Title: More Than An Education (AB minificathon)
Category: Buffy/ Anita Blake Crossover
Disclaimer: I do not own the character's of Anita Blake or Tara. They are owned by God... otherwise known as Joss Whedon and Laurell K. Hamilton.
Distribution: Please ask.
Spoilers: None for Buffy. Anita Blake after Cerulean Sins.
Summary: What if Tara hadn't gone to Sunnydale U?
Notes: Sorry if this seems disjointed but I had to give Tara a new history and it went in another direction once it got started. Also, this is the AB world, so vampires and weres are accepted. Hope this is what kira was looking for.
Name: kira blackfire
What You Want To Read
Max Rating: doesn't matter
Characters: Tara or Fred
One Thing You Want To See: Tara/Fred wearing nothing but socks with kittens
One Thing You Don't Want To See: Richard being a jerk (if he shows up) thats
pretty much it
Tara glanced around the quiet library. It was one of the few joys her father allowed her. She was allowed to spend a quiet afternoon alone in the library for a few hours after school got out. It was more for his own convenience since his job didn't allow him to pick her up till that time. Still, she was lucky that her local library had kept up to date and had free Internet services. Every day since the end of her junior year, she had searched for a college. She had to get out of there. She had to get as far away as possible. She didn't understand it, but lately she had been feeling wrong. Like there was something inside her that was trying to crawl out. It was an odd feeling that quieted only when she was at school or in the library. It mostly rose when her father was yelling about her insolence or about how she needed to be more like her mother, more subdued. Goddess, how she hated that word. Subdued. She wanted to be strong. Which meant getting away. And college was the perfect place to do that.
Since college was a definite four letter word in her household she had all the informational packets sent to the library. The librarians had even set up a small collection to help pay for the applications. She hadn't wanted to push their generosity beyond it's limits, so she had only applied to a few schools. And two had sent back acceptance letters. Now to choose. Sunnydale University or Washington University in St. Louis.
"Oh mom, I wish.... I wish you were here. Goddess help me." Tara sighed and looked back down at the booklets in front of her. Her eyes went wide as the trees in one of the pamphlets began to wave as though being blown about by a slight breeze. Tara blinked back the tears. "Goddess be praised."
Washington University here she comes.
Getting away hadn't been that hard. A bus to Chicago, a change of hair color, and then another bus to St. Louis. She had changed back to her normal hair color in the bus bathroom. Now, she stood in front of her new dorm with her only suitcase under her arm. She had gotten a full scholarship and all the money she had collected from under her mattress was just enough to pay for books. But past that, she was going to have to look for a job. She had gotten in touch with one of her mother's old Wiccan friends, but she was out of town with a family emergency and it would be at least another month before she would be able to get in touch with her.
"But first things first, my new life."
Tara climbed the stairs and moved out of the way as other freshman and their parents moved up and down the stairs with arms full of all their children's dorm room possessions. It was time's like this when Tara really missed her mother. Now, to meet her room mate.
One Year Later
"Well, Miss McClay, I see here that you go to school."
"Then why might I ask, aren't you staying in the dorms?"
"My room mate and I had an argument." Okay, so she and her room mate hadn't actually gotten along from the beginning. Her room mate had been a ballerina. A spoiled rotten cheating ballerina. Her boyfriend had lived right down the hall, but that hadn't kept her room mate from cheating with a couple of boys. She hadn't been more embarrassed in her life than when she would have to pass the boyfriend in the hall way. Some days she just felt like screaming "Your girlfriend is a ho!" and running the other direction. It also hadn't helped that her room mate had caught her dancing naked with nothing on but kitten socks to one of her mother's Aretha Franklin records. If her roomie could handle three men at once, why couldn't she handle a little naked dancing?Which led her here. Desperately searching for a job so that she could move permanently off campus. She had made some friends on campus but most of them had been fellow Wiccans or other supernatural creatures. None of whom lived on campus, and no way was she taking her chances on another roomie from the adultery level of hell.
"So, it says here that you're a Wiccan. Natural witch or self taught?"
Tara didn't like the look in the man's eye when he said that. "N-n-natual." She took a deep breath. Deep breathing tended to ease the stuttering. "My mother was a witch and so are most of the women in my family. Listen, I thought this interview was for a receptionist position?"
