Willow had spent a good half hour in the bathroom rinsing her eyes and face. Most of the police had cleared out leaving only a handful of officers scattered around, each one examining the areas in which Colin had been and taking photos of the damage he had left in his wake. One large and rotund officer who appeared to spend more time living up to the donut eating stereotype than actually doing anything remotely physical had introduced himself as Detective Sawyer and had taken a long and detailed statement from Tara while Willow had been in the bathroom.
Riot hung around in the background, pacing and complaining. He knew how long and tiresome the investigations and cleanup could be after an event like the one that had apparently transpired within the Rosenberg residence that night could bee, but it didn't make it any easier for him to relax.
"You do know that this entire house is now a crime scene miss." Sawyer told Tara as she stared at the bathroom door impatiently. "You will have to stay elsewhere while we investigate." Shaking her head, Tara returned her attention to the fat detective. "What, sorry?" she said. With all the chaos and fear of the evening, she was finding it hard to concentrate on anything except Willow and the length of time she was spending in the bathroom. "You will have to find somewhere else to stay." the detective repeated slowly, his tone more like that of a person speaking to a small child than a distressed adult.
Smiling sarcastically, Tara nodded. "I'm not stupid, I'm worried, you don't need to talk like I'm a complete imbecile!" Tara snapped drawing a giggle from Riot.
Taking to his feet indignantly, the detective marched over to some of his men and began demanding more information from them.
"Nice one Tara!" Riot told her, clapping her firmly on the back. "About time someone put that jerk-off in his place!"
Tara smiled, her total exhaustion threatening to consume her. "This wasn't what I had planned tonight." she told him quietly.
Riot smiled sadly, since meeting Tara it seemed to him as if things had gone from bad to worse for her, the only thing he had seen in her life that hadn't tried causing her pain was Willow and he was thankful that he'd gotten Willow to go to the club with him on the night they'd met.
"Tara?" he asked suddenly causing the blonde to turn her eyes away from the bathroom door. "Why was Willow in uniform tonight?"
Tara burst into fits of laughter, with all the emotion coursing through her veins, the sudden outburst was louder and more brash than usual. Before she had a chance to reply, Willow emerged from the bathroom, her eyes still red and bloodshot.
Wrapping the redhead in a bear hug, Tara kissed her forehead softly, her lips immediately feeling as though they had been dipped in acid. Pulling back, she rubbed fiercely at them and only made the sensation worse.
"And that's why I told you not to kiss me." Willow said sympathetically as Tara rushed into the bathroom to run her mouth under the cold water.
"Sawyer says you guys have to clear out of here, at least for tonight!" Riot told her as she joined him on the top step. "You wanna stay with me or will you go to Tara's?" he asked although he already knew the answer.
Willow only raised an eyebrow and smiled weakly. "I gotta sleep... but first, I wanna put my eyes in liquid nitrogen!" she joked. "I'd forgotten how much that stuff hurt!" she told him.
As part of their 'pepper spray training' each member of the force who carried it had been shown its effects first hand. It had been years since Willow had had it used on her and she now remembered why she admired its effectiveness so much.
Tara emerged from the bathroom wearing a frown and trying to blow on her lips. Picking up a bag that she had been allowed to pack for Willow, she took the redheads hand and helped her to her feet. "You wanna get out of here?" she asked sadly.
Willow nodded and together they made their way down the stairs with Riot following close behind. "Red?" he asked as they stepped out into the warm night. "You wanna go and get BodyGuard Rescue'd?" he asked as he dumped her bag into the trunk of his patrol car.
Both women turned to face him, Tara wearing a bemused look while Willow nodded eagerly. "But drop Tara home first, it's been a long enough night already." she told him.
In the back of the car, Tara turned and regarded Willow carefully. "What's 'BodyGuard Rescue'd'?" she asked trying to hide the giggle in her voice.
Willow smiled sweetly. "'BodyGuard Rescue' is this stuff that combats the burn of pepper spray and acts like an anti inflammatory." she explained. "I'll pop down to the emergency room and get a blast and be back before you know I've gone!" she said, pulling the blonde in for a hug.
