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Only Human

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Tara wonders about her humanity.

In the literal, that's a settled question - there is no demon in her. But she thinks she ought to feel something more than she does, here and now - at the edge of death and life and unspeakable things. It's wrong. It's what they agreed to. She should feel something about that.

A desperate urgency, for Dawn's sake - the need to protect. Something for Giles that is almost fear. He stands at an edge; they all do.

That edge has gone slippery under her feet, the uncrossable lines all blurred.

It would be easy to blame violence and death and deft fingers crawling in her mind, shredding the fabric of her understanding. It was dark and cold and crawling there, and part of her - part of her thinks it's still there. That awful place grew legs and claws and soft paws, and it creeps silently around corners now, behind her always, in the bathroom mirror, the darkened curtains, her reflection in the kitchen window when she can't sleep anymore and needs an excuse. I just wanted a glass of water. Go back to bed, I'll be right there. She smiles, shakily; the water tastes like ashes, her reflection warped and wavering.

They're about to throw that door wide open. A part of her is coldly, dispassionately aware that they're about to do the very thing they fought, that Buffy died to stop. She knows Willow imagines surgical precision, but down in her gut, Tara knows better - they're going to rend and tear and thrust a hand into the wound they've made, grabbing blindly.

There is the chance, the good chance, that they could let all the nightmares in. She thinks she is maybe the only one who's had the thought, which makes it her place to speak - her place to draw the line.
To say, no. We cannot do this thing. It's wrong, wrong.

She doesn't say it, and it is a very conscious choice, completely calm and peaceful in its utter illogic.

She should feel something about that. Now, this would be a reasonable time to be afraid.

Tara isn't afraid. She watches her lover move about the room, tense, almost frantic, desperate in these last moments before the time will be upon them - all she can think is you found me. You'll always find me.

This is a thing beyond loyalty, beyond love, beyond reason - this is the thing they agreed to do. She watches red hair, flushed skin, pale lip caught between teeth. She can't reget. She can't question. Willow needs to do this - not wants, needs. Somewhere between soft kisses and madness, Willow has become the one law of her dark and tilting universe.

There is the first trickle of doubt, the bitter taste of self-hatred at the back of her tongue. This is wrong. But she swallows it down - it's not unfamiliar. There is demon in the women of her family.