Shadow Stabbing - Cake
Jeff was chattering away happily at the dinner table, preening in front of Nathaniel as it told him all about what he'd heard concerning the neighbor across the way. His wings shuddering ever so slightly as Dawn's finger grazed across the pristine white feathers while a scaly leg scratchily scratched a fuzzy lop ear from atop his teacup seat. The gossip paused only long enough for the shot of honey to touch Jeff's lips before he was talking again.
“That's the thing that almost got you killed?”
Dawn nodded at Anita with a smile. “Jeff is great. If it wasn't for him I'd have died at least three times by now.” No bigger than her fist -and very delicate- Jeff was able to find the cavalry and carry messages without being noticed. And in a pinch, his little spear could pick a lock really well.
She's kind of glad Peter isn't here right now. She's also glad her father isn't around to get cold again.
For the second night in a row, Dawn falls asleep on Anita's lap. It's embarrassing to know she's depending on a complete stranger. She only knows the woman's name and job description. She knows the woman lost her own mother and there's usually lycans running around in the house. She knows the smell of coffee and the acrid scent of herbs that remind her so much of Willow. The feeling of magic dancing across her skin when the woman is near reminds her of home and she cries harder because it isn't her mother running fingers through her hair. But that was last night.
Bright sunshine is filtering through the windows and the scent of warm linen and softener makes Dawn's world right now. The warmth of the winter sun and thick blankets makes a cocoon and for the smallest moment she's safe and the world is perfect. But she can hear her father's timbre downstairs and the deep voice of Peter. She can feel the lycan's moving around downstairs, great prowling cats like Aurelius demons.
The scars on her stomach twinge and the scars on her wrists itch like mad; Twinging pain from the time Buffy wasn't fast enough, slight itch because Spike was.
She has to close her eyes when the bane of her existence opens the door, completely ignoring the fact that she might be sleeping. “What?”
“It's time to get up.”
“No, it's time for you to get out.” She can't even scream at his next action, it happens so fast. Her blankets are gone, held in the elder teens grip and Dawn is left laying on the bed in her panties.
He only meant to annoy her, to get her riled up again because the ice in her eyes turns to fire. But this is so much better and infinitely worse. She's his perfect girl. Strong enough to hold her own in a fight and smart enough to find all of his weak spots. But right now she's mostly nude and looking up at him with big doe eyes. But the pink scars on her stomach grab him as well, jagged and angry from attempted sacrifice and spreading diagonally from hip to breast.
“Get out!” She finally screeches, covering herself with one arm. It's enough to hide her nipples and some of her breast. The lamp flying at his head is what keeps him from walking closer.
“Did something happen?” Anita asked when Dawn came down. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, no frills today or ever it seemed. Her coffee cup was steaming in front of her while Nathaniel made breakfast, eggs and sausage it smelled like.
“You need a new lamp,” Dawn nodded. Peter's head was ducked as he read something. “I tripped getting out of bed.”
“Did you cut yourself?”
Dawn shook her head and took the seat across from Peter. Why did she cover for that twat? Especially when the people around her knew she was lying? Dawn focused on her juice instead, taking a slight sip before setting it back down. IT was too sweet.
“Your roots are showing,” someone spoke from behind her. Jerking slightly, Dawn tried not to scowl at her hostess' boyfriend thing. Micah was some weird amalgamation of Riley and Oz mixed together. Riley's build, Oz' personality.
“Yeah, mom was supposed to help me cover them.” She runs her fingers through her hair subconsciously before pushing against an egg with her fork. “It was easier for Hank to ignore me if my hair was brown.”
“Do you know how to lift dye?” Everyone turns to Edward; he's staring at Nathaniel with a raised brow.
“Dad-” His hand is up and Nathaniel quietly admits that he doesn't know how to lift dye. But Cherry or Zane might. “What kind of name is Cherry?” she finds herself asking as the woman is invited over on the phone a few seconds later. “Is she a stripper?”
There's something about her tone that rankles Dawn. It's so rude and dry, borderline snotty even. “Well fuck you too.” She's not hungry anymore and she'd rather be outside anyways.
It's still winter outside only this time it's snowing. Big fat flakes that don't even belong in her life are falling around her in a mocking swirl. She's forgotten her coat, her shoes, she's even forgotten to grab the keys from her father. But headlights blink on the rental car and she's inside of the safe little place. She's away from the harsh world of St Louis and for a second she's back in Sunnydale. She might even be on her way to Disneyland with Uncle Ed.
And thank god for push button ignition.
She's sitting in the heated car for almost ten minutes before she hears anything. The glovebox is ringing. Something perky and full of sunshine. A whole pocket full of the stuff in fact! Leaning over, she opens the box to find a phone. A snoopy covered phone. Unlocking the screen, she reads a single text from Dad.
