"I had the craziest dream last night," Amy was telling Willow, as the two sat inside the hospital waiting room. "I dreamt that my mother and I, along with the entire audience of the magic show, had been attacked by some weird alien creature and that we were all rescued by two women dressed in what looked like sailor's outfits. Sounds pretty weird, doesn't it?"
"A little," Willow admitted, fighting the urge to tell Amy that dream hadn't been a dream at all, but in fact had been very real. As she well knew, being one of the girls in question. But Luna had told the others that it would not be a good idea to reveal their secret identities to anyone, even to their friends and family, lest the enemy somehow manage to find out that there were people who loved ones knew the identities of the Sailor Soldiers and used that knowledge in order to cause either themselves or those they loved serious harm.
"How is your mother, anyway?" she asked, hoping to change the subject without making it seem obvious that was what she wanted to do.
"Not that bad," Amy replied, looking a little fatigued, but otherwise apparently unharmed by her experienced. "The doctors just say she needs some time to get a little rest, and she'll be as good as new." She yawned. "It's the same deal with the others and, truth be told, myself. It's like we were all too drained from the show to think clearly. I'm just glad that someone was able to come around and get us all to the hospital."
"That's nice," Willow said a little absently, her mind very much focused on other matters. It was hard for her to believe how much the past forty eight hours had changed her. Before two days ago, her biggest worry had been how to handle telling her mother about the latest in a long line of failed tests. Now she had to worry about not only putting herself in danger battling an ancient evil, but proving herself worthy of being the leader of the group of young women sworn to defend the Earth against that evil.
And while she had sounded confident the other day when setting the situation straight to all of them, enough time had gone by since to make Willow painfully obvious to the fact that much of the confidence with which she had used to say those words had been mainly due to her need to prove to them how dire that situation really was. Since, aside from Anya, none of them had appeared to take it any seriously than she did.
Now, however, with the others accepting the truth of what Luna had said because of her steadfast declaration to fight the enemy with or without their help, Willow began to realize that she wasn't nearly as confident about her words as she appeared to be when she said them, realizing also that it was only because she had put on, as she called it, her "resolve face", that she ended up sounding and looking confident and in control of the situation, when on the inside, she was little more than what she truly was: a frightened young woman.
She couldn't allow self-doubt to cripple her, however. Regardless of how she had done it, she had made her decision to fight the forces of the Dark Kingdom. And now that they had all decided to join her, the four of them would look to her for the leadership and guidance that they would need in order to do the best they could to help her.
All of them would need to have the confidence they had decided to place in her validated. Especially Anya. She clearly didn't like the idea of deferring control of the group to Willow, and would surely look for any excuse that she could in order to take it back. Willow was determined not to allow a situation like that to present itself.
Sighing, Willow got to her feet. Noticing this, Amy looked up. "What's wrong, Willow."
"Nothing," Willow admitted. "There's just...I've got a lot on my mind, and I need to talk to someone about it."
"OK, then," Amy said, getting to her feet as well. "Let's talk."
Willow smiled. Amy was, if nothing else, a true friend. But she didn't want to burden her best friend with her own problems, especially when she had to deal with other things right now. "No, Amy. I don't want to put too much on you right now. You've been through too much already. There's only one person that I can talk to who can help me with what I'm going through."
Willow walked up to Tara's house, a slight hesitancy in her step. So much had happened to her recently, and while Luna had said that she couldn't reveal it to anyone, there was one person she felt comfortable being around that made the fact that she had to keep a secret less troublesome. After all, Tara was certainly no stranger to keeping secrets.
And that was all Willow wanted to do with Tara, at least today. They didn't have to talk a great deal or do anything special like go out for mochas or anything. She just wanted to be with Tara, for as long as she was willing to have her over.
If she was willing to have her over, that is.
Knocking on the door, Willow waited several seconds before it opened, Tara's body framing the doorway. "Willow? Hi."
"Hello, Tara. Can I come in?"
Smiling faintly, Tara opened the door and allowed Willow to come inside. Making their way up the stairs, Tara asked, "Can I get you anything, Willow? I was just making some tea, and I think I have some muffins in the fridge..."
"No, Tara," Willow said, reaching the top of the steps and moving to sit down on one of the chairs in the living room. "I'll be OK."
Tara nodded and made her way back into the kitchen, emerging several minutes later with a saucer and cup, which Willow noticed was filled with some of the tea Tara said she had been making. Taking the cup, she politely sipped at it as Tara moved to sit down opposite her.
A rather uncomfortable silence passed between the two of them before Willow, placing the cup back on the saucer, found herself saying, "Tara, how come you don't talk to me about your past?"
Tara looked at her, a neutral expression on her face. But Willow immediately knew from how her body posture had suddenly gone rigid that she had done something wrong, and scrambled to apologize. "I'm sorry, Tara. I shouldn't have asked..."
"No, Willow," Tara gently admonished, her face softening somewhat. "It's my fault. I've wanted to tell you for quite some time, but I feared that you wouldn't like me anymore if you heard about what I've had to deal with in my life."
"I could never hate you, Tara," Willow said, her words being said with honest sincerity. "No matter what happened to you before, I would always feel the same way I do about you now. And I always feel safe when I'm with you. Nothing about you will ever change that."
