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First and Last

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Summary: After the events of "The Grave" Willow realizes she can't go home, and tries to start over in St. Louis. But can she?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Willow-Centered > Pairing: JasonArieannaFR181221,83604524,89916 Apr 038 May 05No

Chapter Eleven

A/N: I know, I know, it’s been so long since I posted a part for this that you assumed that I’d abandoned it. I’m sorry about that. But I promise that I’ll finish it, and I hope that you are all still interested in reading it.

Thanks to RyianaT for the beta!

Chapter Eleven

The executioner looked around the apartment, the small place not being what she had expected at all. The furniture all had that comfortable, lived in, second hand feel. Well, all of it except the one wall dominated by a large screen TV and enough electronic equipment to make the place heaven for a couple of guys in their early twenties. It had to have been a gift from Jean-Claude, Anita suspected. Jason had always complained about missing out on the creature comforts of the twentieth century living in the Circus, but she knew that the wolf didn’t have anywhere near the funds that it would have taken to outfit the wall. And, judging by the other furniture in the room, neither did Daniel. No, the lavish set-up reeked of the Master of the City.

Her suspicions were confirmed when Daniel caught her gaze and spoke. “Yeah, outrageous, huh? I wasn’t really too keen on getting gifts from the head vamp around here. Don’t like owing favours to vampires. But the guys that brought it said that it was payback for Jason. Something about the cost of being rotted on?” He raised an eyebrow quizzically, and Anita shifted her expression into that blank neutrality that she was becoming more and more accustomed to. It wasn’t her story to tell, it was Jason’s. He’d tell his roommate if and when he was ready to do so. But she had to agree with the wolf about owing vamps favours, so she said what little that she could in order to ease his mind.

“If that means what I think it means, and this set-up isn’t a gift but payment for services rendered, then Jason more than earned it. Don’t worry, you don’t owe Jean-Claude a thing.” Daniel looked like he was about to ask for more details, so Anita spoke before he could. “That’s al I’m going to say about it. If you want to know more, you’ll have to ask Jason.”

He shrugged. “Either way, I don’t use it much. More into my instruments.” He gestured his head towards the corner of the room, and Anita saw the guitars that she hadn’t taken notice of before.

“You play?” She hadn’t expected him to answer other then to nod, but when he did, Anita realized that she had never heard him willingly speak this much at once before. It made her wonder if she was making him nervous.

“A little. Still working on the E flat diminished ninth, though.” She looked at him, not quite understanding what he was talking about. “Sorry,” he told her. “Musician babble.”

With the word babble Anita thought again about how much the young man was actually talking, an unusual amount for him. Usually people got quieter around her.

“I guess that you’re here to talk about my phone call.”

“You guess right. Did you ever get an answer?”

Daniel shifted from foot to foot, his gaze traveling down to look at his shoes before looking back up to meet her gaze. “It’s going to be a longer conversation then you might think.” He gestured to the couch. “Have a seat and I’ll tell you want I know. Would you like some coffee?”

“Always,” she told him while taking the seat he’d offered.

Daniel left the room, going into the kitchen to make the coffee, and affording Anita the opportunity to study the room in solitude. She examined the room in more detail this time, the fact that she was unobserved giving her the freedom to do so.

Other then the ‘housewarming presents’ from Jean-Claude, the apartment was furnished much as one would expect. Most of the furnishings were comfortable, but mismatched and well used. The walls were that non-descript beige color that was usually found in apartments. It matched all the furniture, even when the pieces didn’t match each other.

The room had that lock of most first apartments, the one that let people know that you had enough money to move out of your parent’s house, but money for furnishings wasn’t a high priority. So whatever your various friends and family members could donate was good enough.

Then there was the corner of instruments that Daniel had pointed out, and it made Anita wonder how well the young wolf played. There was a framed poster on the wall that advertised a band called “Dingoes Ate My Baby”. The executioner had never heard of them, leading Anita to believe that it might be a band that Daniel had once been a member of.

The only other thing of note in the apartment was the fact that it was practically spotless. It was far cleaner then one would ever expect for an apartment lived in by two bachelors. Of course, considering the fact that the two young men in question were werewolves, the animator wasn’t all that surprised that the place was missing the usual dirty laundry, filthy dishes, and rotting pizza. Their heightened sense of smell wouldn’t have been able to bear that.

“Here’s your coffee, Ms. Blake.” Daniel’s voice had roused Anita from her study of the room, and she rose to take the cup from him.

