A/N: OK, I know that I have a lot of stories going...but this plot bunny was eating my brain and refusing to allow me to write anything else! ARRRGH! Frustrating...anyway...hope you enjoy it! Now, I'm learning fast, but I don't know all that much about the AB universe yet...so if I screw it up majorly, please tell me and I'll fix it! I don't own Anita Blake or Buffy, they belong to Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Whedon respectively. Please read and review, let me know what you think! Thanks! love xx Shezzi PS It's been pointed out that this really qualifies as a response to the 'Mommy Anita' challenge, so I've marked it as such. Sunnydale Hospital
Quentin Travers entered the hospital room where Faith Lehane lay, lost in a coma. He drew a needle from his pocket and injected the fluid, then waited. Thirty seconds later, the heart monitor flat lined. He reached out and switched it off, then turned and left the room, never looking back.A Higher Plane
“What can we do?” asked the one, concerned and angry.
“I am uncertain. If she had remained, she would eventually have come to atone for her past, but now that opportunity has been unfairly stolen from her. I am wroth to send her where she deserves because she missed out on the opportunity to fix it,” replied another.
“Wait...” a third spoke up. “There!” she showed them the string that ran through her hands. “We can place her here,” they saw the scene playing out before them, and they nodded.
“Agreed.” A Forest, Somewhere
She ran, panting, the pain coming in waves. Where was the Pard? She could not reach them, could not make herself heard. She heard the men, and she ran, gasping. Suddenly, the pain was too much, and she collapsed on her side, panting and straining. She heard the footsteps approaching and tried to drag herself away, but could not move.
“Here she is!” the cries went up, and she whimpered, unable to move as a contraction wracked her body. Then she was surrounded, and they were kicking her, hitting and slashing at her with silver weapons. She screamed from the pain, her flesh sizzling. She screamed, and finally, someone heard.
Nathaniel ran with the Pard, reveling in the joy of being surrounded by his family, when he heard it. A scream, the scream of a were in pain. He took off towards it, calling to Anita as he went. He felt her answer, even as he crashed through the brush into the clearing, where a group of men, armed with clubs and silver daggers surrounded the female leopard, who lay panting on the ground, eyes wide with pain and fear. He roared, and the men turned towards him, expressions changing from twisted pleasure to fear.
Nathaniel roared again, and other members of the Pard answered him, hearing his rage. Anita called through the marks, asking what was wrong, and he sent her a feeling of urgency. The men, realizing that the whole group was closing in on them, turned and ran. Nathaniel was torn between chasing after them and going to the leopard, but her pained whimper decided him. He ran to her side, nuzzling her, and she raised her head weakly, rubbing against him. She collapsed backwards with a cry, and he saw the handle of a dagger, a silver dagger, buried to the hilt in her chest. She shuddered once, then lay still. He roared his rage, throwing his head back, then dropped it down and gently nuzzled her, licking her face in benediction.
He heard the rest of the Pard move off to track the killers with Anita, to bring them to justice, and he let them go, staying behind to farewell the member of their Pard.
Suddenly, he heard a soft noise, almost bleating, and he whirled on his haunches, sharp eyes staring round. He saw movement, and his eyes focused on a tiny leopard, completely saturated, nuzzling the female's belly and crying. He stared in shock, this shouldn't be possible, then, reacting on instinct, he ran over to it and started to clean in, licking it and purring comfortingly. Once it was clean, he picked it up by the scruff of the neck and took off through the woods carrying it, searching for Anita. He called to her through the marks.
Anita ran through the woods, twigs snapping under her boots, as she tried to keep up with the Pard. Someone had hurt, had killed, a member of her Pard, and her leopard screamed for blood, for vengeance. Suddenly, she heard Nathaniel calling to her.
“Anita! Anita, we have a problem! The leopard...she's dead. I don't even know who it is, but that's not the issue. Anita, she was giving birth...I've got her cub, and she needs to be fed. Where are you?”
“That's impossible, Nathaniel! It just doesn't happen, and anyway, it should be a baby, even if she did give birth!” replied Anita, too shocked to answer his question.
“You know that and I know that, but still, I'm carrying a leopard cub in my mouth. Where are you?”
“I'm east of you. Bring it here, we'll work it out,” she told him, even as she stopped the run. She relayed the message to Micah, who sent the rest of the Pard after the humans with strict orders not to kill them, but simply to hold them until he and Anita could catch up. He rubbed his huge head against Anita's shoulder, making worried noises, and she rubbed the fur behind his ears. They both heard Nathaniel coming, and turned to face him.
He jumped the last bush and stood in front of them, the cub held in his mouth. He set her down on the ground, and she whined, pushing back against his legs, staring up at the Nimir-Raj and Nimir-Rah in fear. Nathaniel purred comfortingly, then looked up at the other two, concerned. “She needs to be fed,” he said, lying down and nuzzling the cub, who was about the same size as a beagle. She head-butted him back with a loud, demanding squeal.
“What can we feed her?” asked Anita, uncertain.
Micah shifted as far as he could on the full moon, just enough to speak. “She really needs milk, but with her mother dead, I don't think we can provide that. Baby formula would do in a pinch, but were are we going to get some of that now?” Micah replied.
