Cracks In The Foundation

[AN: Some of the dialogue is taken from S7 01 and 02, 'Lessons' and 'Beneath You']



'Will you just ease up a bit?' Spike says. 'Niblet's a big girl, she can take care of herself.'

'I know, I know...' I say. 'It's just...' I manage a grin. 'Mama always said I fretted too much...'

'Yeah?' Spike says. 'Listen, she's goin' to school on the Hellmouth - be surprised if you _weren't_ worried. Place tried to kill the Slayer more times than I can count, after all. But _we_ ain't exactly in a position to do somethin' 'bout it, not just yet - and it's not like we could watch out for her, not without turnin' into a pile of blazing ashes.'

'...I know.' I say softly. 'But still...'

'Yeah.' Spike says softly. 'Yeah. I know.'

And I want to say: I wanted to _be_ there with Dawnie, I wanted to see her off, hug her before she went, I wanted to tell her she's not alone, that she's ready for this, and I can't...

'Come on, Ziggy,' I tell the kitten, hunkering down. 'Come here, come to Mommy... _there's_ a good girl...'

Ziggy pads over to me, and I take her in my arms, standing up.

'There you go,' I tell her. 'There you go...'

Which is right about when Anya teleports in.

'Tara. Spike. You're here. Good.' she says.

'And "hello" to you, too.' Spike mutters.

'They know.' Anya says.

I blink. 'Who knows?'

'The Order,' Anya says, taking a seat on the slab. 'They think I've been going soft on people. "Anya's not hard enough", "Anya's not tough enough", "Anya's not delivering" - they've even started calling me Ms. Soft-Serve!'

At that, I get a sudden flash of Anya working in an ice cream parlour, in a '50s waitress outfit, and just as quickly shut it away again.

'Oh.' I say. 'Um... so are they going to do anything?'

Anya snorts. 'Of course they are. I'm going to be getting a demonic pink slip and a gold watch for a thousand years of service.'

'They actually do that?'

'Of course not.' Anya says. 'I was being ironic. No, I got this from Halfie.' She waves her hand dismissively. 'She was telling me to buck up, get my vengeance on, get back into the groove - this is a bad time to be good, apparently.'

'Safe there, then.' Spike observes.

'Souled vampire.' Anya says. 'Souled vampire with Tara's soul. Do I need to go on?'

'Why?' I ask. 'What's going on?'

Anya _blinks_. 'You haven't felt it?'

'Felt what?'

'Something's rising.' Anya says. 'Something older than the old ones, the old demons, rising from below. Everyone's on edge - well, apart from you, apparently.'

'What is it?' I ask. 'What's coming?'

'I don't know.' Anya says. 'Just-'




something in the earth

oh god the earth has teeth

teeth in the darkness

from beneath you it devours


'TARA!' Spike yells.

I stagger, nearly dropping Ziggy on the slab, trying to get a grip, trying for a hold.

'...God...' I whisper. 'God... my god... what...'

'What?' Spike demands. 'What /was/ that?'

'Let her calm down, okay?' Anya snaps. 'Let her calm down, and _then_ she'll tell you.'

I don't reply, still trying to pull myself together, trying to focus on the still point, Ziggy fussing and hissing in my arms.

It takes a few minutes before I'm able to stand again.

'What happened?' Spike says.

'...The earth...' I whisper. 'The earth - I felt the earth, I saw it, I saw its teeth...'

'Its _teeth?_' Spike demands.

'...The Hellmouth.' Anya breathes.

'...I... I don't know...' I manage to say. 'It's... it's going to open... it wants to feed...'

'...Oh, bloody _brilliant!_' Spike snarls. 'That's _all_ we fucking need! Another sodding Apocalypse!'

Anya shudders.

'...The Hellmouth.' I whisper. 'Oh God, _Dawnie!_'

Anya and Spike's heads snap round.

Spike's eyes are wide. '...Niblet! Oh, bloody bleedin' hell! We're _idiots_, the both of us, we are such sodding *idiots*-'

'What?!' Anya demands. 'What is it?'

'The Hellmouth...' I say. 'The high school's built above the Hellmouth.

'And Dawn's there.'

'What kind of idiot would build a high school over the Hellmouth?' Anya demands.

'The kind of idiot who left you at the altar.' Spike tells her.

