Tara fell to her knees crying as Anya ran over and enveloped her in a hug followed by Faith, and Buffy. Xander glanced around the airship's deck, and frowned as he bent down and picked up Willow's sword. Tears began to fall as he held the sword to his chest; he slowly walked over to the girls and joined in on the hug. Joyce came running out on deck with a grin, and then frowned at the site of the four young women and one man crying.
"What's wrong? We beat Sin! It's time to be happy, not to cry."
"Mother!" Buffy said standing and running over to Joyce. "Giles was an unsent, and now he's gone! And Willow...she-she's gone, too!" she said tightly hugging Joyce.
"What? But how?" Joyce asked confused. "Giles, I can understand...but Willow..."
"The Fayth-she was a d-dream of the F-Fayth." Tara said standing and rushing past everyone, she disappeared into the airship leaving the others behind.
"A dream? Willow was a dream? But...how?"
"The Fayth, she disappeared after Tara sent the Fayth." Buffy said weakly.
Xander was stilling holding the sword to his chest, when Anya wrapped her arms around his neck. Faith followed Tara with her shoulders slumped, as Joyce helped Buffy back inside.
"She's gone, ya?" Xander asked in a whisper.
"She'll never be gone Xander," Anya said leaning back and pointing to her chest "she'll always be right here with us...in our hearts."
"Frana'c Willow yht Tara?" (Where's Willow and Tara?) Dawn asked when Joyce sat Buffy down in one of the chairs.
"Willow ec kuha, yht Tara ec eh ran nuus." (Willow is gone, and Tara is in her room.) Joyce said sadly.
"Pid ruf? E cyf Willow uh dra talg." (But how? I saw Willow on the deck?) Dawn said confused.
Sighing Joyce looked at her youngest daughter, "Tara cyet Willow fyc y tnays uv dra Fayth, yht frah Tara cahd dra Fayth cra tecybbaynat." (Tara said she was a dream of the Fayth, and when Tara sent the Fayth she disappeared.) She said as Dawn sat back in the pilot seat.
Dawn was silently crying as she sat the airship down just outside of Bevelle. Shelinda came running through the cargo door smiling happily.
"You did it! Where's Lady Tara I must speak with her!" Shelinda said jumping up and down not noticing the sad overtone in the control room.
Joyce walked over and sadly smiled at the Bevelle captain "I'm sorry but Tara is resting. May I ask why you wanted to speak with her?"
"Oh of course! Now that Sin is gone for good, we want her to speak at the Luca stadium, tomorrow. Everyone will be there, and the Al Bhed are welcome to join in as well. If it wasn't for you Lady Tara would never had been able to defeat Sin."
"Thank you. And I will let Tara know." Joyce said and ushered Shelinda back outside.
"No, thank you." Shelinda said before running back to Bevelle.
Joyce walked down the hallway and knocked on Tara's bedroom door. "Tara, sweetie, can I come in?" Getting no reply she slowly opened the door, and saw Tara with her face buried in a pillow with her shoulders shaking. Joyce closed the door and walked over, "Tara?" she said sitting on the bed.
Tara turned over and raised up latching onto Joyce "Aunt Joyce...I-I loved her...I still love her."
"I know, I know you do. I wish she were still here, but you know what? She isn't gone, really...Willow will always be here, in our hearts."
"But that isn't enough!" Tara sobbed out holding Joyce tighter. "I want her here with me...not on the Farplane."
"Shh, Tara...Everything'll be fine, I promise you. Now get some rest, the people want you to speak at Luca tomorrow. Okay?" Joyce leaned back and kissed Tara's forehead.
"Okay." Tara said and lay down she watched Joyce leave before she fell into a restless sleep.
Tara awoke the next morning she looked around the room hoping to see Willow, but soon realized everything had happened the way she remembered. Joyce came into the room and ushered her to the shower, and lay out clean cloths. The airship landed on the Mi'ihen Highroad an hour later, and the cargo hold door came down. The Al Bhed followed Joyce and Dawn as they in turn followed Tara and the others, Shelinda met then at the top of the stairs.
"It's great to have you here Lady Tara!" Shelinda said bowing. "You have an hour before you speak, so please rest till then." She said and left.
Tara walked over to the railing where she showed Willow her whistle and looked out over the ocean. Turning to the others she smiled sadly, "I'll be down on the docks." she said and headed toward the docks with Faith following.
She passed the stadium entrance where everyone was waiting to be let in, keeping her head down Tara slipped by unnoticed, and walked to the end of dock one. I'll come running. Tara heard Willow say, raising her hand to her mouth she whistled, as she watched the ocean.
"You won't come running this time, will you?" Tara said and whistled again. Faith was watching Tara and clenched her fist.
"Dammit!" Faith whispered as a tear ran down her cheek. <Why did she have to go? A dream? So what if she was, Tara didn't care, and Willow... Shit! What did she think when the Fayth told her? That was why she was reckless during those fights on Mt. Gagazet!>
"How long has she been doing that?" Anya asked in a low voice as she approached.
"Ever since she got here. What's wrong?"
