Okay, I started re-reading this and all the simple sentences were just about killing me, so I've been editing it. Hope it reads better!
They were all standing there staring at the crater that was all that was left of their hometown. The newly awakened slayers that were left were lingering near the bus, hesitant to interrupt the group near the edge of the pit.
Dawn spoke up after a long moment. "So what are we going to do now?" No one could see Buffy's face but everyone knew she was smiling. The Slayer turned away from the remnants of Sunnydale to look at her friends. Willow and Xander glanced at each other and stepped forward, both extending their arms to wrap around Buffy. The three of them stood there in silence, just holding onto each other. Words weren't necessary. Giles stepped forward from the back of the group and they opened their circle to include him, still silent. Dawn felt her eyes start to tear up as she watched her family embrace.
After a long moment they pulled back, Willow and Xander keeping their arms curled around Buffy's shoulders. Dawn started to move forward to hug her sister, but there was a bright flash and Willow and Xander had to catch themselves as Buffy vanished out from under their arms.
Buffy blinked rapidly as her eyes adjusted to the sudden dimness. She looked around slowly, unconsciously flexing her fingers around a nonexistent stake as she tried to assess her surroundings. Around her was a circular room covered in white marble. There was an archway directly in front of her on the opposite side of the chamber. Standing inside the opening were a pale couple wearing what looked like togas and garlands of golden leaves in their hair.
They appeared to be empty handed so Buffy relaxed slightly. "Who are you?" she asked simply, turning to face them, her back to the wall.
The two beings met her gaze evenly and the female spoke confidently. "We are the representatives of the Powers that Be. You are the Slayer, Buffy Summers."
Buffy remembered hearing Angel mention the Powers that Be and relaxed slightly. "Is there something you need from me?" she asked, mentally resigning herself to another huge battle against evil, even as her soul cried out for rest, for peace. She feared it would never happen and tried to push her hopes to the background.
The two beings glanced at each other and the male smiled gently. "No, Buffy Summers, we do not require anything from you. You have done your task well so far."
The female spoke next. "We have brought you here to offer you a gift."
Buffy couldn't help but frown. The two had all but confirmed that her work was not done. With a sigh, she responded. "What kind of gift?"
"We will grant you one wish. You may ask for anything and we will do it." The female's unnaturally calm voice didn't reveal the immensity of her words.
Buffy was stunned and hesitant. "You can't mean anything. Anything I want?" The possibilities were rushing through her mind. She could get her mother back. She could get Angel back. She could be a normal girl. She could bring the town back. Spike.
The male spoke again, "Anything is within our power." Her mind was reeling as she tried to think.
"How much time do I have to decide?"
"Time doesn't move here as it does in your world. Take as much time as you require," he responded, seemingly content to wait interminably.
Buffy leaned back against the wall, closing her eyes as the enormity washed over her. She could ask for anything. Slowly she sank to the floor, her legs bent up in front of her. She let her mind wander, trying to figure out what she should ask for. Her first thought was for her mother. Her dear mother. She could get her mom back, get her life back, with one simple statement. But she hesitated. There was no doubt in her mind that her mother was in heaven and she couldn't contemplate pulling her out the same way she herself had been removed from that beautiful place.
Her second thought was of Angel. Her love. She could get his soul restored permanently. They could be together. But would she go to L.A.? Could she live there and help him with his cases? Would he give it up to come with her? Could they fit into each other's lives anymore?
As she struggled with her desires, her thoughts turned to her friends. She could bring Anya back. She could give Xander a chance to be happy again. If he and Anya could work out their problems...
She froze on the floor as the next idea came to her in a rush. Tara. Oh God, she could get Tara back. Willow's love had died because a crazy man had shot at Buffy herself. They had just started to work out their issues. They had had their chance to be happy stolen from them by a stray bullet. She felt the breath rush out of her lungs as tears welled in her eyes. She opened her eyes and blinked up at the standing beings.
"I think I know what I want." Her voice was a little choked as she stood up, trying to comprehend what was going to change if she was able to get Tara back. The pair met her eyes calmly and both had small smiles on their faces.
"You have but to ask," the female said, still smiling as Buffy took a deep breath and unconsciously rolled her shoulders.
"I want Tara Maclay returned to life and sent back to Earth with me," she stated slowly, trying to be precise.
