Both the Germans and the two thugs smiled glibly at the redhead's reaction. Her eyes nearly bulged out her head, her heart skipped several beats and her mouth went dry, strangling the string of profanities she about to blurt out, the words died in her closed up throat. She struggled desperately against her bonds as Donnie manhandled his sister and roughly pushed her to the ground.
"You son of a bitch..." she managed to mutter under her breath without taking her eyes off the blonde woman lying on the floor. She wanted to tell the blonde not to worry, hold her in her arms and tell her that everything was going to be all right but she couldn't be certain that could be true and she couldn't get the words out either. This could just be another trap. Everything was happening too fast and she need to clear her head and think. For once in her life the detective couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel and every time she thought she did the light turned out to be a train coming straight for her.
Tara had fresh tear marks running down her face and nasty bruise coloring her left cheek. No matter how badly the two women had parted Willow still cared deeply about the blonde and it made her heart break all over again when she saw her lover hurt and helpless on the ground.
Tara was also struggling against her ropes and what she wanted most in the world was to be able to speak. She had heard Willow's strangled protest and she wanted to be able to apologize and explain and throw herself at the detective's feet hoping to gain her forgiveness. But now it seemed that it was too late for that. It was too late for anything and the blonde could only think in silence. "Forgive me Willow, my love. I was so foolish. I should've told you everything from the start. I was afraid and now my cowardice is going to get us both killed. It should be only me, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... I love you. Please God let me see her face just one more time."
"Well, Vat a pleasant surprise you've finally done something right Donald. Your Grandfather will be pleased." The German officer stated clapping his hands together in a sign of approval.
Donnie gave his companion an amused look and he laughed wholeheartedly. The German spies gave him a curious look and he quirked an eyebrow, "I don't think so Otto, as matter of fact I don't think you'll be too pleased either." He said as he and his accomplice pulled their guns from their suit jackets at the same time and pointed them at the krauts.
"What is this?" Klausbarben and Strauss asked at the same time with a dumbfounded look on their faces.
Mickey waved his gun at them. "You two stay back if you don't want to get plugged full of led. Sit down on those two chairs over there so I can tie you up nice and snug."
The officers were glaring at Donald, not moving an inch. "What is the meaning of this Donald? I demand an explanation!" Strauss yelled, red faced, losing his cool demeanor.
Mickey closed in on them and forced them onto the chairs.
Donald clicked his lips together making a popping sound. "You think you can boss me around? You're in no position to demand anything you lousy kraut. I've got the gun and half a dozen guys outside guarding my back. What have you got huh? Two lousy lugers that Mickey just pulled from your pockets and an annoying accent? That's not gonna cut it with me anymore. You and Grandpa think you're so smart but I've put one over on all of you. After Mickey's done tying you up I'm gonna get this detective bitch to sing like a canary, I'm gonna get the stone and Mickey and me are gonna trade it in for a big shipment of dope that's going to make me a very rich man and I won't have to answer to anyone ever again."
Willow watched the exchange carefully while continuing to discreetly try to work her hands free behind her back from the rope. She could feel the material giving way little by little and the new developments raised her hopes. There was dissention in the ranks and that could work to her advantage, though she didn't quite know how, just yet.
After Donald finished speaking the disgruntled blonde officer spoke up in a shrill voice. "Are you insane do know who you're dealing with?"
"There's no place in the world that you can hide where we won't find you." Strauss added as more of a promise than a threat.
Donnie shrugged his shoulders. "I doubt that. I hear the news, your side is losing kraut, it's only a matter of time. Besides... who's gonna rat me out? None of you are making it out of here alive."
Tara's tears flowed freely from behind her blindfold. "Oh God, I knew it. Willow...Why did I bring this monster into your life? How could I be so gullible and believe him when he promised he wouldn't hurt you if I did what he said? Willow...Oh Willow..."
Willow Rosenberg stayed silent during the whole exchange. All her senses were tuned in to her surroundings; all she needed was a break. Her ears picked up a soft scuffling noise from and upper railing hanging right above their heads. She stilled her movements and waited. There seemed to be somebody else within the warehouse. The question was which team did the unaccounted stranger play for?
The mystery man soon made his presence well known. He stepped out form the shadows sporting a Luger pistol, pointing it down at Donald and Mickey from his vantage point on the second floor. "I'm disappointed in you Donald. You're just like your father, useless. Never send a boy to do a man's job, heh Otto?" The German smiled and assented with his head before glaring a Donnie, fully enjoying the man's shocked and frightened expression.
Donnie stared in disbelief. "G- Grandfather?" He asked shakily.
"You're not very smart Donald. When mein comrade informed me of your attitude and the goings on in this city I took a plane and I have been supervising your every move. Did you really think you could get away from me? Your father never could, what ever made you think that could be different for you?"