'...*Xander?*' Anya squawks. 'All right, that's it! He's gone too far this time! If he thinks he can just up and build a high school on the Hellmouth- '

'...You don't have time.' I tell her. 'Get over to the high school, find out what just happened, what's going on, and see what you can do.'

'...Are you out of your undead _mind_?' Anya snaps. 'If the Hellmouth's suddenly developed teeth, _I'm_ certainly not going anywhere near it.'

'Please, Anya. If something's happened, we have to know, and we can't exactly check it out ourselves.'

Finally, Anya nods. '...All right.'

And dematerialises.

'...Wonderful.' Spike mutters. 'The minute we get back into town, *bang*, imminent Apocalypse. And you just _know_ we're gonna end up being a big part of it, 'cause the way we are, you know it's gotta be for /something/ big.'

I shudder at the thought.

I felt the earth, the darkness within...

...and I felt its teeth, waiting, waiting for the chance to open, to devour us...

It's big, I want to tell him. It's bigger than you can imagine, big enough to swallow us all without even blinking.

And I don't know if we're going to survive it.


It's not more than half an hour before Anya returns.

'You were right.' she says without preamble. 'Someone planted a talisman to call up manifest spirits. Fortunately, it's been disposed of.'

Spike's expression darkens. 'Warning shot. Gotta be. Letting us know Big Bad's out there.'

'Did... did everyone get out okay?'

Anya nods. 'Yes. Perhaps a few extra bumps and bruises, but if you're living on a Hellmouth, that's getting away easily.'

I let out a sigh of relief.

'Know who planted it?' Spike asks.

Anya shakes her head. 'No. However, Dawn's managed to make friends with two deviant students, and Buffy's been hired as school counsellor.'

I *blink*.

Spike chuckles grimly. 'Platelet always did have somethin' for the bad boys. As for the Slayer - what'd they hire her for? Her sparkling personality and people skills? 'Cause she's right good at _those_, let me tell you...'

Anya shrugs. 'The Principal said the children needed someone close to their age. Which Buffy... kinda fits, I guess.'

'And of course having a Slayer on staff never hurts...' Spike observes.

'That's what Buffy said.' Anya says. 'I don't think that's what the Principal had in mind, though.'

'Yeah?' Spike says. 'We'll see.

'So what about you?'

'What about me?' Anya says.

'Well, looks to me like the Slayer's not the only one looking for somethin' different in her life.' Spike says. 'Face it, love, your heart's not in the vengeance business anymore - been spending too much time 'round us, am I right? No-one gettin' hurt, no-one gettin' killed... you're just not up for it any more. Only doing it 'cause no-one's giving you a better option.'

'And I suppose you can?' Anya inquires.

Spike shrugs. 'Ain't my place to say, love. But the way you're goin'... wouldn't be surprised if D'Hoffryn called you to his office pretty sharpish. If _I_ were you, I'd start by smashing my soul-gem...'

'Wouldn't work.' Anya says. 'D'Hoffryn overhauled the system before I came back - the power of the Wish is in _us_ now, not in a soul-gem.'

This time, it's Spike's turn to blink. 'No soul-gem? You serious?'

'Yes.' Anya says.

''Kay...' Spike frowns. 'Any way you _can_ get shot of the gig?'

'Not that I know of.' Anya says.

Spike whistles. 'Nasty. Made it a lifetime gig, huh?'

Anya suddenly seems very, very tired. 'Yes. Yes, it is.'

She lifts her head, like something's caught her attention. 'I have to go. We'll talk later.'

With that, she dematerialises again.

'...Can we help her?' I ask Spike.

'Got me there, love.' Spike says. 'D'Hoffryn's tightened things up - made it more difficult for demon-girl to leave. Don't mean there's no loophole - usually is - but it's gonna be harder to find.'

'What if we wished her out?'

Spike shakes his head. 'Need to be all vengeancy first. Won't work without it. And you and me - not exactly near there right now, get what I'm saying?'

'But there should be another way, right?' I say.

'Oh yeah.' Spike says. 'But like she said, overhaul came in recent - don't think anyone's got the chance to get it down on paper yet.'

'...No, they wouldn't.' I murmur. 'What about the Big Bad?'

'That?' Spike says. 'Warning shot. Little somethin' so we know it's out there.'

'But...' I hesitate a minute. 'I felt... it was too *big* for that, it felt too big...'

