I'm home" she called out, as she walked in the house, placing her keys in her usual place.

"Hi Tara" her father called out.

She walked through to the living room to see her Dad sitting down in front of the TV.

"Where have you been?" he frowned.

"O-out with a friend" Tara replied.

"Hm" he nodded. "Good you've made a friend" he approved.

"Yeah. S-she's at uni and lives on campus. We plan on being study buddies" Tara lied, thinking of the first thing to reason to see Faith regularly.

"That's really good. About time you hang out with girls your own age" her father said, clearly making reference to Tara's mother being her only friend.

"Y-you don't mind?" Tara asked, feeling a sense of having a green light to see Faith regularly.

"No. It's healthy. Do whatever you girls do. Are sleep overs still a thing?"

"Yes." Tara said quickly, taking advantage of his approval. "She's already invited me for one" It wasn't much of a stretch from the truth.

Her father looked at her intensely. "This is really good."

Tara smiled "Thankyou sir"

Her father then smiled "Next thing I'll hear is that you'll bring a boyfriend home"

Tara's smile faltered "Y-yes sir" she said, going along with his lie.

"How about we order take out? Your brother's gone out tonight. Strange though" her father's voice trailed off in thought about Donny.

Tara was amazed. They never got take away food. "S-sounds great" she said quickly, bringing him back from the thoughts of her brother.

"Good. See what you can find" he gestured to a pile of pamphlets.

Tara gathered the pamphlets and took them into the kitchen, to leave her father in peace for a little while and to also giving her time to text Faith.

'Home safe. Dad is actually happy I've made a friend and I can see you whenever. Donny hasn't said anything yet. But sleep overs are on his list of approval' Tara quickly punched in her phone and hit send, hoping that she wouldn't come on too strong but wanted Faith to know that she could stay without too much drama… If they came to that.

She shifted through the pamphlets and was surprised. For a town that only had one Starbucks, it had a decent choice of take away food. She settled on Indian. She knew her father liked Indian and what his order would be. She picked up her phone and placed an order. Truth be told, she hated talking on the phone, but on the plus side, no one would notice her habit of closing her eyes to say a word.

She returned to the living room and sat on the sofa near her father.

"Dinner is ordered" Tara said pleasantly, feeling the vibration of her phone going off in her jeans pocket.

"Oh good" her father nodded and returned his attention to the TV.

Tara took the opportunity to retrieve her phone from her pocket to see that Faith had replied.

'Awesome. Tell him that tomorrow night we need to have a pre-study sesh which will totally go for the whole night and warrants you staying over at mine'

Tara suppressed a giggle and tried to hide her smile as she started to reply.

"Your friend?" Tara was interrupted by her father's voice. He looked curiously at her.

"Yes. She's, um, very funny"

"What's her name?" her father asked.

"F-faith" Tara replied, hoping that her father wouldn't pass on this information to Donny. She wondered about giving Faith a fake name to protect her.

"Pretty name. You should invite her over sometime, if all works out. I don't think I've ever seen you smile like this" her father said.

It was true. Tara would usually display a small smile around her family. But never a wide genuine smile.

"O-okay" Tara nodded hesitantly. "Um, she's invited me out tomorrow. Pre-uni stuff. She's asked me to stay the night" Tara quoted.

"Leftovers for dinner tomorrow night it is then. It's fine with me"

Tara blinked. Her father wasn't usually this encouraging. Nevertheless, she returned her attention to her phone to reply to Faith.

'Tomorrow is a goer. My father also has requested you to come over some time. No pressure'

Tara hit send and noticed her father was gazing at her.

"What is Faith studying?" he said, making conversation.

"Medicine" Tara replied.

"Wow… She must be very bright" he said impressively. "She must have a good head on her shoulders"

"Um… I suppose so" Tara commented. Would Faith be classed as 'having a good head on her shoulders'?

"I've seen a lot of bad looking kids around here Tara" her father's voice changed to his authority voice. "A rough lot. One girl I saw on the street the other day looked like she was going to the strip club. And not as a patron… The way that these girls dress. Leather pants, leather jackets, slutty tops" he shook his head. "This world is doomed. It's not what Jesus would have wanted"

Tara gulped. She was used to her father's angry Christian rants. But, she had only seen one girl dress in leather pants around here. And that was Faith.

She let him continue his rant, and was thankful when Indian take away was delivered. The pair ate their dinner without talking. Tara avoided messaging Faith back while in her father's presence, not wanting to give too much information about her away.

Tara checked her phone as soon as she went into her bedroom after finishing dinner.

'Hahahahahahahaha, no pressure at all! How does going to the Bronze tomorrow night sound?'

Tara punched the keys on her phone.

'Sounds like a plan. See you tomorrow'

Tara figured she would get an early night, it was easier to get away from her father's unwanted opinions if he decided to make conversation again. After getting changed into her PJs she snuggled into her bed and her mind wandered over to the events earlier in the day- her brother, conversations at uni with Faith and then being held in Faith's arms. Not to mention kissing her. Tara smiled and fell asleep with happy thoughts in mind.

