Two girls lay side by side eyes upward, watching two bird's sing, hands intertwined in harmony.
"I don't want to be the one to break the moment here. But when do we have to go?" the blonde enquired.
"We don't have to go yet, besides I'm still trying to get my head around the whole, dreams thing?" The redhead frowned, but then smiled again.
"It's bugging you isn't it," Tara chuckled
"You have no idea, dreams are part of us all, but we don't usually have dreams of people we have never met."
"Willow, I'm sure it will work itself out," Tara gave her companion's hand a squeeze.
Returning the squeeze Willow grinned, "It's a puzzle and I hate puzzles, ones that seem important anyway. After we've done the meet the friends thing....You're totally ok about that right. I don't want to be pushy."
Rolling over onto her side to face Willow, Tara reassured her, "I'm fine with meeting the gang. A little nervous about Zander, stalking probably wasn't the best introduction."
"I'm sure he will forgive you. Especially when I tell him about the circumstances," Willow smiled turning on her side to mirror the blonde. "And If that doesn't work I have plenty of bribery points that I can redeem."
"As I was saying," Willow continued. "Tomorrow I'm going to be research gal and look into these dreams, see if we can't find out why you have them."
"Willow I'm not sure I want to explain them, not in any scientific way anyway. Their part of me, a very private part of me...you know?" Tara pleaded.
Realising her error Willow looked directly into green eyes. "I'm sorry Tara. I don't want to do anything that upsets you. I really don't. It just..."
"Bugs you," Tara winked.
Putting on her best mock sulk Willow replied, "Yes. But if you don't want me to use my considerable research skills then I won't."
"I guess I'm just a little scared that it will ruin things. I know there should be an explanation. I'm just not sure I want to know what it is," Tara shyly smiled.
"Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. It's dreams not reality, what we do from now is real ok....Together," Willow reassured Tara emphasizing her point by reaching out to take the blonde's hand again.
"Together, I like the sound of that," Tara beamed.
And together they lay back down on the lush grass, hand in hand, to bask in the dappled afternoon sun from under the maple tree.
"Mmm," was the contented sleepy reply from Willow's companion.
"Sorry to break this bliss. But I think we had better make a move, it'll take longer to get back, and we probably should change before we go to meet everyone at the Hyperion."
"Ok, you're right about changing I've got grass marks on my rear." Tara brushed herself down as she slowly got up.
"Tara, I didn't think, have you something you'd be comfortable wearing? There isn't a dress code, but I know how panicked I can get with outfits," Willow cautiously asked also rising.
"As long as they don't mind jeans, boots and shirts, I didn't bring any fancy stuff," Tara shrugged.
"That's all Buffy wears and not with much colour variation either, you'll fit in just fine," Willow reassured Tara as they gathered their bag and started to descend the hill again.
"Willow. How are we going to explain the dreams? I'm not sure they will understand," Tara said as she reached for the redheads hand for reassurance.
"I'll gloss over the details; we can say you recognised me from the picture and decided to find me...if they go third degree. Let me tackle it ok," Willow replied giving an encouraging smile to Tara and seeing a shy nod in acknowledgment.
As they reached the bottom of the hill and turned towards the centre hub, where another small train station was located, Tara spun around once taking in the scene, committing it to memory.
"It seems a shame to leave this place; I can understand why people want to live here."
"Well if my Social Security Lotto entry comes up, I promise this is the place I'll buy the mansion," Willow laughed.
As the pair entered the apartment and went to their respective corners. Tara to where her rucksack lay and Willow to her bed area. They both were having the same thoughts. Willow's were I don't want her to leave. Tara's I don't want to leave.
Unpacking some fresh clothes Tara, pulled out the picture she had carried with her on her journey. Smiling at the happy scene, she placed it on the corner computer table for safety, and went behind the screen to change.
Willow meanwhile had already decided to join Tara in wearing jeans and boots with the black denim shirt she had bought the day before.
"Messages work urgent only," she requested as she laid out the clothes on her bed, taking a moment to savour the memory of waking up with Tara that morning.
"1 Work urgent visual attachment included," the computer relayed.
Quickly changing Willow walked the length of the apartment, listening to the sound of a humming Tara from behind the screen. Taking a seat at the terminal she manually brought up the urgent email.