'Guessin' that was _our_ warnin' shot, love.' Spike says. 'Slayer gets the manifest spirits - _we_ get to feel its bad self up close and personal.'

I shudder again.

'Any idea what it was?' Spike asks.

I shake my head. 'No. No. I didn't get even that. Just... teeth, in the darkness, in the earth.


'No use askin' what for, huh?'

I shake my head again.

Spike sighs. 'Guess we're gonna find out.'

This time, the shudder comes without even thinking.



Should've expected this.

Should really, _really_ have expected this.

Harris's standing in our doorway.

Joy. Looks like the Slayer finally got round to telling him, then. Nice to see she still keeps her friends in the loop.

He don't look too happy 'bout it either.

'Nice.' he says, lookin' round the crypt. 'Cleaned it up pretty good. Lucky there wasn't any major structural damage...'

'...Thank you.' Tink says.

'Buffy told me I'd find you here.' he says finally.

'She told you who I am.' Tink says quietly. 'Or who I say I am.'

'...Yeah.' Harris says. 'Yeah, she did.'

'I can't tell you any different.' Tink says. 'Whether or not you think I'm Tara, I _believe_ I am... and I won't tell you different.'

Harris... lets out a little sigh. 'Okay. Okay. You're Tara.'

'And even if I _am_ insane Spike, I still have the chip in my head.' Tink says. 'Insane Spike _can't_ hurt you, Tara _won't_ hurt you.'

'...Yeah, about that.' Harris says finally.

'That Spike hurt Buffy.' Tink says. 'I... worked it out.'

'Not hurt her. Tried to rape her.' Harris says flatly.

Tink... doesn't look at me. 'I... Buffy told me Spike could hurt her, she told me that. From what she said this time... I, I guessed that's what had happened.' She lets out a little sigh. 'If I'm Tara... then I wasn't responsible for that. But if I'm insane Spike... then I _was_, I was sane when I did it, I was responsible.'

'We both were.' I say quietly. 'He won't wanna hear that, though.'

'Either way... I can't put it right.' Tink says softly. 'I can't say "sorry", anything like that... what could I say that would make up for it? What could I do, whether it was my responsibility or not?'

'You could stay away from Buffy.' Harris says.

'Like there's a chance of that.' I mutter.

'But what would stop her coming to me?' Tink says quietly. 'What would stop that? If I'm insane Spike, then... I might hurt her. Could hurt her. You don't know how far the insanity goes.

'And if I'm Tara... I could _still_ hurt her.'

'What?!' Harris gawks.

'Bloodlust, Xander.' Tink says. 'I've got the blood hunger. I _want_ blood... and I haven't tasted human blood. The chip would stop me if I attacked a human... but Buffy?' She sighs again. 'But _she_ could take _me_, now, if it was necessary. As Tara... I don't have anything near Buffy's skill, even in Spike's body. She could dust me.

'As for insane Spike... I don't know. If I _am_ insane Spike, I don't know how much of Spike's fighting skill I retain. I'd _like_ to think she could dust me, but...' She looks down. 'You _know_ Buffy. She always gives the vampire a fight.

'But if someone else thought I was a danger, thought I was a risk... well, they know where I live, know I sleep during the day... it wouldn't be that hard.'

'No, it wouldn't.' Harris says distantly.

'...Then why did _you_ never try it?' I mutter. 'Could it be... oh, 'cause I'd've kicked your ass?'

'But you never did.' Tink says quietly. 'No-one did. Perhaps because there was always something else to focus on, to think about, because Spike never made himself enough of an issue to be staked.

'But now I'm here... and Spike _did_ do something to justify a staking.

'He did lots of things. Killed and slaughtered I don't know how many. That's not something that can _ever_ be set right.

'But it hits all too close when someone you _know_ gets hurt...'

I flinch. So close, oh so close... aims for the pain without even trying.

'...I told her,' Harris mutters. 'I _told_ her, but would she listen? No. Knew him too _well_... Bastard always made himself useful, always had _something_ he could play with... should've done it long ago...'

'You could stake me.' Tink says softly. 'If I'm insane Spike... it'd be putting me out of my misery. And if I'm Tara... it'd be releasing me to go on.

'I'm afraid, Xander. Afraid of dying again. Of suffering the pain of death once again - even though I know what's waiting beyond that.

