Sprawled out on the couch in all of her lazy glory, Robin looked up when the front door opened. The single eye she used to watch her roommate flop down tiredly on the chair across from her, blinked and mentally forced the other eye to open.
"You look how I feel," the dark-haired woman rolled over and sat up. "Tell me... is your brain about to explode and it feels like your eyes haven't closed in weeks?"
Willow nodded and slouched in the chair.
"Yep, exactly how I feel." Offering a small grin before her head fell back against the couch, Robin sighed. "Let's do something. Something fun."
"If by fun you mean taking an aspirin and crawling back into bed, I'm all for it." The doctor mumbled. She glanced down at her shoulder bag and grimaced knowing how much work she needed to have done. A few hours of sleep wouldn't hurt, and her body seemed to already agree with her thoughts as her eyes closed.
Subconsciously pleased by Willow's response, Robin fell back into her earlier position atop the comfortable furniture.
Less than fifteen minutes after closing her eyes, Willow managed to drag herself into the kitchen, setting her bag on the table and grabbing the bottle of aspirin as she moved around the room. After pouring a glass of water, the redhead pushed her shoulder bag aside where several pencils, loose papers, and other items slid out onto the wooden surface. The doctor was usually a neat person, but the headache that was beginning to tighten and pull around her temples pushed all thoughts of tidiness aside.
Willow swallowed the pill and rested her head in her hands, jumping slightly when the telephone rang. After a second ring and a low voice from the living room, Robin stumbled into the kitchen, grumbling under her breath as she gathered her papers and briefcase from the table.
"Duty calls?" The doctor watched her roommate stuff papers and folders into her dark brown briefcase.
"I should've been a writer," the prosecutor sighed, thinking about her dream career she had as a teenager.
Willow smiled, also remembering her friend's aspiration. "Will you be gone long? I think I might need a wake up call, I broke my alarm clock last week." The doctor smiled, guiltily.
"Hmm, you should set your cellular phone," Robin flashed her own smile of guilt. "If that call is any indication of the rest of my day, I'll be sleeping in my office tonight." Clicking her briefcase shut, the young woman mumbled "bye" and hurried through the door.
Feeling her headache tug at her heavy eyelids, Willow finished her water and made her way up the steps and into bed.
The continuous ring of the telephone woke Willow from her slumber. Several hours past the time she had intended to get up, the redhead cursed under her breath and rolled over to answer the call.
"Hello?" Rubbing her eyes, Willow sat up, visually scolding the clock.
"Hey, I have your file," the doctor recognized the voice and frowned, but before she could speak again, Robin went on. "I must've grabbed it by accident yesterday, did you want to stop by and get it from my assistant? I'm in court all day."
"No, uh," the grogginess had yet to fall away completely, "I'll get it later; I want to be at the hospital early." Which was three hours ago, Willow realized. Even though the file was important, Willow knew that her roommate wouldn't allow it to end up in the wrong hands. She would just have to wait until Robin came home to know what the folder contained.
"Alright, I'll see you later."
Hanging the phone up, the red-haired doctor sat for a moment and allowed herself to fully wake before beginning her day.
Forty-five minutes later, Doctor Rosenberg walked the familiar path through the main hospital doors.
"Good evening," she smiled to the staff members who nodded their acknowledgement and continued walking.
After going through the routine of signing in, the doctor found herself within her patient's room, smiling to herself when Tara looked up. However brief the moment, Willow was still happy to have seen the other woman's face rather than the curtain of hair that usually blocked her view.
"Hello, Tara," she set her bag down and nodded to the orderly who closed to door behind himself.
The young blonde shifted, but made no attempt to raise her head again.
"How are you today? Good?" Willow probed, hoping for a response. She took a moment to search over the blonde's huddled form, pleased that Tara appeared physically all right.
Too many questions came into the doctor's mind as Tara remained positioned in the corner. Knowing that she needed to proceed with caution, Willow chose to save all personal questions for later in the session. She didn't want to frighten the blonde and felt that the best way of communicating with her patient would be through ordinary questions.
"You don't mind if I sit, do you?" Showing her friendly intent, the doctor sat along the wall. Although there was some distance between the two women, Willow could hear Tara's even breathing.
"How do you feel?" The redhead moved to grab her pen and notepad but thought otherwise and merely waited as Tara uncurled slightly. The blonde slowly unfolded her leg, allowing it to stretch. It was clear to Willow that Tara felt unthreatened, at least enough to move, and so the doctor went on.
"You do know that you can talk to me about anything, right?" She paused, "Or we can just sit, and I'll talk. I like to talk, heck I even babble, which is something you never want to hear. I can go on for hours, and believe me, it's not a pretty sight... sound," the doctor frowned, realizing that her babble-mode had briefly taken over.
A small corner of Tara's lip rose, catching Willow's eye. The redhead felt a flutter of excitement in her stomach and relaxed against the wall.
"What should we talk about, hmm?" She extended her legs, crossing them at the ankles. "I'll bet you have a lot to talk about?" Smiling, Willow glanced over to the blonde.
Tara's lips parted, closed, and then opened again. The redhead held her breath as Tara's shoulders rose and fell, vibrated by the rhythm of her fast beating heart.
