Niall appeared haughtily unconcerned for a moment before letting the facade slip. Suddenly, he looked all of his years.
For the next half hour he explained in great detail the information Sookie had already given Eric…plus more. When his tale was complete, everyone stood tense and silent except for Eric’s low snarls reverberating throughout the room.
Richard stared at his Brother and noted how the Viking held his Fairy securely in his arms. Their eyes met, and the King nodded once to his Brother.
He grabbed his phone and dialed Security while holding Eric’s gaze.
“We’re on lockdown.”
On with the show:
To Stan, the relief flowing through his tie with Eric was only rivaled by that visible in Niall’s face, and the warmth of his Maker’s approval was unmistakable.
Sookie, however, appeared to be confused by his proclamation.
Keeping in mind that in his current overprotective mood his Brother would prefer dealing with the blonde fairy himself, Stan sent a burst of curiosity to Eric while glancing at the woman the Viking held so securely in his arms. Being of above-average intelligence even in his Little Brother’s opinion, said Viking immediately caught on.
Eric gently turned Sookie to face him, and saw the confusion that had caught Stan’s attention.
“What is it?” He brushed a long finger over her cheek and thought wryly about how his body now seemed no longer completely under his own control. He had been hard-pressed to finally calm his instinctive snarls, but he had finally managed to temporarily subdue that part of himself all-but foaming at the mouth to tear this Breandon fucker limb from blood limb. Currently the situation called for him to be calm and logical. The rending would come later.
Would, not could.
“I don’t understand. What is “lockdown” and how will it help? Fairies are strong and can break locks, and if we can’t, we can simply pop out of them.” Although her voice was light and steady, her face still betrayed her worry and her hands seemed reluctant to lose their hold on Eric’s strong arms.
Godric thought the blonde fairy’s confusion was adorable, and quite understandable given the differences between the realms, and he was proud of Richard’s quick decision to put the palace complex under such a protective measure. Richard had always had a gift for seeing beyond the obvious even though his first Child’s concern in this instance was hardly hidden.
As would any attentive parent, the Viking’s Maker had both seen and felt Eric’s attachment to the little blonde fairy. He had even been aware of that growing…something… during its nascence while the show was still being filmed although he knew Eric hadn’t even known of Sookie’s true presence, much less her identity, at that time. Because of that rapidly growing attachment he knew that regardless of anyone else’s actions, Eric had gladly assumed the responsibility of protecting the woman.
His Child never took such a task lightly, and once he did, his innate loyalty and pure bloody-minded tenaciousness would not let him fail. This Sookie could have no better protection…and she would need it.
Breandon’s reputation was no secret in the Supe world and the ancient vampire knew exactly how vicious he and his deranged followers could be. At this point, “lockdown” was the best decision Richard could make. He returned his attention to Eric as his Child began answering the fairy’s question.
“This palace and its out-buildings have many different systems in place to protect Vampires and, to a lesser extent, Humans and Demons, but when we learned of your planned visit, our King Richard here researched and implemented quite a few defenses both for and against Fairies, too. Because of these security protocols, Breandon and his ilk will have a much more difficult time finding, much less attacking, you here. To fully activate these systems, however, the king has to put this complex in “lockdown”. In this instance, lockdown means that every available security measure and all effective precautions are now in effect.”
At Sookie’s nod and, more importantly, the lessening of the fear in her eyes, Eric relaxed minutely.
Stan, having felt the warm burst of his Brother’s gratitude earlier, stepped toward the couple.
The desire to reassure his Brother’s woman warred with his innate need to keep secret matters of security, so he compromised with himself. He considered the ability to do so a handy gift…
“To keep intruders of the Fae variety from being able to pop into any area within the interior of either the Palace or its annexes, at this moment unsealed, and honestly slightly rusty, iron sheeting is being affixed to the exterior of all relevant buildings. The interior sides of all those external walls already have barriers in place to protect you from the effects of the iron.” He neglected to mention that said barriers had been intentionally erected in such a way that they could be instantly lowered if such a need arose. Hidden switches located in each room and in a master switchboard in the main security system made such handly precautions possible.
Skilled vampires can work fuckin’ fast after dark, and one never knew with Fairies…apparently.
Stan was still confused by their version of magic. While the iron was indeed unsealed and slightly rusty – his witch had suggested that rusting iron was more powerful against the Fae than weather-sealed non-rusting iron – the sheeting was actually coated with off-white colored plastic to hide it from public view. Now, how a plastic coating wouldn’t negate the effects on Fairies but a painted sealant would, he’d never know.
Still in king mode, he continued, “As we are vampires, most of the windows you see are either paintings or computer screens connected to outdoor monitors, but the true windows will now have ornate iron bars preventing Fairy entrance. The water systems supplying this complex have always been secured,” he stated vaguely, not wanting to give anything else away, “as have the ventilation systems, so those potential avenues of attack are also secured.”
At this point Stan veered the subject away from kingdom defenses. “Although we are aware that the Fae can meet their own food and other needs with their, your, magic, our preparations for the arrival of your group included stockpiling at least twice the amount of foods and general items it was estimated your group would consume or use during your visit.”