Donald shook from head to toe from frustration and in a moment of desperation he began to raise his gun.
"Ah-ah-ah...Don't even try it." The elder man said pointing decisively at Donnie's head. "You two put your guns down like good little boys and slide them towards the door. Good, good now step back. "Tsk-tsk, where did I go wrong? First it's your father. I send him to America to do one little job and what does he do? Fall in love, all he had to do was get her trust and the stone. He thought I had died, so he stays and makes a home with the enemy no less. I come back here to set him straight and all he can do is mope and drink. He couldn't even give me proper grandchildren; one just like her Mother a deceitful woman and with unnatural tastes at that. And you a worthless, coddled boy playing at being a man all ready to betray your own flesh and blood just like your filthy mother and sister.
Donnie clenched his fists in anger. How could everything be turning out so wrong? He turned to his companion for any signs of an idea of how to get out of the sticky situation, but instead he found Mickey's steely gaze, laying the blame on him and promising a payback if they made it out of this alive. Donnie was just realizing that he was now royally screwed.
Tara's hopes all dwindled away when she heard her Grandfather come in the room. Her body went limp as she heard all the harsh words he spewed in her direction and she sadly anticipated the events to come. 'The end is not coming quickly for either of us' she thought as she lost consciousness.
Willow's jaw was clenched so tight she though she might chip a tooth. She came to realize that not everything that Tara had told her had been a lie. She could now see, sitting and bound before these two men how the blonde could be intimidated to a point where she could be forced to do their bidding. "Oh Tara I wish I would've met you before. I wish I could've known that you were out there suffering at the hands of these brutal and ignorant men... I'm sorry I wasn't there. If we get out of this... no matter what it is that you feel or don't feel for me... I promise I won't let people like this hurt you ever again." Willow thought this, but remained quiet, trying not to attract any attention to her self. She wanted to tell the infamous Grandfather to go and screw himself if couldn't see how wonderful the blonde was and that he was the only one that was dirty and rotten to the core, but she had to restrain her self and focus. Finnally she felt the ropes on her hand give enough so that she could slide one hand free. Now she had to wait for just the right moment. Willow's sense of urgency multiplied when she noticed that Tara had stopped moving. Maybe the two thugs had roughed her up worse than it looked and she was badly hurt. The redhead was growing desperate for a chance to do something, but she knew that rushing could be a fatal mistake and damn it she had to live! She had to save Tara and see if they had a future together.
The elder man directed his gaze towards the detective and sneered as he descended the stairs. "Now for you... No games detective you'll tell me where the stone is or you'll force me to shoot mein own granddaughter, yes?"
Willow needed the man to come closer. She had to bait him to get near. "So what? You think I care about her any more than you do? Why should I? She's been stabbing my back since the day we met."
The man eyed her intently and came closer. "You don't fool me girl! I know your kind, trying to act like man, Ha! Your uncle put up a strong act too, but he cried like a baby the day Sarah died. I bet that soft spine runs in the family. Now Donnie you will tie up your companion and untie my comrades if you please. Oh little girl... I bet you'll cry like baby too when you see just how talented Glory and Otto can be with their shiny tools."
Donnie tied up Mickey avoiding his steely gaze and reticently moved towards the German officer to follow his Grandfather's instructions.
Willow knew that this was her big break. Mickey and Glory well bound tight, Otto wasn't out his binds quite yet, Donnie was distracted, she ha to get the grandfather closer before Strauss was completely free.
She remembered how Klausbarben and Strauss had reacted when she had insulted the Fuhrer, maybe the Grandfather would react the same. "Hey old man...You Krauts can do whatever you want, I' m not afraid of any methods concocted by people that serve under a sissy boy's rule."
The old man turned red. "What did you call mein Fuhrer?"
Willow smiled. "A sissy boy, Hey I know about these things, you know? Fairies and homos, it takes one to know one, right?"
The grandfather growled with a sense of disgust and stood before the redhead ready to strike her face with full force. His hand never connected. Willow intercepted his blow with one hand and with the other she went for the gun. Donnie stopped dead in his tracks and was at a loss of what to do. He didn't want the detective to get away, but he sure as hell didn't want to have to answer to his grandfather anymore. His hesitation bought Willow precious moments. As they struggled for control of the gun a shot was fired and rang out with an eco through out the whole warehouse. Donnie was startled out of his reverie by the loud bang and Mickey yelling for him to move it and cut him loose. Strauss and Klausbarben struggled in their chairs and rooted loudly for the old man. Willow finally overpowered the older gent, clocking him with a solid left hook leaving her in control of the gun. Donnie in the mean time had made his way to entrance and was picking up his own piece from the floor. Willow's back was turned to him and her eyes were focused on the Grandfather spewing curses at her from his fallen position. Donnie raised his weapon and was undecided as to which he should shoot first. The main door opened with a flourish and Donnie decided 'to hell with the stone and everybody', he wanted them both dead he trained his sights on Willow first. Just at the right moment a tall dark haired man entered and lowered Donald's pistol, he's pulled the trigger none the less and the redhead couldn't move quickly enough, but she's gotten lucky and the shot has missed her by mere inches. More men came storming in and it was a medley of screams and noise. Willow searched the faces of the new comers with her gun raised, ready for action. None was needed it seemed like the Calvary had arrived. It was the Carmine gang, followed closely behind by her own team, including Daniel. Once she saw the familiar faces the detective relaxed her stance and rushed to the blonde still lying on the floor as she told her friends that she was o.k and instructed them to go and get a doctor for Tara. The detective checked the blonde's heartbeat and breathed a sigh of relief. She scooped the prone woman up in her arms and released her from the ropes, gag and blindfold. The redhead smoothed back some errant hairs from the blonde's face and gently stroked her head.
