She wasn't quite sure how many hours she had been sitting there today. It could have been ten it could have been twenty. Over the last three days she had been thinking of so many things. There had been so many events in their short six month history. Everything from bitter arguing from their first two days together, to passionate lovemaking to wild love making.
She always was thankful that their first night in the park had been disrupted. It wasn't what she had wanted for their first time toghether. It was frantic and wild and a heated rough and tumble. She blushed now at the memory of orgasm during foreplay, not to mention tearing the buttons off of Willow's shirt. She continued to review the night, remembering how silly Willow had been for being jealous over a friend, misreading their interaction.
She remembered now that first night, how she slowly and gently made love to her. Wanting it to be something neither would ever forget. Relining just how important a step in their lives this would be. Wild could wait. That first night was a learning experience, something to be treasure, something that needed to be drawn out and slow. And that had been what it was. She blushed again now as she remembered the rest of the two days that were oh so very wild.
She closed her eyes now, and stretched her legs out. Sleep, she thought, she needed to sleep. And that was just what she did.
It was strange. She was trying very hard to remember what had happened. She was watching something? Was it a movie? Millo was in the movie. It was a movie? Clearly. He was in this movie. She didn't see him now though only heard him. Somrthing wasn't right now. She was panicking. Oh God. I think. Wake up, wake up. She was repeating this to herself now.
Wake up. This is a dream. Not a movie. She did wake up now. Her eyes open wide in panic. She had something in her throat.
Tara. She saw Tara. She called to her but she heard nothing. Now though she did hear something. Beeping.
"I can't breathe," she tried to say. Then she remembered it. She remembered feeling the most unbelievable pain she had ever felt in her entire life. The pain wasn't present now but it did nothing to soothe her. The memory was far too clear and she was feeling it now as painfully as she had when she had been... shot. She had been shot. At the store. She remembered the sound of the bottle as she dropped it to the floor. The other sound she remembered was...? She couldn't remember. Something else dropped.
A plastic lid. Now she remembered. The lid for the jar of beef jerky that she was grabbing for Millo.
Oh, Tara wouldn't have gotten her wine. Millo didn't get his jerky. This pained her. She felt as though she needed to apologize to them. She had ruined the dinner and Millo didn't get his treat. She stared at Tara. Willing her awake. She had to tell her something. Something important. She had to tell Tara why she didn't get the wine.
She heard a voice now and she immediately recognized it. Her mom. Her mom was here and she was waking Tara up as she ran toward her. Tara's eye's flew open and she stared into them. Smiling. She wanted to be smiling. She had missed Tara. She knew she had.
Clearing up now. The jumbled and mixed thought that had been causing this feeling of disorientation were leaving and she was now able to put them together and it was making sense now. She was lying on her stomach. She had a tube coming out from her mouth and she could she something that looked like an accordion in a jar that was rising and falling. The rhythm of it was matching the pressure in her chest, filling and then emptying with every movement.
There was someone talking to her now. No-one she recognized. It seemed as though she could hear only every other word and those weren't making too much sense. She moved her eyes again. She wanted to look at her mom. She was scared now and she felt childish but it was a comfort forced by human nature. You want to see your mom. She always made it better. She was stroking her hair. Now she had a dilemma. She had to look away from Tara to see her mother and she already missed Tara's eyes. Her mother was a wise woman. Very wise and Willow knew that. She had proven that yet again by adding her voice to the stroking of her hair.
"It's okay Willow. I'm here. I'm not leaving. I'm right here." The soothing words and the calming touch now allowed her to use her eyes for another reason. Now she could look at Tara and still know her mom was there.
Something else now. Millo. Where was Millo? Unable to speak, she looked at Tara, hoping she would understand what she had to know. Where was Millo. She stared. Tara didn't understand. I need to ask. I have to try.
Tara immediately jumped to her feet as she heard the chocking sound that was coming out of Willow's mouth. She was panicking and Willow saw this. She was angry with herself again for causing Tara to panic. Her mind still groggy from the drugs and trauma didn't immediately strike her that if she tried to apologize for asking for Millo that the apology may well worsen the fear in her as the very sound that had frightened her was frightening her yet again. She needed help with this. Someone needed to help her to calm Tara down. It came in the form of the voice she didn't recognize before.
"She's okay, she's trying to speak and the tube is causing her to sound that way. Let's let her wake up fully and then we'll try to remove it."
