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Dawning Light: Glass of Water

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Dawning Light". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Anita's learning what it takes to be part of a family... even if it means getting someone a glass of water at night.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Dawn-Centered(Past Donor)MhalachaiFR712,1663219,69717 Oct 0617 Oct 06Yes
Dawning Light missing scene: Glass of Water
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Anita Blake crossover
by Mhalachai


Summary: Anita's learning what it takes to be part of a family... even if it means getting someone a glass of water at night.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Anita Blake belongs to Laurell K. Hamilton. No profit has been made from this fic, and the only benefit to me is personal satisfaction and the creative process. I hope you enjoy.
Rating: G
Words: 2,100
Note: Takes place between chapter five of Dawning Light and the upcoming (still unwritten) chapter six.

~~~~~

Anita sighed, cuddling closer to Micah as he traced patterns on her skin. "That was nice," she whispered.

Micah hummed in her ear, a warm purr that slid down to warm her entire body. "That was more than nice," he whispered back, nipping gently at her earlobe.

"Mmm." Anita closed her eyes and rested her cheek against Micah's shoulder. It had only been a few days since she had brought Dawn home, but in that short time, everything had been turned upside down. Anita and Micah hadn't had any alone time in too long.

Underneath her, Anita felt Micah suddenly tense. He relaxed the next moment, but still, Anita lifted her head and raised an enquiring eyebrow. "I heard footsteps in the hall," Micah said.

Anita frowned. It was an hour after midnight, too early for Nathaniel to be home from work. "What kind of footsteps?"

"Tiny ones."

Dawn. Reluctantly, Anita climbed out of the warm bed and started looking for clothes. Micah watched as she pulled on a t-shirt and some pajama shorts, then went for her robe.

"If you need any help, call me, okay?"

Anita turned around, ready to snap that Micah shouldn't talk because he wasn't the one who had to get out of bed. But when she saw the expression on Micah's face, she stopped. He wasn't the one Dawn felt the most comfortable with. "I will," she said finally, smiling at Micah. "Thanks."

Anita stepped out into the darkened hallway and closed the door behind her. At first, she couldn't see anything, but then a tiny object detached itself from the shadows and ran over to Anita.

"Is something wrong?" Anita asked, going down on one knee.

Dawn shook her head hard, looking miserable. She didn't move any closer, but she was hugging herself pretty hard.

Anita let out a breath through her nose. Dawn was so hesitant to let anyone know she needed a hug or any kind of physical comfort. Every time she saw it in action, Anita wanted to hurt those bastards who had done this to Dawn. "Was it a bad dream?"

Dawn shook her head again. "I don't want to sleep," she whispered.

After what had happened to Dawn the previous night, Anita didn't blame the girl in the slightest. "Then what do you want to do?"

Dawn blinked at Anita. "Aren't... aren't you going to tell me I have to go to bed?"

Anita held out her arms. After a long moment of serious consideration, Dawn inched forward enough to let Anita pick her up. Anita settled the tiny girl on her hip. Dawn couldn't weigh more than thirty pounds. The doctors had said it was a healthy weight for a five-year-old, but she still seemed too fragile to Anita. "The thing about having a bad night, sometimes it helps to be in another place for a while," Anita said, carrying Dawn toward the kitchen. "How about we get you some water?"

Dawn nodded against Anita's shoulder, tightening her grip around Anita's neck. "I like water," she said, muffled.

In spite of everything, Anita smiled. Dawn could just be so cute sometimes.

Dawn showed no sign of letting go of Anita's neck, so Anita managed to pour water into a cup for Dawn one-handed. While putting the pitcher back in the fridge, Anita spotted a bag of plastic straws near the coffee maker. In the last few days, such things had been popping up everywhere, as Nathaniel tried to think of other things Dawn might like. Anita was going to have to talk to him about that, but now, she plunked a bright blue straw in Dawn's glass, and carried both glass and girl over to the table.

Dawn sucked noisily at the water for a while, then pulled the straw out of her mouth with a pop. "Thank you," she said sleepily.

"You're welcome," Anita said, smoothing Dawn's hair back from her face. "If you haven't been sleeping since we put you to bed, what have you been doing?"

"Writing in my journal," Dawn mumbled, her eyes at half-mast. "Reading."

"Reading?" Anita asked, putting the glass on the table and standing up with Dawn in her arms. "What were you reading? I thought Nathaniel was going to take you to the library tomorrow."

"He is." Dawn yawned widely. "It was a book I got from by the TV."

Anita looked down at the top of Dawn's head, now resting against Anita's shoulder. The only books near the television were Anita's texts and research material for her jobs, both Animator and Federal Marshal. Not books for a child, no matter how mature that child thought herself.

But that was a discussion for the daytime, when Dawn wasn't asleep on her feet. Anita made a quick detour through the living room and picked up a book by the window, then continued up the stairs to Dawn's room.

The light was still on, the bed a rumpled mess. Anita laid Dawn down and pulled the covers over her, tucking her in tight. The girl was still fighting to stay awake. "How about a story?" Anita asked, holding up Charlotte's Web.

Dawn frowned. "Don't you want to go back to bed?" she asked, wrapping tiny fingers around the blanket.

Anita shook her head. "Don't worry about me. I want to be here." When Dawn didn't protest, Anita sat on the edge of the bed and opened the book. "How about just one chapter?"

Dawn nodded, then wormed her way closer to Anita. Even so close to sleep, she was practically vibrating with energy. "Three chapters," Dawn ordered. "And then tomorrow, I'll read to you."

"You've got yourself a deal." Anita settled back and turned to the first page. "Here we go."

~~~

Five chapters later, Dawn was finally asleep. Carefully, Anita folded down the corner of the page and set the book on the floor next to Dawn's journal. They really needed to make this room a little less bare. It would be bad enough for an adult, but for a child, it was downright depressing.

