DISCLAIMER: Joss owns the canon.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: More poignant-angsty vignettes from Tara's past. A companion piece to my fic 'Notions.'
Five year old Tara McClay tiptoed down the hallway, treading softly past the living room. Daddy was asleep in his rocker, and Donny was busy stomping ants into the tile floor with his GI Joes. Poor ants, Tara thought. All they wanted was to go about their lives doing ant-y things, and there came Donny, smashing them all to bits.
Tara winced a bit as Donny claimed his next insect victim. Her eyes wide and solemn, she crept down the hallway and into the bathroom. She shut the door firmly behind her, but she could still hear Donny yelling as he pulverized the ants, one by one.
"They never did anything to you, Donny," Tara said softly, a sad note in her voice. She climbed up on the counter and sat cross-legged on it, glancing up at the mirror and speaking to it the way she never could speak to Donny. Or Daddy. Or anyone, except sometimes her doll Isis, only now Isis didn't have a head anymore, because Donny's GI Joes had gotten to it just like they were getting to the ants. "Why can't you be nice?" Tara scolded Donny in absentia, staring at her own reflection.
"Everyone should be nice," Tara continued solemnly. "Because then, everyone would be somebody."
Even me, the little girl thought silently. Even me.
The sound of the door opening had Tara jumping out of her skin. She wasn't supposed to sit on the counter. She wasn't supposed to sit cross-legged at all, because girls wore skirts and only bad girls showed their legs like that when they were sitting down. Tara wasn't supposed to be one of those girls. She was supposed to be a little lady who knew the meaning of the word respect.
Tara looked guiltily over her shoulder. "I didn't m-m-mean to…" she started immediately.
"Shhhh, baby," her momma shushed her. Without another word, her mother squeezed into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. "It's just me."
"Momma." Tara let out a sigh of relief as she said her mother's name. Then she glanced down. Had Momma heard her scolding the mirror?
Her mother came to stand behind Tara in the mirror and smoothed the little girl's flyaway light brown hair out of her face. "Everyone should be nice," she agreed with a soft grin. "But, Tara-baby, you are someone."
Momma leaned forward to touch the mirror and murmured softly under her breath. "Goddess, hear my words…"
Tara wasn't entirely sure who Momma was talking to, but since Tara spent a lot of time talking to the mirror, she figured maybe Momma did, too.
"Look," Momma said, and Tara looked into the mirror.
It sparkled all over, like glitter, and in the mirror, Tara's hair wasn't tangled and she didn't have a bug bite on her shoulder, and Momma's eye wasn't blackened and swollen. There, in the glowing mirror, mirror-Momma and mirror-Tara smiled back at them, pretty and perfect and new.
"That's you, Tara," her mother said. "That's you on the inside. See how beautiful you are?" Her mother bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of Tara's head and then looked back into the mirror. "That's my beautiful, smart, kind little girl, and you know what?"
"What, Momma?" Tara asked, completely absorbed in the magic of the moment.
"One day," her mother said, "my little girl is going to leave this place and go off somewhere and do something good for this world, because that's the kind of woman she'll be."
The image in the mirror rippled, and Tara saw a beautiful woman with solemn eyes staring back. Was that her? Really?
"Damnit, Tori," Daddy's voice tore through the air. "A man gets hungry."
Momma bent down and looked Tara in the eye. "You're as beautiful inside as you are outside," she said. "Don't let anybody tell you differently."
"Not even Donny?" Tara asked. Not even Daddy? She thought.
"Not even Donny," her mother said.
Tara stretched to give her mother a dainty kiss on the cheek. "Momma," she said.
"Yes, baby?" her mother glanced over her shoulder.
"You're beautiful inside, too," Tara said, and in that moment, she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to be the woman her mother was in the magic mirror, the woman her mother was inside.
Still angsty at times, but for those of you who requested a sweet moment, I hope this worked for you. Please let me know what you think.