Willow's trembling hand stopped in uncertainty. A large part of her wanted and needed to know that what she was seeing was real. The other half denied what was so clearly in front of her eyes. Allowing her fingers to graze the blonde's shoulder, at last, the young doctor's strangled intake of breath confirmed what she knew was real.
Shivering under the gentle touch of confirmation, Tara clutched her arms tightly around her knees. The blonde heard Willow's heavy breathing and froze.
"Is there a problem, ma'am?" Met with the harsh brightness of a guard's flashlight, the doctor froze as well. Willow's eyes darted around, working off the temporary blindness before focusing fearfully on the security officer.
He stopped on the passenger side of the doctor's car and lowered the flashlight to examine the interior, checking both front and back seats. Seeing nothing, the officer raised the light back toward Willow and aimed at her midsection rather than her face.
The redhead's eyes flashed downward, meeting the almost lost gaze of Tara's. Dark and somewhat pleading, the patient's eyes burned into those of Willow's.
"Ma'am?" He stepped forward, releasing the strap that securely held the baton to his belt. "Is something wrong?" The guard made another quick check with his flashlight.
"No," Willow hoped the simple answer would satisfy the security officer. When he stepped closer, walking down to the trunk and beginning to round the back of the car, the doctor quickly met him before he could see the blonde on the ground.
"Yes, actually...," she paused, "there is a problem. I, uh, well... I forgot where I parked my car." The doctor frowned in false helplessness. Moving to the man's side and effectively diverting his attention so he was facing away from the car, Willow continued. "I could've sworn it was on the east wing, but now that I think about it I'm pretty sure it's on the west." She pointed to the other section of the parking lot.
"It's dark out. I'll walk you." Clicking off his flashlight, he and Willow left the car and Tara behind. The doctor didn't look back, fearing that the guard would follow her gaze. The dim glow from the parking lot lights made it possible for the two people to get to the other side of the street without any problems.
"Oh, I can see it," Willow pointed to a dark car several feet ahead, "I got it from here." She quickened her pace, "Thanks for walking me." The doctor hurried toward the anonymous car.
The guard fell back, slowing his steps. "Not a problem," he smiled, intending to wait until the young woman entered the automobile.
Pretending to unlock the door, Willow's heart pounded when her hand gripped the door handle. If the owner had an alarm it would be impossible to convince the officer that it was her car. Stilling her breaths, she pulled the handle and nearly fainted when the door opened effortlessly. Silently thanking the trusting person that would leave his or her door unlocked, Willow slid into the driver's seat.
Nodding once more and satisfied enough to leave the woman alone, the guard turned and strolled back down the parking lot. When the dark silhouette was out of sight, the redhead left the car and sprinted back to her own vehicle.
Exactly where she left her, Tara remained huddled against the car. The red-haired doctor searched her brain. If she alerted the guards patrolling nearby, they would immediately take the blonde into their custody and return her to her room. The problem was that Willow wasn't sure if the guards would properly handle Tara, meaning they would not drug or physically harm her.
Voices in a distance shook the redhead from her thoughts. Trusting her gut feeling, which burned with anxiety and fear, Willow did what she thought was right.
"Tara, can you hear me?" Willow asked, unlocking her car doors before another guard or someone from the hospital walked by. "Can you move?"
The blonde's head rose, revealing a small bruise on her cheek that darkened red and blue under the weak lighting.
Wincing sadly and guessing that the injury was from the Tara's escape, Willow reached into her car and slid the driver's seat upward toward the steering wheel. "Tara, I'm going to need you to get into the back, on the floor." She didn't like the idea, but knew that if anyone happened to be walking by or if there was a checkpoint set up at the gate, her plan wouldn't work. She prayed that if there was some sort of inspection, the guards would do an extremely poor job.
Tara uncurled enough to show that she understood and wordlessly crawled on her knees until she managed to get a grip on the cushioned seat. Nervous hands helped her into the car. "Sorry, I know it's uncomfortable," the doctor whispered and shut the door. The redhead wasn't sure how much time she had and hastily slipped into the tight fit of the driver's seat.
Every mile that the car sped away from the Pines View gate, jeopardized Willow's career.
Think Willow. The doctor glanced through the rearview mirror. They were fifteen minutes away from downtown Seattle, carefully weaving through the late night traffic. What am I doing?
Tara had yet to say a word, balled up on the back seat and gazing intently out of the window. Her eyes took in the sights, which may have seemed unappealing to other viewers. But having spent a large part of her existence away from car lights and flowing landscapes, the blonde had grown unused to the sounds of nature and everyday life.
