It's all Sumerian to meBy MhalachaiDisclaimer
: 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
: A Mind the Gap
ficlette. Set a couple of weeks after MtG. Something light and fluffy.~~~~~
Nathaniel flipped through the pages of his magazine, not really reading. He was too excited to concentrate. Anita was taking him out on a date that night. A real date, in a real restaurant. Like real people did. It was going to be just the two of them, for once. And it had been all Anita's idea.
She'd asked Nathaniel where he wanted to go, but he didn't have any idea. He didn't know what people did on dates. Like he'd told Anita, he'd never had a girlfriend, and never went on dates. Fucking for drugs or money really wasn't dating.
But he didn't have to do that, ever again, because he had Anita, and she'd protect him from whatever he needed protecting from.
Nathaniel smiled slightly as he turned another page. Anita was taking him to a fancy French restaurant she'd once gone with Jean-Claude, with cloth napkins and crystal wine glasses. He knew he was going to have to spend most of the next day in the gym, working off the meal Anita had planned, but that was okay. It was going to be the best evening ever.
If Anita ever got off work.
Over at her desk, across the open lobby of Animators Inc., Dawn Summers mumbled something under her breath and thumped a large book closed as she frowned down at her notes. It had only been a few days since Bert had agreed to let Dawn work as a researcher at AI, but it seemed she was taking the added responsibility to heart.
Nathaniel had asked her what she was doing when he had arrived an hour ago. Dawn had surfaced from her books long enough to say something about "Sumerian", whatever that was, then sank back behind the stack of books.
Now, Dawn stood up, a piece of paper in her hand. "Can you tell anyone who comes in that I'll be back in a few minutes?" she asked distractedly.
"Sure," Nathaniel said, and watched as Dawn walked down the hall and around the corner. He waited until she was out of sight before he tossed his magazine onto a chair and hopped out of his chair. He crossed the room over to Dawn's desk and looked at the books she had stacked there. Most were old, leather-bound books. He wondered where she had gotten them.
Carefully, Nathaniel lifted the cover of a book at random and rifled through the pages. Whatever language the book was written in, it certainly wasn't English. Nathaniel didn't even recognize the any of the letters. Maybe that was what Dawn meant by Sumerian.
The office door opened. Nathaniel closed the book as he glanced over the newcomer. A man, young, with spiky blond hair and a weak-looking chin, closed the door behind him. Was that a tweed jacket he was wearing?
"Hi," the guy said nasally.
Nathaniel nodded. "Dawn will be back in a few minutes," he said, just like Dawn had asked him to.
The guy's eyes lit up. "Good, so this is the right place."
Nathaniel frowned. It sounded like the guy was here to see Dawn. Considering what had happened just a few weeks ago with Bolverk, maybe that wasn't a good thing.
The guy put down a briefcase and rubbed his wrist. "Do you know when she's going to be back?" he asked, just the tiniest hint of a whine in his voice.
Nathaniel shook his head and casually took a couple of steps to the right, to put himself at the entrance to the hallway. "I can tell her you stopped by," he offered. He wondered if he should call for Anita, through their marks. But the guy hadn't done anything yet, he reminded himself.
"No, I need to give these to her," the guy said.
Down the hall, there was movement. Nathaniel didn't know what to do. Turn and warn Dawn? Keep an eye on the guy?
"Why can't I find anything?" Dawn asked as she stalked back down the hall. "All I need is one book on the mating habits of Grenlock--" She stopped dead by Nathaniel's side as she spotted the guy. "Oh god."
"Dawn?" Nathaniel carefully flexed his hands, just in case. "Do we need Anita?"
Dawn recovered from her shock and shook her head. "No, we don't need Anita." She sounded annoyed. "God, Andrew, what are you doing here?"
The blond man gave Dawn a smile. Nathaniel really hoped the guy wasn't a boyfriend or anything, although if Dawn's reaction was anything to go by, he wasn't. Gregory wouldn't be happy. Nathaniel's pard-mate had been asking around after Dawn so much that Anita had finally snapped and told him to just talk to the girl. Not that he had.
The blond, Andrew, picked up his briefcase. "Robin sent me? With a book you wanted?"
Dawn went back to her desk. "And he sent you, why?"
Andrew put his briefcase onto the desk, knocking a couple of big books to the ground. "Everyone else was busy."
"That I believe," Dawn said under her breath. "What is it?"
Andrew opened his briefcase, only knocking a couple more books off the desk. Dawn winced as the large tomes hit the floor. "A dark and mysterious novel, of horror to chill your spine in the night," Andrew said melodramatically, lifting a book from the briefcase with a flourish.
Dawn gave him a look. "It's an old Watcher's Chronicle, Andrew." She grabbed it from his hands and flipped the book open.
Andrew shrugged. "Yeah, but it's still all scary."
Dawn rolled her eyes. "Has Rhoda been threatening to break your Star Wars DVDs again?" she asked.
Andrew stepped back and crossed his arms. "There's no need for her to threaten Han and Luke like that!" he said hotly.
Dawn shook her head, her hair flying around her shoulders. "Anyway, thanks for bringing the book down," she said, her tone grudging at best.
"You're welcome." Andrew looked past Dawn at Nathaniel. "Are you a zombie king?"
Nathaniel's eyebrows went up. Way up. "A what?"
"Like a zombie queen, but a guy." Andrew uncrossed his arms. "Robin said that there was some real scary necromancers in St. Louis. Like that Anita Blake? Robin said she was even scarier than Darth Willow."