The blonde stirred and her eyes fluttered open and shut and then open again. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. "W-w-willow?" She asked in a small, raspy voice.
Willow stared down at her with a loving expression. "Yeah kid, that's my name."
The blonde still couldn't believe her eyes just moments ago they had been about to face torture and death and now she was in Willow's arms. How could that be? "Are we dead? I'm so s-s-sorry..." she said breaking down in tears.
The redhead held her damsel in distress closer. "Hey, come on now... we're not dead. And you don't have to be sorry I understand, we'll have time to work things out o.k... Now stop with the water works you're soaking my best shirt kiddo."
Tara laughed a little between the tears as she let Willow's words in 'We'll have time to work things out' There was hope for them after all. "What happened here?" she asked as she looked around and saw the well-armed men standing around the warehouse with their guns trained on the Germans, her brother, his accomplice and her grandfather.
"I'll tell you all about it later. Right now I got a five minute appointment with your brother that I'm just dying to make good on." The redhead said rubbing her knuckles.
The redhead walked slowly towards the now very small and un-smug looking Donald Maclay. "Well looky here, you don't look so tough now that you don't have a piece in your hand do you Donnie?" She circled him staring him down, while untying him and removing his gag . "You know what I hate more than anything in the world?" She rolled up her sleeves and bit her lip, squinting her eyes, "I HATE bullies and that's all you are. A two bit thug who takes candy from babies and beats on women."
Donald squared his shoulders in defiance. "So friggin what? You're one to talk, you got all these big guys with big guns backing you up..."
"Boys, everybody listen to me, this is between Maclay and me no body move a muscle." The redhead stated loud and clear so everyone would understand.
Tara tried to step forward and was quickly intercepted by Daniel who whispered in her ear. "She needs to do this. Let her be."
"I don't want her to get hurt because of me or my family anymore." Tara pressed stubbornly.
Daniel squeezed her arm in a reassuring manner. "Honey, she's not the one who's gonna hurt. Trust me." Tara still looked worried. "Look... you have to understand this is part of she is. She's gotta even the score a little, you get that right?"
Tara nodded reluctantly and chose to let Willow handle things her own way.
The Grandfather wanted to protest but had been gagged along with his fellow comrades. He just couldn't believe that an unnatural, American woman had beaten him. How was he ever going to live this down?
Donnie snickered. "You think I'm afraid of you? Oh this is going to be good." He said rolling up his own sleeves.
Willow agreed silently that it was going to be very good, but she wouldn't utter one more word, she was done talking. Donnie made a big show out of his moves, he swung his arms in the air and shuffled his feel, grinning all the while taking jabs at the detective.
He never saw the first punch coming it connected straight with his nose.
"Ow! You fucking Bitch! You broke my nose!" he squealed like a girl.
While he lamented his aching snout Willow elbowed him in the gut taking all the air out him and he still managed to whine though with some difficulty.
"Fucking hell! You and that bitch sister of mine deserve each other... I wish you both would just die already." He wheezed doubling over and reaching for a hidden pistol strapped to ankle.
Willow saw his move coming and threw herself at him twisting his arm into a simile of a pretzel. Donnie yelped in pain and dropped the gun. Willow grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket with one hand while pummeling his face with the other. "You're never gonna degrade or hurt her ever again. Never!" She punched his face repeatedly, he tried shielding himself from the blows but Willow was unrelenting.
Tara gasped and tried breaking free from Daniel's hold. "Willow please, stop!" She pleaded upon seeing her brother's bloodied face.
Xander and Buffy also spoke up. "Boss let him go." "Yeah, you're gonna kill him."
Willow was in a blind rage and barely heard the pleas spoken in the man's defense. It was Carmine who dared to walk over to her and stop her fist in the air. She struggled for a bit and he held her a bit more forcefully while speaking to her in a calm tone. "That's enough cookie. His sister's is pleading with you, don't do something you'll regret. He's gonna get his, you don't have to dirty your hands with this trash no more."
