**A/N: Ok, I’m tired of using the words “mate” and “bond”, but ugh, there aren’t but so many ways of describing/naming those concepts. Maybe the new word for “mate” could be Bert, and “bond” could be “Ernie”? À la “Godric contacted Eric via the Ernie about his Bert Cara?” Yes? No? Or how about Spike-mate/Buffy-bond? Severus-mate/Hermione-bond? Jasper-mate/Bella-bond? It’s a thought… As usual, not beta’d, I own all original characters and plot-lines, yada yada brimme-a-latte.**
“What are you?” The question slipped from Pam’s shocked mouth before she had a chance to censor it. Cara had entered the kitchen on Godric’s arm and her new fangs had yet to rescind.
Of course she had noticed the difference in the girl’s scent – the house was rife with it and there was no way the addition of that much vampire blood wouldn’t mutate something! And from what few things her own characteristically tight-lipped Maker had said, the girl was now some sort of annoyingly-complicated hybrid…or something…so between the two she had expected that the girl would be different. However, she hadn’t expected just how different the chit would be.
The kitchen was especially ripe with her new scent, so she already knew that Cara had retained some of that human odor, but the pink in the girl’s cheeks still came as a surprise. Vampires were pale, not pink… Of course she’d heard the sound of her heart beating, but cursed herself for not thinking and realizing. Vampires didn’t have a heartbeat…and Cara’s heart was beating right along! Then there was the breathing. Vampires didn’t have to breathe, yet the girl was inhaling and exhaling like a seasoned pro. And, according to the too-slowly dispersing odors in the kitchen, there was apparently the eating, too. Vampires most emphatically did not eat human food.
None of it made sense! Pam could smell that the girl’s blood was rife with vampire! Godric’s blood, her Maker’s blood, hell, her own blood was easily detected in the girl’s scent. To that end she did smell like a vampire – three of them to be exact.
Godric’s hovering over her was expected as well, but not to that degree. The girl was less breakable now so such extreme coddling wasn’t necessary as far as Pam could tell – it must have something to do with that silly mate thing he obviously still had with the girl. She would never understand emotions…but she did understand the glare he sent her way.
Fortunately for Pam continued health, Cara snorted.
“Thirsty? Other than that, hell if I know,” the newly-Turned brunette replied with a shrug to the confused vampire.
She now saw Pam as her “sort-of family a time or so removed” and knew not to take her unedited comments and questions as insults. Of course she could choose to be affronted by just about anything the wanna-be Vampire Soccer Mom might say, but why would she want to? Going around looking for things to be insulted about was a boring waste of time. Plus, Pam had been genuinely worried about her and had even put herself in harm’s way during Godric’s last episode. She would never forget the risks the petite blonde had taken on her behalf. Actions truly did speak louder than words.
Cara then spotted the cup Eric, who she supposed she had to also consider a part of her vampire family, held in his large hand and made her way across the kitchen to the tall blond. Earlier as she was walking down the hall with Godric she had smelled what she instinctively knew to be blood coming from the kitchen, but somehow it smelled…wrong. Maybe her new senses just hadn’t come fully on-line yet?
Godric, still torn between ripping Pam’s throat out for her rudeness and watching to see what his Cara did next, chose to throw a quelling look at his grandChild while keeping a protective closeness to his mate…his sort-of vampire-hybrid mate…
In the hallway he had naturally noticed her response to the scent of blood, and had been both amused and worried when she had scrunched her nose in reaction. While her survival wouldn’t necessarily depend on her ability to choke down bagged blood, the ability to do so would make things infinitely easier for her.
Although seething with questions for and about his new “sister”, Eric simply held out the object of her curiosity with a wry brow lift. The beaming smile she graced him with ignited a spark of reluctant familial affection.
Cara sniffed at the cup now in her hands and wrinkled her nose again.
“It smells like warm plastic and old blood.”
A dainty sip had her shoving the cup back at him then lurching for the sink where, with a bit more drama than necessary, she spat. After rinsing her mouth out with water several times, she indicated the cup he had placed on the counter.
