The Many Faces Of Faith, Part 1
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, but I do own Sophie :)
The eight-year old Faith Lehane glared at Tara, eyes narrowed.
"Who are you?" she asked. "How do you know my name?" Before Tara had a chance to answer either of these questions, a woman burst out of the house after Faith, looking enraged and, Tara thought, quite a bit intoxicated.
"You better run, you stupid little brat!" she yelled, hurling an empty vodka bottle at the young Faith, who instantly recoiled and shielded her face, prepared for this kind of treatment. Tara pushed the child behind her with one hand, while the other instinctively moved to protect her stomach. The bottle shattered on the pavement, and a shard of glass flung up and gave Tara a cut on the side of her head.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" she yelled at the woman, whom she guessed to be Faith's mother.
"None of your business, Blondie!" Faith's mother yelled back, slamming the door and disappearing back inside. Tara, anger bubbling up inside her, was about to march right into the house and give this woman a piece of her mind, when she noticed Faith slipping around the corner at the other end of the street. She chased after her eight-year old friend.
"Faith, where are you going?"
"I'm takin' a walk" Faith replied. "It's what I always do when Mama drinks too much alcyhol, or takes her special medicine that I'm not 'sposed to touch. I can go home when she falls asleep." She looked up at Tara, crossing her arms. "You still haven't told me who you are, lady."
"Right. I'm Tara."
"You're bleedin' a bit, Tara. Well, it was nice meetin' you." Little Faith headed off down the street, but Tara continued to follow her, wiping blood from the side of her face as she went.
"Wait up, Faithy" she called. "Want some company on your walk?" Faith turned and glared at the witch.
"I don't need you lookin' after me. I don't need nobody, I can take care of myself."
"I never said you couldn't" said Tara, "But it's nice to have company sometimes, isn't it?"
"I guess" said Faith, sounding skeptical. "I'm kinda used to being by myself though." The child continued on her way, but did not object as Tara fell into step beside her. "No one really cares that much about me anyway. My Grammy used to, I think, but she died."
"When I was your age, there weren't very many people who cared much about me either" said Tara. "But now lots of people do, and one day, you're going to have a lot of people who care about you too, I promise." Faith frowned, once again skeptical. Tara decided that it was best not to push the girl too much, and so the pair slipped into a companionable silence for the rest of the walk.
"Mama's probably asleep by now" Faith said eventually. Personally, Tara thought passed out was more likely, but said nothing. "I should probably go home" the eight-year old shifted uncomfortably. "If you wanna come back with me, I could clean up that cut for you. I've had lotsa practice."
"Thank you, Faith" said Tara, trying to ignore her growing hatred toward her friend's mother. "That's very nice of you." So the pair headed back to Faith's childhood home, and after checking that her mother was indeed 'asleep', Faith led her new friend into the bathroom and set about cleaning up Tara's cut. She rinsed the wound out and dabbed it with antiseptic before placing a bandage over it.
"All done. Guess you'll be wantin' to go now, huh?"
"I do have to go" said Tara, a little reluctantly. "But that has nothing to do with you, Faith. I'd stay and hang out with you for hours if I could." For the first time, Tara saw the little girl smile.
"Really" Tara smiled back. The two of them headed back to the front door, and Tara crouched to hug her young friend. "See you round, Faithy."
"See ya round, Tara." And as Faith watched Tara head off down the sidewalk, she could have sworn she saw her friend suddenly disappear into thin air.