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Yesterday's Ashes

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This story is No. 2 in the series "December's Child". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Anita Harris has left Sunnydale but has it left her? Hoping for normalcy, Anita must deal with both college and the reality that her dreams may just be dreams. Except, nothing is ever that simple.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > GeneralEffieFR1577,8690185,59518 Aug 084 Jul 09No

Chapter 5

The music was easy enough to ignore. The boys were not. Several of them had come up to her and asked her to dance, several attractive boys. Unfortunately they were all alive, Anita felt it, or rather she didn’t, as they weren’t dead. And while she prided herself (and hopefully most of the population) at not being a necrophiliac, Anita wanted to meet the dead thing.

The boys though wouldn’t stop coming and asking her to dance. Especially a brunette who was much too old for Anita’s liking because she had over heard him say he was in medical school at some point. Anita had had her handful of boyfriends (if she was honest there were 4 and the one in second grade really didn’t count) but she hadn’t had one since her freshman year (Cause of death: mauling. Although Anita heard he’d been eaten).

Nightclubs also meant one thing to her: sex. She didn’t know anyone who had met his or her partner at nightclubs. She knew of people who had become friends but not lovers. A virgin, Anita wasn’t ready to give it up for a casual fling. The idea of her first left a taste of bitterness in her mouth she wasn’t able to place. She didn’t care if she had more than one lover in her life (assuming she lived to even have a lover, things like this always crossed her mind) but the first one…

Broad shoulders, dirty blond hair, hazel eyes, a freckle on his left wrist, and a spit curl that wouldn’t stay away no matter how much gel was applied. Favorite color …

Anita shook her head. Not now, not now. She couldn’t deal with one of those things coming up here away from her room or in a room full of people. Anita felt bile rise for the briefest instant; she hated him. She didn’t know him but she hated him and there was so much regret for a brief instant before it was gone. Again.

“Hey, are you okay?” Anita looked up. Blue eyes, dimples. It was the medical student looking at her with some concern, flirtatious smile gone. She blinked, her eyes felt slightly watery. Another blink and it went away.

“I’m sorry?” She said instead.

“I asked if you okay?” He said looking at her eyes. “Your pupils are dilated,” Anita shook her again and stood up, she nearly fell. Her balance wasn’t usually affected but Anita hadn’t seen anything that vivid before much less while she was awake. “Whoa!” He said looking even more concerned; his eyes went quickly to her drink behind her. “Did someone give you that drink? Did you look away from it at any time tonight?”

“What?”

“Your drink-“

“I heard you,” She said, voice sound and secure. Anita looked at him for a moment before it dawned on her. “No!” She said hastily. “It’s nothing like that. I got it myself and was empty before I let it out of my sight.” She said emphatically. “I just lost my balance for sec.”

“Are you sure?” He asked looking at her genuine worry. He’d make a good doctor. She thought smiling at him. Assuming he was going to be a doctor, that is.

“Yeah,” She gave him the once over and decided if the dead thing wasn’t coming, she was going to enjoy herself. “You come over for another dance?” She asked, voice light.

He blushed slightly and then realized he was still holding her. He let her go, “Uh, yeah. Don’t get that many girls saying no to me and uh..”He looked a bit flustered. Anita laughed, that sentence should make her angry but they way he said it…

“Right, let me start again.” He said. “Hi. I’m Tom, would you like to dance with me if you’re not going to fall over?” He gave her a quick smile. “Just a dance, no more, no less.” He said.

“Just a dance?” Anita asked.

“Just a dance,” Anita smiled.

“Hi, Tom. I’m Anita and yes, I’ll dance with you.” Tom smiled back, dimples prominent. Anita went with him toward the dance floor. The song that was playing was about to wind down; Tom was clearly waiting for the other one as he hadn’t moved toward the others on the floor.

“So you come here often?” Tom asked. “I saw you here yesterday,” He said briefly.

“No,” She answered. “You?” She asked hoping that the conversation wouldn’t be long.

“No, I’m a med student.” He said, “I’m usually too busy.” Anita nodded. There would be a few seconds until the next time. “Are you a student too?”

“Yeah,” She said. He looked at her curiously. “What?” She asked, feeling self-conscious of something.

“Your accent,” He said. “Californian?”

