Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy the vampire Slayer nor the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. But sometimes I dream that I do. They belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Laurell K. Hamilton.
A/N1: So these are the promised side stories to Purge and Pray and later, probably its sequel as well. I will put them up as they fit into the story, with an explanation of where, when and how.
As for readability, you can read the main story without reading this, although it might be useful to know the snippets too. But you can't read these snippets without the main story. Unless you like confusion. A lot.
A/N2: This ficlet is a sort of alternate scene for Anita after Buffy arrives and before the healing starts. Cropped from the story because it's set at Anita's place and she never gets there during the first couple of chapters.
For the healing to start you have to want it.
Anita lay sprawled in the middle of her big bed, staring at the shiny white ceiling above. It was barely past sunset, way too early for her to be in bed, but she didn’t have the energy to do anything but lie there. She was half heartedly trying the breathing exercises Buffy had shown her over the course of the day but more often than not she simply forgot to concentrate after a dozen or so deep, even breaths and her thoughts drifted to other matters and less peaceful pastures.
That was how Nathaniel found her twenty minutes after he had called everyone else down for dinner. She wondered why he came looking for her. It wasn’t like she ate all that much these days. Or could stand to be around more than two or three people at a time. Or sit close to anyone. Or pass someone the potatoes, lest they accidentally brushed hands.
She grunted in something that was equal parts frustration and despair.
From the doorway, Nathaniel asked is she was alright. Was she? Hell no. She wasn’t alright because even as he stood ten feet away from her, her mind was conjuring the worst case scenario for this setting. He came closer, in her head, touched her, set off the leopard which in turn freed the tigress from her fragile, brittle prison and sent her roaring through the small woman’s body. In Anita’s mind her skin exploded and her bones broke as the tiger took her over and ripped Nathaniel to shreds before tearing down the stairs and into the dining room. She tore into Cherry first followed by Zane as he tried to protect his girlfriend. Who then? Micah? Merle? Noah? Or perhaps Caleb? Gina? Who would it be? Was Jason there?
“Anita?” That was Nathaniel again. Nathaniel who was alive and well and standing in the doorway, unaware of the horrible death he had just died in her head. Happy him. God, she really needed someone to brain her with a sledgehammer just so she could get some sleep. She’d take a concussion any day in exchange for some sweet oblivion.
“Yeah,” she finally managed, too late, too flat. He came a few steps closer. The urge to yell at him to run
was almost overwhelming.
“Are you okay?”
“Tired,” she said, eyes fixed on the ceiling. She would not look at his jugular. She would not look at him
and wonder how he tasted. She would not give in.
A soft rustling sound. A step of plush carpet. He was coming closer. Her throat closed up. “Stop,” she said, urgency badly hidden in her strained voice.
“Anita?” He always said her name that way, even when they were fighting. Sweet and soft. Gentle. A caress. He kissed her name every time it passed his lips and she swore sometimes that she could feel it.
“Don’t come closer.” I’ll kill you, she added inside her head, I’ll tear out your throat and I’ll eat you ,drink your blood, kill you dead dead dead.
His voice didn’t change. It stayed soft and smooth, like water. Warm water on a cool fall day. Comfort. Safety. Home. God, she wanted to cry so badly.
“Anita?” Again. Again. And still it sounded… he was undoing her. His gentleness, his love, was undoing her. Bringing down the pitiful remains of what had once been strong walls. She wanted to yell at him for taking advantage of her weakness but he probably didn’t even know what he was doing to her. He was just trying to help. Just trying to –
“I’m scared.” Funny. She hadn’t meant to say that.
Then he was there, above her, in her field of vision, wide eyes and beautiful face, lips parted to exhale in… relief? “I know,” he said and she knew that he did, “I know. But we’ll fix it. I promise.”
Once upon a time it had been her making promises to him. She had been the strong one then. Those days seemed forever ago. When had she become such a mess? Such a damn fuck up?
“You can’t know that.” But please, she whispered soundlessly, please tell me that you can.
“I do. Buffy is good at what she does and we are all here to help in any way we can. But you know why I really know you’ll get better?”
She shook her head mutely.
“I know that you’ll get better because your strong.” No. Not anymore. “You’re strong, and stubborn and determined, Anita. You’re the most pigheaded person I’ve ever met. And you’ll get through this.”
“I -“ What do you say to something like that? How do you refute it? How do you destroy such faith when you need something to hold on to so badly? You don’t. So she didn’t.
Above her, Nathaniel smiled and asked, “Are you coming down for some dinner? You should try to eat and I threatened everyone with dish washing duties for a month if they bugged you.”
She snorted. Nathaniel couldn’t do threatening to save his life. Yet she found herself nodding. Huh, where had that come from?
But it was too late. The leopard had already wrapped a thick woolen blanket around her shoulders and pulled her to her feet, careful not to touch skin. And then he was steering her down that stairs and there was really not chance to protest.
Slowly, Anita exhaled.