The entry behind the two beings grew brighter and they separated to either side as Tara stepped through. The pair moved back silently as they watched the proceedings. The blonde witch looked around slowly, smiling widely as she saw Buffy standing there, tears streaming down her face. The Slayer moved forward in a rush, hugging her friend tightly to her.
"How did I get here?" Tara asked, unbelievingly. "I can't believe this."
Buffy kept her arms around Tara's neck. "They brought me here…and…and they gave me a wish. And…you're really here," she breathed as she pulled back to look into Tara's face. "How much do you remember?" She couldn't stop herself from asking, wondering how much the other girl had seen.
Tara grew more serious as she tried to think. "Well, I remember Warren…and what happened afterwards, with Willow." Buffy swallowed as she thought of what Willow had done. "You don't have to explain anything, Buffy. I know she regrets it, and I've seen everything that she's done to get better."
"She has gotten better," Buffy hastened to assure her friend.
Tara stopped her quickly, "I know, Buffy. I've been keeping my eyes on her since I've…been gone." She paused heavily, tears welling up in her eyes as she continued. "I saw that girl…Kennedy." Her voice was thick while she tried to control her emotions. "Does…does Willow…d-does she love her?" Her stuttering didn't conceal the fear in her voice.
Buffy's tears rolled as she hugged Tara again. "No…she loves you. I know she does. Losing you almost killed her. She's only done what she had to do to survive it." The Slayer's voice was almost frantic as she held Tara while the tears flowed. The witch was sobbing in her arms and Buffy couldn't do anything but hold her friend as she wept. After a long moment Tara pulled back, wiping at her eyes while trying to control her sniffling. Buffy smiled at her and shifted her gaze to the pair of silently watching beings still lingering by the entrance.
"When can we go home?"
The two beings exchanged a look and the male spoke. "We can return you as soon as you wish." Buffy nodded and looked back at Tara.
"You ready to go home? I know everyone is going to be excited to see you." Tara could only nod, unable to speak through her tears. "We'll wait just a minute and try and calm down," Buffy suggested, wiping her own tears. Tara smiled gratefully, still struggling to control her crying.
After several minutes, Tara straightened up and took a deep breath. Buffy couldn't help smiling and turned to stand beside her friend, facing the two beings. "What do we have to do? We're ready to go home."
The female stepped forward and bowed her head. "Buffy Summers, you have done the world a great service and have received your reward. Go in peace."
There was a bright flash and the two girls found themselves standing several yards away from the school bus that contained the survivors of the battle. No one inside the bus was looking in their direction so Buffy guessed when she traveled to see the Powers that Be she had disappeared from the other side of the bus.
Tara was looking around immediately for Willow, but Buffy gently stopped her, whispering, "Wait. I want to surprise Willow."
Tara looked amused and whispered back, "I'm pretty sure that's a guarantee, Buffy."
The Slayer couldn't contain her joy and rolled her eyes as she hugged her again. "Let me hold your shoes."
Tara rolled her eyes again, but leaned over to slip off her shoes, handing them over to Buffy. The Slayer grinned widely and they snuck over to the bus, careful to keep out of sight. They could hear raised voices on the other side of the bus, Willow and Xander's easily discernible. Buffy winked at Tara and held up one finger. Tara put her head next to Buffy's and whispered, "Just hurry. I want to see her." The Slayer's grin slipped into a gentle smile and she squeezed her friend's hand.
"You'll have all the time in the world. But I'll hurry." Tara smiled back as more tears welled up.
Holding up Tara's shoes, which an abstract part of her mind noticed were fairly cute, she walked quietly around the side of the bus. The girls were mingling around watching their leaders panic. Buffy gently pushed her way forward and could hear the muffled whispering cease as she moved toward her family. She couldn't hold back her smile as she saw Willow and Xander panicking at Giles. He looked like he was trying to remain calm, but she could tell he had been running his hands through his hair. Faith was idly fiddling with one of her knives and distractedly shuffling her feet.
Dawn saw her first and pushed in between Willow and Xander to get to her. Buffy wrapped her sister in a tight hug and closed her eyes. She felt the rest of the group close in around them and she extended her hands to pull the rest of their family into her embrace.
After a long moment she released Dawn and they loosened their circle. Several voices clamored over each other and she smiled at them, holding her hand up to silence them.
