"...for he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother." - William Shakespeare
"Or should I say..." Donny shoved his hand into Tara's pocket roughly, making the girl whimper and pulled out her wallet, opening it and eyeing her student ID, "Tara Maclay."
Donny whistled approvingly, grinning.
"That's cute. Mom's name and grandma's surname. And what's this...?"
He picked out the photo Tara kept of her Willow and held it up to his face.
"Well well, who's this now? She's a cutie. Is this your little girlfriend?" Donny asked, before his tone turned venomous, "I see me and Daddy didn't do enough to get rid of those dirty dyke thoughts you'd been having. Seems to me like you need a little reminder."
He struck Tara hard across the face, his hand leaving an imprint on her cheek and Tara bit back a tear.
"We were only ever trying to help you," Donny continued, cracking his knuckles in a way that made Tara feel like the was the vulnerable girl who was being beaten on a daily basis with no mother to protect her again, "Tryin' to show ya a woman's place in the world, get those evil thoughts out of your head. Not just those sinful dyke ones. Mom filled your head full of all of that magic rubbish, she didn't learn from Daddy's beatings. You know, I was glad the day she died, 'cause it meant there was one less bitch walking the streets."
Tara couldn't help the tear that fell at this, her mother had been her idol and even though she hadn't known it at the time, took beatings for the first seventeen years of her life so that she didn't have to.
"Why all the others?" she asked after a moment.
"Well, see now, I knew I couldn't just go roaming the streets looking for you. You always had this sixth sense thing about you, not that I believe in that hocus-pocus bullshit, but I knew if I tried to find you on campus you'd know and run a mile. And I couldn't have you trying to escape my clutches," Donny said in a mocking tone, "Oh no, I knew this would take time. Time and dedication. So one of my jail buddies hooked me up with a friend of his who lives down here and I had him find anyone that looked like you. Daddy burned all the damn photos after mom's funeral so I only had descriptions to go on. Damn, it could've taken me months of paying that slimeball and living in this hole but it only took four days. Guess some things are just meant to be."
Donny's lecherous smirk made Tara's stomach twist and turn inside her.
"How did you find me?" she managed to speak after a moment, lifting her head defiantly.
"Ha, that's where you slipped up, baby sis. You see, when me and Daddy went to prison, all thanks to you..." he stopped and sneered at the blonde, "The bank took the house. Marked it as abandoned, boarding it all up. But when I got out last month, I went and paid a visit, wanting to look around, see everything you took from me, from us. And it was right there, in your bedroom. Still in the trash can, hadn't even been emptied. Your acceptance letter for the University of Sunnydale. And I knew, it was a sign, God was telling me where you'd disappeared to so I could finally get the justice that me and Daddy deserved. That I could finally show you what you really are, a nothing, a woman, a lesser being. You need to learn, once and for all, that you are good for nothing but serving a man."
"I'm good for a lot of things," Tara spat out, with a lot more conviction than she'd ever spoken to her brother before, "I'm a good student, I'm a good girlfriend and I help save the world on a daily basis. I'm good for so much more than you ever could be."
Tara felt the response to her words as Donny's fist almost instantly connected with her jaw and could taste blood dripping into her mouth from her now-busted lip.
"Now you listen here, you little bitch, you're under my control now, you hear? I control your pain, and I control whether you live or die. So it would be in your best interests to be nice to me."
Tara felt her entire body contort in fear as Donny thrust his hips towards her face in a vulgar manner. His and her father's abuse had never turned sexual, though Donny had hinted at it enough times that it presented as a very real threat in this instance.
"I need to show you what your little dykey girlfriend can't. How you serve a man and all his needs properly."
Tara knew that Donny expected her to back down, take whatever verbal or physical abuse was hurled at her, just like she had when she still lived at home, but she wasn't about to do that. She wasn't that person anymore, she wasn't the worthless piece of dirt they made her feel, she was a strong woman and she wasn't about to abandon that.
