Always The Good One
by Kaite

As your fingers move amongst the ingredients, you tell yourself that what you're doing is right, it's what she wants even if she doesn't know it yet. You're telling yourself that she'll never know, and kidding yourself that she wouldn't mind if she did. And it has to be right because, you see, you're the good one. Always, even when Buffy went all crazy and self-destructive, even when Xander screwed Faith (because with Faith it would always be screwing, never making love), even though Anya's an ex-demon and Dawn's a klepto, you're the good one. Buffy's big gun, the boss of everyone as appointed by Xander. Besides, you love Tara and Tara loves you. Love isn't a crime, haven't you and she gone on countless marches and rallies, shouting that same slogan over and over again? So this spell is a good thing, it's good magick. The sheet of parchment lies on the desk, and you sit down in Tara's antique leather chair that you two found in a flea market one day. You saw it first, but before you could say anything she crossed over to it, all happy and excited and you didn't have the heart to tell her that you wanted it for yourself. She left it behind, so she couldn't have wanted it as badly as you did. It creaks underneath you as you lean forward, dipping the raven feather quill in what is might be dark red ink, because anything else you could have but in there would be too icky to contemplate. The name you put on the paper in long, confident strokes, has been emblazoned on your brain since the first day you met. Tara Maclay, Tara Maclay, Tara Maclay. You decorate the parchment with old Norse runes; wynn, ken, geofu, beorc; and some of darker, more ancient origin. Once you and she would be doing this together, mixing potions and making magick, back when she told you you were special, back when she told you she was yours. Sitting buddha-like, even though you're Jewish, in the centre of the pentagram, and floated the rose together, looking at the girl opposite you and wondering what it would be like...and then you did, and it was so good...

The morning after the spell, you wake early and lie in your tangled sheets alone. This is one of the worst times, when Tara should be holding you, cuddling you, as you drift in and out of sleep. Your back feels cold where the warmth of her body should be. Every night as the world falls away, you think that maybe, just maybe, tonight will be the night that she returns to you. She will slip in, silent and unnoticed, as one day bleeds into the next, and you will wake awash in the light of her gaze. But she never comes and it never gets easier to fall asleep without her. You lie awake all night, waiting for her step on the stairs, and shift restlessly in your too-big bed. At some point, you aren't sure when, your mind starts to imagine what your heart wants to hear. Her soft tread outside your door, its muted creak. Her voice whispering all the old endearments into your ears. And then a feather-light touch on your skin, warm fingertips travelling a route they have gone down so many times before. You arch into her arms and feel empty air against your naked breasts, but you will yourself to believe that she lies there somewhere in the warm darkness of the room you used to share.

But she never comes. She never comes and you wonder why. Why the magick that has kept you alive for so long is failing you now. Failing you, giving up on you, turning its back, just like she did. The gods you pray to till your voice turns hoarse do not listen anymore. You've practised for years, surpassed Jenny Calandar, surpassed even Tara, surpassed yourself, but still they do not listen. You summon up your power to the last dregs. You will make them hear. You know you're good enough, you've done it before when Buffy left and made that gaping hole that's never really been filled, even after she came back. Oh yes, you're good. And isn't that enough? But it can't be, can it, if Tara left you again. She did it once before, tired of the lies and illusion, tired of the magick coursing through your veins and making you ache in ways she never could. She left you then, but you were good, so good, and she came back. One blessed night in her arms that sent you both to heaven. One night. All those weeks of trying so hard, so many `insert number of magick- free days here', so good. And all it got you was a blood-stained shirts and the lifeless body of your lover. Tara knew how hard you tried. Tara would want this, would want you to be happy. Would know that, in the end, being good is sometimes not enough.


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