“Thanks, Daniel. And I know that I’m your Bolverk, but there’s no need to be so formal with me, especially given the fact that you live with Jason. Call me Anita, ok?”

“Ok, as long as you call me Dan, or even….” Anita had the impression that he was going to tell her another name that he went by, but then the young man thought better of it. “No, just Dan is fine.”

“Ok, Dan. You already know why I’m here.” He nodded, and motioned for her to take a seat on the couch, sitting down near her. “Did you find out anything from your friend?”

He shook his head. “Not much, I’m afraid. Just that whatever happened the other night, we can’t dismiss it.”

“Your friend didn’t know what it was, but he still said to keep our guard up?” Dan nodded. “I thought that you said he didn’t know anything?”

Dan saw the harsh look on her face and stood to lean against the entertainment center to face her. This was end of the world stuff, their department, and sitting beside her made him feel like her lesser. And, at least as far as this conversation was concerned, he wasn’t. He may have been her lesser in the pack, but this wasn’t a pack problem. This was world saveage, as Willow would have put it. And though Anita had been in some serious situations in the last couple of years, going from what Jason had told him, Daniel was damned sure that she’d never faced an Apocalypse. And this was definitely ‘wiggins of apocalyptic proportions’ according to Buffy, who’d returned from the grave. He’d have to talk to Anita about that. But first, they had to finish the conversation they were currently having.

As he leaned back against the cabinet, settling into his new, more dominant stance, he answered her question. “I said that he didn’t know a lot. But the very little that he does know is enough to cause worry.” He paused to let that statement settle in until she motioned for him to continue. “A friend of mine has prophetic dreams. It seems that she dreamt about me and another friend of ours the other day. This other friend is a witch. And, from the description of the dream, you were in it too.”

“So, she dreamt about us. What’s the big deal about that? It can’t be as ominous as you’re making it sound.” At least Anita hoped it wasn’t as worrisome as Dan was making it sound. She was just getting back into her routine after the last big incident.

“Well, she also dreamed about that restless feeling that you and I had the night of the full moon. Only to her, it wasn’t restlessness, but darkness. Darkness and pure evil.”

“So, it’s still just a dream, right?”

“With Buffy, it’s rarely ever just a dream. We’re still trying to figure it out. For now, you and I are just supposed to watch our backs. Giles is looking into it, as is one of his colleagues.”

“Just what does this Giles do?”

“Suffice it to say that you have a town run by a Master Vampire, an animator, and an ulfric, and you still have questions about the paranormal. These are the guys that you want to ask. They know more about the paranormal than anyone that I’ve ever met.” Anita arched an eyebrow at him in silent question. “Yes, Anita, even more than you.”

“Who are these guys?”

Dan visibly swallowed before asking Anita his question. “Can I not tell you who they are, and how I know them, until I absolutely have no other choice?”

She leaned back and crossed her arms, eyeing him warily. “Why?”

Daniel returned to the couch and sat down beside her, once again putting himself in the submissive position of pack lesser.

“All that is part of a past that I am desperately trying to get away from. I want to keep the people I know now as far away from the people I knew then as possible. I did some things that I’m not very proud of.”

Anita thought on it for a moment, and realized that at this point it wasn’t all that vital to know who it was that Daniel had been speaking with. After all, it really couldn’t be as serious as Dan was making it sound. She’d let him keep his secrets, for the time being. “Okay Dan, that’s fine. But the moment that I tell you that I need to know, no more secrets, you got me?” Anita usually wouldn’t allow one of her pack to keep secrets that seemed as big as the one that Daniel was trying to keep, but this time, she thought Dan’s sense of security was more important. If he didn’t feel safe, the young wolf might run. And, from the sounds of it, Daniel Osborne just might be in possession of some knowledge that they were going to need.

“Sounds fair enough to me.”

“So, what now? We just sit and wait? Watch our backs?”

“Yeah, for now. Sorry that I couldn’t be more of a help.”

She smiled at him, offering reassurance, and stood to leave. “It’s okay, just let me know when you hear anything more, all right?”

“Will do.”

She turned and headed for the door. It made Daniel realize that he had to ask her the question he’d been intending to ask her now or he’d lose the opportunity. He had to ask now, even if he didn’t know if he could handle the answer.

“Anita?” he called, gaining her attention. “Can I ask you something about your day job?”

She turned back to look at him, not quite understanding what he was getting at. “Day job?”

“The animating thing.”

“As opposed to?”

“Being Bolverk, executioner, working with the police….”

