It wasn't like they'd talked about marriage. Faith was never one to bring up commitment (partly because she was still in shock, half convinced this was all a dream and there's no way this amazing girl could love her) and for some reason, Tara hadn't mentioned it either. She supposed it was maybe because she—like Faith—had just sort of assumed they were committed to one another. This wasn't a 'get some and get gone' deal for Faith. But she hadn't realised how much she didn't want to 'get gone' until this very moment, staring at the wedding bands shining proudly in their display case.
They hadn't meant to come into this store, really. Tara was in search of a magic shop, and had gotten distracted by the rose quartz necklace in the window of the jewellery store. Because of this, she'd wandered in, intrigued, and because her hand was entwined in Faith's, the other brunette had no choice but to follow. Not that she minded, of course.
So they'd strolled in, hand in hand, and the shopkeeper had immediately rushed over to see if they needed anything. Faith had her death glare at the ready, in case the lady was going to discriminate, but the older woman did nothing but fuss over them, making small talk with Tara like it was the easiest thing in the world.
Faith had tuned out, mostly because jewellery wasn't her thing, but then they'd been ushered over to a little cabinet that had more rose quartz jewellery, and she'd started paying more attention. Not to the pretty stones—though she had perked up when they'd mentioned it was the stone of unconditional love—but there were a pair of wedding bands on the shelf underneath them that instantly caught her eye.
Which brings her back to the no commitment thing. She hasn't though about it much before now, mostly because it's all been assumed, in her mind, but these seem beyond perfect. They're nestled into each other perfectly, the edges designed like puzzle pieces, perfectly aligned with one another. On the golden ring, there's a sun engraved, with spiralling rays that encompass at least half of the entire outside surface, from what she can see. The second ring is silver, and it's got what looks to be a moon engraved in the very centre, with stars surrounding it. Simple, smooth, elegant. And they just fit perfectly. Faith looks down at her hand in Tara's, completely oblivious to the conversation her girlfriend is having (which appears to be very deep now. She's heard the words "unconditional" and "healing" and "spells" mentioned at least twice). Tara's smooth fingers interlace with her calloused ones, rough from years of slaying and fighting. It's perfect.
That night, Tara climbs into bed with her new necklace still hanging around her neck. She fits her body easily against Faith's, and the slayer can't help but finger the chain gently, letting it slip through her fingers. Unconditional love, right? That's what the woman had said. And that was the reason Faith had bought the necklace and hung it around Tara's neck so proudly. An image of the rings she'd seen dances in her mind's eye, and she draws in a breath. God, why are emotions so difficult to talk about?
"Unconditional," Faith says quietly into the dark room, knowing by Tara's breathing that she's not asleep yet. "That's forever, right?"
"No conditions," Tara kisses the column of Faith's neck gently. "So yeah, forever."
Forever. Marriage is like a forever thing, right? To Faith, that necklace is enough. It's enough to know that the girl she loves accepted a token of her unconditional love. Her symbol of forever. But god, those rings.
"I love you," Faith murmurs quietly. "Forever."
"Forever," Tara repeats, sleepily tilting her head up for a kiss. Faith obliges, pressing her lips to Tara's soft ones, relishing in the feeling of comfort that settles in her chest. Forever. That's enough of a commitment, right?
It's four days before Faith can find the time to go back to the jewellery store. She prays the whole way there that no one else has had the same idea as she did, even going so far as to cross her fingers. Under normal circumstances, she'd laugh at herself. But this isn't normal. This is Tara.
She enters the shop, the little bell jingling merrily above her head. Instantly, she makes a beeline for the cabinet she'd seen the rings in, only to get there and discover they're gone. Spinning on her heel, she finds herself face to face with the same shopkeeper that had spoken to Tara that first day.
"Can I help you?"
"There were rings here," Faith points at the cabinet for emphasis. "Moon and sun. Where'd they go?"
"Come with me," the older woman smiles knowingly, gesturing that Faith should follow her. The brunette does so warily, and they end up at a counter. Faith rests her elbows impatiently against the glass while the woman—Emmy, Faith notices, after reading her name tag—rummages around behind the counter.
"Here," Emmy lays a small velvet cloth on the counter, unfolding it to reveal the rings. Against the black material, they look ethereal. Magical. So very them.
"I'll take them," Faith says without hesitation, already pulling out her wallet.
"I thought you might." Emmy's eyes crinkle at the corners when she grins. "Let me ring them up for you."
After Faith's paid for the rings, a thought occurs to her.
"Why were they back there?" She nods towards the cupboard Emmy had pulled the rings from.
The shopkeeper shrugs. "Thought you might be back for them. I figured I should keep them safe for you."
"How'd you know?" Her tone is heavy with disbelief and shock. She hadn't even known she was coming back.
"A little birdie told me," is all Emmy says, then gives Faith another soft smile. "Go give your sunshine her gift."
Faith heads out of the store, still confused.
She doesn't gather up the courage to put her plan into action until a month later, after a late-night conversation with Angel. Normally, she wouldn't have spilled the beans, but she's totally lost. She's never really thought about it, let alone planned it out. Eventually she decides against any grand gesture (it's just not them) and so that's how she ends up on one knee in their dining room, the dinner she'd prepared only half eaten. She had planned to wait, but it was killing her.
"Tara," she begins, faltering a little. Words and emotions haven't ever come easily to her, but fuck she's going to try. "Will you be my wife?" She presents the beautiful golden sun ring on its bed of velvet, her gaze riveted to Tara's eyes. They're welling up, and she's hoping that's a good thing. "Forever?"
Tara lets out a sound that could be a laugh or a sob—Faith's not sure—but then flashes the brunette the biggest, sunniest, most lopsided grin that Faith's ever seen.
"Yes, sweetie." She slips out of her chair to throw her arms around Faith's neck, and now they're both kneeling on the floor. Faith twists her head to capture Tara's lips in a kiss, and it's a little salty from Tara's tears and a little messy but from their angle, but she wouldn't change a millisecond of it.
When they break apart, Faith presents the ring again, and lifts it from the box with slightly shaking fingers. Internally cursing herself, she manages not to drop it as she takes Tara's left hand and slips it onto the appropriate finger.
"The edge is all wonky," Tara's voice is a little choked up, and Faith can't blame her. Hell, if she tried to speak right now, she'd probably just dissolve into tears. Because of that, she doesn't answer Tara with words, instead reaching into her pocket and pulling out her own silver ring and showing it to her girlfriend. No, fiancée.
"They match," the awe is evident in Tara's voice, and she takes her ring off and fits it to Faith's. The puzzle piece edges slip into place with ease, and both women stare at it for a second, entranced. Tara breaks the spell first, taking her ring back and sliding it onto her finger like she's been doing it for years. Then she takes the ring from Faith's fingers, and places it right where it's supposed to be. Faith feels her own throat closing up, and swallows hard in an attempt to get herself under control. Since Tara's hand is still holding hers, she links their fingers easily, the rings bumping with a soft metallic clink. The sound warms Faith from the inside out like nothing she's ever felt before. They're engaged. To be married. Forever.
God, that word has never sounded so good.