Didn't Turn Back

Buffy the vampire slayer. Buffy doesn't go back to Willow at the end of Wrecked. Hours later Spike finds Willow with a bruised head and shredded arms nearly dead. Love vs guilt.

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8. Assessment

“Are you nervous, Will?” The slayer asked from her seat to the right of the redhead. Willow didn't hear her friend. she was slouched in her seat, shaking slightly. Nervously focused on the hallway that lead to multiple doctors offices. She had dark circles under her eyes and didn't look well. Tara sat to her left, staring concernedly at her former girlfriend. The blonde witch reached out and tried to take Willow's hand in hers, but Willow moved her hand and scratched her other arm. The redheads eyes didn't leave the hallway. Tara gave her an encouraging smile even though Willow wasn't looking at her. “Y-you Okay, Willow?” The witch asked. The recently powerless witch nodded. “Yeah, I'm fine. Are you okay?” She shifted her head to look Tara. A scorching pain spiderwebbed throughout the redheads chest, but she stopped herself from reacting to it. How can she look at me like that after what I did? “W-Willow, it's my turn to w-worry about you. Just a-assume for n-now I'm always okay.” Willow's eyes didn't lessen their concern, but the rest of her face tried to give Tara a reassuring smile, it didn't work very well. “Are you nervous, Willow?” Buffy asked again. The redhead turned to her second oldest friend and gave her a slightly more convincing smile of reassurance. “No, no, I'm, eh, kinda. Yeah.” Buffy nodded. “Yeah, I'm kind of nervous to, and Im not even the one getting assessed. This place is just kinda creepy.” She looked around the room, when she turned back to the nervous redhead, she saw Willow had gotten more nervous, if that were even possible. “But, it's like hospital creepiness, not dangerous creepiness. Nothing's gonna happen here, aside from the assessing thing.” Willow's nervousness didn't waver. “Sorry, I'll stop with the speaking.” The slayer added. Tara shifted her hand closer to Willow, and she gently touched her loves leg with two fingers. At Tara's touch, Willow's blood slowed, and she calmed down. Not even a second passed before she thought Hey! What are you doing? Move your leg away from Tara! You'll hurt her again if you two get closer. A second hadn't passed before Willow pulled her leg away and scooted closer to Buffy. How could this happen to them? Buffy thought to herself. “It's okay, W-Willow. There j-just going to ask you some questions, and then th-they'll see that you're c-completely fine and l-let you go back home. Just r-relax, Will.” Tara fought her urge to put her arm around the love of her life. But I'm not completely fine Tara. Willow said in her head. She forced her body to mimic relaxing. “Rosenberg?” A woman, who looked like she was still in high school, called out in a bored tone. Willow turned to where the girl was standing, and her shaking started again. “Rosenberg?” She called out again. Tara's urge to hold Willow intensified, but she pushed it down. “I-it's okay, ba-Will.” She stopped herself halfway through saying 'baby' and replaced her intended name for her love with 'Will'. “I'll be w-with you the w-whole time.” Oh, yeah. I forgot they wanted me to bring a friend or family member with me. Willow said in her head. Why didn't I get Buffy to come with me instead? Tara's words of comfort didn't lessen Willow's shaking. “Ro-” The girl paused and looked at the clipboard in her hands. “Willow Rosenberg?” Willow shut her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened her eyes, she shakily stood up. “Um, hi, here.” She said to the girl. “Well, it took you long enough to answer.” She muttered, then more loudly said “Exam room 3. Dr. Cootes will be with you in a minute.” Tara tightened her hold on her urge to take her beloved redheads hand. “Come on, W-Willow.” Tara said. “Okay.” Willow said hesitantly, and followed Tara down the hallway, and through a door marked 'EXAM ROOM 3'. “And I'll be right out here.” Buffy called out as her friends went down the hall. “Just yell if you need anything.” Tara looked over her shoulder at the slayer. “T-thanks Buffy.” The doctors office wasn't like any other doctors office either of the witches had ever been to, but it was a different kind of doctor who worked here. The walls were ecru yellow, and the floor, along with a bookcase at the left wall, were made from dark brown wood. The rooms furniture consisted of the bookcase, three chairs, two of which were a foot away from each other and facing the third, a coffee table, another table along the right wall and a small table by the third chair and a radiator at the back wall. Tara had to make her hands into fists to stop herself from reaching for Willow. “We should sit.” Willow thought aloud. Tara nodded and her and Willow sat down on the two chairs facing the third. Willow's hand instinctively moved towards Tara. She realized what she was doing too late. Her