"Where were you, Buff? Where did you go? You just disappeared!" Xander couldn't keep silent and she rolled her eyes at him.
Buffy cleared her throat as she looked at them. "Well, actually, the Powers that Be took me to visit them." Giles opened his mouth to ask more questions, but Dawn stepped on his foot before he could say anything, shooting a look up at him. Buffy grinned openly at this and continued, "They gave me a wish in return for all of my good work as the Slayer."
Giles' mouth dropped open and he couldn't restrain himself. "Buffy! That's astounding! What…?"
Xander and Dawn cut him off, speaking simultaneously, "What did you wish for?"
Buffy couldn't stop herself from looking straight into Willow's eyes as she lifted the shoes she had dangling off of her fingers. Willow's jaw dropped and she spoke for the first time, "Buffy, you used your wish for shoes?" Her voice was incredulous and shrill as she stared at her best friend.
A smirk crossed Buffy's face as she felt hands on her back, gently moving her to the side. She kept her eyes locked on Willow as she side-stepped and Tara moved forward.
Willow kept her eyes on Buffy's face, only glancing to the side when she saw something move in her peripheral vision. As she saw Tara standing there with a cautious smile on her face all of the feeling rushed out of Willow's knees and she started to fall. Everyone moved forward to catch her, but Tara got there first and supported her lover as she collapsed. Tara slid to her knees, holding Willow's head to her shoulder, rocking them back and forth, murmuring into Willow's hair as tears streamed down both faces.
Buffy couldn't stop herself from crying as she looked away to meet everyone's gaze. There was a teary smile on Xander's face and he put his arm around Buffy's shoulder, squeezing her. Dawn was crying quietly, a huge smile on her face as she watched. Buffy put her free arm around her sister and pressed a kiss to her hair.
Giles had tears in his eyes as he met Buffy's gaze and nodded, his feelings apparent as he stared at her. "I've never been prouder of you, dear one." His voice was quiet and she couldn't contain her tears at the rarely heard endearment.
Tara slowly helped Willow stand up, supporting her the whole time. She pressed a kiss to her cheek and Willow turned her head to meet her lover's lips. The arm that wasn't under Willow's shoulders came up and Tara threaded her fingers into Willow's hair. After a long moment they broke their kiss and Willow moved a step away from her returned lover to throw her arms around Buffy.
"Thank you…" Her words came out in a rush, but she was unable to get more out as she started crying again.
Buffy tightened the hug as Willow buried her face in her shoulder. "My pleasure, Willow." Her voice was quiet and she met Tara's gaze over Willow's shoulder.
Xander, Giles, and Dawn moved forward to hug Tara while Buffy kept hugging her best friend. The other slayers were standing around in stunned silence, watching the proceedings in a trance.
Kennedy was near the front of the crowd and couldn't stop herself from staring. She had feelings for Willow, but it was obvious from the second that the redhead had set eyes on the newly arrived blonde girl that her own chance with the powerful witch was done. As she stood there staring at the blatant love that the two witches shared, she felt fingers slide across her shoulder and she looked to the side and saw an Asian girl she'd never really talked to.
"I'm sorry," the other girl whispered. Kennedy couldn't stop herself from taking a shuddering deep breath as she looked back at the scene in front of them. The girl slid her arm across Kennedy's shoulder and the confident, brash slayer allowed herself a moment of weakness and leaned her head on the shoulder her new friend was providing. "I'm Satsu," she whispered, squeezing Kennedy's shoulders.
Buffy slowly released Willow from her hug and the redhead immediately moved back to her lover, unable to keep the smile from her face as their hands touched.
Buffy turned to look at the rest of the slayers, smirking as she noticed the expression on Faith's face. The other senior Slayer just smirked back.
When Buffy started to talk the other slayers unconsciously straightened up, listening. "This is Tara," she stated, gesturing to the pair standing beside her. "She'll be coming with us." She let her gaze scan the crowd, trying to meet the gaze of all of the girls staring back at her.
"Who's ready to go find a new home?"
The crowd let out a cheer and the girls moved back toward the bus. Buffy lingered in the back of the group and watched as her family, finally complete again, boarded the vehicle. She didn't know where they were headed or where they would end up but they were together and they would be alright.