"It is Miss McClay, but we here at Animators Inc. deal with some strange clients. I need to make sure that you'll be able to handle any of the strange things that may happen." He smiled that big fake smile again. It made Tara think of her father's smile when he wanted something from her. He'd give her an opportunity, something that she wanted. A new book, a new piece of clothing, and then he'd order her to do some awful chore. Like cleaning the gutters or something. It made Tara wonder how interesting things got around here.
"I assure you, I can handle all sorts of things. Mr. Vaughn."
"Please call me Burt. After all, we're all on a first name basis here. Wouldn't want our new receptionist to be any different."
"Really!!!" Tara reddened at her own high pitched shriek. "Thank you soooo much. Thank you."
"I'll think you'll do an excellent job around here. And pretty faces with good attitudes are never bad for business." Tara wondered for a moment at his extra emphasis on good attitudes. But she didn't have time to wonder long as he continued talking. He was explaining what she would be doing, where the coffee was, and introducing her to people all the time walking around the office at a rapid pace. "Time is money after all. Ah, but here is our best money maker. Anita, this is Miss Tara McClay."
"Ms. McClay, actually." Tara blushed again at the slight red stain that was working it's way up her boss's face.
"I think we might get along." Tara smiled at the woman in front of her, and held out her hand. Her hand shake was firm, and Tara firmed her own up to match. She had learned a lot since leaving her father's. A firm handshake was a sign of a dependable person. She wanted to be dependable. She wanted to do well in this job. Anita's smile grew a bit brighter at her increased firmness. "Why don't you come into my office and I'll finish the explanation of what we do around here? I'm sure Burt has many other things he needs to be doing. He is the boss after all. And time is money, right boss?"
Tara held in a giggle as Anita gave her a lite push towards her doorway and Burt began to sputter and nod at the same time. When the door clicked behind the two women, she let out a small laugh. "I think you broke him."
"Nah, I just confused him. Not that hard to do. Mentioning money around Burt is like running a can opener around cats. Distracts them."
"I take offense at that comment." Tara jumped as she whirled to face the corner of the room where the voice had come from.
"Tara, meet Nathaniel. Nathaniel the wereleopard, meet Tara the Wiccan."
Tara blushed for what had to be the millionth time that day. "Nice to meet you." Wow, what a pretty boy. Her own blond hair was thick and long, but nothing had this boy's hair beat. And those lavender eyes of his were gorgeous to look at.
"Now, for the real reason I invited you in here. Burt said you were a natural Wiccan. You can read aura's on first meeting right?"
Tara was shocked at her forthright question and could only nod in reply. "Good. Cause way to many people have been allowed in here with the purpose of trying to kill me. A little heads up on whose evil and whose not would be helpful."
"I-I-I can do that."
Anita paused at her stutter and sat down across from her. "Listen, this job really isn't that hard. I'm usually the only one they are shooting at, and they haven't actually tried shooting me in the office yet. So if gun shots ring out, just drop and cover, okay."
"Okay." Tara nodded again. Interesting indeed.
Tara sighed as she dropped her keys for what had to be the hundredth time. It had been three months since she had gotten the job at Animators Inc. Burt might be money loving, but he still paid her a great salary. She had earned more than enough to pay her rent, and had even started a saving account. She had also made an interesting friend. Apparently bringing coffee to Anita in the morning was like making her a friendship bracelet or something. Now, she and the aggressive brunette made an odd couple. When their work schedules matched up, the women would take lunch together and people watch. Tara was amazed at how well Anita could read people without being able to see their auras. Anita was amazed at how much she told Tara. At lunch today, they had even discussed Anita's love problems, which seemed to be more diverse than her life problems.
"... so now I have more men than I know what to do with."
"So, basically, you're a whore." Tara laughed at Anita's look of shock. "But only in a good way."
Anita elbowed her none too gently, and shook her head. "You've been spending too much time with me."
Tara smiled and balanced the grocery bag in her arms, again trying for the right key. "Yes!" She laughed as the door swung open.
"I knew you probably missed me, but I didn't think you'd be that happy to see me." Tara gasped. She barely noticed the dropped eggs and groceries as she stared at her father sitting across from her. "What a naughty girl you've been. But it's time to come home now Tara." Tara turned as if to run and screamed as fingers dug into her arm.
