Without a word to the two women standing beside him, the orderly assigned to watch Tara left her behind as he raced toward the growing crowd.
Curiously, Willow moved as if to follow the young man when a hand grabbed her wrist. The redhead turned, startled by the contact and for a moment the doctor thought she saw Tara mouth "no", but the blonde only kept her grasp as she watched the incident.
Seconds after the doctor's gaze moved from Tara and back toward the crowd, several security officers and orderlies began forcing their way through the throng of people. Confused, angered, and unsure, the men took their mixed emotions into the crowd, apprehending whomever they presumed as a threat.
Blankly, the red-haired woman watched batons and syringes puncture body parts until the wild yelling vanished and two unconscious bodies were removed from the courtyard. The situation, which she would later learn was an altercation between two patients, surprised and frightened the doctor.
The crowd dwindled as if what had just happened were an ordinary occurrence and the atmosphere, if possible, returned to normal.
Water glistened, creating a thin layer over Tara's eyes. The patient, obviously distressed, gripped her doctor's wrist, making the redhead realize that she was still within the blonde's grasp. Tara's hand fell away as the orderly rejoined them, visibly shaken.
"W-," he cleared his throat, "we should move on. She has another twenty minutes left." He glanced over Tara's figure, relieved that the blonde was unharmed.
"Does that happen often?" Willow asked once they'd moved further down the pathway. Faintly, the doctor noted that Tara was looking up at something in a distance, her eyes squinting briefly. After inwardly confirming what she saw, the patient's eyes had returned to staring at the ground while they walked.
"No," the young man frowned, and Willow faintly remembered that the orderly hadn't jumped into the crowd but merely stood back as the others broke through.
The silence they drifted into gave the doctor a little time to think. She wondered about Tara's reaction, and if the response had been instinctual or something else. Was the orderly telling the truth? Was the violent episode really a single incident? The redhead also wondered why she hadn't been asked to leave considering the last time she visited the hospital.
Deciding not the think about such thoughts, the doctor's head turned slightly as she regarded her patient. What was going on in Tara's mind? What was she thinking about as her fragile frame was being weighed down by the heavy overcoat she was wearing. Was she remembering? Was she trying to forget? The doctor's thoughts plagued her all at once.
Willow's cellular phone vibrated in her coat pocket, "Excuse me," she smiled apologetically toward the orderly and Tara before slowing her steps and following behind the two people.
"Willow, it's Giles," the older doctor's voice sounded surprised that Willow had picked up, especially since the younger doctor's cellular phone was usually out of range during that time of day. "Are you free tonight? Perhaps you and Robin would like to join Olivia and me for dinner."
"Oh, um, yes," the redhead frowned, "but I'm not sure if Robin will be able to make it. She's been really busy lately. But I'll ask her." Taking a moment, the doctor went on. "Is something wrong?" She asked, a bit thrown off by the invitation. It wasn't that she never had dinner with Giles and his wife, but it had been almost a year since the four of them got together.
"No, certainly not," he actually chuckled at the seriousness in his protégé's voice. "Just a friendly night out, which I'm sure both of you young ladies could use."
"Okay, well then, we'll see you tonight," Willow hung up the phone after getting the directions to the restaurant. She wasn't aware that she had included Robin, but had a funny feeling that the prosecutor, however tired, would jump at the opportunity to do something other than work.
Catching up to the two people walking ahead of her, the doctor apologized once more. Chill air blew through the courtyard and Willow visibly shuddered, noticing as Tara did the same. The orderly seemed unaffected by the sudden change in temperature and continued walking.
Quickly shaking off the feeling of coldness, Tara observed her doctor through sideway glances. The blonde read the soft crease on Willow's face, indicating that the redhead was thinking. What she was thinking about was a mystery to Tara, mainly because the blonde's mind was also racing. Full of bits of images and clouded words, the patient's thoughts pushed forward and caused a deep frown to appear on Tara's face.
They continued their silent walk until Tara's time expired and then once again found themselves within the pasty Pines View surroundings.
"Are they allowed any other activities?" Willow wondered aloud.
"Patients on this ward don't normally require more activities, Doctor Rosenberg," a new and unfamiliar voice came from behind the redhead.
"I'm Charles Christianson, one of the administrator's at Pines View," he offered his hand, keeping a hold of Willow's a bit longer than the redhead normally liked. Tall, but otherwise young for such a high position, the newcomer had caught up with the three individuals as they were heading back to Tara's room.
More than sure that the administrator already knew of Willow and a great deal of other things about her, the red-haired doctor waited as Mr. Christianson went on.
"If I could have a word with you, I would greatly appreciate it," he cast a strange glance toward the orderly and jerked his head, ever so slightly, down the hall. "It'll only take a minute," the large man extended an elbow, half expecting Willow to hook her arm within his. When the doctor failed to meet his expectations and kept her arms at her side, the man's jaw clearly tightened before relaxing into a smile.
As if sensing that neither he nor Tara were to be included in the conversation, the young orderly ushered the expressionless blonde down the hall and into her room.
"I can across your name during a routine evaluation, and wanted to know how things were progressing," Charles said once he and Willow began their way down the main corridor.