Nathaniel breathed out sharply. Yeah, Anita could be scary, but no one got to say stuff like that about her.
Dawn, maybe sensing what Nathaniel was thinking, quickly rounded her desk and went to his side. She put her hand on his wrist. "Don't mind Andrew," she said quickly. "No one does. Come on." She tugged on his arm and pulled him across the room. "Andrew Wells, this is Nathaniel Graison."
Dawn kept hold of Nathaniel's wrist, so he couldn't offer his hand. It was just as well. His beast didn't want him to touch this creep, after what he said about Anita.
Andrew let out a sound that was half-snort, half-giggle. "Like Robin."
"In what way is he like Robin?" Dawn said, wearily. He must do this all the time, Nathaniel thought.
"Like Robin, Dick Grayson's secret identity," Andrew explained. Dawn and Nathaniel looked at each other, then back at Andrew. "Bruce Wayne's young ward? You know, Batman"
Nathaniel had no idea what to say. What was Andrew talking about?
"What's going on up here?"
Saved by the bell. Nathaniel turned around, more relieved that he wanted to admit, at the sound of Anita's voice. She was sauntering down the hall from her office, and for a movement Nathaniel forgot all about Andrew and his strange comparisons.
Anita looked amazing. She was in a dark purple dress that hugged every curve she had, and her hair was up off her face. Nathaniel felt his beast growl with some baser instincts, and he wondered if Anita would mind just skipping dinner and heading straight home and to bed.
"Anita, are you all done?" Dawn asked, and it drew Nathaniel's attention back to the matter at hand.
"Yeah, Bert's dealing with all the money stuff," Anita said. She stopped by Nathaniel's side. "All ready to go?" she asked.
Nathaniel nodded. "Dawn was just introducing me to her friend," he said.
Dawn bit her lower lip. "Right."
Nathaniel was half-tempted to push Andrew on his Batman comparison some more, but Anita apparently had other plans. "Come on, I don't want to miss our reservations," she said to Nathaniel.
He nodded. "Dawn, you okay?" he asked. Just in case she wanted to get out of dealing with Andrew.
Dawn sighed. "Yeah, I'm good. You two get going. Don't want to miss your big date."
Anita slid her coat on and shook her hair loose before she held her hand out to Nathaniel. "Let's go," she said with a smile.
Nathaniel almost forgot his jacket, and then forgot to say goodbye to Dawn. He heard her arguing with Andrew as Anita pulled him down the hall to the elevator.
"What's the rush?" Nathaniel asked as Anita punched the call button.
"I do not want to get caught in the elevator with those clients," Anita said. She sounded annoyed. "They want to raise an ancestor about some kind of family treasure. God damned greedy creeps."
"But you'll still do it?" Nathaniel asked as they got into the elevator.
"Probably." Anita slipped her arm through Nathaniel's, and he felt his heartbeat speed up at her closeness. "If their information checks out, and they're legit, I'll do it. But I don't have to like it."
Nathaniel hid a smile. And she tried to pretend that she was a cold-hearted bitch. "Did you think we did the right thing, leaving Dawn there?" he asked, changing the subject.
"You offered her an out," Anita said. "She'll be fine." Anita looked up at Nathaniel. "Do you think that Andrew's an old boyfriend or something?"
"No," Nathaniel said immediately.
"Good." Anita sighed and rested her head against Nathaniel's shoulder. "Gregory would be having kittens if Dawn already had a boyfriend."
"Speaking of which," Nathaniel said as the elevator door opened and they walked out, "Zane's started a pool. On when Gregory finally sucks it up to ask Dawn out." Anita frowned, and Nathaniel hastened to add, "Or when Dawn asks him out."
"Hrm." Anita pushed open the glass door, and shivered as the cold December air hit her. Nathaniel didn't really mind the temperature drop. "Is that really right? A betting pool, I mean?"
Nathaniel tried to pick his words carefully. "Well, we all think they'd be great together, right?" He waited for Anita to nod. "And it's a positive energy pool, not anything negative, because we want them to be happy."
"Maybe you're right," Anita finally relented as they got into the Jeep. "Do you think Gregory will ever ask her out?"
Nathaniel shrugged. "I hope so. Stephen's getting sick of Greg moping around about it. I don't know. I think he thinks she's unattainable or something." He'd heard Jason use the word 'unattainable' the other day, and he hoped he was using it the right way. From Anita's lack of reaction, he figured that he had.
"Why would he think that?" Anita asked as she started the Jeep.
Nathaniel fastened his seatbelt. "Because she's so strong and smart and beautiful that he can't figure that she'd ever notice someone as insignificant as him?"
He wasn't really talking about Gregory and Dawn. And from the sudden stillness on Anita's side of the car, she probably knew that. Nathaniel wanted to kick himself. He knew he'd probably mess this date up, but to do so even before they got to the restaurant was worse than he'd even thought.
Anita reached over and touched his face, turned him around so that he was looking at her. "You are not insignificant," she said with feeling. "You are one of the most important people in my life, got it?"
Nathaniel nodded. He didn't know what to say.
Anita leaned closer to him and pressed a soft kiss against his lips. When she pulled back, she smiled at him briefly and put the car into gear. "I don't know about you, but I'm starving," she said as she eased the car out onto the road. "Did I even ask you if you like French food?"
"I'm sure it'll be great, if I'm with you," Nathaniel said. He hoped Anita wouldn't think it was too goofy. From the sudden warm smile on her face, and the way she reached over to squeeze his hand, she didn't think it was goofy at all.-fin