“How in the hell can you guys stomach that? That…that can’t be healthy, not at all.” She grabbed the cup of coffee she’d left on the counter earlier in the day and gratefully slugged it down…then burst into tears.
Godric gently drew her into his arms and rubbed her back as she clung to him. “I feel your turmoil, Cara-mia, but do not worry.”
“How can I not worry? I’m a partial vampire who can’t even stomach having that nasty human blood in my mouth,” she wailed through sniffs and sobs.
In truth her reaction worried the ancient vampire. The blood bags had come from a highly reputable source that used the least offensive materials in the manufacture of their bags and the highest quality donors. She was right – the bags of blood did carry the vague stench of plastic as all bagged blood would, but it was the least noticeable version available. The liquid was a barely acceptable substitute for the real thing, but to the newly-risen it should have virtually the same irresistible appeal.
Apparently, it did not.
He exchanged concerned glances with Eric and, surprisingly, Pam. This wasn’t good. He would need to teach her to feed upon live donors, and soon. One of the tenets of being a vampire meant an instinctive draw to blood, and while he would never allow her to go hungry by denying her his own, it would simplify matters considerably if she could at least supplement her intake from humans if not the bagged trash. He wondered if she could feed off other vampires, then his beast firmly quashed the thought.
She was his. His instinctive growl, low enough that even Pam didn’t hear it, caused Eric to raise his brows in a question he didn’t answer.
To everyone’s shock, Pam suddenly huffed. Loudly.
“Oh, Gramma, of course bagged blood is nasty to you. It’s not fresh from the source – it’s just preserved old blood in a chemical-laden plastic bag! It would taste almost drinkable if they had used glass, but what can you expect in this so-called modern age? When you learn how to vampire, you’ll be fine,” she drawled.
Pam smirked then shrugged at the myriad expressions on the other vampires’ faces. Offering comfort was a rare thing for her.
“What? She’s the Mate of my grandMaker – that makes her my grandmother. And the shit in those bags is nasty. What can I say? Gramma has good taste.”
Cara, still holding onto Godric for dear life, started laughing, and the sound was music to his ancient ears. For a baby vamp, which to all intents and purposes she was, she had recovered from her bout of drama very quickly. He only hoped it would last.
Then the enormity of Pamela’s response dawned on him, and he exchanged a look with Eric. They came at once to the mutual, relived knowledge that Cara had done something they’d both thought well nigh impossible in such a short amount of time: Cara had wormed her way into Pam’s well-armored heart. The blonde had proclaimed her family, and Pam made an excellent ally. She would fight to the death for those who had her loyalty.
Still smiling, Cara slowly left Godric’s arms and headed near the sink where the roll of paper towels lived. After mopping her face and, to the vampires’ collective astonishment, blowing her nose, she tossed the used paper towel in the trash then washed her hands.
She grabbed a glass from the cabinet, filled it with water from the tap, and gladly downed it. That “blood” might have been her natural drink but it sucked and she was still thirsty.
Now that she could breathe more clearly after blowing her nose, she could smell past the stale blood in the cup – an odor she would sadly never forget – and the light chlorine of the tap water, and caught more fully Eric and Pam’s unique scents.
Without stopping to consider her actions, she blurred the few steps to Eric who with a tolerant expression let her lift his hand so that she could sniff his wrist. At first she caught the scent of, oddly, a sea, but not one she knew. There was a hint of leather, too, but he smelled strongly of Godric, which made sense to her since the ancient was his Maker, only it was a scent other, deeper, than the ancient’s warmly invigorating pine and seductively soothing leather and…and loam? Was she detecting loam from Godric now?
Curious, she turned to go to him and found him only a step away. With a distracted smile she extended her hand and he obligingly placed his own hand wrist side up into her palm. A strong sniff confirmed the new-to-her scent.
She jumped, startled, when her fangs suddenly throbbed in reaction to Godric’s scent. With a laugh at herself she proudly displayed what she would later term her “mouth toys” to Eric and Pam, who both smiled good-naturedly, then closed her mouth and eyes to focus on retracting them. That…was the hard part.
