Tara cries, eating cereal in her new house and watching her life story play out on the television: "For young Rafael Cordova, it was the beginning of the longest day of his life. Rafael first ran with the Pamplona bulls the week after he turned 18, following in the footsteps of his two older brothers, and had run five consecutive runs without a scratch..." It's all Tara's ever done, it's all we ever do. It's what she's doing now, and she doesn't even know it. There is a sound, outside, somewhere, and it occurs to her that she is all alone, in that big house, where danger comes regardless of the sun.
There's nobody on the porch, there's nobody at the window, there's nobody outside the door, which she forces herself to approach, unlock, to turn the knob, to open and step outside into the quiet, terrifying sunlight. And then from nowhere, a hand reaches out and grabs her. "Surprise!" they scream: Maryann, Karl, Eggs. She shivers, and breaks into tears. "Aww, did we scare you?" Asks Maryann. Were you all alone, did you miss our enveloping arms, did you miss Eden? She falls into Maryann's arms, still terrified and embarrassed to be terrified, embarrassed about the tears that were already on her cheeks. "Yes," she sobs for a moment, in shock. She's been terrified since she left.
"Nobody should spend their birthday alone!" Maryann says expansively, ushering Karl into the kitchen with a huge, beautiful cake adorned with a rainbow of flowers. "Aww," she says, patting Tara's cheek as she makes her way into the house, uninvited. Any house could be Maryann's house: For wherever two or three are gathered together in her name, there she is, in the midst of them. All you have to do is say yes.
Eggs asks why she was crying, when they watched her, before they let her hear them in their glee. "I always cry on my birthday. It's always the worst day. No matter what I do I end up crying, because my birthday always sucks." It would be so awesome if every season Tara's birthday really did suck, just like Buffy's. But at the rate this show moves, we'll all be dead by her next birthday. "Well, this is the year that changes," he promises, kissing her cheek tenderly. This is the day everything changes.