He continued: "Officer Rosenberg. I'm Dr. Pruett. You have a tube in your throat to help you breathe. We're going to let you wake up and then we're going to try to remove it, okay?" Willow understood and she waited.
"Okay Willow, we're going to try this now, on the count of three I want you to take in a deep breath. Alright, one, two, three. Okay that's good, now I want you to do this for me again and hold the breath. Can you do that?" Willow did as asked and held the breath. "Okay now we're going to take this out. You may feel some discomfort but we've given you something for the pain and it's not going to hurt. Okay?" Willow nodded. "Okay now, once again, deep breath and hold. When I tell you I want you to release the breath. One, two, three, deep breath and hold." The doctor and his assistant now began to remove the tube. "And exhale."
Choking, she was choking. Now coughing. She watched it come out of her mouth and she immediately sucked in an audible deep breath. Her mother let out a relieved sob and Tara sat kneeling next to her holding her hand. Her eyes closed and she smiled with relief.
"Hello baby," Tara said as she kissed her lips lightly.
"Hi." She winced. It was painful and she swallowed deeply. "Water, please," she asked. They both looked to the doctor and he nodded his approval, as Tara raised the glass and slipped the straw between her lips. She swallowed it down and again talked.
"Tara, I missed you. I'm sorry for ruining dinner," she said.
"She's still groggy.We gave her something before we removed the chest tube. She won't be thinking straight for a while," he explained.
"I don't care about dinner Sweetie. You just don't kmow how glad I am to see you." She then began to cry and laugh at the same time.
"Millo?" she asked.
"Leo. At the station," Tara answered.
"Good, thanks," she answered. "Mom, I know you're there. I didn't forget," she said.
"I know Willow. I know."
"How long have..." She was exhausted from all this talking now.
"Three days baby," Tara answered knowing what she wanted to ask.
"I think, I don't... please..." Willow was crying now. The drugs were taking effect and her mind was a jumble. The confusion was frustrating to her.
"Shh, it's okay sweetie. You don't have to say anything. You just don't worry about anything," Tara said as she to began to cry. "I love you Willow. I love you so much. You have no idea." She was crying harder now and she bent down and kissed her again.
"Me too. I love you too."
"Please don't leave, stay," Willow said.
"I won't, I promise I won't."
She stared at Tara. Her eyes locked on her til finally they closed shut and she fell to sleep.
"Well this is awesome news. I have to say it is amazing that she is so alert. She was moving her arms, she was focusing with her eyes, you couldn't ask for a more positive wake up," the doctor spoke to Tara and her mom.
"When will you do the tests? On her lower body reaction?" Mrs. Rosenberg asked. Tara's eyes raised up at the question. She had been sitting just watching Willow since she had woken up.
"Tomorrow I think. I want to be sure that she is a little more coherent. The stress that has been placed on her body has been so severe that it could possibly affect her reaction. I don't want to have to do the spinal exam unless it's necessary."
"What will it involve?"
"Well we'll do some reflex tests on the knee joints and then we'll see if she responds to point pressure. Sort of a poking, if you will, at her foot sole, the top of the foot, ankle and lower leg. We'll see if the toes respond. It's simple really. Not painful in any way."
"Do you think she'll respond? I mean from what we've seen today?"
"There isn't any way to know that yet. She was on the medication for the tube removal and that could well have impeded her ability for movement."
"What about the feeding tube?"
"I'd say tonight. She should be fine by then."
"That's wonderful news," Mrs. Rosenberg said smiling. "Tara, why don't you go and take a break. Get something to eat?" she added.
"No, I can't. I promised her I wouldn't leave."
"She's sleeping now, I think you'll be fine."
"Okay. Thank you Sheila." Tara smiled at the woman. "I am so happy she has a mom like you.":
"And I'm happy she has you."
The next morning Willow had been moved over on her side. The nurses were changing the bandages and the pain was almost unbearable, even with all the drugs.
"God I hate this," Tara said as she listened to Willow's pained reactions to almost every movement. She was holding Willow's hand and Tara thought that if she had any strength she probably wouldn't have a hand left.
They finished and then rolled her back on her stomach. Tara sat down again and she moved her hand to Willow's face and wiped away the tears with her finger tips.
"I'm sorry you have to go though this. I hate seeing you in this kind of pain."
"It's not so bad Tara. Really. I'm just a baby."
"You don't need to do that Willow."
"I know, I'm being honest. That's all. It's true, ask my mom," she said smiling. "Tara. Tell me something."
