Prologue: High School Secrets

Tara Maclay. The name brought a sense of awe to everyone in Sunnydale High. Everyone knew who she was, and she was everyone's dream girl in one way or another. Most people wanted to be her, and others wanted to be with her.

With her dark blonde hair and sky blue eyes, she was the essence of beauty. None were immune to her lopsided smile, and all fell for her charms.

But underneath all that beauty, an insecure girl with a heart of gold lay hidden, waiting for the chance to share her secret with the world without fear of being shunned. She knew many people would turn away from her. She had seen it happen to others and was terrified of it happening to her. Now Tara hid her true face from the world, letting the people around her see the mask that she had created to cover up her terrifying secret.

Unfortunately the secret was becoming harder and harder to hide. She had recently started to notice other girls around her and would have to force her gaze away from them before someone else noticed that she was staring at them. One girl who stole Tara's breath every time she saw her was a bright green eyed goddess with reddish- brown hair that fell to the small of her back and a very shy smile.

Though she knew that the girl was unpopular, Tara couldn't help but think that the girl was so adorable in her plaid dress and tights that she wore for a long time in sophomore year and then the fuzzy sweaters that replaced it when they were in their junior year of high school.

Now that they were in their senior year, Tara was doing what she could to learn the girl's name. She wanted to know who the fiery goddess who had captivated her for so long was. However, every time she'd ask someone who the reddish-brown haired beauty was, they'd look at her like she was insane and asked why she cared or just told her that the girl was 'just some loser'.

With graduation quickly approaching, Tara knew she was losing her chance to find out the girl's name. She couldn't approach her. The girl would rush off anytime someone from the popular crowd made their way to her. Tara wasn't surprised after seeing the way Cordelia Chase always treated her.

She tried to ask the girl's friend, Xander Harris, but he kept staring at her and couldn't seem to form words. After a while, she gave up on asking around and started looking through her yearbooks she had, only to notice the girl was one of the many people who's photos were missing from the yearbook. She knew a lot of people would hide out during the school photos, but was disappointed that she couldn't find her crush's face in any of the previous years.

With only a few days to graduation, Tara decided to try one more time and approach the shy girl. As she made her way to Willow's usual spot for lunch, she smiled when she noticed the girl was captured by the book she was reading.

"Hey," Tara said, smiling her famous smile at the redhead as her head jerked up to look at her.

"Do you want me to move?" Willow asked, starting to pack up her stuff.

"No. No. I just wanted to talk. We've never talked before," Tara explained, starting to sit next to Willow and was surprised when the girl jumped to her feet.

"Why? Is this a joke? Did Cordelia send you over to mess with me? Let me guess, this is another game of mess-with-the-Dyke?" Willow said, feeling angry and hurt at the same time.

"It's not a joke. I actually wanted to talk to you. I've seen you a lot since I moved here sophomore year, but I never knew your name. I wanted to learn it before we graduated," Tara admitted, smiling shyly at the flustered redhead.

"Oh, um...I'm-"

"Is this loser bothering you?" Cordelia asked, causing Willow to flinch and drop her head.

"Cordy, hi. No I was just talking to her," Tara said, hoping to keep Cordelia from attacking Willow.

"Whatever. Listen, we're going to the Bronze tonight. You in?" Cordelia questioned, not noticing as Willow quickly and cautiously disappeared from the presence of the two girls.

"Yeah. I'm in," Tara told her, frowning as she noticed Willow had left. She knew she had lost her one chance to talk to the shy girl.

A/N: Thank you Gimpy72 and Matash21 for all the help with this story. It wouldn't even exist without both of your help.