Willow wasn't sure when it started, but when she took another glance into the mirror she noticed that Tara had begun to silently cry. In that moment, the redhead got her answer. She might not know every single detail there was to know about Tara Maclay, but it didn't matter. While watching the streams of water cascade down the blonde's flushed cheeks, nothing mattered except freedom. Tara was free from the boundaries of Pines View. From the pale walls and zombie pills that constituted treatment in the so-called doctors' mind.
Shifting into a faster gear, the redhead sped home.
Sluggish, Robin stumbled down the steps, almost tripping over her briefcase at the end of the staircase. She had received a surprising, and confusing, phone call from her roommate five minutes ago, and had hurried down the steps to meet the redhead. Willow hadn't said much; actually she didn't say anything other than telling Robin that she was on her way home, and that she had something important to tell her. No, show her, yes that was it. The dark-haired woman's sleepy mind was slow to catch up with her body as she swung the door open, staring out into the night.
Minutes later, Willow's car pulled into the driveway, her tires screeching a little. Robin watched as her best friend shut the driver's door and opened the back. The redhead reemerged with another person, who all but molded herself into Willow's body.
The strange blonde's features seemed familiar to the prosecutor, but she couldn't place the familiarity. Dressed in a white outfit that was stained with what Robin thought was dirt and grass, the visible bruise on the woman's face alarmed the prosecutor.
"Willow, what's going on?" Robin stepped back as both women entered the house. Clarity slowly began to return to her mind and nearly all traces of sleep were gone.
"Let me get her upstairs and then I'll explain everything, okay?" The prosecutor noticed the young blonde woman's frightened and tired eyes and nodded. Willow returned five minutes later, quietly descending the stairs and pulling her roommate into the kitchen.
Taking a deep breath, the doctor explained the facts as she knew them, finishing wearily. Her roommate was silent, eyes wide in disbelief.
"Say something," the silence unnerved Willow. She trusted Robin. To her, the other woman was like a sister and she knew that it was the same for her best friend.
"Are you crazy?" Incredulous, Robin switched between staring at the ceiling and at the doctor. Willow shot her a glare, "Okay, bad wording," the young woman admitted. "Willow this isn't legal. Yeah, sure, some hospitals have out-patient programs but that doesn't mean you're allowed to just take them home with you."
Different scenarios ran through Robin's mind, mostly centering on the consequences of Willow's actions and how it would impact her best friend and the young woman upstairs.
"I didn't... okay, well, I did. What was I supposed to do?" The doctor asked with a frown.
"Willow," the dark-haired woman rubbed her forehead, "there are people looking for her. The police, the hospital staff, and what about Giles? I'm sure he'll be hearing about this one way or the other."
"I'll deal with Giles when the time comes." Having never considered her mentor's reaction until now, Willow couldn't help but feel slightly guilty, but she quickly pushed her feelings aside. She was trying to help someone, Giles would understand... if he knew.
"You're not going to tell him, are you?" Recognizing the guilty expression on her friend's face, Robin knew what the redhead was thinking. "So what are you going to do? Hide her in the closet every time he stops by?"
"I never expected this to happen, it's not like I had some kind of plan worked out. She was... and," defeated, Willow slumped into a nearby chair. "I couldn't leave her there." She finished miserably.
Robin's features softened. It wasn't that she intentionally wanted to upset her best friend; she was only trying to help the doctor understand that harboring an escaped patient would be daring. Although, in the back of her mind, the prosecutor was sure that the redhead was well aware of the problem. Willow had the tendency to act on impulse, especially when it was for or about a person or situation she thought was important.
Running fingers through her black hair, the attorney relented. If it meant a lot to Willow, it was important to her as well. Moving forward to wrap her arms around the redhead, giving the doctor a comforting hug, Robin sighed lightly as she pulled back.
"Get some sleep; we'll worry about it in the morning," she checked the clock on the microwave, "the late morning." Receiving a weak smile from her best friend, the prosecutor ushered the young woman up the stairs, following her, "Goodnight," she whispered, aware of the sleeping woman two doors down.
"'Night," Willow mumbled, suddenly exhausted as her friend closed the door to her room.
Being that the spare room was currently in shambles, and was usually the hottest room in the house, Willow knew it was either the floor or the chair in the corner. The option to bunk with Robin was open, but the redhead knew how wild the attorney slept and also knew that she would wake up aching.
Creeping into the room, having lingered in the hallway for some time, the doctor observed the young woman in her bed.
Tara's features relaxed peacefully under the moonlight shining through thin curtains. The blonde was a mystery to Willow, even with the open file on her desk. Papers and scribbled words couldn't tell the redhead what was really happening inside Tara's head. Or what dreams would haunt her that night.
Carefully arranging some extra blankets onto the floor, Willow settled onto the carpeted area and sat up on her knees to once again check on Tara.
Caged for most of her life, Tara was a beautiful creature, wounded and so far from reality. What would happen after the creature had won her freedom?