Return to The Rosenberg Institute Chapter Twenty-One

The Rosenberg Institute

Author: Pipsberg
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: The characters Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay are the property of Mutant Enemy.

"Husband?" Anne hissed, stepping closer to Willow.

Over Donnie's shoulder, I saw Willow's hands fly up to cover her mouth, her eyes locking with mine as they instantly filled with tears. My gut wrenched with the pain I saw in her beautiful face. Anne's hand was immediately on Willow's back, her eyes coldly assessing me. Harris dared not grin or talk, but only shook her head in disgust, then turned and walked away. A sob burst forth from Willow's clamped mouth and she turned away towards Anne, huddled in her arms.

Where there had been love and contentment in my life, there was now confusion and pain. The thought of how much this hurt my Willow was an aching in my chest. And with Daniel alive, the thought of how much more I might have to hurt her tore at my heart. Willow wretched herself away from Anne and began running down the hall, where only moments before we had been gleefully running the other way, hands clasped together.

"Wait, Willow, I need to explain!" I yelled after her retreating form. But I was still held loosely in Daniel's arms and Willow was rather speedy on foot; she had already made it to the side kitchen door. I needed to get to Willow and talk to her, but three people still stood around me, silently demanding an explanation. I stepped away from Daniel. I didn't know where to look first, all I needed to do was get to Willow and set things right. I began moving towards the direction Willow fled to, my heart leading my body.

As I moved away I felt a hand on my arm, pulling roughly and I turned towards it. Anne's angry face was suddenly within inches of my own, her eyes seethed with what I can only imagine to be rage. "What have you done, Tara?" With each punctuated word, Anne's grip on my arm tightened and pain began to radiate out from where her fingers were latched onto my arm. My eyes flew to hers and tears welled up with the knowledge of how much my omission had hurt these people that I had come to feel where my own family.

"Anne, I will explain everything, I swear. I am so sorry. I need to get to Willow now. You have to let me set things right." I pled with her, pouring all of my sincerity, love and remaining honesty into my eyes. We stayed like that for many moments, her hand gripping my arm painfully, our eyes locked together in a battle of wills. I had never been truly afraid of Anne until now, but I felt like my entire being, emotional and physical, was in her hands. Though Daniel and my brother stood only steps away, both capable of defending me, it meant nothing. Anne ruled this roost and my fate seemed to be with her now.

"Why should I let you anywhere near Willow again, Tara?" Anne choked out, her own eyes tearing up. "You've broken her heart. I let you break Will." She yanked on my arm again, reminding me painfully of the bruise that would likely develop there.

I brought my free hand up to her hand where it grasped me so tightly and pulled with all my might, trying to release myself from her death drip. She did not budge so I implored her again with my eyes. "Anne, I still love her with everything I have in me, that hasn't changed, and it never will. You have to let me go to her."

My brother chose that moment to insert himself into the conversation, having stood silently listening to my exchange with Anne. Daniel did not speak, but simply observed us with an aloof detachment, waiting to use his words as he always did.

"Tare, what is this about? What does this mean?" Donnie step closer to us as he spoke and laid his hand on my shoulder.

"Donald, I will explain everything, I promise, but I have to do this first. I have to get to Willow." I looked at him briefly, and then over at Daniel where he stood quietly, but my eyes immediately returned to Anne's intense gaze. "Let me go Anne, let me fix this." I pled with her again.

Anne's grip began to loosen and I nodded slightly, encouraging her to release me. But just as I was about to pull away completely and bolt in the direction Willow had fled, she roughly grabbed me with both hands and pulled me to her in a violent motion, gripping my upper arms, my chest clasped to her. With her mouth just inches from mine she spoke, her voice barely controlled anger. "You'll go to her, explain things, and then you will leave. Do you understand?" Anne's voice, though barely a whisper that could not have carried to Donald or Daniel, was all steel and resolve. It exploded in my head. I immediately began to weep silently, but I nodded. At this moment I would agree to anything to get to Willow.

As her grip relaxed, I yanked myself away from her and stepped backwards several feet, my eyes still locked with Anne's. Without even looking at the two men who had set this all in motion, I ran from the room, wiping furiously at the tears that now streamed from my eyes. It was at that moment that Daniel chose to use his words, and I heard them trail behind me as I ran.

"Huh, I guess she has a lot of explaining to do."

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