**A/N: Remember, “AU” and “can’t tell the difference between TB and SVM” are my rather long middle names. And on that note, I briefly pondered bringing in Eric’s SUDDENLY – CHILD!!11!! Karin at some point, but…no. Her sudden appearance toward the end of the books just felt like too much of a third-rate plot twist (second-rate deus ex machina, anyone?) to warrant repeating. Kind of like the maenad…and fire creatures…and baby-mama ghosts…anything Andy…I could go on… There may well be weirdness in this story, but at least it’ll most likely be my version of weirdness. Anyway, enjoy!**
The moment the sun officially lowered its killing rays, Godric blurred to the top of the stairs that led to the door that would lead to a Sookie…and, if his luck held, to her little feline. Modern technologies could be employed to make the entire structure light-safe, but the old ways died hard.
As he opened the door at the landing, his ancient eyes sparkled in a way that belied his age if not his deceptively youthful appearance.
A strange eagerness had been dancing just at the corners of his mind when he had risen, and in that split second between death and life all he had known were foreign sensations he fought to name. When he had remembered the presence of his child and his guests, the names to those feelings had come to him: contentment…curiosity and intrigue, certainly, and an odd excitement that seemed sore from lack of use.
An instinctive bond check proved his child still rested, of course, and was in good health. He wondered if Eric would “sleep in” a bit since this was the first time he had risen in his Maker’s home in such a long time.
Having his beloved progeny safe and sound under his roof – mere feet down the hallway in the bedroom set aside for the wandering warrior’s use – had bestowed upon his rest a rare peace. His Eric was as independent as he should be, as independent he had been taught to be (as if he could have ever been otherwise), but while that independence would naturally lead the boy to wander far away, having him home felt…right.
Godric sighed as a chunk of unwelcome weight faded from some odd place in his chest. Ah, time to scout the area…safety could never be assumed.
In the main foyer, Godric stilled and smiled vaguely. He had ever, and would always, rise before his progeny and would use the free time before his progeny’s rising to assure himself of their safety and then prepare himself for his night.
That free time… Those hours had been most precious during Eric’s youngest nights. As a baby vampire Eric had been more than a handful! That time before his child would rise had allowed him to scent then scout their location and, for a while, at least, and for longer than he perhaps should have, provide starter meals for his new child’s nourishment.
So he had maybe spoiled his little fledgling – so what? It was his right to do so!
Just because he had – he believed the current word was “sourced” – fresh meals and glamoured them to await Eric’s wakening so that his child could feed upon rising in no way meant he had shirked his training duties as a Maker. At some point during every night he and his baby vamp would leave whatever had passed for their dayshelter and, among other skills, he would teach that child how to locate, secure, and feed without killing on his own.
So thirsty he had always been after his risings! The “without killing” part had taken some time…
Eric had been, and he supposed would always be, voracious in his appetites, in his excitement for new challenges and experiences, and especially in his joy for life in whatever form it might take. He could be a bit of a prankster if left to his own devices…
Those hours of peace and quiet…oddly, he missed them now. At his current age he could still easily rise more than an hour before his child, could rise more than three hours before if there was a need and he didn’t choose to remain coddled in the comfort of his bed.
Perhaps he should scour the streets and bring home several selections for his child’s nourishment for the sake of old times?
Ah…but for this Sookie, he might truly consider it. Now, not only did he house his child but his house also contained a Sookie, and…there was also a cat!
Tina truly was a character just as her owner seemed to be.
Perhaps he should steal away into the night and, instead of bringing home dinner…maybe he should deprive bad cat homes of all their felines!
Surely the Sookie would not mind – more cats, more company for Tina… He had plenty of room on the grounds… Animal shelters… He remembered chancing on a report on the talking box one night about how they killed the animals they were supposed to protect… Maybe he could deprive a few of them of all their victims? Well, that mission could wait for another night…
Oh, and they had dogs, too. Lots of them, from what he had heard. Puppies were nice, as were the older and wiser of their kind.
For now, however, the scent of his non-vampire guest fascinated him and he once again rolled his eyes at his child’s mystifying inability to recognize the scent of a fairy hybrid – especially one with whom he had a baby bond!