"I... am I... is there something wrong with my legs?"
Tara gulped and looked up from Willow. She turned her head to Mrs. Rosenberg for help.
"Why honey? Why do you ask?" Shelia said.
"Because it's the only part of my body that doesn't hurt."
"Okay. I'll go get the doctor and we can let him explain it okay?" Shelia said as she moved the hair from Willow's forehead. She turned and walked out.
"What is it Tara.Why didn't you answer me?"
"Because I don't know the answer yet," Tara said being completely honest.
Willow closed her eyes for a minute and continued. "Well what do you know?"
"Willow why don't you let..."
Oh God. She'll leave me. If I can't walk she'll leave me. That's why she won't look at me.
"Because I want you to tell me. Please."
She put her head down and stared at the floor. "They don't know yet," Tara spoke in a voice so quite it was barely audible.
She won't look at me. She dosen't want me anymore. I won't be able to walk and she won't want me anymore. This is what Willow's conclusion was. Willow waited. Waited for Tara to continue and waited for her, more importantly, to look at her.
"Why won't you look at me Tara?" Willow whispered out.
"Because..." Tara raised a hand and covered her mouth with the back of it. She began to cry. She tried to continue: "Because it's..."
"Officer Rosenberg," the doctor spoke to her. She wasn't listening. She was watching Tara. She was looking at her so intently that everything around her vanished. No voices, no people, no anything. Just she and Tara.
Tara still didn't look up.She was crying harder now and she said: "I'm sorry." She waved her hand in front of her face, dropped Willow's own hand, and ran out of the room.
Willow had just died.
It felt like that to her any way. More importantly now she wished she had. She stared straight ahead at the spot that was supposed to be occupied by Tara, and she felt the tears stream down her face. Still she never closed her eyes. They remained in that spot. There where Tara had been. Where Tara had promised her she would be.
"Willow, honey? What happened sweetie?" It was Sheila. She knelt on the floor in front of her daughter, doing an inventory of every feature on her face. Her hand moved to wrap around her neck as she held her, stroking her hair. "What honey, tell me please," her voice cracking as she felt the pain in her daughter's eyes.
"Oh Mom, she's going to leave me. She wouldn't even look at me." Willow sobbed now. "I feel like I'm dying."
She was running away again. She was leaving and she knew that by doing this she could never go back. She was a coward. She knew it. Willow didn't deserve this. She deserved someone better. She was running out and she bumped into someone that was going in.
The woman turned around and looked at Tara. She recognized her. That's the ranger. That's that bitch of a ranger Maclay. A smile crossed her lips as she shifted the flowers in her arms and walked down the hall.
"Oh there is a God," she said aloud as she walked toward Willow's room. "This just keeps getting better."
Willow was still in the same spot. Her mom now trying to calm her as the doctor spoke. "Should I come back?"
"Yes. I think so," Sheila said nodding and smiling at him.
As he was leaving, she was coming into the room. "Willow?" she said, saccharine sweetness tainting her voice.
Sheila looked up and her eyebrows knitted together as she stood. "What do you want Susan?"
"I want to give something to Willow. I heard what happened and I wanted to see her." She was good indeed. Down came the tears. "I sorry Willow. I'll just leave these here for you," she said and began to leave.
"Yes I think that's a good idea," Shelia said glaring at the woman.
"No, wait. It's okay. She can come in," Willow said.
"Willow honey why are you..."
"It's okay mom. Just for a minute."
She made eye contact with Sheila and a smirk crossed her face.
"Hey, Willow. I'm so sorry," she said as she leaned down to speak to her.
"Thanks. What do you want Susan?" Willow asked coldly.
"I told you I just wanted to say how sorry I was."
"Well you've said it, now leave," Willow responded
"Okay I understand."
She got up to leave and made her way to the door. She stopped and turned. "Was that your girlfriend I saw leaving just now? If I see her outside should I send her in?" she asked
"GET OUT." Shelia stood coming toward the woman.
"Wow, calm down. What did I say?" she asked faking innocence.
"Just leave. We don't need you here. Tara has just gone to her car and she'll be right back. You don't need to deliver any messages to anyone so GET OUT!!"Shelia screamed.
She left the room and made her way out of the hospital. She got in her car sat down. She closed her eyes and replayed the scene. "Well. Thanks for the information Mrs.Rosenberg. I'll be back." She laughed, started her car and pulled out of the parking garage.