"Seriously Tara."

Tara was making breakfast in the kitchen and spun around to face her brother. His eyes were narrowed at her.

"S-seriously what?"

"You're sleeping over at that girl's house" It wasn't a question, it was a statement.

"She's my friend" Tara said boldly.

"I hope for your sake, she'd better be" Donny said angrily as he stormed out of the room.

Tara decided to hurry up with breakfast and packed her things she needed for the night at Faith's. If she could avoid being at home with Donny and avoid her father's interactions the better she would feel. In her hasty packing, she threw in one of her favourite books. Maybe she could go to the park or something and read before seeing Faith.

It was 8:30 by the time she left the house. Tara had left a note for her name and mumbled a goodbye to her brother who ignored her as she drove her car around Sunnydale. Feeling satisfied with a quiet looking park, she parked her car and dug out her copy of her favourite Jane Austen novel and sat under a tree. Thankfully it was sunny weather with a brisk cool wind in the air.

Tara turned to the page that she was up to and was soon immersed in the book.

"Hey, whatcha reading?" a familiar voice tore her away from the world of Jane Austen.

"Oh, Willow, hi" Tara said surprised. Willow was stood in front of her in a set of demin overalls and a light blue shirt. A goofy grin was on her face.

"Mind if I join you?" the red head asked.

"Oh, of course" Tara replied, gesturing for her to sit down. "It's' Pride and Prejudice' by the way" Tara held up her book.

"Oh cool!" Willow said enthusiastically. "Not going to lie, I'm more of a fan of 'Northanger Abby' myself"

Tara grinned "You're a fan of her works?"

"Absolutely" Willow gave a broad smile. "Among other things… Like, well… I don't know what else to say that is similar to Jane but a lot of other things"

Tara giggled at the way Willow spoke. It was as if she was thinking out loud.

"So how was the Bronze the other night? You and Faith looked, uh… cozy?" Willow asked.

"It was nice. The Bronze is nice" Tara replied, decided to make things simple.

"Yeah, the Bronze is awesome" Willow replied enthusiastically, making up for Tara's lack of enthusiasm. "Maybe you could join us sometime?"

"That'd be cool. I'll be going there tonight with Faith. Maybe I'll see you there i-if you're going?" Tara replied.

Willow's face dropped slightly. "You and Faith getting real close huh?"

"We're friends" Tara said simply, feeling that there was enough drama on that front without new found friends giving her grief too.

"Friends is good" Willow agreed, slightly emphasizing on the 'friends' part, clearly not believing Tara's reply.

"What other things do you like?" Tara asked, changing the subject.

"Well" Willow's face lit up and started to ramble on about a whole list of things she was into.

Minutes ticked into hours. Tara found herself really liking Willow's personality. Turns out that they were very similar to each other on a range of things. Tara could only describe this as that the pair had a similar vibe to each other. Kindred spirits almost.

Tara felt her phone buzz and was teared away from the conversation.

'Hey you, ready to learn how to kick ass?'

Tara chuckled as she replied to Faith's text.

'Sure am. When do you want me?'

She pocketed her phone to see Willow raise an eyebrow.

"Just friends huh? I know that look missy" she joked.

Tara smiled guiltily. "She's nice… And empathetic" she said softly.

Willow scrunched up her face in confusion. "'Empathetic'? Are we still talking about the same Faith here?"

"Maybe I see a different side of her" Tara said.

"Weird… Hey, you aren't drunk every time you see her, are ya?" Willow asked light heartedly.

Tara laughed "Only once. But it wasn't even drunkenness. But she is really nice. Today she's teaching me self defence" Tara said happily.

Willow looked sceptical. "I don't know if you know, but Faith and violence isn't a great mix"

Tara gave a sad smile. "She did tell me about some of her past with you guys… Would you believe me if I said she believes she has changed?" Thoughts of her own family ran through her head, she wasn't a stranger to violence anyway.

Willow's hazel eyes analysed her, as if searching to detect a lie. "I believe you" she said after a moment.

At that moment Tara's phone buzzed again.

'I want you all the time, but I have a feeling that wasn't exactly what you were asking ;) Come over anytime.'

Tara tried to hide her blush at Faith's clear flirting and punched a reply back

'I'll be there soon'

Tara quickly replied as Willow looked at her curiously.

"That was Faith. Um, I should probably go… Hopefully I didn't distract you from whatever you were going to do today" Tara said, feeling bad.

"Oh no, please. It's fine. I usually go for a walk every morning around here. I live close by. No distraction at all. Enjoy your self defence with Faith and uh… Maybe I will join you and her tonight. If I'm not going to third wheel you guys" Willow said, standing up and dusting off the dirt off her overalls.

"Sounds like a plan" Tara smiled and stood up, holding her abandoned book. "See you tonight I guess"

"Yeah, bye Tara" Willow waved, heading in the opposite direction as Tara headed to her car.

Tara sat for a moment in her car, smiling at how easy it was to be friends with Willow. She was straight and wasn't completely repulsed by her being gay. This was a lot better than her old town. Tara started the engine and started to drive to uni.