Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective creators, Laurell K. Hamilton for the Anita Blake universe and Joss Whedon for Buffy'verse, AKA not me. Not done for Profit.
A/N: I would really love a beta and maybe a co-author for this story! If you want to help let me know!!
Nathaniel and Anita were waiting impatiently at the airport. Why were they at the airport? To pick up Nathaniel’s long lost cousin.
Anita was more worried about Nathaniel then she was of meeting his newly found cousin. She wasn’t sure that Nathaniel could really take care of the girl by himself. She bit her lip and thought back to the day before and the call that had changed everything.
Ring ring ring
Anita groaned but answered the phone. “Hello.”
The woman on the other end sounded hushed and nervous. “Um. Yes, hello, may I speak to Nathaniel Graison?”
Anita frowned. “May I ask who’s calling?”
The woman sounded almost scared. “My name is Lisa Struthers, I am an intern at the office of Child Services in Los Angeles. It is urgent that I speak to Mr. Graison about his cousin.”
Anita relayed the information to Nathaniel in the kitchen and handed him the phone. Nathaniel looked totally confused and put the phone on speaker. “Hello Miss Struthers, I don’t know who you are talking about but I don’t have any cousins.”
Lisa Struthers sighed. “This is the deal; your mother had a sister who ran away when she was seventeen, this sister, Joyce, had two daughters. Now Joyce Summers, that would be the aunt you didn’t know about, was killed, as well as her elder daughter, Buffy, in a car accident almost four years ago. The remaining daughter, Dawn, was sent to live with her father but recently he was arrested and imprisoned. The only biological family this girl has is you. The state won’t allow her into foster care so you are her only hope.”
Nathaniel was shocked at the deluge of information. “Why am I her only hope?”
Anita watched in confusion.
Miss Struthers cleared her throat. “Because while under the care of her father Miss Summers was infected with lycanthropy. The state will not allow her to go into foster care and if a blood relation can’t take her then she is going to be sent to a safe house. She’s only seventeen. Her case worker wasn’t even going to call you, she just wanted to send the kid away.”
Nathaniel’s stomach dropped. He looked at Anita who nodded her head. “What do I need to do to get guardianship of her?”
Miss Struthers sighed in relief. “All you have to do is call her case worker, Mrs. O’Neal, and state that you are Nathaniel Graison and you want her, because of her condition they won’t ask any other questions. Once she gets to St. Louis you will have to show a picture ID and sign a form stating that you take guardianship and completely responsibility for her and have a witness there. That’s it.”
Nathaniel hung up and looked at Anita. Anita smiled slightly, “guess you better make that call then help me clear out the storage room.”
He smiled and made the call.
Nathaniel had done exactly as Miss Struthers had told him to and was told that Dawn would be sent with her case worker on a flight the next morning.
Now they stood in the airport waiting. The excitement and nervousness rolled of Nathaniel in waves.
Finally the announcement came over the loudspeaker that Dawn’s flight was landing. Nathaniel was near panic but Anita was able to calm him.
They watched as people disembarked and met up with family or friends, Nathaniel always watching for a teenage girl. Anita was the one to actually see Dawn though.
She knew instantly that this girl was Nathaniel’s cousin. She looked just like him. The same long auburn hair, the same long body, though her eyes were more of a lavender color whereas Nathaniel’s were more lilac. Anita nudged Nathaniel and he looked and saw her too.
He called out for her.
The woman accompanying Dawn, Mrs. O’Neal, was a tall, wide, woman with short curly hair and a permanent scowl. “I assume you are Nathaniel Graison?”
Nathaniel nodded and produced his ID. He took the opportunity to use his senses to figure out what type of were Dawn was. He was pleased and mildly shocked to realize that like him she was a wereleopard. “Hello Dawn, I’m Nathaniel.”
Dawn gave Nathaniel a tiny smile as she realized he was like her. “Hi.”
Dawn stood quietly with her head and eyes tilted down. It seemed to Anita that the girl was trying to pull herself inside herself. “Hello Dawn, I’m Anita. I am a very close friend of Nathaniel’s.”