Sensing her intent, Pam helpfully quipped, “Imagining dirty baby diapers always helped me.”
Cara’s fangs retracted a moment later.
“Thank you, Pammy! Worked like a charm!”
At her raised brow, Cara added, “What? If I’m your Grammy you’re my grandPammy…”
With a faux huff, Pam clarified, “It’s Gramma, not Grammy, and I refuse to be a Pamma. And actually you’re my auntie anyway.”
The brunette snickered then extended her hand to the blonde who rolled her eyes professionally but complied with the unspoken request.
Pam…Pam smelled a bit like Godric as well only not as strongly as Eric had, which she guessed also made since. She reminded her more of white floral arrangements and suede of all things.
She could even detect an elusive something else, a scent they all shared but one she couldn’t place. It was different from the scent Eric carried as Godric’s Child and that Pam carried as his grandChild. With a look of concentration on her face, she lifted her wrist and sniffed, then looked once again at Godric.
“Eric smells mainly like leather and the ocean, but it’s not like the Gulf and that’s the only one I’ve been to, and Pam smells like suede and white flowers and like Eric. They both smell like you, and I can tell by that smell that your blood is in them both. It’s stronger in Eric, you know,” she added wisely and missed the patient grins shared between the vampires. “But there’s another scent that you all have that doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t feel the same as the “your blood in them” thing.”
True to her vampire youth, she immediately hopped to another topic before anyone had a chance to comment. “Oh, and they smell nice, by the way, like, say, a snack would. They don’t make my mouth water like you did but they smell a hell of a lot better than that crap in the bag. You still smell tastiest,” she added with a leering grin.
Godric gave a lusty chuckle and almost without thought drew her back into his arms. He kissed her forehead then stepped back enough to loosen their embrace.
“You need nourishment stronger than your usual food and drink, but you also need those. So, why don’t you fix yourself a small meal, then after you eat we can visit TSO and I will teach you to feed while Eric deals with…the prisoner.”
Feeling peckish now that she was thinking about food, Cara made a face. “There’s really nothing else here to eat, not really. Not anything I actually want at any rate.”
Nodding, Godric suggested, “Then we will feed you there.”
With a smile and a nod, Cara blurred – slowly for a vampire but much faster than a human – to her bedroom to change clothes.
Once she left the room, with all due respect Eric asked Godric in a voice so quiet that even Pam, lingering nearby, had to strain to hear, “Are you sure it’s safe to take her out in public yet? The crowds might be overwhelming to her new senses.”
Since he had woke up Eric had sensed his Maker’s mood swings through the bond. While the ‘downs’ had been particularly painful, the ‘ups’ had vastly outweighed and outnumbered them, for which he was truly thankful. This Cara seemed to be adjusting well in that she had retained a surprising amount of self-control and seemed to be at ease with what was essentially her new family.
He feared, however, was that this was too good to last. That well-controlled temperament could shatter in an instant. Out of respect for the newly-Turned’s easily overwhelmed senses, a Maker would keep their new Child in a quiet, easily-controlled environment until they learned to feed, preferably without killing their meal, and learned to control their rashest impulses. That part could easily take weeks if not months. Cara was, in whichever way, Turned only the previous night. Granted she wasn’t full vampire, a situation which came with its own vast set of problems, but she was vampire enough… He feared for his Maker if things went badly wrong not to mention that he, himself, was strangely loathe to have to put her down if she went feral.
The little brat was growing on him.
Godric had to strongly reign in his beast over what he had thought might be criticism of his Cara and was glad to have done so with Eric’s next statement. Eric was right: it was early yet to even think of exposing his beloved to crowds and all the other overstimulation at TSO, but she would need to feed and luckily the establishment had nearly an endless buffet, plus they had fresh foods to meet her human needs, too.
“We’ll go in through one of the private entrances and I can take her to a private seating area or perhaps just go on up to my suite if she would feel more comfortable there. Either way, anything she needs can be delivered. While I would prefer to keep her secluded, keep her all to myself…the sooner she acclimates, the better it will be for her.”
Satisfied with both his Maker’s answer as well as with having escaped said Maker’s wrath, Eric simply nodded.
