Buffy opened her eyes. She was standing barefoot in a vast desert. In front of her, at some distance, stood Tara, wearing a pink and gold flowing gown.
"I've been here before," Buffy said.
"Are you -- you? Or are you -- Her?"
"What do you think?"
"This is different. I was wearing shoes last time. And my clothes -- " she looked down at herself, at the long, dark blue gown she was wearing -- "are much better this time." She stood there, watching Tara's enigmatic smile for hints. She noticed that the air was different. It had been arid before; now it was warm but soft, suffused with perfumes.
Tara's smile widened as she saw Buffy breathe in deeply. "It's wild sage."
"How do you know?"
"I made them." She laughed at Buffy's puzzled look. "Not like that. I'm not a goddess. I brought my memory of them into this dream."
"So this is your dream?"
"It's our dream."
Buffy took a step back. "You know, dreams and I don't get along too well, especially shared ones."
Tara just smiled.
"Okay, fine, we'll play it your way." Buffy sat down, sweeping the sand with her fingers and crossing her legs.
Tara sat down in front of her. "So what do you wanna talk about?"
Buffy gathered her skirt and got to her feet. "Oh don't even start with that. You're gonna to turn into The First Slayer or The First Evil of The Immortal's arch nemesis or somebody and you're gonna psychoanalyze me and then you're gonna choke me with your... wild sage." Buffy turned and began to walk away.
"So tell me about Italy."
Buffy almost stopped walking, but caught herself. "Tell you about Italy? Okay, fine. Well, first of all, it's nothing like this. It's crowded. It smells like city -- and food. I never came to the desert in California except for crazy vision quests, but Sunnydale felt so much -- less crowded and cramped. Like, I can't move in Rome. 'Course, I'm also not Slaying. Not really. Giles -- we're, networking -- video conferencing and everything -- figuring out how to train a gazillion different Slayers."
Buffy stopped walking -- red ribbon twining around her. She turned back to Tara. "You've got to be kidding me."
"It's not me. This is what you make of it."
Buffy glared at her, not entirely believing her.
"Do you want to be held here? Do you want to fight it?"
Buffy gave her a contemptuous look and stamped away through the sand. Her feet grew hard and hot, and she ripped at the ribbons twining around her. She began to lose herself in the fighting, not even noticing the growls and tears coming from her body. When the last of the ribbons dissolved, she laid down, panting from the exertion.
Tara sat down next to her. "Do you feel better now?"
Buffy didn't answer. As she lay there, her (Buffy's) gown turned into a coating of diamonds. Tara waved her hand over Buffy's torso and the gown turned into sand. Buffy blinked, and it turned into pink rose petals.
She looked over at Tara in puzzlement, but Tara was standing up now. And she was naked. Buffy felt like she had been stabbed as she looked up at the woman standing in front of her. The surprise of the fact of what she was seeing was, of course, a jolt, but there was also the desire welling up in her, which was what was truly unexpected.
Tara knelt down beside her, her breasts brushing against Buffy's own -- the rose petals having apparently now vanished entirely -- and she kissed her gently on the lips and Buffy kissed her back harder, wanting, lifted her arms up to pull Tara's body closer, her own body pressing against the ground, against bed sheets, and she couldn't feel Tara anymore, and she struggled to open her eyes, and the brightness was strange, and she clutched at the bedsheets and looked around at the empty room.