Anne(Chantarelle, Lilly) / Nathaniel Graison (Anita Blake)AN:
This follows Seaking Solace.
A blonde, a brunet and a redhead stood in an empty back alley in St. Louis.
The redhead was a beautiful man with lavender eyes and hair that rivaled many women in beauty and length. He was also shaking his head at the only woman of their group, the blonde.
“I don't need help, or an escape, or anything of the kind. I'm happy here, with Anita and Micah and the rest. My pard takes care of me, and I love the family I have made here.”
She sighed. Nate had always been stubborn in his defense of those he cared for, even if they didn't care for him in the same way, or at all. When they met he had been selling himself on the streets of LA and handing over his earnings to a man who “loved” him, and “took care” of him, a drug addicted pimp with a mean temper and a silver plated baseball bat.
“Anne...” The youngest of the trio, at least in looks, cautioned her when she took a step forward and fire flashed in her eyes. Jack read her way to well sometimes. She didn't come here to yell at her former friend, she just wanted to make sure he was really ok, despite his precarious place in this supernatural hellhole town.
A deep breath later she smiled at her husband, an old man trapped in the body of someone who seemed barely legal. “Right, sorry. Look Nate, I remember the last time you were “happy” with someone that had so much control over you. You nearly died.”
His eyes flashed. “I remember. This isn't the same Lily.” He had a hard time recognizing the girl he had known within this woman, Anne, who ran a string of shelters along the west coast and through the Midwest states. She had grown so much since he last saw her, as the doors to an ambulance slammed shut and carried him off to some hospital, one of a dozen times during that part of his life. By the time he had been released she and her boyfriend had disappeared into the back streets without a whisper.
“I'm not the same person, Anne.” He put emphasis on her name, which was changed from the fake one she had used then, but was still just as unreal. “I know you don't trust vampires, no matter the breed, but I'm a shifter, a leopard, and I see things differently. You don't know anyone here, you don't understand what we've been through together, what we have done for each other. I know you hate the supernatural world, but I'm a part of it and it's a part of me. I'm better here than I've ever been anywhere else.”
Anne shook her head and rubbed her belly, finding comfort in the baby that rested there. “I can't make you, and I wouldn't if I could, but you know you can always call me ok? I don't care that you're a shifter, you don't have to put up with the shit I read about in the papers. Do what's right for you, always Nate. Remember that. Remember that this is your life, in your control. Remember that I will always have your back. Not because you are my responsibility, or for what I can get from you, or what you do for me, but because you are you, and I love you.”
She was a bit teary and Nate hugged her close. “I'll remember.”