Bad news in the professional world traveled fast, especially when it wasn't supposed to. Giles' mind reeled as he took the familiar route to his protégé's house. When a colleague had informed him of the incident at Pines View, his curiosity prompted him to find out more information as well as the name of the missing patient. When Tara Maclay's name came up, his suspicions pointed him in Willow's direction.
A number of emotions coursed through the doctor, but the most prevalent was betrayal. He was quite sure that Willow had heard of the disappearance by now. So, the question was why hadn't she come to him? Even if she was unaware of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Maclay's disappearance, he had subconsciously expected her to come to him for advice or to tell him what she knew.
Giles knew that Willow had gone against his will to treat Ms. Maclay even after learning the hospital's shaky background; he was certain that her passion would not allow her to give up so easily, but he also knew that it was that same intense passion that had led many astray. The last thing he wanted to see was Willow getting in over her head, and he would do just about anything to prevent it from happening. He just hoped that he wasn't too late.
Donald tried not to panic despite his initial reaction. Carefully reading over the article, he continued to ignore his friend's voice and attempted to get as much as he could from the small article. No specific details had been revealed within the short paragraphs, but enough had been given to spark his interest.
He hung up the telephone and looked over the paper, feeling annoyed. Everything about the news column bothered him. Why wasn't more information given, and why now? He had worked too hard for everything to fall apart. Getting Tara back would eliminate most of his fears, but he never anticipated this new barrier.
Picking up the receiver again, he rummaged through the papers on his desk until he found a telephone number hidden amongst the crumpled scraps. The other line rang several times before a weary voice answered.
"Paula." He had to tie up some loose ends before it all unraveled.
Somberly, Paula hung up the telephone and stared at the receiver. Of all the people, Donald was the last person she expected to hear from, especially when it concerned their daughter. She continued staring at the telephone as she remembered his words.
Donald had been hesitant when he spoke. She didn't want me to tell you. He had said as he recounted his last meeting with Nadia and the young woman's plan to move north to Canada.
After a brief pause, he had gone on about their short conversation.
I can't tell you how much this has been destroying me over the years, but I... I needed to finally let it go. I never wanted to hurt you, Paula. Please forgive me, I know this is not how you wanted to find out... she was always a wicked child... you did the best you could for her.
As his last words continued to race through her mind, Paula left her chair and walked toward the series of pictures above her fireplace. Why had Donald come forward about Nadia now after so many years of silence? Was this it? Was it over? Was it time she ended her search now that she knew? Now that her worst fears had been confirmed?
Robin peeked into her roommate's bedroom and lightly tapped on the door. "Are you too busy for coffee?" She asked, smiling as she revealed two coffee mugs.
"How can I be too busy for coffee?" Willow asked and pushed back from her desk. She had been updating her notebook, but was glad for the interruption.
"Okay, how about coffee and conversation," Robin said as she handed Willow a mug and sat down on the bed across from the redhead.
"Nope, I'm never too busy." Willow leaned back into her chair and faced her friend, "What's up?"
"How are you holding up?" Robin asked, pulling up her legs and folding them on the bed. After Willow's session with Tara yesterday, she had been a little worried when she noticed the sadness on her friend's face before Willow went to bed.
"I'm okay," Willow answered, although visibly unsure. She gave a tiny sigh and rubbed her forehead. "There is so much more that has to be done, but I think I'm starting to get through a little more."
"Trust never comes easy," Robin said, briefly glancing toward the hallway as she sat her mug on the floor. "We both know that you're doing the best that you can and when the time goes, it'll all be worth it."
Willow nodded, placing her cup on the desk. "I know." After a short pause, she went on. "I can see that she's been hurt so much, and I don't want to push her or make any mistakes."
"You'll do fine... you're doing fine," Robin said, reassuringly.
"You know, for once I would like you to tell me what a horrible job I'm doing," Willow said, smiling as she joked with her friend.
Robin rose from the bed when she heard the telephone ring, "Trust me, when the time comes, I'll be the first to let you know." She grabbed her mug from the floor. "Are you taking calls?"
"Yeah," Willow said, nodding. Once Robin had left, she went back to her work, jotting down thoughts when they came to her and oblivious to the footsteps that paused and then continued passed her doorway.
Tara heard Robin's voice as she descended the steps and approached the foyer. She had been hesitant about disturbing either of the women, especially during something as ordinary as getting a glass of water. As quietly as she could, Tara rounded the corner and walked into the kitchen.
"Please tell me you have something for me," Robin said, speaking into the telephone with her back toward the steps.
Her friend, Daniel, sighed before speaking, "I've checked around, done some digging, but it all leads to the same conclusion. She simply disappeared. No records, parking tickets, or anything that would suggest she has settled in another town, have been found."
"How can there not be a single bread trail?" Robin asked, clearly frustrated. Tara stopped at the entranceway into the dining room when she heard the agitated lawyer's voice.
"It's easier to disappear than you think, Robin. People do it everyday and they are often never found unless someone is looking for them or they want to be found." Daniel finished, sharing the young woman's frustration. Without enough information to go on, he knew that it would be next to impossible to find any solid leads on a woman whom had been missing for so long. He was a cop, but even cops had their limitations.
"Dan," Robin paused, fearing her next words but she knew that the same question was lurking in her friend's mind. "Do you think something happened to her?"
On her way back from the kitchen, Tara paused inches from the stairs. Eavesdropping on the lawyer's private conversation was wrong, and she knew it. Whatever was going on had nothing to do with her, right? Tara frowned. Who were they looking for? Deciding that she had heard enough, the blonde quietly made her way back upstairs.
She once again paused before reaching Willow's door and thought about whether or not she should interrupt her. The doctor had done so much for her, the least she could do was say "hello." Hesitantly, she knocked on the door and smiled when Willow looked up from her work.
"'Morning," Willow said as she closed her notebook and stood up. "How are you feeling?" She gestured for Tara to enter.
"Good," Tara said, a half smile on her lips as she stepped into the room. She glanced at the assorted papers and books scattered across Willow's desk, "Am I b-bothering you?"
"No," Willow said, shaking her head, "I could use a break. Did you want to talk?" She asked, a bit excited by the fact that Tara had come to her.
Did she want to talk?
"It can be about anything, it doesn't have to be about the past. We can talk about pancakes if you want, which, actually, kind of makes me hungry." Willow bit her lip, her cheeks growing red.
Tara chuckled, appreciating the doctor's ability to make her laugh. It felt strange after so long, but she liked it.
Downstairs, Robin hung up the telephone, disappointed. She felt helpless and yet she knew that there wasn't much she could do. How do you find someone who doesn't want to be found? You wait. A short series of knocks on the front door interrupted her reverie.
Giles prepared to knock again but stopped short when the door swung open.
"Giles," Robin whispered, surprised by the doctor's presence. She quickly glanced back toward the steps before addressing the older man. "Is everything all right? Willow's-."
"Is she here?" Giles asked, abruptly, having followed Robin's quick look into the foyer.
"Oh, yes... yes, she is," Robin said, studying Giles' face. Something was wrong. "Giles, what's going on? Is it Olivia?"
Giles shook his head, quickly dispelling the younger woman's fear. "I need to speak to Willow about a professional matter. I believe she...," he trailed off upon noticing the two figures coming down the stairs.
Willow froze on the staircase, barely moving when Tara accidentally bumped into her.
"Willow, what have you done?"