'I can't walk into the sunlight. I can't end it like that. I need someone to do it for me.'

Don't, I want to say. Don't do this. To me, to you, to us... don't. Please.

Harris shakes his head. 'No. No. You died on _my_ watch. On my watch. Didn't even know till Will walked into the hospital... maybe should've known, should've, but... he'd just shot Buffy, wasn't thinking 'bout anything else...'

He looks up into Tink's eyes. 'I can't kill you, not again. Not twice.'

'You may have to.' Tink says.

Harris shakes his head. 'Don't. Don't. I've lost too many people. Too many...'

Stupid, Harris, stupid. That's gonna cost you... gonna cost us, and God knows how many...

'And if I _am_ Spike?' Tink asks. 'What then?'

'You're not.' Harris says.


'Spike'd never ask me to kill him. Not sincerely.' Harris says. 'He'd never go over the detail, never lay it out like this - not with me.'

'Got that right.' I say.

He sighs again. 'Maybe I'm doing the wrong thing. Wouldn't be the first time.

'But I can't kill you.'

Tink nods, doesn't say anything.

Harris sighs. 'I just... It shouldn't have been like this, y'know? Not like this. Spike's... God knows where, and you're stuck in his body.' He shakes his head. 'I just hope, wherever the bastard is, he's suffering like Hell.'

'You have no sodding idea.' I tell him, giving him a great big "fuck you". 'Moron.'

Tink shoots me one of her *looks*.


Yeah. Anyway.

The next clue's something's comin' down the pike comes 'bout a week later.

Tink's curled up with a book Dawnie brought for her, while I'm stuck with having the kitten stalking after me - apparently she's decided catching Mr See-Through is her new goal in life.

Then she stops and starts hissing.

Tink's head snaps up.

She frowns, her brow furrowing.

I move closer.

And I can hear it now: something rumbling, heading our way.

'What...?' I mouth.

Tink shakes her head - she doesn't know.

The rumbling gets louder.

The kitten skitters over to Tink.

Louder, and the crypt's beginning to shake now.

Tink's eyes widen. She grabs the kitten and the book and races outside, while I zip ahead of her.

I turn to look back, only to see Tink's stood stock-still.

I follow her gaze...

...and see somethin' absolutely frickin' _huge_ burrowing through the ground, tearing up the earth as it goes.

As we watch, it comes up against a tombstone and smashes its way straight through, leaving broken stone in its wake.

Then there's this hideous gurgling _roar_, and whatever it is plunges back down under the earth.

'Buffy?' I say.

Tink nods. 'Buffy.'


As we come up on the Slayer's house, Slayer, Harris and Niblet are sat in the front room, talkin' to some strange woman.

We get closer, and I can hear the Slayer talking 'bout... a dog?

'...We're going to get into this. And if your dog's alive, we'll find him, I promise. The only thing we need...'

' maybe some help?' Tink offers, stepping through the French windows.

Strange woman's lookin' at the kitten.

Everyone _else_ is lookin' at Tink.

'Um... hi, guys.' she tries.

And it suddenly occurs to me that while Tink and me know it's her, and while the Slayer's little gang know it's her, talking 'bout it to anyone _else_ is... well, utterly insane.

The Slayer recovers first. 'Spike.'

'...Who is that?' the woman asks.

'He's, um...' Dawnie fumbles.

'He's... a friend.' Harris sticks in.

'And somehow I'm getting the feeling it's a little more complicated than that.' woman says.

'Always is.' Harris says.

Tink gives him a sympathetic look.

'What's, um... What's the problem?' the Slayer says.

'...I don't know.' Tink says. 'Um... is it okay if I...?' She indicates the woman.

'...Yeah.' the Slayer says. 'Oh, hey, Nancy, Spike, Spike, Nancy.'

'Um... hi.' Tink offers.

'Hi.' Nancy says. 'Get caught on the hop?' She indicates the kitten and book in Tink's arms.

Tink blushes a little. 'Kind of. Big, rumbly, burrowing its way through solid ground like it wasn't there?'

'Sounds like our monster.' Harris says.

'Did you get a look at it?' the Slayer asks.

Tink shakes her head. 'Uh-uh. Just grabbed what I could and rushed over here.'

'...Alright.' the Slayer decides. 'We're gonna split. Two pairs. Whatever this creature is, it's burrowing through solid ground. That means a kind of strength and power we don't usually deal with. But we may have to get used to that, now the Hellmouth's getting all perky.'

