Red Moon Rising
Willow was more than a little grumpy when they finally wheeled her into her room for the afternoon. It felt like someone had scrambled her brains and added a major dose of pain to the confusion.
Seeing Tara waiting impatiently helped put a smile on the red haired witch’s face. The blonde whimpered slightly at the look of pain on Willow’s face when they transferred from the gurney onto the hospital bed and helped her settle in. Finally they were alone and Willow noticed Tara standing off near the wall, hesitating.
Willow managed to smile and held out her hand in invitation and need. Tara smiled and moved quickly to Willow’s side and was very surprised when the other witch pulled the blonde into her arms.
"Goddess, I don’t want to go through that again!" Willow muttered. "I feel like I was split apart and tossed into a blender and thrown into a new mold."
Tara couldn’t help but grin at the weird description as she pulled back and sat on the edge of the bed, Willow keeping her hand firmly gripped on Tara’s.
"I asked Giles if there was anything I should watch out for while you were in surgery," Tara said softly, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear.
"What do you mean?"
"If witches react differently to surgery and if I should be aware of anything," Tara answered.
"Very smart," Willow commented and smiled when Tara blushed under the compliment. "Did he tell you anything? Like why I feel so weird and out of synch and any word about Buffy?"
"Yes," Tara tried to keep smiling but Willow could sense the blonde’s mood. "There’s not much change in Buffy, she’s still sick and fighting the poison."
"What time is it?" Willow also lost her smile.
"Three in the afternoon," Tara nodded at Willow’s puzzled expression. "They said you had trouble coming out of the anesthesia and they kept you in Recovery longer than usual. Giles insisted I call your parents but they’re out of town according to their answering machine."
"I’ve got to get to Buffy," Willow said firmly.
"They are not going to let you out of here until tomorrow morning at the earliest. They’re concerned about the recovery thing," Tara informed her fellow Wiccan.
"What is up with that anyway?" Willow frowned.
"Giles did some research while Mrs. Summers is watching Buffy," Tara began explaining. "Seems that there are some things about witches and sensitive people, those close to the earth and the psychic energies have problems going through surgery. The anesthesia works on the body and the mind in strange ways. You know how the spirit can separate from the body during sleep and astral projection, right?"
"Of course, we do it frequently during meditation and lucid dreaming," Willow nodded, trying to focus through the throbbing pain of her hand.
"Well, somehow some anesthesia can do that as well. The spirit separates from the body and goes traveling, just like dreaming or astral traveling," Tara continued.
"Okay, so what’s the problem?"
"Unfortunately, when the spirit is under anesthesia we don’t remember the travel, we don’t dream and the mind doesn’t absorb the passage of time," Tara tried explaining, hoping that she was getting what Giles had said right.
"Yes!" Willow’s eyes cleared a little. "That’s part of the problem, I remember someone saying they were going to give me some meds and then someone was waking me up. No time difference."
"Messes with the mind and the spirit. Unlike dreaming, there’s no gentle returning back to the body, under anesthesia the spirit is brought back abruptly, without warning," Tara continued, unconsciously stroking Willow’s hand. "Sometimes the spirit doesn’t come back."
"People who die under anesthesia," Willow surmised.
"Yes, I was worried," Tara admitted, her eyes dropping to the sheet and blanket covering Willow.
The blonde witch was surprised when Willow pulled Tara’s hand, bringing the other witch close to her and wrapped her uninjured arm around Tara. Both witches moaned when their lips met once more.
The kiss was soft, tender and loving. Tara pulled back reluctantly. Willow looked into Tara’s blue eyes and saw hope, sadness, and confusion.
Willow dropped her head and cradled her wounded hand.
She felt tears beginning to build up in her eyes.
"Tara, I’m sorry," she whispered. "I shouldn’t have done that."
"Willow, I… I know you’re in l-love with Buffy," Tara said softly, fighting back her own tears. "You always have been and I think she loves you. I won’t come between that."
The tears finally escaped Willow’s eyes and she began to cry as Tara drew the witch into her arms.
"I don’t know what I’m feeling," Willow complained. "I know I love Buffy, finally admitting that. It’s not fair though, I’m also falling head over heels in love with you. How can that happen? I mean, can I love both of you? I can’t hurt either of you; I don’t know what to do…"
"Shhhh," Tara whispered, gently rocking Willow as the young woman sobbed.