“Yeah.” She said looking at him warily. Tom shrugged off her look and pulled her onto the floor, the new song had started. The dance was short and Anita let her eyes close a moment, Tom wasn’t overtly pushy. It was a rather chaste dance; he’d touched her once. He’d pulled her slightly to her left and Anita saw an “amorous” couple practically stomp through the crowd to her right. Anita looked at Tom and concentrated on dancing for the remainder of the song, it wasn’t overtly long. When it finished, Tom looked disappointed.

“How about one more Tom?” She asked carefully. Tom nodded. This song was quicker and Anita felt Tom get a bit closer, he was still careful and Anita wondered if he was worried about her little episode before they’d started dancing.

Three dances later and they were at one of the side tables. Tom was sipping a beer and Anita was nursing a bottle of water. She felt relaxed. “So, how old are you, Anita?” Tom asked looking at her. Anita gave him a quick look; her earlier worries started coming back. “You don’t look that old.”

“Eighteen.” She said, not bothering to lie. Tom looked quite surprised.

“Really?”

“Yes,” She said, her eyes darkening.

“Hey, I don’t mean anything by that.” He said quickly. “I just thought that you were a bit older.” He took a sip of the beer. “You look eighteen. My sister’s 24 and gets asked why she isn’t in school, high school.” Tom said quickly. Anita nodded.

“How about you?” Anita asked. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.”

“Irish-twins.” Anita muttered.

“What?”

“Irish-twins,” Anita said a bit louder and regretting it.

“What’s that?”

“When children are born a year of each other or less.” She felt her face flushing. “You know because the Irish are Catholic? Kids?” She said, rushing toward the end. “Really, shouldn’t have said that.” She said quickly at the incredulous look on his face. “At least I know where Xander gets it.” She muttered.

“Xander?” Tom asked, latching onto the odd name.

“My brother.” She winced. “Foot-in-mouth disease,” She looked at Tom, Mr. Not Blonde and Hazel eyes and who wore a watch over his left wrist. “That was so not of the good it wasn’t funny.” She winced again. Anita quickly stood up. “I’m going to go now. How much was the water?”

“Hey!” Tom said grabbing her arm, Anita stopped. He wasn’t holding her against her will. His grip was soft but with enough pressure to get her attention. “It’s okay. Just sit down.” He looked at her. Anita hesitantly sat down.

“I’m sorry.”

“I said it’s okay.” Tom snapped, for the first time irritation lined his voice. “Didn’t actually mean anything by it did you?”

Anita sighed. “No.”

“Then it’s fine.” He said tersely. He took another swig of his beer and they fell into silence, the jovial mood between them having faded. It was another twenty minutes before they started talking easily again.

“And I told Joey—“ Tom said laughing too strongly to finish. Anita smiled, her good mood coming back. “I told Joey,” He broken into another fit of laughter. Anita looked at the two beers in front of him. She wasn’t drinking in public if she could help it when she was older.

It was nearly half an hour later when Anita’s conversation was broken by it. She stopped. The sentence coming out of her mouth died halfway through. Tom looked at her confused, he was still nursing his second beer. Anita turned around and spotted It . No, a him, the dead thing was a him. Suddenly Tom was the last thing on her mind.

“Anita?” Tom called out.

“I have to go.” Anita said as the dead thing eyed the crowd in a chillingly familiar way. In that moment something else fell into place. He looked like a lot of people in the Bronze.

Judy D’angelo had been looked at that way and was found in a gutter three days later, raped and drained of blood. Gangs on PCP. Judy had stolen Anita’s Barbie in kindergarten, the only doll her parents could afford to give her that Christmas after Mom lost her job. Xander had gotten a Jack-in-the-Box and cried the whole day.

“Anita, what’s wrong?” Tom asked. He asked reaching for her again.

“Nothing, I just have to go.” Anita felt it, like a tug on her intestines. Him. She could feel him!

“Wait, let me at least give you my number.” He said. Should she call Dr. Ross?

“Just a dance.” Judy had whispered in the same way as that young man was to him. Screw, Ross. Anita was getting answers.

“It was just a dance.” Tom said quickly. Jotting down something. Carried a pen and paper, he would be a good doctor. The young man was following It onto the dance floor. They wouldn’t be there soon. “Here, call me. If you want.” He said following her gaze. He couldn’t see it.

Anita took the paper and jammed it into her pocket. “Thanks, Tod.” She said. “Tom.” She corrected herself. They were moving away. Anita took a step forward then stopped. She gave him a quick smile and decided to do it there. She kissed Tom on the lips, heatedly and quickly before running after them. Anita couldn’t see them but she could feel it.

She never saw Tom’s shocked and pleased expression trailing after her.

Judy...
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