Pam fiddled with her perfectly manicured nails as she asked Eric, “Should I be with her or with you?”
Godric shared an unspoken “Aww” moment with his Child in the face of Pam’s unexpected desire to help but both knew a Child’s first feeding needed to be shared only with their Maker.
“We’ll see when we get there,” he hedged, not wanting to disappoint her.
A few moments later Cara returned dressed more appropriately in jeans and a comfortable t-shirt. At their expression, she clarified, “If I’m going to be learning how to eat from the source, well, that source bleeds and I don’t want to ruin anything good.”
Pam snorted. While she agreed… “Gramma, I’m taking you shopping tomorrow night.” There were so many things she had to teach the newbie…so…many…things…
During the ride to TSO, Godric held his Cara securely in his lap in the backseat of the SUV while Eric drove and Pam plotted.
Finally Cara had to ask, “So, did Nat spill anything good? Did he name names and stuff?”
When Godric tensed in worry at the direction of her enquiry and how she must feel about her erstwhile cousin’s betrayal, she kissed his neck and shushed him.
“It’s ok, hon. What he did…what he was going to do…yeah, that shit hurt, it really did, but it’s no more than I expected of him. I’m over it; he’s no longer relevant to me as a member of any family that I claim, but I do want to know the facts that pertain to me.”
Godric said nothing but held her closer. He could feel exactly how much the soon-dead’s betrayal had hurt his mate, and while he admired her for seeing past that pain and concentrating on what mattered to her future…
Eric spoke. “It took a little while but that bloody little songbird sang quite well with the proper encouragement. Tonight I will visit him one last time to see if he has suddenly remembered any further information.” That Nat wouldn’t last the night was left unsaid.
“Ok, so, I have a question about this vampire glamour thing. If you laid that whammy on him, wouldn’t he have told you everything anyway?”
Pam piped up, “To an extent, yes, but where’s the fun in that?”
Eric snorted, and Cara loved her new Niece/grandPammy and her new Brother just a bit more.
With a smile Godric clarified, “The problem with interrogating someone under glamour is that while they will answer the questions asked of them, they will answer only the questions as they are asked. Glamour doesn’t allow for independent thought, and if the subject in question is answering under coercion, they simply will not think to provide more information than necessary.”
After a long moment, Eric broke the silence. “I’m thinking of bringing in Sookie just to be sure we have all possible information.”
Cara was going to send Godric a curious look, but stopped and decided to practice using their bond instead. His return burst of pride in her decision made her smile.
“Sookie is a mind reader, a telepath, who lives in this area. She works with Eric and other Supes when her particular talents are needed,” the ancient one supplied.
With a shiver Cara considered how very unpleasant such a thing would be. Digging in the minds of assholes and perverts could not be fun. “Telepaths are real? Really? Wait, does it hurt her to look in other people’s brains?”
Eric, who had never once considered that aspect, looked taken aback at the thought. “I don’t know,” he had to admit rather reluctantly. Uncomfortably he realized that he’d never bothered to wonder.
“Why don’t you ask her?” Her tone revealed her thoughts on her new Brother’s cluelessness.
He certainly would the next time they spoke face to face. In the meantime he would check to see if their guest still lived and if so, he would hose the useless bastard down before calling in the pretty blonde. He answered noncommittally.
Cara wiggled around in Godric’s lap a bit to get more comfy, then pondered aloud, “It boggles my mind that someone actually can read someone else’s thoughts! That has to be hella useful, but damn, it can’t be any fun, either. Does she see everything that person has ever thought or only what they’re thinking about right then? Does she read vampire minds or human minds or both or what? And how did you meet her, anyway? Did she just show up one night, plop her butt down in your lap and announce that she can read minds? And how many other telepaths do you know? Just because I’ve never heard of them doesn’t mean they have to be rare or anything. What’s she like, anyway?”
By the time she finished inundating Eric her slew of questions, Pam and Godric were both laughing so hard they had tears streaming down their cheeks. Even Eric was grinning reluctantly.
As Pam handed back a box of tissues, she intoned, “Well, Eric?”