As they pulled up in front of Tara's building, she felt as though she'd returned to a whole different world. Despite having lived in the apartment for over a year, it suddenly didn't feel so much like home as it once had. "You wanna come up and get the spare key so you can get in?" she asked Willow while stifling a yawn. The redhead nodded and both women stepped from the car in silence.
With Willow gone and alone in her apartment, Tara felt an overwhelming sensation of abandonment, not for herself but for Willow. Everything that she had been through had been because of her and now, she was back at the hospital receiving more treatment because of some hollow personal cause of a lunatic with his sights set firmly on her.
Shaking herself from her rapidly self induced guilt trip, Tara ran the shower and stepped under the hot water, allowing it to wash away her doubts, fears and paranoia. Only when the water finally ran cold did she step out and wander, naked and dripping into the bedroom where she stripped and remade the bed before curling up in the crisp white sheets.
Rolling onto her side, she turned the volume on her clock radio down and turned her favourite station on.
"Now on KLFZ one for all of you who are sleeping alone tonight...." the announcer told her and she smiled sadly as the opening chords filled the room.
Six in the morning
Tara sighed deeply as she snuggled up with a pillow and wished that Willow could be there with her.
The book on the bedstand
Tara closed her eyes and let the soothing tones wash over her.
In the hallway, Willow was fumbling in her pocket for the key which she finally found and let herself in. Kicking her shoes off just inside the door, she made her way to the bedroom, sleep guiding her every footstep.
As she turned into the room, she saw Tara snuggled up with a pillow, sleep either consuming her or near. Stripping quickly from her clothes, she snuggled up behind the blonde, kissing her shoulder softly as Tara stirred.
Take me in your arms and hold me
"You ok?" Tara mumbled through her impending sleep.
"Yeah." Willow sighed, kissing the blondes shoulder once again. "You?" Tara nodded, in Willow's arms she knew beyond all doubt that she was safe and allowed herself to fall into a deep and well earned sleep.
Rock me to sleep
Yawning loudly, Willow snuggled closer to Tara, her arms wrapping around her waist, the steady rise and fall of her chest telling Willow that she was already asleep. Content in herself, she closed her eyes and welcomed the darkness of her slumber.
Having slept most of the day away, Tara was the first to wake. Blearily she opened one eye and tried to focus on the clock at her side. Its neon display cheerily informed her that it was almost 3pm. Rolling over, she was confronted with a mass of redhead, its owner still in the depths of sleep. Slipping from the bed quietly, she stepped into the kitchen and began fixing herself something to eat. As she sat to enjoy her breakfast of mixed fruit, she turned the radio on quietly for a little company.
"Here's wishing you all a very merry Christmas eve." the announcer cheered. "May all you dreams and wishes come true."
Tara frowned, it couldn't possibly be Christmas eve already, surely? She got up and strode into the living room. Turning the TV on, she pulled up the display for the video that confirmed what the announcer had said. "Shit!" she complained and returned to the kitchen, deciding that as soon as she'd finished breakfast then she would go and try and find a present for Willow.
Willow stirred and yawned. Rubbing her eyes instinctively, she cursed herself under her breath as they began stinging again. The 'BodyGuard Rescue' had alleviated much of the burning and she had coated her hands in it but the friction of rubbing her tender eyes had started it off again, although thankfully not quite as severely.
Making her way into the kitchen, she found Tara humming along with the song on the radio. "Morning beautiful." She grinned as she wrapped her arms around the blonde's waist and kissed her neck carefully.
"Morning Willow. How are your eyes this morning?" Tara's voice was full of love and concern and Willow couldn't help but broaden her smile. "I'm all kinds of good, a little sore but good." she told her while stealing a strawberry from Tara's bowl. "I'm bloody starving though!" she finished as she went to the fridge.
"There's not much to eat, I've not been here!" Tara apologised and then frowned at her bowl. "Where did the fruit come from?" she asked suddenly, drawing a giggle from the redhead who was fixing tea for both of them.
"I had Riot stop at the all night market on our way back last night. I figured there wouldn't be anything to eat so stocked up on essentials." she explained.
Tara smiled while shaking her head. "Willow Rosenberg, you really are something else!" she told her.