She was slowly coming back to consciousness, for a moment she had forgotten where she was. She felt arms around her middle and the feeling of someone possibly trying to lift her.
She recognized the voice now and she was unable to hold back as yet again the emotions took over her body.
The arms that held her were comforting, comforting in a horrible way because they shared something that was as devastating a blow one could take.
Mrs. Rosenberg now joined Tara as they sat together on the cold floor of the hospital, their pain understood by each other in a way no-one else could ever understand. She could no longer act as someone who was strong and supportive and the reality of the devastating news transformed her from on who would help Tara through these hours to a mother who had just found out the news of horrific damage caused to her one and only daughter, in such an incredibly senseless and cruel way. Her chance of survival close to zero. The pain she felt now was unlike anything she had ever known.
The two now sat on the floor, holding each other as their bodies shock from the force of the sobs that now overtook them. Hospital workers and police officers witness to a spectacle that was unmatched by anything they had ever seen. No-one there had a dry eye. They could close them but the scene continued to haunt them from the sounds that rang through the hospital corridor.
Pictures of her daughter filled her mind.
Her first bicycle ride.
The trip to Disneyland.
Their first cake they had made together, the face of the little red head covered in chocolate from the licking of the spoon they had used to mix it.
The wide eyes that looked at her as she read to her stories of dragons and castles, beanstalks and giants..
The slamming of the door as she ran inside so anxious to find her mama and tell her all the things she had learned her first day of school.
The endless stream of run on sentences that were her first signs that her daughter was a babbler first class.
The highschool dance that ended in disaster as she chose never to hide who and what she was, and danced the evening with a young beautiful girl.
The mocking and ridicule forced upon her for the remaining three years as her decision was something no one ever tried to understand.
Her Valedictorian graduation speech.
Her graduation from the academy.
The first award presented to her hero of a pet, the pride of that day as her eyes filled with tears as a little dog she had saved from a life where he was treated so cruelly now accepted the medal and applause of the entire police and ranger departments and nearly half the town.
The way she looked at Tara as she introduced her to her for the first time.
As she reviewed these moments, she found them far too few.
She wanted more. Her daughter deserved more.
This thought sparked something in this woman now, as she spoke what she had now come to believe in this forty five seconds of mental review.
She didn't care about the odds these people had just given her. This, you see, was her Willow. The strongest, proudest woman she had ever known.
She would win this because it was the way her daughter was. She would survive. She knew it with a certainty that only a mother could know.
She spoke it now. Spoke it to Tara and she knew it was true. And once again she was a comfort to Tara. A comfort to the person she knew would be the number one reason that her Willow would survive.
The next seven hours were spent sitting on the couch of the hospital waiting room. Tara's head resting on Mrs. Rosenberg's shoulder. Her hand stroking Tara's hair as she took on the role of Tara's mother.
They sound of footsteps caused her to look around and she saw the doctor coming in their direction.
She lightly tapped Tara on the shoulder and spoke. "Tara. Here he comes."
They both stood now, the doctor was taking far to long to reach them and they took the matter in their own hands. They met him half way, and soon found that the trip was for nothing as the doctor pointed them back and motioned to sit on the couch they had just made their way over from.
"I'm Dr. LaVette, I'm a trauma surgeon, and I have just finished the initial surgery on your daughter and your partner," he said, shaking hands with them both. "I'll be honest with you, she is in very bad shape. We managed to get the bleeding and repair a lot of the damage caused by the bullets but the damage was severe. The worst of the two hit a vertebra between her shoulder blades. I will tell you now this is a devastating injury. We may have to do another surgery to to examine the spinal cord if she survives this. The intense blood loss and the extensive damage to her body has made it impossible for us to do the spinal cord examination at this point. She's just too weak. She wouldn't survive it. The good news here is that the tests have given no evidence it was torn. She will however, more then likely experience temporary if not permanent lower body paralysis."
"Oh God," Tara said. Mrs. Rosenberg picked up Tara's hand in her own and held it, looking into her face and trying to give her reassurance
"He said it may and he said temporary Tara. Focus on that. Nothing else okay? Let's listen to all of this first before we panic. I know it's very difficult but it's also extremely important for you to do this. When she wakes up, you're the first person she's going to want to see. You can't let her see this look you have right now. Do you understand Sweetie?" she said, speaking in the same voice she had heard Willow speak to Joss in after they had found him with his head injury. She now knew where this came from. And the comfort came to her. She nodded her agreement to Mrs. Rosenberg and then and only then did Mrs. Rosenberg raise her eyes back to the doctor to hear the rest of what he had to say.
"Everything north of that works," he said. "It's absolutely consistent. The thing we need to do know is wait for her to come around. Once that happens we can find out whether or not she has any feeling at all in her feet and lower legs. If she shows response to the external testing the second surgery won't be neccasary. Do you understand what I've told you? Is there anything that I need to explain more to you?" he asked.
"No no, I do. I understand," Mrs.Rosenberg answered. "So what now?" she asked.
"We wait." he answered.
"Can we see her?" Tara asked.
"Of course. Come on. I'll take you down." He stood and began to walk. Halfway he stoped. He cleared his throat and spoke.
"You need to know what you're going to see in there. Every function of her body is being done for her. Do you know what that means?"
"Machines," Tara whispered as she looked to the ground.
"Yes. It can be a scary picture. But you have to understand it's necessary at this point. It's also temporary if she get through this. Once she wakes up we will remove the breathing tube and if she is doing it on her own, we wont need to put it back."
"Okay, thank you doctor," Mrs. Rosenberg said.
They made it to the room and they looked in through the glass. It was devastating to them both.
Neither spoke for a good five minutes till Tara broke the silence and said: "Oh my God. What have I done to her?"
She then turned and ran down the hall and out the double doors.