Luckily for Eric if not Cara’s curiosity, TSO came into view, and he was able to delay answering. Pam wisely ignored his smirk as he turned off the road.
When they drove past the main parking and entrance area toward a side access that she had never noticed before, Cara once again sent a burst of curiosity to Godric who patiently answered, “I don’t want to overwhelm your new senses so we’ll be using a private entrance and one of the private seating areas.”
Cara nodded; it only made sense. Already the combined odors of foods, humans, vampires, and other scents were beginning to permeate the vehicle and it wasn’t all that pleasant.
As a concession to her new state, Eric dropped her and Godric off within steps of the chosen entrance then drove off to park. Once ensconced (at the speed of Godric) in the well-appointed private room, Cara looked around at the combination of furnishings. The leather sofas and chairs against the walls provided an odd backdrop to an upscale dining table with four chairs placed in the center of the space.
Godric simply watched her face, and monitored her via their bond, as she took in the situation. Of course he could detect the left-over stench of stale feedings and sex; no matter how hard the admittedly good cleaning staff worked, some odors seemed to linger.
This was one of those aspects of vampire life that he wished he could protect Cara from, but considering her new state, he knew the attempt would be worthless. Feedings and sex went hand in hand to vampires, and while he looked forward to sharing those things with her, the tawdry realities weren’t nearly so pleasant.
When she finally wrinkled her nose, he gave a sad laugh. “What do you sense?”
She shrugged. “I’m not sure, but it certainly smells funky in here. I can smell old blood a little, but I’m not exactly sure what that other stench is. It seems to be coming from that couch,” she said with a nod of her head.
The half-sick, half-outraged look on her face at his pronouncement would have made him guffaw at another time.
He couldn’t have phrased it better himself, and laughed when she immediately headed to the table and chairs. He joined her then fell automatically into his role as her Maker of sorts.
“As you know from personal experience for vampires the acts of feeding and sex are strongly linked. The desires for both are instinctual and are therefore often combined.”
Sensing her reluctance and trepidation, he took her hand in his and clarified softly, “Sex is never required during a feeding with me or anyone else, Cara, so do not worry about that. However, should you become aroused I will most certainly be available for your pleasure…” Godric lowered his voice to a timbre he knew would both soothe and arouse his mate and he sent the merest burst of lust through the bond. He needed his Cara to know that he would be on hand to quite thoroughly meet and exceed all her needs should they arise but that it would be fine if the issue never surfaced.
Cara cleared her throat and nodded. The whole situation had taken on an unreal aspect. Back at the house everything was fine. Here…here everything suddenly seemed too real. As if to bring her back to center, her stomach gave a little growl, and she huffed.
“Hush, you,” she ordered to her midsection, then smiled at Godric. “I’ll deal with all that when and if it happens. For now, though, I’m hungry.”
“Do you want food or blood first?”
“Which do you suggest?” She was hungry, sure, but she could there there was a different kind of hunger, well, thirst, niggling at the back of her mind.
“I suggest you try to feed now while you’re empty enough to perhaps make it easier on you but not so hungry that you might lose control.”
Ew. Grilled cheese with a side of O+, anyone?
She wrinkled her nose but nodded, and watched as he blurred to some sort of intercom system on the wall near the door.
**A/N: Ok, so, as a writer of various sorts I encounter/slam into persnickety word rules and uses all the freakin’ time, and once in a blue moon (hey, we just had one!) I’ll even trouble my lazy self to look them up. In this case, the issue is “a myriad of” versus simply “myriad”. In general I prefer “a myriad of” but technically speaking it’s supposed to be that plain ol’ boring “myriad”. (A good source of entertainment-info grammar and otherwise: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/ ) FYI: There will be no Bills icking-up this masterpiece. It’s primarily about Godric and Cara, after all, so that’s my excuse…I’m sure no one will mind. Also, as you can tell, I’ll be bringing Sookie into this wee tale probably in the next chapter or so. Sadly we didn’t get to visit with Godric’s beast all that much, but maybe we’ll have more time with him later. So, what did you think about this chapter?**