"Oz tried to hurt me!" Willow continued to cry, the emotional overload as well as the physical pain getting to her. "He didn’t only want to bite me, he tried to rape me!"
"I know," Tara cried with her friend and potential lover.
"How could he do that?" Willow sobbed. "Then he hurt Buffy! Bit her, threw you through a window and hurt Giles!"
"It gets worse, Willow," Tara said softly and Willow pulled back.
"How? Is Buffy worse?" she demanded.
"A little," Tara admitted and pushed Willow back down onto the bed. "The poison is spreading and she’s not coming out of it."
"I’ve got to get to her," Willow mumbled and fell back onto the bed trying to keep her eyes open. "What’s wrong with me?"
"The pain is getting to you and they gave you pain meds when they brought you back in," Tara explained, gently brushing Willow’s hair off her forehead. "Oz called Giles, he and his pack have Xander and Anya."
Willow began to cry softly and Tara moved to lie alongside Willow and took the witch into her arms.
"He wants me in exchange for them, doesn’t he?" Willow asked softly.
"Yes," Tara admitted.
"What do I do? Everyone I know is getting hurt because of me," Willow mumbled.
"Not because of you!" Tara said forcefully. "Because Oz has turned into a bastard! He’s the one hurting everyone, not you!"
"That’s my girl," Willow managed to smile, unable to keep her eyes open. "You lose that stutter when you’re passionate," she mumbled. "Wonder if you stutter in…."
Tara’s eyes opened wide and she felt herself blushing as Willow drifted into a drugged sleep. What was Willow about to say?
What did all this mean for the both of them? Tara felt complete whenever Willow was around and didn’t want to lose that but she also knew that Willow had been in love with Buffy for years, even if the witch hadn’t admitted it to anyone, including herself.
This was going to get complicated, she complained while running her fingers lightly through Willow’s hair.
Giles removed his glasses and rubbed his hand across his eyes. Joyce refused to move from Buffy’s side and the Slayer hadn’t gotten any better. She still tossed as if she had a fever and the streaks had grown darker and more pronounced.
Joyce’s eyes widened in surprise and confusion when the Watcher entered the bedroom carrying something that clanked. Then her eyes narrowed in anger when she realized what Giles was carrying and why.
Chains and shackles for a suspected werewolf. A suspected werewolf who happened to be her daughter.
Giles looked guilty and began blushing as Joyce stood up, her face as angry as her eyes.
"Rupert!" Joyce snapped.
"Joyce, please!" he begged quietly. "We don’t know; she could turn at any moment."
"She’s so sick she won’t even wake up!" Joyce protested.
"I’m sorry, Joyce," Giles choked on his own words as he watched Buffy thrash weakly. He didn’t know how much longer she could go on; she was getting weaker by the hour. "I know she’s sick and I’m hoping if she does turn into a werewolf she won’t be strong enough to break the chains."
"Giles, do you seriously think that I’m going to let you chain my daughter up?" Joyce demanded.
"I know none of this has been easy," Giles said softly. "You’re going to have to trust me in this, Joyce. I know I’ve failed Buffy in the past but this is what’s best. She would never forgive herself if she turned into a werewolf and hurt someone and I would never forgive myself either."
Joyce Summers sat down on the bed beside her daughter and cried softly.
"This isn’t fair, Rupert!" she complained. "Your damned Council took my daughter when she was barely fifteen and turned her into a killer. This damned destiny of hers! It robbed her of her teenage years and now possibly her adult life."
Giles couldn’t meet her eyes, everything she said was true and he knew it. He was also aware that she knew he didn’t have a choice in his role either. The choice to leave the Council of Watchers hadn’t been the hardest decision he had ever made, they’re betrayal of Buffy had made it easy. Living with the decision had been difficult, the Council had saved him from the darkness he had fallen into and their resources had saved Buffy and the world several times. On the other hand, they merely saw Buffy as a tool and condemned his closeness to the Slayer.
"I’m sorry, Joyce," he muttered and moved to attach one of the leg shackles to Buffy’s ankle and the other end to the metal frame of his heavy wrought iron bed. "We only have to get through tonight. There’s only one more night of the full moon. Look, I don’t know what Oz will do but he might show up looking for Willow. Do you know how to use a gun?"