Oh yes – he rolled his eyes in memory – he had detected his child’s unmistakable scent in the girl but even that polite scent-warning to other vampires failed dreadfully to mute the sweetness of her blood and skin.
So light and clean…so sweet!
Ha ha! He would carry Eric high when the whelp least expected it – what, had he suddenly developed a human allergy and therefore could neither smell nor taste her Fae heritage?
Did he need some of those pills the humans took so often all the while complaining about how they didn’t work?
Perhaps he needed a sort of surgery on his nose to open the obviously blocked passages?
He should hand Eric a vial of smelling salts…just to check his ability to smell…
The potential for teasing was astronomical.
He cared for his child so of course he should ask him about these things, he thought with a devilish smile.
In the main part of the house he stopped to listen and sniff, and just as he figured, the Sookie was in the library. The closer he came the more thankful he was that he had taken the time to down three whole bags of pure human blood before blurring up the stairs.
His belly still felt overly full and sloshed with his movements, but it was both a pleasing and necessary discomfort. He supposed he would become accustomed to such a fullness.
She smelled…sweet, like the honey and fresh, sun-warmed grasses of his childhood. There was something else, something warm…the sun?
Her scent and coloring had reminded him of those of the Sky Fae clan. Rumor had it that the sun was beneficial to them, that it somehow restored them in some way he couldn’t remember…perhaps had never known. It wasn’t as though their kind left care manuals scattered about.
Everyone had secrets. The world ran on secrets.
He sniffed lightly and, yes, judging by the scent, the little hybrid must have greeted her sun during the day. She had been more than thankful for the opportunity – she had almost hugged him again!
A curious expression crossed his youthful face.
He shook his head in confusion even though he hoped she would try again soon. He’d schooled himself to be better prepared should there be another hug attack and had even swallowed that third bag of blood that very night after having stuffed himself to the point of pinkness the previous night.
So much blood in his belly! It felt weird and made him glad he could choose drawstring pants.
Briefly he wondered how Eric handled the whole hugging thing but had to quiet a snicker – she’d thought she’d frightened him! Him! He, the one formerly known as Death…!
The thought was mystifying but he would have to assure her otherwise.
Then a light clang from the kitchen area of the floor drew his attention. As well as scenting his new mixed-breed houseguest and her cat, along with the usual bits of dust, wood, paint, beeswax, and now cat litter and the foods the small animal would eat, he had of course detected the odors from the kitchen and of the Weres brought in to serve and guard the child while under his protection.
According to the odors a meal had recently been served, and he wondered what time the girl had risen. Considering her likely new occupation, she would be expected to become comfortable keeping night hours instead of her natural day routine, but if memory served, she would still be able to greet her sun if she did so quickly after waking.
He would have to speak with her about adjusting her sleeping schedule…and about 2,596,832 other things while he was at it.
A shrug negated any worries – time was on their side even if it was not. So many things to consider…
Accepting her into his home…under his wing, as it were… It was almost as though he was agreeing to raise another child, in a way, although her meals would be cooked rather than “sourced”.
Was he supposed to give her an allowance? Chores? He would enjoy buying her Birthday, Name Day, and holiday gifts…was name day even a thing anymore? Did Sookies even have Name Days?
He should check these things. He doubted it was a Fae-based name but considering how little he knew about them, anything was possible.
She seemed completely unaware of her heritage and hadn’t caught his poke at Eric during their introduction, so he had to assume she didn’t realize that need for her sun. The basking most likely simply felt good to her hence her skin’s light golden-brown coloring.
And she did have soft, smooth skin, he reflected as he glanced about his home for any signs of disturbance. Although he wasn’t interested in her the way his Eric was, as one who admired beauty he could see the attraction. Beautiful smile, beautiful hair and eyes, charming personality flavored with the exuberance of youth and health…yes, he could certainly understand why Eric would be drawn to her even without the enhancement in her scent and blood.
