Disclaimer: The Buffyverse belongs to Joss, especially the bits of dialogue lifted from “Tabula Rasa.”
A/N: Written for WhichWillow 2008 on LiveJournal for the prompt "What if Tara really was a demon? What does that mean for her and Willow's relationship?" Huge thanks to my lovely beta, ubiquirk.
Willow slid under the covers and snuggled up to Tara. At least, she tried to, but Tara held herself stiffly, as if she were getting ready to bolt out of the bed.
A pounce and pinpricks of wee claws announced Miss Kitty’s arrival.
“Hey,” Willow said softly. “What did my poor foot ever do to you?”
Tara’s answering chuckle was the most welcome sound Willow had heard all night, but it cut off entirely too soon.
Willow held her foot still, and Miss Kitty finally decided its threat had been neutralized and walked up along the ridge of her leg before leaping gracefully over to Tara’s belly.
Tara stayed perfectly still, not scooping the kitten up, not scritching her ears, not even uttering a playful, “Oof, you got me!” Instead, she stared intently as Miss Kitty kneaded her soft landing spot, occasionally sniffing the sheet before finally curling herself into a ball and closing her eyes with a contented purr.
“See? Miss Kitty doesn’t think you’re any different either.” And she doesn’t want you to leave. Not now, not ever, and especially not because you don’t understand how amazing you are, half-demon and all.
“Maybe she can’t smell the demon through the sheet.” Tara’s voice was flat.
Willow gently swept a lock of hair away from Tara’s eyes. “Or maybe she doesn’t care.”
“Then she’s a very foolish kitty.” Tara sighed. “I thought she was smarter than that.”
“She is. She’s a very smart kitty.” Willow let the backs of her fingers trace lightly over Tara’s cheek. “And you should give her credit for being able to decide for herself.”
Finally, Tara turned her head and looked into Willow’s eyes, the pain in her own deep enough to drown in.
“It’s not like being with a werewolf, Will. The demon’s always there.”
“The wolf was always there too,” Willow pointed out.
“Well … and … see?”
“We didn’t break up because of the wolf. We broke up because he slept with that bitch Veruca and ran away.” Of course, that had more than a little to do with the wolf, but that was so not the point and really not what Tara needed to hear right now.
“You saw what I did when Spike tried to hit me.”
Willow grinned, her desperate fear retreating at the memory. “You should’ve seen the look on his face! That was cool.”
“You should’ve seen the look on your
face. That wasn’t.” Tara’s voice was flat again.
Tara rolled onto her side to face the wall, and Miss Kitty jumped back over to Willow, meowing her displeasure at the loss of her resting spot.
“That was just …”
“Shock? Disgust? Horror?”
“… surprise.” Willow stroked Tara’s hair. “I’m used to your hair being like this, not all Medusa-y.” Her hand returned to Tara’s cheek. “And the blue skin was a little unexpected, even without the orange stripes.”
“That’s why I cast the spell. I didn’t want you to see me like that.” Tara’s eyes glistened. “I’m sorry.”
“Shh.” Willow pulled her close, the movement causing Miss Kitty to give up trying to sleep on either of them, hopping off Willow’s side and onto the bed.
After a minute, Willow spoke again. “You know what would’ve worked even better? Telling me.”
Tara shook in her arms.
“I love you, silly.” Willow kissed the top of her head and nuzzled her hair. “Snakes and all.”
Tara gave a watery giggle and turned in Willow’s arms to face her.
An idea forming, Willow added, “They won’t bite me, right?”
Tara pulled back and looked at her in horror. “Never!”
“Then … can you change? So I can … get used to them?”
“I don’t know if I can do it on purpose.” Tara closed her eyes and looked like she was concentrating very hard. Her skin turned a little blue, but Willow thought that might be because she was holding her breath.
“It’s okay, baby.” Willow kissed her forehead.
When she pulled back, Willow bumped into Miss Kitty, who gave a rough lick to her forehead before nosing between both their faces, folding her legs under her and purring loudly.
Willow lifted her head to see Tara over Miss Kitty’s back. Tara, it seemed, had had the same idea.
“Do you think she’s trying to tell us something?” Tara asked with a grin.
“I think she thinks we’re paying too much attention to unimportant things like you being part demon and not enough attention to her.”
Tara’s smile faded. “It’s not unimportant.”
“Everything about you is important to me, baby.” Willow propped herself up on her elbow since her neck was getting a crick in it. “But this isn’t any more
She could tell from the look in her eyes that Tara didn’t quite believe that, but they both lay back down, dropped the subject, and eventually fell asleep.~0~
“It’s not like I’m evil or anything!” Willow ran her fingers through her hair, pacing her corner of the living room.Why does everything keep falling apart? Why can’t I fix it?
“I didn’t say you were.” Tara stood completely still in the doorway, looking for all the world like a Goddess carved in marble. “But you’re using too much magic, and you’re not taking any respons—”
“Responsibility? How much more responsibility am I supposed to take, Tara?” Willow crossed her arms over her chest. “That’s all I’m trying
to do is be responsible. Bringing Buffy back wasn’t … It didn’t go the way we thought, so I need to fix it.”
“Like you fixed me?”
Willow didn’t know what to make of the way the sparks of rage in Tara’s eyes clashed with her words.Does she really believe I think she needs fixing?
“What? No! I just didn’t want us to fight anymore.”
“If you don’t want to fight, you don’t fight. You don’t just do a spell to make the fight go away.”