"No, but I’m about to learn, that little bastard had better not show up in my sights," Joyce Summers growled and Rupert Giles had a flash of where Buffy got her stubborn streak.
Tara looked up when the door to Willow’s room opened; she was expecting to see another nurse or doctor and was surprised when a man in a suit stepped into the room. Tara’s hand moved under Willow’s pillow and she realized the man had noticed the movement. He put up his hands in a peaceful gesture and slowly reached inside his coat.
"Easy, I’m detective Brad Santiago," he introduced himself, pulling out his badge and identification.
Tara relaxed a little and sat up, quickly looking down and sighing with relief when Willow kept on sleeping.
"Is she up to answering some questions?" he asked softly, taking note of how young and frail the red head looked lying in a hospital bed.
"I don’t think so," Tara frowned. "They just gave her some more drugs for the pain."
"You were around most of last night, weren’t you?" he asked, keeping his voice low.
"Yes," Tara responded, moving carefully off the bed.
"Would you answer some questions?" he asked, motioning to the door.
Tara’s frown deepened and she glanced back at Willow.
"I have two police officers right outside the door, she’ll be safe," he informed the young witch.
"Okay," Tara finally agreed.
Brad Santiago’s sharp eyes noticed the weariness in the young woman as well as the red-rimmed eyes and nodded to himself. He had read the initial report from the police officer about the attack on Willow Rosenberg and knew that this was something more than just a simple domestic fight. The police officer had been very detailed in his description of Ms. Rosenberg’s injuries and how serious they were.
When the report came in that two of Ms. Rosenberg’s friends were missing and no one had seen them since the night of her attack, Brad Santiago became concerned and involved.
His first planned stop was to the hospital, then he planned on stopping to see Ms. Rosenberg’s friend who had reported the young couple missing, Mr. Rupert Giles.
He led the young woman to the cafeteria and forced her to pick something more solid than just the coke she first reached for. She finally settled on a large salad, and baked potato to go along with the coke. Brad chose a cheeseburger, fries and a coke.
The detective encouraged the young college student to eat before asking her any questions. He wolfed down his food, mostly from the long habit of having to eat on the run but also from wanting to observe the student before asking her any questions.
"I take it that you’re Tara, Ms. Rosenberg’s friend," he began gently.
"Yes," Tara answered, her hair almost concealing her face.
Brad smiled slightly. "You remind me of my daughter," he mused. "She’s a lot younger, though. She’s only fourteen going on thirty."
Tara glanced up at the detective, trying to relax.
"She’s awfully shy around strangers," he continued, focusing on his fries. "I’m sort of glad; better than a rebellious teenager staying out all night and worrying me to death."
Tara smiled slightly and sat back in her seat and rubbed her eyes.
"When was the last time you slept?" Brad asked.
"I got a couple of hours last night," Tara pondered for a moment.
"Can you tell me about Ms. Rosenberg and her relationship with her ex-boyfriend?"
"Oz," Tara responded. "They had broken up before I met her this semester. She was still hurting a lot over it."
"He broke up with her?" Brad questioned with a frown.
"Yeah, she caught him with someone else and he left town, he barely said goodbye," Tara looked puzzled.
"That’s unusual for a stalker relationship," Brad commented. "The stalker usually doesn’t break up with the victim."
Tara shrugged. "He told her he needed to get his act together and left. She was getting over him," Tara continued. "Willow began to focus on class and… other things, her friends, research, me. Then Oz showed up yesterday looking for her."
"When was this?" Brad asked, pulling out a notebook.
"I don’t know," Tara answered. "Buffy, her roommate, showed up at my room looking for Willow and they talked. It was about an hour before sundown when Willow was pounding on my door, screaming for help."
Brad noted Tara’s voice catching and her shaking hands.
"I got her inside my room and locked the door," Tara continued, her voice dropping even lower. "We barricaded the door. He…he was pounding and screaming for Willow to open the door. I called Campus Security and heard him running down the hall. Then I saw she was hurt."
"Why didn’t you go to the hospital right then, or the police?" he questioned.
"I guess we weren’t thinking," Tara responded, sticking to the original story of an abusive boyfriend while leaving out the part of him changing into a werewolf and wanting to change his ex-girlfriend into a werewolf too. "Willow wanted to get to Giles place, she was worried about everyone and we all planned to meet there."
