DISCLAIMER: Joss owns the canon.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've been thinking a lot about Tara's past lately (partly because of mistymidnight's fic, 'nonsense.') and I decided to give it a stab with a short fic. Angst warning.

Also, my computer decided to delete the new chapter I'd written of There Be Dragons and Small Packages. Very unfortunate, but I've already started rewriting.

Tara straightened the doll's dress, smoothing the fabric. It was tattered and worn, but it was hers, and she loved it, peach jam stain and all.

"Tara, you seen my BB gun?"

Tara looked up at Donny's words and silently shook her head.

"Cat got your tongue?" Donny asked. That's what Daddy always said to Tara when she wouldn't talk none. Then again, Daddy said they were lucky. Most women couldn't stop talking, even when they shoulda known better than to run off at the mouth.

Tara looked back down at her doll. Sometimes, when she was alone, she talked to it, the way she could never seem to talk to anyone else. The words came when it was just Tara and Isis. That's what she had named the doll, but it was her secret, hers and Momma's, and so everyone else thought the doll's name was Lauren Ann.

"Cat got your tongue!" Donny laughed jovially and plucked the doll from his sister's hands. "You have to ask for it back," he said. "You have to ask real nice."

Tara stood up, trying not to let anything show on her face. If Donny knew he was bothering her, he'd never give Isis back. "C-c-c-an..." she whispered the word.

"Cacacan," Donny repeated. "Lord, Tara, you talk like you're slow in the head. Don't let Daddy hear you talk like that."

Tara did her best not to let Daddy hear her talk at all. Children were seen and not heard, and little girls were neither.

"Can I have my doll back?" Tara asked softly.

"No," Donny said.

Tara looked at Isis, and for the smallest minute, she wished the doll had teeth, because then it could bite Donny. Donny was in serious need of some biting, but Tara knew better. Tara wasn't a biter. Most days, unless it was just her and Momma, Tara wasn't anything.

"M-m-my doll," Tara stuttered again, looking around her shoulder to make sure she and Donny were still alone.

"Get me some lemonade, and then I'll give you your doll," Donny said.

Tara stared at him for a moment, and when she opened her mouth again, she didn't stutter at all. "Say please," she said quietly.

In the next instant, Donny had her pinned up against the wall. "I don't have to say please to no girls," he growled. "I'm something and you're nothing, and I want some damn lemonade."

"Now I know you didn't just say a curse word in this house, son." Tara and Donny both froze at the sound of their father's voice.

"It's her fault," Donny muttered. "She was sassing me."

"Tara, don't you be sassing your brother, girl," her father said, giving her a hard look. If he wasn't careful, that little wisp of a girl was going to get notions, like her mother. Notions about women and power and things that went bump in the night.

He shook his head. There weren't many notions a few good licks couldn't cure.

"I didn't meant to," Tara said softly.

Her father took a step towards her. There weren't many notions a few good licks couldn't cure, and come hell or high water, his little girl wasn't going to be getting any notions.

Fin

Angsty, I know, but I wanted to do something a little different. What do you think?