The next few days Tara spent trying to find somebody Willow knew, there still wasn't any answer from her parent's phone and she figured they must be out of town. The blonde had been going back and fourth from her own apartment to the house on Carlton street to keep the little furry rodent company, it's energetic enthusiasm amused her and the way it's nose twitched at a speedy rate. She had debated whether or not to take the little rodent home with her to save the trip of going back and fourth, but decided Missy wouldn't be to glad of the company and she had to keep bringing in the redheads mail anyway, that had confirmed her knowledge that this house was in fact Willow's.
Her visits to the hospital were regular, so regular the nurses had began to call her by her first name and greet her warmly as she entered the ward, but so far there had only been minor changes in Willow's condition, she became responsive to some of the nurses attempts to rouse her whilst checking her reflex responses and those abilities had increased over the last few days bringing her to a closer level of consciousness.
Tara took up the familiar position next to the sleeping redhead, her hand holding the smaller one softly, her thumb in its regular stroking motion against smooth skin. Every event in the redheads life since she arrived at the hospital four days ago had been documented in Tara's memory as the nurses informed her of subtle changes that had accrued in Willow's condition. The doctor had taken Willow off the medication that had been keeping the swelling of her brain to a minimum and he had been enthusiastic that the outcome would be a good one, which helped the blonde rest a little.
"Hi Tara." Nurse Carmichael greeted as she entered the room and began to check the redhead's vitals as she did regularly throughout her shift.
"Hi Miss Carmichael. Has there been any change?"
The middle aged woman smiled warmly "I have good news." The nurse beamed "Doctor Williams said that Willow's brain has stopped swelling and substantially decreased that's good now We're just waiting for her to wake..."
The nurse was interrupted by a low groan, her eyes immediately looked up from the clipboard she had been writing on and rested her gaze on Tara thinking she was the culprit of the groan, but as the blonde stood abruptly and leaned over the bed to capture the redheads free hand from removing the oxygen tube against her nose. Nurse Carmichael quickly put the clipboard down and pressed the buzzer beside the bed for assistance.
"What are you doing?" Tara asked a little panicked by the nurse's reaction.
"It's ok, I just pressed the buzzer to call one of the nurses they'll come and see what's happening then page doctor Williams so he can do some tests." The nurse placed her hand over Tara's that was gently holding Willow's. "Tara it's best that you wait outside."
"But she might need me..." Tara tried to reason, but realised that perhaps she would only hinder the doctor, constantly asking questions. Giving the smaller woman's hand a gentle squeeze the blonde then left the room.
Letting out a breath she didn't know she'd be holding Tara felt a heaviness in her chest as her hands began to shake, stepping quietly into the room, the blonde couldn't stop staring at green orbs that, however sleepy, looked back at her.
"Doctor Williams said there wasn't going to be any long-term damage." Nurse Carmichael beamed although she wasn't quite sure her words had been heard by the look on Tara's face. " He would like a word with you if you could call in at the nurses station before you leave that would be great. She keeps drifting in and out, but don't be alarmed. I'll leave you alone."
After spending almost an hour waiting for the doctor to finish his examination Tara felt physically and emotionally exhausted, fear causing her mind to mull over the possible consequences of such an accident.
"You know when the doctor asked me what my sister's name was I thought I had amnesia." A small voice croaked dryly.
Tara's eyes began to shimmer from unshed tears as she came up to the side of Willow's bed. "I'm sorry about that, it's the only way they'd let me see you."
"That's ok, I heard the nurse call you Tara as I was waking up. It's a nice name." Willow smiled as much as her dry lips would allow without cracking, her eyes studied the blonde woman's face intently before giving way to much needed sleep.
Tara sat quietly in the chair beside the redhead's bed, relief washed over her so much she could have sworn someone had lifted and invisible force off her shoulders. Resting her head in her hand her eyes closed for what seemed like a moment until she was lightly nudged awake.
"I told you that you needed sleep." Nurse Carmichael chastised whilst walking around the bed and picking up a plastic cup full of water guiding it towards Willow's lips, Gently holding Willow's head she tried carefully not to spill any.
"I-I... Didn't realise I was tired." She answered honestly, shaking away the last remnants of sleep from her head.
The nurse shook her head lightly "I'm going off shift now Willow, but if you need anything press the buzzer." Sending a warm smile Tara's way she left the room.
"You'll hurt your neck sleeping like that." Willow spoke her voice barely audible.
"Don't you start telling me off too." The blonde chuckled.
The room fell quiet for a moment before Willow spoke up. "You're the woman from the park?" It was more of a question than a statement.
"Yes, I'm usually sitting there with a pen and paper like a dork."
"You always look so pensive." The redhead said around a smile.
"So do you." Tara pointed out. "Will... uh sorry Willow, I haven't been able to contact anyone to let them know what happened. I hope you don't mind but I looked in your cell for stored numbers and there was only two. I didn't have any luck with either of them."