hand was lifted up, and she thought quickly and scratched a fake itch on the side of her head. Was Willow about to hold my hand? Tara thought hopefully. Oh, please baby, please reach back out and hold my hand. The room was eerily quiet for what seemed a long while. Then the door opened and a tall woman with dark brown hair in a tight bun walked in. She smiled at the two girls and said “Hello, I'm Dr Alison Cootes. Which of you is Willow Rose?” Willow glanced at Tara then back at Dr Cootes. “Um, it's Rosenberg. Willow Rosenberg, and uh hi.” Willow gave Dr Cootes a small wave. Dr Cootes furrowed her brow. “No, I'm pretty sure my next patient is Willow Rose. Hmm, let me check.” She stepped over to the smallest of the tables and picked up a clipboard with a thin stack of papers clipped to it. She flicked through it and stopped at the tenth or twelfth page. “Yes, see. Willow Rose. Oh, sorry. There's a smudge.” Alison wiped at the page with her thumb, then smiled. “Willow Rosenberg. Yes, okay sorry about that.” “It's fine.” Willow said. The redhead gulped, Dr Alison Cootes didn't really seem like somebody she'd like to share private details about herself with. “A-and I'm T-Tara Maclay. I'm the f-friend or family m-member you asked her to-to bring.” Alison turned her smile to the blonde. “Okay, would you two prefer I called you by your first names or your lasts?” Tara and Willow looked at each other, then back at the woman. “Um, firsts?” Willow said uncertainly. Tara nodded in agreement. “F-firsts are g-good.” “K. What's your relationship with Willow, Tara? Are you a good friend or a sister or a cousin? Details please.” The two witches glanced at each other again, then Willow answered for the blonde. “Friend, she's a good friend.” Willow nodded as she said it. An ache shot out under the redheads chest. Why did I pick magic over her? Having her arms around was so amazingly better than anything Rack gave me. And now, thanks to me, she's just a friend. I can't let myself hurt her again. “Okay,” Alison flipped to the next page on her clipboard and wrote something down. “Now what we're going to do today is called an assessment. And what that really means is we want to gather what's it been like to be in your shoes the best possible way. And some of the challenges you've been through, and what you think is going on. And where you'd like to go.” She paused and smiled at the redhead. “Okay.” Willow said in a small voice. I don't want to do this. The redhead thought. “Okay, so we're going to do this together and I'm going to use these forms here-” She held up her clipboard and shook it. “and I'm gonna ask you lots of questions. And if you want to know,” Alison put on a confused look. “'What does that have to do with anything?'” She replaced her faked confusion with a clinical and observing look. Is that look she's giving me supposed to make me feel even more nervous? “Then just ask. I would say you could stop me at anytime, but the forms I received from your doctor say that you need to answer all of my questions.” Well I have gotten even more nervous since she started talking. So I guess that look works. “Before we get started, most of my patients ask about our confidentiality policy, and I just want to make sure you're familiar with it. The confidentiality policy means that anything you share with me is not gonna leave the three of us.” Well, I guess that's a plus. But could you and Tara possibly be switched with two other people? Willow thought glumly. “I can't share anything you share with me with anyone else. But there are a few exceptions.” Why are there always exceptions? “One of those is if there's a court order. It's pretty rare, but if a judge really sent us something saying 'We've got to have these forms. We need to have those records.' then most of the time we have to send them to them. And if we got one of those, we would call you right away and let you know that happened.” Willow let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. Dr Cootes continued “And another exception is if you were at a spot where you were having thoughts or plans to harm yourself or other people. And we know that sometimes those things can come along with what we're going through.” Crap. “So I just want you to know that if that does come up with you it doesn't mean we're gonna jump to conclusions and do something, we want to talk to you about it and see how it's going and see if we can help you make a plan if any of those difficult things come up.” Sorry, but you can't say anything that'll change my mind. I need to make sure I never hurt Tara again. “And if we were ever to have to think about that maybe hospitalization would be helpful for you,-” Willow's eyes widened in slight fear. Hospitalization? You mean a Loony bin? A Funny farm? A Nut house? A Cuckoo's nest? No no no no no, please no. “we would always try our best to share that directly with you and be as transparent as possible. So all that make sense?” Willow swallowed with a gulp. “Y-yep.” She said while nodding. “Any questions about that at all?” “Uh, no.” The redhead answered hesitantly. “And before we get started is there anything that you wanna make sure we get to so I know what's on your radar before you leave today?” Wow, if that were a babble, I'd have some serious competition in the babble queen position. Wait, did she ask me something? Oh crap! What did she ask me? Okay, okay. Calm down, just say no. Willow swallowed with an audible gulp then hesitantly said “No?”