**A/N: THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK…ish**
Sookie exchanged an affectionately irate look with a slightly more seething Pam.
“Come,” she ordered as she held out her hand. “I do believe our experience and opinions are rather more necessary than assumed.”
Pam grinned a fangy grin that would have instilled a certain fear in her Maker’s heart…but would have made her Kingly Uncle snicker.
Arm in arm, the ladies, each powerful in her own right, stalked purposefully toward the room where the males were gathered…the males, namely Niall and possibly Eric, who thought to keep them, namely Sookie, from “worrying” by excluding them from the meeting about to commence.
Pam was well aware that neither Godric nor Stan would even think to exclude her from any sort of planning committee, and was positive that the only reason her Maker had gone along with her exclusion was to have her basically babysit Sookie.
She also knew that Niall was most likely the instigator of the assumption that excluding Sookie from this gathering was anything near a “good” idea and that Eric’s natural inclination toward protecting those he cared about had been played to by that arrogant old Fa’sshole.
In the week past week Pam had come to several conclusions.
Sookie…Sookie she thought she could genuinely like in time. Honestly she couldn’t care less about being left out of whatever the the brain trust was concocting – plans were subject to changing at the drop of some proverbial hat and would have to be reformulated most likely on site, and that’s where her quick thinking and logistical magic would come in handiest. Her pique was mainly on Sookie’s behalf.
The curvy candy-scented blonde really should be included when information regarding her safety was being dissected, bandied about, and reformulated.
Niall was a shameless, cockeyed, wily old goat but a shameless, cockeyed, wily old goat who did truly adore his family, and especially his heir Sookie. He showed her his adoration via an annoying blend of spoiling the Fairy rotten then stifling her with his over-protective tendencies. What did he think she would face when she assumed his crown – political discussions with silk pillows? Negotiations with daisies? Fighting wars with goldfish?
Silly old goat.
Claudine and Gelsey were nice enough, she guessed. They reminded her a bit much of ’80s “valley girls” – well meaning and good for a brief diversion but not much substance as far as she could tell. Of course the fact she’d spent a total of eight minutes in their combined presence was irrelevant, but the thought that Gelsey saw herself as some sort of “guard” for Sookie was laughable. Sookie needed no guard. Maybe it was the thought that counted…
Preston, though…that shifty little fairy-scented fart was guilty of something, Pam knew it in her gut. She reasoned that Niall felt the same or else he’d have been included in this highly secret meeting that everyone knew about.
Sookie cycled between exasperation and broiling anger.
She thought Eric was rather sweet for wanting to spare her from dealing with the Breandon situation any more than she had to, but in the end her feelings were irrelevant. She was at the heart of the matter and the heart needed to be included in what the “brains” were planning whether the “brains” agreed or not.
Besides, she was no mere babe born last century – she knew her axes from her swords and had fireballs to spare. It wasn’t as though she’d never fought bef…humm…well, that part was irrelevant. She could pop in and out with the best of them and her aim with fireballs – hers were the brightest and the strongest Niall had ever seen, after all – was extraordinary. The next time she saw Breandon she had two of those super fireballs stashed away just for him – the one in her left hand would take out his balls and the one in her right hand would burn off his face. Between the two he’d be a small pile of sparkling dust.
Whether by choice or design, her intuition told her that Breandon must fall by her hand, therefore her hand, as well as her ears and the rest of her body needed to be kept up to fucking date on everything to do with the Fairy whose flesh she would be turning to crystalline powder.
Lovable conceited morons thinking they could keep her out of where she needed to be!
Each lady grabbed a knob on the double doors between them and the planning committee. In majestic duo they tossed the doors open and marched in tandem toward the table, round naturally, in the center of the room.
Two pairs of vampire eyes and one pair of Fairy eyes widened at both their approach and the expressions on their faces.
One pair of vampire eyes worked hard to hide his royal glee. This was going to get good. Hopefully the upcoming scene would teach his Sibling and the Fairy Prince to exclude the ladies. He had warned everyone that leaving Sookie and Pam out wouldn’t end well…
He understood their desire to protect mainly Sookie from the things that might be discussed in this first official session. He like his Maker had no desire to expose Sookie, even though neither one of them knew her well, to the less savory aspects of war, but since this situation with Breandon was heading for exactly that, all bases needed to be covered.