Nancy pulls Harris aside. I wander over to have a listen.

'Shouldn't we call the police?'

'And tell them what?' Harris says.

'...I'll stop interrupting.'

Looks like I've exhausted the Harris-y fun there, so I wander back over to Tink.

'Hey. Just got an idea. This worm-thing - it took her dog, yeah?'

Tink nods.

'That means it could've been lured. Scent. Rhythm of motion...'

Tink nods again, and offers up this nugget of information.

'What was its name?' she finishes.


'This's Ziggy.' Tink says, showing her the kitten.

'Aw...' Nancy says, looking in the kitten's eyes. 'He looks like a real sweetheart...'

'She.' Tink corrects.

'I wanted to get a cat, but...' Nancy shrugs.

Slayer decides to jump in. 'Xander. Take Nancy home. Drive, don't walk, and try not to stop 'til you get there.'

'Gotcha.' Harris says.

'Is your girlfriend always this... commanding?' Nancy says.

'Who - Buffy?' Harris stammers. 'Oh, she's not ... I mean, she's a girl, and a friend, but she's not my ...'

Oh yeah, this is fun. I'd swear he's even drooling a little.

'Xander?' Niblet says.

He looks at her, and she indicates the side of his mouth.

'Little drool?' she says.

Harris hurriedly dabs at his mouth.

'Spike and I'll check out the site of the attack.' Slayer goes on.

Tink's eyes widen.

'O-kay...' Harris says, taking the Slayer aside for a moment.

I listen in, naturally.

'Are you sure 'bout this, Buffy? This's Tara, and Tara... not good with the aggression, you know?' Harris glances over at Tink.

'She's also a witch.' the Slayer says. 'If this's gonna need magic, we'll need her. We don't have anyone else, Xander.'

Harris hesitates a moment, then lets it drop.

'Let's patrol.' the Slayer says. 'Xander's taking Nancy home.'

'I'm command central.' Niblet says. 'Everybody checks in with me.' She pauses. 'Okay, I'll be here doing homework, but still, the other thing sounds cooler.'

'Let's head out.' the Slayer says.

Tink nods, and we set off.


Finally, as we walk down a street, the Slayer breaks the silence.

'So, um, you been settling in okay?'

Tink nods. 'Yes.'

'Um, I wasn't sure if you wanted your stuff back, but um, well, your family didn't want them, and we couldn't, y'know, destroy them, so...'

'It's okay, Buffy.' Tink reassures her. 'Thank you.'

'Although we _did_ have to give the clothes to charity...'

'Oh, that's no trouble. That's where I got them from in the first place.'

The Slayer's eyes go wide.

'Come on, Buffy.' Tink says, the grin catching at her face. 'You can't tell me you'd never thought it.'

I chuckle. She's enjoying this just as much as I am.

'You're taking this incredibly well.' the Slayer says. 'Now if it'd been _me_, I'd've gone completely vegetable.'

'Oh, don't let my calm facade fool you.' Tink deadpans. 'Beneath this, I'm a roiling mass of pain, grief, fear, anger, and self-loathing.'

'Nice to see you can still make with the funny.'

'Funny? Who said I was being funny?'

The Slayer opens her mouth, then closes it again.

'Looks like this's the place,' she says instead, her flashlight playing over a stretch of pavement that looks like it's been blown apart from _below_.

'What gave it away?' I wonder.

The Slayer aims her flashlight down into the hole.

'I wouldn't want to stick my head down that.' Tink observes. 'Could you hold the light a little closer?'

The Slayer does so, all the while watching Tink.

'No joy there, love.' I tell her. 'You're not gonna see the old Spike in her. Just the face and the form - and that was never the whole Spike deal.

'Can't say sorry, can't say forgive me... all I can say is, me and Tink? We'll help. Whatever's coming... we'll help.' I step a little closer to her. 'We'll stand with you.'

Not least because it looks like it's locked in on _all_ of us, I don't say.

'Nothing.' Tink's muffled voice comes as she pulls her head away from the hole. 'A lot of dirt, a lot of earth, and a good amount of slime - but no beastie.'

The Slayer sighs. 'Better get back to the house, then. I am _so_ not looking forward to this.'

'You're not the only one.' Tink says.