. “Okay, so this usually takes about an hour and a half, so if you want coffee or water, we've got those upstairs. If you just need a little break from this, from all my questions, or if you need to go to the bathroom or if you smoke at all, we can take a break. Just let me know and I'll check with you about halfway through. Okay?” Tara nodded, she had been paying attention whereas Willow was not. The redhead looked dumbstruck. Tara turned to look at her ex. “W-Willow?” Snap! The powerless witch fell from her daze and whipped her head around to face her love. “Uh? What did you, what?” Come on Rosenberg, pay attention. She scoled herself. “Sh-she s-said if you want t-to t-take a break f-from this just ask, okay?” Willow stared blankly at the blonde for a few seconds, then nodded nervously. “Um, yeah, okay.” She turned back to Dr Cootes, who was writing on her clipboard faster than Willow thought was possible. “Thanks.” She said to the doctor who could write scarily fast. The redhead realized she was holding onto another breath, she slowly exhaled it to calm herself down a bit. She was relieved that she could take a break from this strangely nerve wracking situation. [Summers' House]> Xander was sitting on the far end of the brown couch in the Summers' living room, Dawn was curled up on the opposite end. The TV was on, but neither Scooby was paying attention to its flashing colors and quiet sounds. The youngest Scooby was worrying about Willow. Her anger towards the witch, who had gotten her into a car crash, gone without a trace. She was also trying to understand why Willow, happy, goofy, smart Willow wanted to kill herself. It just doesn't make scenes. She furrowed her brow. I know she was sad about Tara leaving but. But why kill herself? Xander Harris on the other hand was just hoping that his best friend wouldn't be sent to a loony bin. “Hey Xander?” Dawn asked, then turned to face her former crush. “Yeah Dawnie?” “I'm scared about Willow.” The teens voice was thick with her worry. “Me to, kiddo.” Xander told the teen. [Exam Room 3]> Dr Alison Cootes was sitting with her legs crossed in front of the two witches. The redhead, whom she was assessing, was sitting at the edge of her seat, shaking slightly and nervously scanning the room with her eyes. Willow was looking anywhere aside from at the doctor in front of her and at her beloved Tara. “So can you tell me a little bit about where you live and who you live with?” Alison asked raising an eyebrow. Okay, thats easy. Willow told herself. “I, eh, live with my friend Buffy and her little sister, Dawn. At um, 1630 Rivelo.” Willow manages to stop shaking. Calm down Rosenberg, she's just asking little questions. “Near Hadley.” The redhead added quickly. Dr Cootes wrote more on her clipboard. “How long have you been living there?” Her pen froze, hovering just above the page. “Um, I moved in last summer.” Willow started picking at her fingers nails. “Do you like living there? Is it nice living with your friend and her sister?” She didn't look up from her clipboard when she asked that. “Yeah, they're really great.” She watched Dr Cootes writing and assumed she was transcripting their current conversation. “Are you close with um, Buffy? And her sister, Dawn?” Willow nodded, then realized the doctor wasn't looking at her. “Yeah, Buffy, she's like a sister. And Dawn's great.” Alison Nodded. “Okay, do you guys own or rent your place?” “We, uh, Buffy, her mom left it to her.” “Okay, do you like your neighbors? Is it a community you enjoy? How would you describe it?” Well there's a hell-mouth in the old high school and demons try to kill us all every other day. “They keep to themselves. But it's nice, peaceful.” Tara laughed in her head and stopped herself from laughing out loud. Peaceful wasn't the word that came to the blondes mind when she thought of Sunnydale. Demonic, hell-mouthy, evil and doomed were more fitting words. “How far have you gone in school? And how would you describe your schooling experience?” There's a hell-mouth in the old high school and demons try to kill us all every other day. Oh and the mayor turned into a giant snake at graduation and tried to eat us all. “I'm in my second year of college. I graduated from high school at Sunnydale High, you know, the one that blew up?” She nodded in answer to the redheads question. “Yeah, I heard about that. Didn't it blow up on graduation day?” She looked up from her clipboard and narrowed her eyes slightly at the girl in front of her. “Yeah, well I graduated earlier that day. You know, before