Come back inside. Gas is expensive. How concerned.
I'm not apologizing she replied. This phone is a bit tricky, but she's got it down quick. And I'm not going to sit in the back oblivious. Thats how things of the bad happen.
Then don't. And then: Come inside or peter is coming out to get you.
Stupid Peter. When Dawn opens the door he's already walking towards the car with a grin. He's wearing a coat and gloves, a light wind ruffling his hair. But, when she tries to walk up the path to the house, he moves in her way. She tries moving around him and he gets in her way again, grinning down at her.
“Can you please move?” She shivers out. It's getting really cold. But then his grin turns wicked. “Peter...No, no don't you dare!”
She'd seen the snow bank on her way out a few minutes ago and now the veritable bane of her existence was making her back into one. Barefoot, tired and getting colder by the minute, Dawn was forced to dodge as her step brother lunged for her.
“Put me down!” Dawn screeched, punching the teen in the back. He'd thrown her over his shoulder like a caveman and even though he winced from the kidney strike, he didn't put her down until she was being thrown into the pile of fluffy ice. As she struggled to pull her head and shoulders out of the snow, she felt no less than three snowballs hit her on the behind.
And of course, the ass was dashing back into the house by the time she pulled herself out.
Anita's eyes widened in shock when Dawn walked into the room. She looked like a drowned cat. A pissed off drowned cat.
“Judo chop!” Dawn had waited until Peter was taking a drink of his juice before delivering just that to his throat. As the teen choked and fought for breath, Dawn smirked and ran up the stairs to shower.
“Are you going to do anything?” Anita shouted as she got out of her chair. Edward's hand on her arm stopped her.
“Let them be,” he told her in no uncertain terms.
“They're kids,” Micah watched Peter rise from his seat and run up the stairs. “Didn't you see what happened outside?”
Something had happened outside? Anita didn't even know what made the girl go outside in the first place. She'd gotten pissed off at her for absolutely no reason before storming out of the house; Edward didn't do a damn thing except pull his keys out and unlock the car. “She didn't need to punch him in the throat.”
“Tell Dawn about Cherry before she gets here,” Edward told her. “Withholding information gets people hurt.” The blonde looked back down at the paper in his hand.
Peter was glowering at the bathroom door when Anita got upstairs. His throat was still red and there was a light in his eyes she didn't want to name.
“Edward wants to see you downstairs,” Anita told him. The boy seemed to growl for a minute before pushing off of the wall and continuing to glower at the bathroom door. When he was gone, she knocked on the door. “Dawn?”
“It's unlocked,” the teen responded. Anita raised a brow at that before opening the door and walking into the room. Dawn was laying in the tub with the curtain covering most of her body.
“I came to tell you about Cherry...why was the door unlocked?”
“Because it's rude to lock it,” Dawn answered, turning the bath back on with her foot. “One bathroom in a house of six people? Funny.”
Anita only gave a slight nod before telling Dawn about Cherry. She was nurse and a werepanther. Anita didn't like outing people like that, but Dawn knows about lycans and if she didn't talk then Edward would. And that would only succeed in driving dawn closer to the blonde killer instead of keeping her in St Louis where she'd be under Anita's protection.
“Right,” Dawn nodded. “Wanna get out?”
“Out, I need to get dressed.”
Anita rose from her place on the toilet and walked out of the bathroom. Peter had not come back to glower. In fact, he was still down in the dining room, chewing on a piece of toast. He didn't even move until Dawn came into the room a few minutes later, dressed in a pair of low rise jeans and a babydoll t-shirt.
“thanks,” Dawn chirped when Edward pushed a glass of water over to her. There's still some toast on her plate and she's finished after a piece and a half. “So what's the plan then?”
“You're going back to blonde,” Edward told her simply. He looked up at her with wintery eyes. “What would you like to do after that?”
“Is there a pool nearby?” Dawn asks hopefully. “I need something to do until I get into school.”
Dawn stares as Edward and Anita rush off to a circus to take care of something stupid, leaving Dawn and Peter at the YMCA pool. Cherry had done her job, coming over to lighten the deep mahogany to it's normal honey brown. Peter can't stop teasing her or pulling on said locks, constantly making surfer comments or asking if she's been to the mall yet.
“This is seven kinds of retarded,” she scowls, shivering on the front steps of the building. There is snow everywhere and she was looking forward to having some old fashioned fun. But the Y was closed and now she and Peter are left in the cold and the car has no keys.
Wait a minute.
“Keep a watch,” she tells the taller teen. “And not on my ass.”