"You holding your head up high, huh?" Donny sneered again, seeing his sister wasn't backing down, "Well that suits me just fine, 'cause you're head is right in line with my-"
Donny was stopped from finishing his crude statement as the retractable door of the unit they were in flew upwards and the figure of Willow appeared, floating a foot off the ground, fists clenched at each side and much to Tara's alarm, her eyes were not the usual emerald green that she adored gazing into, they were a dark black.
"Vozduh stal Kulak," Willow chanted, tossing a hand towards Donny.
A force of solidified air flew Donny into the corner, where he banged his head against the wall and slumped against it, unconscious. The force of the spell made the door slam down shut again, the sound making Tara jump in the chair, but didn't deter Willow as the redhead floated over to where the man lay, her eyes and facial expressions laced with venom. A thousand spells ran through her mind, each one providing Donny with even more pain and anguish, until a quiet voice started seeping into her consciousness, one she couldn't ignore.
"Willow. Willow. Willow, please, come back to me."
Willow felt herself slowly float to the ground until her two feet were planted firmly on it and turned, blinking a few times until her eyes were back to their normal green. Her gaze locked on Tara and she ran over, doing the ropes around her wrists and ankles.
"Oh god, baby, you're okay, you're okay, I was so worried."
"I'm okay," Tara nodded, stretching her now un-bound limbs, "Just a fat lip."
Tara brought her hand up to her lip and felt the blood that was there, glancing at Donny and the trickle of red that was running from his nose. They were bleeding the same blood, the blood of their parents, their relatives. But not her family, Tara thought.
No that honour went solely to the petite girl who was currently hugging her and their loyal circle of friends. They were her family, no matter blood they all came from. Willow pulled back from the hug and saw Tara staring at the unconscious form in the corner, drawing the wrong conclusion.
"Tara, I'm so sorry," she said, almost near tears, "I don't know what came over me, but I just felt so much darkness. It consumed me."
"You came back," Tara whispered, snapping to attention at seeing her girlfriend so distressed and holding both of her shoulders, "You didn't hurt him. Not more than he deserved. All you did was protect me. And we'll work together to make sure if those feelings ever happen again that you can control them. Okay?"
"You and me against the world?" Willow asked, with a small sniff and a smile.
Willow nodded, before glancing back at Donny.
"Um, baby...is that...your brother?"
Willow had run out of the Magic Box before she'd gotten the full story, but had pieced together some things in her head.
"Yea," Tara replied, looking down, "I have a lot to tell you. A lot you need to know."
Willow dropped her head to meet her girlfriend's gaze, smiling at her.
"I know. And you will. Whenever you're ready. But right now, all I need to know is that you're safe and in my arms."
"Well that was the most interesting cases we've been on," Morgan said from his seat on the jet, where he was playing cards with Reid, "I still don't get how two petite girls, one of whom was tied up managed to overpower and knock unconscious a full-grown man."
"Those girls were strange," Emily said, flicking through a magazine, "That whole group were. I mean, journalists involved in digging up dirt is not exactly newsworthy, but these guys seemed like they were the ones who actually did the police work in that town. Which can't be said for the actual police."
"That whole town gave me the heebie jeebies," JJ shuddered, "I for one am glad we're finished with that case."
"And that Mr. Morris is going away for a loooong time," Rossi added, always satisfied beyond belief when they caught the bad guy, "Can you imagine harbouring so much hatred for your own sister that you'd go to all those lengths just to hurt her? Makes me happy the only fighting I do with my siblings is over who gets the drumstick at Thanksgiving."
Off in the corner, Garcia and Kevin just smiled at each other. Their lives had been changed forever by the knowledge they'd discovered on what should have been a routine case, but they knew as long as they kept the secret of the group of inconspicuous college students in Sunnydale, California that the world would forever be safe.
"Other things may change us, but we start and end with family." - Anthony Brandt