"Stupid clock!" Tara glared at the ancient timepiece on the wall and began pacing the large waiting area once again. As soon as the ambulance had pulled into the hospital Tara had been ushered into the waiting area while an entire army of doctors and nurses had surrounded Willow, each one demanding more and more details from the paramedics who had brought her in.
A doctor who looked as though her probably should have retired at least twenty years previously had appeared and informed Tara that Willow was being taken up to surgery.
"Up to surgery." she repeated for the fourth or fifth time, she couldn't quite remember. "Up where, she's been gone ages!"
A young family entered the large room and huddled together on an old couch in the far corner, with them a young boy cuddled a stuffed Tigger and a small blue cassette player.
Reluctantly, Tara took a seat on one of the slightly more comfortable chairs and waited. Glancing back up at the clock, she felt an overwhelming urge to get up and shake the stupid thing. She felt like she'd been there for days, just waiting, pacing and occasionally slumping in the chairs. The clock informed her that she had, in fact been there only three hours.
Her eyes caught those of the small boy whose parents were still huddled together, apparently grieving for the loss of a relative, and she smiled weakly. He took this as a signal and crossed to sit next to her. "Are you sad too?" he asked, the innocence in his eyes warming Tara's heart. "Mommy and Daddy are sad." he told her.
Tara smiled and ruffled his hair affectionately. "I'm not sad." she told him although the tremor in her voice said otherwise.
"Tigger will hug you if you're sad." they boy said and extended the stuffed toy willingly.
Tara took the bright orange tiger and clung to him desperately, for a young boy who was no more than six, he was surprisingly good at judging human emotion and her eyes filled with tears.
Smiling sweetly, the boy fiddled with his cassette player, eventually finding the 'play' button and filling the room with soft music.
Come out moon,
Frowning slightly, Tara turned to the boy. "What's your name?" she asked quietly.
"Bobby." he replied.
"What's that song?" she continued.
"It's Winnie the Pooh."
I'm out here in the dark,
Once again, Tara felt her eyes filling and she wondered idly how it was that cartoons always made her so emotional, although the heartbreak that emerged from the small cassette player would have tugged on the heart strings of anyone, but in a hospital even the most upbeat and cheerful song could make one cry.
Offering the stuffed animal back to Bobby, Tara crossed to the vending machine to fetch herself a cup of tea. After rooting through her pockets she finally found some change and slipped the coins into the slot before pushing the button and waiting.
With gurgles and grunts of complaint, the machine finally served her a cup of tea that she was certain would taste like dishwater even though her senses seemed to be on a temporary shut down. She sensed someone behind her and turned slightly to see the man she assumed to be Bobby's father, to whom she offered a weak smile.
With the tea finally poured, Tara waited a minute more for her change before pushing the button roughly.
Behind her, the man sighed heavily. "Change is inevitable." he said quietly. "Except from a vending machine." Tara smiled as she took her steaming cup, "Ain't that the truth!" she replied before returning to her seat next to Bobby.
I need you to come here and find me
Riot burst into the room suddenly and made everyone jump. "Hey Tara." he said, rushing to where she sat and hugging her fiercely. "Any news?"
Tara shook her head sadly, "She went up for surgery about two and a half hours ago. No one's been in since." she told him.
"That's just stupid, I'm going to find out what's going on!" he said. It appeared that Riot was even worse at waiting than Tara, who smiled weakly after him as he disappeared into the brightly lit corridor.
Returning to pacing the room, Tara wondered how the night had come to this. Since Willow had agreed to stay, she had envisioned returning to her apartment and spending a large portion of the evening lost in Willow's eyes, her smile, the intoxicating scent she wore and, more hopefully, in her kiss and then who knew where that would lead. A night in the hospital was the farthest thing from her mind. 'Please Willow, get through surgery.' Tara prayed. Although not a religious woman, hospitals and fear always seemed to lead to intense prayers and hard wishing.
I'll hear you laugh,
Riot returned wearing a huge grin. "She's doing great!" he announced as he entered. "She got out of surgery about an hour ago and is up on the fifth floor."
Tara stared at him, her mouth hanging open. "What?! They said they'd tell me when she was out." Riot only shrugged as he gently put an arm around her waist and guided her out into the corridor. "How did you get them to tell you?" she asked as they stepped into the elevator. "I bet you said she was your girlfriend!" she joked.
Adopting his best look of mock insult, Riot turned to her. "Not at all. She's on the force, I flash my badge and can get almost anything I want!" he replied, a mischievous grin spreading over his rugged features.
The elevator pinging its arrival on the fifth floor and the pair stepped into the horribly bright corridor.
A nurse seemed to appear from nowhere to block their path. "Can I help you?" Despite it being a question, both Riot and Tara felt as though they were in trouble. "I have to see Willow Rosenberg!" Riot told her, flashing his badge at the woman before them.
"Oh, you're on the force." she said, her tone softening almost immediately. "She's in room 9." she told him and pointed to a small corridor to their right.
Nodding his thanks, Riot lead Tara to the room.
As they pushed to door open, both were surprised to see Willow conscious and gazing at the door. "Hey, what are you doing here?" she asked, her voice croaky and dry from the anaesthetic. Riot entered the room first although it was clear that Willow's attention was fixed firmly on the blonde. "Gotta make sure my girl's ok!" he said, hugging her carefully and placing a small kiss on her forehead.
"Me? I'm all kinds of good, I want to go home." she told him.
Rolling his eyes playfully, he shook his head. "Yeah well you'll have to stay put for a while!" he told her firmly.
"I can't, I have a hot date on Tuesday, I gotta go home!"
Tara grinned and stepped further into the room. 'Oh god, what if she didn't mean me' she thought as she reached Willow's side.
As if she had read her thoughts, Willow turned to her; "Of course it's with you!" she whispered.
Leaning in, Tara placed a delicate kiss on her forehead. "Are you really ok?" she asked as she pulled back slightly. Reaching her non-IV hooked up arm the nape of the blonde's neck, Willow pulled her in closer, her lips meeting those of the blonde and lightly brushing against them before deepening the kiss. Her tongue gingerly flicking her lower lip and being granted access to the warm, moist haven of Tara's mouth and exploring this unknown land softly.
As they pulled apart, both women were breathless, their pupils dilated and arousal flooding their systems. Riot had busied himself reorganising the leaves of a dingy looking plant.
"I will be now!" Willow told her, finding strength in her voice once more as her eyes met Tara's and filled her with love. "I will be now."