“Not my fault it takes up half a block,” he snorts. Then he starts to sputter as Dawn walks to Anita's jep, pulling the switchblade from her boot. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Getting us someplace warm, now shut up and keep watch.” Faith and Spike have taught her too much, but she's cold and Peter is actually keeping watch as she bucks the glass from it's runner. There's mutters of being shot and maimed from behind her as she swings the door of Anita's jeep open and ducks down to hotwire the vehicle.
“Anita is going to kill us, slowly and painfully.”
“Why?” Dawn sets her cocoa down and looks at him with narrowed eyes. “I'm the one who broke in, I'm the one who hotwired it, and I'm the one who drove.”
“And I'm the one who didn't stop you.” He watched her break seven different laws, one of which is a law against nature for having a perfect ass. Damn her to the seven hells. “God...who the hell taught you to do that?”
“Faith taught me the window trick, Spike told me about the wires. It's harder to do on the newer models, but enough makers still use the old fashioned wiring.”
His cell phone rings before he can ask anything else and the flashing name makes him hand it to Dawn.
“Hello?” Like a cheerful birdy singing for spring, she tells Anita exactly what she did and why she did it. The Y is in a lonely part of town and she wanted to be warm. “Well next time leave us the keys.” If Anita doesn't shoot Dawn, Peter just might. She's too bright for St Louis and she looks way too innocent to be stealing cars. “Uhm, no, it's called child endangerment and you should really be glad I was smart enough to not get kidnapped for once.” There's sputtering on the other end before Dawn tells the woman the address and the coffee shop they're in, there's a yellow awning but it's not the shop with blue tables out front, it's the shop with pink tablecloths out front.
But she doesn't give his phone back to him.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” she hits numerous buttons and apps. “Did you know your phone can be set to Russian.”
“I swear to fucking god,” Peter reaches over for the device, fingertips grazing her shirt as she jerks it out of his reach. “Dawn, if my phone is set to Russian I am going to...”
“You'll what?” Smirking she starts to play with it again, still out of his reach. “You'll let me punch you in the throat again?”
“Don't think I won't tie you down and leave you in the snow, naked.”
“Yeah, we all know how useful you get when I'm naked,” the phone is tossed back at him, breaking through images of her tan skin and perfect breasts. The snow fight earlier had done the exact opposite of what he'd hoped for and he'd nearly shot himself to keep from going into the bathroom when he didn't hear her lock the door.
“I'm plenty useful when there's nakedness.”
“Really? Because you turned into a regular genius.”
“Oh, fuck you bitch.” He looks down at his phone as she shoots back one more barb.
“Like I'd ever.” And his phone is not is Russian, it's in some kind of asian and he has to put it down to keep from throwing it at her stupid skull. Her mouth is pulled into that damn grin as she peers at him with laughing eyes over the top of her coffee. The only reason he isn't punching her is the fact that they're in a public place.
And Edward might kill him if he damaged her face. Or if he had to bail them out of jail. Plus his mother would get upset too and she's going to be hurt enough when she meets Ted's kid from his first marriage. And then there's Anita, she seems to be pissed off at Edward for a reason Peter can't quite grasp and if Dawn were to get punched she'd probably take it out on the assassin. It really doesn't make sense, but neither does Dawn.
A frustrated silence stretches between them as they wait for Anita and Edward to get to the coffee shop. When the two adults enter they get even angrier. Now they can't even snipe at one another; duck tape has been frequently mentioned when they get too aggressive or mean.
“When are you two getting married?” Anita asks Dawn as they drive to the repair shop. The boys are going back to the hotel to start packing for the flight back to New Mexico; Dawn's bags are still lost but some new clothes are in a blue turtle covered suitcase.
This is the first time anyone has ever stolen her car for a justifiable reason, but Anita told them to wait! It rankles her that she did something that stupid, leaving the kids in the cold without the keys, she didn't even think about the keys. And Edward is only amused, smiling that smile of his while winter eyes show the faintest sign of annoyance. He's probably just upset that he isn't the one who taught Dawn to steal a car.
“What?” The cup of coffee, the second triple shot Dawn has had, stops partway to her mouth. “What the heck are you talking about?”
“You and Peter. You act like an old married couple.”
Dawn is backed up against the passenger door, staring at Anita with horror as her own frost blue eyes widen. “Blasphemy Lady-face!” Her pointed finger is shaking ever so slightly from the mass caffeine intake. “The day I even think about kissing that...that nerf herder is the day Pylea is ruled by humans!”
Anita doesn't know what half of that means, but she can figure out that Dawn is fervently against the idea. A little too against the idea actually. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”
“That is disgusting Anita.”
If she only knew...
The previous chapter is titled after a song by Blossom Dearie