Tara kept her finger pressed against the bell of the Summer's house. She had been ringing non-stop for about 10 minutes and was determined to keep it up all evening if need be to get Buffy to open the door and acknowledge her. After about another 10 minutes she heard a noise behind the door and it opened a fraction.
"My Mom's not here," said Buffy quickly before starting to close the door again.
"Good 'cause I'm here to talk to you Buffy," said Tara quickly, fearing the door wouldn't be opened again if she allowed Buffy to close it.
Buffy's heart was pounding with anxiety; she had hardly slept a wink since Friday. She couldn't make sense of what was going on around her. Buffy had been told that her memories of the last 7 years were just a delusion, but here supposedly in the real world were at least 4 people that surely couldn't or shouldn't exist. What was even worse, on Friday night she had looked out of her bedroom window and could have almost sworn that she had seen Spike slip into Tara and Dawn's house. She was now starting to wonder if the madness that everyone was persuading her she had suffered from wasn't actually real but another big bad trying to put her out of action by messing with her mind or maybe she hadn't defeated The First and this was its new plan.
"I don't want to talk to you."
Tara looked and felt momentarily hurt. "W-what happened Buffy? On Friday night? I don't understand, I thought we were all getting along."
"Go away," said Buffy through gritted teeth. "I know what you are trying to do."
"Do you?" Asked Tara.
"Go away," repeated Buffy.
"Please Buffy, try to talk to me," said Tara.
Buffy just wanted so much to slam the door in Tara's face but she couldn't. She remembered that kind compassionate face, and the solace she thought she had once found there. Buffy clutched her head in her hands and fell to the floor sobbing.
Tara rushed in and slammed the door behind her. She knelt on the floor beside Buffy and took her in her arms rocking her back and forth. "Shh, it's okay Sweetie, it's okay."
They stayed like that until Buffy had cried herself out. Tara bit her lip, she wasn't sure what to do, whether to help Buffy upstairs to bed or try to find out what was wrong with the fragile, vulnerable blonde. Even though she might hate herself for it she decided on the latter. "What's going on Buffy?"
Buffy looked into kind clear blue eyes. Had she confessed to these eyes before? "It's you... Dawn... Willow... Xander."
Tara wrinkled her brow; this wasn't the response she had expected. "I don't understand."
"You were all there... all of you and now you're here and it even looked like Spike..."
"You've lost me," admitted Tara.
"In my so called delusions, you were there, so was Dawn, Willow, Xander all of you. I can remember you all and now you're here and that is impossible, but you are here... different, but you are all here," said Buffy, surprisingly calmly, she almost felt like a weight was being lifted as she talked about it.
Tara rubbed her chin. "Maybe you are... I don't know projecting... putting memories from before on to people you are meeting."
"You don't understand, Willow was my best friend for like 7 years, I know what she looked like, who she is and you; I don't believe... this isn't the first time you have held me when I cried," Buffy noted the surprised look on Tara's face. "Oh no, not like that... I mean, we weren't lovers, if that's what you are thinking and yes, I know you are gay... you are right?"
"Your mother could have told you that, she knows..."
"But you were in my delusions. Your mother died when you were 17. Your father and brother abused you, mentally and physically..."
"N-nothing your m-mom couldn't have told you," mumbled Tara.
Buffy felt her heart go out as she saw raw pain on Tara's face. "Here too, damn I'm sorry... I mean I knew about your mom but I can't believe those bastards hurt you. I should have kicked Donnie's butt... god I'm talking crazy, either that's real or this is real; they both can't be and if it isn't then your image is just something that is being used like Mom to make me wish this were real. To have you both back. To have Xander, Willow and even Dawn unscarred by the things that happened to us all. It's too easy, too much of what I would really want. There must be something really evil trying to distract me."
Tara felt out of her depth. "Maybe you should talk to your Doctor." Her mind was also stuck on part of what Buffy had said. Why was she talking about her and Joyce being back and the others unscarred? She didn't want to press, to encourage Buffy to live out her delusions anymore.
"You wanted to know and now you are running away. It's hard to have a friend who is a nut job; isn't it," said Buffy bitterly.
"No, I just don't know what I can do to help, Buffy I'm real. Dawn is real. I remember your mom visiting you in the hospital for years. Please, I'm sure this is just a case of seeing people and you have missed out of so much that you want us all to have been a part of that time," said Tara and hugging Buffy again briefly. "I can't prove to you that I am real, but I will be here for you anytime you want me or just need to talk."
Buffy rubbed her palms against her temples. "Thank you and what you said makes about as much sense as anything I can think of." But in her heart she had decided that she would just see what a friendship with Tara would bring her. This surely would lead her to the truth of the matter.
Tara felt a sense of relief because although Buffy has talked calmly there had been an almost fanatical glint in here eyes. "And you will keep up your lessons with Fred?"
"Yeah I... hold on a minute how did you... you've spoken to my mom, haven't you?"
"She was worried about you," said Tara, fearing she had blown it.
"That's okay, I can't blame her for that, I mean she probably thought I was having a relapse," said Buffy mildly, all the time her mind was whirring she was sure she was right now, that Tara could lead her to the answer, if she just played her part.
Tara sighed with relief. "I'm gonna head back home and tell your mom it's okay for her to come back."
Buffy smiled and nodded.