Nancy and Harris show up soon after we get back, both of them looking like they did the hundred metres through a demon-infested minefield.

'...Let me guess.' the Slayer says. 'You met our monster.'

'Yeah.' Harris says, lowering his voice so Nancy can't hear. 'And you know the extra-special fun bit? Nancy made a wish a couple of days back. An actual, honest-to-God feeling vengeancy wish. Something about her abusive jerk boyfriend being a worm.'

The Slayer's face does that interesting frozen look it does so well.


'Maybe not.' Harris says. 'Still... if there's a chance...'

'All right.' the Slayer says. 'Nancy? I think we've got another lead.'

And almost before you can blink, we're off again.


'...Let me talk to her.' Tink says as we enter the Bronze. 'See if we can, um, sort this out quietly.'

'...All right.' the Slayer says. 'We'll be over here if you need us.'

Tink nods, and heads over to where demon girl's sitting, huddled morosely over a cocktail.

Oh yeah. I've seen this before and it's not good.


Demon girl doesn't bother looking up. 'Hello, Tara.'

'Um... I wanted to ask about something.'

'Go on.'

'Did you, um, maybe grant a wish about, um, turning somebody into a worm?'

There's a long pause.

'Yes.' demon girl says finally.

'A worm demon?'

'A Sluggoth Demon.' I supply. 'Very large, very nasty, natural predators who died out 'round the Crusades.'

'It wasn't cheating.' demon girl says, voice flat. 'They're the same phylum, after all.'

'Why?' Tink says quietly.

'I had a quota.' demon girl says, in that same flat tone. 'He had it coming.'

'Can you reverse it?'

'Yes.' demon girl says. 'I can.

'But then there's afterwards. I'm in enough trouble as it is. Halfrek's all over my case, D'Hoffryn is not pleased with my work and you don't want to see him unhappy, trust me...'

'...You _wanted_ this.' Tink whispers. 'You wanted a wish you'd have to reverse. You're hoping to ask D'Hoffryn to set you free.'

Demon girl doesn't answer, and that says it all.

'Why didn't you ask him?' Tink says, soft.

'And say what? "Oh, I'm not happy with being a vengeance demon, could you please make me human again"? Yeah, like _that's_ going to go down well with D'Hoffryn.' Demon girl shakes her head. 'I had to do it this way.'

'...You could have asked us.' Tink says. 'We would have backed you up.'

'Oh, well, that makes it _all_ okay, doesn't it?'

'Anya.' Tink says. 'Please. Reverse the wish. Whatever the consequences are, we'll back you up.'

'...You will?' demon girl says.

'Yes.' Tink says. 'We will.'

'Yeah.' I say.

'...Very well.' demon girl says.

That's when it hits me.

'Hey. Is worm-boy still underground?'

Tink's eyes widen. 'Anya-!'

'...All right, all right, I'll wait till he breaks surface.' demon girl mutters. 'Satisfied?'

'Thank you.' Tink says.

'You're welcome.' demon girl says. 'Now go away.'


'So that's it then?' I say, as we make our way home. 'All sorted, all done and dusted?'

'Mm.' Tink says.

And it's true, it _is_ all done and dusted. Worm-boy's back to human (and packed off to hospital), demon girl's slipped away while no-one was looking, and Slayer managed to look simultaneously satisfied (that she didn't have to fight anyone) and disappointed (that she didn't have to fight anyone).

But in sorting this out, it looks like we got D'Hoffryn on our case - and he ain't gonna be happy.

'Too much to hope _this_ was "from beneath you it devours", huh.' I say. 'Not like a vengeance demon's wish is gonna count...'

'Mm.' Tink says. 'No. No, I don't think it did... Anya said it was old, older than the old ones, something that had everyone on edge...'

'Yeah.' I say. 'And that's never good.'

'No. It's not.' Tink says.

I catch the little tremble - that little tremor - in her voice.

Scared. Bad scared.

'Don't let it get to you, love.' I say. 'Take it as it comes, okay? No good to anyone fretting like this.'

'I know.' she says softly. 'I know. But...'

'Shh, love.' I say. 'Shh. Worrying's fine, but this fretting ain't doing anyone any good, not you, not me, not demon girl.

'Don't let it get to you, okay?'

'...All right.' she says. 'All right.'

But she's not convinced, I can hear it.

I'm gonna have to work on that.