As he congratulated himself for mentally working in a baseball reference, he leaned back to watch the coming fireworks. This Sookie didn’t seem the type to allow herself to be excluded, and he knew his Pammy wasn’t. He also knew that Pam would only have to hit him up for info later and he’d happily spill all the beany bits of information anyway. The Royal Niece actually thrived on challenges and tests of her skills, and he thought perhaps Eric’s mate, or whatever other appropriately mystical name their relationship status warranted, did as well.
Why couldn’t they just be called boyfriend and girlfriend? Manfriend and womanfriend? They weren’t married so it wouldn’t be husband and wife, but so what? Why did their relationship have to have some strange sort of mystical component to it? Why couldn’t they just snorgle and cuddle and bump their uglies like everyone else did? And honestly, why did their relationship have to have a “meaningful” status to it anyway? Why couldn’t they just…be? Socks had mates and as far as he knew neither Eric nor Sookie was a sock…
Stan pulled his thoughts back into focus as Eric and Niall rose ostensibly to protest the women’s arrival.
To Godric’s inner glee, both Eric and Niall promptly closed their mouths at Sookie’s words and tone.
When he had overheard the two of them encouraging each other to think of reasons to exclude “the ladies”, namely Sookie, from this inane session, he had held his tongue. He had fully expected the scene unfolding before him now, and figured that if the ladies in question hadn’t figuratively broken down the door tonight, other things would have been broken at a later date anyway.
He understood their reasoning, misogynistic as it seemed at first glance. No one wished to expose the ones they loved to unpleasant situations. It was both a fault and a responsibility of loving someone and came with that territory. But neither Pam nor, apparently, this Sookie were shy violets. Pam was glorious in hand-to-hand combat, and while he knew the Fairy was untried in the ways of war, he secretly suspected her to be made of the same stern stuff as his grandProgeny.
Besides, it wasn’t Pam who was being actively excluded, and he knew she would have gotten the information out of either Richard or himself at a later time anyway. Trying to keep something from Pam was as effective as stopping the tides…it couldn’t be done.
As he watched this Sookie reminded both Niall and, vicariously, Eric of her eventual assumption to the old goat’s crown and therefore all the potential militaristic responsibilities that came with the position, he noted the approval in Pam’s face. He was glad to see the two becoming friends. While his child’s child was too savvy to ever let something as inconsequential as emotion cause a ripple in her relationship with her Maker, a genuine affection between the two women in Eric’s life would be a boon.
Finally finished kindly if firmly berating Niall for his part in her attempted exclusion, Sookie turned flashing eyes toward Eric.
“While I respect you for caring enough to want to protect me from as much of this mess as you can, don’t. Knowledge is power, Eric. Do you want me powerless?”
Eric stood a little straighter but didn’t reply.
He’d given Pam a meaningful glare while Sookie was having her words with Niall, but she had simply raised that damn brow back at him.
It wasn’t that he didn’t think Sookie could handle the ugly side of war, and war this would be when the time came. He certainly didn’t want to expose her to any of the unsavory aspects of life, but it was that he knew she was more likely to go off half-cocked and try to take on the bastard alone, and he…he couldn’t risk that.
She had come to mean far more to him than he had ever thought possible, and he would do anything necessary to keep her safe. If that meant excluding her from potentially vital information, then that’s what he would do.
He had thought she might be a little miffed over being excluded from tonight’s meeting, had figured he would have some apologies to make but that it would blow over soon enough. The glare in her eyes said otherwise.
Fuck. And there’s no time to get her out of here either…
“We will discuss this later,” he stated in what he hoped was a strong voice.
“You damn right we will.” Her hard reply wasn’t what he’d hoped to hear.
Eric’s night suddenly felt far colder.
Just then Stan’s laptop dinged to signal activation of the anticipated video conference call, and a man’s face appeared on the widescreen set up on the wall near the round table. A camera which had yet to be activated was placed to one side of the screen to provide the visual for the other person and which would be displayed in a small, currently black, block to the lower side of the screen.
Godric caught Pam’s gaze and flicked his eyes toward the two empty seats beside his chair, and Pam touched Sookie’s elbow to gain her attention. As he wished, Pam sat beside him with Sookie to her other side.