After assuring himself of the safety of his area – he had checked his security systems downstairs after rising but a visual once aboveground never hurt – a mere minute after arriving on the main floor he approached the library to find the Sookie and her purring cat on the floor. Her back was against a large sofa and a quick look revealed an odd collection of books within easy reach.
Good…the child is a reader…always a plus.
Her attention was focused on the history book in her lap so it was Tina who greeted him with a blink and a stretch.
This isn’t even a real intermission since this Part isn’t all that long…it’s more of an INTERMISSION LITE, but that’s ok, right? I mean, it’s not like you’ve been stuck in your preferred reading position for hours on end as with some other Parts…but it’s nice to have an excuse to go pee, grab a cup of coffee so you can go pee again later, maybe a snack or a puppy to cuddle, etc.
END INTERMISSION LITE
Eric, on his back in the middle of the bed with limbs extended as far as they could go, stretched and slowly rubbed his cheek against the soft pillow beneath his head. As old and strong and fierce as he was, there was something about rising in his Maker’s home that urged him to lie abed for a few precious minutes longer.
Comfy…comfy…soft…comfy…don’t want to get up…so comfy…
With the deliciously comfortable bedding and the inherent safety of his Maker’s care enticing his peaceful cooperation, all he wanted to do was stretch and wiggle his toes while he savored the moment.
And so he did.
As he rolled his muscular shoulders and snuggled deeper into the plush bedding, he concentrated on his links. Just because he was reveling in absolute comfort didn’t mean he would shirk his responsibilities.
A brief check deemed Godric well to the point of having substantially stronger vitality than before, and he would focus more on their complicated bond in a minute.
Although she was dead to the world at the moment, Pam seemed fine. He had to smirk.
The brat is always easiest to get along with when she sleeps. After all these decades she still has her own way of viewing…everything… Certainly lets her views be know, too. She should be here within the week… Oh, hell. The thought of her and Sookie getting along too well boggles the mind. Ah, Pam…how such loyalty, disrespect, and disaffected affection could be found in one person I’ll never know…
He expected to receive a few messages from her during the night and hoped things with The Twins went as he suspected they would.
The Royal Berts… The timing of their arrival had been too suspicious to discount although much of that could be blamed on Lorena. He could easily see Sophie-Anne using the distraction provided by Compton’s overly dramatic Maker as an excuse to send her guards into his Area to investigate all-things-Compton, only, neither Bert seemed inspired to investigate a damn thing. And Sookie had been right fucking there…and in moments had somehow managed to wind both royal siblings around her little finger.
Later…he would consider all aspects of that development later.
His mind did some investigating of its own as he examined the small bond they shared. She was awake and in good health, feeling curiosity and interest somewhere not too far away in the house…which along with many other things smelled of human foods and Were odors. He resolved to meet her Were caretakers that night; he trusted Godric’s judgment completely but of course wanted to check them for himself.
She seemed to be settling in well, but then, how could she not? She was in his Maker’s house.
His thoughts returned to Godric.
Thankfully he could still feel more of his presence – the old man had kept his word about the bond and so it remained partially open – and he could tell the ancient brat once again felt satiated to the point of pinkness.
This is good…hopefully he’ll keep it up. If not…might have to start dragging home breakfast for him…always was partial to brunettes… But he prefers chasing dinner down to having it delivered…
Just as was also normal in his “younger” nights, he could sense that his Maker was currently running his usual secondary security checks.
He smiled as memories of the habits that ensured they would have a lifetime flitted through his mind.
Long ago it had occurred to him that he would never see his Maker rise from his daysleep, that Godric would always be at least a thousand years older and would therefore always rise before him and would always be the first to check their surroundings for danger upon rising…and again after starting his night. It had galled the younger vampire to realize that, barring an unspeakable injury to his Maker, he would never have the chance to ensure his Maker’s safety, in that way at least.
Such is the way of the Maker to the child, I guess. His right as my Maker…mine as his Child…regardless of age. But I can guard him now in other ways…and I will. He like Pam is mine to protect. Fader, broder, son…some aspects of the fader and son have been…reversed. I can do this for him – it is my right.
For a moment his thoughts flashed to Sookie.