"He used to be the librarian at the high school and they are close friends," Tara tried explaining. How could you explain the relationship that Giles had with the kids without it sounding weird, a voice inside Tara demanded. "He’s like a father to Willow and Buffy."
"How did you get there?"
"I called Buffy, Willow’s best friend and roommate, and then we caught a cab," Tara answered.
"Did you get there first or did Buffy? What’s Buffy’s last name?"
"Buffy Summers," Tara answered. "We got there before Buffy did. She didn’t think Oz would be looking for her so she ran over."
"What happened next?"
"We told Giles what was happening and he wrapped Willow’s hand," Tara felt tears falling down her cheeks as she remembered the redhead’s pain. "He was about to call the police when Oz broke into the condo and attacked everyone."
Brad Santiago’s eyebrows raised in surprise. That wasn’t in the police report but Brad knew he was hearing the truth; the girl in front of him was too tired to be too evasive.
"You didn’t report this?"
"He cut the phone lines before breaking in, we couldn’t call out. He slammed Giles into the wall, threw me out the window," Tara continued and lifted her arms to show him the numerous scratches and cuts along her arms. "He then tried to… he wanted…"
Brad pulled out a handkerchief as Tara began to cry a little harder.
"Willow said he tried to attack her, he tried to…" Tara stuttered. "He grabbed her hand and hurt her again. He ripped her shirt off and… he tried…"
Brad leaned forward and placed a hand on top of Tara’s.
"I understand," he said gently. Outwardly, the detective was calm and gentle; inside he was enraged. He knew what Oz had tried on the young woman and he felt a familiar anger hitting him. The detective despised anyone who could hurt another person and he especially hated anyone who would use sex to hurt someone else.
"Buffy showed up and they fought, she was hurt but he ran off," Tara continued. "Oz said he wasn’t alone and we were afraid to leave the condo until morning. The rest I told the police officer."
"I read the report," Brad confirmed. "The doctor says that Ms. Rosenberg's hand was brutally broken in many places and that it’ll be a long time before she has full use of it again."
"That’s what they told us," Tara agreed, nodding slightly.
"There wasn’t anything in the report about Buffy’s injuries or Mr. Giles," he commented.
"Giles and Buffy’s Mom are watching her, she got really sick and Giles was a little shook up but okay," Tara explained.
"Do you know that your friends Xander Harris and Anya Smith are missing?" he questioned, watching her reactions carefully.
"Giles told me last time I called him," Tara nodded, "he said Oz has them."
"Yes, that’s what he reported to us, that’s why I’m here," Brad Santiago responded.
"Of course, it wouldn’t be just because Willow was attacked by her ex-boyfriend, had to be something more serious," Tara’s voice held more than just a touch of bitterness.
"I’m sorry, we do our best but Sunnydale can be a busy place for the police," Brad tried to explain.
"I know, it’s just that he… he hurt her so badly," Tara felt fresh tears beginning to flow down her face.
"Do you have any idea where he might have them?"
"No, none," Tara shook her head. "I only met Oz last night when he threw me through a window."
"We have officers looking for both Oz and your friends, why don’t you go back to your friend," Brad suggested. "The police officers outside her door have orders not to let anyone in not on the list Mr. Giles gave us."
"Who did he say?"
The detective flipped a page back in his notebook and consulted it. "You, Joyce Summers, and Rupert Giles. Buffy Summers, Xander Harris and Anya Smith if they are accompanied by either you or Mr. Giles."
"Why the stipulation?" Tara wondered aloud.
"He said that they might upset Ms. Rosenberg without someone with them," Brad Santiago answered.
"Okay," Tara nodded. She suddenly realized that Giles wanted someone known to be safe with any of the three in case they had been turned into a member of Oz's pack.
"Why don’t you go back to your friend," Brad suggested. "Try and get some sleep. I know that hospital chairs aren’t comfortable but I have the feeling you won’t leave her side, will you?"
Tara knew she was blushing a bright red. "No, I won’t leave her alone."
"We’ll do our best to find your friends," he promised.
"I know," Tara mumbled and began to work her way back to Willow’s room. The police officers nodded as she opened the door.
The young witch pulled the chair next to Willow’s bed and gently took the redhead’s healthy hand in hers and leaned her head on the bed, closing her eyes.