“Oh,” she answered as she let what he had said sink in. Anita had never thought about it before, but when he had put it in those terms, it was true. The job at Animators Inc., compared to the other things that she did, could be seen as the respectable one. “I guess you can ask me something,” Anita told him, shooting him a warning look. “Just as long as you don’t ask me if I do all my animating in the nude.” He shot her a disbelieving look. “What?” she defended. “Jason did!”

“Jason would.”

He sat looking at her for a moment, and she had to prod him into speaking. “I said that it was ok, so you can go ahead and ask your question.”

He was still quiet for a minute, and Anita could tell that he was trying to find the words to ask whatever it was that he had to ask.

Daniel visibly swallowed before he spoke. “What was the most lifelike animation that you’ve ever done?”

Anita looked at him, an eyebrow raised as she tried to figure out what he meant. “Most life like? In what way do you mean?”

He frowned at the fact that his words still hadn’t gotten across what it was that he needed to know. “I guess what I mean is, you’re pretty powerful, right?” She nodded and he continued. “So, as powerful as you are, how alive was the most alive person you’ve ever raised?”

She thought on that for a moment, wondering how to answer and why it was that he was asking in the first place. Morbid curiosity, she wrote it off as, even though the look in his eyes told her that there was more to it then that. And she finally understood what he was asking. Could she bring someone back from the dead? And if not, how close could she get?

“Well, I’ve had a couple that would pass for alive if you didn’t get too close. And there was one woman I’ve known who could raise them almost fully back to life.”

“Almost?” The word had caused the wheels to turn in his mind; you could see it in his eyes. “What do you mean by almost, Anita?”

“Well,” she started, shuddering as she thought back. “The only way that you could tell that they were animated instead of alive was by their eyes.”

“Their eyes?”

She took a deep breath and fought down her revulsion at the thought. “The only thing about them that wasn’t actually alive was their eyes. You could look into them and see that they had no souls. They existed only to serve the woman who animated them.”

“So, the soul makes that much of a difference?” Daniel asked, although, when he thought back to Angel, he already knew the answer.

“It’s the one thing that separates a real human from an animated corpse. We still have our souls. That’s why we have to wait a standard three days, so that the soul will have the time to depart the body.”

“And these life-like zombies, that you saw? They had no souls?”

She shuddered again, but he continued before she had a chance to speak, knowing that if he didn’t ask her now, he’d never have the guts to ask later. “What if someone had the ability to restore the soul to a non-living body?”

That was something that he knew that Willow could do. Had been able to do for years. After all, he’d been there when she’d done just that for Angel.

“I’ve never seen anyone that could. Besides, you’d have to be able to make the heart beat again. Of course, if the person had been embalmed, there wouldn’t be a point, would there?”

“What if they hadn’t?” As in Buffy’s case. The Scoobies hadn’t gone through the proper burial procedures because they’d been hiding her death.

By this time, Anita had become somewhat suspicious of his questions. “What exactly are you getting at, Daniel?” She heard herself and made an effort to lighten the paranoia in her tone with the next question. “Afraid that someone might try to bring you back after you’re gone?”

“Could happen,” he told her, then forced a laugh to show her he was joking. But he really wasn’t. Given the fact that Willow seemed to have done just that with Buffy, it really wasn’t that far fetched a possibility.

“I wouldn’t worry about it, Daniel,” Anita told him as she headed for the door again, turning the knob and pulling it open. “Richard, Jean-Claude and I managed to do an animation by accident once, but none of them were technically alive. If someone were to really ever manage to bring someone truly back from the dead, they’d have to be more powerful then the three of us combined. I don’t think that it’s going to happen.” She walked through the door, turning to make one last comment. “Let me know the second you find out anything from your friend, all right?”

“I’m sure he’ll find out that it’s nothing to worry about,” Daniel said, although his tone wasn’t convincing in the least.

“Let me know all the same?” He nodded and Anita left.

As the door closed behind her, Daniel Osborne released a big sigh.

The person who could actually bring a person back to life had to be more powerful than Anita. More powerful even then the triumvirate she was in with Jean-Claude and Richard.

It meant that Willow was more powerful then a necromancer who was a human servant, an ulfric, and a master vampire combined. And that had been exactly what Oz had been afraid of.

He hoped with all his heart and soul that whatever was going on with the lycanthropes of the city didn’t require direct involvement with the Scooby gang. Because someone as powerful as Willow would make Jean-Claude more than nervous, and that would mean trouble indeed. Oz prayed that the vampire and the witch would never, ever meet. He couldn’t imagine the trouble that would occur if they did.

The End?

You have reached the end of "First and Last" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 8 May 05.

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