All I Ask of You
“I am to be her father.”
“What!?” Jean Claude could not
have Tara. Anita loved him but the idea of Tara living in the circus was too scary to even take seriously. With rouge vampires, dungeons, and the fairly regular “surprise” visits from Council members along with the inevitable orgies that seemed to accompany them, there was no way in hell she could in good conscience let Tara live there. Even if none of that was in the way, part of Anita was convinced that as much as she loved Jean-Claude, he was far too practical and would end up using Tara in some way.
“Petit, if you believe me capable of manipulating a child into some Machiavellian plot, I am surprised that you would deem me worthy to be in your presence.” His tone was harsh and eyes flat.
“I didn’t say— I didn’t say anything. Just how long have you been in my head? I told you I don’t like it when you come in uninvited.” She could feel the familiar anger bubble up. This she could deal with, not with the fact that she could lose Tara.
“Since you first found Petit Miel. Do you not feel the connection between the two of you? I have been trying to reach you since the day’s end but your attention was solely on the child. ”
After staring at his blank face trying to discern if he was telling the truth, Anita closed her eyes and let her shields open slightly. She saw her connections to JC and Richard that made her part of the triumvirate along with her connections to the pard. But there was another connection, smaller and less solid than the rest. When she reached out a metaphysical hand to touch it, instead of the static like shock she was expecting from previous experience, her “hand” sunk into it. It was thick and viscous, like honey. It felt warm and safe, safer than anything had since her mother died so long ago. It made her suspicious.
Nothing, in her mind, that decided to latch onto your aura was benevolent in nature. And while it didn’t seem to be doing anything that could be construed as harmful, she was wary. She decided to follow it back to its source, to see if it really was— “Tara!” Her gasp was soft and breathless. She hadn’t even realized she said it aloud.
“What is it Ma Petit?” Jean Claude’s wanted to see what this new development would bring.
“She’s scared and nervous.” Her face contorted in an effort to focus. “She’s afraid that they won’t find her; that she won’t get home; that— that they’ve all died and she’s alone here now. She’s so sad and empty inside Jean Claude.” She wrapped her arms around herself, unknowingly trying to comfort herself.
“How is she empty?”
“She misses the light. There was so much light in her Jean Claude, bright and warm and it reminded her of Mama.”
“Of who?” This was quickly spiraling out of his control. He was torn between learning more and pulling Anita out of this connection, which may or may not be even more dangerous than what was going on now.
“Mama taught her how to use the magic, let her fill up with love from the Goddess. Taught her to obey the rede and do what was right all the time. But Daddy and Danny didn’t like it; told her she was bad and dirty and a d-demon. They had to b-beat the d-devil out of her. No w-witches in d-daddy’s house. C-c-can’t—”
!” Jean-Claude yelled. His voice was filled with power and he used it to wrench back Anita from Tara’s all consuming aura. Anita’s eyes snapped open and she gasped as if someone had knocked all the air out of her lungs. She leaned forward suddenly, hands curled in the jean fabric around her knees and elbows braced against her thighs. Her hair curtained her face and all that could be heard was her harsh breathing as she tried to regain her bearings and put back up her shields, tighter than before. Jean-Claude sat down next to her. He placed his hand on the small of her back in an attempt to comfort Anita. At first she stiffened but Anita slowly relaxed and leaned into the contact. When she finally raised her head, her eyes red and swollen from tears, but there was something else. Anita was up
“I don’t care what you need to do, but I want you to find her father and I want him to suffer. For a long, long time.”
Jean-Claude was surprised to say the least. He knew that as much as she did not want to admit it, Anita could be as “practical” as he ever was. But she had never condoned the torture of any one, no matter their crime. Yet here she was now, asking for him to track down a man she had never met and torture him before ending his life. “Are you sure of what you ask of me?”
“Damn it! Of course I’m sure! Do you know what he did to her? I was there Jean Claude, I could feel it!”
“I am sorry that I did not pull you back sooner. If I had known you were suffering then—”
“That’s not the point. He did all those horrible things to her. She’s so tiny. How could he do that to her when she’s so tiny?” Anita had known that sometimes people’s parents could be shitty to their children (Nathaniel, Stephen, and Gregory came to mind) but she had never really known
. What kind of bastard could hurt their child like that? And for what? Because she was different and special?
Jean-Claude sighed. He stood and ran his hands through his hair in an agitated gesture. Turning to Anita he spoke saying, “Anita, I have been on this earth for a very long time and have witnessed countless atrocities and I still have no reasons for the evil that men do. But what you ask of me, it is too great. Wait!” He held his hand out to cut off her outburst, “Wait and let me explain my reasoning. How do you know that those things you saw truly happened? Cannot Belle Mort and Marmee Noir enter your thoughts and make you feel or see things that are not the truth? Even if Petit Meil did not mean for you to feel such things, the memory is a twisted thing and how do you know if the events occurred as she remembers them? Have you considered that perhaps Tara would not want for her father to die by our hands? But even more than these things, I will not do as you ask of me because I feel you would come to resent me.” He kneeled before her so that their eyes could meet. “Now, while the wounds are still fresh, you ask me to take revenge on those who have hurt you. But when the dust has settled, when you speak to the god that fills your cross with white light, you will see me as a monster and not the man that you love. How can you ask me to risk that?” His eyes were earnest and grip almost too tight.
Anita turned away from him first. “Fine, I can wait on this. But he never gets her again, understood? If I even hear that he’s looking for Tara, I’ll hunt him down myself.” She knew she couldn’t force him into this, not when he was so afraid that he might just end up pushing her away. And maybe it grated on her nerves that he thought she was so mercurial that she didn’t really know what it was she wanted. But hadn’t she done the same thing with Asher? She had practically been begging for his bite and afterward she had been nothing but cold and distant towards him. Just one more thing for her to set right.
Jean-Claude sat down again next to her. “It will not come to that Ma Petit.” He was happy she had decided to see reason. “Now, for much more pleasant topics: I have informed your pard members that Petit Meil will be accompanying you home and have purchased her clothes and other necessities. A room is being made up for her at the circus where I assume she will also be spending her days while you are at work. I decided on a lovely lavender that I was assured by Jason was ‘girly but not overly so’. Also—”
“Hold on! Who gave you the right to—”
“You did Ma Petit. Arrangements had to be made and they had to be made quickly. I could not have her placed in your custody due to your most recent publicity but I thought that this was a satisfactory solution. No one knows where I lay to rest and if I say it is at your home, than Michelle, a lovely werewolf social worker, will place the child there. As for the purchases? A child needs many things, and while all of these things cannot be bought, some can. Do not be upset Ma Petit, I simply decided to let you focus on other, more important things.”
“Fine.” She was too exhausted to argue with him now. That didn’t mean she couldn’t after a cup of coffee later. For now she had to get back to Tara. She stood. “Come on, you might as well meet your ‘daughter’.”
“I would love to meet the child that has become part of your heart in such little time.”