Dawn looked up for a second and tried to smile but Anita could tell instantly that Dawn was terrified of her. “H-hi” was all Dawn managed to say.
Mrs. O’Neal exhaled loudly. “These people are taking you in, not many would do that with your, condition, so you better be nice!”
Dawn cringed and seemed to withdraw into herself. She was radiating fear.
Anita bristled at the woman. “The kid’s obviously nervous, yelling at her isn’t going to calm her down.”
Mrs. O’Neal scrunched up her nose. “Yes well as soon as Mr. Graison signs this and you sign as a witness I won’t ever have to yell at her again. She can go on being a rude little…”
Nathaniel and Anita signed quickly and with a final scowl Mrs. O’Neal handed Nathaniel a manila folder and a small box then left them alone.
Anita took the folder and box from Nathaniel.
Nathaniel could sense Dawn’s fear. He set his hand on her cheek. “You’re safe here, no one will hurt you.”
Dawn looked up for a second and smiled slightly, like she wanted to believe him but couldn’t make herself. “Thanks.”
Anita put her hand gently on Dawn’s shoulder. “It’s really going to be OK. Now, do we need to go to the baggage claim?”
Dawn looked at the woman and bit her lip. “N-no, I mean this is all my stuff, I mean I only have this one bag. I didn’t have much to begin with and the cops took most of it anyway but I have a few things. They are all in my bag right here…Sorry I’m just nervous.” She immediately stopped talking and looked down.
Anita’s frustration was beginning to show and quickly Nathaniel spoke. “Well let’s go to the car and get out of here then we can go get something to eat before going home.”
Dawn didn’t nod or shake her head or speak. She simply followed as Nathaniel began to walk away.
Once they had loaded everything into the car Anita turned to Dawn. “The tip we got that you were Nathaniel’s cousin and in need of guardianship mentioned that your father is in jail. Why is that?”
Nathaniel bit his lip as he watched Dawn cringe. “He was arrested for running an underage brothel. That’s how I got infected.”
Anita swore, she hadn’t meant to open the girl’s fresh wounds but she went for broke anyway. “How long ago were you infected?”
Dawn looked down and spoke quietly. “I was infected three and a half years ago last week, when I was fourteen.”
Nathaniel’s emotions were rolling from sadness, anger, guilt, and love. He whispered to her. “I’m sorry.”
Dawn lifted her head slightly. “You didn’t do anything, you didn’t even know I existed. Now you know and you claimed me. Thank you for taking me in. I promise I’ll be good.”
Anita felt a twinge at that. The girl was terrified that she’d do something wrong and they’d send her away. She was too much like Nathaniel.
The rest of the ride was passed quietly. They decided, or really Anita decided since neither Nathaniel nor Dawn would voice an opinion, to wait and eat at home. As they pulled in Dawn yawned.
Anita turned. “Nathaniel can get you settled and you can take a nap before dinner if you want.”
Dawn raised her head a bit. “I can cook. I’m really good at cooking, I can make all sorts of things.”
Nathaniel petted her head. “Not tonight Dawn, you look dead on your feet.”
Dawn bit her lip. “I’m OK, really.”
Anita bit back the sarcastic response that came to her and instead gripped Dawn firmly but gently but her shoulders. “You have been through Hell, you will go take a nap and we will take care of the food.”
They walked into the house and Nathaniel took Dawn to her room, formerly a storage room but a nice room now.
The bed was new, delivered early that morning, and so were the soft purple sheets. Dawn smiled. “Purple’s my favorite color. My sheets were always red or black, they don’t show stains.”
Nathaniel growled softly. “No one is going to hurt you here.”
Dawn sat on the bed and Nathaniel sat as well. Finally Dawn spoke, her voice full of pain. “Would you stay with me while I fall asleep? It’s easier if someone’s there. Nancy and I used to sleep in the same bed, but she fought back one day and, and, Daddy shot her in the head. Now no one sleeps with me.”
Nathaniel was close to tears as he eased his cousin down and ran his hand from the crown of her head to her middle back over and over until they both fell asleep.