It was the longest night of everyone’s life up to that point.
Giles blinked and ran a hand through his hair as he sat up. He tried to think, his face reflecting his confusion.
The former Watcher grabbed the pistol off the coffee table and stumbled to his feet and padded down the hallway to his bedroom. It had been a rough night for both Giles and Joyce; they had taken turns watching over the Slayer while Buffy grew weaker and weaker until she was no longer thrashing just before dawn.
He stopped in the doorway in surprise as he looked at Joyce’s smiling face and Buffy’s blue eyes looking at him. Giles groaned faintly and quickly moved to the side of his Slayer, his friend, and the girl he thought of as a daughter. She smiled slightly as he knelt beside the bed and examined her arm, eyes and forehead.
The streaks were gone and her arm was showing the typical signs of a Slayer’s advanced healing abilities.
"Oh thank God," he muttered, leaning his head on the bed next to her arm.
"Hey, I take it I scared you," Buffy whispered.
"She just woke up," Joyce explained.
Giles smiled as he raised his head. "Yes, quite a scare, young lady," he agreed softly. "You’ve been awfully sick fighting off that werewolf bite and, quite frankly, we didn’t know if you’d make it."
"Where’s Willow and Tara?" Buffy asked, accepting Giles’ help in sitting up while her mother held a glass of water to her lips.
"Now don’t panic," Giles began, keeping a firm grip on her shoulders. "Willow is in hospital," he tightened his grip as Buffy quickly attempted to sit up. "Oz broke her hand in several places and they had to operate yesterday. They’re going to release her this morning."
"She’s okay though?" Buffy demanded. "And Tara, she was pretty shaken up?"
"Tara is doing alright, she hasn’t left Willow’s side at hospital," Giles continued. "Willow’s hand will need a lot of therapy and she’s going to be in a great deal of pain. The injury was quite severe."
"And she doesn’t have my healing abilities," Buffy said ruefully.
"Exactly," Giles agreed.
"I’m sorry, Mom," Buffy said, reaching out to hug her mom tightly as Giles sat behind her. "I didn’t mean to scare you."
"Are you okay? It’s not everyday my daughter gets bit by a werewolf," Joyce asked.
"I don’t know, I feel okay," Buffy frowned. "My arm hurts but I don’t feel fuzzy or furry," she tried to smile. "Maybe in desperate need of a shower but not a collar."
Joyce and Giles both shook their heads at her attempt at humor.
"When’s Willow getting out and where’s Xan and Anya?"
"Willow will be released this morning, probably late," Giles answered and then hesitated. Buffy caught the hesitation and turned to stare him in the eyes, her probing eyes making him uncomfortable. "Oz has Xander and Anya and wants to trade Willow for them. He also thinks you’ll now turn into a werewolf and be on his side."
"What does that mean? Do werewolves work together? I thought they were just pretty much mindless, like," Buffy asked.
"I don’t know," Giles admitted. "I need to do some research and make some calls. Oz wasn’t acting like a normal werewolf and he mentioned a pack helping him."
"Well, he had a pack of vampires who tried to ambush me on the way over here," Buffy mentioned. They hadn’t had a chance to talk about the fight or anything before Buffy had fallen sick to the werewolf bite.
"Vampires and werewolves normally don’t work together," Giles muttered and then his eyes filled with tears and brightened with emotion. "And you, young lady! Intentionally taking a werewolf bite! What were you thinking?"
"I couldn’t let him bite Wills," Buffy’s eyes also began shining with intensity. "I grabbed him from behind but he had a firm hold on her. I had to stop his bite."
"With your arm?" Giles snapped, getting up from the bed and beginning to pace. "Why couldn’t you shove a stake down his throat?"
"I would have if I could!" Buffy growled back. "Giles, I would have done it differently if I had time and if I could have. I couldn’t let him bite Willow."
"Buffy, he didn’t intend to kill her, only bite her," Giles argued, hating himself for his line of thought but unable to stop his own argument. "Willow, we could probably control as a werewolf, I don’t know what we’d do with a Slayer werewolf."
Joyce recognized the anger and stubbornness coming over her daughter’s face and moved back to the foot of the bed. The emotions were almost radiating off the young Slayer as she glared at her former teacher, mentor, friend and father figure.