Since everyone in his immediate circle was fine, Eric allowed himself rare permission to give into the desire for comfort. With a minimum of movement, he rolled over onto his stomach and snuggled his face down into the soft pillows. The cool slide of the sheets over his nude limbs as he flexed and released his muscles felt heavenly.
That vague feeling of having avoided a crisis with his Maker still tingled at the edge of his awareness but, thankfully, it was quickly fading.
Still, a warning is a warning…will keep better tabs on the old boy… Age doesn’t equate infallibility…can’t take chances with a treasure… Maybe I should bring him a cat of his own. And maybe a bird. They could chase each other around…all three of them. Maybe bring home dinner but put bells on their necks and ankles and glamour them to run…old man always did enjoy the chase…maybe a herd of cats…and some monkeys?
For some reason his thoughts slid to Compton. He hoped Lorena’s darling William was enjoying his hospitality as he recalled some of the procurer’s more despicable habits from the queen’s court.
Disgusting fucking bastard…
A brief surge of Godric’s curiosity brought his focus back to better things.
Memories of past conversations proved far more pleasant. Down through the centuries Godric had made a point to teach him everything he felt would help the younger vampire live his new life to the fullest, a habit that had often made for interesting discussions.
And then Eric remembered what the old man had come out with not so many hours ago.
Strange old imp… WTF, Maker-mine? “It is ok if you feel”…???
That snippet rattled about in his mind. The words felt strange on his mental tongue, strange and somehow alien given his Maker’s one-time aversion to feelings, which had always struck him as slightly incongruous given the depths of the ancient’s own emotional reserves back in the day….well, night.
Some feelings were ok…others weren’t…took me forever to figure out which ones were which…still not sure, really. Well, it’s not feelings, exactly…just everything that could result from having them. Having them can lead to giving into them, to pausing when one shouldn’t, to acting in ways that aren’t always in one’s best interests…and a vampire must have his own best interests at heart at all times or that vampire would be no more. No, it isn’t the having of feelings that is so bad – it’s the threat of giving into them that is the weakness.
He slid the sensitive tip of his forefinger over the soft cotton bedding as he thought.
With a strangely clear mental eye, he reviewed all he could remember of his Maker when it came to the subject of…of feelings, of all things.
Even the word hadn’t crossed my mind in eons but now it seems to have taken up residence…along with the word “nice”. I need to have a talk with my brain…and perhaps Godric. He may be slipping in his old age.
He’d known that Godric had changed a remarkable amount during his own time spent with the oldster, had known from ancient conversations that the one formerly known as Death had come to firmly believe in progressing with the times and allowing growth and evolution to take their natural course, but…
“It is ok if you feel”… Since when? And what exactly did he mean by that, now? What is the context? There has to be a context…there’s always a context. So…what has changed? What am I supposed to be feeling and how is this…
He’s the one who taught me…vampires are to remain distanced from the effects of emotions…we are to be seen as cold, calculating, indifferent…our actions must be geared toward our own survival. The only emotions we are to display, at least when not secure in our nest, are rage, vengeance, lust…is cunning an emotion? Oh, and anger…wait, that’s covered under rage, right? And even then, only when appropriate. What…? I should ask him to make a detailed list of every emotion known to vampire and have him check off the ones I’m now allowed to….ugh. Faders…
The concept that vampires feel nothing but the few fierce traits allowed was ancient. What passed between the Maker and the child in the safety of their own nest was irrelevant, but when anywhere else, the stoic facade had to rule.
Eric could understand that, could see the value in not giving his enemies any clues to any weaknesses, in not giving them anything to work with. Overprotective and determined to instill the best lessons into his progeny, it had taken Godric decades, possibly centuries knowing the old man, to trust that Eric had gotten the point but after awhile he had been assured that his progeny understood how feelings could lead to actions that could get them both ended.
When Death first turned me, he had no patience for maudlin regrets or fearful humans who would gladly stake us in their daylight. But…yet he had joy, too. Wars to attend, battles to savor…mortals to fuck and sometimes drain – so much joy to have! But that joy…it was founded on feeding, fighting, and fucking…and on destruction. I doubt this type of joy is the feeling he means… He did feel pride and, yeah, joy when I would master a new skill or idea…
More memories of their shared past quickly flickered behind his closed eyes until he recalled rising in his earliest nights to find Godric’s latest meal offerings standing glamoured at the ready.