Tara smiled lopsidedly and then began to tell her tale. "Well, Willow, the earliest thing I could remember was waking up in a hospital bed. When I asked the nurse what I was doing there, I was told that I had been with my family, that we had suffered a serious car crash and that both of my parents had died."
"I'm sorry," Willow whispered, knowing how upset Tara had to be at delving back into her past, realizing now why she had not done so before now. She wasn't sure if she could have handled suffering a tragedy like that at such a young age. That Tara apparently had was a testament to the courage and strength Willow always knew the blonde had.
"Don't be," Tara replied. "The thing was, I couldn't remember anything about what had happened. In fact, I couldn't remember anything about my childhood prior to that point. It was almost as if that car crash had been the point at which I had truly come into existence."
Willow sat in silence as Tara continued speaking. "I was taken to the local orphanage and stayed there until I was old enough to get a job and be able to support myself." She sighed and rested one hand on her temple. "And to be honest, as bad as it all was, it never really bothered me all that much. At least until..."
"Until?" Willow prompted.
"Until I began to have these strange dreams."
"Dreams?" Willow asked, being reminded of Cordelia's visions and how Luna had said that they were the memories of her previous life. Did this mean that Tara was like herself, a reincarnation from someone in the past who had lived in the Silver Millennium with her and the others, had been killed during the attack by Faith and was now living out her life blissfully unaware of the fact that Faith had broken free and was now attacking the Earth?
She quickly dismissed that, telling herself that there was nothing about Tara that gave off the indication that she was some type of superhero. Then again, she had thought the same about herself, and she knew now how wrong that was.
She decided not to dwell on it that much. For all she knew, the dreams Tara was talking about were nothing more than repressed memories from her childhood. And she truly wanted to know what they were about. Deciding that the best way to find out was to ask, she asked, "Can you tell me about them?"
Tara shook her head. "You're going to think that this is silly, Willow. I shouldn't have told you."
"No," Willow prompted. "Please, Tara. Tell me."
Tara sighed. "OK, Willow. But you're going to think that this is silly."
"I won't, Tara. I promise."
Tara visibly swallowed. "Well, in my dreams, I see the image of a beautiful Princess. She tells me that if I want to find out about my past...my true past, I have to find something called the Mystical Silver Crystal."
Willow's eyes widened subtly, and she vainly tried to keep herself from otherwise visibly reacting to hearing that piece of news. It was rather difficult, given how much she was currently thinking about how Tara might be the Moon Princess that Luna had said they had to be on the lookout for.
Tara, thankfully, had either not noticed her reaction or simply decided to ignore Willow's change in demeanor, no matter how slight it had been. "And so I looked all over the world, did more research than I would care to admit, and even resorted to some rather...questionable tactics, but I was never able to find out anything about a Mystical Silver Crystal or how it could be connected to me. Eventually, I forgot all about it. But recently, the dreams have come back, stronger and more powerful than they were before. And I can feel that something has happened recently that has made it more important than ever for me to try and find it."
Getting to her feet, Tara moved to the nearby window, looking outside at the expanse of the city that lay beyond her view. "You won't tell anyone about this, will you Willow? I can't have people think I'm some sort of crazy old spinster with delusions of grandeur."
Willow swallowed hard, realizing what Tara wanted of her, but also realizing the rather dangerous position the question had put her in. Under normal circumstances, she would have had no problem deciding to keep Tara's secret. The two of them had been together long enough to be able to trust one another to do that. But now that she knew about the threat the Dark Kingdom represented to the people of Earth, the role that she and her new friends had in countering that threat, how the Mystical Silver Crystal played a vital part in all of that, and how Tara might very well be the thing that connected everything together, she was torn between the duty her role as leader of the Sailor Soldiers demanded of her and the duty that her friendship with Tara required of her.
She made up her mind. It was, after all, an easy decision to make. No matter what peril the world was in, and how much the others would berate her for doing so, she would make sure that Tara would not become involved in any of it. If that meant she would have to keep the fact that Tara was also looking for the Mystical Silver Crystal from Luna and her friends, then she would do it. And if it meant keeping from Luna and the others the fact that she might know who the Princess was, then she would do that, as well.
When it came to Tara, everything else was secondary. Even the fate of the world.
Getting up, she moved to join Tara beside the window. "I promise, Tara. I won't tell anyone about what you've just told me."
Tara smiled and enveloped Willow in a hug. "Thank you, Willow."
Willow returned the hug, the comforting warmness of Tara's body making her feel safe and secure. For a fleeting moment, she thought about how right the situation felt, almost as if the two of them had been together like this before. She shrugged off those feelings, justifying them as remembering how they had been like this back when they had first started dating.
Willow, however, could not shake the fact that, even with that knowledge, the warmness of Tara's body against her own, the smell of her perfume and the electric feeling she felt when Tara's bare skin touched her own were more familiar to her than she would normally expect them to be given how much time they had spent together.
Deciding that explaining these feelings could wait for another day, she simply allowed herself to be held by Tara. It didn't matter how familiar it felt. All that mattered was that it felt right.
And for now, when she knew that Tara's life, along with those of the people of the Earth, and perhaps the entire galaxy as well, rested on the shoulders of her and her friends, that was enough for her.