Stan rose and in a blur ever so slightly repositioned the camera before resuming his seat. After taping a few keys, video of most of those assembled around the table went live, and the call officially started.
“Thank you for agreeing to speak with us,” began the ancient vampire. “We understand that your time is limited, so let us begin. You have news of Breandon’s movements?”
The contact would appear human to those not involved in the supernatural world, but to those gathered in the room his slightly otherworld air was noticeable.
He cast nervous eyes over his screen and gulped.
“He…he is back in Fairy and is trying to gather more support. Word has spread that the Princess has found her Mate and he is furious.”
Every being present went on alert. Breandon wasn’t the only one infuriated.
“How?” Eric’s tone foretold a world of hurt for whoever leaked this apparently vital information.
“I don’t know,” the clearly agitated informant replied. “An “inside source” is all I’ve heard.”
The royal residence was supposed to be secure. Other than members of his immediate “family”, the only beings allowed entry or exit now were dayguard Weres and the highly glamoured day workers.
Even the glorified if well-pampered donors weren’t currently being allowed to leave with relevant memories intact, and if any had chosen to leave, they would do so knowing that they wouldn’t be allowed to return “for the foreseeable future.”
None had chosen to leave and they probably wouldn’t – they knew they had it made with unlimited food and diversions, very comfortable housing, generous pay… Normally wifi and internet access were also provided but the lock-down procedure knocked that out for all but a few highly secure areas and certain devices with the right cards, neither of which any but the vampires currently in the room could access.
That left either the Weres used for daily security, or an unknown.
The Weres were notorious for their loyalty – they truly were as loyal as the canines they were so often compared to, and would never betray the Vampire King who treated, and especially paid, them so well. He would never understand why Weres considered working for a Vampire King to be such a big deal, but none of them would want to risk losing their position.
So…his people were not behind this information breach.
That left an unknown…and the only “unknowns” were their current guests.
Sookie was beyond scrutiny as was Niall. Both had the most to lose should Breandon win.
Claudine and Gelsey… Technically either of those ladies could somehow be at fault, but his gut told him they were innocent. Both seemed happy in their life and neither stood to gain anything by a changing of the monarchy. While he couldn’t exactly rule them out, he certainly didn’t consider them suspect.
Everyone turned to face Pam whose fangs were bared.
“He’s hiding something. I knew he was guilty of something but I couldn’t tell what it was. It’s Preston. He’s the leak.”
Richard nodded, his own fangs bared.
Sookie looked around the table not wanting to meet Niall’s eyes. He was certain to feel betrayed. Preston had never been his favorite but he had always liked the boy who never seemed to mature regardless of his age.
Despite the argument resting heavily between them, when she met Eric’s gaze she found comfort and a small sorrow. She returned his look with a soft if sad smile.
Unfortunately, the suspicions on Preston didn’t surprise her.
She’d known of his discontent when she’d been officially named as Niall’s heir, had known that he’d wanted to be chosen, but she also knew that he’d never have been named even if Niall had chosen someone else.
He simply wasn’t leadership material.
“Why are you helping us?”
Godric’s question to the informant silenced the subtle snarls and refocused the group’s attention.
“Because the Dae have no business in this war between the Fairies. You rule yours and we rule ours, and we have no business meddling in the affairs of other supes.”
Godric nodded. The Dae were an insular, largely bigoted species that generally tended to consider other supes useful only in a commercial sense. Small factions, side branches of familial units who no longer towed the family line, sometimes tried to…
The Dae informant continued.
“There’s been too much interfering with the affairs of the Fairies already. Usually…usually it’s just stupidity done more to cause chaos and hassle than anything. But this? This business of inciting a war when there doesn’t need to be one, it’s too much. Our species, the Dae and the Fae and the Dead, we don’t generally get along and we probably never will, but that doesn’t mean there should be death because of it.”
Suddenly, Godric knew.
“Who? Which family?”
Ancient blue eyes glittered. Although he didn’t know the contact himself, Godric had recognized the man’s lineage immediately as his face displayed that family’s unfortunate tendency toward a nose slightly too small to fit their rather broad facial structure.
If what he said was true, and Godric had no reason to doubt the man’s words…
The informant deflated.