Ah. The old man had definitely found joy in easing me into my new life… At the time I knew he cared, could tell through both the bond and his actions…but didn’t know he was doing far more for me than the average Maker would have. I did the same with Pamela when she first rose…still do, such a spoiled baby… And these actions are definitely caused by feelings. Curious. My Maker…the original enigma. He needs a soundtrack…
The wave of avuncular affection seeping from his Maker as he apparently located the telepath seemed to prove his point.
Bah…feelings, or the lack of them…whatever. It’s not like the world revolves around them. Ok…tonight’s To Do list: need to get my hair cut…annoying as fuck. Could ask him what he meant about feelings…or not. Undoubtedly he would tease me in some way. Fairy…should have known. Should rise and shower… Need to feed, too…oddly good blood the old man stocks. Wonder at the source… Need to find a flock of little chickadees for Tina to chase and not catch. Pterodactyls! Those would have been entertaining…would have disposed of the bodies we used to drain…
A brief spark of surprise interrupted Eric’s notions of ancient birds and theories of how to bring back sabre-toothed tigers.
What are those two up to? As early as he rises…no telling…could be planning to rob a toy store, take over the world, or fuck with the Authority…or all of the above…could see him filling the offices at the Authority with millions of golf balls…oh, hey, the night’s still young…and two certain beings definitely need adult supervision…!
With a small groan he reluctantly sat up in his most comfortable bed ever and grabbed his phone from the bedside charger. He was relieved to find no new messages from his daytime contacts but knew that situation wouldn’t last for long.
Sophie-Anne most likely would have been told by then that he’d left the area but she had yet to realize his leaving was permanent…and that he’d taken The Telepath with him. He doubted she was overly concerned with her procurer, either. Compton was simply another tool at her disposal, and as with any wrench or hammer, she wouldn’t care how it was treated in the meantime.
Sigebert and Wybert…their unexpected and suspicious arrival combined with their subsequent actions, or lack of actions in this case, still teased his mind. For two cents he would suspect they’d not only divined his plan but that they approved of it.
Could he be that lucky? He’d always gotten along well with them during their brief interactions but their leashes were too tight for much else.
No, even if it were true, luck can’t be counted on to appear at will. I’ll have to keep an ear out for them…their actions tonight will tell me more. Need to tell Pam to punch Compton a time or five more just for all this bullshit. Hope Lorena’s still ball gagged. Or gag balled…oh, Sookie…you are a treasure.
Gloriously naked, Eric finally rose from his bed and wandered down the hallway to the vampire-level kitchen.
Knowing the effects of Sookie’s scent, he wisely heated and savored two bags of blood and made plans to have a snack later on – a snack he would encourage his Maker to enjoy with him. He was glad to see the empty bags in the trashcan from Godric’s waking feed but hoped he could persuade the old man to “top himself off” later.
Unless something changed, he planned to remain in his Maker’s home that night and concentrate on refining his exit plans, keeping Pam and Sookie safe, and beginning Sookie’s supe education.
Godric was bound to have some ideas about how to go about all of it, and if he knew his Maker, Sookie’s lessons would come more in the form of guided conversations than written lists to be memorized then promptly forgotten.
Lying abed had been an unexpected luxury but now that he was up, he found himself curiously impatient to…to something. The urge to see his plans through to fruition was strong and he had to tamp down on his impatience. For years he had vaguely and not-so-vaguely entertained the thoughts of exiting the queendom, and patience had been easy when the idea had been little more than a theory. Now that he was in the middle of the exit…
He exhaled forcefully as he flexed his shoulders, placed his empty glass in the sink, and padded back to his bedroom. After bathing and dressing quickly, he grabbed his phone and ascended the stairs and so within minutes he opened the door leading into the mortal’s ground floor.
Her scent – the fairy portion decidedly emboldened by time spent in the sun – grabbed him by the fangs…and the balls.
