Together We're Better

Chapter 1

A/N: I know that almost all the TIH-fics here are similar to this one, but this is my first fic and I needed to start with something simple. I'm not very good at writing long texts, so the chapters of this fic will be quite short. As of yet I'm not sure of how many chapters there will be, but so far I have three chapters already written. I appreciate constructive criticism, but flamers are asked to keep their distance. I did not have a beta for this story, so all grammatical and spelling errors are my own, and as I said I haven't posted anything before so there might be some strange formatting on the text.

Priestly sighed as he let himself down on the couch of his small apartment. Though pleased with himself for getting Fuzzy22, or Jeff as it turned out, and Jen together at last, it brought up the issue of Tish's and his relationship, or rather lack thereof. He'd always had a thing for her, even from the first day she walked in to the "The Beach City Grill", but she'd never seemed to notice him. Of course she would laugh at his jokes or at his antics, but whenever a muscular, tanned surfer would enter the shop, Priestly just seemed to disappear.

It pained him to see her flirt with all the lowlifes that saw fit to walk in to their small sub shop. See her working her way through the male population of Santa Cruz at an alarming rate, self-respect seemingly forgotten. He'd always worried that one day her man-eating ways would get her in to trouble, that one day one of those oh so good looking surfers would overstep his boundaries. Of course that had now happened – with Brad.

When she had showed up for work with a cut above her eye and weak explanations about falling, it was all he could do not to do something drastic then and there. He was usually a very sensible person, almost never resolving to violence, but when he witnessed Brad threatening Tish all semblance of sense left him. He just couldn't stand there and watch him abuse and threaten her.

When he'd asked her why she never went out with a nice guy, she'd answered that no nice guy had ever asked her. Priestly had always considered himself a fairly nice guy – Why couldn't she see him? He snorted at that thought. Of course she hadn't seen him, he hadn't let anyone see the real him in a long time. Even his appearance confirmed this, hiding himself behind the loud slogans on his t-shirts and the glaring colours of his hair. He wore them like a warning sign for everyone not to get too close.

His appearance would be easy to fix, the deeper part of the issue, however, not so much. He would always make jokes so that no one would look at him to closely. Whenever the subject of him would come up in a conversation, he'd always deflect it, steering the conversation over to some safer subject. When he was a kid, he'd always get picked at. Being a boy, small for his age, slightly feminine in appearance with his full lips and long lashes, in an all-boys school – wasn't easy. That was when he'd found that making jokes and acting like a clown, gave him the power to control what they laughed at. When he'd gotten older he'd found solace in loud music and the look that went with it. It proved to be just as effective at keeping bullies at bay as jokes, and it also irritated his mother – which was always a benefit.

Lying on the couch pondering his life at the current moment, Priestly realised that maybe it was time for some changes. He'd been hiding for way too long, and if he was going to go after Tish she deserved to get the real him, not some facade created by an insecure teenager many years earlier. After all, the comment on how no nice guy had ever asked her out could be seen as encouragement for him to step up and ask her out. God knows she deserved it, deserved someone that would show her real love and care, not based on her looks, but based on the amazing person that is Tish.