"You having fun behind there Tara?" Willow teased as the hum became louder.
"Fun?" was the puzzled reply from behind the screen.
"Yeah you were humming a lovely tune what was it?"
"Humming? I wasn't was I?" Was the self-conscious reply from a now silent Tara.
"You were...it's ok. I take it as a sign of happiness," Willow laughed
Seeing that the urgent email she had started to read was not urgent, but a thank you from London. Willow went to check her bank balance for the payment from the client. Just as she was about to log into the banks website using her print recognition pad. Willow saw a digital picture in a pretty silver frame sitting on the desk. It was of Tara standing in front of two adults, the man had a protective hand on her shoulder, and the woman was looking slightly sideways adoringly at the child in front of her.
But it wasn't the typical family portrait scene that stopped Willow in her tracks, or the sight of a slightly younger Tara. It was the couple standing behind the blonde.
"Tara!" Willow shouted in panic.
"I'm almost ready," the blonde replied thinking Willow was anxious to leave.
"Tara, can you come here a minute," Willow tried to calm her voice, still unsure what she should say or do. Something was very wrong. Tara, how could she even begin to explain something she didn't understand herself?
Together, that was what they had said, and together was how they would deal now.
Taking the picture off the desk, with one more look to confirm what she already knew. Willow got up and slowly walked to the couch sitting pensively for Tara to finish changing, the picture clasped tightly in both hands.
As soon as Tara emerged she saw Willow sitting quietly head bowed in what looked like prayer. "Willow what is it?"
Moving to sit by the redhead, Tara saw the picture she knew so well in Willow's tight grip. "Willow that's just my parents, I carry the picture almost everywhere. I have a smaller version in my wallet too, see," Tara motioned to get her wallet from her jacket on top of her rucksack.
"Tara don't go, just sit for a minute ok," Willow put a hand on Tara's shoulder to stop her from moving.
"This picture," Willow pointed to the framed "Tell me as much as you can about it...please."
"It was taken on Mars Base 7 about 5 years ago. That's the air refinery there see," Tara pointed to the large tanks that could be seen in the floor to ceiling glass window that was behind the three smiling figures.
"Your parents, they always lived in Mars right?" Willow said with a frown.
"No they came from Earth and settled about 2 years before I was born, that makes it about 24 years ago, why?"
"What were their names Tara?" Willow asked sadly.
"John and Christine, why?"
"John and Christine McClay."
"Yes, Willow what is it? It's just a memento. The memories are so sketchy. It helps to remind me of them."
Pointing to the picture Willow sighed. "The couple behind you, I know them. I think I know why you have dreamt about me," pausing to look at Tara reassuringly, Willow explained, "That's John & Christine Bettisford."
"Bettisford?" Tara frowned.
Willow put down the picture on the low table "Jen's parents."
"The girl you visited at Peacehaven."
"The dreams, your memories, I think they are something to do with Jennifer," Willow seriously explained.
"No they're mine I feel it," Tara angrily rejected Willow's words.
"I know they feel like yours Tara. The question is how are you and Jen linked, and who made up that photo to give you a fake family."
"Fake family?" Tara distress was palpable.
Taking Tara's hand and gently lowering both of them to the floor Willow braced herself.
"Tara listen to me carefully ok. Something is wrong, I am so glad you came to find me. Nothing changes that, nothing, and together we will work this out...Together."
On the verge of tears Tara picked up the framed picture "You think my memories and this photo are fake?"
"Yes someone has screwed with your mind and in doing so has brought you to me," Willow half smiled.
"So they did one thing good," Tara returned the smile.
"Yeah they probably had no idea what trouble they were bringing on themselves," Willow winked before pulling Tara into a soothing embrace.
After a few minutes of the pair relishing the quiet comfort of their embrace, Tara pulled back "Do you still want to go out? My brains feeling a bit scrambled. I'm not sure I'll be scintillating company."
"I'm the one who suggested meeting up, so I should go, plus I think Buffy might be able to help," Willow looked imploringly into green eyes.
"Help?" Tara looked anxiously at Willow.
"Yeah the one connection I know you and Jen have is the Tyrell Corporation, and Buffy might be a help there."
"In that case we go...together right," Tara smiled.
"Together," was the redhead's earnest reply without a moment's hesitation.