Eric closed the door then took a moment to lean against it. He could hear Godric and Sookie talking quietly in…the library, just as he thought.
In a blur he moved to stand in the room’s doorway and paused to enjoy her enhanced scent…and to work on trying to get his fangs to reseat. He wasn’t having a lot of luck with it. Her skin was slightly darker, her hair was minutely lighter, and her essence deliciously sweeter. The two were deeply focused upon a conversation…something about Sookie’s telepathy?
As he surveyed the scene before him and listened to their softly spoken words, he wondered how long the girl had actually been awake.
Books and shoes were scattered everywhere. Godric and Sookie – both barefoot – were sitting somewhat facing each other on one of the comfortable sofas. Each held something in their lap – Sookie with a book on the Peloponnesian War balanced on her knees, and Godric? He sat cross-legged with a loudly purring Tina in his lap.
One loud noise and that cat would do him a masculine injury…hope he realizes that…
The screen doors to the patio were closed but the bulletproof glass French doors were open to allow the slight sun-rich breeze to flow freely into the large room. The nights were slowly beginning to cool but the day’s heat kept the air comfortable.
Light from the chandeliers, fixtures he’d never thought to see in a home owned by his Maker, cast the perfect golden glow over the room…on Sookie…
Will finding them chatting in the library become a recurring theme? Ah, Sookie…had such a hard time growing up with her telepathy.
He was glad that Godric was getting a firsthand look into what the girl’s life had been like. He would need this information as he dealt with her education and introduction in to the real vampire world.
The little exposure she’d had on Compton’s weak arm had been laughable, except for the Disco Triplets, it’d been more a toe-dip into a Disney-lite version of the supe world. The real thing was vastly different.
As he watched from the doorway, the subject changed for some reason to her grandmother and then meandered on to the American Social Security system of all things.
What would they think of to discuss next? Theories of fascism? Modern hair-dying techniques? Genetic reconstruction to bring back saber-toothed…
He did not ask what the Peloponnesian War had to do with Sookie’s telepathy or what either had to do with American government systems. That particular war was before even Godric’s time, if they had counted the passage of time correctly, and no vampire was affiliated with Social Security issues. They didn’t pay anything into it so they wouldn’t be drawing anything out of it.
The telepathy conversation he could see; the other two…not so much…but then that seemed to be the way conversations went with both Sookie and with his Maker.
Yes, it’s a good thing I came on upstairs. These two definitely need adult supervision…and a herd of cats and a flock of chickadees just to liven things up a bit…
When the conversation seemed to wind down, he decided to join them.
DO WITH IT AS YOU WILL, JUST COVER YOUR TRACKS AND USE A TARP.
TAKE GLOVES. CARRY ON, MY WAYWARD CHILDREN.
END INTERMISSION #2
“…know people like to look down on me because I’m ‘nothin’ but a weird waitress slingin’ fries an’ beer in a bar’, but the funny part is that the ones who look down on me the most have the least idea about how to do my job.”
Sookie’s words to his Maker were easy to overhear as Eric passed through the door into the main human level of the house. Because he could hear her so clearly, he figured she was in the library as he’d suspected earlier.
“How did you endure their condescension for so very long,” he heard Godric ask. “You must be very strong.”
Godric always had valued strength and fortitude…and patience…
After a moment of silence Sookie answered thoughtfully, “Well, you have to consider the source before you decide whether or not you want to bother taking offence.”
Eric felt a burst of pride and humor from his Maker as Sookie unknowingly mirrored the old man’s own thoughts on the subject. He could picture Godric nodding in agreement, but knowing his Maker’s curiosity about people in general, he wasn’t surprised when he heard, “And how did you come to this conclusion?” The “at your young age” was silent.
There was a slight rustling sound that could have been Sookie shrugging her shoulders.