"Nothing can hurt Willow! If it’s a choice between Willow’s life and mine, then there’s no contest!" Buffy said quietly but firmly. "I’d rather you keep this goddamn chain on my ankle for the rest of my life than see her go through one night of hell as a werewolf if I can help it!"
Giles began blushing, remembering the chain and shackle still on the young woman’s ankle and moved to unlock it, refusing to meet her eyes for the moment.
"Buffy," he began quietly. "How long have you been in love with Willow?"
"Oh God," she whispered, her anger dissipating in the face of the question. Her blue eyes quickly sought out her mother’s face, fear and hope both flashing across the Slayer’s face.
"It’s okay Buffy," Joyce said softly. "I realized it when you kept calling for Willow and no one else and you took the bite to keep her safe."
"I called for her?" Buffy whispered.
"Over and over again," Giles confirmed.
Buffy’s head dropped and Joyce moved up to the head of the bed once more to hold her daughter close.
"I love her, Mom," Buffy felt herself begin to cry. "I think she’s in love with Tara but I realized I’m like in love with her."
"How does Willow feel about you?" Joyce asked.
"I haven’t told her," Buffy said softly.
"God, this is going to be complicated," Giles complained. "I know Willow loves you and has been IN love with you for years. She’s also very attracted to Tara and Tara is very much in love with her. We don’t need a love triangle interfering with things right now."
"I know that, Giles!" Buffy snapped. "That’s why I haven’t said anything to her."
"I don’t think you’ll have to," Giles mumbled. "I’ve seen the way she looks at you as well."
"Can we sort this out later?" Buffy argued. "Don’t you think I should have food, regain energy, find Xander and Anya and kill Oz today?"
Joyce shook her head with a small smile at her daughter’s resilience.
"And we have a month to find out if that werewolf bite infected you or not," Giles mumbled.
Everyone jumped when the phone on the nightstand rang. Giles reached down and picked up the receiver, expecting the police or Tara from the hospital.
"Hello?" he answered.
"Hey, old man," Oz’s voice cut through any confusion. "I know that Willow isn’t at your place but I’m betting that you know where she is. Deal is still good until tonight, she trades herself or Xander and his girlfriend won’t see daylight. They’re already a little worse for wear."
"Don’t you dare harm them!" Giles shouted as Buffy swung her legs off the bed and her feet hit the floor.
"Or what?" Oz laughed. "Just tell her to come alone."
"She doesn't know where you are," Giles protested, hoping to get some kind of clue out of the insane young werewolf.
"Willow can figure it out," Oz said confidently and hung up.
"What’d he say?" Buffy demanded.
"He’s hurt Xander and Anya," Giles said softly. "Says he still will trade them for Willow and she’ll know where he is."
"That doesn’t make sense," Joyce complained.
"Nothing makes sense any more," Giles agreed.
Willow moaned, her hand hurt and she was uncomfortable. Instantly, Tara was awake and was still holding Willow’s uninjured hand. She tried to smile as Willow opened her green eyes and smiled at the other witch.
"Hey, have you been there all night?" she asked softly and knew the answer when Tara began blushing and Willow noticed Tara was in the same clothes as the day before. "Did you eat at all?"
"Yeah, Giles came down yesterday and gave me money for food, he figured we hadn’t thought to grab money when we left the dorm," Tara explained. "I had dinner while talking with a detective."
"Detective?" Willow questioned.
"Yeah, a Brad Santiago," Tara continued. "He’ll want to talk to you. Xander and Anya are still missing and Giles told the police Oz has them."
"What did you tell him?" Willow asked anxiously, "And what about Buffy?"
"I told him that Oz was your boyfriend and you caught him with someone else and broke up. He came back and hurt you when you went to talk with him. He asked why we didn’t call the police from the dorm and I admitted that we weren’t thinking and only thought about getting to Giles’ place. Then I told him that Oz ripped out the phone and we couldn’t call and Oz attacked us, hurting you again, throwing the rest of us around."
Willow nodded. "Nothing about him getting furry and… what he tried… with me?"
Tara blushed a brighter red. "I told him that Oz tried to h-hurt you like that."
"Oh," Willow’s eyes dropped to the blanket and the cast on her forearm and hand. She understood that it was probably best to tell the police about that part of the attack but it was still an icky feeling. The young college student tried to mentally shake herself, she was acting like a typical victim, she knew. She snapped at herself that she had nothing to be ashamed of; he was the one trying to hurt her, damnit.