"It's time for her to get over to the stadium." Anya said and walked toward Tara. Placing her hand on Tara's shoulder Anya looked toward to ocean "It's time." she said and turned to wait by Faith.
Tara whistled once again before she too turned and headed toward the stadium. Shelinda met her at the entrance, and led her up to a podium. The stadium was packed with everyone from every race across Spira, Anya and Faith stood beside Buffy and Xander and waited. When Tara approached the podium the stadium went quite.
"Everyone... Everyone here has lost something precious. Everyone here has lost homes, dreams, and friends. Everybody... Now, Sin is truly dead." Tara said and the crowd cheered and applauded. "Now, Spira is finally ours again. Working together... We can make new homes for ourselves, and new dreams. Although I know the journey will be hard, we have lots of time. Together, we will rebuild Spira. The road is ahead of us, so let's start out today."
The crowd cheered again as Tara turned around facing her friends who were smiling at her. She turned and looked over the crowd, "Just one more thing... The people and the friends that we have lost, or the dreams that have faded..." she said remembering her and Willow's first kiss. "Never forget them."
The crowd left the stadium talking amongst themselves happy for their new future, as Tara turned from the podium. Shelinda was nearly bouncing off the walls with happiness as Tara approached.
"Lady Tara, that was great! I'm so happy that you came! Now where are you off too?"
Xander held Willow's sword at his side "We have a few things to take care of." he said and walked away.
"Tara will be going home, back to Besaid." Anya said and followed Xander.
Tara smiled and hugged Shelinda "Thank you, and now I'm going to go and rest. It was a long...battle." she said as Faith and Buffy walked beside her back to the airship.
[On the Farplane]
Willow was standing beside Giles as they watched Tara give her speech and smiled. She slapped Giles on his back, causing him to glare at her.
"She did a great job, didn't she?"
"Really, must you do that? And yes she did."
"Oh come on! It didn't hurt you, did it?"
"No it didn't hurt, but I must say you're more like Ira than you let on." Giles said grinning.
"That's my girl! Give G something to gripe about." Ira said chucking as he walked over with Sheila.
"I told you not to call me that." Giles said turning to face him, with Willow giggling.
"Aww, come on! ‘G' is shorter than saying Giles...besides I like it!"
"Maybe I should start calling you ‘I' then."
"What? I don't think so!"
"Come on dear, let's leave the men to their...griping." Shelia said and walked off with Willow.
Willow walked beside her mother down to a small waterfall and sat down. She began pulling blades of grass and tossing them into the water all the while deep in thought.
"So how have you been?" Shelia asked watching the pyreflies float by.
"Good. You?" Willow said in a faraway voice.
Shelia glanced over to her daughter and sighed, "Are you thinking about Tara?"
"Huh?" Willow asked looking over "Oh, Tara, yeah."
"I thought so."
"Did I hear my daughter's name mentioned?" Mythe asked before sitting down beside Shelia.
"Oh, lover girl here can't stop thinking about her."
"Mother!" Willow shouted blushing.
"It's all right sweetie. I know how you feel about Tara, and how she feels about you."
"Exactly how much do you know?"
"Oh, everything...although I quit watching during the private moments." Mythe said grinning as Willow's eyes widened.
"Umm... That's nice to know." Willow said and shook her head when the two women laughed.
"Now that you're not thinking... How have you been?" Shelia asked again.
"I've been fine... But now everything sucks! First Giles got me sucked into Sin...and let me tell ya that wasn't fun. Then I wake up near some temple with no one around, and almost get eaten by some huge fiend. The first people I meet talked in another language and knock me out, then Sin attacked and I wake up on Besaid. That wasn't bad, I met Tara there. I fell in love with her...and now look! I'm stuck here on the Farplane and can't be with her."
"Everything will be fine, not to worry." Mythe said and smiled watching Willow flicker in and out.
"What the hell!" Willow shouted worriedly
"Don't worry, someone is dreaming of you. And you, my dear, are being pulled into the dream."
"Oh." Was all Willow said before she disappeared.
[On the airship]
Dawn had lifted off and headed for Besaid Island when everyone had boarded. Anya had gotten Tara to eat something, before she got anywhere near her bedroom door. Tara finished the fruit Anya had sat in front of her, and headed toward her room. She stopped outside the door for just a moment and walked past, she soon found herself on the outside deck, and sat down. Night was beginning to fall; Tara laid back and watched the stars appear one by one, as the airship flew over the ocean. Breathing in the salty air she closed her eyes, and fell asleep.
Tara opened her eyes and found herself beside a small stream with pyreflies lazily floating by. There were gold, pink, purple, blue and red flowers growing along the bank, and a fish jumping out of the water. Turning in every direction, she saw no one and sat down. Looking up she saw a large waterfall in the distance with more flowers, and pyreflies around it. Sighing she picked one of the blue flowers and inhaled its sweet fragrance, before throwing it in the water. She watched as the flower floated down the stream and disappeared around a corner.
"Is this...the Farplane?" She quietly asked not hearing the person walk up behind her "Am I dead?" she asked and was startled when a hand touched her shoulder, turning her eyes widened before she jumped to her feet.