Written for whedonland's Newbie's First Impression Challenge.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy. No profit made, no infringement intended.
Who Are You?"
Her nerves are raw- all shy and stutter-y, so at first she doesn't think anything of the blonde's jittery aura. Then the words fall on her, sharp and cruel. She takes the time to look into those brown Buffy eyes and notices the darkness behind the perky grin.
Tara wonders who is in there as she realizes the fragmented aura is also damaged- with darkness where there should be light, violence where there should be strength.
"Where the Wild Things Are"
The real Buffy has big, genuine smiles and makes googly eyes at Riley every five seconds. Tara thinks it's sweet the way they can't seem to get enough of each other, still in awe of every detail in their new love.
She can't help wondering if she'll ever have someone to be all googly eyed with. She can't help thinking that the way Willow makes her feel like she's made of bubbles- all float-y and excited, could be the kinda friends with "girl" in front. She tries not to think of it too much, tries not to get her hopes up, but every time Willow says her name she can't help but feel like she's going to burst with joy, all those bubbles taking over.
She turns her focus back to Giles, his slightly weathered face like a book she'd treasured all her life. There is something familiar and comforting about him, like she knew every page by heart, and she'd read it over and over to feel safe, to remember a time when she believed the world was just and every story could end in happily ever after. It's not that he sugar-coats the truth in the slightest, it's just that he makes believing seem possible again.
Just being around the scoobies makes her feel safe and warm, and as she watches them tease each other, she understands why. They're a family. Not the kind you're born into, the kind you choose. And choosing to love each of their friends unconditionally makes their family all the more meaningful.
They're the kind of family that she'd want desperately if she ever let herself admit it.
Tears are rushing down her face, across her hot cheeks that burn with shame. They see her now for what she is- half demon. She's ruined everything, and now she has to give up to what she treasures most.
When she's sure that her whole world is going to come crashing down, their voices build, strong and fierce. They choose her. As family. And she chooses them. And it means everything.