As the sun rose high over the city, its rays fell on Willow's sleeping form and roused the redhead from her peaceful slumber. Squinting into the morning light, it took a moment or two for her to realise exactly where she was. Yawning and stretching, Willow flinched as the stitches from her surgery pulled her delicate, bruised flesh. "Ok, I'm awake now!" she complained, returning gingerly to her stretching.
The door swung open and a tall doctor who looked about 100 stepped into the room. "Good morning Miss Rosenberg." he greeted her cheerfully and, despite his apparent advanced age, seemed to be a genuinely upbeat and pleasant man. "How are we feeling this morning?" he asked as he helped himself to the seat next to her bed.
"Well, I'm a little sore but ok, I really can't speak for you." Willow replied cheekily, her beaming smile indicating that she was playing around rather than being rude or sarcastic.
"I'm very well." the doctor returned with a grin of his own. "I'd like to take a look at the surgery site if I may!" he continued as he rose to his feet and gestured for Willow to lay back.
"Well, you've seen inside me, I guess I can allow you to have a brief peek at the outside." she giggled.
After a quick examination, the doctor went on to tell her how lucky she had been. Thankfully, Colin had been a terrible shot, all of her major organs, her intestines and stomach itself had all avoided serious injury. He continued to explain that they had taken her up to surgery as the wide gash he had created had caused a small piece of her small intestine to 'make a break for freedom' into the outside world. "Everything looks great, no sign of infection and the stitches are holding well." he finished as he sat back down.
"When can I go home?" Willow asked him eagerly, "Don't get me wrong, it's a nice hospital but I'd much prefer to be in my own home." she explained. After showing her so much genuine kindness, Willow couldn't help but feel ungrateful for wanting to go home.
"It's ok, I understand." the doctor continued. "Do you have someone at home who can help you out?" he asked, "You will need complete bed rest for at least one full week, any strenuous activity could cause the stitches to pop and your intestine to re-emerge." he explained.
Willow began to shake her head sadly, while going home was high on her list of things to do, spending Christmas in hospital because she lied wasn't. "Hang on, I might be able to get someone to help me." Tara's offer filled her mind and she hoped that the blonde had been serious about helping her out.
The doctor nodded. "If you can get help at home, then you could go home as early as tonight, if not then I'm afraid that you will be here for at least another week. I'll get the nurse to come by and see how you do walking, that will be your first step." he told her, a wry smile playing on his lips.
"Thank you doctor." Willow said sadly, she had already found out from her stretching that walking would probably be uncomfortable but not impossible and she dug inside her for the mettle she would need to take those steps.
Tara awoke long before the sun and birds and had spent the morning sitting in Jackson's Park awaiting the sunrise. Its delicate pink hue had warmed her long before the rays had penetrated the trees foliage and found her skin. She delighted in this luxury for the last time, at least for a couple of weeks. The fair was due in town the next day and were setting up exactly where she was currently sitting. When the sun finally reached above the trees, she got up and made her way to the hospital, her excitement at seeing Willow once again making each step more urgent than the last and, with only a block or two to go, she broke into a run.
Stopping only to buy a bouquet of flowers and a cheap vase, Tara made her way up to the fifth floor and to her sweet Willow. 'My Willow' she thought as she stood in the elevator. 'When did she become my Willow?' Glancing up at the neon display, Tara awaited her minds answer. 'Last night, when she risked her life for you, dummy!!' her mind berated her suddenly and made her jump.
Before she had a chance to relive the events of the previous night, the elevator announced its arrival and she stepped into the clinically bright hallway.
Smiling politely at the nurse, Tara made her way to Willow's room and knock softly on the door. When she received no reply, she peered through the window and was surprised to find both the room and the bed empty. Returning to the nurses station, Tara waited amongst various friends and relatives before the nurse smiled weakly at her. "I'm looking for Willow Rosenberg, she was in room 9 and now she's not, could you tell me where she is please?" Tara asked politely. The nurse nodded and then turned to her computer, before a frown crinkled her otherwise pretty face. "She should be there miss." she replied. "Take a seat and I'll..." he voice trailed off as she noticed tars attention focused on something down the corridor. "Thank you." Tara offered, although the words never reached her ears and her gaze never left the figure walking slowly down the corridor towards her.
Willow grinned. At first, getting up and forcing her body to move despite the pain that stabbed at the site of her surgery had been tough, but not being one to back down when things got rough, she bit the bullet and took those first few steps. After pacing around her room for a while, she decided that she needed to know that she could get to her bathroom at home and took herself off on a circuit of the fifth floor. Now, finally coming to the end of her tour, which had included a doctor who had sneezed and spilt coffee in his lap, and an elderly couple who, after almost 70years of marriage still held hands and gazed lovingly at each other, she turned onto the corridor that she was currently residing on. To her delight, Tara was stood at the end of it, almost as if she'd known that Willow would need some encouragement to make those final steps to her bed.
Tara started to make her way towards the redhead who held up the hand that wasn't using the wall as a support and stopped her. With a smile, Tara willed Willow to find her inner strength and make it to her embrace. Tara's heart filled with pride as she watched Willow take those clearly painful footsteps. Less than twelve hours ago she had undergone surgery and now, here she was, up and walking, the bravery on display in front of her caused tears to form in her eyes and she swiped at them quickly.
"Hey beautiful." Willow managed as she reached Tara's side, her breath rapid and ragged from exertion.
Carefully wrapping Willow in a hug, Tara expected to explode with the all consuming love she felt for this brave and amazing woman. "Hey you." she whispered as she pulled back, placing a delicate kiss over the redheads dry lips. "How are you doing today?"
Willow shrugged as she finally got to her room and sat heavily on the chair. "Refreshed!" she finally answered. "That was, well refreshing!" she continued, a pained smile crossing her lips.
"Do you want me to get someone for you?" Tara asked softly, crouching between Willow's legs as she scooped her hands into her own. "Do you want me to get a doctor?"
Gazing into the blue depths before her, Willow saw something in those hypnotic blue eyes with the flecks of grey, that she had never seen before, at least not whilst someone was looking at her. Those eyes radiated concern and compassion certainly, but above it all, Willow saw a pure and honest love that she had never expected. Pulling her hand softly from the firm, yet gentle grip in which Tara was holding them, Willow traced the features of the blonde's face, words lost to her and her fingers betraying the depth of her emotion. Cupping her soft face gently, Willow urged Tara up to her before finding her lips, taking care to memorise and caress them before gently sucking the bottom lip and gaining access to Tara's sweet mouth.
"What was that for?" Tara asked as they pulled apart, her breath was shallow and ragged, her cheeks flushed as her heart raced faster than was probably healthy. Her eyes searched those of the redhead carefully, trying to find what it was that had caused such a huge and meaningful kiss.
As a smile crept over Willow's face, she regained her speech and replied, "Just for being you."