“Like my grandmother always said, how we act is up to us, so it’s up to us if we choose to be insulted or hurt or whatever, too. Plus, I’m lucky. My so-called gift sometimes lets me know when someone’s words maybe didn’t come out right, that maybe they meant something in a totally different way than it sounded. Some people are just socially awkward and some people have disorders that affect how their brain and mouth get along, so they can’t help it. You have to take those things into consideration. It’s rarer, but sometimes people were raised by rude people and they honestly don’t know any better. Sometimes people have had a really bad day and are just dyin’ to get a rise out of somebody else. In most of these cases, letting them get to me would just be wrong, and at most other times it still doesn’t solve anything anyway. And like in the last case, would just make things worse.”
There was a pause and he heard Tina firing up the purr machine, and Eric was fairly positive it was on Godric’s behalf.
“Very wise deduction, Miss Sookie, but what about the ones who mean harm?”
“Oh, sweetie, I’ve had more than enough experience with the creeps, the snobs, the morons, and the cruel. I worked in the local redneck bar so I’ve had way too many dealin’s with entitled handsy old men and jerks who get offended when I don’t welcome their lewd suggestions and their pawin’ at me,” she said with exasperation.
Eric felt Godric’s surge of protective anger and more than mirrored it. His feet seemed to grow minds of their own and he found himself observing the two from the library doorway.
“And like I guess with every small town and big city in the world, Bon Temps has its share of upper class snobs and the little snots who want to be snobs, so it’s real easy for them to look down on me because of my job. I have amazing self-control, though, and have only managed to accidentally dump maybe half a dozen bowls of hot soup in people’s laps. Of course, there have been several hot fry accidents, too. Oops.”
The satisfaction coming at him from both Godric and Sookie made him smile inadvertently and helped relax his fists.
“And what of the morons?” The derogatory term sounded odd coming from Godric.
Sookie huffed. “They’re morons…it’s not like they’re even willing to learn how to treat others better, so I mostly just leave them be. Now, that’s not to say that I automatically forget what they said or thought or whatever, though. I think it’s important to keep things filed away for another day because you never know when you might need to remember this or that, but stayin’ your hand for later rarely hurts.”
He could feel his Maker’s strong approval, and the expression on the old man’s face indicated a growing respect for the young blonde girl.
“It is always wise to allow others to underestimate both your abilities and your actions. You seem very old for your age,” he commented in a subtle bid for more information.
Eric knew what Godric was doing – he needed to know as much as he could about what appeared to be his new charge before he could plan her education and consider the girl’s best options now that she was in their world.
“Thank you,” she replied politely. “I don’t think I am but then I’ve always…you know,” she began before tapping her head.
“Plus, I like to think I was smart enough to listen to smart people when I was growing up. After our parents died, my dad’s mom took me and my brother Jason in and she was about the smartest person I know.”
“This is the grandmother whose home you just left?”
The Viking cringed at the wording and hoped Sookie didn’t notice any of the meanings behind it.
“Yup,” she replied quickly. “She’s taught me so much and sometimes she didn’t even mean to,” she added with a snicker.
Curiosity seeped over the bond.
“That sounds interesting,” Godric encouraged.
“Well, Gran had her own life before our parents died. She’d raised her kids – my dad and my aunt Linda – and although my granddaddy had provided well for them, after her kids were in school, she’d started workin’ part-time doin’ odds and ends in town, then when her kids were older, she found a full-time job. The money came in handy back then, of course, but it was mainly that she didn’t like just sittin’ around. And then her husband, my grandaddy, died so then she had to keep a job. Anyway, she worked in a bakery for a long time until she finally retired. The retirement age was a little lower back then,” she clarified for no reason that Eric could find.
Godric’s expression remained benignly interested.
“So before we came along, with the house to herself she did ok financially. Gran wasn’t rich by any means but there weren’t nearly as many expenses. She was goin’ out and doin’ her own thing, livin’ her own life an’ all, but when our parents died, she took us right on in an’ it wasn’t just because it was the right thing to do. She really did, and does, love us, but…but it changed her whole life when she did it.”
Eric knew Godric could have unusually mobile expressions when he wanted – almost fluid when he allowed it – and smiled to himself when the old man allowed “fascinated curiosity” to flood his face. Sookie laughed as expected, and the sound warmed Eric’s heart…or would have if he’d allowed it.