"And where do you think you're going?" Her brother's grip was painful but she knew she had to leave before her family dragged her back. Her father might be lazy, but her brother would pinch her for fun as a child, and he had only gotten worse with age.
"No!" Tara elbowed him in the stomach and ran as fast as she could out of the apartment.
Tara had luckily managed to hold onto her keys at the shock of seeing her father again. But she had to get out of here. She could hear here brother footsteps following her down the stairwell. She just had to beat them to the car. Tara had the key ready and in her hands as she unlocked her beater car and jumped in. The lock only worked on the driver's side, so she had to get out of there fast before her brother reached the car and tried any of the other doors. But where was she supposed to go. She slid the car into drive and hit the gas as her brother screamed her name. She had to find Anita.
"Why the hell does trouble always find me?"
"You only forgot your keys Anita, you must learn to relax. Damian laid a hand on Anita's bare arm and the Execution gave a small sigh.
"You do know I hate it when you do that? I like being all...... Tara?" Anita rushed over to the huddled figure in her office chair. She laid a hand gently on her arm to get her attention and frowned as the girl flinched. "What happened?"
"Take deep breaths."
Tara nodded and tried to breathe deeply. She had gotten only two blocks away from home when she realized that she didn't know where Anita lived, let alone where she was. Her only choice was to go to the office and hope her father didn't show up before Anita did. "My dad showed up."
"And he did this to you?" Tara knew that when Anita was very angry she would go all quiet like this. She called it her quiet place. Tara decided right there that she didn't like Anita's quiet place.
"N-n-no. My brother did." Anita nodded and stood from where she was crouching next to Tara.
"Damian, can you watch Tara for a minute?" Anita didn't even wait to hear the vampire's answer, she just got up and left.
"I hate it when she does that." Tara rubbed her head against her knees and turned it so that she could watch the Viking Vamp. His aura almost matched the green of his eyes. He was startling in his beauty, but after Nathaniel, Tara had learned that all of Anita's men were beautiful, but each of their aura's were different. Damian's held traces of pain and fear, but with a fresher layer of hope. Just seeing other people's hope gave her some.
"One gets used to it." Damian perched on the edge of Anita desk and gave a small smile to the young witch. Anita always seemed to come back from her meals with Tara a little bit happier, a little bit less pressured. He understood why now. Even while huddled in fear, she still exuded a sense of calm and peace. It was almost like his link to Anita. Calm and peaceful. "Your father and brother did this to you?"
She turned her head from him. His vampire hearing was the only thing that kept him from missing her whispered answer. "It seems like the worst kind of sin."
Tara's head turned back in his direction and he smiled at the curiosity in her eyes. "For the maker to try and destroy the child."
"They weren't trying to kill me, only bring me back."
Damian arched one red brow. "And is that not the same? It might not be a forever kind of death, but it still a death. I too had a creator who chose to muzzle me rather than be without me. She Who Made Me was never loving unless she wanted something. Never comforting unless to cause discomfort. But than Jean Claude set me free. And I refuse to go back."
Tara rubbed the tears off her face and uncurled her legs till she was sitting in the chair normally. "How do you refuse?"
"Say no." Damian smiled at the disbelieving look on her face. "And bring back up."
Like magic Anita appeared at the door and moved next to the chair where Tara sat. "I need to know what you want done."
"I just want them to go away and not come back. They haven't been my family. Not since my mother died. They're not my family." Anita nodded.
"Okay, then. No violence unless forced." Anita stood and turned towards her vampire servant. "Can you take her back to the Circus?"
Damian nodded and wrapped his arm around Tara's shoulder as they moved out of Anita's office. Tara smiled tentatively and moved an arm stiffly around his waist. She relaxed as his smell hit her. He smelled good. He smelled calm and peaceful. He smelled like vanilla. Anita would take care of her family, and Damian would take care of her. It was simplistic and she didn't mind keeping it that way. Anita tended to complicate her life. Tara liked it simple. Probably why they got along so well. She laughed and moved in even closer to the tall red head. Goddess be praised. And she always did have a thing for red heads.