Stop it, Anita ordered herself. We can't keep Dawn. We'll find her family, or else Social Services will find her a permanent foster home. They're not going to let her stay with us. Anita checked to make sure Dawn was properly tucked in, then stood. This isn't any life for a child, anyway.

She ignored the pain in her chest at that thought, and switched off the lamp. The light was on in the bathroom down the hall, so it wouldn't be dark if Dawn woke in the night.

Idly wondering how late it was, Anita drifted towards the stairs. Micah was probably sleeping already. At least someone would be awake when Dawn woke the next morning. Even with the three of them, Anita still found it hard to keep up with Dawn. After only three days, Anita's respect for single parents had sky-rocketed.

As Anita walked down the stairs, the front door deadbolt turned over. Anita froze for a moment, reaching out along the marks until she sensed Nathaniel on the other side of the door. She let out a relieved breath as Nathaniel opened the front door and closed it behind him. "Sorry if I scared you," Nathaniel said in a low voice, dropping his bag by the door.

"Just startled me," Anita said, stepping off the bottom step. She ignored the cold air surrounding Nathaniel and hugged him tight. "How was work?"

Nathaniel pushed Anita away for a moment to undo the buttons on his coat. He wrapped his coat and his arms around her, so warm, smelling so sweet. "Okay." He hugged Anita tight.

Too tight. Anita frowned. "What's wrong?"

Nathaniel buried his face against Anita's hair, breathing shallow. "Is everyone okay?" he asked.

"We're all fine." Anita pushed back and caught Nathaniel's chin, made him look at her. "What is it?"

Nathaniel looked away, eyes downcast. Worry curling in her stomach, Anita helped Nathaniel out of his jacket and waiting until he kicked off his boots before taking him into the living room. Nathaniel had done this once before, and Anita knew from experience that he needed to tell her what was bothering him in his own time. They sat on the couch, and Anita curled protectively around Nathaniel. She didn't press him, only stroked his soft hair. He smelled of soap and vanilla, so he had taken the time to shower after his set at the strip club. Whatever it was, hadn't happened at work.

"Jason wanted to hear all about Dawn," Nathaniel finally said. "Can he come over tomorrow to meet her? He was going to come over anyway and we were going to hang out."

"Sure," Anita murmured. "I think Dawn might like to meet someone else." She paused. "But tell him that if he gets out of line, I'm going to kick his ass into next week."

"I already told him." Nathaniel relaxed against Anita. "And Jean-Claude wants to know if you two still have that date tomorrow. He didn't want to call you and bug you if you were busy?"

"Oh, shit." Anita had forgotten all about the dinner date she'd planned with Jean-Claude. "I can't, Dawn--"

"I can be here, and so can Micah," Nathaniel interrupted softly. "You can go on your date and it'll be okay."

Anita didn't say anything for a minute. "I'll call him tomorrow," she finally said. "You'd really be okay here with Dawn?"

"Yes," Nathaniel replied. "We'll be fine."

"Okay." Anita went back to stroking Nathaniel's hair. "Thanks for telling me."

"You're welcome. Can we get a camera?"

"Huh?"

Nathaniel twisted in Anita's arms so she could see his face. "A digital camera. To take pictures of the pard and stuff."

"If you want." Anita ran her hand over Nathaniel's cheek. "What brought this on?"

Nathaniel shrugged. "There was..." His voice broke, and he closed his eyes. "There aren't any pictures of Nicky."

His brother. Anita's stomach clenched, and it took her a moment to realize that the sensation wasn't hers, but from Nathaniel, coming through the marks.

"Dawn should have pictures of being a kid."

This isn't about pictures, Anita wanted to say, but she held her tongue.

"It's just..." Nathaniel opened his eyes and turned his face away, inscrutable. "Dawn's so tiny and trusting, even after all that happened to her."

"She's resilient," Anita said.

"Yeah." Nathaniel swallowed hard. "You know when you're a kid, and stuff happens, you think that everyone around you is thinking the same way? Like you're all the same age but just different heights?"

"It is the only frame of reference we have," Anita said slowly. She had no idea where this was going.

"When I-- With Nicky, he was little, but if he died--" Nathaniel stopped suddenly. His breathing and heart rate had sped up, a fear response. Anita held him tight, wishing she could stop this, but there was nothing to do to keep him safe from his past. "The man who killed him, who did all that to me... hell, all the men, it didn't make any sense, but I could understand, if we were all the same age but just different heights."

"Nathaniel, that's not the way it works," Anita protested. "You were a child and they weren't, they--"

"I know that!" Nathaniel interrupted. "I know it was stupid and pathetic, but it was all I had, to understand!"

"I'm sorry," Anita said, a lump forming in her throat. Justifications from her at this point wouldn't help Nathaniel in the slightest. He didn't need moralization. He needed comfort.

"But, like, now I see Dawn, and she's the same age as Nicky when it started." Nathaniel dropped his head to the couch, his voice growing faint. "And she's so little and fragile and she needs us to protect her, and to get stuff from high shelves, and to make sure she doesn't use knives. How could anyone want to hurt a little kid like that?"

Like they did to you. Anita closed her eyes, wishing she could have spared him that pain, wishing there was something she could do to hurt the men who had taken away Nathaniel's innocence. "I don't know."

Nathaniel curled over Anita's arm. "I don't understand anymore, what they did to me and Nicky," he whispered. "I don't understand how they could do that."

Anita held Nathaniel tight. There was nothing she could do, nothing she could say to him.

As much as she wanted to, she couldn't change his past.

--fin

The End

You have reached the end of "Dawning Light: Glass of Water". This story is complete.

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