The Shadow of Your Smile
Anita was proud of the girl for being as strong as she was, for holding it together for so long after her mother's death and putting up such a show, but she was also glad the girl finally broke down and cried. Silent sobs shake even Anita's frame, a sodden nightshirt and heaving breaths the only real clue that she's crying. Anita can remember losing her mother at the tender age of seven, Dawn is sixteen, almost seventeen and there are that many more memories to hurt her. Each smile stabbing her in the heart and the smell of mother's perfume is still fresh.
“What was she like?” Anita asks as they sit in the guest room. The bed is big enough for the two of them to rest there and Dawn's head is resting in her lap as she calms. Dark hair is curling after the shower, large chocolate curls the size of her fist are making waves across the white sheets. She almost has her father's eyes, but winter hasn't come yet, her eyes are the refreshing chill of a spring on a hot day.
“She was beautiful,” Dawn whispers into the darkness. “She'd come home from the gallery, and she'd smell like linseed oil and canvas.” Fingertips trace patterns on the sheet as the teenager thinks of the woman. “She'd make pancakes on Saturdays, that was when Uncle Ed came to visit...Edward.”
Anita's hand stops when she hears that. “What was that like?”
“He was cold,” Dawn admits. “But he wasn't Hank. Buffy always went with her dad on Saturdays and mom and I spent time with Uncle Ed.” Dawn gives a quiet yawn before she continues. “Mom left Hank after a while, and we moved to Sunnydale.”
“That's a hellmouth.” Why the hell would anyone willingly move onto a Hellmouth with their kids?
“Yeah,” Dawn nods sleepily. “That's when Uncle...dad stopped visiting so much.”
Anita can remember Edward cutting Peter off earlier and those lying eyes he gives to Donna are very suddenly not for Donna at all. She remembers a few years ago when he tells her he can't leave a child and how affectionate he seemed to be towards a little girl.
Dawn falls asleep with fingers curled and Anita almost feels bad leaving her. She's the sun, rising from behind the hills and pushing the illusions of night away. And for as bright and innocent as she is, she needs to be far away from St Louis. But...she grew up on a Hellmouth. Surviving even one year on a preternatural hotspot is dangerous; a girl as pretty as Dawn is obviously smart, well protected, or strong. Maybe St Louis and Edward are what she needs.
Anita now knows why she's sitting in the back next to Peter when they go to breakfast. The kids are like an old married couple, but it's strangely healthy for each of them. Dawn is venting and Peter is venting and the two adults are just sitting back and making sure it doesn't come to blows again.
“That's because you're dumb,” Dawn scoffs at the boy. She's turned around in her seat and every five minutes Edward is pushing her back into sitting position. “Tacos are the perfect food.”
“Bullshit, they're sent to earth by demonic forces.”
“Blasphemy!” Dawn reaches out and swats at him; She's pushed back by Edward and Anita grabs Peter's arm to keep him from pushing the brunette teen out of her seat completely. “Tacos have all of the food groups. And Anya says that Tacos were invented by Jack Lelane.”
“Who the hell is Anya?”
Anita wonders why he isn't focusing on the fact that Jack Lelane is human and dead.
Many many things have come to light during breakfast. First being that she and Peter have a difference of opinion concerning lycans and other such creatures. Dawn was babysat by a werewolf at age eight, while Peter killed his first. Dawn is 'super besties' with two vengeance demons, Peter wants to know why she wasn't one of them already. But vampires seem to be a different story, a very different one. Dawn seems to think that most of them should die the minute you have a chance to drive a stake through their heart.
“Hellmouths twist things,” Anita speaks up, feeling the need to defend her friends.
“Yeah I know,” the straw from Dawn's glass is mangled, nervous chewing has left it pock marked and useless. Edward has asked for a new one twice now. “But the only vampires I've ever met who didn't try to eat me or sacrifice me are the ones who went and got their souls back.”
Winter eyes turn slowly onto Dawn, emotionless. “Why were you being sacrificed?”
“Because the order of Aurelius seems to think proxy slayers blood is just as good,” the straw is changing the way her words sound but the tone tells us that she's not as okay with her past as she wants everyone to believe. “There's this demon that can only be woken with the blood of a slayer.”
“Word play,” Anita finds herself saying. For a very long time, she wanted to be a slayer. One of the chosen warriors of the light; she's grown too used to the shadow to want it now. Anita knows how to hunt things as a normal human and that makes her feel just a bit better.
“So I'm guessing it didn't work.”
“They didn't realize they were summoning a nargel.” it's a wide grin and a new straw is placed back into its glass of lemonade. “They're these gossipy little things, size of a bat and they feed off of honey.”
“Sacrifice usually implies death.”
“Well, I did flatline three times at the hospital,” Dawn admits. “Buffy gave me some of her blood so I healed a bit faster than I should have.” Peter asks about the nargel, obviously wondering if the job was finished, he succeeds in giving Dawn another grin, playful and full of mischief. Her eyes are like summer skies, a little overcast but warm. “Nargels are bound to the one who summoned them. Jeff is currently sleeping in my bedroom.”
And now Anita knows why her honey has been disappearing.
They finish breakfast on a fairly peaceful note, the kids only argue three times regarding various breakfast foods and their invention or preference. On the way back to the house, Peter is sitting in front while Dawn sits in the back with Anita, silently crying over the pancakes she'd eaten moments ago.
((You guys are so lucky! Two chapter in one day! Next chapter is a bit more show and less tell I think.))