Stan enjoyed the surprised relief evident on both guests’ faces. As a king it was his responsibility to see to the welfare of all those under his rule; as a person, it was in his nature to tend to the wellbeing of those around him. And besides, after their visit anything left could either be relegated to the human donors or sent to local shelters. It wasn’t as though anything would be going to waste.
Score one for blending Vampire Facade with common sense civic mindedness!
“As it stands now and although it will certainly not come to it, with our preparations and with your magic, all species in this complex can easily withstand a siege lasting up to a year without any hardship. The Royal Guard is highly trained as are the regular kingdom guards, and both will be at our service. Don’t forget that I also rule over all vampires in the state of Texas. There are many other avenues of protection, offense, and defense at our disposal as well. One small faction of rabid fairy assholes won’t stand a chance.”
No one present could mistake the power and intention behind Richard-as-King’s words or stance. Only slightly shorter but just as muscular and formidable as the Viking himself, he presented a fine figure of fierce determination.
Even though he hid it well, Eric was stunned. He hadn’t known what all Stan had been doing during the times he’d been working off in other parts of the compound. He’d naturally assumed that the tow-headed brat had been off “doing kingly business” as said brat would so blithely state later when asked… Apparently he hadn’t been exaggerating.
The uncomfortable notion that he should apologize for so obviously, if unintentionally, underestimating his Little Brother flitted through his thoughts but didn’t hang around for a snack.
“Thank you,” he said instead, and inclined his head.
There…gratitude given but Vampire Facade kept intact.
That he sent his Brother another burst of strong gratitude wasn’t mentioned.
Eric then gazed down at Sookie and said, “This threat against you is serious, very serious, but, counting you but not your grandfather, in this room stands well over a combined 4,000 years of experience in all aspects of warfare, logistics, and survival. We,” he emphasized the collective pronoun, “also have at our disposal the considerable resources of the King of Texas.” Realizing how inane it would be to tell her not to worry, Eric ended his reassuring words and drew Sookie once again into a brief embrace.
He then led her to the nearby sofa and, amused by her ensuing blush, seated her in his lap while Godric and Stan leaned their heads together to quietly discuss plans while Eric gave into the urge to comfort his Sookie and spoke in soft tones while holding her close.
Eventually Stan blurred to retrieve his tablet from the table where he’d placed it earlier and sat in one of the armchairs across from Eric and Sookie. Godric pulled two more chairs over and sat in one while offering the other to Niall, all the while discussing defensive and offensive strategies.
Niall looked on as the vampires literally closed ranks around the Son and Brother still holding his granddaughter so securely in his arms, and an odd notion struck him.
These vampires were behaving as any close-knit family would, much as his own family would, and has, in similar situations. When one had a problem, the others would circle around, not to attack the weakest but to protect them.
Vampires were known for being lethally selfish, slyly vindictive, viciously destructive… devious and manipulative power-hungry monsters always looking for a way to get ahead and take others down.
They were not known for forming what were basically family units – nests, yes, but not families – and were certainly not known for protecting the weak amongst them.
He snorted to himself – as if The Northman could ever be considered “weak”.
With a silent grunt he gladly took the seat when proffered. His centuries of both ruling and fighting were catching up to him more quickly than he wished to admit, but his body was beginning to feel the effects regardless of said wishes. At times he would love to pass on the responsibilities of leadership to the next generation, but Sookie was the only one he felt capable of assuming his role. She was the only one with the strength of mind, heart, spirit, spark, and body to lead their people, but he felt she was still too young to shoulder that heavy, wearying load.
If his time to visit the Summerlands were to befall him on the morrow, official edicts had already been recorded that would assure her ascension to the throne. The leaders of his parliament – indeed, the entire realm – knew she was his chosen successor, and the elite guards knew to immediately flock to her side, but…
But she deserved to have her life, to live her life with her chosen mate and simply enjoy the new and exciting times to come with him. She could rule, and she would rule well when the time came, but she shouldn’t have to, not yet.
Privately he would acknowledge his disappointment that there would be no children from her body since as far as he knew vampires were unable to beget or bear children, but he suspected Sookie and her cousin Claudine would somehow sort that out. To the best of his knowledge Claudine was fertile, she had a strong spark, and was of extremely good standing in their realm, so finding a suitable short or longer term mate for such purposes would be no hardship. If she so wished, one of her issue could easily be presented an as heir to Sookie…
He then remembered Claudine’s shy fascination with the ancient vampire, and faintly grimaced.
Or maybe not.
The ringing of Godric’s no longer silenced phone eventually shattered the strategic conversation. Piercing blasts about being a Barbie girl revealed the caller’s identity, and to the vampires’ surprise Godric actually rose, grabbed the phone, and answered.
Eric cringed at the ring-tone but upon probing his bond, he smirked. To Sookie’s curious expression he replied, “My darling Child.”
The exchange over the phone proceeded rapidly and in short order Godric replaced the phone on the desk.
“It seems my grandChild has glamoured a pilot who owns a private jet of some sort and she will be landing at the royal airstrip within the hour.”
“Oh, goodie,” said Stan with a huge grin never seen when assuming his King Richard persona. “The Royal Niece is home!”
**A/N: So, did this clarify or cause questions? What did you think about Pam’s ring-tone? Apropos, no? And GO KING RICHARD with his preparations! Sure, he was very excited-puppy about meeting the Fairies but he’s not Godric’s Child for nothin’… What did you think?**