“No, she wasn’t wild or anything like that! Stop it! She’d just retired and was havin’ fun with her history clubs and book clubs and knitting clubs or circles or whatever, and she used to volunteer at the library. But when we came along, she had to go back to work, and between that and us kids, she gave up most of that because she didn’t have the time or money to do them anymore.”
Warming to the subject, Sookie finally closed the heavy book in her lap and placed it to her side.
“She started resenting me and Jason, well…not us specifically – no, she still loved us, but she resented havin’ to work at low-payin’ cash jobs. Her old boss wouldn’t hire her back, which she didn’t really mind because if he had, it would have messed up her Social Security.”
“What is Social Security?”
Trust the old man to ask…always curious about the world around him…well, at least he used to be…will have to work to keep it that way even if it does involve such oddities..what *are* those Weres doing in the kitchen? What is “gello” and why would they scorch it? Perhaps I should investigate the kitchen situation here. Wonder if it has its own spider?
“It’s a program run by the government that you pay into all your workin’ life so that you can get it back every month after you retire. It’s how most older people pay their bills, buy food, buy medicine, pay for the insurance that Medicare won’t cover… Along with all that, it’s also somehow supposed to help them pay for car and house taxes every year, buy gas and keep their car up, pay rent or pay for house maintenance when stuff needs to be done, go to the dentist if they still have teeth or need dentures or whatever, buy a pair of shoes when their other pair wears out, buy stamps, buy cat food and litter and vet visits if they have a pet, buy cold and allergy and heartburn medicines, buy presents for kids and grandkids…” Sookie snorted. “Yeah, it’s amazing what all they’re supposed to be able to do on the piddly little bit they draw each month from everything they’ve paid into Social Security.”
“How do you know so much about this?”
Godric’s curiosity was on a full boil.
“Because I’ve been in the grocery store when old people have had to choose between buying some fresh vegetables or canned tuna or Advil because their bones hurt. I’ve been in WalMart when they’ve had to choose between buyin’ a warm pair of shoes for the winter or payin’ part of their gas bill. “
Eric felt sadness flowing from both of them as well as Sookie’s anger and sense of unfairness.
“Anyway, I get why Gran resented the effect we had on her life and her finances. She’d have probably been ok if she hadn’t had to pay for us kids. She’d have had to scrimp by some, but she could have done it. But kids are expensive what with all the extra food – Jason can eat a meal for three all by himself – clothes, shoes, stuff for school, and a whole bunch of other stuff.”
She laughed, but it wasn’t a particularly joyful sound.
“You know how education is supposed to be free, right? Well, that’s a bold-faced lie – just ask Gran. Parents are expected to buy so many very specific school supplies and that list grows longer and longer every year, and they have to pay for sometimes crappy school lunches, too. One of these days I want to…”
He felt Godric’s anticipation as well as his own when she suddenly stopped.
“One of these days you want to do…what?”
“Oh, nothin’; it’s just a pipedream. I doubt I’ll ever be that rich. I’m sorry, Godric, I didn’t mean to go off on some of my favorite tangents. Bein’ a telepath…well, it was a hassle for the longest time until I figured out how to work with it better. Now it gives me a unique view into other people’s lives and the hard times they have, and a seriously large percentage of so many problems all stem from money and the lack of it.”
Eric took that as his cue to make his presence known. The room’s occupants looked up and the welcoming smiles on their faces was…nice.
Nice. There’s that fucking word again. But she is right…her gift would enable her to see behind the words people say…can’t imagine what all she saw and heard when she was too little to understand what it all meant…feel bad for the little girl she used to be…
Godric flicked a concerned glance at Eric as he sat down in a nearby chair, but when he automatically brushed his longer hair out of his eyes, Godric gave him the look.
“A haircut…tonight. One of Stan’s companions has a brother who owns a local hair salon. He is willing to make glamoured house calls for those in our nest. I will avail you of his services tonight if he is available.”
**A/N: Well, there was that. Frivolous family fluffiness? No flocks of chickadees were harmed in the writing of this story. Unfortunately, no sabre-toothed tigers were brought forth from the aether, either. More later. So…what’d ja think?*