Letter Box: One
: chapter oneby Mhalachai
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Anita Blake belongs to Laurell K. Hamilton. No profit has been made from this fic, and the only benefit to me is personal satisfaction and the creative process.
Notes: Sequel to Obituary
. Spoilers for Incubus Dreams
for Anita Blake and eventually to the end of Buffy, but the first part will be contain spoilers only up to the end of season five. As always, feedback appreicated.~~~~~
Dawn hadn't know.
Yes, she knew she had a cousin in St. Louis, and that her mother had gone to see him once, and that his name was Nathaniel, but that was it.
She hadn't known Mom had been writing to him every week. She hadn't known Mom kept all of the letters he had sent her in a box in the basement, not until yet another horrible sleepless night the month after Buffy died had driven Dawn to the basement, where she could rage silently without waking Willow and Tara.
The box had been knocked off the shelf when Dawn had yanked the lawn chair away from the wall. She would have put the box back in its place, but she was so scared and mad at Buffy and at Mom for dying and leaving her all alone that she kicked the shoebox as hard as she could. The lid had flown off, scattering letters everywhere.
She dropped to her knees, to gather the letters up. At first, Dawn had thought they were old letters Mom had kept from school, but then she noticed the dates. The letter on top was dated only a week before Mom died.
The letter was out of the envelope and she had half-unfolded it before she remembered how mad Buffy used to get at her for opening letters that weren't addressed to her. But they're both dead, her and Mom,
Dawn thought bitterly. They can't get mad at me anymore.
The gaping pit of loss in her stomach opened just a little bit wider, but Dawn didn't cry. Mom had been so strong and Buffy had been so strong that Dawn wasn't going to cry like a little baby. She had to be strong for them like they had been strong for her. She had to be strong now, like Buffy told her before she died.
Taking a deep breath, Dawn unfolded the letter.~~
I hope you're okay. I noticed that your letters slowed down a bit, but then you said your gallery was getting really busy. That's cool. I really liked those photos you sent of the last exhibition you had. I hadn't ever seen art like that before. I showed the pictures to everyone, and Vivian's been trying to paint a picture like that red one. Do you remember Vivian? I wrote about her, she's one of us. She's taking some art classes in the evenings. She's good.
Stuff out in St. Louis is boring right now, but boring is good. Anita said there's a Chinese curse, 'May you live in interesting times.' I think I've had enough excitement for all of my nine lives. But you know something's bound to pop up, it always does.
Now the big and good news: I'm taking my high-school equivalency. In a few months, I'll be a high-school graduate. Not that I need it for the job at the club, but it's just to have. Anita keeps telling me that I can't do this job forever, and that at some point I'll need to pick something else to do. So I'm doing this.
I'm not stupid, I know that, but it's really hard to do this stuff and sometimes I feel stupid. It doesn't help that one of Anita's friends is a junior high teacher. When he heard that I was doing this, he asked what I thought I needed an education for. It just kind of hurt, you know?
It's not what it sounds like, about me being a lycanthrope. He knows about my history and I think that's what he was talking about. But he's an alpha. I'm not.
Sorry, I'm getting sappy. But you said you wanted to know about what I'm doing. If it's too much information, tell me and I'll shut up.
This is a short letter because we've been making the area over the garage into an apartment for Damien, and tonight's the night we finally start to move the furniture in. Anita's got everyone helping, and since that usually entails half the lycanthropes in St. Louis, I've got to order pizza and get the kitchen set up. (I tried to tell her that my kitchen skills meant I couldn't help with the moving. She didn't buy it.)
I'll write soon.
Dawn licked her lips, tasting the cherry lip-gloss she'd put on after dinner. Her cousin Nathaniel was a lycanthrope? What kind? Maybe a werewolf like Oz? And hadn't her mom indicated that he was older than Buffy? So why hadn't he gone to high school in the normal way? What was going on?
She looked down at the huge pile of letters, then back at the one in her hands. I'll write soon.
Oh God, did he know Mom was dead? Things had been so crazy with Glory after Mom... then Buffy. Dawn didn't think anyone had thought to call Nathaniel.
Was he wondering why Mom had stopped writing? Dawn couldn't remember getting any letters from St. Louis after Mom died. Buffy had been very strict about answering every one of Mom's letters, letting everyone know about what happened. Since Buffy died, Tara had been the one doing that.
Dawn wrapped her hand around her side. The cuts on her abdomen were healing. She could sleep on her stomach again, and reaching for things didn't hurt. It didn't hurt like when she had staggered down from that tower in her bare feet, hands slick with blood as she tried to press on her wounds, because that was what you were supposed to do with wounds. And then, when she got to the bottom of the tower, seeing Buffy... seeing Buffy's body.
Because of her.
Dawn took a deep gulping breath and blinked back the stinging in her eyes. Even if it was her fault that Buffy was dead, she had to remember what Buffy said to her, just before she died.. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong.Buffy would have told Nathaniel about Mom.
But there was no more Buffy, only Dawn. Dawn would have to do it.
She wondered if Nathaniel would miss Mom as much as Dawn did.