Willow looked over to Tara and when she saw how distressed the blonde really was her anger dissipated and she dropped Donnie on the ground with a grunt. She wiped her brow and shook her tired and aching hand. Carmine was right it was over and she had better things to do.
Daniel released Tara and she ran to embrace Willow. Willow hugged her back in silence.
Carmine in the mean time addressed Mickey with a very disapproving look."Mickey-Mickey-Mickey, wotta mess you've made for yourself."
Mickey wasn't gagged and he chose that moment to speak. "This is none of your business Carmine. It's my mess and I'll clean it up. Now untie me, you know the deal. My family won't like that you've treated with disrespect."
Carmine laughed and extended his arms to point out the greasy man. "Listen to him. Disrespect? You made a dope deal behind your family's back and planned to skip out town when you cashed in your earnings. Guido knows all about it and guess what? You're finished. You were stupid to think you could do this without anybody finding out. I've had my on you for a while. You're not the brightest bulb in the lamp store are you Mickey?"
"Shut the fuck up! It would've worked if the damn Krauts and that redheaded bitch hadn't gotten in the way." Mickey said in a lame attempt to defend his intelligence.
Carmine shook his head. "You just don't get it do you? How do think we happened to know you were here? Even if no one had gotten in your way you were still getting screwed over. Donnie boy here had a side deal with an old buddy of his from Chicago, you should recognize the name he's the one that set the deal up, Warren Mears, a little two bit operator who likes to climb places by stepping on other people's heads. I spotted him hanging around docks and got some of my boys to 'chat' with him and the little coward sung like a pigeon before we even got a chance to slap him around a little. Donnie was going to turn on you as soon as the cash was at hand."
Mickey looked livid. Before he hadn't cared that the detective had beaten him to a pulp, but now he was sorry he hadn't had the chance to do it first.
"So cookie... I have to turn Mickey and Mr. Maclay over to the Chicago boys. They're really anxious to have a little 'talk' with both of them. What do want us to do with the other three jokers in the deck?"
Willow and Tara were no longer embracing, but Tara was holding on tightly to the detective's arm, almost like she was afraid that if she let her go she would vanish from her sight and never appear again. Willow knew that feeling well and squeezed the blonde's hand reassuringly while answering Carmine. "Lead Giles to a phone. We'll let the feds handle them. I got a feeling that the we'll be getting Christmas presents from the boys in suits this year."
Carmine straightened out his hat and tie. "Alright. You heard the Lady, Vinnie, Joey, Pete and Daniel let's take out the garbage. Kids you're on your own I don't want to be around when the boys in blue show. Giles let's go."
Tara looked expectantly at Willow as the boys dragged off her nearly unconscious bother. "What's going to happen to him?"
Willow looked solemn. "You don't want to know."
"I know he's done a lot of bad things but he's still my brother. Isn't there anything that we can do for him?" the blonde asked teary eyed.
Willow caressed her cheek lightly. Tara was really something special if she could still find it in her heart to forgive her brother and even try to save him. "I'm sorry Tara. It's impossible to help him now. He pissed off too many powerful and dangerous people all at once. Even if I could convince Carmine to let him go, they would get to him tomorrow or the next day and it would be even worse. For what's it's worth... I really am sorry."
Tara shook her head and accepted Willow's words. The redhead was right her brother had dug his own grave. All she could do now was pray for his soul to find some peace in his last hours.
Xander and Buffy watched the exchange between their boss and the blonde and shared a look. Buffy spoke up. "Hey boss, these guys aren't going anywhere and the feds might take a while to get here, why don't you and Tara get out here and get some rest, Xander and I will take care of things and Giles shouldn't be long either."
Willow nodded and accepted her friend's offer. "Thanks guys... for everything, you came through again."
Xander smiled and bowed. "Hey that's what we're here for. Now get out of here."
The redheaded detective walked out hand in hand with the beautiful, blonde debutante.
It was well into the nighttime and a curtain of fog was rolling in from the edge of the docks. A light rain began to fall from sky and made the pavement shiny under the street lamps.
Suddenly the blonde stopped and looked at the detective sighing deeply she exclaimed, "Back there when I was on the ground... I thought I was never going to see you again. I have so many things that I want to say to you..." she shivered slightly and sucked air into her lungs, but before she could continue the redhead placed a finger on her lips and stopped any more forth coming words.
"I told you we can talk about it later. Right now I just want to kiss you. Is that o.k with you miss Maclay?"
Tara smiled "Oh yes..." she breathlessly replied.
Willow took the blonde's face into her hands and they kissed long and deep under the rain.
When they broke apart Willow took her jacket and draped it over her lover's shoulders. Walking hand in hand the redhead sported a crooked half-smile as she declared, "I think this the beginning of a beautiful friendship."