“Ma!” cried the cub, loudly. “Ma!”
“Shhh, little one,” said Micah softly, rubbing his head against the cub. Nathaniel had to suppress the desire to shove him away, and felt a wave of surprise.
“I'll go and get something. I'll be back as fast as I can. Wait a minute...would goats milk do?” Micah nodded quickly. “There's a farm, only about a mile away. If we could get there...” she trailed off, but the other two followed her train of thought.
“Lead the way,” Micah said, and she nodded, heading off at a fast trot. “Bring the cub,” Micah ordered Nathaniel, who nodded, and quickly picked her back up. Micah shifted back to full leopard form, and together, they ran through the woods, heading towards the smell of livestock. “Wait here,” ordered Anita, halting them at the edge of the tree line. “I know the farmer's wife, she'll sell me some milk.” She ran up to the door, and pounded on it urgently. The weres listened to her from the forest, heard her pleading for the milk, and then thanking the woman, and handing over the money. She reappeared moments later, carrying a medium-sized bucket full of creamy looking milk.
Nathaniel set the cub down on the ground and she made a beeline for Anita, mewling demandingly. Anita chuckled and knelt on the ground, then dipped her fingers in the milk and held them out. The cub sucked and licked them clean, then decided to go to the source, pushing her way past Anita to the bucket, she started lapping up the milk. The two weres and the Pard queen watched, amused, at the antics of their youngest member.
“What are we going to do with her?” asked Anita softly.
Micah shifted once more and replied, “She must be Natalie's, she was the only pregnant Pard member that I know of. You remember I told you about her, it was her first full moon, she was attacked a couple of weeks ago, and they weren't sure that the virus hadn't managed to infect the baby, I told her we'd deal with it when the time came,” said Micah, thinking. “If she's Natalie's, that means she has nowhere to go, Natalie didn't have any family that would claim her.” He grimaced, remembering his run in with them when they were trying to force the girl into one of the so-called 'safe-houses'.
“We'll take her,” said Anita, firmly. Nathaniel nodded his agreement, and after a moments consideration, so did Micah.
“We'll need to figure out how to make it legal,” he said, and Anita nodded, her expression suddenly worried. Suddenly, the cub burped, and sat back on her haunches, purring as loudly as a car engine. Nathaniel walked over to her, feeling his own purr grow in response to hers. She looked up into his face, and sighed happily, leaning against one of his forelegs.
Without thinking, Nathaniel leaned down and rubbed his scent gland over the cub, marking her as his. Micah hissed in surprise, and Nathaniel jumped, staring wide-eyed at his Nimir-Raj. He immediately dropped down, submissive, and Micah stalked over, every fiber of his being bristling. He sniffed the cub closely, and moved to add his own scent, but she slapped at him with her paw, hissing. He stared in amazement, and brought his power to bear.
She cowered down, whimpering, trying to crawl underneath Nathaniel to hide. “Micah!” Anita's voice snapped him out of it, and he stopped bearing down on the cub. She looked up at him fearfully, and he whined apologetically, rubbing his head against hers. This time she let him, even purring slightly.
“You two need to go catch up with the Pard before something bad happens. I'll take care of her, meet you at home. Anita, did you call the cops?” the woman nodded.
“They should be there by now,” she told him, running a hand over her lover's head, before heading off with Micah.
Nathaniel turned back to the cub, who wound herself around his legs, mewling. She looked up at him, her eyes gray. She had the markings of a black leopard, also know as a black panther, black with black markings. “Da!” she said, and he stared at her. “Da!” she jumped up and patted his face lightly. Falling back to the ground, she yawned, and started walking in a circle, curled up and went to sleep. Looking down at her, Nathaniel sighed and curled himself carefully around her, purring comfortingly and waited for the moon to set.
About an hour later, it occurred to him that being stuck in the middle of the woods with a human infant would be a really bad idea at the end of the change, so he stood, picked the cub up in his mouth and headed for home. He settled them on the back lawn, grateful as always for the way the woods backed onto the house. He set the cub down and she shook herself, awake again. She looked around the yard, eyes wide, and tried to run, only to trip over her own paws. Nathaniel laughed, and watched as she righted herself again. She looked around again, and her eyes lit on Nathaniel's tail. She slowly crept towards it, Nathaniel's eyes following every move, and he deliberately twitched it, causing her eyes to get even bigger in her face. She crouched, her bottom wiggling, then pounced, landing on it and attacking it with mock ferocity, growling happily. Nathaniel laughed, a deep rumbling purr, and twitched his tail away, at the same time curling around and gently batting at her with a paw, which she attacked.
They played like that until the moon started to set, and the change set in. The cub collapsed on the ground, shaking and contorting, Nathaniel right beside her. His change was quick, and he pushed himself up, eyes flying to cub, where it lay, fur slowly disappearing, shaking as the change took effect. Then, he was stumbling backwards, staring in amazement, because, instead of a tiny human infant, there was a four-year-old looking girl lying unconscious on the grass. “Crap!” he whispered, staring.