The redhead turned her head to face Tara at hearing the blonde say her name for the first time and she bathed in the softness of the other woman's voice. "My mom and dad are out of town and my.... my ex-boyfriend will probably be on some road trip with his band. That's a new cell phone and I'd only had enough time to put those numbers in before I left for work. I have the hotel number my mom and dad are staying in on speed dial at home. They'll have probably called me, but as I'm not home I won't have answered" The redhead explained stifling a yawn and wincing at the pain in her head. "Oh damn lightening!"
"Lightening?" Tara's brow furrowed in confusion at the outburst as she tried to ignore the mention of Willow's 'ex-boyfriend'
"My hamster, she'll be on her own and she'll have run out of food and Buffy won't know where I am and... and..." Frustrated tears began to well up in the redheads eyes making the green orbs shimmer, one tear managed to break free and fall down Willow's cheek.
"Shh it's ok."
Taking a tissue from the small box on a cabinet besides the bed Tara noticed that there were less machines around and not half as many tubes as there had been when she first arrived. Gently wiping away the tear, her touched lingered until she was sure no more would fall.
"Lightening is the little mischievous furball that likes to nibble on your sleeve, right?" Tara smirked when Willow's mouth open and shut in surprise. "I went to the address written on a piece of paper in your wallet to see if I could find anybody and let them know what happened, I've been keeping the energetic bundle of fun company the last few days after I collected your mail. I hope you don't mind." Tara began to worry that maybe Willow wouldn't appreciate her going into her home without permission. "Maybe I shouldn't have gone in..."
"No no. I-I-I really don't know what to say except thank you." The redhead smiled as best she could then tried suppressing another yawn. "I really am grateful for your help..."
"There's a phone in your home?" Tara interrupted suddenly realising Willow had said something about a phone. Her memory pictured all the rooms and yet didn't remember seeing a phone.
"Yeah, although it'll probably be under a mountain of boxes, you've been in there you know how much of a wreck it is." The redhead's voice was barely above a whisper as her eyes fought to stay open.
Happy that she could now contact somebody that could suitably take care of the weak redhead Tara took Willow's uninjured hand in her own and gently squeezed. "Get some rest Will; I'll be back tomorrow." Lifting the hand to her lips she pressed them against the soft skin and smiled at the mumble she received before leaving the room.
The cold wind wisped mercilessly around Tara's shivering frame as she made her way to Willow's house, determined to find that phone that had managed to elude her for the better part of a week and to make sure the miniature furball was ok.
Slipping the key in the lock, she noted that it was harder to turn than usual and cursed the cold a little before entering the equally cold house, tripping over a discarded box her curses became more colourful. The pungent smell of fustiness assaulted her nostrils as it always did and she cursed that to, although she noted that it wasn't as bad as when she first entered the old house.
"Hey Lightening." The blonde greeted her new friend now knowing its real name. She had moved the little bundle of energy down to the living room deciding that a dark and dank living room was better than a dark and dank bedroom. "Where's your mommy's phone?" She spoke more to herself knowing the hamster couldn't answer back.
It took Tara the better part of an hour to dig through the mass of boxes that were scattered around the house not knowing which room the phone was actually in she got tired of searching one room then moved on to another. One box had even fell apart as she lifted it scattering the contents over the floor. Finally, triumphantly lifting a box in the far corner of the kitchen Tara blew away a stray strand of hair that tickled her nose and remembered that Willow had told her the hotel number was on speed dial. Pressing the necessary button she waited for an answer.
"This is the Ritz hotel I'm Federico how may I help you?" A man answered, his deep voice held a strong accent.
"Uh... Hi I wonder if you could put me through to a... um..." diving into her back pocket Tara pulled out Willow's wallet and searched for the drivers licence that was neatly placed in one of the compartments and checked the last name, hoping it was the same as her mothers. "...a Mrs Rosenberg please?"
It took the clerk a few minutes to find the room they were in and patch Tara through to their room and when she finally heard a female voice answer the phone she sighed in relief.
Mrs Rosenberg's worry and shock were clearly noticed in the woman's voice as she frantically explained to her husband about Willow's accident, both took a few moments to process the information, their emotions unable to handle the sudden news and although Tara reassured them that Willow was going to be ok she knew they'd only relax once they saw for themselves. Mrs Rosenberg assured the blonde that she would call back in a few moments after she got herself and her husband on the next flight home and inform Tara of the date.
Leaning against the wall Tara sighed as another weight lifted off her shoulders knowing that she had managed to get hold of someone Willow could depend on. The little scratching noises coming from Lightning's cage brought a smile to the blonde's face as she placed the phone on top of a box rather than under it. Noticing the flashing light Tara debated with herself about whether she should listen to the messages, her curiosity won out and she pushed the button justifying it to herself that maybe there was something on there that Willow needed to know.