"Good," something about the man unnerved the doctor and she didn't want to reveal too much about her case. "Better than expected," she added, watching the man's eye twitch.
"Great, it's always good to know when our patients are improving," he nodded. The administrator kicked his legs up and bent them every time he took a step, sauntering down the hall like a pigeon. "If you ever start to have any problems, I or any member of the staff would be happy to assist you.
Willow looked over her shoulder and saw a flash of blonde hair before Tara's door closed. "Thank you, I'll keep that in mind," through a barely managed smile, the redhead turned to face the man who had stopped walking. "However, I do have a question."
Delighted, the administrator stuffed his hands into his pocket, "Ask away," he grinned.
"Tara's medication," she watched his expression closely, "there doesn't seem to be any specific classifications or dosages in her record."
"Well," his hands left his pockets and were wrapped around his chest, hands tucked beneath his upper arms, "all of our patients are given the same medication."
"But they all have different problems, different diagnoses," Willow frowned. Could this man be so quick to shovel dozens of pills out to each patient without a second glance?
"Our policies have worked so far, Ms. Rosenberg," clearly annoyed, the administrator shifted until most of his weight rested on his right leg.
"Right," to dispel any suspicions from the other doctor, Willow gave him a friendly smile as if to show that she agreed. He appeared to accept the façade and resumed his pigeon-walk.
"Any other questions," he half anticipated, half dreaded that the young redhead would ask another question.
"No, I think we're on the same page," the doctor lied.
"Right, we are," Mr. Christianson's face stretched into an unflattering smile, "now if you would excuse me, I must make my rounds." He excused himself and strolled down the hall, glancing back for only a second before disappearing around a corner.
Willow let her smile drop and turned on her heels, heading back down the hallway. It took her a minute to find someone to unlock the door but once inside the room, the doctor reclaimed her position along the bright wall.
"So," she paused to get comfortable, "where were we?" Tara's eyes rose to meet hers and Willow smiled before launching into her babble mode.
Robin sipped on her beer, enjoying the soft bubbles that fizzed on her tongue. All around her, voices and laughs filled the upscale restaurant as Giles recounted, for the umpteenth time, his proposal to his wife, Olivia.
The prosecutor noted that her roommate looked relaxed, but she knew otherwise. The slight kink in Willow's tensed shoulders as the redhead laughed was enough evidence to tell the young woman that everything wasn't right in the world of Willow Rosenberg.
Robin made a mental note to bring it, what ever it was, up later, while her own mind drifted to her meeting earlier that day.
There had been a hint of shame in Mrs. Evan's eyes as she told her story, and the prosecutor couldn't help but feel for the older woman. Her potential client, she hadn't agreed to accept the case yet, seemed genuine in her quest to find out what happened to her daughter. And although Robin wasn't a detective, she knew quiet a few that would be willing to jump on the mysterious case.
"...Robin?" A poke to her side ended the dark-haired woman's thoughts.
"What?" Guiltily, the young woman frowned at her best friend.
"Are you all right?" Giles asked from across the table while concerned eyes focused on her.
"Yes, I was only thinking about something," Robin said, flashing a reassuring smile. "Sorry, please go on. I know Olivia's got to have some juicy stories about you, Giles, so let's hear them."
The older man blushed as his wife retold the story of their first date.
Partially listening to the conversation, a sharp movement to her right caught Willow's attention. A woman at the bar had spilled something on her companions lap, although the action looked intentional from the glare on the woman's face.
Flustered and humiliated, the soaked man blotted at his pants with a handful of napkins, curling his lip as he cursed under his breath. The woman, whom he'd been talking to, left without so much as an apology.
Amused, and somewhat tipsy, Willow didn't stop the satisfied grin from crossing her face. She wasn't the type to usually laugh at such things, but something told the doctor that the wet incident was deserved.
The angered man's side profile looked familiar to the redhead but the darkened lights above the bar wouldn't allow Willow a better view. Shaking off the familiarity, Willow mentally rejoined the discussion.
Tracing a long finger over the dips and lines of the worn padded wall, Tara allowed her mind to roam the deep valleys of memory.
Her fingers read over the stone, blindly searching for the name.
Giving the impression of being new, the wall was anything but. If observed closely, the dirty corners where fingers had continuously grabbed fabric was easily noticeable. The blonde pulled at the cushioned wall, carefully, until a stream of water ran down the concrete surface behind it
Water stung her eyes, dark and burning.
Tara glanced over her shoulder to the glass window of the door. She dropped her hands just as a nurse's face looked closely into the opening, harrumphing before continuing down the hall.
A shadow loomed over her kneeling figure. "I'm doing this for you, it's the only way."
"The only way," Tara whispered, gritting her teeth as her knuckles scraped against the concrete while she pulled the padding harder. Fibers ripped, floating in the air as the material covering a small window on the second floor, fell away.
Raindrops glowed against the emergency exit sign.
She had waited too long.
Eyes glued to the open file on her desk, Willow frowned. She scanned the admissions sheet that was located at the beginning of the file, and audibly gasped. The signature following the date and secretarial witness's initials, read Tara Maclay.
But how on earth could Tara have admitted herself into Pines View? And, more importantly, why?