the whole 'blowing up' thing.” Willow attempted a weak smile. “Okay, did you have any difficulties in studying or things that could've impeded your school process?” Willow smiled and seemed to forget that she was nervous. “Oh, no. I was good with the studying. I even tutored some other students. Like my friend Xander. He's a carpenter now and he helps take care of Dawn a lot. We've all been helping take care of her since her and Buffy's mom died. We were all really sad, but we're less sad now. Because with the whole 'helping each other out' thing. But it's still really sad, I mean obviously Buffy and Dawn are still sad 'cause their mom died. But the rest of us are really sad about it to, 'cause we all really liked her. She was a really great mom for Buffy and Dawn.” Why am I still talking? Please stop Babbling Rosenberg, stop it. Right now. The redhead ceased her babbling and looked down at the ground, slightly embarrassed. “Have you found your feet in this current semester?” The doctor asked. Okay, responses of 5 words or less. Willow told herself in her head. “Yes.” She said in a small voice. “Okay, have you had any problems in your relationships? Like an argument with a friend, or a fight with a boyfriend, or a disagreement with a parent?” The redhead looked at Tara now and, in one of the saddest voices Tara had ever heard come out of her loves mouth, Willow asked “Tara, could you wait outside for this bit?” The blonde felt another crack spiderweb through the inside of her heart. “W-W-W-Willo-” Tara started, but the redhead to whom she was talking to interrupted. “Please Tara?” The blonde witch fought back a wave of tears and nodded. She stood up and turned to the door. The door shut with a thud, and Tara was left standing in the hallway. “Tara?” Buffy called out from her vantage point in the waiting room. Tara shut her eyes and pushed back her sorrow, then turned and walked to the slayer. “What happened? Is something wrong with Willow? Should I get my slayer on?” The smaller blonde asked worriedly. Tara shook her head and started to cry a little. “T-the doctor a-asked her if s-she had any r-relationship pr-problems and W-Willow asked me t-to leave. I'm o-one of those p-problems B-Buffy!” She threw her arms around the slayer and cried into her shoulder. Buffy returned the hug and rubbed her hand down her friends back. “Shhh, shhh. Tara it's not your fault. You did what you had to.” The slayer assured the girl with the surprisingly tight embrace. “I s-should've s-stayed and h-helped her g-get better, b-but I left and n-now she's-” Tara couldn't finish her sentence because her silent crying turned into painful, silent sobbing. “Tara, she's going to get better, then you two will work things out and then you'll get back together and be happy. I promise.” Tara's crying didn't lessen, and realization hit Buffy like a ton of bricks. “Tara, I think this is my fault.” Tara pulled back from the slayer enough to look her in the eye, pained certainty on her face. “B-Buffy, in n-no version of this could anyone blame y-you for whats happened.” Buffy's bottom lip started to tremble and her eyes filled with tears that she forced to not fall. “Tara you don't understand. When Spike and I took Dawn to the hospital, Willow was sobbing on the ground and I could-” She paused then corrected herself. “should have turned back, and helped her up and taken her home. But I didn't! It's my fault Tara.” Even with all of her slayer strength, Buffy couldn't keep her tears from cascading down her face any longer. “I should've turned back.” Buffy cried as she and the witch fell back into each others arms. They slid to the floor, holding tightly to one another. Both girls blaming themselves for what had happened to the girl, who Buffy loved like a sister and who Tara loved more than life itself. “I left.” Tara sobbed into Buffy's shoulder. The slayers next words were barely audible and were muffled by her head being pressed into Tara's shoulder. Her four words were just loud enough for Tara to hear. “I didn't turn back.” “ELLEN GET ROSENBERG'S DOCTOR NOW!” Alison Cootes screamed from within her office. Buffy and Tara froze for a mina-second, then jumped up and out of each others arms and bolted for the door to exam room 3. Tara hit the door side on and it burst open. The witch and slayer stopped dead in their tracks, unable to understand what they were seeing. The chair Willow had been in when Tara had left the room was lying on it's back. The redhead in question was on the floor on her side, one arm curled behind her back and her other locked down her side. Her left leg hooked around her right one and shaking furiously. Her back and torso shot back and forth uncontrollably. And her eyes were wide and pained, her teeth clenched, and blood dripped from a cut on her lip. Alison Cootes was cradling her head and was trying to hold her still. A panicked and worried look on her face. “ELLEN GET WILLOW ROSENBERG'S DOCTOR NOW!”

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