A peacefully slumbering couple's sleep was suddenly being interrupted by an insistent ringing in the middle of the night. The woman was the first to wake while her companion seemed to be dead to the world.
"Mhphm...what the hell...?" She mumbled while clumsily reaching out in the dark in an attempt to stop the sound that had pulled her from sleep. "Hello ? Whazzat...? Oh, right, hold on."
She turned to her bed partner and shook him with one hand while trying to hold on to the cell-phone with the other. "Xan...Xan...Xander wake up!"
The man stirred and half opened his eyes. "Wha...what?"
"Phone, it sounds important."
"Hello, who is this? Who? Oh yeah...she is? Christ, I'll go over right away. And thanks for calling me Billy." He hung up the phone, quickly began to gather his clothes and dressed for going out.
The girl yawned and rubbed her eyes. "Trouble honey?"
"Something like that, I have to go and I probably won't be back tonight. Make yourself at home and I'll give you a rain check for my famous cereal and fruit breakfast." He said and leaned down to kiss his girl sweetly on the lips.
The woman smiled and hugged a pillow to her body already beginning to fall asleep again. She sighed and uttered, "Be careful out there." before fully closing her eyes.
He nodded even though she couldn't see him and headed for his car.
The fifteen minute ride seemed to be stretching on for hours. Xander Harris checked his watch with a worried expression on his face. He just couldn't believe the types of things that Tara was doing lately. She was definitely a changed woman. He began to replay the conversation they had had in the morning as he approached the dreaded destination.
Tara had reached the Archive room almost out breath and clearly agitated. Xander missed her mood as he was busy trying to do a cross word puzzle. Tara had been determined to talk to Xander and convince him to go back on duty with her but now that she was there in front of him she didn't know what to say. She cleared her throat. "Humph!"
Harris looked up a little surprised, "Hey buddy what brings you down to the dungeon at such an early hour?"
He looked at her curiously. "Well...what's up? You look like you got to the doughnut box when the guy in front of you had just taken the last jelly one."
"How are you lately Harris?" She asked in a grave voice.
"Can't complain, actually I've been feeling much better. The rehab is going well and my new diet is doing wonders for my waist line." He said, smiling and patting his belly.
She brightened up, maybe there was hope. "Great! Does that mean you'll be ready action soon, like say this week?"
"Whoa there! Hold your horses at the starting line. I said I was feeling much better but I'm not 100%, my left hand and my right leg aren't quite tip-top yet."
"Well yeah, but I mean you're right handed so that's not so bad and the leg...what better way to get it strong again than by exercising it every day on the pavement? Plus, you were never a quick runner anyways I always take on most of the foot chases."
Xander tried to explain, "Well...yeah, but..."
Tara desperately carried on hoping to convince him. "But what? Come on partner look at this place. Don't you miss the action? You've got to be bored out your mind by now. I know that if you talked to the Captain he would let you come back and..."
This time Xander did cut in. "Tara!Slow it up, will ya? First, I can't force my recovery. I don't want to risk permanent damage. Second, so this doesn't have the glamour of blood and guts on the streets but it does have some advantages. It's quiet, I have time to read and do crosswords and best of all the hours are steady no calls in the middle of the night, no not knowing what time you're going to make it home..."
"So what are you saying that even if you could come back you wouldn't? So it's not really that you can't be my partner again it's more like you don't want to." She said in an angry tone.
Harris couldn't believe what he was hearing. He had never seen his partner being so selfish or unreasonable in all the years they had known each other.
"Awww, come on Tara don't take it like that. You know that's not it. I'm just being careful. Of course I want to be back out on the street but I also want to make sure I'm up for it. I couldn't be your partner if I weren't totally sure that could have your back."
That last sentence broke Tara's defenses and she knew that he was right. 'Damn you Harris. Why did you have to pick now to be the sensible one?' She thought with a sense of sadness.
"You're right. I'm sorry I pushed you partner. I...you're right. So since when are you so damn responsible anyhow?"
"To tell you the truth besides the obvious near death experience I've been doing a lot of thinking lately because of Anya. I believe it's time for me to stop running around so wild and maybe settle down." He admitted with a shy grin.
Tara couldn't hide her surprise. "Anya? As in the nurse with the shortest skirt in the hospital Anya?"
Xander smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
"How long have you been seeing her? I thought you hadn't even asked her out on a date."
"Well...not to sound all grandma or anything but we haven't exactly been in touch lately. I've tried calling you to talk or just hang out and you've shot me down every time."
Tara had to look away a little embarrassed. He was right again. "Yeah...you know I..."
"Hey, It's O.k., I get it. You're going through something I just hope you know that you don't have to go through it alone."
Tara looked away again. She didn't want to talk about this now. She was desperate to change the subject so she said the first thing that came to her mind. "So nurse short-short skirt? I didn't know you had it you Harris."
Xander got what his partner was doing and played along. The rest of the conversation had been inconsequential and then she was gone. He was left to worry about her uncharacteristic behavior and silence but he figured she would talk to him when she was ready. He hoped it would be soon though. That much bottled emotion wasn't good for anyone and it was bound to look for an outlet. He hoped Tara wouldn't end up doing something stupid.