The first few messages, as predicted were from Willow's parents, worried that they hadn't managed to get hold of their daughter in a while, a few more messages were from work wondering where the redhead was, but the last message was more intriguing as Tara listened intently.
"Willow, it's me... uh Oz. Look I was running late Friday night and when I did get there there was an ambulance and police cars, but you weren't around. I guess you got kinda pissed and left... It's... I guess it's dawning on me that maybe we can't make this work..." a long silence played over the machine as it seemed the young man was collecting his thoughts. "...call me when you get this message."
Making one last call to Willow's work the number had also been placed on speed dial with neat handwriting next to the appropriate button, a young woman answered the phone and her relief was clear by sounds of sniffles. The young woman thanked Tara for informing her and assured she would let everyone in the company know what had happened and that she would be down at the hospital as soon as possible.
Finally finished making calls Tara made her way to the hamster and she managed once again to trip over a box. "Dammit! That's it, I'm going to straighten this mess out." She vowed.
"Hi." Tara spoke softly to nurse Carmichael setting down a bag that had been hanging from her shoulder. Rubbing the now sore muscle the blonde sat down quietly in the chair next to Willow's bed. "How's she doing?"
"Well," the nurse sighed. "She's stubborn that's for sure, she keeps trying to fight the pain relief medication that's making her drowsy by staying awake for as long as possible and the police paid a visit asking questions about the accident, it's standard procedure in this kind of situation." She assured.
Nodding her head in understanding the blonde watched nurse Carmichael leave the room quietly and leaned back in the chair studying the redheads features.
Green eyes suddenly stared back at her and Tara jumped a little, expecting Willow to be asleep for sometime, quickly recovering herself she smiled warmly.
"You're..." Willow rasped her voice dry in her throat.
The blonde stood and poured some water from a jug into a plastic cup and guided the cup to Willow's lips. The redhead took a few small sips, the cool water gliding soothingly down her throat. Placing the cup back on the cabinet beside the bed Tara took her seat and unconsciously grasped the redhead's hand.
"You're here more than the doctors and nurses." Willow finished her sentence, feeling cold fingers wrap around her smaller hand. She looked down at their interlocking digits and smiled wondering if it was to comfort her or the blonde.
"That's because I worry more than the doctors and nurses, and if I were at home I'd only be pacing around wanting to see how you were." Tara explained, feeling her cheeks begin to flush at the admission. "I... uh brought you some clothes from your house, anything's better than the open back hospital gown, oh and some fruit, fruit seems like a traditional thing to bring to hospital I saw it on ER once."
This made Willow chuckle and she lightly squeezed the hand in hers then winced at the slight pain in her head.
Tara gave Willow a sympathetic look before remembering, "Oh I managed to get hold of your mom and dad, they were so shocked and your mother is panicking a little, but I tried to reassure her as best I could. I also managed to get hold of Buffy she was so relieved I think she was actually crying."
Willow looked at the familiar face she had seen so many times before in the park, many times whilst sitting on the frosty grass she had debated internally about whether or not to introduce herself, but her shyness always won out and she had to be content with just staring instead. Taking in the sight before her Willow smiled softly as the woman's blonde hair was pinned up lazily out of her face and her blue eyes were filled with genuine concern. The redhead was more than grateful for this woman's help and vowed to get to know her now that she had the chance.
"Are you ok Will?" Tara's concerned look was born out of the odd way the redhead had suddenly zoned out and gazed at her, her green eyes piercing blue ones.
"I... I was just thinking, I do that sometimes." The redhead began to blush at the intense scrutiny she was receiving under Tara's gaze.
Deciding not to pry Tara changed the subject "Oh... Um, there was a message on your machine. I checked them just to make sure there was nothing too important I hope you don't mind. It was from someone by the name of Oz." Tara instantly noted the saddened look in the redheads eyes as she mentioned the man's name.
"What did he say?" Willow asked, knowing that after the last unsuccessful 'meeting' that things really were over between them.
Tara hesitated for a moment not sure if she should carry on as the subject clearly upset the injured woman, but the pleading look in Willow's eyes made her relent.
"He said he was late that night and when he got there he saw an ambulance but couldn't see you... he said some other stuff to, but I think that it's between you and him."
Nodding her head in agreement Willow shifted uncomfortably in the bed, her face, still pale from the obvious trauma her body had been through, scrunched up as pain shot from her left side.
Noticing the sudden distress written on Willow's face, Tara jumped up from her seat and stood beside the redhead, still grasping her hand, she ran her free hand along the redhead's cheek.
"Are you ok? Is there something I could get for you? Do you need help? Do you want me to call a nurse?"
The array of questions that were thrown at her from the blonde made Willow calm a little, she unconsciously turned her head to the hand gently caressing her cheek and sighed.
"I'm sick and tired of feeling sick and tired."
The small pout that graced Willow's lips made Tara smile warmly. Still gently stroking the soft skin with the back of her hand the blonde heard Willow's breathing become even and deep and knew she had drifted off to sleep.