Miss Kitty poked her nose around the corner, then sauntered over to Tara and started making figure eights around her ankles.
Willow smiled. Kitty cuddles would calm Tara down so that she’d listen. Then she’d understand. She’d see that Willow was only trying to make things better for both of them.
That’s when she noticed the tears standing in Tara’s eyes.
“I don’t think this is going to work.”
The words didn’t make sense.
“What? No! It’s working. It’ll work. I can … I can do better. Tara, I need you.” Panic like she’d never felt before flooded Willow’s chest. This is bad. Badder than bad. How do I fix this? How do I even get her to give me enough time to fix it?
“I won’t do any magic for … for a month. You’ll see. Please let me prove it to you.”
Tara shook her head, tears spilling down her cheeks.
Miss Kitty left off her figure eights and hopped onto a chair, looking back and forth between her two humans. Willow wanted to tell her it was okay, Mommies weren’t breaking up. But she couldn’t say anything because Tara was still shaking her head.
“You won’t even give me a chance? Tara, when I found out you were part-demon, I didn’t bat an eye. Or, well, there may have been eye-batting at first … because … with the surprise and everything. But I didn’t leave you!”
Tara looked like she’d been punched in the stomach. “And now you’re going to throw that back in my face?”
“No!” Willow reconsidered. “Well, maybe a little. You said I use magic without looking for other options, but when things go wrong, you get ready to leave! You were going to leave then, and you sound like you’re going to leave now.”
“That was different.”
“Then, I was afraid you couldn’t really love me, once you knew what I am. But you did.” Tara shook her head and dashed the tears from her cheeks. “And that was … that was wonderful. But this isn’t about what you are. It’s about what you’re choosing to do.”
“Well … well, what if it is what I am? Huh? I’m a witch. I use magic. You do too. And now that’s wrong?” Willow felt her own eyes starting to fill. “Now that makes you want to leave me?”
“You know what you’re doing is wrong. That’s why you’re lying to me about not doing magic.”
“I’m not!” How could she know?
“You’re good at a lot of things, Will. Lying isn’t one of them.” Tara shrugged. “Maybe it’s the demon thing after all. Maybe I wouldn’t hear the difference in your voice or … or smell it when you lie. I just never thought you’d lie to me.” She turned away. “I’ll pack my things.”
“No, Tara, wait!” Willow sent a thickening spell to the air in front of her. She has to stay long enough to listen!
A blue and orange hand flicked away the spell, and Tara whirled, her head full of snakes writhing and hissing.
“Enough!” Tara shifted back to her human appearance slowly, as if she had a hard time convincing herself she wasn’t really under attack. Even when she’d almost finished, one lock of hair remained in serpent form, eyeing Willow carefully. “If I had any doubt I was making the right decision, you’ve just convinced me.”
“Don’t!” Tara spun back away again, and Miss Kitty leaped down from her chair to follow her upstairs.
Sinking down onto the rug and burying her head in her hands, Willow fought back the sobs that tried to rip their way out of her chest as she desperately tried to figure out what to do now.~0~
She leaned heavily against Xander, not wanting to go back into the house.
“It’s just to get some of your things,” he said. “We don’t know how long you’ll be gone, and I don’t think Giles is up for being your personal shopper.”
Willow didn’t really think that was going to be an issue. Wherever he was taking her, they probably had some kind of uniform. Did Wiccan prisons use orange jumpsuits? She considered asking Xander to grab her one really nice dress, in case it wasn’t prison she was going to, but decided that would probably just upset him. More.
He opened the front door, and the stairs stretched out longer and steeper than they ever had before.
“I can’t go up there,” she managed to say. “I just … I can’t.”
Xander gave her a squeeze and steered her over to the couch. “It’s okay. You stay here, and I’ll just grab a few things.”
Willow sank into the cushions, her eyes fixed on the floor. The floor was safe. If she was staring at the floor, she didn’t have to look at the TV they used to watch together or the ring on the coffee table from Tara’s mug or … Floor. Floor safe.
But she couldn’t help looking up at least to couch level when she felt a furry head nudge at her hand and heard the muffled meow that followed.
She stroked her hand gently along Miss Kitty Fantastico’s back, all the way to the tip of her tail, just the way she liked. Instead of a purr, however, this was greeted with another meow.
“You miss her too, don’t you?” Willow asked softly. “She was only back for a day, and you miss her already too.”
Unbidden, the image of Tara’s bloodied body flashed before her eyes. She hadn’t changed. There hadn’t been time. That was the worst of it. If she’d known she was in danger, she might have been able to do … something demony. They still hadn’t worked out the extent of her powers. But she never even had a chance.
“I’m sorry, honey. She’s not coming back. And I’m not sure if I am either.”
Another plaintive meow.
She turned and looked to the entryway. Giles was badly bruised, his forehead still bleeding lightly.
“I’m so sorry,” she said.
“We have to leave soon if we’re to make our plane,” was all he said in reply.
As if on cue, Xander came down the stairs holding a well-stuffed backpack, which he handed off to Giles.
Giles merely nodded and held the door open.
“Hold up, you. You’re not going out,” Xander said, scooping up Miss Kitty. He was the last one out, placing the loudly protesting cat gently inside just before closing the door. “So, airport?”
Willow followed, not looking back to see Miss Kitty where she knew she would be, perched in the window watching.
“A very foolish kitty,” she murmured.
“What, Will?” Xander asked as he opened the car door for her.
“Nothing.” She slid into her seat and fastened the safety belt. “Nothing at all.”