Willow looked up after a moment and moved her hand to gently touch Tara’s cheek.
"I dreamed of you and Buffy," the redhaired witch said softly.
"I dreamed of both of you," Tara said, her eyes widening in surprise.
"Wow," Willow whispered. "What does this mean?"
"I don’t know," Tara admitted. "I spent a lot of time thinking last night, watching you sleep. I know what you and B-Buffy do is dangerous and living in Sunnydale is risky every day. I don’t want to lose either of you."
Willow pulled Tara into a one-armed embrace and held the blonde witch close. "I don’t want to lose you or Buffy either."
"So what does that mean for us?" Tara asked.
Willow felt tears filling her eyes again. "I don’t know," she admitted.
Tara sat up rapidly when the door opened, her hand reaching under Willow’s pillow again until they realized it was the doctor from the day before and so relaxed.
"Well, how are you feeling, Ms. Rosenberg?"
"Call me Willow, please," the green-eyed young woman smiled. "I’m okay."
"Willow, you should be getting breakfast in a few minutes. I wanted to say that the operation went well," he said, pulling up Tara’s chair and looking closely at Willow’s fingers sticking out of the cast. "I’m not saying things are going to be easy, the bone specialist would like to get his hands on your boyfriend."
"What is the prognosis?" Willow asked frankly.
"A long and painful road to recovery," Doctor O’Connor admitted with a kind look. "Your fingers were broken in several places and at several different angles. Like I explained yesterday, a couple of months in that cast, another operation to remove the pins, time in another cast and then therapy."
"What can go wrong?" Willow asked.
"You push too hard and too soon and undo the work the pins will provide under that cast. There might be some nerve damage, some of the fingers might feel a little numb," Dr. O’Connor explained. "You might have some muscle spasms occasionally and definitely arthritis when you’re older."
"I thought I might when I got older because of the computer work," Willow said thoughtfully.
"Count on it now," Dr. O’Connor nodded.
"The numb thing," Willow hesitated. "How bad could it get? I’m a computer type person."
"It could be a problem typing," the doctor admitted. "Good thing you’re right handed, though."
"That bad?" Tara asked.
"Ever try to zip up a pair of jeans with one hand?" Dr. O’Connor smiled slightly. "Or tie your shoes? Cut up a steak?"
Willow’s face went a little pale, realizing what she was facing just being in the cast and Dr. O’Connor nodded.
"You’ll need a lot of help just with everyday stuff until you adapt," he continued. "There’s going to be pain, almost constantly and it’ll be worse when you start therapy."
"Terrific!" Willow muttered.
"I know, I’m going to write your follow up and prescriptions while they feed you and you’ll probably be out of here in an hour," Dr. O’Connor smiled and stood up. "We’ll set you up for a follow-up appointment."
"Thanks, Dr. O’Connor," Willow said softly.
"Terrific, we’ll get you out of here, we see Giles who has answers and Buffy," Tara smiled.
Willow waited until the door was totally shut and reached under her pillow. Tara began blushing when the student pulled out a silver dagger. Willow raised her eyebrows and Tara shrugged.
"Giles brought it for me," Tara explained.
"Good idea," Willow said softly and reached behind Tara’s neck and pulled the witch’s lips to hers.
Tara wanted to pull back, she didn’t want this to get complicated until Willow was sure what and who she wanted but she felt herself melting into Willow and moaned softly. She wasn’t sure how long they kissed but it felt as if it was forever though not long enough.
"Willow," Tara tried after they broke apart, resting her head against Willow’s. "That was…,"
"Nice?" Willow asked softly, her hand playing through Tara’s hair, her breathing faster than normal.
"More than nice," Tara admitted. "Goddess, what are we going to do? I like Buffy and I know that you’re in love with her too. I don’t want to hurt either of you but I don’t want to let this go either."
"I don’t know, I really don’t know," Willow tried to not break into tears again.
"I’m going to call Giles and find out what’s going on while they feed you."
"Okay, then maybe help me get dressed?" Willow said softly and began blushing, hating to ask for help but realizing that she was going to need it to even get her jeans back on.
Tara smiled a shy smile and nodded.