"I-I," slow and hoarse, the blonde tried to speak, "I don't k-know." Timid eyes shot upward before falling.
"What don't you know, Tara?" The doctor waited.
Teeth worried dry lips, "H-How I feel." Willow frowned before realizing that her patient was answering her earlier question.
"Well... that's okay, Tara. It's okay that you don't know," the redhead gave the blonde a reassuring smile. "Just tell me anything you want, it doesn't have to be how you feel. Is there something you want to tell me, Tara?"
Raising her blue eyes, Tara looked over toward the redhead, blinking as she regarded the doctor. Willow remained calm under the scrutiny; it was rare that her patients ever regarded her in such a way. She was used to being the observer, not the person being analyzed.
"No." Clear and somewhat final, Tara answered.
Subconsciously, the doctor wondered what the blonde had seen when she looked at her.
"No? Are you sure, Tara?" Willow asked, although not wanting to press too hard and lose the connection she thought she had with the other woman.
Receiving no response, the redhead chose a different path. "I saw Paula, Tara. You wanted me to talk to her, didn't you? Isn't that why you wrote her address for me, so that I could find her?"
Tara's thumb rubbed over her hand in a circular motion.
Willow knew that she wasn't supposed to ask about Tara's personal life so early on, but the doctor was a little frustrated. Not in her patient but in herself because she was eager to figure out what was happening, and had very few answers.
"Tara, why did you write that message?" Willow frowned, remembering the nanny's behavior. "What was she supposed to tell me?"
The rubbing had stopped and Tara was, oddly enough, staring fixedly into Willow's eyes.
What was she looking for?
A tapping sound came from the window before the door opened. "Ma'am?" It was the same orderly who had taken Tara out to the courtyard last week, and from the same items he was carrying, Willow knew why he was there.
"I thought you usually came before dinner?" The doctor frowned down at her watch before looking over to Tara, who had continued to stare at her.
"Patients with good behavior are allowed out more often," he shifted uncomfortably in the doorway.
"Can I walk with her?" Willow asked.
The orderly looked uncertain, "I have to clear it with my supervisor." Shuffling down the hall, the young man stopped to speak to a tall, bald man.
Willow turned back toward the blonde who had already risen to her feet. Doing the same, the doctor waited for the man to return.
"Okay, but I have to walk with both of you," he stepped into the room to help Tara with the coat and slippers.
Silent, Tara slipped on the jacket as Willow gathered her belongings and moved into the hallway. Emerging from the room with the young woman, the three exited down the side hall.
Foggy air greeted the doctor's lungs as she observed the courtyard. Fenced in and scattered with benches, trees and rows of hard concrete, the courtyard looked pleasant enough. Numerous patients walked along the grass and sidewalks, some muttering and others walking silently.
They walked quietly and the orderly slowed to follow behind the two women, wanting to provide them with as much privacy as possible.
"Isn't it beautiful out here?" Willow asked. Granted there wasn't a lot of diversity in the sights, but it was better than the blinding whiteness of Tara's room.
The blonde walking beside her wrung her hands together while her footwear scrapped lightly against the ground.
A distant memory flashed in the doctor's mind, but she quickly shook it away. She looked back and noted that the orderly had drifted further behind. "Are you happy here?" The question was unexpected for both doctor and patient. Willow inwardly chided herself. Who would possibly be happy in a mental institution?
The redhead folded her arms over her chest uneasily then dropped them, letting them swing at her sides. Suddenly, Tara stopped and Willow stumbled before coming to a stop as well. Confused, the orderly watched the two people in front of him and stopped a short distance away.
"Are they friends of yours?" Willow asked as Tara looked across the yard where a group of patients and nurses had gathered.
Static and a soft buzz came from the orderly's belt before a voice yelled through the talking device attached to him. The voice was incoherent but held enough urgency to tell all three listeners that something was wrong.
Robin kicked off her low heeled boots and fell, heavily, back into her office chair. She had a fifteen minute break and wanted to take advantage of every second, so after grabbing a cup of coffee the prosecutor had hurried to her office for a brief rest.
Her current case was physically draining her. Two weeks and not one shred of incriminating evidence against the accused had been found. She didn't usually get involved with cases involving children, but had agreed to help out a friend. Technically it wasn't entirely her case, although she had done most of the footwork and interviewed many of the witnesses.
She pulled out her top drawer to make sure Willow's file was where she'd put it, and once satisfied that nothing had been touched, closed the drawer. She and her roommate always kept their professional lives out of their home, having never fully discussed cases or names. Needless to say it was a surprise to find her friend's folder in her briefcase. Robin didn't have to open the file to know it wasn't hers, mainly because of the Pines View stamp on the front cover.
Taking a sip from her cup, the dark-haired woman sighed when a soft knock came from the door.
"Come in," a yawn muffled the words, but the newcomer entered despite the barely audible announcement. The prosecutor checked her watch, cursing as she remembered that her free period wasn't exactly free.
"Thank you for seeing me at such short notice," the woman said before taking a seat.
"It's not a problem," Robin smiled. "What can I help you with, Mrs. Evans?"
The older woman shakily placed a picture on the prosecutor's table.
"It's about my daughter."