Tara stands on the front porch watering the mint, her long grey braid hanging over her shoulder, swaying in the morning breeze. She's okay with the grey, she says; ready for cronehood. Tendons show in her wrist as she holds the watering can just so, graceful tilt of the spout pouring out the water, fragile pulse pounding in the blue veins behind. Willow's hair is still fiery; Willow's skin is still smooth. Tara stopped asking about the Mohra blood years ago, which is both a relief and a reproach. Sunlight illumines the veins of the mint leaves, the veins in Tara's wrist. Tara smiles; Tara asks how she is doing, who she is with. Willow, sitting in the shadows, nursing oatstraw tea and wishing it were blood, says Fine, and doesn't say Not you.
Soulmates. It's one of those terms Willow cuddled to her bosom through high school, and then rejected with self-conscious disdain in her sophomore year of college. Too woo-woo crunchy-granola for a hip chick like her. So first-wave. Of course, it took on a whole new meaning once she became a vampire.
She owes Tara her soul, and she never forgets it. Sometimes she loves her for it. Sometimes, when the guilt kicks in (and when does it not?) not so much. Made worse, maybe, by the knowledge that her worst crimes were committed well before she lost it. There's a fantasy she never tells anyone (not Buffy, because she would be horrified, and not Spike, because he wouldn't be): On some long bright sleepless noons, she lies awake and thinks about the might-have-beens. If the Ritual had failed. If the Orb had cracked and shattered, spilling the remnants of her soul to the four winds instead of delivering them postage due to Willow Rosenberg, do not pass Go, do not collect a get-out-of-guilt-free card. If she'd walked across that bedroom unopposed, and delivered to her lover the last, best kiss of her life.
Tara, she's pretty sure, would have made a kick-ass vampire.
It's never too late for the Mohra blood, she knows. It's not like she has a lot of company in the Good(ish) Vampires Club these days - Angel's human, Wesley's dust, and Sam Lawson and Evie Maldonado have long since followed Spike down the dangerous path he'd blazed all those years ago. An undead witch can never tap the full might of the living planet the way Tara can (the way she could, once, and oh, so much better), but she's rocking the vampire-with-a-soul gig these days and she could take down a Mohra demon if she had to. She wouldn't even have to do it herself. Buffy and Spike would come out of retirement in a hot second and pay her for the privilege. And it's not like it has the risks for her that it would for a soulless vampire. She'd just end up safely human again.
Except for her, being human had never been exactly safe, had it?
Everyone thinks the attraction of being a vampire is power. Sometimes, it's just the opposite.