Chapter Twelve: Understanding and Sadness
Walking over to the set of seats that Tara had been sitting in before, Donald and Donnie looked at Xander gratefully, knowing that he had been there with Tara while they were working. "Thank you," Donald whispered, resting his hand on the younger man's shoulder as he gave him a sad smile. "You have no idea how grateful I am for you helping my daughter."
"It's no problem, Sir. Tara's my friend and I didn't want her to be alone through this," Xander told him, his voice low enough that Tara wouldn't hear their conversation.
Donald nodded and pulled the younger man into an awkward one armed hug before turning to sit next to his daughter putting his arm around her in comfort. "What all did the doctor say?" Donnie asked, sitting on the other side of his sister.
"They think its bad. They're going to run more test," Tara answered simply, looking ahead. "They think its Leukemia."
"It'll be alright. She'll get through this," Donald promised, though his voice told them he wasn't completely convinced himself. "Your mother is strong."
"Daddy," Tara whispered, wrapping her arms around her father as she saw the tears fall down the older man's face. She had only ever seen her father cry once in her life, and that was after she had fallen off her a horse for the first time and broken her arm.
"It'll be alright," he repeated, his voice breaking as he tried to convince himself and his children. "She'll be okay. She has to."
"Daddy," Tara said again, hugging her father tightly. "You don't have to be strong for us. We know its hard for you, too."
"It's my job to be there for you when you need me," he argued, looking into his daughter's blue tearful eyes with his own. "I need to stay strong for both of you."
"Daddy, it's okay to break down," Tara told him, kissing her father's cheek. "We understand."
Donald just nodded, wrapping his arms around his daughter and holding her close as tears continued to fall down his cheeks. They held each other as they cried, neither noticing the doctor walking up, until Donnie spoke.
"How is she, Doctor?" Donnie asked, standing up and walking towards the older man. At Donnie's words, Tara and Donald stood up walking over to where Donnie and the doctor stood.
"As it turns out, my original diagnosis was correct. Mrs Maclay has stage four chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It seems the cancer has spread throughout most of her body. She doesn't have much time. I'm afraid all we can do know is just wait it out," Dr. Hart said, giving them all a forced sad smile.
"Thank you, Doctor," Donald whispered, looking down at his hands. "Can we go see my wife?"
"Of course. Follow me," Dr. Hart agreed, turning to walk away.
"Xander?" Tara called, seeing her friend still sitting in the chair as her family started walking off.
"Go ahead. I'll wait out here. Go see your mom."
Tara nodded, and gave her friend a sad smile before walking off and following the doctor and her family to her mother's room.
"I'm not very happy with you right now," Xander snapped, after hearing his friend's voice.
"Tara told me what happened. She said you freaked out when she told you how she felt," Xander explained, anger clear in her voice. "How could you do that to her, Will?"
"What are you talking about, Xander? I didn't freak out. I just didn't know how to process what she was telling me? It'd would have been like Jesse coming up to you and saying 'hey, man. I'm madly in love with you'."
Xander didn't say anything for a moment as he realized that Willow was right. "Okay. You're right. That would have been a little hard to understand, but you need to talk to Tara. She needs you now more than ever," Xander said, looking towards the hallway that Tara and her family had disappeared down.
"Xander, I can't just accept this and start dating her."
"I'm not asking you too, Will. I'm asking you to be her friend. Don't push her away. Just be her friend."
"I've always been her friend, Xander. That's never been the problem. I just need to figure out how I feel about what she told me."
"I get that, but you can't just block her out while you do that. Tara's been through a lot. We all have, and right now she needs that special friendship that the two of you have," Xander explained, knowing Willow would know what he meant by his words.
"What aren't you telling me, Xander?" Willow asked, trying to figure out what Xander was hiding.
"You need to talk to Tara," Xander said, avoiding Willow's question.
"Xander, what am I missing?"
"Will, you need to talk to Tara. That's all I'm telling you," he repeated, looking into the distance. "I've got to go. I'll talk to you later, Will."
Hanging up, Xander looked down at the phone, understanding for the first time why Willow had reacted badly to Tara's secret. He should have thought how Willow would react before he encouraged Tara to tell Willow everything. It would have been a difficult pill to swallow if Jesse had told him that he was gay and in love with him at the same time.
Standing in the doorway to her mother's hospital room, Tara watched her father and brother as the gently hugged the frail looking woman laying in the bed. It was still hard to look at her the woman before her and realize that was her mother. The woman looked worse than she had when Tara had found her on the kitchen floor just a few hours before.
"Tara, sweetie, are you okay?" her mother asked, watching her daughter with concern in her blue eyes.
Tara lifted her eyes to look into her mother's unable to respond. She just shook her head as tears filled the pools of blue. As her mother opened her arms for her daughter, Tara rushed into the room, wrapping her arms around her mother and crying into her shoulder.
"Shh, my baby girl. It'll be alright. Everything will be okay," Laura whispered, holding her sobbing daughter close as she tried to comfort her. Looking over her daughter's head, Laura locked eyes with her husband and saw the pain and sadness in her eyes, telling her everything she needed to know with just one look. She was going to die.
A/N: Thank you Gimpy72 for all the help with this story and my others. You are the best beta ever.